Brianna by Alan Delaney

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SUMMARY: He'd been protecting her all his life, it was time to return the favour.

Brianna loved the autumn - the golden glow of the trees as they prepared to shed their leaves, the excited chirruping of the starlings as they gathered themselves together, the soft crinkling of leaves as she ran through the forests - it was such a pretty time. She was walking barefoot through a field of tall grass watching small clouds of dandelion seeds wafting along on the cool breeze. She closed her eyes and took a long, lingering breath, tasting the sweet, warm air filling up her lungs and feeling the warm glow of the evening sun on her face. It was a moment she had experienced many, many times before but one she would never tire of, one she would never stop enjoying. Her moment was interrupted when she heard heavy footsteps running up behind her. She opened her eyes and looked skywards, slightly annoyed by the interruption. Whoever it was didn't sound happy. She turned her head around to face the source of the footsteps. It was Lughaidh, he wasn't happy.

"She'll be very angry with you when she finds out what you've done." he said sternly, breathlessly.

"It's OK, I know how to handle her."

"No, no, I don't think you've seen her when she's really angry, she'll kill you," his voice was breaking up, he was distressed.

"I said I can take care of myself." She said that with more determination than she'd intended, she had not appreciated being interrupted from her walk in this manner.

Lughaidh was fighting back tears, his voice frantic, "I don't want you to die, Bri."

He was in tears now, Brianna softened her manner and turned around to face him fully. She saw that he was in a lot of distress, his body was visibly shaking, he was trying to say something but the words were sticking in his throat, and his arms were jerking randomly, not knowing where to go. Brianna walked over to him and placed her hands on his shoulders. Standing upright they met eye to eye but she had developed a technique of leaning towards him and bowing her head slightly so that she was looking up at him. She did so now and smiled at him sweetly in the way she knew he liked.

"My dear, dear brother, always looking out for his little sister and trying to keep her out of trouble. When will you ever learn? Come, sit with me."

She pushed him gently towards the ground. He was broad and stoutly built but gave into Brianna's pressure easily. She sat on her haunches and pulled her brothers head onto her chest and held him comfortingly. He was still sobbing but was fighting to get himself under control.

"I....I don't think I...I...I...," Brianna held him tighter and put her hand over his mouth to keep him quiet.

"It's OK, take your time. I know what you are going to say anyway."

Lughaidh gathered himself and sat up sternly, knocking Brianna's grip loose. Grief was turning to despair, "For Diarmuid's sake can you take this seriously. You're in a lot of trouble, you..."

"Stop it." Brianna was stern and serious now, her words forceful. She wagged a finger in his face to get the point home.

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