Morning came far too quickly for Owen. Magpie was still asleep in the crook of his arm … his arm was asleep too but he decided it was well worth it. Bluish, crepuscular light filtered into the tent and he could smell the fire … and some bacon. That did it, bacon frying got all his other appetites going, he tried to slide his arm out from under Magpie without waking her, it didn’t work.
‘Mmm-rr-mmrr-cough-choke … What?’ Magpie sat up.
Owen watched her appreciatively. Tousled and muzzy from sleep she still looked gorgeous. She blinked at him with that ‘WTF’ sort of look, then she recognised him, then she remembered, colour slid delicately up her neck to her cheeks, she began to grin.
‘That good?’ Owen quizzed her.
She just nodded, still grinning, then fumbled about to find her clothes from amongst the heap of garments at their feet. Owen passed her a shirt and wriggled his way into his own gear. Pulling on boots, he headed out then turned and stuck his head back in.
‘Eggs? Bacon? Sausage? Fried bread? Mushroom? Tomatoes?’ he asked.
‘Yes,’ Magpie responded in a muffled way as her head was still inside her shirt and she couldn’t find any holes for head or arms.
Owen headed off for the cook-fire. The Wyzards and Billy were in charge there; Billy really surprised at how well he could cook, admittedly it was only the bacon and sausages he was doing but he wasn’t burning them just getting them nicely browned. The smell was making his mouth water.
‘Turn them again, Billy,’ Iolo told him kindly. ‘What’ll you have? He smiled up at Owen.
‘The lot, please. Twice.’ Owen replied, squatting down beside the fire. ‘Want me to handle our eggs?’
‘Good idea, you’ll know how you like them. Here’s a spoon,’ he thrust one plus a hot frying pan to Owen.
Owen got both by the handles, scraped some fat into the pan from the large pot beside Kevn and set it to melt on the trivet over the fire while he grabbed a couple of eggs. Then he grabbed two more eggs, sensing Magpie’s hungry yowl in his head, grinned and broke them into a bowl.
Kevn eyed the four eggs. ‘Hungry work last night then?’
Owen chuckled in reply.
Platters piled high with hot food, Owen got back to the tent. Magpie was clothed and somewhat smoothed from last time he’d seen her, she’d tidied up a bit in the tent too. Owen made a mental note to check his valuables; gorgeous girl, but … kleptomania just wasn’t in it. He passed her one of the wooden platters. She took the platter and out her knife with a quick smile of thanks, and began tucking in. He sat down opposite and joined her.
Scraping every last drop of juice from the plate with the softest bit of fried bread, saved for the job, he looked up at her.
‘Ready to face the world?’
‘Mmmm …’ she nodded, stuffing the last bit of her own sausage into her mouth. She swallowed. ‘I’ll wash up,’ she took his platter and went outside.
Owen checked through everything; surprisingly, it was all still where he’d put it but he could tell from almost invisible changes that she’d had a look. He blinked on his second sight, yes, all the threads were in place but they had been moved, just a fraction. He smiled. Well, he’d just have to keep an eye on her, didn’t seem any point in hoping she’d grow out of it; she was already very well grown (in all the right departments, he recalled fondly) and stealing was just in her blood. Useful, at time, he could see that; probably one of the traits the School wanted her for and why she’d be good freelance. Morningstar was nobody’s fool. He went out of the tent, pulled all their gear out and packed the tent away. Magpie came back with the platters, stared at the small pile of gear that sat where the tent and all their clobber had been. Her pile was larger than his and his contained the tent and all.
‘Amazing what a compression stuff bag will do, isn’t it?’ she turned her dazzling smile on him.
‘Sure is,’ he agreed, his own dazzling smile beaming back at her.
The kelpie came up and nuzzled her in the back, she stumbled forward then turned.
‘Good morning, you!’ she greeted him.
‘And to you too,’ the kelpie eyed her. ‘Hmmm! Not enough sleep. Don’t fall off!’
Blushing slightly, Magpie turned away to find her own mount and get ready for the off.
‘Good?’ the kelpie asked Owen.
‘Not that it’s any of your business!’ Owen replied.
The kelpie grinned, as only horses can. ‘Come on then, let’s be off and at it!’