Inner Ward of Anvard
Lanisen leaves the kitchen in the early morning, a hunk of buttered brown bread in his hand. His limp is more pronounced than usual, either because it is exacerbated by the chill or because the ward is still too quiet for him to bother hiding it. It is very foggy.
Arael comes walking out of the hallway that leads to the library. She holds a book in her hands, and a light wrap is thrown across her shoulders. Her pace is brisk, but then she pauses for a moment and squints as she peers right and left through the fog.
Lanisen sticks the bread in his mouth and holds it between his teeth for a minute so he can work the crank at the well with both hands. He drinks several ladlefuls and splashes his face, shivering, then hangs up the ladle and lowers the bucket again. He turns around and pauses for a brief, guarded second until he recognizes Arael across the ward.
Arael spots Lanisen half a moment later. She grins and raises her hand in a wave as she makes her way toward him.
Lanisen meets her halfway, his limp mostly disappearing. “Mornin’,” he says, once they’re close enough to talk without raising their voices. “You had breakfast? Want me to bring you somethin’?”
Arael replies cheerfully, “Aye, good morning! And thanks, but nay, I’m to take breakfast with the family later.”
Lanisen asks, “Y’sure? Need somethin’ to tide you over ’til then?”
Lanisen adds, “Bread’s still hot.”
Arael hesitates at that, and steals a glance at Lanisen’s breakfast. “‘Twouldn’t cause any trouble in the kitchen?”
Haft enters the ward from the northern stairwell in uniform, making in the direction of the kitchens. He slows downs as he sees Lanisen talking to a pretty stranger, nearly in his path.
Lanisen shakes his head dismissively and promises, “I’ll be in and out before they even notice me.” At the sound of Haft’s footsteps, he glances up, again wary and watchful. He steps quickly to the side, out of Haft’s path, and averts his eyes.
Arael, in whose field of vision Haft is not, sees Lanisen’s reaction first, and furrows her brow in confusion as she turns toward the approaching footsteps.
Haft’s stride catches as he notes Lanisen’s attempt to get out of his way. He stops and offers a pleasant, “Morning, Lanisen,” then turns to Arael, bowing. “My lady.”
Lanisen hesitates very briefy and darts a suspicious look at Haft before he ducks his head and responds quietly, “Good morning.”
Arael’s eyes land on Haft just as he pauses, and, as he greets them, she watches him with the expression of one trying to figure something out. After a moment, she blinks in realization and straightens up a little taller. She nods to him and then replies politely, “Good morning. Haft, I think?”
Haft looks slightly confused. “That’s right. I’m sorry, have we met?”
Lanisen rubs his elbow and goes quiet.
Arael nods. “Aye, though ’twas some time ago. I’m Arael–I was here for the battle with Rabadash, when you were here with the Narnians.”
Haft’s brow furrows. “I don’t think I…” His face clears. “Wait, you were visiting Lanisen when he was shot, yes?”
Lanisen watches a beetle near the toe of his boot.
Arael nods again and glances at Lanisen, then back at Haft. “Aye, I was.”
Colin wanders into the ward, his hair still a little tousled. He’s managed to put together the rest of himself fairly decently though. The bruise on his cheek hasn’t faded at all but the shiner might have a little.
Haft says, “Well, pleased to meet you, again.”
Lanisen stands near Arael and Haft’s conversation, looking like he’d rather be almost anywhere else. He looks very tired, and he’s holding himself stiffly.
Arael dips her head in acknowledgement. “And you.” Her tone is, once again, polite, though not what could be called warm.
Haft says, “If you’ll excuse me, I’m just on my way to the kitchen to pick something up before my shift starts.”
Colin spies the little group of people talking and his face softens and brightens at the sight of his betrothed. He begins to make his way over, hesitating slightly, then he forges ahead. “Morning…” he says quietly.
Arael replies, “Of course.” Then, at the sound of Colin’s voice, she turns yet again. When she spots him, she smiles in greeting and curtsies.
Lanisen startles. There is an awkward, trapped moment where he doesn’t seem sure where to move to be out of the way of both Haft and Colin, then he hurries quickly to the side, bowing to Colin.
Colin closes his eyes briefly at Lanisen’s reaction to his arrival, but reopens them. He returns Arael’s smile though it doesn’t quite reach his eyes anymore and bows to her, moving to her side.
Haft bows to Colin, hesitates, then says, “Sir, if you have a half hour free this afternoon, I’d like to speak to you about something.
Colin nods, glancing at Haft uncertainly. “Of course.”
Haft says, “Thank you. I’ll seek you out later then. Forgive me; if I don’t hurry I’ll be late for my shift.” He turns and hurries past Lanisen into the kitchen.
Arael shifts quietly as Colin moves to her side. By the time Haft has moved off toward the kitchen, she’s positioned herself between Colin and Lanisen, but back far enough that she can see them both. She watches Haft depart, then finally turns toward Colin again and returns his greeting. “Good morning.”
Lanisen stays silent, rubbing his shoulder. He darts a brief look at Colin and Arael, and begins to quietly make his escape.
