Fort Weyr - Ezra's Room
Is there anything that smells *quite* like a teenage boy's room? The room that Ezra was given after his rather abrupt arrival at Fort Weyr is one that does not suit his station, but speaks to the sympathy his story brought up in people. One of the larger residential rooms, it actually consists of both a living room and a private bedroom. The rooms are not sparkling clean or spotless, but they are relatively tidy. The boy has been making an effort in trying to get over his hoarding ways. There are still piles of *stuff*, but it's stacked neatly in corners or beneath furniture. The floor is now visible and the couch, table and chairs are usable. There is also a fireplace that is kept very neat and free of ash, the smoke drawn up through a tunnel in the rock.
The bedroom has a large bed with rumpled, messy sheets and lots and lots of blankets and pillows, making a little nest for him to sleep in. The dresser and wardrobe are full of clothes, though he's made some effort to sort through it all. The rooms also have an overabundance of glowbaskets, which are placed on many of the surfaces and kept filled and bright constantly. He might be just a little afraid of the dark.

Down to the lower caverns they go, leaving the living caverns and the warmth there behind. Not that Rayathess minds, since he's following Ezra back to his room in hopes of getting dry clothes and perhaps a little more conversation with his little brother. "So you really think your clothes will fit me, huh?" he drawls in a slightly teasing tone as they approach the room. He has his arms crossed over his chest tightly, his expression a bit tense but his spirits seem high.

Ezra shrugs as he unlocks the door and lets him in, peering around to make sure Zoi isn't around and waiting to come in either. The pregnant canine isn't, so Ezra closes and locks the door behind him, knowing Zoi will scratch at it if she wants in. "Might be a little big on you, since I'm so buff now and all," the still-lanky Ezra teases, gesturing to the couch before he meanders into the bedroom. The set of rooms, so large and intimidating when he first moved in, now have a comfortable and almost cozy feel to them - almost, but not quite yet - too small for the young heir as he begins to repair his /true/ home. Still, these rooms were his sanctuary and he won't let them go easily.

Rayathess steps inside as soon as Ezra has the door open. These rooms are familiar enough to him too that he can relax once inside and he will shake his head at the gesture of the couch. Not while he's soaked through! There's a snort, "Right. I'm so intimidated by your buff and muscular physique." he teases his brother right back. It's not like Rayathess is sporting muscle either. Toned may be one way to describe it, athletic another if being generous and nice about it. "So where's Zoi?" he asks, noting the absence of the pregnant canine. "Has she had those pups of hers yet?"

Ezra smirks as he returns, offering his brother a tunic and trousers, along with another towel. Big and soft, the way Ezra likes it. "Oh, she's probably nesting somewhere," he says with a shrug. "Not yet, but soon, so I let her have the run of the weyr. Probably down in the barn keeping warm and dry, not wanting to come home in this weather." The teen moves to the hearth to stir the ashes, adding some sticks to get the fire going again.

Rayathess takes the offered clothing and the towel too, his touch lingering the longest on it. Perfect! "Smart of her, if that's the case. You've any interest from folks in the pups?" he asks, by way of idle conversation even as he edges away towards the bedroom. Brother or not, he's still isn't comfortable to just strip down right there in front of him. Even if Ezra's busy with the fire! Rayathess will slip on the new trousers, which fit him save for being just a wee bit too short. Using the towel to dry the rest of himself off some more, he'll stride back into the room with his damp clothing and setting them near the hearth. He's yet to put the tunic on and as he turns back to the couch to grab it and swap it with the towel, one may glimpse a few pale scars that line his back. "Clothes do fit pretty good." he mutters, tugging a bit at the hem of the tunic after slipping it on over his head. "Thanks, Ezra."

Ezra nods, "Yeah, interest, but I'm keeping them all for myself." For Stonehaven, he means. "Unless there's, like…ten of them. Then I've got folks I know'll treat them right. But if it's just a few, I'm keeping them." He shrugs, turning just in time to see his brother head for the couch. And see those scars. The teen's expression hardens, hard but brief before it eases and he forces himself to relax. This isn't that kind of visit. "Any time," he murmurs. "Want food or tea or something?"

It's going to turn into that kind of visit! Rayathess nods, "Have you considered looking into a few other canines and keeping some for breeding? A few bitches and males?" he asks curiously as he goes about setting out his soaked clothes to dry. He has no idea that Ezra caught a look at his back, having been focused on his task. At the mention of food or tea, he pauses as if to consider. "Might be nice to get some food? T-te…" He's caught by another sneeze, which he muffles in the crook of his arm. Sniffling, he rubs the heel of his hand against his brow and forehead as if to ward off some pressure there. "Anything warm." he concludes, just before flopping himself onto the couch and stretching out with his legs out over the floor and facing the fire. Ahh!

Ezra nods, "I have yeah, but don't want to start that until I'm up there for good and can work with them and use them. Don't want them going wild and I don't want to use more of the weyr's resources. But yeah, I have. Good canines. Guard ones and hunting ones. Ones that'll protect the flocks and the hold." The sneeze has him frowning and he nods. "I'll be back then," he says, slipping out and closing the door behidn him.

Rayathess is still rubbing at his forehead with his fingers, his eyes drifting closed as he listens and warms himself up on the couch. That last sneeze must've rattled something loose. "Good mix of working dogs," he agrees, as he usually does, with most of his brother's plans. There's a nod when Ezra takes his leave and Rayathess is content to just wiggle down deeper against he couch cushions and zone out in the quiet. He's used to that!

Ezra isn't gone that long, and soon he's back with some food and a tea cup with leaves in the bottom. Putting a kettle on to boil, he glances at his brother. "Need anything else?" he murmurs, offering him a thick sandwich he brought back from the kitchens.

Rayathess lowers his hands so he can take the sandwich and opens his eyes to glance towards him. There's a shake of his head and a crooked, small smile given. A reassuring one. "Nah, I'm good. Now that I actually feel warmer! You've given me dry clothes, food, drink and lodging… Can't say I'm wanting! And company, too. Almost forget." he says with a faint chuckle and then gestures for Ezra to sit. "Relax a bit!" He takes a large bite from the sandwich then, barely swallowing before he's taking another. Someone is hungry!

Ezra chuckles as he grabs a sandwich for himself - leaving two still on the tray - and settles into a comfortable chair. "Thanks for letting me rest after taking care of you for so long," he teases him back with a fond little smirk. It's something he /likes/ doing. Having the means to help others. Even in such a simple way. Clothes, food, drink, shelter…there was a time he wanted for all of those things.

Rayathess smirks at his brother's teasing but there is that same fondness there. In a manly way. Yeah, yeah! Truth be told, he is very appreciative of his sibling's help and soon enough the sandwich is devoured but he does not reach for another. "Hope you didn't mind me bringing up business about Stonehaven around Abigail and Lana earlier," he murmurs as he makes himself comfortable. Not that it'll last for long. He may get to have a few sips of that tea, enjoy a little more conversation with Ezra but soon enough there is a firelizard winking in from Between with a message of Rayathess. One that has him groaning in protest. "Sorry, brother. Duty calls… should be a short thing. Shardin' free day and I still get sent to the archives. Transcribe this. Get that. Feh." he grumbles the whole time, eyeing his still damp jacket. "Mind if I borrow a cloak or something for the quick trip outside? I'll be back before you know it. We can talk some more?" Here. In the quiet of Ezra's room.

Ezra shakes his head. "Not really." But kind of. Pushing to his feet, he reaches for a thick, fur lined cloak with a hood by the door. He never wears it, but someone gave it to him so he keeps it. "I'll be here. Going to go find Zoi."

Rayathess tries not to give Ezra a look when he's handed a fur-lined cloak but graciously accepts it. After another hasty apology, he'll slip it on and then hurry out the door. His earlier prediction of being back soon wasn't quite true. Almost two full candlemarks pass before he returns and it is almost immediately obvious something is off with him. His steps are slow and uncertain and at times he wobbles a bit and has to pause to gain his bearings or muffle another sneeze or cough. By the time he reaches the door to Ezra's room to knock, his face is set in a tense and uncomfortable manner. "Ezra? It's me." he calls in a voice made slightly thick by congestion.

Ezra opens the door at his brother's knock, a frown on his face that deepens considerably at the sight of him. "Raya? What happened?" he asks, instinctively reaching for his brother's arm to help him inside. The room is nice and warm, ready for his return, but the food Ezra brought is a bit stale now, and a bit cooler than it was when it was fresh from the kitchens.

"Nothing happened." Rayathess grouses but allows Ezra to take his arm and lead him inside. He's barely the strength to slip off the cloak lent to him and by the time he's back to sitting on the couch, he looks pale but flushed. Feverish, but low. For now. "Think I'm sick." No, really? The food from earlier is barely given another look. Right now, any though of food just makes Rayathess queasy. He pats along the side of his tunic and then withdraws a few folded sheets of paper bound by twine and all holding Harper Hall insignia's in blue. "Mind keeping this somewhere safe? Nothing confidential but I don't want it lost either… work took me forever. Shards, my head is killing me…" He grimaces and lifts a hand up again to press the heel of it to his brow. "So Zoi have her pups?"

Ezra takes the papers with a nod, moving into the other room briefly before he returns. "Want me to go get some pain medicine from the healers?" he offers. "Fellis or something to help you sleep? No, she didn't," he says, nodding to the canine in the corner, who greets Rayathess with a few tail thumps but nothing more.

