Actions

Work Header

Camp

Chapter Text

Girls

‘This,’ said Ygritte. ‘Is proper outdoors.’

‘Totally wilding ourselves,’ said Missy.

‘There aren’t any bears, are there?’ said Sansa.

They were standing in a small clearing surrounded by Scots pines, with a view of mountains further off and the sound of a river in the valley below. Their accommodation for the next two nights took the form of two large yurts festooned with gently-twinkling fairy lights. Meera and Benjen’s own house was half a mile away down a dirt track – it had been a very bumpy last part of the journey here.

‘The nearest thing you’ll get to a bear is a deer,’ said Meera. ‘Or a beaver. Neither are terribly man-eating. ‘

‘Or woman-eating,’ said Benjen.

‘They’d better not be,’ said Ygritte. ‘I’ll fucking have them.’

Benjen showed them the inside of the yurts, which were decorated in a simple, cosy style, filled with throws, cushions and candles.

‘It’s better than staying in a cottage,’ said Margaery, stretching, her bump becoming more prominent. ‘Just gorgeous. Thank you, Sansa, for arranging this. You total star.’

‘My pleasure,’ said Sansa. ‘Now that Arya being in the country is a bi-annual event, we have to make the most of it.’

‘Where is she, anyway?’ said Ygritte.

‘Half an hour away with Lyanna,’ Sansa said, checking her phone.

‘It’ll be fabulous,’ said Margaery. ‘And I’m sure the boys will have a grand old time without us.’

***

Boys

‘Whose idea was this again?’ said Sandor.

‘Yours, mate, I believe,’ said Bronn, leaning back on his tarpaulin, hands behind his head, perfectly comfortable with the sound of six children under nine either running, yelling, crying, or all three simultaneously.

‘Arse,’ said Sandor.

They were standing by the edge of a wood in the Mendip Hills, with a long, sloping field and a stream running alongside it. The campsite had a couple of camper vans right up the other end, but this section was theirs. Originally it had been just Sandor, Bronn, Pod and their various kids, plus Edd, but now Robb was putting up his tent under the pertinently loud instruction of his daughter Clara, Rickon was sitting cross-legged carving wood with a dangerously large knife, and Thoros’ son Ivan was lying on the ground screaming blue bloody murder whilst Thoros looked benignly around at the wood like he was part-tree.

Then there was no one’s favourite melodramatic musician.

‘No one said you could come,’ Sandor had said to Robin, who had leapt out of Thoros’ car with far too much energy.

‘Thoros did!’ said Robin. ‘And Pod!’

‘Sorry,’ said Pod, looking not guilty enough.

‘I’ve brought my mandolin,’ Robin was saying, looking round at the woodland with an overly merry sigh. ‘And my shruti box.’

‘JUICE BOX,’ said Teddy, who always had extra-good hearing when there was any mention of food or drink.

‘No, sweet little second-cuz,’ said Robin. ‘A shruti box. It’s an Indian harmonium.’

‘Of course it bloody is,’ said Sandor.

‘I had to come,’ said Robin, laying his hand dramatically on his chest. ‘I needed to get away from the Big Smoke and out into the restorative fresh air. I’ve had my heart broken.’

‘Sweet Jesus,’ said Sandor.

***

Girls

‘Right,’ said Benjen. ‘If you’re all set, I’ll leave you ladies to it.’

‘What, you’re not hanging around to get off your tits with us lasses?’ said Ygritte.

Benjen gave a warm grin. ‘I reckon I’ll be safer up at the house. Enjoy yourselves. Give us a buzz if you need anything,’ he said to Meera, putting his arm around her and kissing her gently just the once.

‘Aw,’ said Sansa. ‘You guys.’

‘He’s lovely, your lad,’ said Ygritte, as he strolled off down the path.

‘Thank you,’ said Meera, with a merry beam. ‘Yep, pretty flipping happy these days.’

‘Pretty hot, truth be told.’

‘Mmm-hmm,’ said Missy. ‘Can’t say I disagree. Sexy wildman feels.’

‘Literally my uncle,’ said Sansa.

‘Yup,’ said Arya, who’d arrived with Lyanna a few minutes ago. ‘Grossness. Talk about the fitness of relatives is banned from this weekend.’

‘You’re no fun,’ said Ygritte.

‘Screw you, bitch,’ said Arya.

Sansa gave her sister another hug. ‘I’m so happy to see you.’

‘You saw me three days ago.’

