|Summary:||Rowan visits a bedridden Igara|
|Related Logs:||Not-So-Invited Guests|
|Guest Room — Four Eagles Tower|
|A tidy and welcoming guest room.|
|13th of Eightmonth, 288 AL|
It's very little wonder that women are the weaker gender, isn't it, when they are so often compelled to lie still atop a pile of towels for days on end, and the less fortunate ones, the meantime, wracked with cramps and stomach upsets and headaches and the whole lot. To see the sworn lasses carrying out the bloodied towels, one would think some great knight had been touched by a blade on the battlefield and was dying abed of his bleeding, if one didn't know it was merely a slip of a Frey tormented by the moon. But now she has been cleaned and the towels changed out, and she's starting the afternoon with a fresh cup of rasberry tea and a piece of embroidery from her basket, sitting up against the pillows at her lower back, kept decent for visitors above the blankets and towels with a simple black and grey day-dress kept loosely laced, its skirts all settled over the blankets.
There's a knock, and one of the ladies stands, putting her own stitchery aside to answer. She peeks around the door, speaking softly, then looks back to Igara. "Lord Rowan Nayland, if it my lady," she announces the visitor with a little bob of a curtsy. "Will you receive him?"
Igara looks up at the knock, brows raised, and then when Rowan is announced, her mouth tightens into a flat line, and she settles her embroidery on her lap between her and the tea-tray so graciously provided for her. Her short hair is loose and given to its natural wave, and she lifts her hands to it for a short moment, unsure how it seems, but finally leaving it be. Swallowing, she nods her head briskly a few times. "Y-yes, I will," she answers, clearing her throat and putting her embroidery aside on a pillow, folding her hands on her lap.
The lady steps back from the door, holding it open just enough for the dark-haired, slender young man and his companion to come through. He has brought a chaperone, as appropriate, a handmaiden likely borrowed from Lucienne for the nonce. The Terrick-sworn lady drops a curtsy to Igara as the young Nayland lord bows. The door is shut, and the chaperone joins the other ladies seated nearby. "Lady Igara," says the young lord, softly. "I pray I am not intruding. My good Ser Gedeon gave me to understand that you might welcome a visit."
Igara seems heartened that her Lord Rowan has thought of propriety in his visit, and her tight smile broadens a little bit as she nods her thanks to the handmaiden. "I do welcome your visiting me, my Lord," she affirms. "There is a chair, care you to come and sit," she nods toward it with a touch of shyness, as it is closeby to her, but the overabundance of chaperonage seems to find her in an easier mood. "I hope that you have not put off your other duties to come and visit. I know… I know how important your training is to you."
Rowan lifts his gaze, dark eyes and long lashes, rue and regret written on his lovely features. "It is, my lady," he admits, coming to settle in the chair. His movements are measured and careful, as though concerned the very air displaced by his passing might discomfort her. "Yet also important are your feelings. At least… they are important to me. I had hoped — " he sighs, smiling with faint rue. "I had hoped my letter might explain things better. Convey my great regard for you. But… it was not to be, it seems."
Igara leans back on the pillows supporting her back, taking her eyes away from the chaperones by the door and letting them settle onto Rowan's eyes. A bold move, for her, but hardly unheard of between people who may, one day, be wed. And Rowan's eyes are certainly lovely enough to draw attention, and to hold it, all admiring, at such a short distance. "The Lord Rygar brought to me your bidding to wait for the message. But the Lord Ryker was most eager to come and bring me along with him. I waited as long as I was able to delay him with my preparations without being openly contrary to the Lord," she reports in a flutter of a breath that may well serve to keep the content of the conversation private between them even in the presence of witnesses to the meeting. And well it be, for next, "You told me at the tourney that I had grown lovely. I can't but think that you have grown far lovelier than I," she tells him, a faintly lovelorn note to the whisper, as well as a playful one, to have turned the compliment around.
The boy smiles, a faint blush coloring his cheeks. "You are kind to say so, my lady. Though I confess, as a lovely boy, I have oft wished to be less so. Regardless, I am quite cleverly trapped by your words — I cannot continue to insist you are lovelier without being boorish." There is no rebuke in his tone, teasing back in gentle play. "So we shall have to agree to admire one another, I think." The boy sighs. "I would that we were friends, my lady — yet I cannot help the presentiment that I shall one day wound you as no friend should. I do not desire that."
Igara crooks a quirked smile at her victory, though her eyes remain touched with a little bit of the bitter half of a bittersweet moment. "I cannot in truth say that I had no hope nor wish for you, my Lord. But my spirit is less frail than my body. I will cheer you on this year, and wish all good things for you. How great an honor it would be for you to win a place such as you seek. And should you do so— why— I will still be but sixteen. And not quite an old maid, yet. I suppose by then daddy will have another contract for me." She swallows over a little bit of dread at the prospect of going off with who-knows-whom, but she gamely makes an effort not to let her smile fade.
Rowan tilts his head, studying Igara closely. "Ah, Gods," he breathes after a moment, sitting back, something within him deeply conflicted. "You — put me in mind of my sister, actually. She was to marry into your family, as well. But she was afraid. She ran away." He studies the back of his hand a moment, dangling over his lap as his elbow rests on the arm of the chair. Long, slender fingers stretch out, then relax again. "I used to think she was very, very brave. I still do, but — " His eyes lift to Igara. "I think it is possible you are braver yet, my lady. And stronger."
