|By the Stream|
|Summary:||Chrix and Aeliana meet and share a tinsy tiny little bit.|
|Huntington Orchard, Terrick's Roost.|
|There's grass and trees and birds and bees.|
|14th September, 289|
The sun had beat the clouds back, it'd drunk hungry of the fog too until nothing was left but a bright gleaming that touched down against the earth and made itself known in the way even the ground warmed beneath her very feet. Aeliana was not a woman who took too kindly to the sun; when she rode it was always with a cloak or a shawl, there were always gloves to cover those slender hands and the delicate curve of her arms clear to the elbows before her sleeves took over. And she did it, because even being able to do so was a privlidge, one that came with her birth and she found absolutely nothing charming about a woman wearing a peasants coloring.
So the girl had found somewhere shady to be; a nice corpse of trees from which if she looked towards Stonebridge she could still imagine the wisps of smoke that'd risen from its depths with the morning like great black storm clouds on the distance. Her cloak had been discarded; her shawl so that fly away hair flounced free as it pleased, because it took a small act of the Gods for her to ever be able to do anything with it. Her Septa had set up a small pinic beneath a distant tree; far enough away to see if she really had to look, but with every intent of thorougly ignoring the lady's antics since it so clearly went against what she believed was proper. Rayleen sat with her, lazily burying her toes in the grass and making eyes at one of Aeliana's guards. Of which there were four, but only three were present today and they lounged alert but distant, keeping a watchful eye out for bandits or straying Naylands who might get the wrong idea.
But that was only two of them. The third…the third was dancing with the Lady, using blunt edged training blades. The sort that could leave a smarting bruise but wouldn't damage her too thoroughly. So Aeliana danced; with a hand fisted in her skirts to keep them from tripping up her feet, and the other coiled around the hilt. One who watched her long enough though, would see that occasionially, she'd use the flare of her skirt as a distraction to her movements, or simply twisted around her opponents blade while she scored a mark. Dresses could be mended in time, Ae knew the value of sacrifice. People couldn't.
It wasn't a sight a man came across every day; a noblewoman spinning around with a blade, her skirts blooming about her, and moving with more skill than most men could have produced. So when he came across the strange entourage he didn't merely move on to mind his business. The tall youth halted in the grasses a decent distance away, the large orchard seen in the distance behind him. These were graze lands they rented out to the nearby farmers, who provided the barley they needed for the brewing business. Not that there were any animals grazing, nor any barley ripe in the fields. He wore earthy tones of brown and greens, a simple tunic and simple leather trousers made to be worn for physical labor and filth. Though there was little of the latter; he was a cleaner specimin than most peasents. He was leaning on the unstrung bowstaff of a longbow, with a quiver over his shoulder and a woodsman's axe in his belt, opposite a heavy knife. There was a confidence about him, calm and unassumed, the posture of someone who didn't see themselves as an intruder, but rather with a right to be exactly where he was. Even if that meant watch with pale green eyes a girl far above his station grow flushed in the cheeks.
Beyond watching he didn't speak or intrude. If in his mind he nursed a quiet bit of envy for her having proper warriors to impart skills, even if as a noble she'd never really need to use them, would she, then that was a youthful fancy. A jealousy that crept up on him when he wasn't paying attention.
Tall and slender, Aeliana bent like the reeds would to a breeze only to spin around and draw that bit of still up to block her midsection; a deft twist of her wrist in an attempt to disarm her opponent. It drew the pair closer for a fleeting moment, in which Myrth rolled her eyes and went back to resting her eyes and pretending to check her eyelids for holes, just incase the light snuck in. But age will win against a youth's knowledge almost every time and when the pair closed in again, the lady lost. Pulled in taunt to his chest, his sword resting against the curve of her throat.
"Dead," he declared, voice ringing in amusement before he shoved her away and her steps stumbled before she managed to right them with grace, spinning back around to face him even as he said, "Again."
