The thud of the heavy door echoed as it closed behind him. Making his way into the guest suite, Peldirion shed his weapons and cloak in the entry, not bothering to put them on the rack that stood not four feet to his left.
“And you’re still here.”
“Yes, sir,” said Halethon as he rose to his feet. “A second lesson?”
Peldirion set into working at the buckles on his arm guards. “No, this was sparing with another knight. A rather talented one, too.”
Halethon did not bother to hide his amusement as he walked over to help his lord with his armour. “As talented as your ‘cousin’, cousin?”
“An entirely different set of skills, I assure you,” Peldirion grunted, shooting the man a dark look.
“It’s not like you.”
“What isn — Augh! Dammit, man!” he cursed as Hailthorn removed his leather vest with a rough tug.
“Hmm, mace?” asked Halethon, undaunted by Peldirion’s withering glance.
Peldirion merely grunted again as the man inspected his back.
“Impressive. That was a well-aimed shot. Seems things they say about the Swan Knights are true.”
Walking away, Peldirion shrugged and stretched his sore, muscled back as he made for the pitcher of water on the table. “I’ve had worse. He’s a good lad, and a good fighter. We’ll be sparing often. Does no good to twiddle our thumbs as we wait.”
Halethon huffed, and shot him a wry smile. “Speaking of twiddling thumbs….”
Peldirion glared over the rim of his glass.
“I’m just saying,” he said, holding his hands up in surrender.
“I know it’s been a while. Don’t read too much into it.”
Halethon chuffed out a breath as he went to pick up Peldirion’s scattered things. “Too late for that.”
A gleam in his dark eyes, Peldirion kicked off his boots and refilled his water glass. “It pleases her to do as she wishes, and it pleases me to let her. There are no strings, thank the Valar. She and I are merely crossing paths.”
Sighing, Halethon shook his head. “You know best, sir.”
Plucking a towel from the back of a chair, Peldirion threw a fur cloak over his bare shoulders. “Don’t give me that look.”
“Your brother taught me well. Just do me a favor, and don’t get yourself into trouble? You have plenty of time for that after the war.”
Peldirion shook his head. “I haven’t let a woman cause me trouble since I cracked Megorin’s jaw those years ago. I have no time for such things now.”
Halethon fixed him with another look. “You told me to hold you accountable in all things,” he said quietly, suddenly not the man’s subordinate, but his equal.
“It is private, and will remain so,” Peldirion replied with a firm, unwavering tone. “What goes on does not, and will not interfere with my duties. And since she is not the fire to refine my soul, I am going to go bathe, and wait on the war that has tempered it.”
Exchanging looks, Halethon nodded, satisfied, and Peldirion nodded out of respect for the man before disappearing through the door.