Linnea sat down in the receptionist's chair and tapped on her notebook with annoyance. She was not quite sure if she liked this newcomer. Huffing, Linnea let her eyes wander around the small room, lit by the sun streaming through the southern windows by the entrance. A small potted flower sat by the door to the sun room, straining toward the windows. Linnea sat at the northwest corner of the room, the bookshelf with patient records behind her, and a door to the cooled storage space behind her. The western door to the checkup room was open, allowing the warmth from the crackling fire within the room into the reception area. She brushed her hand along the quill, carelessly left in the ink jar, and shuffled through her mentor's documents, prioritizing them. Sighing, Linnea leaned back into the chair and opened her notebook to study. The door squeaked open and a figure came out as Linnea started muttering to herself.
"For a battle wound, not only does amount of blood tell of the severity and the organs affected, but another method would be to… ugh why can't I read my own writing?"
".. to have the patient drink a broth with a distinguishable smell. Allows the healer to determine whether or not the patient had a wound to the stomach," a smooth, low voice came up behind Linnea. She flinched and quickly turned around to face the blonde stranger from earlier. He leaned against the wall, picking at his nails as he continued.
"Thormod didn't take it, and in his stupidity chose to rip out the arrow head out of his heart himself. Not that he would have survived anyway. They didn't have a healing magician there, unfortunately."
Linnea narrowed her eyes and examined the man in front of her. His skin was so pale and his features so fine that he could have passed off as an adolescent girl, aside from his voice, of course. And yet he was speaking with the arrogance of a nobleman. Biting back her tongue, she forced herself to sit politely until his speech was over. The man looked up at her with amusement in his eyes.
"I see you do not have much to say. You talked more when we met earlier."
"Well," Linnea responded testily, "You certainly talked less earlier."
The male raised a delicate eyebrow. Linnea swore it looked like a female eyebrow, if eyebrows could have genders.
"Ah, I see we've gotten off to a bad start, shall I introduce myself then?"
"I wonder whose fault that was," Linnea muttered as she stuck out her hand. The man lightly took her hand, face void of expression as he introduced himself.
"Lukas. A pleasure to meet you."
"I'm Linnea," she nodded and withdrew her hand. A while passed of Linnea expecting Lukas to engage in more conversation. He, however, seemed content to lean on the wall and pick at his nails. Linnea narrowed her eyes again and struck up a conversation cautiously.
"So... you're going to be Bjoren's apprentice as well? How far are you with your healing training?"
"Much father than you, clearly."
Linnea felt a vein pop.
"Well, I see. Could you help me with my assessment today then?"
"Sorry, I can't endorse cheating."
"That's not what I-- you-- ugh. I suppose we won't be cooperating on our studies will we, then?"
"Why would I? We're on different levels, and with different focuses. I would rather study what I don't yet know... thanks for the consideration though."
Linnea ground her teeth and stood up. She pushed past Lukas and into the sun room, where Bjoren was putting back some of their portions after Lukas' demonstration.
"Please test me now so I can start practicing."
Bjoren looked at her confused for a second before raising his eyebrows and hurrying out of the room to get her test paper. No one messed with Linnea when she had that face on.
Linnea slammed her notebook loudly on the dining table, where Tino was dozing off, effectively making him yelp in surprise and instantly sit up straight.
"What happened to you, sister?!"
"That new boy is certainly nothing like Mathias. He's the most obnoxious, unpredictable, rude, stuck-up jerk I've ever met!"
"Are you saying that Mathias isn't obnoxious?"
"I take that back."
"Thought so," Tino mumbled, stretching on his chair, "You're usually so calm and friendly with people, what's wrong with this guy?"
Linnea clenched her fists and her jaw, staring at the fire that Tino had been so kind to light.
"I just told you!"
"Fine... I'm not sure yet. But he's more annoying that ten Mathiases combined."
Tino looked at her worriedly, and mighty confused. He stared at her as she let out her breath and started making dinner. By the time she was serving dinner, Tino was still staring at her.
"Why are you staring?!" Linnea snapped. Tino jumped.
"You usually aren't like this, Linnea. You're kind and patient and funny. You usually tell me to forgive people a million times if I needed to. What's wrong?"
Linnea stopped for a second. Looking down at the stew she had just made, she felt shame descending on her like a sudden storm. She gulped and put her hands in her lap, and went silent. Tino got up and walked over to her side, feeling her forehead for a temperature. Linnea flicked her brother's hand away, sighing.
"I'm sorry Tino. I don't know what got over me."
"Are you sure you're alright?"
Linnea smiled up at him and gave him a playful punch.
"Yes, I am. Now do something about those wrinkles on your forehead and eat your dinner before I eat it for you."
"Hey! No way! That's my portion! Even if you made it!"
The dinner continued in a relaxed atmosphere, Linnea laughing at the Tino's adventures with the livestock, including his absolute confusion as to why chickens follow him everywhere. Tino asked Linnea for some advice on his next assignment with Berwald, something about commerce adjustment when men and women left to join the army in the summer. By the end of the dinner, the siblings had bonded for the day and Tino gave Linnea a hug as he bid her goodnight.
"I'm glad you're not acting like a crazy old married woman anymore. I was worried there."
Linnea laughed and ruffled his blond hair and shushed him, pushing him toward the staircase. When she heard him enter the bathroom, she frowned, sitting down in a chair. A old married woman? What was wrong with her? That's exactly what she didn't want. Linnea bit her lip and took a deep breath and repeated her mantra quietly.
"Stay strong, Linnea. You can't fall. Stay strong for Tino. Support Tino. Remember."