Outer Ward
Castle Anvard

Megren crosses the ward on her way to the stable.

Lanisen sits on an overturned crate outside the kennels, soaking up the chilly sunshine. Catching sight of Megren, he gets to his feet and wanders after her.

Megren slips along down the aisle and ducks into the tack room.

Lanisen trails after her and leans on the doorframe. “Mornin’.”

Megren turns at his voice. “Oh, oh, hi. Good morning.”

Lanisen pauses, tilting his head to the side. “All right?”

Megren blows out a breath. “I’m checking all Sir Darrin’s and my tack for next week.”

Lanisen says, “Next– oh. Mm, yeah.”

Megren says, “It’s got to be all perfect.”

Lanisen pauses again. “Do you want help?” he asks. “Or, or company, anyway?”

Megren says, “Sure, sit, if you’ve eaten already. It’ll take me a while.”

Lanisen asks, “Do you need anything?”

Megren says, “Polish.”

Lanisen nods, already straightening to get it. “Where?”

Megren points to a shelf across the room.

Lanisen goes to reach it down, asking as he crosses back, “What else?”

Megren says, “Buffing brush, same shelf.”

Lanisen nods and doubles back.

Megren says, “Thank you.”

Lanisen says, “No trouble,” and sets them both next to her.

Megren settles Swiftly’s saddle across her knees and begins examining it minutely.

Lanisen takes a seat across from her and rests his elbows on his knees, watching. “Anything I can do to help?”

Megren says, “Ummm–”

Lanisen lifts his eyebrows, then wrinkles his nose. “I’ll do the runnin’ and fetchin’, then.”

Megren says, “Sure, or just talk at me.”

Lanisen asks, “Talk about what?”

Megren says, “Hmm, your favorite childhood food.”

Lanisen blinks.

Megren doesn’t look up from her work as she gestures with her hand for him to go ahead.

Lanisen says, “Um…” and hesitates to think. “There was, my mum always put walnuts in the muffins, we had a tree. I didn’t really like them on account of they get that bitter taste sometimes, but they were Lanton’s favorite and I wanted to be him, so I started likin’ them out of sheer stubbornness.” He pauses again. “What was yours?”

Megren lets out a soft breath of laughter. “What else have you liked out of stubbornness?”

Lanisen says, “What? I dunno.”

Megren gets a plotting expression.

Lanisen says warily, “What.”

Megren looks up innocently. “Hm?”

Lanisen says, “You got a look.”

Megren looks back down at her work and says, “Just wondering what it takes to get you to decide to be stubborn.”

Lanisen squints one eye.

Megren lifts her shoulders innocently.

Lanisen says, “I’m tryin’ to work out if I ought to be offended.”

Megren says, “I am never offensive.”

Lanisen says, “Hmmm.”

Megren says, “You, on the other hand.”

Lanisen complains, “What.”

Megren says, “Implying I would be offensive.”

Lanisen says, “There’s somethin’ wrong with that logic, I’m pretty certain.”

Megren clicks her tongue.

Lanisen asks, “What was yours, though?”

Megren says, “Fresh baker’s bread. We didn’t have nice bread very often, but if we were doing well we could get a rosemary one that was braided and eggy and it had butter and big pieces of salt.”

Lanisen hmms softly in thoughtful appreciation. “Where did you get it?”

Megren says, “There used to be a baker in east Andale.”

Lanisen asks, “Used to be? They stopped?”

Megren says, “His daughter mostly runs it now and she doesn’t do all the same breads.”

Lanisen makes a regretful noise.

Megren says, “But I get all sorts of bread now.”

Lanisen says, “Well.”

Megren says, “I don’t mind.”

Lanisen asks, “What’s his name, that baker?”

Megren says, “Oh, um, Arl.”

Lanisen nods thoughtfully.

Megren takes a breath and then admits, “We mostly ate a lot of the stuff da couldn’t sell when I was a kid.”

Lanisen raises his eyebrows, focusing on her again with some concern.

Megren glances up and makes a face. “Not like that. It was fine.”

Lanisen asks, “Yeah?”

Megren says, “I just meant, everything tastes good all the time now, so I don’t really miss it.”

Lanisen says, “All right.”

Megren looks up again and pulls another face.

Lanisen asks, “What?”

Megren says, “You sound like you’re tolerating.”

Lanisen says, “Toler– I’m not, I’m not, I’m sorry.”

Megren says, “All right.”

Lanisen says, “You had such a different growin’ up is all.”

Megren says, “In some ways.”

Lanisen lifts his shoulders.

