a vexation shared

Castle Anvard

Lanisen has hidden himself away in one of the little studying nooks in the back. His notebook is open on the table in front of him, and a couple of slightly dusty history books are stacked in front of him, currently being used as a pillow. His face is buried in his folded arms and the lamp above his table is burning low.

Megren steps into the library, letting the door shut quietly behind her. She passes through the stacks until she finds one of the dryer sections on royal lineage and reign. She reaches up for a book when she spots Lanisen down at the end of the row. This is more than enough to distract her from her task.

Lanisen’s back rises and falls peacefully with his breathing.

Megren blows on his neck.

Lanisen sniffs and stirs. He reaches up to brush at his neck.

Megren blows again.

Lanisen’s shoulders hunch up to his ears and he sits up, blinking and frowning in bleary annoyance.

Megren wets her finger and reaches toward his ear…

Lanisen says, “What’re you– stop, stop stop–” and swats at her hand.

Megren giggles maliciously.

Lanisen says, “Ugh,” and rubs at his eyes. He drags his hands down his face and swallows several times. “You’re a nuisance.”

Megren says, “You love it.”

Lanisen makes an indistinct grouchy noise, squinting disorientedly around the library to get his bearings. He rubs his face again, looking up at the dim lantern and down at his books. “What’s the time?”

Megren asks, “Bit after supper. Have you eaten?”

Lanisen says, shutting his eyes briefly to remember, “Um… lunch, I had lunch.” His voice is scratchy with sleep. He reaches to stack the books he was using into a neat pile, sliding them to the end closest to the wall, and closes his notebook.

Megren asks, “I’ll go fetch you a snack?”

Lanisen pushes his chair back and shakes his head. “That’s all right, it’s, I should be gettin’ back to the kennels.”

Megren looks disappointed. “I still could do.”

Lanisen gets to his feet and stretches his arms up over his head, lowering them again quickly with a wince. “If you want,” he says, putting his notebook in his pocket. “Or, or I can go get supper from the kitchen and we can eat. Did you eat yet?”

Megren says, “I can’t say I’d mind a second supper. You go get your stone set on, though, I can do it.”

Lanisen protests, “I don’t mind, I can do it.”

Megren says, “Too bad.”

Lanisen grumbles. He reaches up to cup his hand around the globe of the lamp and blows it out with a quick puff of breath, then turns toward the door, rubbing his eyes again.

Megren follows after him.

Lanisen sniffs again when they hit the cooler air of the ward and begins toward the inner gate without any further arguing, a little bit sleepy-staggery.

Megren eyes him, but lets their ways part after a moment.

Lanisen fusses about the kennel while she is fetching supper, opening the windows and wiping off the table. The haybale wall is partially broken down in concession to the warmer days and pleasant nights, but the back part stays up to continue to provide a walkway for Glora.

Megren arrives not too far behind him, carrying a tray of potato-leek soup and dark bread.

Lanisen hangs the kettle over the fire as she enters. “What’d you get?” he asks, his voice still mildly scratchy.

Megren says, “Soup and bread and butter.”

Lanisen makes an approving noise, reaching for bowls and cups.

Megren sits with the trays. “What were you reading?”

Lanisen squeezes his eyes shut for a second. “Um– it was… I was lookin’ for more on the wolf pack in Lantern Waste.”

Megren says, “Oh, because of Jana’s letter?”

Lanisen says, “Mm– more, more ’cause of what Sir Darrin was sayin’. But– both, both, yeah.”

Megren asks, “Did you find anything out?”

Lanisen makes a face, setting out the bowls. “Everything in there’s from before the Winter, so… not, not really.”

Megren nods thoughtfully. “When are you planning to leave?”

Lanisen says, “I don’t know. A week out, maybe. Two weeks?”

Megren blows out a breath.

Lanisen glances at her.

Megren dishes out the soup and says regretfully, “That’s so soon.”

Lanisen nods mutely. He watches her serve the soup without really focusing, his hands white-knuckling on the back of a chair. He looks overwhelmed and apprehensive.

Megren says, “You’re gonna do so great.”

Lanisen rubs a hand over his mouth and blows out a breath.

Megren says, “I’m excited for you, even if I’m gonna be sad for me.”

Lanisen’s eyes dart to her face and he manages a small worried smile. He ducks his head to clear his throat and sniffs again.

