keeping in company

Cair Paravel
Eastern Narnia

Megren speaks quietly with a bespectacled Skunk, handing the Musteloid a small, nearly empty bottle.

Lanisen slips into the infirmary, glancing down the room. His eyes settle briefly on Megren and the Skunk, then skip past toward Stormsbreath working at his desk at the far end.

Megren hands over a small linen pouch as well, to some very pleased chirruping from her friend. She looks up when Lanisen enters the room. “Hey.”

Lanisen answers, nearing, “Hey, hi.” He’s got a sort of tired, pale look to him, with shadows under his eyes. “You’re, are you sick?”

Megren shakes her head. “Sunburn. It’s mostly gone. Not sleeping?” She asks, the last seeming to be about him.

Lanisen hesitates, his eyes shifting self-consciously to the Skunk, then shrugs and shakes his head slightly.

Megren pushes her mouth to the side, considering her options. After a short pause, she says, “Well, I won’t keep you.”

Lanisen’s eyes dart to her face, and then skitter away. He lowers his head and nods.

Megren pushes her hair behind her ear. “Be in the garden for a bit, if you want somebody after.”

Lanisen hesitates. “I wasn’t–”

Megren lets him finish.

Lanisen says, “I just came here to– to be around people.”

Megren’s eyes shift between Stormsbreath and Cloversnout and back to him. “Something up?

Lanisen shifts, rubbing at his wrists distractedly. “Um…”

Megren lifts her brows.

Lanisen glances at Cloversnout again, who is politely pretending to not hear anything. “Um,” he says again, then lowers his head and his voice and says, “Um– Aaron is here?”

Megren’s brows draw together. “Here where?”

Lanisen says, “I don’t– in, in the castle somewhere, I don’t know where, Lord Peridan says he’s, um, keepin’ busy? But I don’t know with, with what, I don’t know if–”

Megren says, “Um… Lord Peridan would know better than me. He was here last time, but I think their majesties had arranged something so there wasn’t any chance of him interacting with us.”

Lanisen says, “Oh.”

Megren asks, “You didn’t know?”

Lanisen says, “I knew he was– I knew he was in Narnia, I didn’t think about–”

Megren crosses toward him, sitting on the edge of a table at his side.

Lanisen doesn’t say anything else. He rubs the side of his head, shutting his eyes for a moment. He looks exhausted and miserable, and he says finally, “I know it’s, I know it’s fine, I know it’s fine.”

Megren frowns and says quietly after a moment, “It’s… not fine. You’re safe; that doesn’t mean you’re fine.”

Lanisen says, “I keep thinkin’ I’m gonna– turn a corner…”

Megren says, “You don’t have to stay here if you’d rather not. The council has been talking about wanting a better idea of what people hope for — they might let you do some of that work for them — or I’m sure Danall would appreciate having you back home.”

Lanisen looks even more miserable at this.

Megren says, “I’m sorry, um, — I didn’t know you didn’t know. I should have, I should have guessed.”

Lanisen says, “It’s not your fault; it’s not your fault, I should’ve…”

Megren says, “I know it’s not my fault. I meant I would have done a better job asking you full-informed, if I’d realized. You shouldn’t feel obliged to it now, or like it oughtn’t bother you.”

Lanisen says, “I don’t want to leave.”

Megren says, “All right. What do you want to do?”

Lanisen says, “I want to… I want to know where he is, so I know to stay away.”

Megren says, “That’ll be another conversation with Lord Peridan, then.”

Lanisen nods.

Megren asks, “Anything else?”

Lanisen rubs at his wrists, and says without looking up, “I want to stay where there’s people, just now.”

Megren nods. “Lots of people and a couple sets of games in the barracks,” she suggests.

Lanisen nods quickly. “I been, I haven’t gone far, the last couple days.”

Megren pulls in her lower lip and considers for a moment, then says, her words measured with thought, “I’m sure Sir Darrin or I would accept if you asked either of us to accompany you somewhere else, at whatever given time. And many others would too, though maybe we’re easier to ask.”

Lanisen asks, “You mean– to the Athenaeum or somewhere?”

