|A Lady of Such Qualities|
|Summary:||Gedeon asks Danae to marry him in a roundabout fashion.|
|Related Logs:||The logs leading up to the duel for Stonebridge.|
|The Stone Bridge — Stonebridge|
|The east bank of the stone bridge.|
|April 28, 289|
The pavilion on the east bank of the stone bridge, and the guards manning it day and night, have almost become a familiar sight over the past six days. Early morning, the day before the fated duel, there is one change worthy of note: the pavilion no longer lacks a standard. The vibrant green banner of house Tordane, with its yellow crane and its chevron of red, has been hung above the tent, the cloth stretching and snapping in the idle breeze. Ser Gedeon Tordane sits on a stump nearby, calmly taking a whetstone to the blade that once belonged to his father, sharpening its edges as he waits for tomorrow to come.
That same wind whips at Danae's skirts, sending them aflutter as she watches Gedeon for a long pensive moment as she returns from an early morning walk, accompanied appropriately. The grasses brush about her ankles, pale blue ribbons twisting away from her sleeves and blonde curls catching in the air. She moves slowly towards the newly christened Tordane man, observing the catch of sunlight against the blade as it slides along the whetstone, and waiting for him to acknowledge her first to not startle him in his work.
Gedeon's a fair hand and knowing when he's being watched, and after a moment, the motions of his hands slow and he lifts his head. Spying Danae standing so, he sets blade and stone down and stands to offer her a bow. "Lady Westerling, good morning."
"Ser Tordane, good day," Danae greets softly, a slow smile curving her lips as she dips in a mild curtsey. Her gaze flits from Gedeon towards the newly arrived banner, returning to him with a twinkle of mirth. "How fares your preparations?"
"Nearly there, now," Gedeon answers, turning to look up at the banner before returning his attention to Danae with a warm smile. "It's perfect, my lady. How can I thank you?"
"I am afraid I do not know what you speak of, Ser. I merely ordered a dress a dress from my favourite seamstress," Danae replies lightly, flashing him a small, genuine smile. "It is a beautiful piece of workmanship though." Her pale eyes take a long moment to appraise the piece, having never before seen it in its completed state. "How have the banks been keeping you?"
Gedeon listens, his smile growing as Danae speaks of gown and seamstress. "They've been keeping me bored, mostly, I confess," the knight answers, "which is some disappointment, considering tomorrow may be my last day breathing. Then again, it may not be."
In her blue gown and ribbons, her soft appearance is nearly her denial of any involvement — a lady's new gown in serious business. "You mean to tell me that you have had no ladies coming to offer you their favors before your valorous duel? I think that your Riverlands women may not be so well-verse in their romantic poetry as they ought to be, Ser," Danae chides teasingly. She gestures to Gedeon to seat, then moves to take a seat of her own upon a similar log, folding her skirts beneath her elegantly. "I shall take pity on you and keep you company for awhile then."
Gedeon laughs as he obliging sits near (but not improperly near) the Lady Westerling. "I have received one favor," he confesses around his smile, "from Lady Rosanna Groves. Near as I can gather it was offered half in condescension and half as an investment, should I manage to be the victor. Being ennobled, you know. It would make me the sort of husband she couldn't murder without it counting."
Eyes bright with mirth, Danae covers her mouth as a trill of laughter manages to make it out of her throat — amused despite herself. The hand remains there a moment until she can settle her composure enough to manage a delicate, "That… is an important distinction, I believe for the Lady Rosanna. You must feel ever honoured by her courtesy — should you be the victor." The lady presses her fingers to her lips for a moment longer, corners of her eyes crinkled by the width of her smile. "I do not believe she means to be unkind." Or at least, no less kind than her breeding and position require. "She will be an estimable woman, the fair lady."
"Indeed, I shall be most honored. And should I fall, extend my deepest apologies for soiling the thing. I expect she will be put out that she will have to make a new one," Gedeon opines, his expression somber save for the crinkling around his eyes. "I do not believe she is wholly aware of the way she sounds," he agrees, "but you're right. She will be, with time and experience."
Danae nods, placing her fingertips over her heart as she utters sweetly, "I will express them as you have told them to me now, Ser. So bold as they are." That little smile cannot help but make its way back onto her lips, mischief still touching the corners. "A woman to be reckoned with, surely. A fearsome thing indeed, time and experience. It is strange to think on what it does: what it will make of us just as surely as we make ourselves into something new."
