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Thread: [M] The Knife That Cuts the Deepest [BurningKirby & Ashen]

  1. #31
    The Ashen One
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    Anne grew more painfully aware of Ophelia's expression with each step towards the noble lady's home. She was overthinking something, perhaps second-guessing why she'd brought this stranger into her house again. The silence pierced every footstep, shattering in her ears. Anne had to relax. Whatever Ophelia was thinking, Anne had to convince herself things would work out in the end. They always did.

    It wasn't long before they were back at Ophelia's home. Once inside, Anne set the child upon the floor and watched as he began to crawl around. His mother was searching for something, unused to entertaining a guest, evidently. Anne smiled warmly at her, trying to make her feel more at ease. She unbuckled her belt and set her small sword by her bag. "Well, I bought a small whittling knife," she suggested, "if you would like to learn that craft. I also picked up a scroll, a short one, to read to Milo--perhaps a bedtime story? For now, what's say we bake something nice. Would that be fitting?"

    For what it was worth, Anne also did not know how to entertain a guest. She didn't work much with people--rather, she didn't work long with people before they became bodies and bounties. The change of pace was strange, but nice in its way. Ophelia was a sweet girl, and maybe by the time Anne was done with her she'd have more a backbone and less a submissive outlook on the world.

    Anne moved towards the kitchen, making herself at home but remaining aware of Ophelia's reactions to her movements. She didn't want to impose, but she also didn't want to stand around doing nothing, giving Ophelia a chance to doubt all her decisions this far. "Rolf should like to come home to something fresh, yes? We could bake something new, a new recipe, and make a whole new batch by the time Rolf gets home. What would be better than coming home to freshly baked bread?" She looked around the kitchen, grasping at straws. Baking would at least distract them long enough to get them to nighttime, and then, Anne could figure out their plans for tomorrow. She needed to buy time, plot her moves; she hoped, in the future, she would laugh at this. Such amateurish work, she thought, but how could she concentrate with stakes so high?

  2. #32
    Member BurningKirby's Avatar
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    Anne's proposal was intriguing. Ophelia had some experience baking, and while it wasn't exactly her choice activity, it would certainly help pass the time. And she was right, Rolf couldn't exactly be upset at fresh bread. Though... it would be a while before he returned, if what Anne had said earlier was correct. Strange that she seemed so eager to bake right this moment, considering...

    "That does sound lovely." Ophelia lightly smiled, "Though, I would imagine if we wanted him to come home to fresh bread, we'd bake it in a few days, yes? Otherwise we'd risk it getting a little stale. In the meantime, though, I'd be happy to practice this new recipe you speak of. Will it take long?"

    The wife set about gathering together the ingredients and tools she knew she would need, regardless of the type of bread they were going to bake, as she listened for Anne's reply. She set yeast, flour, and a few bowls for mixing on the table, then looked to the woman for further instruction. "What else does this recipe require? We have a decent selection of ingredients here, but if we're missing something it might be possible to catch some of the shops before they close for the night."

  3. #33
    The Ashen One
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    Ophelia seemed unsure of this, as if baking bread was a ploy against her life, and Anne again scolded herself for not being careful. She was acting like she had in her first days as an assassin, a bumbling mess, a klutz with all of her now perfected skills. She couldn't understand; why was she acting so obvious? Her life was on the line, and she was painfully aware that each misstep could mean another droplet of blood racing towards her breasts. She glanced to Ophelia, to the dainty woman standing awkwardly before her own stove, wondering what it was like to be so carefree.

    "We are testing the recipe," Anne replied, already moving towards the ingredients Ophelia had laid out. "If it is any good, we can make it again for your husband when he returns." Maybe with some poison, she thought, a new idea taking form. That would be too easy, wouldn't it? She might kill Ophelia in the process; the docile thing would of course want to share bread with her spouse. Anne would have to cut her losses, but somehow, that didn't feel right to her. In all of this, she at least wanted to spare the frazzled mother and innocent wife. She'd find a way.

    Anne took inventory of the things Ophelia gathered, and she suggested a few more things that Ophelia got. Anne was a traveled woman, so while she had little experience baking, she'd tasted foods from all over. She suggested making a kind of bread she'd had once, far from here, a rich thing with berries baked into it. Once decided, Anne quickly ran back to the market to locate some berries. She returned with elderberries, not her first choice, and began detailing her recipe for Ophelia.

    Some time later, they were pulling the baked bread from the open flames of the stove. It was darker than Anne remembered, but it smelled delicious, and her mouth watered as the aroma flooded the room. Even Milo seemed intrigued by the newly-made treat. "After it cools," Anne cooed softly, prompting the child to return to what he'd been doing. Setting the bread on the table, Anne motioned towards it. "Well," she mumbled, "how does it look?" For someone who had not baked in a long time, she was surprised at how well it turned out. After a few minutes, her hunger dismissed her caution, and she sliced into the bread. She handed a piece to Ophelia first, and she waited for her to take the first bite. If it had turned out okay, Anne wondered if maybe, just maybe, Ophelia would begin feeling more at ease around her.

