Disclaimer: You know the drill.
AN: Written for the Muggle-worthy Excuse Committee in the Ministry of Magic Discord. Set just after the mission Every Sparrow Fallen
Selni Peliad looked over her sleeping Sparrows with a grim expression. If the Fateless One had been a little bit less lucky or skilled or had simply walked away or had missed Raf's final words…
She shuddered. There had been so many things that could have happened, could have gone wrong, could have gone a different direction. Had the Fateless One not stepped in, the fate of both herself and her little Sparrows would have been nothing more than a brutal death. A sad tragedy to be blamed on Orwin Dunn and his thugs for hire. And all to hide Captain Talibor's crimes!
She sat on her bedroll, unable to sleep. The familiar sounds of the Lower Tunnels could be heard around her. The rats scurrying around, the dripping of water from the sewers, the sounds of the city working overhead. She had been too trusting of the Watch, of Captain Talibor. He had convinced her that he had their best interests at heart, that he was just and actually cared for them. She had even shared her bed with him on a few occasions.
She winced once more. Once, the idea of sharing her bed with him was a pleasant thought. A distraction from the everyday struggles to survive and to lead. Now, it was just a reminder of how little they meant to him. Or how much more he cared for his money over her, over all of them. It really mattered not. Had any of his gestures and words actually meant anything at all, or was it all a ruse? At what point did he fall to corruption, or was he always corrupt and she had simply not known? Round and round the questions chased themselves in her head, giving her a painful headache.
There were other, less pleasant questions as well. Questions like whether he would have sold the surviving Sparrows off with the other slaves that he sold? Chained to the prisoners he was selling, who would notice or care if they simply disappeared? A few missing bodies amongst the Sparrows would not have been noticed. Or would he have simply killed them all to make things tidier?
One of the younger Sparrows whimpered slightly in her sleep and Selni sadly shook her head. It seemed that she was not the only one having nightmares. She doubted that any of them would sleep easily tonight. Or any other night for some time she suspected.
Still, she slipped closer to the girl and placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder. The girl was only fourteen and simply another war orphan. Tuatha Raiders had killed her parents and destroyed her small farm and she had managed to end up in this city. Gods knew that there were plenty of those in the city, in Amular overall.
If this had taught her one thing, it was that they could only rely on themselves in future. Only Sparrows and nobody else. The Watch, which they had freely exchanged information with, had proven themselves to be untrustworthy. Captain Talibor was dead, but what of the rest of the Watch? The Seige of Mel Senshir was broken and the army was finally on the offensive. The end was in sight. Plenty of opportunities to make money. Or settle old grudges with their little group, especially now they were weakened.
She found herself looking at the doorway. Some of the older Sparrows had left to join the war. The hero of Mel Senshir inspired them to join the army, while others joined the army to get away from what had happened here. She didn't blame them. She was tempted to join up and run away as well. But then who would look after the others?
No, she would stay. At least for now. Maybe, someday in the distant future when the Sparrows were gone, she would go. But that would be a long time in the future. Not yet and not now. She cared about her people too much, her little Sparrows in the underbelly of Rathir. She had to protect them, to keep them safe and lead them where they needed.
It was a bit like being a parent really. A lot of the Sparrows left were still little more than children for whom fate had been unkind. War orphans who's families had been killed by Tuatha Raiders or fighting on the frontlines. Then there were the runaways. Children who's life had been so bad that they had taken the truly desperate step of running away.
Selni knew what it was like to be that desperate. She knew far too well. Her personal life…well it was best not to dwell on it really. But it was…difficult. Especially after her parents had died. And her uncle…
Well it wasn't something to dwell on.
Her mind began to wander back to her parents. Would they be proud of her? Surprised? Disappointed?
She gave herself a quick shake. Dwelling on the past and those who had long gone was not helpful. She really needed to think ahead to the future. Orwin Dunn was unlikely to be the only enemy the Sparrows would have, either now or in the future. Some people would look down on them with contempt, considering themselves above someone as small and insignificant as the Sparrows.
On more than one occasion, there had been motions proposed to the city to round up and remove the Sparrows from existence. Every single time, those motions had failed to pass. But the events of the past few weeks might well be considered a good reason for them to actually go ahead and finish the job Captain Talibor had started. To wipe out the Sparrows with kindness instead of violence, as if removing them would solve the issues that gave rise to the Sparrows in the first place.
Then there were those who resented the Sparrows for an entirely different reason. People who would exploit their members and take a cut of their earnings or put them to better use. (Better for them and not the Sparrows, she noted grimly to herself.) Those people were hardly subtle in her experience. They would normally approach her first and try to buy them out and leave disappointed.
Then there were rival gangs. Criminals who thought that the Sparrows a threat to their businesses and would happily slit their throats for a paltry sum.
She rolled over in her bedroll once more. So many things to worry about, so many possibilities for the future. If nothing else, Talibor had driven home just how vulnerable, how precarious the very existence of the Sparrows was. The knife edge that they lived on in the city.
She rolled over in her bedroll once more. The winds of fate had been foiled or at least changed for now. As for the future…well that was the great unknown and as leader, she would meet it head on and deal with it as best she could.