The young man jolted awake as persistent, loud and violent knocking pounded on his front door, gasping and looking around wildly before relaxing as he realised he wasn’t in any immediate danger. Scrubbing a hand over his face, he ignored the knocking for a moment as he tried to calm his heartbeat. For a split second, he was taken back to that night many years ago…
“Go away!” He yelled loudly as he clambered out of bed in just his underwear. Reaching for his trousers, he sleepily pulled them on, muttering to himself unhappily, “Why the hell is anyone knocking on my door anyways? I moved up here specifically to avoid people, hell I even set up signs to ward people away. Can this git not read?”
The knocking thundered through the house again, and the man gritted his teeth.
“I said, go away!” He shouted, heading to the bathroom, smirking as the knocking stopped. Good. Left once again in blissful silence, he brushed his teeth, and smothered his chin, jaw and upper lip in soap as he grabbed his sharpest knife off the windowsill and started to shave away the stubble that had begun to grow over the last week or so. It wasn’t for appearances, it was for comfort. He didn’t like having stubble, or a beard; it didn’t feel very comfortable for him. He had shaved away half the stubble on the left side of his face, when suddenly the loud pounding on the door started again, but weaker this time, making him jump and slice his own cheek open by accident. Throwing the knife down in the sink, he growled and yelled so loud that it hurt his throat, “THAT’S IT! BUGGER OFF BEFORE I SMASH YOUR FACE IN!” He grabbed a towel and pressed it against his cheek to stop the bleeding, but the knocking continued, however it slowed and grew quieter bit by bit.
However, the young man was still infuriated by the fact that they persisted with the knocking despite the threat he gave, and he grabbed his knife again, dropping the towel as he stormed through the house to his front door - still shirtless - unlocking it and opening it as he spat angrily, “Don’t you understand English you stupi-...” He stopped suddenly as he took in the sight before him.
A woman sat slumped against the wall by the door on her knees, hands bound tightly in front of her with thick rope and clothes in tatters, barely covering her enough to be decent. Her breathing was laboured and face and body bruised, blood dried into her tangled, knotted mess of ginger hair. A stab wound was clear on her side, the blood pouring out and staining the previously brown tatters of a dress and skin, red.
“P-...ple-ase…” She croaked out, voice cracking, “H...he...lp… P-pl...ea...se…”
The young man’s anger dissipated quickly and he stared in shock for a moment before wordlessly moving to scoop her into his arms and bring her inside, pulling the door shut with his foot behind him as he did so. Laying her on the couch gently, he ran to the bathroom to grab his towel, quickly wiping away the soap without rinsing it off properly before grabbing about five clean towels. Rushing back to his living room, he lifted the woman gently and slipped a couple of the towels under her and after setting her back down again. She groaned as he bunched up the remaining towels and wrapped them around the wound, pressing them against it firmly to stem the bleeding. Once he was sure she wouldn’t bleed to death whilst he was busy, he headed to go collect what he needed to clean and bind the wound in her waist.
When he came back, she was barely alive, drifting in and out of consciousness. Growing worried now that she wouldn’t make it through the night, he set down his supplies and quickly laid a blanket over her lower half. Kneeling down by the woman, he grabbed the knife he had brought and murmured, “I’m not going to try anything funny miss, so please don’t panic, I just have to be able to get to the wound. You’re covered and you’ll stay covered, I swear.” And with that, he cut around her dress along the middle so he could see the wound - and her stomach, but he quickly brought the blanket up to to cover her more - and the upper part of her dress was now like a shirt. Gently pulling the towels away, he inhaled sharply as he saw how deep the wound was. Grabbing the cloth, he dipped it in the basin of hot water and began to clean the wound. The woman gasped in pain and cried out, tears spilling out as she screamed.
“I’m sorry, but this has to be done.” The man said calmly, and continued until the wound was all clean. He then grabbed the sterilised needle and thread, muttering, “You’re lucky I used to be a doctor. Though…” he stood and headed off again, coming back with a cloth full of ice. Pressing it against the wound until it would be mostly numb, he looked at her and noticed the symptoms of fever; which was a sign of infection. Stitching up the wound was easy, because the woman had passed out by now. Once she was bandaged up, he stood and threw away the bloodstained towels and cloths before putting away his supplies. Heading to his room, he grabbed the smallest shirt he owned and some trousers with a belt that she could put on later. Folding them and placing them on the table he sighed as he looked at her, muttering, “What are you doing here? What happened to you? We’re in the middle of the bloody mountains for God’s sake. If you weren’t covered in sweat and so filthy you might just be beautiful. So what happened to you?”
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