Rayathess 's grimace twists. "No fellis, I don't think it's that bad. Just some herbs… willow salic or whatever it is." He blinks, focusing his gaze briefly on his brother. Sleep? Pfft. "I can't stay, Ezra. I'm due back at the Hall by morning. It's probably just some head cold and I've got this headache from the sneezing. I'll be fine!" Famous last words. At the tail thumps he receives from Zoi, Rayathess chuckles dryly. "Good to see you too, Zoi." he drawls and then moves to stand to check on his drying clothes, only to have to sit again when he's hit with a wave of weakness and dizziness which passes soon enough once he's leaning back against the couch.

Ezra frowns. "Lay down," he says, his voice /just/ firm enough to sound like their father. Through puberty, he has his father's voice and inflections. "I'll be right back. Zoi, make sure he rests." The canine doesn't know, but she pants her happiness just the same as Ezra departs. He'll go to the Healers first, then the Harpers, and let them know Rayathess is ill and in his care. He'll pull rank if he has to, mostly playing the role of the concerned little brother who doesn't think his elder should be traveling sick in such weather, blah blah blah. Hopefully it works, and he'll return in short order.

Rayathess shoots a stubborn look that is also a touch startled when he picks up a hint of their father in his little brother's voice. Any protest he had dies on his lips but it doesn't keep him from grumbling and bitching about having to lay down when there's things he should be doing. They were supposed to spend his free day catching up! This blows. "Fine." Grumble. Rayathess will stretch out on the couch, laying on his side when Ezra leaves. The Healers will no doubt try to protest Ezra caring for Rayathess alone but will grudgingly agree under the conditions that if he worsens then he must go to the Infirmary and be tended by official Healers but they agree that for now rest is the best start and they will give him the basic medications needed. Matters with Harper Hall go a bit smoother, though no doubt Rayathess will have to make up for his absence in some manner at a later time. By the time Ezra returns, Rayathess has rolled onto his back and is dozing fitfully.

Ezra will tell the Healers in no uncertain terms that his brother would rather go untreated than come to the infirmary, and his significant looks and pauses might give them clues as to why. Regardless, in the end he returns to his room with supplies, closing and locking the door behind him as he sets to brewing tea. "Raya?" he asks softly, approaching the couch with a blanket. "How're you feeling?"

And so the Healers learn never to question Ezra ever again! Back in the room, Rayathess sluggishly wakes up from his dozing to peer at his brother and will reach for the blanket. "Head hurts. Body hurts." he mutters, shivering as he wraps himself in the blanket and tries not to grimace too much in discomfort. "So what'd they say? 'M I in shit for this?"

Ezra tucks the blanket around Rayathess with a slight frown. "Here," he murmurs, making him some tea and offering it. "No, you're not in trouble. You just rest, it's going to be fine." Now he's glad he didn't go to Stonehaven today.

Rayathess protests a bit when Ezra tucks the blanket around him, not wanting to be fussed over. At least, not to that degree. Carefully, he'll sit up enough to take the offered tea and sip at it and then cough, pulling a face at the taste before downing the rest of it. Ugh, medicine. "It's just a cold," he reassures his little brother and agrees. He'll be just fine! Oh, but if he only knew! "Bet I'll be just fine after I sleep a bit." he boasts, chuckling and then stifling a cough as he stretches out flat on the couch again. "You're not gonna be able to go to the hold now…"

Ezra nods, "I'm sure you will be." Then he shrugs, moving to his desk and sitting down. "It's fine, I've got my guy up there and the weather is bad enough I don't need to be there. It's fine, I've got plenty I can do here." Paperwork. Voluntarily. How he's grown, with a small smirk for his brother. "Just sleep, it's alright."

How he's grown, indeed! Rayathess gives Ezra a long and lingering look and then with a heavy exhale ends in a cough, he nods and swallows thickly. "Alright." He'll sleep! And his all-grown-up brother will do paperwork. Something he figured he'd never see. Shells, he didn't even think he'd ever see his brother ever again. It won't take long for Rayathess' eyes to begin to droop and then he's dozing before slipping into a deeper sleep.

Ezra gives his brother a smile, but once Rayathess is asleep the teen's expressino shifts to concern. He watches and listens as Rayathess sleeps, and he does his paperwork.

Nothing much will happen for the first candlemark or so. Rayathess sleeps, occasionally coughing but otherwise his breathing is steady and his body relaxed. It won't last forever and soon enough he'll begin to stir. Just subtly at first and in brief moments. A shift here, a twitch there. His breathing becomes slightly irregular and uneven, his features twisting slightly as he groans under his breath and the hair about his forehand hangs limply from sweat. Soon enough, he begins to push at the blanket until he's free of it and he seems to settle for a bit then, only to begin to shiver and make a disgruntled sound as his fevered thoughts plague him with uneasy dreams that begin to drift to nightmares.

Ezra has been watching, never going far - the bedroom at most - and returning to his desk. When his brother begins to shift, Ezra rises, soaking a cloth in cold water. "Rayathess," he says softly, trying to rest the cloth on his brother's forehead and also trying to take his temperature at the same time with his other hand.

Rayathess grunts as the cold cloth is placed on his forehead and he turns away from it at first, grimacing even in his sleep. "So hot," he mumbles and in the next sighed breath, his words are too garbled to understand. His eyes flutter open briefly but roll and he is pulled under again into a semi-conscious state. It's when Ezra actually touches him that things go wrong. For a small instance, he'll feel damp and heated skin and the next Rayathess is jerking awake violently, his eyes glazed by fever but hardened beneath. He does not recognize Ezra in his confused state and so his instinct is to go on the defensive. He'll attempt to grab the wrist and twist it away when he brings his other arm up to shove at his brother's chest. Only Rayathess isn't at his full strength and perhaps the angle is off, leaving Ezra ample time to react in turn or avoid being thrown down and pinned. Even so, Rayathess will try to grip or clutch at him as his lips draw back from his teeth in a close to feral snarl. "Back off!" he barks roughly in warning. "Leave us alone 'n don't touch me!"

Ezra's instincts are still well honed from his own ordeal, and they kick in the moment Rayathess' eyes are off. Different. Ezra is /real/ good at noticing differences and he is swift to twist his wrist back, stumbling, moving free with a bit of a stubmle and almost tripping over the klah table. He stops when he's out of reach, tugging down his wrinkled tunic. "Rayathess," he says quietly, blinking rapidly as he backs up another step, hands up defensively. "Sorry."

Rayathess will back down the moment Ezra backs off, not seeming to notice the subtle nuances. He's confused, maybe delirious but certainly isn't in his right mind. His expression is pained but hardened, cold and indifferent. There is no brotherly love or connection there. Ezra made the right move to back up another step, since it's not entirely his older brother he's dealing with. Does he remember that conversation? "Don't use that name!" he hisses angrily and alarmed. "And you're sorry?" Rayathess sneers, only to cough again and after trying to rise to his feet he is kept from doing so both by the blanket and a wave of dizziness. That only disorients him all the more (and lucky for Ezra's benefit!) and he slumps against the couch again. "Go 'n stuff it." he growls, his eyes opening again, narrowed and untrusting. "Y'know better. It's sharding hot. Where 'n Faranth's name are we? My head…" Hurts. He licks at his lips, his eyes rolling to examine the room but he comprehends nothing.

Ezra blinks again, his mind moving rapidly. Oh yes. Yes, he does remember that conversation. Very well. He also remembers the scars, and all the other little snippets of knowledge he's gleaned since Rayathess came back. Biting his lower lip for a moment, he swallows thickly and waves Zoi to the bedroom, closing the door behind her so she doesn't go on the offensive. "Yeah, sorry I tried to help you," Ezra says quietly. Who does Rayathess think he is? Probably not someone who'd be all mushy and sentimental. The teen looks around swiftly. "A weyr." He can't very well lie about /that/. Not if the dragons sound off.

It will all balance on how Ezra behaves and answers or speaks to his older brother on how Rayathess will react in turn. He's reverted to his alter ego, the 'Setha' he was called by Lyreh that day in the forests. Right now, Rayathess' addled thoughts are pegging Ezra to be another holdless in the camp. Lying would be stupid and foolish and his brows furrow. "Weyr?" he mutters and then scoffs. More is mumbled, but again his voice drops too low to make most of it understood. Laris' name is mentioned, along with the word 'fool' and a whole bunch of other random words. "Don't need no help. 'M fine." he grunts and then begins to shiver where he lays on the couch.

Ezra shifts his weight a bit, considering before he just flops into his chair, eying Rayathess. Setha. He leans forward to take a sandwich and begin eating it. "Yeah, a weyr. You're sick, you should rest." He eyes him again and then leans back, looking around and trying not to let his unease and pain show. It's fine, it's going to be fine, it's just the fever talking. He hasn't lost his brother again.

Rayathess scowls as his eyes drift to pin Ezra under his fevered gaze. Unaware of the upset and pain going through the younger teen at the moment. He swallows thickly and groans, shifting restlessly on the couch. "Can't be sick," he mutters. "Won't be tolerated." It is just the fever talking, with Rayathess caught midway between reality and his past memories. Suddenly, he stiffens and his eyes widen. "Where's Rill?" he asks and when he feels the answer isn't swift enough, he sits up abruptly, weaving drunkenly but trying to free himself from the blanket and the couch. "Where IS she?" he demands in a voice rising both in anger and panicked concern. "I swear, if she's come to harm, I will make those responsible pay for it!" he growls, only to suffer another fit of coughing. One that doesn't seem to stop.

