Castle Anvard

Lanisen is awake early and moving quietly around the kennel. The water trough has already been emptied and refilled, and breakfast is being portioned out to excited hounds that bounce and chuff and growl, but do not bay.

Megren sleeps later than usual, which still leaves her to rise at a reasonable hour, early enough to catch some of the hounds’ morning meal.

Lanisen glances up when she starts to stir and makes a wincing, apologetic face. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

Megren scrubs her hand through her hair. “Mmm? Oh. I would’ve got up eventually.”

Lanisen offers, glancing at the table, “There’s cheese scones. Ren says good morning and welcome back.”

Megren mms sleepily and mourns, “I miss Ren.”

Lanisen laughs under his breath. “Ren’s not going anywhere, you can go say hello.”

Megren tugs her blanket up over her head.

Lanisen finishes with the dogs and sits with them for a moment while they eat, then gets up and goes to the table. He fetches the plate of scones and the kettle and carries them to the fire, setting the kettle on to heat and the scones on the hearth where the fire will warm them.

Megren mumbles from under her tent, “They smell too good.”

Lanisen grins. He sits on the hearth next to the plate and digs out his stone with the tongs.

Megren eventually sits up, the blanket still pulled over her head and around her shoulders.

Lanisen gets his stone settled. Tohol has followed him, and he draws the big dog’s attention gently away from the plate of scones and instead to some ear-rubs.

Megren asks, “How’s your shoulder?”

Lanisen says, looking into Tohol’s face, “It’s better. Yesterday wasn’t very fun, but we’re home now, aren’t we, yes we are.” The hound’s tongue lolls out.

Megren wrinkles her nose pleasantly.

Lanisen asks, “How’d you sleep?”

Megren admits, “Like my head hurt.”

Lanisen looks up at her, his forehead furrowing with concern. “Do you need anything? There’s water, I’ll get some water–”

Megren says, “I wouldn’t say no to water.”

Lanisen snags a cup off the shelf and goes to the pitcher on the table, Tohol trailing along behind him like a big black hug-starved omen. He returns with the cup full, the water clear and still very cold.

Megren accepts it gratefully.

Lanisen offers, “Do you want me to rub your head or somethin’?”

Megren says, “All right.”

Lanisen sits back down on the hearth and beckons her over to sit in front of him.

Megren moves over to him and sinks down heavily.

Lanisen settles his hands on her head, combing lightly through the nighttime tangles. “Where’s it sore?”

Megren indicates the left ridge of her head and temple. “It’s not as bad as it was,” she admits.

Lanisen smooths his fingertips over the ridge, pressing moderately. “Say if I’m makin’ it worse.”

Megren nods, closing her eyes and leaning back against the hearth.

Lanisen works quietly and rather meditatively. The fire is warm behind them and Tohol comes back to join them. He sniffs at the scones, then circles and flops next to them, leaning heavily on Megren.

Megren opens her eyes and scratches between the dog’s ears.

Lanisen asks, “Just settlin’ back in today, I guess?’ Tohol squirms until he’s half sprawled across Megren’s lap, his tongue hanging out blissfully.

Megren says, ” I should check with Sir Chal about the defense classes. ”

Lanisen mms.

Megren says, “We forgot Haft’s knife.”

Lanisen says, “Oh–” His hands pause. “We did, didn’t we.”

Megren looses a breath.

Lanisen says, “I’m sorry.”

Megren says, “I’m sure he’ll — he probably won’t even notice.”

Lanisen says, “We’ll be back, I’m sure. One of us, or both.”

Megren just says, “Yeah.”

Lanisen keeps quietly massaging along her hairline. “What’re you thinkin’?” he asks after a little while.

Megren gives a noncommittal shrug.

Lanisen doesn’t push it.

Megren takes a breath like she’s going to say something, but then she doesn’t.

Lanisen stays quiet, waiting to see if she will, but the silence is easy.

Megren asks, “What do you think about Jana now, in the light of day?”

Lanisen asks, “What do you mean?”

Megren asks, “Will you go?”

Lanisen’s hands pause. He draws a deep breath.

Megren shifts to look at his face.

Lanisen looks back at her, then averts his eyes. “It’s–” he starts, then shuts his mouth and swallows.

Megren sits up fully and embraces him, seeming to comfort herself as much with the hug as him.

