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 Four- Revelations and Plots.

As Brandyn said a few days ago, bits of me ache that I didn’t know I possessed.  

It’s been nearly two weeks since I Chose Alex and he seems to be settling into the lessons and everything fine.  It’s also good for me, as I can eavesdrop on his classes, and I’m learning things too!  Like, for instance the History of Valdemar since I was last around.  A lot has happened!  I mean, I knew some things had changed, I was told that before I came back, but it’s still odd hearing about it.  

For instance, to the west Valdemar now reaches to the shores of Lake Evendim, to the north it extends to the North Forest, which is now called the Forest of Sorrows, and there’s half a mountain range down south called Burning Pines that looks like Hell had a party, and we’ve been involved in a war with Karse for several generations!  I mean!  Last time I was um, corporeal, Lineas and Baires were between Valdemar and Evendim, the North Forest was practically Outkingdom and Karse was still at the ‘bandit attacks and false negotiation’ stage with us!

It’s a lot to take in, let me tell you.  Sheesh, and now I sound like an old washer woman.  Just give me a shawl, a cane and a pile of washing and leave me to complain!  

I lift my head and look around the Field.  Not much is happening, which suits me fine, I’m quite happy to stand here in the sun, chewing on some grass and baking my poor abused muscles.

I ache.  I ache.  Pity me, whimper whimper.  Maybe having a Chosen who can already ride wasn’t such a good plan.  We had equitation with Misa again yesterday, and she evidently decided that she had put us through our paces enough in the ring, so she decided that we could run the obstacle course along with her and Tenaran.  Ow.  That is all I am going to say on the matter.

I turn my attention back to Alex.  He’s having a class again, Politics and Contempary History.  I suppose I should pay attention, I mean, all this stuff is kind of in the back of my mind already, but it can’t hurt to brush up.  Besides, I know the current political situation in Valdemar etc etc… from eavesdropping on the Council Meetings along with the majority of the Field, but it’s nice to actually find out why exactly things are the way they are.

For example, as well as the geographical bombshells of earlier this week, I now find out, via Alexander’s ears, that although we are still technically at war with Karse, it’s pretty much back to the Borderland banditry and covert sniping due to a Herald called Lavan Firestorm who took exception to the Karsite Army after they attacked him and his Companion and vapourised the lot of them, including himself, and half the mountainside.  Hence Burning Pines apparently.  Mental note to self, never ever get on the wrong side of a Firestarter.

That’s the end of his History lesson. Most of the others have Courtly Graces now, but Alex obviously doesn’t need lessons for that.  Which means that he is done for the day as he hasn’t got any afternoon or evening chores, so he should be coming to see me in a little bit.  Good good.

I wander slowly over to the stable yard and, right on cue, as I get there, a certain green eyed Trainee emerges from the doorway to the main building and breaks into a grin as he spots me.  Mmm… melting Companion…

:Hello, hello.:  I greet him as he clambers over the fence and gives me a hug.  :Are those apples I spy in your pocket?:  Drool, I am definitely getting spoiled.

:Hello beautiful.:  He replies, lights the fuse, give it a count of ten.  Would all personnel please take cover in the event of rains of Companion.  :They are indeed.:  Saying this he produces a pair of green apples and hands me one, which I obligingly munch.

:Mmmm.:  I send to him in approval and he laughs and gives me the second apple which goes the same way as the first.

:You are going to end up spherical.:  Alex informs me with a grin.  His Mindspeech has improved a lot over the past week or so, possibly because he has little old me partying in his head ninety percent of the time.

:Not a chance.:  I inform him.  :Misa and Tenaran’ll kick us from one end of the obstacle course to the other if either of us gets spherical.:  I laugh at the mental image that calls up, and share it with Alexander, causing him to chuckle as well.

“Don’t remind me!”  Alex exclaims out loud.  “I’m still aching from this morning, despite turning myself into a raisin in the bathhouse after equitation.”

I look at him with one sapphire eye.  :I ache too.  Pity me.:

“Aww, you’re the best and bravest Companion in the Field and everyone should worship at your aching feet.”  Methinks someone’s caught my sense of humour, ah well, it’s sounds sympathetic if you listen to the tone and not the words, that’ll do.

:More, more!:  I demand with a grin.  And on your left is Teva, the Companion who never grew up and insists on retaining the mental age of a four year old.  Alex obliges and starts scratching the roots of my mane and between my eyes.  Mmmm.

:Any plans for the rest of the day then, sir?:  I ask him after he’s given me enough of a fuss.  For the moment at any rate.

Alexander sighs.  “Well my classes are all done for the day and I don’t have chores this evening.”

:Yes…:  I wait for him to continue.

“I suppose I should really do something noble-ish like show up for Evening Court.”

I fix him with a wicked blue eye.  :And to meet the laaaaay-deees!:  I snort with laughter and move around him striking poses.  I probably look like I have Swayback disease.  Things with four legs should really not try to swish their hips from side to side.

:Oh, you must be Alexander Malken!  I’ve soooo wanted to meet you.:  I simper at him in an impression of a social butterfly bit of marriage bait.

