The hours passed well into late morning and she was trying to build herself up to go to his room, prepare it for another guest, not that the inn would be quite so packed now that her prize had left.
As she was preparing a bowl of honeyed milk oats for an elderly client a flash of red caught her attention. Glancing to her side she saw, to her absolute surprise, the unmistakable shock of red fire hair that was Scarlett, beautiful and perfect, dressed in his working dress and with a storm about him.
She couldn’t help herself, she called out to him, "Does this mean you’re staying?.." her voice was marked with unabashed desperation.
He froze in his tracks and turned his head, glancing over one slender shoulder to eye her up and down, a spark of displeasure in his gaze. "Of course I’m staying. And the Dark Queen of the North takes her coffee white with sugar." he said, his tone dismissive.
And he strode from the door.
She watched, mouth agape and felt tears welling in her eyes, "No.. Scarlett.. I.. I’m sorry..."
She watched the now empty door, he hadn’t even looked back. He’d just.. Gone. In a flash, like that.
She swallowed, lower lip quavering as she gritted her teeth. She wiped her eyes on the back of her sleeve and fought back the tears. She couldn’t cry. She had a business to run. The same old tavern with the same old clientele. It just looked so much.. Grimmer without him.
"Where the fuck is my coffee.." a voice rumbled, tired.
She sniffed and quelled her upset, she would have time to grieve later. "Your coffee?.." she asked, turning to eye the unique figure, her mind blanking as she tried to comprehend what she was seeing.
"White with sugar. Didn’t Scarlett tell you?.." Ariela narrowed her eyes, a darkness brooding in them.
"I.. He.. Wait.. You’re?" she stumbled over her words, mouth agape.
"Impatient.." the dark Queen growled, eying her with intense eyes.
Mayla swallowed. Her eyes following Scarlett as he reentered the bar, holding a bucket of water he had presumably drawn from the well and moved to collect a sponge before marching, annoyed, towards his room.
"Coffee. White. Sugar. Right." Mayla said, flatly, mechanically preparing the drink as her mind ran in circles.
So. He’s staying. And this is the Dark Queen of the North. In my tavern. Here. Now. The sorceress-tyrant. Who rumor has it melts people for funsies.
He would doubtless still have an entire myriad of questions for her regarding her betrayal. But that could wait until after service. She had a guest that needed tending to. And an Elf working in her bar. Cleaning his room, she assumed from whatever mess these two had propagated.
This was just the sort of attention Scarlett would bring, she knew.
She had a lot of explaining to do. A lot of persuading to do. A lot of questions to answer and more herself to ask. But Scarlett would be here for them all.
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