Happy Trails (We Will Walk In Fields Of Gold)

Summary: Not all of Polly's summer memories involved furious battles in the fog of whirling dust. This is one of the better ones (it will also explain what that dratted lighter is all about).

Disclaimer: Terry Pratchett owns the characters and the world they live on. Author is grateful for all the brilliant books and makes no claim of ownership in any way.

A/N: If anyone's interested, this is the Eva Cassidy version of Fields of Gold and can be found on the Songbird album.


"We should definitely volunteer for this kind of detail more often…"

Polly withdrew her soporific gaze from the track in front of them shimmering in the late summer heat and gave her companion a raised eyebrow. Mal lay stretched out on top of the cargo, one arm cradling her head.

"From what I recall, we didn't volunteer, we were selected, whereupon you moaned, whined and attempted everything you could think of – including some new illegal techniques - to get out of it."

Lifting the hat she had placed over her face an hour ago after declaring that it was Polly's turn to be vigilant, alert and always prepared as she (Mal) was due an afternoon nap, the sergeant squinted up against the strong sun, before dropping her gaze to search out the tanned face of her esteemed lieutenant.

"I grant you I may not have been overly enthusiastic at the outset. But I have come to realise that it is of vital importance that highly trained soldiers should not become out of touch with the common people and therefore we should all volunteer our services even at the lowest level from time to time."

"And the imminent possibility of attack?" Polly flicked the reins lazily for the look of the thing. As usual the action made no impression on the strolling oxen; they had been impervious to her encouragement since they left the river docks long days before.

"Bah." Mal stretched languidly and fell back into position of repose. "They will not dare come anywhere near us. We haven't seen a single soul for days. If it were not for the distasteful scents arising from our beasts of burden I would believe we had bypassed purgatory and taken an unexpected detour into Elysium."

Polly blinked and hurriedly removed her gaze from the loose shirt that for some reason (probably not related entirely to the warmth of the afternoon) had one too many buttons undone revealing a tantalising glimpse every time a certain person stretched. Mal did it on purpose, she was sure.

They were driving the wagons through the golden countryside from Luntz to FranzJosephWilliamsBurg. Not precisely the most difficult assignment they'd ever been given but the Green Devils (Borogravia's crack light-infantry battalion – so called due to the green jackets they wore to distinguish them from the general cannon fodder) were more than accustomed to turning their hands to new and unexpected situations. Or so she had said to her commanding officer once the surprise had worn off. Someone, it seemed, was wishful to break the Army's supply routes, attacking convoys as they crossed the safe interior of their own country and this was causing annoyance amongst the top brass. Consequently it was of vital importance that the twenty or so troops under the command of Lieutenant Perks should dress up as wagoners and drive a convoy of grain clear across the country whilst doing their best to appear tempting to any raiders in the vicinity. The rest of the battalion were doing likewise with cotton, barley, and other goods in the hope that someone, somewhere, would make the terminal mistake of attacking the innocent looking yet heavily armed impersonators.

So far absolutely nothing had happened. They'd been out here two weeks by her last calculation, but she couldn't be sure as the quiet days were beginning to run into each other. Borogravia was experiencing one of its rare perfect summers, the long hot days succeeded by warm scented nights. The oxen needed to rest in the evenings and as a consequence the wagon train was generally halted early enough to set up a luxurious camp (and why not when they could use the carts to carry the more lavish of their equipment). The lower ranks could be safely set to caring for the animals leaving the Lieutenant and her most senior Sergeant free to wander off in order to "reconnoitre the lie of the land". After a stroll to stretch the legs there was generally a good meal (it was so nice not to have to snatch meagre food between attacks) and then a peaceful evening's recreation. There was no need to rise early in the mornings either, the oxen needing to feed before being gently urged into their harnesses. Though she denied it vehemently, Polly privately thought she could grow used to these long drowsy lie-ins.

The nights were warm enough for these battle-hardened troops to lie out under the stars, the weather favouring them with only one night of rain in the period they'd been out so far. Sometimes Polly thought it must be too good to be true as she lay under that velvet sky, scattered with a multitude of pinpricks of light, listening to the low voice at her ear murmuring the names of each one and pointing out the more interesting astronomical sights. This was the down-payment for something, it had to be. The universe always collected. Mind you, after the winter and spring they'd had, mud up to their eyeballs when it wasn't freezing around their boots and four border incursions to push back in as many months, perhaps they were owed some quiet days.

