"It's a bit of a bothy," Phil's dad says, when he shows them the house. They've only been walking for a few minutes, following a dirt foot path from the back of the Lester home down vaguely in the direction of the hills and water. "But it ought make a good home for just the two of you."
"What's a bothy?" Phil asks.
Dan's never heard the word either. They're still walking, each step taking them closer and closer to the front door. He listens to Nigel's response.
"A home for anyone," Nigel says. "For travelers to stay, or workers. My own father had a brother that lived in it for quite a few years when I was a lad. Always smelled so queer - now I know, he was having himself a bit of a-"
Nigel mimes smoking. Dan's fairly sure he doesn't mean cigarettes.
"No facilities," Nigel goes on. "You'll have to come back to the big house for that. But we've got the bed back in there, and it's got a fireplace and running water."
The door creaks open when he gives it a push, no lock on it. They all step in, one after the other.
"It's nice," Phil says, sounding surprised.
It's small, just as Nigel warned them - but Phil's not wrong. The floors are a soft gleaming wood and the walls are the same white brick inside and out. The bed sits in one corner, made with a quilt in soft blues and greens that Dan's never seen before. There's just enough room for a night stand on either side, matching but well-worn with obvious age. On top of each nightstand is a vase with fresh flowers.
It's one room, really, with no proper door dividing it, but a cased opening gives the pretense of a bedroom apart from the rest - which is a small kitchen on one side of the room and the fireplace with a two-seat sofa in front of it on the other. The kitchen is small, the structure of it just wide enough for two grown men to stand side by side in front of. There's a small basin with a tap and empty counter space, two cabinets above and two below. On the counter space is another vase with flowers, and two coffee mugs.
The covering of the sofa seat doesn't match the arms or the backing, like whatever cushions came with it were replaced. Dan walks over and puts his hand on the back of it. From the closer vantage point, he can see that there's a rug in front of the sofa and a small table with two chairs, none of which look like they really belong together.
"Your mums-" Nigel pauses, looking at them. "Was a bit of a project for them, I believe. Kept their hands and their minds busy, believing you'd be on your way soon. Scrubbed it top to bottom and sorted all through that attic finding things to furnish it. If there's anything you're not keen on, be gentle about it."
Phil looks at Dan, like he's waiting for Dan's reaction, almost like he's afraid of it.
He doesn't need to be. "I love it," Dan says, softly.
He doesn't say it's perfect. Perfect was a penthouse with walls made of glass, and all their own things. He can't let go of that yet.
But they've spent the last two weeks, every day since they stepped off the boat, in Phil's family house without a moment to themselves or a moment alone to breathe.
"Well, then." Nigel clears his throat. "Of course, you know no one will mind if you'd rather stay in the big house. But it's yours if you want it, boys."
Dan looks at Phil and meets Phil's smile with his own. "Yeah," Phil says, and he nods to his dad while not breaking Dan's gaze. "We want it."