Lanisen is sitting alone at one of the back tables, hunched comfortably over a book.
Susan sweeps into the room, dress trailing. She doesn’t notice that anyone else is present, and runs her fingers along the spines on a particular bookshelf, humming.
Lanisen is too absorbed to even notice anybody else in the room for a moment, but he glances up at the humming. He gets quickly to his feet, his head ducked respectfully.
Susan turns at the sound. “Oh Lanisen, a pleasure to see you again.”
Lanisen says, “Um,” and swallows, bowing quickly. “Good afternoon, your majesty.”
Susan notes the book in his hand. “Have you found something to your taste?”
Lanisen looks down at the book. He sets it down on the table and moves his hand away, half-guilty. “Y– um, yes, ma’am.”
Susan smiles. “Well? Don’t keep me in suspense.”
Lanisen says, “It’s, it’s just a storybook, I thought I might, um, look through for somethin’ about white stags for Tarkaan Chlamash, but it’s–” He glances at the window rather ruefully. “I lost track of time, I just been readin’.”
Susan laughs. “Tis the most delightful thing, isn’t it? To lose oneself in a book. My royal sister has learned on more than one occasion that I am as grouchy as an old badger if she rouses me too soon from a really fine tale.
Lanisen raises his eyebrows and grins, a sudden thing that transforms his entire face, not unpleasantly. “It’s the /worst/,” he declares, shaking his head. “Don’t they know there’s story-folks in peril?”
Susan says, “One would think Lucy of all people would understand that. She’s fond of a good yarn herself. But no, sometimes there are duties that must be attended to, if you can imagine.”
Lanisen ducks his head and laughs.
Susan says, “Do you take much time to read when you’re at home? Anvard has a beautiful library. All that carved wood.”
Lanisen is standing by one of the far tables, his hands at his sides, talking with Susan. “Um, when, when I can, your majesty,” he answers.
Susan says, “I suppose your work keeps you very busy.”
Lanisen says, shifting with some embarrassment, “Oh, no– not, not so very busy, it’s only I don’t like takin’ books into the kennels.”
Susan gives him an understanding look. “Librarians don’t appreciate gnawed corners, it’s true.”
Lucy enters the library, holding an older tome of Narnian tales. She puts the book away with a sigh and turns around, hearing voices.
Lanisen says, “No, ma’am.” He glances at her and starts to ask something in return, but the sound of Lucy’s entrance catches his attention. He straightens, and then bows quickly when she turns.
Susan turns as well. “Lucy! Finished another so soon?”
Lucy nods to Lanisen in return and to her sister a deeper nod of mutual respect. She answers Susan, “Another to no avail. None of these books seem to have the tale I am looking for.”
Lanisen keeps quiet, folding his hands in front of him.
Susan asks, “And what tale is that, dear sister?”
Lucy rubs her eyes tiredly. “The White stag. It feels like a fairy tale Narnia would have.”
Lanisen glances between them, new comprehension in his face.
Susan asks, “You haven’t been able to find anything at all?”
Lucy shakes her head negatively. “Nothing. As mysterious as the stag itself.”
Susan asks, “Have you asked the Trees?”
Lanisen opens his mouth, but hesitates and doesn’t say anything.
Lucy considers her sister’s advice. “I have not. Maybe I ought to try that next.”
Susan lifts a delicate shoulder. “The River’s daughters as well…most of them are older. But the Trees are more likely to have seen, if there’s anything to see.”
Lanisen rubs his elbow.
Lucy nods. “I imagine if anyone they would know. I cannot imagine the white stag is anything evil or else there would have been a panic. Its speed is legendary according to what I have heard, which makes me wonder if perhaps it is magic.”
Susan laughs lightly. “Most things in Narnia are.”
Lanisen’s forehead furrows curiously at this and he glances between them.
Lucy smiles in good humour. “That is true.” She notices the man’s expression and mistakes it for something else. “But who is your company? I did not mean to interrupt your conversation for advice for which I could just as easily disturbed your nightly reading.”
Susan smothers a laugh behind her hand, then composes herself. “Lanisen, please allow me to present our royal sister, Queen Lucy of Narnia. Lucy, this is Lanisen, a friend of Sir Darrin’s who has accompanied him and his squire on a tour of our domain.
Lanisen drops his hands to his sides and bows to Lucy. “Your majesty.”
Lucy nods in return. “Be welcome, Lanisen. I had not heard Sir Darrin had arrived.”
Lucy nods in return. “Be welcome, Lanisen.”
