Insult by Proxy

Off-duty Mess

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-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= This is the place where off duty soldiers and sailors can relax and eat. There is a small cookfire and hearth and a few tables set up nearby. On one wall is a dart board, and on a small table in the corner there is a chess set. Someone has left a pile of parchment with sketches of his fellow knights on another table. This is a comfortable, casual room. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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You can go: Out to the Northern Stairwell <S>

Contents: A daughter of eve with short, copper hair (Megren); Hearth <LIT>; and

Tiny.

Haft sits with his legs stretched out before the fire, looking comfortably content, not unlike the small cat draped drowsily across his right thigh.

Megren walks into mess, casting her glance around as if looking for someone. Her eyes finally land on Haft, and she moves toward him. “Haft, have you seen — oh. Hello, Tiny.”

Haft, who had almost been nodding, looks up and says,  “Hmm?  Seen who?”

Megren says, “My cat.”

Haft asks, “Ohhhhh.  Yours?  I’d almost forgotten.  Spends an awful lot of time roaming round other people’s bunks–and bodies, don’t she?”

Haft strokes the kitten as he says this.

Megren wrinkles her nose. “Sir Darrin says pets reflect their owners, so I don’t know what that means.”

Haft pulls a face.  “Are you saying that thanks to Sir Darrin, I’ve just insulted you by proxy?”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Megren sits on the ground across from him in one fluid motion, her legs crossing under her. “Was it an insult? I was only thinking observation.”

Haft says, “Well, I’m not accusing you of either of those traits, sneaking into other people’s bunks or draping yourself all over them…well maybe the former, if you were pulling a prank on someone.””

Megren snorts. “I don’t think Sir Darrin meant it quite that literally.”

Haft cocks his head.  “So what does Tiny reflect in you, then?”

Megren wrinkles her nose again, going a bit pink now.

Haft says, “Well, there’s the red hair…”

Megren says, “I think it’s because she’s bossy.”

Haft looks mildly surprised.  “You think you’re bossy?”

Megren lifts her brows, in a sort of surprised, relieved kind of way. “You don’t?”

Haft looks uncomfortable.  “Uh…”  His brow furrows, and he seems to be honestly considering the question.

Megren pulls out a little bag and takes a small piece of smoked meat from it, laying the food on her knee in hope of tempting Tiny. She doesn’t interrupt Haft’s thinking, but the movement distracts from it enough that he could probably change the subject if he wanted.

Haft looks mournful.  “Now that ain’t right, tryin’ ta take away a man’s lap cat.”

Megren picks the meat back up and extends it to him to use instead.

Haft grins and offers it to Tiny.  “No,” he says, “I would not say that you are bossy.  I would say that you can be somewhat…demanding.  I think that the right word.”  He explains.  “You have a view of how the world should work and how everyone should behave in a given situation.”

Megren nods once, her mouth quirking upward. “Maybe it’s that, then.”

Haft says, “Not always a bad thing.  You’ve got high standards.  But bossy makes me think of someone ordering other people around all the time.  Like Brosie, but…not as a job.”

Megren says, “That’s how I think of it too.”

Haft strokes Tiny, who seems completely disinterested in the petting now there’s meat to be had.  “Focused…stubborn.”

Megren grins. “Sorry.”

Haft snorts.  “That was a complement, not a criticism.  Name me one guardsman who’s survived training and their first midnight shift during a rainstorm on the wall and I’ll tell you they’re properly stubborn.”

Megren smiles. “Yeah, I suppose that’s so.”

Tiny, sensing Haft has nothing further to offer, jumps off his leg and approaches Megren.

Megren extends her fingers to the kitten to investigate.

Haft says, “I should like to think you are not so fickle.”

Megren’s lips tilt upward again, reflectively this time. “I suppose only time will tell on that. I did leave the guard after a mere two years.”

Haft taps a finger against his lips as if considering the point.  “True, but I advised you to, so I can’t really condemn you on the matter.”

Megren says, “We’ll see how long I stick out this squire business.”

Haft looks unconcerned.  “How’s it going?”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Megren says, “I suspect Sir Darrin thinks its got more to do with horses than the others do.”

Haft asks, “Saddlesore?”

Megren says, “No, I don’t mind.”

Haft says, “Probably comes from him being from Coghill.”

Megren says, “Oh, he likes all animals, I think.”

Haft asks, “He’s not making you ride goats and sheep and turtles, right?”

Megren says, “Not as yet.”

Haft says, “All right.  Well, if he tries, you just come running back to the guard, where the sane people are.”

Megren says, “Good to know I have a place should I need it.”

Haft says, “Wouldn’t want to waste a good guardswoman hunting.”

Megren says, “Mm, there’s that.”

Haft asks, “Hunting?”

Megren says, “Not putting things to waste.”

Haft asks, “Oh.  Do you miss it?”

Megren asks, “Hunting or guarding?”

Haft says, “Guarding.”

Megren takes a breath and releases it, then nods.

Haft asks, “Are you…still glad of your choice?”

Megren says, “I think so. You can… you can miss a thing without exactly wanting it back, if you know what I mean. Maybe there’s something you miss in Narnia but you don’t wish you were living there again.”

Haft says, “Hmm.  Some of the music.  And Bergdale does a peach proud.”

Megren asks, “What is the music like?”

Haft asks, “Bright and rich…you ever heard panpipes?”

Megren shakes her head.

Haft says, “They’re funny-looking.  Bunch of hollow pipes of different lengths tied together, and they–the Fauns–blow across the ends of them to make a sound.”

The fire flickers, casting dancing shadows all over the walls.

Tiny sits unceremoniously where she is and scratches one ear with a hind paw.

Megren asks, “Like playing a lot of pipes at once then?”

Haft says, “Yes.”

Megren skritches between Tiny’s ears. “I’d like to hear it.”

Haft says, “I think you’d like it.”

Megren says, “Maybe one day I’ll get to see it for myself.”

Haft says, “Narnia?  Maybe.  It’s hard to say where a knight’s business will take her.”

Megren corrects, “If I become a knight.”

“Failed squires with their tails between their legs might wander across the border before begging Garian for their job back, too,” Haft quips.

Megren’s mouth quirks like she’s taking this suggestion a little too seriously, but appreciatively nonetheless.

Haft looks down the length of his leg and eyes his left boot, lifting the foot a little to get a better view.

Megren asks, “Forgot to shine this morning?”

Haft says, “‘Course not.  But there’s a smudge near the toe that’ll need addressing.  Might as well do it after my next watch, given the weather.  Still, I do need to change my shirt.” He rises from his chair.  “Keep the wee beast out of trouble.””

Megren lifts Tiny to balance on top of her head and raises the kitten’s paw to wave goodbye.

Haft sighs. “Incorrigable, the pair of you.”  He waves back and turns to leave the mess.

Haft walks into the northern stairwell.