She has always known that there are cracks in his walls.
Of course, at first, she had been too furious with him to see that he had so many walls in place at all. Perhaps it was when she had asked him to be her Warder, over twenty years ago, and she had found him kneeling by the ashes of a dying fire.
He had been soft with her, quiet and firm, but his eyes had blazed and through their bond she had felt his aching grief and pain.
Over the years they became experts at reading each other-him more so than her-but she has learned to sense when he is upset. Like now, for instance.
He is staring into the fire, fingers wrapped tightly around the hilt of his sword, his face all hard planes and angles, his long hair hiding his expression from her. She knew she did not need to announce her presence-he always knew where she was-but she says anyway, "Lan."
He does not look at her. His voice is steady when he replies, "Moiraine."
Not, Moiraine Sedai. Just Moiraine. Something is certainly troubling him.
"Do you remember the day we first met?"
He looks at her, a soft flicker of surprise across their bond the only thing portraying his reaction. His blue eyes are as flat and as hard as glass. "I remember."
"You threw me in a pond." She says, and despite herself, laughs a little. How young and naive she was back then...
She counts it as a small victory when she senses his amusement, even if it does not show in his iron-hard expression.
"You are a fool, Moiraine, Aes Sedai."
Lan's voice cracks like a whip, and she whirls to face him. "Am I?"
He does not react at all to her wild expression, or the anger and frustration she knows he feels through their bond. He sits on his horse, and simply watches her. "We cannot travel so far into the Blight. The dangers-"
A loud snort from her cuts off his speech. How dare he lecture her about dangers! The Power burns briefly, within her, flaring up in her mindless moment of frustration and lack of control.
Lan senses it almost as soon as she does. He steps down from his horse and walks a few paces closer to her, but does not say anything. He doesn't really need too.
"I thought we were going to fight this battle together, you and I," She says, annoyed at how breathless and young her voice sounds.
"We are," He says, quietly, calmly. "but we do not need to rush to our deaths."
She flashes him a sudden, childish grin. "Don't you always say we are wedded to death?"
A strange combination of annoyance and something like affection reach her from the flow of their bond before he turns away, throwing up his hands. "As you will, Aes Sedai."
There is blood on her face.
She can feel it, trickling down along the line of her temple, hot and wet against her neck and hair. There is pain, too, a pain that spreads from her chest and abadomen and legs, and-
Light, it burns-
"Light, not now you foolish girl! Don't you do this to me, now!"
A brief flash of annoyance at being called a girl forced her fingers to twitch. A hand clasped gently about them. "Do not move."
Why? she wants to ask. But she can't force her lips to move. Can't do anything-
Arms are around her, and Lan is running. She can feel his chest move underneath her with each steady breathe, feel how his hands are strong and warm and safe-
Lan will take care of her.
She is to confused-her mind too muddled with pain and half-remembered dreams-to make sense of the emotions she can feel from her Warder. But she manages to feel worry fairly strongly, and something close to panic.
His grip tightens around her as he stumbles, and a soft sound leaves her throat.
"Hush, now," He says, and it is almost soothing. "I'm going to find somewhere safe to tend your wounds."
She forces her lips to move, because there is something she needs to tell him, something that will soothe the guilt and fear she can feel pouring off him in waves, "Lan,"
He doesn't say anything. Perhaps he hadn't heard her?
"Lan...you...you aren't going to throw me in a pond, are you?"
He does not stumble at her unexpected question, but he lets out a choked cough that sounds almost like a laugh, and says, "not today, Moiriane Sedai. Not today."
He is running through the forms-Cat Stalking in High Grass, Sun After Rain, Parting the Silk-his sword flashing and bending and weaving, and extension of his body.
She is watching, and sees something in her Warder as he jumps, spins and flows with the movement of his sword. Something she doesn't think she's ever seen.
Lan looks at peace.
