|As Men and Women|
|Summary:||In which Rowan is a girl and Ser Rivers finally gets some action in his make-out cave.|
|Related Logs:||The Jarod/Rowan stuff in general. The collected Lady Nommy letters; And Adventures With Boys and Girls for an indictment of Jarod's creativity when it comes to pseudo-dates.|
|Secluded Cave — Shore Near Four Eagles Tower|
|Sun Sep 11, 288|
(Delivered under the door to Rowan's room, in an envelope marked 'R. Nayland' in Jarod's blocky scrawl on the 10th of September, 288)
I'll not use your true name, for if this is ever found it would be a danger to you. Nor will I use the name which you've styled yourself before for these letters, for I do not like that woman very much. Do you understand why? I will tell you. She is a thing that I feel you created for me for yourself because it's a tale you want to be rather than a reality, a story that you thought I'd somehow feel able to love because she was a Rivers. That isn't real, it isn't what I want, and it speaks very ill of me, I think, that you think I require such illusions to get next to a woman. I am not a man who lives in mummer's tales, I gave that up long ago. I wish what you'd done, if you were going to tell me the truth and make an end of what we were before anyhow, was told me it all honestly and not invented Rose Rivers to do it by halves and not-quite-truths. It might have gone better for us both.
But that is recrimination and that is the past, and that is not why I do this again. I simply wanted to explain a bit, for I still don't feel you quite understand. I feel I am always putting it wrong, and you seem to read things into the words I do give that I never say and do not feel. I do not think you poison, or whatever other horrible nonsense you imagine. I am not trying to make you anything, or force you to be anything, though I do pray you'll change your mind about the course you're taking before it hurts you very much. I would grieve to see you harmed like that, and the world is a hurtful place that isn't kind to romantics. But that is a choice you will make on your own in time, and I cannot stop you. Just know, whatever you do, even if you come to ruin by it, I will still be your friend and try and help you however I can.
Believe it or not I am happy in my own skin, even if all men want what they cannot have, and I have made a life for myself that makes me happy, despite the limits the world places upon me. What I want for you is to be happy in your own skin, which I am sometimes not sure you are despite your claims. When you spoke of your 'sister' to me, I always thought her very remarkable. She is one who made a choice to stand on her own terms in the world, fuck being called 'my lady' and the shield and comfort her family provided. It is she, I think, of all the names you choose to wear, who has done the thing that is truly admirable and truly required any spine or spirit. So it is she who I would like to know better, and if you dislike that I call you by her name, and your true one at that? Well. That is why, and I will not do any differently.
I will never say you're right when I think you're wrong, or tell you I feel something I don't. If that is what you want and need, I am not the man for you. But you will always have my loyalty, and my help when you need it, as much as I can manage to give it, and my affection, for you are kinder and see me in a better light than I deserve. And that is a lovely thing. For the rest, I can make no promises this won't end in disaster. But I would like to know you better, as you are.
If you would like to know me better as well, come to the caves by the sea when the sun is setting and the moon is full, where we can be alone as man and woman, and so that we may see each other in some light. If not, if I have mussed this beyond repair, I will understand, and we will still be friends.
Yours, ever in puzzlement,
Sunset. Coves by the coastline of the Roost. And Ser Jarod Rivers finds himself tucked into one of the larger little caves that've embedded themselves in the rocks along certain parts of the shoreline. It's a secluded spot. Not a particularly difficult climb, but you've got to be somewhat careful getting up to it, and it's far enough off from the castle or any of the watchtowers that one wouldn't typically stumble across it unless one was looking for it. He comes early and waits, sitting in the opening of his little cave and softly whistling to himself to pass the time. It's a drinking song slowed down enough to seem like a ballad, which takes a good deal of the merriment out of it.
