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Silence

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Silence.

Silence in the Tyrell nursery was highly unusual; though Willas and Garlan were now too grown-up to actually need to use the room, the eldest Tyrell child could often be found in there, seated on a settee, with Loras, Margaery, or both curled against him as he read aloud. Garlan, for his part, pretended not to be interested, but could often be found nearby, lingering, listening.

Not today.

Today, the room was silent. Margaery and Loras were seated on the floor, mutely picking at their toys, while neither of their older siblings was present. The smaller children were not stupid; they knew full well something was wrong. Early that morning, a wheelhouse - borrowed, not theirs - had pulled up in the courtyard, and since then, they had not seen their mother at all - they knew father and Garlan had gone to the tourney with Willas, but Mama should have been around.

Finally, just after lunch, Papa came in. He never came to the nursery, and the children stared, confused, as he took a seat. Willas’ seat.

“There has been an accident.” He began, hesitant. “Willas has been… hurt.”

“Is he going to die?” Loras asked, sticking his thumb in his mouth. For once, Father did not scold him, or even blink.

“No, he’s not going to die. But he is badly hurt, so he will not be able to… move around as much as he usually does. He needs a lot of rest.”

“Is he still going to read us stories?” Margaery looked up, eyes wide, and Mace’s eyes softened, lifting her up and into his lap.

“When he’s better, little lady. He’s not well enough to come to the nursery just now.”

“Can I see him?” she tilted her chin up, trying to look trustworthy, and he smiled sadly and stroked her hair.

“Not just yet, Margie. Let him get some rest.”

“But Papa! He’ll be all lonely!”

“He’s asleep just now, little rose. You can see him when he’s feeling a little better - now. Should you not be with your septa, working on your sewing?”

“...yes, Papa.” she slid down and stomped off, making him shake his head fondly. Loras, meanwhile, sat on the floor still, worrying at his thumb.

“Papa?”

“Yes, Loras?”

“What happened? I’m almost eight, you can tell me.” He looked so worried that Mace nodded, and patted the seat beside him. Once Loras was seated, he began.

“Willas was riding in the tourney. He did well in the first round, but then he was drawn against a Martell - and they do not fight fairly. Willas was knocked from his horse, and- well. The horse fell on him, Loras. He may never walk again, is the truth. The Maesters will do their best, but he must get plenty of rest if he hopes to heal well.”

“Oh.” Loras frowned slightly, then nodded. “Okay, Papa.”

-

Thunk.

From where he sat by Willas’ bed - the older boy - man - was asleep, but Garlan had not wanted him to be alone, just in case - Garlan looked up, frowning, then rose. He walked over to the window and pulled it open, before bursting into laughter.

Half way up the trellis that was fixed to the wall below his and Willas’ rooms were their younger siblings, clearly trying to climb up. Loras looked the most guilty, suggesting it had been his plan, but little Margie looked entirely pleased with herself as she scrambled up another foot, high enough to grab at Garlan’s hand and haul herself inside, landing on the floor with a flump. The fact that the sound was quite disproportionate to her size was explained when she slung a satchel onto the floor, hauling out the book that Willas had promised to read to them next. Loras followed her in, shaking his head to get the leaves out of his hair.

“Hey, Garlan.”

“You two are not supposed to be here.” he told them severely, pulling himself up to his full height - not yet very impressive, given that he was only twelve, but he tried. “Willas needs rest.”

“But we wanted to see him!” Margaery whined. “You’re here, so why can’t we stay for a bit too?”

“Because you’re as peaceful as a pack of foxhounds, little sister.” He shook his head, and gave in, lifting her to sit in his abandoned chair. “You can stay, if you promise to be quiet.”

“Horses will fly... before those two learn to be quiet.” a hoarse voice came from the bed, and Margaery squealed.

“Willas!”

He gave her a weak, tired smile, and tried to push himself up a little. Garlan stopped him gently, and instead lifted Margaery to sit on the bed so he could reach to take her small hand in his own. “Thank you… for the token…”

“It didn’t work.” she mumbled, ashamed, and he frowned - as much as someone half-asleep from milk of the poppy could frown - and squeezed her hand.