Megren asks, “Are you sick?”

Lanisen makes an unhappy face. “I been sleepin’ with the windows open,” he offers doubtfully.

Megren says, “You’re sniffing.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, that’ll do that.”

Megren says, “Being sick? I know.”

Lanisen lets out a breath, his shoulders dropping slightly. “There’s somethin’ goin’ around,” he admits. “Dalia had it all last week.”

Megren asks, “You’re not going to go while you’re sick, are you?”

Lanisen says, “Maybe I’m not sick. And if I am sick I’ll be done bein’ sick by next week, maybe.”

Megren asks, “Right, but otherwise?”

Lanisen says, “If it’s not bad, maybe?”

Megren makes a disapproving noise.

Lanisen says, “I’ll just keep puttin’ it off otherwise.”

Megren says, “If you die of a cold on the top of a mountain I’ll never forgive you.”

Lanisen wrinkles his nose at her and pulls out his chair to sit.

Megren asks, “Eat soup please?”

Lanisen leans his elbow on the table and rests his chin in his hand. “Well, if I must.”

Megren pushes his bowl toward him.

Lanisen picks up his spoon obediently and begins in on his soup.

Megren gets up and sets the tea on.

Lanisen props up his forehead with his right hand while he eats. “What’d you do today?”

Megren says, “Tried to get keep my friend from giving himself winter fever.”

Lanisen points out, “It’s spring.”

Megren says, “That’s why it’d be so stupid.”

Lanisen makes a face at her.

Megren says, “Eat your soup.”

Lanisen says, “I’m eatin’ it.”

Megren makes a skeptical punishing noise.

Lanisen ducks his head meekly and works on his soup with more intent.

Megren waits impatiently for the water to heat.

Lanisen keeps half an eye on her while he eats, slightly uneasy.

Megren finally pulls the water off and sets it on the table, departing again to rummage for tea leaves.

Lanisen finishes his soup and buries his face in his arms.

Megren looks up and frowns. “Are you– are you getting worse?”

Lanisen turns his head so he can look at her without sitting up. “I ain’t woke up all the way yet.”

Megren sets a cup in front of him. “Here. How’s your head?”

Lanisen hums softly in appreciation, pushing himself up. “A little stuffy, it’s all right.”

Megren asks, “It doesn’t hurt?”

Lanisen pulls his cup closer, inhaling the steam. “Not very much.”

Megren asks, “Promise me you’ll do some willow bark if it does?”

Lanisen sips cautiously and jerks back from the too-hot drink. “If it gets so bad I’d rather drink willow bark I will,” he promises, putting his head back down on his arms.

Megren makes a disapproving noise.

Lanisen doesn’t seeem terribly affected.

Megren ladles him more soup.

Lanisen says, before she can fill his bowl, “No, it’s all right, I’m done. You have some.”

Megren says, “I will; you have to have another half a bowl.”

Lanisen says, “No, I’m fine, I’m full.”

Megren says, “You have to eat to beat a cold.”

Lanisen says, “If I eat more I /will/ be sick.”

Megren says, “You won’t.”

Lanisen turns his face to hide in the crook of his elbow.

Megren says, “Fine. Drink your tea.”

Lanisen accepts this compromise, pushing himself up again. He cups his hands around his tea, tries another sip, and sits back to wait for it to cool enough to drink comfortably.

Megren sits across from him to eat her own soup.

Lanisen asks again, “What’d you do today?”

Megren says, “Worked on a list of supplies to bring out on my next trip.”

Lanisen asks, “Yeah? For Reina’s family and them?”

Megren says, “The farms, yeah.”

Lanisen asks, “When’re you goin’ out next?”

Megren says, “Couple days.”

Lanisen says, “They’ll be glad to see you.”

Megren says, “I hope so. They’ll like to meet Glora, I think, if she still wants to go.”

Lanisen mms, grinning tiredly at this image. “I bet so.”

Megren says, “Oh, I– oh.”

Lanisen asks, “What?”

Megren says, “I um, I talked to the King. About, about Narnia.”

Lanisen’s eyes sharpen and he looks at her. He keeps his face carefully passive, but his fingers fret nervously at the chipped part of his mug’s handle. “Yeah?”

