Christopher looked out the window watching the rain pour down outside. For once he could see the colors of London not muted by smoke and smog. He had not been home in months, but it seemed more like years. He stifled a yawn, not wanting to sleep. The nightmares hadn’t stopped with the return of his memories. Christopher could still hear the bird-demons voice, YOU BELONG TO ME. Eventually, he nodded off despite his fears, the rain still pounding on the window.
Christopher woke, face wet with sweat and tears, heart pounding. There was silence, no noises of rain or people. It was too early. Though it was still dark, though he could see the beginnings of dawn poking around the buildings. Not wanting to nod off again, he stood up. Realizing, sleeping sitting on a windowsill is a good way to be sore when you woke. He headed downstairs.
Later that morning, there was a pounding on the door.
“Christopher? Open up!”
Leaving his task of re-organizing Master Benedict’s books (again), Christopher got up and unlocked the door.
Tom, shivering slightly from the cold, rushed immediately towards the fire.
“Why are you here this early?” asked Christopher.
“Easy. I was worried about you.” Tom looked down at his friend, taking in the bags under his eyes and ruffled mess of hair, all on top of not-quite-healed cuts from their recent adventure with pirates.
“You didn’t sleep much last night did you?” Tom asked.
Christopher turned away, “I’m fine.”
“That’s not what I asked”
“I slept fine,” Christopher said while not meeting Tom’s eyes.
“I know you’re still having nightmares. And I know the only thing that seems to help is my singing. For some unknown reason”
“They’re getting better,” Christopher said from behind the piles of books he had returned to.
“No, they’re not. I keep telling you, come stay at my house, so I can help.”
“Your father hates me.”
They both vividly remember that day, almost a year ago now, the day Tom’s father had quite literally tossed Christopher out into the street. Master Benedict had just been murdered and Christopher was staying at the Baileys’, when the King’s warden, Lord Ashcombe, had come with accusations that Christopher was the murderer. After that, William Bailey had stated in no uncertain terms that Christopher was to stay away. That incident had left Christopher with a scrape on his shoulder that had scarred, though it was fading.
The friends sat in silence for a while. Neither wanting to acknowledge the memory. The only sounds were the quiet shuffle of Christopher sorting through books and the crackle of the fire.
“I could probably convince him. If not, Mother could. She’s done it before after all,” Tom said, breaking the silence.
“That was before he thought I murdered someone.” Christopher curled into himself as he spoke.
“But you didn’t. Surely he must know this.”
“I don’t know. You tell me.” He gestured wildly. “You live with him!”
Tom stared, his friend rarely raised his voice. “We don’t... we don’t really talk about it”
Tom walked over to his friend, bobbing and weaving through the mountains of books until he reached the center. Gently taking a book from Christopher's hands, he sat down in front of him.
Looking Christopher in the eyes he said, “I know you are still having nightmares. I know you aren’t sleeping well. Why is it still bothering you?”
“The Raven said he would kill everybody,” said Christopher, ”Everyone I love.” As he spoke, he curled up and looked away.
“So it’s the same nightmare as before?”
“Yes,” answered Christopher shortly.
“You still blame yourself.”
“I never did.”
Tom looked at him pointedly, “We both know that’s not true, Christopher.”
Christopher suddenly had tears in his eyes. “Marin Chastellain died as a warning to me. Simon lost his uncle because of that. I went after the treasure and put both you and Sally in danger! That attracted his attention! Now everyone: you, Sally, Lord Ashcombe, and who knows who else, are going to die because of it!”
Curling up into a ball, Christopher started sobbing. Tom looked around frantically as if there were some remedy or book in the shop that could help his friend. He had read the letter too, seen the threats, all of it. In his best fiends handwriting no less, as if the letter wasn’t creepy enough already. Not finding anything, he settled for rubbing his friends back.
“You know no one else blames you, right? Because it’s definitely not your fault. And that no matter what, I won’t leave? I almost lost you once, and I don’t think either of us wants to go through that again”
Once Christopher was able to stop crying, Tom led him up to the bedroom.
Tom pointed at the bed, “Sleep. Now.”
Too tired to argue, Christopher got into bed. Tom unknowingly sat on the same windowsill Christopher did the night before. And began to sing.
Lully, lullay, thou tiny child
Bye bye, lully, lullay
Thou tiny child
Bye bye, lully, lullay
O sisters, too, how many we do
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we sing
Bye bye lully, lullay
Christopher’s eyes began to droop. For the first time in weeks, he was relaxing.
Herod the king, in his raging
Charged he hath this day
His men of might in his own sight
All young children to slay
Already asleep, Christopher did not hear the last verse.
That woe is me, poor child, for thee
And ever mourn and may
For thy parting nor say nor sing
Bye bye, lully, lullay