“What’s that?” asked Oatey.
“Nothing. . .” Lugh lied, “a gift that I’ve kept and I’m not sure why.” Because it is my lodestone, my guiding star and I’d not know what to do if I didn’t have them. Lugh restrung and resettled them around his neck where they rode over his heart. “Well, what’s for breakfast?”
“Porridge, ’tis my custom.” She explained, smiled shyly, “But I have fruit too, and this scramble of eggs and herbs and meat. Probably that’s more to your liking . . .”
“Don’t be too sure.” said Lugh, but in the end he did eat most of the eggs and only a little of the porridge. They talked lightly of nothing at all, teasing about her room, she telling him that he had a guestroom not far, fruits favored and not, but they both fell silent when family came up.
When the silence grew painful he broke it, “This was a wonderful breakfast, thank you Oatey.” He smiled at her and she blushed prettily.
Oatey fidgeted, Lugh thought she had something she wanted to say so he hesitated. She looked up, but finding his eyes on her she immediately looked down and then away. “It isn’t our custom for a man and woman to be alone without . . .”
“Breakfast? Egg scramble? let me guess, books?”
Oatey blushed, “. . . I mean unattended, without chaperon . . .”
“Oh, well I can’t imagine that does anything good for your folk having children . . .”
That made her laugh, “No, I mean unmarried men and women of course.” The bed they shared last night was their table to eat breakfast and it told him about her seriousness that she slipped off and walked toward the door. “It is thought dishonorable.”
“Ah, is it?” Lugh grabbed a piece of fruit he didn’t want and took a bite, “mmmm, well which of us is dishonored and which dishonorable?”
“I don’t care what they think,” Oatey said defiantely, she looked him in the eye, “They care nothing for me anyhow. I only mention it so that you know what they may say of you, what they already think of me.”
Lugh couldn’t suppress the laugh that burst out, but he hurried to apologize when he saw Oatey look so hurt, “No no no, It isn’t you sweet. It is just that my reputation is far worse than yours could possibly be, and I’ve earned mine.”
He thought she might disolve into tears, but when she looked up she surprised him again with her fierceness, “You don’t know what they think of me. Some think that I might even be the giant wife I pretend to be to lure the giants to be killed. All think me strange, and I am. I would never want to be like them.”
Lugh wasn’t sure what to say, “I don’t think you’re a giant wife . . .”
Oatey laughed humorlessly, “. . . But you think me strange.” She turned away from his gaze, “It’s alright, I am strange, that and more.”