One of the oxen stumbled, bringing her back to the task supposedly in hand. Polly shook the collar of her rough shirt, trying and failing to get some circulation of air against her heated skin. What she wouldn't give for a bucket of cold water right about now. Looking over at the position Mal had adopted for her nap she added: in all senses of the word.

You'll remember me, when the west wind moves
Among the fields of barley
You can tell the sun, In his his jealous sky

When we walked in fields of gold


A few nights later as the huge swollen moon hung low in the sky a secretive figure crept across the camp and knelt to silently pull back the flaps of a tent pitched somewhat away from the rest. Polly stirred as Mal slipped in and crawled up the narrow space. A gentle kiss on one eyelid encouraged her to open her eyes and she watched lazily from beneath heavy lids as Mal settled in at her back. As the vampire propped her head up on a supportive hand Polly's eyes gave up the battle and drooped closed again. It was too hot to do anything but sigh and relax back against the body that was spooning hers. They lay quiet for a moment before Mal broke the silence.

"What are you doing shut away in here then?" Her fingers, balanced in perfect harmony with the smooth tones she had adopted to murmur into soft blond hair, began to explore the skin under her hand.

"It's too hot for clothes." Polly wiggled onto her back, searching for those dark eyes glinting in the darkness as the vampire loomed over her in the gloom. Mal was forced to shift to allow them both to fit onto the thin mat, her delicately moving fingers uncomplaining about the change of venue as they slipped from slender waist to taut stomach.

"True dat." She cast an admiring glance down the vision of beauty stretched out below her before bringing her hand up to brush back a damp curling forelock and drop a kiss on Polly's flushed temple. "And of course it wouldn't be seemly for the lieutenant to wonder around naked amongst the ORs."

Polly snorted in an unseemly manner but before she could comment further the hand that had returned to rest on her stomach began a series of exploratory circles and for some undefined reason her breathing became a trifle disrupted. Despite the very pleasant nature of where the evening was headed something still niggled at her through the haze building in her mind. She placed her own hand over those skilled digits causing them to pause for a vital second. It was only then that realisation dawned.

"You're cool!"

"Thank you for noticing. I must say you're not so bad yourself." Mal grinned down at her and Polly couldn't prevent her answering smile from breaking free. At that precise moment the drop of water, unnoticed until now by either participant of the unspoken communication, fell right between Polly's eyes.

The next few minutes were filled with a confusion of disordered activity and it was only due to the foresight of Polly when pitching the tent to make sure it was sturdily erected that prevented a total collapse of canvas around them. Mal had never realised Polly could shake herself like a dog and noticing the full body seizures provoked when her lieutenant was introduced to water unexpectedly, she determined to repeat the experiment as often as possible. Eventually Polly managed to get the upper hand and pinning her sergeant to the mat she frowned down into eyes alight with mischief.

"You're all wet!" Trapped beneath the lieutenant, Mal attempted to flick another drop of water but failed miserably, her arms still pinioned by Polly's knees. "Where have you been?"

The vampire heaved valiantly against the burden perched so immovably over her torso but upon realising she couldn't shift it she instead relaxed back with a sigh of surrender. Polly knew that Mal could lift her off with one hand if she so desired, but over the past year they'd come to an unspoken agreement about how much of the vampire's undead strength was really needed in situations like this (this would be after Polly had flown into the wardrobe for the third time).

"There's a river, three fields over."

Polly already knew that, they'd watered the oxen there earlier, but it hadn't looked that tempting, muddy edged and filled with trailing weed. She tried to make herself heavier, sitting back on her heels, and was rewarded by a descriptive "oof" from her victim.

"I found something. Further upstream." Mal was gasping for the air she didn't officially need. "You wanna come see?" Polly wavered for a moment, but the coolness rising from the body trapped beneath her was awfully tempting. It really was too damn hot not to at least take a look.

One minute later (even in a tent Polly had scrabbling into breeches down to a fine art) two figures crept quietly out of the camp. Once out of sight of any curious eyes the leading silhouette reached back for the one following on behind and the two shapes walked on with joined hands, their footsteps meandering between points of bright moonlight and deep shadow as they made their way along the field margins.

"Where exactly are we going?" Polly would willingly follow that tug on her hand over all the lands on the Disc, but all faith in one's companion aside it looked like Mal was preparing to clamber through a bramble patch of grand scale viciousness.

"I told you. River: cool water; refreshing; very nice; very enjoyable, this way please." Mal tugged again.

