Summary: How Tonker and Lofty got out. I used to wonder why they'd be in the cellar in the first place. So I decided as 'The Grey House' was such a huge place, it had lots of cellars. With lots of different purposes.
Disclaimer: Terry Pratchett owns the characters and the world they live on. I am grateful for all the brilliant books and make no claims of ownership in any way.
A shadowy form moved silently across the dormitory. The moon was out and the bars on the window stood out in stark simplicity on the walls and floor. The soundless movement stopped at the bed nearest the door. Shaken awake, Magda looked up into fiercely burning eyes. The tugging at her shoulder hadn't ceased, and continued as she sat up quickly. Her whispered enquiry drew no answer, the tugging merely increasing in urgency.
Frustration was audible in the whisper, but at the nod she received in return, she rose and grabbed the shawl she kept for times like these. She may sigh and grumble, but when Tilda needed the fire, she needed the fire and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
The two figures crept slowly from the room and hand in hand navigated the corridors and stairwells down to the cellars. Tilda began to shiver and Magda wished she'd waited to make sure the girl brought some warm covering. Hoping it was just anticipation that made the form huddling beside her shake as though with fever, she turned the key and leant purposely on the heavy door.
As it swung open Tilda darted to the hidden store of wood. Turning her back, Magda moved away into the rabbit warren of the cellars. She hated this part and preferred to be nowhere nearby; this time ostensibly checking no-one had found their little secret. She had been frightened the first time she'd seen that intense concentration as Tilda built her fire and since that day had avoided the actual moment of creation whenever possible.
It was then that something caught her eye. If she hadn't been so eager to get away from the ritual of ignition she would never have wandered this far. But all that didn't matter anymore.
There was an open window.
Magda stared at it for a long moment before she dared to investigate. Surely it would be out of reach or too small to squeeze through. But as she came closer it became clear that this was it. Fate had finally given them the teeniest chance they had begged for all these years.
She hurried back, barely avoiding tripping on the various detritus left in this place to be forgotten. Almost running into the room she was brought up short by the silent figure staring into the fire.
Tilda wasn't cold anymore.
Urgently grabbing her arm she attempted to break into her intense concentration.
"Tilly, the window's open. We can get out. Come on. We can get out. Now. Tonight!"
Her words were hurried and jumbled and she knew she was making only the smallest amount of sense. But there was no response.
"Tilda! Come on! Til', Please! We have to go now! They'll wake up and find us and …"
Her voice tailed off. There was a painful moment of quiet, full of things unsaid.
"I can't do that again" she added quietly. "C'mon Tilly, snap out of it."
Somewhere, in the box she was currently surviving in, though it was almost impossible to think - to reason - to do anything except make the fire, Tilda knew Magda slept in the bed nearest the door to protect her, knew she made trouble in class to distract attention from her, knew she fought for her, lied for her, stole for her. A memory appeared in the flames of her mind, like pictures seen in the grate, of two girls, sheltering under a bridge during a summer storm, laughing. The laughter may have been stifled out of fear of discovery, but these two girls had been happy, not the cowed destroyed young adults they were now.
Tilda blinked and looked up from the flames to Magda's worried face bending over her. In a voice rusty with disuse she spoke, and neither of them missed the irony of the words both had said so many times, in the years before:
"I want to get out, Magda. I want to get out and never come back."
Suddenly she was crying. It was Magda that held her and helped her to stand, the voice muffled now by the rough shawl.
"I want to get out, I want to get out. I want to get out!"
Magda took a deep breath and released it slowly. Stepping back she held the frail body away from her between gentle hands and looked resolutely into the face upturned to her.
"Then let's get out."
Two sets of eyes meet, one flooded with tears, the other with steely resolve. Two heads nod, and two minutes later, two forms run sprinting across the grounds, climb the outer wall and disappear into the night.