Monday, April 18

Fiona is a bit childish, I'm afraid.

"You sent for me?" He made a point to shut the door quietly and then bowed formally to the seemingly empty room. The room was cold and brightly lit by a tall window with a light curtain; in the center of the room on a threadbare carpet there was a table, and only one chair, which was empty. A rustling came from behind the curtain.

"Who is it?" It was a cranky voice. "Oh." Still cranky, but it had lost its snappy edge; apparently she wasn't expecting him. "Did Fiona tell you to come?" More rustling, and then she appeared from behind the curtain in a rumpled dress with her messy hair pinned up above her neck. He answered in the affirmative as she retrieved a large pile of books from the window-seat and piled them on the table.

She seemed to be thinking of something to say but too confused--or angry?--to voice whatever it was, so he poked at the silence with a cough and tried to be polite. "Umm, Fiona said you wanted a companion to walk with you and that your usual guard had been given some other duty to prepare for the counsel."

She sighed and composed a smile of cordiality. "Ah, yes. Thank you for coming; shall we walk?" He raised an eyebrow at the obvious composition of her smile. How odd. Well, he wasn't going to be formal; it was too much mental effort and he distrusted the startling likeness of court manners to dance steps. "Good. I am supposed to be at an unimportant counsel, and a lady's request will certainly excuse me."

"A 'lady'!" She seemed relieved that he had been caught escaping rather than interrupted from work, but still annoyed. "That is just what Fiona and I were discussing. She was lecturing me on sociability and I said I was going out to take a walk in a bit, and she said that was exactly what she meant, and went off before I had a chance say anything. I'm glad she didn't disturb you, though. Do you really want to walk?"

"I'm game if you are." The curtain blew open and a breeze blew through it, smelling of wood-smoke and that scent particular to autumn afternoons.

"Let me get my cloak; I don't know where Fiona put it."

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