The Redcrosse Knight
Part 2 - thunder
By fyre byrd
Seifer sits cross-legged on his bed, stitching away at his cross even though his left hand is all wrapped up in bandages. The bandages make his hands more clumsy and that means he has to pick out his stitches twice as often, the way Mrs. Kramer showed him. That makes Seifer twice as frustrated and angry with his project, but he would be just as frustrated laying around doing nothing, since he can't play the way he likes to with his hand like this.
Mrs. Kramer actually didn't fuss as much as they imagined she would when she saw his wound though. She merely pursed her lips and told them to be more careful when they were playing. Then she poured antiseptic on Seifer's hand which made him want to swear. Instead he made inarticulate noises and grimaced a lot. Squall watched the proceedings with a certain degree of fascination until Mrs. Kramer told him to get lost. But now Seifer has been forbidden to go outside for the weekend. Mrs. Kramer said it was more trouble than it was worth to try and keep him indoors for any longer than that. All the same, Seifer is housebound. He derives great satisfaction from the fact that all the rest of the children have to stay inside today too. The other kids might not mind it so much, but Seifer and Squall always play outside.
Squall peruses a book about knights on his own bed, which is beside Seifer's. He lays on his stomach with his legs kicking at the bed. This shifts the light in the room, causing the candles to flicker and shadows to loom and tremble across the walls and across the cloth in Seifer's hands. Seifer sort of wants to punch Squall in the face because the kicking is annoying. Not only does the kicking make him screw up his stitching, it also makes this swishing tapping sound at random intervals. It is driving him crazy.
"Shut the fuck up, Leonheart," Seifer says, in lieu of punching. He is left-handed and so it will be awhile before he can punch properly without bleeding all over the place. Anyway, he is occupied right now and if he really wanted to punch Squall he wouldn't let a little wound stop him. Only he doesn't right now because he is busy. Squall looks over at him, his gray eyes narrowed with annoyance.
"I haven't said anything," he responds icily, still tapping his feet against his bed frame. It is the kind of nitpicking Squall is known for. He is a bastard about semantics and loves to get his way by misinterpreting what the other kids say. Mrs. Kramer is too clever for him to bother trying it with her very much. The shadows dance around like crazed bite bugs. Seifer grits his teeth.
"If you stop that I'll do your lion for you too," Seifer offers. He knows that he is going to end up doing it anyway. Squall is too big of a klutz to get it right and he would pick a difficult pattern. It is just like him. Besides, Seifer may need something to do to keep him busy while he is convalescing. He likes that word. It sounds dramatic. Also, Squall has no sense of purpose when it comes to these things. Even if he wasn't an enormous klutz he just doesn't have the vision to finish such a project. In the end, he just doesn't care about the details. Seifer knows better. He knows that the details are important. If you want to suitably impress people you have to look impressive and if that means that Seifer has to do this fiddling needlework then he will do it. Really, Seifer should have a peon to do such things for him, but sadly, Squall is too insolent to be much good as a slave. Seifer has tried to convince Squall to do his bidding and only gotten a kick in the shins for it.
"I'll consider it," Squall replies, turning a page and kicking the head board intermittently, just to show that he can and to be a dick.
This proves that Squall is not at all sympathetic about Seifer's wound even though he caused it with his stupid wrestling about. Who shoves someone onto a needle in a fight? It is cowardly, that's what it is. Also, the only reason Squall is inside with Seifer is that it is raining outside. Were it not raining Squall would no doubt be out in their dueling spot practicing up so he could humiliate Seifer even better when his hand was healed. But it is raining - buckets and buckets. Enough to drown the legendary Leviathan, Seifer imagines. And there is lightning. Lots of it. When it lights up the window the room becomes much brighter at intervals and Seifer can see what he is doing more clearly and there is none of the annoying candle-flickering that comes from half-wits kicking at head boards.
