Lanisen makes his way between the market stalls. It’s the in-between time where midmorning turns into late morning and people start looking for lunch rather than breakfast, but Lanisen’s foragings look like they haven’t decided which to be. He pauses by the courier’s station and receives a letter with visible surprise. He shifts his purchases to be carried in one arm and unfolds the letter awkwardly to read.
Megren emerges from the stables and heads toward the market, making right for the pastry stall.
Lanisen reads the signature at the bottom of the letter first. He glances briefly around the immediate area, his eyes not rising above the level of peoples’ knees, and turns a little away from the general flow of traffic to skim the letter in relative privacy. His forehead knits, and he reads over it again before he folds it up and begins for the kennels.
Megren’s eyes land on Lanisen and she reroutes, worming toward him through the crowd. “Lanisen!”
Lanisen raises his head, searching for her for a moment. His face lights when he finds her and he ducks under an awning and past a cart to meet her. “Hey, hi.”
Megren exclaims, “Hey, hello!”
Lanisen asks, “What’re you, are you busy?”
Megren says, “I got a lecture after the other day so I’ve got a mandatory 2 hours free now.”
Lanisen lets out an unplanned snicker, then covers his mouth.
Megren gives him a chastening expression.
Lanisen tries to look meek and apologetic.
Megren asks, “Did you want me for something particular or just charting out my schedule for personal use?”
Lanisen says, “Oh, just makin’ a note.”
Megren screws up her mouth.
Lanisen grins. He glances around them again briefly, his face going more serious, then gestures with the letter. “Jana,” he says, by way of explanation.
Megren’s brows lift and her expression quickly turns serious as well. “Oh — oh. What’s it say?”
Lanisen says, “Um…” He frowns down at the letter for a moment, then shakes his head slightly and hands it over.
Megren takes it but says, “Do you want to — should we go somewhere else?”
Lanisen says, “Um– yeah, yes please.”
Megren asks, “The kennel?”
Lanisen says, “Anywhere’s fine.”
Megren nods, and starts toward the kennel.
Lanisen follows her.
Megren pushes open the door and starts reading before she’s quite entered.
Lanisen follows along behind her and shuts the door behind them. The kennels are empty, but Nia trots up to say hello.
Megren mutters a hello to Nia, still slowly reading.
Lanisen puts the kettle on almost automatically, most of his attention on Megren as she reads.
Megren makes a few uncertain noises as she reads.
Lanisen settles down on the hearth, rubbing Nia’s ears and watching Megren anxiously.
Megren rereads a little, then looks up. “What do you think?”
Lanisen says, “See, I was gonna ask you that.”
Megren sinks down onto the hearth still looking at the letter. “For such a short letter it’s kind of a lot.”
Lanisen says, frowning, “Yeah.” He shifts so he can see it too, sucking his lips between his teeth. “That second bit…”
Megren says, “Yeah.”
Lanisen says, “Is it…” He pauses. “I’m, I’m wonderin’ if, should I…”
Megren takes a breath and looks up from the paper. “You want to go now?”
Lanisen pauses uncertainly.
Megren lifts her brows.
Lanisen asks slowly, “Should I?”
Megren shakes her head. “I don’t know. I don’t think anyone’s officially asked for us to send more.”
Lanisen pauses. “I was gonna say, should– should I show somebody.”
Megren says, “Oh, oh. I, maybe, yeah. Sir Darrin would probably have advice.”
Megren looks down at the letter again.
Lanisen says, “I don’t know the wolves in Lantern Waste.”
Megren says, “I don’t know anything about Narnian politics.”
Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side.
Megren says, “You probably, I think you probably should show someone.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah, I’ll… I’ll show Sir Darrin. I wouldn’t think she’d mind him.”
Megren nods uncertainly.
Lanisen says, “The rest of it…”
Megren looks up at him again.
Lanisen’s knee jogs a bit. “I’m just, I’m tryin’ to figure out if she’s, if she’s tryin’ to say ‘don’t come’.”
Megren asks, “Um, you asked if you could come, right? You didn’t say ‘I’m coming in spring’ you said ‘can I come’?”
Lanisen says, “Well– yeah, but… I don’t know, she hasn’t, she hasn’t really said ‘come’, or ‘don’t come’, not either way.”
Megren says, “I think that’s, I think that’s what ‘when are you coming’ means.”
Lanisen says, unconvinced, “Maybe…” He shifts and shakes his head. “No, look, it’s… it could make trouble for her and she’s worried about it.”
Megren tilts her head uncertainly, her eyes skimming over the words. “I don’t know her as well as you.”
