Morgaine heard the barest of knocks on her door, then a soft creak as it was pushed open.
“Mrs. Braham? I’m here with some potions if you need them. How’re you feeling?”
She made a noise that was somewhere between a moan and a whimper. Rasping around her painfully dry mouth, she said, "I am too exhausted and miserable to do anything, and in too much pain to sleep so I can stop being exhausted. Now I remember the other reason I don't drink much anymore."
She lifted the pillow from her face just enough she could glance in Leif's direction. "I will take anything you have to give me, I don't care if it tastes foul. I just hope I can keep it down, I feel sick."
She lowered the pillow again. "Please tell me they put that ignoramus in a cell- and not one he'll break out of tomorrow."
Morgaine definitely didn’t sound good, and when she glanced over at Leif, she didn’t look like she was feeling much better. He came into the room, pulling up a chair as quietly as he could. “Here, I’ll get you something for the nausea first.” Leif pulled a bottle of green potion, the third largest of a set of spoons, and a small glass from his satchel. He measured out a spoonful of the green potion and deposited it into the cup. Once he was sure Morgaine was able to hold onto and drink the potion without danger of choking, he handed the small cup to her. “Here - it has a bit of an aftertaste, but nothing too awful, so don’t feel the need to down it in one gulp.”
While Morgaine took the stomach-relieving potion, Leif traded out the green potion for a one of teal, a very small bottle of something deep violet, and a larger glass, and answered her question. “I heard some rumors in the King’s Arms this morning; from the sound of it, he’s definitely in jail. I don’t think he’s getting out, either, the jail’s quite solid, everyone’s determined to make sure he’s guarded - and he doesn’t have his wand. I actually still had it up until I went back to Marson Manor for potions. I left it - locked up - in my office, I’ll get it to the constable later today. Agoomenti!” Leif had pointed his wand into the larger glass, and filled it with cool water.
Swapping the empty medicine cup for the water-filled one, Leif said, “Drink as much as you can of that, but not too fast. ...You probably know this already, hmm, if you used to do this all the time?” he asked with a tired smirk.
Morgaine watched mutely as Leif measured out nausea medicine, and in spite of the throbbing in her skull, forced her back up on the backboard of the bed so that she could drink it without choking on it. She accepted the cup and with a rasp of "Thanks" began to drink it. As Leif had indicated, it had an aftertaste, but it wasn't terrible- more like a bitter tea that had been steeped too long than anything else.
She listened to his explanation of what had happened to the juice seller. When he'd finished the narrative, she muttered, "Good. If he were my son I'd tan his hide after what he pulled yesterday. Honestly- all that for the sake of a practical joke? I indulged my share of pranks as a teenager but there is a difference between harmless jokes and something that can get people hurt or killed. Too much alcohol can kill someone all on it's own, and I seem to recall him saying something about the juice being stronger than he'd realized it would be- what if his calculation was even further off?"
As she spoke, she realized that the horrible feeling of being about to vomit was receding, and she all but sagged with relief. Her skull was still in agony, but the absence of the nausea was a tremendous improvement already. Leif plucked the empty medicine cup from her hands and offered her a glass of water, which she accepted gratefully. She even returned his smirk, though there was pain and exhaustion in her eye as she did so. "I do, yes. I'd have gone and gotten something already, but the cistern is out the side door in the alleyway beside the shop. I didn't fancy walking all that way."
She sipped a little of the water, wincing as her skull sent her a fresh lance of agony. "Leif... just how drunk was I last night? I can't remember too clearly, it's like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that've all been mixed up in my head."
Leif nodded, his expression hardening. “I’m trying not to think about it too much because it’s so infuriating but - ‘Woo, I don’t know why he - any of them - thought that would be a good idea. Alcohol’s not just something you fool around with - as a mage, he should know that. And with something somebody’s going to eat or drink - there’s a reason there are recipes for potions, with magical ingredients. They had be studying for over a year in the church to learn just the basics - and they gave a lecture every time someone messed up from carelessness or distraction, and made you brew it over again.