"Through there?" Mal looked at the brambles, twitched an eyebrow in Polly's general direction and then returned her gaze to the clump of tangled vines in confusion.

"I just don't think any bathing spot; no matter how cool and refreshing, is worth it for bramble scratches for the next three days. Besides, people would want to know where I'd got them."

"Ah." Mal quickly wiped the smile from her face when it became clear that Polly was threatening to deploy the Patented Perks Poke. "I could fly you over?"

"That would be very kind, thank you. But no funny business" she added quickly as Mal stepped forward to slide strong arms around her.

"Funny business? Moi?" The vampire lifted them gently up into the air, her murmured words causing (almost definitely by intent) her passenger to shiver as light breath tickled her earlobe. "Why Polly! I can't believe you'd ever even think such a thing."

It was rather a long time later when they finally landed. The grass was soft and welcoming beneath her feet but Polly didn't necessarily feel the need to let go immediately. They'd passed over more than the bramble patch she knew that much, Mal twirling them slowly across the sky with the moon bright over her shoulder when Polly could spare a moment to pay attention to it. It was the vampire who eventually lifted her head, eyes aglow, to whisper "we're here."

Dragging herself back to reality (no funny business, my arse), Polly managed to extract herself from the highly enjoyable embrace and looking about her gasped at what she saw. Mal had found a bend in the river where harder rock had forced the water to make a detour, cutting a deep pool on the outside edge. The exposed rock made chunky steps down into the deeper water and the faster flow obviously prevented the icky weeds from developing a foothold. It was the prefect bathing spot, moonlit and secret. Her face stretched into a wide smile and she turned to thank her companion but found her already sat on the grassy bank, straining to pull off her boots.

"C'mon Pol." Mal carefully placed the precious footwear to one side. "Last one in's an unfortunately flightless bird of great nutritional value." Leaving the effusive thanks until a later moment Polly grinned and, reaching for the back of her collar, pulled her shirt off over her head in one easy movement.

By the use of such distractionary tactics (Mal stood mouth agape for a good 15 seconds) Polly got a toe to the water first, but Mal still claimed winner's boasting rights as she was stood waist deep in the flow while Polly was still shivering on the bank.

"How can it be so cold?!!" She tried another toe but the result was no better.

"It's lovely once you get in." Mal splashed a little, rippling circles spreading out across the pool. "All at once Pol, it's the only way."

Polly grimaced and murmured "I think I'm getting déjà vu again." But she couldn't stand on the rock for ever, not with Mal mocking ever so gently at her feet. Drawing all her courage together Polly took a deep breath and jumped. She came up gasping at the cold, pushing back the invasive shield of hair as she looked around for Mal. The annoyingly bad influence was nowhere to be seen.

"Mal?" Polly waded over to where she'd seen the woman last. "Mal?"

Something moved against her leg.

"Argh!" She leapt back and in the process slipped on the grease covered rocks that appeared to make up the river bed.

"Garrpphhh!!" The water closed over her head. "Wwwgaaarbbblllle!!!"

Splashing frantically she tried to regain her footing but to no avail. Then as she went under for the third time someone caught her and she was pulled coughing and spluttering into a wet embrace. Mal's soft laughter gusted over her hair as the treacherous cur ran a soothing hand over her back.

"I should…" Polly took great pleasure in dribbling a mixture of river water and snot onto the supporting shoulder.

"But you looked so graceful Lieutenant!" Mal chuckled as she tenderly tidied away the last confining tendrils of hair. "Have you ever thought about joining the regimental dance troop?"

"I'll give you dance troop!" She lunged.

It was a good job no one could see them, Polly thought hysterically half a minute later as she wrestled valiantly against both the water and the vampire in her hold. If she could just get a foot behind that knee then she could… yess!!

oh shit.

They both went under with a resounding splash and in the fight back to the surface Polly forgot all about what the rest of the squad might think if they saw their commanding officer and first sergeant rolling about buck nekkid in a river as there was a new demand on her attention – that of the unfortunate lack of breathable air when underwater.

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Among the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold

So she took her love for to gaze awhile
Among the fields of barley
In his arms she fell as her hair came down
Among the fields of gold


The moon had drifted a good way across the sky by the time Polly consciously noticed it again. She was sat on a half submerged rock, leaning back against a comforting support, watching two pairs of legs drift in the current. The strong arms around her tightened for a moment and then relaxed, a sharp chin dropping to her shoulder as her back rest blew out a sigh of utter contentment. They had been sitting there for some time watching the moon dappled ripples dance across the water as the burdens they hadn't even realised they were carrying from that long winter washed out of them on the stream. When the murmured voices, confessing fears and deeply buried guilt to the non-judgemental river had ceased they had sat on in silence, letting the peace of the night fill up empty storerooms that they had grown used to managing without.

