I’m just a temporary guest.

Delia looks around her with interest.

Zale looks doubtfully at the paper in his hand. “Uhm, I think this might be it.”

Delia peers around your shoulder at the paper, “Well if the key works, must be it!” she decides logically with a grin.

Zale cheerfully exclaims with a Lancrastian accent: Here goes!

This is a small studio. Zale is standing here.

Delia asks with a Genuan accent: Wow, how did you end up with this place?

Zale flicks his hair back as he wanders around the room and looks a little embarrassed. “Well, it was my mum. She wrote ahead I guess.”

Delia doesn’t notice the embarrassment, “That was nice of her! My stupid sister Lexi could have mentioned we don’t live at the Temple here.”

Zale grins as he looks out of the window. “Does she live here in the city?”

“She did until recently. Dad called her home for some reason or other.” Delia opens a door, “Oh! Here’s the bedroom!”

Zale removes his satchel and dumps it on the table; the studio is sparsely furnished and will probably need a few bits and pieces. “Do you want to take that and I’ll camp out here?” He looks at a corner and examines the wall. “Could do up a curtain for me here easy and put a bed behind it.”

Delia takes off her own bag and plops it on the table as well. “Oh no, I couldn’t put you out! You take the bedroom. I can sleep on this sofa.”

Zale makes it to the ‘bedroom’ and realises it’s the bathroom. “This is the bathroom! I was wondering what you meant; my mum said it was going to be a one room thing.”

Zale says with a Lancrastian accent: So that means we got to put up two curtains or something here so we can have some privacy. Maybe the two corners or something. I’ll do it now.

Delia walks over to peer around Zale “But the bed is right there!” She points at the copper tub.

Zale leans against the door and folds his arms. “That’s for bathing in.”

Zale grins lazily.

Delia looks confused, her eyes a bright blue. “And sleeping” she says with a “duh” tone in her voice.

Zale divests himself of another pack and laughs. He marches up to you and propels you by your shoulders to the bed. “That’s a bed.”

Zale further demonstrates this fact by flopping down into the bed, looking instantly at home.

Delia blushes when she realizes she probably looked like an idiot just now but tries to play it off and flops down close to Zale.

Zale goes a bright red, realises he’s red, and then coughs to divert attention.

Delia bounces on the bed a bit, experimentally. “But it’s so soft! How could you ever sleep on this?”

Zale watches the bouncing, not realising his mouth is making a bit of an O shape. He decides girls are beautiful. “It’s supposed – uh – to be soft.”

Zale gets hurriedly off the bed. “So I’ll get some sheets and make curtains for us and you’re going to need a bed too.”

Delia is completely oblivious and bounces a bit more and a bit harder, it’s kinda fun!

Delia looks interestedly at Zale, “Curtains? Why ever for?”

Zale pokes about in a hole in the wall that is apparently a closet. “So we can get changed and sleep and stuff without bothering each other!” He pulls out a couple of sheets and realises he has no tool box. “Ah bugger. I need a hammer and stuff.”

Delia walks over to the sofa and gives it an experimental bounce. “Oh, this is much better. I’d rather sleep here!” She stretches out, “Don’t worry about curtains on my account. You’re letting me sleep in your space, you can’t bother me at all.”

Zale decides he needs the curtains more than you then. “No, let me get that done anyway”, he adds, a little firmly, and then coughs self-consciously. “Let me go down and ask that landlady if she has a tool box I can borrow. Be right back.”

Delia shrugs innocently. “Of course! It’s your place, I’m just a temporary guest.”

Delia wanders over and pokes in the pantry, noting that she should get some food for the both of them as it’s the least she can do.

Zale returns, looking purposeful, and carrying a large red toolbox. He starts measuring, whistling to himself as he works.

Delia pulls a paper and quill out of her bag and starts making a list.

Zale turns around to you with a grin. “Okay, you might want to cover your ears.”

Delia brushes the strands away from her delicate fan-shaped ears and puts her hands over them obediently.

Zale marks his spots and then easily and quickly installs a support and uses the hammer to pound a few nails in, before hanging up a cord, and stringing the sheet on it to make a curtain. “Going to do the other one and then I’ll sew that up real quick so it won’t fall off when we draw it forwards and back.”

Delia didn’t realize she was still holding the quill when she put her hands over her ears and has drawn a nice line of ink on her cheekbone. “You sew, too?”

Zale quickly does the other curtain as well, on the opposite side of the room, nicely covering the bed that was already there to make a small alcove. He turns around, putting the tools away in his tool box. “Yeah! Doesn’t everyone?”

