|Different Game Plans|
|Summary:||The Groves come to Four Eagles to discuss the forging of bonds and making of alliances. Anais doesn't seem to have been given a copy of the Game Plan.|
|Related Logs:||The Eagles Meet for brief gloss over of plans|
|Big room, there's a throne.|
Afternoon light streams with welcoming warmth into the throne room, making a play of light and shadow across tables and pillars alike. Dmitry leans against a column near the tables and watches with narrowed eyes as a servant sets one with the luncheon that makes for the meagre hospitality of the Roost this afternoon. Watered wine, round loaves of bread, two thirds of a round but pale cheese, and the crowning glory of a particularly sad and insipid-looking fruit selection. The young knight's arms are folded loosely over his dark doublet, his booted feet crossed at the ankles. He drums his fingertips against his sleeve. Drumdrumdrum.
Lucienne stands slightly apart from Dmitry and his column-leaning, her posture a far more proper thing. As they wait, she murmurs quietly, "This should be interesting. I suppose that was the best fare we could muster?" She too eyes the paltry offerings, rather dismayed. Starving sucks.
Kittridge enters. He was invited, after all. "Lady Lucienne," he greets her with a bow, and another, a shade less deep, "Ser Dmitry. Good afternoon. Oh," he says, at the spread, "I hope you didn't trouble yourselves on my account? I rode all morning and found lunch at the Rockcliff too much to resist. I should have mentioned it, I apologize."
Rosanna keeps to Kittridge's side perhaps a bit more than she is wont, but her smile is warm nevertheless when she drops in a curtsy. It is possible she begged her brother to come along. MAYBE HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO MAKES HER FEEL SAFE, OKAY. "Lady Lucienne, Ser Dmitry," she greets the two Terricks politely.
Dmitry turns out two fingertips away from his arm, eyebrows arching over his dark eyes as he draws a long breath through his nose. "Alas," he answers. He straightens as he steps down, lifting his chin. "Good afternoon, Ser Kittridge; Lady Rosanna," he says airily, sketching a bow of his own. "And welcome. To offer our hospitality is hardly a trouble." His glance skitters only briefly aside to Lucienne, his mouth twitching up at one corner.
Though straight-backed, Lucienne's curtsy is anything but stiff. "Lord Kittridge," she echoes, her smile growing a touch warmer for the sight of his sister. "And Lady Rosanna, how lovely of you to come along. Please, do have a seat?" She gestures with the sweep a hand, sharing a sidelong look with Dmitry and measuring out a long breath quietly.
Kittridge allows his clingy sister to proceed them to the chairs, seating himself with an absent, doublet-smoothing gesture. "I would take a glass of wine, if that is a pitcher there," he says, gesturing at the one, "Thank you both for your invitation. I admit I had expected a somewhat more hostile reception."
Rosanna seats herself in a precise manner, her hands smoothing down her skirts once she's settled. "I hope it's all right that I accompanied my brother," she says to the two Terricks.
"Shall I throw you out?" Dmitry asks Rosanna with a bright smile, eyebrows a high arch over bright-dark eyes. This is not helpful, Dmitry. He claims one of the chairs in an easy sprawl of limbs and tips his chin up. "Discourtesy would accomplish little, I should think."
Lucienne closes her eyes at Dmitry's joke, her expression freezing with a plastered-on smile. "Do forgive my cous," she tells Rosanna gently, claiming a seat across from the other girl. "It's lovely to see you again, my lady. I hope the journey wasn't too taxing?" What with being recently kidnapped and all. She glances aside to Dmitry again, a stiff look communicating: please behave, and feel free to get down to business. (Please don't misinterpret this look in a terrible but hilarious fashion, Dima.)
Don't worry, Kitt, the hostile reception is coming! Anais doesn't bother to arrive quietly, letting a guard push the door open in front of her before following him inside herself. There's a brief moment where she takes in the tableau, and then her polite smile is in place once more. "Lord Kittridge, Lady Rosanna," she greets warmly. "What a pleasant surprise to find you here. With so much to do here, I was afraid I wouldn't have a chance to thank you in person for the loan of your tunic. Luci," she smiles warmly to her goodsister. "Why didn't you tell me the Groves were coming?"