Arriving at the cave, Rose finds she needs her hands to climb, and her footwear ill-suited to the task, as well. She is, therefore, preceded by her shoes. There's a loud, laughing whisper from bellow — "Heads up!" — and then a pretty, wine-red slipper comes arcing through the air, landing on the stone beside Jarod with a faint plunk. It's followed by its mate, and a few moments later by the girl who'd been wearing them, one hand on the rocks and the other holding her gown free of her bare, sandy feet. She's cloaked and carrying a satchel, pink-cheeked from the ride, her smile a little giddy. "Hullo, there!" she greets him cheerfully, dusting off her skirts.
"Seven hells!" Such is Jarod's surprised, and echo-y, exclamation which cuts off his whistling when shoes come flying at him. For his part, he's in one of the green tunics he favors (little yellow embellishments of stars sewn on the cuffs and collar), black breeches, and boots that lack spurs but are extremely well-suited for climbing. He picks up one of the slippers and squints at it in a vaguely puzzled fashion. "If I'd figured you'd bother with this sort of thing I'd have picked a different spot." It's half an apology, half just confusion about the shoes. "You'll cut your feet on the rocks, not that these'll do you much better…" He drops the shoe carelessly with a shrug, going to the edge and extending a hand to help her up and in. He does some blinking at her appearance. "Huh. Umm. Hullo."
"Sorry!" Rose calls up, laughing. She accepts the hand, still grinning ebulliently as she looks back down the way she came. "My feet are fine. They're not, alas, soft and dainty like a normal girl's — but they're quite well-suited to climbing." She looks around, peering into the cave. "No, I like it! Besides, what's a romantic rendezvous without a little climbing? I mean, it's not you onto my balcony with a rose in your teeth, or anything, but since when have we done anything normal?"
"Err…no," Jarod says at the image of him climbing a balcony with a rose between his teeth. "Not quite. And…I guess that's what this is if you want to call it that. Rendezvous or whatever." That description seems to sit oddly with him, but he doesn't reject it. He seems a little nervous. "Anyway. Sit down if you like. Have a drink. Or an apple. I brought apples as well as wine." He gestures to a basket on a cloak he's brought along, which is stretched along the cave floor to allow for more comfortable sitting. "Wasn't sure if you'd come or not."
She tilts her head, eyeing him. "See this?" Her right cheek pooches out. "That's my tongue. In my cheek." She bumps him gently with her shoulder. "Relax, Jarod. It's me. I'm just wearing a dress." She sweeps off her cloak and steps into the cave, lowering her satchel, and then herself, to the place he's made for sitting. She takes a bottle from her satchel — whiskey, it appears — and sets it next to the wine, helping herself to an apple. "Thank you for the wine, but I don't really… not since that little incident in Stonebridge." She wrinkles her nose a little. "I keep thinking I taste mint. And vomit." She takes a earthenware jug from the satchel, as well. "I brought hard cider, too."
"Oh, aye. Sorry. Either works," Jarod says, seating himself as well. One leg stretched out, the other with his knee raised so he can rest an arm on it. He plucks a couple cups from his basket, offering one to her. The other he keeps in his hand, but holds out to have cider poured in it. "The shoes really weren't necessary, you know. They're fairly silly, really. I never could quite understand why ladies made such things to wear, though I guess they're fine when you're just sitting around a room looking ornamental." He hastily adds, "The dress is nice, though. You look very lovely, Rowenna."
Rose uncorks the jug, pouring cider for herself, then hovering over the other cup with her brows lifted slightly. "If you prefer wine, I won't be offended. I might even still kiss you." She glances at him, mirthful again, dimples deep. "And thank you. You look rather lovely, yourself. You did say something in your letter about meeting as a man and a woman, so I thought I should do my part."
"Cider'll do for now. And…thanks." Jarod cracks a grin when she says it, though he still seems rather nervous. "Look Rowenna…what're you expecting out of me? I mean…I don't have a rose between my teeth and I didn't want you to be any…part. I mean, that's sort of what I was trying to say to you when I wrote you. What I've been trying to say for awhile, just always wrong, I guess. I just…wanted to talk to you. Get to know you a bit. And not have it be all…what it's been. People playing parts. I guess what it's been since we met each other, even though I didn't know it for a long time."
