For my free day prompt, I once again delved back to the 2018 challenge and randomly picked one of the prompts. So my extra credit day is inspired by 2018 #17 – Without A Trace.

Aymeric rarely had time to himself, even a morning was a treat to have spare. Although he swore that Lucia and Handeloup would scheme among themselves to make sure he got one every so often.

Not that he was complaining of course. He often used these rare occasions to relax and indulge in things he was otherwise too busy for. Today, he was in the kitchen, baking himself some treats to go along with his tea, something to look forward to on the busy days.

His loose cotton shirt was rolled up to the elbows, hands covered in flour and spices, the air a little cloudy as he folded the pastry for the last time, before rolling it out thin. Picking up a sharp knife, he deftly cut it all into rectangles, neat and regular.

Leaning over to the stove, he picked up the pan and removed the lid, the sweet smell of cinnamon and stewed apples filling the air. Each rectangle had a line of the mixture spooned onto it down the middle, steam gently curling up.

Humming to himself, a little tunelessly perhaps, he finished with the filling and picked the knife back up, cutting ribbons into the pastry on each side, and then drew them over the filling in a lattice pattern, sealing in the sweet treat in a pastry cocoon. When all twelve of them were wrapped up snugly, he brushed a little glaze on top, sprinkled them with a shower of sugar, slid them into the oven, and turned a sand timer to measure how long they were in there for. It shouldn’t take long, just until they turned golden and the sugar melted a little.

Out of the oven came the cherry pastries that he had made in the previous batch, little squares with diagonal corners cut out and folded over, so the cherries were just peeking out of the middle. These were transferred over to the wire rack to cool, and Aymeric busied himself with clearing up his efforts, washing the pots and pans and utensils in the sink. His chef would have told him not to bother, but he had given her the morning off so he could use the kitchen without feeling like he was getting underfoot, and he had every intention of leaving it as clean as he could.

The timer ran out, and he quickly dried his hand, using the towel as a hand cover to take the tray of apple pastries out of the oven and slide them onto the cooling rack next to the cherries.

Returning to the sink, the metal tray hissed as it hit the water, but he wiped it down and along with a few more utensils, wiped them all down before stacking them on the draining board. Turning back around to the pastries, he smiled to himself, took a step, and then stopped dead.

Slowly, he turned back, narrowed his eyes, and counted. One, two, three, four…nine, ten. He counted a second time. Ten cherries pastries. Ten apple pastries.

Which was a problem, because he had made twelve of each.

Looking around, he looked at the doors and windows. The windows were still misted up, the warm kitchen air causing dew drops on the cold glass panes. Those were undisturbed, so unlikely that a thief had come in from there. The door was on the latch, just as he had left it, nothing to suggest it had been opened recently. He looked back at the table, counting the pastries for a third time. Still ten, and he knew, he knew he had made twelve.

He tapped his hand on the table, lipped pressed together, thinking. For now, he fetch a large cloth, and carefully placed it over the pastries, covering them from prying eyes whilst they cooled. Then he went upstairs and found his linkpearl.


The line buzzed for a couple of moments “Ser? Is everything alright? You still have a couple of bells left of the morning.”

“I know. Perchance have you heard anything from the warrior of light this morning?”

He could almost hear the knowing grin she was concealing, “I may have informed her of your status as a free agent this morning.”

“Have you seen her?”

“No Ser. I would imagine she would have gone straight to yours. Or perhaps the Fortemps manor? Is something wrong?”

“No Lucia, nothing’s wrong. I’ll go back to enjoying the free time you’ve won me.”

“My pleasure Ser.”

The linkpearl cut out with a blip of static. He put it down, and then his hands on his hips, “You know I would have given you one if you’d simply asked for it?”

“I know,” a low voice came from behind him.

He turned around to see her leaning against the door frame to the room, one of the apple pastries in her hand, half eaten already. He gave her a look, and she returned it with a smile, taking another bite of the stolen treat.

“But where’s the fun in that?”