The water was comfortably warm, Laurence finally felt his muscles relax after a long day of patrol flying. Luckily not much had happened, to Temeraire’s disappointment, and thus they had come back earlier than usual. It had left Laurence and his men with some rare downtime after an early dinner, and Laurence had decided to finally use his private bath, which had been a pleasant discovery upon coming to Dover. A private bath was rare even under the rooms of the senior officers, but although they had been staying in Dover for quite some time now Laurence had not been able to use it before.
Comfortably soaking in the warm water, Laurence reached out to some of his unopened letters beside him. There where some new ones from his old navy friends, and one of his mother.
Just as he was halfway through the first letter, there was a knock on his door. Before he could answer however the door swung open.
“Sir?”, Ferris asked when he was met with a empty room, as the bath was behind a dressing screen on the other side of the room. Ferris, however, didn’t wait for an answer but just walked further into the room. Laurence, rather more annoyed at the intrusion than being seen in the bath, waited just before the young lieutenant was behind the screen before answering his call.
“ Yes Mr. Ferris?” Laurence said just a little louder than he normally would have. Ferris nearly jumped in surprise, and looked behind the dressing screen, where Laurence sat, in the bath with one raised eyebrow.
“Oh” Ferris said lamely, turning red in his mortification. “uh.. I was just, searching for you, Sir”, he said, managing to look even redder.
“Yes? And what was so urgent you considered walking into your captain’s room without waiting for consent, an option?”, Laurence said raising both eyebrows. Ferris wouldn’t meet his gaze, staring intently at the floor as if it were the most interesting object in the room.
“ Uh”, he mumbled again,” Temeraire was looking for you, Sir”, he said, still not meeting his gaze, ”but It can wait, Sir” he backpedalled. “I will go tell Temeraire you are busy Sir” He was already fleeing towards the door before Laurence could say anything, the door shut loudly behind the young lieutenant and Laurence was alone again.
He sighed, he would have to reprimand the young lieutenant later.
Laurence picked up the letter his mother had sent him, taking care not to accidentally wet it in the water, and broke the seal. Right at this moment however, there was a knock at his door. Laurence stopped, and waited to see if the one knocking would actually announce themselves this time.
Laurence froze, it was Roland.
“Sir? may I come in?”, she asked.
Laurence didn’t consider himself to be prudish, indeed he had bathed with the rest of the crew rather often in his navy days and he wasn’t particularly afraid of someone walking in on him, like Ferris had just done. But, Emily Roland was a young lady, and although she was part of his crew and it couldn’t be avoided for her to see the men naked, he thought it rather ungentlemanlike to let her see him naked at such a young age, while it could be avoided.
Before Laurence could muster an answer however, she opened the door, its shadow falling onto the dressing screen.
“Yes Roland?” Laurence answered finally.
“Oh, I had nearly thought you weren’t here Sir” she said, her shadow falling on the screen as she moved into the room. Luckily she stayed behind the screen to talk to him. “My mother was looking for you, Sir, she said it had something to do with Temeraire.” Oh no, Laurence thought, what has he done now.
“Very good” he said wearily “Thank you, Roland, I will be out shortly.” Though why Jane herself hadn’t searched for him, he wondered. “Yes, Sir” Roland replied and shortly her shadow moved out of the room and the door closed with a click. Laurence gave a long sigh, and he settled a bit deeper into the warm water, determined to at least get a few more minutes of peace before getting out of the bath.
Those few minutes however, turned out to be far too optimistic. Not long after her daughter had left, Jane Roland came walking through the door, without bothering to knock. And even though Laurence probably should have expected this, he still flinched, and he was glad for the dressing screen as he did so.
“There you are dear fellow” she said heartily. “I had some very mortified runners come up to me and tell me… you have a bath?” she said, upon coming around the dressing screen.
“…yes”, Laurence said a bit taken aback by her surprise, “don’t you have one?”, he had thought at least most senior captains would have a bath when he had discovered his own, and was taken aback when this wasn’t the case. “But why did I get a bath then?”, he muttered making to stand up and get out.
“Laurence”, Jane said before he could do so, and when he looked up she stared at him with an intense look, which to his embarrassment made him flush a little. “Do not waste this private bath of yours, I will keep Temeraire off for a little longer. But”, she said with a finger pointing up into the ceiling, “As a thank you, I will get to bathe in your bath.”
“You are always welcome to bathe here of course”, he said “but it would be very kind of you to see to Temeraire.”
Jane smiled “very good”, she said looking at him again with a pleased gaze. “Well I’d best get to it then” She smiled at him curiously before turning and walking out the door, as suddenly as she had come.
Laurence sighed, long and hard, and realised she had not told him why she would have to keep Temeraire at bay at all.
He sat back and dipped deeper into the water, and he imagined all the horrible things Temeraire might be up to, or worse what kind of things he would want to ask.
Laurence hadn’t noticed he was starting to doze off, despite his alarm for what Temeraire might be doing, until there was another knock on his door.
He opened his eyes reluctantly.
“Yes?”, he called tiredly.
“Laurence?” It was Granby.
“Yes”, Laurence said again “You may come in”. Granby silently opened the door, his shadow moving over the dressing screen as he walked into the room looking tentatively around the dressing screen. “Oh”, he said when he saw Laurence in the bath, “I am sorry to have to disturb your bath Laurence but we can’t keep on diverting his questions.” Oh no, Laurence thought to himself, so he was asking questions.
“What is it now then?” he asked standing up and out of the bath, grabbing his towel.
“He wants to know where our ‘hatchlings’ come from”, Granby said with a little flush on his face. Laurence froze in the middle of taking his towel from the dressing screen. He turned his head slowly towards Granby.
“You didn’t tell him, did you?” he asked mortified.
“No” Granby said almost offended, but his tone softened. “We managed to divert his attention to other things like teaching some mathematics to the runners.” Granby said to Laurence’s relief, but how Laurence would survive the next conversation he would have to have with his young dragon, he did not know. Laurence finished his movement and wrapped the towel around his waist before first picking up his letters and putting them aside as not to accidentally splatter them with water. Granby followed his movements with his eyes distantly, but a bit more intense than Laurence was used to him doing.
He was probably deep in thought, Laurence thought. He sighed, Granby, suddenly blushing, looked away
“Granby”, Laurence said, “will you go tell Temeraire I am on my way? And make sure that he doesn’t ask.. those kinds of questions to anything else. I will have to find a bottle of wine before I have this conversation”, he took off his towel and started to dry his hair. And if Granby was looking at him a bit too intensely he did not notice.
“Yes, Sir”, Granby said, sounding a little choked. Laurence looked up at him frowning.
But Granby was already at the door, quickly taking the knob and disappearing into the hallway.
Laurence sighed, again, and decided that maybe locking the door was, in fact, necessary.