|Battles of Women|
|Summary:||More losses for Terrick's Roost.|
|Related Logs:||None that I can think of right now|
|Lord and Lady's Chamber|
|The chambers and Lord and Lady Terrick, the largest of the Roost.|
|15th of the 2nd month, 289|
It does not take long for word to spread through the castle from servant to master that the Lady Evangeline has taken to her bed ill, and it takes no longer for the ladies to be apprised of the specifics, that she is losing the child, and to be summoned with urgent concern for the Lady of the House. In the Lord and Lady's chamber, a fire has been built high in the hearth despite it being midday, the sickly scent of blood and sweat mixing in the heat of the confined space. Within the bed is the curled form of Evangeline, arms wrapped around herself as she stays buried under blankets.
Nothing if not a dutiful, loving daughter, Lucienne arrives at a brisk pace, her brow glistening from the exertion of running up stairs and through corridors. She doesn't spend her usual moment to compose herself before making through the doorway and past whomever else might be in attendance, her face twisted in concern as she peers about the chambers for the sight of her mother. "Oh," she sighs, a hand darting up to press at her chest. "Mother, my dear lady mother."
This is probably not the best place for Anais. There are very few scenarios in which this ends with the Lady of the Roost and the Young Lady of the Roost not at each others' throats. On the other hand, not showing up would be pretty awkward, too. So when she arrives, Anais lingers at the doorway, eyes flickering over the room in search of /something/ she can do that's both useful and mostly out of the way.
Belle, attending Lucienne, follows immediately in the dutiful daughter's wake. Pale and pensive, her expression one of distinct pity, she stays by the door. Mother and daughter are afforded some privacy, thus, but the handmaid remains in the event she's needed. One hand drifts unconciously over her own, flat belly, and the womb within.
"Lucienne," Evangeline manages, her throat raw and word hoarse for all that she manages to make it flat, stripped of any outpouring of emotion. Ever the proper lady. She does not try to straighten from her curl, hands pressed tightly into her sides. "I am losing the baby. Jerold should know—Too much blood to keep it." Closer, it is easier to see that her estimation is correct, a spreading patch of blood through blankets and sheets surrounding the lady.
The next exclamation from Lucienne is more a whimper, a helpless noise uttered as she surveys her mother: "Ohhh." The blood on the bedding, that coarse voice… Luci's dark eyes take on a filmy sheen, and she nods gently as she stretches out a hand to brush tenderly at Evangeline's shoulder. "We'll see news to your lord, my lady," she promises, and wonders softly, "Does it hurt? We should fetch you the Maester?"
Anais looks to Belle, then takes a step back out of the doorway herself. "I'll go find the maester," she offers in a low tone. It has the benefit of being useful /and/ out of the room, after all. She hesitates, catching her lower lip between her teeth. "And maybe Aubra?" The last is a question, directed to those who've been residents of the Roost for longer than she.
Belle opens the door and slips out into the hall briefly, conscripting a passing page to bring news to Lord Jerold. "Swiftly as you can," she tells the boy, pressing a silver stag into his palm. That done, she passes Anais on her way back in, touching the Young Lady's arm and giving it a subtle squeeze. Support, solidarity, comfort.
"The Maester?" Evangeline repeats. And then she's moved on to a firm, if quiet, "Yes, find the Maester. He should see to—." Beneath the thin material of her nightgown, her skin is cool to the touch, despite the sheen of sweat and the fire built within the room. She only starts to stir now, only to look over to see the Lady Anais retreat from the room.
"The Maester," Lucienne repeats as well, confirming the instruction with a nod. The younger of the dark-haired Terrick women looks over her shoulder toward the door, passing it on: "Please, if someone could fetch the Maester… and some cloths, and a pot of water to warm on the hearth? Tell Maester Gwyllam — tell him —" Lucienne gulps down a lump in her throat, but can't seem to find what words she'd like conveyed. Instead, she looks back to her mother, tracing another gentle stroke across the woman's shoulder.
"I've got it, Luci," Anais assures the other woman in a gentle tone, before she disappears into the hallway. She'll be a few moments searching for the maester, but there will be someone with water and clothes in little more than the time it takes to get from the kitchens to the chambers. Under orders to stay calm and quiet.
Belle takes the water and cloths from the servant with a murmur of thanks, putting the former on to boil. The cloths are placed at the foot of the bed, for easy use. This done, she retreats back to the door, hands clasped before her, knuckles pale.
Evangeline's hand moves to catch Lucienne's in a tight, clammy grip, pressing too hard as if holding on to the edge of a cliff. Urgently but lowly, she says, "There is something wrong. I think — This is wrong." Her forehead drops to rest on their clenched hands, eyes sliding closed where she no longer tries to meet her daughter's gaze. "I have to tell you—."
