It's a miserable day over most of the Fort region. What started out as a beautiful but clear chilly autumn day turned to sleet and rain by late afternoon. Anyone who doesn't have to be outside stay indoors and in both Healer and Harper hall that is no exception. While activity is scarce outside, indoors is another matter entirely. Journeymen go about their tasks and Apprentices are bustling everywhere as they go from their duties and lessons. With the hour nearing dinner however, the Great Hall is naturally the place to gather. Not all the tables are filled yet and by one corner two women sit alone. One looks to be roughly fifteen, maybe sixteen Turns of age though it's hard to pinpoint. Laurali's features have always made her look so much younger than she is. Her counterpart is none other than the plain-featured Lyreh, a Turn or two under Rayathess. Her black hair is cut to shoulder length, while Laurali's hangs in limp curls. The two are quietly talking, with a few hides and notes spread out between them. Together at that moment, they look like your typical Healer Apprentices.

Ezra was intending to seek out and speak with Lyreh, but he didn't think it would be /today/. Riding into the Healer hall, he's sent to the dining area while he waits to speak with a Master Healer about acquiring the basic supplies Stonehaven will need as it gains more workers and eventually more people. Supplies and a crash course in Healing, until the cothold is large enough to have its own Healer - if it ever is. A bit damp and bedragled, having run a borrowed towel through his hair and over his Stonehaven jacket, the young heir scans the crowds and with a slight startle and thud of his heart, notices both girls.

Lyreh remains oblivious to Ezra's arrival, she has her back partially turned to the young heir and her focus is on whatever it is she's discussing with Laurali, as her hands keep gesturing from the notes and animatedly into the air. Laurali looks rapt in her attention, bobbing her head from time to time and then her eyes happen to slide away and spot Ezra there. A slightly damp and bedraggled Ezra. Yet she doesn't react or call to him, though he'll notice she inclines her head a bit. He's free to come closer! If he dares. Maybe that's why she says nothing, knowing Lyreh will just bolt and perhaps testing Ezra's courage. Spine or no spine?

Spine. But. A nervous spine. Ezra does move forward, but hesitant and slow. Cautious, but not scared. Not a barging-in swagger, but not skirting by either. He hopes. "Evening," he greets as he approaches, shifting the angle slightly so he isn't walking up right behind Lyreh. He learned that lesson from Raya. He approaches from the side.

Laurali keeps her head lowered in a 'meek' manner when she's anything but (she just picks her times) and chews at her lower lip. By then, Lyreh is suspicious something is up and she gives a long suffering sigh. "You been listening to anything I said, Ally?" she mutters, only to stiffen and regard Ezra cooly when she spies him. She's about to brush him off with some snarky dismissive gesture and comment, only his jacket and perhaps his knot trigger some memory. That or there's the resemblance to another Stonehaven there. "Ah. So the little stone comes to visit!" Lyreh says with a slight scoff, while Laurali just gives her a look and then hastily gathers her notes, tucks them under her arm and slides from the seat. She'll even curtsy a bit to Ezra. "Afternoon. Excuse me, please." And off she goes in a swirl of skirts, leaving poor, poor Ezra with Lyreh burning a hole right through him with her piercing stare.

Ezra clears his throat a bit with a forced but strained smile at Lyreh's nickname. "Pebble isn't exactly what I'm going for," he murmurs, looking a bit startled in a 'no, please don't leave me!' way when Laurali bails. Abandonment! He does sit though, clearing his throat again. "Hello, Lyreh. How are you?"

"Never called you pebble. I said 'little stone'." Lyreh fires back with a cocky smirk and rather amused when Laurali bails and leaves Ezra startled. She doesn't bolt from her seat or flip him off or anything but her posture is certainly screaming 'I don't want to be here'. "How am I? How about we cut right to it and skip the fluff, hmm? So he send you or you here by chance?" she asks in a flat tone.

Ezra stiffens a bit, his natural defenses rising before he forces them back. "I'm here on Stonehaven business," he says a bit stiffly. "Didn't expect to run into you here." /That/ much is true at least.

Lyreh looks a touch smug. Only takes that much, huh? This ought to be easy. "Ahh, right. You're heir now and Raya went to the Harpers." she murmurs and picks at some imaginary speck of dirt on her tunic sleeve and flicks it away with as much disinterest as there was in her tone. "Oh? Pity. Best get used to it, little stone. I'm apparently 'wasted talent' as a common worker and so was given this," She taps her shoulder with the Apprentice knot. Faranth only knows how LONG she'll keep it… or is her attitude just rotten with Ezra? "So I'll be here often…" She waves a hand. Anyways. "… So just Stonehaven business, then? What would that have to do with me? I've no interest and the only one who does just fled from you."

Ezra is learning. Slowly. "Yes, I am," he says, tipping his head towards his own knot. A bit more complicated than the Apprentice one. "Congratulations on that. I hope it works out for you." And that hope is genuine. Not sarcasm. He looks around. "They asked me to wait in here. I've no interest in you, that's my brother's niche." As for Laurali having interest in him….well. The teen blushes. /Just/ a bit.

Lyreh tips her own head but it's in an acknowledging nod and some of her abrasive attitude wears off. "Same to you, little stone." she drawls and despite her use of her 'pet name' for him, there is no sarcasm there. Despite her being all rough and tough, she doesn't hate Ezra. She has no reason to but she doesn't have to like him or let her guard down. She laughs and then leans forwards, elbows propped on the table as she grins wryly at him, her eyes now bright with mischief. "Aw, way to hurt a gal's feelings! Not that it matters. You're not of my tastes, either. And is that a hint of a blush?" She all but purrs the last few words. With a low chuckle, she leans back in her seat and keeps her eyes fixed on Ezra. "No interest in me and yet here you are talking to me. You're just as contradictory as your brother."

"It's a gift," drawls Ezra with a small smirk. "I'm just waiting for the Master Healer assigned to me to complete his task." And he shrugs. "My brother hardly seems contradictory when it comes to you," he adds, watching her before he glances away to scan the room - an old habit. As for the blush…he doesn't comment.

"You might be waiting awhile," Lyreh remarks dryly as she lists off a few of the Master Healer's in her head and that mischievous look in her eyes returns. "And I'm not really wanting to entertain you for candlemarks. Hmm, well… could depend on the entertainment…" She says that with utmost ease, not even so much of a twitch of her lips in deadpanned seriousness. Her eyes narrow and then she scoffs and rolls her eyes but when she turns her head away it's to hide the flickering change in her emotions. "Talking, is he? Great. So I suppose he blubbered on all about us and what could have been and all that… stuff." Cue a flick of her hand.

Ezra blinks at her. Did…he understand that right? Surely…but… His brain kind of stops for a minute, and clicks back in as she continues to speak. He frowns. "My brother doesn't blubber. Did you love him?" Way to be direct.

Lyreh just smiles a touch coyly as Ezra's brain skips a few tracks and then all her confidence drops when he goes right in for a good shot. Her eyes narrow again and her expression hardens. Damn, she underestimated this one! "Come on. Follow me. Too many eyes and ears here." Sliding from her seat, she'll straighten her skirts and gesture with her head for him to follow and will only stop once to be sure Ezra is following as she ducks out one of the many exits.

Ezra looks a bit surprised when she rises, but he's quick to follow, murmuring to a Journeyman at the door that he'll be back shortly, and for the master to take his time. Then he's after Lyreh.

Down those corridors and halls Lyreh goes, moving at a swift pace and confidence. Her chin is up, shoulders back and maybe she sways her hips a little more than necessary while Ezra tags behind her. Suddenly she veers sharp, disappears and just before Ezra steps too far her arm will jut out and if he doesn't flinch or dart away her fingers will grip a handful of his shirt and haul him after her. Here the hallway suddenly twists onto itself, creating an illusion as a new hallway was built but the old was left to disuse. Perfect for 'secretive' little talks and Lyreh drags Ezra to a cramped alcove, prodding a small glow basket or two back to life. "Why do you care?" she growls, only to grimace. Right. Brothers. "I was close to loving Setha. Not Rayathess. I don't think I can give him what he wants, as Raya and I know he's cast his nature as Setha off like something he should be ashamed of. So why bother trying? It'll only break his heart all over again." And apparently she cares enough not to put him through it. Or does she fear the fallout on her end too?

Ezra doesn't notice the hip swaying. The teen is too busy trying to memorize their route so he can get out again should their conversation go poorly and she abandons him in here. Which is fairly likely going to happen in his mind. When she grabs him he grunts, hauled after and leaning against the wall when they're in their secretive talking space. Hands in his pockets, he watches her with furrowed brows. "How are Setha and Rayathess so different? And I wouldn't say he's ashamed of it. It was a horrible, traumatizing thing he went through. Can you blame him for wanting to move past it?"

