Closed Reprieve
She’d had the most hurtful argument with her brother to date, even going so far as to slap him across the chops for his cruel words and lies. The last few days were miserable, but she immersed herself in her work and even thought about moonlighting a few nights a week at the hospital whenever she wasn’t needed much. When she did arrive at the hospital, she made sure Harold was in his office by asking first, a basket over her arm of good food, taught to her in her spare time by the cook. She’d baked her first loaf of bread, made a chicken stew with sage and rosemary, carrots, potatoes, onions and other flavors, the gravy wasn’t pasty white like at the inn but a rich golden brown from searing the meat just so. She’d also packed some cheese and some fruit, wrapped it all up in a towel to keep it warm, and then took herself to see him. The scent of the stew drifted throughout the room and into the hallway behind her.
She could have come sooner, but she needed time alone, and knowing that her brother bit him made her extremely embarrassed, mortified really. She was almost hesitant to knock on the frame of his office door, but she really had no reason, she realized, because he had defended her. Assuming she got his attention, she leaned her shoulder on the frame and gazed at him. “Hello…” Her voice sounded as if her throat hurt even though it didn’t hurt, it had been from all of the sorrow she felt for her angry words to Pony. She wasn’t smiling when she continued, “They told me ye’d be here.” She wore her Sunday best, feeling like she wanted to make herself pretty for him, the dark green setting off the brown in her eyes and giving her a little bit of a glow. She'd tucked her hair into a net decorated with yellow silk roses affixed to the combs that held it to her head. She looked quite lovely, though not provocative.
He spoke to Pony like he said he would; he just never showed up after like he said he would. He had every intention. His plan was to let his noise heal a bit more before going over to her place. The doc's plan had long gone out his mind though. He came here not thinking he was escaping to a place unlike New Orleans, but he had been proven wrong. After the fight with Pony, he gathered his thoughts and fixed up his nose.

He unpacked his things finally, placing talismans and décor that would keep spirts and demons out. He had put out the sepia photo of him and his siblings and him and his governess. Only to have a disturbed woman show up. The images flashing through his head. If his Governess was here, she would have reassured him the girl was long gone. The noises, the bog water, how she moved all came back to his head.

He sat on his desk with a black wrinkled cloth in hand , a bone, some ash, and a few other things in the center of it. The cot had bog mud on it and a cross laying face up. He looked unkempt, like he had gone to hell and back. His eyes showed signs that he might have been crying or it could have been from the lack of sleep.

A voice came from the hall, but he didn't want to risk looking over to see no one standing there so he just looked at the hex bag. When the voice spoke again he placed the black cloth on the table next to him and then turned his head in her direction. He placed on a semi smile and tapped his knuckles lightly against the table, but didn't say anything. His lower lip curled under his top lift as he looked in the direction of the cot trying to figure out what else he could have done.
She glanced over to the cot and then back at him. She didn't bother to close the door, she set the basket down and moved to him. It didn't matter who saw her there, people already knew thanks to her brother. Without a word, she wrapped her arms around him in a comforting embrace. And she would do that for a long moment, her cheek against his and her arms around his neck. Then she pulled her face back and looked down at his face, there was compassion in her eyes.

Her hand lifted to his face, her thumb stroking beneath his eye at the tear residue, and she pressed a long kiss to his forehead before pulling back again to speak, "Ye need ta eat, Harold. Come, let's get you away from here for a time. I'm sure they'll understand if ye take a bit of time to clear yer head. We won't go far, we'll stay in the buildin' of course, but ye need ta eat and I ain't takin' no for an answer."
It took him a moment to react to her touch as he didn't want to show the emotion he was bottling up. He used what energy he had left to put one arm around the lady. His cheek rested against hers as he looked at the cot. His head lowered slightly causing his focus to be aimed at his arm that had mud on it.

The last time Karen was in this office, there was no decoration, not occult items, no mud on the cot or on him. The last time she was here it was the reverse, he was trying to get her to eat. His cheek moved from her cheek as he turned his head slightly in order to place a kiss on her cheek. "Okay.." He got up and reluctantly moved out of the office.
She moved to grab the basket and then her hand moved to his and she walked with him. It took a good little bit to find the dining room where the healthier folk ate, and she let go to move to an empty table, pulled out the crock with her stew, the other foodstuffs, some wooden bowls meant for picnics, and utensils. She dished a healthy portion out one bowl for him, and then some from her, then the basket was set in one of the empty chairs.

"Be gentle with me, 'tis the first time I've made chicken stew. I made the bread with my own two hands, too." She sounded proud of herself, it was actually a liberating thing for her to learn how to cook whilst she started to save money for her own house. The stew wasn't spicy, but it was quite flavorful and savory. The gravy wasn't thick like glue but rather a thicker broth, the chicken tender, the vegetables just right, the taste of love was in each bite. The bread was light and fluffy, still warm and steaming once cut into.
He would need to drop the thoughts, but when you experience something like that it was hard to move past. Somehow he had when he was younger, but he wasn't sure how that exactly happened. He figured this called for a letter home to his former governess. Harold was trying to get out of his head. The doc put a light smile on his head. Everything around him moved slow and yet fast, it was an odd feeling to say the least.

