Grass is Greener
by etcetera-cat
Disclaimer:  Everything relating to the world of Velgarth and the kingdom of Valdemar is the sole property of the author Mercedes Lackey.  Any spelling mistakes, abuse of grammar, plot inconsistences or other nonsense is solely the fault of etcetera-cat.
Rating:  'T'.
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Chapter Nineteen- Sense and Senility.

:You look like someone’s hit you around the head.:  Harali pauses for a moment to eye me up and down slowly before adding, :with a barn door.:

For my part, I’m currently limited to activities of the mouth-hanging-open variety, although I’m fast approaching incomprehensible-mental-spluttering as well.  :Alex—: I manage, :Sam— bed!:  The poor neglected wisp of hay drifts out of my gaping mouth and lands on the straw I’m standing fetlock deep in.

:Yes, I had noticed.:  Harali says in a bland tone of voice.

:Alex!  Sam!  Bed!:  I reiterate in a slightly higher tone of voice, whilst doing a fair job of bugging my eyes right out of my head.  My fellow Companion simply continues to stare at me calmly.

:Our Chosen!:  I squeak, whilst giving her a myopic stare.  :In bed— the same bed…: I trail off for a moment before coming up with a killer summing up of the situation, :together!!:

Just call me Miss Observant.

In the wake of my vocal senility, ‘Ali shakes her head slightly and busies herself with having a drink of water whilst I continue activities of the mad-hand-waving disposition entirely within my own head.  :I think you’re over-reacting Teva.:  Harali’s voice breaks me out of my little reverie and I focus on her once more, my mouth shutting with a click of teeth.

:Huh?:  I ask in a highly intelligent manner.

The other mare blinks wisely.  :Over-reacting; jumping very tall conclusions from a standing start, you know?:


A resigned sigh.  :They’re in the same bed, sure, but are they actually… uh… doing anything?:  Harali twitches with the Companion equivalent of a blush as she says that last and I come to a reluctant agreement with her.  No bouncy-bed springs.  None at all.

:Oh.:  I’m good at these one word responses, aren’t I?  Anyone would think I was an adolescent male, what with all this grunting— with complex and subtle variations— that I’m doing.  Another ruminating pause before I collect myself enough to actually string together a sentence.  :So, what do you think, then?:  Lord and Lady!  Not only did I string together a sentence, but it actually made sense as well!  I’m on a roll.

:I think that certain Heralds have just gone spark out asleep due to exhausting themselves in Healing melds and couldn’t make it to beds of their own.:  Harali blinks and absently yawns.  :Which sounds like an eminently good idea; goodnight Teva.:

:Oh, goodnight Harali,: I reply slowly as she stretches and then gracefully folds herself down onto the thick bedding of straw in her stall.  I’m left to ponder her line of reasoning in silence and, I have to say, it does make sense.  Depressingly normal, boring and bland sense, but sense none-the-less.  Sigh.

The lantern hung just outside mine and ‘Ali’s loose boxes flickers slightly, as an errant wisp of breeze sneaks inside the glass and metal cover and toys with the small flame briefly, and shadows dance around me.  Another sigh.  Sleep does seem like a fine idea to be doing right now and I turn around on myself a few times, kicking the straw into a position of my liking before lowering myself onto it.

A yawn crawls up my throat and I gape my mouth open until my jaw clicks and I shake my head vigorously before stretching out.  The distant sound of crickets makes me twitch my ears slightly as I close my eyes.

One last thought occurs to me before sleep descends.  What’s going to happen when everyone wakes up, then?  But any further worrying, wondering or otherwise of that ilk is rapidly ambushed by soft edged dreams.


:You,: the Mindvoice sounds highly amused, :look like someone who’s had an interesting night.:  I recognise that voice… Harali.  It’s Harali; the Companion I’m on Circuit with, the one Bonded to Herald Samyel.  I open my eyes and am confronted with an extreme close-up of some straw.  Quiet internal ‘aaagh!’ here please.

Some rapid blinking, plus the opening of my other eye reveals that the straw examination is only a single sided affair.  Out of the other eye I have part of a wooden wall and a horrendous large white thing—!  Aggh!

:Teva?:  The white thing retreats upwards and proves to be Harali’s nose, which is attached to the rest of her head and is currently being dangled in my direction.  Her sky blue eyes are bright with amusement.

:You’re upside down.:  I comment vaguely as I drag myself fully awake and try to analyse my surroundings.  And indeed, from my perspective, she does very well appear to be dangling above me somehow.

:No, you’re upside down.:  Harali points out with yellow laughter as I finally register that I am, in fact, lying pretty much flat on my back, with my head up against the plank door to my temporary home.

