It was four hours now.
Josen knew precisely how long he had been standing in front of Lord Aginor's bedchambers, waiting. He knew because he had sent his little brother Jon to watch the grandfather clock in Aginor's study, and report to him every hour. Four hours, and Aginor's promise that he would return to his steward immediately "after a brief word with Lady Caitlin" was beginning to ring a little hollow. The stiffness in his legs made Josen again consider sending someone to fetch him a chair, or go for a brief walk, or leave entirely, and again he decided against any such course of action. He'd be damned if Aginor came out and saw him shirking his duty. Oh, the lord would never say anything, not over such a trivial matter, he’d just raise an eyebrow and give that irritating look of his, and an hour or so later make some sort of comment about Josen's duties perhaps being a little too hard on him. And Josen would grit his and offer some sort of congenial denial ignored by Aginor before it left his mouth. And the edges of Aginor’s own mouth would turn upward in the smallest way imaginable, a change so indiscernible that anyone who actually identified it as a smirk would be accused of being far too self-conscious, far too suspicious and—Josen was certain—completely right.
So instead, Josen remained rooted to the spot, grimly staring at the door in front of him. More than anyone else in the manor—with the possible exception of Lady Caitlin herself--he hated Aginor's sporadic visits home from the warfront. Aginor had chosen him to act as steward in his absence, under the official fiction that Josen was merely the advisor to his heir, Traenis Aginor the twenty-third. In reality, Traenis Aginor the twenty-third was four years old, occasionally burst into tears for no apparent reason, and had a tendency to walk into walls if he wasn't paying attention. For all intents and purposes, Josen ran Aginor Manor.
Or rather, he ran it while Aginor was away. Whenever the lord returned, he insisted on taking the reins of office for himself, usually staying just long enough to throw the order and state that Josen had so carefully crafted into chaos before whisking himself back to the battle against the rebels. And he always left one big mess behind for Josen to clean up. The simple truth was that Aginor had no skill in running a household. While he was generally known to be without peer when it came to strategy and tactics on the battlefield—or, at least, so he had been when he was younger; rumors trickling in from the frontline suggested that the lord was no longer quite as peerless as he used to be—years of experience in the art of warfare translated into a complete lack of understanding in all things domestic. Every time, without fail, he listened to Josen's report—his entire report, the man insisted on knowing every minute detail, from who was to be the new master-at-arms to how much seasoning the cooks were putting on the roast beef—and afterwards, he always insisted on making ridiculously minor changes that inevitably proved nearly impossible to implement, a failure that Josen would inevitably get blamed for at the next meeting. Josen had taken to getting roaring drunk after their little "household campaigns", as Aginor persisted in called them, and it was taking some serious will power on the steward's part to avoid imbibing beforehand as well.