Last time the five continued their exploration of the Llammas market and some of them tried mulled wine.
David laughed at Julian and shook his head. “That was fun though,” he said, propping himself up on the fountain. “What are we going on next?”
Darrell winked at Sally. “Nothing that spins, please,” she said, despite it giving her the perfect excuse to cling to Anatoly.
“How about the… swing, things,” Anatoly said, not sure what they were called, pointing them out. “They go back and forth, not round and round?”
“The swing boat?” Sally suggested.
“Yes, those,” he said, “or is that still too much movement for people?”
“I’m game!” David said with a smile.
“Definitely!” Sally said with a grin
“Me too!” added Darrell. They all looked at Julian.
“They’re for pairs,” Julian pointed out slightly awkwardly, “you go on with David, Sally, and I’ll watch for now. I can always have a go in a bit if anyone else wants another turn.”
“Well,” David said practically. “Pretty much everything here is for pairs,” he said sticking his hands in his pockets. “And I’m a big boy, I don’t mind sitting in my own, it’s just when you decide to pair off without me is when I don’t like it,” he grinned. He nudged Sally playfully and whispered loudly; “Chivalrous isn’t he?”
“Well, all right,” Julian said easily, “don’t say I didn’t offer. I’ll go on with Sally then, and you can have a turn after if anyone’s having a second go.”
“It’s a lot of work for a ride,” Sally said with a grin. “Are you sure you’re up to it Ju?” she teased.
“Of course I am,” Julian said a little indignantly as the others laughed.
Sally laughed and patted his arm, where she could feel the muscle under it. “I was teasing darling,” she said, kissing him on the cheek.
“I’d be more than happy to take your place if you weren’t feeling up to it, Ju,” David added with a grin.
“Too late Morton, you said no already,” Julian said with a wink.
“Doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind,” David said airily. He chuckled. “Go on then lovebirds, I’ll just stand around looking lonely!”
Darrell giggled at him, as Sally gave him a kiss on the cheek. Darrell took Anatoly’s hand and smiled up at him. “Ready?”
“It is a woman’s prerogative, I believe, to change her mind,” Anatoly said wickedly. He lifted Darrell’s hand and kissed the back of it. “After you, dorogoy.”
Darrell led the way as David protested about how men were allowed to change their minds as well. Sally slipped her arm through his as she held Julian’s hand and patted him comfortingly. “I’d give up if I were you David, he was winding you up.”
“I know he was,” David grumbled. “Annoying bugger, isn’t he Ju?”
“I heard that,” Anatoly called back. “You are too easy to wind up, Morton.”
David pulled a face. “So am I holding anything while you lot are on the swing boats?” he asked, ignoring Anatoly and trying to be helpful.
Darrell held out the teddy bear Anatoly had won her. “Could you look after him please?” she asked, “I don’t want him flying out of my pocket and getting lost!”
“Right, yes ok,” David said, taking the teddy bear and hurridly putting it in his own pocket. No one else seemed to have anything so he waved them onto the ride, leaning back against one of the shop walls to watch.
Julian helped Sally into their swing boat and got in rather unsure how fun this would be. Sally smiled at him and stood up. “I want to go higher than Darrell and Anatoly, do you think we can?”
Julian glanced over at Anatoly and Darrell who were settling into the next boat-swing and then grinned at Sally. “I’m sure we can find out, shall we make a little wager with them?”
“Go on then!” she said with a grin. “Though be careful what you bet,” she added, standing up to kiss him.
Julian smiled and leaned over, to tap Anatoly on the shoulder. “Fancy a wager?” he asked with a grin.
Anatoly turned and looked at Julian. “What sort of wager?” he asked suspiciously.
“Sally wants us to go higher in the swing than you, want to put a bet on it that we can go higher than you? Morton can be judge?”
Anatoly shrugged slightly, feeling the slight ache in his shoulder from where he’d fallen over the gravestone that morning, aggravating a recent injury. “Is everything competitive with you Julian?” he teased as Darrell looked at him expectantly.
“Well, if you’re chicken Pilks…” Julian said with an airy shrug.
“I am not chicken!” he argued, his pride getting the better of him. “Name your stakes Kirrin.”
“Loser has to get out of the water tomorrow, and do a second swim,” Julian said with a smirk as Sally hid her face in her hands. Darrell groaned and shook her head as David laughed from the side of the swings.