:Oh…:  I move my head and regard my situation, before rolling myself onto my right side and scrambling awkwardly to my feet, kicking straw every which way about me.

:Have a nice dream?:  ‘Ali asks me in an arch tone of voice.

I sniff.  :I must’ve had an itch on my back or something and scratched without waking up.:  I reply.

:Or something.:  Harali laughs again.  :You would not believe that you’d only been groomed last night!  The amount of straw you have tangled in your mane and tail!:  Apparently to illustrate her point, my forelock chooses this moment in time to flop solidly into my eyes.  It is indeed infested with straw.  A backwards glance reveals that the rest of my mane that I can see appears to be in much the same herbivorous condition and additionally, appears to be doing a good attempt at defying gravity.  

We’re not going to talk about my tail at all.

All in all, I look like an accident in a hayloft.  Marvellous.

:How long have you been up— and what time is it?:  I ask ‘Ali as I shake my wayward mane out of my face.

:To answer your latter question first; it’s morning, still fairly early— about four marks until noon.:  Harali backs away from the door to my loose box and I nudge it open and step out into the small paved yard.  Wisps of straw cascade from my hide as I move.  :I’ve only been up for about a quarter mark— long enough to wake up and notice your acrobatic sleeping arrangements and have a drink.:  She winkles her nose at me in an equine grin and I stick my tongue out in reply.

Harali snickers and then continues.  :Also, to pre-empt the question I know you’re sure to ask any moment now;  no, we’re the only ones awake so far— excepting the stable hands and those of the Healers not involved in a major way  with yesterday’s debacle.:  I guess I’m predictable; I was about to ask her about the Plonkers in White.

:Well, I guess in that case that we have time for breakfast before any excitement begins.:  I decide out loud, before pricking my ears up and casting a covert sapphire look around the stables for a stable hand-type person.  There’s not one to be seen.  Time for the equine equivalent of a ‘Hoi!  You!  Feed me!’, I do believe.

I point my nose skywards— it’s a very attractive and clear blue colour, scattered with some wispy white clouds— and let out a piercing whinny.  Harali fixes me with a look of surprise and I glance at her.  :Ordering breakfast,: I explain to her.

Within extremely short order—practically before I’ve finished speaking to ‘Ali, in fact— a red-haired figure emerges from a dim doorway at a concerned trot.  Ooh… it’s that chappy… uh… Harris!  The head groom type from last night, who groomed Harali.  Gosh, that mental note just keeps on making itself useful, doesn’t it?

“Is owt wrong—?”  He stops when he sees us Companions standing across the yard from him.  I flag my tail and whicker at him, as Harali pricks up her ears.  “Ah, ‘ungry, then?  Ah’ll getchas summat, hang on.”

:See?:  I say triumphantly to Harali, who gives me a jaded look before sighing and shaking her head.  :You’re just jealous that it was my good idea.:  She rolls her eyes in resignation.

A squeaking sound attracts my attention before I can gloat about my supreme wonderfulness any further and I twitch one ear around, followed by my head tilting sideways.  Harris appears again and strides across the yard.  The squeaking sound is coming from one of the metal handles of the pair of feed buckets he’s carrying.

Yummy!  Breakfast!

“There’s yeh goes, miladys,” he grins as he passes us and hangs both buckets outside the loose boxes.  “Ah’ll sort these out fer yez—“  in saying that he slips first into ‘Ali’s box, then mine and collects the empty grain buckets and the water buckets in both hands.  Another grin.  “Have yezself’s a nice day then,” and with that, he’s off.  His accent really is impenetrable, you know.

Harali has already picked a bucket and is busy munching, so I amble over to the free one and stick my nose in— nice selection of mixed grains and flaked something-or-other in here.  I guess that’s an advantage to being around Healers, maybe?  It tastes really rather good, in fact— it’s almost as good as the grass in Companion’s Field.  Now that’s an interesting thought— maybe that’s partly why the Field grass tastes so good; all the Healer’s knocking around next door to us and everything… I shall have to ask Veran about that when we get back.  Mental note:  Annoy Groveborn on return to Haven.

After making that note, I busy myself with scoffing wholeheartedly and don’t even notice when a certain Healer trainee by the name of Vadi puts in an appearance.  “Good morning.”

I flick my ears back and raise my head slightly to glance over at the source of the voice.  Once I confirm that it is Vadi, I nicker a greeting at him and swallow a large mouthful of my breakfast.

