Arianne kissed Quintus because she thought he was about to die. And he was so handsome, and had treated her so kindly, it seemed a waste to miss the chance. She certainly didn't mean anything by it. His lips were cold, and carried the lingering taste of blood, but his eyes were warm and happy. She thought it would be a good way to die.
But he didn't die. He recovered. Rather quickly, in fact. She discovered that he hadn't consumed nearly as much of the poison nor lost half as much blood as she originally thought.
Which was awkward. She hoped that perhaps he wouldn't remember. That he had been too ill, too delirious with pain and poison. She bustled about the hut with her customary chores and would glance at him out of the corner of her eye from time to time, wondering what was going through his mind. He was always just... watching her. With a sort of thoughtful expression. It made her skin feel hot and her insides feel cold at the same time.
Thank the gods he was quiet. She was so accustomed to being left to her own devices and her own thoughts that she wouldn't have known what to do with a talkative man.
And so they passed their days in near total silence, save a few pleasantries exchanged in Latin and Pictish as the mood struck. She would leave most mornings to check her trap line, fish and forage and bring food back. He was always most appreciative of what she managed to cook for him.
"Far better than anything they served the centurions," he said with that small, almost wry smile that made her feel all warm and quivery.
She ducked her head and laughed. "I don't really know if that is a compliment to me or a criticism to them."
"It's a compliment," he said simply, his voice soft. "Where I come from it's considered polite to compliment the cook."
She kept her head down to avoid his eyes and that quiet, thoughtful way he looked at her. "Where I come from it's considered polite to express that appreciation by way of breaking wind after the meal. The louder the better." She said with a perfectly straight face. He was silent and she quickly glanced up at him. His gentle eyes were no longer looking at her in that thoughtful way but instead were opened wide, stunned. "You could always belch, of course. If the body does not cooperate," she informed him, keeping her face just as serious.
Finally he broke into a quiet laugh. "I think I'd prefer to use my words, if you don't mind."
She smiled. His laugh was warm and gentle, just like his eyes.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before he left again, rejoined the rest of the Romans at the wall. Best not to grow accustomed to him. She couldn't figure out why he had come back at all, to be perfectly honest. Perhaps the Romans had no competent healers. They had so many men, they didn't have to be so concerned when one fell ill or wounded. Though that didn't mean the individuals themselves weren't concerned when such a thing happened to them.
He grew stronger, took to following her when she left in the mornings. It was good for his recovery, to be up and moving like that. Besides, having company was a grand change of pace. Though she fretted about the temperature affecting his health. "It will be winter soon," she pointed to the thick coating of hoarfrost on the grass. "You should mind yourself. The cold does no favors to a man in your state."
He stepped closer. Just enough for her to notice. "And do you have any suggestions for how I might stay warm?" he said, his voice warm and gentle as ever, with just a hint of humor. His thoughtful eyes glancing at her, a hint of something more in his gaze.
Her mind raced, her stomach fluttering. "Fire. There's always fire." She said quickly.
He paused and nodded, leaning back widening the distance between them. "Yes. Fire is very helpful in such situations." He lifted her basket of foraged berries. "Shall we return to it?" She nodded and he turned and led the way back to the hut. She breathed in a lungful of air, cold and sharp, before following.