Sunday, December 08, 2013

Late for Dinner, Part One

Dimo stood quietly at Spike's elbow, waiting for her to surface from the sea of crumpled parchment and ink. He had thought that the pounding at the door would have caught her attention, but she was deep in the depths of inspiration.  She had sat down at her desk earlier that morning, in the dark with a single candle lighting her way. The sun had briefly shown its face and now it was nearly time to re-light the stub once more.

He coughed, once, and she looked up at last, frowning as the wheels slowly turned.  "There was someone at the door," she said, slowly.

"Yah.  One of you mother's footmen."

"What did he want?"

"Message from her ladyship.  Dinner in the west garden tonight."

"Dinner?  We haven't had lunch yet."  Wordlessly, Dimo indicated the cold covered tray that Spike had shoved to the side as soon as it touched the table.  She lifted the cover to discover congealed chicken and dumplings gone soggy in the thick broth.  Condensation dripped from the underside of the lid where the steam had gone back to water.  She made a face, setting it back down before it could drip on the list she had been pondering.  Hair, clothes, toothbrushes if possible . . . and from historic figures no less.  Going to be hard to convince the staff that I'm not looking to work some very dark and forbidden magic indeed.  

"You not gonna eat dat . . ."

Shuddering, Spike replied, "Oh, it's all yours."  Dimo grinned his thanks, then lit the candle on Spike's desk. Instead of setting it back down, though, he used the stub to light the lanterns around the room, then stood by the wardrobe.

"Come on, Dimo, I need that to see," Spike complained.  As she started to get up, her feet tingled, and she sat back down abruptly as the tingling became throbbing as the circulation started back up.  "How long -- no, don't answer that."  She rubbed her hand, which was cramped and stiff from holding the quill.  Have I really been at this all day?

"Can see the clock now? Can see you gonna be late?  Can see it's time to dress right about --"  The dinner gong rang. "--oh, fifteen minutes ago?"

"Why didn't you tell me?"  Spike tossed off her outer robes, flying to the wardrobe and rummaging for something clean and appropriate to wear to her first night home.

"Did," he replied, putting the candle down and helping her change into the heavy formal black on black brocade.  "Told you an hour ago; you said five more minutes.  Told you half an hour ago, you said ten more minutes.  Told you five minutes ago, you said just a minute more, you was almost there."

She remembered him saying something to her, and saying something in return.  It could have been a plea for just a little longer, maybe.  Then again, it could really have been anything.  She had been hot on the heels of an Idea, a plan for next term's OWL that would knock their socks off.  "Right, right," she sighed.  Maybe I should issue standing orders to physically interrupt me the second time I ask for just a minute more -- to pick me up and move me in the direction I should be headed.  She thought about the possible consequences of giving such an order.  Er, maybe not.  That's how the great deserts became so empty, after all, one person insisting that there be no more grass to stain his boots.  "Just help me get there before they call out the guard."

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