Smart on Ezra's part! Lyreh isn't going to hurt him, despite giving all the signs that she may. Once in the alcove, she'll lean against the farthest wall and give the younger brother all the space he needs. She watches him right back, alert and wary as if suspecting HE may have some trick up his sleeve. Old habits die hard. "It's hard to explain kid, but you'd get it if you ever saw him behave as Setha." she snorts and then her gaze drops and her jaw works silently. "No. I can't blame him for that but it's like he's cast ALL of his former self away. I get it, we have to change and adapt. Laurali did. I have, but we're still what we were at the core." She shrugs. "But Raya is not Setha and he is not the man I came to know. I was given a false image."

Ezra tilts his head a little bit. "How was he? As Setha?" He saw glimpses, but…that might have been the worst of it. Then he shrugs. "Can't blame you for that either. You were. He lied to you, in a way. But he had to, to survive. It was survival. Life or death, for him and for Anrila. He had to put on that mask. That armor. You understand, right? Look," he says, spreading his hands, "I didn't come here to seek you out, to try and get you to love him back. I'm here for Healer supplies for Stonehaven. But. He loves you. Or thinks he does. He's…pining after you. He misses you."

"Resilient. Focused. Not afraid to step in. Tough. Ruthless." Lyreh describes without pause, listing off each trait as she bends back a finger. "Cunning mind. He could've been a leader but he chose not to." She drops her hands and then frowns heavily, absorbing Ezra's words but not liking them one bit. "I remember how protective he was of Anrila. He explained a bit of what happened. I get it, we all had to do things to protect ourselves and those we came to care about. Doesn't mean that now that I know him as Rayathess Stonehaven that I have to go on loving him." she mutters and then flinches, glaring at Ezra. Why'd he go and say stupid things like that? "He'll get over it. I can't be what he wants." Or she is afraid to be. "He deserves better. Someone who can help him be Rayathess and not be a reminder of the days he was Setha. I've tried to tell him this and when he refused to listen, I cut off contact."

Ezra nods his head a bit, running fingers through his hair. "Those qualities are still in him. That's…Rayathess. You can't just…/fake/ that. Have you considered that he's repressing that part of himself? Doesn't mean it's still not in there. He's just…he's healing. We went through a lot. So did you I'm sure. But. You know a bit of our history. What he's dealing with." His hands slip into his pockets again. "He's still trying to cope. To find balance between who he was and who he became." Then his brows lift. "Think it's up to him if you're…'good enough', as you put it. Maybe he wants someone who understands. Setha is a part of him now. It always will be. We - he and I both - will need people who understand that."

Lyreh narrows her eyes again and then dips her head down to hide the conflicted look and frown that etches her features. Ezra does have a point and perhaps she's known that all along. She is silent for a moment and then snorts, "I see why he made you heir and holder," she drawls, looking up at him from under a few wavy strands of her hair.

Ezra is a bit startled and taken aback by the apparent swift change in subject. "What?" is all he can manage, fidgeting a bit where he stands as if his knot is suddenly far more heavy than usual.

Lyreh is very good at changing subjects but she had nothing further to say in her defence. She has plenty to think on though, as Ezra's words have sunk in. She speaks nothing of it, however, because she cannot trust Ezra but she WILL have some fun with him. Her eyes pick up on his fidgeting and her mouth quirks up into a faint smile as she pushes off the far wall and takes a slow step towards him. "What?" she mimics back but her voice has lowered and even when speaking naturally she speaks at a lower level. Now it's deep and almost purred. "I said that, I can see why he'd give up his rank as heir to you. You've a good way with words. Natural." she says and as she speaks her hand lifts up in an attempt to cup Ezra's cheek or brush her fingers against his jawline. Nothing sinister or malicious, but definitely mischievous and coy.

Ezra is /definitely/ confused now, and when she reaches for him, he lets her touch him but then he tries to wiggle away - hard because his back is already against the wall though. "What are you doing?" he asks, nervousness plain in his tone.

Lyreh is playing her games and when he tries to wiggle away she will let her hand drop but her body remains pressed close, wedging him between the wall and her. "Just wanted to see," she says as if that explains everything. "You are definitely his brother. Will you relax? Jays, you're as jittery and uptight as Raya." she sighs, as if pitying Ezra his reaction. "I'm not going to bite you. You just make it far too easy to have a bit of fun with." Like a cat toying with a mouse.

Ezra is as pressed against the wall as he can be, /ordering/ his body to relax and…ahem…stand down. But. He's…an under-touched teenage boy, and he gulps thickly. "I think you should be having fun with Rayathess," he manages to choke out, flushed cheeks and all. Dammit all, this is the woman his /brother/ wants. Stand DOWN. If she's pressed close enough though…oh, how embarrassing.

Lyreh's brows lift up for the words Ezra chokes out and she laughs, deep and rich and her plain features don't look so plain anymore. Carefree and young and all female. "Should I? Has he taken a vow of celibacy then too?" she muses through a few low chuckles and she shifts, pressing a little closer only to stop and linger there. What's this? Her eyes dart down, almost unseen and when she looks up at him there is no mockery or laughter, but her eyes are bright with amusement. Embarrassing for sure but Lyreh is not cruel — at least not in SOME ways! A not-cruel thing to do would to be to back away and allow him to compose himself. What does she do? She stays put, lowering her head down just enough to whisper by his ear and her breath will be warm, almost ticklish. "Want me to call for Laurali for you?" she purrs.

Ezra coughs, soft and strangled. "No he hasn't. He's an apprentice but…" An apprentice with a lot of free time and lack of supervision. He squirms but then stops /that/ when his squirming and her closeness make it a rubbing situation. "Lyreh, I know you're just…" he chokes, reaching up to put his hands on her chest to push her back. But…she's not a man and his hands settle on her breasts. And his push…well. It's weak. It could easily be seen as more of a grope.

"What does being an apprentice have anything to do with it?" Lyreh muses and no doubt is implying that same thing: free time and lack of supervision. No Apprentice is one hundred percent good! They're just smart about it. Ezra's squirming elicits no response from her and when his hands reach up to 'push' her away but end up more like a grope she makes a startled sound, half-groan, half-yelp but luckily not loud at all. Taking his hands by the wrists, she will be surprisingly gentle but firm in pushing them away. No. Stepping back, she is still close but no longer right up against him and some space is settled between them. "I'm just what…?" she prompts again, keeping her eyes level with his and not even darting a glance down.

Ezra is blushing crimson now, staring at his hands as if they belonged to someone else. "Sorry, I'm sorry, I was just trying, I wasn't, I was trying to push you back," he stammers. "I didn't mean to…" Touch his first boobs ever? Yeah. Totally didn't mean for that to happen. Stupid penis. "I know you're just trying to get me riled up," he mutters. And, duh, it's /working/. "You should go see Raya," he blurts out.

Lyreh holds her hands up in a warding gesture. Easy! She's watched enough of his reaction now to come to two conclusions. Either Ezra is very much a gentleman or he's very much a virgin. She's voting both. "You're not the first guy to get a handful of breast by mistake. Relax! I mean, you were pinned…" She gestures with her hands. See? So she deserved it. Her game went a wee bit too far. "You're uncomfortable." Duh? Lyreh exhales heavily. "Listen… I shouldn't have done that. Yeah, I was toying with you. Didn't… uh, know you were…" A total newbie. She clears her throat. "Alright, alright. I'll… talk to Raya." Emphasis on TALK. Cough. There's a brief and awkward pause before Lyreh is smirking again but this time there is no brashness or coy teasing. She's serious. "And you should see Laurali. If you're ah… tense."

Yeaaaah, he's both. Shoving his hands into his trouser pockets, he tries to subtly adjust himself, but they both know he's going to fail at the subtle part because he knows that she knows that his body is very much aroused. Then he coughs. "Yeah, well." Shrug. "Not many people interested in romance with the weird kid from Stonehaven." Another shrug, and then he blinks. "Laurali? But she's…just a kid." What is she, twelve?

Lyreh will just catch a glimpse of that not-so subtle movement and then look away and give him "privacy" to set himself right. Oh, look. A crack in the wall! "Who said anything about romance? Shells, you lived in a Weyr! You can't tell me there wasn't at least some girl who'd lay with you." she murmurs, as if surprised and confused. She laughs, "A kid? She's about your age, though I suppose her size might make it seem otherwise. I'd not… ugh. I'd not proposition a child, thank you." she scoffs. The nerve!

"What's wrong with wanting romance?" Ezra says, his voice a tad sharp. As if he's had this discussion before - probably with himself. "There've been girls willing, yeah, but." He shakes his head, frustrated. "She is? Huh. Um. I…I don't even know her, Lyreh."

