Vega was out with Lyra on the night that he met Altair.
They’d been walking home, together, after a long day at market, and the night had just begun to fall, gray-purple and very soft. It was dark in the forest, and singing with insects.
Vega had probably noticed him first, but it was Lyra that stopped, resting one of her small, rough hands on Vega’s wrist. “Do you suppose he’s okay?” she asked.
She pointed into the shadows, and the figure grew more defined as Vega focused on it.
He was a shape at the base of a tree, dark and huddled into itself, and his brown arms were clenched over his knees. The night gleamed blue on him, and his eyes were hidden.
Vega swallowed at the sight of him. He was tired, feet aching and hands raw and tingling from handling fabric all day. Any other day, any other man, and he would have pulled on, to home and supper and sleep.
But the man under the tree lifted his head, hearing Lyra’s voice, and his eyes gleamed in the dark. They were eyes that pulled.