Lanisen pulls into himself a little, his shoulders hunching up. “It’s, it’s stupid, it’s… selfish, it’s so selfish, I’m–” He shuts his eyes and releases a short breath. “It’s, it’s, it’s Myrd, I’m– he’ll be angry, he’ll be so angry, I don’t know how to–”

Megren pulls out of the embrace, but only a very little. “What if you joined the northern guard?”

Lanisen has no answer to this. He looks back at her, completely lost.

Megren says, “You could go and help for a while, and you’d be near, and you could talk to Jana more, and see for yourself, and be out of Myrd’s way, and have people watching for you.”

Lanisen says, “I’m not– I can’t, I can’t fight, they wouldn’t–”

Megren says, “Sir Darrin says you’re doing good with him, and guarding’s hardly ever fighting. I bet they need extra hands making sure everyone’s cared for, just now.”

Lanisen rubs a hand over his mouth.

Megren hugs him again.

Lanisen doesn’t really respond. He swallows a couple of times.

Megren says, “I don’t want you to go.”

Lanisen says, “Is that–” He swallows again and asks, seeming to have a difficult time with the words, “Do you mean I shouldn’t?”

Megren says regretfully, “No, I don’t mean that.”

Lanisen pushes his hair out of his face with a hand that is trembling slightly. “You, you think I should be a guard.”

Megren says, “I don’t know.”

Lanisen doesn’t seem to know what to do with this. He twists his hands in his lap.

Megren says, “I’ll help you how I can with whatever you do.”

Lanisen says, “But you won’t–”

Megren doesn’t seem to anticipate how he’s going to end this.

Lanisen says, “You won’t, you won’t be there.”

Megren’s expression regains some of it’s melancholy and she shakes her head. “I don’t, I don’t think so.”

Lanisen pushes the heel of his hand into his temple and nods.

Megren takes a breath, releases it, and then hugs him again.

Lanisen doesn’t say anything else. He’s still trembling slightly, and his eyes skitter across the floor back and forth without focusing, but there’s a little furrow between his eyebrows that looks like plan-forming.

Megren shifts so that she is sitting beside him again, but still has her head nestled on his shoulder. She presses her lips together self-pityingly.

Lanisen says, “What if I don’t get on the guard?”

Megren says absently, “You write ahead and ask.”

Lanisen says, “Isn’t there–” He lets out a shaky, frustrated breath. “They’re not, they’re /not/ gonna let me, nobody in their right mind would let me on any guard.”

Megren says, “You’re… I think you’re probably a really good candidate. They’re already set up. They don’t need more fighters, they just need competent people who care and like helping. That’s what I’d be looking for if I were the head of the guard.”

Lanisen says, “I’m scared of Myrd and he knows it and I don’t know how not to be, that’s not– I’m– People /scare/ me, I’m not good at people like you are, I can’t–”

Megren says, “You don’t have to.”

Lanisen covers his face.

Megren says, “You’ll figure out the right thing.”

Lanisen says, “I don’t–” He swallows. “I don’t know who’s head of the guard.”

Megren nods.

Lanisen drops his hands and folds forward, resting his arms on his knees. He looks sick.

Megren says, “You don’t have to do it, you don’t have to do it.”

Lanisen says, “I don’t– I don’t know what else to do, I don’t know what to do.”

Megren says, “You have, you don’t have to decide today.”

Lanisen doesn’t say anything. He cups his hands around his neck.

Megren rubs his back and kisses the side of his head.

Lanisen bows his head and laces his fingers behind his neck, exhaling. He seems ashamed.

Megren says, “Hey, look, I’m, I shouldn’t have suggested it.”

Lanisen says, “No, it’s, it’s–”

Megren releases a breath through her nose.

Lanisen draws another breath and lets it go, carefully measured. “It’s a good idea, it’s, it is.”

Megren closes her eyes.

Lanisen says, “I’m–” He stops, not looking up, then nods a little. “I’ll, I’ll write, I’ll do it.”

Megren asks, “Yeah?”

Lanisen doesn’t answer or look at her.

Megren says, “I love you.”

Lanisen’s shoulders hunch up slightly.

Megren says, “Whatever you do, I mean.”

Lanisen says, “Please–”

Megren’s lips turn downward.

Lanisen says, “I don’t– I don’t want to be…”

Megren’s hand squeezes his shoulder lightly.

Lanisen says, “I don’t want to be too afraid to do things, I don’t want–” He takes a deep, quick breath. “I don’t want that anymore.”

Megren nods to show her understanding.

