After about ten minutes, the two characters begin to talk. Their authors sit back and relaxed a bit - after all, if they weren't at each other's throats already it's probably a good sign, even if Mel looks really annoyed to hear that Del had talked about her to her friends.
"What'd she do to you?" asks Shard, looking at Mel. He didn't seem to want to talk about himself. "You look like you're still in one piece."
"Just about," Mel says with a forced laugh. "You know she kills me off? The one good thing about fiction - you can bring the characters back to talk to you and pretend that you haven't killed them yet. But I remember dying, even though it hasn't happened yet."
Shard winces. "I can imagine that's slightly distressing."
"It could have been worse. She could have kept me alive." Mel looks at her feet. "Well, it wasn't what she did to me during the story, if you get what I mean. More what she did to me before the story even started. My history, if you get my point."
"Ah, right. The traumatic past, the ill-used heroine..."
"Heroine." Mel snorts. "Ha, that'll be the day. You know, I didn't even figure in the original planning. I just sort of turned up when she wasn't expecting it. If I'd known, I would have stayed at home."
"So what was it that she did to you?"
"Well, parents mostly. They didn't like me very much. And my step-uncle was a total bastard." She looks at her feet. "Actually, that's the main reason Del brought me here. Because of him. Because he screwed up my life when I was twelve and I haven't got over it yet."
Shard doesn't know what to say. Fortunately, we're interrupted by another arrival. A scrawny young man with black eyes and hair the same colour sidles into the room, trying not to be noticed. His rucksack, I see, is held together by duct tape.
"Alex!" say Mel and Delorfinde at the same moment. "You came..."