But time and tide wait for no man, and physics is an ever-present bugger. The chilling effect of flowing water eventually impinged on Polly's physiology, despite the warmth of those encircling arms and she shivered.

"We should get back." The caress of Mal's words warmed the back of her neck and the lieutenant snuggled back into her companion with an inarticulate denial of there being any such need. But unfortunately physics persisted and she couldn't hide the next shiver, or the one after that.

As they clambered back into their clothes a heavy exhaustion fell on both and Polly required Mal's supporting arm about her waist as they stumbled their way back toward camp. Crawling into the tent the lieutenant seemed already half asleep as she wiggled out of boots, breeches and shirt but despite that, the hand that reached out to pull Mal down beside her was firm enough. Pulling a light covering over them Mal allowed herself a shiver as cold hands wound around her and a wet head searched for a comfortable spot but Polly simply grunted at her weakness and snuggled in further. Sighing Mal shifted an intrusive pebble and made herself as comfortable as possible. Wet hair would dry after all and Polly's hands were getting warmer by the second.

"G'night." The mumbling salutation drifted up from somewhere around her collarbone and Mal ran a hand over tangled blond curls before dropping a kiss onto her lieutenant, already lost in the land of nod.

"Goodnight Polly."

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Among the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold


A few days later, the trip nearly over, they had left the farming expanses behind them as they approached the city sitting above them on the hill. Polly stretched where she lay on top of the cargo and yawned. It was Mal's turn to drive and consequently the oxen were making a good effort, walking briskly in the shafts as though the cart weighed nothing at all. Despite this the individual vehicles of the convoy were well spaced along the track, and after casting a quick look around Polly wriggled up towards the drover's bench.



"Come here." As Mal looked over inquiringly the lieutenant reached up and with a hand at the back of her neck drew her down for a deep exploratory kiss. Releasing her long moments later Polly couldn't help but smirk at the stunned look on her sergeant's face.

"What was that for?"

"Cos I can?" Polly relaxed back into the load with a smile and Mal was forced to return her attention to the road ahead as the track began to weave its way around wide corners.

The convoy continued on without incident for a good few miles. Soon enough they came upon some woodland and the track began to bend in more twisting turns along the valley floor. As the cart ahead turned around a tighter bend it vanished from sight for a moment. Mal took a quick look behind them, noted that the following cart was also shielded from view by the trees and dropped the reins to reach over, grab a fistful of linen shirt and kiss Polly soundly. She left the lieutenant dazed and blinking, snatching up the reins again just in time to navigate them round the corner.

"Wha... What was that for?" Polly swallowed, wondering exactly when her higher brain functions would return to accepted levels.

"Cos I can." Mal smiled sweetly and shook up the oxen.


In his cluttered and overheated office Captain Smith looked up from yet another of his dratted mess bills and scowled. As bad as the numbers were, the knock at the door that heralded another inane interruption was still more irritating on this; his one free afternoon in weeks. There were moments when he missed his officers. Not often admittedly, especially that pesky vampire, but there were the occasional times when their skills would have been appreciated.

He called a grudging "come in" and couldn't help breaking into a pleased smile when the door swung open to reveal an exceedingly tanned and relaxed officer, the blond hair that was shot through with sun-lifted highlights falling loose to lie untidily on the shoulders of an unfastened green jacket. Mind you, the comparison to what his mirror had tactlessly revealed to him only that morning as it inescapably reminded him that he was pasty faced underneath his receding hairline, was sickening. Shuffling his paperwork he commented gruffly that they'd taken their time. Perks gave him no answer but a smile and eased further into the office to allow Sergeant Maladict to slip through the door behind her and give him what he decided to categorise as a respectful nod.

He had a good mind to foist all this dratted paperwork onto his lieutenant's more than capable shoulders and even went as far as to say so. But when he caught the twinkle in her eye as she took in the piles on his desk he couldn't find the heart. Casting a swift glance over them as they stood before him, not even attempting to stand at attention, he was pleased to see the secondary aim of the operation had succeeded. Officially he'd been forced into it, but unofficially he'd fought tooth and nail to get his lads into this show knowing that they'd given more than they should have in the winter campaigns. High Command would never give his soldiers the break they needed and sometimes a commanding officer had to take the chances offered and make the best of them. He sighed and settled back into his chair, ordering the pair to stand easy, not that they needed telling.

