Jenny: Blue Broken Sky

Water spattered from Jason's cloak as he flung it off onto a bench. The Guttersnipe stepped round him and moved to the warm, cheerful glow of the fire, which was beginning to fill the whole room with a hollow saffron light as the darkness deepened outside. Artos was there, seated in his chair with a block of wood and a knife in his hands. For a brief moment she saw him wholly occupied with his work, then he flung up his head and saw them, smiling.

"You have emerged!" Jason called as he hung up his cloak.

"Yes, Wulf hauled me out here. I had had enough of being cooped up in my room, and the fire here was so inviting." Artos turned to the Guttersnipe as she approached. "Well, how was the service that I missed - again."

"Good, as always," she replied mockingly, bending to kiss his cheek.

"You hate me," he replied, pushing her aside so he could see Jason, who came up on the Guttersnipe's heels. She left them momentarily to shoo damp Frip away. "She throbs," he told the young surgeon, who was already squatting down to get a look at his leg, "but I am thinking it is only the weather."

Jason clenched his brows together. "She is looking rather well," he said, prodding a little further. "There is no heat, and the stitching is holding." He rose and set a hand on the other's shoulder. "Thank goodness you're lying up for the winter on that leg, Artos. We would be taking a blow if that had happened earlier in the year."

The Guttersnipe left them before she could hear Artos make any answer, though she knew it was true. And she was relieved that they had the whole quiet time of winter before them, at least for Artos' sake. She hoped that, for once, it would be wild, blustery winter in which only goats and sons of goats could be about - and perhaps even they would be holed up for the cold months.

Within the storeroom she took down the bundled shafts of herbs which had been drying, and took up a wicker basket clinking with little glass jars inside. Luncheon was being prepared, and she moved among the rich smells of kitchen-work as she went back out into the atrium. Caleb had come up, slinging off his greased cloak and crumpling elegantly down on a cushion to idle away with his harp. Jason had dragged a stool up and sat by Artos, discussing the sheep. Kay and Bedwyr sat at the table: Kay was balancing a knife on his finger and Bedwyr was watching it with an expression of detached boredom. She passed them by and arranged herself on a cushion next to Caleb, and drew out a shock of chicory with its dried flowers still faience-blue on it, and began to pick the leaves off one by one, crumbling them into a little jar. The flowers fell about her skirts, broken off, brittle as they were, like pieces of broken sky.

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