Page 037: Candor
Summary: Rowan finds Josse at work. Rearranging papers turns to rearranging a few thoughts.
Date: 18/08/2011
Related Logs: None specific
Rowan Josse 
Reading Room - Four Eagles Tower
The room has a large glass window and seat that looks out partially over the cove, in daylight hours the sun provides illumination to the room. Other stools and chairs linger in small groups as shelves along the walls are littered with scrolls, books, letters and documents. The contents are a modest collection of local records, histories, and literature offered to both the family and guests of Four Eagles Tower.
Thu Aug 18, 288

This place was clearly someone's beloved study at some point, now become a mess of things gone unused for quite some time. It's even a little dusty, motes hanging in the air on the streams of sunlight that peek between smears on the glass. The door, long closed, is open to let in some (reasonably fresh) air.

Josse is settled on the floor in the back, not quite visible to anyone who walks into the room. What one can see, though, are books in a steadily growing stack, being pulled out from crates on the floor. *Thud* one's pushed onto a leaning tower. *Thud*, another.

Rose slips quietly into the disused room, peering around at the shelves and stacks of long forgotten things. Even her breathing is soft and careful — until those airborne motes taunt her nose into a sneeze. She sniffs and mutters, "Sod…" And sneezes again. Scrubbing her nose on her sleeve, she heads in the direction of the thumping, finally helping herself to a seat on a crate that's not yet been opened for inventory. "Master Kyttikyns said I might find you here."

"That's the most unfortunate name I've ever heard." Josse is slouched with his back to the wall, one knee bent and the other alongside the crate of stuff. He looks up from the thickly-bound portfolio in his hands, lifting both brows. "Good thing for him he's right."

Rose quirks a wry smile and shrugs a shoulder. "I've never known Maester Kyttikyns to be wrong." She pulls her long legs up to sit cross-legged atop the crate. "What're you reading?"

Josse shuts the dusty portfolio all the way to the first page, blowing dust off the parchment. "Maps of some sort. I assume of the Roost, though they seem to be quite old. Look." He sits up, flipping a few pages in to show her. "That's the back end of the western quarter…there's the well. But look where the boundary is. Hasn't been that far in since I've been alive, I'm sure of that much."

"Huh," says Rose, obediently studying the map and scritching the side of her nose. She sniffles and scrubs her nose on her sleeve again. "Wow. The dust is… dusty." She rubs the corner of her eye. "I gave — well I didn't give, I left it for him — Jarod — the book of memories I've been keeping all these years. I, uhm… I thought he might see the… love. In all the drawings and letters and all. And know it wasn't — how could it have been? — a joke. Or a lie."

"He doesn't really believe that, Rose." Josse settles the book on the floor, dusting off his hands. One might never detect anything different about him except to notice his belt — a wider band of dark leather than he used to wear, and with a braid hanging off the side to hold a seven-pointed crystal. "It's convenient for him right now because he's angry and really, who wouldn't be? He thought you were someone else for years…it'll take time."

"I know it has to be… painfully tiresome, that this is all I ever talk about, anymore," Rose says, apologetically, wincing her chagrin. "I don't know what to do with myself. It… it seems impossible to me that we're going to part… like this." She looks down, then up again at Josse. "Tell me he'll never forgive me. Tell me he doesn't love me, and never will. Tell me — tell me even if he did, it would be a disaster. Tell me it was all madness and a fancy and something I'll outgrow." She swallows, adding softly, "Please?"

Josse sits up, folding his arm on the crate edge. He doesn't say anything yet, holding out one hand palm-up and crooking his index finger repeatedly at her — a clear 'come here' gesture.

Rose clambers down from the crate obediently, settling down to sit beside him.

Josse turns his palm towards her, pressing his thumb and middle finger into her cheeks so that it makes a fishface out of the poor girl's lips. "Get. Ahold. Of yourself."

Rose blinks, all big fish-eyes to go with her fish lips. She snrrks a laugh and swats his hand away, giving his shoulder a shove in rebuke. "I have a very good — hold on myself. Thanks." She slumps against the wall beside him. "Everything is changing. Change is scary and painful. I hate it." She turns her head to look at Josse. "What am I going to do, with you a whole week's ride away?"

