If Bernard could not find a way of meeting Rat under more pleasant circumstances soon, he was going to have an awful lot of trouble getting the boy to cooperate. Even now, with Amy’s nominal blessing, Rat looked ready to slip away the minute Bernard’s back was turned. He needed a plan to get Rat on his side, and he needed it soon.
Money seemed like a pretty good solution.
“I don’t suppose Amy pays you much for running errands like this.”
He’d meant it as a sort of lead in to a bribe, but all Rat did was hunch his shoulders a little bit more and glare at him from under filthy bangs. Whatever magic button Rat had to motivate him, it wasn’t the same as Amy. He took a deep breath, and reminding himself that he’d been just as recalcitrant as a boy, tried again.
“Last time we met you all but demanded payment. What’s changed?”
Rat’s lip poked out, and his arms folded into a hard line across his chest. “Nothing.”
He didn’t add anything helpful, like for instance a huge hint for Bernard to pick up on. All he could do was guess based on what he knew of Amy.
“Did Amy tell you something about me? Something bad?”
Rat gave one sullen shake of his head and stared down at his shoes. Guessing was getting him nowhere fast.
“It’d be easier if you just told me.”
“Amy said you were going to make me talk to them.”
It wasn’t too hard for Bernard to guess who “them” was. “The assassins?”
This time he got an assenting nod.
“I was actually thinking of the Wolf Trap, if that’s perfectly alright with you.”
Rat’s head lifted at those words, but his muscles remained so tight they trembled. “Can’t someone come with me?”
It would be a lot easier if someone could, but Bernard could not change himself into a creature capable of entering the Wolf Trap, and indel were few outside the gates. It had to be an indel taking his letters across, and all of his messengers were dead.
“I’ll come with you as far as the gate. I can’t go inside with you, but I can make sure you’re safe.”
He turned away for a moment, just long enough to gather his things and let Rat have his chance to slip away, but instead of leaving, he felt a shy hand slip into his. It made his heart leap in joy, though he said nothing. It was nice to have someone trust him at last.