"Oh, I think the idea that we do very much to change ourselves is mostly comforting illusion. So much of who we are is due to our encounters with others, with the world at large," Gedeon says, watching Danae and the smile she can't quite remove. "We fashion ourselves our own inventors, but the truth is we shape each other, and you will make more of me than I of myself, even in such mild interactions as these."
"Where does honor fit into all that, do you suppose? It is the scope of a man's or at the least a Knight's virtue, meant to help shape those many interactions," Danae wonders, meeting his gaze inquisitively, before adding, "I do not imply to cast that question towards your own in what is to come tomorrow, of course." A return smile spreads across her mouth in response to the one that lingers on Gedeon's own lips. "I find that thought a greater comfort than of a self to be wrought entirely by my own hand, Ser. Although, it does suggest that one ought to be mindful of their choice in encounters — however luck might leave ones intended to surprise."
"Caution, yes, but also a bit of daring." Leaning a little close, Gedeon whispers in a voice more sotto than secretive "Surprises can be wonderful." His grey gaze seeks Danae's sea-blue, that they might meet for a moment before he speaks again. "Honor is… a template. A guide, when we need direction or lack the experience to know our next step. Honor is the wisdom of those long before us and our gift to the ones who will follow." He laughs softly, shaking his head. "I must sound ridiculous, waxing so."
Danae tips her head at a conspiratorial angle as Gedeon leans in, observing him through a shock of pale lashes, stray blonde hairs dancing across her skin and over her freckles. "Ever the Knight to suggest the daring," she teases, naturally soft voice slipping into a half whisper. She blinks as he catches her gaze in his seeking, sweeping her hair out of her vision to return it unhindered. Her previous brightness dims subtly, replaced by something more thoughtful brought on by his words. "It is intended to act for men as propriety is meant to guide women, then. Only yours is all the rather more heady in its descent… I can perhaps understand why there is such value placed upon it." Gedeon's laughter brings a slight shake her head and an even slighter smile. "You do not. You merely gave me an honest answer to my question, I could hardly fault you for the passion in its pronouncement."
"I suppose it is," Gedeon agrees, "but we men always demand the brightest and loudest of everything. Our falls must be equally spectacular. And our victories," he adds after a moment. His smile softens as he shakes his head again. "Gods, but you're a pleasure to look on, my lady."
"Indeed, you do and the greatest longing for stories to be told that I have come to see. I suppose that might be why a number of your gender come to regret their choice in wife later. The prettiest of birds do molt the most spectacularly," Danae chides teasingly, the arch of her brows pointed in her playful disapproval of such things. No doubt, knowing a number to fit such description. Gedeon's compliment urges a soft shade of pink into presence on her cheek. "I should think after staring at the riverbed for a time, Ser, that anything should be a welcome relief," she offers wryly.
"I cannot say I was thinking on riverbeds when I said it," Gedeon muses, his own smile becoming a bit more self-mocking. He presses his hand to his heart, puffing up his chest is teasing imitation of a gallant. "You are even prettier than a banner," he tries with a laugh.
Freckles dancing with the twitch of muscles, Danae crinkles her nose at Gedeon's own impression of a gallent. "I do not know…your banner is awfully attractive," she drawls softly — not at all looking towards the banner.
"Of course it is," Gedeon sniffs. "What sort of compliment would it be if it were an ugly standard?" A bit more sincerely, he adds, "You are though, my lady. Very lovely. And kind, and generous, and intelligent and most agreeable company. It's a treat, to sit and speak with you."
Despite herself, there is little Danae can do other than laugh at his sniff of mock-offended pride. "A very poor one, I'm certain." In the scale of compliments it would rate rather lowly and enter itself into no poetry competitions. Somewhat shyly, she lowers her gaze and shields it between the blonde fringe of her lashes, cheeks pinking in an odd contrast against the wry curve of her smile. "I — ah — thank you. That is a kind and extensive compliment, Ser. Your company is most amiable as well."
"Good," Gedeon murmurs, "I am comforted to know at least one person shall think a little fondly on me, if I perish tomorrow."
"I am sure that there shall be others, Ser. Although you are not the most popular man of the region at the moment, and you certainly are the most spoken of, there are people who will weep if you should die," Danae argues softly.
"I am sure the Naylands do their best to keep me unpopular," Gedeon agrees with a faint smile. He is quiet for a little, simply watching Danae and then the banner she brought him. "I cannot help but wish," he begins again softly, "more might be left behind, should I fall."
