|Summary:||Avinashi offers Anais some advice and support.|
|Related Logs:||The ones of the war between the Ladies Terrick|
|Coastline — Terrick's Roost|
|A coastline! Near the Roost.|
|November 3, 288|
Anais has been scarce around the Roost since the confrontation between her and Evangeline. And who can blame her? There can only be strain between her and her new family at the moment. For now, she's retreated to the shore, with a pair of guards and a handmaid, as usual. She's found a large stone to sit on, warmed by the sun, with the sea breeze blowing inland, and holds a small wooden wheel in her hands. Rhthymic motions of the wheel and the embroidery thread around it are making a colorful braid.
The wind carries a faint chiming that resolves itself into the figure of a silk-clad Dornish girl who makes her way towards the sea wrapped in silver and blue. The guards and the handmaid are each offered a gracious nod before Avinashi passes them to step up beside Anais. Somewhere along the walk, she must have abandoned her sandals, because her brown feet are bare. "My lady," she offers. "A fine day to watch the ocean."
Anais looks up from her weaving, though the smile she offers is guarded still. "Avinashi," she greets in turn, sighing softly as she shifts to make space on the stone. "Please, have a seat. I'm sure it will be more comfortable when you explain to me how I really must learn to get along with my husband's mother, and she isn't asking very much of me, and don't I want my new husband to be happy?"
Avinashi smiles faintly as she settles herself on the stone, resting her hands lightly in her lap. "I am afraid you mistake me, my lady," she replies gently. "I did not come to instruct you on how to behave. I came to instruct you on how to win."
Anais quirks a brow at the other woman, considering a moment. "Now that's a new one," she finally says, picking up the weaving wheel once more. Her hands move around the circle automatically, twisting the threads together. "Well, no one else is interested in talking to me for anything other than lecturing me, so at least it should be something different."
Avinashi dips her head slightly before blinking out at the sea and tucking a wayward wisp of dark hair, snapping in the breeze, behind her ear. "Tell me your side," she requests. "What has happened to cause this breaking between you and the Lady of the Roost?"
"it's only a breaking if there was something there to break to begin with," Anais grimaces, shaking her head. "The woman summoned me to the lichyard to tell me how she expected me to behave. She said I should start taking something to make sure I conceived. A week and a half after the wedding. Which was followed by this…accusation that I was somehow lacking in the skills needed to run a household or be a wife, or a woman for that matter. So I hear you don't sew very well," she says in a high-pitched voice. "We'll have to change that. You really must make his shirts." She snorts, decidedly unladylike.
Avinashi's lips twitch faintly for this impression of the Lady Evangeline, and then she clears her throat lightly and smooths her expression. "I gather you have no interest in making shirts, then, my lady?"
"I don't sew because I can't sew, Avinashi," Anais sighs softly, lowering the wheel in her lap once more. "I can't see it. I'm - my father calls it sea eyes. I can see land from leagues out, but I can't see small things that are right in front of me. Which makes sewing both difficult and ultimately painful. I didn't want to tell people, because- because they always take it wrong, you know? And with her going on about babies, I didn't want her to think there'd be something /wrong/ with her grandchildren."
The Dornish girl considers this for a long moment. "Then Lady Evangeline is unaware, and you do not wish to tell her the true reason behind this reluctance? I do not think lacking the eyes for sewing is enough to make your husband call you unfit, whatever the Lady of the Roost might feel."
"But not getting along with his mother," Anais snorts once more. "Now that's the end of the world. Apparently I must get along with her, and I'm just imagining slights." She presses her lips together, weaving a few more turns. "And I don't want to sit around in a solar all day, Avinashi," she adds, weary. "Is that such a terrible thing to admit to?"
"It is helpful for the harmony of a home if the ladies within are not at each other's throats," Avinashi supposes with a faint smile, "but no, I do not think the desire of a different way to spend your day is so wrong. But, it is not my good will you need. Nor is it your own. It is the Lady Evangeline who must be convinced."
