A/N: I'm not sure where this came from. It just hit me ^^;; I've always wondered, though, whether or not Van and 'Lendel managed to fool everyone.
Disclaimer: Valdemar, Vanyel, Tylendel, and everything else belongs to Mercedes Lackey. I'm just playing with them. I promise to give them back when I'm done.
A/N Addendum: The quarrel featured in this story is NOT 'Lendel and Van's little brawl in the mud. Sorry to those who didn't realize—I thought I'd made that clear ^^;; This particular incident is a figment of my imagination, and takes place before the fight. Here, Van n' 'Lendel never come to blows. They're just talkin' smack to one another ^_~
"They're at it again," Bard Breda said in disgust. "Gods, can't that boy ever let up? It's almost unbelievable that he's related to Savil."
Lancir, the Queen's Own Herald, followed Breda's gaze to the two boys quarreling just a few yards away amidst the brightly colored flowers of the royal gardens. Spectators in worn grays and browns and in fine velvets and silks stood by their respective companions, urging on the heated argument. "They're just boys, Breda," he said wearily.
Seated on an ornate bench behind a decoratively trimmed bush, they were in the perfect position to observe without being observed.
"I just don't understand that boy," Breda said angrily. "He seemed like good lad—a little full of himself, but a good lad. And then this," she gestured towards the group, "sprang up out of nowhere."
"…Pervert!" the dark-haired boy was exclaiming to the cruel laughter of his high-born compatriots.
The taller, fair boy snarled angrily, taking a step forward. "Watch your mouth, damnit! Don't think Savil is going to protect you if you ever get far enough away from your little friends—"
"I'm not afraid of you, Tylendel! If it's a fight you want—"
"Tell him, Vanyel!"
"You wouldn't have the guts, you worm!"
"I've had enough," Breda exclaimed as she made to rise. Lancir grabbed her arm. "Wait, Breda."
But Lancir's attention was back on the two boys, whose eyes were locked on each other. . There was a tense silence as trainees and high-borns alike watched the two silently battling wills. Tylendel's fists were clenched, and the other boy's hand hovered near his belt knife. And yet… And yet…
There was something there. Something about the way they were staring at each other. Something about the heat in their eyes that wasn't hate, something about the curve of the dark-haired boy's lips that wasn't a sneer….
Lancir let his shields down and reached for the two… and almost laughed aloud, in astonishment if nothing else. There were strong emotions there, all right. He almost felt like applauding the two on their performance as he drew his shields back around him, because it was obvious now that hatred and contempt were the furthest things from their minds as they gazed at one another.
Lancir didn't know why they appeared to be fighting. He wouldn't pretend to understand their relationship by that one little peek into their emotions. But he knew that they were in love, and amidst the anger and aggression of their respective friends, it was one of the most beautiful things Lance had ever seen.
"What is it, Lance?"
He turned back to Breda. "That boy… What is his name?"
"Vanyel," she said, looking slightly confused and a little suspicious. "You remember, Savil's nephew?"
"Ah, Vanyel." A name to remember, then. Vanyel Ashkevron. A dark-haired boy, rather on the short side, whom, Lancir now recalled Breda telling him, had wanted to be a Bard. Vanyel Ashkevron, nephew of Savil and secret lover of Tylendel Frelennye. 'A complicated child,' Lancir mused. 'He plays his role well.'
But now Lancir could see each gesture they made for what it was—meaningless. He even fancied he could hear the love behind every hateful word.
"Let them have at it, Breda," he said mildly, fighting to keep a smile off his face. Come to think of it, he'd noticed Tylendel had seemed a lot more cheerful lately—and very preoccupied. How could he have missed the signs?
"But one of them might get hurt…"
"Not today, Breda." 'And not ever, not really.' "We should probably go. There are many things to be done, and not enough hours to do them in."
He rose silently, taking Breda's arm and leading her away from the group of quarreling youngsters.
'I wish you the best of luck, children, whatever may be going on between you.'
He rather thought they both deserved it.