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June 25, 2012 03:09PM
Wearing only her shirt, Sylvie stood near the window of their rented room. She squinted up in the little mirror and combed through her hair with her fingers, she could still not make out her natural hair colour showing at the roots. Good. They had cooked up a dye from walnut husks before they had reached the main road; if word got out about their actions in Canyet, their unusual colours would be sure to feature in descriptions. Still drawing looks could not be helped, thanks to dark skin for Sylvie and bright eyes for Sammeh, but it was something.

That, and the names. She was starting to get used to thinking "Sammeh" instead of "Sebastian", but she could not think of herself as "Eda", completely. It was camouflage. At least she had had some time to get used to answering to the name.

<em>I hope we can drop the act after passing Hilyet.</em>

Sylvie pushed the thought aside, and the mirror back in its case, and walked the short distance to the bed, where Sammeh was at work.
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June 25, 2012 03:21PM
He was still a little conscious about the dye, but not of his nudity; so far he had torn of all the seams of his old and new clothes to the extent that was required, and so far he had slipped short blades suitable for throwing or cutting (at risk at one's own fingers) and lockpicks into fresh set of clothes. And sewn them shut. Tunic, hooded cloak and trousers; the boots Sammeh had declined to part from.

Yes, the dye was worse than the nudity to him. Obviously, he had declined to apply the colour to more sensitive regions, but looking in the mirror and finding that your hair was no longer grey was a bit of a surprise. Sammeh wanted the colour back now, even though he had cursed it for many years and used dyes before.

It was demeaning, not being yourself. Acting different.

As Eda approached, he smiled up at her and extracted one final item from his old, worn clothes -- a garrote, which would go inside the hood of his cloak, from where it could be yanked out easily and applied indiscriminately. The tunic held most of the blades already; the lockpicks he had scattered in each and every piece of clothing. Some coinage was spread around as well, mainly gold and silver.

"I'm almost done," Sammeh informed her, slowly working the garrote into the hood.
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June 25, 2012 03:30PM
"Here's to hoping those tools can stay right where you're putting them now." She sat down on the edge of the bed, out of the way and out of the light, and plucked at his disassembled last outfit distractedly.
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June 25, 2012 03:33PM
"That's always been my earnest wish and hope," he said, taking needle, thread and bead in order to make it easier to pull out the wire in case it was needed. At the same time, the half-elf noted her interest in the clothes. "I didn't think to tell you about these before. Aside from a few occasions, I've never had to rely on this particular back-up," Sammeh continued, softly.
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June 25, 2012 04:12PM
"I could have guessed what you had there, if I had thought about it, but there was more than enough to keep our heads busy. I mean, I noticed you carried bits of metal where I wouldn't have expected, back at Montmore's." She shrugged. Sylvie had magic to fall back on in an emergency. It was harder to lose than physical kit. Drawing that parallel loosened her discomfort, and she stopped fidgeting with the cloth.
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June 25, 2012 05:18PM
He turned his head toward her and smiled. "So, you can sense those, too? I oughtn't be surprised, I think, but. Hm." The man turned to work the thread through the bead. With nimble fingers, he was almost ready to start sewing again by the time Sammeh -- no, Sebastian -- spoke up again. "I wonder if he noticed, too."
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June 25, 2012 05:50PM
Sylvie considered that. "I really couldn't say. Perceiving seems to work differently for him than I'm used to, or he wouldn't have been able to tell I was using magic without me feeling he was doing the same." She tilted her head and wrinkled her nose briefly. "Except if he just guessed. But seeing how you don't have to try to sense magic, either..." She gave another shrug, feeling unhelpful. Openly talking shop with a local mage would be lovely, if you ignored all practical considerations, particularly regarding secrecy.
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June 25, 2012 06:35PM
He listened as he worked the fabric and thread. By the time she was finished, Sebastian looked at her briefly before spreading the cloak on the bed, eyeing it. "I'll tell you again, I've no idea how magic works. I just know when it's being applied near me." The half-elf, after a moment, shrugged and pulled the cloak over his head to see if the metal fire would chafe. It didn't. "Is it... well, correct me if I'm wrong, but is it like debating that people see the colour red --" at this point he placed a hand on her head "-- differently? I once had a long debate about how people see colours with a very persistent philosopher. He was colour blind."

And also a drunken woodcutter.
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June 25, 2012 07:22PM
With a wry smile she made a murring sound, and tried to translate to vision and clarify. "I was used to that if I worked magic, and somebody watched it, I could always tell that my working had been watched, and usually also by whom. You, and apparently mages here, can tell when I'm working magic <em>without</em> me feeling watched in that way. I, and all other mages back home, have to be expecting magic being applied, and actively looking for it, to spot it; mages here might be able to spot any magic being applied near them even when they're not on their guard already. You see how that could make a practical difference to me?"

"Anyway, I was trying to say that magic works a bit differently here than the way I learned it, so I can't say for certain what Montmore could or could not sense."
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June 25, 2012 08:11PM
"Oh. Yes, I can understand your surprise then," he said after a while, staring at her, frowning. "I... might have begun to take it for granted. Tell you, though, my tools... never." Sebastian looked at the bundle of ruined clothes. All that remained of his old attire were the boots and the belt, which by itself held a very respectable array of tools.