"I'd rather punch her in the face," Anais mutters under her breath, gaze fixed on the wheel in her hands. "But I don't think that would get me anywhere. Even Jarod's afraid of her. Jarod's so stupidly afraid of her that just because she decided it was inappropriate for me to call him by his name because according to her, he isn't family, now he expects me to call him Ser Jarod. The Captain of the Guard, blood relation, but it would be inappropriate for me to use his name. A married woman. As if I was some sort of- of- of whore."
For 'punch her in the face', a small laugh escapes Avinashi and she lifts a hand, pressing her fingers to her lips, though a smile peeks out behind them. She listens, though, and nods. "My lady," she begins gently, "you have learned well the lessons of your father's house. Strength and determination. Stubbornness and tenacity, and in his house, they served you well. But the Lady Evangeline plays a different game by different rules, and if you wish to triumph, you must learn them. By which," her lips twitch again, "I do not speak of sewing."
"What, then?" Anais asks, her shoulders tense. "I can't- They want me to change, Avinashi. As if there were something wrong with me. And there isn't something wrong with me. I'm smart, and I'm clever, and I'm charming. I can hold my own in a dance or on a hunt. I know how to defend a castle, how to prepare it against a siege. I am not a woman for sitting in solars and watching the world pass me by. I could not live with myself if I did."
"And you needn't become someone else, my lady. I think Lord Jacsen will do quite well, keeping you as you are. But, you must remember, the Lady Evangeline did not grow up at the Banefort, and she has been, perhaps more than you, a woman surrounded by men, men who would not see strength but irregularity in the skills your family encouraged you to perfect. She is, if I may put it another way, greatly skilled at manipulating those who would confront her head on. This is why Jarod bows his head to her. Why you dash yourself, like a ship against the rocks, when you try to argue with her frankly." Avinashi draws in a soft breath. "You have cunning, my lady. You must hone it more finely when it comes to Lady Evangeline."
"Being cunning means playing along," Anais grumbles quietly, weaving away. "And once you start playing along, it's all too easy to settle into doing it for real. Which is how she manages to bully everyone anyhow," she adds, looking up briefly. "Why fight her? She's not asking for that much. That's how it starts, the not asking for that much. And suddenly you're just doing everything she wants exactly how she wants it."
"Perhaps it means playing along, but not in the way you mean," Avinashi replies, "nor in the way she expects." The food taster smooths a hand across her skirts. "There are things you do daily, are there not, that require members of the household to consult with you so that the house may run smoothly? Tasks you have taken on as the young lord's wife?"
"I did when I was planning the wedding," Anais shakes her head. "No since, though. I'd like to. I want to help. I want to be useful. But she doesn't want me to do anything but sit around and sew."
"Then sew," Avinashi replies, holding a hand up to forstall any protests, at least for a moment. "Use white cloth, so the blood shows. Let the servants know your meals are to be delivered tot he solar and let those who would speak with you find you there. Do as the Lady asks, devotedly dutifully, and when the others begin to wonder why the new bride of Jacsen Terrick is being squandered on such a trivial task, let it be the Lady Evangeline who must explain herself."
Anais rolls her eyes, shaking her head once more. "No," she says firmly. "I'm not going to play the martyr. I'm not going to spend weeks doing exactly what she wants me to do. No one will ever wonder that I'm being wasted, because they'll never get a chance to see it. They'll think I've gone soft in the head or something."
"I doubt it, you will have me to help, but very well," Avinashi allows with a small nod. "What do you propose, then, my lady? What will your next move be?"
Anais is quiet for a long moment, her jaw set stubbornly. "I don't know. But it's not going to be what she wants me to do. That woman can burn in seven hells before I do what she wants me to do," she growls quietly. "How dare she? How dare she treat me like some sort of disappointment? Like I'm not good enough? I'm not the one who ran off on a betrothal. I'm not the one who upset everyone on the word of a whore. That was her son. I'm the one who smoothed everything over. I'm the one who tried to keep it from exploding into something nasty. Who reassured my father that it didn't matter that Jacsen's leg was injured. That Terrick's Roost might still have something to offer."