"I should hope you do not look for favor in Nayland eyes, you will not find it there." Danae flashes him a wry little half-smile, tucking a fluttering lock of hair more securely back behind her ear. Her voice is light, almost teasing as she makes her point. Blue eyes blink at him in a bird-like fashion, she inclines her head to one side uncertainly. "What do you wish to leave?"
"Not if I looked for a lifetime," Gedeon agrees with a laugh. His smile drifts into a more serious expression as he considers Danae's question. "A legacy," he answers her quietly. "Children."
Danae chuckles quietly, "It is gone with the dragons." Gone to never been seen again. There is a pained curve to her smile that arises at his answer, pale eyes soft with sympathy. "There is not much time for you to seek that. Time rarely promises what we would wish."
"No, there isn't," Gedeon agrees, "and fewer women whom I should wish to seek it with since, should I live, we would have to build a life together. Reshape Stonebridge." He holds her gaze as he asks, "Can you think of many women with the tenacity for such a daunting task."
Her blue eyes widen at his words, still unflinchingly holding on to that gaze of steely grey. Heart stopping and lungs tightening as the weight of what Gedeon may have just suggested settles upon her. "I…" Danae exhales breathily, fingers clenching in her skirts. "I cannot think of many of my acquaintance who would desire it, but…" There is interest in her features although she cannot quite bring herself to voice the words that he may be suggesting. "Some may wish for such a challenge, such a life." Such an opportunity.
"Do you think so?" Gedeon asks her quietly. "They must also be strong enough, should I fall and they carried a child, to step forth, be known and fight for what should belong to him. And, achieving that, be intelligent enough to rule as regent while he came of age."
"They would also have to be willing to gamble on you at the hands of the gods, Gedeon Tordane," Danae offers wryly, voice somehow soft even then. "Prepared of the eventuality of what may be but…few women wish to stand without the hand of her husband once wed. It is hard bargain to play." She lightly grips her lower lip between her teeth, lashes shadowing her gaze thoughtfully.
"Yes, a very hard bargain, which is why I hesitate to suggest it. It's why, in all truth, I hesitate to think it," Gedeon confesses softly. "I'm not sure I've the right. And yet… with so little time…" he sighs softly, pushing a hand through his shaggy blond hair.
"Are…you suggesting it to me?" Danae wonders, looking, no needing to clarify a conversation that has been otherwise held in hypotheticals. From beneath the cover of her lashes, inquisitive blue eyes search his features and look for that clarity. "I — that is what would happen if you lost. What if you won?"
"Not formally," Gedeon answers for his 'suggestion'. "I'm tactfully and charmingly feeling you out, first. If I won… well." There is a faint smile for that. Small and wistful. "If I won, there would be a proper wedding, such as my bride should deserve, and the woman who would take me in my darkest hour, I would proudly hold to stand beside me in the sunshine."
"Is that what you're doing?" The words come off teasing, if gently so, gracing her tongue like a summer breeze against the stifling throat of this conversation. After the words slip from her lips, Danae flushes a little. That is no way to respond to a marriage proposal, even a tentative one of uncertain circumstance. Brushing her fingers against her cheek, she returns that wistful smile with a slight one of her own. "That…sounds lovely. Not without its difficulties, but lovely."
He studies Danae for another stretch, waiting until the flush fades from her cheeks. Drawing in a deep and steadying breath, Gedeon reaches to collected Danae's slender hand in his battle-roughened one. "Danae Westerling," he begins, and then he actually nibbles on his bottom bit for an anxious moment before pressing on, "Would you do me the honor and privilege of becoming my wife. Tonight."
Her hand is soft in his, fingertips brushing across the length of his heart line uncertainly, before settling easy in his grip. Palm in palm, heartline to heartline, the connection is made as he collects his words. Then it is Danae's turn to inhale a slow, careful breath as she stares at him. It is a long moment before she answers truly. "Yes… Irregularly, improperly, and wholly so from this night on until you breath your last breath. I will be your wife, Gedeon Tordane." A curve of a smile breaks her solemn words after her last words are spoken, causing her to duck her head shyly.
His breath stutters and then chokes on a soft laugh as Gedeon brings her hand up and turns it to press a kiss to her palm, lips dusting across that heartline. "If there's anything you wish for from town, go and fetch it. I'll arrange for a septon. Collect witnesses and come back to me when it's dark. We'll keep it secret until we can be married properly or until my breath has stopped."