"My lady?" Lucienne all but squeaks, paralysed with fear under the cold grip of her mother's hand. "No," she insists weakly. "The babe, mother. It's just… the maester will see to you, my lady." Clinging to courtesy with her words, there is none of it in the deep, imploring stare this daughter hangs upon her mother's eyes.
Evangeline continues as if Lucienne hadn't spoken, speaking as softly as she dares as she says, "You are Ser Hardwicke's daughter, Lucienne, my lovely Lucienne. Hardwicke is your father, not Jerold." Her breath hitches on her next words, begging, "You have to forgive me, my daughter, my sweetheart. You have to forgive me."
Belle closes her eyes, drawing a soft breath. Her hands fold over her belly briefly, and then she's still. She makes no sound. She might not even be there, sentinel at the door, unmoving unless she's called to.
Lucienne's heart stops beating, or so it feels to the girl. No longer imploring, her eyes open wide with shock, her breath on pause for a moment. What is there to say? Whilst her mind reels with a thousand possibilities, there is only one word that forms upon her lips… and it is: "No."
Rapid breaths catch on a sob, Evangeline not prepared for that answer even as she says, "Please, Lucienne. I loved—love him. Everything I did was out of love." Her tongue darts out to wet too-dry lips, her gaze finally raising to find her daughter's and then sliding a moment to the other woman in the room. It is unclear who she is speaking to when she says: "Tell him that I loved him."
Anais was gone long enough to miss the revelations, and is uncomfortable enough not to press when she returns to tears. "The Maester's out at the village," she says quietly. "One of the smallfolk got caught beneath a beam during the reconstruction. I sent riders for him, but it's going to be a little bit. Luci, is there anyone else around the keep who knows these things? A midwife? A stablehand, even?"
Belle gazes at the Lady of the Roost, mute. Stricken. And for all that — expressionless. She dips her chin slightly to her husband's other lady, her own skin nearly as pale. And still, she says nothing. Other than that faint acknowledgment, she does not move.
"I - stop it." Lucienne speaks bold and brashly, however soft, as she issues that command to her mother. "Never. Never. We will never spea—" Anais' return interrupts, and Lucienne shares one meaningful look with her mother before turning to glance over her shoulder again. "Mistress Aubra? Or there's a girl in the kitchens, who… nevermind. Belle. Is the water hot?"
Evangeline draws in a long breath, forceful, but she does not press her daughter further on the topic of forgiveness. Instead, she allows her to take control of the situation as it pleases her, only adding a murmured "Middlemarch. Middlemarch should go to you, but I need the paper and pen to will it if Lord Jerold will allow."
"Nevermind?" Anais echoes, brows furrowing until Evangeline's words break through to her. "Lady Evangeline." She draws a deep breath through her nose, straightening slender shoulders as she moves to the bedside to try to catch the older woman's gaze. "You just survived an Ironborn siege. Your husband and your son just lost the liege lord to whom they were very close, and still have a war to fight. Do not even entertain the possibility that you might die of this." She turns then, leveling a stern look on Lucienne and Belle alike. "I am going to find someone who can stop the bleeding. In the meantime, I don't care if you have to- I don't know, just apply pressure, but she is not going to die of this."
The handmaid goes dutifully to check the water. "Yes, my lady," says Belle, and delivers it for Lucienne's use. She hesitates by the bed, then places a cool hand on Evangeline's forehead. It's a bold and unseemly thing to touch the woman uninvited, but it's meant to draw her attention. "My lady," she says softly. "There are three women here present who will swear to your wishes — far better proof than many documents, as we've all lately seen. Do not trouble or strain. We will mark all you say and make it so. I promise." She hesitates a moment, then says softly, "But far better than you live." And she seems to mean it.
"Why would you even say that," Lucienne hisses, as the word 'die' comes about in the dialogue. "None of you, none of you say it again!" She leans to snatch a cloth from the foot of the bed, dunking it with a splash into the basin and wringing it out angrily. "Herbs. There must be something. I'm sure there's something. I'll have that maester's head," she spits, shifting to swipe at Evageline's dewy cheeks with her cloth.
"Wait, Anais. Do not go. You cannot go yet. I have not—," Evangeline begins desperately where her gooddaughter moves to leave, swallowing panic away to attempt to draw a steady breath. A small groan of relief escapes as sweat is wiped away, her dark gaze raising to Lucienne with silent apology. She ends up just murmuring to Anais in place of what she may have said, "I am glad you are my gooddaughter. You are strong."
