There was an effervescent, excited sort of energy emanating from Bently as he led Ren down a dank corridor. Holding her hand and guiding her, as she once had him, he pointed out a crack in the floor that he'd tripped on several times already. A sliver of grayish light was emanating from beneath a door at the end of the passageway, originating from a small old-fashioned lantern that was hanging on a rusty old stone sconce in the bunk room. "Sorry it's so dark in here." Bently said apologetically, fetching the lantern and holding it up to better illuminate the dingy little room.
Several rusty old cots lined the far wall of the stone-carved room. After breakfast Bently had been tasked with taking Ren down into the mine to show her where the group had been sleeping. Fox was with him, and the bedraggled lynx wasted no time in locating one of the beds, which had been arranged and fixed very neatly (no doubt Auricula's), and leaping up onto it. The lanky cat flopped onto his side, sinking into the bedding with a contented sigh. "We managed to pack almost everything-" Bently explained, hustling over to his own cot and pulling off the patched old quilt that had once been Lucy Black's before it had ultimately adorned Rowan and Ren's own bed at Crooked Lake. Gathering up several other blankets and pillows, Bently began hastily arranging them on one of the empty cots. Rounding back on Ren, he beckoned her to sit down, reaching to take the silver-furred shawl off her shoulders for her.
Holding the shawl in one hand, Bently set the lantern on a rickety little bedside table. He paused. "You ok, Ren?" Something seemed different about her, somehow.
Under any other circumstance, all the nooks and crannies of the mine would have been fascinating to the ever-curious Ren. She would have been itching to explore. But in her current state, she could do little more than go where she was asked to go and perform the most mindless, repetitive motions available to her: eating, breathing, nodding in agreement. She kept drifting off during breakfast, dreaming the blue arms of the pines in her bowl, dreaming little brown-green rivers on her plate, dreaming lost-in-the-woods while the others hummed and chattered around her like so many birds. When she had eaten her fill for the first time in what seemed like weeks, Bently offered to show her to the bunks. The boy held her hand securely as if he were young again, or perhaps as if she were young again, as he led her down a rocky little hallway. It wasn't dank, exactly...just a little moist, a little underground-smelling. At the end of the passage, a lantern cast its smoky light across several decaying cots, their rusty frames staining the floor red, spread with familiar pillows and blankets. Ren's heart swam happily at the sight of the battered blue quilt that she and Rowan had been sleeping under ever since their relationship had begun; a lot of blood had been spilt and love had been made on that quilt, so much so that it almost had a life of its own.
"Thank you," she yawned as Bently took her fur from her and helped her to the bed that he had made up for her. She sank down onto it as if it were a king-sized mattress spread with silk and feather-down, sighing gratefully. Ren was more than ready to surrender herself to one or two days of nothing but sleep, but Bently hesitated on his way out of the room, pausing with his hand still on the lantern. "You ok, Ren?" He had obviously noticed some difference in her, whether it was her appearance, her demeanor, or something less tangible; a smell, a tint of the skin, an instinctive surge of hormones... Ren hadn't intended to tell any of her friends immediately--not until they had settled in, not until they had formed a plan--but her inhibitions had loosened with time and trial. She had entered the third month of her pregnancy with no incident, with no pain and no sickness and no scares, and every day her risk of losing her child was drastically reduced. If the baby could survive the undernourishment of their hellish trek to the mine shaft in the first tenuous, jelly-like months of its life, it was strong enough to be carried to term. Besides that, she wanted Bently of all people to know. He had been instrumental in giving her the courage to go through with this momentous thing.
"I'm okay," she murmured with a small smile. She patted the cot beside her. "Come sit. I have something to tell you, but you can't tell anyone else just yet." Once he had seated himself, she took a deep breath."I'm going to have a baby." Ren found Bently's hand and squeezed it, her tired eyes crinkling with excitement. She gave this news a moment to sink in before she beckoned him even closer. "I don't carry it nearly as well as Auri did. I'm already getting fat--here." She placed his increasingly mannish hand on her abdomen, over the dirty patterned cotton of her shirt. Her pants were beginning to be extremely difficult to button and she was glad that she had so many dresses that could be expanded and expanded again. "Do you feel?"