A Day in the Sun

A sunny morning, bright and early, and a knock on the door to Lyonene's rooms. The princess’s nurse opens the door with a smile, to reveal Lyonene sitting on the floor behind her, playing with her dolls. Blonde hair plaited neatly down her back, she is dressed smartly for the day in sturdy black shoes, black breeches, and a white lawn shirt.

Latimer smiles at Angie as he steps into the room, one hand hidden behind his back, but his smile grows warmer as he turns his attention to his sister. “Good morning, dearheart,” he greets the princess. “How are you this fine morning?” He’s dressed today in casual black breeches and a short-sleeved shirt of royal blue linen, black hair pulled back in its usual ponytail. Though he isn’t wearing the green robe of a Priest of the Unicorn, the heavy gold ring on his right ring finger is an ever-present symbol of his position in the Church.

“Latimer!!” the young girl exclaims, jumping up and throwing herself at him. “Angie says you and I are going to have fun today.”

He catches her easily with his free arm, clasping her into a hug before setting her down slightly away so he can hold up a flower before her. It is a meadow flower, of the sort that can be found where the faire is being held. “Are you ready for some fun today?” he asks.

“Oh thank you,” she says, dramatically smelling the flower and dancing around the room to give it to Angie. “It needs water, Angie.” The girl chatters after the woman while she gets a vase and water, but before she returns to Latimer she notices her dolls on the floor.

“I have to put my babies to bed before I go,” she says as she begins to scoop them up and take them over to a doll bed. “Otherwise they will cry.” She makes a production of tucking them in and kissing them goodbye. Accustomed to the ritual, Latimer waits patiently for her to take care of everything to her satisfaction, picking up the ones he knows are her favorites and handing them to her. As soon as she is finished she runs to her brother and clasps his hand.

Latimer nods to the nurse and escorts Lyonene out the door and down the hall. Servants note their passage with slight bows or curtsies, to which Lat nods and smiles. “What are you looking forward to today?” he asks Lyonene as they make their way to the stables.

“Going out of the walls,” she says indicating the castle walls that are her normal boundary. She pulls him along as she spies her pony, exclaiming, “Megan!!” She runs up and hugs the horse, patting her nose and greeting her enthusiastically. Jumping up and down she exclaims, “Latimer, Latimer, help me, help me!!”

He laughs, enjoying her excitement and enthusiasm. Grasping her around her middle, he swings her high into the air and around before settling her firmly in the saddle. “There you are. Now, remember what we talked about the last time you rode Megan? About staying nearby?” he asks her seriously, but with a mild tone.

“I know,” she says as she rolls her eyes widely. She maneuvers her pony out of the stable and waits impatiently for Latimer, singing, “Little bunny foo foo.”

“Someday you will understand,” he answers quietly, mostly to himself. He watches her for a moment before gesturing for his horse to be brought up, a fine leggy bay mare with an intelligent eye named Melian. He mounts up, checking to make sure the lead rope is attached to his saddle just in case, then moves over next to Lyonene. “Okay, squirt. You say you know how to get there, and with very long-suffering sighs. You go ahead and lead today.”

“Suffering?” She laughs. “Lati-merrrrr, we do no suffering,” she says, trying in that child's way to sound serious even though she has no idea what a word means. She lightly kicks the pony to go forward, trying to be serious and lead the way. She bounces with excitement as they pass beyond the walls; this is a big job for her.

It’s several miles from the castle to the faire site, and they pass through a small town on the way. Latimer follows closely behind the pony and gently guides his sister along the correct route whenever she begins to go astray. He whistles a little as they progress, nodding and smiling at various morning passers-by, with Lyonene mimicking him. She knows she is a princess even though she does not understand what all that entails, and she is obviously trying hard to emulate Latimer as her example of the day. However the squeal of delight that she exhibits minutes later destroys the image as she exclaims, “OH Latimer you promised me flowers and lookee!!”