"That binding around your chest does not count as a 'hold of yourself'." Josse lets go of her face when she shoves him. The smirk fades away, a few moments of stillness calming the humor along with the motes in the air. "You don't hate it. Change brought you here. Now it will take you someplace else. That's not to say you'll forget everything, or even let it go. Or that it won't change again before long." He looks from her left eye to her right, not unsympathetic. "Do you know yet when Lord Anton plans to leave?"

Rose shakes her head. "Not a clue. I'd guess he's sticking around until he and Lu have an understanding. But we'll see." She smirks. "And I hate that, too. Not knowing." Then, completely unrelated, "Lord Jacsen's nice. I like him."

Josse follows the hard right turn with his usual grace. "Yes, I had heard he'd come back." A few bound papers are fished from the crate, solely for the purpose of untangling the ribbon around them. "I haven't had the chance to see how much he's changed these years. I expect he'll be at the mercy of family for a while yet."

"You're probably right. He's very smart, though. I think it's good he's home. The family needs him now." Rose picks at a stray string at the hem of her sleeve. "He asked why — what happened with Jarod and I. I… didn't lie to him. But I didn't tell him the truth, either."

"A little distance will do the whole thing good." Josse pulls both ends of the dark blue ribbon, tightening the dirty binding at the bottom. "Because honestly, Rose, and I only say these things because I adore you — you've become…someone different this last while." Rather than needle her, his voice has a subtle note of concern.

Rose frowns slightly, tilting her head. "I — thank you? I mean, for the adoring me bit. Also for the candor, I suppose, but…" She tucks a lock of hair behind her ear, reaching into the crate for a book to examine. Just to do something. "Different how?"

"You used to exist apart from Jarod," Josse says, straightening the ribbon once more and then abandoning it to look at her. "Someone that had her own way, her own strength. That didn't play these games of begging to be loved with one cheek and rejecting it with the other. Now I listen to you, and each day you sound more and more like you don't know who you are unless you have him. And it worries me sometimes."

Rose considers Josse's words with a frown. It takes her a few long moments of serious pondering — at least she's taking him seriously — before she shakes her head. "I know precisely who I am," she says quietly. "It's Jarod who doesn't. More's the pity." She sighs and shrugs. "And I'll admit that I've been — whining and fretting a lot lately, but I think I'm entitled. I've loved him for ages, and the wound is still rather fresh." She tilts her head, curiously. "But I don't understand what you mean about… begging to be loved with one cheek and rejecting it with the other."
Rowan has partially disconnected.

"No, it's not Jarod that doesn't know. It's you." Josse raises an eyebrow at her last question. "Have you forgotten already what he said to you before you left, that night you met us in his room?"

Looking faintly irritated now, Rose rolls her eyes. "He said… that if I were ever uncomfortable with how I was being treated at Oldstones, he'd help me. And that he wasn't the worst of men when it came to women, that I didn't know how men could be."

"Yes. That would be Jarod's idiotic way of expressing that he doesn't want to lose you forever," Josse translates patiently. "And that he acknowledges that he's being a total cock right now, but maybe one day you'll come to know enough to forgive him." He holds up a hand. "Now, I know no matter what I say you'll claim he couldn't have meant it that way. That's the whole 'rejecting' part, you see."

Rose heaves a sigh, looking down at her boots. "It'd be — I would really, really love to believe that," she whispers. Then, indignantly, "But he really is being such a total cock!" She shakes her head, brushing a lock of hair away from her face. "I apologize for worrying you, but I promise you I know who I am. Perhaps moreso now than ever. I'm just… this will all take time. And I have no experience with… this kind of loss." She pulls her knees up, resting her chin on them and playing with the toes of her boots. She turns her head and rests her cheek there instead, the better to view the young septon beside her. "Speaking of loss… I was so sorry to hear about Septon Amery. What a terrible and sudden thing. I… liked him very much."

