|Summary:||Jacsen and Lucienne sit on some graves and try to keep their pants on.|
|Date:||15 Jun 289|
|Related Logs:||Open and Shut Minds|
|The stone here gives way to more carefully tended grass and the plots of the deceased members of the Terrick family. Headstones dot the area with flowers clipped and placed at a few of them. To the side, built into the wall, is a locked gate that descends under the castle to the crypt where the House Lords are entombed.|
|15 June 289|
It's an odd sort of man who would visit the lichyard just as the sun traces its fiery orange path to the horizon, leaving the silent stones to cast long shadows across the short-cropped grass. It's an odder one still who purposefully denies himself his medication and drags himself there in pain, as though that pain were part of his pilgrimage. Grunting with effort, Jacsen comes to rest against one of the headstones, leaning on it heavily as he stretches out his bad leg with a slow hiss. "Evening, cousin," he mutters to the gravemarker, tapping it with his fingers before he pushes off. "Didn't mean to disturb your slumber."
The gate that locks the lower crypts requires keys to open, and those can be heard jingling in merry contrast to the somber mood as she who bears them ascends the stone staircase that wends underneath the castle. Lucienne's pace is slow, and she fumbles in the fading light to find the lock and turn the key to let herself out. She takes some pain to ensure the gate is secured again, and only as she turns on her toes to make her retreat does she notice her brother by the carried sound of his voice; she darts a wary glance about her, before taking just a single step in his direction. "Jacsen?"
The sound of keys makes him start, the surprise of the unexpected noise amplified by the slow darkening of the lichyard. "Luci," he sighs in relief, putting his hand over his heart. It's still pounding. "No wonder I couldn't find you in your room." Or the key to the crypt, for that matter. His eyes rest on the locked gate for a moment before turning to her, his nerves taking a little while to settle. "Did you have a good talk?" he asks.
Sensing his surprise, Lucienne smiles to herself, taking a little victory. She jangles the keys in Jacsen's direction, and takes another step toward him. "They were somewhat quiet," she banters, her smile remaining in a lopsided fashion. "But nobody disagreed with me. What brings you out here?"
The pain slowly returns as the adrenaline drains out of his system, causing Jacsen to move his leg about restlessly. "I thought I'd get away from the Tower for a while," he answers. Her smile is returned with a small one of his own. "People are a bit too… agitated right now. I've not a mood for it right now. But here…" An open hand gestures around him. "Here, there's no arguing. No shouting. No rash irrationality. Just simple silence in the shadow of the Stranger." He looks back at her. "You?"
"Oh, agitated?" Lucienne seems to be in a joking mood, canting her head and smiling more evenly. "I hadn't noticed. Surely nobody of the Terrick name is given to rashness, brother - we might argue exactly the opposite." Her feet set to moving again, rounding to the back of the tombstone nearest Jacsen, her expression sobering. "Father bids me make common cause with your wife. Friends, even. Seven only know divine intervention is needed for that, and the dead are closer than the Sept for the asking."
Jacsen snorts and smiles despite himself, though it quickly turns to a grimace of pain. "I heard what happened," he says, slowly lowering himself to the ground. "I know you two will not be friends, not even with the help of all the Gods. But she's - my wife. Until I've proof that she's been unfaithful." Seems he thinks it's a matter of when, not if. "So long as she remain at the Roost, I would see you… friendly."
That grimace pains Lucienne, the lady wincing in sympathy. "I watched her make an enemy of Liliana," she begins, her hands dragging along the top of the stone as her feet carry her round it. "And I thought to myself, well, the stubborn women will always clash. Then I watched her make an enemy of our lady mother - and you supported her, inviting the Lady Kathryna back to stake our gates whilst the Ironborn invaded. Your wife has the poorest sense of judgment I've ever seen in a lady, brother, as if I needed more proof." Her tone is apologetic, as she comes to a crouch beside Jacsen. "She threatened to have me beaten, should I come near you. I would dearly like to make common cause with her, but is it in our best interests?"
