Page 458: Soul Kitchen
Soul Kitchen
Summary: Charlott and Darek have a heart-to-heart.
Date: 24 October 2012
Related Logs: The Sela/Darek Drama
Charlott Darek 
Kitchens, Tanglewood Manor
Warmth emanates throughout these large kitchens at all hours of the day and night, thanks to the enormous fireplace that takes up the majority of the northern wall, heating numerous pots and cauldrons hung inside. A large wooden table occupies a vast portion of the floor, with bowls, cup and platters always clean and ready for use, with further potns and skillets hanging from shelves overhead, within fairly easy reach. Baskets and sacks are set neatly against the far wall, filled with local produce and herbs from the garden outside, while a small chamber in a back corner serves to store freshly skinned meat, slung on vicious hooks and swaying idly to and fro. A simple door leads from here to the servants quarters.
October 24, 289

Every single window in the kitchen has been thrown open, inviting in the warm evening breeze that accompanies the slow setting of the sun. The last of the dinner plates are being delivered back to the kitchens, and Charlott Caddock is directing one of the new scullery maids around to make sure she doesn't go about breaking another plate. Compared to the other cooking staff, Charlott has a reputation of being the mother no one wants to disappoint; after all, when you're good to momma, momma's good to you. While the girls work at the basins, scrubbing every dish to a shine, the plump woman works at a section of counter reserved for breadmaking. She is turning out a bowl of moist dough onto a dense sprinkling of flour. She is humming a soft folksong from the interior of the Riverlands about a soldier boy being far away from home.

Darek missed dinner, and that's a travesty to a teenage boy who seems to have grown at least half an inch in the last year. And so he's slipped back into the kitchens, skulking more than a bit. After all, he doesn't want to get shit from the scullery maids who saw him making time with Sela Hill. And so he sidles up to the mother-figure of the Tanglewood Manor kitchens, offering up a mostly-full smile, "Mistress Lotti. How was dinner?" Which is his way of announcing that he didn't ahve any.

"I should let you starve, Darek Boldt." Fingers that have worked a thousand loaves of bread and sewn everything from underclothes to leather starts to knead through the wet dough; she gathers and pulls the dough in a perfectly rhythmic gesture, though she does cast her son's squire a gentle smile. Another son, that's what Darek has always been to Lotti. After her Jac was born, the midwife said it was unlikely that she would ever birth another child. But, after thirty years, she found herself raising a half-wild boy her husband brought to their home. She nods her head a bit toward the opposite edge of this very counter where the pots have been gathered; they should be taken out for slop by now. "Get yourself a plate, sweet boy."

Darek gives his best, most innocent look. And it's a good one, since he's practiced it a whole lot. "It's Ser's fault I missed dinner, Miss Lotti. My stomach's all grumbling and growling, and he's all, 'Hunger on the battlefield can be deadly if you're not used to it.'" Which sounds more like Charlott's husband than her son. Still, he's grinning broadly enough to send dimples into his cheeks. Her nod sends him scarpering around the counter, gathering up a bowl and starting to fill it with most everything around. Yes, he's growing again.

"Mmhmm," is all Lotti says about how her son 'mistreats' the squire. After all, Jac is perhaps tame compared to Ser Henric Caddock. She continues to work the dough, though only until it becomes elastic. She then sets the dough into a wooden bowl to rise. Her gaze shifts over to the boy as he piles on his plate, and she starts to wipe her doughy hands on her apron. Briefly she touches the back of her hand to her forehead as a bit of sweat gathers there. She has been going through the change lately, and even though the breeze coming in is nice and cool, she feels as though her body is the heart of a furnace. "Now, sit and eat… and tell me about this dark cloud that's been hangin' over your head."

Darek is just griping, and he shows that by tucking into his food without further complaint. The request, however, causes his fork to pause, "Hmmm? Dark cloud, Mistress Lotti?" He blinks once, looking down at his food evasively. "Uh… I dunno what you're talking about. Just training, playing, having fun." He tosses his hair, then starts eating again, using the excuse that he's going to keep his mouth constantly full for why he can't respond further.

"Don't you give me that, Darek Boldt," Lotti says with the kind of maternal chiding. "You keep thinkin' me blind, deaf, and dumb. Now, I can handle the first two, but certainly not the latter." She moves to stand beside him, resting her flour-covered arms on the wood counter as she looks out the open windows toward the horizon. She is quiet for a period of time before she glances over toward the boy, patiently.

Darek pauses and looks up from behind the scattered locks of his hair, a guilty sort of look in his eyes. His shoulders slump a little, he swallows, and shrugs, "What do you want me to say, Mistress Lotti?" He sets aside the food, evidently getting down to serious business. "Ain't the first time a girl's decided she didn't want anything to do with me, and it probably won't be the last." He shrugs a little uncomfortably, visibly deflated, "Maybe it's all for the best. More time for training, and I need it. Ser's pushin' me hard."

Charlott tilts her head a bit, some of that perfectly silver hair slipping out of the handkerchief wrapped about her crown. "Maybe so, maybe so… she at least tell you why she's gone and left?" As she catches that deflated look, she sighs. "Come on now," she offers him as her arm loops around his shoulders, her other hand bracing against his other arm as she squeezes him lightly. "My son is only pushin' you so hard because that's the best way he knows how to make you feel better. He work you hard enough, you'll be too tired to feel bad about that Hill girl breaking your heart."

