Some 1:00 a.m. silliness For a Twitter friend
Fanny sat up reluctantly, unable to ignore the sound of the cock crowing any longer. She reluctantly threw off the thin blankets and drew her legs up beneath her woolen chemise as the cold nipped at her toes. Sighing, she squinted as her hazel eyes, trying to adjust to the dark room and steadily avoided looking at the large pile of laundry against the wall. She sighed again as it all came into focus, as it did every morning. Putting off the washing was easy since her husband had passed over a year ago. No one ever visited the lonely little cottage at the base of the mountain, and so it mattered little if stains from yesterday’s pottage or cooking grease besmirched her aprons. It would be seen by no one but her. Her alone.
Fanny moved quickly now, rising and sorting through the pile of dingy linens, randomly tossing on a few pieces that weren’t too badly stained and that she hoped would be warm. She pinned her loose, untamed curls atop her head and wrapped herself in her only shawl, though she wondered if the holes appearing in it made the effort worthwhile. Finally, she pulled on a large pair of boots, boots much too large for her own small feet. She smiled briefly as she slid her legs into her husband’s old boots, blowing a stray piece of black hair from her eyes as she gazed down at them. She kept them polished and mended as best she could, and they still gave her a familiar, warm sensation as she slid them on. She pulled them over her knee and halfway up her soft thigh. Her husband had been a large man, and his clothing dripped off her petit frame on those occasions when she chose to wear them. Her smile and remembrances were short-lived, however, as she stood and steeled herself to face the day. She moved quickly towards the door, lest the memories flood her mind and sadness overtake her.
Fanny passed from the tiny bedroom, through the larger area that passed for a kitchen and common room, and tugged at the old pine door. It protested loudly, creaking and shuddering as she pried it open and stepped through; outside the wind howled as a multitude of black-dappled autumn leaves whirled past, several of them blowing into the little house. More to sweep later, Fanny thought listlessly as she stood in the center of the yard, looking around the small homestead. A cow stood in the remnants of the once whitewashed barn, waiting to be milked, something she would have to do first. The eggs needed to be collected and the hens tended to, the water fetched . . . a whole host of morning chores suddenly made her weary as the cock crowed once again.
Fanny rushed through the simplest of the tasks first–fetching water and milking the cow. She then hurried to grab the wicker basket and collect the eggs. She was still wiping sleep from her eyes as she stumbled towards the henhouse, careful to avoid the cracked and broken floorboards within. The hens flapped and cackled as she called out to them, “Halloo Margery! Good morn’ Hilda, dear!” She reached into the nests, happy to have found two or three useable eggs for the day. When she turned to check the one remaining nest, however, she froze, her cheerful tones dissipating in the cool morning air.
Not far from her lay the figure of a man. She could tell he was tall, though not perhaps so tall as her husband had been, but certainly . . . well-formed. He lay on his side, his dirty white shirt torn open to reveal a long gash in his upper arm that reached up to his rounded, muscular shoulder. His skin was tan despite the approaching autumnal season. Fanny swallowed hard, almost certain he couldn’t be from around these parts. She forced her eyes away from the well-biceped arm and examined the man’s face. Long strands of damp blond hair lay across his rounded, yet rugged cheek and clung to his full lips. She swallowed hard, willing her feet to move, ordering herself to turn and run back to the house where her husband’s bow and arrows lay in the corner of the common room. She knew how to use them and was a fairly good shot. Circumstance had forced her to learn quickly.
But her will failed her, fear giving way to curiosity, compassion, and something else she dare not name. She stood unmoving for a few moments longer then put the basket of eggs down and went to the stranger’s side.
“Hello? Can you hear me?” Fanny stroked the man’s arm, careful to avoid the laceration. Her eyes spotted a black, ebony-handled dagger emblazoned with several odd sigils tucked into his belt. Her fingers did not hesitate to slide across his waist and remove the surprisingly long dagger from his belt. She also spotted and removed a smaller dagger protruding from the man’s boot, as well as a small vial containing a thin, red liquid. She had no idea what the concoction might have been or what mischief such a thing could cause and so disliked touching it.
A groan caused Fanny to jerk back as the man stirred and righted himself quickly in one smooth motion. His head snapped around quickly, and his eyes fearlessly surveyed the scene before him.
“I . .. er, you are in my hen house.” Fanny said stupidly, “You are hurt.”
The man may have smiled slightly. He glanced down at his arm, shaking the fine hair back from his roguish face. He looked up at Fanny and nodded. Fanny tried to tear her gaze from his eyes but found herself quickly sinking into their depths. His eyes were not unkind, but there was a whirlpool hidden within them that threatened to take her in and drown her.
“If you like, I can help you. I can tend to your wound and maybe get you something to eat if you are hungry. There isn’t much but . . .” What was she doing? Stop, now, she told herself.
