It was a bitterly cold November morning, and Lara was reluctant to pull herself from her cosy cocoon. Squinting, she could just about decipher the red digits glaring into her eyes.
Sighing deeply, Lara forced herself into a seated position, but refused to peel off her duvet which still contained the warmth of slumber. Rubbing her face, she felt sleep dust fall from her eyes, and into the creases of her clothes. Her senses awakening, she heard Winston's familiar knock on her door.
"Come in." Lara croaked, wishing him to do quite the opposite.
The clattering and knocking of crockery irritated Lara. Winston's shaky grip caused the contents to splash over the sides of the mug.
"Your coffee, Lady Croft." He said politely. He ambled over to the curtains, flinging them open at such an alarming speed that Lara gasped a little, shocked by the rays of the morning sun. She groaned, fumbling for her blankets.
"We'll have none of that, Lady Croft. If you don't mind me saying, you really must get down to some work. It's been three months since you returned from Prague, and you've not done a thing since. May I also recommend that you take a shower? The smell of sleep lingers in this room, somewhat." Without giving Lara a chance to reply, he left. Angry at Winston's statement, Lara pulled her top to her face, and quickly wished she hadn't.
"He's right, I smell terrible." With this new purpose, Lara finally arose from her bed and dragged herself into the shower. The water was strong, and struck her skin like hail. Finally she washed the grease from her body, and towelled herself dry. She caught a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror, a woman with dark, dull eyes. A mixture of lack of sleep and yesterday's makeup. "I've become a wreck." Lara thought to herself. She threw on a black jumper and a pair of jeans, applied mascara and eyeliner, swigged down her coffee and made her way downstairs. Winston awaited with a cloth.
"Now Lady Croft, I don't wish to boss you around, but you really must attend to your collection. It's gathering dust and beginning to look unsightly. I would clean them, but I fear doing damage. Anyway, it's time you did something." Passing Lara the cloth, he made his way to the kitchen, leaving her to her task. She clenched her teeth. Why couldn't the old man just piss off? Not wanting to be bothered again, she thought that she might as well appease him. She remembered a time where her butler would never have dared boss her around. She was losing her touch!
Seeing her collection after all this time saddened Lara, it reminded her of the rush she had experienced from tomb raiding, at least before Egypt. Just the thought of that place sent shivers down her spine, remembering the entrance crumbling around her, and the sickening realisation that she was trapped.
"Egypt Werner, you walked away and left me."
"Damnit." She thought to herself; she hated her memories of Paris, and the loss of her mentor. It was only with hindsight that she realised how stupid she had been to be angry with him - he had devoted his time to searching for her and she had shown less than gratitude. Paris also brought back other times, and Prague. All those events, which had occurred three months previously, still haunted her daily. The Cabal and their plans, the plot that she became caught up in, had truly affected her. Even now she felt lost. Her friend, and the man who inspired her to do what she had loved so dearly, had been stolen from her. Not only that, but she also lost a man that she had been intrigued by. Lara felt that she could not describe her relationship with Kurtis as friendship - it could not really be defined by any single word. It was a bond formed from similar interests, and she had grown fond of him. Lara blamed herself for allowing him to take on Boaz alone, despite his self assurance that he 'could take care of her.' She still had one piece of him, his glaive that had led her out into the shadows with an unwavering pull. She believed that it could have led her to Kurtis, but the winding tunnels were empty and dank. She had never found him, or his body. Either way, Lara thought to herself, he could rest in peace now.
Lara finished meticulously polishing the glaive. It's retracting spines were still a little bloodstained, but she found the object beautiful. Placing it back beneath its glass case, Lara gave one last glance to her collection; casting her eyes over the Atlantean Scion and the Dagger of Xian, she fondly remembered her escapades in retrieving them and all her other artefacts. With this thought, she turned off the light. There was little point in dwelling on the past.
As she returned to her bedroom, she felt tears bead in her eyes. Mentally slapping herself, she decided she would benefit from some exercise. After donning a thick jacket and trousers, holsters and pistols, she made her way outside into the icy morning. Frost covered the ground, and there was a prominent wind which penetrated Lara's clothes. Fighting the horrible weather, she found her shooting ground, set up a few targets and let the bullets rain out. With every shot she imagined the ghosts of her past collapsing, finally leaving her in peace. Winston had suggested a psychiatrist, but Lara angrily denied the use of talking as a way to solve problems - action was the way to go, and shooting was her therapy. Not quite satisfied, she ventured a few paces into the neighbouring armoury and loaded her machine gun. She ran out into the stinging cold with vengeance, and fired countless rounds at her targets. Finally, she was out of ammo, and felt that she had bettered her demons for a while. As she made her way back to the manor, it began to rain - at least she could tell Winston it was that which had caused her makeup to run.