|Complications of Blood|
|Summary:||Kathryna decides to tell Gedeon some things he'd rather not know.|
|Related Logs:||None, specifically.|
|Crane's Crossing — Stonebridge|
|A nice little inn, fine enough for hoighty-toighty nobles.|
|25 December 288|
It's late. Stupidly late. Almost insanely so. Only drunks, bandits and insomniacs are at the inn this time of the night. Depending on the evening, the Ironborn lady has been previously considered all three. She's currently in the far corner, her back against the wall, a large pitcher of ale in front of her but it seems like it's barely been touched. Her pale ice eyes stare out into the room, lost in sleepless, restless thoughts as she forgets to drink her beer.
It's really anyone's guess which of those three Gedeon Rivers may be tonight, though as he's not sufficiently muddy for banditry and not sufficiently staggery for drunkenness, it seems most likely that the blond knight simply can't sleep. As he comes down from the rooms above, rather than in from outside, insomnia is the most likely culprit. But even at such an odd hour, the inn provides, and it's a hot tea with a dollop of something a bit stronger tucked into it that Gedeon orders before glancing around the room. He gaze settles on the only other occupant, strangely dressed and awake as she is. One brow quirks upwards in mild interest, and Gedeon offers the woman a nod.
The sight of the man, hair almost the same shock of blonde as Kate's own, brings her gaze sharply out of distant thoughts and to double take in his handsome, young direction. If she hadn't known better, he could be any one of numerous cousins walking through the door. The pale Ironborn watches him over several heartbeats of silence before her thin, fitly muscled frame stirs just enough that she stretches one foot forward and pushes out the chair across from her. A silent invitation. There is plenty of ale.
Pale and blond, indeed, though not, certainly, dressed as an Ironborn. He doesn't move like one, either. He is fluid and graceful in his motions, as any warrior may be, but there's none of the puff and swagger, none of the strut, as he accepts his hot drink and makes his way over to the offered chair. "I admit," he says as he sits, "I hadn't expected company at such an hour, let alone a woman from foreign shores."
Kathryna tilts her head just a touch to the side and she does sit up straighter in the half booth against the wall she has taken. She is far more ironborn, if female. There's a heavy comfort in her own skin many women do not carry. Her body is also all streamlined muscle, little to speak of in hips and even less in breasts. If it wasn't for her face, the wild curls of her pale hair, she could almost be a small man. "I have been… Traveling a touch. Seeing what I can of these lands whom we may very well seek… Possibly peaceful relations with. If the Terricks are listening." Her eyes narrow a touch on him, studying his body once more. "And who might you be?"
"If it's the Terricks you mean to talk to, then you're in the wrong town," the blond knight says with a chuckle. "They're westwards, at Terrick's Roost. It's only half a day's ride, though, so you're not so far off the mark. Who might I be? That's an interesting question, who might any of us be? We might all be any number of peoples, given the opportunity." He blinks slowly, shaking his head with a wry smirk. "I'm sorry, that was nonsense. Ser Gedeon Rivers, sworn to Oldstones. And who do I have the pleasure of drinking with, tonight?"
The woman's head tilts a touch more. Ser Gedeon indeed. The brief rumors she'd heard of his pale hair and features are indeed true, and he carries a bastard's name. Arctic eyes narrow just a touch in the handsome young man's direction, Kate's expression filled with lingering thoughtfulness. Apparently, Ironborn are not just violent barbarians. There is no doubt of thought behind her eyes. "Lady Kathryna Harlaw. And I know I am in the wrong down… but I heard of a pale knight who looked more like me than his Riverlander counter parts, and I had to see for myself. It seems fate has seen fit to confirm his identity." Fate, and sitting in a tavern almost three nights in a row! Some hard work came into this meeting.
That eyebrow hitches upwards a little as Kathryna gives her name, and it's joined by the other as she speaks on. "Do you mean to say you're in Stonebridge to meet me?" Gedeon asks with a small, surprised laugh. "Ah, I am sorry to disappoint. The blond hair comes from a Westerlands mother. I'm afraid I'm none of your blood, lady. But, if I might ask, who is it that sent you on such a chase?"
There is a slight more narrowing of her eyes into little, doubtful slits as he comments about a Westerlands mother. Before Gedeon will really know it, her hand reaches forward and lightly takes his chin. She has a man's hands, roughened and heavily calloused from years of sword work, but smaller than most men. She tries to turn his head, to see his profile. "You are most certain of that? I know your nose, Ser Gedeon. Your cheeks." There is utter determination in her eyes as she sits a bit more forward. No doubt on her face.
She can grab his chin, but Gedeon's own hand lifts to push that hand away as she tries to turn his head to her liking, and the amusement in his features tips closer to a frown. "Do you, now," he says, his tone flat and irritated. "I can hardly see how that could be possible, unless you're better acquainted with the nobility of the Westerlands than I'd suspected."