Lanisen says, “I don’t want to make trouble for her.”
Megren says, “No, I know.”
Lanisen goes quiet again, rereading.
Megren hands the page back.
Lanisen accepts it, studying it for another moment, troubled. “I’ll… I’ll write again,” he decides. “And I won’t go until I’m sure she wants me to go.”
Megren asks, “If the King wants to send more of us?”
Lanisen glances at her.
Megren asks, “Will you still wait or come with?”
Lanisen frowns at her uncertainly. “I wouldn’t… I wouldn’t be included in any kind of party…”
Megren pushes her mouth to the side but doesn’t argue.
Lanisen looks uncertain.
Megren says, “Well at least give her a date in the letter.”
Lanisen says, “Right…”
Megren asks, “Does she seem like the kind of person who wouldn’t tell you if she didn’t want you around?”
Lanisen says, “I would’ve said no, but she married Myrd.”
Megren screws up her face in acknowledgement but counters, “I mean, you aren’t threatening her.”
Lanisen pauses at this.
Megren says, “You’ve given her every opportunity to say no, and she’s the one who invited you into her life in the first place.”
Lanisen says, distracted, “Yeah…”
Megren frowns, waiting for him to elaborate.
Lanisen says, “I only wonder if she… um, if she feels like she can. Say no, I mean.”
Megren asks, “Because she needs you for Tristran?”
Lanisen says, “Well, and… ’cause I’m offerin’. ‘Cause I /could/ make trouble. I won’t, or–or I hope not to, but I could.”
Megren asks, “Um, what do you, what do you mean?”
Lanisen scrubs his hands over his face. “I don’t know, I don’t know, only I feel like I’m, like… like it’s out of balance and I don’t like it.”
Megren says, “If she wants to say no, she’s got lots of room. Or if she wants to say no and she doesn’t say no, Narnia’s a big country that you love with lots of other people who you could get to know.”
Lanisen says absently, “Yeah.”
Megren says, “You can ask her again, just if you don’t at least start suggesting a date, you’re not going to end up out there until summer’s end at this rate.”
Lanisen says, “I suppose so.”
Megren pushes her mouth to the side.
Lanisen asks, “You’ll go, if they send more?”
Megren says, “I won’t say no if they ask me.”
Megren says, “I’d like to help if I’d be a help.”
Lanisen lifts one side of his mouth and nods, watching the floor in front of them.
Megren watches him uncertainly.
Lanisen glances back at her.
Megren asks, “What are you thinking?”
Lanisen says, “That that’s a very Megren thing to say.”
Megren asks, “Um, thank you?”
Lanisen lifts both corners of his mouth this time. “It’s a good thing.”
Megren asks, “What are you thinking about you?”
Lanisen stirs and sighs. “I don’t hardly know.”
Megren nods quietly.
Lanisen says, “There’s things that scare me that I need to come to terms with somehow if I’m… if I’m gonna do any good.”
Megren asks, “How can I help?”
Lanisen makes a soft, wry scoffing sound of self-directed ruefulness. “I dunno. You can’t, maybe. I don’t know.”
Megren says, “I bet a little.”
Lanisen lifts his shoulders.
Megren pushes her mouth to the side.
Lanisen allows, “Maybe.”
Megren asks, “Do you want to talk about it?”
Lanisen says, “It’s just more of the same.”
Megren says, “Like I don’t ever talk about more of the same.”
Lanisen says, “You must get tired of it sometimes.”
Megren says, “Of my own complaints? Everybody does.”
Megren says, “You have to hear your own complaints more than anyone else, you’re the one most likely to get tired of them.”
Lanisen says, “No need to add to that number, then.”
Megren clicks her tongue, “Don’t be like that.”
Lanisen ducks his head apologetically. “Really, it’s– you’ve heard it all before, every bit of it.”
Megren says, “If it helps, I don’t mind hearing it again.”
Lanisen says, “I don’t know that it will, when there’s no answers for it.”
Megren takes a breath and releases it. “Well. Do you want a reprieve from it then?”
Lanisen glances at her, half-wary.
Megren lifts her brows. “I can’t promise it’s not a boring reprieve.”
Lanisen says, “Oh. Boring’s fine.”
Megren says, “I’m supposed to wear a, like a, special dress? After the ceremony, for the dancing? I don’t know how to pick out fabric.”
Lanisen asks, “Yeah?”
Megren asks, “Would you want to go look with me?”
Lanisen lifts his eyebrows, startled and amused.
Megren says, “It’s — sorry, I know, I did /say/ it was boring; I just, I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Lanisen says, “I don’t know /anything/ about fabric.”
