It was the announcement that woke Winnie in the morning, from half remembered dreams of shouts and trees. She was surprised to find herself warmer than usual, but as memory trickled back and she sat up a sweatshirt slid off her shoulders, landing on her knees.
She picked it up curiously. Not hers. Big, quite big. She didn't remember picking it up, but glancing quickly around at the rest of the group, she didn't see anyone who appeared to be looking for it. And it was nice. Cozy. Another stealthy look around, wondering if this would be the worst decision she'd made yet, and Winnie wrapped it around her shoulders, knotting the arms in front of her chest. The shallow slice under her shirt still burned uncomfortably, but at least it didn't seem to have cracked open overnight. That was something.
The announcement was still going on. Voices crackled overhead, voices she didn't want to listen to. She ignored them, settling for crouching low to the ground and watching the group. They didn't apply to her. She didn't remember names, faces, not properly. They wouldn't do her any good. And it wasn't like she knew-
That was a face she remembered. Running into him at school, having an awkward and stilted conversation. He'd helped her pick up her books and had worried that she was okay. And he'd been the face that she'd first seen properly here, close to her own, arms open, asking her to come down. Helping her down from her tree. He'd tried to protect her.
She'd run away from him.
And now he was dead.
She wasn't entirely sure what to think. Somewhere, in a corner of her mind, she knew she was screaming. But the sleep had done little to erase the bone-deep exhaustion settling into her skin, the numbing absence of hunger and thirst that left a strange twisted knot inside of her, the heavy cloud that settled over her and told her don't think it.
One of the other girls had apparently heard a name that she recognized. Winnie straightened, ignoring the tears that were trying to squeeze out of her eyes, wiping them with the back of her hand. People were discussing where to go next. She didn't know. She didn't even know that she should stay with them. But they were leaving, now, and for the first time since the first day she felt a stab of pain that had nothing to do with the sword.
They had protected her.
Like James had protected her.
It wasn't quite a run, just a couple of fast steps, and she was caught up. Hovering just behind the loud one, she bowed her head low, tucked the sweater a little farther around her shoulders, and focused her eyes on the feet in front of her. These people had saved her, and this time, she wouldn't run from them. Maybe this time, for the first time in days, she might be able to be safe.
[[Winsome Clark continued in Faraday's Cages]]
fall down seven times stand up eight
(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)