He snapped out of his head for a moment." Hey" Harold placed his hand on the side of her wrist to get her attention. "I meant to call..." He hadn't heard any rumors about a conversation between Karen and Pony. The southerner wasn't really in the right might that would allow such things to be heard.
She went still when he brought up that he meant to see her, and she said very softly, "It is alright... I... am still mortified by what Pony did to ye, I couldn't face ye anyway. I..." Her eyes filled with tears and she looked away because she was hurting too badly and didn't want him to take her pain while he was hurting. She was clearly trying to make it seem like she was alright for his sake, when she really wasn't alright.

"Don't worry about me. I came here for ye, Harold. I wanted ta make sure ye were eatin' at least, what with all that's been happening."
"Yea.. about that. It wasn't all his fault." He moved his hands against her arms until his hands held onto hers. "I think your brother has a medical condition. He should really let me look at him." He brought both of her hands up to his lips and kissed them. He wasn't trying to make her brother look like a saint in the matter, but based on what he saw up close something was definitely wrong. The way his eyes changed. the mannerisms, and memory loss was clear signs of a medical issue. He wasn't sure exactly what it was or how to help, but it didn't mean he wasn't going to try. "Though I know he will never step near a doctor. Nor would he after recent events." He kissed her hands again. "Thank you for the food." He was exhausted, beyond exhausted, but somehow conscious.
That was her undoing, the kisses on her hands, the way he talked about a condition. Suddenly she was aware of feeling such guilt for making Pony feel like she abandoned him. The tears she'd held in check forced themselves out and she turned her head to try and hide them. She squeezed her eyes shut, taking shallow breaths through her nose to try and calm herself. But she had been vicious, and now her brother would never speak to her again! "He may have left, Harold. I... We had a terrible fight because I couldn't let him hurt me anymore and..." She pulled away and covered her face with her hands. "I made him feel like I abandoned him."
The gunslinger saw the tears and his mind suddenly went far away from the events that had happened here. His hands moved to run across her shoulders trying to comfort her. He pulled her in and wrapped one arm around her so that his hand was on her back. The other hand was on the back of her head as he held her to his chest. He felt bad that he wasn't the cleanest person in this moment, but it didn't stop him from being there for the lass. " No, you did no such thing. Itll work itself out "
She suddenly found herself against him, and he was comforting her when she was supposed to be there to comfort him. She'd heard about a patient, though she didn't know who it was. In fact, Addie had been her friend of sorts, though Addie had been so... private most of the time. It didn't matter to her that the girl in question was thought to be mad when the truth was that she was plagued with all the dead in the area. But since she didn't know, she couldn't really speak of it. She would be even more hurt knowing her friend suffered. Her arms wrapped around him too, she calmed. However he did it, she wasn't sure.

When she pulled away, she looked down at her bowl of stew and started to stir it, it was getting cold. "I just wish I knew where he was," she said, wiping at her tears with her free hand. "Yer not ta blame either, ye know? He's been angry with me since a day or two before ye and I met. I started the whole mess."
His eyes closed as he took in a deep breath. The deep breath finally made him notice the smell of her food. "I don't believe he could have gotten far" They moved out of the embrace and he pulled back the chair for her before taking a seat. "I'll help you look for him tomorrow." He still needed to clean up his office and take a shower or three. He moved his hand against her back to try to comfort her. "Let's just eat. My dear you surely out did yourself with this spread."
She turned her eyes upon him, it was so easy between them... Even though they both hurt for different reasons, it seemed like they could be just... there. She liked the way his hand felt on her back, liked the way he pressed his kisses to her forehead and cheek. Pony was convinced the thought herself in love but she didn't know what that felt like. She did know that one mere moment in Harold's arms and it was like all was right in that time span. "Thank ye..." she said softly.

When he commented on her food, she said, "I had help, which I am grateful for. I do have some good happenin'... I've moved to the castle and I am one of the nurses that take care of the children. I decided I would help here too when there are kids about." She had such a tender expression when she spoke of little ones, like it didn't matter if they were hers or not, she loved being around them... something Pony didn't pay attention to really. "And maybe I can help ye every now and then if ye need it, but I'll be here mostly for the children."
The way she spoke of children, he could really see how much she wanted children of her own. This brought up the portion of the conversation with her brother. "At the castle, that's great. I am glad to hear you aren't being dragged off." He put the spoon to his lips, a moment later the food was going down his throat as another spoon full came to his lips. Before he spoke again he had brought the spoon to his lips four times, of course some of it got on his facial hair.

"You my dear are a natural, sure you don't want to become a cook?" Harold grabbed a piece of bread and as he was chewing it he realized just how hungry he was. He was trying to figure out how to articulate his thoughts. He was exhausted, the food definitely helped, but it may had just made him realize just how exhausted he was

"Are they housing you at the castle?" It was a random thought that came to mind in between bites.
Warmth flooded her when she noticed the food in his stache. She took a bite of stew and her eyes widened. She had done that? She'd tasted it earlier of course, but it had been scorching hot and nearly burnt her tongue. With it having cooled off, she could taste the different herbs and spices, and she murmured with a smile, a real one, "Yer just askin so I'll bring ye more." The teasing was light and she said another soft, "Thank ye. Maybe ye should keep the rest fer when yer hungry."

He inquired about her living circumstances and she nodded, "Just fer now. I want ta save for a home in the village. It shouldn't take too long, I hope." It seemed important to her that she work for her rewards in life. She finished her smaller portion and reached for some bread and cheese.

After a pause and a more sobered expression, she couldn't help but to touch his face again. He looked so tired. She regarded him with concern and placed her hand on his arm.

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