"That has always been my thinking on the subject," Kittridge agrees with Dmitry, with a shrug, "But not everyone can be so enlightened as us." He smiles crookedly, and then glances at his sister, and Lucienne, and says, "I hope that you are well, lady, and recovering now that you are safe and home." He looks up as the door opens, and rises to bow politely, "Lady Anais," he says, "Please, there's no need for thanks. It was the only thing to be done, given the situation. I hope that you are also well, and recovering now that you are home, as I was just saying to your goodsister." As for the rest… awkward. He doesn't comment, returning to his seat.
"Um." For a moment, it looks like Rosanna doesn't know how to react; then her lips part on a light thread of laughter. She, too, feels the awkwardness of Anais's greeting, but she does respond politely: "Lady Anais, a pleasure."
"Lord Kittridge indicated his coming in advance, I believe," Dmitry interposes mildly, showing just how well-behaved he can be when he isn't making idiot jokes — for like … two seconds. "We thought it would behoove us to invite him to lunch. Have a glass of wine, do." His smile flickers, glitter-bright in his dark eyes. "Naturally, we were … disappointed … by the news of your deal with the Naylands, but I don't believe that should preclude any and all dealings between us. Especially when you bring such a charming lady to grace our table."
Lucienne rises from her seat out of courtesy for Anais, blinking in puzzlement at the smile and that awkward greeting. She reclaims her seat, allowing Dmitry to speak and adding a simple, "My apologies, my lady, I had assumed you would have heard." She draws a deep breath, and beckons for a nearby attendant to pour wine for the table. There is also a meagre lunch laid out, bread rolls, old fruit, some cheese.
"Happily enough, I did. Though I'm afraid I only just learned of your response, Lord Groves," Anais adds with an apologetic smile for Kittridge. "I do hope you'll accept our apologies, at least, for the delay in a reply. It seems the messenger bearing my description of the state of the rest of the Riverlands to Lord Jerold was waylaid by an innkeeper's daughter somewhere along the way, which delayed his response, which…Well. No use in crying over spilt milk, is there?" She moves to claim a seat for herself, offering a small smile to Rosanna in the process. "You're looking well, Rosanna."
"Thank you, Lady Anais," Rosanna says with a smile tucked into the corners of her mouth. "As do you, of course. And you, Lady Lucienne." Not the boys, obvs.
Rosanna does smile a little bit at Dmitry. Maybe he's pretty, too.
"Thank you," Kittridge replies to Dmitry, accepting the wine, and then inclining his head to the other knight, "Of course," he says, "I would certainly agree. Just because one matter hasn't worked out doesn't mean there aren't still other things worth talking about. And I am sorry to hear that that happened, Lady Anais," he adds, "One wonders if the Seven just didn't want it to happen, the way things have gone. But these things happen. I hope you all understand it wasn't anything personal, and that we're more than open to the idea of discussing other arrangements instead, if you'd like. Perhaps we should talk about the next year's harvest now, so time doesn't run out again."
"Of course," Dmitry says, tip of his head a mild inclination. "I do hope to look forward, not back. Trading in grain futures strikes me as a trifle … unsteady a proposition, but, as we consider trade of a harvest you do not have, I suppose you might come to some empathy with our position." He turns his hand outward, palm up, and then lets it fall with the widening of his bright-dark eyes. "Perhaps we might look to some other sort of future, Lord Groves."
"Thank you, Lady Rosanna," Lucienne responds sweetly, reaching more quickly than is generally characteristic of her to claim her cup of wine. It is watered down, what a shame. She smiles, all amusement at Kittridge's suggestion to avoid disappointment, and draws a dainty sip of her beverage. Her eyes slide over to Dmitry, and she nods in agreement, surprise surprise.
"I'm afraid we'll need to make it through the next year if we're to make any sorts of arrangements, Lord Groves," Anais smiles faintly, taking a glass of water for herself. "Still, I can't blame you for acting in the interests of your house. You did more than I would by even coming to us when you had another offer waiting." Talk of other futures brings an arch of her brow, and she shifts to look to the door. "Was Lord Jerold planning on joining us?" she asks, all innocence. "I could send someone for him."
Rosanna stifles a laugh behind her cup of wine at her brother's last comment, then gathers herself to sip delicately at it. She is on her best behavior, it would seem, by not offering obnoxious comments of her own while business is handled. At least for this pose.
