It wasn't a terribly loud sound, or a constant one. It came and went irregularly, unexpectedly, and just grate-on-the-ear resonantly enough to drag Marguerite up from the depths of slumber. She made what felt like an extreme effort and pried her heavy, sticky eyelids open a fraction.
It's night, she realized first of all, followed closely by, I'm in my room. In my bed. She didn't remember getting there, but even barely awake and in the dim light of a single oil lamp, the sights and sounds of her room in the Treehouse were instantly familiar. Except for that irritating noise, of course – and the awkwardly-slumped, disheveled figure listing precariously in the chair beside her bed. John. Roxton must have been watching over her before falling asleep. The corners of her mouth curved upwards slightly in a fond smile. The smile vanished as a yet another snore cut through the air.
"John." Marguerite was surprised at how weak her voice sounded, and by how much effort it took to speak. She was so tired.
A particularly loud snore was the only response.
Maybe I can just go back to sleep, Marguerite mused hopefully. She was certainly tired enough She closed her eyes, only to have them jerk open again involuntarily as yet another nasal rumble reverberated in the room. Damn. She didn't want to move, wasn't sure she could move, but she couldn't let this go on, either. Her exhaustion warred with her irritation. Unexpectedly, another thought drifted through her weary mind: John must be awfully uncomfortable to be snoring like that. As she well knew, the hunter usually slept quite silently.
She licked her lips and tried again. "John," she called, a little louder.
A slight frown creased the sleeping lord's forehead, but his eyes remained closed.
Dark eyes opened and immediately focused on her. "Marguerite?" The open worry on his face was softened a little by relief when he realized she was watching him. "You're awake?"
"Not really," Marguerite yawned.
Roxton straightened up in his chair, wincing as his cramped neck and shoulders protested bitterly. He ignored the pain and took one of Marguerite's hands in his. "How do you feel? I'll go get Challenger."
"It's the middle of the night," Marguerite protested, barely stifling another yawn. "And I'm fine, just tired. I don't need Challenger."
"Marguerite, you collapsed!" Just remembering seeing her crumple caused him to tense, sending even more pain radiating through his neck.
Oh. That explains why I don't remember getting here. Other memories stirred hazily in her mind, and she frowned even as she smothered another yawn. "After the last week, I'm not surprised," she murmured. "The shaman warned us something like that might happen. I need sleep, that's all."
"But - " He knew she was probably right, but Roxton seethed with the need to do something.
"There is one thing you can do," Marguerite interrupted, correctly reading his state even through her fatigue.
"What is it?"
Marguerite summoned up the energy to tug on Roxton's hand and wiggle to the far side of her bed. "Come get some sleep."
Roxton hesitated only for a second before nodding. He carefully eased himself into her bed and gathered Marguerite into his arms. He heard her give a sleepy murmur of approval before she relaxed completely, slipping back into slumber. He pressed a kiss into her hair, feeling the tension drain from his body. Within minutes he, too, was asleep.