Latimer chuckles at her glee at the row of shops, all with flower boxes at every window. It creates a very colorful scene, splashes of brightness against white- washed buildings, some with flowers even atop the signs denoting the business. Shopkeepers are out in the pre-business hours, sweeping their shop fronts, cleaning windows, some carts laden with goods creaking down the streets.

“And this is only the start,” he assures his sister. Then even though he knows she dislikes to be reminded, he says gently, “Remember about which ones you can pick. Have you decided what kind of treat you'd like today?” He only allows her to have one sweet while they are out together.

“Ummmm…..yeeeeesssss,” she smiles and promptly jumps down from her horse to dart off towards one of the shops.

“Lyonene! Stop!” He doesn't shout, exactly, but pitches his voice to carry, authoritative, without raising the volume too much. He reins his horse around her pony, following on horseback rather than on foot.

She draws up at his words, nearly stumbling back. “I want to just go look,” she pouts.

Latimer dismounts quickly near her, taking Lyonene's arm in a firm though gentle grasp. He squats down in front of her and stares earnestly in her eyes. “We have spoken about running off without me,” he says quietly. “What did we agree?”

“Never outside the castle.” Lyonene looks off to the side and chews a nail, obviously very sorry she disappointed her big brother.

Latimer nods. “Yes.” He smiles. “I know you are excited, but we're going to a very crowded place with lots of people. I don't want you to get lost.” He stands up, and reaches out for a hand. “Now what did you want to go look at together?”

Lyonene looks very serious at Latimer, and affecting a voice that can not be hers she replies, “Latimer, you do not have to talk down to me. I am not a stupid child.” Just as quickly as it came, it disappears, and the little girl returns. “Oooohhhhhhh, look at that! What is it? Can we see it?” She begins jumping up and down and trying to drag Latimer with her.

Latimer sighs at her grownup-ness, but doesn't address it this time around. Instead, he hangs onto her hand and lets her drag him to whatever it was that had caught her eye this time, managing to catch the reins of the horses and bring them along. Colorful kites fill a field and Lyonene bounds happily to them, careful to hold Latimer's hand the entire time. “I had a dream and I was flying, and then there was a bird and it flew too, and…..”

Latimer listens to her chatter, and then lets her hand go when they reach the field, letting her run around as long as she stays in sight. He goes to a nearby vendor and purchases a kite, then calls her to come back and help him fly it. “I don't want to. I am too little,” she tells him petulantly.

“Today you're too little. Yesterday you were outgrowing your britches,” he answers with his mouth twitching a little. “Would you like to watch it fly?”

“Yes,” she answers, standing next to him.

Latimer flies the kite with the ease of someone who has flown many kites, multicolored stripes dancing in the breeze. She points to all the colors she likes and laughs at the kite tricks. “Do you see all those fields over there?” he points with one hand, careful not to upset the kite. Cultivated fields can be seen a way off in the distance, neat rows marching across the land with paper-thin fences and toy farm houses.

Lyonene is not listening, though, as she has wandered over to talk with another child - a butcher's boy by the look of him. They are laughing and shoving one another and he picks up a rock to throw at a passing cart. Lyonene does the same, forgetting all about Latimer and walking down the road with the other youth.

“Lyonene!” Latimer calls, beginning to walk in the direction she's going, following her but not getting too excited just yet. He begins to reel in the kite. “It's time to head to the faire.”

Lyonene turns at his call, waving to the boy as she runs back to Latimer. “I'm hungry.”

Finishing up with the kite, he pulls it in and grasps it in one hand while reaching down to take Lyonene's firmly in the other. He hands the kite back to the vendor, who accepts it with some surprise, and then they head back to the horses. “So what do you want to be when you grow up today?” he inquires, helping her onto her pony again before climbing onto his own mount. They head off towards the faire, already a noisy affair even at mid-morning.

“Nothing. I don't want be nothing. I don't want to be nothing until I grow up,” she says. “Latimer, did Angie pack me a brown lunch?”

