difference of opinion

Southern Parapet
Castle Anvard

Megren sits hugging one knee on the crenelation of the southern parapet. Big, sparse flakes fall around her, melting as they hit the ground or her skin, but lingering a while on her hair and dusting the stonework.

Lanisen knocks softly on the underside of the trap door, then pushes it up a little.

Megren looks away from the forest back to the door, dropping her knee as she does.

Lanisen gives her a keen, questioning look, and pushes the door open enough that he can stand with his head and shoulders above the floor. “Hey,” he says. “Can I come up?”

Megren’s brows lift and she turns fully, dropping her legs to hang over the inside side of the wall. “Is it supper already? I’m sorry.”

Lanisen lifts his shoulders. “It’s a bit early.”

Megren hops off the ledge. “Here, sorry, come up, of course come up.”

Lanisen obediently does so, shutting the trapdoor gently behind him. He straightens and glances out over the parapet, his eyes flicking to the forest and along the castle road before he looks back at Megren.

Megren says, “Hello.”

Lanisen answers, half-grinning, “Hi.” His shoulders hunch up against a sharp gust of wind and he turns slightly so he’s not getting snowflakes straight in his face. “Whatcha doin’?”

Megren asks, “Do you want to– we don’t have to stay up here.”

Lanisen assures her, “I don’t mind, I don’t mind.”

Megren says, “Your shoulder’s going to hurt and then you’ll have to go down the ladder like that.”

Lanisen says, “My stone’s warm, I got a while.”

Megren makes a skeptical face but after a short pause she relents, “You’ll tell me when you need to go down, at least.”

Lanisen nods.

Megren says, “All right.”

Lanisen says, “Perth says you’ve been up here a while.”

Megren says, “A little while.”

Lanisen asks, “You need more time?”

Megren says, “I’m always glad to see you.”

Lanisen tips his head to the side and dimples up at her, but says, “Do you need more time, though?”

Megren shakes her head.

Lanisen nods, accepting this. “What’re you thinkin’ about?”

Megren screws up her face.

Lanisen says, “Aahh, sorry.”

Megren shakes her head. “It’s all right.”

Lanisen asks, “Do you want to talk about it or do you want to sit?”

Megren screws up her mouth again and walks over to where she was sitting before to give herself some time to decide on a response. She leans her elbows on the crenelation.

Lanisen steps carefully to the part of the parapet that is sheltered from the snow by the angle of the wind to the wall, and sits down.

Megren glances at him, “We should go back down,” she says again.

Lanisen asks, “Do you want to?”

Megren pushes off the wall and crosses to him, “Yes, if it will make you, then.” She extends a hand to help him up.

Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side, but takes her hand and gets back up again.

Megren goes to lift the trapdoor.

Lanisen takes the door from her so she can go down first.

Megren jumps down and waits at the bottom. “Were you hungry? Should we go to the servant’s hall?”

Lanisen says, “I got soup on the fire in the kennels.”

Megren says, “Oh, that sounds good.”

Lanisen follows her down the ladder, a little more cautiously and a little more gingerly. “We can go to the hall if you want to, though.”

Megren says, “No, the kennel sounds nice.”

Lanisen says agreeably, “All right.” He glances back up at the trap door above them, then eyes Megren for signs of frostbite.

Megren looks fine, if a bit pink cheeked.

Lanisen says, “Come on, let’s, we’ll make some tea, too.”

Megren says agreeably, “Sure,” as she starts down the stairs.

Lanisen follows after her.

The snow has begun to fall a little more earnestly by the time they reach the outer ward, and Megren stomps a few flakes off her boots before going into the kennel.

Lanisen follows after her, scraping his boots off at the door. The kennel is warm and full of antsy movement, the dogs having been cooped up inside most of the day, and smells richly of soup.

Megren says, “Mm, the smell of dog and potatoes.”

Lanisen snorts and shoves her shoulder.

Megren pulls off her wrap, shivering a little with the transition, and stomping her feet again to warm them. “Can dogs eat potatoes?”

