Megren knocks on the door.
Lanisen calls, “It’s open!”
Megren slips inside. “Evening!”
Lanisen is just setting out the hounds’ dinner, and it’s accordingly noisy, until all of a sudden it’s not. “Hey,” he says, going to rinse his hands. “How’re you?”
Megren says, “Rode out to some of the farms today.”
Lanisen asks, “The farms?”
Megren nods. “Some of the knights go out and check that everyone’s got what they need. It gets isolating when you’re too far out.”
Lanisen says, “Mm, I s’pose.” He dries his hands. “Were they people you’ve met before, or new?”
Megren says, “Reina’s family was one of them.”
Lanisen says, “Oh, good. How’d it go?”
Megren lifts her shoulders. “The oldest brother’s moved out and taken a couple of the younger ones but he can’t take all of them.”
Lanisen nods, pushing his mouth to the side. He hangs the drying rag on a hook and leans on the back of a chair. “Do you s’pose they’ll send others to the castle when they’re old enough?”
Megren says, “I don’t know. They didn’t really want to send Reina.”
Lanisen nods again. “What were they like, were they glad to see you?”
Megren says, “Some of the kids.”
Lanisen lifts one corner of his mouth at this, but looks worried and sympathetic. “How about the other farms?”
Megren says, “Good, mostly good. I’ve got a list of things I’ll be bringing out next week.”
Lanisen says, “Good. That’s good.”
Megren sinks down at the table. “What’d you do today?
Lanisen says, moving to get down a plate of sweetbread from the top shelf, “Nothin’ special. Oh,” he adds, slightly grumpy, “Jana wrote back.”
Megren’s brows lift. “Yeah?” She tilts her head. “It wasn’t good?”
Lanisen wrinkles up his nose expressively as he sets down the sweetbread. He reaches down the table and grabs an unfolded letter, passing it to Megren.
Megren takes it. Her brows furrow.
Lanisen says, “I don’t know.”
Megren says, “Glora seems to understand her, maybe she would know.”
Lanisen rubs a hand over his face tiredly. “Yeah, maybe,” he agrees.
Megren says, “Has she seen it yet?”
Lanisen says, “No, it’s– I haven’t really talked to her about it much, other than the other day.”
Megren pushes back her chair to stand up. “Where is she? I’ll find her.”
Lanisen says, “The kitchen, prob’ly, or someplace there’s a fire, but it’s, you don’t have to.”
Megren says again, “I’ll go find her. I thought we might break out Aunt Liss’s other cheese tonight anyway.”
Lanisen offers, “I can, if you want to sit a bit?”
Megren screws up her mouth and agrees, “Fine, I’ll get the cheese, you get Glora.”
Lanisen nods agreeably, reaching for his scarf.
Megren splits off with him once they’ve got outside.
Lanisen returns after about ten minutes, Glora perched on his shoulders, and opens the door cautiously. There is a mild yammering, but mostly the hounds are more interested in their dinner than people who smell familiar anyway. He sets down a covered pot that smells of chicken broth and steps to one of Glora’s shelves to let her off.
Megren is another five minutes before she returns, despite her more minimal task. “Got into three conversations,” she apologizes as she opens the door and closes it behind her.
Glora flows off his shoulder and turns to face the door expectantly. Her tail swishes when Megren walks in. “Only three?”
Lanisen snickers, setting out bowls.
Megren says, “I know, disappointing. I did bring cheese, though.”
Glora smiles. “I suppose a bit of delay can be forgiven. Though I nearly wasted away, you know.”
Lanisen asks, “Meg, you had supper yet?”
Megren says, “Some food on the road; I could eat again.”
Glora asks, “Where were you this time?”
Megren says, “I just went out to a couple of farms.”
Lanisen dishes out the soup and cuts the sweetbread.
Glora asks, “What for?”
Megren says, “We go out and make sure they’ve got what they need, nobody’s got a plague, that kind of thing.”
Lanisen asks, “Did you go by yourself, or with somebody else?”
Megren says, “Sir Chal.”
