Lanisen is just dumping the bucket of mop water out into the shallow drainage channel that runs through the ward. He straightens, rubbing his lower back absently, and turns to go back to the kennels, bucket in hand.
Megren sees him as she is crossing the ward, and picks up her pace to meet him. “Hey!”
Lanisen turns, searching, and grins tiredly to see her. “Hey, you.”
Megren slows up as she nears him. “Want some help?”
Lanisen says, “Ahh,” and lifts the empty bucket. “I’m done, everything’s done.”
Megren asks, “Oh. Want some company?”
Lanisen humms, smiling contentedly. “Company sounds nice.”
Megren says, “Only if you’ve got something hot to drink. I’ve been out with the horses and my fingers are bone cold, look.” She presses her clammy hand into his cheek before he can protest.
Lanisen is a bit slow to react, but his eyes squint up and he dances to the side, hunching up his shoulders all the way to his ears. “Heyy!”
Megren grins. “So tea, then?”
Lanisen grumbles good-naturedly, “/You’ve/ got a lot of nerve, young miss.”
Megren opens her mouth in mock offense. “I can’t be that much younger than you.”
Lanisen says loftily, affecting a cultured accent, “Art but a spring piglet compared to my venerable years.”
Megren snorts soundlessly. “I’m sure.”
Lanisen grins, reaching to open the door for her. “How old are you?” he asks curiously. “I think I’m older, I’m pretty sure…”
Megren crosses her arms and squints at him with a twisted mouth, walking backward through the door. “Thirty,” she says without blinking.
Megren asks, “How old are /you/?”
Lanisen pauses, narrowing one eye. “Twenty-five? Twenty-five come Greenroof.”
Megren’s brows lift. “You’re lying.”
Lanisen protests, “I’m not.”
Megren exclaims, “You’re old!”
Lanisen says, “I /beg/ your pardon.”
Megren says, “Really old.”
Lanisen wrinkles up his nose at her. “Your turn, then.”
Megren says, “I told you I’m thirty.”
Lanisen shoves her shoulder and goes to see about tea.
Megren trails after him. “If you guess it I’ll tell you.”
Lanisen whines, “Guessin’ sounds like /work/.”
Megren says, “/And/ you only get three. But I’ll tell you younger or older.”
Lanisen sits down on the hearth, putting his elbows on his knees. “Twenty.”
Megren makes a face. “Older.”
Lanisen says, “Twenty-three.”
Megren says, “Younger.”
Lanisen pauses, catching his lower lip between his teeth and considering her narrowly. “Twenty-two,” he decides.
Megren wrinkles her nose.
Lanisen asks, “Well?”
Lanisen crows, “Wee child!”
Megren shoves him in the shoulder.
Lanisen doubles over, giggling.
Megren says, “You’re the worst.”
Lanisen says, “/You/ called me /old/!”
Megren says, “You are.”
Lanisen says, “And you are a wee new babe.”
Megren exclaims, “I’m older than Sir Darrin!”
Lanisen’s eyebrows raise in delighted interest. “/Really/.”
Megren admits, “Only by a few months.”
Lanisen remarks, “I figured he was older, for sure.”
Megren makes a face at him.
Megren screws up her mouth. “You thought I was twenty?”
Lanisen lifts his shoulders. “I reckoned it was on the young end of the maybes.”
Megren says, “That’s Cass’s age.”
Lanisen says with dignity, “Cass is nineteen.”
Megren says, “You thought I was Cass’s age.”
Lanisen says, “I didn’t! You gave me three guesses.”
Megren makes a skeptical face.
Lanisen says, “Anyway twenty and twenty-two aren’t /that/ far apart.”
Megren says, “Far enough.”
Lanisen asks curiously, “How old did you think I was?”
Megren says, “Thirty.”
Lanisen makes a face at her.
Lanisen leans back against the wall and closes his eyes for a moment.
Megren sits on the hearth and pulls her legs up under her. “Twenty-seven, maybe.”
