The cold woke Gilfrid shortly before dawn. His head throbbed, and memories of last night were fuzzy at best.
He was also naked and covered in blood.
It was not his blood. Most people would have taken comfort from that fact, but Gil was not most people. He might not yet be a man in the eyes of the community but he knew his own mind, and did not always see things as they did.
Gil’s whole body ached as he ran his hands through his hair several times, but no lumps, gashes or even bruises presented themselves. Pity. A head wound would have neatly explained the pain, the blood and the memory loss, if not the nakedness. A head wound would have healed in time, leaving his life intact. But though he hadn’t felt them before, he knew the symptoms all too well. His head was intact, but this was not something his life would heal from.
Happily it was still early in the season, and the snow was light, even out in the open. By the afternoon it would be gone. Here in the shelter of the trees, not a flake had fallen on him. He was quite dry – if you didn’t count the blood smears that still hadn’t fully congealed in places. Shivering out of proportion to the weather, he trotted over to the edge of the trees and picked up a handful of snow, wiping the blood off with it as best he could. By the time he was done, he may not have been fully clean, but he had never been more awake.
He couldn’t risk going home like this, naked and smeared with dried blood. Everyone might still be asleep – but if not…
His mother would be thrilled. He refused to give her the satisfaction.
Time to find some pants.