“If a church can be that strict, I don’t understand how his school didn’t manage to beat that into him. And that’s not even going into his stunning spell.” Leif scowled. “Or using the smoke spell again, or the spell he threw at Elin - I don’t know how true his aim was, if I hadn’t shielded it and he’d missed, it might have broken a bone. I’m planning to write a report for the guard, or the constabulary, or whoever reads those things - that idiot needs to be punished for the scam and for assault.”
Morgaine looked exhausted as she explained that the cistern was a ways away; Leif didn’t blame her for wanting to stay in bed. “Understandable. I’ll leave you some water when I go, though you might have to get Miss Dylas’s help if you need more than that. ...I’m sorry to hear Mister Kidde was a victim of the stuff, too; certainly nothing either of you needed. Even if only in terms of Miss Dylas’s assistance.”
“Er...I don’t really know how to judge levels of drunkenness...you passed out halfway between here and the King’s Arms, but after all the running and the stunning spell, that might not have been the alcohol alone?” He shrugged. “I suppose you could tell me something you do remember, and I can tell you if that was status quo...or a, ah, high point of the evening?”
Morgaine quirked an eyebrow at the archmage. "Clearly there was quite a bit of excitement I missed after the mage knocked me out," she remarked dryly."I don't recall any of that. How is Elin, anyway? I seem to remember she you were worried because she was using a lot of magic... Woo, it's still strange for me to think. Magic that lets you imitate what other people can do sounds incredibly useful when applied right."
Since it seemed no further potions were forthcoming immediately, Morgaine allowed herself to slide back down so that she was flat on the bed again, and put an arm over her eyes to shield them from the light coming in through the window. "Let's see... I remember that I was probably being more touchy than I should have- I'm really sorry about that, by the way, I know you don't like people touching you. I'm just a very affectionate drunk and ah... I tend to show affection with touch. When I'm sober I confine it to just squeezing someone's shoulder or the like, but I'm sure you know about alcohol and inhibitions." She gave a tired, sheepish grin. "People usually have a drunk 'type' and based on my experience I know I'm clingy, rambly, and have the mood-swings of a hormonal teenager. None of those tells are indicative of much, since I can start acting that way as soon as I get a bit tipsy."
She rolled over on her side. "I don't really know- what's the oddest thing you think I did? From the standpoint of someone who was sober the whole time and knows what I'm usually like."
Morgaine doesn't really provide much help in this because she's headachey and can't remember much clearly at the moment- that and she's more desensitized to drunken shenanigans and probably a bit biased in dismissing a lot of what she does recall.
“Oh - right, I’m sorry, that was after the stunner. It was a long night, which, you know. Elin was coming at him - in the loosest sense of the phrase, she was still drunk - with a bottle, and so he threw a force spell, I think intending to break the bottle. To give you an idea how powerful it is - it bounced off the shield I cast to protect Elin, and knocked a good chunk of stone off the corner of a building. So even if he had hit his target…” Leif took one long breath in, and let it out slowly. “He should consider himself lucky I was able to block it, too. There wouldn’t have been much left of him for the crowd to restrain.”
Leif shook his head. “But, anyhow; Elin’s...she’ll be all right. Poor woman has a nasty hangover, nausea, and the pull to deal with. I gave her some potions to help, and Xavier’s keeping an eye on her.” He nodded toward the vial of deep-violet liquid. “I left him a dose of something to help her sleep, if she needs it.”
“And yes,” he confirmed, pulling a rag out of his satchel and cleaning out the inside of the potion cup, “I was worried about how much magic she was using. Her magic is quite interesting and she’s found no small number of uses for it...but a mirror-mage’s version of the pull is a lot worse than an incantational mage’s, and it’s a lot harder to feel coming. She didn’t pull herself badly enough to be in danger this time, though.” He would be checking in on her a few more times today to be safe, however, and had made sure Xavier had a scrollcase so he could contact Leif if she got worse sometime in between.