Colin once more closes his eyes, not bothering to attempt to hide the hurt on his face. “Stay, Lanisen.” he commands quietly. He then bends to give Arael a kiss on her hand and murmurs an “I’ll see you later” before he leaves her side and begins to make his way through the ward.
Arael looks back and forth between the two of them and blinks in confusion.
Lanisen halts immediately, his shoulders tensing up at the order. He looks lost when Colin walks away, and crosses his arms over his stomach.
Arael closes here eyes for a moment and sighs. When she opens them again, she turns back toward Lanisen and offers a half-smile.
Lanisen turns back to her. He raises a hand to the side of his head in distress and drops it again. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”
Arael shrugs one shoulder. “Next time, maybe,” she says quietly.
Lanisen doesn’t seem to know what to do. He shifts and doesn’t look directly at her. “Did– um, were you wantin’ me to get you some bread or somethin’?”
Arael grins and shrugs both shoulders. “Some other time, I think.” She glances around the ward. “Is now about the time it all starts to get busy here?”
Haft emerges from the kitchen carrying a shallow basket with its contents wrapped in cloth. He glances briefly at Arael and Lanisen but moves past them and into the staff quarters.
Lanisen’s eyes dart to Haft as he passes again. “Um,” he says, distracted. “Um– the wagon should be comin’ any minute, for the kitchen, milk and eggs and such, it gets busy for a while then, and– breakfast after, so.”
Arael glances toward Haft when Lanisen does, but only for half a moment, and then looks back toward Lanisen and answers easily, “Aye, I remember that, I think.”
Lanisen focuses on her again. “Oh,” he says, embarrassed. “‘Course, you’ve been– I’m sorry.”
Arael blinks. “You needn’t be sorry. I asked, you know.”
Lanisen, flustered, says again, “Sorry.”
Arael looks at a loss for a moment, then asks, “Are you headed out to the kennels already?”
Lanisen says, “I was– I was headin’ that way…” He trails off and glances uncertainly in the direction Colin disappeared.
Arael follows his gaze and is quiet for a moment, then offers uncertainly, “The family won’t take breakfast for another hour.”
Lanisen asks, “Where were you headin’?”
Arael looks back at him. “Upstairs. “She holds up the book in her hand. “I thought I’d try something new for copy-work.”
Lanisen asks, “Is there anything I can…?”
Arael shrugs. “Well, if you’ve got any better suggestions…” She trails off and nods toward the book.
Lanisen asks, looking at it, “What is it?”
Arael holds up the book where they can both see it. “Tales about Old Archenland, I /think/.” She wrinkles her nose sheepishly. “I mostly just picked one that looked nice.”
Lanisen pulls his lips between his teeth. “I might– I’ve got one I’ve been readin’, if you’re–”
Arael grins. “When you’ve finished with it, maybe? ‘Tis only copywork this morning, so reading’s not the main point.”
Lanisen says, “Oh, I’ve–” He looks embarrassed again. “Um, it’s. I’ve read it, a couple, four times, maybe, it’s not…”
Arael laughs a little. “Oh! Well, I’d know ’tis good, then. What’s it about?”
Lanisen looks even more embarrassed. “It’s, um. Stories? From Narnia? I was, um, after– after the battle I was lookin’ for somethin’ in the library and– um, Lord Tyre was there, and we got to talkin’, and he sent for it, and… one thing or another I ain’t seen him to give it back yet, I was gonna when he came back with Lady Avery but he was gone before I knew he was here and…” He shrugs.
Arael grins. “Well you /know/ I’d like stories from Narnia. Do you think he’d mind? Lord Tyre, I mean.”
Lanisen hesitates only a minute, clearly protective of the book. “I don’t– I don’t think so. I’ll bring it up, if you like.”
Arael shrugs and repeats, “Like I said, when you’re through with it. Emperor knows how long ’til I’ll have much time to read.”
Lanisen looks a little relieved, but says, “Just say, if you want to read it. I’m, I got it pretty well memorized, some of it. And I copied a bunch of parts.”
Arael grins. “There now, useful copy-work! I’d not thought of that.” She shifts the book in her hand and looks down at it, then back up at Lanisen. After a moment she nods toward the nobles’ tower and says, “I suppose I’d better get on with it, useful or not.”
Lanisen says, “Right, yeah.” He shifts and casts another anxious, uneasy look after Colin. “I’ll…”
Arael makes an attempt to rein in her hopeful expression.
Lanisen takes a breath. “…Um, I should… get to the kennels, prob’ly.”
Arael glances down and then back up at him, and nods. “Aye. Say hello to all the hounds for me, and I’ll see you later?”
Lanisen says, “Yeah, all right. Um. Good luck with the copyin’?”
Arael grins as she starts to walk backward toward the nobles’ tower. “Luck and no ink spills.”
Lanisen grins back, but it’s not a very good grin. He waves, and begins toward the gatehouse.
Arael waves as well, turns, and, with a steadying breath, makes her way toward the tower.