North Gate Tower
Megren stands on the third stair down from the barracks floor. She has a an braced on the fourth stair and is logicking out how to get her body to the same place.
Lanisen crosses the outer ward from the direction of the inner gatehouse at a brisk walk, his face set and serious. He pauses at the foot of the northern steps, looking up, and quickly starts up the steps. “Hey, I just heard– What’d you do, what happened?” He stops next to her and a step down, offering his shoulder in place of the cane.
Megren’s lips pull into a slightly displeased line, but she accepts the help. “Just sprained my ankle; it’s nothing to fuss over.”
Lanisen says, “Who’s fussin’?” He wraps an arm around her back and looks narrowly at her hurt foot. “What’d you do?”
Megren makes a face.
Lanisen moves down the steps one at a time, carefully matching her pace.
Megren says, “Just stepped in a hole.”
Lanisen asks, “How bad’s it hurt?”
Megren says, “Um, it’s not great.”
Lanisen winces and says, “Let’s get someplace you can sit.”
Megren nods, concentrating on the steps.
Lanisen keeps quiet so she can do this more easily, just supporting.
Megren releases a relieved breath when they make it to the bottom.
Lanisen asks, “Where are you wantin’ to go?”
Megren says, “Well, I had been going to the kennels.”
Lanisen says, “Oh! Ohh.” He pauses and pushes his mouth to the side. “Well. Now where, then?”
Megren asks, “Um… have you eaten?”
Lanisen says, “I– um, I was there, and then I heard, and I came here.”
Megren frowns at him. “You could’ve eaten first.”
Lanisen shrugs, unbothered.
Megren says, “In the future please eat first.”
Lanisen says meekly, “Yes ma’am.”
Megren gestures that direction with her head.
Lanisen asks, “Where we goin’?”
Megren says, “Food.”
Lanisen says, “Let’s go to the kennel and you can sit and I’ll go get food.”
Megren makes a face at him.
Lanisen points out, “You wouldn’t mind any other day.”
Megren exclaims, “I might!”
Lanisen asks, “Do you /really/ want to sit in the servants’ mess? Where it’s stuffy and loud?”
Megren says, “Maybe I would like to bring it to /you/ in the kennel.”
Lanisen says, “Hmm,” and begins to steer them toward the kennel.
Megren scowls at him without too much venom.
Lanisen asks as they go, “What’re you hungry for?”
Megren says, “The biggest bowl of soup.”
Lanisen says, “I’ll see what I can do.” He reaches out and opens the kennel door.
Megren goes in ahead of him. She seems to have a good handle on the cane now she doesn’t have stairs to deal with.
Lanisen hovers a little, while also trying not to hover. “There anything else you need?” he asks. “They give you anything for the pain, or–”
Megren pulls an unimpressed face at him.
Lanisen says, “C’mon, give me somethin’ here.”
Megren says, “I’m fine. Hungry.”
Lanisen says, “Okay. I’ll be right back.”
Megren wrinkles her nose.
Lanisen isn’t gone long. He returns with soup and bread and a bowl of strawberries.
Megren is trying to peer under her wrapping when he returns. She guiltily drops her foot, then remembers herself and lifts it onto another chair.
Lanisen sets the food out on the table and sits across from her. “All right,” he says. “What’d they tell you, what’re you s’posed to be doing with it?”
Megren says, “Uhm.”
Lanisen asks, “Keepin’ it up, I guess? Did they say anything about…” He pauses and squints. “When I hurt mine when I was little my mum had me put it in a bucket of cold water when it wasn’t wrapped.”
Megren says, “Keeping it up mostly, and yeah, cold they said, and go in twice a day for now.”
Lanisen says, “Stairs are gonna be tricky for a couple days, huh.”
Megren makes a face.
Lanisen says, “I’ll clear out my room in the castle.”
Megren says, “What? No.”
Lanisen says reasonably, “I ain’t been sleepin’ there, I’m not goin’ to be inconvenienced.”
Megren says, “I’ve got a bed.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah, but it’s up the stairs.”
Megren makes a face at him.
Lanisen blows on a spoonful of soup placidly.
Megren pulls her own soup toward her. “If you do it, I’ll send Sir Darrin on you.”
Lanisen says, “He’ll prob’ly agree with me.”
Megren frowns hugely at him.
Lanisen says, wheedling, “Don’t make that face.”
Megren makes it even bigger!
Lanisen asks, “You want me to get some cold water?”