Kittridge sips the wine offered, making no sign that he's noticed it's watered as he does. He chuckles at Dmitry and nods, "Aye, perhaps not the most certain. Though there are ways to structure agreements to account for that, but… yes, premature. It was half a joke," he admits. Another sip of wine, and then he arches a brow and asks, "What did you have in mind?" When Anais suggests calling Jerold, he laughs, and says, "Please don't, lady? I've hardly come prepared for anything so formal and serious as that, and it wouldn't be fair to make me speak to Lord Jerold without having spoken to my own Lord father first. Let's see what we're about and whether there's anything in it, and keep the capital-L lords out of it for the moment."
Lucienne's brows shift at Anais' suggestion, and she drinks more wine. She is thirsty, okay? As she sets her cup down, she politely enquires of Rosanna, "Will you be staying long, my lady, or travelling back to Kingsrove?" The men can do the real talking.
"Oh, but please, Lady Anais, we discuss hypotheticals: tomorrow's grain, tomorrow's dawn, why should I trouble my Uncle with such unformed trifles?" Emphasis slight on the possessive, the young Terrick arches his eyebrows at Anais with a sham at sudden anxiety in the widening of his dark eyes. "Shall I ask him about tomorrow's doublet? The grey threads, you think? Or something more stylish in purple?" He flips his fingers, and then glances back at Kittridge. "Honestly, I had hardly come to a plan beyond my courtesies, but I do wish to open my hands to you if I might." He does so, although this is probably just dramatics and he does not expect anyone to hold hands with him. "I understand the joke, I think, but I took it seriously because if I can deal for tomorrow's grain, I should very much wish to. I understand from my cousin that there was, at least, something on the table as to an arrangement of lands. I believe there might be aught that we might do, aside from the distractions of long delay and Nayland gold."
Anais knifes a smile to Dmitry's demurral, taking a sip of her water. "I simply wished to establish the boundaries under which we might be working, Lord Kittridge," she assures the Groves with a low laugh. "We've been terrible enough to you, delaying our response for so long. I'd hate for you to think us inconstant."
"I — travel at my brother's pleasure, at the moment," Rosanna says with a smile slightly tight as she looks across to Lucienne. "He is rather reluctant to let me out of his sight for the moment, for reasons you may imagine." NOT HER FAULT NOPE SHE'S NOT NERVOUS AT ALL.
Kittridge casts a sideways look at Rosanna for that assertion, and lifts his wine to drink, saying nothing. Instead he turns back to Dmitry and Anais, and shrugs, "I have no idea what boundaries we are working under, Lady Anais, nor on what, precisely, we're working. This is a most casual preliminary discussion, it seems to me, and I get the feeling Ser Dmitry wishes it to be the same? It is always best to make sure we are all on the same page, you're quite right." To his fellow knight, he nods, and spreads his hands palm-up in turn, "If you wish to talk about tomorrow's grain, Ser, then let's. Our dealings so far have been hampered by a lack of communication, and I would like not to repeat that going forward. As for lands, yes, that was our offer. The return of certain lands that were previously ours. It did not seem to be a very well-received idea."
"Of course," Lucienne replies to Rosanna, her smile small and understanding. Rather than wait for a retainer to take care of it, she refills her glass. It wasn't yet empty. She eyeballs Kittridge at his last, but says nothing, trusting Dmitry to respond appropriately.
"For myself, I am nothing if not communicative," Dmitry assures Kittridge — indeed, it's getting him to shut up that has proven problematic for House Terrick since his return from the Pipers. "Geography, uncertainties of war, uncertainties of messengers, bad servants — a veritable plague." He breaks off a chunk of bread and turns it in his fingers. "Though as we are discussing lines of communication, I suspect that they would be more readily established if our Houses became better friends. A little war, a few lost letters, these would be so much less disruptive between closer friends."
"Have you been doing well since your return home?" Rosanna asks Lucienne in turn, seeing as they are having their own conversation now.
Anais draws a breath as Dmitry waxes eloquent, reaching up to press two fingers to her temple. She might be regretting the water now. Just a little bit.
"As well as can be expected, which is to say - better than some," Lucienne responds quietly, her smile a sad thing. "I do worry for the Lady Muirenn, taken abed and forced to travel. And the others, of course."
"Not a sentiment I think could be argued with," Kittridge replies to Dmitry, "It is always preferable to be better friends, I think. Do you have some means of bettering our houses' relationship in mind?"
