|Summary:||Belle Beckett worries a bit more over Patrek Mallister than he needs.|
|Related Logs:||Sally Forth, First Siege|
|Entrance Hall — Four Eagles Tower|
|The Entrance Hall is more than two dozen feet high with ornate columns hefting the fresco ceiling above all. Plush seating is arranged around one side for visiting nobility while the other has less comfortable slab stone or wood benches for the peasantry. Alcoves dot the walls for more private discussions and sworn Guards patrol this hall at all times and especially during court. Several hallways and doorways lead off to different areas of the castle with a spiral staircase carved neatly into one corner that winds its way up.|
|06 January 289|
Ever since the young Lord Mallister was brought wounded to the hall, Belle Beckett's made numerous excuses to look in on the young man. Not to disparage the skills of the new Maester, but — well. Some details are too dear to delegate. She's back and forth to gently fuss over him all the while he's sleeping, milk of the poppy dulling his pain. He's not sweating more than makes sense for the stuffy hall, its many people and fires. There's no swelling or angry red around his neatly stitched wound. She's superfluous. Still, hours into the night, when the hall is mostly quiet, Belle can be found sitting beside Patrek's cot, softly telling a story that he may or may not hear in his dreams.
The young lord Mallister is polite if a bit exasperated by the very great concern Belle and the maester and his cousin have shown him. No, his arm doesn't hurt any worse, thank you for asking. Yes, he can move all of his fingers just fine. Yes, he is changing the poultice and wrap as instructed. No, he would rather not have any poppy milk, it doesn't hurt too badly, though that last was overruled. Patrek spent the first half of the night in a sleep helped along by the drug, but that means he blinks sleepily awake in the small hours to find Belle softly telling stories beside him. He yawns, rubbing at one eye with the heel of his hand. "Mistress Beckett?" he asks drowsily.
"Yes, my Lord Sweeting?" says Belle, striking a wholly unacceptable compromise between etiquette and affection. And of course she knows it, cheeky smile and all. She props her chin in her hand, idly resting her wrist a moment against his forehead. Still no fever. "Did I wake you?" she asks. "I used to like the sound of friendly voices when I was sleeping. Songs and stories have such a cadence, I never failed to feel safe and better around them, even in my dreams."
"No," the boy replies, easing up onto an elbow and wiping at the other eye. His curly hair looks a mad riot after a few hours of sleep, "I think I woke myself. You needn't be here, mistress. I'm fine, I assure you. You must find some sleep, yourself."
"Eventually," Belle assures him, the last syllable catching on a yawn. She grins. "There's a very lively game afoot betwixt the Maester, your lady cousin, and me. I'm not entirely sure what the rules are, but it involves being cloyingly and semi-hysterically over-concerned for your well-being, as evidenced by the lengths we go to dote upon you. I'm fairly sure your cousin's winning, but I have a very competitive nature." She offers him a cup of water.
"I think you're all winning, in that case," Patrek murmurs, a little bit a sullen teenaged boy who has had enough of fussing from his betters. He opens his mouth to protest the offered drink before he sighs softly and accepts it, instead. The water is drained in four large gulps before the empty mug is offered back. "I'm a lord, you know," the boy points out. "I could order you to rest."
"You could!" Belle gasps, as though this had never occurred to her. She refills the cup for the thirsty young lord, propping her chin eagerly in both her hands once he has it, all big blue eyes. "You should try it! Especially now, with your curls all hither and thither and your eyes half-swollen shut like a baby bird." She grins, obviously teasing him, then adds quickly, "Oh! Wait! First, what's the penalty for disobedience?"
Patrek studies the refill he's handed with another soft sigh. He tries a different tact this time around by taking a few small sips and setting the cup back down again, still mostly full. For her critique on his appearance, the young lord sits a bit straighter, pushing a hand over his hair in an attempt to tame it and widening his eyes. "It is a terrible penalty, mistress. One so fearsome I dare not mention it aloud." He smiles faintly, shaking his head as he says more sincerely, "Others have need of your skill and expertise, and I need only to rest, tonight, nothing more. Please sleep, mistress Beckett. I would not have the others here suffer for a too-tired healer on the morrow, when there's no need for her to endure a sleepless night."
Belle giggles as he straightens and tries to abolish all signs of baby birdness. For his plea, she sighs and rolls her eyes dramatically. "Oh, fine. Employ reason, why don't you?" Her smile dims a candle and she rests a hand on one of his. "It's an entirely selfish exercise, you know. And futile. And we know its futility, but we do it all the same." She reaches up to try to smooth down one of his curls. "We think that by heaping excessive care and concern on you now, while we can, we're somehow sending you out better protected when you ride forth again. When we're helpless and can only pray for you." She shrugs. "Sometimes the greatest kindness you can do for the people who care about you is to let them do for you, even the things you're perfectly capable of doing yourself."
"I am fond of you as well, mistress," Patrek replies with a soft, warm smile. It's one part drowsiness, one part friendly affection and one part impossible crush. "And I thank you for your good care and your prayers and your friendship. They mean much to me. But, I'm not a boy, now. Not when it's war and I have killed a ironborn and must represent my father and my house. Please," his smile becomes sheepish as she fishes his hair, "leave a man his dignity."
"I know you're not a boy," Belle says with all solemnity, tender still, despite. "If you were a boy, I could conscript you to stay here with me and safe, minding where I put the agrimony when I need it. You're meant for greater things, though. You're skilled and you're brave — and I am unutterably proud you're my friend." She leans in and presses a quick kiss to his forehead. "I will go and rest as commanded, my lord."
Patrek's cheeks go a little pink for that kiss, despite the fact he's got no fever to speak of, and he settles back down into his bedding with a small yawn. "Well," the lad murmurs, "Perhaps one last story before you go. If you wouldn't mind, mistress."
Belle smiles beautifully, lashes lowering a moment. "Very well," she says softly, though it takes her a moment to find her voice. She clears her throat and draws a breath. "Have you ever heard the tale of a girl called Coat-of-Rushes?"