Megren says, “It’s /fine/.”
Lanisen says, “Sorry.”
Megren gives him a begrudgingly forgiving expression.
Lanisen considers his soup, then says, “Will you say if you need anything?”
Megren says, “Obviously.”
Lanisen says, “Really, though.”
Megren says, “Yes.”
Lanisen says, “/Anything/?”
Megren says, “Even should I require the moon.”
Lanisen grins. “Just checkin’.”
Megren says, “Anyway, I thought you’d be pleased.”
Lanisen squints at her.
Megren says, “You told me to take a break; now I am.”
Lanisen says, “You figured I’d be pleased you got hurt, so you’d have to do something you didn’t want to do.”
Megren shrugs, lifting her brows like it all makes sense to her, and turning her attention back toward her food.
Lanisen looks mildly hurt and annoyed, but also resumes eating.
Megren glances back up at him when he doesn’t say anything further. “I’m kidding,” she scolds.
Lanisen says, “Well.”
Megren lifts her brows again, not sure what this means this time.
Lanisen says, “It wasn’t a very /nice/ kidding, is all, I wouldn’t, I’m not.”
Megren says, “I know you wouldn’t, that was the joke.” She pushes her mouth to the side and then concedes, “Sorry.”
Lanisen says, “‘S all right.” He peeks at her. “I’m sorry it happened.”
Megren lifts her shoulders. “I was being stupid.”
Megren says, “Anyway.”
Lanisen asks, “What do you need from the barracks?”
Megren releases a breath unhaippily.
Lanisen pauses. “Or– what do you need to make stairs easier?”
Megren says, “I don’t know.”
Lanisen nods and picks up a strawberry.
Megren frowns at her soup.
Lanisen stays quiet, picking the leaves off the strawberry before he eats it.
Megren tries, “What’d you do today?”
Lanisen asks, “Me? Nothin’ much. Had lunch with Cass, took Nia out walkin’ in the pasture.”
Megren says, “That sounds nice.”
Lanisen asks, “What about you, what’d you do?”
Megren says, “Sir Darrin wanted to test my footing on different terrains, so I gave the horses a full assessment this morning, and then we went out to the beach to train.”
Lanisen’s eyes flit to her ankle. “Oh.”
Megren says, “It wasn’t– that was fine, actually; it was, we went over the tide pools.”
Lanisen says, “Oh, hmm.”
Megren says, “Stupid, like I said.”
Lanisen lifts his shoulders. “You could’ve, I dunno, tripped over a bucket in the middle of the ward at noon on a market day.”
Megren says, “That would have also been stupid.”
Lanisen says, “Eh.”
Megren makes a face and finishes her soup.
Lanisen says, “You can stay here if you want, too.”
Megren says, “Thanks.”
Lanisen says, “Whatever you need. Did they say how long it would be?”
Megren says, “No training for at least a week. Maybe two.”
Lanisen says, “Oh, that’s not bad.”
Megren looks like she’s trying very hard to agree.
Lanisen says, “It’ll go by quick, we’ll make it go by quick.”
Megren says, “It’s just, we were finally getting somewhere.”
Lanisen says, “Two weeks ain’t gonna set you back so far.”
Megren rubs her brow ridge in a way which hides her eyes. “I know. I’m sorry.”
Lanisen says, “No, it’s– don’t be, don’t be.”
Megren says, “It’s not a big deal; I know it’s not a big deal.”
Lanisen says, “But it is to you right now.”
Lanisen’s forehead furrows unhappily.
Megren says, “I’m sorry, you’re being a good friend and I’m not being a good friend back.”
Lanisen says, “What, no, it’s– you’re, you’re hurtin’, I know how it goes, I just– I wish I knew what would be best to say, or do, I wish I could take it for you instead.”
Megren gets an ironic sort of smile. “You’d tell me ‘sometimes you can’t fix things.'”
Lanisen says, “Just ’cause it’s true don’t mean I gotta /like/ it!”
Megren grins more freely now.
Lanisen grins back. “I’m sorry you’re hurtin’,” he says after a moment, quietly.
Megren responds in equal volume, “Thank you.”
Lanisen asks, “You want more soup?”
Megren says, “I’m okay, I think.”
Lanisen asks, “What do you need just for tonight?”
Megren rubs her cheek. “I guess I’d rather be stuck on the second floor than down here. There’s my bed and the mess there.”
Lanisen says, “All right. You want help gettin’ there?”