That calloused hand falls away a heartbeat later, resting fingertips around her ale once again. Kate's full mouth, lower lip still healing from a split gained in a fight the other week, all pulls into a good smirk. "Your father is Geoffry Tordane, is it not? And I know this not because I am acquainted with Westerlands nobility." Kate watches him closely as she says that, waiting for any tell tale tick that she's spoken something correct.
Gedeon's pale gaze settles on Kathryna, watching her carefully as one hand stays curled around the warmth of his mug. He blinks slowly, his features carefully expressionless as she fishes. But, he allows, with a small nod, "I am Geoffrey Tordane's son, yes."
The woman is Ironborn. She doesn't dance around subjects with social niceties. She's simply not good at it. Kate stares at him emotionlessly now, sitting straight and a touch stern. "And you were brought home a little less than a year after Lord Tordane attended a tournament in which my uncle, Ser Harras Harlaw, was competing. Ser Harlaw had quite the entourage with him during that tourney. Including one of his sisters." Kate's ale is ignored utterly for his pale eyes and handsome face.
"Well, it was a tourney," Gedeon points out. "There were many knights there and many competed. It seems possible Ser Harras Harlaw was there as well. As were a number of Westerland knights with their entourages including many a blonde-haired woman. You're mistaken, my lady, in what you are implying."
"Have you -ever truly met- your mother, Gedeon?" Kate asks almost fiercely, fire and iron behind her voice, arctic gaze flashing with certainty. The more she watches him, listens to his voice, the more he talks of the tourney the more she knows for certain this is the man her aunt has spoken of before. The babe that was given up from the rough life of a barbarian.
"Well, I was born," Gedeon points out dryly, "so I expect we had a moment or two before she gave me up." He leans back into his chair with a small shrug. "If you'd like to chase this fantasy, if inventing a history for a man you don't even know is fun for you, please, by all means." His free hand lifts and then drops again in lazy invitation. "Whoever my mother, whatever her name, this is my home and where I was raised. Westerlands blood or no, I'm just a man of the Riverlands, now."
There is just a slight wince upon her pale face at his description of being born and of his mother. Kate shakes her head slowly, "…She… was doing what was best for you, Ser Gedeon. The life of a bastard back in the Iron Isles is… not nearly filled with the same opportunity it is here. I am not saying you should go back to the Isles and claim them as your home. I am saying you have blood sitting right across from you, who traveled further into this soft, wet land to -meet- you. You have Iron in your blood, whether you like it or not."
"I don't," Gedeon says simply, although whether he means 'I don't have it' or 'I don't like it,' the blond knight doesn't clarify. "I think I've my hands quite full dealing with my father's blood, Lady Harlaw. I am sorry for your travels, and that this land is not to your liking. Seems an odd thing to say, though, for how eager your people are to take from it." He lifts his mug to finally indulge in a swallow of spiked tea gone cold.
The woman's nose wrinkles just a touch as he says that. "I do not… dislike this land. It is just different. And if you do much dislike honesty and knowledge, than I can let you be. But I'm not -asking- for anything from you. I'm simply… " Kate shakes her head and sinks back in her chair. "Fuck it. Never mind. Go about your night, Ser Gedeon. I deal with enough petulant Riverlanders right now. I needn't bother with another, whether he is my cousin or not."
"Then content yourself that he is not, though I would very much like to know who, exactly put it into your head to go look for me with this tale." Gedeon has another swallow of tea. "If you don't dislike it, choose the words you use about it better. You seem an intelligent woman, my lady, if currently misguided. If you are finding all Riverlanders petulant, maybe the fault doesn't lie with them."
There is a brief smile that flickers across her lips, a heartbeat of amusement as she admits, "Oh, dear Ser Gedeon, I fully realize I too am a bitch." She winks. "It doesn't mean the people around me have to be petulant too. I suppose there could be a cause and effect there." She laughs huskily. Then she goes a touch more solemn as he asks about who put that idea into her head, "My Aunt Ingryd. Who speaks of her weekend with the Lord Tordane, after the tourney, and the little blonde babe whom she gave up to a better life. My cousin and only blood in these lands currently, sheltered with the Tordanes, trained to be a Knight, who has embraced the Seven and serves honourably like his Lord Uncle Harras."
"So you expect, then, that in the face of ill humor or thoughtless words, we ought to simply roll over and smile? You know, I think the whole of nobility must be the same the entire world 'round. No matter where I go, it's the same temperament stuffed into different clothes." Gedeon smirks, shaking his head, though that smirk fades a little as Kathryna speaks on. "Not so much sheltered, these days, but I suppose you've the rest of it more or less right. Except for the bit about the Ironborn blood, of course. How widely have you spread that little fable around here, by the by?"
