In which there are goodbyes
Contents: A daughter of eve with short, copper hair (Megren).
Haft stands at the table arranging his pack. The children are outside and Brigid is washing up from breakfast. Jorgen sits by his brother-in law. “This is a lot lighter now than it was coming,” Haft says.
Jorgen smiles. “A jug of cider and two wooden swords will do that.”
Megren snorts from where she kneels by the fireplace, making sure everything in her pack is settled. Hers decidedly does not look lighter.
Brigid laughs. “Well, I can help with that. I’ve got sweet bread and dried apricots for both of you.” She produces two bundles wrapped in cloth.
Haft brightens. “Mother’s bread recipe?” His sister nods. “Ah, you’ll love this Meg.”
Brigid says, “See? Now your pack will be nearly as heavy as it was coming.”
Haft shakes his head. “I’m afraid your efforts are for naught, though I’m sure they’re much-appreciated. I’ve got on more thing here I been waiting to get rid of.” He draws a twine-tied sack from his satchel. “Megren wasn’t the only one who bought sweets. Thought you might save these till after I’ve gone and hers have run out.”
Jorgen shakes his head. “You’re spoiling them rotten, you know.”
Haft says, “Well, I’ve got years to make up for. I’m sure the two of you can ration these accordingly.”
Megren accepts the gift in both hands with a delighted thank you. “I’m sure they could never be rotten.”
Haft says, “Agreed. I couldn’t have wished for a better niece and nephews.”
Brigid smiles. “They’ve certainly taken to you.”
Jorgen says, “Not to mention they’ve got him wrapped around their little fingers. ‘Specially Calla.”
“Well why not?” Haft says easily. “Not every man can boast of a perfect wee nymph for a niece.”
Jorgen glances toward the door. “Speaking of which, before they come back in to say goodbye, we need a few quick words.”
Haft raises a brow. “Yes?”
Jorgen says, “First thing is that you’re not to send any more money.”
Haft chews his lip. “Yeah. I figured that.”
“But you are to write letters, and often,” says Brigid.
Haft leans his chin on his hand. “Reckon I can do that. And I’ll be expecting word back.”
Brigid comes around the table, taking her brother in her arms. “You are always welcome. With or without warning. Understand?”
Haft returns the hug. “Yeah.”
Megren stands a little out of the way, letting them have this moment without her interference.
When Haft releases his sister, Jorgen reaches out his hand, and the men grasp each other’s forearms. “It’s good to see you again Haft. But you ever make my wife cry again and I’ll hunt you down and box your ears, bigger than me or not.”
Haft says, “I’ll hold you to that.”
Brigid moves to Megren and extends her hands. “Thank you for accompanying my brother. It’s been a pleasure to have you in our home.”
Megren takes both hands in hers. “Not that he ended up needing it, but I’m glad I was able to tag along and meet all of you.”
Jorgen turns. “You’re always welcome, should you happen to pass this way again.”
The door opens and Ven enters, followed by his siblings. Ash in particular looks glum.
“Wish you didn’t have to go so soon,” Ven says.
His uncle claps him on the shoulder. “It’s been a full week. And maybe a long wait before I see you again, but I’ll write, and maybe you’ll write back too. Your father says you’ve got your letters down pretty well.”
“I’ll write,” Ash pipes up.
Haft grins, clasping his arm around his younger nephew’s shoulders in a side-hug. “Send me a drawing. Send me one of your ma. Or your sister. Or your brother with grass sticking out of his hair, as I first saw him.”
Ash smiles. “I will.”
Haft releases the boy. “Goodbye Twig. You’ll be almost a tree next time I see you, I reckon.”
Calla leaps forward and throws her arms around her uncle, who twirls her accommodatingly as she shrieks with delight. After a moment he sets her down gently. “I’ll miss you, princess.”
Megren crosses one arm over her stomach, holding the other elbow as she watches again.
Calla reaches into the pocket of her apron. “I made this for you,” she says, drawing out a folded piece of cloth.
Haft takes the proffered fabric, unfolding it to reveal a well-hemmed kerchief with an awkwardly-embroidered “H” on the corner. “It’s perfect,” he beams at her. “My lady’s favor.”
Calla smiles brightly.
Haft hesitates, as if wishing to prolong the moment, but turns and shoulders his satchel. “I’ll write soon. Be well, all of you.” He catches his sister’s hand and presses it once before turning to head for the door.
Megren gives Calla a hug, and the boys each a handshake and a few parting words before she follows Haft out the door.