The Nature of Friendship

In which Haft and Megren discuss the duties of knights, and why Haft has only one friend


Inner Wall Walk

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You stand on Anvard’s Inner Wall Walk. From here you have a view of both the Inner and Outer Wards. A cool wind ruffles your clothes. A glance down into the Outer Ward reveals the bustle of people going to and from the market stalls, or off to various duties throughout the castle. In the Inner Ward you see nobles and staff, mingling happily or going about their own business.

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You can go: Toward the Trapdoor Opening <N>, Southern Watchtower <S>
Megren stands at attention on the wall. Occasionally she lifts a foot, as if stretching her leg muscles.

Haft climbs up through the trapdoor opening, stepping out onto the wall and striding over to join Megren.  He regards the ward.  “Anything interesting?”

Megren glances over at him as he arrives, offering a quick grin. She shakes her head in response to the question. “Cart of textiles overturned, but Perth helped take care of it pretty quick.”

Haft asks, “That’s good.  Was it the old lady with the handcart, or…?”

Megren shakes her head. “Fen. With the–?” She holds her hand before her face to indicate a large nose.

Haft grunts good-humoredly.  “We’ve all got our physical oddities.”

Megren makes a face at him, this not having been exactly her point.

Haft shrugs.

Megren shifts her weight a little, looking back out over the ward. “How’s the mess?” she asks. “I’ve been up here for /hours/ already.”

Haft shrugs again.  “The mess is…the mess.  People eat, play darts, joke with each other.”

Megren sighs wistfully. “Sounds perfect.”

Haft says, “I suppose.  Bit quieter up here.”

Megren glances at him and nods, agreeing pleasantly. “It is.”

Haft asks, “So how’s your father?”

Megren nods. “The same.”

Haft asks, “That’s…good?”

Megren asks, “Mhm. It is. Did you hear from your sister yet?”

Haft turns and rests his arms on the battlement.  “No.”

Megren glances at him again, frowning a little in sympathy.

Haft sighs.  “It could just be a delay.  The snow…or maybe they aren’t in the same location anymore. Or…” He runs a hand through his hair.

Megren nods at him. “It is winter. Things take longer.”

Haft asks, “What if she just doesn’t want to see me Meg?”

Megren turns to lean against the wall and better face him. “If you knew that was the case, what would you do?”

Haft shakes his head.  “Nothing to do, is there?  Just…go on.  Keep doing my job.”

Megren nods, quietly watching him. “What was your relationship before you left?”

Haft says, “Good.  I mean, she’s ten years younger than I am.  My baby sister, and I joined the guard when she was still pretty young.  But we were from Zuiden, so I saw her whenever I could.  Spoiled her a little, when I got the chance.  When she met her husband, I helped them settle in Chesterton.  I liked him.  Carpenter.”

Megren asks, “Did you ever think of writing her from Narnia?”

Haft takes a breath.  “Course I did.  Thought of it.  Just…couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I…sent money, sometimes, without a note.”

Megren concludes, “And she didn’t know where you had gone.”

Haft folds his arms.  “I guess no one knew.  I didn’t stop to tell anyone where I was going, cause I thought it was at the king’s command…self-explanatory that I’d left the country.  Must have looked to everyone here like I’d left without leave…can’t imagine what my record must look like.”

Megren’s brows lift. “Pretty clean, I guess, given we all know what happened now.”

Haft mutters.  “Suppose.”

Megren perches on the stonework, sitting parallel to it so that she can see both the ward and Haft. She winces involuntarily as she brings her leg up. “If I thought my father did not want to hear from me–” she pauses, the resultant sadness of such a circumstance difficult to express. Finally she says, “Well, I suppose I would want to keep pursuing it until I could learn how to make amends.”

Haft leans heavily on the stonework.  “And how would you do that?”

Megren shakes her head. “I don’t know. Do whatever I could to figure out how to meet him face-to-face first, I suppose. Letters are very nice things, but they aren’t the same, especially if there’s repairs to be made.”

Haft says, “That’s not so easy to do when you don’t know if they’re even in the same place.  I could travel out there, spend weeks combing Chesterton, only to find nothing, or to find that she didn’t answer the letter on purpose.”

