|A Duty to Your House|
|Summary:||Harlyn and Katrin stop to talk about the current political climate surrounding House Haigh and the rumors regarding her and Lord Rafferdy Nayland.|
|The Camp of House Haigh. The Mighty Barbeque Fork (pitchfork?) waves in the background.|
|June 22, 289|
As they move away from the Mallister encampment, Katrin smiles a bit more. "What do you think of them?" she asks lightly. She's grown calmer, quieter and far more observant as she lets her gaze flicker around them.
"I never make judgments based on a few minutes of conversation," Harlyn says, his tone still light, his head still a little low. "Especially casual conversation. Ser Martyn was perhaps a little tense, but that is to be expected."
Katrin smiles a little lightly. "You have been well, cousin?" she asks curiously. "I must admit it has been quite some time since we last had the opportunity to speak more than a few words to each other."
"Of course. Sustained no great injuries in the wary," Harlyn says, rather dismissively. "Although I am choosing not to risk losing my none-too-fancy gear in the tourneys. It does seem like knights are getting themselves dramatically hurt, at that." He clears his throat. "And how have you been?"
"Yes, I have heard that several have been injured quite badly," Katrin agrees. "It is not a… gentle sport, to be certain." She shakes her head. "I have been well. Keeping my eyes and ears toward the issues of Stonebridge and the growing conflict between Charlton and Nayland. I find myself somewhat worried of how Haigh will fit in to it all."
"Ah. Well." Harlyn glances down at the knuckles of his free hand. "I know something of that. I understand Lady Danae has a claim and that the Naylands have not been - cultivating the Charltons very well. And here we are with a Haigh betrothal to the Charltons, hmm? Tell me first what /you/ think is happening."
"Aside from Riordan Nayland letting power go to his head?" Katrin quips lightly. She considers as they walk. "From what I have understood, the official reason for the arrest of the Charltons is that they entered the town in force and with weapons before taking over the Crane's Cross Inn," she says slowly. "However I know that to be falsehood for I myself saw people enter and leave the establishment who were not a part of the Charlton party. And so we must wonder what it is about the Charltons that is so important right now. They of course are a favored House to our liege Frey, and Nayland pride is universally acknowledged. But we must consider the man in charge of Stonebridge - Riordan Nayland." Her frowns and falls silent for a long moment. "If he fears losing his position as Lord Regent or of maintaining his rule through a marriage to Lady Isolde, he could find the Charlton presence intimidating for I have heard rumors that the Charltons are supporting Lady Danae's claim to carrying the heir of Stonebridge inside of her."
Harlyn lowers his voice, although his tone is still conversational, "And why, then, do you suppose the Charltons are entering into a betrothal with the Haighs, who are not a rich house, merely a neighboring one?"
"If I thought my House might be close to conflict with another House," Katrin muses, her voice the same quiet tone. "I would seek out allies wherever I might find them, even in a House not quite so rich. It stands to reason that if Charlton even believes Nayland might rise up against them, or the Charltons themselves wish to strike against Nayland, I would want to be comforted in knowing that those closest to me would wish to remain neutral. Lady Alys and cousin Perrin joining together may not secure our men should a fight break out, but it may at least steady out hand from offering support to the Nayland host."
"I do not think," Harlyn says, still low, "that the Charltons are looking for mere neutrality. Not with a betrothal like this."
Katrin smiles lightly, "The bare minimum, cousin," she replies. "It is why, I am certain, father turned down the Nayland proposal for me," she muses. "We do not wish to have our loyalties split."
"No, unless we war with ourselves. And we never want that," Harlyn says, hand on his chest. "We are not so large a house, after all."
"So I have offered you my take on the possibilities," Katrin muses. "What do you believe will happen?" She frowns. "I do not wish to see a conflict between Charlton and Nayland but I would prefer we be prepared for any possibility."
"I believe there will be conflict. Charlton will support Lady Danae's claim, especially now that the Naylands have angered them so specifically. And we," Harlyn ducks his head, almost pantomime like, "will be expected to support them in turn."
"Do you believe Uncle Leslyn will support Charlton?" Katrin asks quietly. "In so much as to actually send our own men into a fight. The very thought concerns me a great deal." She gives a weak smile to Harlyn. "It is good to have a chance to speak with someone from home. Too often it is easy to become removed from the potential politics of what could come next."
"Haighs marched on the Ironborn. If Father sees in this good for the Haighs, he will do it. Our house is no stranger to violence." Harlyn tries another smile. "Of course, it may be this is all solved by diplomacy."
Katrin smiles thinly, "We would better use our resources by /not/ marching into another conflict," she replies. There's a pause. "How much have you heard regarding rumors about the camps with me?" she asks slowly.
"That all depends on Father's end goals, doesn't it? Neutrality is not always the best strategy." But Harlyn shrugs slightly and segues. "What sort of rumors?"