Lanisen shuts his eyes and swallows, still breathing with difficulty. “I’m really afraid,” he admits quietly.

Megren says, “You don’t have to beat every fear all at once.”

Lanisen doesn’t say anything to this.

Megren says, “You made friends with Jana, did you ever think you’d do that?”

Lanisen says, “That’s different.”

Megren asks, “Why?”

Lanisen shifts, frustrated. “Because, it– She wasn’t, she wasn’t the one I was scared of. Because you were there, Sir Darrin was there, I could, I could get away when I chose and go be with people who…”

Megren says, “You did it without us, though.”

Lanisen says, “No, I didn’t.”

Megren says, “You did it against my advice, anyway, and without me beside you.”

Lanisen doesn’t answer and doesn’t look at her. This seems to be more avoidance than concession.

Megren says again, “You don’t have to do everything right off.”

Lanisen says, “I don’t know what that means.”

Megren says, “The passes will probably close soon. You’ve got months until they’re open again to sort yourself out and decide.”

Lanisen rubs a hand over his mouth.

Megren runs her hand across his shoulders.

Lanisen goes quiet. It’s an exhausted, overwhelmed sort of silence, though he isn’t trembling anymore.

Megren says again, “I love you.”

Lanisen says, “Love you too.” But he doesn’t look at her, and his shoulders hunch up again in what looks like shame.

Megren says, “Are you–” she releases a breath. “I wish I knew how to help, I feel like I keep making things worse.”

Lanisen begs, “Can we talk about somethin’ else?”

Megren closes her mouth.

Lanisen pauses. He shuts his eyes and his mouth, and then says, “I’m, I’m sorry, I didn’t– I’m sorry.”

Megren says, “There’s, you don’t have anything to be sorry for.”

Lanisen gets to his feet and goes to the table, pouring himself a cup of water. He still looks pale and sick with apprehension.

Megren watches him worriedly.

Lanisen takes a long drink, then sets the cup down. He leans on the table.

Megren stands up. “I– listen, Lanisen, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have brought it up–”

Lanisen says, “No, that’s–” He shudders and shuts his eyes briefly. “I’m only, I’m only tryin’ to get my head around it, please…”

Megren closes her mouth again and holds her elbows.

Lanisen fills the cup again and drinks.

Megren screws up her mouth unhappily.

Lanisen says, “I’m, I’m tryin’ to think of another way.”

Megren nods.

Lanisen asks desperately, “Is there one?”

Megren says, “I don’t know. You could write to her and ask.”

Lanisen nods. He looks down at his water.

Megren rubs her forearm.

Lanisen says again, “I can’t, I can’t be a guard.”

Megren doesn’t argue or agree.

Lanisen rubs his temple, his face screwing up.

Megren picks up the pitcher and moves toward the door to refill it.

Lanisen sinks down at the table as she goes and rests his head in his hands.

Megren brings the pitcher back inside and refills his cup.

Lanisen sits up again when the door opens and folds his arms in front of him on the table. He murmurs thanks, not looking at her.

Megren sinks down beside him.

Lanisen drinks silently. He looks tired.

Megren folds her arms around him.

Lanisen shuts his eyes and sways toward her, but his shoulders are hunched and stiff, as if he is ashamed to need the comfort so badly.

Megren says, “I don’t know what I would do if I were you.”

Lanisen rubs his eyes. “You’d– charm everybody and find a place with a dozen new friends on the first day, and you’d know what to do with Myrd and you wouldn’t get scared or cowed if he got angry.”

Megren shakes her head. “I don’t think so. Not if I were really you, and had your history with him. It’s not the same.”

Lanisen swallows.

Megren says, “I love you for wanting to help, and, having seen you in Narnia, and how you didn’t shy from Jana when you could have, I think if you wanted to help her, you could do it, well. But it’s a lot to ask, it’s more to ask than anyone could reasonably expect.”

Lanisen says, “I, I want to help, I do want to help.”

Megren says, “I know, and I’ll help you help if you choose to, if I can.”

Lanisen nods, glancing at her from the corner of his eye. “Thank you.”

Megren nods, pushing her mouth to the side.

Lanisen takes another drink.

Megren folds her hands on the table.

Lanisen gets up again, rather suddenly, and goes to the shelf to re-organize things that have gotten disarranged in his absence.

Megren rubs her knees uncomfortably.

Lanisen works with a sort of twitchy, trapped energy.

Megren tucks her hair behind her ear and gets up to see if there’s something she can clean for him.