Lyreh rolls her eyes a bit and smirks, but when she speaks her voice is oddly warm. Nothing like an awkward moment to melt away all the standoffish brashness? "Nothing wrong with it. Just not very common anymore. At least, I've never run into a man wanting romance over a good…" She stops there, flushing darkly as she says too much and looks away. Right. "Then get to know her? She's been through just as much as you. Lost as much. I ain't saying you have to sleep with her or even touch her. Laurali studies relaxing techniques: herbal teas, salves. Massage. I was just making a rather… poor joke."

Ezra arches his brows to look at her. "Yes you have." And he doesn't mean himself. "She…does?" Ignore the hopeful tone in his voice. "Really? Well then. Uh. I…yeah. I might do that. Before I go." For the tea. JUST the tea. Right. He coughs.

Lyreh frowns. "I have?" Do tell! At the hopefulness in his tone however, she chuckles heartily. "Yeah, she does. She's brilliant at it." she murmurs and takes another step back. Ezra has his freedom! "If you're wanting to find her, you just have to walk out to the end of the hallway we were in and it's the last door to your right. She's usually there at this hour of the day."

Ezra /eyes/ her. "My brother." Remember him? He glances at the hallway and then back at her. "You'll go talk to him?" he asks, his voice quiet and for the first time, she'll hear him be younger, more vulnerable. Hoping for his brother's sake that she'll keep her word.

Lyreh eyes Ezra right back and then laughs. "Your brother? A romantic? Now THAT I have a hard time picturing." she mutters and sobers in the next breath when he takes on that younger and more vulnerable mask. She almost reaches again to touch him, but keeps her hand still at her side. No sense in embarrassing him further or getting him all flustered again. "I'll talk to him. Can't promise anything past that. But… we'll talk." And she'll keep her word. She gestures again in a dismissive shooing way. "Go on! Go find Laurali or go back to the Master Healer." Taking a seat on the narrow ridge in the alcove, she adds after a pause. "Oh, and Ezra?" No pet names! "I won't breathe a word of what happened here. Alright?" She means the groping.

Ezra shakes his head. "There's a lot you don't know about Rayathess. YOu really think he could have been a romantic in the camps?" he says quietly. "Thank you for talking to him." He turns to walk out, and stops to look back at her when she calls. Then he blushes, jerks his head in a nod, and moves back into the main hallway. Hesitating, he continues down the hallway to the last door on the right, lifting his hand up. Hesitating, he knocks.

Lyreh just snorts but there is doubt in her eyes when she looks away. She has a lot to think about before she goes off to find Rayathess or even write a note to send to him. Which will probably have him racing over to Healer Hall in record time if he can escape. Out in the hallway, there is no one and when Ezra knocks on the door, he'll hear someone shuffling around inside and approaching. Opening the door a crack, Laurali peeks through and then blinks, eyes widening as she steps back and pulls the door open all the way. "Ezra?" she greets him, sounding as confused as she looks as she gestures for him to step inside and promptly curtsies. Just a little one! "How can I help you?" What're you doing here? The room is not private quarters but it's a private study of sorts or a workshop even. Somewhere quiet to work and practice and there are numerous shelves filled with Healer paraphernalia and dried herbs and other supplies galore all over.

Ezra steps back a bit when the door swings open, and when she curtsies he gives a slight cotholder bow in return. "Hello," he says, clearing his throat a bit. "Ah, Lyreh said you were in here. She said you were, uh, good with…relaxation stuff?"

Laurali closes the door behind him but doesn't lock it and she gestures for him to take a seat on one of the small but comfortable looking upholstered chairs. "Ah… oh. Did she?" she says, her head lowered. Playing meek but if anyone remembers her as Turncloak, she's anything BUT. Moving about the room, she'll keep a careful eye on Ezra at all times but not make it too overly obvious. "I am. I guess? At least for apprentice level." She organizes a few of her notes on a nearby table and gives him a faint smile. "Stress?" She's taking a guess here.

Ezra looks a bit surprised when she closes the door, but he doesn't remark on it. "She did," he confirms with a nod, watching her curiously. He does remember other sides of her, so this meek act…well, it's made him think she was twelve, so. She's good at it. "Lots of it," he admits, rubbing a hand over his face and then through his hair, exhaling softly but long. Deeply.

Laurali is very good at the meek act. She was, after all, "trained" into it at a young age. It takes her a moment to break out of the habit and once Ezra begins to talk and they discuss a little more, she shakes off that mask. Just enough that she straightens and lifts her chin and now she looks more her age and a little more confident. "Mhm," she says softly, observing him closely when he exhales so deeply. "Hold stuff? Or all around stress?" Details. She needs them, apparently. Clasping her hands in front of her, she stands at a respectful distance just off his side and in front of him. "Is it affecting your sleep or your daily routines?"

Ezra rolls his shoulders a bit, his eyes following her. This has turned out to be quite an interesting trip to the Hall. "Hold stuff, other stuff. Just…lots of things. Uh. I've never slept well." He gives her a significant look for that. She knows why, he's sure. "Daily routines are the same as they've always been." Full and stressful?

Very interesting indeed! Will it continue to be interesting or swiftly turn very awkward? "Nightmares? Night terrors?" Laurali asks as any proper Healer should. She may be an Apprentice, but she has some of her training down. His significant look is returned and there's a subtle nod. Yes, she knows why and she understands. "Well, it'd be hard to give you something given how… broad your stress is." she admits quietly. "I could see about inquiring from a Journeyman a herbal tea or two. It'd serve as a good long term solution. The salves and oils… may not be to your tastes." That earns a bit of a broader smile before she sobers. A blushes a bit. "There's massage too. Quickest."

Ezra shrugs a bit, rolling his shoulders again. "It's like I can't get my thoughts to quiet down to let me rest," he admits. "And yeah, nighmares sometimes. Not all the time, but. Sometimes. A tea or two would be very welcome, thank you." Then he winces slightly. "I…no. Salves and oils…not my thing." Massage though. When she blushes, he blushes, and clears his throat. A massage - touch - sounds amazing. But it's Laurali. But she's a Healer. An apprentice. She'd be very professional, right? "How…much are massages?"

Laurali frowns in thought as she absorbs those few details. "Ah, yes. We studied that not long ago. Mild insomnia?" she inquires gently, prying but not too deeply. "Teas would be perfect for that. I can even arrange some mixtures now… I can't give you any but you could sample the scent. See if it'd be appealing." Nothing worse than trying to chug a nasty mug of tea! His blushing only has her blushing darker, somewhat confused by his reaction. She is a Healer, an Apprentice and… she would be professional unless certain circumstances arose. "Depends." Laurali explains softly. "There are specific ones or full body. Usually Journeymen perform this or an Apprentice under Journeyman observation. I've so far passed." As if that's a comfort! Her head tilts a bit to the side and her gaze focuses on Ezra. "I could arrange an appointment for you… or… I could give you one now? No charge." Because THAT isn't awkward.

Ezra shrugs, "Not sure what it's called, but sure. And yeah, that sounds good, thanks. I'd like to smell them." He looks away, gazing around the room thoughtfully as he listens to her, not trusting himself to watch her as she makes such suggestions. "Free? Why?" he asks, glancing at her, a bit hesitant and a bit perplexed. "Can you do that?" Does she have a crush on him?

"Insomina means the inability to sleep and can vary in intensity. Some folk just have trouble falling asleep while others can't. Often for days." Laurali explains and clearly it is something she is fascinated with. She smiles when he agrees to the tea and turns away with a swirl of her skirts to begin pulling out a few tins and lifting the lids to check the contents. Without even so much as pausing or looking up at him, she answers half of his question. "I could but only if you'd consent and be comfortable with me. No point if you'll just keep tensing." she tells him truthfully. Hard to say if she has a crush. Why would she, when she hardly knows him? Not personally anyways. She was at Fort Weyr when he was, probably heard enough of his story. The joyful reunion of him and Rayathess. She knows snippets. Her "kindness" may in fact be stemming from a very warped need to repay him for the nightmare he underwent - and the source of his stress - in a sort of 'sorry my father was, more or less, part of your family being butchered that winter night, let me make amends and help you'. Which would just be a HUGE kettle of awkward if she ever voiced that out loud.

Ezra nods as he listens. "Oh. Sure, yeah then. I've got that. Trouble falling asleep. Shards. /Days/? How do they not sleep for days?" Though there's a slight wince. He didn't sleep for a few days once. Still. This isn't the time or place. "I'll consent," he says slowly. "I…well. I've never had a massage before so I might tense up? I really don't know, but. We could give it a try. If you're willing."