Alex looks at me with a slight smile on his face and raises one black eyebrow at me.  Dammit!  He can raise his eyebrows!  I want to be able to do that, I want to actually have the things to raise!  If I wasn’t a supernally wise being, I’d sulk.

“Teva,”  He says, crossing his arms over his chest.

:Oooo, you mean me?!:  I flutter my eyes at him and send the image of a giggling noble girl, resplendent in over done dress and with more pearls than brain cells.

Alex laughs at that.  “It isn’t really like that Teva.”  He tells me, shaking his head slightly.  I fix him with a knowing Look.

:Oh yes it is laddy boy.:  I inform him and shake my head to get my forelock out of my eyes.  :I’ve eavesdropped on Court before, not just the working Audiences and I’ve seen the marriage traps and shilly shallying.:  I blink and look wise.  Well, attempt to look wise.  Given that my Chosen is now laughing at me I don’t think it worked.  Sigh.

Alexander straightens up and stops laughing, as if he’s just remembered something.  “I wouldn’t be like that anyway.”  He says.

:Well of course you wouldn’t.:  I inform him.  :For one thing you’re sensible, and for another, any bit of marriage bait that comes after you will have to get through me first.  I fancy finding out if the social butterflies can swim in velvet and brocade.:  I snicker a bit at that and a part of my mind adds the comic image of ladies of the Court floating down the Terilee with their skirts puffed up with air to my cache of ‘stupid puerile things that make me laugh’.  It’s a big cache.  I might have to knock down a few walls to expand it soon.  Oh well.

“Well, partly that.”  Alex says slowly, then stops to look at me.  “Um, fancy a walk?”  he asks and, at my nod of agreement, moves off into the Field, with me trailing just behind him.  What he said obviously what he wanted to say, and my curiosity is spiked.

:Alex.:  I move up beside him and look at him sideways.  :Is there anything wrong?:  He looks at me and opens his mouth as if to say something, and then seems to change his mind.  :Alex.:  I repeat.  :What’s up?:  

“I, uh…”  he looks around and trails off.  Okay, alarms bells are ringing in the back of my head now.  This, I can see is the downside to having a Chosen.  He is hurting, and I am hurting, because he won’t tell me why he’s hurting and because his feelings are echoing down our bond.  Ouch.

I look at him worriedly, silently prompting him to tell me whatever it is.  Come on little fishy, you now you want to tell the nice white horsey.  Come on… you know you do…  Whoever it is, I’ll pound them into dust.  Well, I amend slightly, I’ll pound them into a kinda sticky gloop that’ll be all mixed up with dust.  I promise.  I can also bite, hard.  Very hard.  Please tell me…

Alexander looks briefly back at me, and that sadness and something else, are back and shadowing his eyes.  Biting.  Lots of biting.  And kicking.  Hard kicking.  Bone breaking activities in general.  With a start, I identify that other look in his eyes as fear, and suddenly, even though I don’t know who’s responsible, I am overcome with the wish that I still had hands so that I can throttle whoever it is.  Hard, and slowly.  And then bring them back and do it again, and then bring them back so that I can make red gloop with my hooves and their bodies.  Growl, I am Angry Companion, hear me roar!

My bloodthirsty, to say the least, plotting is interrupted as Alex clears his throat.  “Can we, uh, go to that pine copse again?”  He asks tentatively.  I’m shielding my thoughts from him, so he can’t pick up my rather gory ranting, but the fact that I’m standing rigid as marble and am, oh dear, yes I am grinding my teeth slightly.  

Bad Teva!  Listen to your Chosen, and then you’ll have someone to grind your teeth into!  Cackle cackle.

I take a few deep breaths, mentally speaking and calm myself down.  :Of course we can dearest.:  I say and step in the direction of the copse as he follows me.  Within a few minutes we are back in the green twilight of the pine trees and are shielded from any casual observers.  In the few minutes that it has taken to get here, my bloodthirsty little mind has come up with all kinds of interesting plans.  Good good.

:Alex, what is wrong?:  I turn to face him, allowing my worry for him to shade my sending.

He gulps and looks at me, but doesn’t meet my eyes properly, focusing instead on my ears. “I uh, don’t know how much you know about me.”  He says quietly.

I shake my head with slight irritation.  :Yes you do.:  I remind him.  :Look inside yourself and you will know what I know about you.:

“Oh.”  His face goes blank for a moment.  “You don’t know.”

:Know what?!:  Hanging on tenterhooks here, come on!  Tell me!  I want to pound behinds!

“Before you came for me. I uh, had an argument with my father.  About my uh… personal life.”  I look at him blankly.  Need bigger pictures, smaller words.  Preferably in flashcard form.  “When I said about how I wouldn’t be uh, like that in uh Court, well…  It’s not because of why you think.  It’s because of what I am, what I had the argument with f-father about…”  He trails off for a moment and I continue to look blank.  And the winner of the  ‘Dumbest Companion of the Year’ award iiisss… Teva!

Alex is white faced now, and the fear is there again, but different, mixed up with the original emotion is the fear that once he tells me, I’ll runs screaming for the hills and he’ll get kicked out of the Collegium.  As if!