Ezra shrugs, "I won't tell," he mutters. Then he jumps, eyes widening in…fear? Or hurt? Hard to tell? "Rill?" Who is Rill? Wait. That's got to be Anrila. "Chill out, she's…with…uh." Ezra has no idea what to say. "She's fine." Then there's the coughing, and Ezra takes one tiny half step forward. "You okay?"

Rayathess can barely cobble enough rational sense in his mind and can only pick out the simplest of emotions or thoughts. So he will stiffen in alarm when Ezra jumps, his senses muddled but on high alert. What? What is it? His eyes dart about the room, suspicious and wary. Then all at once he relaxes and slumps back against the couch, exhausted by that spell and by his coughing fit which has finally eased up. "I'm fine!" he protests hoarsely, glaring at Ezra only to relent. "You've water?" he asks, demanding again. He seems to have accepted that Rill is fine and from his incoherent mumbling, he is reminding himself that she must be on the trader wagons. "… she's fine… made sure of that, right. 'N I went to Gold Hill… The Weyr." Suddenly some clarity comes to his mind and he groans, his hands lifting to rub at his sweaty forehead. His head is throbbing now and his body aches, as his restless movements show. "Oh shit. So it's done then? All of it? I… I remember now. It's over…" he begins to ramble, his eyes unfocused but still not the same.

Ezra leans forward, picking up the water skin from the table and offering it before he leans back again. "What's over?" he prompts, wanting to figure out just /when/ Rayathess' mind has put him.

Rayathess takes the water skin from Ezra, all but snatching it out of his grasp and quickly flopping back down. Even that movement has exhausted him and after sniffing the contents doubtfully, he'll take a small sip and then a much longer one before he has to set the skin down and just lay there a moment. His eyes close but his face remains set in tense and grim lines. "All of it is over," he replies in a rough voice, still not quite himself but neither so fully 'Setha' either. His fevered mind is making him swing wildly from one to the other as he slips in an out of rational thought. "Laris has fallen. He must've… if we're in the Weyr? We… the trials, too. They're done. Aren't they?" The last is asked in a flat and hardened tone. Tell him and do not lie.

Ezra arches his brows at his brother's flat tone. "The trials are done," he answers, soft and truthful. He knows that for sure. He was there. "Exiled, for those the Harpers ruled were truly with Laris. Relocation for the rest. Some of us stayed here, in the weyr."

Rayathess blinks and frowns, obviously confused and disorientated. Exiled? Resting his head back against the pillows, he makes some sort of frustrated and disgruntled sound that ends with a scoff. "Right. Now I remember…" Feverishly but all the same… the memories are there and suddenly Rayathess' emotions take a rapid downwards spiral. Guilt is written plainly on his features as well as… grief? Usually his emotions are so tangled or held in check but not now. "And I had my hand in that too. Traitor to all sides… Traitor to all…" he begins to mutter, repeating the word. Traitor, traitor, traitor.

Ezra shifts a bit on the chair. What part is he to play in this? Who is he pretending to be? A fellow Laris-follower? A friend in the weyr looking after him? "You didn't really have a choice," he mutters.

He can choose whatever role he feels will keep Rayathess calm and talking. As it stands, his answer has the older sibling laughing bitterly and coughing between breathes. When the fit subsides, he rolls his eyes again to Ezra and though he holds him under his gaze his eyes aren't focused clearly at all. "Didn't have a choice?" he drawls in a voice that is dripping in gruff sarcasm. "We all have a choice. I betrayed my blood by joining Laris' band. It was to survive at first… I was to escape with Rill but by then it was too late… Too late… Had to cope." He's rambling again and his words slip to incoherent mumbling as he fidgets against the couch. So hot. So cold. He can't get comfortable and his skin is slick with sweat, parts of the tunic he wears now darkened with it. "…came to view some of those in the camps as family. Don't you see?" Rayathess explains, his mouth twisting into a grimace, his voice wavering. "And I betrayed them too in the end."

Ezra shifts a bit in his chair, though he does meet Raya's gaze when he looks at him. "If you'd told him who you were he'd have killed you," he says flatly and firmly. "/And/ Rill. You did what you had to do to survive." Then he frowns sharply, his expression twisting in distaste. "They weren't family," he says firmly, a bit stung by that comment.

Rayathess's eyes close again as he absorbs the flat spoken words Ezra tells him. Is it the truth? It must be, for he doesn't protest it. "Did what I had to do…" he mumbles and he misses that sharp frown and twisting expression from his brother. He shifts again on the couch, rolling onto his side as he groans and coughs again. When he catches his breath, Rayathess looks conflicted between guilt and grief. "They were my family. All that Rill and I had. Not Laris' men. NEVER them. But the others… others like us. There were some trapped too. Good people. Decent people. Desperate. And I lead them all to their ends…"

Ezra grits his teeth hard, hands clenching and unclenching where he's jammed them against his thighs and the arms of the chair. Not his family. NOT his family! "They made their own choices," he grits out, voice thin and almost breathless. "The good people went free in the trials…"

Poor Ezra, having to hear it like this. But is Rayathess even speaking the truth or is he voicing a irrational thought or snippet that has been twisted by his fevered mind? "They made their own choices," he whispers gruffly, oblivious to the hurt his younger brother is experiencing. Rayathess sags against the cough and his breath comes out shaky, almost choked. "It was still hard. Some had become friends. Friends of sorts. Couldn't be helped. I thought I'd be there… forever. Had to make my own place. I wonder where they've gone…" The last is spoken in a low garbled whisper and for a moment it seems as though he's fallen asleep again only to stir again. "Lyreh…"

Ezra shifts slightly, but otherwise holds himself very, very tense and still. "Lots of them went back to their home holds, or other holds," he answers stiffly, before he twitches slightly at Lyreh's name. "She's around," he says gruffly. "She shot you in the foot." No, he does not care for Lyreh. Or maybe he's just possessive of his big brother.

Rayathess frowns in confusion. "Shot me? Why… would she? Was it because of her father? He was a bastard. He deserved to die." All at once, Rayathess' voice grows cold and hard and he shivers on the couch, breath hitching through his clenched teeth. "But I miss her," he says in the next breath and all the tension eases from him as he turns melancholy again. He sighs, "I miss her so much. I worry about her… about those set free who I knew and befriended. I don't dare meet them though. Lyreh won't see me. I've tried… I've tried everything." he says sadly and in a tone of those still working through a broken heart. "And I can't… mention anything to anyone. THey'd hate me for it. They'd not understand. They called me traitor… and I am. I am…" Rayathess rolls on the couch then, clutching the blanket with him as he shifts uncomfortably and now rests with his back facing Ezra.

"Her father?" Did Rayathess kill Lyreh's father? Ezra's heart begins to beat faster at Raya's tone and words, and then he curls in on himself at his brother's next words. Clenching his fists again, he's glad Rayathess turns his back so he can't see the hastily wiped away tears on Ezra's face. "But," Ezra says slowly, cautiously, "you have…you have your brother back…" That counts for something. Right?

Rayathess is silent for a moment but is not still. He moves restlessly under the blanket and shivers, but when he speaks again his voice is flat and gruffer. Setha. "I do not kill." he explains detachedly, as if plucking the very thought from Ezra's head. But? "I may have overlooked a few… things concerning that man during the fall of Gold Hill." Isn't that the same thing? Apparently not in his head. Again, how much of it is true? "My brother?" Setha is gone, replaced by Rayathess and for a moment it sounds as though he calls for his younger brother. "Ezra?" It's not the case however and in the next breath he sighs heavily, shakily. "By all odds I DO have him back. I never… not in my wildest dreams did I think he was alive. I thought he was dead… by my negligence. How happy I was to see him. But even he looked on me with mistrust… At first." Still, it stung. Rayathess continues to ramble on. "He will make a good lord holder…"

Ezra is relieved at that, though the next has him shifting again, a bit uneasy. His heart continues to hammer in his chest as his brother/not-brother speaks and he nods, resisting the strong urge to go to him. But he is still sick, which has Ezra leaning forward, the chair creaking. "How do you feel?" he asks softly. "Do I need to fetch a Healer?"

"Don't need no Healer!" Rayathess all but spits but in the next breath he is coughing and tossing back and forth miserably on the couch until at last he finds a reasonably comfortable position. He's pushed the blanket off again and his expression is tense and his colour pale but flushed with fever. "Hot and I ache. Do they keep this Weyr so steamin' hot for a reason?" he grumbles, only to drift into a a semi-doze seconds later. "Why do you care?" he mutter-mumbles to Ezra, his eyes opening but unfocused.

Ezra grits his teeth at his brother's question, opening and closing his mouth. He can't come up with an answer, so he just gets to his feet and goes to tend the fire, warming another kettle on the simmering coals. He'll prepare another tea while he tries to gather his thoughts - and emotions - back under control. "What's the worst thing they did to you in the camp?" he asks, trying to pitch his voice like a fellow Laris-follower swapping stories.

Rayathess will have a lot of damage control to do when he recovers. Surely Ezra knows most of this is fever-talk and not to take it personally? He does not seem aware of the time lapsed between his question (which is unanswered) and when Ezra speaks to him again. The pitch works, he's too addled in his head by the fever to catch the 'wrongness' in Ezra's attempt to mimic a holdless from the camps or a Laris-follower. "Don't you know? It'd have to be the "peace keeping". Yeah, right. My ass. You know Laris put his men in charge of that… Rotten. Every last of 'em. But the worst they did? Suppose it was the whippin. Only once and a minor offence. Since it was a 'first'. Took the fall for another…" he mutters, his voice flat and rough again as he rambles brokenly. "Could've been worse. At least I wasn't a girl…" Ezra might not want to pursue that topic.