Lanisen opens his eyes again. “What, really?” he asks, amused.
Megren says, “Well, you had a whole life before you were here, and you’ve been here a long time.”
Lanisen covers a yawn, shifting to sit more comfortably. “Seventeen years ain’t a whole life.”
Megren says, “It seems like it when you talk about it.”
Megren lifts her shoulders. “All I did for eighteen years was run around in the woods.”
Lanisen lifts one eyebrow, a little wry.
Megren says, “You’ve got a whole big story.”
Lanisen mumbles, “It’s not a good story.”
Megren says, “It’s a lot for seventeen years.”
Lanisen shrugs. The kettle starts whistling, and he gets up to lift it off the fire and pour the water into the pot.
Megren watches him with her mouth pushed to one side.
Lanisen steps out into the main room briefly, and returns with the mugs and two cheese scones.
Megren says, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to make you think on it.”
Lanisen says, glancing up, “No, that’s– it’s– Do you want your scone toasted?”
Megren nods. “Sure, yes.”
Lanisen gets both scones settled on the toasting fork and holds them over the heat. He yawns again and closes his eyes.
Megren asks, “Am I keeping you from resting?”
Lanisen shakes his head.
Megren says, “You look tired.”
Lanisen admits, “I’m tired.”
Megren pats the hearth. “Here, I’ll do the tea and scones, you sit.”
Lanisen protests, “You’ve had a day too, I’m sure.”
Megren gets up and pulls him toward the hearth.
Lanisen says, “Mmp– ohhhkay.” He sits down without too much prodding and rubs his eyes.
Megren pats his head and checks on the scones.
Lanisen puts his elbows on his knees and props up his chin in one hand.
Megren sits to wait a little longer. She tugs at him gently to try to get him to lie down.
Lanisen is slightly resistant, but tired enough that it doesn’t matter. He curls up with his back to the fire.
Megren smooths his hair once, but then draws her hand back and pins it under her other arm. “How come you’re so tired, anyway?”
Lanisen says, “Just had a day. Didn’t sleep well last night. Oh,” he adds, yawning again. “I wrote Jana, it’s on the table if you want to see it.”
Megren asks, “Oh. You don’t mind?”
Lanisen says, “No, it’s, you can read it if you want to.”
Megren nods, and gets up to find it.
Lanisen draws up his legs to get them more out of her way, then sighs and resettles.
Megren picks the letter up and stands at the table to read it.
Lanisen drags a blanket over to bunch up and use as a pillow.
Megren asks, “Did you write it last night, is that why you didn’t sleep well?”
Lanisen shrugs dismissively.
Megren glances up from the parchment at him.
Lanisen concedes, “Maybe.”
Megren asks, “Do you want someone to sit with you next time?”
Lanisen says, “Then there can be /two/ tired people instead of /one/.”
Megren says, “Much better.”
Lanisen snorts out a little breath of silent laughter and rubs his face.
Megren says, “Really, I mean it, though.”
Lanisen says, “Thank you.”
Megren falls quiet as she reads the letter.
Lanisen stays quiet, but his eyes flick to watch her read.
Megren’s lips move as she reads. She looks up and nods to show she’s finished.
Lanisen lifts his shoulders.
Megren says, “She’ll have a hard time dancing around that.””
Lanisen asks worriedly, “Is it too…?”
Megren lifts her shoulders.
Lanisen says, “I don’t know what that means.”
Megren asks, “Too what?”
Lanisen says, “I don’t know. Too– stark.”
Megren says, “Her writing is pretty stark.”
Lanisen says, “I guess.”
Megren says, “I don’t know. I don’t know her, Lanisen.”
Lanisen looks away and nods.
Megren says again, “I don’t think she can not answer it without admitting she’s not answering it, though.”
Lanisen nods. He’s quiet for a minute, staring tiredly at nothing in particular, then says, “That’s what I’m needin’ from her, so.”
