Who Knew
By
UnperfectWolf
Archive: fandomaid only until 14 march 2005
Rating: pg
Fandom, Pairing: Tortall Un. Tamora Pierce, jorenkeladry
Summary: (AU) " Neither seemed to know what to do now that they weren't directing their troops or ducking arrows of trying to set up a secure camp. Neither knew what to do now that they had time to count their losses."
Disclaimer: all belongs to she who can write fast, well and lots. In other words, it all belongs to Tamora Pierce.
Author's Notes: AU because Joren can't die or my interest in Kel fanfiction dies.
Written For: fandomaid
Beta: Cara, cause she's cool.
Word Count: 684

WHO KNEW

Joren had never seen Keladry look as worn as she looked just then, when she thought no one was watching. Both of them had been out on the frontline for over two years with out recall, and without replacements for those who fell. The return to the palace was not the happy event he'd thought it would be, nor was the relief he knew he should feel present. At the moment the only thing he could feel was weariness.

Neither seemed to know what to do now that they weren't directing their troops or ducking arrows while trying to set up a secure camp. Neither knew what to do now that they had time to count their losses.

As commanders, they'd both had to write out the messages to the families of those that had fallen. Her stack was nearly as big as his, and he wondered somewhere in the back of his mind, hoping and pleading, that she'd brought some for other groups that hadn't been recalled yet, and many of them, as well as her own. He had, and he was grateful he didn't have to look at the stack and see the exact amount of fighters that he had lost.

They called out the fief where the message needed to go and the appropriate messenger would take it. It was when he got to one of the last one's in his stack that he hesitated. It was a knights notice. "Mindelan."

Her eyes shot to him, widening as she realized just what he held. It would be for one of her brothers, he knew it. She knew it. The messenger's knew it.

She held out her hand for it and he let her take the notice. She opened it, her features schooled into the tight emptiness he knew so well from their training days. He watched as her composure fell, her face draining of color.

"Oh Goddess, Inness…" she sighed out, her eyes large and filled with tears that she wouldn't let fall. Slowly, she closed the message and held it out. "Take it to his wife," she told the girl.

They finished handing out the rest of the notices and walked side by side towards the palace. Neither had stuck around for the parade that the king had thrown for them when they'd first returned to the city, and neither would go to the feast that night. They could not celebrate the deaths of those that they had commanded.

They walked in silence until they reached the knight's quarters. Both of theirs were barely unpacked, barely used. Neither of them had spent more than one or two days in a row in the quarters since they had received them.

"Want a drink?" he asked her, the first words he'd said to her all night. Or even since their companies had joined on the road coming south, a week before. Probably the only civil one's since he'd met her on the wall, back when he was a squire and she still a page.

And even then, the sincerity hadn't reached his eyes. It all seemed so pointless now. All their fights.

They paused in front of his door, both knowing the only thing in either of their rooms worth going in for would be to drink the alcohol they had in their saddle bags which were slung over their shoulders.

She had to contemplate for barely a moment before she nodded. She didn't particularly like alcohol, but tonight she would need it.

He poured some of his whiskey for the both of them, their fingers brushing when he gave her her glass, causing a shiver to run down her spine.

She gave him the barest of smiles in thanks, but he understood. She couldn't give anymore, not after so much death.

The alcohol relaxed them, if just barely, allowing them to talk. And they talked, for hours, about nothing. About everything.

Who knew, that when faced with the same problem, the same situation, two mortal enemies could find companionship within one another.

Across the palace, in the great hall, a feast went on without their guests of honor, and no one seemed to notice.

Finished 8 February, 2005.