"If you have not heard them then I will not name them," Katrin replies innocently with a sweet smile.
"Rumors is such a broad category," Harlyn says, idly.
Katrin rubs at her arm lightly. "Well, rumors have a way of making things seem so much worse than they really are," she says with a sigh. "I am sure you will speak with my father as you return to Broadmoor and I just do not want him getting the wrong idea." Her nose wrinkles. "He asked me to cultivate relations with the Mallisters and with Ser Martyn in particular. I have done as he asked and Ser Martyn is planning to speak with his cousin regarding a betrothal."
"To you?" Harlyn prompts.
Katrin nods, "Yes, of course," she replies. "Ser Martyn is a good man and he has the most honorable intentions." Her eyes narrow slightly. "It would make for an excellent match and I believe we would both be happy. More than I could ever hope for."
"Well then," says Harlyn. "As long as you are following all proper procedures. Being supervised, staying in public places, so forth."
"That is not the source of rumors," Katrin replies. "Father is going to be very upset with me if he hears so I would certainly appreciate it if you were not the one to mention it to him. Lord Rafferdy Nayland." Her lips twitch. "He was gravely injured in the melee. He is a friend and I have been spending time with him in his recovery. Perfectly chaperoned, of course."
"Ah." Harlyn smiles very slowly. "I see. Chaperoned by who."
Katrin narrows her eyes at Harlyn. "Lady Roslyn one night and my maid, Serra, the second. Do you doubt my words, dearest cousin?" she asks innocently.
"Another Nayland, cousin?" Harlyn asks, with a small rise of his eyebrows. "And what if all this did come to war, hmm?"
"My House will always come first, Harlyn," Katrin says firmly. "Whatever I feel for Rafferdy Nayland…" She shakes her head. "I will do my duty until the very end."
"Will you," Harlyn says, careful, still smiling slightly. "I suppose we will see."
"Do you doubt my honor to this House?" Katrin asks. For the first time, there seems to be anger building in her voice.
"Will you give me cause to?" There is no anger in Harlyn's voice, but certainly some held tension. "You tend to a Nayland under the eyes of a Nayland, and the Mallister you court might as well be an afterthought. Women as well as men have their duty. I would think you wise enough to know what an idle dalliance with a Nayland /now/ might mean."
Katrin hesitates here. "He is everything, cousin," she says in a small voice. "It broke my heart once to have to tell him that Father rejected his proposal. Do not ask me to break it again by not seeing him again. He is a younger son. I am not in the direct line of Uncle Leslyn. Would our association to each other mean so much in the larger scheme of things?"
"Cousin," Harlyn says at almost a hiss, then touches his chest. "Our duty is not to sad love affairs. Our duty is not to mere affection. Do not think I know /nothing/ of your yearning, but yearning is a luxury. And it is a yearning he can use against you if you are not wary."
"Do you think I do not know all of that and hate feeling contrary to everything I was ever taught?" Katrin replies sharply. Her lips press together into a thin line. "Do you believe that I should sever ties with him then? I love him, Harlyn." Her last words are spoken in a sad plea.
"Oh, Seven." Harlyn pinches the bridge of his nose. "Then what, Katrin? Affairs? Bosom-to-bosom gossip? Betrayals? This is not harmless. This is not in the least harmless. What happens if tensions escalate? Who will your loyalty be to? Think, now."
Katrin's expression is grim. "I know that you are right," she says quietly. "These are doubts I have carried in my heart from the beginning. Perhaps I just needed another to care enough to voice them. My loyalty is to House Haigh. It will remain with House Haigh. I would take it as a familial favor if you would not mention any of this to Father."
"Do not make it necessary," Harlyn says, soft warning. "I will keep silence if you do not give me further reason for concern. Otherwise, you know I can make no promise."
Katrin leans over to squeeze Harlyn's arm, linking hers with his once again. "It will not be necessary," she promises. "I… I will end things tonight and then refrain from visitations from this point on."
Harlyn pats Katrin's hand. "Good," he says. "It is better to keep things simple for now. Say you are to be betrothed and this is all inappropriate for the moment. Who knows how it all may realign."
Katrin smiles grimly, "Ser Martyn is a good man," she says quietly. "And ties with House Mallister will surely benefit us, no matter what happens between Charlton and Nayland. It is for the best."
"Hold." Harlyn touches Katrin's hand again. "It will be for the best. And we all endure, to the greater glory of our houses. Otherwise, we are just lone libidos and hurts looking for satisfaction."
"I am glad that it was you send here to Seagard," Katrin muses. "Instead of anyone else. I truly have missed you, cousin." She looks about her. "What of you. You said that you also have yearned. What did you do?"
"Nothing." Harlyn's smile turns rather easy. "Not all things we yearn for are meet, and I have learned to suppress that which has no profit. You will, too, in time."