"I know," Igara whispers, moving one hand from her lap to her shoulder, shrugging a little bit to her side to be able to face Rowan more easily. "About Rowenna. I hardly feel I knew her, for all the time she spent romping about where I could not keep up with her. I recall how very pretty a girl she was, but little else. I know well what her fear was, but I would not run, not even if I could. I will be someone's wife, one day. I prayed the Seven let me be yours, for I thought…" she trails off, but then re-establishes her eye contact with him, as it had trailed away into her habitual downcast gaze. "I may speak to you frankly, mayn't I?"
"Of course you may, Igara," says Rowan, leaning forward a bit that their conversation might be private as possible. "Whatever else we may or may not be to one another in the future, let us be friends from this day forward? I should be deeply honored if you would consent to such."
"I had thought us friends from long ago, Rowan," Igara whispers her reply, daring so far as to call him without title. "And will gladly consent to renewing our friendship." She looks at him a long while. "I pray you keep my friendship for you in mind when I say that… long since… I have rather thought you… a gentle lad, rather than one quite robust. I heard a rumor… once. That I did not spread further, of course. That you had met for a night with a Septon in a tavern." This, certainly whispered, looking earnestly into Rowan's eyes, searching there for truth. "This desire you have, to join the King's guard. I must speak plainly that it seems to have come up all sudden, for such a life's desire. If there is… another reason… why you wish not to be wed, I pray, have faith in me to keep it to myself. I have long practiced the keenest discretion, and if there are other desires in your heart, Rowan, besides the King's Guard, you might find an able confidante and protectress in me."
The boy swallows, lowering his lashes, taking a breath. "The… I did. Meet the septon at a tavern," he says softly. "But it's not what you think." He lifts his gaze, dark eyes deeply troubled. "If it were so, Igara… if I were… that kind of man. It could ruin other men, you know. Men who are my friends, who I love as brothers and have done no wrong. People always assume the worst, don't they? And the right words in the wrong ear can destroy us. Surely, as a maid, you understand the value and fragility of reputation."
"Yes, Rowan. I know only too well what it is to be at the whims of the things people say about a person," Igara answers on a shallow breath. "I would not see you come to harm. Whatever the case may be. I would think it would do you a great deal of good in stopping these rumors, wouldn't it, to have a wife? Especially… one so frail as I, who have been… so very often ill, that nobody would bat an eye but to think that I am made barren by my sickliness. I, for my part… am all in terror of what a gentleman's affection might be, Rowan. And even more so what it be to bear child," she confesses, a slight tension in her jaw that almost reads as desperation. And well she might be afraid of such things, as she could be a poster child for the epitaph 'died in childbirth,' frail, narrow-hipped creature as she is. "As fond as I am of you, I was all the more hopeful for our match, as I hoped that you would be… gentle, so, and spare me. I must seem a terrible selfish creature to have hoped such a thing from you."
Rowan shakes his head, impulsively placing a hand on the edge of the bed. Were it a bolder hand, the gesture says, it would have moved to cover hers. But it does not. "No, Igara. Far from it. Or, if you are, then so am I — and we are well-matched, indeed." His brows knit upward — pensive and plaintive at once. The lad is clearly tormented to speak even circuituously of such things. "Marriage… would shield us both from much, I expect." He looks down again. "I pray your patience, Igara. I must think on this. Too often I lead with my heart, and it seldom ends well when I do."
It would have been a bold move, indeed, but one Igara might have thought to complete, if she did not fear that it would bring down the closer attention of the women by the door, when their whispers have found some measure of privacy even under guard. "My patience is yours, Rowan," she whispers. "And know that… even if this mad thing I ask of you is impossible to you to do, that I will be grateful for the year of peace I will have, being so set aside for you, before you go to your new post."
The young lord smiles tenderly, despite the conflict in his eyes. "I cannot recall if I put down on paper how little I deserve so good a lady," he says. "I thought it, whether it managed to escape the tangle of my brain or not. I could not have been more right." He glances at the light from the windows, regretfully. "I fear the hour grows late, my lady. I have much I must yet attend before I can rest, and should leave you to yours, that your strength return swiftly as possible."
Igara does finally let her hand slide down from her lap, resting it just closeby the other hand on the bed without going to far as to touch it. "I will keep the sentiment in mind, and treasure it, whether it be written or no, my Lord. I thank you for coming to see me, and for… hearing me speak so boldly to you without thinking ill of me. I do not know for how many more days I will be abed, four, perhaps, or five. When I arise, may I meet you for our walk?"
"Of course," Rowan says, smiling as he stands. "Nothing would please me more, my lady." He bows, looking to the Terrick handmaid and giving a slight nod. The maid takes whispered leave of the others, going to wait by the door. "Rest well, Igara."
Igara smiles, herself, a thing that beams beyond her ability to restrain it to a proper expression, eyes warm in their fond meeting of Rowan's. "Good-day, my Lord Rowan," she answers him aloud, easing back into the pillows to close her eyes, bringing her hand up from the covers to rest over her heart.