Disclaimer: I do not own No Rest For the Wicked. Unfortunately. :(
Lightening. November never was afraid of lightening, not even as a child, but at the moment, it was a tad terrifying. At home, in her large, crowded castle, servants and family were around to make her feel comfortable. At the moment, the princess lay awake in a sorry excuse for an inn, in a room with a leaking ceiling and no drapes to shield the light from slicing into the room through the cracked window. Every thunder clap made her cringe, and the blinding, white light caused her heart to skip a beat. Not only that, but she was cold, too. Very cold, considering that the bed sheets were moth-eaten and she lay under the thinnest, most ragged blanket she'd ever seen. Not that she could complain; at least there was a roof over her head. If only she could be a little warmer, and maybe the raging tempest outside the inn walls wouldn't seem so petrifying and awful.
Being wide awake with nothing to do but wait for the storm to die away and the sun to rise, November lay her pretty head on the thin, frayed pillow and listened to the sounds all around her. She heard the plunk of a water droplet hit the old, wooden floor through a space in the ceiling, a foot away from the bed. She listened to the tree branch by the windowpane hit the glass whenever a gust of wind blew, and she listened to the thundering snores down the hall that belonged to the inn manager, and they were almost as loud as thunder itself, as if the storm wasn't so awful already. Uncomfortable and aching all over, she sat up and massaged her temples where a slight migraine was slowly emerging. She lightly set her feet on the floorboards, careful not to wake anyone, and tiptoed out of the room.
The narrow, rickety hallway made the whole storm situation even worse, considering that it was dark and creepy, and the walls literally shook when the thunder roared. The walls weren't the only thing shaking; she was so cold, she trembled and her jaw vibrated as she strolled down the hall. She peered into a slightly ajar door and found inside a room, identical to hers, with her companion Red asleep under the little blanket. She snored; but somewhat delicately, even for a madwoman who hated clever beasts. November smiled slightly and was on her way.
November hugged herself and watched as her breath turned into vapor when she exhaled as she made her way through the inn. I should be very ill with hypothermia by morning, she thought to herself, at the fragile state I'm in. Being an inquirer and a curious girl, she peered into the bedrooms as she moved silently through the halls (most of them empty, being a rather unaccommodating inn and set in quite the ghastly village). She halted before a shut door and found her curiosity getting the better of her as her delicate, pale hand involuntarily clamped around the cold doorknob and turned it. She quietly pushed the door open, and found herself staring at the second--and inhuman--ally that agreed to accompany her through her journey.
Perrault lay under his blanket, back turned to her and his shoulders slowly heaving up and down in a sleepy breathing pattern. His ears twitched every now and then, and his tail--which drooped over the side of the mattress--would sometimes sway, and then freeze again like a statue. He looked rather comfortable, and November envied that right away, but pushed it aside to the back of her mind. She supposed it'd be easy for him to get comfortable anywhere, really--even though he portrayed that of a human, he was a cat, and she'd seen cats fall asleep on windowsills before. She stepped toward him, hardly noticing the white light that flooded through the window at the foot of the bed for a second or two, and looked over at his face. His eyelids were almost lavender, like a baby's, and he looked almost childlike when he slept. His bangs looked rather damp, thus resulting for November to again, involuntarily move her hand, resting her palm on his forehead. It was very warm, but not hot enough for a fever to be considered. She seated herself at the edge of the mattress by his feet, and watched as his lips slightly parted when he breathed in.
She didn't know why, really, but a crazy thought flashed across her mind. He looked so warm, and his body heat practically radiated off his skin like a warm fire. She pondered at this. Maybe it'd wake him. Yet, she was so cold, and he teeth were chattering so uncontrollably. Maybe just until she was warmed up, then she'd go back to her room and wait until sunrise.
November slowly stood and gently lifted the tattered blanket off of Perrault. There surely was enough room, but she bit her lip--not too hard, of course, or else it'd be swollen by morning--and was sure that this wouldn't work out. Inhaling deeply, she lay her small body on the mattress, stomach pressed against his back, and dropped the quilt so the it lay over the two of them. Then, she slid her arms under his, so that they were wrapped around his chest, and lay her cold cheek between his shoulder blades. He smelled like pine, she noticed, and earth. More like pine, though. She noted this in her head, though was unsure why.
It didn't take very long until she was warmed up; in fact, it worked almost instantly, and she praised herself inwardly for thinking of such a brilliant idea. Of course, she couldn't stay there all night; imagine how embarrassing it'd be if he were to awaken and find her there in such a position! She almost laughed at the thought, but was careful not to. She buried her face in his back and exhaled.
"Does my bed appear to be nicer than yours, Highness?"
November froze, eyes wide. Had he been awake all along? Surely, he hadn't been. Perhaps she moved too roughly, maybe when she lay down. Yet, she hadn't heard a single stir! She felt her face flush in embarrassment, and was glad that he wasn't faced toward her. How could she have been so stupid?
"N-No." She failed to hide the quiver in her voice.
November squeezed her eyes shut and hoped this was a dream. Unfortunately, this seemed to be entirely real.
"Then, forgive me, why have you decided to creep into my room so late in the night and come sleep in my bed?"
"I'm not sleeping."
"I'm fully aware of that."
November bit her lip, a little too hard. That was going to bruise. "I was… warming myself up."
It was silent for a minute or so. During this time, November prayed that he'd fallen asleep.
"In my bed?" he finally said. So, he was still questioning her. She grimaced.
"It's a long story."
"We have all night, I believe."
There was no way to squeeze out of it. She sighed as she explained her crazy idea, how cold she was, and how temping it'd seemed at the time.
Oh, he just wouldn't stop! "Yes."
"Because," she said, exasperated, "I was cold, and there seemed to be plenty of room, and I thought that even if I lay here for, oh, I don't know, half and hour, I'd be warmed up just fine and then return back to my room, and you wouldn't find out, because honestly, it's slightly embarrassing for me to be here right now, in this position." Saying this, she questioned herself inwardly why neither of them had moved at all.
"Well, then," he finally said, after what seemed to be an eternity passed, "I hope your warmed up just nicely."
"Good to see. I suppose you'll be leaving, soon."
This remark made November's mouth curve in an unpleasant way, as if she'd just seen a mouse being hoarded off by a hawk, or heard something upsetting. "I suppose."
Perrault seemed to have heard the negativity in her voice, because strangely enough, he replied rather hastily, "You know, you don't have to go, if you don't want to, my bed is open to you if you're cold, really. I don't mind, honestly, I don't."
November's lips curled into a giddy smile, and she suppressed a laugh. "Alright."
November lay there, her cheek pressed against his back, and closed her eyes. She hardly noticed the lightening fill the room anymore, and a thunder clap was as quiet as an ant's steps to her. Of course, she didn't get any sleep that night, just like any other night, but she was warm. Very warm. And the idea of a warm place to be any night made her happy. Not that, you know, it'd be because she was with Perrault. Because it wasn't, honestly, it wasn't.