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Monday
It was only six-thirty am and already she was having a spectacularly awful day. She'd been woken up a half dozen times the previous night by her brother and his boyfriend in the next room. After a few short sweet hours of sleep, she ran her fingers through chestnut brown hair deciding to throw it up in a messy bun instead of taking a shower, and quickly threw on khaki work pants and a black long sleeved shirt before running out of the door, red apron in hand. It made sense that Monday morning at HP's would be busy, a steady tired and grumpy stream of customers since Hot Pie unlocked the door a half hour before and left her and Asha to man the front counter. The cafe had been opened about 25 years, pretty much the same amount of time as Hot Pie had been alive, opened by his mother when he was born and quickly renamed to pay tribute to their son's nickname.

Grande dark roast, double cream.
Tall half-caf soy two-pump vanilla latte.
Venti iced red eye.
Grande skim dirty chai.
Tall three pump hazelnut latte.
Venti latte, no foam, sweetened with Splenda.
Two carryout containers, 15 bagels, sliced, toasted, fat-free cream cheese.
Venti skim mocha frap.
Venti soy vanilla lite frap.

"Margaery! Mar-Gaer-Y!" Asha yelled.

The whir of the blenders ended and Margaery looked up, hands working with a mind of their own to put whip and toppings on the drinks, and looked over at her coworker and sometimes supervisor, standing over by the drive-thru window, putting together catering orders and playing with the headset.

"Huh? What do you need, Asha?"

"Line's cleared up. Why don't you go and organize the baked goods before the 7am rush hits? No reason for it to look like a bloody bomb went off in here."

Margaery walked over to the pastry cabinet and Asha was right, a half hour's worth of operation and it already looked horrible. Sighing audibly, she walked back to the bakery, grabbed a tray of fresh muffins from Hot Pie and began to clean and restock the case. She was bent down searching for a different pastry name sign in the drawers below the case when she heard someone walk up to the registers.

"Hey, back there."

Sliding back on her heels, she looked through the glass and only saw shoulders and the ends of bright red hair. She straightened up and sees for the first time the girl in front of her, immediately having to busy herself with placing the blueberry muffin name tag in the case, trying not to stare.

Long red hair, perfectly straight, light blue eyes. Long legs in dark denim, brown riding boots, green and gold plaid button down, with stacks of gold bangle bracelets on each wrist.

Get it together, Mags. Just a pretty girl. They come in here all the time. This isn't the first time and it won't be the last. Last thing I need is Asha on my ass all day about me gawking at a girl I'll never see again.

"Morning," she said finally. "What can I get started for you?"

"Umm, venti red eye."

"Hot or cold?"

"Extra hot, if that's even possible."

That's for damned sure, Margaery thought. Unexpected drink choice though, that's interesting. Thought for sure she'd be a skim milk, sugar-free syrup, pumpkin spice kind of girl. Complicated, high maintenance, thinks they're being "good" with skim milk and the skinny syrups. But not this one. Early morning drink, not a dessert one. Lots of caffeine, so she's probably got a morning's worth of classes, judging by that and the laptop bag. Red-eye, extra little kick, and extra-hot, she's wants this to last a while.

"Well, technically it's not possible. I'll put a second cup around it though, make it lose it's heat slower. And the name for it?"

"Oh, it's Sansa."

"Hmm?" She looked up questioningly, holding the paper cup and permanent marker.

"Sansa. S-A-N-S-A. Don't worry, no one ever gets it right the first time... or the second time. My mum and dad were a little off on naming us. Older brother's a Robb with two B's."

She wrote it on the cup, drawing a smiley face at the end of it. "I get it, mine's a little different too," Margaery said, tapping at her name badge and smiling. "So, venti extra hot red eye, coming right up."

Sansa paid and waited as Margaery called out her order, handing the drink over the counter. Sansa smiled and took the drink, adjusting the shoulder strap of her laptop bag before heading on her way.

Before she had the time to think, a large group of business people came in the door, leaving Margaery to almost forget about the girl and get lost in the monotony of breve half-caf mochas and cappuccinos with Splenda for the next seven hours.

Tuesday
Margaery thanked the gods that morning when she woke up after a full night's sleep with time enough to spare to shower, change, and eat as much breakfast as her stomach would allow at 5:30am.

She was with Asha again this morning, just like every other weekday morning. It was like the coffee house version of good cop, bad cop. Asha was straight-forward, no nonsense, and slightly surly. Her thick black hair was chopped roughly around her chin and pushed back away from her face by the drive-thru headset she always had on. It was hard to believe, but she was actually very popular with the high strung executives of the "I want my coffee and I want it now, none of that conversation" crowd. On the other hand, Margaery was the exact opposite and the favorite of the "wait in line inside and maybe a stay a while" crowd. She was incredibly too chipper for that hour of the morning, always remembering the names and drink orders of all her regulars, passing out free samples of whatever new muffin recipe Hot Pie was concocted, making small talk with new customers and always being able to recall what the regulars told her, about their jobs, families, work problems, you name it.

Like clockwork, the rush came at six-thirty. Margaery thought to look at her watch when Miss grande dark roast, double cream strolled through the door, but she knew she didn't need to.

Grande dark roast, double cream.
Tall half-caf soy two-pump vanilla latte.
Venti iced red eye.
Grande skim dirty chai.
Tall three pump hazelnut latte.
Venti latte, no foam, sweetened with Splenda.
Two carryout containers, 15 bagels, sliced, toasted, fat-free cream cheese.
Venti skim mocha frap.
Venti soy vanilla lite frap.

There were no cars at the drive-thru this morning, so Asha was running around fixing the drinks that Margaery put into the register and passed over to her. As the last person in the rush was served, she opened the register drawer to break apart some more coin rolls when the bell tied to the front door chimed again.