Laurali bobs her head and goes about her work, setting aside a few tins as she finds what she needs. Her mouth curves into an amused smile, oblivious that he's undergone the very thing. "They just can't. It's pretty hard on them, on the body and the mind. I've had bad nights but never multiple. Just missing one good sleep is enough to addle my head. I almost pity those who go for such long stretches. How they can even function." She's rambling but doesn't seem to care as she gathers the tins and steps over to his side, setting each on a small end table within reach. At his consent, Laurali brightens a little. "I'd be happy to." Obviously! She offered. "Do you have a preference? We could do a specific massage or full body. Here, how's this blend?" And she'll hold up the first tin for him to sample by scent. It's heavily floral but pleasant. Pleasant to smell but to taste? There's lavender in there and that may be a bit too odd to some to stomach.

Ezra shakes his head. "Such a pity for them," he agrees softly. When she offers him a full BODY massage, he flinches faintly. "Just shoulders and neck," he's quick to say. He got crazy 'happy' just by being /close/ to Lyreh. He can't imagine…full body massage…he'd pass out. Smelling the tea, he grimaces slightly. "That's very…erfumed." No good.

Oh silly and naive Ezra! If he thinks a shoulder and neck massage would be just as simple! It still requires her to be close. Not that Laurali is aware of what occurred with him and Lyreh. "Alright," she agrees, only to grimace as well and take the tin back. "It is and while it works well not many like the flowery taste. So you're more for spicier teas? Fragrant but not… potent." she murmurs, already grabbing another tin and offering it to him. This one has a very pleasant scent, fruity but not overpoweringly so and with just a hint of herbs and spice. Comforting, even with just a deep inhale of it.

Ezra nods, shaking his head a bit. "Not a fan of drinking flowers," he says, trying to make a small joke. The second…"That one is much better," he agrees with a nod. "Spicy, but…it's nice." He doesn't have words for food, scents, flavors, beyond 'good' and 'bad'. And 'spicy' apparently.

Laurali giggles softly at his joke and gives him a smile that is small but genuine. "Never have something called 'blooming tea' then." she muses and when he reacts so positively to the next tea she bobs her head and sets it aside in a different spot. "It's one of my favourites. It's very mellowing but not with the full on knock-out of say… fellis. No risk of addictiveness, no side effects." She'll offer a third tin, with a tea that is sweet smelling and fruity too. Invigorating at first and then it mellows out and holds a very herbal scent that some don't mind but others might. "Last one. I'll have to have these approved by a Journeyman before I can give them to you. Massages I can sneak by. This… not so much. Not that it can harm you, these teas, but they'll notice supplies missing."

Ezra grimaces. "Not a big fan of fellis," he admits. "So I'm glad to avoid it." Smelling the third tin, he tilts his head a bit. "That one…I'm willing to purchase and try, but I'm not sure about it," he admits, taking another sniff before he hands it back. "Thank you. I appreciate it."

Laurali nods her head and takes the tin away but she puts it with the first rejected one. "I think you'll be fine with just the one tea. It'll help calm your head so you can sleep on the tougher nights." And now it's she who gives him the pointed look. He understands and can read between the lines? "You're welcome." she says with a polite dip of her head and returns the rejected tins to the shelf and keeps the lone one out. Straightening again, she glances about the room and then gestures to a low and small round padded stool. "Mind dragging that in front of where you're sitting now and make yourself comfortable? I'll have to sit behind you." she murmurs and then clears her throat. "Usually for massages to be effective, you need to strip down. We, ah… don't have to do that." Even if it would just be his tunic.

Ezra nods, understanding her meaning. He pushes to his feet, hands against his knees and fetches the stool. "So I sit on the stool?" he asks, when it's positioned in front of the chair. "Strip…like. How much?" he asks, unfastening his coat. He'll remove that at the very least. Even he knows that'd be stupid to wear during a massage.

"Yes, with your back facing me." Laurali murmurs and when he strips off his coat, she'll step forwards to take it from him and hang it on a nearby peg where it is in plain view by the door. "However much you are comfortable with. I am only working on your neck and shoulders, so if your tunic is thin enough it won't matter. If you've an under tunic that is sleeveless, you can keep it. Or you can strip bare. Whatever keeps you comfortable." she murmurs and it's noticeable that as she steps back to take her seat on the chair behind him, she is keeping her eyes modestly adverted.

Ezra reluctantly lets his coat go, watching where she hangs it. His fingers toy with the fastenings on his tunic before he nods, grabbing it by the back and hauling it over his head. He is wearing an undershirt, a thin white thing, and he folds his tunic before setting it aside and settling onto the stool, sitting a bit stiff and straight as he stares at the opposite wall. She's got her work cut out for her. The young heir is /tense/.
Laurali keeps her gaze averted and down while Ezra slips off his tunic and when he's ready she lifts her eyes but only to observe where her hands and fingers must go. She's chafed her hands a bit to warm them and he'll feel her fingers gently probe his neck first and then slowly down over his shoulders. Taking note of just how bad it is. She frowns, "You are tense. I may not have the skill to undo all of this, but I will try." And not hurt him in the process. "How long has it been like this? Or have you never noticed?" she murmurs, speaking in a lowered and soft voice. Her fingers have traced back to the nape of his neck by now and are already beginning to work. Slow and gentle, kneading and rubbing.

Ezra exhales softly, a low, humorless chuckle. Dry. "How long? About seven turns." He rolls his shoulders beneath her touch, /trying/ to relax, but the muscles have a long memory and will not unbend so easily. "I'm used to it now," he admits. "Not sure I remember what it feels like to be relaxed."

Laurali snorts softly, not exactly a professional thing to do but she can't help it. "Try not to roll your shoulders," she murmurs, her fingers still along his neck as she kneads firmer and tries to work deep into those stubborn muscles of his. One kink at a time! Though if she has to press too hard she may just move on, rather than risk hurting him. "That's a shame." And she seems to mean it too.

Ezra starts to shrug, but then stops. Right. He needs to stay still. "What do you remember?" he asks quietly. Because now is a great time to bring that up, right? Their mingled pasts. Then he coughs. "Sorry, I…shouldn't pry, I'm sorry."

Laurali almost chides him and then bites her tongue when he stops himself. Now is a great time! Her guards are down, focused as she is on her work. Her fingers freeze for a heartbeat and then resume, her brows knitting into a thoughtful frown. "No, it's okay." she assures him and then is silent for a long, awkward while. "I remember a lot of some parts, little of others. I was quite young the night… That night. I only remember my father coming to the camp and bundling me up and us sneaking away. Lots of cold wandering and days of little to no food. Then they found us and I've a vague memory of him speaking with the Weyrleader and others. It didn't go well. I was taken away and I never saw him again. They put me in the Weyr but I never fit in." she says softly. That's what he meant, right?

Ezra frowns, staring at the opposite wall as if it might yield some answers. "Never?" he asks quietly. "Do you know where he is?"

The wall holds no answers but Laurali does! Her fingers work down his neck, digging in firm as she works away at the base and gradually outwards, not quite to his shoulders yet. "Exile." she says simply, her tone sad but not heartbreakingly so. She has had many Turns to scab that wound over. It doesn't even seem to bring much emotion or she's clamping down on it. "Hatskel gave them the information they needed to know who was behind the massacre. Who they were dealing with. He was there." He may have killed a Stonehaven. If Ezra were to turn and look back, he'd see how guilt ridden Laurali looks though she's doing her best to hide it all. "He bartered for my safety but he also attempted to attack the Weyrleader. I don't know why or remember what started it but it sealed his fate and mine. I was taken away and given protection as promised. They put him on an island." And that is that.

Ezra is still tense beneath her hands, a bit uncomfortable with the massage itself, if not the person who is giving it. "Oh," he says quietly. "Do…can you send letters?" It might be a stupid question. "Was the weyr good to you?" He doesn't look back though, trying to hold perfectly still for her massage.

Laurali is tenacious but also perplexed by Ezra's lingering tension. Her fingers work away regardless. Silence meets his question, which probably was very stupid to ask. "No. He is exiled. There is no communication with the exiled." That's the whole point! More silence but her massage never falters and her features are set in a blank and hardened, focused look. Rayathess made himself an alter-ego, Lyreh shields by brashness. Laurali? Shuts down and retreats emotionally. "They did what they could but I was more or less forgotten. Why would the girl of a condemned man earn special attention? When it wasn't working, I was put in a small hold. It didn't work out either and they went to place me somewhere else. Laris got me instead, made me his puppet and abandoned me in Xanadu's forests when they caught on something wasn't right with the false story he made. Then with both Xanadu and Fort Weyrleaders prodding at me, I caved and blabbed everything I knew but by then it was too late. He moved on and I was… just put back in Fort Weyr." Forgotten. Again. Yet nothing in her tone betrays the slightest bit of emotion. No anger, no bitterness, no rage or hurt. She begins to work on his shoulders.