Ae's head dipped once in a nod of agreement as she took up the proper stance when something in the distance caught her eye. Distracted for a fleeting moment by the sight of the boy in the distance, her opponent's blade rose up and in a hit that should have been easily blocked; the flat of the blade caught the curve of her jaw and brought a splash of crimson to her lip. With a growl of indifference, Ae's blade was discarded straight to the ground where it sank in tip first as the curve of her hand rose up to cradle against her lip as she laughed; a heady swell of sound that rang with genuine amusement. "Bless it all Ryken, how the blazes am I supposed to explain that?" To which, he only smirked and shook his head, "Well you should have blocked it." "I was distracted!" Ae huffed, which only earned a flat look. "That excuse, did you not school the Lord in distractions, only to fall prey to them yourself?" His gruff voice rolled in amusement, "Fine. Fine, yes. Yes I did. But that's not the point!" And still her good humor remained. Enough so that when she ensured her teeth hadn't been knocked loose either, Aeliana lifted a hand to wave at her distraction.
He really shouldn't have wore a smirk when he saw the girl's lip split open with a splat and smear of red, but there was something undeniably appealing about the sight of a high born girl stung with violence. At least it was a handsome smirk, with a wicked kind of charm that made the most out of his handsome features. It took a moment or two after she waved him, before he stirred into motion. He'd always thought highly of himself, and refused to grovel and run like a dog, even for nobles. Then again, being directly rude was a good recipy for being beaten by her guards. Calmly he hitched up the longbow wood, smoothly swinging it up behind his neck while his arms folded over it at the elbow.
"M'Lady," he greeted her, and while his bow might not have been the most impressive, especially since he was still maintaining that bow behind his neck, it was still passable. Barely. His eyes swent over her with an appraisal that was only subtle for her guards' sake, and still managed to suggest he'd given the whole of her a proper look over. The guards too got their moment, a detatched but curious lingering stare that noted their arms and armour, with just a hint of envy. Even her maid was sized up. But mostly, mostly, he just watched her.
"How can I help you?"
Aeliana was still poking her tongue against the corner of her lip; tasting crimson like a kitten given a bowl of creme for all that little pink muscle prodded at the sore split. Still, Aeliana composed herself, wiping her hand off against a kerchief while her guard smirked; both at her and then offered a slight if somewhat knowing dip of his head towards Chrix before he stepped away, leaving the practice blades for the girl to contend with, in favor of getting a swallow of wine for himself.
Aeliana, meanwhile, offered a slight little curtsy, with a sharp awareness in those dark eyes as they met Chrix's own that didn't touch upon the sound of her laughter. "Good Master!" The lady greets, with a dip of her head, "Whatever makes you think I need any help at all? Is it no possible that having spotted you, I thought to say hello?"
"When noble girls wave you over, it's usually because they've got some errand they've of mind to send you on," Chrix responded casually as he let the bowstaff slide back down into the grass, and casually leaned against it. It was a proper yew longbow, and could carry the strain of a light pressure without it affecting the weapon. "That or they want a guide to show them where all the pretty flowers are. Or if there's a cute and cuddly lamb around they can pet. Which, by the way, there isn't, but the Rorys got a kid goat. Almost the same deal." His thumb gave a lazy jerk in the direction of a copse of wood, behind which a lazy band of smoke was lifting up.
"But I guess it's possible that all you wanted to do was say hello. Hello." He made another bow, his mouth quirked with a teasing smile as he dipped it with exaggeration. "I am Chrixton Huntington, Chrix for short, and I'm most honored to have you as a guest upon my land, m'Lady..?"
Ae canted her head to the side to watch him, her tongue still poking against the wound from the inside before she reminded herself that poking it would only make it swell. Bugger it all. "You're funny," she pronounced, "And I've no errands upon which to send you, no flowers I desire to see that my own eyes can not work just as well to find. I might…have fallen prey to the desire to see a cute little cuddly lamb, but as you seem to be missing one then that too is out," Ae teased, lips offering a crooked little grin.
"So, Master Chrixton Huntington, or Chrix, for short, I suppose you're simply stuck with me saying hello. And…," her face pulled a slight wince at his mention, "Apologizing for invading your lands without permission. Forgive me?" Aeliana inquired ever so sweetly, dipping into a curtsy that was deeper than what he would have ever deserved. "I was merely looking for a cool place to practice and while I'll grant the smart mind would have chosen the beach, the stones make footing a little rocky," explained with a twitch of her nose that conveyed what she thought about it, before her mind trailed back around to catch up with his mention. "Oh! Aeliana. Aeliana Charlton, of Hollyholt."
