The door closed behind him, again with a curiously muted sound – but this time, it was reversed; instead of keeping sound within the room from leaving it, the barrier blocked sound from outside, leaving those within in peaceful isolation, while those beyond remained able to hear, should some sound of genuine distress emerge.

It was, he knew, a standard setup for a convalescent’s quarters; Tavi had expressed regret that her expertise did not extend to giving him true privacy for a time. But it was still enough to make his potential tasks here somewhat embarrassing – especially knowing that his guards would be right outside the door. The healer had spoken sternly to them, making it as clear as she could that anything that happened here would be for Dren’s benefit and was to be kept in confidence – but the skeptical looks they’d given him all the same nearly made him quail.

But no. He had to try – had to give Dren whatever peace of mind he could, in whatever form it took. Dren was broken at his order; it was only right that he made an effort to mend him.