spar, interrupted

Knights’ Practice Room
Castle Anvard

Megren sits on one of the benches pushed up against the wall, where she is doing a few stretches to warm up.

Lanisen sits next to her, his forehead furrowed, asking questions about the stretches she’s doing.

Haft steps into the room, dressed for practice.

Megren explains the purpose and execution, occasionally nudging Lanisen into the right position. She looks up at the sound of someone entering.

Lanisen glances up as well, and something in his face goes uncertain and still. He looks down at the practice sword next to him a little helplessly.

Haft glances around the room. He sees Megren and Lanisen by the wall and nods agreeably.

Megren smiles at Haft, and gives Lanisen a checking glance.

Lanisen shrugs uncomfortably at her.

Haft sits down a couple of benches away and begins stretching.

Megren makes a face at him and gets up, tapping her sword against the ground and then moving to combat a target with it.

Lanisen picks up his sword and rests it across his knees.

Haft rises and focuses and warming up, observing Megren’s form when convenient to his posture.

Megren’s form and strength have improved visibly over the last 6 months, enough so that the target practice seems rather rote.

Lanisen keeps quiet on the bench, working his right hand through a series of exercises, then repeating with the left.

Haft rises and takes up a practice sword, finding a target near Megren’s.

Megren stays concentrated on her target, only pausing to glance at Lanisen when she pauses to rest and wipe her brow. Her eyes linger on him assessingly for a good moment.

Lanisen lowers his hands to his lap, twisting his fingers together in a fidgety sort of way.

Haft goes through a series of advanced forms, with precision, but not at any great speed.

Megren tilts her head to one side and then the other, cracking her neck, then goes to sit next to Lanisen. “Hungry?”

Lanisen says, “Um.” He lifts his shoulders. “Are you?”

Someone paying attention might notice a slight hitch in Haft’s pacing, but he then resumes the proper speed.

Megren asks, “Yeah, want to grab some breakfast?”

Lanisen says, “All right.” He looks down at his practice sword and gets up to return it, unused, to the rack on the wall.

Haft continues his practice, not looking toward the pair.

Megren calls, “Haft, got some time later? I could do with a spar.”

Haft pauses and looks over. “Yeah, I expect so. Should be here about an hour. If I wear myself down enough, you’ll have a pretty good chance, I reckon.”

Lanisen rubs his elbow, glancing between them and smiling faintly at the ribbing.

Megren grins. “Practice hard then, please.”

Haft says, “Or maybe I’ll just sit on a bench for awhile and pretend I’ve just taken a break when you get back.”

Megren says, “That’s what I’ll tell myself happened when you beat me.”

Haft’s lips twitch and he attends to his target again.

Megren gestures toward the door with her head, lifting her brows at Lanisen.

Lanisen trails after her, glancing back at Haft’s practice.

Servant’s Hall
Castle Anvard

Megren skips down the steps toward the servant’s hall.

Lanisen follows her, yawning and shivering. The hall is still quite cold; the fire is lit but does not seem to have been burning for very long.

Megren suggests, “Sit by the fire?”

Lanisen mms and heads that direction, holding his hands out to the blaze.

Megren grabs a couple bowls and fills them with a hearty serving of pottage, complete with extra bacon laid across the top, and brings them to where Lanisen has chosen to sit. “You have to fetch the tea, though.”

Lanisen makes an agreeable noise and goes, pouring two large, mismatched mugs of strong black tea. “You want honey?” he calls over his shoulder.

Megren says, “An obscene amount, please.”

Lanisen grins broadly at this and obliges, stirring a generous spoonful into each mug, and returns.

Megren accepts hers in both hands and mms pleasantly.

Lanisen sits down across from her, hunching over his own tea sleepily.

Megren asks, “Time for the morning nap?”

Lanisen sprawls out on the table in answer, pillowing his head on his arm.

Megren giggles.

Lanisen sits up again, taking small cautious sips of his tea. “You looked good up there,” he ventures after a few minutes.

Megren snorts. “Thanks.”

Lanisen narrows one eye at her. “What?”

Megren says, “That just sounds funny, “you look good”.”

Lanisen says, “Oh.” He considers, and then shrugs. “It looked good, what you were doin’. That better?”