Megren asks, “Different how?”

Lanisen says, “Bein’ out with your da. Goin’ places by yourself.”

Megren says, “You did things by yourself.”

Lanisen bobs his head to either side in a half-concession.

Megren says, “Mostly I’m pretty glad for it.”

Lanisen nods.

Megren glances up from her work at him.

Lanisen says, quirking his lips a little, “Well, you turned out all right, anyway.”

Megren grins back.

Lanisen asks, “What else have you got to do to get ready for next week?”

Megren says, “Got to inspect all my gear like this, and train, but not /too/ hard, and eat, but the right things at the right times, and make sure I take breaks to just–” she makes air quotes, “–‘be still’, and check all the clothes are fitted right.”

Lanisen asks, “What can I help with?”

Megren lifts her shoulders.

Lanisen asks, “What foods are the right foods, anyway?”

Megren says, “Um, it depends on the day and the time of day, but it’s — green things if I can find them, and lots of lean meats and nuts, and bread or porridge with eggs in the morning.”

Lanisen hmms softly and seems to be making a note of this.

Megren says, “Adrian’s got the whole list, I’m suppose to check with him in the mornings.”

Lanisen asks, “Should I check it before I get us supper, or would that be strange?”

Megren says, “I don’t think so. I think Ren might know already. All the knights and guards have to do it sometimes if they’re preparing for something that’s going to take a lot out of them.”

Lanisen asks, “Will it? Take a lot out of you, I mean.”

Megren says, “Well, it’s a lot.”

Lanisen nods, watching the floor.

Megren says, “I’ll be fine.”

Lanisen agrees, “I know you will.”

Megren looks up again, this time to wrinkle her nose at him.

Lanisen shrugs.

Megren asks, “How do you feel?

Lanisen asks, half-laughing, “Me?”

Megren says, “You.”

Lanisen says, “I’m not the one gettin’ knighted.”

Megren says, “I’m still asking.”

Lanisen laughs under his breath again and glances away, slightly uncomfortable. “Fine?” he says, shrugging.

Megren says, “All right.”

Lanisen folds his arms on top of his knees and rolls a piece of hay between his fingers. “I want to help you in any, however I can, whatever you need,” he says after a small pause, glancing up at her briefly. “Um– I know I overdo it sometimes, you can, I’ll watch for that but you can tell me if that’s so and I won’t be hurt.”

Megren looks up and her mouth curves on one side. “All right,” she says again.

Lanisen nods a couple of times and folds the straw in half. He watches her work on the saddle.

Megren says, “Thanks for sitting with me.”

Lanisen says, “‘S no trouble.”

Megren says, “If you get bored I won’t be offended.”

Lanisen says, shaking his head, “I’m not bored.”

Megren says, “IF you get bored, though.”

Lanisen grins, lowering his head. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Megren falls quietly back into her work.

Lanisen exhales quietly and leans back against the wall, rubbing his shoulder. “Are you nervous?”

Megren says, “Mhm.”

Lanisen asks, “What are you most nervous about?”

Megren says, “It’s going to be a big change.”

Lanisen pauses, and then nods.

Megren says, “Which is, I know in my head it won’t really be so big when it comes to — like you, and Sir Darrin, and everything, but — also it is still big.”

Lanisen glances at her and nods again. He’s quiet for a moment, then asks, “What’ll be the biggest change, do you think?”

Megren pauses, glancing up at the doorway. “Um, Sir Darrin and I won’t be thrown together so much, and we’ll be, sort of equals, almost.”

Lanisen nods thoughtfully, watching the piece of hay in his fingers.

Megren says, “It’ll just, um, it’s, it means adjusting.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah.”

Megren lifts a shoulder, pulling her attention back to her work.

Lanisen says after a while, almost musingly, “I meant about the actual knightin’.”

Megren asks, “The ceremony?”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, the ceremony.”

Megren says, “Probably the horses. Maybe the vigil.”

Lanisen asks, “The horses, why?”

Megren says, “I’m not as good with them.”

Lanisen frowns.

Megren says, “I mean, it’s just not where my skill lies.”

Lanisen allows, “That’s fair.” He pauses. “Why the vigil?”

Megren says, “I’ll be tired and sore, and I probably won’t think about the right things.”

Lanisen says, “Who’s to know?”

Megren says, “Well, it’s not about knowing, it’s about, about preparing yourself.”

Lanisen reasons, “You been preparing yourself these last two years.”

Megren acknowledges, “Yeah.”

Lanisen falls quiet. He twists a second piece of hay with the first.