Ezra knows, but…still. And no, he does /not/ want to go there. He shudders at the very hint of it, veering swiftly off that topic. Herb packet is added to the hot water and left to steep, the teen crouched by the hearth and staring at the glowing coals. "How many lashes?"

Some things are just best left unspoken. Rayathess shifts restlessly on the couch, grimacing as his eyes screw shut and he groans. "Shells, my head aches…" he mutters and then with a low exhale he answers. "Dunno. I wasn't keeping count and not all of 'em scarred. Three, maybe? The man who did it… he enjoyed whippin' folks. Guess I didn't scream enough for him, cause I got off light compared to some. Tho all I did was claim it was I who took additional supplies beyond ration. Maybe they didn't believe me but someone had to take blame. Example 'n all."

Ezra clenches his fists there by the hearth, and slowly he uncoils, shaking out the herb bag and leaving it on the stones to drip. "Here, more tea. It'll help," he murmurs, step by cautious step approaching his brother on the couch and offering the mug. As for the whipping…the teen says nothing. He just grits his teeth and tries to keep the fire from his eyes.

Rayathess tries to sit up and it takes him a few tries and even then he's slow about it. Weak. He tries not to show it, but it will be so telling in the pinched look to his features and his pallid colour. "Thanks." he grunts, reaching for the tea with a hand that trembles faintly. He takes a few sips, then a gulp, managing to drain almost half the mug before with a groan he has to lay back down again. He is silent for a few breathes, his eyes closed as he slips back into a semi-doze. When he is pulled from it, he blinks his eyes open a crack and calls softly. "Ezra?"

Ezra shifts to sit heavily in his chair again once Rayathess begins to doze. Rubbing a hand over his face, the young heir sighs, shaking his head. He looks up sharply when he hears his name though, in that soft tone. Peering at his brother, Ezra leans forward, the chair creaking beneath him. "Rayathess?"

"Ezra…" Rayathess calls again and he rolls a bit on his side to face his brother, his eyes drifting to look up at him and now there is more coherency there despite the fever glazed look. "… I don't feel so good. I'm so hot… and I ache." he mutters. Make it go away? Then he's back into his fevered-state and though he smiles weakly up at his brother, his eyes are suddenly gleaming with… tears? Oh boy. "Ezra, I'm so sorry…"

Ezra crouches down beside the couch and then shifts onto his knees, reaching for his brother's hand now that he seems to have returned. "I can fetch a Healer," he says softly. "Stronger medicines…" Then he blinks, brows furrowing, and shakes his head. "Sorry for what? Rayathess…you've done nothing wrong."

Rayathess won't react poorly to the contact this time and he will grip his brother's hand weakly in return. "No! No Healers. Stay… stay here." he protests and his hand breaks free to clutch instead at Ezra's tunic. He shakes his head then and rests it against the pillows on the couch, his eyes closing and just looking downright miserable. A few tears escape, but he makes no effort to brush them away and instead just clenches his jaw until the urge to cry passes or he's too exhausted to do it. "Sorry for everything," he whispers hoarsely. "I hope… that you are happy now. As heir, where you are now… That you can forgive me." Even if he has already. "You're all that I have left. You and Anrila."

Ezra shifts, a hand on his brother's shoulder as he frowns. Glancing around briefly, he sends Cala blinking between and then focuses on Rayathess once more. The tears have his heart lurching, and a few of his own leak free from his eyes. "I forgave you a long, long time ago," Ezra whispers, earnest and honest. "I forgave you that night. I swore I'd do /anything/ to have you back. I promised…I promised everything I had to have my family back." He got Rayathess and Anrila. And it's enough. "I am happy. Now that I have you and Anrila. You're all I have too. Without you two, Stonehaven…it'd be nothing but bad memories."

Poor, poor Ezra. Rayathess just looks at him with eyes wide with surprise and glazed with fever. Will he even remember much of this later? His mouth draws into a faint smile, a few tears still trickling slowly from the corners of his eyes. He's been forgiven! He has his little brother and sister. "Even though I thought you were dead, I made a promise to come back. I had to get Anrila to safety, but I came back… Came back to see to it that Laris would be stopped." And it all came to be. Rayathess begins to go limp then, the herbs in the tea beginning to kick in. "You'll do great as Stonehaven's holder, Ezra. I think you've always had it in you… More so than me."

Ezra nods, giving his hand a squeeze. "And you did," he whispers. "It's because of you that Laris was finally captured, Pern safe again. You did it, Rayathess. You did everything." As for Stonehaven, the boy shrugs a bit. "I hope I'm half the man you are."

Rayathess nods his head a bit against the pillows. "I did what I had to do…" he says softly and then his eyes fly open again and he fixes Ezra with a look that is alarmed and angered. "Never say that!" he exclaims gruffly, grimacing. "You do not want to be the man I am. Not even half!" Take it back!

Ezra blinks, startled, jerking back and letting his brother's hand go. "Why not?" he demands, hurt and thrown.

"I'm not a good person, Ezra." Rayathess continues to babble, his hand still outstretched to his brother even though Ezra has jerked back. He's too weak and fevered to make the effort to lean farther forwards. It's taking the last of his strength just to focus. "I've done things… bad things. I'm broken. I am not someone people trust." He pauses to cough and then inhaling as he catches his breath. "If anything, I should be the one looking up to you."

Ezra reaches out to take his hand again, firm and steady. "You /are/ a good person," he whispers firmly. "You were just forced to do bad things. You're…you're healing." He won't argue that his brother is broken. They're /all/ broken. "You're healing. I trust you. I trust you with /everything/. I trust you more than anyone." Sorry, D'ani.

Rayathess listens to every word Ezra says but how much of it actually sinks in and absorbs into his brain is another matter. His eyes are turned to him, but his focus wanes as the fever and the herbs from the tea grip at his coherency. "How can you trust me?" he mutters and then promptly passes out. Within seconds, his breathing steadies and he's asleep. A healing, restful sleep that will hopefully last more than a few candlemarks.

Ezra's heart lurches into his throat when Rayathess goes limp, and Ezra's grip tightens as he leans forward, ear against his brother's chest. The steady beating of his heart and his breathing soothe him, but only after he's listened for a full minute. He's fine he's fine. Just…faranth. It's then there's a soft knock at the door, and Ezra goes to open it, speaking quietly with the Healer in the hallway.

Rayathess is fine, he's just sick and in no danger of dying. The Healer in the hallway may ask to see the now sleeping brother. Will Ezra allow it, despite Rayathess' earlier protests of no Healers? What if he wakes and reacts as he did before?

Ezra won't allow it. Not with Rayathess /finally/ sleeping. But he will tell the Healer what happened, and ask for some stronger medicines.

Rayathess is finally sleeping! The Healer's visit was well timed and he remains oblivious to Ezra's request for stronger medicine. Will it be needed? It depends. He could wake and be on the mend or he'll wake and be no better (or worse). For now, he sleeps and sleeps and no nightmares plague him. Right now, he looks peaceful and at rest, the only thing off being the flushed look to his cheeks and the damp hair clinging to his forehead.

Ezra thanks the Healer and sends the man on his way, moving back to sprawl in his chair after bringing the fire a bit more back to life. Keeping it warm, but not uncomfortable. But he certainly doesn't want Rayathess catching a chill. Ezra just sits, then, staring into space and letting his thoughts churn over themselves.

Rayathess will stir in his sleep at times, pushing at the blankets and restless and then shivering and groaning and reaching for the very same blankets again before dropping back into slumber. It'll be a rather dull span of time, save for the rare occasion that Rayathess mumbles in his sleep and most of it is gibberish. Lyreh's name comes up again, but it's doubtful that it's that sort of dream he's in. Eventually, Rayathess will wake up and this time it's a far slower and less abrupt (and violent). Groaning, he tries to sit up, propping himself on his elbow as he holds his forehead in his hand. Ugggh.

Ezra had dropped off into a doze himself (what time is it anyway?) but Rayathess' groan has him waking up with a jerk. "Raya?" he asks quietly. Very quietly. Hesitantly.

Rayathess has lost track of time too and is certainly feeling the effects of his fever now. Groggy, thick headed, disorientated and just aching all over. He's no longer delirious but the fever holds on. "Ezra?" he answers, lifting his head a bit to squint at his brother. There's a smirk, as sign that is he is more or less himself. "You been there the whole time?" he asks, only to cautiously sit up and run his hand through his damp hair. Wrinkling his nose at how gross he feels, he casts a glance about the room. "Y'got a bathroom in here or…?" Does he have to go down the hall?

Ezra shifts to the edge of his chair, nodding his head. "Yeah, the whole time," he murmurs. "Are you okay?" he blurts, seeing that smirk, but…he's cautious. "Do you…remember what you're here for?" He points to the door with a frown. "Down the hall, I'll go with you, I've got to go too." Badly. But. Didn't want to leave or pee in a corner, so.

Rayathess frowns. "My head aches a bit and so does my body. Stiff. I feel… gross. I was sick, wasn't I? I had been here on a free day… Shells, what time is it?" Middle of the night? He'll have to panic later, there are pressing needs apparently for both of them. "Alright." he mutters, pushing to his feet and having to clutch at the edge of the couch when he's unsteady on his feet. He makes a frustrated sound before gesturing for Ezra to lead the way.