Megren asks, “Then I’ll feel better about not knowing anything either?”
Lanisen laughs a little helplessly and shrugs. “I’ll come if you want me to.”
Megren asks, “Yeah? Really?”
Lanisen warns her, “I won’t be any help.”
Megren says, “Sir Darrin’s going to ask about it eventually and I’d really been hoping the part where he’s good at everything and I’m not was going to be over soon.”
Megren makes a face at him.
Lanisen asks, “When should we go?”
Megren asks, “Now?”
Lanisen considers, then shrugs. “If you like.”
Megren says, “You are my hero.”
Lanisen folds up Jana’s letter and tucks it away in a pocket, getting to his feet.
Megren watches the letter. “It’ll be all right?”
Lanisen pauses uncertainly.
Megren says, “If you need time to think, that’s all right.”
Lanisen says, “I’m always thinkin’.”
Megren says, “Well, space, then.”
Lanisen says, “I’m all right.”
Megren screws up her mouth and lifts her brows and says again, “You’re my hero.”
Lanisen asks, gesturing toward the doorway, “Shall we?”
Megren starts that way.
Lanisen pauses only to put away the foodstuffs he collected at the market and summarily abandoned on the table.
Megren rubs her arm and waits for him at the door.
Lanisen is quick with his task. “All right.”
Megren says, “Thank youu.”
Lanisen ducks his head and grins, ready to follow.
Castle Anvard – Northern Market
Megren ducks into the seamstress’s shop and hangs back toward the entrance uncertainly.
Lanisen follows after her, glancing at the piled fabric. “What kind of dress are you gettin’?” he asks curiously.
Megren wrinkles her nose. “Like a dancing dress?”
Lanisen scratches his head.
Megren says, “I don’t know, softer fabric.”
Lanisen says, “Soft is good!”
Megren says, “I’m gonna tear it.”
Lanisen says, “So… soft but strong, then.”
Lanisen says, “I /told/ you I don’t know about fabric!”
Megren says, “Soft but strong would be like a, a whole leather dress.”
Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side and lifts his eyes to the ceiling. “It’d be waterproof,” he suggests brightly.
Megren says, “I mean, I’m not saying I don’t like soft leather.”
Lanisen says, “Maybe Mistress Tess has some thoughts.”
Megren asks, “Ask her?”
Lanisen asks, “Me?”
Megren asks, “Please?”
Lanisen screws up his face and bites his lip, but goes. He leans on the counter to talk to Tess.
Megren hangs back.
Lanisen doesn’t look back at Megren as Tess launches into an explanation of the different fabrics available and their weight, drape, and weave. He nods and listens attentively, feeling the fabric as she offers it to him.
Megren looks a little overwhelmed by the information.
Lanisen says, when Tess comes to a pause, “What about somethin’ that won’t tear?” Tess tilts her head slightly and inquires why that is a concern, and Lanisen has to take an uncertain second. “If it gets stepped on?” he guesses.
Megren stands between the doorway of the shop and Tess and Lanisen, who are discussing a lovely roll of blue and darker blue patterned fabric.
Lanisen stands at the counter, frowning down at the fabric while Tess explains to him about skirt lengths and how she can fix it so the fabric brushes the floor but doesn’t often get stepped on.
Megren screws up her mouth and crosses her arms, eyes flicking over the stacks of color lining the room.
Haft looks surprised to find anyone there. “Oh, good day.”
Megren turns, surprised, and her face colors a little. “Oh, Haft.”
Lanisen glances over his shoulder, distracted briefly by the newcomer.
Haft tilts his head to look at the cloth. “Pretty.”
Megren says, “We’re just looking.”
Tess, no fool, casts an appraising eye at Megren and turns away from the counter, reaching down bolts of fabric in tones that will compliment her hair and coloring.
Lanisen lifts his shoulders at Haft and turns back to the counter as Tess sets the first bolts down. He pauses, catching his lower lip between his teeth, and looks back at Megren.
Haft gives her a curious look. “Me too. Thought I might find something nice for Calla.”
Megren says, “Oh, that’s nice.”
Tess lays out a good selection, ranging from rich jewel tones to paler pastels. They seem to be mostly on the cooler end of the spectrum, blues and greens with a couple of violets.
Megren hesitates, and then steps toward the cloths. She reaches out to finger an airy bolt of teal.
Lanisen steps to the side, smiling silent thanks at Tess.
Haft steps over to Tess. “Got something a little girl might fancy?”
Megren fingers the fabric for a long moment and then releases a breath, dropping her shoulders, and moves on to something a little less nice.
