He dug out his canteen, shoving it in her direction. “Here, go make yourself useful and fill this up,” he ordered. They were the first words he had spoken to her since saying she could not come. He had not meant it to sound so harsh, but perhaps that would be best. He did not want her to think that he was happy with her presence. Maybe without her mother’s nagging, she would decide to leave his company.
To the girl’s credit, she did not flinch, though there was pain in her eyes as she looked to the forest floor. “Yes, sir,” she whispered, addressing him as if he were a stranger and a small part of him cringed at the loss of her familiarity.
He watched her disappear behind the trees, movements so fluid they seemed surreal. He caught himself staring long after she had gone from sight. Bah, she was a distraction! He must see to camp. He started gathering the sticks that littered the ground. The cloudless sky meant there was no danger of rain, but the night would be chilled. They would need a fire to keep warm.
It was simple work to set up the sticks in a tepee that would let the fire breathe deep as it first woke up. There was a rhythm to the fire building that set his heart at ease. He prepared dried grass and dead leaves for the kindling bringing out his flint to wake the spark. His fingers were eager to feel the stone against the steel and soon his tinder was pouring smoke.
Her voice was shrill across the clearing. “No! Stop!” His head snapped up fearing a threat but they were the only two in the clearing. “Civyl,” she yelled, “put the fire back to sleep!”
What in all Kavaccet was she on about? They needed a fire to keep warm. When he ignored her she ran towards him and shoved him away from his carefully made kindle nest where he could see the tip of a flame starting to emerge. He was too shocked at her outburst to react immediately, but cried out in protest when she stomped on it with her bare foot, smothering the flame back to its rest.