|A Dance After The Dance|
|Summary:||Nerys follows her cousin after Einar escapes the end of the wedding. Sad and serious things are discussed, but she finally does get that dance.|
|Related Logs:||Tiaryn ties the knot (again!): Wedding At Highfield.|
|Shady Arbor — Tanglewood Manor|
|Along the shade and pleasance of the covered walkway, through which sunlight filters in an appealing dance of illumination to the whim of breeze and leaf, a small arbor waits for those seeking a little respite from the to and fro of everyday life in Highfield. A curving stone bench, set low, offers comfortable enough seating against the far wall, with the ceiling here notably higher than the alley and more sparse. A modest pond, alight with flashes of color from its inhabitants, dominates the remainder of the area. The roof is constructed of twining rose and strangling ivy. An odd combination, surely? But they allow through more light. For evening hours, a number of small lanterns encircle the paved floor, casting illumination across the calm waters and dancing shadows about the walls.|
|03 Nov, 289 AL|
Once the bride and groom had retired upstairs with those individuals who would be involved in the penultimate stage of the night's festivities, Einar had seen his way to commandeering a bottle of wine for himself from one of the servants. Choosing not to partake himself, but leaving the Flint responsibility firmly with Anders and Emrys for that, he has instead retreated to a quiet spot he'd noticed while staying at Highfield previously. Full goblet in one hand and the bottle on the floor by his outstretched feet, the glint of the moonlight that makes it through the foliage above to reflect upon the pond seems to have him slightly mesmerized. From somewhere he's also found his cloak to keep back the chill, but the wind seems to be co-operating and allowing the shaded area to act as shelter from the worst of it's edge.
Nerys might act the bright and bubbly girl, but she's observant, and not so vapid as many of her actions might lead one to believe. And when she sees Einar hang back, from the group of men carrying away his goodsister, and then make his way out, she does only so much as duty requires, before she slips away herself. A wineskin she picks up on the way. But no goblet. But she takes her time as well, leaving Einar to his own thoughts while they are still his own, before she slips out of the keep, and following the words of the guards, makes her way down towards the orchard where he was last seen. Her footfalls are soft, but still audible, as is the swish of her skirts and the hem of her cloak along the stone and grass.
The rippling reflection of the light on the surface of the pond is not quite so overwhelming as it might seem, for the young Flint lord lifts his head slightly as he hears movement along the path. It takes a moment longer to confirm that it is not just the wind, or some nocturnal wildlife and that it's approaching, but once all that is confirmed he lifts his head fully and tilts it to look down the path. Nerys is given a familiar nod once she is close enough to be recognised and he leans forward to shift the wine bottle slightly so it's less likely to be in the way or underfoot. "It's a fine night," he offers, glancing out across the gardens, "would you care to join me?"
The Lady comes first, but there's no chance that she would have come alone. But either by chance or through years of long practice, the sword and the maid that follow along in her wake move with more silence than their lady. Josef settles, taking his ease by one of the wide-boled trees, Jaqlyn curling up in the grass to sit cross-legged not far from the sworn. Nerys seems to pay neither much mind. They are simply too much a part of nearly every moment of her life for her not to accept their presence. A nod, at Einar's invitation, and she moves towards the stone bench, settling to one side, "Is it the woman you mourn, or the link she represented to your lost brother?"
Einar gives the following pair a faint nod in both greeting and acknowledgement of their efforts, watching to ensure they both settle okay before he turns back to Nerys. Raising the goblet in welcoming salute to her he takes a drink, before asking quizzically, "is it that obvious?" There's a faint concern that if it is than Tia might have caught a hint of it too. "The later though," he answers after a moment's pause, "I know that Anders and Corrie have suspected the other but no, I say to you as I have said to them, I love her as a sister." Another drink, more of a sip this time though and he notions with the goblet back towards the tower. "I just didn't want to hear, you know. I'll take the arrival of their first as proof enough. Besides, what advice could I give?"
"Men do not usually avoid the bedding, if only because they use it as a means of showing, to the other men in the party, how experienced and unflappable they are." Nerys sets aside the wineskin, the gurgle of the liquid within only just audible, indicating that it must be nearly full, "To hope well and have well. That is the only advice that they really need. All the rest is for show and for the stories that come afterward." Nerys turns, drawing her legs up cloak and skirts lying easily in a thick, heavy fan across the bench where she sits and down to the ground. "Do you think, just because she has found another husband that she would forget her first? That she would stop recalling every moment of the time she spent with him? Of her courting, her betrothal? The moment she first became your brother's wife? I think if you asked her, that she would say she remembers every day, every moment, every word, and whisper they shared. She does not need your brother's name to remain your brother's wife. But we are human, Einar. Man and woman, and we were made to be two together, not one apart."