Jacsen lays a hand lightly on her forearm, looking at her with determined eyes. "I will make it in our best interests," he promises. "I will turn her from a liability to an asset. Give me time, and your trust, Luci, and leave her to me. She's brazen, but with temperance, will shine." His touch is light as his fingertips brush up to her elbow and back down to her wrist. "Not all women are born with your sense and forethought, my love. Surely, you can't begrudge them that."
"Brazen?" Lucienne sounds incredulous, her brows shooting up in skepticism. "She saw fit to accuse me in front of a room full of Terrick men, with no evidence, of being a traitor. She is not brazen, Jacsen - she's stupid. If she wants to learn how to bend the men of this House to her will, she need look no further. What she did was pure folly, and none will deny it, be they my men or no." She sighs, a lengthy exhale. "Tell me how, brother. You men, I understand, but her… she's as subtle as a sword to the throat. I don't understand her."
"What she did was stupid," Jacsen counterargues, "but she is far from it herself. She has the mind, but she lacks direction and focus." He draws his hand back from her arm, resting it instead on his leg. "Am I so easily understood, dear sister?" he asks wryly. "Ah. Well." There's a pause as he rubs his leg, watching the sun finally dip below the horizon. "She wants… my love. For me to draw strength from her. She'll go to lengths to gain and guard it." He frowns, pressing his palm deeper to the wound. "I'll draw her nearer even as others distance her and she'll heed my counsel. Especially once there is a child."
Lucienne's brows remain arched, and she dips her chin to look a little more askance at Jacsen. "You are," she tells him mildly, in response to his wry. "She has consistently acted stupidly, alienating the women of our House," she points out, not in the least gentle. "But I am willing to overlook that, Jacsen, even though she threatened my very person. You are her husband, all I need is for you to enlighten me. Let me help you both. Our father commands it."
"In time," Jacsen assures. "I think it's best for now if you let me… handle her. Until things have stabilized somewhat. Then we'll work on this." He licks his lips and looks to her with his head cocked, a thoughtful look crossing his face, then looks to the gate again. "One woman of the house is already gone, and soon you will be too - once your betrothal is arranged," he says. "I've spoken with Ser Kittridge regarding a match between you and Ser Stafford. It'll take time to work out, but it's in motion now." His lips purse for a second. "As I promised."
"Until the tourney has passed," she allows, just a small concession of 'time'. Lucienne licks her lips in a mirrored expression of her brother's, decidedly more lascivious than he. "She threatened to have me beaten," she shares, as though he hasn't already heard. The very phrase lights her eyes up brightly. Rewarding him for his efforts with the Groves, she reaches a hand to his shoulder, nails digging in sharp enough to prompt dull pain in contrast to her burning smile. "We will see it done, won't we?"
"And what man in the Roost would dare to set hands upon you?" Jacsen asks, his eyes unblinking and affixed to her tongue as it moves across her lips. "What man… but me." Her fierce smile is returned with a small one of his own, his eyes slowly focusing back to the rest of her face. "Yes… I will," he says, a momentarily confused smile-frown frozen on his face. He doesn't emphasize the pronoun, but it stands in stark contrast to her 'we'. "As I promised."
"There are a few Banefort-loyal, your wife assures me," laughs Lucienne, cold as ice. She squeezes again at Jacsen's shoulder, before removing her hand to her lap, instead. Crouched beside him as she is, she plants it beside her instead to keep her balance. "I knew I could trust you," she tells him, her tone full of admiration. "You always keep your promises." Her tongue dances across her lips once more, peeking out only to beckon invitingly inward between plump red lips again.
Jacsen swells to hear those words, though there are few outward signs that they affect him - mostly he looks like he's focused on her tongue again, drawn to it like a mesmerized snake. "Always," he affirms in a whisper, hand reaching up to her cheek. "I will always keep my promises to you." Taking a quick deep breath against the pain, he leans forward to kiss her lovingly.