"Oh, good morning! Sansa, right? Same as yesterday? What was it... Hah! Venti extra hot red-eye?" She winked when she said that, happy to see Sansa blush.

"Right on both, but I was thinking of trying your suggestion instead."

Margaery gave her a puzzled look.  "I suggested something?"

"Yea, the board right here," Sansa replied and pointed to the board in front of the counter then reading it. "Today your barista is Margaery. Today I recommend... a Snickers Frap."

It took a second for Margaery to remember the signboard that sat in front of the register amongst the little packages of overpriced mints and biscotti. She'd written the messages ages ago and never bothered to change it. The last time it said anything before that, Asha had written something which had made even Hot Pie turn about ten different shades of red and he'd forced her to erase it.

"Ah, yeah, that old thing. Tell ya a secret," she said, leaning onto her forearms on the small space next to the register, "it's the same thing every day: grande mocha frap with two pumps of caramel, topped with peanuts. Also known as a Snickers frap."

"Well then, what do you really suggest?" she asked, leaning up against the counter to her left and looking down at Margaery.

Seven fucking hells, is this girl flirting with me? I thought this cute girl in a coffee shop thing only happened in late 90s rom-coms with Jennifer Anniston, not little cafés in Kings Landing.

"Hey, Asha, you can get the window, I'll get the cafe drinks," she said, standing up again and tilting her head slightly to the left then narrowing her eyes at Asha, who seemed to understand.

"I always say to go with what you like best. Hate to see someone ruin their day with a drink I recommended. Besides, I'd bet you've got one hell of a morning ahead of you."

She watched as Sansa half-smiled at her, opening the front pouch on her laptop bag to take out a small white and light blue wallet. "I guess I'll take my usual then," she started, pausing for a minute to count out change. "But I've gotta ask - what makes you so sure I've got a rough day coming?"

Margaery grabbed the largest size paper cup from the stacks next to the espresso machine, still writing Sansa's name on it with the smiley face even though she was the only customer, and began to make the shots of espresso for her drink. "The highly caffeinated drink, for starters. The laptop bag. You came into the cafe instead of the drive-thru, so I'm thinking you're walking to wherever you're going. I'm guessing student, maybe a junior or senior. Early morning classes, comfortable clothes that are still well put together. Upper level business school seminars - that's my final guess."

She heard a bit of a stifled laugh from Sansa as she continued to finish her drink.

"So, how close did I get?" Margaery asked, handing the drink over the counter.

"Well, I guess you're right on some accounts. I did walk here, but only because it's on my way and nothing is more awful than on-campus parking. I'm student, but dear gods, does b-school sound boring! Thinking about it is enough to give me nightmares about boardrooms, old men in ill-fitting suits, and macro-econ finals. No thanks. I'm actually a first year poli-sci grad student, focusing on post-colonial countries and developing nations. The coffee helps get me through the freshman comparative government classes they make me teach. You'd think these kids've never read a newspaper before," she explained, laughing out loud, as if Margaery was somehow clued in on the joke.

Alright, note to self, grab a copy of the Kings Landing Times from the rack by the door before they sell out. As much as I want to hear that laugh again I don't want it to be making fun of me.

"Anyways, I'm sure you've heard enough. I've gotta jet though, I purposely hold my Tuesday office hours extra early. Lets me know they're serious," she said, winking at Margaery quickly while grabbing a lid for her drink. "See ya later."

"Yea, see ya later," Margaery replied, watching her walk towards the door and throw her right hip into it to get it open.

"Oi, Mags, got yourself a new favorite?"

She looked over and saw Asha grinning ear to ear at her while she casually mopped up a spill by the drive-thru.

"Shut. Up."

Wednesday

Margaery walked towards the cafe, apron in hand, pulling her phone from her pocket to check the time when she rounded the corner and saw that Asha was already inside and starting to stock the pastry display. Nope, 5:45am. I'm not the one that's late, she's the one that's early. Usually Asha came running in through the alley side door with only minutes to spare before Margaery opened the door.

"Little early for you to be here, isn't it?" Margaery asked, closing the front door behind her and locking the deadbolt again. There could be a line from here to Storms End at three minutes to six and there was no way in the Seven Hells that door was getting opened. "Trying to get some overtime pay?"

"Are you kidding? Overtime pay from Hot Pie?" she asked incredulously, trying to contain some of the laughter since Hot Pie was just around the corner in the back bakery. "I thought you were a little crazy for that crush you've got on the ginger gal, but overtime pay from Hot Pie? We might need to send your dumb ass home sick today.

"Wait, what?" she started, somewhat nervously, and began all of the normal tasks they had to finish before opening, trying to keep Asha from seeing the look on her face and give herself away. "You mean Sansa, that new girl? Geez, Asha, I don't have a crush on her! She's come in here twice. I think maybe that Drowned God of yours held you under water a bit too long last time you were back at Pyke."

"Mmhmm. Make all the excuses you want, Mags, but I've known you for what? Seven years now, is it?" Asha paused for a second, watching her coworker nod her head once. "I know how you think, especially about girls who look like that. Sure, she looks all proper and real lady-like when she comes in here but I'll bet she's a real--"

"Will you let it go, Asha?" Margaery interrupted. "I'll admit that I may have a crush on her if you'll just shut the fuck up about it."

"Hey, now, I'm in charge when we're in the shop, remember?" Asha replied, fixing her headset and finishing up her prep on the drive-thru window area. "And since I'm in charge, I'll be the better person and forget about your new little girlfriend... for now, at least."

"Whatever, Greyjoy. Just open damn door, we're getting a line-up."