"How was your trip?"

"Quiet" said Polly as, fighting the blush, she felt in memory rather than saw the curl of Mal's lips. Strange how every time she looked at that mouth now, whether talking in quips or in repose, she could feel the curve of that quiet smile against her flesh. Would it always be this way?

Smith let their report drift over him. Just as he'd expected they'd had an uneventful trip and he wondered if they'd figured out he'd stuck them on that precise route for that very reason. They were a bright pair, that dratted vampire especially, but even if they did suspect something he could trust they would be savy enough not to comment. Cutting the crisp description of carts, camp-sites and oxen bowel movements short he took the opportunity to brief them on the successful outcome of the operation. The only wagon train that had been attacked had managed to gather up a collection of bandits and interrogate them efficiently enough to attack and wipe out their hideout. He felt their response could have been a little more enthusiastic. Maybe all that sun had boiled their brains.

Waving an explanatory hand at the paperwork piled on his desk he let them go. Left in quiet solitude he attempted to get back to his sums but found himself wandering over to the window to watch them cross the quad below hand in hand. Smiling, he recalled the blush that had patterned his lieutenant's cheeks at certain points in her report. Apparently those two had been somewhat busy while off the leash. Ah well, he sighed as he returned to his paperwork, they deserved some fun.

You'll remember me, when the west wind moves
Among the fields of barley
You can tell the sun, in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold


"Oooh, post." Polly fished the pile out of her pigeon hole and leant back into the solid support of the figure that had loomed up behind her. "Circular… Circular… Letter from Shufti… Hold onto that for a minute?" She held it up and Mal released her hold around the lieutenant's waist to reach up and snatch it from her hand, the vampire's chin remaining pressed into Polly's shoulder as she looked curiously over it at the sheaf of mail.

"Circular… Army Magazine… Bills… Bills…" Polly tried to get Mal to take those as well but she waved them away distastefully. "And a parcel." The lieutenant flicked the notification card with a trimmed fingernail before tidying it away in the deep recesses of her pocket. Post sorted she stepped away, leaving Mal to pout at the loss of her chin-rest. Unmoved Polly continued her movement in the direction of away, long experience giving her a heart completely hardened against vampiric suffering. "I'll go and pick this up, do you want to go on ahead and get your coffee started?"

It was lucky for Polly that Mal was unusually relaxed after their working holiday and consequently the over-developed paranoid receptors of her brain were not firing on all cylinders. As her lieutenant held tightly to her best poker face the vampire simply didn't pick up on any strange behaviour at all and went on her way, easily distracted by the thought of coffee. Polly, dropping the unwanted mail into a nearby receptacle waited impatiently until she was out of sight before hurrying across the corridor to knock on the hatch to the post room.

When Polly stuck a cautious head around the door to their quarters some time later, she found Mal perched on the chest of drawers that (being short of chairs) they had pulled up in front of the open window. She was sipping from the ever present cup of coffee and perusing the latest letter from Shufti. Satisfied that Mal's attention was fully occupied Polly slid into room, at all times keeping one hand behind her back. Her sergeant looked up at the sound of the closing door, clocked Polly and returned her attention to her letter.

"Shufti invited us home again." At the lack of response she looked up again. "What is it?"

Polly wandered over hesitantly and paused before those shiny boots that swung so freely. She managed to lift her eyes long enough to catch the curiosity invading Mal's face from the eyebrows down.

"I got this... it was in the parcel. It came all the way from Ankh Morpork, must have come while we were out on the carts. I'd almost given up hope... Well, anyway... I thought… just open it" she finished awkwardly.

Putting the letter aside Mal slid off her perch to take the small box from Polly's hand. She looked at it curiously.

"What is it?"

"Just open it." Polly was leaning as nonchalantly as she could manage against the foot of the bed.

Intrigued, Mal flipped open the lid and there it lay; polished brushed steel nestling amid midnight blue velvet.

She was stunned into silence. She'd heard of these. She'd even planned to get one, one day. They were the best lighters in the world. There was no imp to take care of, just a flint wheel and a reservoir for the fuel. Since she'd first seen one in the window of a curiosity shop far away in Bonk she'd been lost.

"Oh Polly..."