Delia takes her hands down off her ears and gives a little shake of her head to tumble the hair back over them. “Well, I mean sure, you need to be able to repair sails or fishing nets. Here, just tell me what to do and I can do it faster than a minnow darts off.”

Zale notices the fine line of ink on your cheek and his lips twitch. “Yeah, and you can learn to sew, but I can’t learn to move faster than a minnow!”

Delia giggles.

Delia pulls a needle and thread out of her pack. “What do we need?”

Zale flicks the two sheets. “Just sew them across, so they’re like a curtain? I’ll go return this toolbox.” He grins. “You – uhm – have some ink on your face.” He grins to himself and stalks out of the door with the tool box.

Delia rubs at her face, but since he didn’t tell her where it was, she only kind of smears it a bit. She gets the sheets and stitches two easy lines across.

Zale returns, dragging a mattress in as he does. “A mattress for you!” He busies himself with dragging it into your alcove and his voice floats out of it as he arranges it. “We’ll get a frame delivered for it later, the landlady promised.”

Delia walks over and starts trying to hang the curtains but can’t reach.

Delia sighs exasperatedly, “Please, don’t go to all this trouble! The sofa would have been fine!”

Delia drags a chair over and climbs on it to hang the curtains she’s finished sewing.

Zale emerges from the alcove and looks at your inky face as he does. He laughs, seemingly unable to help himself. “Oh, it’s no trouble.”

Zale says with a Lancrastian accent: Uhm, you actually have that ink on your face still.

Zale rubs your cheek where the ink is with a thumb.

Delia giggles and loses her balance, toppling off the chair.

Zale instinctively reaches out to catch you. “Geez, don’t fall!”

Delia eeps and grabs ahold of Zale’s arms. She looks up into his blue eyes and the lock of hair that’s tumbled into them again.

Zale looks down into your own eyes and realises he’s holding your waist a little firmly. He moves slightly, trying to move aside, but finds himself trapped by the chair and the alcove and – as much as he’s trying not to think about it – you. He clears his throat. “Ahm.”

Delia reaches up to move the hair out of Zales eyes. “Thank you! I guess I don’t have my land legs yet,” she says with a laugh.

Zale moves the chair aside. “Yeah, that’s – uhm – fine. Just don’t fall, and you know, get hurt.” He lets go of your waist suddenly, as though you were fire, and then edges out.

Delia picks up the chair and replaces it at the table. “Oh! So the pantry is empty, I made a list and I can pick that up tomorrow. Is there anything in particular you want?”

Zale grins lazily as he wanders towards his pack. “Nah, not really. Maybe some fish, but I can always buy that fresh from the stalls.” He starts pulling his stuff out willy nilly, but instead of unpacking properly he finds what he’s looking for, a long wide book, and a box that looks like a pencil box, and flops down on the window seat, looking out of the window towards the river where the evening’s light is just starting to fade. He flips the book open and opens the box, lifting out what looks like a long piece of charcoal from it, and then, resting his back against the sill, he starts to sketch in light airy strokes.

Delia admires Zale’s profile illuminated by the reflected sunset and wanders over to her own pack. She stuffs the quill back in it, rummages for a bottle, and then walks over to drop the pack by the mattress in her alcove, stifling a giggle about the unnecessary hoopla. “Would it be alright if I take a bath? It was such a long, dusty carriage ride.”

Zale gets more comfortable, propping up a knee to rest his book on, and turns to look at you, his eyes a brilliant blue in this light. “Hey you live here too. Do whatever.” He grins lazily and returns to his sketching.

Delia carries the bottle into the bath and starts the tap running. She comes back out and digs around in her bag before pulling out a very short, rumpled teal silk bathrobe.

Zale moves to the sofa and drops into it, looking instantly comfortable, like he hasn’t moved from there in years. He grins at you as he turns the page and starts to sketch, using the charcoal, but also using various shades of blue pencils.

Delia flicks the bathrobe a few times to try to get some of the wrinkle out and makes a little moue when it doesn’t make much of a difference. She heads into the bathroom but only closes the door halfway when she notices there’s no window and it’s already pretty steamy. She starts undressing, softly singing a haunting melody to herself.

Zale listens to the song from inside the bathroom with interest; with his love for music, he can’t pass up a song. His fingers fly furiously over the paper.

The smell of coconut bubblebath wafts out of the bathroom along with the steam. As Delia reaches the chorus for a third time, her voice shifts into singing the harmony.