Ezra sticks close to his brother's side, leading them both down the hall to the latrines and then back. Ezra is silent, though…he's usually silent when going to the bathroom. He's not someone to chat over the partitions about the weather. No. Just…no. "I have more medicine for you. Stronger stuff, if you want it," he says as they're finished, cleaned up, and heading back. "I don't know what time it is."

Rayathess is silent as well. No need to talk while they're in the bathroom and he will be sure to put a partition or two between them. No, definitely not the time to chat. Once that task is done and behind them, as they return to Ezra's room, Rayathess frowns heavily. "Stronger stuff? Was I that ill?" he asks and once they're back inside he will flop down on the couch again. Sitting, not laying down and he will check one of the mugs to see if there is water left over.

Ezra gets him a fresh skin, handing it over before he returns to his chair, brows furrowed. "Uh…you don't remember?" he asks carefully, eying his brother searchingly.

Rayathess takes the fresh skin with a nod of thanks and then takes a few slow, careful pulls from it, letting the water sit in his mouth for a few seconds before swallowing. Wouldn't do if he just threw it all back up again. "Remember what? I've bits and pieces of dreams and…" He pauses, giving Ezra a funny look for the searching he does. Then it clicks and he blanches. "It… oh shit. Those weren't dreams?" Sagging against the couch, he looks both guilty and horrified. "How… how much did I talk?"

Ezra shakes his head mutely. No. They weren't dreams. "A…lot?" he answers slowly, glancing down at his hands and then back at his brother. "You weren't…you."

Rayathess's expression falls and he looks ready to simply sink into the couch and disappear. Maybe a hole? "Oh." he says and then exhales shakily. "Oh shit. Shit… Ezra I— Did I hurt you? I remember snippets." he begins to say, only to pause and sigh heavily. Damn it! "The things I said. You have to believe me when some of that was the fever. Not me."

Ezra shakes his head again. "No, you didn't hurt me. Was just. I don't know." He's a boy again. A young, uncertain Ezra thrown by a change in his environment. "Sounded like it was all real. Not /you/ though. Your…the guy in the camps."

Rayathess frowns and despite his still lingering fever and cough, he remains sitting and keeps his eyes focused on Ezra despite his shame in having babbled and raved while delirious. "Was just, what?" he encourages his brother to speak, to elaborate. He has to know! "Setha. So I was Setha? For how long?" He grimaces. "What did I say, Ezra?"

Ezra shifts a bit, nodding. "Yeah. Him." Setha. He doesn't even want to say the name. "For…I don't know. A candlemark? You were in and out of the fever, talking, falling asleep, waking up again. You were just…different. Talked about…about how you thought you were a traitor, and how they whipped you. You got angry when you didn't know where Anrila was…"

Rayathess grunts and lifts a hand up to scrub at his face and then take a slow and long pull from the water skin. Delaying his reply, no doubt. When he finally sets the skin aside, he looks troubled and guilty. "I'm sorry you had to go through that." he murmurs. "Had to hear me babble and rave…" So none of it was true? That seems so doubtful.

Ezra shrugs a bit. "Wasn't going to just leave you in here," he murmurs. "Seemed…so real." And he eyes his brother, his own gaze a touch haunted. "Was it real? I saw your scars. Did you really take the fall for someone else?"

Rayathess grimaces. "I'd not have blamed you if you did leave me alone." And he means it too. At the haunted look, he can't keep his gaze level with Ezra's and there is a guilty cast to his features. It is the truth, but it was some of that dark, haunting stuff he had been wishing to keep silent from his brother. This is stuff he doesn't HAVE to know. He rolls his shoulders a bit, as if reliving the moment he received those scars. "I did. I took the fall for…" he falters, hesitant and then grits his teeth and pushes through the rest. "Lyreh. She'd been trying to get more medicinal supplies for an elderly man when she was caught. I took her place." He shrugs. (Not at all) Simple!

Ezra shakes his head, pushing to his feet to move over to sit beside his brother, watching him with concern in his eyes. "Do you love her?" he asks quietly. "When…you weren't…you, you said you missed her. That you'd tried everything but you still missed her." That his brother put himself in harm's way for Lyreh…Ezra has to admire his brother's character. His strength.

Rayathess does not protest Ezra sitting next to him, though he gives his younger brother a concerned look. Does he want to get close and possibly catch this fever bug he has? He startles then for the question, flinching as he's caught and left to answer what he considers a big 'secret'. "I do love her." he admits slowly and hesitantly, only to exhale heavily. "But it would seem she no longer feels the same way." Not that it hasn't stopped him. Rayathess does have strength, sometimes misdirected but it's there. He grimaces. "Shardin' fever…" he mutters under his breath.

Ezra nods his head slightly. "Did she love you? She let you get whipped in her place…" Ezra wonders if Lyreh used his brother's good nature for her own gain. Which makes him dislike her all the more.

"Yes, she loved me." Rayathess says without hesitation to start, only to frown. Did she? "I think she still does but things… changed. I don't know." he shakes his head, his mouth drawing back in a grim line. "Maybe she loved Setha, but cannot love Raya— me. The real me." He snorts, "It's not like she willingly allowed me to step in. She protested. I hadn't known her for that long then. She tended to me after that and she was really good with Anrila."

Ezra shifts a bit on the couch, leaning forward, his hands clasped and pressed between his knees. "She probably did." Love Setha. Not Rayathess. "She didn't know the real you." He shifts again. He's jealous. There's no denying it to himself. The thought of his brother warming up to one of Laris' band while in the camps…well. It just doesn't sit right with him. Especially not that she was 'good with' Anrila. How he wishes things were different. "How did you know how to act? I mean. You were never like…that…when we were growing up."

Rayathess's expression falls as Ezra agrees so easily and gives a voice to one of the worries and truths that have nagged at his heart for Turns now. "It's not like she's such a bad person. If she had just given me a chance…" he mutters and lifts a hand to scrub at his face, wrinkling his nose when his fingers scrape against some fine stubble there. Ugh, he needs to shave. Oblivious to Ezra's jealousy. "You'd be surprised what you do to survive, Ezra. I had to change, fast, in order to keep Anrila and I safe. It took a bit, I made mistakes but I learned. Hardened. Coped. Did what I had to do."

Ezra stares at his hands, twisting between his knees. "Maybe," he says with a small shrug. "But you're different, you and her. Completely different. You were just…together by circumstance. Leaned on each other in the camps. Plus…you…lied to her." Then he glances at his brother and it's only then that he sees Rayathess' fallen expression. Ezra flinches. "I'm sorry. I…" He can't say he's sure she's a good person. He doesn't /like/ her. "I'm sorry she broke your heart." /That/ at least he can say truthfully.

"Just because we're different doesn't mean…" Rayathess begins to protest, only to shake his head and leave the rest of it to fall to silence. "I lied because I had to protect Anrila and myself. Lyreh would… SHOULD have understood that. It's not like she didn't have secrets held from me." he mutters, only to glance sidelong to his brother. The apology catches him by surprise and he sighs. "Suppose it just wasn't meant to be. It still doesn't make it any easier." And it still sounds as though he's not ready to give up.

Ezra shifts again, shaking his head. "I know, I know," he murmurs, staring at his hands once more. "No, it…I can imagine that wouldn't make it easier, when all you want, is that person but they're gone." He knows how that feels. The teen is silent for a long moment before he asks softly, "You really feel like a traitor? To everyone?"

Rayathess stares ahead as well towards the fire and his eyes hold a sadness there. "It isn't easy at all," he says, knowing that Ezra at least understands that part. They have both felt that sting. In the silence, his eyes drift close for a moment, his head still aching from the lingering low grade fever. His mouth twists and he mutters a curse under his breath. Shells, did he EVER rave and ramble in his fever! "Yes." he answers simply. "I do."

Ezra unclasps his hands, reaching out when Rayathess' eyes are closed. Gentle but calloused fingers touch the back of his brother's hand, seeking it as he often did as a child. "To everyone?" he presses gently.

Rayathess takes Ezra's hand without pause, almost instinctively when he feels the familiar touch. Who cares if they're both grown men? "To everyone," he admits in a gruff voice. "To our family, to those I befriended later. To Lyreh." Another pause and he can't bring himself to make eye contact when he speaks again. "To you. I've become a Harper… or intend to be… in an attempt to start anew. But it hasn't lessened how I feel."

Ezra doesn't give a damn what society expects of him. He wants to hold his brother's hand, he's going to hold his brother's hand. "How have you been a traitor to our family? To me?" The others - to those in the camps and to Lyreh - Ezra can kind of understand. But the others…he doesn't fathom.

Who will see them here, in Ezra's room? Rayathess grimaces, "Because I left you behind. I know we didn't stand a chance fighting back, that I had to get you and Anrila out but I failed at that. Rather than try to come back or send for help… I balked and waited too long until we were trapped and stuck following Laris with no way out." Not right away, anyways. "And… and in that time I befriended the other followers. The other families. I started to sympathize with them. Feel sorry for them. Consider them as my 'family' now because what else did I have?"

