For multicolored-world, who wanted something including Lowell & Syrenne.
Set sometime after Zael gets a room at the castle but before shit starts hitting the fan, to phrase it in a spoiler-free manner.
The scrape of a chair against the floorboards next to her cut through the rowdy noise of the tavern. Someone sat down.
“You a’right? You’ve hardly touched yer beer.”
Lowell’s unmistakable accent. Syrenne stayed silent, face pressed into her folded arms on the tabletop. She wasn’t really in the mood to deal with him.
“Ye’ve only had, what, three? Four? Usually ye’ve knocked back at least 15 by now.”
“Shut up,” she grumbled despite herself, tilting her head slightly so that one eye peeked out to examine him. He grinned back at her, swiping her tankard off the table and downing the contents in one. That she didn’t immediately spring to her feet and punch him in the face for nicking her booze, that bastard said a lot about her mood.
A moment passed in which neither of them spoke. Lowell wiped his mouth with the back of a hand and stifled a burp. Syrenne couldn’t help but snort. How he got women to throw themselves at him, she’d never understand.
“Where is everybody?” she asked suddenly, moving to prop herself up on her elbows, signalling for Ariela to bring her a refill.
“The wee one -” (Yurick, she internally translated) “-is upstairs, sleepin’ I think. The rest are at the castle.”
Syrenne wrinkled her nose. ”Ugh. I hate that place. Can’t be arsed with the pompous twats and their obsession with manners. ’Don’t put your elbows on the table’, ‘Don’t use the dessert spoon to eat your soup’…what bloody difference does it make!?”
“Oh, Syrenne, my dear, you never cease to astound me with your ladylike qualities,” Lowell teased with a wink. He received a middle finger in reply.
“I have to say I agree though,” he continued after a moment. ”It’s no’ really for me. It never was. The ladies are a bit…”
“Too easy?” Syrenne finished. Lowell snorted, lips curling into a smile, but didn’t finish his sentence. Syrenne wondered if she was right, but didn’t bother asking.
They quietened again. Ariela brought a new tankard of beer for each of them, and they thanked her.
“So, are ya gonna tell me what’s wrong wi’ ya? Or do I not want to know? …It’s not that time of the month, is it?”
Syrenne kicked Lowell under the table, smirking as he winced. ”No it’s not, you cheeky sod.” She took a swig of beer, and sighed - she was nowhere near drunk - before placing the tankard back down. ”It’s just…” she trailed off, unsure how to word her feelings. She wasn’t even sure what she was feeling.
“It’s just…?” Lowell prompted, taking a drink from his own tankard.
“It’s just…everything’s changin’. And…I dunno if I like it. It’s weird. Everyone’s at the castle half the time now. We hardly see each other. It’s like…like we’re driftin’ apart.” She stopped abruptly and downed the rest of her beer, slightly embarrassed that she’d said so much without really thinking. Lowell didn’t say anything. He looked as though he was waiting for her to continue, so, hesitantly, she did.
“I’m happy for Zael and Dagran, I really am. They’ve worked hard to get as far as they’ve gotten, and they’ve almost achieved their dreams. But…” Syrenne paused and put her empty tankard on the table. She raked a hand through her messy red hair before continuing. ”I just…don’t know if I want to follow them any further. I know I’ll never fit in with the hoity-toity knightly crowd at the castle, but I don’t want us to split up either. They’re my friends, and…and…I don’t know.” She seemed to deflate, looking uncharacteristically small in her seat.
After a moment in which Syrenne composed herself and puffed herself up again, Lowell spoke. His face and voice were both completely serious, which was unusual for him. ”If it makes you feel any better, I feel the same. And I have a feelin’ Mirania and Yurick might, too. No one’s sure what ta do any more. So…you’re not in this alone.”
He shoved his half-empty tankard across the table. ”Here. You need it more than me right now,” he said with one of his lopsided smiles that he always gave when he was trying to cheer someone up.
She couldn’t help the laugh that escaped her, and she downed it in one. Raising a hand in the air, she waved Ariela over with a bellow of “Another beer! I wanna get absolutely hammered!”