"So. He makes the first gesture of forgiveness and penitence to you and you reject it because it's not just the way you wanted. But then you leave him a book of memories, because you want him to see things your way." Josse picks up a new book and settles it on his knee, looking back at her face. "If you don't remember a single other thing I say about this Rose, remember this — because I am someone who had to learn this in a very, very hard way. It may take time, but out here outside of fairy tales and high romance, people don't make indefinite tries. Eventually they give up. Be careful about not being willing to speak someone else's tongue." He smiles a little at her, then looks away and down at the book again. "Yes, I'm sorry too. I'm sure he'll be missed."

Rose blinks slowly, looking stricken. "You really think… all that… stuff. About saving me if Gedeon and Anton turned out to be — whatever… it wasn't just… obligation? Chivalry because now I'm a girl and must be protected?"

"Jarod is a good man," Josse replies, meeting her eyes. "He's told me more times than I can count that if I ever needed him — ever — I only needed to be in touch and he would come." He half-smiles, the right of his mouth moving, but it fades. "He has his concerns about Oldstones and rightly so; he doesn't know them well. But he doesn't worry for you for your being a girl, he worries because…" He searches for a good term and finds a fond one. "Because he's a big loping golden retriever in a man's body."

She laughs — it's a painful sound, but she nods, smiling an equally painful smile. "Yes," she agrees softly. "Yes. He is." Rose looks down at the book she liberated, which she's done nothing more than hold all this while. She turns it right side up as though intent on viewing the title — which never registers, for all her good intentions. "Thank you, Josse, for… reminding me to see him with love and compassion, and not just my own hurt. Pain and resentment… warp everything." She looks up, abashed at being such a dullard. "Which is why he doesn't see me right now, either."

"It does warp everything," Josse is quite willing to say so. "We become so intent on protecting ourselves that we can see little else. But I think you understand." He too has just been fiddling with the binding on his own book, the mission of tidying it long ignored. "And believe me, I don't think it's easy."

"It does warp everything," Josse is quite willing to say so. "We become so intent on protecting ourselves that we can see little else. But I think you understand." He too has just been fiddling with the binding on his own book, the mission of tidying it long ignored. "And believe me, I don't think it's easy."

Rose leans her forehead against his temple, just resting there, eyes closed. "I know… I've been acting like a hysterical, heartsick girl mourning her first love… but I guess I kind of am." She presses a kiss to his cheek. "But thanks for reminding me that's not all I am. I… can be better about this. Part of loving someone's supposed to be showing them patience and compassion. Like you do me."

"You kind of are," Josse agrees blithely. Her kiss gets the rough dark hairs that he's stopped bothering to keep chasing away. "But don't paint me for a saint. Loving someone and being in love with someone grant completely different levels of perspective and tolerance…trust me, I know." He smirks.

Rose sighs, settling in to lean on his shoulder. "I'll have to try to love him better than I'm in love with him, I suppose. You're right. They're very different animals. But… both live in me, I think."

"We don't control either, not in our hearts," Josse says. He lets his back relax against the wall, making a quietly tense shoulder relax. "The spirit wouldn't have it that way. Both are gifts. Some people can never do either, and I think…that must truly be a life away from the gods."

"Really?" Rose murmurs, frowning. "That seems… how awful to be so broken, that you can't love. At all. I always thought… even my own family, they love… It's just sort of twisted and stunted and pale and misdirected."

"One can learn," Josse says, after a few moments of quiet. "Some people have to, you know…first unlearn so much. And there are people, of course, who might be said to love too much." He smiles a little. "What a balance the Seven would have us keep."

"Truly!" Rose agrees, laughing and breathing another sigh. "Unkind of them, really, to expect such acrobatics from us, then make us clumsy and stupid."

"So very unkind," Josse agrees with a soft chuckle. He's quiet a few moments then, his shoulders moving very slightly as he slowly breathes. "I don't think I've ever asked you which aspect of the Seven you feel most drawn to, have I?"

"You haven't," Rose replies softly, extremely comfortable on Josse's shoulder, lulled by his breathing. "But it's not that hard to guess. One has to be called by the Warrior pretty strongly to believe they can serve Him despite their tits." She takes Josse's hand, threading her fingers through his. "And you? I've always assumed the Crone. Or are septons not allowed to have favorites?"

Josse smirks slightly. "I will admit to being on the Crone's nerves more than I should be. But all so long as we stay in balance." He lets her have his hand as he always does, callouses and other marks in the same places she left them before. "You say you're called to the Warrior, but do you feel it in your heart to respond to Him the most?"