“Yes, I believe she did,” he answers her question first. “Why don't we wait until we get to the faire to eat it?”

“Because I am hungry now,” she replies.

“Then you have a choice,” he answers. “Either we can stop and you can eat it now, or we can keep going to the faire,” he answers. “Or I think I brought some crackers along if you want some of those,” he adds.

“Crackers? Bluck!! I don't like crackers,” she says dramatically.

Latimer brings his horse to a stop, reaching to take her pony's reins in one hand and stop her as well. “Good. I get more then,” he answers. “Stop and eat? Or go to the faire?” he asks her. He reaches into a bag and one- handedly pulls out a package of crunchy flavored breadstick like things.

“I want to do both,” she says.

He levels a look at her. “You're being rather contrary this morning,” he observes mildly. “You cannot do both, Ni. You have to choose.” He sits patiently as though he hasn't anything to do other than wait for her to come to a decision. The breeze ruffles their hair and birds call overhead, but the sun is bright and already warm.

A long suffering sigh escapes her. “I want to go to the faire.”

Latimer smiles warmly at her, releasing her pony's reins. “Now was that very hard, dearheart?” he asks teasingly. He takes a bite of his cracker as he urges his horse back into his easy walk.

“Latimer, you are very mean to me and I am going to tell Daddy,” Lyonene says seriously while pouting beautifully.

Latimer remains unaffected by her fetching pout, however. “You do that,” he agrees. “Have you gotten your new dress yet for the party next week?”

“Yes. It is purple with ribbons and lace. Very pretty. Angie says I can't wear it until the party and then I have to keep neat. But I think I will wear it tomorrow.” Lyonene smiles.

“You'll have to show me, then. Unless, you want it to be a surprise at the party. Then you'll need to wait until next week to try it on.” They amble along at an easy pace, and Latimer finishes up his snack. “You'll be the most beautiful princess at the ball. I hope you'll save me a dance.”

“I will always have a dance for you, Big Brother,” she winks at him and then her attention is caught by performers in the street.

As they approach the faire grounds, the traffic becomes heavier, noisier, and dustier. Latimer carefully negotiates a path that will keep the two of them on the edges of the crowd, but still near enough to give Lyonene a chance to look at all the people. Some performers busk on the beaten trail leading to the faire proper, juggling, or dancing, one person playing a small flute that can only barely be heard over the noise of traffic. Latimer keeps his eyes on Lyonene and the people around, rather than the entertainers and other sights.

Lyonene beams when she sees the Maypole dance down the street and other children her own age. “OH! Latimer can I please get down?”

Latimer hesitates the barest moment, then answers, “Let's get closer and then you may join the dance.” He leads her towards the dancing, picking up the pace until they get to a place with a niche to keep the horses. He stops and dismounts first, going around to grab Lyonene's hand before she can dart away. Holding onto her firmly, he crouches down to her level. “Stay with the dancers, and when you don't want to dance anymore, come back here to me. I'll watch you from here. Okay?” he prompts, hanging onto her until she agrees.

She begins tugging trying to get free, “Okay, can I go now?”

He nods with an affectionate smile. He leans over and kisses her forehead, then let’s go of her hand, standing to watch her scamper away. He stays where he is, a sort of higher point in the area so he can be easily seen, and watches the maypole dancing.

The air is thick with the noise of children yelling and laughing, adults standing nearby all around, talking and watching their children. Lyonene dances merrily with the other children. At the end of each dance, she dutifully kisses her partner’s cheek and laughs as he cringes, wipes it off, or does something entirely different.

When the harker calls for the adults, Lyonene runs back to Latimer and attempts to pull him into the dance. She isn't taking no for an answer. He resists at first, but at her insistence - and after securing a promise that she would stay exactly where she is and keep one hand on a nearby fence - he obediently joins the dance, only to make his sister happy. Though he dances fairly well, he isn’t really focused on what's going on with his dance partners. He is too distracted with keeping an eye out for Lyonene to really get into the event. Nevertheless, he manages not to avoid any missteps as the dancers circle around, weaving their ribbons, until the end.