Megren contemplates the outer ward for a long moment before saying, “I’d go with you, if you wanted and the guard could spare us both.”

Haft says, “Thanks.  That’s…I appreciate it.  But, there’s time yet, right?  With the snow…and if it takes much longer, I can ask the courier to…um, inquire down the line, see where it went astray.  Or send another one.  I don’t want either of us to take time if we don’t have to.”

Megren nods at him. “It does take longer with the snow,” she says again.

Haft asks, “Yeah.  You think the knights will ever take us up on that challenge?”

Megren tilts her head at him, confused, and then her brows rise. “Oh!” She squints an eye thoughtfully, “I suspect Sir Darrin of forgetting, or he would already have organized it. I don’t know about the others.”

Haft asks, “Mind like a sieve, eh?”

Megren giggles. “Well, somehow I don’t think…” she pauses, brows furrowing in conjunction with her searching thoughts, “–tactical… no, strategic was it? I don’t think strategic practice sessions are at the top of their priorities.”

Haft rests his chin on his palm.  “No? What else have they got to be doing?”

Megren rolls her eyes good-naturedly. “I know. Lazing about all day.”

Haft says, “Or dealing with negotiations, like the ones with the prince of Calormen…or hunting for Aaron…I suppose there are one or two things they might be addressing.”  He frowns.

Megren acknowledges this with a nod. “Does it seem like it’s taking a long time?”

Haft says, “The negotiations?  Yes, but that’s not what worries me.”

Megren glances at him. “Oh. Aaron?”

Haft shakes his head.  “He’s…I don’t know, not a danger to people in Anvard, not now.  Not sure about the populace…we’ve seen he can do damage.  Guess it depends who and what he’s after.  I was thinking of Rabadash.”

Megren blinks, and then lifts her hands on either side of her head to indicate donkey ears, giving him a questioning look.

Haft smirks.  “That’s the one.”

Megren asks, “You don’t think Aslan took enough care over him?”

Haft says, “Well I certainly hope so.”  His brow furrows.  “I just wonder what word’s gotten back to Calormen, about Cor.  Obviously they know he’s back, but do they know he’s the one who gave warning?  That’s the sort of thing a man like Rabadash might…repay, if he could.”

Megren looks thoughtful, her eyes still on the ward. “I suppose His Majesty and the others have considered that, too.”

Haft nods.  “I’m sure they have.  Just…talking, really.”

Megren nods. Her voice when she speaks next is quietly reflective. “It’s…” she pauses, and takes a breath. “I’m glad it’s in their hands.”

Haft says, “Yeah.  Theirs to plan.  Ours to watch.  Glad I don’t have to figure it all out.”

Megren nods again, more slowly this time, her face uncharacteristically serious.

Haft asks, “What is it?”

Megren glances at him. “I don’t know. I trust them to sort things. I can’t imagine it’s pleasant, though.”

Haft says, “No.  But they’re trained to it.  We…get trained to it, over time.  The best of us become captains.  I’d bet Captain Garian’s given some thought to the matter as well, if not discussed it outright with his superiors.”

Megren nods, this not seeming much to ease her mind.

Haft grimaces.  “Sorry.  I’m not always a very pleasant watch partner.  I worry too much.”

Megren blinks, glancing at him. “Oh, it’s not you.”

Haft tilts his head curiously.

Megren lifts her shoulders and gives him a small grin. “Sometimes I forget the knights aren’t just guards with nicer clothes and better vocabularies.”

Haft snorts.  “Who says they have nicer clothes?  I got this shirt just last week and I think it’s fine.”

Megren looks his gambeson over. “When I can see it from under your livery, I’ll give you my assessment.”

Haft says, “Heh, that’s fair.  But you’re right.  Though I’ve not met too many knights that really act just like guards…not in the current crop anyway.  Sir Darrin seems the most like the rest of us, and I don’t know if he mostly stays here or if he often ranges abroad.  But beyond the fact that a knight is more likely to be afield…yeah, they’re called on to make judgments we’re not, and the landed ones have obligations to those under them, as well.”

Megren nods slowly again.

