Maire remains quiet, not pushing the issue. Her lips press in a grim line and she watches a few of the horses. “On a day like today, I wish I could just mount up and ride away.” her words are quiet, almost as if she doesn’t realize she said the words aloud.
Cassandra smirks, “Running away is only good in theory. It is a hassle in real life.”
Maire glances at Cassandra, blinking once in surprise. She considers her words. “And in theory, I couldn’t stay away for long.” her lips tip in a tiny smile. “I’m far too stubborn to stay away.” she turns her attention back to the horses. She twists her hands in front of her. “To be honest, Cassandra, I think I am beginning to feel what you feel.” She doesn’t meet Cassandra’s eyes.
Lanisen leaves the stable, beginning down the path to the cave behind the waterfall. He slows and changes his direction when he finds Cassandra, but on recognizing Maire he stops uncertainly.
Cassandra looks a bit surprised to say the least, “What?”
Maire shrugs a shoulder, and picks at an imaginary thread on her sleeve. “I speak to you as if I have successfully earned the trust of those here, but I am such a fool.”
Cassandra has a look of “I told you so.” She turns to the horses, not seeing anyone behind her. “Sorry.”
Lanisen takes an uneasy, indecisive step forward, then back, then switches to continue along his original path to the cave behind them.
Maire is quiet for several moments. She covers her face with one hand and groans softly. She turns and looks at
Cassandra directly. “I am sorry.” she says. ” I am sorry that I ever presumed to know anything about the matter. Apparently I myself am not good at ‘trust earning’ either.”
Cassandra shrugs, “Join the club.” She sees a shadow out of the corner of her eye and and she looks at Lanisen, eyebrow shooting up a bit.
Maire tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. She gives an appreciative nod to Cassandra. She looks over her shoulder to see what caught her eye. She freezes seeing Lanisen.
Lanisen glances over his shoulder as he goes, and halts when he sees that he is caught.
Cassandra looks a bit awkward before making her way over to him. She stares at him, trying to get a read.
Lanisen turns more fully toward her, stepping to join her. He glances at Maire again, guarded.
Maire hangs back, she turns her attention to the horses, giving the two some space, but she does watch a bit out of the corner of her eye.
Cassandra moves to stand between them, “Want to see Copper?” She still eyes Lanisen.
Lanisen asks a little blankly, still watching Maire, “Copper?”
Maire keeps her attention on the horses, but her stance shifts slightly.
Cassandra nods, “My horse.” She brings him up to the fence, standing between him and Maire.
Lanisen balks, and will not be led, but he follows her after a moment. “Your horse,” he says. “Right, yeah.”
Cassandra looks at Maire, muttering to her.
Cassandra mumbles “Want to get … … … … … better?”, to Maire.
Maire meets Cassandra’s eyes, and glances at Lanisen. Her lips tip upward in a smile. “Of course.” She pushes back from the fence and ducks between the rails. Clutching her skirts in one hand she makes her way across the paddock to where a handsome chestnut gelding is eyeing his surroundings. As she approaches her voice is imperceptible, but crooning.
Lanisen watches her the whole way. Without looking away, he speaks softly to Cassandra.
Lanisen mumbles “Please– be careful.”, to Cassandra.
Lanisen mumbles “… … …”, to Cassandra.
The gelding, at first snorts at the approaching woman. However, realizing that she is not the mean woman, he nickers and begins to come forward. Cassandra frowns at this but then turns to Lanisen as he speaks. She responds.
Cassandra mumbles “What are you talking about?”, to Lanisen.
Cassandra mumbles “What … … talking …”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen shifts his weight, rubbing his wrists.
Lanisen mumbles “It might be nothin’ but– if you’d– not walk alone with her, it’d… be a weight off my mind.”, to Cassandra.
Lanisen mumbles “… might be … but– … … … … alone with … … … a weight off … mind.”, to Cassandra.
Maire reaches a hand out, allowing Copper to approach her fully. “And how’s our handsome boy today?” she croons. When Copper is close enough she reaches to scratch behind his ears and across his withers.
Copper whinnies and looks for treats.
Cassandra’s eyes widen and she hisses.
Cassandra mumbles “Is /she/ the…?”, to Lanisen.
Cassandra mumbles “Is /she/ …”, to Lanisen.