"Yes," Avinashi agrees, "but these are questions that will get you no closer to what you want. To tell a son to go against his mother and side with another woman is an order doomed to failure. To will your rightness onto others may not… succeed as you would hope. She is being unjust, but she has the high opinions of her family and her station to back her. King Robert can be wrong as often as he likes, his word will still be law."
"Until someone topples him in turn," Anais snorts softly. "They did it to Aerys. It's all a matter of the tipping point, Avinashi. People will put up with a lot. And then they won't." Spoken like a true bannerman of Tywin Lannister. She sets the weaving down in her lap then, looking back to the other woman. "There must be something she hates to do," she says after a moment.
"Mmm, although waging a war within your new house may not be the most advisable course of action, my lady," Avinashi opines, smiling faintly. "I am sure, though, there is at least one thing the Lady Evangeline dislikes doing, though I could not tell you what it may be."
"Then I'll find out what part of running the Roost she doesn't like to do and start doing that," Anais shrugs, running her fingers through the loose embroidery thread in her lap. "What's she going to do, complain that I'm taking the burden away from her?"
"Yes, possibly," Avinashi muses. "Be ready for that. She will put it more gracefully however. That you… presumed to do her job for her, clearly feeling the Lady was unable to manage her own house. Or… something of that nature. A threatened woman is made of nettles."
"I'm just-" Anais shifts irritably, moving to sit cross-legged facing the other woman. "I'm so frustrated, Avinashi. I've done everything I can to help this house. To do the right thing. To be what they need. I made it through Jaremy's disappearance, I made it through the wedding. And now, when it's supposed to be easy, now suddenly his stupid mother makes me feel like I'm six inches tall and worthless. All because I'm not what she wants me to be."
"My honest thought," Avinashi says, shifting so that she can face Anais as Anais faces her, "is that the Lady Evangeline's treatment of you has nothing at all to do with who you are and everything to do with what you represent. If you could sew better than a ship full of tailors, then she would have found another fault with you. She is intimidated, my lady, and worried and quite possibly grieving. And it is your unfortunate newness and position that causes you to suffer the brunt of this."
"It's not my fault, though," Anais protests. "It's not my fault Jaremy ran away. It's not my fault they lost Stonebridge. I've done everything I can to fix the situation. And until she decided to start a fight with me, I had nothing against her."
"No, of course it is not," Avinashi agrees, reaching a hand out to set it lightly over the back of Anais's. "Of course the things that have happened have happened to you and not because of you. But who else does she have to accost? Where else can she put her frustration? I do not say it is right. I only say this is why."
"Herself. Her husband. Her son," Anais suggests, grimacing. "All much more fair options. And the worst part of it isn't her," she sighs, picking up the weaving in her lap once more. "I can put up with her. It's that now Jacsen's upset with me. And we were just starting- we were just starting to get to know each other, but he believes her instead of me and blames me for all of this, and now he's upset with me."
"Mmm," Avinashi agrees of this list, although her tone also suggests the unlikeliness of Evangeline to choose to blame those people. "You will be taking a trip shortly, I understand. One which will ask much of your husband. It would be a fine time to show him the wife you would wish to be to him."
"I don't think he really wants me to be the wife I want to be to him, Avinashi," Anais says quietly, fiddling with the thread once more. "I think he just wants someone like his mother. Someone who's content to sit at home and sew, and only offer her opinions when she's asked, and never question what he's thinking or what he's doing." She falls silent, and there's something sad in her features. "He says he wants my help. Sometimes. But I don't think he means it. I think he's just saying it to- to appease me or something. Like a carrot, to entice me to act the way he wants me to."
"No," Avinashi says, and on this character, perhaps, she can speak with greater confidence. "That is not what he wants, nor is it what he needs. But you must give him time to know you and to see that you can be trusted. It does not come quickly, that trust, and until you have it, he will not be ready to bring you his thoughts. You must show him, my lady. You cannot simply tell him what is so."