Morgaine apologized for how touchy she’d been; Leif felt his face heat a little. “It’s - it’s all right. I knew you weren’t exactly in full control of yourself. Probably would have been easier to handle, too, if the crowd wasn’t so loud and tightly-packed.” He made a face, uncorking the lid of the teal potion.
He grinned at Morgaine’s list of her drunk quirks - “You were all those, yes,” he said - but the expression faltered when the locksmith asked what the oddest thing she had done was. “Uhm...well…” He had an answer in mind, but he wasn’t sure he should share it, he didn’t want to embarrass Morgaine, too. ...But she did have a right to know how drunk she had been.
Measuring a spoonful of the teal potion, Leif said, “Well. It might just be me because...I’m me, but. After I revived you from the stunning spell, and you found out we’d caught the merchant…” He tilted the full spoon into the clean glass, and sorted through the remaining spoons in his satchel for a smaller one. “You, uh, gave Elin and I each a kiss. Not on the mouth or anything - you got my forehead and I think Elin’s nose.
“But, ah, if that’s not really weird, I guess the oddest thing would’ve been when you and Elin decided the way to keep Xavier from panicking over Elin was for her to show him some dancing. You also decided I needed to learn how to dance, too, so I could impress Kirin.” Well, there - he’d at least given her an opening to tease him if Leif had embarrassed the locksmith.
Spoon free of the satchel, Leif started measuring out a touch more of the potion and added, “Although I don’t know, that might be canceled out by the excellent job you did handling the idiot who was hassling Elin. I don’t know if you remember, but you threatened I’d summon a dragon on him and then kicked him right in the shins. He was a little taller than me and he went down like a wet cracker.”
Morgaine's frown deepened as Leif explained what had happened after she passed out. "I'm glad Elin made it out alive and unhurt, if somewhat the worse for our little adventure. Well whatever you gave my just now got rid of the nausea fairly quickly so hopefully it'll give her at least some relief." She sighed. "Thank you again for that, by the way. I know you didn't have the best night either, even if you're not hungover. You'd be within your rights to just stay home and sleep in. Or-" she added with a smirk. "Do like Rosalie's doing and just focus your energies on Kirin."
Leif went on to explain what Morgaine had been up to the night before. When he mentioned that she'd kissed both Leif and Elin, the old woman flushed a brilliant crimson, and laughed awkwardly. "Ah Woo... I am so sorry Leif. No wonder my skull is pounding like someone's trying to split it open, that's... that's pretty drunk."
She chuckled. "Though I do remember the dancing, and it isn't so bad- drunk people dancing is generally pretty common. The best way I can explain it is that... alcohol takes away your ability to consider the consequences of a decision. You get an idea and it runs away with you- no matter how ridiculous, undignified, or potentially embarrassing. That's usually where the fun is, because when drunk you'll giddily do things you wouldn't normally and not be bothered by it, but it can lead to... awkwardness if you exceed your limits. Mark yourself fortunate Kirin was unconscious when we found him, or he'd have been clinging to you like a lost puppy and slathering you with unrestrained affection- at least that's how I always was with my husband."
When Leif brought up the man who'd been harassing Elin, Morgaine waved a hand dismissively, her eye sliding shut both to block out the sunlight and from lingering exhaustion. "I do remember that- he was a bonehead, didn't even seem to register the dragon threat. Thinking back on it I'm surprised he had enough brainpower to feel the pain when I kicked him."
Leif shook his head at Morgaine’s remark that he would be justified in staying with Kirin. “Well, I suspect that’s going to be my base of operations today, but it’s not as if you and Elin are feeling any better. Besides, you seem to be out an assistant,” he added with a glance toward the door.
