‘Morning! Ready to start training again?’
Beatrix, bleary-eyed, was sitting by the embers of the fire, slowly eating the mushroom porridge Louise had handed to her with a laugh ten minutes ago. She clasped her cloak around her shoulders, infected with the cold-to-the-marrow chilliness of an early morning.
By contrast, Keiran like all the outlaws seemed to have vast reserves of energy hidden in his wiry frame.
‘Aren’t you freezing?’ she asked by way of a greeting, gesturing with a porridgey wooden spoon to his thin shirt and jerkin.
He laughed. ‘It’s going to turn out nice today. Trust me.’
‘Why on earth should I?’ she teased, a lighthearted feeling upon her. It was two days since her first impromptu lesson in combat, and her whole body ached from yesterday’s lesson in stance and a few basic unarmed moves. She had decided she didn’t like pugilism. Today, Keiran had promised to show her a blade.
The two made their way slowly back to the field, walking at a comfortable pace, talking and teasing each other. Beatrix’s first uneasiness had evaporated - you couldn’t help but feel comfortable and relaxed around someone so laid back and fun.
For the first time she really understood how, that day he’d shown her around the village, he’d answered her rude, unfeeling question: ‘I laugh’. Now it made perfect sense. And to her, it seemed the most valid job of all.