The room, most people would say, is utterly silent.
George is not most people. He has not gotten where he is in life by being unaware of the small details. The scuff of a shoe, the scrape of chairs, a huffed breath - George notes it all. The wind has picked up outside; it's rattling the shutters. Downstairs, in the main room of the Dove, 'Fingers is being rather jolly; he's celebrating Alanna's being a girl for the third straight week in a row. Last night, he'd been celebrating the death of Duke Roger; 'Fingers keeps his parties on a schedule.
It's only been three weeks since Alanna's been revealed as a girl to the world. It feels like longer.
It's only been two weeks since Master Si-Cham dragged a reluctant Thom of Trebond down to Corus to face his father. Looking at the silent man sitting stiffly across from him, George thinks that it, too, feels like a lot longer.
The vow of silence Thom took to avoid speaking to his father certainly hasn't stopped him from being expressive - or melodramatic. George suppresses a rather unmanly giggle as he remembers the first time he met Thom, when an irate Mithran monk slammed open the door to the Dove and stalked in to stare down his wayward sister.
Thom raises one eyebrow, pointedly, and George makes an odd sound - some hideous combination of a squeak and a hiss - as he ruthlessly suppresses his laughter.
He doesn't really know what's gotten into him tonight.
He can hear Thom fidgeting, a nervous habit Alanna rarely shows.
He knows exactly what's gotten into him tonight: three tankards too many, after Stefan sent down the most recent palace gossip - Alanna is officially being courted by that Tirragen knight, the one she'd been so suspicious of not that long ago.
George knows Alanna well enough, by now. That would never have risen anywhere close to the level of actual courting if she didn't want it to.
George closes his eyes, and hears Thom shift. Thom's breathing is a touch rapid, a touch nervous - George makes Thom nervous, and George really doesn't want to think about why.
…Dammit. It's not like it matters much, anymore, his objection, but George does not toy with people, and he thinks he might be weary of Trebonds.
Then again, some small portion of his brain throws up, it's not like he's still pursuing Alanna anymore. Alanna has made her choice, and George is a free man.
But Thom is finicky and fidgety and even more prickly than his sister - which, George thinks, is something of an accomplishment - and George pays attention to details, which is how he knows that he is Thom's first crush, and George does not toy with people. He barely knows this young man.
He does not toy with people, no matter how much he may want to.
Thom huffs a sigh, and George represses another giggle as he thinks that for all Thom has taken a vow of silence, he is still eloquently noisy. He just doesn't use words anymore.
A hand yanks George's head up and around, and George almost goes for his knife before he registers the impatient tapping of Thom's heel on the chair leg, and he opens his eyes to see violet eyes, as violet as Alanna's, staring him down.
Those eyes are too knowing. George wonders, idly, what Thom has seen in the dark and lonely cloisters to make him so world-weary, so cynical.
George no longer really cares. If Thom knows what he's getting into…
No. George does not toy with people, and the fact that Thom doesn't expect anything from him only makes George feel vaguely ashamed.
Fingers lightly touch George's parted lips, silencing the protest before George gets a sound out. Thom leans close, and what he does next startles George immensely.
"I've learned to take what I can get, King of Thieves," Thom whispers, voice creaky with disuse, and George is left wondering how big a burden that vow was in the first place, because from the sound of it Thom hasn't spoken for far longer than he's been sworn to silence. "When you feel up to it, come and steal me."
Thom pushes George back in his seat and leans close, close enough to kiss, close enough that George swears he can hear the younger man's heartbeat, but all Thom does is smirk at him and back off.
George sits, stunned, as the prickly monk leaves; he hears more than sees the young man blow him a cheeky kiss. The door creaks open, then shuts with a light click, and George hears the slow patter of footsteps down the stairs, and the roar of 'Fingers greeting another potential drinking partner.
He hears the door to the inn open, and hears Thom huff a laugh, and hears the wind bang the door closed.
He doesn't need to watch Thom leave. He knows from the sound of the firm footsteps that Thom will be back.
When you feel up to it, come and steal me.
Eventually, George will.