Tess moves down the counter, leaving Megren to consider in more privacy, and asks, “Does this little girl like climbing trees or dancing, or both?”
Lanisen watches Megren’s process keenly, but doesn’t interfere.
Haft says, “Both, to be sure.”
Megren looks up to watch Haft’s conversation, lips turning upward at his reply.
Tess grins at this reply. “I have two of those,” she answers ruefully, and turns to face the wall of cloth. She pulls out several bolts halfway, sturdy fabric in colors that won’t show stains easily: midtoned blues and greens and soft fawn-colored browns. She steps back to survey these, tapping her lower lip with her thumb, and reaches up above the fabric to the shelf of trimmings and pulls down a spool of simple lace. “A short dress over leggings?” she suggests. “Less liable to get in the way and tear; still good for twirling.”
Haft nods his approval. “Something like that. In blue I think.”
Lanisen reaches out to investigate a soft pastel green with near-invisible patterns in slightly lighter green and a liquid drape.
Megren points to linen bolt with an indigo stain among Haft’s selection. “That one’s nice.”
Haft examines the indicated bolt.
Tess lifts it down to the counter and unwinds a bit so Haft can have a closer look. She tilts her head to consider it and unspools some of the lace to lay across it, where it contrasts very prettily with the dark blue.
Lanisen touches Megren’s elbow. “What do you think of these?” he asks quietly, gesturing at the fabrics she hasn’t really looked at yet.
Megren moves to look. “I don’t know,” she says a little hopelessly.
Haft glances at Megren. “What’s the occasion?”
Megren tucks her hair behind her ear. “It’s for the ceremony.”
Lanisen considers, then begins to sort the fabric into three piles by how they feel and hang.
Megren’s eyes shift to Lanisen with impressed alarm.
Tess lifts down a bolt of the fawn to set with the indigo and lace.
Haft says, “Ah. Well, get something you can twirl in so I can tell Calla all about it.”
Megren says, “There’s the kind of concrete advice I was looking for.”
Haft grins unapologetically.
Lanisen prods gently, gesturing to the piles, “You want to pick which kind you like best?” One pile holds the liquid, silky sort; another is richer and warmer and almost velvety; a third holds a light, airy fabric that will certainly be good for twirling.
Megren says, “They all look like something I would ruin.”
Haft says, “Did Sir Darrin offer any guidelines?””
Megren says, “We’re supposed to look together but I didn’t want to drag him around without any ideas.”
Lanisen suggests, “Do you want to just find a color you like today, then, maybe?”
Haft grunts. “Isn’t exactly a lot of precedent. Can’t you just wear armor?”
Megren says, “I’m supposed to have a dress for the dancing.” She glances at Lanisen and nods hesitantly.
Lanisen asks, “Light or dark, do you think?”
Haft eyes the choices. “I prefer the heavier one, in truth, but I’m afraid I’m pressed for time.” He turns back to Tess and makes inquiry about the price of the bolts and the lace, frowning slightly at her answer. “I’ll think on it.”
Megren asks, “Um?”
Haft says, “Be spring before the day, won’t it? I don’t imagine it need be dark.”
Megren points to the minty green Lanisen was looking at earlier, and an aubergine. “I like this one, but I like that, too.”
Lanisen says thoughtfully, “There’s already snowdrops and crocuses, I bet there’ll be somethin’ good bloomin’ for you to wear by the time they’re done makin’ arrangements.”
Megren colors and looks a little overwhelmed by this prospect.
Tess says, moving back along the counter to join the conversation again, “Apple blossoms would be lovely against that violet.”
Megren asks, “Aren’t they just going to fall out?”
Haft glances at the violet, then Meg’s hair, doubtfully.
Tess says dismissively, “Oh, I shouldn’t think so. They’re quite clever with flowers for wearing.”
Megren squints an eye doubtfully.
Tess lifts a shoulder apologetically. “I don’t know much about it, it’s not my trade. But I do know some of the ladies-in-waiting up in the castle who do some really lovely things for the spring and summer dances.”
Megren says, “Well, you’d know better than me.”
Haft snorts. “They can braid them in. It’d be fine.”
Megren says, “Oh.”
Tess lifts a corner of the pale green and holds it up to consider again. “This would be nice in the spring as well…”
Haft says, “Anyway, I gotta get. I’ll see you later.”
Megren’s eyes stray to the teal again.
Lanisen follows her glance. He reaches out and tugs the teal out of its pile to add to the short list, to an approving murmur from Tess.
Haft heads out the door.