"How can I show him if he never gives me a chance?" Anais pushes the weaving aside, dropping her head to her hands. "Why is it all falling apart just when it was supposed to be coming together?"
"Because it is new and fragile and you both expect to be given what you must earn," Avinashi replies gently. "He will give you a chance. But you must be present and supportive when it is offered."
"You really think he- I just feel like he doesn't want me," Anais says wearily. "Like I'm some unwelcome burden. And I try. But I hate myself after, because I'm trying to be someone else, and what if he decides he loves that person, and I'm stuck being that person for the rest of my life?"
"Did you not consider," Avinashi suggests gently, "that he may have similar concerns? He is a sensitive man and proud, and such a combination can lend itself quickly to self-doubt and frustration. He carries a great burden of responsibility, now. One which he never expected and which he has had precious little time to become accustomed to wearing. Now he travels to Riverrun, to try and salvage what Jaremy lost and he goes with his bride and his mother who are much at odds and a leg that pains him even more than he will ever confess. Can you see why all that might give him cause to be… difficult?"
"I don't blame him," Anais says quietly, shaking her head and picking at the seams of her shoes. "I understand that this is as hard for him as it is for me. Harder. It's just his stupid mother, who can take a long walk off a short cliff right out of our lives. It's none of her damned business."
"But she has the right to make it her business, reasonable or not," Avinashi says, "and if you wish to help your new Lord and be a woman he trusts and confides in, you must consider the situation more broadly than whether or not Lady Evangeline is in the right."
Anais looks up from her shoes, eyes cool. "The more people insist that I must bend to that woman's whims," she says quietly, "The less inclined I am to do so." She shifts then, moving to drop down from her rock and pace a few steps away, arms crossed over her chest.
"That was not what I was insisting, precisely," Avinashi murmurs, watching as Anais stands and moves away. The servant stands as well, though she remains near the rock, allowing the newest Lady Terrick her space.
"Then what do you want, Avinashi?" Anais asks, weary. "How else do you think I can make this go away? Because I won't bend to her." She laughs then, a rueful sound as she looks to the other woman with the faintest smile. "Those are supposed to be your lines, aren't they? Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken?"
Avinashi smiles for that. "It is the anthem of Dorne," she agreed, "We are unconquered. We were not slaughtered on battlefields, we were not made to submit at blade point. Because we took a Targeryn into our royal house willingly, and we kept the spirit of the people in the doing of it. Keep your spirit, my lady, do not bow or break. But be flexible and be the stronger for it."
"How?" Anais turns back to the other woman, arms still crossed over her chest. "How am I supposed to deal with her? She's already decided I'm a failure. She decided that before she even actually met me, which is why she opened with so, I hear you're a failure."
"Consider the greater victory," Avinashi says after a moment of thought. "You refuse to do as she asks because you think she will demand more. But your husband is a reasonable and just man, his brothers are loyal to him, his father trusts him. If you behave as the greater woman, if you are gracious to her slights and courteous of her callous words, he will see what is happening and the Lady Evangeline will be made to answer. I fear the more fight you offer, the more protests you make, the easier it is for others to cast you the villain instead of the victim. Please, my lady. I will speak with Lady Evangeline and I will make sure my lord sees how she has been behaving. But you must give me a way in, a reason to point it out. You will be the Lady of the Roost one day. Please understand that I do not ask you to surrender yourself. I ask you to be greater than lady Evangeline and lay down a peace not for her sake but for Lord Jacsen's. There is much difference between biding one's time and surrendering. Trust me in this."
"That's not an answer," Anais points out, grimacing. "That's not concrete. That's not something I can do." She turns away once more, rubbing the heel of one hand at her eyes. "I hate this place. I thought this was supposed to be- I don't know. I thought in places where you didn't have to fight all the time, that maybe there would be time for music, or dancing, or stories. A chance to ride out without fearing for your life. But they don't appreciate what they have at all. It's easy, so they just…turn to petty things."