Anatoly considered it for a moment. He felt Darrell and Sally would be fairly evenly matched, they both swam and played tennis, so it would come down to him and Julian to win or lose. He knew Julian played rugby and was a strong swimmer, but he himself had more strength than his slighter frame would suggest. His shoulder niggled at him though, and he resigned himself with the thought that he would find the cold water easier to bear than Julian would. He wondered if Julian’s own shoulder injury would affect him, and if so if it do so worse than his would.
He also knew refusing the bet would lose him more face than competing and losing. It didn’t cross his mind that he could just admit he had a sore shoulder, he carried his agent-self around with him at all times and part of that was never admitting weakness.
“You are on then,” he said at last, biting back the urge to make his usual sort of cocky joke.
Julian smiled. “You’ll see who goes higher, won’t you Morton?” he called to David who gave them a thumbs up. “Count us in?” he added.
“Right you are Ju!” David counted them in and off they went, heaving and pulling letting the boats rock. Sally and Darrel tried their hardest, just Julian and Anatoly were really going for it. After a while Julian’s injured shoulder was beginning to get painful and he was beginning to wish he had never suggested such a thing to Anatoly, who, he felt, was certainly going to win.
Anatoly’s shoulder was aching badly and he was regretting agreeing to the bet, but Darrell was having fun, her cheeks pink as she giggled with Sally, both of them putting in a good effort. He kept the pain he was feeling off his face, trying to take more of the strain through his good shoulder.
David watched idly from the sidelines. The girls were having a whale of a time, but Julian and Anatoly were tiring though both looked determined not to lose. He sighed as the man who ran the swings ran the bell to let them know there was a minute to go. Neither Anatoly and Darrell or Julian and Sally’s boat had gone higher than the other.
Anatoly was relieved when the bell rang, knowing there wasn’t long to go. He couldn’t get the boat any higher, but it didn’t seem like Julian could either.
Julian groaned as the bell rang again to end their turn. He looked at Anatoly who was suffering as well, before he got off to help Sally off. He kissed her forehead. “I don’t think we won somehow!”
Sally rubbed his back, “No, but it was fun, lets go and see what David says shall we?” she asked him, and Darrell and Anatoly.
“Well done Toly,” Darrell said as they walked towards David, her hand in his.
Anatoly rolled his aching shoulder, trying not to wince or groan as they approached David. “What is the verdict then, David?” he asked. “Who gets the honour of two swims tomorrow?”
David looked at them both as he handed Darrell her teddy back. “I think you both need to do it, it was a draw afterall,” he said with a smirk.
“Oh yes!” Darrell said with a grin. “Now that’s a good idea!”
Anatoly and Julian looked at each other and groaned. “That is not fair,” Anatoly said, “neither of us lost!”
“He’s right!” Julian protested, rubbing his shoulder absently.
“Call it a forfeit!” David said with a smirk as some more snow began to fall around them.
“Well you would say that,” Julian grumbled, “you didn’t even take part!”
“How on earth was I supposed to take part?” David asked him as they turned to walk away.
“I think, we should find somewhere to sit and have some mulled wine or a hot toddy before this turns into more an argument,” Sally said softly, slipping her hand into Julian’s and squeezing.
“How convenient for you that you could not,” Anatoly said dryly, having to let go of Darrell’s hand to rub his own shoulder
“What is the matter with you two?” Darrell asked as both boys rubbed their shoulders.
“Nothing,” Anatoly said, dropping his hand.
Julian shook his head, looking a little embarrassed. “I think I overdid things a bit. My shoulder’s still not quite the same after I dislocated it last term.”
Sally reached out and wrapped her arm around his waist and pulled him down to kiss his cheek and whisper, “maybe I’ll kiss it better before you go to bed.”
Julian’s eyes went wide at that, and he blushed a little. “That… that would help, I’m sure,” he said, his voice just a little unsteady.
Sally smiled and gave his hand a squeeze. “At least let me rub some arnica on it, so you don’t come up all bruised again!”
“Maybe you should kiss it and then put some arnica on it,” he suggested, “because I’m not sure that stuff tastes very nice.” He knew it was bad of him, but he really wanted Sally to kiss his shoulder.
“We’ll see,” she said lightly.
“Something’s got to be wrong Toly,” Darrell said quietly to him. “You look like it’s really hurting.”
“It is nothing,” Anatoly said stubbornly, but he hissed and squeezed his eyes shut as Darrell reached up to touch his shoulder, unintentionally digging her fingers into the worst of the bruising.
