Roar walked over and dropped a blanket over her shoulders. He edged Twig aside and sat beside her.
“Where is he?” she asked plainly, too anxious for caution.
“At his house. Bear said he knocked his shoulder out of joint. He’s fine. ” Roar’s dark eyes flicked to her. “But it was close. ”
Aria’s stomach clenched. Her ears latched onto Perry’s name drifting across the tables in a wave of whispers. She sifted through the din and grabbed onto Wylan’s spiteful tone, her eyes finding him again. A group of people had gathered around him.
“… he jumped in like an idiot. Reef had to fish him out. Almost didn’t get to him in time, either. ”
“I heard he saved Old Will,” someone else said.
Wylan’s voice again. “Old Will wouldn’t have drowned! He knows the sea better than any of us. I was gonna get him on the line on my next cast. Right now I’d feel better if Flea were wearing that damned chain. ”
Aria touched Roar’s arm. Do you hear Wylan? He’s horrible.
Roar nodded. “He’s all bluster. You’re the only one who’s actually listening to him, trust me. ”
Aria wasn’t sure about that. She wove her hands together, her leg bouncing beneath the table. Both the hearths blazed, warming the hall. It smelled of damp wool and mud, and the sweat of too many bodies. People had brought treasured belongings from their homes. She saw a doll. A quilt. Baskets packed with smaller items. An image appeared in her mind of the falcon carvings on the sill in Perry’s house. Then of Perry, there alone. She should be with him.
Aether funnels struck outside, their distant shrieks carrying to her ears. Faint tremors vibrated up through the soles of her boots. She wondered if Cinder was out in the storm, but she knew that—of anyone—he’d be safe under the Aether.
“Do we just sit here?” she asked.
Roar ran a hand over his wet hair, making it spike. He nodded. “A storm this close, this is the safest place to be. ”
At Marron’s, the storms hadn’t been nearly as frightening. Everyone in the compound retreated deep underground to the old mining caves of Delphi. There Marron had provisions at the ready. Even diversions, like music and games.
Another deep rumble thrummed through the floorboards. Aria looked up as dust shook loose from the rafters, sprinkling the table in front of her. In the cooking area, pots rattled softly. Nearby, Willow hugged Flea, her eyes shut tight. Aria hardly heard anyone talking now.
She reached for Roar again. You need to do something. They’re petrified.
Roar lifted an eyebrow. “I do?”
Yes, you. Perry’s not here, and I can’t. I’m a Mole, remember? No, wait. I’m a Mole tramp.
Roar stared at her, seeming to weigh his options. “All right. But you owe me. ” He crossed the room to a young man with a cobra tattoo that wove around his neck, and nodded to the guitar leaning against the wall. “Can I borrow that?”
After a moment of surprise, the young man handed over the instrument. Roar returned and sat up on the table, propping his feet on the long bench. He began testing the strings, his eyes narrowing in concentration as he adjusted the tension. He was meticulous, as she would’ve been. They both heard in perfect pitch. Anything less would’ve grated on their nerves.
“So,” he said, satisfied. “What are we singing?”
“What do you mean we, Roar? You’re doing it. ”
He smiled. “But it’s a duet. ” He played the opening notes to a song by her favorite band, Tilted Green Bottles. Over the winter he couldn’t get enough of the song. “Arctic Kitten,” a ballad, was supposed to be sung overly romantically, which made the lyrics more ridiculous than they already were.
Roar had the romantic part down. He strummed the first riffs, his dark brown eyes intent on her, his lips pulled in a subtle, seductive smile. He was joking, but it was almost enough to make her blush. Aria felt the attention of everyone on them now.
When he sang, his voice was smooth and rich with humor. “Come thaw my frozen heart, my little arctic kitten. ”
Unable to resist, Aria jumped in and picked up the next line. “No chance, my yeti man, I’d rather be frostbitten. ”
“Let me be your snowman. Come live in my igloo. ”
“I’d rather freeze to death than hibernate with you. ”
Aria couldn’t believe they were singing such a stupid song to people who were wet and scared stiff—who had Aether funnels pounding down around them. Roar bought into it fully, his hands beating a cheerful rhythm out of the strings. She forced herself to match his enthusiasm as they kept on, back and forth.