Latimer smiles at his partner, kissing her on the cheek and thanking her quietly for the dance before heading back to Lyonene. His sister is hopping up and down cheering wildly. “Latimer you were wonderful!” Lyonene hugs him and grabs his hand “I want to go see the dragons now.”

Latimer hugs her back tightly then takes her hand, grabbing the horses' reins and letting her lead him in the direction they'd like to go. Up ahead, a ring of 'dragons' has a large crowd of gawkers gathered round, talking excitedly. Large, unidentifiable beasts made up to look a little like dragons wander around in a fenced enclosure. Any time they get too close to the fence, that part of the crowd falls back with excited chattering and obliging shrieks from some of the young women. And one of the dragons looks to just be made of paper mache’, very realistically done and with moveable parts. Lyonene notices but takes delight anyway. She chatters excitedly about ways she might make her own, but then her ears perk as she hears music and singing in the square, the child is off again dragging Latimer along for the ride.

“How do you like your new tutors, Ni,” he asks once they reach her next destination. “Do they keep you more interested now?”

“Yes, Daddy says it should be awhile before they run out of things to teach me,” she replies, holding his hands and dancing them both around in time with the music.

“Wonderful!” he answers with a smile, but then his tone turns doubtful. “I don't know, though… You're going to know more than all of us pretty soon, if you keep up your studies like you are. You might have to start learning from Grandfather Dworkin someday. Would you like that?” He's grinning at her, teasing her.

“He’s weird. I don't like weird guys,” she fusses.

“Now why do you say he's weird?” Latimer asks curiously. “Have you met him?”

“Once or twice. I'm hungry, can we eat now?”

“Yes, we may,” Latimer answers. He leads her over to a slightly shady spot under a tree - rather dusty but workable. He pulls out a small blanket for them to sit on, and then the lunches, making her get her settled *down* on the blanket before giving her anything to eat. “Why do you think Grandfather Dworkin is strange?” he asks then, still curious.

“He mumbles a lot, and he smells funny,” Lyonene answers, happily munching a sandwich.

“I see,” he says, and chuckles a little. He leans back against the tree, squinting out at the sunny landscape for a bit, taking his time with lunch. “No matter how weird he is, though,” her brother notes, “he still knows more than anyone else about how things work, Ni. You might consider talking to him about it sometime.”

“I'll think about it. I bet he could teach me a thing, but he still smells.” She finishes her sandwich and forgets about napkins, wiping her fingers on her shirt. Latimer attempts to head her off by giving her a napkin - too late, as it happened. He sighs.

“Use this, Ni,” he says patiently. “Remember your manners.” He hands her a piece of fruit from the bag - luckily something not too messy. “I heard that there's going to be a puppet show in a little bit. Do you want to go watch that, or go somewhere else first?”

“Oh, yeah. Sorry,” she smiles widely in response to the napkin. She tosses the fruit in her mouth and chews it up while she thinks. “The puppet show.”

“Okay. We'll get the horses some water on the way,” he replies. “Are you still hungry, or are you set to go?” He takes a drink of water from a flask he brought along, and then offers it to Lyonene. Some people stand nearby, eyeing their choice place in the shade, and Latimer nods to them, though he doesn’t hurry. The noise level has dropped a little, as people gotten more subdued in the hot sun. “I think it's about time for something less strenuous,” he notes.

Lyonene drags her big brother along to the show, which is being held under a colorful, though somewhat faded canopy. “You can go sit up front with the others, if you'd like,” Latimer leans down to tell Lyonene. “I'm going to go tie the horses. Stay under the canopy, okay?”