Ezra exhales softly, the breath long and drawn out. "So many lives," he murmurs. "There's peace in death. It's the survivors that bear the brunt of the pain he left behind…I almost wish he lived, so he could suffer more of what he inflicted on us." His voice hardens, muscles tense and roll beneath her fingertips in that thin tunic. "I'm sorry you went through all that. I wish I could have helped." But he was too busy in his own head.

Laurali nods her head in agreement to most of what Ezra says. "I don't wish that he lived. He needed to die. If the Weyrleader hadn't and left him alive, he'd just escape again and they'd probably still be trying to find him. With him dead, those hurt by him can heal. He is no longer a threat, nor are his men. When his muscles tense and roll, Laurali pauses and waits until he settles again before she resumes, tracing where she feels the tension bunch up. At his apology, she just shakes her head and smiles a small, blank little smile. "Why are you sorry? You had your own wounds to tend to."

Ezra considers her words before he speaks again. "I suppose you're right about that," he agrees quietly. "Because…because I know what it's like to suffer so young. And I wish it hadn't happened. To any of us."

"But it did and we survived. You survived. And look at what you've become," Laurali murmurs softly, supportive and calm. Neutral. Her hands work and work away at his shoulders and his neck, lingering in spots before moving on. Kneading, caressing and massaging, she does all she knows so far and all she has learned. Has she even made the slightest dent?

Ezra relaxes a little bit beneath her hands, but he is so wound up it's difficult to tell. "Are you happy now? Here?" he asks softly. Personally, he'd much rather have his entire family still alive, and be the second son, planning out his life or being in a craft at this point. Or a dragonrider, since he might have been Searched. But. He's become heir, that's what he got out of this deal. A cothold. He'd rather have his family.

A little is some progress and so Laurali focuses on that area in hopes of chipping away. Just a little progress would be good! Though she is still puzzled by the lack of response. She's never had someone not react to a massage or even come across it in her studies or practical work. She startles a bit, the faint tremble felt through her fingers. What? "Of course I am." Lies. "I mean, I have my studies. But it is not my home." Does she have one? Ezra has his older brother and younger sister at least. Laurali lost her family too and there was and never will be any happy reunion for her. "Does being heir make you happy?" she asks softly.

Ezra is a special case. Tense. Very tense. And the conversation isn't relaxing either. He feels that tremble and he stops, turning a bit, twisting his torso so he can look at her. He senses that lie. "Are you?" he asks, searching her expression this time. "Do…where is your home?" Where did she come from? "Heir? Yes. Though I'd rather have my family back."

Laurali can feel the tenseness and it's baffled her to no end. What is she doing wrong? Poor girl doesn't even factor in that it's the conversation or even her herself she's detached too far from her emotions. Ezra will see that when he searches her expression. Her eyes meet his, her small smile is there but it's all… closed off. It's rather unsettling. "My home was with my father," she says softly. "I have no home." It's stated as though it's simply a fact. "The Hall is my home for now. Then whichever Hold will have me, if I am so lucky." For all her efforts at shutting down, his last statement has her visibly flinching and her hands drop to her lap so swiftly it's audible. She will not meet his eyes. "You have your brother and your sister?" she says softly. "I know it's not all your family, but at least you are not alone?" Thanks for rubbing that in!

Ezra tilts his head. He recognizes that expression. He saw it in the mirror far too many times. When she flinches, he flinches, kicking himself. Damn it all. He shifts a bit more, sitting sideways on the stool so he can watch her. "I do, and I'm very fortunate for that. You have…you're alone? Completely?" Yeah, way to rub it in.

Laurali nods her head. "Mhm." she confirms. "My mother died when I was a babe. My father exiled when I was eight… maybe nine Turns? Laris only pretended to be my foster father to gain what he needed of Xanadu. I knew he was false, so he does not count." Thank Faranth. She's looking at her hands now, which are folded together in her lap. "I had no siblings. No true siblings. After being brought back to Fort and when the camps from Drake Lake's were brought in, I befriended the other orphans my age. They were going to be my family and I theirs." So they stole from the Weyr and were going to escape and disappear and make their own lives. Laurali just smiles softly and shrugs her shoulders. "I lost them too. We were caught of course and they all were Searched save for me. It was by chance that I crossed paths with Lyreh and she brought me here. So I've made it my home and I suppose she is my friend now." Her tone says it all: for how long? Laurali seems to give herself a shake then and her gaze lifts to meet Ezra's again and her hands don't grip each other so deathly tight. "Can I get you anything? I'm sorry I could not help you with the massage. I have so much to learn still. I do have some regular teas though? Or I can get you something to eat. You've probably missed dinner?"

Ezra listens quietly as she speaks, his own hands clasped and resting against his thighs. Some of the story he knows, some of it he doesn't. He can't offer her any reassurances either about Lyreh. What if she and Rayathess get back together and she leaves Healer Hall and Laurali is alone again? "I'm sorry," he says with a frown, shaking his head. "I…am tense. I'm sorry I couldn't relax for you." As if it's his fault. It's neither of their fault. "I…well. I am hungry. Would you like to get something to eat? And…if there's ever anything I can do for you, Laurali. I hope…I hope you'll ask."

That won't happen for some time, if it happens. Lyreh has to stay at Healer Hall, the young woman actually serious about her studies while Rayathess won't leave Harper Hall either. They'll visit but Laurali will still have Lyreh almost every other day. Right now that doesn't even cross her mind, not knowing her "friend" has gone to speak to Ezra's brother. "It's not your fault. You were tense but it's not your fault. I am inexperienced. A Journeyman would no doubt get it just fine." she murmurs and then when he claims he is hungry she is already on her feet in preparation to fetch him a tray. Only… he wants her to come too? She sits back down, giving him a confused look as she cocks her head a bit to the side. "You want me to go with you for dinner? Sure, if you'd like to." Laurali asks, as if he's just asked her to do the most bizarre task known to man. She dips her head down for his second offer and just bobs her head a bit to acknowledge she heard, having no words beyond a soft spoken 'thank you' (politeness!).

Ezra shrugs a bit, reaching for his tunic to pull it on. "Perhaps I'll speak with a Journeyman then. But the teas and good sleep will probably be just as good." Tunic on, he grabs for his coat, draping it almost protectively over his arm. "Well sure, I'd like you to join me." It'd be rude for him to just leave her here. Reaching out, he offers his hand. Polite. Polite he /can/ do. He's been learning.

Laurali bobs her head again and while Ezra slips his tunic on and goes for his coat, she will hastily go over to the table that she's left the tea he wanted and measures out a selected amount into a little travel tin. She moves with speed and effectiveness and then joins him again at his side, keeping the tin in one hand and staring at his outreached hand as if perplexed again by his politeness. "I brought some of the tea. I will have to confirm the dosage." she murmurs and then shyly and awkwardly takes his hand. "Do you know the way back?"

Ezra shifts a bit until her arm is linked through his, and with a smile he leads her out, only to stop as they close the door behind them. "I…maybe?" he suggests with a laugh. "But why don't you lead us, so I don't get us lost."

Laurali smiles softly, her eyes flickering with amusement but she does not laugh. She walks with her arm linked with his, her steps matching his and her posture and demeanour proper. Not stiffly so, but she's just doing as what has been told of her. What is expected. "I can lead and keep you from wandering aimlessly. Healer Hall is old and some hallways lead no where or are old and disused. This way," And she will steer him to the right path, either by voice or by a subtle shift of her weight. Eventually they'll come to the Great Hall and she looks up at him again. "See? Not so difficult." Yeah right. How many twisting rights and lefts was it again? Or was it left and rights?

Ezra chuckles. "I think you took me on the most meandering way possible. Perhaps so I wouldn't stumble upon your working area again?" he teases. Though it really wasn't his fault. Lyreh told him to go see her. Letting her arm go, he looks around. "If you'd like to find a spot I can get us some food?"

"I did not! Honest." Laurali protests but her eyes flicker with mischievousness. Maybe she did take a slightly longer path. She chuckles softly, "Well, if you ever want more tea for sleep you'd best remember." She has no idea how much Lyreh is responsible for this. She'll probably have a few curt words with her "friend" if she knew. A touch flustered, she peers up at him. Isn't that her job? "But I… Alright. Over there." Laurali points to a small table tucked up by one of the massive windows and near a corner with comfortable looking bench-like seats. She already begins to drift over that way, her hands clasped in front of her. "Thank you." she murmurs.

Ezra sees where she's heading and then the young heir turns, picking up two plates and moving through the line, filling them both. Perhaps a bit too much, but…better to have too much than not enough, right? And he has issues with food. He'll eat it all or take the leftovers with him. With plates full, he enlists the help of a drudge to carry drinks - simple juice and water - to the table where Laurali sits. "Hope this is enough," he says, sitting down on the bench with a smile.

