The knocking only stopped when Tuki, still holding a slice of toast, opened the front door. It was Jonas Barret.
Jonas caught the look of annoyance on Dr Troy's face and quickly turned his 'knocking' hand into his 'scratching the back of his head' hand.
"Oh. Hey, Doc. Y'all is up then."
Tuki's eyes narrowed ever so slightly.
"Really hoping this is an emergency, Jonas."
Jonas had the good grace, not to mention the good sense, to look guilty.
"Well... maybe not exactly but Hana said I should get over here right away."
Hana Barret was Hope's self-appointed deputy-cum-jailer-cum-town guard and, despite being told many times by Mayor Troy that this was not the case,
she often rail-roaded her siblings into helping her. Anyway, at the mention of Hana, Tuki became interested. She sighed.
"Who's she arrested this time?"
Anxiety was replaced by eagerness on Jonas' face.
"She done caught a Devil's Own sneakin' into town." Seeing he had grabbed the doctor's attention, Jonas happily elaborated. "Little bitty thing, ain't even packin' a weapon.
Spittin' fire though, took three of us to git her locked up."
Tuki was already reaching for her bag.
"She hurt, Jonas?"
Jonas suddenly found himself having to trot to keep up with the doctor who was jogging barefoot down the road towards Hope's lock-up.
"Whut? Hell, no! Mayor'd have our asses if'n we roughed her up. No, she ain't hurt. But she is asking fer you though. Says she knows you."
Tukiko lined up the symptoms; Devil's Own, little bitty thing, spittin' fire, says she knows you, and came up with the only possible diagnosis.
Now Jonas was running, but still behind the short and surprisingly quick Doc Troy.
Tuki was cursing inwardly. She had arranged for Magrat to come. What Tuki hadn't done, however, was not to tell anyone that Magrat was coming. Now Magrat was here.
The little fact that the three gangs of Devil's Own that surrounded Hope weren't exactly on the town's favourite people's list had slipped by Tukiko because they didn't get to visit the camps
on an almost daily basis as she did.
To the few townsfolk who were up and about it looked for all the world like Jonas and the doc were racing as they ran past the statue of Noah Barret.
Ignoring the unintelligible greetings, Tuki hugged her bag to her chest.
Not that the good people of Hope Springs had never been known to visit their neighbours.
It's just that, in the past, when they did drop in on them, there had always been a lot of shooting involved.
Tukiko got her second wind, and Jonas was left behind.
For Hyle, Sunday mornings are always a time for rest and relaxation after the exertions contingent with the usual Saturday night party at The Waffelhus.
After all the dancing and drinking, after the usual post-party group sauna with her closer friends.
After any other 'doings', spent in the company of her closest friend,
Hyle at least could rely on the peace and tranquillity of a Sunday morning to take a good few hours rest to recover from the night before.
So, the fact that it was 07:45, and the fact it had been a mere three- and one-half hours since Hyle and Shadow had turned out the light on their 'Saturday',
the news that Hana Barret had locked up some 'scrawny lil' lass' that morning had not been well received. Hyle donned her darkest of dark glasses and braced herself for daylight.
The Barret's, Hana in particular, were a perpetual stone-in-the-shoe of Hyle's march for a more progressive future. Ok, so the Town Hall used to be the family mansion of the Barrets.
And also Hope Springs used to be known as Barret Manor. The Barrets used to be something in these parts. But that was a long time ago, even before Hyle's time in Hope.
Now, the surviving Barrets clung on to their former status like a faded flag, meddling at the edges of Hope's affairs and generally getting in the way.
So, all heads inside the musty lock-up hoosgow of Hope Springs turned as Hyle's annoyance,
fatigue and general hung-overed-ness made a complete hog's-arse of opening the door with professional dignity. It crashed open, and Hyle barged into the room.
Her glances took in Hana, Jonas, Tuki and the girl in question. ...And Tuki!?
"Is somebody going to explain what is happening here?" Hyle demanded.
The noise of the door opening made everyone jump, none more than Magrat who squeezed Tukiko's arm so tight that when Tuki checked later that day,
there would still be nail mark's where Magrat's fingers hadn't quite broken the skin.
Despite the continual invective filled 'fire-spitting' that Magrat had, up until Hyle's dramaccidental entrance, been treating everyone to,
the teenager's sudden grab for Tuki's arm betrayed the inner fear she was hiding.
Like Lonely and Esme, Magrat had been taken by raiders when she was a child.
