Author’s Note: Here’s another little Arbitratus Trilogy Fanfic that resulted from a one word prompt challenge over on IG. It’s something that doesn’t happen in Book II, Before the Dawn. But like so many of these little fictions, it could.
Their after dinner walk had gone on for longer than was probably smart. The temperature was dropping rapidly as the sun sank behind the mountains. The breeze rustled the frost stiffened trees. It was nice to be away from populations centers. There was less to worry about in terms of getting noticed, getting recognized, getting caught. But maybe they should head south again. It was too damned cold around here.
Mal untwined her fingers from Ben’s. “Sorry. I need my gloves.”
Ben was already pulling on the lopsided mittens she’d knitted him. “Same. We should head back anyway. It’s getting dark.”
They decided to cut across a couple of back yards to get back to the campground faster. “What is that?” Mal asked cocking her head.
Ben paused and listened, spending the energy on magically enhancing his hearing.
“Fire,” he said quietly.
He listened again then pointed. “There.”
They took off running and skidded to a stop in the yard of a large farmhouse already well on its way to burning down. Shouts and pleas for help came from inside. “Stay here,” he said firmly. “Call 911.”
“You’re not going in there!”
“Official help is pretty far out. And … there’s kids in there. I can hear them.”
She sighed and wrapped her fingers around the fabric of his sleeve. “Why do you have to be such a big damned hero all the time?!?”
“Well, you’ve got the damned part right.” He smirked and squeezed her hand, gently encouraging her to release his jacket. “I’m a demon, not a hero.”
She grabbed him by the back of his neck and kissed him quickly, then gave him a light shove toward the building. As he ran toward the calls for help she sighed again. “Pretty sure you can be both.”
She got out her phone and made the call to emergency services.
In bed, later that night, whispering so as not to disturb the others in the camper who were already asleep, Mal brushed his slightly singed bangs off his forehead. “How are you feeling now?”
“You really don’t hurt anymore?” He huffed a little sigh that told her he thought she was fussing unnecessarily but he didn’t want to call her out for it. “I know the burns look okay now, but I’m never sure about this magic stuff. Like what do I know about healing nerves and stuff?”
“All better. I promise.” Then he reached up, more to prove he really wasn’t in pain than anything else, and plucked at his uneven hair. “Just wish your healing powers included cosmetic repairs.”
She snorted laughter. “It doesn’t look bad. Your hands did though. I’m glad I could fix them.”
“Me, too. Burns really hurt,” he admitted. “Thanks.”
“And I’m glad you were a big hero for those kids.”
“Don’t argue. Or I’ll take back the healing stuff.”
“Pretty sure that’s not how those powers work.” Then he frowned. “Right?”
“Probably. But still.”
He laughed. “Not a hero.”
“If you can’t admit to being one in general, will you accept being my hero then?” She put her head against his chest.
“I can live with that.”
He was still smiling when he dozed off a while later.