Laurali's eyes widen as Ezra returns with food (SO MUCH!) and drink carried by drudges. She's taken her seat, having smoothed her skirts down and made herself comfortable (as much as she can be, anyways). "It looks to be plenty," she says honestly and no doubt she'll barely make a dent in it. She smiles back to him, waiting until he has settled before even so much as reaching for her fork. "And I'll do my best to eat it all." Since he went through the trouble of being nice and fetching food and eating with her. "You weren't kidding when you said you were hungry." she muses in a light attempt at a joke.

Ezra clears his throat, a bit abashed as he realizes the sheer amount of food he's delivered. "I'm a growing boy?" he says, half tease and half 'that's a good excuse, right?' question.

Laurali quirks a brow and gives him a long look from head to toe. "Suppose that's a good reason." she says with a shrug of her shoulders and then tucks into her food. Politely! She seems partial to the vegetables and grains, if any and only nibbles at bread-stuff or meat. Hardly a dent is made and already she's slowing. Ezra's going to have a huge amount of leftovers to take home! "Will you go visit your brother at the Hall later?" she asks softly.

Ezra will be happy for the leftovers. "I'll stop by," he says, nodding. "But I don't know if he'll have the time to see me. But yes, I'll go by and see if he's around." He glances around the room, seeking the Master he's working with. Not spying him yet, he goes back to eating. "So your specialty is more soothing things?"

"Usually lessons are done by this time of the day, so if you were wanting a chance to speak with him now is the time." Laurali supplies helpfully, completely unaware that Lyreh has gone (or so is assumed) to pay Rayathess a visit. "It's worth a shot," she adds with a slight shrug of her shoulders. As for her specialty, Laurali blushes faintly and nods her head, picking at her food now with her fork. "Yeah, though we're technically not supposed to start specializing till we're Journeymen but I prefer herbs and healing techniques to help calm and soothe and relax over the more… complex stuff. Treating illness too. Nothing like surgery… I've no real desire for that." Or stomach.

Ezra nods, "Hopefully we can chat. Maybe eat." He's joking, right? The gleam to his green eyes suggests he is. "I think it's a good specialty. Definitely helping people."

Laurali chuckles and tucks some of her hair behind her ear, the first (or is it second?) time she's shown actual amusement and actually behaved in a relaxed manner. "Harper Hall has better sweet rolls," she tells him, lowering her voice as though sharing some 'Big Secret'. See? She can joke around too and in a fun way, unlike Lyreh. Laurali blushes a little and ducks her head, poking her fork through her food. "You think so?"

Ezra laughs. "I'll be sure to remember that," he says, amused. He appreciates the joking. Especially since it doesn't give him an erection. "Sure, why wouldn't I? People need to relax. Lots of stress in the world. It's good that there are Healers who specialize in preventing illnesses."

There better be no such thing! Lyreh may like to rile up her 'prey' when joking but Laurali would be completely flustered and likely embarrassed or confused. None of which are good for either of them. She smiles when he laughs and taking one last bite of food from her plate before gently pushing it aside. Done and there is still so much more to eat from it. No wonder she's so tiny! "Healers are supposed to prevent and treat illness but there are so many kinds. Which is why we specialize. I only hope I will become a Journeyman in time." she murmurs.
"In time for what?" Ezra asks, light and curious as he continues to eat his food.

"In time…?" Laurali frowns and then shakes her head. "Oh. Nothing. I was just meaning I hope to walk the tables… eventually." If ever. She doesn't sound so confident then and keeps her gaze lowered to the table top, her hands folded again in her lap. There is a moment of awkward silence and then she speaks softly. "How have you been doing with Stonehaven? Being a heir so young must be difficult."

Ezra lifts his brows, pausing in his eating to drink instead. "Are you doubting your choice to be a Healer?" Why wouldn't she walk the tables? "It's busy," he answers with a small smile. She knows! "Stressful. I'm…impatient. Things are moving more slowly than I thought they would. But we're doing things /well/, so that's what truly matters. Slow but steady. And…I'm kind of not an heir yet. Right now it's just planning and working. I don't have any people yet. There's really nothing…heir-like for me to do."

Laurali hasn't even touched her drink and she is quiet for a moment after he asks his question. It's getting busy now, as more drift in as the Hall winds down for the day. The room fills with boisterous laughter and chatter and she fidgets uncomfortably in her chair just as a group of Senior Apprentices pause and are noticeably glancing there way and elbowing each other as they obviously comment to each other and from their expressions it's probably not all nice things. They move on though and Laurali answers Ezra as though noting ever occurred. "No, I'm not doubting myself. Just that my luck has not been very good." she elaborates with a faint smile. Remember? "I'd imagine that a hold would be a lot of work and would take time," she admits softly and carefully. She snorts softly. "How is that not heir-like work? You are making your hold yours. Only an heir or holder or lord could claim that."

Ezra notices the Senior Apprentices - he notices those sorts of looks, that sort of laughter - and he shifts a bit, making sure his knot is visible, trying to catch their eyes to give them a 'what, you want to say something?' look before they move on. "I'd think, in the Hall, that luck has nothing to do with it." He says this hesitantly though, as if not certain. Right? "You do well in your classes, your studies, you advance." Then he considers her words and nods slightly. "I guess it depends on if your definition of a Holder is a holder of land or a holder of people. I have land, but no people. Do I truly Hold?"

The Senior Apprentices want no fight with a heir of a hold, even if just a cothold. At least, not in sight of their superiors. Their target was the meek girl sitting with him but they'll pass by with a few last darted looks before vanishing among the crowds. Laurali peers from under a few strands of her hair, watching their progress and then focusing back on Ezra. "Luck has something to play in everything," she states matter-of-factly. "And yes, I could become Journeyman if I do that. IF I do well. If I am accepted enough. I am not very sociable. I may not pass in that regard." Bedside manner fail? "You Hold, Ezra. You have the land, it is yours by right and Charter. The people will come after. You just put your priority to making sure they will be comfortable when they do."

Ezra returns to his food, listening and nodding. "Well, that's just another skill, right? Being social. It's one you'll practice and improve on I'm sure. You're not…/terrible/ at it. I think you're fine." He considers her words and then smiles, nodding. "I suppose you're right…"

Laurali blinks, a little surprised by Ezra's words and perhaps taking what he said a little differently than he intended because she is blushing again. "I do try," she says softly, maybe with a bit of pride there in her voice. When he smiles, she does too but much more faintly. "Give it time. It will all come together as it should." she says reassuringly. Maybe she should be a mind healer?

Ezra smiles at her across the table, his reply a simple, "I will if you will."

Laurali tilts her head and regards him with a look that varies through emotions. Uncertainty, wariness, curiousness… it all drifts and then her mouth quirks up in one corner. "Deal." she says and then shrinks back as there's some laughter from that previous group. Even out of sight, she's edgy about their presence. "Have you had enough to eat?"

Ezra watches her shrink back at the laughter, and with a brief glance to her he pushes to his feet. "I'll be right back," he says, turning and striding towards the table of Senior Apprentices. "Excuse me," he says, standing tall at the end of their table, a small and polite smile on his lips.

Laurali cocks her head to the side a bit but nods. "Alright." she murmurs and when he turns and strides away she will lean in her seat. Her eyes widen when she realizes where he is going and she quickly darts back out of sight. Her hands fold together tightly in her lap and she chews at her lower lip, looking tense and a touch panicky. Surely he won't start trouble? What is he doing? And why? At the other table, the group of Sr. Apprentices look up as Ezra approaches. All boys of various ages but well into their teens and all with varying displays of attitude. They remain curt but polite to him, not so foolish as to be outright rude to a holder-heir in a cavern filled with Journeymen and Masters. "Can we help you with something?" the "lead" boy speaks up.

Ezra crouches down beside the table at the end, his arms crossed over each other on the table top. Casual. Like that one waiter that always crouches down to be eye level with his customers. "I just wanted to check on the status of my order, if one of you would be so kind? Master Gvaro is supposed to be getting together a package for Stonehaven Cothold." What /is/ he doing? Maybe it's got nothing to do with Laurali.
The group of Apprentices look a touch on edge when Ezra crouches down like that, playing cool when they're truly defensive. What is he doing? Some of them smile stiffly when he goes on to elaborate what he needs help with and they all look to their "leader". The boy snorts softly, "Master Gvaro is a very busy man. It could be that he has been pulled aside for some emergency or another matter. But sure, we'll help. You," And he gestures to three of his cronies. "Go see where the Master is or if he's in his office. And you," He points out the last of his "men". "Check with the Headwoman." And off they go! All but the one and the "leader" smiles that fake smile to Ezra. "Anything else?"

Ezra nods as the apprentices scurry off, until it's just Ezra and the leader. "Much obliged," he says, pushing to his feet and extending his hand. "What was your name again?"

