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Of Rooks and Pawns

Chapter Text

Elle’s Point of View
The flag billowing in the breeze above was an almost muted sound compared to the resounding gunshots. I could hear bullets ricocheting off the stone walls around me and I ducked down further, head against my knees as I trembled and rocked where I'd been left, tied and tasseled. My arms were tied behind my back and My knees and ankles were bound together, I wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. My heart pounded so hard I thought it might explode as I waited for the inevitable pain that would come from being hit.

There was a blast of heat and sharp wood sprayed the side of my face, making me wince as I smelled burning hair and felt hot shards of wood stick to my face, no doubt splinters imbeding themselves in my skin.

I hissed in pain and jerked away from the source of heat, only to realize a chunk of the flag pole I was tied to had been shot away and it was creaking above me precariously. I stilled, and for the first time in my life considered praying. I closed my eyes as I felt the pole begin to shift forward, and I felt my eyes burn as they blurred with tears.

I was going to be crushed. That's what I got. I deserved it for turning on my brother.

At the last minute a blade sliced through the ropes at my wrists and I was jerked to the side as the pole fell. It collapsed with an earth shattering boom, and silence fell over us as I nearly lost control of my bladder and my stomch where I sat, the tears falling as I sagged in the hold of whoever had saved me. The flag that had been waving in the air fluttered down to the ground, covering me and I looked around slowly.

The small team of blighters my brother had sent looking for me when I'd run away were all dead on the ground. I shivered at the empty, lifeless looks in their eyes as they lay bleeding in the dirt. Thunder rolled above us and the skies opened up with a crackle that electrified the air as the torrent began. The hand gripping the ropes around my shoulders started to pull me upright and I looked at the hand and followed it up a blood soaked sleeve to see Jacob gazing down at me from beneath his hat, his expression solemn. "It's time to go." He said as he cut me free, solemn expression breaking until he was grinning like a madman.

As I pulled the flag around me to hide my embarrassment at having lost control of myself in my fear, I saw movement. A hand rose slowly from a pool of blood, shakily aiming the gun. It was like everything was moving in slow motion; then I realized it was a distraction. "N-" There was no time. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the true assailant. Jacob had pulled his gun and was aiming at the shaky hand, and there was someone lunging towards us from his flank. I did the first thing that crossed my mind...

Jacob's Point of View

That little tart! I couldn't quite help my shock as she leaned into me, sliding her hand down my arm, sliding her knee along the inside of my leg... Then her foot hooked mine, her hand slipped beneath my loose grip on my cane and she shoved me right off my feet. As I fell, her wrist twisted, releasing the blade from it's disguised sheath and her torso twisted in a way that caused her pain; I could see it in her eyes.

I was about to reprimand her, inform her she would regret her actions, but instead of rounding on me as I'd expected her to, she swung the blade in an arc and blood filled my peripheral and as my head turned to look behind me, I saw the man who'd rounded us.

 

It was easy to see the family resemblance. Despite the fairness of her skin, he had the same angry red mane of hair, the shocking green eyes, and the pepper of freckles across his prominent cheekbones. Her lithe, dainty figure still knew a fighter's stance, one they both shared.

"You traitor!" he snarled at her. She didn't blink. Didn't flinch. Didn't waver in the intensity of her brother's glare. He wavered for a moment, then collapsed, and as his knees hit the ground, a shot rang out and I watched in utter shock as she too fell, and there was a clatter of metal against stone as the gun we'd both forgotten dropped from the lifeless hand.

I caught her, rising slightly as she fell towards me, laying her thin form along the collapsed beam that had held the flag above us. She'd saved my life. She'd killed her brother.

She had escaped the Blighters' grasp and had come to warn me of the impending ambush that would have destroyed half of my Rooks, and left London in turmoil as the Blighters ran free. I swept her hair back, looking down into her pale bruised face, red and hot to the touch where splinters were embedded beneath her skin.

"Rose Red... Hang in there." I said softly, wishing her green eyes would open and glare at me defiantly like I'd become accustomed to the last few days she'd spent with our gang.

