The arrow punched into the ground at my feet. I looked up and Serisi was laughing down at me from the top of the wall. She danced with joy.
“You’re dead, Guerin! I killed you again.”
“Careful, child; you’ll fall and break your neck and then you’ll be the one that’s dead.”
She dived off the wall and I sucked in my breath. She landed on her feet and did a roll, coming up to stand directly in front of me. She pressed herself against me and put her arms around my waist. I wrapped her up and squeezed her until she groaned.
“Well done,” I told her. “You scare me to death, girl. That was a very high jump. I didn’t look for you to be up there.”
“Yes, it was very clever of me, wasn’t it? I’ve killed you three times today, Guerin.”
“What if I had been cloaked?”
“That’s cheating,” she objected. “You aren’t to do that. No one that is chasing me will be able to do that.”
“We don’t know what the Shai can do. Could you sense me cloaked?”
She cocked her head and thought. “No, but if I knew you were coming I could make a trap.”
“What kind of a trap?”
“Light, to drive away the shadows?”
“Can you do that?”
“Yes, but I would have to make sure you were coming the right way.” She rested her head on my chest.
She was growing very tall. She was thirteen and she was so beautiful she took my breath away. Her hair had grown to a silky white mane that floated around her and those eyes were glacier blue pools that could drown a man. She took my hand and we walked up the steps to the library. She would have her lesson with Jynn before supper, and I had things to do. I left her exploring some tome and went to find Corwin. When I came into the hall for supper she was whispering with Trina and they stopped talking when I came in. I felt like they had been talking about me, but I didn’t say anything. We went to our rooms after the meal and she changed into a dress, as she always did. We played a game of cards and talked for a while. She began to yawn after a bit and told me she was going to bed. For the first time since we had been together she went to her room to sleep. She kept all her stuff in there, but so far as I knew, she had never taken anything other than a nap in her bed. I wondered what was going on. She didn’t seem mad at me, but there was something wrong. I went to bed and had a difficult time falling asleep. There was no warm little girl to snuggle up against me and I felt desolate. I finally slept fitfully and when I went to collect her for her morning run she came out in a dress.
“I’m feeling indisposed today,” she told me.
“Are you sick, baby?” I asked her.
She flushed. “No, Guerin, don’t ask me any questions. I love you and you must trust me.”
I hugged her and she kissed me and went back into her bedroom. I went looking for Trina. She was on the archery range and we loosed a few shafts together.
“Is something bothering you, Guerin?” she asked.
“Something’s wrong with Serisi,” I told her. “I think she’s sick. She told me she wasn’t going to run this morning and when I asked her about it she wouldn’t tell me. She said she was ‘indisposed.’”
She laughed. “You’re an idiot, Guerin.”
“I know, but what am I being an idiot about this time?”
She laughed again. “You’re such a man! She’s growing up, Guerin. Do you know what happens to girls when they grow up?”
“They grow breasts?”
“Yes, that, too. She’s going to be indisposed every month about this time. Do you understand?”
“Oh,” comprehension dawned on me. “Gods, Trina, is she really that old?”
“Yes, Guerin, she’s becoming a woman. You need to adjust the way you see her. She isn’t a little girl anymore. She’s a young woman.”
“I guess I am an idiot, Thanks, Trina. I’ve got some thinking to do.”
“You’re a very nice idiot,” she laughed.
I went and looked after the horses, and then went back to our rooms. Serisi was reading on the sofa and I brought her some cider and had an ale myself. She smiled at me and scooted over so she could lean against me. I put my arm around her and petted her hair. I looked her over and she was something new I hadn’t noticed. There was a swelling in the bodice of her dress and I could see the top of cleavage peeking out. Her waist was as thin as ever, but there was now a swelling at her hips as well. She was developing an hourglass shape. Her lips looked fuller than ever and I noticed how long her hair was. She must have felt my eyes on her because she peeked up at me. I could still see that mischievous little girl glint to her eyes.
“What?” she asked.
“Nothing,” I told her. “I was just noticing how beautiful you are.”
She flushed and wouldn’t meet my eyes. “Thank you, Guerin. I’m just the same as I was last week.”