NaNoWriMo Day 27
posted at: 11/28/2014

Matilda considered asking the boy what they didn't know, but she was afraid she knew the answer and didn't want to hear him say 'they don't know if he'll live much longer." She tried to walk faster. It didn't make much difference, but she tried.

When they reached the hospital wing, the boy bowed to her and left her standing outside the door. She pushed it open and walked into the hushed silence of the medical ward. The air smelled of herbs and blood. There were beds lined up on opposite walls of the room. Not many of them were occupied, which surprised the Queen Mother considering the recent events in the castle. She supposed it was a nearly bloodless rebellion--which wasn't surprising when she considered how much Charlie's people were outnumbered. Most of them must have given up immediately.

Soon after she walked in, Matilda was approached by the physician, who led her to Frederick's bed and offered her a chair. She sat. Frederick was pale and had been wrapped in bandages in several places. The bandages were soaking through and he was being attended to by two nurses. The physician popped over occasionally, looking worried.

The Dungeon Keeper became aware of her and turned his head towards her. She reached out and held his hand. He was weak and his face was pallid but he managed to speak. "I'm sorry, your Grace." He closed his eyes for a few seconds. "I shouldn't have let you stay in jail. I shouldn't have put you on the block." He stopped to catch his breath. "I never wanted to hurt you."

The Queen Mother patted his hand and said softly, "I wasn't hurt, Frederick. You saved my life."

The Dungeon Keeper pressed on. "Not many people would talk to me. They were afraid of me, I guess." He grimaced in pain but kept talking. "But you did. Thank you."

"You don't have to thank me for anything."

Frederick nodded weakly. "I do. You were my friend. The only one. Thank you."

Matilda wasn't sure what to say. She squeezed his hand and they sat in silence for awhile. The Dungeon Keeper's breathing was shallow and the nurses flitted around him. He spoke again. "Don't stop, ok?"

"What?"

"Don't stop seeing people. The ones no one else does." He took a few breathes. "That's why people love you." Frederick was whispering now and Matilda had to lean in to hear him. "Goodbye, my friend."

Matilda felt tears coming to her eyes. They dripped down onto the floor. "Goodbye." She sat with him for several more minutes as his breathing slowed. Neither one of them spoke. Frederick wasn't strong enough and Matilda didn't know what to say. Not long afterwards, the Dungeon Keeper passed on. Matilda stood to close his eyes and stooped to lightly kiss his forehead before turning and leaving the room. She walked slowly down the stairs towards the veranda where she had left a small group of her friends chatting happily in the sun.

The End.

(Stay tuned for the Epilogue)