Page 404: After Midnight
After Midnight
Summary: Petra finds Jac breaking his fast in the kitchens. Poorly.
Date: 29/08/2012
Related Logs: None specifically, I don't think.
Jac Petra 
Kitchens — Highfield Keep
The kitchens are normal for a Keep of this size, scents of fresh bread and spices meet all who enter here. A large cooking fire with an iron bar that passes from one side of its arch to the other, laden with iron pot hooks and pots; sits against the smaller, right hand wall of the room. Roaring hot on one side, while the other is a bit of glowing embers. Setting temperatures to cook any range of foodstuffs. Above is a small opening in the stone fireplace, an oven of sorts that almost always seems to be baking fresh loaves of bread. A long, heavy blocked table sits in the center of the room, fresh fruits lay at its center while one side might have the meat for that nights sup, and one of the other has a servant kneading some bread, another, peeling onions or mashing neeps. This place is always alive though, even in the wee hours of the morning one is bound to find someone cooking or baking something to be eaten that day, or the next. As the door to the servants quarters is at the back of this room this only serves to prove the last true. A door to the Keep's root and wine cellar is next to the fireplace, when the door is opened, one would find hanging sausages, pork legs, salt beef, and occasionally other wild animals, smoking from the cook fires near by. Down stairs of this cool dark place, a few large casks are set. One, a Riverland Red wine sweet yet bitter in the same taste. The other, a cask of dark ale, flavored by the oaken barrels the liquids reside. Other smaller casks of wine sit around bellow, a Dornish red, bitter as the lands it comes from, as well as a bottle or two of Arbor Gold, saved for special occasions.
29 Aug, 289 AL

As war is prepared, the Captain of the Guards hours become more and more erratic. He is awake when he should be asleep, but he is never asleep when he should be awake. His squire is being treated no better with early mornings and later nights. This is one of those later nights. With some of his good ol' boy charms, he has managed to convince the cook to let him dine after most had gone to bed. Much of the evening meal has been thrown to the dogs leaving the Songbird to poke about breads and salted meats. He is perhaps lucky that he has always been sworn to a well-stocked House or his sheer lack of skills in food-preparation would have left him to wallow in simple, unimpressive foods. Now, however, he looks more like a lost boy in an unfamiliar world. At least he found the wine, a cup of which he nurses as he mopes about the kitchen.

It's only the house's staff, here in the back of the halls, and so things are sometimes more at ease than they would be in those places nobles might otherwise show up. The soft sound of footfalls on the stairs aren't hard to miss, as Petra makes her way down the serving stairs, named so because they carry much of the traffic from the kitchens and cellars up to the rooms of the better born living in the keep. It's not a long walk, from her rooms down to the kitchens, and Petra slips in soon enough, house slippers and a sleeping shift as much an indication of the lateness of the hour as the quiet in the room. An empty wine carafe is in hand, which she seems intent on refilling. But the movement within brings her up short.

With so much quiet, the soft noises that Petra brings with her is enough to draw Jac's attention around. He has half a slice of bread in his mouth, a bit of butter slopped in the middle. His brows are raised with a rather youthful look of innocence though it settles into an easy smile at the sight of the courier. He starts to talk, though the words are muffled until he snatches away the bread slice. "I'm allowed to be here," he announces wryly as he sets his half-eaten slice down on his plate. His gaze flits up and down her frame, before it turns aside as if afraid to be accused of leering.

"Are they feeding you on bread and water now, Captain?" Petra slips past, moving easily, as if she spends a good deal of time in the kitchens, setting down her carafe by the wine barrel. Perhaps it's the oversized shift, or the lack of well, her usual uniform, but she looks, for a little while, at least, much younger than her 23 years. "Or would you like me to find you something more suitable to eat?"

"Wine," Jac corrects her with a quirk of a grin. "Bread and wine, sweet Petra." He starts to chuckle now, though in the soft dim of the night, he even keeps that a bit hushed. He looks up toward her once more at his offer, and he looks about the kitchen almost sheepishly. "Are you suggesting that my meal is not suitable? Bread, a bit of salted vension, wine. To Hells with the cook and her demand for vegetables and milled grains… she once tried to have me eat an apple. Have you heard of such obsurdity?" He glances up toward her now, offering her a crooked smile.

"I wasn't suggesting at all." Petra gathers up her skirt, hunkering down to tap the cask and refill her carafe, setting it aside before she wanders father into the kitchen, heading towards the cupboards furthest from the banked heat of the stove. It's the closest the above ground kitchen can get to cold storage. A basket is pulled out of one of the cupboards, carried back towards the fireplace. "I would have made you eat two, for good measure. You could use a bit of fattening up."

Perhaps with some ounce of slyness, the Songbird watches the woman move about the kitchen even as he chews on a bit of meat. He is doing his best not to gawk at the gathering of skirts, though he has to cough a bit as he manages to almost choke on his mouthful. It causes him to inwardly groan. Idiot. He shakes his head as he looks back toward his plate, and her words spurs a bit of laughter. "Typical woman… you claim I need fattening up, but we all know the moment I do, you'll complain I'm too fat." He looks over toward her and the mysterious basket, giving it a cautious look.

