Megren lies on her back toward the end of the dock, a book held open above her face, presumably for reading, but possibly just to block out the sun.
Lanisen walks aimlessly along the bay, his hands in his pockets. He shades his eyes, looking out along the dock, then turns to join her.
Megren turns the page.
Lanisen sits down next to her, heaving a breath.
Megren lowers her book and tilts her head back to see who it is. “Oh, hello.” She pushes herself into a seated position.
Lanisen says, shifting, “Hey; hi.” He glances at her book.
Megren asks, “Everything all right?”
Lanisen says, “Yeah! Yeah, everything’s…” He gestures. “What’re you readin’?”
Megren hands it to him. It’s a small collection of Narnian tales written shortly before the winter.
Lanisen says, immediately interested, “Oh! Ooh…” He flips pages for a moment, then asks, “Can I have it when you’re done?”
Megren says, “Sure, yeah, of course.”
Lanisen hands it back.
Megren sets it in her lap.
Lanisen is quiet for a minute. “I’ve just been talkin’ to Chlamash Tarkaan,” he says finally.
Megren glances at him.
Lanisen blows out a breath and shakes his head slightly, overwhelmed.
Megren’s brows draw together.
Lanisen says, “He’s got a family, did you know?”
Megren’s mouth pulls downward and to the left. “Oh.”
Lanisen says, “And he doesn’t know if they’re all right, he can’t, he can’t go home, not just because– you know, not just because he /can’t/, because it’s not… it’s not safe for him? And maybe it’s not safe for them either?”
Megren nods quietly.
Lanisen shakes his head again and runs a hand through his hair.
Megren blows out a breath.
Lanisen goes quiet, and finally shrugs.
Megren says, “It does make one’s own troubles seem small.”
Lanisen says, “Yeah. Very much, yeah.”
Megren says, “I suppose if they do write, there must be a good deal that’s got to be left unsaid.”
Lanisen says, “He had a letter. Just one, since… he’s been here, he’s been here since the battle? That’s what, two years?”
Megren’s lips push together.
Lanisen says, “I don’t know. I don’t know.” He pushes his hair out of his face. “What do you do, when you can’t do anything?”
Megren considers the question a long moment. “I suppose –” she takes a deep and rather weary breath. “I suppose you just, don’t leave. You don’t… let them not be able to do anything alone.”
Lanisen frowns slightly, but nods.
Megren says, “I don’t know. It’s not nice to not be able to do things.”
Lanisen nods. He’s quiet for a little while, then shifts, shaking his head again. “There’s…” he starts, and trails off for a moment. “I don’t– there’s so /much/… there’s so many people here who’re… Wethil, she’s, she can’t sleep for worryin’ about, about what’s gonna happen next. Lord Peridan, he’s tryin’ to do it all on his own and it’s, he’s /exhausted/, you can tell just by lookin’, and I just–”
Megren rubs one thumb over the nail of the other.
Lanisen says, “I want to, I want to help and I don’t know how.”
Megren says, “Sometimes when you can’t fix the one thing, you can make the rest easier.”
Lanisen glances at her.
Megren says, “Like, you bring them a meal, or you straighten up their things, or you make sure they take an hour away from it to play a game or have a drink, or you let them talk at you about it, or you sit with them until the moment with you seems bigger to them than whatever the thing is, at least for that moment.”
Lanisen looks down at the water, but he’s listening closely, and he nods when she has finished.
Megren says, “I don’t know. It isn’t very much, and it doesn’t always feel like youve done anything at all.”
Lanisen says, “Well,” and pauses. “It’s, it’s what you do for me, isn’t it?”
Megren lifts her shoulders.
Lanisen rubs his knees, and shrugs, and says, “It helps.”
Megren says, “All right.”
Lanisen says, “Thanks.” He glances at her book and makes an apologetic face. “I’ll let you…”
Megren says, “It’s fine. I was just passing the time. It doesn’t seem like Sir Darrin and I are really meant to do any of the real work, so I keep ending up with whole afternoons and nothing to do.”
Lanisen mms sympathetically.
Megren shrugs again.
Lanisen asks, “Has that… ever? Have you ever had this much free time before?”
Megren says, “Not in the same way.”
Lanisen asks, “Are you doin’ all right?”
Megren says, “It’s not what I imagined.”
Megren tucks her hair behind her ears. “We’ll see. Perhaps things will settle out soon. They seem to like Duke Oren well enough.”
Lanisen says, “You’re lookin’ forward to goin’ home, then.”
Megren sighs. “Sir Darrin already told me you’re thinking to stay. You don’t have to couch it.”
Lanisen goes startled and still. Then he sighs and covers his face.
Megren glances at him and a regretful expression crosses her face. “Sorry, I could have said that better.
Lanisen says, “I didn’t– I meant to tell you, only I wanted to– I didn’t want to tell you and not be sure, and I had to talk to Lord Peridan before I knew if I even could and I’m not– I don’t know yet, I don’t know. I didn’t mean for him to tell you, I didn’t– I wanted to tell you.”
Megren says, “It’s a good idea.”
Lanisen goes still again and doesn’t look at her.
Megren says, “You’re always saying things about not feeling useful or grounded or — well, you seem like you do feel all that here.”
Lanisen says, “I’m… what?”
Megren says, “You seem like you feel grounded.”
Lanisen says, “I don’t know what that /means/.”
Megren says, “All right, then.”
Lanisen says, “And I do feel useful in Anvard.”
Megren says, “Good.”
Lanisen says nothing for a moment, but he looks slightly upset. “I might not stay.”
Megren releases a small breath.
Lanisen rubs his knees and looks down over the edge of the dock at the water.
Megren says, “I was meaning to be supportive.”
Lanisen says, “Thanks.”
Megren frowns disapprovingly at the back of his head.
Lanisen says, “I just, I haven’t decided yet. I didn’t mean for you to know.”
Megren says, “You said.”
Megren sighs. She closes up her book and dusts off her knees.
Lanisen shuts his eyes briefly. “I’ll go,” he says, and gets to his feet. “You don’t– I’ll go.”
Megren says, “I’m already going.”
Lanisen says, “It’s fine. I’ll– see you at supper, I guess.”
Megren sucks her teeth and gives a short sharp nod, then walks back down the dock.
Lanisen’s shoulders bow. He waits a moment, then follows her down the dock and turns the other way, head down.