In a quiet moment alone with her, Tuki had found out that she had been only seven or eight years old when the raid had separated her from her parents forever.
Tukiko didn't need to imagine what that must have been like for the little girl, not having recently witnessed Finny and her three friends in exactly that same terrifying situation herself.
Since then, the northern camp had been the only place Magrat had known. Eight, maybe nine years of never leaving the little valley where Longhands had his camp.
Tuki wanted to take Magrat's hand, but it was already gone.
The teenager's fear of being among strangers, of being 'outside' had already been put back into its box and the lid firmly nailed down.
For a second, Tuki's heart wanted to break and, for that moment, the whole room felt it. Then it was gone.
Hyle was the first to recover.
Tuki and the two Barret siblings began to talk at once. Then all three stopped, glancing each at the other. Then they started again, and again talking over each other.
It was Hyle who brought a halt to the babble of voices by holding up a hand... While the other hand went to steady her pounding head.
Everything had stopped in the room, leaving Magrat looking from one nervous,
face to the other and then to the apparition of distressed blond hair and sunglasses that stood unsteadily in the doorway.
It slowly dawned on Magrat that they were in the presence of authority... and it was a woman. A very hungover woman it seemed, but still.
Having managed to muffle the jackhammers that were trying to dig out her eyes, Hyle pointed a long, unhappy finger at Hana Barret.
Tuki tried to give Magrat a reassuring smile while Hana was explaining the circumstances of Magrat's capture and imprisonment, but the teenager just scowled back at her,
increasing the guilt Tuki was already feeling.
Hyle, meanwhile just stared from behind her almost opaque sunglasses with a set stony expression.
The others weren't to know it, but Hyle's demeanour was more due to her fighting the pounding head and cold sweat than anything Hana was saying. But she got the gist.
When Hana stopped making word noises, Hyle's finger swung towards Jonas.
Jonas filled the mayor in on his little contribution, repeatedly stressing how they made great efforts to apprehend the prisoner unharmed. Hyle waved him into silence.
The finger moved towards Tukiko and Tuki took a breath, ready to take the blame for the whole situation.
However, she was left with her mouth hanging open as Mayor Momma's finger swung right past her to come to an unsteady halt pointing directly at Magrat.
"So, what's your story, young lady?"
In Magrat's experience, when someone in authority pays you attention, it is seldom good. When someone in authority asks you questions, you have done something wrong.
When someone in authority is drunk or hung-over, you need to blame someone else.
"Doctor Troy told me to. She said I had to come."
Being a person in authority, Hyle was familiar with reactions like these from people who are scared and this girl's eyes were snapping from side to side looking for a way out,
and not only from the predicament but also the building. Magrat's chest was expanding as her lungs took in more air to oxygenate her muscles.
Fight or flight, one or the other was bare seconds away. Hyle's headache stopped being important, and the nausea she was feeling would have to wait.
Behind the dark glasses, her sore eyes glistened.
"And we're glad you did. I'm sorry we misunderstood, and some of our people got scared and attacked you...
" Hyle heard Hana take an indignant breath but stopped whatever she was going to say with an upraised hand. To Magrat, she continued to talk quietly.
"I think Doctor Troy may have forgotten to tell us you were coming." Hyle smiled with all the warmth she could muster. "In fact, she hasn't even told us your name. So, what do we call you?"
Magrat wished she had never come, never left the camp. She wished she was back there now. Right now, she would be fetching water, making breakfast, preparing dough... simple things, safe things.
But... She took a deep breath.
Hyle's body relaxed, the warmth grew in her smile.
"Magrat. That's a good name." Hyle watched Magrat as the teenager's body slowly reciprocated, losing its tension in small degrees. "My name is Hyle. I'm Doctor Troy's mother. Welcome to Hope."
There were a few moments of awkward silence, then Hyle turned to Tukiko.
"Tuki. Why don't you take Magrat with you? I just need to have a word with our 'Deputy' here."
Tuki was all too familiar with dealing with her mother when she was wearing dark glasses, so she actually felt sorry for Hana.
A 'word' from a hungover Hyle could be an unforgettably bad experience, depending on the ferocity of the hangover. It was with relief, then that she quickly guided Magrat towards the door.
Not quickly enough as it turned out.
"Oh, and Doctor Troy? I'd like to see you too. Let's say noon, hmmm?"
It seemed Hana was not going to be the only one in trouble. Suddenly, Tuki was fourteen years old again.