The wild haired woman shakes her head slowly, tossing those messy curls over her shoulder, unrestrained and pale as the rest of her. "Naught but you. I might be a bitch but I have some respect for people, especially those I would call blood." Kate sighs and takes a good gulp of her ale, letting the bitter taste of it give her a few moments to organize her thoughts. She then sits a touch more forward again, looking at him hard. "How would I know all this, Ser Gedeon, if it were not true? Have you made it public knowledge how you came to be in Lord Tordane's care? Especially to a woman who has barely been in this land the turn of two moons?"
"It is perfectly public knowledge that I was raised in Tordane Tower by my father since I was a babe and that my mother was unnamed," Gedeon replies. "Why the Ironborn have an interest in me, what you or the Harlaws hope to accomplish with such a story, I cannot begin to fathom. But if you do have any passing fondness for me, or if you truly imagine me a cousin, you would do me greater good by speaking on this no further. I am no Iron Islander, whatever my blood, and such stories will only cause trouble for me, here and now."
Kate raises her hands to him in a show of neutral innocence. "I am not here to damn you or to sully your name. I'm here to meet my cousin. And to bring a man some truth. It's been done. Go on your way, if you wish… I shan't bother you further. Should you ever have more curiosity of the story, or your mother, you know who I am now. I have hopes I shall not be leaving this land for a long while. You will be able to find me." Beyond that, Kate falls quiet, a slightly enigmatic little smile flickering across her ever oddly pale face.
Gedeon is quiet as he drinks from his own cup, his gaze sliding around the room though it ever returns to his drinking companion. "Do ambassadors stay so long?" he queries at length.
It's not really shame, but a touch of embarrassment in her pale face as he asks such things. Kate's eyes drop away from him and stare down into her ale. "…I have found something stolen from me in these lands far more effectively than any raider could ever accomplish. Once I have finished my talks with the Terricks, I intend to ride north and… hopefully… wed Dafydd Camden. It's not an exciting life…or even one the rest of the isles may respect, but… I care for the man too deeply to ignore it."
Gedeon blinks, brows shooting high for the second time tonight. "Dafydd Camden. Camden Camden. The family with all the trees and no opinions. I…" he huffs a small, amazed laugh, "would not have imagined one of them a match for someone of the Iron Islands." He blinks slowly, his eyes narrowing a little. "If you're set on staying, we don't need to look out for some kind of raiding party to come charging ashore to drag you back by your hair, do we?"
A deep, husky laugh escapes her lips, though Kate's cheeks visibly begin to rise with blush as he teases her about the man whom she's given her heart. "Ah, no… no… I am a second daughter to a third son. Other than my name, I am of no real care to the Iron Isles. I suspect that is why they tossed me at these shores to try diplomacy. If I failed and was killed, no true loss. If I succeeded and relations were made, then they can cheer about what a good idea they had in sending the girl to use her mouth instead of her blade!" Kate smirks, shaking her head once more. She's still blushing. "But… aye. The Tree Lord's brother is… Well… he is a unique man. I've found myself embarrassingly taken."
"Huh," Gedeon muses softly as Kate finishes speaking. "Well, so long as it's not about to bring the Iron Islands to my door, I'll wish you luck in it. Good fortune to you, 'cousin', and your unexpected endeavors."
She bows her head to him, a slightly softer smile betraying her still half blushed features. "Yourself as well, cousin. I hope some day… you'll come around to this. I know this is your family, your home… Your religion and life, but what harm could there ever be in knowing your blood? Even in secret. I shall keep your secrets, Ser Gedeon… but I do hope, some time, you come to realize their truth." With those soft words, Kate settles back into her seat and with her ale, not pushing things further.
"What harm?" Gedeon asks. There is another small laugh and another shake of his blond head. "What harm," he repeats again. "Oh, ye gods, they definitely didn't send you for your political savvy, did they, Lady Harlaw. Secrets have a way of getting out, if one dwells on them too long, and as the blood you'd claim for me is the enemy of the blood I claim for myself, there is every sort of harm it could cause. It cannot be true, even if it is. Can you understand that?"
That pale expression darkens once again, Kate's eyes flashing towards him. "…I can understanding lying to one's self for the sake of one's face. I do not have to like it, but I can understand it. The choice will ever be in your hands."
"No, you do not have to like it. Only respect it." Gedeon lifts his mug to his lips a final time, tipping it back to swallow what of his drink still remains. "We all make choices others may not approve of. I did not mock yours. Good evening, Lady Hawlaw. Or… good morning, I suppose." Setting down the empty mug, the pale knight of Oldstones eases his chair back and moves to stand.
There is one more bow of her head in his direction. "And I do respect it, Ser Gedeon. Good night…" She echoes to him, but doesn't protest his leaving further. Nor does Kate move to stand herself. Apparently, she has plans of spending the night in that booth, lost in thought.