The next half hour went by in a blur. There was a moderately steady stream of customers, one every couple of minutes, so just enough time to not rush but not enough to clean up between orders. In all honestly though, Margaery found herself just going through the motions. It can't be last night, she thought. Loras spent the night at Renly's again and I managed to get back from class at a decent hour. You know what it is, Mags. You're waiting for her to show up and it's not helping that Asha is pestering you about it, she told herself. You know what she was going to say when she interrupted you, too. Hook up with one loud girl junior year and suddenly she thinks every girl I'm after is a screamer. I'm just lucky Asha didn't realize that I actually did my hair today. Meh, not like Sansa'll notice anyways. Could've gotten that extra few minutes of sleep.

She looked down at her watch and for the first time she thanked the gods that it just before six-thirty. Maybe the rush will make me forget for a while, she thought, and looking up she saw the first of the six-thirty rush come in the door.

Grande dark roast, double cream.
Tall half-caf soy two-pump vanilla latte.
Venti iced red eye.
Grande skim dirty chai.
Tall three pump hazelnut latte.
Venti latte, no foam, sweetened with Splenda.
Two carryout containers, 15 bagels, sliced, toasted, fat-free cream cheese.
Venti skim mocha frap.
Venti soy vanilla lite frap.

She was on her own this time, Asha bailing and taking care of the mile long drive-thru line. It was like some weird sort of practiced synchronized dance, the way they were able to smoothly move around the coffee carafes, the espresso machine, blenders, milk fridge, and cash registers all while avoiding each other. They used to compare it to watching a busy highway interchange from above. It'd been almost four years since they started to work together at HP's during their senior year at University of Westeros' Kings Landing campus, seven years since they walked into their freshman year dorm room wondering what they'd done to anger the gods in order to get paired with each other, and about six and a half years since they both realized how awesome they thought they other person was. Even Hot Pie agreed, as long as he was up on the baking in the back, these two could handle whatever sort of Valyrian Doom style chaos came through the front.

When the rush cleared, there was the normal mess on the counters, empty pastry case, and only two or three regulars sitting in the cafe, all with headphones in and reading the Times.

"Hey, Mags, your girlfriend's here," she heard Asha say, a bit too loud for her liking.

Margaery immediately looked up from the till and could see Sansa walking up to the cafe through the glass of the front door, not having any time to get pissed with Asha before she opened the door. She watched as Sansa walked up to the register, greeting her cheerfully and asking if the morning had been busy or not.

"Did you do something with your hair this morning? It looks different today," Sansa remarked after Margaery answered that they'd been just as slammed as normal. She went up on her tip toes to lean in across the counter, pushing some of Margaery's hair over her shoulder and lightly running her fingers through the curls. Her hair had a bit of a natural wave to it, when she had the time to take care of it properly, but she'd woken up early this morning and upon finding and dusting off her old curling iron at the back of one of the cupboards in the bathroom she'd decided to make use of it.

Holy shit, this isn't happening, this isn't happening. They were still only a foot or so apart, but Margaery wasn't sure if she could handle being this close to her, especially not with the clean lavender smell of what was most like Sansa's body wash coming towards her. Don't think about body wash, don't think about her body, or the shower, or being in the shower with her, and...

"Oh gods, I'm surprised you can actually tell," she replied finally after Sansa had pulled away. "Woke up before my alarm went off this morning and decided it'd probably be good to spend some time to look a little less horrible than I usually do. It's nothing really, just a few minutes with the curling iron." More like twenty minutes, but she doesn't need to know that.

"I mean if you ask me, you never looked horrible before, but the curls are super cute though. Wish I could pull that off," she said, reaching behind her head to part her hair over her shoulders. "Mine's useless. Couldn't hold a curl to save its life, doesn't matter how much hairspray I use."

"Well, thank you. I'm glad someone noticed. Anyways, what'll it be today?" She asked, already started to grab for the venti-sized paper cup. "Same as usual?"

"Well, if you'd ever change your sign maybe I'd think of getting something different... but since I see it's the same, I guess I'll get the same as usual too."

"You drive a hard bargain. Venti red-eye coming --"

"Oh, wait, sorry!" Sansa interrupted. "Do you think you could put that in a for-here glass instead of the paper cup? ...and maybe grab me one of those lemoncakes in the pastry case? They're resealing the floors in Aemon Hall so I thought since I'd been kicked out of my own office that I could sit here and grade papers instead."

Putting the paper cup back, Margaery bent down quickly and grabbed a tall glass mug from beneath the counter. "Yea, of course. Should be relatively quiet this morning too." She finished making her drink and placed one of the lemoncakes on a little ceramic plate, watching Sansa walk towards one of the tables on the left side of the cafe. "Hey, Sansa, if you're gonna use your laptop you might want to take that table one the other side by the window. Most of the plugs over on the left side don't work worth a damn." Sansa thanked her gladly and changed her path over to where Margaery had suggested, setting up her laptop and taking a large stack of stapled papers out of her bag as well.

For the next few hours, Margaery tried her best to distract herself from spacing out and watching Sansa grade papers. Seriously, Mags, this is just weird. You know practically nothing about this girl and you're content to watch her tap her red pen on the table, write comments on essays, and sigh at what must be wrong answers. As if on cue, Sansa tapped her pen a couple times on the table before sighing audibly and circling something on a paper. Oh, fucking hells, that sigh again... gods, I wonder if she sounds like that when --

"Margaery! Help with this, please?"

She turned around on the heel of her tennis shoes to see Hot Pie coming throw the door trying to balance three trays of cookies, banana bread, and scones. She hustled over and grabbed one of the trays, setting it down on the counter.