"Because she's thinking it, and I know she's thinking it because I can see it." Anais narrows her eyes slightly at Evangeline, a warning look that only grows wary at the kind words. "Nina," she turns to her own handmaid. "Please go find…Dammit, what's her name? The master of horse's daughter. She's about my height, broad-shouldered, small hands, and she's been helping her father with the horses since she was toddling, if I remember right. Curly dark hair, usually in the laundry this time of day." Only then does she kneel next to the bed, reaching out to take one of Evangeline's hands. "You're strong, too. We have to be strong. Our men have bigger battles to fight. So I need you to focus, all right? Just breathe."
Belle gazes down at the suffering woman, closes her eyes, and thinks. Finally, she murmurs, "The bleeding comes from within. Pressure won't stop the bleeding. But I know something that might."
"Everyone knows she's thinking it," snaps Lucienne, unmoved by Anais' response. "You don't need to say it. Do not say it again." Shutting out the rest of the world after speaking that warning, she dabs desperately, gently at her mothers brow with the warm cloth. "It's alright, my lady. Belle will bring something, Belle will help you. It's alright. It's alright." If there's some deeper meaning behind those repeated words, it's kept between the stares of mother and daughter only.
By now, there are servants lingering about in the hall, and Belle steps out once more to have someone fetch her kit of herbs and potions. She returns to the bedside, placing a hand lightly on Luci's shoulder. She swallows, looking pained for mother and daughter both. She shuts her eyes briefly, then opens then to promise both women, "I will do everything I can."
"I know, Luci. It's alright," Evangeline repeats comfortingly, a smile settling weakly into the corners of her lips through quick breaths inhaled through her lips. She starts to mumble slightly when she adds, "We have to be stronger for them, because our men cannot—handle it all. You have to be strong for Jacsen."
Anais looks at Lucienne for a moment, but leaves the d-word be, turning her attention to Evangeline. "I will," she promises, clasping both hands around the other woman's one. "And you are going to be strong for Jerold. And for Jacsen. And for Lucienne." She pauses, a faint smile touching one corner of her lips. "And for me, because I'll go blind if I have to do all of the ledgers and read all the reports by myself."
Belle glances at the door, the places a gentle hand alongside Evangeline's throat, feeling the faint fluttering of the lady's pulse. Again, she closes her eyes. When she opens them again, she says softly to Evangeline, "He knows."
There's a shade of that same smile turning the corners of Lucienne's mouth, tears welling more insistently in her eyes as she continues to comfort her mother. "I love you," she says quietly, each word a wealth of emotion. She dips her chin in a series of tiny nods, and says again, with even more feeling, "I love you."
A laugh escapes quietly from Evangeline's lips, her next words a quick, "You are already blind." But she squeezes Anais's hand as hard as she can in return. "I love you too, Luci, and your brothers." She pauses. "Tell Jarod that I—am sorry." Not that she loves him.
Taking a breath, Belle paces to the door, peering out impatiently. She glances back at the bed, her eyes soft with a terrible sadness — an inevitability. She lowers her gaze before Lucienne of Anais might see, and resumes her space apart. By the door. Waiting.
"Which is why I can't afford to get any worse," Anais smiles faintly to Evangeline. "You'll tell Jarod yourself," she adds, still firm. "Otherwise he's likely to think Luci and I are just trying to make him feel better."
"I'll tell him," promises Lucienne in a choked-up voice, directly in contrast to Anais' words. She gulps down another lump, a single tear rolling down her pale cheek. "I forgive you," she murmurs next, "I do. I'm sorry, mama, I-" Blinking as rapidly as she can is not enough to contain her tears, flowing more readily as she speaks and runs out of puff.
"Take care of Lord Jerold. He loves you both," Evangeline murmurs quietly, her gaze sliding in her own sort of knowing towards her daughter, an understanding. She falls silent, energy fading quickly to keep speaking, eyes closing tiredly. Eventually, soon, her pulse fades out, her heart stopping in her chest.
The servant with Belle's kit arrives — like so many things in life, too little, too late. She simply sets the basket on the floor at her side. She swallows again, a tight lump in her throat, and dabs at her eyes with her sleeve.
Anais holds Evangeline's hand as the woman falls quiet, dropping her head to press her brow against their folded hands. "Gods help us," she murmurs, shoulders sloping is though the weight of the Roost has slipped directly from Evangeline's shoulders to hers.
Lucienne's tears come a little more freely as her mother's eyes close, and silent sobs shake her chest as she continues to dab at Evangeline's face, right up until the life slips from her and for a long moment thereafter. "Mama," she whimpers lowly, slumping forward to embrace the dead woman on the bed without a care for the mess amongst the blankets as she cries.