Morgaine had mentioned that the nausea potion had worked, so Leif measured out a small spoonful of water from his wand and added it to the teal mixture, which frothed a little. He quickly started to stir it, and the froth began to die down. “That’s about what I’ve heard about the feeling. ‘Lack of inhibitions’, was how people like my tutors and parents would have put it.” He shrugged. “I’ve only ever gotten to the point of tipsiness, and at that point I realized I’d made a huge mistake.
“I imagine it could easily get...awkward. Especially with the drunk types you were mentioning before. You said you used to do this a lot more often, though - it sounds like it wouldn’t bother you at the time, but doesn’t that lead to a lot of embarrassing mornings? Or - whatever time of day you can think clearly again?”
Leif smiled at Morgaine’s teasing about Kirin; he’d meant it to be merely a bemused expression, but there was more warmth in it than even he realized. “Well, I think I’d have been all right with that...though it wouldn’t have helped us with finding the merchant, I suppose.”
He drew the spoon back out of the glass as Morgaine gave her assessment on the drunken man who had been clumsily flirting with Elin, and blocking her path. “You have a point, I think he was only a little brain-matter short of being about on the intelligence level of a stone - but I’m glad it worked, and I hope he enjoyed a night downhill from half the city full of accidental drinkers.”
Morgaine had closed her eyes again, and Leif realized there was still enough sunlight coming through the curtains to be problematic for someone with a hangover. He got up and went to the drapes, adjusting them slightly so the few remaining little gaps were closed - and then with a muttered incantation, thickened the material and lengthened it on either end to block out more of the light. Figuring Morgaine would have heard the incantation, and possibly seen the flicker of green through her eyelids, he just said, “I lengthened and thickened the curtains; the enchantment should wear off by this time tomorrow.” Coming back to the bedside, he picked up the glass of fully-mixed and no longer frothing potion. “And here - something for the headache. This’ll take a few minutes to fully work, but it should last for most of the day.”
Morgaine chortled softly. "Oh so you have had alcohol before? Was I right in guessing that you are a grouchy drunk then, if I might ask?" She sighed, "As to getting embarrassing after the fact, it can of course. That's why it's usually a good idea to have along at least one person who's sober as a babysitter of sorts. They'll cut you off if you start to exceed your limit, and reign in the mischief so it doesn't get too out of hand."
She rolled on her back again, a nostalgic look on her face. "My husband used to do that for me when he was still alive, even before we were really courting. He didn't ever drink to the point of drunkenness because he was worried about what might happen with his military training if he lost control of himself. So he just kept an eye on me and humored my nonsense. He certainly enjoyed himself when I got to the point of being cuddly, though it made him distinctly uncomfortable before we'd really formalized the relationship since he knew he liked me and I was oblivious- I'm sure you can imagine how you'd have reacted if Kirin had gotten drunk and started cuddling with you before you two were an item."
She let her eye peel open again, accepting the cup from Leif and pushing herself up again. "Thank you- for the medicine and for fixing the curtains. It's like shards of glass going through my eye straight through into my head."
She sipped the headache medicine, which was a little bubbly still after it had foamed up. Despite it being kept at room temperature, as it went down she felt the strangest sensation of warmth spreading down her throat and into her stomach as it passed. Passing the cup back to the archmage she rubbed her face as she waited for the stuff to kick in. Then a thought struck her, and she glanced through her fingers at Leif.
"Oh, how are Ilsa and Clare doing, do you know? They weren't caught by the juice merchant, but they certainly got drunk legitimately. Clare usually knows when to stop short of really wrecking herself so she's just drunk enough to have fun without getting wretchedly ill, but you can never be sure..."
“I’ve had a little alcohol before,” Leif corrected. “And I can have a small glass of wine with a meal and not really feel anything from it, but not much more than that. I’ve never had enough to know what kind of drunk I would be, though grumpy is probably a good guess.” He shrugged. “The disorientation bothers me too much. I’ve never gone beyond tipsiness, and I didn’t even really want to be there.”