She listens, expression sobering. "I think… sometimes you think too much, Jarod." She fills his cup and re-corks the jug. "I was teasing you. Both about the rose and the kissing. I suppose I shouldn't do that until you're more certain of me." She has a drink, pulling her knees up and considering her sandy toes. "I'm not expecting anything. I've no idea what to expect. But… you invited me. And I'm here."
"Well, you're a bit alarming sometimes," Jarod says, flopping onto his side and stretching out, propped up on one elbow. The other is dedicated to holding his cider cup, for drinking purposes. "And you're generally *alarmingly* serious lately. Except when you're not. It's confusing." He just works on his drink for a moment, watching her. Looking at her in the fading light, which plays in strange shadows off the rocks of the little cave. "Aye. I suppose I did at that. So." Now that she's here, he doesn't seem entirely sure what to do with her. "Umm." Another drink. "I guess…tell me about Rowenna Nayland. From the beginning. What was it like, growing up in the Mire? And how'd you get to be…this? I mean, most ladies aren't. They're just…made for other things. Not saying it's good or bad, it's just what they are, usually."
When he calls her alarming, she widens her eyes at him — SPOOKY FACE — and wriggles her fingers like a boogedy witch casting a hex. The expression's immediately replaced by a merry smile. She sips her cider and reflects a moment. "Well, let's see. I was born Rowenna Rose Nayland, second youngest of a sodding lot, only about ten months before my little brother, Rowan. And…" She purses her lips, looking at the cave wall as though gazing back through time. "The Mire is beautiful, believe it or not. All green and shadowy and enchanted. Sunlight barely gets through, so it's twilight all time time." Her shoulders lift in a slight shrug. "I'm not sure how I got this way, really. I mean — " she laughs, shaking her head. "I was always rubbish at girl things. Bad at music, horror with a needle… I just didn't have the patience to do tiny, intricate things with my hands. I wanted to be up and running. Climbing, riding — getting my whole body involved. And Rowan… he was sickly and small. The things I had no patience for suited him perfectly." She smiles a wide, fond smile. "He'd do my needlework while I snuck down to watch Uncle Rygar drilling the militia." She chuckles, drinking again, "My cousin, I know, but he was so much the older — Row and I always called him uncle."
Jarod can't help but laugh at the spooky face, a merry chuckle. That seems to relax him some. As does finishing his first drink. He straightens up to pour himself some more from the jug. "I know what you mean. About…just wanting to be up and out and *doing* things. I could never sit still. I had the same tutors my brothers and Luci had, but I was always awful at lessons. It just seemed…boring. And not anything I could make any real use of. Except the histories, in part. The bits that sounded more like stories. Great kings and knights and battles and the like. The rest…I did as little as I could get away with until I could go play with the pages and watch my Lord Uncle Revyn in the yard. Jace and Luci were always good at the book stuff. And Jaremy…well, Jaremy did what was expected of him, and he was better for it than me. We spent more time playing at being knights, though. Slaying play dragons and solving fatal riddles and grand quests in our back yard and the like."
Rose groans in sympathy, laughing and nodding. "Oh, sod, lessons were the worst. Having to learn anything by rote — I swear our old Master nearly killed history for me entirely. Even the great battles and tales of knighthood — he just sucked the life right out of them." She takes a sip of cider, smiling again as she recalls, "That I learned anything is all Rowan's doing. He paid attention in lessons, then we'd sneak off together and he'd tell me the tales proper — Seven, he was gifted at it. Sure as our Maester could kill a story, Rowan could make it come right to life. So I'd work through the drills I'd seen in the day with my pilfered practice weapons, and he's tell stories…" Another sip, quiet and thoughtful a moment. "We spent our whole lives hiding, Rowan and me. So that we could be who we were. We were each other's secret."
