The morning after the fight, neither of Mute's bells ring. She spends the first part of the morning on making her haircut even, but by the time that is over, and she's received no summons, she begins to worry. Is he going to fire me? I've done the wrong thing... I guess I should eat while I can, then. With a shrug, she gets into her normal clothing and heads down to the kitchen, leaving her apron to dry a little while longer.
"Mute! What did you do to Adam?" demands Lacy, with the girl who spat standing indignantly at her side. Taking her paper and pen from a shirt pocket, she writes slowly and carefully, then passes the note to the two. Lacy snatches it from Mute's hand.
'He attempted to take my life twice- I took care of the problem, without killing him,' reads the paper. 'I've only come to get breakfast.' Attempting to avoid provocation, Mute gently pushes past Lacy and the younger girl. She gets out two eggs and cracks them into a pan on the stove- the kitchen isn't too busy this early in the day. After frying them and eating them with a small hunk of cheese and bread, she has a quick glass of water, then heads back up to her room.
When she arrives, she looks around the room for a note- an indication of some sort that she missed his call, and someone else took care of it. There's nothing. What if my decision not to kill Adam was weak? What if the General decided he'd rather have someone serve him who isn't mute, and who's got the guts to try and take the life of his personal servant, twice? She twists her hands together. I don't want to lose my job.
The rest of the day, for Mute, passes slowly. She keeps a tiny hextech watch on her wrist- all she has, aside from the locket, that's of value- and the seconds tick by like hours. At noon, she finally leaves her room again, this time, to prepare herself a quick salami sandwich. No-one in the kitchen talks to her, but that's normal; very few people talked to her, even before this incident with Adam. Mute's handwriting is neat enough for a child to read, but she was never able to write quickly enough for their patience.
After eating and returning to her room, she decides to even out her haircut, as the General had suggested. When she's done, it's about an inch shorter, but it's much more precisely-done than the first. I guess this is better... though I doubt it'll save me from getting fired; it wasn't an order, just a suggestion.
Even in her fear of losing her job, the long hours of nothingness drive her to intense boredom- she doesn't feel hungry, even by the time it gets to dinner. With nothing else to do- no sense of purpose, no orders, and no reason to stay awake any longer, she gets in bed and goes to sleep.
Mute's dreams were troubled, and she woke several times during the night. Once, she woke up screaming, and thanked her muteness- she wouldn't have wanted the General to hear that display of weakness. When she finally wakes up, her grey eyes are tired- light purple circles arc from corner to corner. With a voiceless sigh of exhaustion, she applies some makeup to cover the darkness.
Uncertain what to expect, she gets ready for the day by brushing her hair, getting dressed, and packing her duffel bag with everything she owns. The room doesn't look much different, she notes, almost sadly, when the bell from the General's room rings. The one from the kitchen hasn't gone yet, so he's likely not calling for breakfast. Tying on her apron, Mute bites her lip a little to see the remains of a bloodstain, but she has no time to rectify this, and so she heads into the General's chamber.
In his room, Swain is reading over the note that she wrote the previous night, and he turns to face the girl as she enters. Her body language is easy enough to read- even when she's not trying to project anything in particular, a lifetime of muteness lets her actions speak for her. She didn't sleep well- and the powder under her eyes says she didn't want him to notice that. Good, he thinks. Her posture is straight, but her hands are clasped together in a way they usually aren't- she's worried about what he has to say.
I-it's like the time that he looked into my mouth, she recalls, and stands stock-still, waiting for his pronouncement. ...do you have an order to give me, so that I don't feel so out-of-place?
Her thoughts are so clear on her face, he thinks to himself. After a minute or so, he speaks.
"Run a bath for me, Mute."
Her shoulders slump slightly in visible relief, and she nods- but before heading into the bathroom, she pauses, taking out the paper.
'Sir, may I ask why you didn't call for me yesterday?'
"No," he replies, and it could be no clearer to them both that the conversation is over. With another obedient nod, she goes to his bathroom and begins to run the bath- behind her, she can hear Beatrice eating the paper upon which she had written.
The water that splashes into the porcelain basin is warm on her fingers, and she closes her eyes to enjoy the feeling for just a moment before resuming the task as it's set for her. Knowing exactly the temperature that he wants the water to be, she adjusts the smooth, silver knobs until the warmth is perfect.
I wonder why he won't tell me? ...he undoubtedly has a good reason. She sighs, not wanting to give up on her curiosity so easily- but there's no way he'll tell her. Suddenly, she realizes that the bath is full, and turns the knobs quickly shut, letting a little bit drain from the tub so that the water won't spill over the edge.
Leaving the bathroom, she sees the General running his hand over Beatrice's feathers- he's facing away from her, and seems lost in thought. Were it not for his position, and what he's capable of, one could almost consider him a normal- Having seen Mute, Beatrice caws loudly, interrupting the quiet reverie. The General turns to see her, and she smiles slightly, chagrined- taking out the pad of paper, she scribes her words.
'I've prepared the bath, sir.' He takes the note, nods, and hands it back to her- when he's at the doorway of the bath, though, he turns back.
With that, he goes, and Mute's left staring at his bathroom door- but, with nothing else to do in the room, she leaves.
I- he's not mad at me for what I did to Adam... Upon reaching her own bedroom, she half-collapses onto the bed, with a deep exhalation of relief. And he said 'well-done'- I handled it well, according to the Master Tactician! She smiles again, and, when she hears the bell ring from the kitchen, pauses to put a thin layer of red on her lips before heading down to get the General's breakfast.
When she arrives at the kitchen, Adam is nowhere in evidence- in his place, Lacy is doing the dishes, and she shoots Mute a venomous glare. This gives her some pause, but- well, I assume he's simply been fired. Doing her best to ignore Lacy, she picks up the General's lacquered tray and makes as though to leave- a sponge hits her in the back of the head, and she bites her lip, her fingers tightening on the tray.
...I need to deliver this to the General, she reminds herself, and heads upstairs to do so, putting a lid on her anger for another time.
Her gentle tapping on his chamber door announces her presence to the General. Beatrice's feathers ruffle up in irritation when she knocks, but he pats them back down. "Enter," he calls out gruffly, and she does so, bearing his breakfast on a tray.
"You're wearing lipstick," he comments as she hands it to him, and there's a barely-perceptible pause before she nods slightly. I wonder why he'd mention that? she wonders, but manages to keep the question from showing on her face.
"Dismissed," the General tells her curtly. Beatrice caws at the girl, loudly, with no warning- Mute's only reaction is a slight widening of the eyes, before she nods respectfully and leaves.