“So what did you do this last year?” she asked as they began to walk around the clearing. They heard water and made towards the stream.
“Surgery work,” he replied. “We had corpses to practice on, to be able to know what went where, and why, and how.”
“How did you receive corpses?”
“Several people and families generously allowed us to use their loved one’s bodies after death.”
“I can not imagine that is popular. Did you share each.. Body?”
Pierre grimaced. He had not wished to inform Lizzy of this specifically. “Truthfully most were criminals whose deaths were not deemed important enough to give full funerals. At least this way they would be… of use.”
She took this in stride, nodding her head slowly though shuddering.
“A grim year, then.”
“Quite. Though it was not all gloom and horror.”
“Do tell?” While they had walked their hands had linked and she leaned against him as they found the river.
“We were students after all. Pranks were pulled, curfew ignored, alcohol drunk in excess. I was among the oldest so I mainly watched over the younger men.”
“And when you were younger?” Lizzy probed, reading into what Pierre had not said. He did not meet her eyes, staring up at the trees quite pointedly.
“Your brother and I had our fun at times.”
She laughed. They had gotten into enough trouble as children to guess the level of possible mischief Pierre and Piers could do when alone and bored.
I killed a man, he thought immediately. Several in fact, but one stood out to him in that moment. A prisoner taken straight from his hanging to his slab, so the students could see what was as close to a living body as possible. He had been not quite as dead as they had thought. After seeing the blood flowing and hearing the man let out a moan, even opening his eyes, many of the students turned away and one ran to alert a professor. Pierre had made it seem that he checked for a pulse, but he squeezed the very damaged windpipe. By the time someone with more authority was in the room the man was well and truly dead. It was deemed a delayed hanging. Pierre remained to finish the lesson even though he had been offered a pass at seeing a man die right before his eyes.
“No,” he told her.
“A pity. I hear from Piers that the best moments are those that might get you a night in jail for your troubles.”
“Oh, did he? What tales did he tell his dear little sister?”
“I believe there was a time when the boys in your dorm snuck in strong wine, or went out on the town. Perhaps those were actually in chronological order, it would explain much.”
“I never did such things.”
“Of course not. Though I now shall have to find myself another companion,” she said with a smile and glance to him. “I would like a partner with experience in such things so I have some guidance when I deem to try.”
Before he could answer she dashed ahead to where the stream was in view. He gave chase. At the edge of the bank she did not stop, pulling up her skirts and jumping to a rock that jetted out in the middle. She made it, arms waving to keep her balance and getting one shoe wet, but staying on the rock. With a laugh she turned and curtsied to him.
“And you think yourself safe there, Lizzy dear?” he called.
He took even less care of his attire, jumping straight into the water, mud, and stones. She gasped, looking around for another place to go, but the far side of the bank was, as named, too far.
He reached her then, grabbing her and swinging her in his arms as she shrieked.
“Hush or I shall drop you!”
“You would not!”
He pretended to, getting another shriek from her that had him laughing as he carried her back to shore.
“No, my dear, I would not,” he agreed, finally, placing her down in the grass. Not after she had been ill. Another day, perhaps.
They were the same height at the moment and he kissed her before getting out himself and looking down at his ruined clothes. His shoes were wet and the feeling was quite uncomfortable out of the water. He knelt down and began to untie the laces.
Lizzy bit her tongue to keep from asking naughtily if he would also take off his trousers, seeing as they were wet up to the knee.
When barefoot Pierre hopped back into the stream with the shoes in his hands.
“What are you doing?”
“Leaving my shoes,” he called over his shoulder, going back to the rock. He made sure they would not fall into the water before again returning. “They are quite nice shoes, but hardly my only pair. I am sure there are fée around, perhaps the gift would be appreciated. We cannot spare much food or drink.”
Her one shoe was hardly as wet as his had been but she sat and began to undo her laces as well. Without a word he bent down to help her.
“I shall buy you an even lovelier pair when we reach Piques,” he promised as he turned back to place her shoes next to his.
“Oh, you do not—”
Not exactly a Scene as it’s from Delphinium and not a stand-alone, but I thought it fitting for Valentine’s. You’ll recognize Pierre’s thoughts from the Scene ‘Hanging.’