“I guess you like Harris’ special extra ingredient then,” Vadi observes with amusement.  “I never believed him when he said that ‘owt on fer feet loves meh mix wi’ thems dried mushyrooms in’.”  Vadi doing Harris the groom’s accent is even less understandable than Harris doing Harris the groom’s accent and I’m forced to rewind that entire little speech and analyse it bit by bit; oh, that’s nice… he puts— mushyrooms…?  Mushrooms?!

—lying collapsed in a stall—

—I’m Companion Teva—

—feel sick, Mamma Derri said not—

—Herald-Courier Myri—

:He—what—?!:  I jerk my head up and spit out the contents of my mouth. 

—walking towards my destiny, my Chosen—

—collapsed and moaning in pain—

:Mushrooms?!  Is he trying to kill us?!:

:Aaah!:  Harali squeaks loudly with shock as I begin my incoherent shrieking— a sound that is copied vocally by Vadi as I roll my eyes and skitter away from my feed bucket whilst giving it the most poisonous glare I can manage.

Up a tree!  I’m up a tree and I’m flaming well waving around the arms I haven’t got and yelling at the top of my Mindvoice.  :Ahhh!  Mushrooms!:

The collective racket instigated by your truly rapidly attracts the attention of every single being within mad-shouting-horse distance of the stables; which means that I have a sizeable audience as I jig around, squeaking and attempting to spit out the insides of my own mouth.

Which is roughly the point at which a roiling cartload of emotion smacks me between the ears, startling me into yet another squealing fit.

Shock first, fast followed by confusion, bewilderment— flash of an image of a plain painted bedroom wall— more shock— perspective changing; a rumpled and sleepy looking blonde hair man jerking into view— raging wave of embarrassment, mirrored by the hot blush erupting over the blonde man’s face, scrambling sensation of movement and frantic pacing— panic—running—

:Teva!:  My Chosen’s Mindvoice blasts through my confused and irrational panicking and he’s suddenly there; right in front of me, grabbing hold of my nose in both hands, and then transferring one hand to my forelock— actions which effectively bring me to a complete halt.  I stare dumbly at Alexander.

“What the Hells going on?”  The irritated voice cuts through the air as Daska strides forwards, her ‘Fear Me For I Am A Healer’ persona at full blast.  Eep!

Silence descends, before Harris begins rabbiting on at high speed, his accent thick enough to smother small cities, and Daska cocks her head to listen for a moment before waving a hand to shush him.

I imagine he’s told her all about the white psycho horse posing as a Companion…

“Well?”  Her arms cross her chest.  Alexander still has both hands firmly wrapped around my nose and through my mane and stares wordlessly at the Greens clad woman as I continue quietly having panic attacks in my own head.

“I— don’t know,” my Chosen confesses, “Teva woke…uh… me up just now and I can’t get a word of sense out of her.”  Uh, excuse me?!  Mushrooms, mate!  As in, those bloody fungi things like the ones that I nearly died last time I ate some!  In!  My!  Food!  Unfortunately, I’m not coherent enough for understandable Mindspeech, so Alex instead gets treats to a head full of babble.  Observe:

:Murder!  Groom—mushrooms—murder!:  Mental running around in small circles screaming.  :Things!  Those—food—groom—things!:

Alexander winces at the changing volume of my rant.  “Teva— calm down.”  He tries to reason with me, as the silent gathering of Healers, stable hands and apparently everybody in a three mile radius watches with interest.

Harali perks her ears up suddenly and turns to nudge Samyel solidly, from the spaced expression suddenly apparent on the rumpled looking blonde Herald’s face, I gather she’s just figured out why exactly I’m having this particular fit and is relaying her thoughts to her Chosen.  About ruddy time!  I need sympathy here!

My guess proves right as Samyel suddenly blurts out.  “Mushrooms— there were mushrooms in the feed and, well… you Healed her Daska.”

The significance of his terse explanation penetrates Daska’s Scary Healer-ness and she swears softly as she glances at me.  I settle for rolling my eyes around, showing the whites, and treating Alex to another burst of, :Bloody—death!  Fungi!  Food—groom—mush—aghhh!:

For his part, my Chosen finally seems to have gotten the idea; this is probably more to do with Samyel’s explanation than my ravings, and he makes a soothing sound before walking backwards, away from the group, perforce bringing me with him as he still has a good grip around my head.

With flattened ears I can hear the receding group behind us breaking into speculative chatter, over scored by Daska bringing things to order by providing an explanation, suitably helped by Samyel.
  Once we’ve walked far enough to leave the yard behind and for Alex to bump arse first into a fence bordering a paddock, we stop.

“Ow,” my Chosen decides, before wrapping both arms around my neck and giving me a hug.  We stand like that for rather a long time.

:Mushrooms.:  I manage, with an all-over shudder.

“I know,” he responds, “feeling better?”

