Innocent Heart: Come Callin’

HB4

Feira lumbered out of the wash house, the hem of her dusty indigo-toned dress wet with wash water, and her arms overflowing with linens destined for the the already full lines. A grey bandana kept her blonde curls our of her face and hours of chores maintained a pink flush in her cheeks. The sun shone bright, although a blustery wind swirled about, and the girl passed into the first row of white sheets, taking in a deep, satisfied breath.

Lhainan had easily enough strolled onto the grounds. The orchards and gardens were often open for folks to tour. He’d made his way to what seemed likely to be servants’ area and sure enough, there she was, stringing laundry up in the sun.

Lhainan grinned and watched Feira for a moment; her pretty pink cheeks, the way her nose wrinkled as she heaved linens over the high lines. What was it that was reeling him in, more sunk than a fish on a line? By Ulmo, he was gonna find out. Waiting until any other laundresses were gone back to the wash house, he crept closer, winding between the billowing sheets, as familiar to him as the canvas sails on the jib.

“Hallo, Miss Orchid.”

Feira, lost in a happy thought, jumped at the unexpected voice and whirled around to face the newcomer, brandishing a dish cloth. “Oh! Hello Master Lhainan!” she responded as she saw who it was. The girl’s cheeks flushed a shade pinker and quickly she hid the cloth behind her. “By Emeleth, what are you doing here?” Feira asked, looking around them for any other maids.

Lhainan grinned. He didn’t smirk. Well, not exactly. But it was sly and sure and amused all at once as he regarded her. “Toldja I’d come callin’, soon as I could find ya,” he said, hooking his thumbs into his pockets. He lifted his chin as he inspected her. “That’s not a bad defensive stance there. …somebody been teachin’ you to fight?”

“Nah, just reading and teaching myself,” she responded with a wry smile as she turned to hang up the cloth. Glancing back at him with an indiscernible smile she picked the next damp sheet out of the basket. “It has been a few days. I was beginning to think you wouldn’t figure it out.”

Lhainan grinned, seeming pleased that she could read. “Well, you set me a pretty good puzzle. You know how many estates ’round here got special flowers?” he asked, rocking back and forth on his heels.

Feira could not help but laugh as she reached up to secure the corner of the sheet. “Why no,” she fibbed as she pulled down a dry linen and folded it to make more room. “How many?”

“A lot,” he said, prowling closer. “So… you were afraid I wouldn’t figure it out, huh?” he asked with a wolfish grin. “That mean you were thinkin’ about me?”

“I never said I was afraid you wouldn’t,” she responded innocently. Dancing between the softly billowing sheets she took another down to fold and shot him a wink. “But if you’d been searching for me all that time I must have been on your mind a fair bit.”

“Ev’ry minute,” Lhainan proclaimed quickly as he circled, trying to hem her in so he might approach as if she were some wild filly and he intended to snare her. “Save when I was hungry or sleepin’,” he admitted frankly, but added with a beguiling grin, “…even sometimes when I was sleepin’.”

Feira chuckled softy, securing her basket on her hip and pivoting around another line before he could flank her. “That is quite a lot of thinking,” she hummed as she plucked smaller towels from the next line, and silently prayed that she’d stop blushing. “Have you no family or friends who would better preoccupy your time?”

“Nah,” he said, disappearing behind the shade side of a set of sheets. “No fam’ly save my gran’mother, and I see her plenty when I’m ashore. And my friends’d call me awful queer if I spent much time ponderin’ over their ugly mugs.”

“And you’ve been accused of being queer much, I take it?” she teased. Turning and seeing him gone she hesitated before retreating into the shade of a sheet as she folded another. Biting her lower lip to keep back a laugh she crouched down as the wind picked up, hoping to catch a glimpse of his feet.

If there was one thing he knew, it was the wind and how to take advantage of it. He didn’t rise to the bait of her teasing, but stayed quiet and out of sight.

Suddenly, a dry sheet fluttered down on top of her, blocking out the sun and, well, everything else too. Feira gasped and whirled around in attempt to find her attacker, inadvertently twisting the sheet about her, causing herself to stumble.

“Whoa! Hang on there, little lady!” Strong hands caught her hips and righted her. “…sorry, I, I wasn’t tryin’ to trip you up.” For the first time, Lhainan’s confident tone wavered.