"You didn't have anybody else?" Jarod can't seem to wrap his head around this, or really even imagine it. "It was always…full here. There were so many of us all the same age together. There's not even a year's difference in age between me and Jaremy, and just months with Jace, and Luci's not that far behind us, though she was always gifted for the girly stuff. And Iz…Isolde Tordane and Gedeon were always here when they were younger, when Lord Geoffrey would visit my father. I don't think I could've had a secret if I tried to." He smiles as he says it. The memories are plainly very happy ones. *re*
"Igara would visit, sometimes," Rose says, shrugging. "But no. There really wasn't anyone. All our siblings — they were married off, or squired, or wards, or dead. I guess my mother was sick of having her children taken away, by the time Row and me came along, or the old man couldn't think of any immediate use for us. So we were mostly let be." She smiles wryly at the memory. "I hated it when Igara'd visit. She was always pale and ill and ever so good at all the things I wasn't — so Rowan had someone to play music and read poems with. He even pretended to be more sickly than he actually was, so she'd have company, and I'd go sulk in the kennels." She smiles at Jarod and drains her cup. "Very different families, but not such different siblings. I saw — in you and yours — what Rowan and I had on a broader, brighter scale. So of course I adored you all."
"We were family. All of us. The Tordanes, too, back then. I figured it'd be like that forever," Jarod says. There's a touch of regret in his tone, and he gives his cup an idle swirl in his hand. "I used to think Jace and I might join up with the Kingsguard with Jaremy. So we'd all be the finest knights in the kingdom together, and serve the realm grandly together and have great adventures forever. Not sure what I figured would happen to this place if that happened. I guess I thought Lucienne'd take it over, which would've been all right, I'll wager, and maybe order us all around to do her bidding when she needed knights. Not that I was ever serious about it. Jaremy's the one who wanted to be Ser Barristan Selmy. I just wanted to be with my brothers." He chuckles. "When I got older I realized I'd be bollocks fo something like the Kingsguard. I mean, not that I don't think Ser Barristan and Ser Jaime Lannister are fine knights. Finest in the realm. But…all they do for the most part is stand about King's Landing, by the throne. It's a great honor but…if you want to be out, running about and *doing* things…seems like it'd be as bad as being tucked in with a maester all day." He snorts. "Plus, the whole celibacy vow. That's rather a downer."
"Luci'd run this place properly, for certain," agrees Rose, smiling warmly. She refills her cup and tops off Jarod's, once more setting the jug aside, after. She leans back against the wall of the cave and gazes into her cup. "Parting ways with Rowan was the hardest thing I've ever done," she says softly. "I knew he'd be happy in his new life — and I was right — but…" She drinks and sighs deeply. "I didn't know how to be happy without him, at first. But I learned."
"Thanks," Jarod mutters, to the topping off, withdrawing his cup back and taking a quick gulp from it. "I can't even imagine it. I've never really been…on my own before, I guess. I mean, it was a little strange at first, when I went to Seagard without Jaremy. It was always him and me. Or him and Jace. Or the three of us. It wasn't that Jace and I didn't get on when we were boys, we just were both closer to Jaremy, I think. And we were different sorts. We're different sorts *now* it just…matters less, I suppose."
"It was… maybe easier isn't the word, but — " Rose frowns slightly. "We did it as much for each other as for ourselves. Pushed one another from the nest, toward our dreams. I guess… knowing I was doing it for him as much as I was for me… that made it bearable." She chases away her melancholy with a smile. "He's deliriously happy in King's Landing, though. And it just… radiates from the page, every letter he sends." Another sip, then she observes, "It's you and Jack who're the closer now, it seems. You two… you went through something together that Jaremy never has."
"I'd not say that, exactly," Jarod says, plucking an apple of his basket and taking a bite of that. "Though it's certainly not he and Jaremy anymore." Which plainly troubles him a good deal. "Jaremy and I will always be more alike. When he forgets to act like a highlord for two minutes and just be himself. Who's a person I think you'd like a good deal better than the one he feels like he needs to put on in front of the world. But aye, I suppose certain parts of me are easier with Jace. I don't mean just the war, though there is that. Jaremy's never treated me like a bastard, except I am. And that's all right, but it'll always be there. With Jace…it's easier to talk about the parts of us that're missing, or ugly, or unkind, because they're never going away and they just…they're not anything to be ashamed of. It's strange now, between the two of them. I think they expected that when they met again, it'd be just like when we were all fourteen. Except it's not, it couldn't be, and they've had no time really to get to know each other again. And Jaremy's being the young lord all the time with him, and Jace is being the wise courtier and they're just…assholes when they're around each other, a little bit, and I don't know how to fix it."