"Poking it will only make it swell," he told her with intimate knowledge of how these things went. "Put some cloth and dip in the cool stream down there, and suck on it hard, and it'll let you avoid looking like you've got a monkey lip. Unless that was what you were going for, m'Lady, in which case, you're doing a brilliant job of it, and I'm in awe of your ability to provoke swelling with your tongue." Perhaps there lived a devil in his eyes, too, when he said it, a wickedly michivious thing that only half managed to hide behind the boy's ability to project a calm and centered vistage to the world.
Another smile flirted with his lips when she offered him a courtesy that was almost a mockery for its exhaggeration. Though since he'd just give her something of the same, he couldn't point it out. Besides, he thought he rather liked a noblewomen courtesying for him.
"You've got too pretty hair to give it that puffy salt-water look, m'Lady. Last year you might've had to fight with the cows to lie down here, it was a favorite spot of theirs, but as you can see. No cows." Reavers liked to eat beef when they could. "You're good to make yourself at home as much as you like. Not that invading forces really need to apolozie for anything. It's one of the perks, you see. I'm sure your guards can confirm it."
Ae wrinkled her nose at him when he mentioned a monkey lip and immediently stopped; eyeing her kercheif and then the stream that he'd spoken of. "Well I wasn't trying to make it swell," Ae mused, for all that so said she -still- wiggled her tongue in against it once, just because thinking about it brought the action to mind. "I don't often get popped in the face, you know," and there was an underlying hmph of the indignity of it all. "But it serves me for not paying attention and getting distracted." And that was that really. It wasn't worth making a fuss over and it seems she'd missed his joke completely.
"I'd not mind taking a little walk towards your stream though and I am glad to avoid the cows." Because that also meant minding where you stepped but…at that point in his speech little fret lines mared the delicate slope of her forehead. "We're not invading, Master Huntington and again, you have my most humble apologies for our intrusion. I wouldn't have, had I known." With just enough sincerity to the tone to match the genuine look there in her eyes.
"With your permission," not that she -really- needed it, "I would like to go down to your stream, however."
"Then I am even more amazed, m'Lady, for being so peerlessly marvelous at it, without even trying," came Chrix' casual response.
He was watching her expressions and bodylanguage with interest, trying to gauge whether the girl was playing a game on him or being sincere. Perhaps a bit of both was his final conclusion. The bow was hitched up onto his shoulder once more, as he made her another exhaggerated bow, and a hint of a devious little smile flirting along his lips while he did. Then he led the way from the shadow beneath the tree, and down across the grassy meadow. They had to climb tiny bump in the landscape before the slope on the other side gave way to a clear little stream. It fed the larger one from which the brewery drew the considerable amount of water it needed to produce its ales.
"Permission granted to use my water, m'Lady. Whether it is to wash out your lip, or trapise around in your shift, dancing and singing."
"Oh I'm sure that it would likely swell beyond repair if I actually…," at that point Ae's eyes flickered in suspicion, her words trailing off as she considered him and the leading statement and decided then that it should simply be left well enough alone. His smile was returned, though, even if she'd upped her guard in regards to the way he wove his speech, aware now to be mindful of future traps.
"Though truly," she gestured when he bowed, "There's no need for such ceremony, good Master. We are aware of each other, it needn't be some point driven home 'pon every other breath. And I should be most grateful to use your water," she mused as she followed after him and in turn, that maid, while marking distance with the guard that she just happened to be fond of flirting with at the time, followed behind her at an easy distance as well.
"Though not for trapising about. It would be unseemly and however beautiful your lands may be, I do not think that I should indulge."
Chrix caught her suspicion when it finally formed, and if anything that little smile grew into a proper smirk for it. He said nothing of it, though, because there was only so far he would push the bounderies when she had her guards all around, hovering.
"As you wish, m'Lady. No more bowing. I wouldn't want to offend your delicate sensibilities. I've heard noble ladies have a lot of them. Not that I'd know personally. Can't say I meet many proper Ladies." Which wasn't surprising, since what commoner did unless he was directly employed in the livery of some house or the other? He set the bow aside and sank down onto the slope, then went from sitting to languishing in a lazy stretch, while his eyes lingered on her.