Megren shrugs back, smiling in a half-teasing, half-genuine sort of way. “Thanks,” she says again.

Lanisen begins on his pottage, stirring it so it cools faster.

Megren asks, “Do you want to try a spar late tonight?”

Lanisen says, “Oh…” He pauses a little guiltily. “Maybe, yeah. If it’s, if it’s quiet, maybe.”

Megren taps her lower lip thoughtfully. “You know…”

Lanisen gives her a slightly apprehensive look.

Megren says, “We could set up the upstairs of the kennel to be suitable for sparring in, I think.”

Lanisen pauses, then tips his head to the side to concede that this is a good idea. “Have to shut the dogs out. They won’t like that much.”

Megren asks, “Will they be bothered if they hear the shuffling up above them do you think?”

Lanisen says, “Depends what you mean by bothered.”

Megren says, “Ha.”

Lanisen says, “I think it would be all right, prob’ly. There’s no new litters now, anyway.”

Megren nods. “We could try it, then.”

Lanisen pauses again, glancing at her a little anxiously. “You don’t mind?”

Megren asks, “Why would I suggest it if I minded?”

Lanisen drops his eyes. “Right, yeah.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side, frowning. “What’s got you?”

Lanisen says, “Nothin’, I–” He stops, a troubled furrow between his eyebrows. “Nothin’.”

Megren looks disbelieving.

Lanisen fidgets with the spoon and takes a moment to come up with the right words. “If– if you /did/ mind, not on this maybe but on, on anything, if you did mind but you still thought it was best, if you thought it would… help me, would I even… would you say?” He doesn’t quite look at her. “If you minded, I mean.”

Megren squints an eye. “Um…?”

Lanisen seems to realize he’s not expressing himself well and makes a frustrated face at his pottage. “It’s, I mean, you– you do so much.” He glances up at her briefly at this. “For me, for everybody you think needs you– I don’t, I’m sorry, I don’t know how to…” He pushes the heel of his hand into his eye. “If I– if I took too much, would you say?”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side. “I… don’t think that’s how relationships work. You don’t have a finite amount of… of friendship, to pass around.”

Lanisen says, “No, but–” He stops there, distressed and unsure, staring down at his bowl.

Megren says, “I think circumstances so far have shown you’re the first person I go to if I’m overwhelmed after Sir Darrin.”

Lanisen says, “But if–” He puts his elbows on the table and rubs both hands over his face. “If it’s ever me that’s overwhelmin’ you– say, please say, before it’s– I don’t want to–”

Megren rubs her jaw and glances down the table, almost wholly empty since they are eating later than the servants usually do. “I… I’m not overwhelmed, Lanisen.”

Lanisen folds his arms on the table, grasping each elbow with the opposite hand, and hunches over them. “All right,” he answers.

Megren asks, “Am I doing something wrong?”

Lanisen gives her a startled look.

Megren asks, “What’s bringing this on? I’m doing something wrong?”

Lanisen says, “No, no, of course not.”

Megren asks, “Then?”

Lanisen shakes his head slightly. “Nothin’. I don’t know. Nothin’.”

Megren says, “Obviously not nothing.”

Lanisen says, “I’m sorry, I don’t– it’s not, it’s not you.”

Megren takes a breath and releases it.

Lanisen says unhappily, “I’m sorry.”

Megren says, “If,” she takes a breath again. “If you don’t want to tell me, you don’t have to. But I don’t know what to do for you if I can’t tell what’s bothering you.”

Lanisen says desperately, “I don’t know, I dunno, I’m /sorry/, please, I’m not tryin’ to be, to be /coy/, I’m–” He stops and rubs the side of his face with one hand, swallowing. “I don’t, I’m afraid of– I don’t want to lose all my friends ’cause I don’t– Please just say you’ll say, if you need… if you need me to not be such a mess at you for a while, that’s, that’s all I need.”

Megren closes her mouth with a surprised expression of comprehension and then nods.

Lanisen’s eyes flit between both of hers, as if maybe he’ll get a clearer assurance there. He nods in return, his eyebrows up and his expression pleading.

Megren says with new sincerity, “I’ll tell you.”

Lanisen nods again quickly and looks down, his shoulders dropping with this relief.

Megren says, “I’m sorry if I haven’t been clear.”