Megren says, “Yeah.”
Megren asks, “If I’m staying up there, will you come up to see me?”
Lanisen confesses, “I don’t know my way around up there.”
Megren asks, “If I ask Magda to give you a hand?”
Lanisen asks, “A hand?”
Megren says, “I don’t know, show you around or tell you where I am if you don’t see me or whatever.”
Lanisen rubs the back of one wrist, but says, “Yeah, all right.’
Megren pushes her mouth to the side, then finally concedes, “I’ll stay down here.”
Lanisen says, “No, I will, I’ll come up.”
Megren says, “The infirmary’s down here anyway.”
Lanisen says, “Don’t, please don’t change your mind on my account, that’s, that’s the very opposite of what you ought to be doin’.”
Megren says, “I’m not going to like it one way or another.”
Lanisen says, “You already picked the barracks ’cause it sounded better.”
Megren says, “But I’ll have to go to the infirmary.”
Lanisen says, “I’ll help you back down the stairs.”
Megren makes a skeptical face at him.
Lanisen says, “What, I will.”
Megren says, “Twice a day? No.”
Lanisen asks, “Only twice?”
Megren makes a face at him.
Lanisen says, “I will, as many times as you want.”
Megren says, “You have a real job.”
Lanisen says, “They can do without me for a couple days.”
Megren says, “I’ll sleep down here. You or Sir Darrin or someone can help me up the stairs if I really have a hankering for darts. ”
Lanisen purses up his mouth on one side, both doubtful and stern.
Megren reaches across the table very slowly with the clear aim of poking him in the forehead.
Lanisen goes cross-eyed watching her finger.
Megren boops him right between the brows.
Megren smiles, satisfied.
Lanisen rubs his forehead. “Really, though?” he asks.
Megren says, “You can go up and have Magda help you find my amethyst and –” she pauses, “I guess my dress, if I’m not training, and my comb, if you want to do something.”
Lanisen dimples up a little at the first on the list, surprised and pleased, and gets to his feet. “Amethyst, dress, comb,” he recites. “Anything else?”
Megren rubs her temple. “Um… maybe, the comb is in a box, maybe just the whole box I guess. It’s got my toothbrush in it and everything.”
Lanisen says, “Amethyst, dress, box.”
Lanisen asks, “Anything else?”
Megren says, “That’s, I think that’s all, probably.”
Lanisen asks, “Where should I look for Magda?”
Megren says, “She’s done with her shift for the night; she’ll be in the mess or the women’s barracks. Probably the second.”
Lanisen hesitates, given pause by this, then rallies and nods. “I’ll be back.”
Megren says, “Perth’ll be able to point you to her.”
Lanisen says, “All right.”
Megren says, “Thank you.”
Lanisen says, “No, it’s– it’s no trouble, you’re sure you wouldn’t rather–?
Megren says, “Yeah, yeah, I’m sure.”
Lanisen still looks slightly doubtful and anxious, but nods. “Back in a few, then. You need anything before I go?”
Megren shakes her head.
Lanisen says, “All right,” and heads for the door.
Megren leans her head in her hand to wait for him to return.
Lanisen returns after perhaps a quarter of an hour, carrying a crate packed neatly with Megren’s requested belongings. He opens the door a little awkwardly and kicks it shut with one foot, then carries the crate to Megren at the table. “I got the books too,” he says. “I wasn’t sure you’d want ’em but they were there, and.” He shrugs.
Megren says, “Oh. Thanks, yeah, they’re, thanks.”
Lanisen asks, “Are they the ones you’ve read so often you’re sick of ’em? They are, aren’t they.”
Megren says, “No, they’re just from the library. Nathen’ll prefer I get them read and to him.”
Lanisen says, “Oh, good.”
Megren says, “Thank you.”
Lanisen asks, “Do you want to set up here or at my room in the castle?”
Megren says, “Oh, um, here’s, I don’t want to take your space.”
Lanisen says, “I’m barely usin’ it. I dunno why I still got it, even.”
Megren looks uncertain.
Lanisen says, “You can, if you want you can stay here, just I figured it’d be quieter.” He pauses, and his eyes stray to the door in the west wall. “Or, or I can talk to Danall, he don’t use his room here unless it’s a hunt day, he wouldn’t mind.”
Megren says, “No, no, it’s, I guess, your room, your room is fine.”
Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side, stuck on the idea. “If you’re here you can yell and I can do runnin’ for you. There’s a couple weeks until the next big hunt, he won’t mind.”
Megren screws up her mouth. “I didn’t lose my whole leg you know.”
Lanisen says, “No, I know.”
Megren says, “We can, I can do your room. I won’t be so in the way there.”
Lanisen says, “No, no, you won’t be in the way. You’re never in the way here.”
Megren screws up her face again.
Lanisen assures her, “You’re not.”
Megren says, “Your room is fine. You can ask Danall about his for tomorrow if you really want.”
Lanisen says, “All right.”
Megren places her hand on the table to push herself up into a standing position.
Lanisen asks, “Are we goin’ now?”
Megren says, “What? I don’t know.”
Lanisen says, “No, it’s, that’s fine if you want.”
Megren says, “I don’t know.”
Lanisen says, “Whatever you want to do.”
Megren says, “I don’t know, I’m, I guess I’m tired.”
Lanisen’s mouth twists sympathetically, and he says, “Let’s get you set up over there, then, and you can go to bed if you want to.”
Megren reaches for her cane. “Can you, can you take the box?”
Lanisen says, already reaching for it, “No, you have to carry it.”
Megren threatens, “I will.”
Lanisen snorts. He settles the box in one arm against his side, leaving his other shoulder free if Megren needs it.
Megren seems to have generally figured out the use of her cane without assistance by now, and she moves ahead to open the door.
Lanisen says, “Uhn-uh,” and gets there first.
Megren gets the sort of impudent half grin that says she expected this reaction and went for it anyway and now is trying to hide how pleased she is about getting the exact reaction she has expected.
Lanisen says, “Hmf.”
Megren smiles at him with the innocence of a smug child, and passed through the door.
Lanisen shuts the door behind them and follows her, staying casually close in case she steps wrong and suddenly needs support.
Megren is distinctly slow.
Lanisen asks as they go, “Did they give you any willow bark or anything?”
Megren says, “Yes. I’ll–probably take some once we get settled.”
Lanisen asks, frowning, “You got it with you?”
Megren pats her pocket.
Lanisen says, “Good, all right.”
Lanisen says, squinting one eye thoughtfully, “It’s pretty clean, I think, but I’ll get new sheets. You need anything for the night we don’t already got?”
Megren says, “No, I don’t –” she pauses and then admits, “Maybe some water.””
Lanisen says, “I was figurin’ on that, yeah.”
Megren steps back, out of the way, when they reach the servant’s landing. “Do you want a minute to got things sorted, or anything?”
Lanisen says, “I’m not gonna leave you standin’ in the hall when there’s a perfectly good chair inside.”
Megren says, “There’s a wall here.”
Lanisen says, unlocking the door, “No.” He opens the door and steps aside.
Megren shrugs, and thumps on in.
Lanisen slips in after her and pulls out the chair. He sets the key down on the desk for her and begins stripping down the bed.
Megren settles slowly into the chair, sliding her bad ankle forward as she sinks down. Once she’s seated, she starts fishing for her willow bark.
Lanisen makes quick work of the sheets and bundles them up roughly to carry to the laundry. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
Megren nods, frowning a bit as she pulls it out.
Lanisen stops and rearranges so that he can carry the bundle with one arm and grabs the empty pitcher off the table with the other. “Wait a minute to take that, if you can?” he suggests. “It tastes pretty bad, I’ll bring water.”
Megren releases a breath through her nose. “Okay.”
Lanisen says, “I’ll hurry, I’m sorry, I should’ve done that first, I’ll hurry.”
Megren says, “It’s okay.”
Lanisen is already out the door and heading for the kitchens.
Megren leans forward to rest her forehead in her hands for a long moment.
Lanisen returns very shortly, carrying an empty bucket and a full pitcher. He drops the bucket by the door and crosses to fill the cup for her, then vanishes again with the bucket.
Megren sits up when she hears him coming. The cup is empty and the willow bark has disappeared again by the time he returns.
Lanisen hauls in the bucket, now nearly full with icy water from the reservoir downstairs. He sets it down by her feet and straightens, letting out a breath.
Megren says, “Oh. you didn’t have to–”
Lanisen says, “Just let it cool for a bit until the willow bark starts up, yeah?”
Megren bend down to remove her shoe to that end.
Lanisen turns away, opening the wardrobe to get a fresh set of sheets and a washtowel. He sets the towel on the table next to her and starts to make the bed.
