Already made arrangements? Had she been expecting him to say yes? Was it obvious he would? Or was it just in case? Anders straightened from behind his desk, righting his shoulders and letting a long sigh go before he glanced around at the rest of the clinic. There was a lot to do. There always was. But he was lucky in that there weren’t any patients to tend to and most of the bandages had already been re-rolled.
“All right, all right,” He said, dipping his quill back into the inkwell and gathering the loose leaflets of vellum into a pile. “I’m moving. Give me a second.” When he felt a wave of dissatisfaction from Justice, he cringed inwardly, knowing full well what the spirit thought about abandoning a good night’s work to dinner. But he was beyond exhausted and hungry, withered mentally and physically, and the idea of a hot bath and food and comfort and Hawke was enough for him to relent, if only because she, of all people, deserved a good holiday season.
Anders stood a moment later, checking over the clinic a final time, before he moved towards the door. “I’m ready. Let’s go.”
“Splendid, messere,” Bodahn clapped his hands and turned on his heel to depart the clinic, which frankly gave him a bit of the heebie jeebies, if he was honest, which he unwaveringly was. “Right this way. We’ll be taking the passage, of course. No sense heading out into the snow. It’s getting a bit inhospitable out there, a bit inhospitable indeed…”
The dwarf-made clock in Hawke’s study was exquisitely crafted, the gold filigree scene of a Proving depicted on its face impressive, but its hands moved irritatingly slow. At frequent intervals, the Champion would arrest her pacing to check its progress, only to find little more than a minute had passed since she’d last looked.
Dinner (five courses) was waiting in gleaming silver platters that Hawke had been slapping Sandal’s grubby fingers away from all afternoon. After much debate, she had settled on wearing the finery she’d purchased in Orlais; white lace and darkest blue suede. And trousers. She was so much more comfortable in trousers.
Outside the window the snow was being swirled into careless drifts that lounged, sluggish, against doorways and on windowsills. Hawke was just leaning close enough to fog the glass with her breath when her attention snapped to the sound of the cellar door creaking open. Not moving from her occupation with the view, she tensed, refusing to abandon her post until straining ears discerned how many pairs of feet had just come into the estate.
“Orana! Fetch the bath stones from the fire!”
With a final glance at her misting reflection, Hawke smoothed an invisible wrinkle from her jerkin and closed her lips over her teeth in an effort not to grin too hugely. It was just Anders, after all, and the odds he wouldn’t be smiling were usually sky high.
“Welcome back,” she casually greeted, helping Bodahn out of his coat as he came into the hall, bobbing his head in thanks.
“Hope my boy hasn’t been too much trouble while I was gone,” he said, passing Hawke his wool cap.
“Not since I tied him up,” she replied with a flashing smile. Joking. Possibly. Folding Bodahn’s coat over one forearm, her gaze shifted to Anders and she held out a free hand for his overcoat. It would have been important to mother she act the proper host. “Top of the stairs. Third door,” she said, meeting the unease in his eyes with the impishness of hers. “You may want to lock it.”