Cats and Violins

The rollicking melody of the violin was a poor lullaby. Yuri groaned and turned over on the mattress, trying to shut the delicate but pervasive notes from his ears. Under normal circumstances Yuri welcomed a quick tune, but the camp was set to pack at dawn and he would be driving all tomorrow. He needed sleep. The lilting assault stopped and he sighed, until the next started with notes livelier than the last.

Yuri slammed open the door to the camper and headed towards the lit camp center and the infuriating music.

Apparently Yuri was the only one bothered by the late night concert. More than half the camp was up and circled around the stranger and his violin.

The young man was slender and dark, with long fingers that moved over the neck of the violin with practiced nonchalance.

“I thought you were going to sleep.” Lena’s voice asked at his side. It’d taken a decade of marriage to get used to her sly and silent steps, but he didn’t jump when his wife snuck up on him anymore.

“He’s still playing.” Yuri said, sending one more look towards the stranger before turning towards Lena.

“Yes.” She watched the violinist too, eyes narrowed and considering. “He’s good.” She said with a quick purse of her lips.

“Leen?” He questioned, using her pet name. She was angry, the kind that set her smiling. That was another benefit of a decade of marriage; Yuri knew when to stay the hell out of her way.

Her eyes flicked to his. “My brooch is gone.”

He didn’t have to ask which one, it was her brooch. The one her mother had given her, the one that every female in her family had possessed for centuries. When they’d met he’d asked about the small gold thing, delicately stylized as a curved feline. It had fit her, he’d told her, which had pleased her greatly. He’d kissed Lena for the first time that night.

“It was on my jacket, and when I got back from dancing, it was not.” Her gaze went back to the slender young man, whose song was reaching its zenith. “As I said, he’s good.”  He had to agree with her, most would assume they’d misplaced it, or not notice such a small trinket until later. But they were Travelers; no one would have taken it aside from someone who didn’t know the rules, a stranger.

The violinist’s song rose and then ended with a flourish. Before he could stop her Lena was moving into the center of the camp in her characteristic slinking silent walk.

The camp hushed their applause as she hooked arms with the young man. “We should let the man breath I think, we have a busy day driving tomorrow after all.” She told the audience. “Say your goodnights.”

As the camp dispersed Lena led the man away, heads bent and smiling, his an easy grin, and hers the sly dangerous quirk of lips Yuri knew well. Despite how tired he would be tomorrow because of the young violinist, Yuri felt bad for the man.


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