Megren sucks in a breath through her nose as she places her for in the water.
Lanisen hisses through his teeth in sympathy, looking at her ankle and then at her face.
Megren says, “It’s fine, it’s fine.”
Lanisen says, “You don’t gotta pretend it don’t hurt, it’s, you can yell if you want.”
Megren says, “I’m sure Dalia or whoever would appreciate that.”
Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side. He unfolds one sheet and casts it over the bed, circling to straighten and tuck in corners.
Megren pushes her hair back, watching him.
Lanisen is meticulous but efficient, and in short order all four corners are tucked with not a wrinkle to be seen. He unfurls the second and begins again.
Megren asks, “Can I help?”
Lanisen gives her an exasperated look. He picks up the pillow, punches it into shape, and plops it at the head of the bed. “It’s pretty warm, I don’t think you’ll need a blanket,” he says, but sets a folded one at the end of the bed anyway, then goes to open the window.
Megren says, “Thank you.”
Lanisen shakes his head slightly, dismissive, and glances around the room critically to see what else might be done.
Megren says, “It’s fine; it’s good.”
Lanisen asks, “You want me to head out so you can get some sleep?”
Megren says, “I might — um, I think I better sit up and keep it cold a while longer.”
Lanisen nods. “D’you want me to stay until then, or clear out?”
Megren asks, “Stay?”
Lanisen says agreeably, “All right.” He backs to the wall by the door and slides down to sit on the floor. “Is it feelin’ any better?” he asks, nodding at her foot.
Megren says, “Sort of throbby.”
Lanisen says, “I’m sorry.”
Megren says, “Me too.”
Lanisen asks, “Whatcha thinkin’?”
Megren says, “Trying to think what I can work on that doesn’t use two feet.”
Lanisen hmms thoughtfully. “Swingin’ on ropes,” he suggests.
Megren says, “Climbing, if I’m very strong.”
Lanisen says, “Throwing rocks at things.”
Megren says, “A favorite pasttime.”
Lanisen says, “You never know when it might come in useful.”
Megren says, “Hand stands.”
Lanisen says, “Important skill, hand stands.”
Megren says, “Perhaps the most important.”
Lanisen says, “I used to be able to walk on my hands.”
Megren asks, “Yeah?”
Lanisen says, “Mm. I could make it, oh, I guess about from here to the door out there.”
Megren asks, “I could sort of tumble a few steps?”
Lanisen says, “No tumbling.”
Megren screws up her face.
Lanisen asks, “What do you want to do that you haven’t had time to do?”
Megren’s lips pull into a line.
Lanisen suggests, “Books you’ve wanted to read, friends out of the castle you’ve wanted to see? You could sit in at the infirmary and get Adrian to teach you stuff, or–”
Megren says, “Oh,” she nods. “The infirmary, that’s good.”
Lanisen asks, “What else have you been wantin’ to learn? Not even just for bein’ a knight, just for the sake of knowin’.”
Megren scratches the back of her head, looking a little boggled. “Just for knowing?”
Lanisen encourages, “Yeah, you know– ain’t you ever walked through the market and gone ‘I wonder how they made that’, or, or– oh! There’s a book in the library, I found it last week, it’s about the stars and the stories that go with ’em.”
Megren says, “You can’t learn a whole craft in a week.”
Lanisen says, “Well, no. But you can learn somethin’ new about it in a week, I bet.”
Megren hmms. “The stars sounds interesting.”
Lanisen says, “We’ll hunt it down tomorrow.”
Megren says, “Okay.”
Lanisen asks, “How’s it feelin’ now?”
Megren says, “A little better.”
Lanisen asks, “Is the water cool enough? I can go get new.”
Megren says, “It’s fine. The willow bark is helping.”
Lanisen says, “Good, all right.” He draws a deep breath and glances around again. “Is there /anything/ else you might need?”
Megren shakes her head. “I might, I might sleep,” she says apologetically.
Lanisen says, “Yeah, all right.” He pushes his mouth to the side, unsatisfied. “If you need anything in the middle of the night…”
Megren says, “I’ll be fine.”
Lanisen says, “If you wake up and need somethin’, get the night guard to send somebody to get me, yeah?”
Megren says, “Fine, fine.”
Lanisen doesn’t look entirely satisfied, but he sighs and gets to his feet. “All right. Sleep good.”
Megren pushes herself up and moves toward the bed. “Thanks. You too.”
Lanisen hesitates in case she needs help, then slips out.