“What do you mean?”

“You got hurt!” Loras piped up, clambering up to sit by his feet. “It was supposed to keep you safe. She even made me sew a bead on it.”

Willas couldn’t help but smile at how scandalized his brother looked at being made to sew, and weakly pulled his other arm from under the covers, showing Margaery how the token was still safely in place around his bicep. “I’ll be… be just fine. It’s just my leg… broken, I think…”

Garlan opened his mouth to correct him, then thought better of it. “Come on, you two, Willas needs to sleep.”

“I wanna stay!” Margaery whined, and Willas grinned drowsily.

“What time is it?”

“Two.”

“Then should… should Margie not have her nap, too? She can… can stay here.” He tugged her, weakly, and the little girl immediately cuddled down, curling against his side and resting her head on his shoulder. Garlan hesitated, unsure, before giving in and laying down on his brother’s other side - gods knew the bed was big enough - and letting Loras curl against him too. Usually, the littlest Tyrell boy would have kicked up a fuss at the mere mention of naps, but he seemed to understand Willas needed peace, and comfort, and laid down without complaint.

Willas’ eyes fluttered closed, and Garlan bit his lip slightly, before allowing himself to take his sibling by the hand. Just in case, of course.

-

“What the-” Maester Lomys stopped in the doorway to Willas’ bedchamber, staring in half amusement, half annoyance at the pile of children on the bed. He might have expected this of little Margaery, but he had hoped her brothers would know better. He stepped forward, prepared to give Willas another dose of milk of the poppy for the pain, and paused, frowning.

For the first time since he was unhorsed, Willas was sleeping peacefully. His face was relaxed, mouth slightly open, as he slept, one arm round his sister and the other holding loosely onto Garlan, the edge of his sleeve lightly gripped by Loras. He stirred a little at Lomys’ footsteps and Garlan, still asleep, made a faint noise, shuffling to be a little closer.

And Willas, rather than waking in pain, slept on.

The Maester shook his head, amused, and set down his tray. He was nothing if not a skilled worker, and he knew full well that he could change the bandages on Willas’ leg without waking any of the sleeping siblings. They should not be there, of course - infection would be deadly at this stage - but seeing Willas so relaxed made him think that, for a short while, it might be acceptable.

The poor thing had suffered enough without being left in a room alone while his siblings worried, and he worried that they would worry, and so on. If a little comfort let him sleep peacefully, he would not deny it. Not for now, at least - if Willas worsened, he would need isolation. But until then… well, hopefully Garlan could keep the little ones in check.

It wasn’t for an hour or so that any of the siblings stirred, and then - predictably - it was Loras, the least nap-liking of them all. He hauled the book Margaery had brought along onto the bed - just in case - before laying back down to wait. Sure enough, his sister woke soon enough, and began fussing quietly, wanting her big brothers. Garlan woke quickly at the fuss, and had just opened his mouth to shush them when Willas stirred too, always attuned to his siblings being unhappy. “Margie?”

“Story time!” She whined tiredly, and he rubbed his eyes, once again attempting to sit up and reach for the book. Garlan stopped him, opening it up himself - then faltering. He wasn’t the best reader, usually relying on Willas to help him out. Even as he tried to think of a way around the problem, he felt Willas struggle upright - using Garlan as a prop - to lean weakly against him, clearly still exhausted and pained - but also determined.

“Together?” he suggested, and Garlan simply nodded, helping his brother get settled against the pillows. He knew better than to argue - Willas would only get upset and annoyed and try to manage entirely alone, and that was the last thing they wanted. He set the book across his own legs, so Margaery and Loras could see, before beginning to read, pausing before the words he could not manage to let Willas supply them.

From where she stood watching in the doorway, Olenna was proud to note Willas’ voice grew stronger with every word. Perhaps the Tully words were right - family, duty, honour. Willas’ family were certainly helping him heal, much more than his honour ever would. She slipped away before she could be spotted, intending to fill in her son and his wife.

Willas would be just fine.