They’d had a family reunion at their mum’s, and Arya had brought them all maple syrup and Toronto Maple Leafs shirts for Teddy and Florence. Sansa had sobbed for an hour.

‘You know what I mean,’ Sansa said, not letting go.

‘You two are gorgeous,’ said Margaery, with a glittering smile. She was four months pregnant with her and Robb’s second child, and glowed even more than ever. ‘I wish I had a sister.’

‘You can have both of mine,’ said Ygritte. ‘Though last I heard one of them had started a fight after a Hull City game and given an away fan two black eyes. Think she’s on probation now.’

‘Blimey,’ said Margaery, though still rather unruffled. ‘How exciting. I’m going to unpack. Who’s sleeping where?’

‘Oh,’ said Sansa. ‘You, me and Meera in that one, and Arya, Ygritte, Missy and Lyanna in the other.’

‘Perfect,’ said Margaery, with a wink, and picked up her designer holdall, ambling to the left-hand yurt.

Ygritte was staring after her. ‘Remind me again why Miss Hoity-Toity-Silver-Spoon-Up-Her-Arse had to come?’ she said to Sansa.

‘Because she is our sister-in-law,’ said Sansa. ‘And Robb was going to the boys’ camp. I wasn’t sure she’d be up for it but she leapt at the chance. She’s so amenable.’

Ygritte snorted. ‘Amenable. Are we in a fucking Jane Austen novel? That woman stole my boyfriend and fucking married him.’

‘Please be nice. You’re with Tyrion now.’

‘So?’

‘Doesn’t that count for something?’

‘Not in my book,’ said Ygritte, darkly, looking after Maragery with the air of an assassin.

***

Boys

It had been his idea, Sandor supposed, coming back from a piss in the woods. Sansa had suggested a girls’ weekend away, and that why didn’t he get together with all the guys and kids? As he wasn’t ever keen on saying no to Sansa, now more than ever, he went with it.

‘Uncle Thandorrrr!’ Aoife now had a slight Canadian twang to add to her lisp. She ran round him in a circle and did a handstand, followed by a cartwheel.

‘You,’ said Sandor. ‘Are a royal pain in the arse.’ He didn’t mean it. Sometimes he worried about Aoife still being his favourite kid when he had two of his own, but then it was easy to prefer one whose arse you didn’t have to wipe.

‘That’s a naughty word,’ said Aoife. ‘Arth.’

‘Nothing compared to the other naughty words I know.’

‘Do you know naughty wordth? Naughtier than poo and bum and fart?’

‘Way naughtier. Come on.’ He leant down, and Aoife instinctively knew to climb around his neck. He stood, with her sitting on his shoulders, and they walked back to the group.

‘Pleathe tell me them,’ she said, jamming her heels into the sides of his chest. ‘Pleeeeeeathe.’

‘Your mother would hang me up by my insides if I taught you swearwords.’

Pod came up, holding two cans of lager, already open.

‘You read my mind,’ Sandor said, taking one from him.

‘Yeah, I reckon it’ll be an interesting balance of beer to childcare this weekend,’ said Pod, smiling up at his daughter on her uncle-throne.

Behind him, Edd was being attacked by Oscar and Ivan, both holding wooden swords.

‘It’s good to see you, pal.’ He held his can out. They’d left for Canada ten months ago, and plane prices didn’t make it easy to pop back over. It wasn’t the same without them.

Pod touched his own can to Sandor’s. ‘Yeah. You too.’

***

Girls

‘Bottoms up,’ said Margaery.

Salut,’ said Sansa.

‘Just say cheers like normal people,’ said Arya.

Late afternoon, and they had started on the canned gin and tonics and already polished off five packets of Bombay mix already.

‘I like this kind of camping,’ said Missy. ‘I thought it would all be toasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate and getting bitten by bugs.’

‘No guarantee you won’t get the last one,’ said Meera, grinning.

‘Camping doesn’t mean scrimping on booze,’ said Sansa, holding up her glass. She had been sure to bring limes, forest or no forest. Though it was strange being without the kids, she was bloody well going to make the most of it. Sandor had sent her a picture of Teddy in his wellies, holding the hand of a just-about-standing Florence, in very little wellies. The sunlight had been behind them, making them glow like little fairies, Florence’s curls copper-gold.

‘How’s your fella?’ said Ygritte to Missy. ‘Does he smile much these days?’

‘He smiles plenty with me,’ said Missy.

