Valran lay in bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. Even at night, it wasn’t truly dark in the Inner Circle. Light shone from other windows, from the streets, from down in the second and Third Circles, making the night a dim twilight haze.
The outer wall was dark at night, except for the few shuttered lanterns the sentries used. Nobody wanted to attract the beasts and critters that lived in the plains, and nobody who didn’t have to left their home or barracks after dark.
Valran tried not to shift. The first night, he’d been twisting and turning, trying to get comfortable, and he’d woken Keldra Dre. She’d been very sympathetic, but her sympathy had burned more than anger would have.
The bed was too comfortable. He hadn’t known such a thing was possible, but the bed was soft and giving in all the right places, firm where it needed to be, with sheets so slick Valran was surprised he didn’t slide right out of bed. His bed at home had been the best his family could get, far better than most people in their neighborhood — and it was a pile of rocks compared to this.
When he was working on the wall, he’d slept on a thin blanket on a plank of wood and been glad he was off the ground. He was pretty sure he still had splinters embedded in his hip and shoulder.
He wiggled as quietly as he could, trying to find a spot that let him sleep. She was so close to him, not touching — the bed was big enough for five; she could have been miles away — but still near enough that he could hear her breathe. And she was naked, and he was naked.
Valran stared blankly at the ceiling and thought of the Outer wall. He counted stones, laying one after another in his mind, until he could smell the dust of the plains, until, fitfully, he slept.