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candles burning
The Levalier House
Eternally Missed 
17th-Aug-2011 12:55 pm
Devin Amell
A random dash of something-or-other inspired by some herbwork of my own lately. :B This falls after Proof but before Revelation.

Title comes from the Muse song of the same name, which starts out with the line, Chase your dreams away...

Eternally Missed
Author: jenova
Rating: PG
Warnings: None

Anders hadn't expected to find anyone in the keep's stillroom, especially at this hour of the evening, but the door was slightly ajar, and the light spilling through the gap proved that someone was inside. As he drew closer, he could hear the unmistakable sound of something being crushed in a brass mortar; that alone gave him a good idea who was in there.

Rearranging the awkward bundle of freshly harvested elfroot in his arms, he knocked briefly on the door before slowly pushing it open. "Commander?"

Once upon a time Anders might have resented having to take orders from a younger mage, but after everything that had happened here, he was just as happy as anyone else to leave the burden of leadership with Devin Amell, who had shouldered the weight not happily, but competently. Recent events, though, made Anders wonder guiltily if the mage-Warden was still fit to lead, or — maybe more importantly — if he still thought of himself as such.

Devin glanced up as Anders entered and smiled thinly in greeting. "Do you need to work? I'm just making up a tisane for myself, but I'll be done in a moment."

As Anders drew closer, he could easily identify most of the herbs the other mage was working with, each in its own jar on the workbench. A small square of muslin lay on the bench with a heap of lightly crushed dried herbs in the middle, waiting to be bundled up and infused into hot water.

Chamomile, anise seeds... and I definitely smell lemon balm... Wait, poppy flowers?

"Oh, uh, no, I was just going to bundle these up to dry," Anders said out loud, setting the elfroot down for a moment on the other end of the workbench. "That's quite a mix you're working on — probably going to taste awful, but I guess that isn't the point, is it?" He paused, and caught Devin's eye when the younger mage looked up. "Having trouble sleeping?"

"I guess there's no point lying to someone who knows more about herbalism than I do, is there?" Devin said with a brittle, mirthless laugh, his gaze sliding back down to the workbench. Without truly answering the question, he reached into another jar — skullcap? — and took a palmful of dried leaves to add to his concoction.

Anders frowned, considering the ingredients more carefully. Chamomile for sleep, of course, and poppy for sound sleep, but lemon balm, anise, skullcap... Nightmares. He's having nightmares.

Without another word, he turned to the shelves and glanced over them rapidly, looking for a couple of infrequently-used ingredients. After a moment of perusal, he pulled down two more jars while Devin watched, bemused.

“Valerian,” Anders said, hefting one jar, filled with roots, “and clock flower.” He rattled the other jar, which was filled with dried leaves. “They should help, too.”

The other Warden looked at him for a long moment, as if wondering at his motives, but finally nodded in acknowledgment. “Thank you. Anything that will block them out...” The last was said in an undertone, as if Devin were talking mostly to himself.

Anders didn’t really have to ask what sort of nightmares they were; if they’d been of the usual Grey Warden variety, the other mage would probably be more open about the matter, maybe even joking about it to some extent. No... since that suspicious “messenger” had come from Antiva, a month ago, the Warden Commander hadn’t been much like his usual brash, obnoxious self, and understandably so. It wasn’t really surprising that he was having nightmares, and it was easy enough to guess what they might be about. Or who.

“Well,” the healer said, as much to break the long, uncomfortable silence as anything else, “there’s your infusion, then, and if it doesn’t seem to help, we can try some other things. All right?”

Devin’s lips quirked slightly in a half-smile of amusement at Anders’s sudden air of seniority. “Yes, ser.” He dumped the broken skullcap leaves out of the mortar, adding them to his little pile, then reached for the valerian.

Anders gave him a small, uncertain smile before turning to reclaim his elfroot. Since the other Warden hadn’t chased him out, he figured he was clear to go about his own tasks, and soon his attention was focused on tying the herbs into neat bundles with twine, the familiar sounds of chopping and crushing behind him creating an almost soothing backdrop to work in.

The two mages had spent many hours like this, restocking potions or making up field kits, with little conversation once they were deep in their work. It had always been a comfortable silence in the past, an unspoken sense of camaraderie as they shared a chore. Tonight, though, as Devin finished his preparations, the resulting silence seemed like a void, markedly empty, and Anders wasn’t entirely sure how to fill it, or if he should even try to do so.

He turned around to see Devin tying his little muslin bundle shut. Knowing the younger mage would be leaving momentarily, Anders hurriedly looked for one more ingredient, then found the small jar he was looking for and offered it to the other Warden. “Here, you could probably use this, too.”

Devin glanced up at him and smiled crookedly as he accepted the jar of honey. “Thanks, Anders. You know, you’re all right.”

Hearing his own words from several months ago echoed back at him gave Anders a bit of a start, but he had to laugh. “Thanks, I think. Let me know how that works out for you — it might be a recipe to keep for later, yeah?”

“Mm.” The other mage nodded slightly, his expression suddenly more serious. “More than likely, I’ll need it again.”

With that unhappy pronouncement, he turned and slipped out of the room, leaving Anders wondering once more if the Warden Commander was in any condition to command anymore, and what it might mean if he wasn’t.

18th-Aug-2011 12:11 pm (UTC)
So sweet. I like Anders and Devin bonding over herbology.
20th-Aug-2011 02:48 am (UTC)
Thanks! :) I figure it's a common ground for them that is pretty safe to talk about -- nothing controversial or upsetting in it, usually. ;)
19th-Aug-2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
A grand glimpse into Devin's nightly torment - and Anders being a softie :) You make these interludes beautiful. Love the complexity of Devin. And herbalism! Always wanted to be a herbalist when I was younger - too much Cadfael, I think! :D
20th-Aug-2011 02:54 am (UTC)
Thank ya! :) I figure if Anders is a healer at heart, there's got to be a soft squishy center in there. ;)

I love the idea of herbalism; I've been dabbling in aromatherapy and natural perfume for a couple of years now but I'm branching out a little into the herbs themselves, and it's definitely interesting!
20th-Aug-2011 06:37 am (UTC)
I have a small herb garden now - albeit in pots, as the other half only has a rock garden - but used to love making herbal teas when I had a bigger garden! And flower salads... it's incredible how many flowers are safe to eat. And surprisingly tasty! :)
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