“I will,” she says, and runs to join the other boys and girls. The children are rowdy, energy high from excitement and sweets, a mix of merchant and peasant children all together in one loud group. Most of them make room for Lyonene to join, pulling her into their games and gossip as children may, except for the little girl with the puppy. A dark-haired girl a little older than the princess, she holds the squirmy, whining little bundle away from the other children in the group, pushing her way to the front and completely snubbing the princess.

Lyonene takes note of the other girl, but pretends to ignore her. Charming and fun-loving, enjoying the show and playing with other little children, the young lady waves to Latimer every so often, all smiles and laughter. When Latimer turns to talk to pretty young lady, however, Lyonene strikes. She quickly walks over to the little girl and punches her in the eye. The children gasp, and the bigger girl lets out a yelp of pain and surprise, releasing the puppy. There’s a frozen second of shock, and then the girl launches herself at Lyonene's hair.

The larger girl, by virtue of her size and superior weight, manages to bowl over Lyonene, getting a good grip on hair and yanking hard, though not quite hard enough to pull it out. Squealing children scatter in every direction, and the puppy jumps into the fray, worrying at Lyonene's foot with tail wagging, thinking it's a game.

At the first yelp and gasp, several of the adults look around, including Latimer, in time to see the older girl attack Lyonene. The princess recovers quickly using superior strength to knock the other child back with a fist to the nose. She quickly jumps up to leap on the other girl, snatching her hair and spinning her around to land on the ground again. Lyonene wastes no time in rolling around with her now enraged adversary. Grunts can be heard from both as they roll around fighting like their lives depended on it.

Several adults, momentarily frozen, jump into motion again and start making their ways to the fray through the crowd of children. But Latimer, seeing Lyonene in the middle of it, is briefly caught frozen with shock again. The other girl is a fair fighter, but obviously far more used to using her age and weight in cat fights, rather than dealing with someone who has been taught some techniques. She falls back at Lyonene's punch to the nose, reaching up automatically to touch it with a cry. Then Lyonene is on her and she attacks with renewed fury. The puppy goes yelping away as a stray foot makes contact. The other girl scratches at Lyonene's eyes and cheek, leaving several marks.

A large bearded man makes it to the fight at that point and roars, “Neara!” From farther back, Latimer has regained enough of his wits to also call, “Lyonene!” sounding the angriest she’s ever heard. Lyonene hears but decides to get a few more good shots in anyway. After all, how much more trouble can she get into? She balls up her fist again and wallops Neara but good in the ear. As her hand goes down she grabs a clump of dirt which she proceeds to smash into the side of the girl's head. Now limp from the fight and in fear that the blonde girl might do something else, Neara backs off in tears and is snatched up into the arms of her father.

Lyonene picks herself up and backs off. The girl’s father gives Lyonene a ferocious glare while Neara cringes into his embrace and sobs about how “that nasty girl” started it by hitting her. At that point, Latimer arrives at the scene and looks down at Lyonene with an expression of annoyance mixed with disappointment. Wordlessly, he holds out his hand for his sister to take.

Lyonene ignores the hand, glaring back at the man, “You should teach your daughter some manners,” she says to him with perfect diction and intonation. Her eyes burn brightly and the five-year-old child is temporarily gone. Lyonene tosses her now disarrayed hair, turns her back to the father-daughter pair, and prances out. Head held high, her gait is perfect, reflecting the princess she is.

Latimer takes a deep breath, letting it out in an audible sigh. “Lyonene, stop,” he says loudly enough for her to hear over the commotion, his voice still apparently calm, but in that very quiet way that tells her he is furious. The other man, in shock at being so scolded by a child, turns to Latimer, opening his mouth to say… SOMEthing. But Latimer holds up a hand to stop the imminent tirade, giving the man a silencing look, waiting to see if Lyonene would obey or not.

Parents with their children clutched in arms stand all around, staring at the tableau in fascination. There was only one Lyonene in Amber, and whispers circulate throughout the crowd during those moments of almost silence, broken now only by Neara’s sobbing. Not in the mood for scolding in front of the populace, however, Lyonene keeps walking.