"I know," Einar replies simply, taking another drink from the goblet once he's done so. "We spoke, me and Tia, a while back now, possibly even before we first came to Highfield for I think we were at the Roost." Time has dulled a few of the less important facts it seems, but the crucial bit he remembers. "We agreed very much the same then and in truth, my heart has almost caught up to my head in that regard. Only almost though I fear, for as I said, I could not bring myself to go hear." There's a pause then, not an awkward one, or not for him at least as he leans his head back against the wall to gaze up through the vegetation above. Eventually though, he tilts his head so he can look at her although it's still resting on the wall, "I know you are right cousin, and that she is right and that Anders and Corrie are right" well, except for the bit where they though he fancied Tia, "you'll all just have to indulge me a little longer I fear, and I am sorry for that."
"There is no right time or wrong, for mourning. And I think, if you did not feel the pain of his passing…" Nerys scooches back, just a little, so that she's not crowding the man, "As much as you want to remember the love you had for him, as much as Tiaryn does…the pain you feel, is as much his legacy to you as his love. It reminds you that he was here, however briefly. That his light burned bright, before it was put out." Nerys picks up the wine skin, uncorking it, before she takes a drink herself. "There was no reason for you to stay a listen. It was enough that you let her go at all. That you gave her the freedom to find the love that had been denied her."
"Some live for an age, some burn brightly and brief," Einar quotes briefly back to Nerys. The lyrics of a song he heard back.. actually he's not sure exactly when or where he heard it, but that line seems to have stuck well enough. More wine is taken onboard then he rolls his head back up to it's initial resting place on the wall. "There are some who might disagree with you there cousin, and say the time for mourning is six years past. I think though, I think I prefer your version better."
"And if the gods are good, you will live for an age, and carry him, the memory of him inside of you." Nerys recorks the skin. She may drink like a common woman when she has the freedom to do so, but she doesn't get drunk like one. For a long while, she simply remains silent, studying her cousin's face in silence. "Only those who believe that the public spectacle of grief is the thing itself. The head, the heart…they heal each in their own time. It is easy to put away the trappings of grief. The hurts on the soul take time, and we can none of us know how long."
"Definitely prefer your version," Einar confirms, still for a moment at least watching the what he can see of the moon and stars through the leaves. Eventually though he sits forward again and turns to face Nerys properly. His free hand, the one not holding the wine, reaches up and taps his forehead, "that's there I reckon, I can sit and think it through and come to the same conclusions you have." The hand then drops to the middle of his ribcage and taps again "that I'm still working on though." More wine it seems then he continues, seemingly in some sort of flow now. Maybe it's the wine. "I thought I had you know, all those years, but finding her half-dead on the road and seeing the light from the burning in the distance… " Flow interrupted it seems by the memory, just for a moment, before he finishes, "I'm not sure who it was that said it, but I suspect it was Corrie, she's good like that, but she said I'd just buried it instead."
Nerys remains still, hands settled in her lap, now that she's not got the wine to keep her occupied. And she listens, in the middle of all that stillness. And maybe its that stillness that allows her to 'see around corners', metaphorically speaking. "It is always the heart that takes the longest. To love, to hate, to grieve, and to heal." A nod, slow, considering, "You measured your life by degrees. Had it settled, planned. You thought to sip your grief, not to swallow it whole. And then…your own grief suddenly seemed such a small thing, the littlest thing, in the face of everything she had endured. What could such a small hurt matter, in the face of such utter devastation. And so you set it aside, for her. And now you find it waiting again, and the wine is no less bitter for having had time to sit on your shelf."
"Not exactly," Einar replies after a moment, "it seemed more that it had gone, healed, ceased to be. But then seeing her again, after that time, brought it back from where it was hidden away. Them yes, you are right about it being overshadowed by the degree of her's." Setting the now empty goblet down on the bench beside him he shifts position, so his side is against the wall and not his back, allowing him to fact her without wearing out his neck. "Do you think though cousin, that as a fitting end to tonight, to today as a whole, that we should perhaps dwell on happier thoughts? I didn't mean to kill the party, just have a few moments to remember."
Nerys nods, accepting Einar's correction. "The most insidious sort of grief. But not so surprising. Are men not taught to put their emotions aside? Lust, anger, hate, ruthlessness, cold calculation…those are the emotions of men. Women weep and cry and scream." But as Einar tries to turn the conversation to lighter things, she nods, lifting her chin, tilting her head back in the direction of the hall, where the party after the party, so to speak, is still carrying on. And if the true musicians have left, there are still amateurs enough to carry on the music. Nerys unfolds her legs, rising in that smooth, practiced movement that only years spent learning propriety can account for. Her hand she holds out to her cousin, "I never did get my dance, cousin. Dance with me now, and you can share your happy thoughts." The walkway is wide enough and the only watchful eyes are those of the lady's trusted companions.