The leader of the group looks startled when Ezra extends his hand and he takes it, his grip firm as he shakes the heir's hand twice before letting go. "Broec. Senior Apprentice Broec. And you are?" Why not ask? He's certainly curious in a cautious way as to who this young man is.
Ezra smiles. "Well met, Senior Apprentice Broec. I'm Ezra Stonehaven, heir to Stonehaven." Duh. He tilts his head towards his knot, and smiles easily. "Friend of Laurali's, just here visiting. How are your studies going?"

"Well met," Broec smiles back, his eyes taking note of the knot and the colours and from the way his eyes flicker with understanding it's clear he knows Stonehaven's history or enough of it. He frowns. What kind of question is that? And why? He's suspicious and guarded. "They're going well. Keep me busy enough." Not enough from picking on the young Apprentices. "A friend of Laurali's, huh?" His tone sounds skeptical. Her? Tilting his head, he peers past Ezra and back to the table they were at. He does not spy Laurali there and smirks. Uh huh. Glancing back to Ezra, he nods his head in a curt way. "Hope you are enjoying your visit here. My friends will let you know if they find Master Gvero." Now bugger off?

Ezra nods, "Excellent." Maybe he's just killing time with idle conversation while he waits for the others to get back? "Yes, a friend of Laurali's." He doesn't look back though. "Thanks for your help," he says, easily reading between the lines to that. With a flash of a smile, he turns to return to the table. And…where did she go?

Clearly, Broec is not wanting to make idle conversation with Ezra, holder-heir or not. "No problem. You've a firelizard? Might be easier to find you that way." he points out before he can wander too far and with a smirk. Good intentions or is he delaying Ezra now? Sure enough, Laurali isn't at her table anymore and the little tin of tea is resting by his side of the table's edge. There is laughter at the other end of the room now, snickers and low chuckles and tittering following and a few apprentices have turned their heads to see what started it all. Seems Broec's buddies have returned (or they were very slow at leaving) and little Laurali wound up as their prey after all or someone anyways. She'd been tripped, in that subtle way to make her look like a fool but near to impossible to pinpoint a source. Typical 'school-like' behaviour and the Journeymen and Masters do not interfere since it looks accidental and the jeering does not continue beyond the laughter. Laurali is picking herself up off the floor by this point too, appearing just fine (yeah right) and quietly continues along her way, head down and body stiff and tense and slips out the doors.

Ezra nods, "I do," he says, eyes unfocusing briefly before his lovely golden Cala appears and settles down on the back of an empty chair. Preening for a moment, the queen regards Broec calmly. "Stay here until they return with the message," he says to his gold, tickling her chin before he nods to Broec and turns. Not at the table…and his eyes scan to follow the sound of the commotion. Seeing Laurali having fallen, Ezra frowns and strides through the crowd. When he spots the other teens he stops to look at them, giving them a hard stare head to toe. "Well?"

To say that Broec's eyes don't widen in shock when Cala arrives would be a lie. Hello envy? How'd this kid get a gold firelizard? But he can only keep his mouth shut and nod and pretend to be interested in his food. And not stare in a coveting way at the firelizard. Want! Over where the two buddies stand, Ezra's hard look is met with cocky ones in return. What? One of them is still snickering over their little stunt but the other speaks to Ezra in a curt but civil enough tone. "Master Gvero is occupied. Some emergency or another, I'm afraid. Might be another candlemark or two before he can get free. Unless you want to pass it on to another Master? Fall is usually a busy time here. Y'know. The sicknesses." He waves a hand dismissively.

Cala continues to preen, but then she's hopping down to the table to try and smooze some food from Broec. Chirp? Ezra frowns at the teens, thoughtful for a moment. Truthfully he has no idea how to handle this. It never worked well for him when /he/ was being bullied. Not that many tried, since he was so strange. "Listen," he says, his voice low as he leans in a bit, "I know what you did just then. You leave her alone, else you'll have trouble holding on to your knots or finding a place to work in Fort's territories. Understand me?"

Broec will gladly give some of his meat to the gold, careful to set it aside on the table rather than feed her through his fingers. The two cronies bend their heads down to listen to Ezra and the one scoffs while the other scowls. "She tripped! How was that our fault?" You can't prove a single thing, their tone implies and they know it. Yet his threats make them reconsider getting too surly with him. "Yeah, we hear you. But we done nothing wrong." This time and that can be proven. "Sorry you're stuck here. Master Gvero will get to you when he can." And they push on by Ezra then, not wanting to linger any longer.

Ezra eyes them, and when they push past him he stops and clears his throat. "Apprentices," he calls, voice carrying. His father's voice. Not that they'd know that. "I have further need of your services. Journeyamn," he calls to one of the men sitting to his meal. "Would you mind if I borrowed these two apprentices for a task I need completed?" When the Journeyman nods with a polite, "Of course, Heir Stonehaven, help yourslef," Ezra smiles. "Thanks ever so much." Looking back at the apprentices, there's a bit of a gleam to his eyes. He has POWER. "With me."

The two apprentices turn and then blanche a little when Ezra pulls rank and power. They can only gape stupidly as the Journeyman puts them under the heir's "control" and stir nervously. Oh crap! There's a glance given to Broec, who is only scowling at them impatiently. What ARE they doing? But the two nod their heads to Ezra. "Lead on." the one mutters and they'll follow. Grudgingly, but they'll follow. Both are in their late teens and several inches taller than Ezra and stronger by a bit. Together they could easily thrash him and pummel him into the ground if they chose too. But they won't! Ezra has complete control over them now, if they value their positions.

Ezra would love to see them try. He'd get the crap kicked out of him but he'd get a few licks in in return. "Excellent, thank you," he says. His steps are swift and sure, knowing exactly where he's going. A turn here, a twist there, and he ends up in one of the lesser infirmaries. Kept more for storage than anything. "We need to roll some bandages," he says, pointing. But he's not just going to order them to do it. He'll work too, working swiftly and /well/.

It'd be an unfair fight against Ezra anyways, being two against one? Alone they're probably no challenge at all and probably quite cowardly. They follow along, exchanging glances amongst themselves until they enter the lesser infirmary. One they know all too well. Both try hard not to grimace but they do grumble a bit as they shuffle over the bandages. Really? This is baby work. And Ezra helps too? That probably keeps them from going into full mutiny before they get to the task of "helping".

Ezra tries to chat with them as they work, cutting and sizing the strips of cloth before rolling and tying them neatly, placing them into a wooden crate reserved for this purpose, stamped with 'STONEHAVEN' on the side. He asks about their pasts, their families, friends, specialities, plans for the future. Easy, casual, friendly talk. Or at least that's what Ezra is going for. Some sort of connection.

Both the young men prove to be reasonably talkative once they realize Ezra isn't going to put them into embarrassing work or be a complete jerk. They are completely confused by his behaviour but they'll talk. They're brothers apparently, born outside of Fort Hold, all from the same "class" with Broec and the others. No specialities yet and no plans quite yet. Figures! They ask after Stonehaven. Carefully. All during their conversation, another quietly enters and it's none other than Laurali. Usually this lesser infirmary is a little hideaway for her, being generally quiet. She has some linens in her arms and almost drops them when she spies Ezra and the two thugs there and her eyes widen, only to narrow as she frowns. She looks almost hurt seeing Ezra there and all three of them seemingly on good terms. Working together. It looks SO BAD from her end of things but rather than turn on her heel and flee, she just lifts her chin, looks ahead and goes about her business. The two bullies have paused in their work when they spied Laurali, darting looks to Ezra before they just go about their task with awkwardness. Pretending she isn't even there. Nope.

Ezra will answer their careful questions honestly, not seeming to mind speaking of Stonehaven. He won't hide his sadness, his difficulties. He's an honest man. When the look up Ezra looks up as well, turning and smiling when he sees Laurali. Is that relief in his eyes? "Laurali." Turning back to 'his' two apprentices. "You both know Laurali, yes?" The 'say hello and be polite' is implied in his stare. "She's a friend of mine."

Those two bullies may have been warming a little to Ezra by then. Still not trustful or buddy-buddy but no where near as standoffish. Things only get prickly when Ezra forces the introduction between them and the tension suddenly ratchets up in the infirmary. "We know her," one of the teens answers with a smirk and the other just scowls. Polite and friendly? Not happening. Laurali has slipped the linens into the closet and now stands stiffly and uncomfortable as she peers at all three of them. "I know them," she says softly but her posture and eyes say volumes more. SHe wish she didn't and she hates them and is fearful of them. Now Ezra is siding with them? That is probably why her brows lift up in mild surprise. She's a friend? Now she's confused and says nothing. Awkwaaard.