‘He always made me think of Stan Laurel.’

‘That is very rude. Edd is the best of all men.’

‘I might contest that,’ said Arya. ‘No offence, mate, but I’ve got a man who wears earmuffs willingly.’ She fished out her phone to show them the photo evidence.

‘Ahh, bless his little cotton socks,’ said Ygritte, passing the phone on.

‘Seen it a million times already,’ said Sansa.

‘Yeah,’ sighed Missy. ‘Now I need to get Edd some.’

‘We don’t need them any more, seeing as our winters don’t get below an average of 6 degrees,’ said Lyanna, portentously.

‘They still get pretty arse-numbing up here,’ said Meera. ‘Not that I’m denying the climate crisis or anything.’ She passed the phone on. ‘Yep. Dead cute. Pod wins all the cuteness awards.’

‘Adorable,’ said Margaery. ‘So Missy, how’s it going with the adoption front? You don’t mind me asking?’

Missy had taken a melancholy look at Margaery’s small bump when they’d all met at the train station, but blinked and smiled it away swiftly. ‘It’s getting there,’ she said. ‘We’ve got a possible match, but there’s tons of paperwork and stuff for them to sort out. We had one fall through a couple of months ago.’ She sighed.

‘You’ll get there,’ said Sansa. She knew now that Missy had suffered not one but three miscarriages, and couldn’t imagine the emotional pain they must have created. ‘I know it. The last one just wasn’t to be.’

‘I’m never having children,’ said Lyanna, gloomily.

‘Too right,’ said Ygritte, holding her hand out.

‘No offence,’ Lyanna said to Missy. ‘Adopting children is earth-friendly. Everyone should adopt.’

‘Glad to hear it,’ Missy said, rather charitably.

‘No offence,’ said Lyanna to Margaery.

‘None taken,’ said Margaery, holding up her can of fizzy peach cordial. She didn’t seem to get offended by anything, including Ygritte putting a finger in her mouth and pretending to gag.

***

Boys

‘DADDY CAN WE GO UP TREE.’

‘Be my guest, pal,’ said Sandor.

Teddy gazed at the tree for a moment before turning crossly to his father. ‘DADDY I CAN’T DO IT ON MY OWN.’

‘Bet you can.’

Teddy shook his head. He was a little timid at the moment, not that you’d know it from his foghorn voice. ‘I TOO SMALL DADDY.’ He was actually growing at quite a rate. Definitely one of the tallest in his class. 'YOU AS TALL AS TREE YOU HELP ME GO UP THERE.’

‘Not quite as tall, sweetheart,’ he said, rising from the ground anyway, and scooping him up. ‘Right, come on then.’ He hoisted him up above his head and levered him onto a sturdy branch. ‘Hold on there, now.’

Teddy sat clutching a side-branch and looked extremely happy. ‘DADDY SHOW FLORENCE I IS IN THE TREE.’

‘I’ll get her in a sec.’ He glanced over to the pond, where Rickon was holding Florence’s hand and pointing to the water.

‘I don’t like climbing trees,’ said Clara, who’d appeared by him, wearing a princess outfit, with Oscar in her wake. ‘Trees are very dirty.’

‘OK.’

‘I don’t like dirt one tiny bit. Dirt is just very dirty,’ said Clara. She waved her wand at it, as if casting a spell to make everything mud and insect-free.

‘Dirt is just dirt,’ said Oscar, who was turning into a right little shite in Sandor’s opinion, not that he ever mentioned that to Bronn. To be fair, Bronn said pretty much the same. ‘You are a pathetic little wimp-girl.’

Clara burst into tears.

‘That was uncalled for, mate,’ said Sandor, as Robb came ambling over. ‘Apologise, Oscar. Don’t be a –’ he still had to work very hard not to swear in front of children. ‘Be nice.’

‘But she is a wimp-girl,’ said Oscar. ‘A really pathetic one.’

‘I’m not! I just like being clean!’ sobbed Clara. ‘I am a very clean girl!’ She flung herself into Robb’s legs, wailing.

‘Please tell me it’s not going to be like this all bloody weekend,’ said Sandor.

‘I THINK IT BLOODY IS DADDY,’ said Teddy.

***

Girls

‘I’m going foraging,’ said Lyanna, standing up.