Lanisen scoffs good-naturedly, “Can dogs eat potatoes.”

Megren makes a face at him. “There’s all sorts of things dogs can’t eat; how should I know?”

Lanisen grins, but lifts his shoulders and says, “Yeah, they can have ’em. It’s not, it’s not /good/ food for ’em, or– if they eat ’em they need other things too, but they can have ’em.”

Megren says, “Just cooked, like people, or?”

Lanisen tilts his head. “I dunno. I guess they could eat ’em raw, as long as they’re not green. I only ever seen ’em eat cooked ones, though.”

Megren says, “Hm.”

Lanisen kneels by the fire and takes the little pot of soup off the hook. Chicken and dumplings are visible in the broth, as well as kale and potatoes and carrots, and the green flecks of dried garden herbs.

Megren pulls down a pair of bowls and some spoons, which she inspects for cleanness.

Lanisen carries the pot with both hands to the table and glances toward Megren and the spoons. “Pass muster?”

Megren nods. “They look all right. Suppose you can’t tell if it was dogs or people that cleaned them by looking, though.”

Lanisen says mysteriously, “We’ll never know.”

Megren pushes his bowl across the table with the spoon in, and holds her own out for filling.

Lanisen ladles soup, glancing at her face to see how full she wants her bowl.

Megren says, “All the way, I’m starved.”

Lanisen obligingly fills it up to where it could be called full, and then drops one more chunk of potato on top.

Megren sings, “Thank yooou.”

Lanisen fills his own bowl and sets to. After a few minutes, he shrugs out of his coat, comfortably warm, and glances at Megren assessingly.

Megren has already eaten most of her bowl by the time he’s taken his coat off.

Lanisen asks, “You doin’ all right?”

Megren tips her bowl for him to see.

Lanisen averts his eyes at the evasion, but slides the soup pot nearer to her.

Megren accepts the offer, refilling her bowl a little over halfway.

Lanisen goes back to eating quietly, though he glances at her every few minutes or so.

Megren sits back when she’s finished, and then leans forward and lays her head on her arms in a sleepy, full way.

Lanisen finishes his soup a minute or so later and quietly goes about clearing up.

Megren says, “Thank youuu,” from where she sits.

Lanisen glances toward her and grins, shaking his head dismissively.

Megren gets up so she can curl up next to the fireplace instead, but a moment later she has second thoughts and gets up again to set some tea on.

Lanisen keeps an eye on her. He pushes his mouth to the side briefly and reaches down the tea.

Megren sets the kettle on and curls up again, this time with Maisie to keep her company.

Lanisen sets the tin on the table and wanders over to join her.

Megren rests her head against wall behind her and rubs between Maisie’s ears as she waits.

Lanisen sits down next to her and leans his shoulder against hers.

Megren says, “Hello.”

Lanisen says, shifting and squirming to get comfortable, “Hi.”

Megren squints up an eye at his squirming.

Lanisen says in defense, “There’s a sticky-outy brick.”

Megren says, “Don’t have to sit there.”

Lanisen says, “I want to sit here, though.”

Megren says, “Well, all right.”

Lanisen finds a comfortable position and settles in, heaving a sigh.

Megren wrinkles her nose at him.

Lanisen asks, “What’s goin’ on, are you all right?”

Megren’s brows draw together. “You mean cause I was standing in the snow?”

Lanisen says, “Well, yeah.”

Megren says, “I’ve got to… just, there’s a lot to think about.”

Lanisen asks, “In the snow?”

Megren lifts a shoulder. “Does that seem out of character?”

Lanisen says, “A bit.”

Megren says, “I go up there a lot.”

Lanisen says, “Yes, but…”

Megren takes a breath. “Being a knight is kind of a — I don’t know if I really thought it through; I thought of being a squire mostly, and then I trusted — anyway, it’s just, I’m not sure that I’d really… be right at it, and if I think I, I wouldn’t, then I’ve got to, um, figure, figure out how to tell Sir Darrin.”