Darrell frowned and pulled away. She stuck her hands in her pockets as David rolled his eyes. “Is it where you fell over the gravestone earlier?” she asked, trying to look like she wasn’t concerned.
Anatoly sighed, knowing Darrell was stubborn enough not to let it drop. “I wrenched it the other day, on a job,” he said, refusing to go into any more detail than that. “And I banged it a bit when I fell this morning and made it worse. But I am all right, it is just a bit sore.”
Darrell nodded, “Thank you,” she said after a moment. “That’s all I needed to know Anatoly.”
Julian cleared his throat, trying to keep himself in check. “Shall we go get those drinks then?”
Anatoly shrugged, wincing as he did so before pulling her to him with his good arm. “Are we all right?” he asked, not quite sure what that had meant.
Darrell nodded and kissed his cheek. “Come on, let’s do as Julian says and get a drink,” she said as David lead them all to the stall he had been at earlier.
“Will you let me buy our drinks this time?” Anatoly asked her as Julian pulled out his wallet to buy his and Sally’s.
She giggled. “Yes all right. If you must.”
They took things easy after that, in deference to the boys’ sore shoulders, wandering about and looking at more stalls and then around eleven they decided to go on the Ferris wheel. Even David went up, laughing as they got to the top and could see quite a way down the lamplight down Market Street, covered in snow.
Julian checked his watch as they got off, “It’s about half ten, shall we go and sit in one of the pubs and have a warm up and a drink before we come out and watch the bag pipes and fireworks about half eleven?”
“I’m not sure about a drink, but I could certainly use something to eat,” David admitted over the music of the waltz as they passed.
“There is a stall up there, next to the hot drinks stand that is selling hot venison pies, neeps and tatties, and haggis,” Anatoly said with a smile. “I would not mind being outside if no one has any objections.”
“How do you know that?” Julian asked incredulously.
“Oh just training,” Anatoly said with a shrug.
“He read the notice board,” said Darrell with a giggle. “It’s really not that impressive.” She poked him as Anatoly laughed, pouting a little.
“You are not supposed tell people how I do things dorogoy!” he whined playfully.
“Oh come on!” Sally said with a laugh linking arms with David and Julian. “I want to see you boys try haggis!”
“We’re not having a haggis eating competition,” Julian warned her firmly. “We’ve had enough competitions today!” He smiled at her and kissed the side of her head.
“All right, no competitions,” Sally agreed with a smile. “But I think we should try it.”
“Well, we can get one haggis and one pie with some chips between us,” David suggested. “I mean does anyone really want one each?”
“Toly and I had fish and chips a little while ago, so we’re all right,” Darrell volunteered. “I don’t mind trying though,” she added with a smile.
“I will try,” Anatoly agreed. “Come on then!”
They all wandered over to the stall and ordered a large pie, a small haggis and a plate of chips between them, David even treated them each to a bottle of ginger beer to wash the meal down with.
“This haggis, it is not bad,” Anatoly said after having a taste. “What is it exactly?”
“It’s a sheep’s, liver, lungs and heart , with onions, oats and suet,” Sally explained. “Wrapped in the sheep’s stomach.”
Anatoly nodded, “probably best it is just called ‘haggis’ then, as the description is terribly unappetising.”
Julian and David were less impressed however, gulping down most of their ginger beer.
“It tasted fine until you told us what was in it darling,” Julian told Sally, wiping his mouth with the napkin.
“Agreed!” David said, pushing what was left of his haggis away and starting on the venison pie. “This however is very nice indeed.”
“It is, isn’t it?” Darrell said with a smile. “I could get used to this!”
Anatoly shrugged, “yes it is very nice, the pie, but I do not see anything wrong with the haggis,” he said, eating more of his.
Julian pulled a face. “You did listen to Sally’s list of what it contains didn’t you?”
“It’s just what is in it Toly,” David said, pulling a face. “I mean I don’t mind liver, I could even get on with the heart, but lungs and intestine I’m not so fond of,” he said with a shudder. “You can have mine if you like it?”
“You are strange, Morton. What is so different between liver and intestines?” he shook his head as David offered him his, “I had fish and chips earlier, so I am not all that hungry.”
David shook his head and shared a look with Julian. “That’s odd, he’s usually a bottomless pit!” David teased as Sally and Darrell grinned at one another. “Who usually has the most breakfast Ju?”
“Oh Toly without a doubt,” Julian said. “He could give my brother a run for his money in the eating stakes, that’s for sure.”
“And mine!” David said with a smirk. “Maybe the three of them should have an eating competition?”