:Alex…:  I don’t even attempt to keep the whimper out of my voice.  :Please just tell me.:

He closes his eyes.  “I’m shaych.”  It comes out in a rush, sounding more like ‘mshyyych’ but I get the gist, mainly because his mind is also wailing the same thing at me.  I blink slowly.

:That…that’s it?:  I admit I sound a tad incredulous, but my nerves have just been wound up harp string tight so I’m not exactly at my tactful best.

Alexander’s eyes fly open and he looks at me in shock.  “You—you don’t mind?  It’s—“  His tone is disbelieving and I cut him off after five words.

:Mind?!  Why should I, or anyone else for that matter, mind?!  Your sexual orientation is nothing to do with, with—well, anything!:  Oh great, thus speaks the Queen of Tact and Diplomacy.  Luckily, my outburst, given as it is straight from the heart, seems to convince him more than any amount of tactful or diplomatic replies would have.

“Really?”  He whispers.

:Really!:  I assert and step towards him.  :Now come here.:  I demand and nudge him in the chest until he wraps his arms around my neck and clings onto me.  I reciprocate by surrounding him with the sensation of being hugged, and with enough love to set a whole city to mooning over each other.

After a while, during which my mane gets a tad soggy, and the summer birds of the grove chirp unconcernedly around us, Alex releases me and steps back to look at me.  I respond by lipping at his damp cheeks.  :Want to talk?:  I offer, looking at him with sky blue eyes that unwaveringly meet his dark green ones.

"I, uh…yes.”  He looks around us, and then back to me.  “Well, you know now.  I uh, told father just before you came.  I figured that I was of age, and that he couldn’t do anything.  Besides I think he suspected, uh, something.”

I don’t say anything, just continue to send love and comfort down our bond.

“Turns out, he already knew.  Baren had told him that morning.”  He kind of sighs and I nuzzle at his face.

:And that was a problem?:  I ask.  I already know that it must have been, given his behaviour before, but it’s the only way I can think to prompt him.

“You could say that.”  Alex says bitterly.  “Baren is my half brother, his mother is my father’s current, and second, wife and neither of them like me.  I think Baren actually hates me.  Father married Baren’s mother when I was a small child, my mother died of a fever when I was little, and she has always resented me.  Then, when she had Baren, she resented me even more because the presence of me meant that her precious son wasn’t the heir.”  He pauses and shivers slightly and I mentally pencil in the Evil Witch of Haven at the top of my ‘people to be glooped’ list.

“Naturally, Baren picked up her resentment towards me and developed his own petty hatred and resentment in addition.  Father was always very distant to me, I think in someway he blames me for mother dying, and the pair of them used that to worm into his affections and slowly alienate me from him.”

“Baren was always looking for some dirt to dig on me, and once he found out that I-I was shaych, he ran to father with it.”  Scrap that, Baren is at the top of my list.  “Father is, well-“

:Hidebound and ignorant.:  I interrupt tartly and flick my tail.

“Yes.”  Alexander agrees sadly.  “And he hit the roof, went absolutely ballistic and threatened to disinherit me in favour of Baren, which suited him and his mother down to the ground, and to turn me out of the house as he didn’t want ‘a dirty disgusting pervert’ to live under the same roof as him or to be in-in any way attached to him.”  Silent tears are winding down Alex’s face now and I decide that Lord Alexander is most definitely at the top of my list.

:Oh, Alex…:  I feel like crying myself now, caught up as I am in the wash of his emotions that are bombarding me via our bond.  I step forward again and nuzzle his cheek, before pressing my head into the front of his tunic.  He slowly brings his arms up around me and we stand like that for a while longer, the birds still chirping and rustling in the sun lanced undergrowth of the copse.

Finally his crying stops, and more, I can feel a lessening of the pain in him at the onslaught of love and throwing at him and he relaxes his grip on my neck.

:I am personally going to turn the three of them into compost, plant food!:  I admit that comes out with a hint of a snarl.  Alright picky, more than a hint.  And Alex looks at me in shock.

:No one, and I mean no one messes with my Chosen and gets away with it.:  I inform him.  :Composting them is only the beginning.  I am going to grind them down to gloop.:  I insist fiercely.

Alex smiles weakly at that.  :I love you Teva.:  He says and touches one hand to my muzzle.

Sudden brain shut down.  Danger!  Melting Companion!  My legs go wobbly and I briefly forget about the mass homicide I’ve been gleefully planning in the face of that simple statement.  He grins through his still damp face at me, obviously he’s figured out what I go like when he does things like that and how it can be used to manipulate me.  I think I’m going to spend the rest of my life wrapped around his little finger.

Alex wipes his face with one sleeve and I suddenly realise that it’s dark, and nearly night time.  Damn, we keep doing this.

“They don’t matter.”  He insists as we begin our walk back to the Collegia complex.  “I have you now.”

Bang!  In my head, this patch of the Field is now decorated by bits of me.  I’m still going to plot various ucky demises for Alex’s family, but for the moment, I’m quite happy to wander across the moon drenched grass in the company of the one person in the world who matters to me above all else.


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