They were still drinking when she left. Cain was repeatedly saying “complicated” just for kicks now…or more accurately he was saying “cmplgdtd.” Vowels had fallen victim to the drink some time ago.

The air outside was crisp and not unpleasant. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. For a few seconds she forgot there was no door behind her and began to lean back against the tent flap. Her hind brain gave her a nudge and she pulled herself up. She was extremely drunk. She couldn’t remember the last time she had been this fuzzy around the edges, her vision had slipped into vignette and even though she did manage to get Lara’s trump out of her deck, focusing on it was proving…difficult.

Eventually she gave up.

*****

She’d almost necked herself twice on tent lines, only missing the last one due to one of Julia’s hounds obviously taking pity on her and herding her out of the way. The word puppy rolled around in her head and she plopped down on the ground to sit face to face with the animal which, although many things, had not been a puppy for a very long time. She rubbed the hounds head and ears with both hands, whispering “I don’t want to be an Amberite any more, puppy.” and after a startled moment, received many face licks in return. She sighed deeply “such a good puppy.”

Rounding a corner, this was the scene a returning sentry came across. Incredulity didn’t even cover it.

“Um…your…your highness?”

The hound turned to look at him, Sioned leaned forward to rest her head on the hounds side and wrapped both arms around its neck.

“Puppy”

The hound continued to stare at the sentry, who began to glance around hoping that someone else would please come along and take responsibility for this. There was no proviso in Arden ranger training that covered drunk princes of Amber and 90kg of Warden hound other than “run the fuck away

The thought occurred to him to maybe go and find someone himself to come deal with it, and he was making hesitant moves in that direction; but was saved the trouble by the hound, who seemed to have decided that the sentry was a useless baggage, and it would have to see to matters itself.

The dog bunted Sioned’s face with it’s muzzle until she sat back with blinking eyes. Her sleeve was taken gently, but very firmly in the hounds jaws and it began to move off down the row of tents. Thankfully Sioned had enough sense to stumble to her feet before the impetus had her being dragged too far along the ground.

The sentry watched for a few seconds before deciding it was definitely not his problem any more, thank the Unicorn, and hastily went on his way.


The hound had got her to the tent, and even inside it, no mean feat considering how much taller than it she was. They were both now standing beside a rough but wide wooden cot, across which Esmond was sprawled. It considered him, his face was very close.

Julia’s hounds had an almost exclusively protein diet. Excellent for fueling animals bred of war, not so great for doggy oral hygiene. Esmonds nose wrinkled in his sleep, and something in his head started to knock on the back of his eyeballs. They flickered open slowly and then went wide with shock. The hound hurumphed at him as he recoiled with a strangled gurgle, and it trotted out of the tent.

Who says dogs don’t have a sense of humour?

“Hi.” Sioned smiled, waving at him. He blinked and moved aside so she could get onto the bed.

“Are you ok…Oh, wow, you’re drunk.” the smell on her breath almost knocked him out, and he chuckled slightly.

“Yep, very drunk. But Julia is fine. I mean drunk, right now; they’re all drunk, but still good. It’s all fine.” She patted his arm while simultaneously trying to take her shirt off.

“Are you sure?” He helped her disentangle one arm from a sleeve.

“Yep, sure sure. She’s got the two people who get her and we made sure she’s ok, because it’s important that she be ok and…yeah.” The shirt came off and she pushed it ungraciously off the cot.

Sioned considered the pants and realised that they would require far too much effort, and she was finally lying down. instead she pulled the covers over herself and rolled over to be closer to him

Esmond smilled and shook his head, letting her wriggle into a comfortable position.

“Did you give her a hug?” Esmond joked.

“Yep…an alcohol hug…it’s complicated…” She chuckled.

He wrapped an arm around her and settled.

“Well thank you for my shirt back, but you know you’re still in my pants, right?”

“I thought you liked me in your pants.” She started to giggle. “You can have them back in the morning.”

“Sioned, it is the morning.” He closed his eyes.

“…You can have them back whenever I wake up then.” Her voice was softer, closer to sleep.

“Ok.”

There was silence and even breathing for a while.

.
.
.


“Sioned?” He whispered in her ear.

“Hmmhmm?” it was barely a sound.

“Can I have a hug?”

“Yes, you can have all the hugs now.” she wormed a hand under one side of him, and wrapped the other over the top. He smiled a lazy self satisfied smile before drifting off.

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