Jenny: Taking Care of Things

Take care of yourself, Tiro mine.

Master Lucius sank down into his chair, breathing a little heavily, but for once without the annoying jerk to his lungs. To be truthful, he felt a bit ill, and not a little frightened. He stared unseeing at the original transcript before him. His eyes drifted over the tools of his trade, over his pens and knives and little inkpots. He had great smudges of atramentum on both hands - he had not had time to clean himself, he had worked so busily through the night.

A sudden wave of fatigue washed over him. He bent his head, blinking, scrubbing at his forehead with the back of his wrist. Torn between sleep and work, he blearily began shuffling papers into neat piles on his desk.

Wulf, who had been sitting silent in the corner smoothing wax tablets, got up and came to his side. Master Lucius stopped with a ragged roll of vellum in one hand as Wulf gently took him by the shoulder. "I will only tidy," he assured the Saxon, "and then I will sleep. I can't sleep with this mess. And then - see if you can't find any records of the Council's sessions, the ones in which Ambrosius was a part."


Now that he thought about it, there had always been some odd, pretty sound coming suddenly from a hidden quarter in the house. Sometimes it was the Guttersnipe's laughter, or the fall of Artos' coin collection tinkling across the floor, or the drumming purr of a cat. This morning it was harp-music, lighter and, in some way, more melancholy than Caleb's tunes. Ambrosius left his footsteps to echo down the hallway behind him and paused in the atrium doorway to see Domitia seated by the fire, playing without any notion that she was being watched - did anyone do anything in his valley without being watched? - and seeming to enjoy her song. He listened to the end of it, and smiled at the sad dark optimism of bards. But he let it go, and decided he was in no mood to be put on the spot, nor did he have time to stop and make the girl blush with a compliment. He flung his cloak about his shoulders and stepped out into the atrium, stabbing his brooch home and throwing his hood up over his head against the blowy cold of the outdoors. He shoved his hands down into the rabbit-fur lining of his gloves and left the cold vestibule for the cold courtyard.

The light was pale and washed out all over the valley, filtering among the falling snow. The cardinal was a little leaf-shaped spark of red against the brindling white, and the woods on either hill to the north and south were clawed through and powdered with snow. He pulled his scarf up over his nose. At his back he left behind the comfortable dark curl of smoke from the kitchen wing and the heated floors and went down to fetch Cyrus.

It would be a cold ride to Alan's place. At least there was promise of a fire and wine at the end.

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