Ezra glances to Laurali and then back to the two young men. "A friend," he says firmly, eying them. "And quite possibly Stonehaven's healer, and I take care of my own." His voice drops then, low and dead serious. Even if they're stupid (which he doesn't think they are) they should be able to figure out just why he's so protective of those he cares for. "So if I hear word about any /issues/, you'll have me to contend with. Do you understand? Play your stupid bully games elsewhere. Or, better yet, grow some balls and focus on your own work."

Laurali startles when she overhears Ezra's words, her eyes focusing sharply on him. Possibly? And then it's on to the low and dead serious threats and she shrinks back, half expecting the two thugs to puff up and threaten back. At least they're already in an infirmary if a fight breaks out? Truthfully, the two older teens do bristle and posture but only because they're uncomfortable and ill at ease. Darting their eyes to Laurali and back to Ezra, both nod stiffly. "We understand," the one mutters, their frowns deep and eyes hard. Truce is over. "Are we done here or do you still require our services?"

Ezra doesn't back down, he just stares right back at them when they bristle and puff up. He just waits. "Good. I'm glad we had this talk. You two could be good Healers you know. But Healers /help/. They don't hurt. Think about that. And yes, we're done here. Thanks for your help. Head on back to your leader. I'm sure he's got some other demeaning job for you to carry out." There's a slight roll of his eyes as Ezra pushes himself to his feet and stretches.

Oh, they'll think about it. Will they change? Who knows. Dismissed, they hurry out and will rejoin Broec and probably spill everything about what happened. They'll all take notes not to cross Ezra's path again however, especially when he is officially recognized as a full holder. Now all who remains is Laurali and she is still silent, peering at Ezra in a wary and confused way.

Ezra will know if they spill to Broec, with his queen still out there waiting for word. But the Stonehaven heir doesn't do anything more about them, turning to face Laurali. His tough holder expression drops away then and he looks a bit sheepish. "I know they tripped you," he says quietly. "I was trying to…to punish them sort of, by pulling rank and stuff, rolling bandages, but I didn't want to make things /worse/ for you, so we were in here working."

Laurali is quiet for a long time as she absorbs what Ezra tells her. She winces when he brings up the tripping and she sighs. "Yeah, they like to pull things like that." she mutters, crossing her arms over her chest and rubbing the back of her arms. Tense and uneasy. "Thanks." she murmurs with a slight twitch to the corner of her mouth. Maybe a smile? Hard to say. With slow and cautious steps, she skirts around Ezra to peer at the contents of the box and if there's an unfinished roll she'll swiftly finish it and tuck it with the rest. "You didn't have to."

Ezra watches her move, smiling a bit when she fixes one of the apprentices' rolls. "I wanted to," he says quietly. "You've had it rough enough already. And if there's anything I can do to help…You're not without resources." He stays still where he is, but watches her move around.

"Why?" Laurali blurts out before Ezra can explain himself and when he does she makes sure to hold her tongue and listen. She grimaces, her mouth pressing in a thin line. "I don't need anymore pity." she says softly, not in a snarky way. Just blunt and forwards, speaking how she sees it. She doesn't believe he'd help her otherwise. Poor little Laurali, right? Inspecting the box again, she'll shuffle off and gather a few more bandages of different sorts, along with gauze and stuff it in.

Ezra looks startled and then he frowns. "I'm not giving you pity. Faranth. I /hate/ pity," he says, a bit heated as he turns away for a moment. "No, I'm not pitying you." Then why is he helping? He's wrestling with that himself.

Laurali blinks and then gives Ezra another searching look. It wasn't pity? He hates it too? "Thank you," she says softly and there is the sound of her rummaging in the box again as she properly stores the supplies for travel. "For not pitying me, then." Then there is silence and her Turns in the camps show as she steps with quiet steps until she is right beside Ezra and well within his personal space. Not the smartest of moves and neither is what she does next in a rare display of brashness. She hugs him. A stiff, tense and awkward hug but a hug all the same and she does not linger, immediately shuffling back and hugging her arms back around herself.

Ezra watches her, not wary for himself but watching her just the same, uncertain of what she's going to do. And…a hug? Whaaaa? He's startled, and only manages to get one arm around her before she's off again and his arm falls limp to his side. "Laurali," he says quietly, turning to face her. "Come here?" he asks gently, lifting his arms to her. A /proper/ hug.

He's startled? Laurali is just as startled by her behaviour and doubly so when Ezra doesn't react poorly and is calling her forwards instead. What? She can only stare at him for a moment before taking a slow step forwards and hesitates. Unsure and cautious, but she'll take another step and another. Her arms drop as she approaches and then she is in his personal space again, looking up. Okay, she's here?

Ezra reaches out to rest his hands on her shoulders, trying to gently draw her closer for a hug. A /real/ hug. If she'll let him.

A real hug! How long has it been? She's probably had a half-hug or something close to it from Lyreh. Maybe from others but were they genuine or out of pity? Laurali freezes at first, uncomfortable but so long as Ezra doesn't push too much or move too fast she'll relax and shuffle a little closer until she is pressed lightly against his body. Her arms lift, hesitate and then wrap around him. A real hug! That takes forever.

Ezra keeps the hug gentle, but he will hold her as long as she'll allow him to. He doesn't mind forever. He's patient. And he has some of his own guilt he's working through. It might not be because of pity, but their shared pasts certainly play a role.

Laurali is thinking more along the lines of hidden agendas. If he doesn't pity her, why is he hugging her? He mentioned being a friend of hers. Friends hug? Or is there more to it? He is a man, a young man, but male all the same. Is this a prelude to him wanting more? Patience wins out and she will relax enough to hug back and even go as far as to rest her head against his shoulder. He'll be able to feel the rapid pace of her heart, how flighty it is and her body is tense but not stiffly so.

Ezra just holds her, standing still but not stiff, his arms around her but not tightening or loosening. Frozen in time unless she gives any indication of more - or less. "Is there anything you need?" he asks softly.

Laurali blinks and shifts against him, not breaking the contact but leaning her head back enough to peer up at him. Anything she needs? Her cheeks colour. "No. I mean… this is—was nice." And she's totally been holding on too long, hasn't she? Flustered, she steps back and folds her hands together in front of herself. "Is there anything you need?" It's her turn to ask and she almost tacks in a 'sir' in that. Almost.

Ezra lets her go easily, with a little smile. "Me? No, I'm fine. But I should get back to the main hall and wait for the Master to finish." There's a slight eye roll for that. It's taking /forever/.

It is taking forever! Laurali bobs her head and shuffles back to the box and gently nudges it forwards in a suggestive way. This is his! "He'll be with you shortly." she murmurs with a small smile. "This all you need?"

Ezra moves forward to easily lift the box. "From here, yes. Could you get the door?" he asks quietly.

Laurali moves towards the door and holds it open, her eyes watching Ezra and it's obvious she's struggling with something. She won't speak until he's approaching the threshold of the door and she speaks softly. "Did you really mean it? What you said, to Broec's thugs?"
Of course she wouldn't ask about that until he's carrying an awkward and slightly heavy box. He thinks he knows what she means though. "About you probably being Stonehaven's Healer?"

Laurali is never one that is good with timing. She shakes her head. Not that! They already covered that, under the stands in Fort Sea Hold. "About being… a friend." she elaborates.

Oh, /that/. Ezra doesn't even have to think about that. He nods. "Yeah. I mean. If…you want to be. I…we…" Breathe. "You understand," he says quietly, shifting the box. And that means /so/ much to him.

Laurali is patient and listens quietly as Ezra works through his answer. In the end, she takes only a moment or two of silent consideration before she nods her head and smiles, for the first time, warmly. "Guess that helps, doesn't it? I'd be okay with being your friend." Since she has so few and only one other who understands to a degree.

Ezra grins back at her when he sees that genuine, warm smile, nodding his head. "It helps," he says with a slow exhale. "Good. Friends then." How…professional.

Professional. Laurali is still guarded and uneasy, despite having hugged and earned enough of Ezra's trust to gain that acceptance. "I left your tea at our table. I hope it is still there when you go to meet with Master Gvero. If it isn't… just ask a Journeyman for another sample." she murmurs, her hand still holding open the door.

Ezra nods, "I will. Thank you, Laurali. I'll stop by for a visit the next time I'm out this way." Which is fairly often, given his brother is right nextdoor, so to speak.

Laurali nods her head and smiles again, soft but warm. "That'd be nice," she murmurs and she figures he must come by often enough with Rayathess nearby. Dipping her head, she begins to pull the door closed as she steps back into the infirmary. "Safe travels, Ezra. And thank you." For everything.

Ezra moves out after her into the hallway. "To you as well, Laurali, take care." And then they're parting ways, Ezra going back to the main hall to wait for the rest of his supplies, and the watchdragon to carry them and him back to Stonehaven to store.