Selphie and Irvine and Zell are camped out underneath a bunch of blankets slung between the kitchen chairs hiding from the lightning. Seifer and Squall are the mature ones though and so they are watching it streak across the sky through their bedroom window and doing useful things by candlelight while Mrs. Kramer cooks dinner on a little gas stove. Well some of them are doing useful things, Seifer thinks, some of them are just being annoying. He glares at Squall.
"Why don't you read me something from that book while I work on this?" Seifer asks. "We can use it for our duels and stuff." Mrs. Kramer orders books for the children every other week from the library in the nearest town, which is called Aegir. She always asks them what sorts of books they want and lately Seifer and Squall have been asking for books about the Sorceress wars and about the Sorceress' knights. They ask for them because recently they've begun to understand that Mrs. Kramer is a sorceress, although she is a good sorceress and not a bad one, like some of the ones they read about. Seifer decided that Mrs. Kramer needs some knights to protect her and that he and Squall are perfect for the job, being the bravest and least childish of the kids at the orphanage.
Well, Squall may have a stuffed lion under his pillow, but Seifer chooses to disregard that since he is otherwise a pretty decent guy and mostly always beats Seifer at duels. They got the idea for the duels from a book. So it is very likely there will be more good ideas in this one. The light shifts and shivers across Squall's hair and in his eyes. Candlelight is perfect for telling stories, in Seifer's opinion, even if it is rotten for cross-stitching.
"This book isn't true stories," Squall says, sitting up and settling himself so that he faces Seifer. "It's legends and stuff. It might be true and it might not."
"I know what a legend is, idiot. What are the legends about?"
"There's one about a knight who is so strong he breaks every sword that is made for him."
"Like me," Seifer observes, pleased with the comparison.
"Except, this knight's swords were not made of wood." Seifer looks up, affronted at Squall's tone of voice and sees that he has raised one of his eyebrows in contempt. Seifer tries to do this all the time, but without any success. The one eyebrow always wanders up with the other and this just makes him look surprised and rather silly. As a matter of fact, his efforts have actually caused the stoic Squall to laugh a bit, which is a very rare occurrence. It irks Seifer to no end that he cannot raise one eyebrow. He settles for sneering instead. He can do a first rate sneer. His upper lip pulls right away from his teeth. But the terrific sneer is wasted on Squall because he doesn't even look up from his book.
"Also," Squall continues, meditatively, "the knight doesn't break them on purpose across his knee in a fit of temper." Seifer jabs his needle violently through the cloth and pricks his finger again. He yowls angrily and quickly sticks his finger in his mouth so that it doesn't drip on the immaculate white fabric. He has not yet considered how exactly he will keep his cloak clean when he intends to use it to fight in.
Around his finger Seifer mutters out, "Maybe he does, how do you know? Anyway, I can't help it if my need for victory gets the better of my temper sometimes." Squall makes this exhaling, snorting kind of sound.
"So, anyway, this knight, whose name is Siegfried . . ."
"A stupid name," Seifer comments, tugging on a tangled thread.
Squall ignores him and continues, "he needs a sword so that he can kill a dragon. He manages to fix a special sword with the help of a blacksmith. And this blacksmith, who is supposed to be helping him to kill the dragon, secretly makes a poison to kill Siegfried after he has defeated the dragon."
Seifer is interested now. He stops working on his stitching to listen. He likes stories which contain a good bit of intrigue.
"So Siegfried ends up killing the dragon and gets some blood on his hands which gets in his mouth too and the blood gives him all kinds of powers. Like, he knows what the blacksmith is planning so he doesn't drink the poisoned wine. Then he finds this sorceress who is sleeping in a ring of fire and that's where the story gets stupid."
"What happens?" Seifer asks, watching Squall trace a finger down the page.
"Well, he kisses her and she wakes up and they fall in love and stuff like that," Squall says, wrinkling his nose in distaste.
"That's not so bad," Seifer ties off a length of thread and picks up the spool from his bedside table to cut off another piece. "Most knights fall in love with their sorceress."
"That's gross. I don't want to fall in love with Mrs. Kramer."
