Disclaimer: this is old. Years old. Recent rewrite, but years old.

 

Victory

 

Hero

He’s a schoolboy when the soldiers come. Everyone lines up and the soldiers take people away, and he doesn’t think that’s right, but he’s an actor. He can see everything and keep his face blank. Stay quiet. Obedient.

Guilt twists in his stomach. He can’t sleep until he sneaks away to where he thinks the resistance might be and offers his services.

Fighting isn’t fun, but he can eat without feeling sick and sleep sweet as a baby, no matter what he does. He might have been a good actor, once, but playing on the stage of occupation he does what he has to. He’s the stupid boy people have to teach, then the young man they like, then their hero, and what better role to play?

And if he has ghosts and scars, who doesn’t? He’s haunted in the day, by friends and enemies and all the things he’s had to do. But he’s the hero, standing in glory over the villain, and he can sleep. That’s all he ever wanted to do. He wanted to be able to sleep.

If this doesn’t feel like glory, standing on a balcony with a crown on his head and a smile on his lips, he wouldn’t admit it to a living soul.

 

Priest

He prays every night for the dead, and every day with the living, and neither living not dead saw him break.

Warrior priest they name him, master of the bow. Most holy they call him, an archer’s saint in his own lifetime. He smiles and nods and every second of every day he regrets the moment he first killed.

He tells no one about his first kill. All that history will know of him is that he saved their hero, their king, with a shot from an old hunting bow that no one else could have made. Sometimes he closes his eyes and remembers a burning monastery.

No one notices how little he sleeps.

On the day the war ended, he burned his bow. If the dead he wishes peace upon are his own, he’ll never say a word about it. Nobody will realise how broken his is until he hangs himself in the vestry.

His friends will not speak of his death.

 

Barkeep

She helped the resistance in her time and slept with the enemy, and played both sides. Now she smiles, leaning on the bar of her own tavern. The resistance won, and it left her behind, but she’s not one to sit back and moan her loss. She had finery, given to her by the people she’d used, and she wouldn’t stay hidden away, slaving over tables all night whilst men leered at her.

She owns a tavern in the city, and she spreads her name, and the old resistance members come back looking to drink with friends. But their good old Sal doesn’t let anyone make her girls do what they don’t want to, and she won’t let the local gangs push her around neither.

The resistance owes her, and they know she knows it.

There’ll be no telling who the father of her son is. No one’ll call him a bastard, either, not to his face, and she teaches him how to use people, how to make them dance to your will. He has her eyes and her wit and his father’s easy smile, the one that makes every woman that sees it go pink. Some of the men, too.

She teaches him to never trust a hero.