And it is then that she realizes-sword play, these forms, is the one thing that makes sense in the world. The one, solid thing that he knows will never change.
He stops, and sheathes his sword in one fluid motion, turning to face her in the same movement. "Is something wrong?"
She shakes her head. "No," she says, quietly. "everything is fine."
"Do you remember the day Cat Dancer died?"
The question is meant to unnerve him, and it does. He stares at her, flatly for almost a full minute, before he looks away, nodding. "Of course I do."
"That was a sad day," she murmers.
He clenches his jaw, and she senses a shift in his emotions, a tightening, an ache. "It was."
She puts a hand on his arm, and smiles when he turns to look at her, his expression still guarded, but more open then before. "I think now we need to talk about a sister named Myrelle."
He stiffens under her touch and glares at her, eyes hardening. But his words are calm when they come, not quite accepting, but calm. "yes," he says, "I think we do."
Over the years, she has come to rely on his steady, soothing presence.
In the beginning, they had to speak to each other to understand what the other wanted or felt. Often times they would end up arguing.
Now though, Lan doesn't need words from her. He appears when she wishes, leaves when she wants to be alone, wordlessly deals with anyone who is troubling her, and is there when she is to frightened to think straight.
Tonight, he senses her dreams before the sleep is completely cleared from her eyes, and he is by her side in half a second. "Moiriane?"
She shakes her head, once, letting him know that she does not want to speak about it, and swings her legs over the bed so they are sitting side by side. They rest in silence for several heartbeats, before she whispers, "Are we doing the right thing, Lan?"
He knows what she means: Are they dealing with Rand in the right way? Are they being to reckless, letting him run uncontrolled with his power? Are they right, to conceal information from the others?
"I believe we will know soon," He says, just as softly. "But I think we are." His hand finds hers, in a gesture he so rarely uses that she stiffens at first. He squeezes her fingers, gently.
She relaxes against him. Because this is Lan. Her companion of more than twenty years, her friend, her Warder, who knows her inside and out.
Somehow, her head ends up resting against his broad shoulder, and they remain that way, her long hair spilling out across his back, his hand wrapped around hers, It is comforting, the gentle flow of their bond. It soothes her mind until she allows sleep to creep it's way back into her thoughts.
He lays her gently back down against the blankets. "Sleep." He breathes.
She knows without saying anything that he will keep watch the remainder of the night. She nods, and closes her eyes.
The last thing she sees is Lan sitting cross-legged by the entrance of their tent, sword across his knees, back completely straight, head half turned in her direction.
And she feels the quietest whisper of an emotion from him, something like loyalty and love and hope.
She thinks its called friendship.
She has always known that there are cracks in his walls.
He shows her in small ways, a cock of his head, a clenching of his jaw, light in his eyes, a twist of emotion-
But the iron-hard walls surrounding his thoughts and feelings break down, one by one.
They are still there, of course, now more than ever, but there are moments when she can see right into him. She knows that it makes him uncomfertable. and all of her talk of the past has set him on edge.
So she dips her head to him and says, "you may go, Lan."
He stares at her for a moment before bowing low. "Honor to serve," he says, and his lips quirk up into one of his rare, true smiles, "it will ever and always be so."
She smiles back at him. "Are you jesting?"
His eyes flash up to her face, raking her expression. He has always been more gifted at reading her emotions than she has his, and she can feel him questioning her now.
"No," he says, slowly. "I am not."
She walks over to him, puts her hands on his shoulders, and stares at him. This man, this lost and lonely would-be king who has been her companion for so many years, who has sacrificed everything to protect her, who toys and taunts death on a daily basis, who knows her better, sometimes, than she knows herself.
"Thank you," she says; she does not need to explain what she means by those two words.
He stares right back at her, blinks, dips his head. "You are welcome, Aes Sedai."
And he ducks his head and quietly leaves before she can think of anything more to say.
But then again, she doesn't really need to say anything.
Lan knows all her secrets anyway.