Lanisen meticulously rearranges, shifting dishes into their usual places and lining the tea tins up smallest to largest. He moves a cup up to its usual shelf, but it slips through his fingers and shatters on the floor. He stares down at it, then kneels mutely to pick up the shards.

Megren chooses sweeping to occupy herself, but when Lanisen drops the cup, she stops. “Hey, do you want to… Do you want to go for a walk or something?”

Lanisen says, distracted, “Um…” He piles the broken pieces loosely in his right hand. “I– sure, sure.” He stands and looks around a little helplessly for the rubbish crate, which has moved.

Megren says, “You can put them in the one outside.”

Lanisen nods and goes, ducking his head.

Megren blows out a breath before following.

Lanisen drops the broken pieces of cup in the trash and goes back inside. He sweeps the space in front of the shelf very carefully, inspecting the ground to make sure no tiny pieces remain to get lodged in paws or feet.

Megren tries to stay or of his way.

Lanisen leans the broom against the wall in its place. He stands for a moment, rubbing his elbow and looking a little bit lost, then remembers and goes to get his scarf and coat.

Megren waits with her back up against the door.

Lanisen puts on his coat, turning away from her to do up the buttons: his hand is stiff and it takes him a moment. “All right,” he says, turning back to her, ready to go.

Megren holds out her hand to him.

Lanisen hesitates, then takes her hand.

Megren squeezes once and leads him out the door. “Now — where to?”

Lanisen says, “Wherever’s, wherever’s fine, I don’t care.”

Megren asks, “Inside the castle or out?”

Lanisen says, “You, you pick.”

Megren tilts her head thoughtfully, and then pulls him toward the stables.

Lanisen follows along, glancing around the relatively quiet outer ward as they pass through. His demeanor has reverted almost entirely from the easy, engaged confidence he displayed in Narnia to the quiet wariness that is typical for him in public.

Megren also seems quieter than she has been, although this is more unusual to her, regardless of the locale. Nevertheless, she doesn’t let go of his hand until she’s pulled him right up to the waterfall, which left slick, clear ice in the splashback, but which still runs fully liquid into the pool.

Lanisen tucks his hand into his pocket when she releases it. He watches the water.

Megren does too, though she glances at him once or twice.

Lanisen catches one of these glances. He ducks his head.

Megren says, “I wish I could choose for you, or make what you chose easy for you.”

Lanisen doesn’t answer. He looks drained and still ashamed.

Megren hesitates, and then says, “You seemed more natural there.”

Lanisen asks, “What?”

Megren says, “You’re always–” she takes a breath. “Even, even with Myrd, you weren’t so on edge, in Narnia; you seemed more — more as you were meant to be, you seemed you-er.”

Lanisen says, “Oh.”

Megren’s shoulders drop a little.

Lanisen says, “You’d– you’d said somethin’ like that, while we were there.” He lifts his shoulders slightly and shakes his head.

Megren says, “I wish you were like that here.”

Lanisen goes still and startled for a moment. He shifts his weight. “I’m– I’m sorry…”

Megren looks at him. “Oh– no. I didn’t mean it like that.”

Lanisen rubs the side of his face, glancing back toward the castle.

Megren releases a breath.

Lanisen says, “I’ll try to, I’ll try to–” He stops and shuts his eyes briefly. “No, I’m– sorry, it’s, it’s different, I don’t know how to–”

Megren says, “I don’t mean to ask it of you, I know it’s not the same. I’m not asking anything.”

Lanisen stops talking. He moistens his lips and nods.

Megren says, “I’m sorry, I’m saying all kinds of wrong things.”

Lanisen says, shifting to face her more fully, “No, that’s– it’s not, it’s not you.”

Megren says, “It partly is. Usually I figure out what to say.”

Lanisen says, “I don’t– I’m sorry, I don’t know how to, to think about it, or talk about it, I can’t–”

Megren asks, “Do you want to try, or do you want to think about or talk about something else?’

Lanisen shifts. “Something else?” he requests, lowering his head.

Megren nods, and says, “Have you seen Dalia yet?”

Lanisen shakes his head. “She wasn’t in the kitchen when I went.”

Megren says, “She’ll be glad to see you, I should think.”

Lanisen says, “It’ll be good to see her.”

Megren says, “And Reina.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah.”

Megren says, “And your best friend Nathen.”

Lanisen shifts uncomfortably, glancing back toward the castle.