‘We do have enough food,’ said Sansa. ‘There’s a whole other bag of Pringles and olives in the car. And sundried tomatoes and three buckets of M&S sweet treats.’ They had already eaten four cool-bags worth of food. Missy treated herself to a second gin, even though she drank very little, and was now feeling quite fizzy-headed (Ygritte approved). Ygritte had started a crisp-eating contest with Arya (Ygritte won). Margaery consumed the least even though she had said she was eating for two (Ygritte scowled).

‘Yeah, but I like to get the practice in,’ said Lyanna. ‘For the coming apocalypse.’

‘I’ll come with,’ said Arya. ‘I fancy catching me a hare or some shit.’

‘With what, exactly?’ said Meera.

‘My bare hands,’ said Arya. ‘You forget, I live in Canada now. They’ve got proper woods and stuff there. Not like this baby forest stuff. When we go for a weekend walk, we see frickin’ moose. Massive antlers looming out of the woods.’

‘I was thinking more like dandelion leaves and acorns,’ said Lyanna. ‘I’m vegan.’

‘We can do that,’ said Arya. ‘Anyone else?’

‘I’m quite comfortable with gin and tonic, thanks,’ said Sansa.

‘So,’ said Ygritte to Sansa, as Arya and Lyanna left. ‘What’s happening with you and the big man at the mo?’

Sansa sighed. ‘It’s OK. It’s not always joyful, but . . .’ she sighed again. Sandor had sent her another photo of a dripping wet Teddy, with TELL MUMMY I SPLASH MY FEET IN THE STREAM AND I GOT WET as the caption. ‘It’s OK.’

‘Is that all I’m getting? Come on. Give us the dirt. No matter how dirty.’

Sansa shared a glance with Missy, who had heard this all before. ‘Oh, you know. We’re trying to work things out. But it’s not the kind of thing that takes a sticking plaster. More like a knitted bandage, where you have to learn to knit first.’

‘But you both want to? Patch things up?’

‘Yeah. We want to.’

‘Slowly and surely, mate. You guys are eggy bread.’

‘You stick with it, Sansa,’ said Margaery, holding her face up to the fading light. ‘Relationships aren’t all plain sailing.’

‘What, you mean yours isn’t?’ said Ygritte, rather spikily. ‘Trouble in paradise?’

‘Well,’ said Margaery, putting a graceful hand on her bump as she leaned backwards. ‘No, to be honest, Robb and I never argue.’

‘’Course you fucking don’t,’ said Ygritte, viciously, spitting an olive pip out.

***

Boys

They were sitting round the fire expertly made by Thoros and Rickon, toasting marshmallows. Ivan had eaten a whole bag and was looking green, and Clara was picking delicately at hers whilst Oscar prodded her in the arm. Aoife was telling them that fires and marshmallows were bigger in Canada, just like everything else. The fire was accompanied by the sound of Robin, strumming on his mandolin.

‘Beer?’ said Bronn.

‘I’ll be pissing all night long,’ Sandor said, taking another one anyway.

‘You said pithing,’ said Aoife, sniggering.

‘Peeing. I said peeing,’ Sandor said.

‘MY DADDY GOT A REALLY BIG WILLY,’ Teddy informed everyone.

‘All right, mate, you don’t have to rub it in,’ said Bronn.

‘Willy,’ said Oscar, sniggering and prodding Clara again.

‘Size isn’t everything,’ said Thoros, with a genial smile.

‘Great,’ said Bronn, rubbing his palms together. ‘Go on, then. I could do with some tantric sex tips.’

‘Nothing tantric about it, mate,’ said Thoros.

‘I would like to remind everyone that I am present,’ said Robin, playing a dramatic diminished 7th chord.

‘No chance of forgetting that,’ said Sandor.

***

Girls

‘Where are they?’ Sansa drained her fourth gin and looked behind her into the forest. ‘It’s getting kind of dark.’

‘Lyanna’s probably talking to a beaver,’ said Ygritte. ‘I bet she speaks beaver, no pun intended. Or is there – she still with Rickon?’

‘Yep. Thick as thieves.’ Lyanna had founded her own youth climate crisis movement, and was the sort of stoic, fervent speaker that got lots of retweets and made the right-wing newspapers apoplectic. Rickon, on the other hand, usually preferred chaining himself to trees.

‘I’ll go and have a look in a bit,’ said Meera. She cocked her head. ‘Oh no, hold up – incoming.’

Arya and Lyanna emerged from the forest, ruddy-cheeked and cheerful.

‘Yo,’ said Arya.

‘I was starting to worry,’ said Sansa.

