“You expected her to go to sleep with you out after curfew?” Arleen attacked with what was clearly pent up frustration. “And there was fighting in the streets tonight – we could hear the explosions from here, of course she was worried! And what on earth are you wearing?” Her eyes were taking in the detail of the military issue camouflage he was wearing now and the Heroghast rifle slung over his shoulder and her mouth widened in a silent “Oh.”
“You left me all your money,” Gwedd’s voice sounded small and distant as she turned to face him, “I know how much you get, and you left me everything.”
He scratched his head, a sign of either embarrassment or avoidance, “Well, I was here to run up the utility bills and you’ll need to pay the rent before you can get someone in to help you with it.” He went on, “I just have to pick up a bag from the back of the wardrobe. If things don’t go the way we hope you don’t want the Margasans to find its contents in your possession.” He went through into the bedroom and re-emerged a few moments later with a nondescript brown gym bag.
“What would have happened about that if you’d been killed tonight?” asked Arleen snarkily.
“Someone else would have come to get it,” was the calm reply, “And if the Margasans do come to question you about me, both of you, tell them the truth. The absolute truth – you knew nothing about what I was up to until I came back here tonight.”
“So, what were you doing for the last ten months?” Arleen continued in the same tone, “Besides propping up in the bar in our favourite pub?”
“Picking up useful snippets of information from Margasans on leave who were intelligent and sensible enough to fancy witch girls,” he shrugged, “It’s amazing how much men will tell you if they think you can give them an in with a girl they fancy.”
“With me?” Gwedd’s voice held a different hurt tone now.
“No,” he was firm, “You’re my girlfriend. Arleen, Fenna and Renne were my stalking horses.”
“Next, you’ll tell us you were killing Margasans in your spare time,” Arleen gave a nasty little laugh, “Something useful to the war effort.”
“What I was doing was potentially useful,” it was a quiet reply, “Or I wouldn’t have been ordered to do it. And before tonight, I killed three Margasans in the last ten months. All of them had identified people doing more dangerous jobs than mine for what they really were. So I got rid of them before they could report in and made it look like a one person accident each time. Happy, Arleen?” He turned to Gwedd and went down on one knee to bring his face level with hers, “Love, if I don’t come back, it’ll be because I can’t, not because I don’t want to.” He glanced at his watch, “I’m sorry, I have to go.” He stood, “Take care of each other, you two.” He walked out the door and pulled it closed behind him. After a few minutes the girls could hear, through the early morning silence, a vehicle pulling away from the bottom of the building.
“Well,” said Arleen as she sat down beside her friend, “I knew he was keeping secrets from you but I never expected any of that.” Her arm went around Gwedd’s shoulders as the other girl silently began to sob. “I suppose if we get questioned, he expects us to tell the Margasans everything he just told us?”
“I think so,” Gwedd was trying to swallow her tears, “But he doesn’t think he’s coming back! He left me all his money.” And she began to cry again.