“Excuse me,” Latimer says to the man and his daughter. He looks briefly at Neara and then back. “Perhaps you should clean her up and we shall talk later.” Though he is still polite, his tone indicates this is not a suggestion, but a directive. He turns then and leaves the tent, following Lyonene.

Lyonene stands next to Megan, stroking her nose and confiding to her about that horrible little girl. Latimer stops nearby, crossing his arms in a familiar, thoughtful pose that his sister has seen many times. “Lyonene,” he says finally, quietly, the anger in his voice diminished but still apparent. “I asked you to stop, and you didn't. Why is that?” They are still plenty close enough to hear the ruckus of talking that had risen after his exit from the canopy. People who were witness to the incident stand nearby staring at the two, though Latimer ignores them.

“I will not be treated with indignity in front of a crowd, Latimer,” she replies haughtily.

“That may be, but you *will* obey me,” he answers. “And that includes *not* going off without me. It's dangerous, Lyonene, and if you aren't able to abide by this, then we won't be able to go places together until you are.”

“I didn't. I walked to my horse. And you can't tell me what to do. You are not the boss of me,” she huffs.

“You did disobey me, Lyonene. And yes I *may* tell you what to do, because I am responsible for you when we go on these outings, and that is something I take very seriously. You may choose to disobey me, and lose out on having fun, or agree to listen to me. It's your choice, Ni.”

“I didn't disobey you, Latimer. I simply allowed you to walk behind me. I have listened to you,” she barely keeps her voice low.

“I'm not going to argue with you, Ni,” Latimer returns. He pauses a moment, glancing about and seeing the people still gawking at them. He sighs, and then adds, “You have been very good on this trip, and I've been very happy to have you along with me today. But you have been involved in a very embarrassing and…” he shakes his head, “unconscionable scene, and we will have to address that. How you conduct yourself will determine whether we go home afterwards or whether we stay to finish the day.”

“I want to stay,” her voice gets a little louder and unreasonable.

Latimer smiles. “Good. Then come with me and we'll try to straighten out the mess with Neara and her father.”

“No,” she stomps her foot.

“Why not?” he inquires.

“I don't want to!” She is adamant.

“You said you wanted to stay here and have more fun. This is part of the requirement,” Latimer answers. “You need to tell me what happened, and we need to clear up whatever misunderstanding caused the uncivilized brawl you were just in.”

“No! I won't and you can't make me.” She crosses her arms and stomps her foot again for emphasis.

Latimer's expression darkens even more, and he looks at her with disapproval plain on his face. “Lyonene, we're not going anywhere until I find out what happened. I would like to trust you enough to behave when we're out together, but right now I'm not certain I can.”

“This is bullshit. I want to go home,” she replies.

Latimer's eyebrows shoot up at that statement. He shakes his head, still disapproving but also just faintly amused. “Too bad,” he answers, his voice mild and matter of fact. “I said we're not going anywhere, and I meant it. You're not making your case any stronger by being difficult.” One eyebrow quirks. “Or swearing.” He steps over to take her pony's reins.

“I’m not doing it!!” she screams. “I want to go home!!”

Heads turn back, as people who had been bored with the lack of action in their conversation become suddenly very interested again. Talk springs up again, but Latimer pays them no attention. Instead he takes Lyonene's wrist in an iron grip, though still trying to be gentle. “I said that's too bad. We're staying until you talk to me about the fight, and that's the end of it.”

“I hate you!!” she screams and kicks Latimer in the shins, trying to pry his hands off her wrist.

Latimer just shakes his head, lips pressing together into a firm line. Keeping his grip on her wrist, he takes her about the waist and picks her up to carry her to a spot away from the canopy and the gawkers, holding tightly against her squirming. But Lyonene kicks and screams and jerks until she slides out of his grasp, just like all little kids do. She takes off running, but at least it is in the direction of the castle. The faire gets very crowded as Lyonene moves into the main traffic. People move out of the way, some turning to watch in surprise at the little girl as she runs through the crowd.