"Do they?" Have a lot of delicate sensibilities, is to the point of which that inquiry was made. "I have never counted. Perhaps I should next, it might help pass the time while I die just a little more inside over yet another boring cup of tea." Ae considered and carefully making her way down the slope, moved to crouch a polite distance from his side; her skirt pooled carefully about her feet while she trailed the tips of her fingers and that kercheif through the top of the waters, offering out a pleasant sigh for its coolness.
"Besides, it wasn't my sensibilities I was worried about, but my Uncle wouldn't approve. I'm really much more concerned with his." At which point the lady flopped down herself and settled the freshly wrung out clock in against her lip and while it was also probably very unladylike…set to suckling on it with little squeaks while the cool settled in to help the sting. And after a few moments said, "You're awfully yong to be holding lands, aren't you?" As if the little miss were just sooooo much older.
He couldn't help the quiet little chuckle of amusement that spilled forth when she set to suckling as the most effective means of dealing with a swell. There might have been some underlying motives behind his earlier instruction. More than a few. Once he was done, there was still an echo of that earlier good spirit in his voice as he asked innocently: "Feel good, don't it?"
"Used to have an uncle, myself. can't say he was much for any kind of sensibilities," since the man had been a thug and a smuggler. Hadn't much care for family, either, or he might have stepped in to break the reign of his older brother. "Reavers took him. Which should answer your question." There was a bitter darkness in his smile when he swept in the whole of the surrounding lands with a grandiose gesture of his hand. "Ain't a farm anywhere you can see that didn't suffer some. Ours just happened to be harder hit than most, since there was actually things to steal from us." Little to get from common peasents.. the wealthy Huntingtons though, had been a prize. "Though I got some revenge on the isles, I suppose."
And so it was a few moments more, when Ae had all but sucked the little corner of the cloth dry and drew it free to…poke at the crack, which all but defeated the purpose, before she answered his question. "It does, yes. The wrap of cool certainly helps. Thank you," and that thank you, damn his mischeviousness, sounded remarkably genuine - because it was.
Ae went right back to it too, while she listened to him explain, her brows furrowing while the boy wove a tale of bitter sadness about his Uncle and Reavers both that left her frowning from behind the cloth. "I'm sorry," because he'd tugged upon the surprising compassion that the girl could possess. "It must be terrible to lose so much. I wouldn't even want to imagine it." But at least she'd pulled cloth away before speaking again, fiddling with it in her hands. "But you're recovering, aren't you? Things are getting better since the Accord? At least you got your revenge, too. There must be some satisifaction in that, isn't there?"
"You want me to be honest with you?" Chrix said as he considered the blood he'd taken on the Isles, mostly from afar shooting with his longbow, not usually knowing if he'd hit anything or not, just adding arrows to the shower that rained down over their enemies. It had been an impersonal kind of vengeance, that, though he -had- seen a couple get struck directly. Two, actually. One at Seagard, one he'd hit in the back on Pyke. Those had felt better. Best of all had been the man he'd hacked down with ihs axe on Harlaw, feeling how the skull had given like rotten wood beneath his swing. Watched the look of surprise on the bastard's face, seen the blood and clear-pink brain fluid leak down around the head of the axe, still imbedded.
Long fingers raked back through his dark blondish hair, while he gave a quick little laugh. "No. Not really. Felt good killing them, I'll not say differently, but didn't change shit. Brewery still burned down, home still sacked, brothers still dead, sisters still carried off. But revenge doesn't taste nearly as good as having what you lost back, I recon." Everybody except his father. His father could rot in the mass grave Chrix had left the fucker in.
"We're getting some grain from you, to start brewing again. Not a lot. Not enough to start full production." He shrugged dismissivly. "Nothing to do about it, anyway. So, why're you here, at the Roost?"
"Well I certainly don't want you to lie," Aeliana frowned at him; enjoying the conversation if only for the way that…while it might have smacked just a little of disrespect there weren't nearly as many pretenses required to -have- the conversation itself. She could look past that little glimmer of cockiness in him for that. And for a commoner he *was* handsome. He'd given her advice on her lip, too.