Lanisen says, “No, it’s–” He takes a deep breath. “I’m sorry.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side and nods once.

Lanisen adds, looking down at his hands, “Thanks.”

Megren blows out a breath. “I don’t feel like there’s a lot to be thanking me for just now,” she admits. “But, um, you’re welcome.”

Lanisen frowns at this and looks up at her, concerned.

Megren says, “I just, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything of use.”

Lanisen says, “Oh.”

Megren squints an eye at him. “Encouraging,” she says, grinning a little.

Lanisen says, “It’s, sorry, I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re thinkin’ is… useful.”

Megren says, “I don’t know, I keep pushing you and I can never tell if it’s helped or hurt, or — for a while I thought I could tell what you were thinking pretty well, but now I don’t feel that.”

Lanisen looks slightly at a loss at this. He rubs his wrists and glances at her anxiously.

Megren lifts a shoulder. “It’s — not necessarily something that can be fixed.”

Lanisen says again, “Oh.”

Megren asks, “Just, you’ll, I don’t know, you’ll tell me if I’m overbearing, or anything?”

Lanisen pauses, then nods.

Megren squints an eye like she’s not sure she believes this, but says, “All right.”

Lanisen echoes, “All right.” He looks down at his pottage, now gone cold and unappetizing.

Megren pulls a piece of bacon from his bowl and eats it.

Lanisen makes a face at her, but slides the bowl over for easier bacon retrieval.

Megren makes a superior expression, humming a noise of contentment.

Lanisen heaves out a breath and folds forward to rest his entire upper body on the table again.

Megren gives him a hearty pat on the back. “I think there’s saffron buns left.”

Lanisen grunts.

Megren gets up to find him one.

Lanisen asks, sitting up, “Where’re you goin’?”

Megren says, “Making sure you eat.”

Lanisen says, “I’ll eat.”

Megren screws up her face at him. “What will you eat?”

Lanisen says, “I dunno. I s’pose there’ll be stew.”

Megren keeps heading the direction she was.

Lanisen gives up.

Megren comes back with three warm saffron buns on a plate next to a generous pat of butter and a pool of apple butter.

Lanisen says, “And you say I’m the one with the food-gettin’ charm.”

Megren says, “It’s probably because you aren’t using it up all the time like me.”

Lanisen hmms doubtfully.

Megren pulls a bun off the plate and gives it a good slather of butter.

Lanisen takes a bun as well but skips the butter, just breaking it into small pieces and picking out the currants to eat separately.

Megren squints an eye at him, but withholds criticism.

Lanisen props up his head with his hand while he eats, visibly sleepy.

Megren wrinkles her nose. “No more morning spars for you.”

Lanisen says, “I didn’t spar.”

Megren says, “All right, no morning things of any kind.”

Lanisen says agreeably, “All right.”

Megren finishes her bun. “I’ve got to change and see to the horses.”

Lanisen mms. “I should get back to the kennels. Get their breakfast out, then I’ve got some very important sleeping to get to.”

Megren reaches for the plate. “Can’t neglect that.”

Lanisen finishes his bun and gets to his feet to follow her out. “I’m thinkin’ not.”

Megren puts their dishes away. “Do enough to make up for the sleep I’m missing.”

Lanisen rubs his shoulder, grinning wearily. “I’ll do my best.”

Megren says, “Good enough for me.”

Lanisen says tentatively, “Hey–” before they reach the door, and reaches out to offer a hug.

Megren looks a little surprised, but she hugs him immediately, and tightly.

Lanisen says, quiet and sincere, “Thanks. You’re– you’re such a help, even if you don’t think you are.”

Megren presses her cheek against the side of his head. “Thank you,” she says.

Lanisen hangs on for another minute before he draws away, slightly self-conscious. “Good luck with the horses,” he says.

Megren rolls her eyes. “Thanks. I’ll need it. Onyx is a snob.”

Lanisen says, “Name like Onyx, he’s got to be.”

Megren shoves him lightly. “Go sleep.”

Lanisen grumbles. “All right. I /guess/.”

Megren kisses his temple and lets him go with a swat.

Lanisen ducks away from the swat good-naturedly and waves over his shoulder, slipping through the kitchen and out into the ward.


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