It was beautiful. Holding her breath, Mal put out a finger and gently stroked the shiny metal. Engraved in perfect looping copperplate across the main body was the simple phrase: "No Regrets".

"Oh Polly"

She must look like a total imbecile but she didn't care. The daft girl must have spent all her savings. These kinds were only made in Ankh Morpork and she knew they cost an arm and a leg even without customised engraving.

"You like it?"

"Polly, Polly, Polly." Mal broke into soft laughter. "My daft thoughtful, insane lass. It's perfect." And unable to let go of the box she reached out with the other hand to snag the back of Polly's neck and draw her closer. It wasn't the best kiss Polly had ever been given, Mal was somewhat distracted by the pretty trinket in her hand and kept stopping to check it was still as wondrous as she remembered. As a compromise, they ended up sat on the bed, Mal's free arm around Polly's waist as she tilted the lighter back and forth in the light, making sparkles dance on the ceiling.

"Look at it. It's so shiny."

Vampires really were like magpies sometimes Polly thought, looking at the obsession in the sergeant's eyes as she continued to stroke the metal with one finger.

Mal was looking again at the inscription, her expression serious now. There it was, for all to see. She traced the words with a finger nail as her mind drifted back to that long ago day, the dust of battle whirling about them. She saw herself in the chaos, grabbing Polly's arm, desperately needing to get the words out, to have it said and understood should the worst happen. A moment of silence amongst the noise and then the explanation abrupt, pouring out of her as she clung on to that clear blue gaze. 'The other I say often, easily, in the heat of the moment and rescind as lightly. But here, where the metal meets the meat, I need you to know this: I Have No Regrets.'

She was still thinking about words engraved on a lighter for all eternity when her eye fell on the letter from Shufti lying on the dresser.

"We should go."


"We should go home, to The Duchess I mean. It's time." Mal felt Polly stiffen within her arm. "It's not like your father's living there any more, Pol. They deserve to know, they're your family. It's been almost two years."

The lighter somehow made it official.

Will you stay with me? Will you be my love?
Among the fields of barley?
And you can tell the sun, in his jealous sky,
When we walked in fields of gold.

I never made promises like these
And there have been some that I have broken
But I swear in the days still left
We will walk in fields of gold


Mal was slightly drunk from the cider and the scent of honeysuckle drifting in through the open door of The Duchess on the cooler evening air. Paul had planted it she remembered, a vague image of Shufti telling them of his green fingers with loving pride the first night they'd arrived. Her wandering thoughts poetically compared it to wisps of sunshine drifting through dust and decided never to admit they'd gone there.

She was leaning on the bar, Polly at her side, the pair of them attempting to teaching Shufti how to win at Cripple Mr Onion. Despite the fact that Mal had looked at Shufti's cards every time their host wandered up the bar to pull a customer a fresh pint the vampire was still losing miserably. Not that she minded. It was too nice an evening to bother about such things. Anyway losing at cards was a new experience and she was always open to new things. The faint biscuit smell rising from Polly's tanned arms and the open neck of her shirt was at some level more intoxicating that the cider. Soon the bar would close and…

Someone interrupted them again; business was steady tonight, the heat making everyone thirsty. Shufti moved off down the bar and Polly, putting her cards down, stretched deliciously, a smile flitting over her lips as she heard Mal swallow. The customer was still chatting, distracting Shufti for a valuable extra few minutes. It was time Polly was taught that she couldn't get everything her own way.

Running her fingers lightly over the tan skin to the roll of the shirt sleeve, hovering for a tantalising moment on the sensitive skin of the inner elbow before allowing her hand to dance on over the fabric, up onto the shoulder, drifting over up the neck, teasing and then lifting the curls to allow her to lean in quickly and kiss that familiar pulse point under the ear. Polly drew in a shaky breath, the cards trembling in her grasp. Settling back on her stool as Shufti turned round again Mal felt the tremor run down through the figure next to her and smiled. Served the little minx right for winning by using despicable underhand cheating methods.

She lit a cigarette innocently as Polly stammered her way through her bid. Shufti, eyes in the back of her head like all mothers, attempted to give the vampire a quelling look but her lips twitched at the last minute and Mal blew a triumphant smoke ring as she won the hand.

Later, once the bar was closed up, they sat out in the beer garden with Paul and Shufti, Polly close within her arm, quiet laughter drifting up into the starry sky.

It was good to be home.

Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
As you lie in fields of gold

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Among the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold

Fields Of Gold. Eva Cassidy