Lanisen is finishing up the sweeping, the door to the ward propped open so he can send the dust and dog fur and stray bits of hay out. He’s moving a little stiffly.
Megren can be seen from some distance scurrying across the ward from the outer gate toward him, stopping occasionally to stomp on globs of slush and send them splattering.
Lanisen glances up, lifting his eyebrows.
Megren pulls up outside the door. “Oh, good, you’re here, hello.”
Lanisen leans the broom up next to the door. “What’re you doin’?”
Megren says, “Come see.”
Lanisen squints at her. “Come where?”
Megren reaches for his wrist and pulls him.
Lanisen says, balking, “Wait, wait, it’s cold…” He darts back in and gets his coat.
Megren leaves go of his wrist and bounces on her toes impatiently.
Lanisen rejoins her, still hunting for one sleeve.
Lanisen says, “Let’s go?”
Megren tugs him toward the eastern wall of the ward.
Lanisen stumbles a little and jogs a step to keep up, laughing.
Megren pulls him right up to the gutter, which is flowing swiftly with new snowmelt. It glitters in the late winter sun. “Look!”
Lanisen blinks at it, and then tips his head to the side and grins brilliantly, crouching down for a closer look.
Megren gets a huge self-satisfied smirk and crosses her arms.
Lanisen sticks his left hand in the water, cupping his fingers so it bubbles up around his hand. “If I was a naiad, I’d want to live in this sort of water,” he announces.
Megren asks, “What, a snowmelt naiad? What would you do in summer and winter?”
Lanisen says, “Travel about, I should think.”
Megren says, “To the mountains in summer, I suppose, but I don’t know what you’d do in winter. Sleep maybe.”
Lanisen says thoughtfully, “I wonder if naiads are ever snow.”
Megren says, “Ask one.”
Lanisen says, “I will.”
Megren says, “Yes, good.”
Lanisen says, “I wonder what it’d be like to be snow.” He straightens up, shaking the water off his hand.
Megren squints up an eye, not sure how to imagine this.
Lanisen considers another moment. “It’d be nice, I bet.”
Megren says, “I don’t think so.”
Lanisen asks, “No?”
Megren says, “Crowded.”
Lanisen disagrees, “Not more crowded than all those drops of water jammed together.”
Megren screws up her face.
Lanisen says, “I bet bein’ snow would be quiet and private by comparison.”
Megren says, “It doesn’t move.”
Megren says, “Anyway they aren’t /droplets/.”
Lanisen hmms softly. “I bet they could. Like the leaves.”
Megren makes another face.
Megren says, “You’re wrong.”
Lanisen says, “I bet I’m not.”
Megren says, “No, I’m pretty sure.”
Lanisen shrugs again.
Megren says, “Anyway, come see.”
Lanisen says, “Oh! This isn’t–? All right.”
Megren pulls him toward the gate. “I don’t think this much snow has melted this fast since I’ve lived here.”
Lanisen agrees, “It’s been a while.” He makes a slightly worried face. “Do I need better shoes?”
Megren looks down at his feet.
Lanisen is wearing his second-best boots, the ones that are comfortable but leaky.
Megren says, “We aren’t going very fair.”
Lanisen says, “All right.”
Megren says, “You can change if you want.”
Lanisen asks, “Should I?”
Megren lifts her shoulders.
Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side and shrugs. “Let’s go.”
Megren pulls him toward the gate.
Lanisen goes along with her, laughing again.
Megren tugs him around outside to where the groundwater funnels out of the castle grounds. The untrodden snow has melted and frozen over and begun melting again, so that it’s sunk in the middle with an icy sheen. The water has coursed a thin valley through it, and it runs with the same quick glittering as the ward gutters.
Lanisen’s whole face lights up with unguarded delight.
Megren clasps her hands behind her back and rocks on her heels.
Lanisen looks back at Megren, grinning broadly, and back to the little stream. “I want to– I want to keep it, I want to paint it. I don’t know how to paint!”
Megren laughs. “Maybe Lady Avery can teach you?”
Lanisen says, “Mm, maybe!”
Megren laughs again.
Lanisen clasps his hands happily behind his neck.
Megren says, “I knew you’d like it.”
Lanisen says, “/Thank/ you.”
Lanisen says, “I wonder–” He turns in place. “What’s the pasture look like today?”
Megren says, “I haven’t been yet. It’s probably a mess to ride in.”
Lanisen says, “Oh, sure, but the pond, what’s the pond look like, and the waterfall?”
Megren asks, “Shall we go?”
Lanisen says, “Yes, yeah! If– sorry, are you free?”
Megren says, “For a bit.”
Lanisen asks worriedly, “Am I keepin’ you from anything?”
Megren shakes her head. “I’ve got a little time.”
Lanisen says, “Let’s, then, I want to see what the cave looks like.”
Megren tugs him that way.
Lanisen takes a sprinting couple of steps so he’s the one tugging.
Megren grins and follows after.
Lanisen hesitates and comes to a stop once they are through the stable, surprised. The little lake is swollen with snowmelt and most of the lower pasture is flooded. A good portion of the path to the cave is under water, though the cave itself is still about three feet higher than the flooding. The waterfall is deafeningly loud, and chunks of ice and snow swirl through the water.
Megren says, “You… might want your other boots.”
Lanisen lets out a snorting giggle at this.
Megren looks a little surprised, then grins.
Lanisen says, “Well. Hmm.”
Megren says, “It’ll be cold for barefoot but that’s the least likely to have to abandon your boots at the fire for a day and a half.”
Lanisen eyes the swirling water doubtfully.
Megren asks, “No?”
Lanisen says, “I dunno. I don’t like not bein’ able to see where I’m steppin’.”
Megren says, “We don’t have to.”
Lanisen waffles a bit, then decides, “Let’s not.”
Megren nods. “Tomorrow I bet it’s better.”
Lanisen watches the waterfall for another moment, awed. “I’m glad we saw it like this, anyway.”
Megren crosses her arms to observe the fall. “Yeah.”
Lanisen tips his head to the side speculatively.
Megren glances at him.
Lanisen glances back at her, raising his eyebrows.
Megren says, “You look like you’ve got a thought.”
Lanisen says, “Wonderin’ what talkin’ rivers are like in the spring, when the water runs like this.”
Megren says, “Oh.” She looks thoughtful. “Do you think they change with the seasons?””
Lanisen says, “I don’t know. There’s a lot of power there, though, I wouldn’t… I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of it, I think.”
Megren says, “Hm, yeah.”
Lanisen shifts and looks back at her. “How long have you got?”
Megren pushes her mouth to the side. “Mm, I’ve got to do the horses, and by the look of this they’re probably a mess.”
Lanisen asks, “Want help?”
Megren says, “Um, oh, if you’ve got time, sure.”
Lanisen says, “I got time.”
Megren grins. “All right.”
Lanisen says, “We should go up on the walls and see what it looks like from there after.”
Megren says, “That sounds good.”
Lanisen turns to head back into the stables.
Megren skips back after him.