“A man is grateful for a girl’s hospitality.” A smile played across his lips,”He will follow her.”
The man’s voice slid across her skin like the fine sheen of silk, causing a strange cinching sensation in her midsection. An involuntary shudder shook both her body and her nerves. There was no possibility of changing her mind now. She looked up at the man who now stood, towering over her, his smooth, tanned chest exposed, and the remains of his damp shirt hanging in folds around his taut stomach.
“A girl will lead the way?”
The sound of his voice once again sent a jolt through her body, and she turned quickly, snatched up the basket, and led him toward the cottage. She could feel him close behind her as she walked toward the house as quickly as she could in the oversized boots. The boots that now housed the man’s weaponry and potion. Was she indeed insane to let him into her home? He must know she has disarmed him, and yet he seemed unconcerned. How did he know she wouldn’t use them against him or that her husband didn’t wait in the house? Such confidence would have been insufferable in a lesser specimen.
Fanny opened the door cautiously, hoping that this wouldn’t be the moment it finally fell off its hinges. She risked a glance back at the man and saw that his eyes were everywhere, taking in the scene before him: the dilapidated door, the old bow in the distant corner, the small pine table . . . and her. Fanny swallowed hard and led him to the small cooking area, still clutching her basket. She sat the basket down and retrieved a heavy iron pan, gripping it tightly and wishing the bow wasn’t lying all the way across the room.
“A girl lives alone?”
It was posed as a question, but she knew he saw the truth. Still, she found herself answering, “Oh, my husband is out, but he will be along shortly.” The weight of the lie hung in the air between them, until the man finally nodded, his expression unreadable, though she knew he would not be fooled so easily. Not by her anyway.
“What is your name then?” Fanny asked as she turned and cracked the eggs into a wooden bowl. What am I doing? I should tend to his arm first! He must think I am an idiot. But the idea of touching him made her tremble so badly that she nearly dropped the bowl at the thought of it.
“A man is called by many names. Today he is called Jaqen H’ghar. What does a girl wish to be called today?”
“My name is Fanny. Every day. I have eggs and . . .” Oh dear. There certainly weren’t enough eggs for the both of them. But she had milk and water. “I could make . . . waffles?”
“Waffles? A man has not had such a delight in many months. Yes, my thanks indeed.”
Fanny beamed, delighted to have done well, and began adding milk and molasses to her confection. She turned and surveyed her shelves as she stirred.
“I also have berries.” She turned her head to look at Jaqen and found that he now stood directly behind her, his tattered shirt stripped off, and his hard, nut-brown chest exposed in the chilled air. Fanny tried to keep hold of the batter and the wooden spoon as her gaze roamed the expanse of his broad shoulders and slid down to the well-defined rippling abdominal muscles.
“A girl requires help?”
Fanny spun back around to stare at the faceless shelf and tried to concentrate on the canister of berries in front of her. Before she could answer him, however, she felt two strong arms slide past her waist. One large hand reached out to support her own as it held tightly to the wooden bowl, while his other hand firmly but gently encased her own quaking fingers, still clutching the battered spoon.
Fanny stood motionless, gaping as she watched her hand, wrapped in the warmth and safety of Jaqen’s grasp, stirring the thickening batter in the bowl. She gasped as the rocking motion of his hips against hers became more insistent as they stirred until she could feel his growing need in the small of her back.
“A man likes to help in the kitchen,” Jaqen’s husky voice whispered, his soft lips brushing across the tip of her ear. Fanny’s eyes closed and her mouth fell open as she imagined those lips, that voice moving across her skin. She leaned back into the hard strength of his body, succumbing to the rush of warmth that now rippled through her. She fully submitted to his embrace as Jaqen nestled his face in her warm, sable hair and kissed the nape of her neck.
“A girl smells of blackberries. Ripe, sunny blackberries,” he whispered.
“Blackberries,” Fanny murmured, her senses on fire, “I have those . . .”
Before she could say more, however, Jaqen raised the batter-filled spoon from the bowl and let the mixture drip across her slender wrist. She watched curiously as he lifted her dripping wrist to his lips and his tongue expertly flicked the sticky drops of batter away. His mouth continued to travel along the delicate skin, coming to rest in the crook of her arm and sending another hot wave of desire through her very core.
“I think the batter is ready,” Fanny began, but before she could finish her thought or stop herself, she impulsively turned and drew the spoon across Jaqen’s exposed neck and shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” she quickly apologized, recalling herself and blushing furiously.
“A man forgives.” Again the smile. A smile that now seemed predatory. A smile that claimed ownership.
But she didn’t care anymore. Fanny latched onto Jaqen’s neck, sucking the sweet batter from his salty skin, relishing the smell of vanilla and masculinity that rose from his body. She made no protest as his large, sure hands pushed the layers of loose clothing from her eager body and guided her toward the small pine table behind them . . . .
Ok, now who wants to write Part 2? 😉