They walked on, over the hill and down into the fold. Yvanne exclaimed with delight as she saw the walled garden of fruit trees and flowers. The house inside it was tiny after the manor, but it was no cottage. It had two storeys and a round tower with a flat top, protected by low walls.
The sides of the house were covered in giant murals, reflecting the garden, so the real trees were twinned on the walls, as were beds of marigolds, nasturtiums and pansies, scarlet runner beans, and herbs...
Yvanne followed him up three steps to a door too narrow to enter side by side. Quinn opened the door and walked in, glancing about as if to be sure everything was well.
A waist-high Christmas tree in a pot glittered with tinsel and stars. Pots of Christmas lilies laid their scent in the air. A carved wooden cabinet held a quaintly-formed set of nativity figures.
“This is where you got the ox and the ass for Llew and Dove.”
He assented. “I made more sets than I needed, having time on me hands. I’ll have less time for carving now.” He sounded pleased about that.
The kitchen was small but functional, and Quinn led Yvanne in there before she’d finished inspecting the entryway. ...
'There’s plenty of fruit and bread and butter in the larder. If there’s anything else ye’ll be wanting before tonight, say now.”
Yvanne looked around while he woke up the stove and set a kettle to boil.
She remembered hearing leprechauns drank a great deal of tea.
“Eat a fruit pie now,” he said, handing her one.
He took one for himself and bit into it. “Not quite to the standard of your court bakers, but good enough.”
It was certainly good enough.
“Tay?” He poured water into a pretty teapot wreathed with holly leaves.
She nodded, and drank thirstily when it was poured.
“The privy is up the stairs,” he said, taking his own tea.
Yvanne went up the stairs and into the privy, which was as colourful as the kitchen. She splashed water on her face and dried it on a linen towel, and then walked back down to the kitchen.
Quinn wasn’t there.
She looked about, nonplussed. “Quinn?”
“Up here, Yvanne.”
His voice came from above so she mounted the stairs again. He wasn’t in the music room or the book room, or even the bedchamber, so she climbed again, going up a narrow spiral that led into the miniature tower.
The round room was flooded with light from full-length windows, but the stairs led on up through a narrow hatch to the roof.
Yvanne stepped out into the full strength of the summer heat.
“Oh!” She had expected a timber or clay-tiled roof, but she found another walled garden, with short mossy turf and more flowers. Quinn was kneeling on a patchwork quilt spread over the grass. He held out his hands to her.