Glora says, “And let me guess, we all need to flee the plague now. My sojourn’s going to Calormene next.”
Megren narrows her eyes at the cat. “How did you know that?”
Lanisen squints at Megren, just checking.
Glora meets Megren’s gaze. “What, you don’t smell it? Guess it’s those weak human senses, you don’t notice anything, really.”
Megren says, “Well, then, I can’t imagine Calormen will be safe for long either.”
Lanisen snorts. He slides bowls of warm brothy stew to three seats at the table and sits down at one.
Glora asks, “No, but I’d rather have the plague somewhere warm and sunny. No need to be miserable as we suffer. Wouldn’t you?”
Megren opens her mouth, offended. “You’re suffering here?”
Glora asks, “No, but /I/ don’t have the plague like those poor farmers.” She pauses. “If I say yes, actually, will you make it warmer out?”
Lanisen twiddles his thumbs patiently at the table.
Megren places her hand over her heart. “I will do everything in my power.”
Glora says, “Good. Then yes, I’m suffering horribly, and I expect it to be better in the morning.” With a leap, she lands on one of the chairs and pokes her head up. The soup is just below eye level, so she gives it a sniff. “For now, though, this will do.”
Lanisen grins. “Think it’s got rosemary,” he remarks, stirring the soup contemplatively. “I love rosemary.”
Megren grins too, and sits at the table. “Rosemary’s the best.”
Glora says, “It’s not bad.”
Lanisen asks, “What kind’s the cheese?”
Megren pulls it out and extends it to him for him to smell.
Lanisen comments, “Ooh.” He glances around for the knife and asks, “Shall I cut some up?”
Megren says, “Yeah, of course.”
Glora looks a bit more intrigued by this than the soup, to be honest.
Lanisen finds a plate and slices off several pieces, sliding it over to the others first.
Megren pulls off slightly more than a third for Glora.
Glora doesn’t seem to mind in the slightest, if she’s noticed. “Mm, that does smell nice.” However, she does wait for the others to begin before trying any herself.
Lanisen starts in on his soup and eats quietly for a moment before his eyes stray to a letter half-unfolded down the table. “Hey, Glora…” he begins.
Glora, after a few mouthfuls of cheese, had just turned to lap up some of the broth. She pauses and looks up. Her whiskers are twitched back to avoid the liquid, but her chin is wet. “Hm?”
Lanisen says, “Can I– You, you know Jana pretty well, right?”
Glora uses a paw to clean her chin. “As well as anyone in the Waste, I suppose.”
Lanisen hesitates. He takes in a breath and lets it out again. “I got a letter from her today and I don’t know what to make of it,” he confesses. “I was hopin’ you might be able to help me sort it out.”
Glora asks, “Oh. She’s been writing you letters?” She steps onto the table and around her bowl and cheese towards Lanisen. “Has she mentioned me?”
Megren’s eyes track Glora and she pushes her mouth to the side.
Lanisen looks embarrassed. “Ahh…”
Glora rolls her eyes. “Figures. I wouldn’t have expected her to. So.” She sits down next to the letter and reaches out a paw. “This is it?”
Lanisen says, “Yeah.” He pauses, and then offers, “I bet she don’t know you’re here. I didn’t mention it.”
Glora pushes the letter open and begins to read with a, “That’s alright,” tossed out.
Glora finishes and looks up at Lanisen, down at the paper, and back. “Oh, sorry, did you need me to read it aloud?”
Lanisen blinks and pulls his chin back in surprise, then laughs and says, “Ahh, no, uh– it’s, the last letter I sent her, I said I couldn’t tell if she wanted me to come or not, and I asked her to say if she did or didn’t, so I’d know, and that’s what she’s said.”
Glora asks, “Oh. If she didn’t want you to come, why would she say she’d see you in Raingiver?”
Lanisen rubs the side of his face anxiously. “I don’t know,” he says. “It’s only– It’s only I asked her to say either way, you know, and she won’t.”