Maire reaches into her satchel and pulls out an apple she picked from earlier. “Well, aren’t you a hungry mister?” she offers him the apple, taking a few steps back as if luring Copper. “I was saving this for later, but you’ll have to follow me if you want me to share.” she continues to croon.
Lanisen looks back at her, his eyes sharpening a little.
Lanisen mumbles, “Don’t, it’s not– I don’t know, I don’t, I don’t remember but she’s, I don’t know her and she–“, to Cassandra.
Lanisen mumbles “Don’t, it’s not– I don’t know, I don’t, I … remember but she’s, … … know … and she–“, to Cassandra.
The horse begins to follow the woman. Cassandra responds.
Cassandra mumbles “I’ll find out.”, to Lanisen.
Cassandra mumbles “I’ll … out.”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen looks alarmed.
Lanisen mumbles, “Don’t, do not, Cass, promise me, don’t.”, to Cassandra.
Lanisen mumbles “… … not, … promise me, don’t.”, to Cassandra.
Cassandra sighs and mutters back.
Cassandra mumbles “I promise that I will not do anything to where I am unable to defend myself.”, to Lanisen.
Cassandra mumbles “I promise … … … … … … … … I … unable to … …”, to Lanisen.
Maire edges closer to the two and finally relents, allowing Copper to eat the apple in her hand. She scratches the place between his eyes, brushing his mane aside. Her eyes flick toward Lanisen and Cassandra.
Lanisen reaches to discreetly grip her wrist, squeezing urgently.
Lanisen mumbles “Please.”, to Cassandra.
Lanisen mumbles something incomprehensible to Cassandra.
Lanisen mumbles “Promise me.”, to Cassandra.
Lanisen mumbles something incomprehensible to Cassandra.
Cassandra hands goes subconsiouly to her dagger as he grabs her wrist. She thinks as she stares out at Maire before saying, “It seems that Lanisen forget something in his room. We are going to get it and then come back, Okay?’
Maire’s eyes dart from Lanisen to Cassandra, she tenses, but continues to stroke Copper’s neck. “Sure, I’ll stay here with this good looking boy.” she nods to Cassandra.
Lanisen glances at Cassandra, and only nods.
Cassandra smiles at Maire, “Thank you, Friend.” She turns and begins to head back to the stable.
Lanisen follows close behind.
As they enter the stables, Cass turns to him, “Kennel Loft.” She grabs his arm and begins to semi-smile at at the grooms and acts normal.
Lanisen nods slightly and follows along.
Cassandra climbs up the kennel loft, making sure they are all alone.
Lanisen follows behind her, taking the steps unevenly to favor his bad leg, as is usual for him.
Cassandra mutters, “No one should be able to hear us yes?”
Lanisen shakes his head slightly. “Not if we keep our voices down.”
Cassandra nods, “Good.” She eyes him, “Why don’t you start from the beginning?”
Lanisen lets out a breath. “Which beginning.”
Cassandra tips her head, “The accomplice?”
Lanisen goes still. He shakes his head a little, anxious, and crosses one arm over his stomach. “Um– I don’t, I don’t know.” He stops and resettles himself. “It’s only– please don’t get… /involved/, don’t jump in, they, they hurt me, they’re clever and cruel enough to hurt you too and I couldn’t–” He takes a quick breath.
Cassandra goes over to him, placing her hands on his, “Lanisen. No one is going to hurt me. Okay? No one.”
Lanisen closes his eyes and asks softly, “Please promise me you’ll stay out of it?”
Cassandra straighten, “I can’t.”
Lanisen says, “You can.”
Cassandra moves away from him, “You don’t get it, Lanisen.”
Lanisen asks, “Don’t I?”
Cassandra turns, leaning against the wall, “I’m involved whether or not you or I want me to be.”
Lanisen pauses at this, and there is fear in his face. “What– what do you mean, Cass?”
Cassandra says, “The moment you got hurt was the moment I got involved.”
Lanisen lets out a breath, and his shoulders slump. “Okay,” he says weakly. “Okay. Well. I’m asking you to not get /more/ involved, okay? Please? If you– see somethin’, think somethin’, I don’t know, don’t– don’t try to deal with it on your own, go to the guard, go to Sir Darrin, go to Megren. Don’t try to figure stuff out on your own, that’s… how he got me.”
Cassandra’s eyes narrow, “How so?”
