The garden at the top of the nobles’ tower is a wilder and less formal garden than the queen’s garden below. Mountain-hardy wildflowers such as columbine and aster are grouped in attractive clusters, growing in large planters of varying heights, and a large bank of lavender thrives on the west side of the tower, out of the shade of the solarium to the southeast. There is a small raised pool in the center of the garden, full of enormous orange-mottled carp grown fat and slow and tame with daily feeding.
A circular stairway winds around the exterior of the pool, leading down into the tower, and a break in the crenellated wall on the northwest side leads to the queen’s garden. Standing at the east wall, one can see down into the inner ward, and the curve of the wall on the west side from south to north overlooks the castle grounds below. The mountains of Archenland rise over the castle to the immediate north, the range stretching away into the west.
Megren sits on the edge of the pool and waits for a fish to venture close so that she can bop it gently with her fingers.
Lanisen climbs the stairs, a book tucked under one arm and his hands in his pockets. He hesitates briefly to identify the person in the garden, then grins and ascends the last few steps, coming around to join her.
Megren looks up at the sound of someone coming, drawing her hand back quickly like she’s been caught. She grins and wrinkles her nose when she sees it’s Lanisen.
Lanisen asks, “What’re you doin’ to those poor fish?”
Megren says, “What? Nothing. Just saying hello.”
Lanisen lets out a little breath of laughter. He braces one knee on the bench and leans out over the water to trail his fingers invitingly along the surface.
A fish drifts up to examine his fingers but, upon finding no food there, soon turns disinterestedly away.
Megren crosses her arms to watch.
Lanisen hmms softly. “Usually they nibble a bit,” he remarks.
Megren says, “I think they must’ve just been fed.”
Lanisen agrees, “Aren’t as interested in maybe-food.”
Megren says, “Been there.”
Lanisen mms. He glances at her curiously. “What’re you up to?”
Megren lifts her shoulders. “Had an hour. You?”
Lanisen gestures toward the solarium with his book. “Was gonna read a bit.”
Megren says, “Oh. Don’t let me bother you?””
Lanisen says, “No, no.”
Megren says, “All right.”
Lanisen rubs his elbow and gestures at the bench beside Megren. “Can I…?”
Megren nods and scoots a little.
Lanisen sits down, exhaling softly. “It’s nicer today,” he comments.
Megren says, “A little bit.”
Lanisen says, “The sunshine, it helps.”
Megren asks, “Make it nicer?”
Lanisen says, “‘S not as bitter.”
Megren says, “I wonder what the beach is doing.”
Lanisen suggests, “Waves.”
Megren says, “Hush you.”
Lanisen grins unrepentantly with his entire face.
Megren pushes him in the face, just unemphatically enough to maybe not give him a dunking.
Lanisen yelps and ducks away.
Megren says, “The tide pools and all, I meant.”
Lanisen wonders, “Is it cold enough to be freezin’ over?” He’s sitting with Megren by the side of the fish pond, which is not frozen over.
Megren says, “If it were fall, I wouldn’t say so, but since it’s /been/ cold, maybe.”
Haft walks up the staircase that circles the pond.
Lanisen says, “We don’t have time to go look, I suppose.”
Megren shakes her head. “Sir Darrin said dancing lessons after his meeting’s out.” She looks up at the sound of someone new coming up the stairs and, seeing Haft, ducks her head a bit, tucking her hair behind her ear.
Haft grins at this. “More dancing?”
Lanisen blinks and wrinkles his nose up. He follows her glance and offers Haft a quick smile of greeting.
Megren says, “Hello. Just, just lessons.”
Haft gives her a swift, keen look, but let’s this pass. “Hello Lanisen.”
Lanisen answers, “Afternoon, Haft.”
Megren rubs her palms on her thighs. “We were just wondering about whether the tide pools might be frozen.”
Lanisen’s forehead furrows slightly. He watches Megren from the corner of his eye, and gives Haft a narrow look.
Haft glances at the fish pond. “This ain’t.”
Megren looks at the pond. “Hmm.”
Lanisen says, “They warm it, I think. And break the ice off the top when it forms.”
Haft looks down at the still pool. “The fish seem to think it’s to frigid to come up, anyhow.”
Lanisen glances at Megren again. “They keep gettin’ their noses bopped when they do.”
Haft says, “That would deter anyone.”
Megren looks thoughtful and reaches out to try bopping Lanisen’s nose.
Lanisen catches her hand before it gets to his nose and removes it from the vicinity of his face.
Megren makes a disappointed face.
Haft exclaims, “Well caught!”
Megren concedes, “I suppose you’re right, then.”
Lanisen looks satisfied.
Haft says, “I think I’ve lost the thread of the conversation. Who’s right about what?””
Megren says, “You, about being deterred.”
Haft says, “Oh. Well I’m always right.”
Megren says, “Ha.”
Lanisen gets to his feet, a little stiffly. “I’m gettin’ cold, I’m gonna head in,” he says, gesturing with his book toward the solarium.
Megren’s eyes flick to his shoulder. “Oh, sure.”
Lanisen asks, “See you later?”
Haft says, “Enjoy your book.”
Megren says, “Yeah. After… um, around supper, I think.”
Lanisen nods to this. He glances back to Haft and dips his head, grinning again briefly. “Thanks, I will.”
Megren says, “See you.”
Lanisen nods again and heads toward warmer climes, waving as he goes.