"Thanks, Maggy," Hot Pie said, setting the other two trays down next to the first. "You don't mind working on slicing up the quick breads and putting the cookies in the grab bags, do you? I'd ask Asha but she always slices the bread too thick."

"I do not!" Asha yelled back.

"No, I don't mind at all, as long as Asha will watch the front of the house," Margaery replied. "And yes, Asha, last time you did this we only got four slices out of each loaf."

She watched Asha shake her head, before she turned to work on the task from Hot Pie. It was something simple, but she was thankful that she had to concentrate enough on slicing to keep her mind off of Sansa sitting only thirty feet away. Another reprieve came shortly after when a large group of middle-aged women entered, knitting bags in hand, and they were followed by a steady stream of customers for the next couple hours.

Her break time came right at ten o'clock and much to her surprise, and delight, Sansa was still just as busy at the same table as earlier.

"You mind if I sit with you for a while? I promise I won't bug you for too long, I've only got about twenty minutes."

"No, of course, sit down," Sansa replied, leaning to her left and pulling a chair over from the empty table next to her. She put down the soda and raisin bagel she'd grabbed for her snack, then untied her red apron, hanging it over the back of the chair before sitting down. "You're really not bothering me at all. I've been swamped with grading these tests all morning," she said, motioning to the large piles surrounding her. She had pulled over another table when she first sat down to give herself a larger workspace.

"Is this for that freshman class you teach?" Sansa nodded. "I don't envy you one bit on that one. I always hated the grad students that taught my classes. 'What right do they have to teach me?' and 'They're only three years older, how much can they know?' and all of that crap. I'd like to think I've matured since then. How are the little ankle-biters?"

Sansa grabbed a stack of papers she'd already graded, but had been sitting in a separate pile. "For the most part it's not bad. This class is poli-sci 102, and if you've declared for any of the poli-sci undergrad degrees, it's mandatory, so I do get some students that could care less. That's not what surprises me though."

"And what would that be?"

She shook her head, blushing slightly. "No, no, I can't say it."

"Aw, now that's not fair. You were the one that brought it up. You have to tell, it's pretty much a rule," Margaery said, putting her hand on Sansa's shoulder.

"Oh, alright, I'll tell you." She smiled widely and handed the stack of paper over to Margaery. "It's just that, well... they're just all so dumb!"

Margaery couldn't tell what about that statement sent her laughing, but she was glad she hadn't had a drink of her soda just then since it would've ended up all over Sansa's laptop.

"Sorry, sorry... but what do you mean 'they're dumb'?"

"They get all these complicated theory questions right and every student's essay so far has been pretty interesting, but I mean... well, here, take a look," she said, grabbing the sides of her chair and scooting it closer to Margaery so they were side-by-side, knees touching. She pointed at the top paper on the stack Margaery held. "See, this kid wrote an amazing, probably grad-level, essay on zero-sum game theory and its applications when looking at the current tensions between the three cities in Slavers Bay - really good stuff. But, if you go to the questions that are supposed to be easy, it's just all so wrong. Sometimes I think they're joking with me. 'Name the organization which has historically lobbied for citizens' rights in the Riverlands region and is still a driving force lobbying in Parliament today?' They put 'The Sorrowful Men.' For real? It's not even the correct continent, for Sevens' sake!"

Margaery worked on her bagel and listened as Sansa rattled off a couple more examples, extremely glad that almost all these were all facts that she knew. A girl in class had answered that political belief that both Qarth and the Kingdom of Dorne had previously adhered to was imperialism instead of isolationism, and a large number of students were unable to answer the extra credit question of naming five current members of parliament, most choosing to write down things like Bran the Builder, Visenya Targaryen, or Florian and Jonquil.

"I'm sorry," she apologized when she realized how long she'd been talking. "I'm sure all of this is extremely boring for you. Most of my friends have no idea how I can take these classes, but I've loved it since I was little. It's like how all those reality shows on TV are so popular now, but this... this is the real thing."

Sansa was excited when she spoke about her studies and despite that she was right, Margaery didn't care about post-colonialist theory in the slightest, she couldn't help but be drawn in by the passionate way that she talked about something she obviously loved.

"No, I definitely get it," Margaery replied. "I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but I'm in grad school too. Third year, school of natural resources. I'm not teaching this semester so I spend most of my time outside of HP's either in the bio lab or wearing waders standing knee-deep in a wetland. It's not glamorous, but someone's gotta do it."

"Geez, I'm glad it's not me," Sansa answered. She didn't sound disparaging or uninterested though, not like Loras when she told him of her day in the field, just a bit surprised. "My hellraiser of a little sister pushed me into one of the more nasty ones up in the Wolfswood outside of Winterfell when I was about ten. I had to walk the two miles back through town to the house covered in muck, can you believe it? Thought I was going to die of embarrassment, but I didn't. Even think the mud might've helped out my skin," she explained, laughing to herself. "But hey, I'm sorry, I've gotta head out. Meeting with my advisor at eleven."

They both stood and Margaery watched as Sansa packed away the laptop and papers. "It's okay. It's about time for me to get back to work so Asha can have her break. She gets even more surly than usual without it."

"Well, I definitely don't want to stick around that."

"No, it's not a pretty sight. See you again tomorrow?"

She pulled on a light jacket and put her laptop bag over her shoulder, handing Margaery her apron off the back of the chair. "Of course, wouldn't miss it for the world," she said, reaching out to put her hand on Margaery's arm and squeezing lightly, if only for a moment, before starting to walk away. "Make sure you've got those lemoncakes again tomorrow though, I absolutely love lemoncakes."