"There are traditional avenues, of course," Dmitry answers, biting a small piece of bread and chewing it thoughtfully. "A marriage arrangement might be contemplated." He is being so good he does not even use this ridiculously obvious opportunity to flirt a smile across the table at Kittridge's unmarried sister. That is how good he is being. Instead, he finishes off his piece of bread, and cocks an eyebrow at Anais. "Sweet lady," he says with remarkable sympathy for someone so habitually bratty, "have you the headache?"
Rosanna is even expecting it, smile already flickering at the mention of marriage. And then Dmitry DOESN'T EVEN LOOK AT HER. WHAT IS THIS. Negotiations suck. "I do hope Lady Muirenn is on the road to recovery," she says in aside to Lucienne, but more of her attention is being drawn to the conversation between the men.
Anais turns a dry look on Dmitry. "It comes and goes," she answers she answers the Terrick lord. "I'm afraid it's been very busy the last few days." But she'll withhold further comment until Kittrdige responds.
Kittridge turns to glance back at Anais, and smile sympathetically, saying, "Brought on by stress, probably. Between the… ordeal… and everything else lately I'm surprised we aren't all stricken with them constantly." He sips his wine, and shrugs at Dmitry. "Do you contemplate a particular marriage being arranged? Or just float the concept generally?"
Lucienne is very proud of you, Dmitry. She twists a look to her cousin briefly as he speaks, expression all approval and including a smile. At Kittridge's question, she simply switches her attention to the Groves lord. Why, hello.
"From the general to the specific," Dmitry murmurs, with a glance in Lucienne's direction. "I do have a particularly lovely unmarried cousin about." He waits a beat and adds, "Not Justin, although—" Well, he was being really good.
"Is he only somewhat lovely?" Rosanna finally can't resist enough to add. It's a light tease, though, and everyone else seems light enough?
Lucienne blushes, lifting her hand to stifle a giggle much like Rosanna did earlier. "Dmitry," she scolds good-naturedly, looking back with a delighted smirk. That one was well-timed, and Rosanna's addition only makes her smile all the greater.
"Although Lord Jerold is loathe to part with his only daughter, who so reminds him of the wife he lost but months ago," Anais adds on the heels of Dmitry's words, managing the faintest smile to go with those oh so bland words.
Kittridge glances between Dmitry and Lucienne at those glances, and then nods as Anais speaks, "Naturally," he agrees, "As every father is loathe to party with his daughter, particularly if he has only one." He doesn't give Rosanna a look; it's sort of implied already. "And for the other half of the match you might have in mind…my eldest brother, I would assume?"
Lucienne sits straight in her chair, smiling on blithely. She's even forgotten her wine, for the moment. It doesn't seem to be her place to add anything just now, though, so she looks to Rosanna to gauge the other lady's reaction.
"A sign of your lord father's character," Rosanna adds to Lucienne with a smile, "that he treats you so preciously." If there is any displeasure at the idea of the match, it is not apparent in her expression.
"We're very close," Lucienne admits fondly of her father, smiling back at the Groves lady.
Dmitry lifts two fingers to show Rosanna the pinch of thumb and forefinger, and favors her with one of his most charming smiles (he keeps a quiver full of these). LITTLE BIT lovely? He picks up quite readily as his glance skips back to Kittridge, "Yes, I think it worth considering. My uncle would, of course, miss her, but I am sure Lady Anais does not mean to imply he would mislike the match." His smile is a little sharp.
"Lady Anais means to imply that Lord Jerold recently expressed some concern that, given the financial straights in which we find ourselves, a dowry might be a difficult thing to arrange, and as he counts his daughter so dear, didn't wish to undervalue her," Anais smiles back to Dmitry in a similarly sharp fashion. "But of course," she continues smoothly, "As Lord Dmitry pointed out at the beginning of this discussion, we are only speaking in hypotheticals, aren't we? I'm sure by the time the Roost is recovered enough to offer an appropriate dowry, Lord Jerold would be thrilled to make a match with our neighbors of Kingsgrove." A pause, as she drinks, then laughs softly. "Not a joke about next year's harvest, Lord Kittridge, I assure you."
Rosanna glances at Lucienne, looking very close to a comment. But she does not say it. Because she is on her BEST BEHAVIOR OMG.
