|A Friendly Ear|
|Summary:||On the morning of her departure from Terrick's Roost, Lorna checks on on Ser Gedeon|
|Related Logs:||The morning after Because It Must Be Done|
|11 January 289|
The question of whether Ser Gedeon Rivers is going to rally or succumb to his wounds is one that remains unanswered. The infection itself doesn't seem to be progressing and, if anything, the wound looks slightly less red and puffed than the day before. But since the second round of firemilk, Gedeon has drifted in and out of wakefulness, his skin still hot and still too pale beneath the flush of fever. He's dozing now, half awake, half asleep, in his cot in the Oldstones tent.
Rumor of Gedeon's poor state must have reached Lorna, because it's just past sunrise when she slips into the tent, tugging the hood of her overdress down and staring at the supine knight with faint fretting in her expression. She remains quiet as she steps closer, takes a look around, and finding a little stool, brings it over to sit down next to the cot, staring at the man's face. "Fat lot of good it did." she says in a soft and bitter tone.
It takes Gedeon a moment to come more fully awake and realize he has a visitor. It takes a moment more for him to register who that visitor is. "Oh, I don't know, my lady," he says with a wan smile and a voice that's a little too weak. "Perhaps it's the only thing that's kept me from spilling all the way into the grave."
"That's a small comfort." she says quietly. "Apologies. I didn't mean to wake you." There's a frown as she studies him. "Can I get you something? Water? I'm on my way back to Stonebridge. I thought I might look in on you."
"Well, and so you have, my lady," Gedeon murmurs. "I apologize that I'm no fit company at present. I'm fine, thank you. Mistress Delacourt has been plying me with fluids on a very consistent schedule."
"You are not fine." is Lorna's prompt reply. "And I didn't come to check on you because you were fit company. I came to check on you because you are not." That said, she takes a breath. "Ser Gedeon, while I did wish to come visit in concern for your health, I also come with a question that I suspect only you may give me an honest answer to."
There is another slow blink from the knight on the bed as he peers over at Lorna Frey. "Ask, then, my lady, and I will answer if I can."
She asks the question softly and with lowered eyes. But where for her cousin Igara lowered lashes might be an indication of modesty, for Lorna it's to repress a fury that might be presently quelled in what she fears is the answer. "What is the nature and degree of commitment of my House to this war?"
Quite a question that is. Gedeon draws in a careful breath as he considers. "Their commitment is about what the rest of us would expect of them, my lady," he replies. "That was blunt, forgive me. They do all they can to expend as few of their resources as possible with as much gain and accolades as might be acquired. Think you they were unaware that the levies would need to be raised to fend of an Ironborn conquest?"
Lorna grimaces. Apparently she doesn't care if Gedeon sees her making an ugly face. "I feared it so. Ser Rygar would not tell me plainly." Her fingers twist in her lap. "Life in the Twins was hard to bear, and only less so when death made Riverrun too hard to bear. But it is not for me to burden you with my distresses. You must focus on your recovery."
"Ah, I would be glad of something else to focus on, truly," Gedeon says with a faint breath that might maybe be an attempt at a laugh, I'm tired of thinking about my guts, Lady Frey. Ser Rygar is a loyal man. He only speaks ill of those he does not serve. Tell me of your troubles.""
"They're minor in comparison to many. Have you ever noticed how some small dogs seem to think they're much, much larger? Many women are pretty birds - a good deal of them very clever, but pretty birds nonetheless. I'm a pretty bird who thinks she's a hawk." She snorts wryly. "It's of little matter, with the Ironborn crawling up our shores, that one younger daughter of Walder Frey longs for valor she can never attain. Good men are being injured or dying, and I can only gnash my teeth.
"Do you know," Gedeon muses, "you are not the first woman to have made that complaint. I am beginning to suspect your fairer sex is far more bloodthirsty than we men can imagine. I had no idea so many dreamed of taking up swords and slashing at each other."
"Haven't you ever longed for what you can't have, Ser Gedeon?" At that her face tilts upward again, to look him in the eye. "To strive against what society and time dictates you role must be?"
"Yes, I suppose I have at that," he agrees with a wry little smile, "as you and yours well know, my lady. And what is it, precisely, you yearn to do? What is it a hawk might have that a pretty bird cannot?"
"I'm a better shot than most of the peasants amongst the forces of the archers." she says. "My knives bite flesh as well as any held in the hands of a man. I can survive in a forest for weeks with little more than my wit and and a sharp stick. But I am denied valor, I am denied the opportunity to defend the Riverlands." Her voice remainds soft, quiet. "And my family not only would do little to encourage me, but they…are my family." She frowns, and then presses the back of her hand to his forehead to guage his temperature.
He's hot, the skin dry. The fever is not so high as to be life-threatening, but he's certainly hotter than he should be. Gedeon listens, though his eyes close and one may wonder if he has fallen asleep again. But, after Lorna speaks, he says, "I suppose your gift and your curse is that beyond all of that, you can do the thing no man can do, that's held more precious than another of those abilities you've noted. You'll bear the next generation, my lady. We need that skill more than we need another blade or another bow."
"Yes, I'll be an excellent broodmare." Her tone is wry. "That's assuming I marry at all, Ser. I'm nineteen and have neither betrothed nor call to serve the Seven." She rises, moving to a nearby shelf where a basin of water sits. She picks it up, along with a bandage and sets it down near her when she sits down again. Tugging some of the strip off, she dips it in the water before making sure it is cool but not icy, and gingerly applies to his forehead. "When my father can bother to remember my name, his next reaction is generally to look flabergasted as to what to do with me. Besides," she grins wryly, "Bearing children isn't so much a skill as a bodily imperative."
"You're a Frey, of course you'll marry," Gedeon opines, possibly a little delirious, "The Freys never let a womb go to waste." He sighs softly for the cool cloth on his brow. "Whatever it is, it's necessary. I expect, even at nineteen, you are not quite a withered old maid."
"I'll make you a wager that when I turn twenty at the end of this year, I'll still be unmarried, and no less an enigma to my father. Again, assuming he remembers my name." She chuckles.
"A wager, is it?" Gedeon asks. "And what will you have if you win?"
"Sometimes the wager's the point." she says, leaning back. "But if I win, you assist in improving my bladework. What do you want if you win?"
Gedeon considers. "A friendly ear," he suggests, "among the teeming masses of your brethren."
"Do you seek an advocate or a spy, Ser Rivers?" Her mouth is curved upward, and she does not seem particularly bothered.
"Oh, an advocate, my lady, nothing more," Gedeon murmurs around another faint smile. "I am not quite so duplicitous or foolish as to expect a Lady to betray the secrets of her family for the sake for a friendly wager."
"Smart man, even in the throes of delirium." she says, giving his forehead another gentle stroke. "Thank you for telling me the truth. It is a courtesy I will extend to you, if you are willing to continue extending it to me."
"Then we've an understanding, my Lady Frey," Gedeon murmurs, his eyes closing again, "and I thank you."
"You're welcome." She takes the closing of his eyes as a need for more rest. Removing the cloth from his forehead, she bends and lifts the bowl to return it back to its original location. "Sleep well, Ser Rivers. Recover swiftly, for we all have need of you and your sword."