“Hey I spent two weeks helping Sergeant Bear’s wife and cooking in Sergeant Griffon’s kitchen.” Sarah grinned at them as she proceeded to the wood box and picked out her logs.
“Yup.” Sarah went to the wood box and began choosing her wood.
“I hope so,” Reed grumbled as he watched her. Sarah deposited a load of wood in his arms and he followed her to the second fire place.
“Hey,” Sarah began setting the logs up after a quick glance at the first fire place, “I spent two weeks helping out Martha in Riverbend cooking for her eight boys and what not. Besides,” she sat back and adjusted a few logs, “I don’t intend to stay male forever you know.”
Sarah didn’t say anymore as Becca came back food wrapped in a gingham cloth. She looked at the fire before absently handing the bundle to Reed.
“Did I start it right?” Sarah asked, laying on the thick accent again.
“Amazingly well for a guy,” Becca looked towards her. “But you aren’t a familiar face.”
“Name’s Smith,” Sarah resisted the urge to kiss the girls hand, due to the way Reed was beginning to glare at her. “I got caught up with the Hopeful’s a bit late. Thank ye much for the food.” Sarah touched her hand to her head as if she was tipping her hat to the young woman.
“Here Smith, why don’t you and Aaron go find a spot to eat at where we won’t get caught,” Reed tossed her the bag with a meaningful smile.
“You got it Reed,” Sarah smiled as she caught the bag and sauntered off with Aaron.
They managed to make it around the corner before Aaron burst into smothered chuckles.
“What?” Sarah asked, climbing over the fence. She would have loved to sit under the Willow with Jay, but that wouldn’t feel right with Reed and Aaron next to her. At least she could see him from here.
Sarah settled against a fence post and looked to Aaron again before biting into the bread. “What’s so funny Hopeful?”
Aaron did his best to check his emotions, “You,” he bit his lip and looked back towards the barracks, “you were flirting with Reed’s girl,” he finally managed to get out through his laughter.
“Yeah?” Sarah looked up at him. “I’m male right now, so why not flirt with a nice looking lass who’s doing me the kindness of giving me last night leftover cheese and bread?”
Aaron shook his head. “I don’t get it.”
Sarah swallowed her bite of bread and looked back up. “All right, let me see if I can explain.”
“I hope you can,” Reed came up to them and crossed over the fence. “I had to field five questions about you before she laughed, gave me a kiss and sent me on my way so she wouldn’t get into trouble.” He stood before Sarah arms crossed.
Sarah chewed her peice of cheese and swallowed. “Well firstly, she was happy to have another man,” Reed frowned, “flirt with her, as it makes her feel that she’s still pretty and can get a man,” Reed’s frowned deepened, “should, God forbid, something happen to you.” Sarah looked longingly at the canteen sitting at Reed’s hip. “and from what I hear tell, and have seen, women don’t go about living independently the way I’m used to.”
Sarah took another bite of her bread while watching Reed and Aaron exchange confused glances. Once she had swallowed her bite Sarah continued.
“Secondly, and more importantly, because she is your girl Reed, it made you jealous.” Sara smiled. “Don’t try to deny it, because you were, and it showed, and I can tell you she noticed and it made her happy.”
“Made her happy to see me jealous?” Reed sat down at last and handed Sarah the canteen. “Why?”
Sarah took a big swig of the water and held it for a moment before swallowing. “Because it means you care. It’s actions, not words that mean the most to a girl. You can talk all you like, but unless you show you’re there for her and your actions show you care for her, she won’t necessarily believe your words.”
“So how do you know all that?” Aaron asked.
Sarah nearly choked on her bite. She quickly swallowed, “because I am a girl, or have you forgotten that already?”
“Oh right,” Aaron was clearly having a hard time getting that fact through his head.
As Sarah continued eating Reed studied her. She looked up at him with raised eyebrows and he sighed. “So how did Marcus, my the Gods rest his soul, find out?”
Sarah washed down her last bite with the last bit of water from the canteen. “Remember the day we wrestled and I pinned him to the ground?” They nodded. “Well when he pinned me to the Willow tree, his hands were on my chest. He felt the bindings and figured out what they were.”
“Yeah, you know those bandages I kept in my trunk.”
Reed looked at Aaron and the back at Sarah. He laughed, “and I believed you.”
“You had no reason not to, and they could have been used as bandages.”
“True.” Reed nodded.
“So,” Aaron frowned as he looked at Sarah, “why are you not trying to keep hidden, being female will get you kicked out and...”
Sarah started to say something but stopped. She looked from Reed to Aaron and back again. “maybe I should start from the beginning.” She smiled and leaned forward, “What I am about to tell you is what I told Phoenix Troop, it is what King Demetrioso and, I presume, the Prince knows, as well as a few select others.” She looked at the two boys. “I consider the two of you friends and so I will tell you, but you must not, absolutely must not, pass on this information to anyone else. Understood?”
“May a Willow whip us if we don’t,” Reed stated as he crossed his heart. Aaron repeated the words and gesture.
Sarah smiled, that was a new take on cross your heart hope to die. She sobered herself up and took a deep breath. “You know what,” she looked around. The sun had risen at last and it would probably be breakfast soon. “I think we’re going to have to put this on,”
And before she could say the word hold, the Breakfast bell rang.
Aaron stood but Reed stayed put. “We should go,” Aaron stated.
“We probably should, although I should probably stay here.” Sarah sighed as she stood.
“Why?” Reed asked, you seem well enough. He stood too.
“Yeah, but I should probably wait until the Mother or Father give me a clean bill of health.”
“Probably,” Reed nodded.
Sarah handed him the canteen and cloth. “Make sure these get back to your girl and thank her for me.” She smiled. “And I really do mean I count you two as my friends, and I will tell you my story as soon as we find some time that allows it.”
Sarah clasped hands with them both before she made her way back to the Willow. There she sat leaning against the tree eyes closed as she listened to Jason breath. It was an easy breath now. He no longer labored for air and it’s soothing rhythm lulled her to sleep.