Elle's Point of View

I exhaled slowly, shakily. "Still bossy as ever." I accused. The shot had caught me in the shoulder, and it was lodged beneath my collarbone, having struck me from the side and the pain was enough to make me nauseous. I was tired, in pain, and there was a deep seated sorrow in my heart because even with my eyes closed, I could still see his angry, hateful gaze giving way into pain, and sliding into fear and despair. My brother. I'd killed my brother.

We'd never been close, not even as kids. We'd always functioned by the philosophy that blood was thicker than water, and to my brother, blood was law. Laws were made to be broken among the Blighters, and while he never touched me in a way that would be untoward where blood was prevalent; he was never shy at showing his disapproval or punishing me. When I came home from the mission that had killed our father and led to my brother's rise, he blamed me, and threw me to the men who served him to teach me my place.

After that, my allegiance to blood gave way to my allegiance to my city.

My mother was a good woman who fell in love with a bad man. Even though she died when I was little, I'd known all my life, she didn't want this life for me. She was a waitress who got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and she was a God Fearing, King and Queen loving woman, she never wanted anything but peace and safety for my brother and I... but she died at the hands of a man who served our father the night she tried whisking my brother and I away from the man who ruled the chaos.

 

Now, as I lie bleeding, slipping into the undertow, I could almost hear her soft voice, whispering a quiet lullaby in the fading light of the evening. The hard surface of the beam left my back and for a moment I felt like I was weightless and floating; then I registered his arms carrying me.


As the pain swelled from my chest, up my neck to merge with the radiating pain in my cheek, I lost consciousness, the last thing to pass through my conscious mind was the quiet, " Hell. " He whispered above my head.

 

Jacob's Point of View

She was mumbling incoherently. The bullet path was hard to gauge, but since she wasn't coughing up blood or wheezing, I had high hopes that the shot hadn't done irreparable damage. The idea that she might die before I could thank her, show her that she'd earned my trust, that she deserved a place among us, was unsettling. I looked into eyes so like my own as my sister laid a hand on my shoulder and urged that we go. I looked down, she had picked up my Cane from where the girl had dropped it.

 

I lifted the flag from where it had crumpled and I wrapped it around the young woman, lifting her into my arms and carrying her towards the alley through which we'd planned to exit. I was by no means allowing her to die. The Rooks had a good enough medic, I just had to hope she would last long enough for us to get there.

 

Elle's Point of View

I don't remember much besides the pain. The pain as they tried to follow the path of the bullet, and the hands that held me down to keep me from disrupting the work of our good doctor. I remember the taste of the leather wrapped piece of wood that they put between my teeth as they worked, and the darkness of the cover over my eyes. But the clearest memory was the hand that stroked through my hair slowly, soothingly, until my breathing matched the pace of the fingers gliding through my tresses, and I lost consciousness as the drugs they'd plunged into my system through the vein in my neck began to take effect.

 

Jacob's Point of View

I couldn't do anything to ease her pain except order them to use some of the limited supply of anesthesia we had in stock. Supplies were running low, especially with the encounters we'd been having time and again with those damnable Blighters. We would have lost the fight had that ambush come. She had saved me, and she had saved my Rooks. We'd doubled our defenses, covered the exits and ambushed our own ambush. The utter audacity of it had taken them by surprise. Especially when they took the bait, the Boss' sister sitting in the center waiting to be "rescued."

 

It had all been going swimmingly really, until we heard what they were planning to do to her. Some of them had even been so stupid as to think they were safe enough in the alley to try it then. We attacked a bit prematurely, and her brother arrived with a second team, but by then the first group had been demolished and we were celebrating the win. We'd had a few injuries with the second wave but no casualties... I eyed the girl on the table as her struggles started to slow, and her breathing calmed. No casualties... yet. I'd be damned if I was going to allow one now without a fight.

 

I watched Doc make a cut near the sternum and he felt around the new wound for a moment before making a sound of recognition. Grabbing his forceps, I watched as he extracted the bullet and a few small bone shards. The bullet had been slowed when it grazed her rib cage and it's ricochet up towards her heart had been stopped by the small bone plate between her breasts. A few inches lower it would have passed right between her ribs and under the plate through her heart, the doc said.

 

She'd still lost a lot of blood, but as he sewed her up, there was a distinct flicker of hope for Rose Red. Hold on there, Ellie.