Megren sets the parchment down and moves back to sit beside him and rest her hand on his shoulder.
Lanisen closes his eyes, pulling the bunched-up blanket-pillow closer, and exhales quietly.
Megren startles and gets up at the smell of burning scone.
Lanisen opens his eyes again, twisting to look to see what she’s doing. “Oh, oh,” he says, realizing. “Give me the burnt one, I’ll eat it.”
Megren pulls them off the heat and shows him the results. “They’re both pretty dark,” she says regretfully. “I think I can scrape them, though.”
Lanisen mms and shrugs. “I don’t mind ’em burnt.”
Megren brings them over to the table. “I’ll scrape them, I’ll scrape them. Butter?”
Lanisen says, “Um,” and sits up. “On the, on the…” He squeezes his eyes shut and shakes his head, then gets up to go fetch it.
Dalia knocks softly as is her usual warning to those inside.
Megren says, “What, no, sit down, I know where it is.” She turns from her half-step toward restraining him at the sound of the knock. “Hello?””
Lanisen startles slightly and blinks at the door, paused midstep.
Dalia says, “”Lanisen? may I come in?””
Lanisen exhales and rubs the side of his face ruefully. “C’mon in, Dalia,” he calls toward the door.
Megren goes to get the butter. “I’m here, too, Dalia,” she calls.
Dalia pulls the door open and slips in, looking a bit chilled from the weather outside. “Oh! Hello Meg.”
Lanisen leans his forearm on the haybale wall and grins a tired greeting to Dalia. He looks pretty knackered, with bags under his eyes and a slouchy posture.
Megren can be heard behind the hay wall scraping burnt bread.
Dalia looks to Lanisen, offerin him a smile in greeting. “Don’t let me trouble you. I only just remembered I left my shawl when I was here earlier.”
Megren calls, “Do you want a scone?”
Lanisen says, “Oh, oh, yeah…” He crosses to one of the shelves and reaches it down, neatly folded and out of the reach of dogs, though it does look like Glora might have slept on it. He brushes it off.
Dalia thanks him as he hands it to her, giving him a simpathetic look at his tired look. She glances back towards the hale bales at Megren’s question. “I won’t stay long.” She ducks around the hay bales.
Megren looks up and flashes Dalia a grin. “They’re a little burnt,” she says apologetically.
Lanisen follows Dalia. He leans back against the wall and covers a yawn.
Megren hands them each a buttered scone. “There’s tea, too.”
Dalia grins, and thanks Megren. “I don’t mind burnt, but I shouldn’t stay long.” she says glancing to a yawning Lanisen. She hestitates, then dashes ahead. “Is it true you’re going to be knighted?”
Lanisen reaches for the scone. He glances to Dalia at her question, then looks down at the scone in his hand, half-smiling.
Megren wrinkles her nose, her lips curving a little, cheeks coloring, and nods.
Dalia’s grin grows lighting up her face with pure genuine joy. “That’s fantastic! Congratulations!”
The color in Megren’s cheeks deepens.
Lanisen’s half-smile turns full and dimpled, but he keeps his eyes down.
Dalia reaches over to give Megren a hug.
Megren laughs and hugs her in return. As she steps back she gives Lanisen an apologetic look. “Listen, I promised Sir Darrin I’d get a couple of history chapters in tonight.”
Lanisen says, “Oh! Right, sure.”
Megren says, “Make sure you go to bed before you fall over.”
Lanisen looks mildly embarrassed.
Megren grins. She looks at Dalia and places a hand on her upper arm. “We’ll talk soon?”
Dalia rises, “I should probably head out, as well.” She looks to Megren offering, “If you need anything for the ceremony. I mean if you want anything. I’d be willing to help.”
Megren smiles. “Thanks. I’ll remember that.”
Dalia nods, returning the smile. She finishes off her scone and gathers her shawl. “Good Night, Lanisen.”
Megren walks backward toward the outer room. “Night, you both.”
Lanisen says, rubbing his elbow, “‘Night.”