It can only be a quick kiss, given that they're outside and so close to where the threat of being found out lingers. Lucienne shares her tongue briefly but hungrily with Jacsen, before pulling back and glancing about them warily. "Not here," she instructs him, trusting that infers the rest.
Jacsen almost moves to kiss her again but manages to hold himself back just at the last moment. But the lust and hunger are there, so close, barely able to contain himself. He sits back, putting some distance between them. "I'll be having another meeting," he says, trying to think of the most un-sexy topic he can bring up to convince his mind away from jumping her right here and now. "Tomorrow. Get everyone on the same page. Put people in charge of tasks. Make sure things actually get done, properly, and on time."
"Tomorrow?" Lucienne pulls away too, rocking back into a seat upon the soft grassy ground. "It might be wiser if I stayed away," is her counsel, obviously at odds with her actual opinion. "Father consented to any negotiation we feel necessary," she adds hastily. "I think the Haighs are worthy of a look. Maybe some of the Reach lords, if we can weasel an audience during the tourney. Anything but Nayland, as long as the offer is better, Jacsen." It is no secret that she speaks from her father's heart.
Jacsen nods slowly when she suggests staying away. "I was going to advise Anais to stay away if you wanted to attend," he says. "At the tournament, then, look to the Reach lords. I'll put Anais on the Haighs, and continue to work the Groves. I want Justin to look to our local affairs and learn from Ser Hardwicke - and stay the hell away from the Naylands, though we know he won't." He snorts and shakes his head. "I spoke with Ser Rutger regarding this Lady Roslyn mess. He wouldn't commit to solid figures for the dowry, and seemed to be fishing to see what we would settle for." A sneer pulls at his upper lip. "I told him we'll speak again, but that we won't be sitting at the table again unless he was willing to see thirty percent down on tariffs and a good portion of their harvests, in grain or coin."
"Let her attend," Lucienne concedes, in a tone that suggests she is being most gracious. Because she is! "Inform her that ladies Katrin and Briallyn are severely at odds. The lady Ilaria seems most pliable, though still sharp." She folds her hands in her lap, wringing them in frustration - her tongue curls over her lower lip again, betraying her. "Let the Naylands back out of the deal, is Father's wish. Press them for nothing less than an exorbitant dowry, Jacsen, for we need it desperately. Given their treatment of the Charltons in Stonebridge, the other Frey vassals should be keen to seek our allegiance with anything less than an extravagant offer."
Jacsen listens carefully, repeating her words to be sure. "Ladies Katrin and Briallyn at odds, Lady Ilaria sharp but accessible." He nods to confirm and swallows hard when her tongue peeks out again, looking away immediately to staunch temptation. "That's my plan also," he says of the Naylands deal. "If they come back to the table with the minimum offer, I'll dwarf it. If they ask again for contract assurance that Justin won't set her aside, I'll double it. Ser Rutger seemed unsure. Not of the match, but of… their position." His head tilts back to look into the starlit sky. "He wouldn't commit seventy-five percent of the Groves surplus. Said they had other plans for them, but that he wasn't at liberty to tell me what without discussing with this Lord Father."
Lucienne wriggles her tongue about wryly, all too aware of the effect it has on her brother. She smiles briefly, but her sigh is sharp as it heralds the arrival of her frown at the news of the Nayland Ser's response. "He couldn't commit to seventy five percent? Are they aware that they are not the only food source in the Riverlands? I believe the Haighs might offer us daughters with handsome dowries too, though should Lady Danae not succeed in her claim that might prove difficult. It cannot hurt to press the Naylands further. Perhaps I might speak with the Lord Rutger, given a chance? We seemed to get along well, when I last chanced to make his acquaintance."
"Did you?" Jacsen asks dryly, glancing over her way to see if that tongue's put away yet. NOPE. He quickly glances back up to the sky, tracing out constellations with his eyes. "You must have charmed him with your… sterling tongue." Another hard swallow. "If you come across him," he says with a shrug. This betrothal is not his main concern. "This matter of the Charltons and the Groves surplus may be linked in some deeper game," he murmurs. "If they won't commit because the surplus is to pad their supply lines and war stores instead of for trade, then we'll have a different matter on our hands altogether."
