Cheese

It's late and dark and dead quiet and Marissa is fast asleep in the corner of the kitchen by where it's always warm from the great fire burning in the stove all day. She pulls the old blanket over her as she turns in her sleep—she was bone tired following last night's festivities but she's the youngest of the scullery maids so she can only sleep here, as she's the first to rise and start the fires, sweep and prepare for the rush of breakfast preparations when the heart of the whole palace wakes. So she's exhausted and doesn't hear anything until the crash of crockery and plates and something breaking on the floor and rolling and some really sharp cursewords, and something hits her on the side as it rolls on the floor. She jumps up, heart pounding, blanket clutched to her chest, making a sharp 'eep' sound, eyes wide open, hair sticking up in all directions, one hand desperately trying to find the knife she keeps at her side at all times since those monsters first were sighted outside the city walls those weeks ago… and blinks back a cry of surprise as her startled movement, almost instinctively, morphs into a curtsy at the sight of the man standing in the middle of the shelf with the remnants of last night's banquet fare.

"Oops." Of all things, Marissa reflects a bit disappointed, this is not a girl imagines the King of Ferelden would say, ever. Then again, Alistair Theirin is not an ordinary king by any means. "So sorry, dear lady. I made a mess, it appears."

"Your Majesty." She mumbles, moving quick and with eyes downcast, as taught, grabbing the broom and the dustpan from the corner. "I'll clean this up right away…" There are pieces of broken crockery all over the floor, and an almost intact wheel of crumbly Redcliffe cheddar lays on the floor right next to her little sleeping spot where it rolled from where the head cook stashed it on one of the large storage shelves.

He wants to help…by the Maker, the King of Ferelden wants to help the scullery maid. She is not quite convinced she isn't still dreaming this, and since she doesn't quite know how to say 'no' to a King (does anybody?), they end up collecting the pieces of pottery together, the King lifting the cheese wheel from the floor carefully, dusting it a bit before placing it on one of the big preparation tables. Marissa empties the last of the shards into the big bin outside the kitchen door and surveys the scene again: the King found a knife and is busy to shave off some chunks of the dark orange-colored cheese on to a wooden plate from above the huge sink.

"I get hungry at the worst times." King Alistair says, almost apologetically, while sawing on the cheese, and there's a sheepish grin on his face as he looks at Marissa. "And when I do, I absolutely must eat. And when I absolutely must eat, it's cheese I want. So. Hence, this." He shakes his head. "I didn't know they let someone sleep in the kitchen here…"

"It's warm." Marissa says quietly. "And it's right here…"

"I suppose it is." The King stops, looking at her awkwardly, and Marissa is sure her eyes are mistaken to see an almost apologetic smile forming on his lips. "So, um… since you're up in the middle of the night, uh… would you mind going to the pantry and see if they have any of that Val Royeaux brie left? The Queen will kill me if I don't bring her back some of that."