Susan says, “You would not believe how I found them, sister. Bootless at the tide pools and meaning to pass us by.”
Lanisen blushes bright red.
Lucy raises an eyebrow in a mock stern fashion. “That’s quite a picture you paint, sister.”
Susan says, “It’s perfectly true…well, not quite perfectly. The squire still had her boots on.”
Lanisen ducks his head awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck.
Lucy looks from Lanisen to her sister, awaiting further explanation.
Susan says, “I am not entirely sure what they were doing, to be honest. Only Lord Darrin said it was nearly criminal to be wearing shoes on such a day.”
Lucy breaks her stern character and chuckles! “He would, wouldn’t he?”
Susan says, “Well, and why shouldn’t he? It /was/ lovely out.”
Lanisen pulls his lips between his teeth, dimpling.
Lucy agrees, “It was! I am not blaming the good sir. I rather agree with him. Had I been there, I would have jumped in, myself.”
Susan says, “Oh, no doubt. You might have brought home crabs for supper.”
Lanisen lifts his eyebrows at this and looks to Lucy. He rubs his right shoulder briefly and drops his hand back to his side.
Lucy laughs, “And tasty crabs they would have been with butter and seasonings.”
Susan says, “A missed opportunity.”
Lanisen ventures, “You weren’t, you weren’t jokin’ when you asked if we were lookin’ for crabs, then, your majesty?”
Susan blinks. “No, why would I have been? They’re common enough in the pools.”
Lucy listens with amusement to the banter.
Lanisen says humbly, “Oh. I didn’t know.”
Susan gauges the length of the sunlight entering through the windows. “I fear I’ve tarried too long. I only meant to find something to read before bed, but there is much to
be done in the meantime.
Lanisen straightens, abashed. “I’m sorry for keepin’ you, your majesty.”
Susan says, “Not at all.”
Lucy says, “Rest well, sister.”
Susan says, “I shall. By your leave.”
Susan leaves the room.
Lanisen pulls his lips between his teeth as Susan departs and glances at Lucy, half-wary.
Lucy watches her sister depart and then turns back to Lanisen. “Maybe next time I’ll join all of you for crabbing.”
Lanisen says, “Oh, we– we weren’t actually crabbin’, your majesty.”
Megren comes into the library, carrying a few books.
Lucy says, “Of course not. Otherwise you would have brought buckets with you. Boots make poor containers, as I learned on one occasion. I only mean that if you do go crabbing, I would like to go with you.””
Lanisen says, “Oh, sorry, your majesty.” He pauses and admits, “I never been crabbin’, I dunno what’s…”
Megren, seeing her friend with the queen, moves in that direction.
Lanisen is standing beside one of the tables toward the back of the room.
Lucy smiles kindly, “Nobody and nobeast is an expert fisher on their first try. Not even with the best teachers.”
Megren stands at a polite distance.
Lanisen’s eyes shift past Lucy to catch sight of Megren. He grins in greeting.
Lucy also turns to see who has come. Upon seeing the woman, she smiles. “You must be the squire of Sir Darrin. I was hoping to meet you while you were here in Narnia.”
Megren bows, nose wrinkling a little and face flushing. “Hello, yes, I’m called Megren.”
Lanisen rubs his elbow and takes a step back, grinning at the floor.
Lucy nods in return. “Well-met, Megren.”
Megren smiles. “And you, your majesty. Am I interrupting?”
Lanisen keeps quiet, not interrupting the meeting.
Lucy shakes her head. “No. We were just talking about something Queen Susan had mentioned about Tidal pools and I suggested an outing for crab fishing. All of us- Sir Darrin, Lanisen, you, and me. Maybe even Queen Susan, if she has the leisure.”
Megren exclaims, “Oh! I’d love that. I’ve never been.”
Lucy says, “And then at supper a feast of crabs with butter and spices as a reward.”
Megren says, “I’ve never eaten it, either; that sounds lovely.”
Lanisen looks vaguely suspicious. He pushes his mouth to the side.
Lucy assures her, “It is a lovely treat.” Then sensing the lateness of the hour, “I did want to talk with you both longer, but I ought to retire for the night now if I intend to rise early. Have a goodnight, Megren, Lanisen. I’m sure we’ll be able to talk again soon.”
Lanisen bows. “Good night, your majesty.”
Megren says, “Oh, yes, of course.” She bows and echoes, “Good night, your majesty.”
Lucy nods and departs with a “Rest well.”