"Then speak to the Lady Evangeline with courtesy and respect, despite what words she will offer, and do not rise to her bait," Avinashi says, walking quietly over to stand beside Anais and gaze out at the ocean. "I know something of leaving home and coming to a place quite different. Of finding what is, other than what you expected. Of longing for a place to which you cannot return. Terrick Roost is your home, now, though it may not feel as such, yet. To build a home takes time. Come you from a mile away from ten thousand."
Anais's shoulders rise, as though she has hackles to lift with them. "Why should I speak to her with courtesy and respect when the only thing she speaks to me with is disdain? All I asked of her was one nice thing. And everyone acts as though I am the one who is being unreasonable here."
"Because that is how you win," the be-silked girl answers simply. "That is how you gain the support of those who currently debate you. It is how you prove yourself the better lady and the stronger woman."
"And how do I do that without doing exactly what she wants me to do?" Anais asks in turn. "How do I politely and courteously tell her to take her sewing straight to Hell with the Stranger? You dress it up more prettily, Avinashi, but you're saying the exact same thing as everyone else. Just do what the old bitch wants," she says, bitter.
"My lady, I ask you to be wiser than your 'better'," Avinashi says, "and for a time, yes, that means doing as she asks. It means giving over your days to a trying task and sitting in a room when there are other things you would prefer to do. But I do not say do it because she demands it, I say do it because it will get you what you are after. Speak to Lady Evangeline, explain the difference in your eyes, and if she still demands you sew, then very well. Take up a needle and thread and let those who took her side feel ashamed for it and intercede for you. This is how you make alliances. This is how you gain power. Not every foe comes at a woman swinging their blade, and as a Lady you must learn other ways to fight than simply straight on. If you will not, then you will not. It your choice. I can only offer the course I feel is best."
"But it won't ever stop!" Anais turns sharply, leaning down to pick up a shell and whip it out to the water. "Why don't any of you understand that? This isn't something I can do for a little bit and then she'll let me be. This is what she expects me to spend my entire life doing. And I can't sit in a tiny room surrounded by women who do nothing of any interest or importance or anything that extends beyond that tiny room for the rest of my life. I'll go stark raving mad!" She wipes a hand at her eyes again, shaking her head. "I came here to get away from being closed off from the rest of the world. Not to get pushed into an even tinier corner of it. I can't do it. I won't do it. I won't live a life without any meaning to it."
"My lady," Avinashi murmurs as the shell goes soaring to vanish, with a little plunk, beneath the waves, "that will not happen. I will not allow it, your husband will not allow it. He needs a wife who is more than an ornament, and he will not allow even his mother to fashion you into such. But unless you let him see this is her intent, he will not side with you. He will not understand."
Anais walks back to the stone, falling heavily against it. "I hate this," she murmurs, shaking her head with a sniffle. "I just hate it. I hate being made to feel like there's something wrong with me, or I'm not enough." She draws a deep breath, brushing a hand under her eyes one more time. "I will try," she says quietly. "But I will only stand for so much, Avinashi."
"There is nothing wrong with you," Avinashi says, trailing after Anais to sit down beside her once again, "and you can do better than to 'try'. You will do as you must, because you must. I know you have the strength for it."
"I just can't spend my life locked up," Anais whispers, shaking her head again. "I can't. I can't stay inside all the time." Absently, she rubs at her arms, as though scratching. "It just makes my skin crawl. I need air." She looks to the other woman a moment, pressing her lips together. "Will you at least go with me?"
Smiling gently, Avinashi dips her head into a slow nod. "Of course, my lady. We shall brave the room together."
Anais sighs softly, resigned. "Fine," she murmurs. "Then you have to keep me from walking off and shooting her from a rooftop when we leave, too." It would be nice to think she's just kidding. She's probably not.
"We will take walks on the beach afterward," Avinashi promises, "or through the woods. And you can tell me all of the terrible things you should like to do to her." She considers a moment, "Archery practice afterward, perhaps. Your aim may yet grow even keener, my lady."