Latimer takes another very deep breath, and follows at a stiff walk, letting her tire herself out a bit, but keeping her in sight. It's a good distance to the castle, the roads between the outlying townships and the city busy with the day's traffic. As Lyonene comes to one of the small hamlets on the way, a large someone, tall and muscular steps out as she passes and catches her arm. “Hi, little girl. You look tired. Do you want some water? What are you running from?” The voice is kindly.

Lyonene attempts to jerk away from him but she does not break his grasp. She kicks at him and he easily sidesteps the girl. “Lemme go!! I am going home.” She spies Latimer still a distance away and becomes almost frantic, trying to escape. “Lemme go! Lemme go!” she shrieks.

Latimer, meanwhile, having kept Lyonene in sight most of the journey thus far, picks up the pace of his pursuit, expression settling into a curious mix of fear, worry, and irritation. Apparently not noticing, or not caring about the prince’s approach, the man hanging onto Lyonene keeps his grip tight, and leads her off the main road away from prying eyes and down a narrow alleyway between a couple houses.

“Quiet down and you can have this,” he says, producing a sticky sweet for her. “It's dangerous for little girls to be off by themselves. But don't worry. Uncle Cam'll take care'a ya.” He's wearing nondescript brown clothing and a hat pulled down over his face, making it difficult to see what he looks like.

“I’m gonna tell my brother on you,” Lyonene replies, digging in her heels. “Lemme go!! Help!!” she screams desparately. “Lemme go!!” another shriek followed by her head coming down to bite Cam's hand. The bite achieves the desired result, as he lets her go with a curse that would curl paper, and Lyonene runs not looking where she is going. She just runs.

“Dammit, brat!” Cam isn't very original, but he is fast, and with much longer legs. Lyonene is facing the wrong direction when she takes off, running behind the buildings instead of towards the street, and Cam catches up within a few steps, grabbing her again with no regard for gentleness and covering her mouth with a big hand still sticky from the treat he had offered.

While turning to head back the other way, wriggling and kicking child in his arms, a low voice snarls, “Let go of her. NOW!” Latimer is standing at the corner of the ally where they had just been, sword out, glaring at Cam with dangerous fury in his face.

Lyonene kicks, scratches and bites the man wildly trying to free herself. In her terror, she does not hear or notice Latimer. Surprised at first, Cam freezes momentarily. Then his grip tightens and he heaves the little girl right towards Lat. She sails through the air, falling somewhat short of the goal, but her brother moves quickly to catch her, dropping his sword. Cam takes advantage of the distraction to run off, and Latimer doesn't heed his escape, concentrating on Lyonene, who clings to him, crying about the awful man.

Latimer hugs her to him tightly, squatting on the ground for long minutes, rocking her and trying to calm both of them down; he is shaking as much from reaction as she. Finally, as they both calm slightly, he lets go with one hand, picks up his sword and stands up, picking her up with him. He looks around just a bit, the aisle behind the buildings still quiet and deserted in spite of the commotion, with most of the residents out on their various chores or amusements, the ones remaining behind not wanting to get involved.

It's a little more difficult to sheath his sword with Lyonene in his arms, but he manages after a couple careful tries. He doesn't say anything right away, but it's clear from his grip when he finally gets his sword put away that Lyonene isn't going anywhere for a good, long while. As she calms, Lyonene only clings tighter to Latimer. Her grasp doesn't loosen up at all as he carries her back to the main road where the horses are ground tied and waiting.

Some curious spectators watch from the other buildings or as they pass, though Latimer ignores them. “You're safe, Ni,” he murmurs to her, trying to soothe her. “I have you. It's okay.” He takes the reins again, glancing about a moment, then heads away from the small cluster of buildings to a patch of shade where he can settle down on the ground with Lyonene in his lap, to let her cry herself out.