"…oh." Aeliana said, the more he explained, "I hadn't realized…," that he'd lost so much. "But the building that I saw?" Well, frankly she didn't know if it'd been a brewery or not. "I won't say I'm sorry again, I always hate it when people say I'm sorry. I always have the distinct sensation that when they say I'm sorry, what they're really saying is, 'I'm sorry but I'm glad that it wasn't me' and who wants to hear it? So I shall simply say that you appear to be just ambitiously cocky enough to take back everything you lost and then some." Except for the people, but some things just couldn't be helped.
"I hope the grain helps you though," she offered, because…that too didn't have anything to do with her. Few things did really. She existed…a lot like the grain did. To be traded off for something better. "And that when you're producing again, I can perhaps try some of your brew." That at least brought back the hopeful venture of her smile in an attempt to help steer his mood towards happier things.
Yet as for why she was at the Roost? "Honestly? Because it's closer to go visit my Uncle while he's in camp and my brother. And I've only ever seen the ocean once before. I think I like it."
"Ambitious and cocky?" Chrix asked with a lifted brow, and a look on his face that was all smug amusment at having those labels placed on him. "Aren't you just the little sweet talker. But you're right. I am gonna have it all fucking back, m'Lady, because like you said earlier. I'm young to have lands and a business, but that just means I've got a ton of years to make sure I'm on top of the world by the time I finally croak. Old and wrinkly, and with a huge beer belly to prove my ale's the best around." The last made his lips twist with a crooked grin, looking at her to see her reaction.
"And now you're close to me, too. Am I going to be seeing you sneaking around on my lands again?"
Of the ocean he said: "Beautiful when you're on land. Get into a boat and sail out into the open, and you might not like it so much."
"You're clever," Aeliana compliments him, her smile crooking up at the corner, though it only seems to emphasize that little pouting swell to her lip, "And you're quick and you're just a little brazen I think, because you're looking for ways to shock me." The last came with a hint of a pointed look, "But I think you already know, too, that it's not the men with the crowns who rule but the ones who control the purse strings. You will, I suspect." A tiny nod at that, before she threw her head back and laughed; the sweet ring of it riding out over the waters while the maid who perched high above on the slope to watch just rolled her eyes.
"Do you recall when I said you were cocky? Perhaps I should have said arrogant instead, because you know well enough how you look and have a bit too much pride I think, to rely on the coin required to attract ladies if ere you bore such a gut."
It was a guess, but…one of Aeliana's few talents came in reading people and the boy knew that he was handsome, of that there was little doubt in her mind. "If you see me, Master Chrix, then I'm not sneaking," she teased, "And if I -do- decide to sneak, I bet you'll not see me at all." So said, he was rewarded with the pink dart of her tongue; poking out playfully before it disappeared.
"I've been on boats before; not on the ocean, but on rivers. Ser Justin suggested that I might find a fishermen to take me out to the sandbar to look for shells, since most of them break when they turn up on the rocky shores and well, I'm not the very best of swimmers."
"It's an easy mistake to make, confusing confidence with arrogance," Chrix murmured as he picked up a straw at random, then fitted it between his lips for a slow sideways chew. The corn bearing end bounced up and down with the motion of it, casually distracting. "But tell me, m'Lady, how do I look?" A bit of mock innocence in that statement. "I'm afraid the reavers took away every mirror we had." Every mirror meant two, and that included the little hand mirror his oldest sister had inherited from their mother. Even wealthy commoners were just commoners compared to proper nobility. "But you're right about relying on coin." His eyes turned away from the river to settle against the girl's face, straight in the eyes. Direct, then, and perhaps more flirtatious than was strictly safe. "Where's the romance in that? Where's the fun? Where's the witty banter and the blushes?" When it was all paid for.
"Hah. You know, being seen doesn't mean you're not sneaking. It just means you're -bad- at sneaking." Snicker, and it became a proper laugh when she stuck her tongue out at him. Pink and sweet, and deliciously inviting. That she'd shown it to him, added a wickedly smug edge to his challanging stare.
"Casual," she answered him, when he asked how he looked. "Confident." Even if she decided right then and there that she'd buy the bow a mirror. He probably didn't need one, not really and he might not even thank her for it, in fact, he might resent it but…she wanted too. She wanted to say that he was handsome too, but she didn't. It was probably a good thing, too, for the way that he met her gaze then.