Megren says, “Or garden or docks — I don’t know what sort of places exactly are leaving you uncomfortable, or what kind of or how many people need to be there to salve it.”

Lanisen pauses, and then says, “Thank you.”

Megren nods once.

Lanisen rubs the side of his face and sighs.

Megren asks, “What if we’re here a long time?”

Lanisen says, “Then I’ll–” He shuts his eyes briefly. “I don’t know; I don’t know right now, I’m just– tryin’ to make it through right now before I think about, about later.”

Megren says, “I think your nows might be easier if sometimes you were able to plan them out ahead.”

Lanisen says, “I can’t, I can’t think that far ahead right now.”

Megren asks, “Can you talk through why?”

Lanisen says, “Because it’s…” He scrubs his hands through his hair. “I’m, I’m sorry, I haven’t slept for…”

Megren says, “Well, we can get you something to help with that.”

Lanisen says, “No, it’s, I can’t, I can’t.”

Megren closes her mouth.

Lanisen rubs between his eyes. “I can’t– things that make you fall asleep, I, I can’t.”

Megren says, “Oh.”

Lanisen doesn’t look at her.

Megren tucks her hair behind her ear. “Have you tried sleeping here?”

Lanisen pauses. “Did– Am I botherin’ Haft?”

Megren asks, “Hm?”

Lanisen asks, “Did he say something?”

Megren asks, “No?”

Lanisen says, confused, “Oh.”

Megren says, “Just thought maybe they could help you figure it out.”

Lanisen doesn’t seem to know what to do with this. He stares at her, and then looks past her at Stormsbreath and Cloversnout for a moment, and shifts his weight anxiously.

Megren says, “It was just an idea.”

Lanisen nods.

Megren rubs one thumb with the other.

Lanisen rubs his eyes and sags a little bit. The door opens, and he goes alert and awake, but it’s only the Mole who keeps the gardens, and he sags again.

Megren releases a breath.

Lanisen says, without looking at her, “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to keep you.”

Megren says, “Well, you want something with you. Shall I go see if I can find us a game?”

Lanisen pauses. “You’re not busy?”

Megren says, “Wouldn’t offer if I couldn’t manage it.”

Lanisen looks rather worried by this, but he says, “All right.”

Megren says, “You want to play here or somewhere else?”

Lanisen says, “I don’t– Anywhere’s, anywhere’s fine.”

Megren looks at Stormsbreath to see if it’s acceptable.

Stormsbreath doesn’t seem bothered.

Megren says, “Here it is, then,” and slips off out the door.

Lanisen hesitates, glancing at Cloversnout, then moves toward an unused table in the northeast corner of the room.

Megren is gone a while, and when she returns, it’s with a game of Wolves and Foxes.

Lanisen asks, surprised, “Not cubes?”

Megren says unnecessarily, “Wolves and Foxes.”

Lanisen asks, “Where’d you find it?”

Megren says, “Barracks.”

Lanisen says, “Figures.”

Megren sits and sets up the game.

Lanisen reaches to help with the rest of the pieces.

Megren plays in a relative comfortable silence, not breaking up the thoughts of the people allowing them to remain in their workspace.

Lanisen plays distractedly, but eventually settles to the game.

Megren gives him a few rounds before she says, “That’s better be my last one, I think. I told Sallowpad I’d meet him this afternoon.”

Lanisen nods and gathers up the pieces.

Megren says, “Let me know if you’re wanting to walk about sometime.”

Lanisen says, “All right, yeah.”

Megren asks, “Do you want me to leave the game?’

Lanisen says, “I can take it back to the barracks if you want.”

Megren says, “Sure, I don’t mind.”

Lanisen says, “All right.”

Megren says, “Thanks.”

Lanisen nods, glancing at her. He pushes his hair out of his face. “Thank you.”

Megren says, “Don’t fret too much if you can?”

Lanisen shakes his head.

Megren screws up her face. “Well, I’ll see you later.”

Lanisen says, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll– see you ’round.”

Megren nods. “Sounds good.” She pauses, and then heads out the door.

Lanisen rubs his elbow and sits back down.


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