Rose chuckles wryly. "Well, I pray to the Warrior, often enough. Crone second most often. But…" She examines the question and her heart, lowering her lashes and frowning lightly. "I suppose, if one of the Seven speaks to my heart… it's likely the Mother. I mean — " she laughs, " — Seven save me from fertility, but… the family part." She smirks. "I'm a great, soft marhmallow on the inside, you know. And yes, I know you know. And I find myself tenderly disposed toward people. And I want to gather them up and nurture and protect them, love and be loved by them."

"The Mother is a wonderful patron," Josse says, tapping her hand with his thumb. "And not in any way an opposite to the Warrior. Have you ever seen a woman whose children are threatened? The Warrior may guide her hands but if it weren't for the love granted her by the Mother she would never be quite so fierce. Somewhat like you."

Rose blushes at the observation. "Well. Then I can be fierce and a woman then. Eventually. When it won't embarrass or ruin too many people." She smiles. "It's… good to know the two aren't antithetical. I'd never really thought of it that way."

"She'll be waiting for you, Rose." Josse speaks quietly. "And perhaps — just perhaps — you would consider making her a promise to keep your heart open for that time when she can guide your path to the fullest."

"I try to keep an open heart to all the Seven," Rose replies. "I think… they all have something to teach. But…" she nods. "You're right. I think… now that I understand I have… this affinity… I should acknowledge Her."

"Then you think about it, and…" Josse trails off, glancing past her into the sun-speckled room as if suddenly distracted by the silence. "…when you find…" His brows furrow slightly, eyes skimming the papers and mess in the otherwise empty room.

Rose lifts her head slightly, glancing at Josse and following his gaze. She opens her mouth to ask what the matter is — but thinks better of it. So she's still. Perhaps listening for things that she can't hear.

Whether it's something audible or something seen isn't immediately clear. Josse's hand has closed around hers, tension drawing every feature of his face towards the center. Then he softly clears his throat. "The Mother." He starts again, sounding unsure of where he left off. "Any—…in…f-…" The last syllable is unintelligeable, just breath. His mouth opens again and moves, but nothing comes out except more soft stuttered noises.

Alarmed now, Rose grips his hand just as tight, placing a hand on his cheek and trying to gently turn his face to her. "Josse — Josse! What is it? Should I call the — " Call the you? That would be a trick. "Uhm. Help. Should I get help?"

Josse struggles against whatever is holding his words back, his eyes meetings hers. Or rather, the curve of her right eyebrow seems awfully interesting, his attention idly following the line — and then just as quickly eye contact comes back. "…fine." The word is sudden, as if it had been balanced precariously on a ledge and finally tipped over. "It's fine, Rose…everything's fine."

Rose blinks. "I… beg to differ?" she says, her voice shaking as adrenaline keeps her head spinning a while longer. "That wasn't fine. What happened?"

"Nothing." Josse seems quite firm on that point, if slightly tense. "Nothing happened." He lets go of her hand, pulling the crate in front of him closer for no apparent reason. "I just got distracted."

She lets his hand go, watching him, baffled. "Are you ill?" she asks, clearly not buying the explanation. "Was that… some kind of… fugue? I — I know that happens sometimes to people — uhm — soldiers. You know. When they've gotten hit on a head a lot."

"I said —" Josse's tone is a little too sharp, and the moment it snaps out it's reigned back in. "It was nothing." A book, check that out. He glances at the title without reading it, setting it on a pile. "As I was saying…I'll help you make a dedication if you come to feeling like you'd want to."

Rose frowns deeply. "Yeah. I heard you. And you're full of shit." But she leaves it, thankfully, opting to — instead of harangue him for the truth — kiss his forehead soundly. "Asshole," she whispers with affection. "I'll come to the sept tomorrow."

"Good, I'll clean your filthy mouth out with soap before we start." Josse hangs onto the second book he's picked up, somewhere between oepning it and just tossing it aside. His eyes are still down as she kisses his face. "Be nice to Jarod, now."

Rose crouches and sticks her face in his until her eyes are met. "Be nice to yourself," she says. "Please." And with that, she stands to depart.