Ezra is quiet for a long few moments. "You…didn't leave me behind, Raya," Ezra finally whispers. "I knew the way out. I knew where you were going. I…I looked back. I turned around." His hand twitches a bit in his brother's hand as he remembers. Then he sighs. "There are very few completely bad people in the world. You had nothing else. Hatred…hating /them/, it would have given you both away. They would have found you out. Killed you. Taken Anrila…" His hand twitches again and he takes it back, pushing to his feet to start pacing. "You had no choice, Rayathess. It was easy for me to hate them because I wasn't breaking bread with them, wasn't moving with them, wasn't talking to them. To me, they were - are - faceless monsters. To you, they're people."

Rayathess frowns. "Why? Why did you turn back?" he asks and when Ezra's hand twitches he grips it firmly. Comfort and support for them both as they navigate some difficult subjects and conversations. "I still hated them. I still held hatred for some of them. The people of the camps were split into "groups". You remember the reports, right? Women, children, skilled workers all went to separate camps. The ones closest to Laris were the BAD ones. His chosen men and then all the rotten riff raff in between. The thieves and raiders, the corrupted. Kicked out of Hold and Hall and Weyr for their petty crimes and unlawful behaviours. I hated THEM because THEY were the ones who would slaughter a cothold if given the orders to do so and not even so much as bat an eye if the profit was good enough." he mumbles, rambling again without his usual filters or controls. Why does it matter now? With Ezra pacing now, Rayathess lays back on the couch and stretches out. "So you see why I view myself a traitor? Why I never speak of this?"

"I wanted to help," is Ezra's muttered admission. "I thought I /could/. Naieve, stupid child that I was…it wasn't real. Until I saw someone killed. Then I ran and hid, too afraid to try and find you again. I just hid." He shrugs again, eyes facing the floor as he paces. "Those are the ones that were exiled. The others, they weren't punished, Rayathess. You don't need to feel responsible for them. You didn't make them join Laris in the first place either. That wasn't your fault." Looking up, he tries to meet his brother's gaze. "You should speak of it. So you can heal. Without talking about it…if you only talk to yourself you'll always reach the same conclusions."

Rayathess stares at his brother for a long time as his mind, fevered or not, absorbs that tidbit. Wanted to help. Afraid. He closes his eyes again, swallowing thickly. "I'm sorry Ezra. That you had to suffer as you did, in your own way. I wish I could have returned that night. We almost did… If only I had been more careful!" he says, regret filling his voice. "I DO feel responsible though. I can't help it, Ezra. As foolish and stupid as it is. As wrong as it may be… I can't seem to let it go. I can't let it go or Lyreh go or any of it." He says, suddenly frustrated and when Ezra goes on to speak the truth and logically at that he just goes silent. Talk about it? "I can't." he mutters and now he sounds afraid.

Ezra shakes his head, moving over to his brother's side again, perching on the edge of the couch. Almost crouching and leaning against the cushions. "You don't need to apologize, Rayathess. It's not your fault. /Laris/ attacked. /I/ turned back. None of this is your fault. Why can't you talk about it? You have been. And I'm your brother." If there's anyone Raya should be able to talk to, it'd be him, right?

Rayathess shifts where he lays on the couch so that Ezra can sit comfortably but also so he can get a clearer view of his brother. Maybe one day, he will heal enough to realize the truth in his brother's words. That it isn't his fault, that what happened couldn't have been predicted and they both reacted as they had to in order to survive that grim and bloody night. "I trust you," he says and he means it too. Yet there is lingering conflict in his eyes and in his voice. "But I also want to protect you. Shield you. There are… things. Dark and grim things that happened. Not even to me and even then I am ashamed of it. I worry about judgement. Sometimes I worry of how sane I may sound." Or lack there of.

Ezra reaches for his brother's hand again. "I know you want to protect me," he says quietly, "but I'm grown now. And I want to help /you/. I wouldn't judge you, brother. I know you're sane. I…I /know/ what it's like to be judged, to be mistrusted, not believed. I know. Let me help." Please.

Rayathess takes Ezra's hand again and squeezes it firmly. He holds his brother under another long look again and finally relents. Yes, he is grown now. He keeps forgetting that. Forgetting too that Ezra went through his own troubled times even if in the sanctuary of the Weyr. "Alright," he says with a soft sigh. "Alright." He'll let him help.

Ezra looks both relieved and surprised, and he nods. "Do…you need anything?" he asks, glancing around. "More tea? Regular tea?" No fellis. "Food? Water?" There's a soft whine from the bedroom and Ezra gets up, giving Raya's hand a squeeze. "I forgot about Zoi." That's how worried he was about his brother. "I'll take her out and come back real quick." Give Rayathess time to gather his thoughts. Or change his mind.

"I'm fine," Rayathess answers at first, only to cough and then swallow thickly. "Actually, more water would be good. And maybe something light to eat? A soup?" Sick man's fare, but he knows better than to push too much. He's only just kicking off the fever now. No setbacks! At the whine, Rayathess chuckles dryly and just makes himself comfortable on the couch by stretching out and resting his head on the pillow. "S'fine. I know you'll be back. Don't worry, I'll be here." he murmurs and lazily waves a hand to his brother. Go on! Rayathess will use the quiet time to gather his thoughts as much as he can.

Ezra nods, giving his brother a brief smile before he's taking Zoi out. They're gone for about fifteen minutes, and when they return the pregnant canine goes to the bedroom to sleep again, and Ezra sets down a tray of food and drink. More water as requested, and a thin soup - mostly broth - with a few vegetables and meat cut thin. It looks like he just scooped out broth from a simmering stew, and picked out the smallest bits of solid food he could find. Or pulled out larger ones and cut them down himself. For him, he has a mug of klah and some bread and butter. Nothing fancy.

Fifteen minutes is enough time for Rayathess to collect himself as best he can and when the tray is set down, he will carefully sit up and begin to pick at the food. Listlessly at first until his appetite kicks in and it will take him until half the soup is gone when he at last realizes Ezra only has bread and butter. He frowns, "Why aren't you having some?" he asks, curious rather than suspicious.

Ezra leans forward to dip a corner of his bread into the bowl and eat it. "There." He's not afraid of getting sick apparently. "I just…really wanted bread and butter," he says with a small shrug, looking almost sheepishly down at the simple fare in his hands. "It's what I…dreamed about when I was stuck." The simple things. Fresh bread and fresh butter. Can't get much better than that.

Rayathess snorts and shoots his brother a look. That's not what he meant! Plus, eew! Germs? Too late now and he can only shrug and resume enjoying his meal. Swallowing another mouthful, he frowns and then grimaces. "How… long were you trapped there?" he asks. Something he may have already before but now it seems Rayathess is turning the tables. It's Ezra's turn to talk.

Ezra picks at the bread and takes another large bite. Take THAT, memories. Have some carbs and fat. "I'm really not sure," he finally says quietly. "I hid inside most of the time, didn't see the rising sun. I'd guess six or seven days though. The water was still fine, but there was no food." No food, dead of winter, alone, miles and miles from anywhere. He knew he was going to die. Was almost looking forward to it, by the end.

Rayathess listens quietly and suddenly his appetite seems to vanish and he leans back against the couch. Looking to his brother, he sees him again as that little boy. The one he was certain was behind him as he rushed outside with Anrila in his arms. Instead he discovered too late that Ezra was back at the hold. Alone. "You would have died." he says in a soft, almost strangled voice. "Only the dragon riders found you then, didn't they?"

Ezra nods, glancing at his brother. "Yeah, I would have." No reason to skirt around it, and no reason to elaborate on it either. He's made peace with those demons. Accepted death at a very young age. After another bite of bread, he nods. "They showed up. A gold and a bronze, and then a blue. The bluerider - Kimmila - brought me sweets. Coaxed me outside. I didn't know what to believe, or who to trust, or what to do. It's all a blur."

They both came to terms with death far too early in their lives. "Which gold and bronze?" Rayathess prompts, already knowing the answer or assuming he does. There's a smirk for the tale of Kimmila's role. "Smart of her." As for it being a blur, he nods his head. That he can understand all to well. How many of his memories are just a blur of colour, fractured images and emotions? "And they brought you here? Helped you recover?" Kept him safe.

Ezra smiles faintly. "Velokraeth and Zuvaleyuth. Dtirae picked me up and brought me back here. Gave me to Elara." His expression softens a bit. "She was smart. Gave me a room that locked. Let me hide in there and eat until I puked, and do it again until I was satisfied. And, yeah. Slowly. Talked to Healers, to Mindhealers, had the run of the weyr. They gave me these rooms when I asked for space of my own. D'ani befriended me, gave me Zoi. Helped me heal, as much as they could. The rest I had to do on my own."

Rayathess nods his head and smirks when Ezra supplies his name. Of course! The Weyrleader and the Weyrwoman… or was she still a junior then? No matter. His nose wrinkles a bit when there's mention of puking but he makes no comment until the very end. "How?" he asks, marvelling at the strength his little brother displayed. Overcoming his fears. Coming out of his shell. Learning to… "How did you trust them?"

Ezra smiles a bit. "I didn't. But I was dying, Raya. I had no choice and /anything/ was better than starving to death in Stonehaven. I would have gone with Laris if he'd shown up and asked me to." He fixes his brother with a look. "It took me a long, long time to trust them. But they earned it slowly, and I had no other choice. No where else to go. No one else. They fed me, gave me shelter, and never betrayed me."

