She irritably waved Fabien back when he offered to inspect the wound. At his mention of blood a visible jolt caused her body to lurch forward and she quickly inspected her hands, turning them at the wrists to examine both sides for dark smears. She released a soft breath of relief when her search turned up empty. Tentatively, she prodded the sore spot on her crown with the pads of her fingers, wincing at the contact.
Her eyes wandered up to meet his gaze. Suddenly and self-consciously, she turned her head and wiped her wet cheeks with the side of her hand.
She looked back up at him when he offered his hand. Her gaze caught the dark bloom of ink revealed beneath the burns on his scarred wrist and lingered there. She furrowed her brow, although whether it was the criminality of his tattoo or the extent of his wounds that had unsettled her was anyone’s guess. Warily, but masked with false bravado manifested in the defiant jutting of her chin, she accepted his hand and lifted herself from the floor. Her palms had new callouses over the soft skin.
The girl occupied herself with dusting the front of her dress but glanced up at his question as to the cat’s ownership. She gestured helplessly about as if indicating the house and shrugged her shoulders. She jostled for a place at the window, her breath coming in soft clouds from her lips, and reached for the saucer of milk. Gingerly, as though it were something precious, she turned to set it aside.
The hope sprouting from his question like a weed springing from a crack in concrete seemed to still her. She halted, still bent to place the saucer on a small table, and cast him a sidelong glance. He was silhouetted in the window, a thin trail of smoke seeping out into the stars above his halo of curls. His clothes didn’t fit, perhaps never quite would, clearly made for someone who had never known the hunger he had.
For one brief moment a dizzying pang of sharp hurt was exposed in that look; as if the boy had dug his fingers into a wound in her chest and squeezed the bloody pulp inside. Colombe shuddered and turned her face away.
It was another moment before she rejoined him at the window. Silently, she raised herself up to the ledge, wiggling until she had the leverage to tuck her knees beneath her. A moment later and she had successfully clambered onto the slanted roof. It was a practiced motion - clearly this was not her first time squeezing herself out the narrow opening.
The peak of the roof was behind her, cutting the front of the house and the road out of view. The section of roof she was on formed a neat alcove between gables. The courtyard and the land beyond it, bordered by dark roofs, stretched out beneath her. The aspen trees flanking this side of the house whispered conspiratorially at her presence.
The girl surveyed this swiftly-darkening domain but found no trace of the escaped feline. She sighed, and put out her hand as though to recruit the boy to aid her in her search.