thawing out

Inner Ward
Castle Anvard

Lanisen ducks out of the kitchen into the inner ward. It’s late afternoon, though you can’t really tell: the sky is heavily overcast and it’s impossible to tell where the sun is. It’s bitterly cold and a sharp wind is blowing half-frozen shards of rain against the castle’s walls and windows. The ground is beginning to be slick. Lanisen hunches his shoulders and lowers his head and makes a dash for the doorway across the ward that leads to the library.

Megren, who is crossing perpendicular him, from the outer Ward to the staff quarters, has to jump a little too get out of his way.

Lanisen shies back from a potential collision, sidestepping apologetically and squinting at her through the rain. “Sorry! I’m sorry!”

Megren says, “It’s fine. Here.” She pulls up her cloak so it forms a kind of roof, and extends he out for him to duck under. “Library?”

Lanisen nods gratefully, raising his as well to make the shelter wider and more thorough. “Are you goin’ there too?”

Megren starts that way. “Sure.”

Lanisen balks a bit. “But where was it you were goin’?”

Megren pulls him, “Hurry, it’s cold.”

Lanisen doesn’t need much persuading.

Megren drops her cloak once they’ve entered the shelter of the hall, shaking it off and then wringing out her half frozen hair as best she can.

Lanisen stamps and chafes his arms, brushing melting sleet-beads off his cloak, then eyes her narrowly. “You’ve been out in this a while,” he accuses.

Megren says, “Went to see my da and got caught in it on the way back.”

Lanisen says, “Ahh, no, let’s, you need tea, or, or somethin’ warm, soup?”

Megren turns and squints at the cold ward. “How about just a dry place for a bit?”

Lanisen looks unsatisfied, but he allows, “There’ll be a fire, anyway.”

Megren moves on along the hall toward the library.

Lanisen follows along behind her, still shivering.

Megren pulls up a couple of chairs as close to the fireplace as she can and begins removing her winter clothes.

Lanisen hovers a little. “Do you need anything?”

Megren shakes her head, sniffing as her nose warms up. “Maybe; there’s some tea behind the counter I think.”

Lanisen glances toward Nathen’s station rather nervously.

Megren shakes out her hair again. “I’ll get it in a second.”

Lanisen says, “I can, I’ll go.” He hesitates briefly before he puts action to word.

Megren lets him go ahead with that.

Lanisen returns after a moment with the necessary supplies and kneels down to begin the tea, putting on another log while he’s at it.

Megren stands at the fire and holds her hands out to it.

Lanisen glances up at her. He gets to his feet and steps back once he’s finished, rubbing his elbow.

Megren asks, “Where are you coming from?”

Lanisen says, “Um, the hall, I just, I just had lunch.”

Megren asks, “What’s been made?”

Lanisen says, “I dunno, I just had bread and cheese. It was smellin’ like venison when I left.”

Megren says, “Hm.”

Lanisen asks, “You want me to go check?”

Megren says, “No, that’s all right.”

Lanisen asks, “Are you sure? I don’t mind.”

Megren says, “No, it’s awful out, don’t go back out.” She turns and sits with her back close to the fire.

Lanisen rubs his elbow again and perches on the edge of one of the chairs facing the fire.

Megren rests her elbows on her knees.

Lanisen asks, “How’s, um, how’s your da?”

Megren says, “Good. His leg bothers him a bit in this weather, but all told.”

Lanisen’s eyes flicker with sympathy at this, but he nods.

Megren asks, “How’s your shoulder doing, anyway?”

Lanisen says, “Oh, um– It’s been, it’s fine.”

Megren asks, “Yeah?”

Lanisen shrugs.

Megren says, “Not better not worse, then?”

Lanisen’s eyes slide off uncomfortably to the side. “No, it’s, it’s fine.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side, trying to decipher this.

Lanisen says, “Tea’s prob’ly ready.”

Megren obediently turns to check.

Lanisen folds his arms on his knees.

Megren gets up to search out cups.

Lanisen says, realizing, “I’ll, I’ll–” He scrambles up to do it first.

Megren finds them first. “Here.”

Lanisen says, “Right, ah, good.”

Megren extends one.

Lanisen says, “Thanks.”

Megren nods, and reaches out for the kettle.

Lanisen settles back onto his chair, glancing at the shelves.

Megren pours them each a cup.

Lanisen says, “Oh, oh–” and holds the cup steady with both hands. “Thanks.”

Megren says, “Sure, of course.”

Lanisen wraps both hands around the mug and blows on the surface of the tea, glancing at Megren from the corner of his eye.

Megren sits again, resting her cheek on her knees.

Lanisen averts his eyes quickly, staring down into his tea.

Megren sits up and squints an eye when her hair drips a cold drop down her spine.

Lanisen straightens, glancing at her again. “You need a– a towel, or somethin’?”

Megren concedes, “Or a blanket.”

Lanisen sets his tea down and gets up immediately to go find something.

Megren calls after him, “…Thank you!”

Lanisen glances back, offering a small quick smile, and disappears out into the hallway. He returns after about five minutes with both a towel and a blanket, one of the heavy wool ones from his room.

Megren says, “My hero.”

Lanisen passes them over, looking pleased and chilled.

Megren asks, “Do you need one now, though?”

Lanisen shakes his head, sitting down again. “I don’t want to go back out.”

Megren lifts half the blanket invitingly.

Lanisen’s eyes flick over her face, assessing and a little wary, then he collects his tea and moves to join her.