Lanisen shifts, looking at her. “You’re still worryin’, then?” he asks, a little sadly.

Megren lifts a shoulder.

Lanisen’s forehead pulls down with worry and he pushes his mouth to the side. “I’m sorry,” he says. “What can I, what can I do?”

Megren says, “It’s not, I just have to think, is all. It’s going to — it’s not, even talking about it with Sir Darrin’s going to, to hurt his feelings.”

Lanisen says, “No, that’s–” He pauses. “You should, you– you should. He’s–” He stops again. “I think you’ll, I think you should be a knight, I think you’ll make a good knight, a very, very good knight, but it’s…” He glances at her wryly. “I don’t think you’ll hear that from me.”

Megren says, “I didn’t… do a very good job in Narnia, and I’m, I’m /still/ sort of, I /still/ think I should be there, even though objectively I know Sir Darrin’s choice made sense. And that’s how I /always/ am, I /always/ think I’m right, and I’m always sore with the person that gets in the way of whatever I’m trying to push through. That’s — it’s not a very admirable way to be, for a start.”

Lanisen says, “Well.” He pauses. “It’s– you know that about yourself, that’s, that’s a better start than most folks have, I think.”

Megren squints an eye.

Lanisen says, “If it’s somethin’ you don’t like in yourself, if you, if you know about it, that’s a start, ain’t it?”

Megren says, “It’s a fine way to be for a guard or a squire. It’s not fine for a knight.”

Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side, but only says, “You should, I think you should talk to Sir Darrin. Or somebody else who’s a knight, if… don’t just, don’t just… You’ve got this, this /idea/ of how a knight should be, or maybe not every knight but how /you/ should be as a knight and it’s… You’re thinkin’ you can’t do any good unless you do it /perfectly/ and that’s not… that’s not…”

Megren snorts. “Please.”

Lanisen frowns at her.

Megren says, “Sorry, I’m not meaning to be dismissive — but, /that/ from /you/.”

Lanisen pauses and doesn’t say anything else, guarded and unsure.

Megren says, “I couldn’t count how many times I’ve said you’d make a good knight and you said you wouldn’t for some bad reason.”

Lanisen pulls back slightly, shaking his head. He pulls his sleeves down over his wrists. “That’s not, that’s different.”

Megren says, “Anyway.”

Lanisen doesn’t say anything else for a moment. Finally, not looking at her, he says, “I think you should talk to somebody who’s a knight.”

Megren says, “Well, I’d have to, one way or another. I wasn’t planning not to.”

Lanisen says, “I mean– not to, not to say you’ve decided, just– just to talk, just to get somebody’s perspective who’s already there. Don’t, don’t decide yet. Please.”

Megren looks vaguely annoyed, so she nods rather than say something ungracious.

Lanisen seems painfully aware of this. He gets to his feet and takes the kettle off the fire, not quite looking at her, but not apologizing either.

Megren says, “I was going to talk to someone.”

Lanisen sets the kettle down on the table and goes still for a second before resuming preparing tea. “I’m sorry for implying you wouldn’t’ve,” he answers without looking around, head bowed over his task.

Megren crosses her arms over her stomach, lifting her knee and resting her head against the wall behind her with a vaguely nauseated expression.

Lanisen turns back toward her and brings the cups after a moment, extending hers like a peace offering.

Megren takes it without quite meeting his eyes.

Lanisen’s eyes flick to her face, then quickly away. He sits down again, but on the ground facing her this time.

Megren mumbles, “Sorry.”

Lanisen looks back at her, lifting his eyebrows hopefully. “Me too,” he offers immediately.

Megren’s eyes flick upward, but to the ceiling rather than his face. “For what,” she says skeptically.

Lanisen says, “Speakin’ out of turn. You know what you’re doin’, I’m sorry.”

Megren says, “We’re friends; we haven’t got turns.”

Lanisen moistens his lips and looks down at his tea.

Megren says in a slightly playful tone, “I’m trying /really/ harder not to say that this is exactly an illustration of my point.”