Lanisen doesn’t look at her. “He was– he looked familiar but he was different, and I couldn’t… I thought, his brother, maybe, and I went with him to find out, and he–” He takes a deep breath. “I was stupid, Cass, I’m askin’ you to not be stupid.”
Cassandra nods, “I won’t be.”
Lanisen says urgently, “/Promise/ me you’ll not try to do things alone.”
Cassandra nods, “Fine, I promise.”
Lanisen says, “Thank you.”
Cassandra asks, “So Maire?”
Lanisen says, “I don’t– I don’t know, it’s only–” He rubs his wrists. “She– I don’t know her, and I don’t trust her, and she makes me uneasy, and– please, if you just– don’t, don’t go with her alone, make sure there’s people about, people who know where you’re at… you know?”
Cassandra strokes her chin, “Okay.”
Lanisen watches her. “Okay,” he repeats.
Cassandra turns from him, pushing her hair from her face.
Lanisen asks warily, “What’re you thinkin’?”
Cassandra says, “I’m not the little girl you left all those years ago, Lanisen.”
Lanisen says, “I never said you were.”
Cassandra keeps her back to him, “Sure feels like it sometimes.”
Lanisen says unhappily, “Cass…”
Cassandra turns to look at him.
Lanisen rubs one eye with the heel of his hand, and he sighs. “If you want to think that, fine,” he says wearily. “You can be mad at me if you want, I don’t care, just please…”
Cassandra says, “I ain’t mad at you.”
Lanisen says, “All right.”
Cassandra nods once, “So it is settled?”
Lanisen says, “I guess so.”
Cassandra nods, “Okay.”
Lanisen gestures at the stairs.
Cassandra follows him without a word.
Megren sits in one of the big armchairs near the fireplace, legs tucked up and crossed under her and a book in her lap, a half-drunk glass of wine on the table beside her.
Lanisen hovers in the doorway. He rubs his elbow as he searches, and he lingers a moment longer after he locates Megren. When he finally emerges into the room, it’s with the same sort of watchful hesitance as a mouse leaving its hole for the house at large, where there might be cats and frying pans.
Megren turns the page, absorbed in her reading.
Lanisen approaches her, and sits down on the edge of the chair across from her.
Megren looks up, sensing the movement, and a smile comes easily to her features when she sees who it is. “Hey,” she says, closing her book over her hand.
Lanisen says, “Hey.” He looks oddly apprehensive. “I–”
Megren lifts her brows.
Lanisen says, “I asked Cass to be careful with Maire.”
Megren pauses, and then says slowly, “All right.”
Lanisen says, “And she’s…”
Megren shifts into a straighter position to better listen.
Lanisen swallows, and frets with his sleeves. “I don’t– she’s, she’s too keen to– it’s /Colin/, he shouldn’t have let her promise him, why did he– she’s /seventeen/!”
Megren releases a breath, and leans back against the chair back, assuming a thoughtful expression. “Maybe we can convince her the best way to protect you is to learn about physician’s work?”
Lanisen snorts. He leans forward, plants his elbows on his knees, and covers his mouth and nose with his hands.
Megren watches him with her mouth pushed upward regretfully. “Maybe asking her to go to Narnia to seek out Sir Colin would be safer?”
Lanisen’s eyes shift to look at her. He drops his hands and laces the fingers together anxiously. “She’s–”
Megren pushes back her hair.
Lanisen says, “I got her to promise she wouldn’t– go after anybody alone, if she finds something or thinks she finds something she’s to tell you or Sir Darrin or the guard, but she’s–” He covers his face.
Lanisen mumbles “I don’t trust her.”, to Lanisen.
Lanisen mumbles “I … … …”, to Lanisen.
Megren rests her chin on her knee. “What can I do?”
Lanisen says, “I don’t know. Nothing. I don’t know.”
Megren watches him for a moment, and then abruptly unfolds her legs, sitting straight and resting her hands on her knees. “Do you know where she is?”
Lanisen says, “She went to the stable.”
Megren nods, standing up. “I’ll meet up with you in a bit.”
Lanisen looks up at her, half hopeful relief and half guilt. “I didn’t–” He stops and swallows. “Thank you.”
Megren nods, pushing him in the side of the head as she passes.
Lanisen hesitates, then gets up to follow her out.