Megren screws up her face at him. “I’m teasing.” She goes back to listing. “Sir Myles and Sir Chal, and Mistress Sareen.”

Lanisen draws a deep breath and nods.

Megren says, “Tohol, and Maisie, and Nia, and all the ones I get mixed up with each other.”

Lanisen says, “Yes.”

Megren says, “Tiny and Mew.”

Lanisen says, “You got a long list.”

Megren says, “That’s /your/ list.”

Lanisen says, “Right, yeah.”

Megren says, “My list is much shorter; I won’t be glad to see anyone.”

Lanisen snorts and looks down, grinning faintly.

Megren wrinkles her nose at the waterfall thoughtfully.

Lanisen says, “It’s too cold for swimmin’.”

Megren glances at him, confused, and then she wrinkles her nose again and sticks out her tongue.

Lanisen half-grins, tired but trying.

Megren looks back at the waterfall. “I was just thinking about how–” she squints an eye. “Like… I had a glove that I wore all the time, and then I lost it and I had to get a new one, and I didn’t like the new one as well, and then I found the old one again maybe a year or more later, I was thinking about how it felt to look at it again.”

Lanisen blinks a few times.

Megren looks at the waterfall again. “I mean, I was glad I had it back, and it worked better, but I was all used to the new one.”

Lanisen pauses. “You’re not talkin’ about gloves,” he reasons. “But I’m not sure what it is you are talkin’ about.”

Megren lifts her shoulders. “I guess — just everything’s so familiar suddenly, and nothing’s been familiar in over a month, and that feels strange, and familiarity feeling strange is strange too.”

Lanisen says, “Oh.” He pauses, and nods. “I know what you mean.”

Megren takes a breath and nods too.

Lanisen says, “I don’t suppose it’ll stay strange long.”

Megren says, “Probably not.”

Lanisen asks, “How’re you doin’?”

Megren lifts her shoulders.

Lanisen nods.

Megren says, “I don’t think — ” She pushes her mouth to the side and moves as if to sit, but the ground is icy wet, and the walls are, too. She crosses her arms and shrugs again.

Lanisen watches. “You wanna go back inside?”

Megren says, “Maybe — maybe. It would be nice to be able to sit, anyway.”

Lanisen nods. He rocks back on his heels and turns to head back to the castle.

Megren follows after him. “Sorry. I thought it was a good idea, anyway.”

Lanisen glances at her questioningly.

Megren says, “Going for a walk.”

Lanisen lifts his shoulders. “It’s winter. Walkin’ was a good idea when you suggested it and now goin’ in’s a good idea.”

Megren rolls her eyes. “Why’ve you always got to talk sense.”

Lanisen ducks his head and grins.

Megren wraps herself up good and tight against the winter chill as they walk. “So now it’s time for scones, then.”

Lanisen says, “If the dogs ain’t got ’em.”

Megren makes a horrified face.

Lanisen puts his hands in his pockets and hunches up his shoulders against the cold breeze. “They’re fine, I put ’em on the mantle.”

Megren says, “They’d better be.”

Lanisen goes quiet as they go back through the stables and out into the ward.

Megren reaches for his hand again.

Lanisen looks startled, but lets her have it.

Megren says, “You know what I miss.”

Lanisen asks, “What?’

Megren says, “Potato soup with lots of herbs and cheese and salt in a bowl made out of bread.”

Lanisen hmms in agreement.

Megren says, “And broccoli in it.”

Lanisen wrinkles up his nose.

Megren says, “No, you’re wrong, I’m right.”

Lanisen says meekly, “All right.”

Megren nods firmly.

Lanisen says, “You can keep thinkin’ that.”

Megren says, “I will because of it being right.”

Lanisen makes a skeptically tolerant face.

Megren pats his head with their linked hands condescendingly.

Lanisen is too confused to do anything about it at first, then wrestles their hands away from his head good-naturedly.

Megren grins irritatingly.

Lanisen shivers and reaches to open the kennel door for them.

Megren nudges him in ahead of her and closes the door behind them.

Lanisen lets himself be maneuvered. He glances down at their hands briefly with an odd, distracted expression.

Megren extracts her hand and goes to pull his other stone out of the fire. “Here.”

Lanisen says, “Mm. Thanks.”

Megren asks, “Should I see about more food?”

Lanisen says, “If you’re hungry, sure. Or I can.”

Megren says, “I’ll go, I’ll go. Give me a chance to see Ren.”

Lanisen says, “All right, yeah.”