Lanisen is warily silent for a moment before he answers, “I don’t know what you mean.”

Megren says, “Getting annoyed with your friend for caring and helping is pretty bad on anyone, but it’s a lot worse if you’re also ranked above them.”

Lanisen’s shoulders drop and he looks at her unhappily.

Megren wrinkles her nose. “But instead I’m going to not say it?” she tries.

Lanisen rubs the side of his face, then cups both hands around his tea and huddles over it, sighing quietly.

Megren screws up her mouth. “Sit next to me again?”

Lanisen glances up at her, studying her face briefly, then gets up and moves over.

Megren drops her head on his shoulder.

Lanisen untenses noticeably at this. After a small hesitation, he rests his head on top of hers and leans against her in return, drawing up his knees.

Megren says, “Sorry,” again.

Lanisen says, “‘S all right.”

Megren says, “You’d say that if it wasn’t, I think.”

Lanisen says, “Well. It is.”

Megren says, “All right.”

Lanisen stays quiet, but it’s a troubled, preoccupied sort of silence.

Megren says, “Thank you.”

Lanisen twists a bit to look at her.

Megren looks at him without moving her head, “For caring, and for believing in me.”

Lanisen’s shoulders drop slightly and he closes his mouth, his eyebrows pushing up and together in the middle. He shifts and sets his tea aside so that he can wrap both arms around her.

Megren rolls her eyes self-mockingly and sets down her own cup so that she can settle into the hug.

Lanisen says, “I’m sorry you’re doubtin’ yourself. I wish I knew what to say to make it better.”

Megren says, “It’s not, um, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t put it like that.”

Lanisen hmms?

Megren says, “I just don’t think I’ve thought it all the way through yet, and I didn’t fully realise that, and now I have realized it, and I need to fully think it though.”

Lanisen summarizes, “Doubtin’ yourself.”

Megren says, “And this is why I don’t want to talk to Sir Darrin about it.”

Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side.

Megren says, “It’s not as if I go around underestimating or undermining every thing I do.”

Lanisen suggests, “Best not to start, then?”

Megren says, “/Or/ best to trust me that I might actually have a valid point when I do?”

Lanisen says nothing.

Megren lets herself have the last word on that then.

Lanisen squeezes around her shoulders, then withdraws his arms and picks up his tea again.

Megren sips hers, too.

Lanisen says finally, “I’m sorry you’re feelin’ this way.”

Megren says, “I’m sorry for being upset last night.”

Lanisen says, shaking his head, “No, no, it’s all right.”

Megren says, “If I wasn’t I think you’d be less bothered now.”

Lanisen allows, “Maybe.”

Megren says, “Definitely.”

Lanisen shrugs.

Megren sips her tea again.

Lanisen says, “People’re more– People say more, when they’re tired, sometimes.”

Megren says, “I suppose so.”

Lanisen exhales. “I’m not sorry for worryin’.”

Megren shoves him in the side of the head.

Lanisen ducks away, startled, and looks at her to see if she’s actually mad.

Megren pulls a face at him, not mad.

Lanisen lets out a little relieved huff of laughter.

Megren says, “Sorry.”

Lanisen shrugs affably.

Megren shoves him again, this time with better advertising and more light.

Lanisen sways easily away and back.

Megren looks sad and defeated.

Lanisen raises his eyebrows at her.

Megren tries a third time.

Lanisen complains, “What are you even–”

Megren says, “I’m trying to shove you!”

Lanisen says, “Whyyy.”

Megren says, “It’s affectionate!”

Lanisen says, “I see.”

Megren says, “It is.”

Lanisen says, “All right.”

Megren shoves him in the side of the head.

Lanisen squinches up his whole entire face, but takes the shove with good grace.

Megren uses the same hand to fold him into a scrunchy uncomfortable side embrace.

Lanisen says, sounding a little squished, “This is fine.”

Megren says, “You love it.”

Lanisen squirms.