Haft gestures down to the Outer Ward with his hand.  “We have our own small holding.  Helping a man with a sack of oats, or a textile merchant with an overturned cart; protecting the residents, royal, noble, and common, with equal diligence…it’s enough to be getting on with, don’t you think?”

Megren smiles. “Yeah.”

Haft smiles back.  After a few moments he says, “I heard you met Abrielle.”

Megren exclaims, “Oh! I did, mhm.”

Haft asks, “Like her?”

Megren says, “She’s funny, isn’t she? I can see how you’re friends.”

Haft quirks a brow.  “Can you?  I’m still trying to figure it out.  And I…wouldn’t say friends…just…we seem to get on all right, when we’re not spatting.”

Megren laughs. “That’s not friends, then?”

Haft smiles sadly.  “I don’t call anyone a friend who doesn’t know my story, Meg.  Cause once they know…” he shrugs “never know if they’ll want to recall their decision. I told you that, in different words, remember?”

Megren makes a disapproving face at him.

Haft talks over her look.  “Which brings the grand total of friends to…one, in the past three months?  Well, it’s a solid start.”

Megren rolls her eyes and announces, “That’s stupid.”

Haft straightens and crosses his arms defensively.  “Why?”

Megren lifts her first finger. “One. I feel pretty confident that someone who thinks making faces while on guard is breaking her duty is going to fall on the “treason” side when it comes to what you think of doubting his Majesty’s word– and the King has made it very clear you are worth trusting, which means you’re accusing everyone who doesn’t know your history of potential treason.” She lifts another finger. “Two. You lived in Narnia. Everyone here knows how King Edmund betrayed his family and country and yet now he is beloved by all who meet him. If we know that, you ought doubly to.” A third finger. “Three. You don’t know hardly anything about who I was prior to your meeting me. Does that mean we can’t be friends? You don’t of Sir Darrin, or Abrielle, or even Prince Cor, for that matter. You mean to say what you know of who we are now would be invalidated by who we’ve been in the past? It’s not. You’re friends with me, with Meg now. And we’re friends with you. Present Haft. Whatever happened to you in the past, it brought you to who you are now, a person whom we care for. Knowing or not knowing those things doesn’t change who that person is.”

Haft’s hands clench on his arms.  “Don’t talk to me about Prince Cor’s past, Megren,” he barks.

Megren considers him for a moment, looking ready to make a point, but then she nods, dropping the matter entirely and returning her attention to the ward.

Haft sighs, running a hand through his hair.  “I shouldn’t have…look, I’m not saying there aren’t people here I like and respect.  Sir Darrin, Sir Tyren, Captain Garian…well, Garian know, obviously, and Sir Tyren knows it in the rough…and Abrielle, she knows a bit, just not everything.  She knows I was exiled and she was the first person other than Lord Peridan to offer understanding.  Compassion, even.  And that’s why I guess we talk, even when we drive each other mad, cause she’s stubborn as a pig, like me.  And maybe that’s friendship anyway.  But those first couple of months back…every time someone asked my name, I had to stop, take a breath, wonder what they’d say when they heard it.  Figured they wouldn’t want anything to do with me and chalked it up to ignorance if they did.  And maybe it’s not fair to them, but that’s how it was.”

Megren tilts her head acknowledgingly, and says, in a not unkind tone, “I’m not saying it’s not how it is, I’m just saying it’s stupid.”

Haft laughs weakly.  “Well, I’ve spent the better part of fourteen years doing and saying stupid things.” He shakes his head. “To answer your question, about whether I’d judge someone on their past, despite who they are now?  I dunno.  I’ve done it before, when I shouldn’t have.  But on the other hand, you have to measure a man based on something, and what else than the life he’s led?”

Megren shakes her head and says without malice, “You’re impossible.”

Haft asks, “Oh?”

Megren gives him a knowing look.

Haft shrugs, “What?”

Megren says, “Completely irredeemable.”

Haft looks a little confused.  “If you say so,” he replies uncertainly.  He turns to scan the ward below.

Megren glances at him with an affectionate if utterly hopeless grin and a roll of her eyes back to the ward.

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