Kittridge nods, considering this. "I would agree it is worth considering. And while I cannot say for certain what my father will think of the idea, I will speak with him about it," he says. He takes another sip of wine and opens his mouth to ask a question, but shuts it as Anais speaks, and nods. "Ah," he says, "Well, I can certainly understand Lord Jerold's position," he says, "I don't believe anyone would wish to see the lady undervalued, I know that were it my sister, I would most definitely feel the same." Another sip of wine and he goes on, "That said, my brother is nearing 30 already, I do not know that they would be much inclined to wait another year or two before even beginning serious, non-hypothetical discussions."
"If your family will consider the match," Dmitry tells Kittridge with a plain candor unusual to his mien, "I think I can ensure that mine will also … consider the match. One certainly does not begin a conversation by ending it, unless one has a very bad headache indeed."
"And what about you, Lord Kittridge?" Anais asks the Groves knight with a flash of a smile and an arch of her brow. "I'd imagine a knight such as yourself might not mind another year or two of freedom before settling down with a respectable lady." Either someone did not get a copy of the playbook, or the Terricks are not all playing the same game.
"There should be no need to wait, should we come to a favourable arrangement for both our Houses," Lucienne speaks up, claiming her glass again but not yet drinking. "My father most certainly understands the degree of urgency in these matters, Lord Kittridge." Slight emphasis on the possessive? Surely not. She glances aside at Dmitry as Anais speaks again, and clears her throat gently. Could be time to drink.
Rosanna peers at Anais over her wine cup, looking faintly baffled. She sips her wine.
Kittridge chuckles. "No, lady, I should not mind a few more years, myself," he says. He sets his empty cup back down and does not refill it, looking between the three Terricks present. "I think we may have discussed this as far as we might today," he suggests, "I will present the idea to my lord father and see what he thinks. If you all might do the same with respect to Lord Jerold, perhaps we will be better equipped to speak on details another day."
"Of course, we might also consider other matches," and now Dmitry does give Rosanna a sly little smile, "to the advantage of both our houses; naturally, when what we are doing is beginning the conversation, none of it is graven in stone." He settles back in his own seat and folds his hands loosely in his lap, elbow hooked against the arm of the chair. "But I believe we have much to speak with my uncle about already, without concerning ourselves with other possibilities should our first theory fall through."
"I think you're quite right, Lord Kittridge," Anais agrees with the Groves lord. "I'm sure Lord Jerold would be /most/ interested to hear how this conversation went." Yeah. She's so tattling. "Thank you so much for coming. And Rosanna, after everything, I can't even express how touched I am that you would leave your home as well," she adds with a warm smile for the other woman. "Can we expect to see you at the Mallister tournament?"
"Oh, I hope so," Rosanna says, brightening a bit at Anais's question. "I hope to see my brother compete, naturally." After a hesitation she adds, "Perhaps more than one."
"Of course," Kittridge agrees with Dmitry with a nod, "As has been said a few times now, this is a beginning. Let's see how this idea goes over, and we'll go from there. I expect I will be back in the Roost again either tomorrow or the next day," he says, "If you'd like to speak again then. We're not so far away, after all, I'm sure we'll have plenty of chances if we both care to make them." He rakes a hand through his hair, and then nods to the last, confirming, "I am sure we will be at the tourney, yes. I'm not sure whether we'll compete, but either way I don't think we'd miss it." He smiles, and then rises, saying, "Well, we'll take our leave for now, if you'll excuse us. It was a pleasure speaking to you all, I hope we may do so again soon."
"Thank you ever so much for taking time to converse with us, Lord Kittridge, Lady Rosanna." She abandons her cup, and sets her hands upon the arms of her chair, clearly making to stand. And then again, Anais prompts a brief bout of puzzlement. "Do have a safe journey home, my lord and lady."
"I hope so," Dmitry agrees. He rises in his own turn, abandoning the lunch — which was pretty pathetic in itself — to bow to their guests. "I will look forward to our next conversation, then. My lord; my lady."
Anais rises as Kittridge does, dipping her chin respectfully. "Thank you, Lord Kittridge. And I'll see you at the tourney, Lady Rosanna."
Rosanna stands a bit quickly, as if Kittridge rising is somehow unexpected. She drops into a graceful recovery of a curtsy in a smooth movement, though. "My lord, my ladies." And then she follows along with her brother.
"Thank you for the invitation, lady," Kittridge replies to Lucienne. He bows politely to the assembled Terricks, and then exits with Rosanna.