Laughing merrily Feira batted at the sheet about her head, her bandana lost as she finally found the edge and emerged back into the sunlight. “I’m not that clumsy. I promise,” she snickered, putting a hand on one of his as she caught her bearings.

His smile restored by her laughter, Lhainan didn’t let go. “I’ll catch ya any time you’ll let me, whether you need it or not. So when’s the next time you’re off work?” he asked, taking in her blonde curls with a pleased sort of look.

Feira took in a breath as if for a moment she’d forgotten to, and her small smile grew brighter as it reached her amber eyes. Static keeping her grey bandana stuck to her skirts she moved to step out from his hands and tie her hair back once more. “I have a day off in three days,” she said with a casual shrug. “When is your leave over?”

He seemed to sober a bit. “A week.” But then he snatched at her kerchief, trying to yank it from her hands. “Why would you cover up those pretty curls?”

Feira didn’t let go, tugging back on her end of the grey cloth. “Cause I have to work, that’s why,” she said with a smirk. “Why do you wanna know when I have a day off? It’s not like you know me all that well,” she said more quietly, suddenly feeling incredibly shy.

Lhainan gave ground, but didn’t let go of the kerchief, letting her reel him in closer. Suddenly he stood just an inch away, grinning down at her. “’cause I want to,” he said quietly. “And what I do know, I like.”

Feira stared up at him, heat rising to her cheeks. “Well I know just as much about you as you do me, s-so how about you buy me supper in three days?” she proposed, slowly taking a small step back. “You can learn a lot about a person in a week.”

Lhainan’s grin nearly tore open his face. “Hey Blondie… I ain’t gonna hurt ya,” he said, still in that soft tone. “Promise.” He released her kerchief. “I’ll tell you anything you wanna know about me. Got nothin’ to hide.”

“I’m not afraid of that,” she said quietly unable to keep back a smile as he grinned, ” but I’ll hold you to that promise.” Tossing him her kerchief she looked around for her basket. “One of the other maids owes me. How about the day after tomorrow? If your grandmother can spare you, that is.”

Lhainan blinked, surprised. “…sure! Day after tomorrow, aye!” He clutched her kerchief. “Say… eighteen bells? I’ll come getcha.”

Feira smiled and nodded, her loose curls bouncing over her shoulders as she pulled a dry sheet from the line when it billowed up into her arms. “Sounds great! I’ll be waiting.”

Hearing the return of at least one other washer from the laundry house, Lhainan stepped toward Feira. “Will you get in trouble if they see me?” he asked quickly, running his fingers along the edge of her kerchief.

Feira looked in the direction of the sound, grateful for the three — no, four rows of laundry that separated them from view. “I’m not sure,” she muttered in a quick response. “I’ve never had a boy call on me before. If you don’t leave I could always put you to work, just in case,” she said with a wink.

Lhainan laughed quietly. “I’d stay and work right by ya if I knew for sure it wouldn’t get you in trouble. So I’ll take my leave, but only for that! …can I keep this?” He held up her kerchief, wrapped around his hand, and smiled his best charming smile.

“Sure, you can keep it,” she chuckled softly. “And I’ll find out if you’re safe if you ever happen to drop by when I’m working the washing.”

As the women’s voices came closer, Lhainan grinned mischievously and stepped even closer, reaching for Feira’s hand. “Til day after tomorrow, then?” he whispered.

“Yes; day after tomorrow. Now you should go! Unless you want to be caught here,” she whispered, looking down as he took her hand.

“I won’t get caught!” he hissed with a smile, and lifted her work-worn hand to kiss it before he darted away through the billowing sheets.

Feira stared after him as he disappeared through the sheets, holding her kissed hand to her chest as the women finally came upon her.

“Feira! There you are! Your aunt’s looking for you.”

“I’m coming, don’t worry,” she assured them as she tossed her hair out of her eyes and retrieved her basket.

“Honey, you alright? Your face looks flushed!”

“I’m fine! Really. Leave your load and I’ll hang them up with the rest,” she called over her shoulder as she swept over toward the wash house, fleeing from their curious expressions. Auntie was waiting in the door, scowling down at her. Relinquishing her basket she took the full one shoved into her arms. Glancing back as the sour woman set into scolding her, Feira didn’t hear a word that was said as she looked to where the boy had disappeared.

(Taken straight from mail RP, and edited for tense and grammar.

Thank you Feygil for rping as Lhainan!)

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