 Margaery said she'd make sure that there were some fresh ones tomorrow and began to tie her apron, maybe checking out her ass as she walked out the door. Don't fool yourself, you're definitely committing that to memory. Sansa turned left on the sidewalk in front of the shop and Margaery went back behind the counter.

"Alright, boss lady. Your turn," she said, adjusting her name tag and clocking back into work on the cash register.

"You gonna stare at my ass, too?" Asha asked with a wicked smile on her face as she walked past her, just quiet enough that Margaery could hear, but no one else in the shop could.

"Ugh! Shut up!" she groaned, only making Asha laugh more than she already was.

Thursday

"Listen up, Tyrell, I'm getting pretty sick to my stomach watching you make eyes at that girl all morning long. You gonna actually do something about it one of these days? I find it hard to believe that Margaery Tyrell is too chicken shit to ask a girl out."

Margaery had arrived at work this morning to find Asha there ahead of her again and also blocking the front door when she unlocked it and tried to enter.

"Seriously? It's not even quarter to six in the morning. Do we really need to have this conversation right now?" She asked, ducking under Asha's arm that was braced up in the door frame. She heard the deadbolt click behind her and Asha followed her back to the other side of the counter.

"There's nothing I'd love more than to not have this conversation with you, but at the rate you're going that girl's gonna finish her masters before you've worked up the nerve to ask her for dinner. I wanna say it's almost time for me to work some of my magic," she offered, stretching arms out in front of her and cracking her knuckles."

“No, no, absolutely not. The last thing I need an Asha intervention. I still haven't gotten over last time."

“If you say so,” Asha replied, finally seeming to give it up for a while. Hopefully she'll shut up about this for the rest of the shift, but I know as soon as Sansa walks in this door she'll be all ears to listen to us. I wonder if this is how Willas and Garlan felt when Loras and I used to hide behind the curtains to spy on them with their girlfriends.

The morning went off normally without a hitch until the six-thirty rush showed up. There were a few extras in the shop today, which Margaery blamed on the upcoming mid-term exams for undergrads next week, but it was good. Her work in the lab with her partners had come together perfectly last night. They were out of the lab at a decent hour and were all able to grab dinner together. The apartment was clean when she got home, there was enough time to make herself some popcorn and she was even joined on the couch by Loras that night, staying home as his boyfriend got stuck with an overnight shift. When Miss Grande Dark Roast walked in the front door, she knew she only had to get through about fifteen minutes of hell before she was gifted with seeing the one person she wanted to see today.  

Grande dark roast, double cream.
Tall half-caf soy two-pump vanilla latte.
Venti iced red eye.
Grande skim dirty chai.
Tall three pump hazelnut latte.
Venti latte, no foam, sweetened with Splenda.
Two carryout containers, 15 bagels, sliced, toasted, fat-free cream cheese.
Venti skim mocha frap.
Venti soy vanilla lite frap.
Tall chocolate chai tea latte.
Grande iced whole milk hazelnut macchiato.
Double espresso.
Tall non-fat latte, caramel drizzle.
Grande iced soy sugar-free vanilla latte.
Five tall light roasts: two black, one half & half plus raw sugar, two extra cream.
Venti skim no foam vanilla latte.

The fifteen minute rush had turned into close to a half hour rush, even Hot Pie had come out from the back when he heard the commotion and quickly took his place in front of the drink station, taking the orders called out by Margaery and Asha, taking his own place in their synchronized movements between everything they needed.

She handed a receipt to the current person in line, head down as she doled out the exact change they had given her into the till. “Welcome to HP's, what can I get started for you this morning?” she asked, still looking down, only noticing the movement of the next person in line out the corner of her eye.

“Busy morning, Margaery?”

Shit, she thought. It's really gotten that busy that I didn't notice her of all people walk in? New six-thirty rush record if I've ever seen one.

“Oh, morning, Sansa!” she said cheerfully, the first cheerful greeting she'd given in a while. “Didn't notice you come in, place has been a zoo since... Wait, a sec,” she paused, placed both hands on the counter and pushed herself up to look around Sansa. “You're the... you're the last one in line! Oh, thank the gods! Just for that, this one's on the house,” she told Sansa, grabbing onto her arm excitedly across the counter. “What'll it be today?”

“Venti red-eye, extra hot, if it's possible. I'm surprised you don't have it memorized now."

“I should,” Margaery agreed. “Maybe I just keep thinking you'll change it to something new.”

“Maybe I just think you'll change that damn sign. Until then though...” Sansa's voice trailed off, tilting her head to the side and shrugging her shoulders.

"You just wait," Margaery jokingly warned. "One of these days that sign'll be changed and you won't know what to do with yourself.

“Sorry, but by the time you've gotten around to changing it, I'll have had more than enough time to figure out what to do with myself.”

Margaery stopped what she was doing and looked up at Sansa from above the espresso machine, raising an eyebrow and smirking at her, trying to see if she was aware of what her reply sounded like.

“...what're you looking at me like --” Sansa began, quickly slamming her mouth shut, hands flying up to cover over her mouth, face turning a bright shade of red.

“Mmhmm,” Margaery replied, pouring the single shot of espresso she'd just finished pulling into the cup of today's light roast. “I'm sure you know exactly what to do with yourself." The words left Margaery's mouth before she'd even realized what she'd said.

“Stop it! Gods, it's just like being around Theon and Arya...” She leaned up against the counter, taking the drink Margaery slid over.

“Who?”

“Arya's my little sister and Theon is my...” she trailed off, leaving Margaery wondering what she was going to say.

Please don't say boyfriend, please don't say boyfriend, please don't say...

“Boyfriend?” Margaery offered tentatively.