Even remembering the few times he had gotten to that point made him feel uncomfortable; for someone as apprehensive of touch as Leif had been as a child, being able to predict when he was going to touch something or someone was very important. Nowadays, it also reminded him too much of the clumsiness and lack of clear thought that had accompanied the years where his blocks had been at their worst.
He considered Morgaine’s comment that pre-relationship drunk cuddling from Kirin would probably have been awkward for Leif. “I don’t know, I might not have minded…”After all, he’d hadn’t realized Kirin liked him until practically the moment they had kissed. But something else occurred to him, and he added, ”Then again...I would probably have convinced myself it wasn’t necessarily genuine affection. At the very least, I’d have been very confused, and ‘Woo knows I was awkward enough just being oblivious.” He smirked, a little self-consciously. “Who’d have thought that was a thing we’d have in common?”
After he’d fixed the curtains and given Morgaine the potion - and winced sympathetically at her description of how badly the light was hurting her eyes and head - he added, “Speaking of chaperones...I don’t think I properly apologized for not being the best one last night and getting you - and Elin - hurt. I’m sorry, I should have been much more careful.”
Morgaine asked how Ilsa and Clare were faring after their night of revelry. Leif, as he started cleaning the spoon he’d used to mix the headache-relieving potion, answered, “They’re not too happy, but they’re better off than you, Elin, or Kirin. Clare was just getting up when I left; I think she was going to check on Elin. I know Ilsa was up and about, though not in the brightest of moods, from what I gather.” He shook his head. “Seems like everyone wanted in on the hangover fun this morning. It's amazing how quiet it is outside - not that I’m complaining, of course,” Leif added with a smirk.
Leif talks a bit about his experiences with alcohol (not great but not excessive, either), spends an entire paragraph on Kirin-related thoughts and dialogue because of course he does, apologizes for not being the greatest drunk babysitter, and updates Morgaine on Clare and Ilsa’s status (no Skype at the moment, so GLQ and Elcie, correct me if I’m misremembering what you told me about your respective drunkards hangover-victims.
The locksmith shrugged when Leif explained why he never wanted to become truely drunk. "You don't have to justify it to me, I already told you my husband never drank either. For that matter, nor does Rosalie. I'm not one to judge."
She could feel the pain in her head beginning to subside, which was a blessed relief. She grinned when the archmage commented on their mutual obliviousness to their partner's affection for them. "Well it didn't help that I was only seventeen at the time, and not terribly experienced in romantic pursuits. When I leaned against him and he turned red or stammered, I always just assumed he was being chivalrous. Didn't help that misconception that he was rather easily embarrassed to begin with- Sieg gets that trait honestly."
Morgaine let her eye shut again, slumping into her pillow as the headache receded further. She waved a hand lazily in a gesture of dismissal. "Normally such chaperoning is carried out with the drunk parties confined in a bar. We had the entire city and nothing to corral us- of course you had a hard time. I'm sorry I got you into so much mayhem. I was honestly trying to help, but my attention span was essentially nonexistent and I just went for whatever approach to a problem I came up with first, rather than finding one that actually made feasible sense."
"I'm glad to hear Ilsa and Clare are as well as I might have expected," she went on. With a contented sigh she added, "Quiet is nice. I don't know how much noise I could take right now, and the market is usually quite noisy. Makes it impossible to sleep in most of the time, living right above it."
The headache potion starts to take effect, and without the agonizing pain keeping her awake the fatigue aspect of Morgaine's hangover starts to really kick in and she becomes noticeably lethargic as she responds to Leif's small talk.
Leif shrugged, drawing the rag back from the spoon for a moment and tilting the utensil back and forth a little to inspect it. "I know I don't have to. I also didn't want it to come off as a holier-than-thou attitude or me being my usual stick-in-the-mud self. Most of the others have the excuse they already know they’re not particularly fun drunks, but I think I told you last night I hadn’t been." Finding the spoon satisfactorily clean - at least for now, he would give them a more thorough and probably magical cleaning later - Leif carefully tucked the spoon back into his satchel, careful not to let it clatter against the others already in the pocket. “Though,” he added as he realized, “I suppose that bit doesn’t matter if you can’t remember most of the night.”
