Written as part of the Great Shack Challenge of 2001. If you haven't checked out the main page for this yet (101 Ways to Wind Up in a Canadian Shack), do! It has 30 authors in 62 fandoms, and I guarantee there are fandoms you never dreamed of there, as well as some of your favorites. They're short (500-600 words), and they're good. These eight were my contribution.
All of my shacks are collected here.
written December 2001; posted December 31, 2001
Albert shut the door carefully, wary of the ramshackle construction, then put the bags down. There were, perhaps, more bags than strictly necessary for such a short trip, but his not to question why. He surreptitiously rubbed his shoulder as he peered around the dimly lit... cabin, he supposed.
The bearlike shape near the fireplace moved, claiming his instant attention. How could it not? Such power, such authority, emanated from it, that Albert couldn't help a quiet sigh of admiration.
He started. "Yes, sir?"
Albert blinked. "There's no fire, sir," he said gently. Perhaps the cold had been too much, although considering his many layers of warm clothes and the fact that he'd also been wrapped in Albert's sleeping bag for the trip, it didn't really seem likely that the he was suffering from hypothermically induced hallucinations --
"I know there's no fire, Eberts. That's the problem. It's cold in here, or hadn't you noticed?"
"Oh, I am so sorry, sir, here, let me get a fire started, it will only take a moment -- "
"Shut up, Eberts," the Official said, sounding weary. "Just get the damn thing lit."
"Of course, sir," Albert murmured, ducking his head. The Official should never have had to tell him to do something so obvious. It was Albert's job to anticipate, to smooth over all those little worries so the Official could concentrate on the thing he was so good at: power, in all its forms.
Within a few minutes a fire was crackling merrily away, with a pot of water heating on a clever hook contraption over it. Albert dragged the sturdiest of the chairs over to it. "Sir?"
"Ah, Eberts, good."
Albert thrilled to the absentminded pat on the shoulder the Official gave him as he walked past. What greater joy could there be, than to bring peace and contentment to this man?
"God, almost two whole days of this before the damned Canadians get here. I don't know if I can take it."
"Well, sir, there was a small hotel in the last town we passed through. If we started back now, I'm sure we could make it --"
"Hotel! No, no, no. This is fine. And it's free. No sense wasting money on a hotel when there's a perfectly good..." the Official looked around and grimaced, "building, that we can stay in."
"Of course, sir," Albert agreed. "I'm sure we'll be completely comfortable. It was very kind of our esteemed colleagues to offer us these accomodations before the meeting."
"Eberts, you don't have to suck up to them when they're not here."
"No, sir." Albert dragged a second chair over to the fire and sat, allowing himself to relax for a moment.
The Official shifted in his chair to get comfortable, leaning his head against the back and shutting his eyes. "Wake me up when the coffee's ready."
"Of course, sir," Albert murmured, waiting for the first soft snore before stealthily leaning forward to swing the pot a few inches toward the room, to slow the boiling process. The Official needed his rest after such a long journey. And this way, Albert could just sit and watch the firelight flickering across the Official's noble face, limning it in golden-orange--lion colors, to match his lion's heart.
Slowly, Albert let the warm glow in his heart suffuse him. Nearly two days, just the pair of them. Could life be any better?
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