He rocks her, stroking her hair, and starts humming at some point, not having anything more to say while slowly Lyonene stops crying. Eventually, as the sun drops in the western sky, she looks up at him, still hiccupping.

Latimer looks down at his sister, his expression a mix of affection, concern, and exasperation, his jaw clenched. He pulls out a handkerchief, and sloshes himself with water as well as a corner of the cloth. With gentle strokes, he begins to work on wiping the stickiness off her face and cleaning up the damage caused by all those tears. He's no longer as deathly pale as he was before.

“Are you hurt?” he asks at last, looking her over a little. There are a few bruises forming on her arm where she had been grabbed.

She shakes her head furiously in the negative before whispering, “I want to go home.” Her tears start falling again slowly, staining her cheeks once more but she does not return to the insensible crying of before.

Latimer nods and stands up, keeping his hold on her, and manages to tie her pony's reins to his horse's saddle and mount one- handed. He settles her into his lap and nudges his horse into motion, a fast walk.

They ride for some time in silence punctuated only by the clopping of the horses’ hooves and the occasional hiccup or remaining sob, before he says anything more. But as the castle begins to loom ahead, Latimer asks quietly. “So what have we learned today?”

“To always carry a sword.”

Her brother doesn't look impressed. “Hm. Is that all?”

Lyonene sighs. “Never leave your side.”

Latimer hugs her briefly. “It's a start,” he allows. Lyonene can hear anger in his voice again, though he keeps it controlled. “It really *is* dangerous for a young person to run off alone. Having a sword isn't always the answer. It wasn't really the sword that made him run. People like that are afraid to be identified. He knew I couldn't attack him while he had you, but you were no longer an easy mark, either. I was there and he wasn't able to slip away unnoticed.” He shakes his head. “I don't like disciplining you, Ni, but sometimes it's necessary.”

Tears glitter in her eyes. “I am sorry, Latimer.”

He sighs. “I know you are. *Now*. But you have to think about these things *before* something happens. That's part of being grown up. Thinking beyond yourself and what *you* want.” He falls silent for a time, thinking, while the clopping of the horses' hooves on the road fills the silence.

“You disobeyed me several times today, almost disastrously, as well as getting into a brawl and refusing to own up to your actions in the faire. You will not be permitted to leave the castle for one month. Nor will you be permitted any recreational activities during that time. Nor will you be permitted to attend the party next week. You will be, effectively, grounded. No play time. When you are not with your tutors or studying, you will have to sit alone and quietly with your thoughts. Hopefully you'll ponder what happened today.”

She pouts. “Fine. See if I care.”

Latimer levels a warning look at her. The castle is quite close now, and they will be home soon. “Don't try my patience, Lyonene,” he says, voice sharp. “It is almost gone. Just a moment ago you were contrite and apologetic. You live with the results of your actions, just like the rest of us. Maybe someday in the future I'll be able to take you somewhere again.”

“Of course you are correct, Latimer.” The response isn't exactly contrite, but it is close.

Latimer takes a calming breath, looking more irritated now than before. “Just remember that you won't be treated like an adult until you act like one,” he answers. “You still haven't told me about the fight, but if you wish to appear like an unschooled barbarian who uses brute force instead of thinking her way out of a situation, then there is nothing I can do about it.” A page sees them coming from a distance away and scampers to fetch Lyonene's nurse.


They finally reach the gates and pass inside the huge edifice that is both their homes, the outer courtyard always a swarm of activity. Latimer directs the horses in the general direction of the stable, but is intercepted halfway there by Lyonene's nurse, who comes to claim the little girl. Latimer hands Lyonene down before swinging his leg over his horse's neck and sliding to the ground next to the woman.

He informs Angie that there were a couple incidents while they were out and that Lyonene knew what disciplinary action had been decided on. He explains the measures to Angie, who nods, while the little girl scowls. When he is finally finished with that unpleasant business, he turns back to his sister, but when he squats down for a hug and a kiss, she turns away and tugs Angie with her back to the castle without looking back.

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