Blunt as a sledge hammer and damn her if it didn't take effort then not to blush with the hope that she managed to keep it all away from her face and none crept through. "I wouldn't know. But…," she began, as if confiding a great secret, "I am a sucker for a good romance." How ironic.
He still prompted her laughter. But Aeliana's laughter came easy, regardless. "Too true. And I have been bad at sneaking before. In fact, when I used to try and slip away from Septa Myrth for sewing lessons, I was absolutely terrible at it." She sighed, a tragically put upon sound, "You'll find few who have a better hand than I now as a result." Like it was a punishment.
"You do look like a natural born sucker," Chrix nodded thoughtfully as she spoke, as if that was the most natural thing in the world to be. A silence lingered afterwards, a witty little pause to let the words sink in, and possible additional meanings, before he continued on as if nothing. "A extremely useful talent when eating oisters, which I'm sure you'll discover if you stay in the Roost long enough. We like to our shellfish."
He gave a lazy stretch, a ripple of movement that made a sight out of his lean musculared torsoe and long youthful limbs. "I would give you additional compliments in turn for those you've given me, but I worry your guards might take it the wrong way, and think I was being presumptiously forward." He let out a whistling sigh. "Besides, don't bards spend all their days writing sappy poetry about beauties like yourself, anyway? You have to be sick of hearing it. And while I might laugh away most girls' needlework, yours seem rather most pointed. Well worth the time spent."
At that Aeliana frowned at him. "I am not gullible." As if the notion were more insulting than anything else he'd said or even his blunt looks. "And I've yet to have oysters, but I've seen them and can't possibly imagine why anyone would want to eat them. It looks like something that fell out the wrong side of a gull, once their shells have been split open." Which only made her wrinkle her nose.
Her focus seemed to be on the winding little stream though, and the way the breeze came off it cool to help counter the warmth the sun left against her skin. Yet she still watched him from the corner of her eye and all but giggled when he started talking on about bards and sappy poetry. "I can't say that I've been the subject of a bard's song nor really, do I think I'd want too. I prefer simple truths to outlandish flattery, Master Huntington and honesty to lies. And needlework…to the company of most women, if you must know. But you're right, my needles, like my tongue, are sharp."
"You are a little gullible," Chrix murmured quietly in retort, meeting her eyes with a smile that was all tease and only a little bite. After all she had fallen into a couple of obvious traps during their discussion, and while he wasn't sure whether she had actually caught any of them - noble girls he imagined being rather more innocent than the common ones, who weren't watched over by a whole retinue every hour of the day - that didn't mean ::he:: hadn't noticed.
"No? You should. They're pretty delicious if they're made right. Not that I'd have any idea of how to do it, but my.." his mouth twisted in a frown. "Step mother." The word was tricky to say, sometimes. "Makes some delicious ones."
Speaking of, he realized that he had been out for a purpose, and it hadn't included flirting with a noble. Making a noise in the back of his throat, he pushed to his feet and tossed aside the straw. "Then a simple truth: You're the most beautiful girl I've seen today." Maggie counted as a woman. "Enjoy the stream."
Aeliana pursed her lips together in a playful frown and then winced for it and managed, only at the last second to keep from tonguing against the little wound. It was defeating the purpose. "I am not," came mumblemuttered in complaint as she gave a little glower in his direction that wasn't heartfelt. He had been good company after all; a bit brazen…but good. And he seemed to have a ready wit about him, which she found engaging, even if she did have to avoid half of it.
"Well perhaps one day I'll stumble across you and maybe…you'll have some made right," she ventured, for all that she most politely ignored the little frown that'd taken him because he didn't look like the sort of boy who liked things poked at either. At least not on the first meeting. "And if it doesn't happen well, maybe I'll just remember and try some anyway, should I come across them."
But she was slowly settling into the notion of wading in the stream when he made it that much easier to decide. Just..in a very unexpected way. Aeliana blushed at his compliment, her smile warm and her eyes carrying the same. "That's the nicest thing you've said yet, Master Huntington," Ae winked. "And thank you for indulging me. I hope you've a very wonderful day."