Megren says, “Um, he said, not, not yet, but if they do send more knights, then he’ll remember it.”

Lanisen says, “Oh.”

Megren says, “I’m sorry; I’m sorry.”

Lanisen says, “No, it’s… that’s…” He lifts one hand to press at the ridge of bone above his left eye. “Um– no, that’s not, don’t be sorry.”

Megren asks, “Can I walk you to the border?”

Lanisen says, “Um– yeah, of course, yeah.” He lowers his hand again, cupping it carefully around his mug, his forehead knit. “What’re– Are you? What’re you thinkin’?”

Megren asks, “Thinking?”

Lanisen asks, “Are you all right?”

Megren says, “I’m not sick like you.”

Lanisen says, his eyes skittering away and his shoulders hunching up a little, “You’re, you were upset a minute again.”

Megren pushes her mouth to the side. “I don’t want you to have to be alone.”

Lanisen hesitates. “I’m sorry.”

Megren snorts soundlessly. “You don’t have anything to be sorry for.”

Lanisen rubs his elbow, watching steam curl off the top of his tea.

Megren says, “I’m sorry, though.”

Lanisen answers, “No more do you.”

Megren says, “I maybe should have asked before I talked about it with you.”

Lanisen makes a dismissive face and shakes his head slightly.

Megren asks, “Will you be all right?”

Lanisen says, “Yeah.”

Megren says, “I’m sorry.”

Lanisen says, “No, it’s– don’t, don’t. Thank you.”

Megren screws up her mouth.

Lanisen pushes the heel of his hand against his forehead.

Megren moves around the table and sits down beside him, reaching her arm around his shoulders. “Do you want to go to bed?”

Lanisen sags slightly against her, dropping his hand. “A bit,” he admits.

Megren says, “Come on; I’ll tuck you in.”

Lanisen says, “I don’t want to get up, though.”

Megren picks up his arm and throws it around her shoulders.

Lanisen says, “Oh–! We’re doin’ this, okay, all right.”

Megren giggles. She secures her hand under his other arm and stands up.

Lanisen makes a noise of complaint, but gets to his feet. “All right, I’m okay, I’m all right.”

Megren says, “If you keep protesting I switch to carrying.”

Lanisen asks, “Do you see me fightin’?”

Megren pushes him toward the stairs.

Lanisen threatens, “I might fall on you if you keep pushin’.”

Megren says, “I’ll switch to carrying.”

Lanisen climbs the stairs without further protest.

Megren drops him off at his bedroll and goes to shut the window.

Lanisen says, “No, leave it open.”

Megren says, “You just said it makes it worse.”

Lanisen says, “No, it’s–” He squints and rubs his eyes. “Um…”

Megren waits with her mouth screwed up.

Lanisen says, “I like, I like the air.”

Megren asks, “Does it make you sick?”

Lanisen says, “I don’t know, I don’t know, I’d just rather have it.”

Megren makes a skeptical face.

Lanisen asks, “Please?”

Megren leaves it, but tugs his bedroll a little further away.

Lanisen allows this, trailing after her a little drunkenly.

Megren says, “All right, get in.”

Lanisen wrinkles up his nose at her, self-conscious even though sleepy. “I will. Go eat your soup.”

Megren says, “I ate, get in.”

Lanisen squints, but he leans on the wall to toe off his boots, then pads over to his bedroll. He lays down, making a face at the hard floor beneath the blankets. “I gotta get my bed built up again,” he remarks blearily, and turns on his side, bunching up the extra blanket to hug.

Megren says, “You could sleep in your actual room, you know.”

Lanisen’s forehead furrows up in disagreement.

Megren says, “All right, make up your bed, then. I’ll bring you fresh tea in a minute.”

Lanisen is already almost asleep. “‘S all right,” he slurs. “I’m comfortable.”

Megren looks concerned, but she nods.

Lanisen says, “Go eat your soup; I know you didn’t.”

Megren says, “I ate some of it.”

Lanisen says, “Go /finish/ it then.”

Megren says, “I’m going.”

Lanisen settles at this, closing his eyes. His breathing goes steady, if a bit raspy and veering dangerously close to a snore.

Megren makes another concerned noise and disappears downstairs. She eventually returns with a cup of tea.

Lanisen slumbers on.

Megren sets it down a little distance from him and disappears again.


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