:No.:  I snort in a petulant fashion.  Now that I’ve stopped being hysterical, I’m getting rather embarrassed at how incredibly stupid I must’ve looked, and an embarrassed Companion is a snippy and disagreeable Companion.

“Fine,” Alex says calmly, still hugging me.  Bah!  I’m supposed to be the all-knowing, wise one!

A short period of silent sulking and re-centring follows as I slowly collect myself.  :Sorry,: I finally manage.

“What for?”  Alex relaxes his arms and leans back against the fence to look at me with a tilted head.

:The shouting and the over-reacting and everything.:

“I think you had justification.”  He points out with a slight smile.

:But I woke you right up!:  I wail.  Which reminds me!  I was planning on being annoyed with a certain Mister Macho the Stupid today… something which I really can’t do now given what a fool I’ve been this morning…

Alexander blushes hotly.  “Uh…”  He stutters.  I lift my head up and eye him up and down.

:What?:  I ask with interest.  A random recent memory begins jumping up and down, madly trying to gain my attention.

My Chosen flushes an even brighter shade of raspberry and develops a sudden fit of coughing.  No further information there then, I decide to give the bouncing thought my attention… and find myself reliving the unintentional Alex-eye-view of my rather rude and hysterical wake-up call to him this morning, something that I didn’t even register consciously when it was actually happening.

:Oh, my…:  I remember now!  Alex and Sam ended up in the same bed!  Please pause here for a bout of squeaking if you wish.  :Well—:

Alexander looks up at me again, cheeks still stained red, and interrupts, “I swear I don’t remember—I don’t think that—“ He’s babbling as much as I was a mere half mark ago.

:Didn’t what?:  I inquire innocently, with a flick of my tail.

My Chosen gives me a suddenly suspicious look.  “You already know!”  He accuses me and I prick my ears and tilt my head to one side— panic attack completely forgotten with the much nearer and more enjoyable prospect of meddling in my Alex’s life.

:Do I?:  I exaggerate looking around.  :Know what?:

“Teva—“  Alexander stares at me.  Oh dear… fear the Kicked Puppy Eyes of Doom.

I sigh.  :You didn’t.:  I admit, :although it would have meant some peace and quiet for ‘Ali and myself if you had, you know—:

“What?”  My Chosen splutters and both of his hands grip convulsively at the top bar of the fence he’s leaning against.  You know, I wasn’t aware humans could actually go that colour without the aid of face paint… gosh.  Is that entirely healthy, do you think?  “What the Hells?!”

I tip my head over to the other side and blink wisely.  :Well, you like him—: Once more, I state the obvious!  Fear me… :and, guess what?!  He likes you!:  Cue a sunshine like grin from me.

Alexander is still a rather attractive shade of purple and is making strangled sounds of disbelief.  “Teva—“ he manages after a long moment.

:Bouncy bed springs.:  I reply flatly, a phrase which conjures up more strangled coughing and a veritable storm of embarrassment from my Chosen, as well as some righteous indignation.

“It’s nothing like that at all!”  Me think he doth protest too much, eh?


“Teva!  He’s my mentor!”  Yes, and…?

:Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy—:

“Bloody horse!”  Charmed, I’m sure.


“Aggh!”  Alexander is now giving me a look halfway between enraged and terminally embarrassed and I eye him with one sapphire eye.  Maybe I went a tad too far?  But then I notice that my Chosen isn’t actually looking at me, but rather at something behind me.  I twist my head around.

:Hello Harali,: and her Samyel is standing next to her, giving both of us a strange look, one hand absently running through his standing on end hair.

:He looks like a bird’s nest.:  I comment randomly.  Harali rolls her eyes, and my Chosen makes the mental equivalent of ‘meep’, which is well known in the language of Teva and means ‘I cannot speak for my libido has just over-ridden my brain and I am now thinking solely of bouncy things’.  It’s a good word, isn’t it?

“Um…”  Samyel’s blushing too, now.  ‘Ali and I’ll have sunburn at this rate.

“Um…”  Alexander coughs painfully.

:…:  Harali gives me a confused silence. Well.  She’s not being much help, is she?

“—think that’s Daska calling—“  Alex suddenly blurts out in a rush.

“—Healers, judgements, sick people—“  Samyel agrees hastily as the pair of them step hurriedly away from us Companions and edge around each other, careful to keep their respective distances.

Honestly?!  What does it take?!

I stare after the pair of retreating Whites clad figures.

:Bouncy!:  I shout defiantly at Alexander’s back.  :I know what I’m talking about!:

I think I’m rubbish at this relationship counselling stuff.

:Bouncy bouncy bouncy!:


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