"We're different sorts of knights to Mrs. Kramer, you idiot. Anyway, she's already married."
"I still think it's gross," Squall reflects, turning a page in the book.
"That is because you have no romance in your soul," Seifer observes mildly. Squall's lashes brush his cheeks and cast lacy shadows on them.
"And you do?" Squall replies. "I don't see you letting Selphie kiss you."
"That," Seifer remarks, "is also different. Selphie drools in her sleep and she never brushes her hair and anyway she's a child."
"Okay, whatever you say," Squall says mildly. Seifer looks over at him and notices the impudent expression on his face. It offends him, but he decides to let it go. He is feeling magnanimous today. It has nothing to do with his hand, nothing whatsoever.
"We should have a story too," Seifer decides as he uses little crosses to make a bigger cross. He thinks his eyes might be crossing from all of this stitching. He sighs and puts his needle down.
"How come?" Squall asks, shrugging and causing the shadows to chase themselves all over the room again. Seifer is glad he has given up on trying to work in these conditions.
"See? No romance, no finesse. That's why you will always need me," Seifer notes. He lays the cloth down on the bed and stretches his legs out feeling the pleasant pull on his stiff muscles. The room feels safe and pleasant and warm with the light glowing from the candles on the bedside table. It feels cave-like and close and cozy. Squall sniffs unappreciatively like the cretin he is. He gets up and throws himself next to Seifer on the bed.
"You're just saying you have finesse or whatever because you know I can beat your ass any day."
"Am not you giant prick," Seifer replies carelessly. Squall pins him to the bed and tickles him. Seifer squirms. The tickling makes him twitchy. Squall knows just where to do it. He bends his fingers into claws and brushes them against Seifer's stomach. Seifer laughs uncontrollably, his limbs quivering. Squall's legs are tangled with his and Seifer's arm is pinned beneath him. Struggling, Seifer breathes hard against Squall's neck. It feels kind of good to have Squall's weight on him like this. He isn't too heavy. He drapes nicely, like a blanket and he feels warm in the slightly chilly room, but the tickling has got to stop. Seifer manages to pull his right arm free.
"Quit it before I piss myself, idiot!" he gasps, twisting his body helplessly. Finally Seifer gets his hand around Squall's head and traces his forefinger lightly in circles on the back of Squall's neck. He knows Squall's weak point too and Squall is much more ticklish anyway. Squall falls off the bed trying to get away. It makes a loud thud that raises dust up to frolic in the flames.
"Behave yourselves boys!" Mrs Kramer yells from the kitchen.
"Yes Ma'am," they chorus dutifully. Squall's voice is a bit muffled because he landed on the floor face-first.
"About this story," Squall says from the floor. Seifer leans over the edge of the bed. Squall has rolled over now and his hair is mussed and has a bit of fluff in it from the rug, but he is otherwise unharmed. Seifer isn't as disappointed about the lack of harm as he ought to be. This proves that Seifer is weak and reveals why Squall is always winning, Seifer decides.
"Well, it's boring just always fighting and dueling when we don't have a reason for it," Seifer says.
"I guess so," Squall nods. It looks funny when he does it laying down on the floor. Seifer can see right down his nostrils when his head goes back. Fortunately there is nothing to see in there. "Where will we get a story though?" They look at one another. Seifer's eyes may bulge out a bit because the blood is rushing to the top of his head, but he can't be sure about that because he can't see himself which he always thought was a great shame because he thinks he is pretty good looking even in their mirror which has a crack running all through it. When he is done thinking all of that Seifer sits up on the edge of the bed and comes to a realization.
"Irvine," he says decisively.
"Yeah," Squall agrees. "If anyone knows how to tell a story it's him. That's what Mrs. Kramer always says." Zell knocks on the door frame politely.
"What?" Squall asks, still laying between their beds on the floor. Zell looks confused.
"Mrs. Kramer says it's time for dinner."
"All right," Squall replies, lifting himself up on his elbows.
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