‘No need to worry when I’ve got Lyanna Warrior Princess with me,’ said Arya. ‘The two of us are total kiss-ass motherfuckers.’

‘What did you get?’ said Ygritte. ‘I could make room for a bit more.’ She patted her belly and burped.

‘Burdock, yarrow and loganberries,’ said Lyanna.

‘Scratch that,’ said Ygritte. ‘I’ll stick with me rocky roads.’ She hooked the bucket towards her.

‘Swear we heard something though,’ said Arya.

‘Yes, yes,’ said Sansa. ‘Bears and wolves, very scary.’ She gave a mock-shudder.

‘No, we did,’ said Lyanna, who wasn’t in the habit of making jokes.

There was a crackle from behind them and everyone stilled, looked behind them into the woods, and at each other.

‘Didn’t you say there weren’t wolves?’ said Missy, shuffling a little further towards Meera.

‘Definitely no wolves,’ said Meera. ‘Promise.’

Another loud crack, and a rustle.

Lyanna picked up the nearest large stick, and thwacked it into her upturned palm.

‘Or bears?’ said Missy.

There was movement, coming closer. A sound that might have been an animal, rumbling or growling. A low, indistinct murmur.

‘Not usually,’ said Meera, frowning into the darkness of the woods.

‘I’m ready,’ said Ygritte, standing up, and teetering only slightly from the large amount of gin she had drunk. ‘Fucking come and have a go, fucking bear-wolf motherfucker. I will tear you from limb to limb with my goddamned fucking teeth.’

Crackle. Rustle. Low murmuring.

‘I am too drunk to fight bears,’ whispered Sansa.

A shadow, lower at one end, became two shadows, one small, one tall, and increasingly lit by the fire into two golden, glowing people.

‘My love,’ said Tyrion, spreading his arms.

‘Good evening, ladies,’ said Jamie Lannister, next to him, carrying a large canvas rucksack.

***

Boys

‘A fiver that it’s Clara.’

‘Tenner.’

‘That’s very judgmental,’ said Robb. ‘My daughter hates being bad. She rocks. I’m putting a tenner on Oscar.’

‘Oscar’s probably awake, but planning world takeover, so he won’t be showing his face,’ said Bronn.

The kids had all been put down in their various tents, after repeated toilet visits (all), bedtime stories under ineffectual lights (Robb), lullabies (Thoros), and threats to nieces (Sandor), and the adults were making bets on who would be up again first.

‘No offence,’ said Thoros, stretching. ‘But I’m going with Teddy.’

‘Yep,’ said Robin. ‘Teddy it is.’

‘Aoife,’ said Sandor, feeling indignant. ‘Fifteen quid says she’ll be up in the next ten minutes, telling us that sleeping bags are bigger and better in Canada, just like everything else.’

‘Not cocks, though,’ said Edd, a little morosely. ‘Apparently Scots are the front-runners there.’

‘I don’t know,’ said Pod, leaning back with a very simple smile.

‘Can we stop talking about cocks,’ said Sandor. ‘I just want to drink beer and shove the rest of of the marshmallows in my face and not hear children for the next few hours.’

‘DADDY,’ came a stoic voice from two tents away. ‘DADDY I IS NOT SLEEPY.’

‘Fucking bollocks,’ said Sandor, sighing and getting up.

***

Girls

‘I simply couldn’t stay away, my love,’ said Tyrion, who now had a gin and tonic in his hand. ‘Life is so much duller without you there.’

‘Ugh,’ said Arya.

‘You are a fucking disgrace,’ said Ygritte, looking pleased nonetheless. ‘Giz a kiss.’

Lyanna rolled her eyes.

‘And I do hope you don’t mind my brother coming along for the ride,’ Tyrion said.

‘Not at all,’ said Margaery, beaming.

‘We’ll manage,’ said Missy, also beaming.

Greying, golden stubble, strong jaw, freshly-cut hair, long limbs angled towards the fire: frankly, Jamie Lannister looked even better in firelight.

‘Lady Lyanna,’ he said, giving her a hug. ‘First of her name, saviour of the earth. Hopefully.’ They’d worked together several times on climate crisis campaigns, and even she softened her ferocious countenance just a little.

‘Well, you’re not stopping,’ said Ygritte. Margaery and Missy looked rather disappointed. ‘Well, they can’t. Girls’ weekend. Them’s the rules.’

‘Ah,’ said Jaime.

‘You can go up to the house,’ said Meera. ‘I’ll call Benjen and let him know. We’ve plenty of room, and plenty of whisky.’