Zale lazily sketches your face, lingering over your eyes, trying to get them perfect, before closing the book and tossing it on the table, along with all his pencils, charcoal, and the bit of rubber he uses when he arts. The box they go on is already on the table, but the pencils don’t go in the box. Nope. He lounges back, looking at his charcoal-coated fingers thoughtfully.

Delia luxuriates in the water, more at home there than anywhere else. Aware that Zale might want a bath, she stands up with a sigh and starts the tub to empty. She steps out and realizes she doesn’t have a towel so just wrings her hair out over the tub, slides off what water she can with her hands, and pulls on her robe. She’s still wrapping it around herself as she comes to the door. “Your turn if you want!”

Zale decides he should probably bathe. He rolls off the sofa and grabs a towel, a new pair of briefs, and a bar of soap from his pack, waiting for you to come out of the bathroom so he can go in.

Delia moves out of the way, the thin fabric of her robe soaked through in places from her wet hair. She leans over to pull a comb made of whale bone out of her pack and slinks over to the sofa where she perches and begins combing out the tangles.

Zale didn’t notice the way your robe clung to you, nope. He disappears quickly into the bathroom and shuts the door.

Delia hums another song from home, one she and her sisters often sang together, as she finishes getting out the snarls from her hair. She twists it up with an easy and practiced hand and uses the comb to pin the mass in place on top of her head and off her back. She leans back and eyes Zale’s sketchbook, curious about what he was drawing.

Zale washes quickly in the bath, sans song, before lying back and soaking briefly. Hm. Head could use a soap too. He moves down and then immerses himself completely into the water, opening his eyes underneath and grinning to himself before surfacing. He attacks his head vigorously with the soap, working up a lather.

Delia resists the desire to invade Zale’s privacy and look in the sketchbook. After all, the sweet guy kept her off the streets and took in a total stranger. She gets up and wanders over to the window to look out on her new city as the last rays slip away.

Zale finishes his bath, empties the tub, remembers to rinse, thanks to years of having it dinned into his head by his parent, and then towels off, dressing in the bathroom and putting his towel up to dry. He leaves his laundry on the floor near the hamper and emerges from the bathroom, clean but damp. He tousles his own hair and whistles as he lights the lamps in the room.

Delia turns as she hears Zale enter the room. “So, what were you sketching? May I see?” Gold flecks sparkle in her eyes reflecting the lamp light.

Zale sticks his hands in his pockets. “Sure, if you want.”

Delia walks to the table and bends over to pick up the sketchbook, not paying attention to what that means in a short robe. She flicks it open to the last page and looks surprised. “Me?”

Zale scratches his elbow looking embarrassed. “Yeah, I – uh – sketch anything nice.” He amends hurriedly. “Not that I think you’re nice.” He stops. “I mean, you are nice”, he says awkwardly. “I’ll just go get some dinner.”

Delia barely hears Zale trip over himself as her fingers trace lightly over the sketch. He got the ears a bit wrong, but there’s a reason why she wears her hair down usually. He catches her attention with the word dinner though. “Dinner?”

Zale pauses in his heady rush towards the door. “Do you want to come with me? I was thinking – dunno – there’s some cafes and things on the riverfront.” He grins, all ease now after the awkwardness, and tousles his own hair some more.

Delia closes the sketchbook carefully and looks up at Zale with a grin. “If you don’t mind me tagging along some more. I’m suddenly starving.

Delia says: Just let me change, I don’t suppose I should go out in this.

Zale goodnaturedly nods and rummages around in his pack, which he just carries over to his alcove. He remembers his satchel and moves that as well, before looking around the ‘kitchen’ part of the room properly, trying to think of anything else that might be needed to be bought. “Just remembered I forgot to buy my beads from that lady in the temple, maybe tomorrow.”

Delia heads to her alcove and tugs the curtain closed for Zale’s sake, she’s started picking up on the fact that he seems to not like seeing skin. That will be hard to remember. “I’m sure she’ll be there, she needed time to make them anyway,” Delia calls out as she slips off her damp robe and spreads it on top of the curtain to dry. She shimmies back into some lingerie and throws a simple and easy dress on over top.

Zale turns around as you emerge from your alcove and grins. “Right, let’s go.”

About Delia

Hailing from a small fishing village just on the edge of Genua, Delia is following the Leclair family tradition of going to Ankh-Morpork for study at the Temple of Fish. Like most nineteen year olds, she is an amusing mix of worldliness and naïveté.
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