Happiness burst inside Krea when she realised Ned was still there in the morning. As ever, she was dressed in rags and had straggly, unkempt hair. She ran up and hugged him. Out of the corner of his eye, Gundred noticed and raised an eyebrow. Ned was a good worker, but he would have to impress upon his daughter the boy was just a slave. In the evening, Gundred sat his daughter down.
“You cannot get too close to the slave.”
“Father, his name’s Ned.”
“I know what he’s called. You need to know our people are recruiting legions for a reason.” He cleared his throat. “We may be going to war against the King’s Empire. And the slave comes from there. The last thing we need is for us to be seen to be getting close to the enemy.”
Krea knew what he was saying, but this was Ned he was talking about. “Yes, father, I understand.” She took a deep breath and looked down.
“You can speak to him, of course, but behind closed doors. It’s too dangerous for anyone to see us treating him like an equal. Fraternising with an enemy slave will see us locked up,” her father said. Krea nodded.
Ned worked even harder over the next few weeks. Gundred looked on and noted the productivity of the boy. He paid a lot of money for him and expected good work in return. Gundred also noticed his daughter had indeed been keeping her distance from the boy in public. He would keep an eye on them both to make sure they did not draw any attention.
About a week after the talk with her father, doubts gnawed away at Krea. She understood even a single onlooker could cause a scandal if she was spotted being nice to Ned. She took a bowl of food out to him and glanced at the wispy clouds flowing over the soft moonlight. She entered his outhouse and knocked on an oak upright. As Ned looked around, Krea greeted him with a warm smile. She passed the food over and watched as he ate. Never one to mess around, he soon polished it off. She sat beside him. They were alone. She decided to explain what her father had said. Krea never agreed with it, but wanted to be upfront.