Leif chuckled at Morgaine’s remark about both her husband and Sieg’s easy embarrassment. “Poor Sieg. Though I suppose this begs the question - are you going to write him about it? Or Ophelia?”
“Well, it wasn’t as if it was your fault - getting drunk, certainly that badly, wasn’t your choice. And in the middle of a festival…” He shook his head slightly, thinking of all the noises and strange sights and the crowd, that had been pressing enough on Leif without the addition of magical alcohol. “I’m not surprised you weren’t exactly at the top of your game focus-wise. Or problem-solving, though for the most part you did well, all things considered.”
As he’d talked, and now as Morgaine replied, Leif noticed the locksmith relaxing, by all appearances ready for a restful sleep. Good; Leif had been hoping the two potions for treating her symptoms would be enough to make her drowsy again. He silently tucked the tiny bottle of deep-violet potion back into the satchel. So far he hadn’t had to use any of its contents, a potion that encouraged drowsiness and some muscle relaxation - which was good, as it was the sort of potion a healer had be be extremely careful with in term of dosage, to the point of having to figure out weights and do a few small but important calculations.
“Well, while it’s still quiet, then - I ought to let you enjoy it and rest, now that the potions have kicked in. I’ll come back to check on you - and Mister Kidde, if he’s still here - in a few hours to make sure you’re still doing all right. Of course, if you need anything sooner, you can always send Miss Dylas for me...or one of the cats, if they would be more amenable,” he added wryly. And they just might be - Mercury had been the one to catch Leif’s attention when Morgaine had been attacked, after all.
"I'll probably end up telling the kids at some point, if only to give them a chuckle at my expense," Morgaine replied with a wry grin. "Though how much detail they get from me will be up to my recall, which is patchy at the moment. You're of course free to embarrass me in a letter to my son if you wish, it's only fair recompense for the night you endured thanks to my inebriation."
She pulled up the covers of the bed over her shoulders, closing her eye again and burrowing the side of her face into her pillow. Drowsily she murmured, "Thank you again, Leif. I feel much better. I'll send Merc or Rust along if I need, but you're right about one thing; for now I just want to sleep."
The locksmith gave a very soft laugh, cracking the eye again to glance at the archmage. "Just don't forget to get some rest yourself. You deserve it."
“I’ll try not to go too far,” Leif promised with mock-seriousness on the subject of the letter to Sieg, and added, “And I’ll balance it out, make sure he knows he needs to keep on his toes or you’re going to replace him as my usual crime-fighting partner.” In reality, he didn’t think he would be telling the knight too much of the more embarrassing details involving his mother; even with Morgaine’s permission, it seemed kind of mean. Anyway, if Leif were being honest with himself, both he and Sieg would probably be more embarrassed writing and reading about it than Morgaine would be.
Leif pulled his satchel carefully over his shoulder and got up from the chair as Morgaine pulled up the covers. Almost as an afterthought, Leif refilled the water glass. “I’m glad I could help. I’ll ask Ms. Wright to keep an eye out for the cats.” He would definitely need help in watching for them, unless of course they were able to use their elven-bred cleverness to find Leif on their own, even if Leif happened to be with Kirin or Elin.
He paused on his way to the door and looked back over his shoulder as Morgaine chuckled and told him to get some rest. “Thanks, Mrs. Braham. I will. Er, I will not forget, I mean.” He shook his head, rolling back his shoulders a little to stretch the stiff muscles. And he’d thought he was supposed to be taking care of Morgaine.
With one last look around the room to make sure everything was in order, Leif opened the door and stepped into the hall. “Sleep well, Mrs. Braham.”