Megren lets him go. “Worse than a kitten.”

Lanisen complains, straightening his shirt, “You /squeeze/.”

Megren says, “That’s the extra love.”

Lanisen says, “Right, of course.”

Megren says, “I hate you.’

Lanisen says, “Put all the love into the squeeze, huh?”

Megren says, “That was hate.”

Lanisen says, “Oh, hmm.”

Megren says, “I’m never hugging you again.”

Lanisen says, “You won’t hold out a week.”

Megren says, “I will.”

Lanisen grins.

Megren says, “Don’t give me that silly grin.”

Lanisen grins wider and sticks out his tongue to boot.

Megren shoves him in the side of the head.

Lanisen nngfs and doubles over with giggles.

Megren musses up his hair for good measure.

Lanisen says, “Stop, stop that.”

Megren says, “Never.”

Lanisen swats at her hands.

Megren pulls back her hand. “Hey.”

Lanisen straightens and shakes his hair back into its normal shaggy state.

Megren gives it an assessing look

Lanisen pauses and raises his eyebrows uncertainly at the look, then says, “Oh,” and looks exasperated.

Megren grins.

Lanisen asks plaintively, “Is it so bad?”

Megren says practically, “Well it’s only getting worse from here.”

Lanisen mms grudgingly.

Megren smiles sweetly.

Lanisen tips his head on one side and eyes her curiously. “Who cuts yours?”

Megren says, “Me, obviously.”

Lanisen asks, “What, how?”

Megren says, “Scissors?”

Lanisen says, “No, but– how do you /see/ it?”

Megren says, “I’ve got a little mirror.”

Lanisen looks like this doesn’t entirely explain everything.

Megren’s expression offers no further assistance.

Lanisen finally hmms. He thinks a little more, then asks, “Can you show me how?”

Megren says, “You want my hair cut?”

Lanisen says, “Um.”

Megren says, “I’ve never done your hair cut on me.”

Lanisen hmms and tries to stop a grin, tilting his head at her to try to picture this.

Megren sticks out her tongue. “I’d look great,” she says before he can say otherwise.

Lanisen’s grin broadens, but he agrees, “Yeah, prob’ly.”

Megren acknowledges, “Probably.”

Lanisen says, “It’s a bit like tryin’ to picture a dog wearin’ spectacles, though.”

Megren says, “What.”

Lanisen says, “You know. You never seen it, and it’s funny to think about, but you can picture it clear as day, even though it’s prob’ly never happened.”

Megren squints an eye.

Lanisen makes a face at her.

Megren says, “I think you just compared me to a dog.”

Lanisen says, “I /didn’t/, and anyway there’s nothin’ wrong with that even if I did, dogs are good and admirable beasts.”

Megren says, “They aren’t nearly as pretty as me.”

Lanisen says, “You’re all /lovely/.”

Megren looks at the dogs.

Lanisen says, “They’re /very beautiful/ hounds, every single one of them.”

Megren asserts, “But not nearly as pretty as me.”

Lanisen huffs out a put-upon sigh. “You’re a very pretty person.”

Megren looks at the dogs. “He likes you better.”

Lanisen protests, “That’s– I do not!”

Megren corrects, “He likes looking at you better.”

Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side.

Megren says, “Ha. That’s a confession.”

Lanisen objects,”That’s a disagreement.”

Megren says, “No then you would have said.””

Lanisen says, “You’re impossible. You’re also pretty and I like your face.”

Megren shakes her head. “No, I’ve already heard the truth, you cannot sell me a lie now.”

Lanisen shoves her shoulder.

Megren smiles blithely at him.

Lanisen runs his fingers through his hair, considering the length of it.

Megren’s grin broadens.

Lanisen says thoughtfully, “If I wear it longer again I can keep up with it myself.”

Megren makes a face.

Lanisen asks, “No?”

Megren agrees, “No.”

Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side. “What do I do if–”

Megren says, “If I lose my hands, you can grow it out.”

Lanisen pauses. “If I’m away, I was gonna say.”