"Lock them in a room with a case of booze and don't let either one of them out until they've kissed and made up, or beaten each other senseless," Rose recommends, choosing an apple for herself as well. She seems to be of the opinion that either outcome will mean the same thing. Peace at last. "I've often thought that's what should be done with you and I — though this is probably more practical." She bites into her apple.
"That's my present plan, just a matter of nailing them down to take them drinking," Jarod says with a chuckle. "And I don't think that would've done any good. I felt like that's what you were trying to do every time I'd ask you not to talk to me for awhile and you'd…keep talking to me. Like I couldn't get my thoughts in order, so they were all just jumbled and messy. I think you're the first person who's ever accused me of thinking too much Rowenna but…I do try and think things out. Get everything straight in my head before I do something I think's important. That's what I did tonight and…I mean, isn't this better?"
Rose puts a hand over her mouth as she smiles, mouth full of another bite of apple. She swallows and nods. "We seem to be doing okay, so far," she agrees. She lowers her lashes, reaching for her cup again. "I am sorry. For pushing things like that. I'm a little slow on the uptake, sometimes, and I just — I'm shit at cyvasse. I like that all the pieces can move in different ways, the patterns appeal to me, but the thinking things through — I'd much rather smash a wall down than spend a lot of time looking for the door." She smirks and rolls her eyes at herself. "If any of that made sense at all. I know I should have let you alone — Hells, I knew it then… I just… couldn't get past myself." She looks down at her sandy toes again, shrugging. "So I'm learning patience."
Jarod Rivers is, for all his supposed lack of rapier intellect, neither impulsive nor rash in his dealings with people. "That's just not the way I am, Rowenna," he says with a shrug. "I don't want to smash people. I don't want to put my foot wrong with them at all. It's easier if people are kind to each other, and try not to hurt each other." He's nothing, for all his bluntness, if not the consummate people-pleaser. "Anyway, it's done now. I am sorry if I hurt you. I never wanted to. You're the last person in the world I want to be unkind to, as you've always been nothing but good to me. Or tried, at least, I guess, even in ways I wish you hadn't."
"I never wanted to hurt you, either," she replies softly. "And I didn't mean… smash people just… you know. A metaphor. For my lack of patience." She tucks a curl back behind her ear. "Time's the only thing that'll do for some things. I want — I just want to have it all out now, make it right straight away. But… you can't always do that. And I'm learning." She drinks, licking her lips absently after. "I didn't make up Rose Rivers for you, you know. I've been slipping off to be a girl every so often these past years — and it's not like I could use my name. So I paired my middle name with Rivers — Rowan was already using it, he's Eustace Rivers in his new life, though I'll admit I also fancied it because it was yours." She smiles ruefully. "Anyway. I didn't choose the name to manipulate you or draw you in. I'm sorry you felt that way, but that — it just wasn't that way."
"I don't like it anyhow, and I've told you why," Jarod says. Stubbornly, though there's a half-apology in his tone now. It still doesn't seem a point he's willing to budge much on. "Why do you dislike Rowenna so much? Like I said in my letter, I think, of all the names you've assembled for yourself, Rowenna Nayland's the only one who's done anything *real*. Real difficult, or really admirable. Whatever you think…Rowan's not seen real fighting yet. The squire's melee was very well-done, but that was just play war, and against boys at that. And Rose Rivers…well. I've said how I feel about her, whatever she is for you. But Rowenna Nayland was *brave*, the way you went out into the world on your own terms, without even the brother you'd loved so much, without needing to have the shield of being called 'my lady' all the time. She's made her own choices and tried to make something of herself - even though I don't think all those choices are *right*, at least they're yours. There's a good deal to be said for that, so I'll keep calling you it just the same. I don't think it's any less pretty than Rose. Rowenna's a perfectly fine name, between the two of us, at least. When you aren't Rowan, and it's all right to call you what you are."
