An unfamiliar head of golden-red hair, a most intriguing shade, popped through the Cask’s doorway early in the morning. Blue-green eyes looked around and the short woman walked in quietly. She carried a white kitten which was streaked with multiple dye colors. “Hello? Am I too early for anyone?”
Tegil looked up at the strange woman, then blinked widely when he recognized the animal she held carefully. He put his book down and walked out of the study into the main room. “May I help you, miss?”
She blinked, looking very confused. “Who’re you?” She inspected him, taking such a length of time that it began to make him uncomfortable; right when it was about to be too much, she tilted her head and said, “Wait, you’re from Gondor, aren’t you? Oh, hey! You’re wearing red. You’re that Tegil guy. Hey, you know Ceswyn then, right?”
Shifting and tucking some hair behind an ear, he nodded. “Aye, I am Tegil of Gondor; I also know Ceswyn. And you are?”
“Gondor, eh? Invasions.. heh…” She snickered to herself for a moment, before blinking and going, “Hah! How rude of me, I always forget to do that. Introduce myself, that is. I’m Loriwen Snowberry, but everyone calls me Lori; well… leastways, most do.” She blushed for no reason at all.
Tegil steadfastly ignored the blush. He probably didn’t want to know, anyway. “Well met, then, Lori. How may I help you?”
She held the kitten up, still properly holding her; the woman clearly knew more about cats than Ceswyn did. “Oh, I’ve got Snowball here and I was hoping Ceswyn’d be around so I could give her back. Didn’t want to hand her to Nethali last night, and I was watching her while Ceswyn made me up some paint.”
A black eyebrow raised, curiosity plain on his face. “Snowball?”
“Oh! That’s just what I call her. Calling a cat ‘It’ is just weird, isn’t it? Cats deserve real names.” Loriwen scratched behind the multicolored cat’s ears and was quickly rewarded with a purr. “So Ceswyn’s not in right now or something?”
“Nay. I apologize, I have not seen her yet this morning.”
The woman got a mischievous look on her face. His stomach twisted for some reason. “Yet, eh? You waiting for her?”
Tegil shook his head quickly. “Nay. I was not. I was enjoying a tranquil morning by the fire with a most prepossessing book. Would you care for some tea while you wait for her? While I am technically a patron at this establishment, I have become quite adept at procuring tea.”
If there’s one facial expression Tegil quickly grew to know well in Bree, it was the one this woman now displayed. She had no idea what half the words he just spoke meant. She blinked, latching onto his question. “Oh, tea? No thanks, never been a big tea drinker. Actually, I’ve gotta get going. I was really hoping she’d be here. Hey, you mind taking Snowball for now? Since you stay here and she works here, you’ll probably see each other.” Before Tegil could reply or even blink, she was already stepping into his comfort zone and pawning the cat off onto him.
The streaked kitten immediately leapt from her arms into his, and snuggled its head against his chest. Perhaps sneaking over to play with her whenever he could paid off well enough! Tegil smiled and hugged the kitten. Before he could get out another word, the strawberry blonde laughed and said, “Awww, she likes you! Thanks, gotta go!” He looked up and all his eye caught was a flash of sea blue clothes and a black cloak slipping into the front room and out of sight.
A quick scratch behind furry ears and a deep chuckle were rewarded with a purr. “I suppose you are my charge for the time being.”