If he hadn't already drained the goblet, Einar would have been doing so now. SO it's probably a good thing he hadn't refilled it yet. Still, since he suggested a change he can't really protest too strenuously when she selects one. Pushing himself upright he's pleased to find that his legs will in fact still support him and his feet seem to be obeying his commands as he steps towards Nerys and offer her his hand. "What shall we dance then cousin?" he asks, "or shall we just see where the music takes us?" As for happy thoughts to share he ponders for a moment, then leads with, "I beat Master Vis in our archery training this morning. It's not the first time I'll admit, but it is the first where I'm not actually sure he let me."
"I am no great dancer, Einar. I can manage the simple steps, but so long as you do not try anything too difficult, I am happy to see where the music takes us." A curtsey, as is fitting for the start of a dance, before she settles the hand not in her cousin's into her skirts, lifting them to give her the necessary freedom of movement. "Josef will tell you, it does not really hurt when I step on your toes." The sworn, always with an ear to his lady's words, even if he seldom has any in return, seemingly decides that he should put his oar in at just this precise moment, "That I did say, my Lady. When you were seven and you were standing on my feet as I danced you around the room." Indeed, the woman has grown a bit since then. "I promise to be careful." Nerys counters, before she falls into that easy silence, listening, before she replies, "Master Pari has been training you in the bow?"
"Neither am I," Einar replies with a slightly smile, "so lets see what we can manage together and promise not to hold the other responsible for any bruises the morning might bring." Josef gets a smile and a brief nod at his story, but then his attention is once more on Nerys. Raising an eyebrow in faint amusement he asks, "Master Pari? But no, not quite, myself and Master Vis train together each morning, when we can. He with his bow, me with my crossbow. The one I had with me on the ride. We've found that even though our techniques are needs-be different, working together and offering suggestions and advice is good for both of us. He though, is still the more skilled."
Nerys' smile returns, soft and light, "I will not mention a single hurt or injury." Though she has no great skill at dance, still, she knows how to let the man lead, and she's happy enough to allow Einar to dictate their movement. "When I was younger, I would never call him Pariston. I was adamant that it was too long a name. Nearly everyone I knew had names with two syllables, Asmund, Anders, Anselm, Einar, Connell, and so on, so I shortened his. And I couldn't call him Master Vis, because of Galen was around, how would they know whom I wanted?" Ah for those simple days before the war. "So Master Pari he became and so he's stayed. He's never corrected me. I don't think he minds." And then the quiet again, as she listens to talk of his morning training, "He is more skilled because he has had more years to practice. That you are catching up to him seems to say that it is not natural talent you are lacking, only the time."
Einar ahs lightly as he tries to split his concentration between the dance and the conversation. "I suppose that makes sense. I think by the time I was spending enough time there, rather than the tower, then there was only him." Galen having died in the war if he remembers correctly. "So he's always been Master VIs to me. You're right though, he does have a couple of years on me I think, although I doubt I will ever surpass him. Still, it is a goal to aim for and I would settle well enough for something approaching his equal." A few more steps without any broken toes and he remembers a fragment of a conversation from earlier. "Talking of archery, did you know that the Lady Anais shoots? From our conversation it would seem that those from the Banefort are not so different from us of the north and it may be so that it is the Riverlands that are the oddity. She has heard of the women of House Mormont though, and should your paths cross before either of you depart, she expressed an interest in hearing about our time with them."
"Everything makes sense to you when you are a child," is her laughing reply, "It just does not always make sense to adults." It's not long, the song drifting over from the great hall, and as it slows, so does Nerys, allowing the dance to come to its natural conclusion. She remains is dancing position, hand in hand, the other in her skirts, "I am not certain that I even know who Lady Anais is. I am only now learning all of the members of these Riverlands families. But if she is from the Banefort, it would stand to reason. They are the closest bit of the mainland to Pyke itself. They must suffer raiding regularly. Much like Mormont. They cannot afford to have no knowledge of self-defense. And archery is one of the few martial skills considered acceptable for women. But if I should meet her, before I depart for Stonebridge, I would be glad to share my experience with her."
The dance over, Einar turns to Nerys and offers a polite bow as is the tradition. "It is likely so," he answers to her speculation regarding the Banefort then adds, "I hope you do not mind but I pointed you out to her, so hopefully the pair of you will get a chance to talk." He glances up to the hall then and asks, "do you think perhaps that we should return? Pleasant as it is out here it I am starting to feel the chill in the air and I fear my months down here may have softened me somewhat to their climate." Her one hand still in his he reaches rather deftly, considering how much he's imbibed, and picks up his goblet. The bottle though he leaves for Josef and Jaqlyn to collect, and should they decide to keep it as reward for their work during the evening, then he's not going to be one to complain. Starting towards the hall once more he does take a moment, before they are too close to the doors, to lean a little nearer and offer in confidence and with a slight squeeze of her hand, "Thank you cousin. I really do prefer your version."