  4. #34
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    As Ophelia let her teeth sink into the warm bread she realized just how long it had been since she'd had any beyond that which she'd bought at the market. There was the advantage of convenience when it came to outright purchasing it, but it never quite made up for the fresh warmth and satisfaction at having done it herself. She couldn't help but let a smile creep into her lips as she savored the rich flavor of the deposits of berries scattered amidst the fluffy crumb.

    "Oh, that's lovely." She grinned at Anne. "Though..." She paused upon detecting some strange lingering bitter taste among the tart. "Perhaps we should take it out sooner next time. It may be a tad overdone. Ah, well, it's wonderful regardless. I'd happily serve this to Rolf when he returns."

    Ophelia glanced out the window and, noticing how dark it had become outside, set about cleaning up the kitchen area. As she worked, she spoke to Anne. "This was nice. Thank you for pushing me to give it a try. I hope I didn't get in the way too much as we prepared everything. I've been told I tend to do that." At this she trailed off slightly, getting lost in thought for a moment before pulling herself back. We've had enough getting lost in thought for one day, she scolded herself.

    The baking tools all cleaned and away, she plopped herself into one of the dining room chairs and looked to Anne. "Well, it looks to be a bit late out there. Maybe we should begin to prepare for bed? At least for Milo, anyway. He does need his rest." She glanced over at the small boy who at this point was passed out on the floor with his mouth open, a small pool of drool spreading outward from his cheek. "I don't mind staying up a little longer myself if you would like. I suppose we'll also have to figure out sleeping arrangements, now that I think of it. For now, let's just get Milo in bed." She stood up, padded over to the child and scooped him up into her arms, taking just a moment to wipe up the small puddle he left behind with a cloth. Ophelia looked to Anne in silent invitation to come along if she so chose.

  5. #35
    The Ashen One
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    There was a satisfaction, or perhaps a validation, that came as soon as Ophelia swallowed the first bite of the bread they had made together. It was maybe a bit too hard, a bit too dark, but Ophelia liked it. A smile slipped onto Anne's lips. Had she ever felt such a thrill from making something for someone else? In fact, when was the last thing she'd even done anything for anyone but herself? The contract in her bag, the parchment asking for the assassination of an innocent man; Anne had only taken on such a job to save herself. When had she gotten to be so selfish?

    She shook her thoughts, and with them the frown that had appeared on her face. She noticed Ophelia already moving to start clearing away dishes and extra ingredients, so she did her part to help clean up. At Ophelia's words, Anne paused and mulled them over. "You didn't get in the way," she answered softly. Though she wondered why Ophelia would say such a thing. Who had convinced this woman that she was taking up more space than she was allowed? Anne's eyes absently trailed to Ophelia's neck, her wrists. Had it been her husband? With no visible scars or bruises to speak of, Anne had to wonder how their dynamic worked. Perhaps Rolf wasn't the goodly man she'd thought him to be.

    As Ophelia gathered her child to put him to bed, Anne hesitated. "Hold, now," she mumbled, wondering herself what she was doing. "Ophelia, ma'am, answer me first. How in the way do you think you are? How inconvenienced do you think other people are to hear you speak or watch you fret over the quality of your raw foods?" She took the baby from her and balanced him awkwardly on one hip. "Put out your arms," she said, using her free arm to demonstrate. "This entire space around your body? You are allowed to occupy that and so much more. I don't know who convinced you otherwise, but you are wrong. You are not an inconvenience to me. Whoever finds you as so does not deserve you in their lives." Perhaps it was something about the rushed way she spoke, the rushed apologies, the obliviousness to her own predicament. Anne didn't know why, but she wanted to help Ophelia, to show her her own worth. Maybe it was stupid, a pointless task, but maybe this was finally a chance to do something for someone else.

    Pink flushed her cheeks as she realized how out of turn she was. She motioned Milo towards his mother. "It is not my place to say," she said quietly, as if not wanting to offend her hostess, "but I don't like the way you talk of yourself. You deserve the confidence I'm sure your husband has. Don't apologize for your existence." Arms now freed, she awkwardly scratched at her elbow, wondering if her words meant anything at all. Ophelia reminded her a lot of her sister, of a defenseless doe, of someone who needed things done for her because she wasn't sure enough of herself to do anything alone. It was the curse a lot of women fell under, a curse Anne was determined to break in herself, and perhaps in the woman she would soon widow.

    "I apologize," she mumbled again, shaking her head. "Don't mind me. We ought to get Milo to bed, you're right. Do you read stories to him at night? Or perhaps you sing to him? If you'd prefer I help him to sleep, I can do that for you."

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