Megren says, “I know.”

Lanisen closes his mouth a little uncomfortably.

Megren allows, “You can then, too.”

Lanisen says, “Well. All right.”

Megren says, “But today?”

Lanisen sighs gustily. “All right, then.”

Megren places a hand over her heart. “You do care.”

Lanisen snorts out loud.

Megren sticks out her tongue.

Lanisen says, “There’s scissors around here somewhere, prob’ly.”

Megren goes on a search that is liable to mess up all his nice neat things.

Lanisen watches dolefully, his chin on his knees.

Megren finds them too quickly to mess things up as well as she might like.

Lanisen gets to his feet and wanders after her.

Megren asks, “Got a bit of water?”

Lanisen says, “In the pitcher there’s some.”

Megren goes to fetch it.

Lanisen goes to his satchel, which he seems to have not gotten to unpacking all the way yet, and digs out his comb.

Megren brings the water and the scissors to the hearth.

Lanisen follows her, offering the comb.

Megren says, “Ah, perfect.”

Lanisen asks, “You need anything else?”

Megren says, “No, this is good.”

Lanisen says, “All right.” He stands awkwardly, rubbing his elbow.

Megren says, “Sit, sit, sit, sit.”

Lanisen asks, “Where?”

Megren pats the hearth in front of her.

Lanisen finds a comfortable position and draws up his knees again, looping his arms around them.

Megren wets the comb and combs out his hair.

Lanisen sits quietly, except to hunch up his shoulders and squirm when a cold droplet of water runs ticklishly down his neck.

Megren converses, “You sound a little certainer.”

Lanisen asks, “What?”

Megren says, “About Jana.”

Lanisen goes still for a moment, but doesn’t answer.

Megren combs his hair quietly.

Lanisen seems relieved to not be pressed. He fusses absently at his wrists, then rolls his sleeves down and leaves off.

Megren picks up the scissors.

Lanisen turns his head slightly at the sound, then faces forward again.

Megren trims quietly.

Lanisen keeps still, always very aware of where the scissors are and reacting slightly every time they move, but sitting calm and easy. He heaves a breath and shuts his eyes after a little while.

Megren shifts her other hand through his hair, a gesture which assists her work, but also seems primarily meant to be soothing.

Lanisen doesn’t seem to mind. His head lists tiredly toward her hand.

Megren says, “If you move your head, I might not cut straight.”

Lanisen says automatically, “I’m sorry.”

Megren says, “It’s fine.”

Lanisen keeps carefully still.

Megren finally sits back. “There.”

Lanisen relaxes a little and reaches up to see what she’s done this time.

Megren says, “It’s just the same.”

Lanisen nods, feathering through it. “I like it,” he approves.

Megren says, “I know.”

Lanisen grins.

Megren sets the scissors aside.

Lanisen shakes his hair out experimentally. “Thank you.”

Megren says cheerfully, “You’re welcome.”

Lanisen reaches for the scissors and gets to his feet to go put them away.

Megren settles back down by the hearth.

Lanisen gets the broom and sweeps up the little heaps of his hair.

Megren lets him work without her bother.

Lanisen comes back and sits next to her on the hearth when he’s done. He puts his elbows on his knees, quiet.

Megren leans her shoulder slightly against his, sleepily reflective.

Lanisen straightens a little and leans back, but he seems distantly troubled.

Megren asks, “Want to talk about it?”

Lanisen shakes his head.

Megren settles back again, then.

Lanisen crosses his arms over his middle and does too.

Megren watches him uncertainly.

Lanisen glances at her .

Megren asks, “You sure?”

Lanisen says, “It’s fine, it’s, it’s fine.”

Megren asks, “What’s fine?”

Lanisen says, “Me, I am.”

Megren says, “All right.”

Lanisen rubs the side of his face.

Megren shifts back against the wall behind them, listing slightly toward him,

Lanisen pulls up his knees and leans toward her so they are supporting each other, and goes quiet.

Megren lets him.


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