Petra looks back, at the coughing, but as the man doesn't seem about to choke his life away, she leaves him to it. It's not at all that she's being coy, she just doesn't seem to really think about what she's doing. A whore really has no place claiming or pretending to innocence. The ship has sailed. And even a former one hasn't lost the mindset. "And then, when you were too fat, we would put you to work doing chores to work it off. It's a wonderful ploy." Petra removes two large pasties from the basket, tilting them up to the light so she can read the marking pricked into th crust to see what they are. A couple of the half meat/swede/potato half berry filling variety. Easy to eat with your hands and keeps well, so it can be eaten cold. "The trick in here, is to know where the cooks keep the food. It looks as though the place is empty, but…you never know when a lord or lady will want something in the night, and you can't keep them waiting. So…you keep a few things at hand."

"Is there nothing that you do that isn't a ploy, Miss Petra?" Jac inquires with a touch of teasing in his warm baritone. Then his dark eyes drop down to the basket as it is opened to reveal those wonderful handpies. He leans sideways a bit to peek over her shoulder, though her height does make looming rather difficult for a man who is only three inches her greater. He tilts his head toward her at her advice, and he chortles. "Or ally with the coy little bird who knows where everything is kept," he offers in response to knowing where the food is kept. He crowds a bit behind her to strain a peek into the rest of the basket. Satisfied, he steps to her side to lean against the counter edge. "You are a rather resourceful woman, I give you that." And he outstretches a hand to see if she will relinquish one of the pies.

Petra seems to actually stop and seriously consider the question posed to her, "Well, I like to think that most of what I do is quite straight forward. In some cases, I will not be as straightforward as others might like, but that is what it is. It is simply that not everyone knows what I am doing." The peeking she allows, turned just so that her shoulder touches the knight's chest as she turns to set down the basket. The rest of the basket seems to be similar, various and sundry baked savory and sweet pasties, "And I do not know where everything is kept…just most everything." And with that answer, he gets a pie as a sort of bonus. "I am what I need to be."

There is a proud look of satisfaction as the pie is given, and he promptly takes a bite. It allows a moment of quiet from the Songbird as he chews — with his mouth closed, mind, he did have a rather strict mother. It is only after he swallows, looking relieved to have something comforting in his belly, does he glance into those familiar eyes. "You know where everything is kept," he says confidently before a small smile quirks the corners of his mouth. It sobers after a moment, the knight taking another bite. When he speaks next, he does so curiously. "And what are you tonight then that you've come down to the kitchens for a carafe of wine so late?"

A quirk of her lips precedes the dip of Petra's head, "I would not be a very useful little bird, if there were any secrets I did not know." Petra does not bite into her own pie, such as it is, but instead, steps away to find a bit of something to wrap it in. Portable lunches are full of win. "I am reviewing ledgers, after a fashion. I find the night is when I do my best work. You, I imagine, are guarding something?"

"And I imagine you are a good secret keeper," Jac says with a quirk of his brows. He tracks her with his eyes, though he remains where he was left to eat his pie. When her question is posed, at first all he does is grimace. "I wish it was that simple," he says with an exhale. "Plans are in motion, and I have been given a task that has demanded little to no sleep. I've had to call up old habits. During old Bob's Rebellion, I use to sleep sporatically at best. Once though, I remember sleeping with the greatest calm… it was during a storm that caused a floodplain to overflow. It was peaceful." He relaxes into the memory for a few moments before he shakes his head and takes another bite of pie.

"I am a good secret keeper when keeping secrets is required. From my Lord Aleister, I have none. From others, many." The pie she places into a small coarsely woven bag, likely a repurposed potato sack, adding a pair of hard boiled eggs pulled out of the larder…and an orange. "I will not ask if you will tell me you duties," probably because she realizes that if she was meant to know she would, "But are you bound to return to your duties now? Or are you allowed a few minutes of rest before you are needed again?" A laugh comes in answer to the memory, "You have the knack for sleeping through the most violent of storms. That might yet prove useful."

"Storms bring me comfort," Jac points out to her before he finally finishes his pie. He brushes his hands together, considering her questions with deliberate thought. Then he flashes her a smile, straightening from his slump against the counter. "I am not bound to return to anything yet," he says easily as he steps toward her across the length of kitchen. "Ser Harold needs my reports in by morning, but they are nearly done." He reaches to touch the burlap sack, offering to take it from her gently. "I will be sore company though, if you are returning to your ledgers."

Petra stands her ground, offering over the sack as he holds his hand out for it, moving only to retrieve the carafe of wine. It seems that really was all that she wanted in the kitchen. There's a pause, as if she were deliberating, listening to the knight's answer before she nods, "There is no one waiting to read my report just yet. They can wait, for a while yet." A tilt of her head, as she studies the knight's face, before she holds out a hand, palm turned slightly up, waiting to see if he'll take it.

The sack is knotted to secure it closed as she speaks, and the Songbird flashes her a wide smile that has a hit of mischief in its corners. "You will have them done by morning," he promises her as he reaches down to take her hand. His fingers curl around hers, squeezing hers softly. He steps closer to her, nodding his head. "Take me where you will, Miss Petra."

Petra's smile answers the knights. Warmer, wider than is her want. "And Ser Harold will have his reports as well." With the knight's rations, as it were, well in hand, Petra seems to pay them no more mind. And the carafe is not so large that she has to worry about going one handed. Her fingers tighten, just for a moment, before she turns back around, not allowing the gap to grow too large between them. The stairs are not that spacious. "I am only Petra tonight, Jac," is the woman's answer as she leads him out of the kitchen.