Megren slips back outside.

Lanisen returns to organizing the shelves when she goes, and some of the thoughts that led him to the project in the first place seem to return as well. He frowns absently at bottles and dishes and tins.

Megren takes a long time in returning. When she does, she has a whole tray with two bowls of soup and some cheese on the side, and a late autumn apple

Lanisen has the scones toasting and the kettle hot by the time she is back. He sits on the floor near the fire, one leg tucked under, surrounded by hounds.

Megren frowns at the room. “You cleaned more,” she accuses.

Lanisen says, “Only a little.”

Megren gives him a disapproving look and sets the food on the table. “Human food,” she announces.

Lanisen says, “I don’t like not bein’ able to find things.”

Megren says, “Poor new girl.”

Lanisen asserts defensively, “She’s doin’ fine.”

Megren says, “Gonna come back and have to put everything away again.”

Lanisen makes a face at her.

Megren says, “Come eat and bring me a scone.”

Lanisen says, “I can’t, I’m buried.”

Megren says, “I believe in you.”

Lanisen makes a show of trying to get up, then makes an overwrought despairing noise and flops back on his back. “It’s hopeless.” As he is soon more buried, this is not an entirely incorrect statement.

Megren says, “If I bring you soup it’s going to be dog soup.”

Lanisen says, yawning and trying to settle Kite so he can still breathe, “I’ll eat it in a little bit.”

Megren tucks in then, undisturbed at the more-for-her.

Lanisen throws an elbow across his face to ward off the worst of the licking and stays where he is, comfortably squashed and sleepy.

Megren makes faces at him while he can’t see.

Lanisen for some reason isn’t even a little bit bothered by this.

Megren finishes eating and gets up to go about quietly putting his things out of order.

Lanisen doesn’t realize for some time, but Nia eventually nudges at his idle hand and he lifts his arm off his face to pet her. “What are you doing,” he accuses Megren.

Megren looks over her shoulder from where she is switch the places of the Calormene tea and the plain black tea. She lifts her eyebrows much like a dog who hopes looking cute will acquit it of guilt.

Lanisen says, “You are a plague and a nuisance,” and drops his elbow back over his eyes.

Megren says, “I’m a blessing and I have a good haircut.”

Lanisen makes a conceding sort of noise.

Megren says, “Lucky for you, I also have a much better eye for interior decorating.”

Lanisen says peaceably, “I’ll just put it back when you’ve gone.”

Megren says understandingly, “Sleepwalking. Happens to the best of us.”

Lanisen raises his elbow to peer at her.

Megren smiles sweetly.

Lanisen snorts tolerantly and shakes his head.

Megren asks, “Want me to leave you to sleep?”

Lanisen says, “If you got stuff you need to do…”

Megren says, “Just Sir Chal is all. Sir Darrin’ll probably lecture me if I do anything more than that.”

Lanisen says, “Well.” He yawns. “You don’t gotta go but don’t feel like you gotta stay either.”

Megren asks, “Are you going to sleep?”

Lanisen says, “I might /fall/ asleep. By accident.”

Megren says, “You’re gonna sleep.”

Lanisen shifts Kite to the side and sits back up. “Nah.”

Megren squints at him disbelievingly.

Lanisen says, “I’ll wake up and everything will be in the wrong place.”

Megren doesn’t deny it.

Lanisen draws up his knees and scrubs his eyes with the heels of his hands.

Megren says, “No, I’ll go find people, it’s all right.”

Lanisen says, “I’m prob’ly not gonna sleep. You got people to say hello to, though.”

Megren squints at him again.

Lanisen squints back. “What?”

Megren asks, “Do you want company or rest?”

Lanisen says, “Either? Either’s good.”

Megren screws up her face.

Lanisen shifts. “Really.”

Megren says, “I suppose I’ll leave you to rest, then?”

Lanisen says, “Sure.”

Megren says, “Way to not make me make a choice.”

Lanisen grins.

Megren asks, “See you later?”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, all right. I’ll bring you supper?”

Megren says, “Oh — where?”

Lanisen asks, “Where’ll you be?”

Megren says, “I dunno.”

Lanisen hmms.

Megren says, “You’ll have to hunt me out?”

Lanisen says, “I’ll do my best.”

Megren says, “You’d better.”

Lanisen says, “Tell Sir Chal hello for me.”

Megren says “I will.”

Lanisen stretches out his shoulders, then gets up and crosses to the shelf to see what she’s done with his order.


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