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Self-Induced Injuries to Escape

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Cassandra wakes up slowly. Images flash through her head: her feet pounding on wet snow, arrows piercing her back and sticking through her chest, he brother's sorrowful look as he mouthed, "I'm sorry," and turned his back to her.

Maybe he came back for her, Cassandra thinks. Maybe he's taken her somewhere safe. But then she opens her eyes and sees the familiar walls of her bedroom in Whitestone Castle.

Panic and fear sink through her. Percy abandoned her. And everyone else...Cassandra squeezes her eyes shut, willing herself not to relive her last moments with her family. At least Percy's alive. She holds onto that thought. Percy will come for her. Of course he will.

Cassandra looks down at herself. She's wearing a white dress that's far too big, it must be Whitney's or Vesper's. Underneath it she can see thick padding of bandages and her wrists are strung up to either side of the headboard, held there with thick iron manacles. Pain runs through her torso, she forces herself to bear it.

She takes a deep breath.

Unless she wants to meet the same fate as he family, she has to escape. Preparing herself for pain, Cassandra tugs on her manacles, feeling the slight space between her wrists and the cuffs. She squeezes her eyes shut and folds her hand together and pulls. She screws her face up, fighting not to cry out as her thumb pops out of place, joints breaking as she squeezes her hand through the cuff. When her arm falls to the bed, Cassandra allows herself only a moment of pain, nearly biting through her lip to stop from screaming, before looking to the other wrist and doing the same.

She tastes blood in her mouth as she holds back a scream.

With both of her hands broken, Cassandra sits on the bed for a long moment, trying to breathe through the pain in her wrists and torso. She looks down. The bandages are starting to soak through from her exertion. But she has to move and get out.

She has to find Percy.

She climbs out of bed, cradling her hands to her chest. Miraculously, she finds the door unlocked and gingerly pushes it open. Poking her head a bit into the hall, she sees no one. So with a silent prayer to the Dawnfather, she steps into the hallway and quickly starts making her way to the stairs. Every step causes her to wince as pain shoots through her chest. She's about halfway down the corridor now, almost there.

“What are you doing out of bed, little one?”

Ice cold chills cover Cassandra head to toe as she turns to find Lord and Lady Briarwood in the hallway looking right at her. His face is calm and his eyes kind, but Cassandra knows better than to fall for it. These are the people who murdered her family and left their bodies swinging from the Sun Tree.

“You’re still healing,” Lady Briarwood adds in a motherly tone. “You need to rest.”

Cassandra backs away from them. “What are you doing?”

Her back hits something and she turns around to see a guard towering over her. His Whitestone guard uniform is stained with red with blood and scrawled over with the Briarwood crest.

“Restrain her,” Sylas commands.

Cassandra screams as the guard wraps his arms around her, squeezing down on her arrow wounds. He picks her up like she weighs nothing with a hiss of, "Stop fighting."

She doesn't. She kicks and screams, flailing is surely aggravating her wounds, but she can’t find it in herself to care. The last thing she sees before she passes out is Lady Briarwood smiling at her slyly.

Cassandra wakes up with a scream. She throws herself out of bed quickly, tripping on her sheets as she does. Trinket who had been sleeping on her rug, sits up with a grunt.

She gasps, not remembering he’s there and scambles back for a moment before recognizing the bear. She's not in the castle, she's in Vex and Percy's house. Cassandra drags a hand over her hair and takes a deep breath.

“Trinket?" The bear lifts his head. "Can you take me to Vex and Percy?”

He grunts in acknowledgement and stands, waiting until she has a hand firmly on his back before leaving her bedroom. Cassandra keeps her eyes squeezed closed the entire way, not wanting to see Sylas or Delilah’s faces in the darkness. She trusts Trinket completely to take her there safely.

She hears the sound of Trinket’s nose against a door and opens her eyes. Vex and Percy are sound asleep in their bed, Percy’s arms around his wife, his head tucked against her hair. But when Trinket moans loudly, they both sit up groggily.

“Cass?” Percy asks, reaching for his glasses as Vex clicks on a light.

“You said...” She takes a deep breath, suddenly feeling incredibly nervous. Why did she just barge in here? They were sleeping. She should go back to her room. Cassandra shakes her head. “You said whenever I needed you I could come get you.”

“Of course.” Percy sits up. “Come here.” He moves over, making extra room between him and Vex. Cassandra nearly sobs as she makes her way between them. Vex pulls the covers back and tucks her legs underneath.

“What can we do, darling?” Vex asks, putting a hand on Cassandra’s shoulder.

“Don’t leave.”

"Of course not." Percy wraps an arm around her shoulders and with a shaky sigh, Cassandra presses her head into his shoulder. “Never again.”

"Do you want the door locked?" Vex asks. Cassandra nods into Percy's shirt and she feels the bed shift beside her as Vex stands. Within a few seconds she returns, pressing a kiss to the back of Cassandra's head before sliding back under the covers.

They're all silent for a long moment, Percy rubbing Cassandra's back. Eventually Cassandra says, "I prayed every night that you would come back for me."

She feels her brother's breathing change his his arm tightens around her. "I'm sorry it took me so long. If I had known you were alive-"

"If ifs and ans were pots and pans, there'd be no need for tinkers," Cassandra mumbles.

Percy laughs, "You sound like mother."

Cassandra smiles sadly, "Good." She nestles closer to her brother. This is something that they've gotten used to in the past years. Cassandra spent five years of her life only being touched when she was being manipulated. The first time Vex kissed her head, Cassandra broke down in tears.

It took her a long time to be able to receive touch like this, let alone ask for it. Now there's no place she'd rather be than leaning into her brother's side or pressed against her sister's arm.

"Do you think you'll be able to sleep again?" Vex asks softly. Cassandra nods, already feeling a little sleepy. "Do you want us to stay awake until you're asleep?"

Cassandra looks over at her, "You don't have to-"

"Nonsense," Percy cuts her off. "We'll stay up until you're asleep. That'll probably be soon anyway," he says with a light laugh as Cassandra yawns. "Sleep, you're safe."

"Love you," Cassandra murmurs, her eyes slipping closed.

"Love you too, darling," Vex says with a kiss to her head.

She feels a rumble in Percy's chest and assumes he responds, but she's too far out of it to listen.