“I do not eat that much,” Anatoly argued, still not having got the hang of how to deal with the boys teasing. “Do I dorogoy? And neither of you are exactly dainty eaters,” he added.
“I wouldn’t know Toly, I don’t see you at breakfast,” Darrell said lightly. “Or lunch, or even dinner sometimes,” she smiled. “But I wouldn’t say you ate that much!”
“This is nothing about being dainty,” David said with a smile as Sally dissolved into a fit of giggles, as Julian hugged her close. “You do pack away an awful lot of food, I know that much,” he said with a grin.
“Is that you trying to tell me I need to take you out to lunch and dinner more often?” he asked Darrell teasingly. “If you had the training regime I do, you would eat more too,” he added to David. “You are luxuriating in your bed most morning while I am doing a run or push ups or something equally miserable.”
“Lazing, not luxuriating Toly,” Darrell said softly, stroking his cheek. She took his hand in hers and smiled softly. “I would certainly not be adverse to being taken out more often,” she added with a wink. “Considering how you spoil me so!”
“I do not laze in bed!” David retorted. “Especially considering that you get up at some ungodly hour in the morning. I don’t think that can be considered lazing.”
“Oh god, they’re squaring off!” Sally giggled. “You two, honestly!”
“I will take you out before the start of term then,” he promised her, “we can go somewhere nice and have champagne again.” He turned to David then, as he complained about not lazing. “Six is hardly ungodly,” he argued, “though I suppose it may seem it to someone who hates to be up before eight.”
“Champagne?” Sally mouthed at Darrell. She nodded.
“He thinks’ he’s being clever,” Darrell said with a grin.
“I’ll say,” Julian grumbled.
“How do you know I hate getting up before eight?” David said, rolling his eyes. “And I don’t by the way.”
Anatoly ignored Darrell’s comment about him being clever, not sure what she meant by it. She had liked the champagne he had ordered on their first date, though she had been surprised and uncertain about it at first because it was expensive.
“You are always complaining about having to be at breakfast for eight,” he said to David, “and you certainly do not get up that early on weekends.”
“He’s got you there, David,” Julian said with a grin, easily switching allegiances.
“Traitor!” David said to Julian. He sat back in his chair and folded his arms. “Well that’s the last time I let you copy my lecture notes,” he told Anatoly, having finally run out of ammo.
As the boys bickered, Sally smiled at Darrell and checked her watch. “Should we go and have another look around the stalls before its time to go and watch the parade and the fireworks?” she asked her best friend.
Darrell nodded, looking at the boys to tell them, but they were deep in discussion. “Let’s see if they notice?” she suggested to Sally, who nodded. The girls slipped out of their seats and arms linked disappeared into the crowds to look once more at the stalls.
Anatoly noticed the girls go, noting the direction they took, but he was too busy defending himself to shout after them. “I hardly ever do that! And when I do it is only because I have missed lectures because I have been off working.”
Julian shook his head as David smirked. “Say that louder why don’t you Toly? I don’t think the houses on the edge of the town heard you,” David said with a chuckle.
“You two would do well dealing with spies,” Anatoly said, “you could just irritate them into giving away all their secrets.”
“That almost sounds like a compliment,” David said winking at Julian. “Did you ever have anyone as easy to wind up as Toly on your adventures?” he asked with a grin.
“Trust me, it was not meant to,” Anatoly said dryly.
“We met all sorts on our adventures,” Julian said thoughtfully. “But I would say George was actually the easiest person to wind up, all you had to do was say something unkind about her beloved Timmy, or dare to remind her she was actually a girl.”
David grinned. “Well that sounds almost as good as teasing Anatoly!”
“Toly’s much more fun,” Julian said, “I mean he’s stroppy as anything but he doesn’t make life a misery like George knew how to.”
Anatoly bit his tongue, slowly learning that declaring he wasn’t whatever Julian or David called him was a sure-fire way to more teasing.
“Where are the girls?” David suddenly asked.
“Do not tell me you have only just noticed them gone?” Anatoly laughed, “they went off about five minutes ago, down that way.”
“I was busy teasing you,” David said as Julian laughed.
“I didn’t see them go either Toly,” Julian said with a grin. “Good thing you can keep tabs on all of us.”
“Yes, just as well one of us can pay attention to two things at once,” Anatoly, agreed. “If they are not back in a bit we can go find them, and then head to the cathedral.”
David and Julian nodded, sitting back in their chairs and finishing the few chips they had on their plates, waiting for the girls to return.