"I don't dislike Rowenna," says Rose, smiling faintly and shaking her head. "I just couldn't rightly use it, so Rose I became. That's all. And I'm sorry you don't like Rose… but I don't mind you calling me Rowenna. It's stubborn and pig-headed, but also sweet."
"I think Rose is who you *want* to be, is all," Jarod says, reaching out to idly brush a dark curl back from her face. "And you shouldn't, because she's not as great as all that. And…nobody gets to be precisely who they want to be. But that's all right. I figure what we should do is try and get all right with who we are." He shifts slightly so so he's stretches out closer to her, in the dimming light. "You've got very pretty eyes, Rowenna."
She takes a breath, perhaps about to argue, but then he's brushing back that curl… and she doesn't. She takes a soft breath and lowers her lashes, cheeks flushing. "They're brown," she says of her eyes, apparently in dissent, then winces and laughs at herself, shaking her head and starting again. "I mean… Thank you," she amends. Summoning her courage, she raises her eyes to his. "So do you."
"They're dark, like your Mire. Twilight all the time, and beautiful." Jarod's palm opens, but remains against her face, caressing it so it's cupping her cheek, with his thumb coming down to rest under her chin. Tipping her face a little upward, toward his own. "Thanks for that." The compliment makes him smile. After a beat he adds, "I've been told they're like my father's." He has no talent for the supposedly quavering 'Terrick state,' but the coloring matches. His preference for green, which brings them out, isn't purely vanity. Not of the entirely superficial sort, at least.
"You do very much have your father's eyes," Rose whispers, gazing up into them. She seems to have forgotten to breathe — until she remembers, taking a deep breath through her nose to compensate. "Seven, you always smell so good," she murmurs, eyes lidding for a moment. She leans forward a bit to breathe him in again, her cheek and the tip of her nose barely nuzzling his throat.
That compliment just makes Jarod bark a short laugh. Because, well, he certainly doesn't all the time. Though he has bathed for this occasion, at least. "You're very kind…" When she leans forward his lips catch hers, in an attempt at a kiss. It's experimental, but it certainly couldn't be called tentative. He doesn't do boyish, closed-lipped pecks.
Rose protests, "I'm not kind, I — " but then he's kissing her, and whatever she was going to say… clearly not that important. Her hands move to his shoulders to steady herself, as though she might topple over despite that they're both sitting. She makes a soft, sweet sound in her throat, tilting her head to give him better purchase, hands sliding up to cup his face.
Jarod seems to consider his experiment successful, as he kisses her again. Mouth opening to breathe, then closing back against hers without much of a pause. His hands, meanwhile, shift so that he's holding her closer, and his fingers run down her form to feel the curve of her chest, and her waist. He chuckles. "I guess you're a girl after all…" Then more kissing.
She laughs, twining her arms around his neck, body flush with his and shaking with mirth. "Interesting decision," she whispers between kisses, her brilliant, giddy smile occasionally making the lip-lock a — still rather pleasant — challenge. "To kiss me before you were absolutely certain…"
"I'm still not, entirely," Jarod laughs, as he works on kissing her neck rather than her lips. And then trying to nip her ear. "Let's see if we can get that figured out…aye?" His hands are working on getting her dress off her shoulders now. The sun's long gone down at this point, and the light in the little cove mainly from the moon overhead.
Her laughter catches on a soft gasp as he nips her ear. She shivers and tips her head to give him more of both her ear and her throat. "You do have a reputation for being thorough," Rose murmurs, her own hands moving to dispense with his belt and assist the removal of both tunic and shirt. With a little loosening of the laces at the back, the gown comes off her shoulders easily.
"I'm nothing if not a man who likes to maintain my reputation," Jarod replies with a laugh, that's muffled with his mouth still occupied on her neck. He'll leave a mark or two there tomorrow.
Fade to black!