She watched as Sansa's eyes widened, a distinct look of horror flashing across her face. “Eww. Please don't say that again,” she laughed. “He's sort of a family friend. A year or two older than my oldest brothers and he lived with us for a long time, family issues. He and Arya were always making some sort of pervy joke or twisting what I said. They loved to see me blush and get all flustered.”

I can see why, she thought, but held her tongue this time around.

“Not very nice of them. Growing up at your house sounds like a zoo,” she commented, which prompted Sansa to explain about the large estate in the north her parents owned, just outside of Winterfell proper. Margaery thought she'd had it bad growing up with three older brothers, but six other children counting Theon, she couldn't imagine it.

The shop was slow for a while, and the two of them spent the next ten minutes or so chatting, Sansa leaning against the counter, swapping childhood sibling horror stories. A few minutes into the conversation she realized that this Sansa Stark was one of the Starks she'd heard of on the news when the newscasters talked about the vast northern province. No wonder she's picked to study what she is, she's been practically raised with one hand in the spotlight. Probably no better person to appreciate or at least understand what went on in Parliament.

Sansa excused herself a while after, pushing a lid onto the cup, and telling Margaery she had class to teach at eight and still had to come up with a handful more participation questions. They said their goodbyes and Margaery got back to work, not knowing that this conversation had truly been the highlight of her day and definitely not knowing how the upcoming evening and night would treat her.

Friday

"Not in the mood this morning, Asha, don't even start," Margaery said, announcing her entry to the cafe. Asha, early yet again, had seen her walk up and ran over to the door to let her in.

"What's the matter, think your girl's not gonna be in today?"

She just doesn't know when to stop, does she?

"Oh, I bet she'll be here. She'll ask if I've changed the sign - I haven't - so she'll get her usual. There might be some small talk about her classes and then she'll leave me staring at her as she walks out the door."

"I really don't know what the problem is, aside from the fact that you look you crawled out of the abyss this morning. What the fuck happened last night?"

"Renly happened, Loras happened, the thin walls of my apartment happened. I was at the Kingswood Wetlands covered in swamp shit with a headlamp 'til midnight and still don't have enough samples for my lab work. Do you need me to continue?" she explained, shoulders hunched and arms folded tightly across her front as she leaned back against the counter.

"Fine, you win this morning," Asha said, raising her hands up in surrender. "Tell ya what, I'll even stock the front of the house so you don't have to, how's that? And remember, I'm going back to Pyke for the weekend and I've got a plane to catch, so I'll make sure we get out of here at exactly 2pm."

"Sounds like a plan."

"Good, now get to work. And don't say I never gave ya anything," she replied, smiling as she walked past her and around to the front counter to make sure everything was stocked and ready. Their usual closing team was always a bit lacking in their morning preparations, leaving Asha and Margaery to pick up their slack every morning.

Grande dark roast, double cream.
Tall half-caf soy two-pump vanilla latte.
Venti iced red eye.
Grande skim dirty chai.
Tall three pump hazelnut latte.
Venti latte, no foam, sweetened with Splenda.
Two carryout containers, 15 bagels, sliced, toasted, fat-free cream cheese.
Venti skim mocha frap.
Venti soy vanilla lite frap.

Sansa's arrival at the cafe minutes before seven was starting to feel just as normal to Margaery as every six-thirty rush customer, the Fossoway's apple delivery every Tuesday at noon, and the knitting group that gathered in the corner on Fridays just when she was getting ready to leave. 

"The usual?" Margaery asked, trying her hardest to put on a happy face, when Sansa walked up to the register just as cheerful today as every other day. Just because my night and my sleep was ruined does not mean I need to be snappy to her. You're in a service job, remember. It's your job to make her day great even if yours is shit. She had sort of resolved the fact in her head that Sansa would probably never amount to more than just an acquaintance, a cute girl that comes into the shop on the regular and that maybe she chats with on her breaks.

Margaery already had her hand on the venti cup when Sansa piped up, shaking her head. "Not today. I actually think it's about time for a change."

"Really now? Well, since I haven't touched that board I'm gonna guess you're just trying to keep me on my toes then, right?"

Suddenly Sansa's face reddened and she brought her gaze down to her hands then back up to meet Margaery's. She'd noticed, but decided just to brush it off. "Um, yes, of course... that's it," she said, clearing her throat. "Anyways, guess I need to figure out what... I... want...," her voice slowed down as she looked up at the large menu on the wall behind the counter. "Got it! Venti caramel macchiato, for here. Oh! Extra whip?"

"No problem. I'll get you that lemoncake I promised too." she answered, taking the cup in hand and writing Sansa's name on it, adding the smiley face as always. Don't know why I actually make my handwriting pretty for her instead of scribbling for everyone else. I'm not thirteen and I don't have notebooks full of hearts with her name on it... and it's not like she's going to all of a sudden realize she wants to date me because of my oh-so legible penmanship.

Sansa thanked Margaery and insisted on paying for the drink, but in the end it was still free. Margaery watched as Sansa set up her grading station at the same table as a couple days ago, flipping open her laptop and grabbing a couple of a paperback books and a spiral-bound course pack out of her bag.

A half hour or so after Sansa arrived, the phone rang, but before either Asha or Margaery were able to grab it, they heard Hot Pie yell from the back that it was only Mya, their other coworker who usually took over after their shift, and that he'd answer the phone.

Only seconds later, Asha had pulled off her headset and saddled up to Margaery. "So, what do ya think that's all about?" she whispered.

Margaery looked at her a bit sideways before answering. "No clue here. Why are we whispering? She's probably just calling about her checks or her tips or something."

"Are you crazy? Edric might call every damn day because he can't remember his schedule, but not Mya. It's gotta be important, come on over here." Asha cautiously stepped towards the swinging door that led back to the bakery, Margaery shaking her head and following after her. Hot Pie had a big voice on the phone so they could easily hear his half of the conversation from their side of the door.