But he smiled. "I..."
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June 25, 2012 08:48PM
Sylvie's lopsided smile widened a little, and she looked away. <em>You're not the only one who took things for granted.</em>

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June 25, 2012 08:53PM
"I know one thing that I shan't take for granted?" he suggested, smiling wry and teasing alike.
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June 25, 2012 09:27PM
Reacting to his tone, Sylvie looked out of the window and pursed her lips, nodding to herself a little, before looking at him again and answering. "Good."
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June 25, 2012 09:34PM
Sebastian's smile remained, but he didn't say anything at first. No, he put the thread and needle aside, leaned back on the bed and rested his head against the wall. He crossed his arms over his chest and glanced at the ceiling, wondering just how the lack of words was so much better than constant explanation. He looked back at her again. "Funny, not having to state what it is, and knowing that you know what I meant."
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June 25, 2012 09:44PM
She stopped rolling up the former clothes, and splayed her hands with a slow shrug. "I can have guessed wrong." A bit more seriously she added, "Not taking things for granted seems to be a good idea in general."
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June 25, 2012 09:53PM
"I've had a sorry past doing just that, but I got the impression you understood I was talking about you, right now. I won't take you for granted. If I ever do, neuter me," he said, crossing his legs to cover a sensitive area as he sat up again, inching his nose close to Sylvie's ear. "Then again, some might say that ought to have been done a long time ago to me," he whispered.
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June 25, 2012 10:27PM
That was too morbid for Sylvie's sense of humour, but she tried to match his tone, anyway. "That would have been unfortunate."
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June 25, 2012 10:31PM
Sebastian was quiet for a moment, analysing her tone -- but not her body language. He kept his eyes closed and leaned his chin against her shoulder. "Agreed. But I'll say it again. I won't take you for granted." He opened his eyes and watched her neck, the dyed hair.
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June 25, 2012 10:49PM
Relaxing, breathing deliberately to try to loosen a knot of worry, she leaned against him. "If I ever do, call me out on it."
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June 25, 2012 10:57PM
"Reciprocity, then," Sebastian muttered softly, finally extracting his arms only to wrap them around her frame. "Relax," he said, eyes half-lidded, staring at just past her face at the window, the slowly darkening sky. "Relax," Sebastian repeated in a gentle tone, "let's not be moody."
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June 25, 2012 11:53PM
So she did, gradually, trusting him to not suddenly move and let her fall. In his reassuring embrace she could grasp what was so strange. She didn't remember ever being this afraid without at the same time being angry. A smile slowly spread across her face when she realised she could try to pit contentment against fear. It might not be as explosive as anger, but it was worth a try.

"Thank you." She turned her head and brushed his cheek with a kiss.
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June 26, 2012 12:02AM
He didn't move. Sebastian-Sammeh waited, content where he was, feeling her heartbeat through her skin and his. He smiled at the kiss. "Welcome," the half-elf said, placing a kiss on her collar bone -- through the shirt. He did not begin to strip her. Then he kissed her shoulder, again, the fabric between his lips and her skin. "Most welcome."
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June 26, 2012 12:19AM
Sylvie started on the lower buttons she could reach, and chuckled. "'s not worn that thin yet."
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June 26, 2012 12:27AM
The buttons coming of certainly raised a few things -- his eyebrows, as a pair, went up for example, accompanied by a few blinks of green lambent eyes. "Well," Sebastian said hoarsely. "Well... if you're shedding that second skin, mind if I'll help you with it? We may even get some sleep tonight." His tone was a tease in its own right.

And he did reach for some of the buttons, one-handed.
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June 26, 2012 12:44AM
"I would appreciate it," she answered with a valiant attempt at a dry tone ruined at the end by a stifled laugh.
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June 26, 2012 01:06AM
Sebastian grinned at her laughter, kissing her gently in tempo with each button being relieved. And then some. Wherever the shirt ended -- or the clothes he'd been making modfications to --, he paid little attention.

The rest was what it was.

And come morning, he once again awakened before Sylvie did, his scarred body against hers. Yet again, the sheer realisation of being close to someone who cared deeply and was deeply cared about struck a chord.

So Sebastian-Sammeh waited, watching Sylvie's shoulder with a smile on his face, arm over her side, hand on her stomach. Wondering about skin and colour and origin, but not wondering about emotions. Eventually, Sebastian closed his eyes and began to count her heartbeat and the rhythm of her breath, waiting for Sylvie to wake up.

Up until she did, Sebastian basked in the warmth of the sun and the warmth of her body pressed against his. Half-awake, half-dozing, he dreamt of the future. For once, his fantasies seemed full of hope.
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June 26, 2012 02:18PM
Sylvie, by contrast, when she woke up spent precious moments soaking up sensation. The present was just fine.

The future... would have to be taken one step at a time. She gave up trying to keep her mind from spinning scenarios, and stirred a little.

"Good morning." She had gotten used to not being the first one who woke up.
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June 26, 2012 03:23PM
He stirred and raised his head to lean against the back of hers. "Morning, love. Time to get up?" he asked, eyes wide open now. His tone suggested neither hurry nor laziness.
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June 26, 2012 04:34PM
Sylvie twisted around and boosted herself up on an elbow so she could face him. She gave him a thoughtful look, followed by a slow kiss.
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June 26, 2012 04:36PM
Sebastian returned it, eyes half-lidded when he pulled away, hand again on her hip. He watched again for a while, finding that smiling itched. It was the stubble. "I take it that means we'll stay warm for a bit and then see about breakfast and the trip?"
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