Megren’s concentration ostensibly falls back on her work.

Lanisen stays quiet this time, and the silence is comfortable, if a bit heavier and more thoughtful than usual.

Megren says, “Swiftly’s probably starving for a pat if you end up wanting something to do.”

Lanisen asks, “Should I?”

Megren says, “If you want.”

Lanisen hesitates, trying to assess the suggestion.

Megren says, “I don’t want you to get bored.”

Lanisen assures her, “I’m not, I won’t be. It’s okay, you don’t gotta entertain me.”

Megren screws up her mouth but doesn’t keep trying.

Lanisen says, “If you could go anywhere, now we’ve been to Narnia, where would you go?”

Megren hums thoughtfully.

Lanisen adds, “Narnia’s still an option. So’s anywhere else we’ve already been.”

Megren says, “I always wondered what islands were like.”

Lanisen mms, pushing his mouth to the side.

Megren says, “I would happily go anywhere we’ve gone again, though.”

Lanisen lifts the corners of his mouth.

Megren glances up at him and smiles back. “What about you?”

Lanisen takes a minute to consider. “I’d like to see more of Narnia,” he says, a little wistfully. “Stay longer, get to– get to know the people, get to know how they live.”

Megren says, “Well, good.”

Lanisen draws a small breath to answer this, but moistens his lips and lets it go again.

Megren says, “You’re going to get that wish, I’ve no doubts.”

Lanisen picks up a third piece of straw and weaves it in with the others. He doesn’t answer.

Megren looks up to watch him.

Lanisen says finally, “It’s gonna be different without you and Sir Darrin.”

Megren takes a breath, and then cuts it short.

Lanisen shrugs without looking up, matter-of-fact and somehow apologetic.

Megren says, “If more knights get called, we both said we’d go.”

Lanisen looks up at her, unsurprised but not particularly comforted. “I don’t imagine we’ll be in the same place, though.”

Megren says, “It’s hard to say.”

Lanisen pauses a moment, focusing on the straw twining in his hands. “Travelin’ with you two…” he says finally, and nods a couple of times without looking up. “It meant– it meant a lot to me.”

Megren absorbs this, and then says sincerely, “Me too.”

Lanisen seems for a moment like he’s about to say something else, but he catches his lower lip between his teeth and nods again.

Megren looks up and lifts her brows questioningly.

Lanisen shakes his head slightly, dismissive.

Megren lets it go quiet then.

Lanisen asks, “Do you think they’ll ask for more knights?

Megren says, “I don’t know. Sir Darrin send to think they might.”

Lanisen asks, “Are you two, will they send you first, or are there others meanin’ to go?”

Megren focuses on her hands. “Um, I don’t, they might not send us both.”

Lanisen pauses at this, sitting back a little in surprise.

Megren says, “Lord Dar’s wanting to go back to Coghill in a year, and that means Sir Darrin’s got to learn his job.”

Lanisen glances at the doorway, checking the area immediately within earshot. “Won’t you…”

Megren says, “Not right away.”

Lanisen pauses. “Won’t you want to be near him, I was gonna say.”

Megren says, “Oh.”

Lanisen glances at her briefly, but doesn’t say anything else.

Megren is quiet for a moment and then she lifts a shoulder, still not looking up from her work. “If they ask me to go I don’t want to say no to my first assignment.”

Lanisen says, “I suppose not.”

Megren says, “We talked about it a little and didn’t come to any conclusions.”

Lanisen says, “Surely he’s got some say in who goes.”

Megren says, “Probably some.”

Lanisen nods.

Megren says, “It makes sense to send someone who’s already been there, though.”

Lanisen concedes this absently.

Megren goes quiet again.

Lanisen doesn’t try to break it this time.

Megren says after a while, “It wouldn’t be forever.”

Lanisen agrees, “Nah.”

Megren goes quiet again.

Lanisen shifts. “I’m sorry.”

Megren says, “I might not get sent. Or Lord Dar might decide to stay on a while.”

Lanisen nods.

Megren says, “It’s a silly thing to worry over.”

Lanisen says, “No… no.”

Megren pulls a face.

Lanisen says, “It’s not.”

Megren just says, “All right.”

Lanisen glances at her, and then he lifts the corners of his mouth in a small smile. “Now you’re toleratin’.”

Megren looks up. “No, I– just, it /is/ silly, when it might not even happen.”

Lanisen looks down. “I’m sorry, anyway.”

Megren says, “Yeah. Somehow I thought everything would just sort itself when i was knighted.”

