The cabin had three things that Engot would have paid any amount of money for: a functioning stove, set into the wall; a pump inside a half-enclosed back porch, that still provided clean water, and a bed platform with the springs still mostly intact, in a room whose roof still worked. “It’s not the Imperial Palace…”
“It’s not either royal palace.” Krynia wrung her dripping cloak out and hung it near the fire. The long-gone tenants had taken almost everything, but the hooks were, like the stove and the pump, built into the building. “Which means we’re safe and comfortable, two things we would not be there.”
Engot smiled. “There’s no tub, but there’s a basin big enough water to heat. We can wash.”
“And I have some rope to repair the bed. This is almost cozy enough to call home.” Their outermost tunics and trews went the way of their cloaks, and the went about the preparations of an evening as if they had been doing this together for years.
“Will they come after you?” Kyrnia pulled a bar of soap from her bag, wrapped in oiled leather.
“Will they come after you?” Engot provided a soft piece of cloth, unfolded from the middle of his bedroll, and a horn comb. “May I…?” His hands hovered near the complex braids of her hair, her veil pushed back nearly to her neck.
“If I may. I don’t know. With luck, they won’t think it worth it.” She pulled four long pins from her hair to free the ends of the braids, and reached for the cord holding the end of his beard-braid.
“Same here.” He finger-combed her hair, slowly working it out into a damp, frizzy cloud. “Your hair is so curly. It’s not just the braids, either, is it?”
“No, it’s like that fresh from a swim, too.” She brushed out the long, braid-kinked curls of his beard and reached for his hair, touching her nose to his beard. “You smell different.”
He pushed her veil the rest of the way down, releasing the last of her curls. “You smell… lovely.” He plucked a few dried leaves from the underside of her hair and sniffed them. “Sage and mint. That’s a good idea.”
She took the comb he’d left neglected and began working it through his hair. Close-toothed for his people’s straight hair, it wouldn’t work so well on hers, but it smoothed through his and plucked out tangles and briars with ease. “I don’t think nettles do the same,” she teased.
“No, but maybe I could stick some sweet herbs to the nettles.” He hesitated, his hand on the back of her neck, where the weight of her veil and braids had sat.
She paused, as well, her hand stilling on the top of his back. “They might come for us.”
“Let them.” His smile nearly covered his own worry. “We’ll be ready.”
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