Katrin wrinkles her nose, "Raff was the first time something enticed me enough to even consider turning away from the House for my own personal wants." She leans in, kissing Harlyn's cheek. "I do not know what I would do without you. Keeping me on the right path."
Harlyn laughs once and ducks half under the kiss. "We all need it from time to time."
From afar, Martyn nods.
"I will be certain to return the favor one day," Katrin says with a smile, though it's a touch strained. "Have you stopped to see Ilaria or Briallyn yet?" she asks. "Lari has been a bit wary of crowds since we arrived but I know cousin Briallyn is running around being her usual, loud-mouthed arrogant self."
"I haven't. I'll be sure to talk to them - soon," Harlyn appends that soon as if carefully rolling the word over.
"I am sure that Lari would be glad to see you," Katrin says fondly. "Briallyn… she is marrying tomorrow or thereabouts." Her eyes narrow. "If you wish to speak on selfish wants over the desires of the House, you need only look so far as her for a prime example. I would never want to do as she did. She /forced/ the House's hand to marry her to Ser Garret. It frustrates me beyond belief. And she is so smug about it."
Harlyn snorts a bit. "I know little of Ser Garret. Why him above all else?"
"Lust," Katrin grumbles. "And she got away with it. It is the one thing that infuriates me so much about her. She does not care about anyone but herself. That scandal put a great deal of pressure on both Ilaria and myself right when it happened. But she didn't care."
"But mark what will happen. She marries without care for her house and she will be cut off from it." Harlyn makes a negating gesture. "To be selfish is to be left alone. To not care is to be left alone. And you two will be the stronger for it."
"Ilaria wants what is best for the House," Katrin muses with a gentle smile. "She has formed no male attachments as far as I am aware and only seeks to please others."
"Good," Harlyn says with a brief nod. "It will serve her well, being patient."
Katrin smiles warmly, "Ilaria has the sweetest nature of all of us put together," she says proudly. "All I wish for her is a husband that will cherish the treasure that he has in front of him."
"May the Seven grant her that much," Harlyn says with a smaller return smile. "It is good to be rewarded for acting as one should."
Katrin sticks her tongue out at Harlyn, "So should I be punished for not acting as I should then? A old man with warts and a giant belly who shall fall asleep atop me most every night?"
Harlyn laughs. "Everyone lapses occasionally. Repent and all that."
"How do I repent for such a thing?" Katrin asks. "I am not even certain if Mallister will agree to such a betrothal," she muses. "They are… one of the most powerful Houses in the Riverlands. We are influential and have our strengths but at face value, we do not stand on the same level as them."
"Perhaps they may. And if they do not, we begin again. I meant repent facetiously," Harlyn adds, good natured enough. "Be patient."
Katrin grumbles, "As you say, cousin," she says. "How long will you be remaining here in Seagard?" she asks. "Ilaria and I will be returning to Terrick's Roost once things close here. Father wanted us to stay away from Stonebridge for the time being."
"We'll see where I am needed. I am a leaf blown by Haigh whims," Harlyn says, flicking his fingers indicatively.
"I do hope that it blows you to the Roost then," Katrin replies. "It is nice to have cousins about. Briallyn will soon fall under the mantle of House Westerling and then it will just be Ilaria and I."
"We will have each other for a while yet," Harlyn phrases almost like a promise. "I have spent time in the Roost and I may yet return."
Katrin smiles happily. "The Terricks are genuinely friendly people from what I have determined. It is a shame that they are penniless. I would have thought a match between one of them and one of ours could be a possibility if it had not been so. I have heard that they consider the possibility of Ser Justin Terrick with Lady Roslyn Nayland. A Terrick and a Nayland joining. I find that a rather amusing thought."
"It may yet happen. Everyone is blown at some time or another - unlikelier things have happend. If," Harlyn appends, "not in my memory, granted."
"True enough, it could happen," Katrin agrees. "Ser Justin seems quite taken with her, even if she is rather old. I myself have found her to be pleasant company. I am quite curious to see how things will progress."
"We will see. Gossip does have a way of traveling, doesn't it?" Harlyn 'asks.'
Katrin smirks, "Why, dear cousin Harlyn, gossip is the very food a young lady lives off of," she replies sweetly. "What ever would we do without it?"
"Knit, I suppose," Harlyn says, lightly.
Katrin holds her hands out. "My hands are not suited for knitting," she says brightly. "I will have to find another option."
"I'm sure you'll think of something," Harlyn half drawls.
"Of course I will," Katrin says. She leans in to kiss Harlyn's cheek again. "I suppose I had best go check on Ilaria," she muses. "Will you join us for an afternoon meal before we depart?"
"Of course," Harlyn says with an incline of his head. "I could do nothing less. Be well."
"You as well, cousin," Katrin replies with a smile. "Enjoy the rest of your evening."