Lucienne has the sense to blush at the appearance of that tone of her brother's, but her tongue continues to play upon her lips enticingly. "Hopefully our dear cous will be along to your meeting - Dmitry or Inigo, either of them. The latter seems to think poorly of the Groves match, but the former will support you in your negotiations. You should see him rewarded appropriately, brother. Perhaps he may have a preference for his bride, or something similar - a conversation best left for when your wife's ears are otherwise occupied."
"Stop that, or I won't be able to stand up," Jacsen shoots with a half-joking tone. The half that's not joking sounds agonized. "I don't know either of them very well," he admits of his cousins. "Perhaps I'll take Inigo with me, see if I can't change his mind." Though he gives her a suspicious look when she mentions Dmitry's preferences. "Is there some enmity between them?" he asks - is there anyone she isn't at odds with? "Or does he chase one from House Banefort?"
"You don't mean that," Luci quips back, but she puts her tongue away anyway. "Gracious," she says, eyes rolling dramatically. "Don't saddle him with another Banefort - I hardly think he deserves that. Maybe Lady Danae, if he's amenable? It's something you two should discuss." She waves a hand, not wishing to involve herself further on that matter. "Maester Pyrs had some interesting ideas regarding my dowry. I'm glad you're moving on all this, Jacsen. They all need to see that you're ready to lead." Now that her expression has changed from suggestive, it is easier for Lucienne to be sincere, all dark wide eyes and a grateful smile.
Finally, that tongue is gone. That's better, at least for now. Lady Danae's name gets a surprised raise of the brow, though no comment is made. "We've sat idle for too long," he says, smiling back at her. "And we've suffered for it, that much I've seen. But we'll start taking action and reversing our fortunes now." He takes her hand and squeezes her fingers lightly. "We all will. And after all, that's all you wanted, wasn't it?" When she came for the seal, both times.
Lucienne darts a look down as Jacsen's fingers wrap about hers, smiling in earnest as she looks back up to catch his gaze. "That's all I wanted," she confirms, honesty clear in the deep pools of her dark brown eyes even in the murky dusklight. "If it was just that ring I was after, you know I would have it one way or another, brother. I want to see you prosper, I want to see you wield it and witness your power. I love this House," she says, pausing for emphasis before adding in deep, husky tones, "I love you."
"I know you do," Jacsen says quietly, his voice as clear and honest as her eyes. "And I you." He lets go of her hand and sighs heavily. "And you will see me prosper, and build up the Roost even greater than before," he promises, a strength reinforcing his voice. "You will help me from afar, I know, and I will do everything I can for you here. But now I need everybody else to step up and shoulder the load. They don't know how much you do, how everything will pull apart when you leave. I need you to mentor them, while you can." He pauses. "Even Anais. In time."
"Did they not see, whilst I was sent to Middlemarch?" Luci's tone is dry as readies to stand. She rolls her eyes behind closed lashes, but eventually offers another small smile toward Jacsen through the growing dark. "In time? You may have the days of Lord Patrek's tourney, but I must be seen to make amends with her soon. The others…" She sighs, rising to her feet and brushing down the silk of her skirts, keys tinkling in one hand. "I will do what I can, as ever I have. If there is anything specific you require of me, brother - you know where to find me." Her teeth flash wickedly, and Lucienne offers her free hand down to help him up.
Jacsen takes her hand and pulls himself up at the same time as he pushes off with his cane. But keeps hold of her hand for a moment even after he's standing. "I'm sure there will be much I need of you, and urgently," he says, looking searchingly into her eyes, then lets go to stand on his own. "Shall we walk back together, then?" he asks, turning about to face the road back.
They share a meaningful look, hands clasped, and then part as though the moment never existed, save for the sweet little smile Lucienne shoots toward her toes. "I should be very grateful if you would see me back to my chambers, my lord," she murmurs, gesturing for Jacsen to take the first step. The very picture of submission!