Lanisen nods.

Megren says, “I don’t know why I thought that.”

Lanisen says, “Some things it’ll make, it’ll make better, yeah? Not everything, but a lot of things, that’s why you decided to do it in the first place, right? There’s things you can do now you couldn’t before.” He pauses. “Next week, I mean.”

Megren says, “Yeah.”

Lanisen says, “And, and there’ll be time to settle into it, they won’t send you off to Narnia right away even if they do, I’m sure.”

Megren acknowledges, “Maybe not.”

Lanisen says, “I bet nothin’ will even be that different for a little while, excepting fewer chores.”

Megren says, “Yeah, maybe. Probably.”

Lanisen adds, slightly mischievous, “And people callin’ you Dame and the bowin’ and such.”

Megren pulls a face.

Lanisen pulls his lips between his teeth but the grin gets out anyway.

Megren sticks her tongue out at him.

Lanisen’s grin gets broader for a moment, but subsides. He cants his head and remarks frankly, considering the floor, “That’d be the part that would make me nervous, really, if I were going to be a knight.”

Megren says, “I keep very conveniently forgetting that part.”

Lanisen glances at her, then makes a small regretful grimace and looks away.

Megren reaches out and shoves him gently in the knee. “If you go around scraping at me I will loathe you forever,” she warns.

Lanisen sways to the side, dimpling up. “Maybe just a /little/.”

Megren says, “I’ll never go to the kennels again.”

Lanisen says, “All right, all right, how about… hmm, twice weekly, three times if there’s a feast or somethin’.”

Megren pushes her lips as far upward as they’ll go.

Lanisen doubles over laughing.

Megren says, “You are the very worst person.”

Lanisen shrugs happily.

Megren gives him another light shove.

Lanisen subsides, still pleased with himself. “You won’t really mind, though, right?” he asks after a small pause, glancing at her sidelong. “I won’t, I swear I won’t make a mock of it. Unless, I mean, unless you do first, or… if it’s…” He wrinkles up his nose. “Sorry, it’s… I respect, I respect you, is what I’m tryin’ to say, and I respect the title, and it’s– I’ll be glad to do it, when it’s time. That’s all.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side. “Um,” she says. “I won’t mind, you know, — ah, I don’t know. I should talk to Sir Chal or Sir Myles, see how it was for them.”

Lanisen nods. “It’ll prob’ly feel odd for a while,” he reflects. “That’ll go away, though, I’m sure. I wish I knew a way to be certain not to make it uncomfortable for you.”

Megren says, “Yeah, I know.”

Lanisen suggests, “The kennel can be normal always if you want.”

Megren says, “Yes, all right.”

Lanisen says, “Or wherever we find ourselves. Just say, either way.”

Megren nods.

Lanisen goes quiet for a moment. He grins on one side of his face suddenly and murmurs, “I can’t wait to see you as a knight.”

Megren complains, “Tarva’s tail.”

Lanisen giggles out loud and drums his heels on the floor. “Really though!”

Megren hmms disapprovingly.

Lanisen sways to bump shoulders, brimming over with enthusiasm. “You’re gonna be so /good/,” he crows. “You’ll go by and folk will be all askin’ each other, who was that brave and fierce warrior-type aimin’ to fix the world, and I’ll be standin’ there all casual, all, that’s my very best friend, ain’t she somethin’.”

Megren says, “/Tarva’s tail/.”

Lanisen cackles, delighted, and bumps shoulders again.

Megren says, “You’re the worst.”

Lanisen agrees happily, “Yep!” He glances at her sidelong, though, just checking in to be sure a line hasn’t been crossed.

Megren turns the saddle about a few times. “I think this one’s done.”

Lanisen asks, “You want me to fetch the next?”

Megren points to Sir Darrin’s ceremonial saddle.

Lanisen gets up and brings it over. “Can I do anything to help at all?”

Megren screws up her mouth. “I don’t know. I think it’s probably important that I do it all.”

Lanisen squints.

Megren glances up at him and makes a face. “It’s, it’s like, a part of the preparation.”

Lanisen hmms, frowning slightly. “What else do you have to do by yourself?”

Megren says, “Armor.”

Lanisen nods. “What do you have to do that you don’t have to do by yourself?”

Megren says, “Dress fitting.”

Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side. “What do you have that I can help with?”

Megren says, “Eating food.”

Lanisen snorts a laugh. “All right, I’ll be in charge of getting food.”

Megren says, “My hero.”

Lanisen inclines his head nobly.

Megren starts buffing Sir Darrin’s saddle.


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