"What?... No, wait, what happened now?....Gods, Mya, are you okay?... yea... of course, I understand... no really, don't worry about it at all... we just want everything to be alright... I'll figure something out..." They heard Hot Pie end the phone call and scattered back to their normal places comically fast, both seeking out something to hold or clean to make it seem like they'd been working the whole time.

When Hot Pie pushed through the swinging door, he looked more nervous than they'd probably ever seen him.

"Not too sure how to say this, so I'm just gonna say it," he started. "Mya got into a car accident on her way back from class this morning - she's okay - but the doctors think she's got a concussion and they're keeping her at the hospital for the night just in case. Now, I know I'm going to be putting one of you in an awful position right now but..."

The second Margaery heard those words start to come out of Hot Pie's mouth she paled. They both got along great with Mya Stone, Asha especially, and she felt relieved when he said she was going to be okay, but she knew what he was starting to ask, just like she knew that it wouldn't be Asha working the double that day.

"... I'm going to need one of you to stay until close tonight. I know you're both full time so you've already got your forty in for the week, but I promise I'll make it up to you," he requested, eyes settling first on Asha. "Time and a half sound good, Asha?"

"Hells yes, it does!" Asha enthusiastically began, then changed her tone back to normal. "But you know I can't today, Hot Pie. I'm visiting Pyke this weekend and I've gotta leave right at two or else I'll miss my flight."

Well, can't let Edric brave it alone tonight, Margaery thought. Last fucking thing I wanted to do today was stay here one second after two but I've seen Edric work and he's not up for closing alone yet. "I'll cover for her, Hot Pie, don't worry."

"Are you sure, Maggy? You don't look like you're 100 percent today either."

"I'm fine. Just in a bad mood, that's all. Not concussed or anything like that, so good to go," she explained, smiling to try and reassure him.

"Alright then, thanks a ton. I'm gonna text Mya and tell her we've got her covered."

The instant that Hot Pie disappeared into the back Margaery let out a loud, disgruntled noise, almost sounding like a growl.

"Whoa there, killer. It'll be alright," Asha said, patting her on the shoulder. "Time and a half will make it worth it, yea?"

"Yea, I guess," she replied sullenly, leaning back against the counter and looking out over the cafe. "Hey! Did you see Sansa leave? She's not here anymore."

Asha walked around to the other side of the counter, picking up a bit of mess by the half counter that held all of the creamer and straws, and gave the seating area a quick once over. "She must've left when we were eavesdropping on Hot Pie. Probably had to run off to class... what's the problem? She'll be back on Monday."

"Yea, yea, I know."

"Hey," she started, walking back around to their side of the counter to throw away the trash she'd collected and start to wash her hands. "Just think, sure ya had an awful night last night and HP just volunteered to do work a double, but it could be worse, yea? Got me to work with for the next six hours so it can't be that bad of a day." Asha dried her hands off and walked over to Margaery. "I'll make you my special extra caffeine, almost as good as Adderall, latte. That'll make your day go better." Margaery make her nose up in disgust, but nodded anyways, asking her to add as much chocolate as she could to make it somewhat palatable.

The next couple hours went by rather quickly. There were always a good number of groups who came in late on Friday mornings, a small book club, some study groups, a couple who always worked on teaching each other High Valyrian, which made for a good rhythm to work to. Busy, busy, slow, clean up, busy, busy, slow, clean up.

During one of the slow periods, Asha had asked Margaery to go and clean up the empty tables and sweep, which was the exact moment when she realized that there was one thing in the shop that was very, very different from the way it usually was.

"Asha?" she called. She stood frozen in front of the counter, wash rag and bucket of cleaning solution still in her hands, eyes glued to the suggestion board to the right of the register. She hadn't even made her way to cleaning any of the tables yet at that point.

"Hmm, what's up?" Asha replied from the drive-thru. "Bit busy now, yea."

"Just..." she started, spitting the words out through her gritted teeth, trying not to overreact."Just come over here."

"Fine! One second..." Asha opened the sliding drive-thru window, handed an order off to the waiting customer, and then checked that there was no one else in line before walking over to where Margaery stood. "Now," she continued, hands firmly on her hips, "what exactly is the problem?"

She looked over at Asha, finally moving, and gestured towards the suggestion board. "Please tell me you didn't write that. And for fuck's sake if you did, please tell me it was within the last hour... ya know... just to mess with me..."

Margaery watched as Asha's eyes made their way towards the board then back to hers, quickly noticing that mischievous look in them and the evil smile she flashed at her.

Today your barista is Margaery: hella gay & totally into you <3

Today I recommend... you give me your number <3

Immediately, she knew it was Asha's work. Everything from the slightly manly handwriting to the fact that she'd even dug out a pink marker to make two little 'less than three' hearts at the end of each sentence.

She quickly snatched the sign off the counter, leaving two little squares of velcro behind, and grabbed a hold of Asha by the arm and dragged her into the back hallway by the employee office.

"Gods dammit, Asha! What in the seven fucking hells is going through your head?"

"Oh, stop it, Mags!" she replied, shrugging nonchalantly, only making Margaery more upset. "Admit it, you weren't going to do shit anything about your little crush, so I took matters into my own hands."

It was not often that this happened, but Margaery actually found herself having problems forming sentences. "So you.... and the... oh, why would you..."

"Why would I? This isn't middle school anymore. You know how hard it is to meet people and believe me, that little ball of fire is gonna be snatched up pretty quick by someone else if it's not by you," she said, pausing for a second, and Margaery deep down knew she was right. "So I changed the sign, simple as that."

