She was thankful that the sun has set, before she had finally managed to remove her armour, wash the blood from her fingers and take a moment to breathe and scream and sob. It meant that it was dark before she ran from her tent, where Robbie had slept the night before, within arms reach, where they had joked and laughed and talked as only briars could, openly and freely and pulling no punches. And it meant that no one could see her run from her tent in a state of un-League undress and with tears streaming down her face, desperate to find a family member.

She was thankful that the tent was dim, when she entered the back of the Foxes’ tent in her chemise, carrying her dress in shaking hands and trembling fingers that could not fasten her sleeves properly. It meant that no one could see her shock, or her embarrassment, no one could see the blush that sprang up to her cheeks at seeing Fred inside with the others, waiting for her. And it meant no one saw her slowly hug her dress closer to herself and feel utterly naked in present company.

She was thankful that none of the other Foxes said anything about it, if they noticed (and they surely noticed!), when she sat down beside Frederick with her dress tossed over her knees, struggling to make a start on the sleeves. It meant that she could sit here quietly with her mortification, and focus on getting dressed without embarrassing herself any further, without the usual snark and loving insults that, while normally a sign of acceptance and affection, would have pushed her over the edge. Only her fingers would not stop shaking, and the task would take all night at this rate if she couldn’t…

She was thankful when Fred’s fingers picked up one of her sleeves and set to helping her, his attention engrossed in fitting the ribbons into the tiny rings that held them along one shoulder, while she worked on the other side. It meant that from the corner of her eyes she could watch his fingers caress the ribbons of her sleeves, the fabric; she could compare her own trembling fingers to his assured ones, and wonder at all the things that fingers do…

She was thankful that the whole task did not take long, and that she could gracefully excuse herself to step out the back of the tent to put the dress on. It meant that she could try and get her mind off of the idea of what his fingers would feel like on her skin, of whether the world would stop and everything in the midst of the storm would fall into place, like in everyone’s stories. It meant when she sat down next to him again, she had mostly stopped her fingers from shaking, when she put her hand in his and he squeezed it reassuringly. His fingers were so warm.

It was a long while before her mind successfully moved on from thinking about it.

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