Megren says, “I’ll ruin any of those.”
Lanisen says, “Shhh, don’t worry about that right now.”
Megren says, “No, it’s important.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah, but it’s, later, we’ll worry about it after we find a color and Tess can help figure out ways for you to work with it, yeah?”
Megren tucks her hair behind her ear.
Lanisen asks, “What colors do you like to wear when it’s just, just for goin’ about?”
Megren looks down at herself and her squire’s clothes.
Lanisen says, “You got dresses, I seen ’em. What’s your favorite?”
Megren says, “Um, the blue one, I guess.”
Lanisen says encouragingly, “That’s a good color, do you want a color that’s like that?”
Haft exits the shop.
Megren says, “I have a dress that color.”
Lanisen says, “True.”
Megren blows out a breath and looks up at Tess. “What do you think.”
Tess lifts her eyebrows and hmms. “Hard to choose,” she says frankly. “The violet suits your skin, the green suits your hair, the teal suits your eyes.” She smooths a hand over the violet. “I think you’ll not have as much difficulty keeping it whole as you’re thinking,” she adds reassuringly. “I wouldn’t suggest going adventuring in it, but…”
Megren says, “If you chose any color.”
Tess says, lifting the corners of her lips slightly, “Well, I won’t be wearing it, will I?”
Megren screws up her mouth.
Lanisen grins a little, squinting sympathetically.
Megren looses a breath. “Well, I guess what’s the worst that can happen, huh?”
Lanisen asks, “Do you want to leave it for a while, come back and look again later with fresh eyes?”
Megren looks at him. “What would you choose?”
Lanisen looks alarmed. “Umm…”
Megren lifts her brows.
Lanisen says, “I got no idea, I think they’re all pretty.”
Megren makes a face again but agrees, “Yeah.”
Lanisen says, “You like that teal, though.”
Megren says hesitantly, “It’s bright.”
Lanisen asks, “Is that bad?”
Megren says, “I don’t know.”
Tess taps her index finger twice on the counter and speaks up. “You won’t stand out unduly, if that’s what’s worrying you.”
Megren looks skeptical again.
Tess assures her, “I’ve made gowns brighter than this.”
Megren releases a breath and looks at Lanisen again. “Fresh eyes.”
Lanisen nods, taking a step back away from the counter. “We’ll come back tomorrow?”
Megren says, “Yeah, probably.”
Tess begins to roll up the bolts again. “I’ll make a note and reserve these three until you’ve decided,” she promises.
Megren says, “Thank you. I’m sorry to take up so much of your time.”
Tess lifts her eyebrows laughingly. “Such a great imposition it’s been, to be sure.”
Megren wrinkles her nose in mockery of herself.
Tess’s smile widens a bit and gentles. “You take whatever time you need, Squire. I’ll be here.”
Megren says again, “Thank you.”
Lanisen echoes Megren’s thanks. He glances at her, tilting his head toward the door.
Megren follows his lead and heads that way, thanking Tess a last time as she goes.
Lanisen wraps an arm around Megren’s shoulders and gives her a brief squeeze before they leave the market.
Megren sways toward him when he does. “Thanks for helping.”
Lanisen makes a dismissive noise. “I don’t think I was very helpful,” he says ruefully. “But any time.”
Megren says, “You were helpful. You gave me a start.”
Lanisen says lightly, “Well, good, then.” He glances at her. “Whatever you pick is gonna be lovely, you know. Don’t let it worry you too much.”
Megren says, “I know. I won’t.”
Lanisen says thoughtfully, “I bet we could get some good flowers from Sareen, too.”
Megren says, “Aaah.”
Lanisen lifts his eyebrows at her.
Megren complains, “It’s just so much fuss.”
Lanisen shoves her shoulder lightly.
Megren says, “It /is/.”
Lanisen says, “Let us fuss for once. We want to.”
Megren says, “I’m trying, I’m trying. Imagine if it was you.”
Lanisen makes a face and dips his head to the side in concession.
Megren says, “Fuss behind my back.”
Lanisen says agreeably, “All right.”
Megren says, “Thank you; I love you.”
Lanisen asks, “What else can I do?”
Megren rolls her eyes. “I don’t know.”
Lanisen asks, “Did you eat lunch? I haven’t yet.”
Megren says, “Right. No. Not yet.”
Lanisen asks, “Have you got time?”
Megren says, “Yeah, a little longer.”
Lanisen says, “Let’s go, then.”
Megren says, “Yes, please.”
Lanisen strolls out toward the part of the market where food can be found, his hands in his pockets.
Megren seems content to let him take the lead.