Glora walks back towards her chair. “I don’t think Jana likes saying things she thinks are obvious. Maybe she assumes she /was/ clear that she wants you to come back.” Back in her seat, she returns to her soup.
Lanisen presses his lips together. “She shouldn’t’ve done, if I was askin’ especially for her to be clearer,” he mutters.
Glora asks, “I don’t see her coming out and saying ‘yes, I want you to come’ no matter what you ask. Do you?”
Lanisen doesn’t answer right away, looking at the letter. He worries at the ends of his sleeves for a moment, which are ragged as if this is a frequent habit, and then leaves off. “I wish she would,” he murmurs. “I wish I knew what I was walkin’ into. That’s, that’s not an unreasonable thing to ask for, I think.”
Megren pushes her mouth to the side and then says slowly, as if she is thinking it out aloud, “Well, what don’t you know about what you’re walking into?”
Glora’s tailtip flicks off the edge of the chair. Fortunately, no dogs are nearby to be intrigued. “No, it’s not. But if /you/ thought you’d been really clear about someone and then…” She pauses, eyeing Lanisen, and then glances at Megren, deferring to that question.
Lanisen says, “I don’t know that she wants me there.”
Glora says, “If she didn’t want you there, she wouldn’t still be writing you.”
Megren says, “I don’t see any evidence she doesn’t besides her not saying it exactly, and I do see lots of evidence that she does.” She screws up her mouth again. “I don’t know, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for you to want that, especially when you are the one making the sacrifice.”
Lanisen pauses, not looking up from the letter. He finally nods and takes a deep breath before he looks up at them. “Raingiver, then, I s’pose.”
Glora blinks once at Lanisen. “Good.” She leans over, bumping his arm with her head. “It wasn’t unreasonable. It’s just not Jana.”
Megren pulls in her lower lip. “I /bet/ I can get myself assigned to go then if you wanted.”
Lanisen sways back automatically toward Glora a bit, accepting and returning the show of affection, then looks at Megren, frowning.
Megren says, “If you want it, I know you can do it without me.”
Lanisen says, “No, I’m not, I’m not gonna ask for that.”
Glora mms and goes back to cheese-nibbling.
Megren gets a small, smart-aleck’s grin, and asks, “Because you don’t want it or because you’re not going to ask?”
Lanisen looks slightly reproachful.
Megren says, “Sorry. I really would do my best if you asked, though. And I’d be happy about it, it wouldn’t be a burden.”
Glora asks, “Were you going to go alone, otherwise?”
Lanisen hesitates. “If it’s somethin’ you want to do, I’d be glad of it,” he admits. “But don’t do it just on my account.”
Megren says, “I’ll talk to Sir Darrin.” She pauses, mulling this sentence over. “–Yeah, I think that’s still the right way to go about it.””
Lanisen lets out a little breath of laughter. He looks at Glora. “I was plannin’ on it, yeah.”
Glora says, “Mm. It sounds nicer with Megren along.” She looks over at the new knight. “Even if it means you’re /both/ leaving.”
Megren says, “You could come.”
Lanisen lifts his eyebrows at Glora at this.
Glora takes a while to chew a chunk of cheese. “I suppose I could.”
Lanisen says, “If you want to, you’re welcome. If you’re not ready, that’s fine too.”
Megren says, “How about you stay if I stay and go if I go.”
Glora says, “Mm, alright. But first I want to see some of these farms, and the ocean when it’s nice out.”
Megren says, “I’m going back out to the farms next week, you can ride with me.”
Glora says, “Perfect.”
Megren scoots her chair back and gets up, circling the table to run her hand across Lanisen’s shoulders once. “I’ve got to meet Sir Chal; I might be able to get back after.”
Lanisen says, “I’ll make sure there’s water in the kettle.”
Glora asks, “It’s warmer in here, mind if I stick around?”
Lanisen says, “‘Course, you’re always welcome here.”
Megren says, “See you for tea, then. You too, I hope, Glora.”
Glora exclaims, “Thanks.” She strolls along the straw and climbs onto the straw pile, disappearing over the top. “See you later!”