Rayathess flinches when Ezra is so blunt with the truth. Even with him safe and all of this long int he past, it still stings to hear that from his brother's lips. "I get it." he mutters. He really does! At least about the starvation. The trust? He doesn't seem so convinced, though it's obvious he holds a bit more gratitude for what Fort Weyr did for his brother. "I can't… I just can't bring myself to trust anyone. I can trust you but… I've seen what people become. Good, honest, people…"

Ezra nods, "It was hard. It took time," he says softly. "And me realizing that…that no one is perfect. I had to be okay with the little disappointments, as long as there weren't any big ones, you know?" He nods his head a bit, finishing his bread and sipping his klah, focusing on that for a moment. "Extreme circumstances though," he says quietly. "That's not always what happens. What we went through…that's not normal."

Rayathess nods. "I know." He does and all that Ezra says makes perfect sense, only he's being stubborn and his mind is nitpicking everything apart. He's scared and so used to hiding behind defences that the idea of letting those fall is frightening. "And I know what we went through wasn't normal. It's just — I'm trying to trust people. I'm doing well in my studies. I'll have to be approachable as a Harper. I've… been trying. The whole social thing. Making friends." he admits. "Here and the Hall."

Ezra shakes his head a bit, watching his brother. "Trust has little to do with being social," he murmurs. "I was social with the other children in my Harper classes. But I didn't trust them one ounce, and they didn't trust me. We'd play in the bowl but when it came time to go eat, or for parties or sleepovers, I was never invited. You don't…you don't have to open up to everyone. You don't have to trust everyone beyond trusting they won't stab you in the back if you turn away from them." Something Ezra had to learn, too. "I only truly /trust/ a handful of people. But I can /talk/ to anyone."

Rayathess scowls. Now he's confused and his head is beginning to throb a bit. The fever is still working away and he flops back on the couch to lay down, the last of his food untouched. "In order to get to know them though I have to be social. It's… a starting point, isn't it?" He scoffs then. "Yeah, I know I can talk to anyone. I'm finding it easier to talk to others now." Rather than snapping at everyone and biting off anyone's head (verbally) who tried to befriend him. "Right. I'm not that dumb to just open up to anyone." Shells, he has issues speaking frankly with his own brother! He sighs. "Dunno how you got through all of that. I'd have… given up. I almost did. I might have, if Harper Hall didn't take me in."

Ezra shifts to let Rayathess lay down, reaching out to squeeze his shoulder gently. "I wouldn't have let you give up," he says quietly. "It is a starting point." As for how…he shrugs. "I don't know how you got through all you went through." Which they still haven't talked about. Don't think he hasn't noticed. "We survived, Raya. We didn't want to give up, give in, to die. We did what we had to do, both of us. You to keep Anrila safe and me…well." He is quiet a moment, and then shrugs. "I don't know why I didn't give up," he admits honestly. "Some nights I wanted to."

Rayathess will talk about it if Ezra nudges him in the right direction. There is so much to cover that he doesn't even know where to begin. "I'm not sure how I survived either. There were so many nights where I felt pushed beyond my limits but I'd always keep forging on." he murmurs and then snorts, chuckling dryly. "Guess we're too stubborn, huh? I'm glad you didn't give in or give up, Ezra. That you found help and sanctuary here."

Ezra nods slightly. "What sorts of nights? What pushed you?" he asked quietly. "Did Anrila sleep by you?" He looks around the walls, distant for a moment before he returns with a small smile. "Stonehaven Stubborn didn't become a term for nothing. I'm glad you didn't give in either, Raya. Seeing you again, after…I…it was…I can't even tell you what it was like. To know, to realize, that I wasn't alone. That I wasn't the only one." He's tearing up and hastily wipes his eyes on his sleeve.

"Hey… don't," Rayathess murmurs, reaching out to gently grip his brother's arm. Easy there. "We're alright. We're all safe." Neither of them gave up and all that struggle and fighting paid off. They're a family again! Going back to the questions asked of him, he takes a slow deep breath and begins. "Lots of uneasy nights. Pretending to sleep. Always afraid someone would try something… You never knew what would happen. Among the camps or when we'd get orders to move. Always having to remember to pretend to be someone I wasn't. Gradually feeling myself becoming more like Setha and not caring so much anymore that I was." he admits. "Yes. I kept Anrila close at all times. I had too. Being a young girl was dangerous in those camps. Her saving grace was that she was too young."

Ezra shifts to grip his brother's arm, giving it a firm squeeze. He nods, listening quietly with a small grimace. "You had to be Setha. He was like…your armor," he murmurs. Then he nods. "Thank Faranth for her youth…" Because yeah. Had she been older…

Rayathess frowns for a moment. "My armour? I've… never considered it like that before." he admits and then grimaces, his eyes darkening as he mutters some oath under his breath. "Not everyone was so lucky in those camps. I've no idea what Laris had envisioned and perhaps it would have worked if he hadn't resorted to violence and crime… and murder. He was close to raving mad in the end. Even before I left with the men to Gold Hill."

Ezra nods slightly, watching his brother and then watching the flames. "Was he…I mean. Why did people follow him after Stonehaven? Did they not know? Why…would anyone choose…him?"

Rayathess shrugs his shoulders and snuggles down on the couch a little deeper. His eyes are on the flames too and his eyes drift closed a bit. "I don't know, Ezra. I really don't. He was very good with his words. Very good in the beginning. He was insane but he was genius too. And, well… there are BAD people out there." he mutters.

Ezra grimaces slightly but he can't argue. He never heard Laris speak. He can only imagine how good he had to have been to do what he did. "What haunts you?" he asks quietly, glancing at his brother and then away.

No one will hear Laris speak now and his "teachings" died out with his death. "Everything about that haunts me," he mutters and snorts. "I still have nightmares and terrors. I try to hide it… otherwise they'll try to make me talk to the mind healers." Judging from his tone, he doesn't like Healers but definitely does not like mind healers.

Ezra tilts his head a bit. "About what?" he presses gently.

Rayathess takes a deep breath and sighs. "I just remember the long nights and all the bad things. All the stress and worries… I've seen and experienced things I'm not sure I can describe. And then…" his mouth draws back, pained and guilty. "… there was Gold Hill."

Ezra nods slightly, listening even if he's not watching. "What do you remember about Gold Hill?" he asks softly.

Rayathess scoffs. "Too much." he fires off sarcastically and then sighs, rolling onto his back and lifting his hand up to rub at his forehead as he closes his eyes. Does he want to remember? Not really. "I wasn't originally supposed to be there but I… talked my way into it. Asked a few favours. It took so long to figure out who I could trust enough and who'd sell me out. I got Anrila to safety and joined the groups. It wasn't supposed to go as it did. Supposed to be a quiet thing." He exhales and grimaces. "It all fell apart and suddenly there was fighting and chaos. Men dying or badly injured…"

"How was it supposed to go?" Ezra asks quietly. "You…were going so you could escape, right?"

"It was supposed to be a covert thing. Go in quietly, corrupt from the inside and take over so smoothly, swift and low key that no one was to notice. It was perfect. I'd go in and sneak out… But something went wrong. Very wrong. In the end the alarm was sounded and it was too late for me to escape until after the fighting began…" Rayathess murmurs and spreads his hands out. The rest is known history!

Ezra nods a little bit, shifting again in his seat on the chair. Sipping his klah, he stares across the room. He's silent, just absorbing what his brother has said.

Rayathess allows the silence to extend for sometime and closes his eyes, trying to ward off the memories that are resurfacing. "Any of that medicinal tea still left?" he mutters.

Ezra nods, "Yeah," he says, pushing to his feet and going to the hearth. He wants to know more, but he doesn't want to ask any more than his brother is willing to say. So he just makes him some more tea and brings it over, holding out the mug with a small smile.

Rayathess props himself up and takes the mug of tea from his brother, blowing across the surface before taking a slow and careful sip. Without even so much as looking up at Ezra, he seems to take a guess at what has brought his brother's silence. "You're still wanting to know more, aren't you?"

Ezra shrugs a bit as he settles back into his chair, stretching his long legs out to rest his heels on the klah table. "Well…" He won't lie. "Yeah, but…not if it's going to be painful for you. I don't know what else to ask, but…"

Rayathess laughs gruffly. "All of this is painful to remember. I think I'll survive a few more questions…" he mutters around the rim of his mug and takes another sip. His nose wrinkles a bit at the taste but he'll behave and take his medicine. "It's… hard to remember all of this but I'm beginning to see your point. That talking is better. Needed."

Ezra looks a bit surprised, but he smiles a bit. "Well…what was a normal day like? I mean…what did everyone do all day in the camps?"

Rayathess drains the last of his tea and then exhales heavily, setting the mug aside and laying down again on the couch. He can talk while resting. "It'd depend on which camp you belonged to. Anrila and I were in… hmm. I guess you could say we were the workers? We'd be up at dawn and work on whatever there was to be done. This and that. Often degrading things. Only the skilled workers… ex-Crafter types, would do their specific tasks. We'd work until dusk or when light faded. Laris wasn't fond of us having much glow-light." Obviously.

"What sorts of degrading things?" Ezra asks with a small frown. "Did Anrila have to work? Where did you sleep?" Describe it. Ezra is hungry to know.

Rayathess chuckles dryly. "Jays, Ezra. You're making me feel as though I should be writing a book on this." Maybe he should! He is training to be a Harper, isn't he? He sobers and goes on to explain. "Just hard, menial work. Stupid and pointless things. Laris would rave about how our society was flawed on the system it is built on and yet in the camps we followed similar rules. Similar jobs. But we had to do as we were ordered. Anrila had to work too. All children had to work once they were able and they… they'd be trained to. Boys especially. We slept wherever we could. In groups, alone… out in the open or scrapping for the prime spots that had covering… I always tried to make sure we had cover or enough that Anrila could sleep in comfort. I'd often guard or I'd sleep beside her while Lyreh watched over us."