Darek shakes his head, "Fuck no — " He stops there, "Uh… I mean. No, Mistress Lotti." he did tell Sela that that the maternal woman cured him of cursing, after all. "She just said we had to be done." At least, that's how he remembers it. "Cursed woman wouldn't give any sort of reason. Her Da gave me some bullshit about trying to protect me, but that's not how things fu — how they work. Knights are supposed to protect girls, not the other way 'round." He reaches for the bowl again, then stops, "Wait, what? I didn't say anything about breaking my heart."

Charlott gives Darek a stern look at the first sign of cursing, but the squire's quickfixes spare him from chiding. She releases the boy's shoulders after another squeeze, tucking her hands into the pockets of her apron. His abrupt denial causes the far older woman to smile, brows arched. "You don't write a girl a song if the heart isn't involved, Darek. Might be time to come to terms with that." She releases a sigh, fingers curling in her pockets thoughtfully. "My guess is the girl was stuck between the good intentions of two knights, dear boy. First you got her Da, who is a Knight himself, and then there's you — a Knight in heart, if not yet a Knight in title." Lotti pauses, frowning a bit. "My question is why you haven't gone after her."

Darek snorts softly, "I write songs all the time, Mistress Lotti." Which is to say, he plays original music, but most of it is impromptu and not for anyone but himself and the Gods. He pushes at the bowl still half-full of assorted foodstuffs, then runs first one hand then the other back through his hair, "I'm not goin' after her, curse it, Mistress Lotti. She's the one who dumped me." There's a pause, and he rolls his shoulders uncomfortably, "I can't go after her. I've got duties here." Which is a very different song that suggests that maybe he does want to go after the thiefette.

"Mmhmm," is all Lotti replies with at first. How easy life must be to be an oblivious teenage boy. She looks back out into the twilight, and she hums thoughtfully. "Well, I suppose that's that then, if she ain't worth going after…" She waits briefly to see if the boy has enough smarts in that curly-covered head of his to detect where she's going with that blase assessment. She casts a glance toward the half-eaten bowl of eats. "You best be finishing that, Darek."

Darek narrows his eyes at the cook's words, tucking his thumbs behind that extra-large belt-buckle, "I didn't cursed well say that." And then he grimaces, looking down for a long moment before he grabs the bowl and starts glomming down the food. A couple of bites, and he adds, "Besides. Like I said. She fucking walked out on me." Another bite, and he adds — around a mouthful — "Why shouldn't she come back to me?"

Ah, there we go. Charlott Caddock turns a bit toward the boy as he lets those angry statements roll out. A woman of high expectations, she rewards the angry boy with a small thump on the back of his head. "Mind your language in my kitchen," she says firmly, words he's heard several times before. Then she sighs out a huff of breath. "I ain't suggestin' you go grovelin' after her, but you said so yourself you don't know why she even left." Then she raises a hand a bit. "You gotta decide what you want out of all this, Darek. Sela may never come back if she don't think you want her to, but maybe it isn't time yet for you to go chasing after her."

Darek rocks with the blow, carefully cradling the bowl and fork to make sure what's left of his food doesn't go flying. Shaking back his luxurious locks, he gives Charlott a heat-less glare in return for the smack. Forking some more food into his mouth, he mumbles, "She cur — " he watches those oft-floured hands warily, "She knows how I feel about her." There's a pause, "Felt about her." There's another pause, "Feel about her." He chews, swallows, "Whatever."

"Feel about her." Charlott holds the dark eyes of the boy steadily with her own paler, bluer gaze. Then she reaches up to softly ruffle up those curls, providing him with a touch of comfort even after her disciplinary thump. "Finish up. I've got a pocket cherry pie you can take back to the barracks." There is a touch of concern that touches her eyes, but she merely sighs out a bit of breath. Youth is wasted on the young, they always say.

His compliment does send a warm smile across her face, and she bows her head gently. "For that, you come by every evenin', and I'll make sure I got one set aside for you." Because maybe, just maybe, Lotti has been hearing a lot of plotting from Simone. She goes about fetching one of the small, handheld pies and wraps it in a bit of tea-towel to keep it warm. She steps up to Darek as she offers it out to him. Even when his hand close around it, she keeps her own grip steady for a moment. "You're a good boy, Darek. Henric—" And her voice catches just a moment before a sad smile washes over her wrinkled face. "Ser Henric wouldn't have taken in a boy who didn't have a good heart. Now." She releases the pie. "Go on."

Darek brightens as if he were five years younger at the promise of pies every evening, and he certainly doesn't demur, moving right over to collect the flaky treat. He bears up under the grip and gaze, offering up a cheeky grin in return, "He wouldn't have taken in a boy who couldn't take a punch, Mistress Lotti." That's meant to be an addition, not a correction. There's a long pause, and then he adds, "Thanks." After a heartbeat, he hefts the pastry, as if to suggest that's what the thanks are for, and then he's gone.