"But that means... oh gods! That's why she changed her order this morning..."

"Huh? She did?" She had started to walk back out to the cafe, but that statement made her turn back around. "Did she listen to it?"

"What?"

"Did she listen to it, Tyrell? Did she give your her number?"

Margaery laughed, having breathed herself into calming down. "Oh, sweet summer child. The entire campus would've known if she'd given me her number. Sadly no, there was no real reaction besides her changing her drink order." She shrugged, then pulled a hair tie off her wrist and pulled her hair back in a messy bun at the crown of her head. "Guess it probably isn't destined to be then, at least not today. Better get back to work." 

It was hundreds of frappucinos, triple as many coffees, two soy milk carton explosions, four customers lacking enough money, and twelve hours of work later that Margaery finally found herself closing the shop. Asha flew out the door exactly at two, Edric luckily showing up a couple minutes early. Hot Pie was gone at noon since he would arrive at four the next morning to get all of the baked goods in the oven before they opened again. Edric had proved to be a real trooper that shift, quickly noticing that Margaery was not in the greatest of dispositions and volunteering to take over the register and front of the house so she could focus on the much quieter drive-thru line. She had been originally thinking of giving him some much needed proper training in closing up the shop, but changed her mind when she thought of how much he actually helped out, so instead she let him leave about a half-hour early, promising to clock him out at the same time as her.

The majority of the lights were dimmed except for a couple by the register that she would need to count the till, the shades on the front and side windows were pulled down, and she had the normally jazzy music changed to shuffle whatever was on her phone. She was pulling the vacuum out of the side closet when she heard the noise of the front door creaking open, followed instantly by the ringing of the bell tied to the door knob.

"Shit. Shit, shit, shit," she said aloud to herself. Don't tell me, that of all things, I forgot to deadbolt the front door.

She let go of the handle of the vacuum, not noticing it fall to the ground as she hurried out to the front. "Sorry! We closed ten minutes ago!" she yelled loudly, walking quickly down the hallway towards the cafe and hoping that whoever had come in just wanted some late night espresso and didn't intend to rob the place.

"Really, you've got to leave. I must've forgotten to lock the door and --"

She stopped dead in her tracks when she emerged from the hallway and saw Sansa standing in the middle of the cafe, underneath one of the recessed lights, halfway between the front door and the register. Margaery noticed that she had changed clothes since this morning, opting for the most casual look she'd seen her adopt all week, dressed in full length grey leggings, baby blue flats that matched a long baby blue long-sleeved tunic, and a puffy white vest with small leather purse over one shoulder. She was holding onto the strap of the purse with one hand, looking positively unsure of herself, as if she'd made some mistake in coming into the cafe again that day.

"I'm so sorry, but I was walking home from the library and saw you closing up the shop from across the street. I know you're supposed to be closed and all, but since you were busy this morning I wanted to stop and talk to you, and when I tried the door it was open, so I just figured it'd be okay and then..." she took a deep breath and stopped for a second, Margaery still standing a few feet away, not sure of what was going on. "Sorry, I'm rambling."

Oh gods, she's nervous. Why is she nervous? If she's nervous should I be too? Dammit, Mags, just say something.

"Sorry, you just startled me. It's been the longest day ever and I must have forgotten to lock the door. I guess a sixteen hour shift'll do that to a girl, huh?" She paused, watching Sansa relax a little bit and release the death grip she had on her purse. "But listen, as much as I'd love to talk, you really can't be in here while I'm closing."

She walked towards Sansa, who seemed to take the hint and started back towards the front door. Margaery opened the door and stood holding it open with her back as Sansa stepped out, standing on the little coffee-cup decorated welcome mat and turning to put herself face-to-face with Margaery.

"So... I guess I'll see you Monday then, yea?" Margaery said.

She hadn't noticed Sansa's hand going in the pocket of her vest, and she hadn't noticed her pulling it out. Truthfully, she was just wishing to close, go home, and finish her shitty day, all while still wondering why Sansa was lingering there, so she jumped when she felt Sansa grab her right hand and press something into her palm.

“Hopefully a bit sooner than Monday.”

It all happened so fast. Sansa had smiled gently, turning and walking towards the road and Margaery already had the door closed before she realized what was happening and opened up the paper she had in her hand.

Sansa Stark 309-772-9054

Light pink note paper. Blue fountain pen. Swirling, feminine hand-writing.

"...holy shit," she said softly, before shoving the paper in her back pocket as quick as possible and flinging the front door of the shop back open. "Hey! Sansa, wait a sec!"

Sansa stopped as soon as she heard her, turning around on her heel to face the shop. Margaery heard Asha's voice in her head, or at least, what the girl would say if Margaery managed to mess this opportunity up.

“You maybe wanna do something once I'm done closing up?”

Sansa was silent for a moment, making Margaery worry again, but then a large smile broke out across her face. "Sure. You've had a long day, wanna go grab a coffee at the Union?"

Margaery smiled. "Wanna know why I never suggest anything on the board?" she asked, still yelling a little bit. "I fucking hate coffee," she replied.

Sansa laughed, starting to walk back towards the shop. "Drinks then? Plenty of time left until the bars close," she suggested.

"Drinks it is. Gimme five minutes, I swear I'll have everything done." Sansa nodded as Margaery bolted around and locked the door behind her, determined to close as fast as she could. Margaery saw her sit at one of the benches outside the shop, pulling her long hair over one shoulder and beginning to braid it. She watched for a second then shook her head and ran off to continue closing.

And so it was that after so little sleep that she could count it on one hand, sixteen hours of work, and more drama in a morning shift than she can remember in a long time, Margaery finally felt like her day was starting.