Ezra shrugs a bit with a slightly sheepish smile. But then he's serious. "Did you…ever /really/ rest?" he asks quietly. "How did you and Lyreh meet? How did Anrila handle it all?"

"No. I couldn't rest. I was always guarded, always on alert. Always thinking… I became Setha out of need but to preserve my sanity. Guess he was my armour, as you said." Rayathess murmurs quietly. "I'd work, I'd make the connections I had to make. Protect what little I had. Make sure that I came off submissive but not weak. That I'd fight and make it too much of a risk for some of the scrappers and brawlers and bullies to come sniffing about. Anrila… well, you've seen how she is? She went very quiet for awhile. I did what I could to help her." And was it enough? "Lyreh… We met not long before the incident with the whipping. I had to go away on some foraging task and had to leave Anrila behind. I was a wreck over that and when I came back, I found Lyreh watching her, along with some other young girls. Lyreh was a mother-like figure. Rough and blunt but she made sure the young girls… the boys too… weren't too badly handled by some of the rotten sorts who don't bat an eye at cuffing or striking a child."

Ezra nods. "Easier to pretend to be someone else," he murmurs, "than have to try to change everything about yourself. But…you're never the same after, are you?" It's a rhethorical question. Ezra hasn't been the same. He'll never again be quite the same. There's another nod. "Hard line to walk. To not get attention either positive or negative." Another nod and a furrowed brow for Anrila. "She's talking more," he says quietly. "Sometimes I wonder if it was better for her to be that young - or worse." More damaging. Then he grimaces. "That must have been horrible for you. And her. To be split like that. Lyreh? Mother like?" That's not the girl Ezra knows. "Good for her."

Rayathess nods his head in agreement and then smirks at his rhetorical question. "Never quite the same. Sometimes though, change is good. We both came out the better for it, despite having to suffer…" Weaker souls have broken under less than what they faced! "I noticed she was talking more. Good. And it was better that she was young, Ezra. Believe me. Look at those other kids. The orphans? The four… or was it five? of them that became dragon riders! They'd never have been given a second look if something was wrong in their heads." he points out. "Anrila will recover. We all have. And it was horrible but I had no choice." Rayathess snorts, "Yeah, I know right? She's a complex thing…" And he's completely infatuated with her.

Ezra nods, "You think we're both better?" he asks, sipping his klah and glancing at his brother before looking away. "Mmm. True." Then there's a soft sigh. "We'll find love someday, Raya. Me and you both. Settle down, have our own families…we'll find someone."

"I think we've recovered as best we can," Rayathess admits with a crooked smirk. He blinks then at the next and exhales heavily. He doesn't sound at all convinced but rather than say something snarky and cruel, he just grabs an extra cushion and weakly tosses it at Ezra. Whump. "I was hoping to settle with Lyreh…" Tame the wild beast? "We had discussed it. She knew I was trying to get out and I made it clear I wanted her with me." Yet here he is, alone and yet painfully aware of where she is and she not even speaking to him. Rayathess' mood begins to slide but not without one last teasing jab at his brother. "Laurali certainly seems fond of you."

Ezra grimaces. Way to go. Picking up the cushion, he tosses it back with a little smile. "I'm sorry it didn't work out with her, Raya," he murmurs. Maybe he needs to go talk to the woman. Get her to talk to his brother. So he's not left hanging like this. Then he snorts. "I…doubt that," he says, a bit uncomfortable. "I think she just…wants…a home." He knows how that feels.

Rayathess catches the cushion and tucks it back behind him and snuggles down onto the couch. He shrugs, "I've not given up yet. Probably stupid and foolish of me, but… I want her, Ezra." Like she's a possession. To be won and gained. Yeesh, he needs some lessons in romance. He quirks a brow when Ezra becomes uncomfortable. "Uh huh. She wants a home… with you?" he teases again and then smiles crookedly. "Sorry. I probably shouldn't joke about that."

Ezra lifts a brow at his brother. "You../want/ her?" Then he coughs, shaking his head, and then he shrugs. "Faranth knows what the future will bring," he mutters.

Rayathess takes his turn at looking uncomfortable and embarrassed now, his cheeks flushed with colour that is not entirely caused by his low fever. "Well… yeah? She's a good looking young woman." In a plain, almost tomboyish way. "Of course I want her." Isn't that how things work? He frowns, then chuckles dryly. "You'll have no trouble at all finding someone, Ezra. You just got to wait. Maybe once you've got Stonehaven completed and word goes out… I bet you'll have several young women lining up in hopes of catching your attention."

Ezra clears his throat a little bit. "Well, I mean…if you just /want/ her, that's different than loving her…" Then he rolls his eyes with a grimace. "Ugh. That's what I /don't/ want…people interested in me just because of Stonehaven…"

Cue a blank look from Rayathess and then it clicks and he sputters a bit as he scoffs, only to choke and trigger a coughing fit that is only soothed once he gets his hands on some water. Coughing faintly through his words, he shoots his young brother a look. "Yeah, I'm aware of that. I want her in a lot of ways…" Oh yeah, cause that sounds SO MUCH better! He clears his throat. "Maybe she's had a change of heart. Faranth knows why she'd ever take an— inexperienced man like myself. I'd not even be able to touch her anyhow if she came to me! I'm an Apprentice…" he mutters, only to smirk at his younger brother. "You know it'll happen, right? And you'll have to do your duty and entertain these eligible girls to keep their fathers — holders in their own right, no doubt — happy." It's going to suck, isn't it?

Ezra winces at the onset of the coughing fit, shaking his head a bit. "Well, if she has, she knows where you are…" Though Ezra is thinking he needs to seek this girl out on his brother's behalf. Or just…'accidentally' run into her. Right. Then his expression twitches and he shakes his head, gulping the rest of his klah. "Ugh." Yeah. It's going to suck. "I know. But I'm not looking forward to it. And if they think I'll just sit around drinking tea and chatting, well. If they're going to seek me out at Stonehaven they're going to /work/ with me." That's the sort of woman he wants anyway.

"She won't come talk to me, Ezra. I've tried…" Rayathess grumbles, never imagining for a moment that his brother would seek the young woman out to "accidentally" bump into her so they could talk. IF she talks! He falls into what appears to be another coughing fit, but after a second or so, it's obvious he's trying very hard not to burst out laughing or snickering like a fool. What was in that tea he had? "You? Sitting around drinking tea and chatting? Isn't that what we're doing right now?" he teases his brother and then sobers. "Ahh, yes. That'd certainly weed out the rank-hungry lilies."

Ezra scowls a bit at his brother, /eying/ him until he's quiet and Ezra can say, very calmly, "It's klah. And you're different. You're not after me for my money." At least he hopes not! Then there's a serious nod. "Right. I don't want someone to pretend to like me just to get the cothold." Stonehaven is his first wife, as it were. His actual wife will be second to work. And she'll have to be okay with that.

Rayathess just scowls right back but bites his tongue or maybe he sticks it out at him (who's behaving like a child now?). "Just sayin'. I bet you'd be able to do all that prim 'n proper stuff no problem. No matter how mind numbingly dull it is. I'm going to have no choice, as Harper. If I chose to go for law…" Aww, he's going to be a lawyer-type or a judge? That's — kind of cute? "Nothing wrong with that." he murmurs.

Ezra nods, settling back into his chair. "Yeah," he agrees with a little frown, thoughtful, as he gazes into the fire once more. "Just..have to find women that'll understand. That won't, you know…freak out the first time we have a nightmare or something."

Rayathess grimaces as he tucks his arms close to himself and sighs heavily. "Exactly. No normal, well brought up woman would get it. Or worse, we'd be pitied and I cannot stand that." he makes a scoffing-gagging like noise. Ugh. "Which is why I'm so fixated on Lyreh I guess. She'd understand. Laurali would understand, but she's too young. And Jajenelja… is just — no."

Ezra shrugs a bit. "Maybe some would get it. Women not a…a /part/ of all of that. I'm sure that there are women out there that would understand, eve thoug they hadn't gone through it themselves. It doesn't /have/ to be Lyreh."

Rayathess smirks and shrugs his shoulders. He seems doubtful and stubbornly so. "I suppose." But who would ever love him? And would they continue to, if they knew everything? That is where his doubts and fears lie.

Ezra shrugs a bit, staring into his empty mug. "Time will tell," he murmurs. He has the same doubts, but he won't voice them. Time will tell indeed. Then he's drifting into silence once more.

Rayathess grunts his agreement and then yawns mightily, stretching out on the couch before arranging himself comfortably. "'M starting to get drowsy," he mumbles, his eyes drooping as the herbs in the tea kick in and so does his body. Time to rest and recover! "Sorry to crash your couch 'n room."

Ezra shakes his head with a small smile. "Don't apologize, brother. It's nice to have you here." Maybe Anrila will come by later, even. Who knows.

Nothing like a fever to spur a family reunion? Rayathess chuckles dryly and then begins to drift asleep. "Thanks, brother." he mumbles one last time and then with a low sigh he falls asleep and stays asleep. No nightmares, no delirious fever dreams. When morning comes, he'll be weak and exhausted still but by the afternoon he'll be well enough to travel.