Disclaimer: I do not own the Wheel of Time, obviously. Everyone is © Robert Jordan.
"Hold still," Nynaeve said softly, pushing a cloth up against the gash on her husband's side. He gave no indication of pain except a slight tightening of his eyes, and even those held a bit of warmth for her sake. She pushed strings of his dark hair away from his face, enjoying the feeling of the silky locks under her fingers as she roved his body with her eyes for more wounds. Her own deep brown hair spilled over her shoulders in waves, something she detested, but her tresses weren't something that she was concerned about right now; the fact that Lan could very well be dying served to bother her more than her appearance.
Training between the men – Tairen, Cairhienin, Illianers – had resulted in age-old grudges dredging up and practice swords exchanged for steel. Her unofficial Warder had been going through the forms with the soldiers even before they decided that wooden practice swords were no good, and as he tried to calm down the already agitated camps – something highly unlikely for him – the men decided that he was getting in the way of their revenge and had decided that they didn't need a peacemaker. The end result had been several wounds in Lan as well as the men that were sprawled over the camp; her husband was careless of his own injuries, but having his pride damaged like that had been catastrophic, in one word.
Nynaeve shuddered slightly as she pulled back the now scarlet-painted cloth, revealing the garish wound in full. Somehow, on Lan, she couldn't bring herself to use the Power – perhaps it was the marriage, or some insecure subconscious block; she didn't know. For some reason, she liked using her own hands on his wounds – she had tended so many roof-falls or play accidents in the Two Rivers, and all of that had been hands-on. When she had no time, she simply Healed him, before the others or in a compromising situation, but tending his wounds with her own hands didn't drain his energy so much as Healing did. Or maybe because she just liked to touch him.
"Very still," he murmured, giving her the barest of smiles. She swatted his hand playfully, but she wasn't concentrated on that; her speed was devoted to wadding a hurried pad of cloth against the still-bleeding wound before it started flowing fully again. Unwilling to use any more of the camp's supplies than necessary, Nynaeve gritted her teeth at her own hypocrisy as she wove the lightest, thinnest band of Air that she could and wound it gently around his stomach, tying off the flow so gingerly that Lan hardly seemed to notice the use of the Power. Satisfied with the swatch of cloth supposedly held onto his skin by its own accord, she proceeded to run her fingers feather-light over his bare chest, searching for broken ribs amidst the multitude of many-hued bruises.
Relieved when she found none, Nynaeve left his torso and checked his left arm, finding a slash that could have been made from a whip from the way it curved and gathering a fingerful of herbs out of one of the bowls that decorated the floor around her feet. The canvas tent provided some semblance of relief from the chill air that swirled outside, but it did little else; a heavy rug had been thrown over the otherwise frigid ground, but even so the cold seeped into her knees as she adjusted the black silk dress around her shoulders. She had soon found out that dark colors kept the warmth longest, and even if silk wasn't exactly designed for this weather, it did better than some of the filmy things that she'd seen others wear in such weather. She definitely would have preferred good, stout Two Rivers woolens; unfortunately, no one saw fit to provide her with anything thicker than one of her fingernails.
She had let her concentration slip as she worked the wounds decorating her husband closed, and she had that to blame for her periodic shivers; of course, Lan remained unaffected by the cold, even shirtless. Another reason to love him? Not so much, she realized grimly; he had too much else going for him besides his strength. As if thinking of him as such brought gravity back, she felt the heavy golden signet ring on the narrow gold chain around her neck as if it had been placed there for the first time. Shifting her shoulders, she wound a strip of herb-infused bandage around the gash after washing it out with water first and tied it off with more care than she had ever done for a Two Rivers man or woman.
"I do not know how you get into these situations, al'Lan Mandragoran," she muttered under her breath as she examined the numerous shallow cuts that made an intricate pattern on his right arm. Deciding that those couldn't all be individually bandaged, she instead bathed the entire arm in herb steeped water and fiercely scrubbed all of the blood out of his skin. His legs looked fine to her even before going through her brisk and yet cursory examination, and the gash on his right temple got another Air-bound cloth to attend it.
Sitting back on her haunches, she folded her arms and gave him a look up and down before shaking her head and making a motion with her hand that said he could rise from the thick blankets that she had initially stretched him out on. Resting with his elbows on his knees and his chin placed on the platform his hands made, he looked uncharacteristic; frowning, Nynaeve gathered all of her hair over her shoulder and began separating the thick tendrils into the right positions for a plait, but as she began weaving the hair, Lan's deft fingers shot out and seized her wrist.
Her heart leapt as she gave him a questioning look, to which he responded, "Turn around. I would like to do it for you." Still slightly suspicious, Nynaeve let loose the dark snakes and pivoted on the heavy rug, edging backwards slightly so that her husband wouldn't have to move. Although slightly cautious at first, Lan's weaving grew more precise and sure of itself as he guided his fingers in the motions.
Turning her head slightly, Nynaeve offered him a small smile as she queried, "What for?" Her soft voice was unbefitting of her character, and it startled her husband, who slipped in a knot and lifted a lip in a snarl as he tore out the rest of the braid – gently, she noted – and started over. Stretching slightly, her fingers found the braided leather cord that usually held back her husband's hair and began undoing the strings. Taking one of the bowls of water off the floor, she soaked the leather in it for a moment before beginning to re-braid the material. She didn't understand how he could ignore a mud-crusted leather bump on his forehead for that long.
"A welcome diversion of my usual habits," he stated matter-of-factly in a stiff tone before dropping his voice to a near whisper and saying, "I also need an excuse to be with my wife." Nynaeve felt a smile blossom across her face, and although she tried not to let it interfere in her weaving, her efforts went unrewarded; a string slipped out of its appropriate place, and she scowled darkly at the weave before taking out that stitch and beginning it again.
"There is no time for simple things like this with war on the horizon," she replied in the same low voice, and furiously blinked away thoughts of Lan with wounds – wounds worse than those she had ever seen on him before and ever wished to see, thoughts of a Lan dying during Tarmon Gaidon and her powerless to stop it. Suddenly she couldn't stand it – he was working knots into her hair with no apparent concern to his own hurts, talking about idle things that didn't matter a hair's breath! Spinning around, she threw her arms around his neck with such force that they pitched back onto the pile of arranged blankets and sent a jarring stab of pain through the wound on Lan's brow.
Sobbing into his shoulder, she cried, "You cannot leave me, you careless lummox. I will not allow it." Her voice was muffled coming out from being pressed against his skin, but after his brief moment of shock, Lan gently placed his arms across her back and turned his head slightly to look at her face, buried in his shoulder and tears streaming down his bare skin, making tracks in the slight sheen of dirt and grime that clung to it like a garment. He fingered the unfinished braid trailing down her back with his calloused fingers, and the corner of his mouth twisted grimly.
"I know you won't," he told her softly, staring up at the canvas tent that arched above them. "I know it."
I wrote this several months ago when I had just finished...what was it, Lord of Chaos, I think? Something like that. Anyway, several facts are off, now, so I guess it could be considered slightly AU given the setting and that I don't remember at all where Nynaeve and Lan were last we met them in Crossroads of Twilight. So just stick it somewhere in between all of that...sort of. Yeah, a little AU. My first Wheel of Time fanfiction, by the way.