‘That,’ said Tyrion. ‘Sounds perfect.’

‘I’ll check in on you tomorrow, you big lug,’ said Ygritte. ‘Just so you don’t pine and die.’

‘Ugh,’ said Arya.

‘Wonderful,’ said Tyrion, and kissed her again.

‘That man,’ said Margaery, quite delightedly, once the brothers had bid their goodnights and wandered down the path. ‘Is a total fox.’ She fanned herself. ‘Jaime, I mean,’ she said to Ygritte, effervescently. ‘Though of course your beau is gorgeous too.’

‘Go anywhere near him and you’re dead meat,’ said Ygritte, much less effervescently.

‘He is crazy sexy,’ said Missy. ‘Jaime. Like Bear Grylls but without the annoying parts.’

‘Didn’t he and Jojen have a bit of a thing?’ said Meera to Arya. ‘At your wedding?’

‘Not just Jojen,’ said Arya. ‘Ugh.’

***

Boys

‘I’m really glad I came,’ said Robin with a merry sigh, as the campfire dimmed. ‘Only lying in a field communing with nature will cure my broken heart.’

The campfire was dimming now, and moths and gnats blurred the air. Four children had variously got up, wailed, needed the toilet, wanted to eat more marshmallows, or all of the above. Edd had quietly wondered, and not for the first time, whether he was really ready for all this.

‘Come on, then,’ said Bronn. ‘Let’s hear your sob story.’

‘Or let’s not,’ said Sandor.

‘I want to hear it,’ said Robb, leaning on his elbows.

‘Me too,’ said Pod.

Even Rickon, who by now had carved a barn owl from his stick, looked up.

‘OK,’ said Robin, lightly strumming his mandolin. ‘There was this girl called Priya.’

‘Who had a delightful rear, yes, we know,’ said Bronn.

Pod grinned.

‘Ooo, that’s a good idea,’ said Robin, looking animated. ‘I can tell it in a limerick as well as accompany it. Yes! I’m more used to writing in blank verse these days but I do love a brief. Limitations are an opportunity for further creativity.’

Sandor sighed, extremely heavily.

Robin began to sing, in a faultless tenor, strumming a new chord for every line. ‘There was a sweet girl named Priya / Who sang alto both sweet and clear / I fell straight in love / But when push came to shove / She didn’t like me being near . . . her.

Robb whooped.

So then there was Clementine Jackson / Whose hair was long, blonde and flaxen / She played the bass flute / And said I was cute / And for three months I was on my back, son.

Bronn creased up.

‘That doesn’t work so well. Never mind.’ Robin strummed again. ‘Then Priya, she changed her mind / And started being flirty and kind / So I began shagging her / All the while bragging, yeah, / That I was still seeing Clementine.

‘It’s like fucking Shakespeare,’ said Bronn.

Priya and Clementine fought / By the food at the restaurant court / They both split up with me / Priya poured tea over me/ And lo! It has all come to naught.

‘Wow,’ said Robb. ‘That was actually quite impressive.’

‘Thanks, cuz!’ said Robin. ‘Sorry for the details, Thoros.’

‘Not at all, son,’ said Thoros. ‘I can’t say I’m proud of you, apart from the singing.’

‘Yeah,’ said Robin, sighing thoughtfully. ‘I’ve decided that seeing two women at once is not really the right thing for me.’

‘Or indeed anyone,’ said Robb. ‘Speaking from experience.’

‘I’ve decided to just focus on number one for a bit,’ said Robin.

‘You, or getting to Number One?’ said Pod. ‘If that’s still a thing.’

‘I meant me, but either is fine.’ He gazed pensively into the fire. ‘Though I don’t think a double oboe and bass drum concerto is going to make it.’

‘Can I put in a request for no more singing,’ said Sandor. ‘By which I mean order. Or maybe threat.’

‘Done!’ said Robin, still strumming his mandolin genially.

‘No more playing, either,’ said Sandor.

‘I see,’ said Robin, courteously taking the mandolin strap from over his head. ‘Ah well,’ he said, drawing his knees up. ‘I suppose I could tell you about –’

‘Or talking,’ said Sandor, and picked up another beer.

For a few minutes, Sandor got his wish, and the campfire seemed to dim further, the darkness drawing its velvet in around them. There was only the sound of the snapping wood, and two more cans of beer fizzing open. He watched the flames, and wondered how his wife was doing.