Megren drapes his half over his shoulders and leans forward to grab the towel for her hair.

Lanisen draws up his knees and sets his tea on top of them, his elbows tucked in.

Megren dries off her hair quickly, careful not to spray him. “Thank you,” she says again.

Lanisen says, “Yeah, ‘s no trouble.”

Megren huddles up again.

Lanisen keeps quiet, occasionally drinking.

Megren does, too.

Lanisen doesn’t fully relax, alert to the comings and goings of other visitors to the library.

Megren finally sits up, eyeing the doorway with her mouth screwed up.

Lanisen asks, straightening, “What is it, what are you needin’?”

Megren admits, “Hungry,” but she quickly adds, “Don’t worry, I’ll do it.”

Lanisen asks, “Do you want to go to the hall?”

Megren says, “Kind of want to just stretch out in front of the kitchen oven like I’m Toby.”

Lanisen says, “All right.”

Megren snorts.

Lanisen lifts the corners of his mouth, but says, “There’s prob’ly stew, I can go see.”

Megren says, “I’ll go, I’ll go.”

Lanisen says, “You’re still all damp.”

Megren makes a whiny sound.

Lanisen gets up, replacing the blanket behind him.

Megren says affectionately, “I hate you.”

Lanisen glances back at her before he grins. He ducks his head and slips out again.

Megren curls up to warm up again.

Lanisen takes a little longer to return this time, but when he does he has the promised stew in a little bowl with a lid, and bread. He hesitates at the door, glancing about nervously for Nathen, then crosses to the fireplace with the food half-hidden.

Megren lifts her head, looking a little like she might have been falling asleep. “Ah, bless you.”

Lanisen says, “We’re not near any books so it’s all right, right?”

Megren says, “I’ve seen Lord Dar eat in here a hundred times.” She pauses, “Well, not /eat/ but there was food.”

Lanisen says, “That’s Lord Dar, though.”

Megren says, “Sometimes Sir Darrin and I have something during lessons.”

Lanisen says, “Oh, all right.”

Megren grins and reaches for the bowl.

Lanisen hands it over. He hesitates again, hovering awkwardly, then perches on the chair again.

Megren unwinds the blanket and offers it to him.

Lanisen says, “No, I’m all right, keep it.”

Megren says, “No, I’ll feel bad, you keep going out in it.”

Lanisen says, “Bad is better than cold.”

Megren says, “Exactly, so warm up.”

Lanisen says, “I’m fine, I promise.”

Megren says, “You say that about everything.”

Lanisen says, “Well.”

Megren says, “I don’t trust you.”

Lanisen lifts his shoulders.

Megren lifts the extended blanket.

Lanisen asks, “Are you warm enough?”

Megren says, “I’m fine.”

Lanisen looks uncertain.

Megren says, “Take it.”

Lanisen scrunches up his nose but obeys.

Megren smiles approvingly and tucks into her soup with abandon.

Lanisen wraps the blanket around himself and hunches over his knees, picking up his tea again.

Megren asks around a mouthful, “Do you have anything left to do today?”

Lanisen says, “No, not really.”

Megren hmms thoughtfully.

Lanisen asks, “Do you?”

Megren says, “Not especially.”

Lanisen nods.

Megren says, “How should we spend it?”

Lanisen says, “What? Oh.” He shakes his head slightly. “I dunno. It’s too bitter out of doors.”

Megren says, “Yeah. Should be something that takes a fire.”

Lanisen says, “I was just thinkin’ to find a book, that’s about all the ideas I got on me.”

Megren says, “Oh, that’s a good idea.”

Lanisen says, “‘S not a very good /we/ idea, though.”

Megren says, “I can study.”

Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side.

Megren shrugs.

Lanisen asks, “What do you want to do?”

Megren says, “Sleep probably.”

Lanisen nods.

Megren sets her bowl aside. “But reading’ll probably get me there, anyway.”

Lanisen asks, “Do you want to stay here or go somewhere else?”

Megren says, “Here.”

Lanisen says, “All right,” and gets to his feet. He moves a little stiffly, and his left hand is halfway to his shoulder before he realizes and drops it again. His eyes flicker briefly to the door. “What’re you readin’?”

Megren asks, “Your shoulder’s hurting?”

Lanisen says, “It’s not, it’s not bad. What book do you want?”

Megren says, “Something from the history area?”

Lanisen asks, “Anything in particular?”

Megren says, “Whatever you find.”

Lanisen looks slightly doubtful, but he nods and disappears between the shelves.

Megren scoots so that her back is against the wall next to the fireplace.

Lanisen returns after a few moments, carrying a book on dryads for himself and a history of Archenland in the early years of the witch for Megren. He offers the book, glancing at her to see if it’s acceptable.

Megren says, “Perfect. Thank you.”

Lanisen nods. He glances toward the door again, then sits down. The wings of the chair halfway hide him from anybody not standing directly in front of him, and he nestles back into this shelter with a sigh, opening the book.

Megren watches him, a little smirk quirking at the corner of her lips, before she opens her own book.

Lanisen squirms a bit to get comfortable and ends up sitting sort of sideways in the chair, one leg curled underneath him. He goes quiet, except for pages turning occasionally.

Megren falls asleep very quickly, slumped into a corner with her towel over her arms and her book lying open in her lap

Lanisen takes about four pages to realize, but he sits up and untangles himself from the blanket when he does, leaning forward to drape it over her instead.

Megren doesn’t even stir.

Lanisen settles back in his chair, leaning sideways against the back, and returns to his book.


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