|Dreams and Ambitions|
|Summary:||Lady Muirenn asks Lord Justin to dine with her on the roof terrace. They speak of dreams, ambitions and things that can not be.|
|Related Logs:||Nothing specific.|
|Roof Terrace, Four Eagles Tower|
|This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenellations are about.|
|June 29th, 289|
The heat of the day begins to fade as the sun lowers in the sky. Up on the roof the sea breezes are cooling. It is so warm that even the ravens in their roost are relatively quiet, or perhaps it is because they have just been fed. Excited about having company joining her for dinner, especially this particular guest. Following her prayers, the girl rushed home. Servants were instructed to bring up two small tables and four chairs and set up dinner there. While they were taking care of this, Muiri enjoyed a cool bath and allowed her Septa and handmaiden to outfit her. Longingly she glances at her ball gown, but passes it aside for something simpler. After a thought, she waves her maiden aside and allows her hair to drift loose about her shoulders and down to her waist.
Near time for dinner, she moves upstairs and oversees the last of the preparations herself. The table for her Septa and handmaiden is just as lovely as the one prepared for herself and her guest. Everything ready, she moves towards the parapet and gazes out across the land in the direction of Seagard. Whatever she is thinking she keeps to herself as Septa Waldsteinia gently strokes her the girl's glossy wealth of hair.
Later and later it grows, the sun lowering in the sky and starting to touch the earth but still he has not come. Finally, as the sky is painted in many a hue and the last light promises soon to fade, there are finally bootsteps to be heard softly upon the stone stairs. Justin finally arrives, his hair damp from bathing and changed into a black surcoat edged with gold over a deep indigo-blue shirt. Sword and dagger he has foregone, left in his chambers with a simple wide belt tooled in an interlaced knotwork pattern of eagles and sailing ships with a plain brass buckle. His spurs chime softly with his steps.
"Forgive my tardiness, Lady Muirenn. I had to wait overlong to meet with the blacksmith, then dispatch several notes and write a report." Justin stops near to her to look out over the wall to the landscape that spreads away around them. Despite the day's heat, the evening promises cooler.
The candles are being lit and Muirenn is about to have the servants clear everything and take something simple in her quarters. "He said he would come, but obviously some business in the town must have kept him" she murmers to her Septa, willing accepting a hug. The sound of spurs on the stairs causes her head to rise and her eyes to brighten. About to run towards the stairs, Waldsteinia's knobbed hand grabs the girl's arm and tsks "Really my lady, only brazen trollops go running to meet a man not their husband." Ducking her head in acknowledgement of this, as Justin reaches the roof he sees Muirenn by the tables smiling and more radiant than the just lit tapers. "You came!" She whispers almost to herself, then more loudly, "I know that the estates and work in town keeps you busy Justin. There is nothing to forgive."
The dinner spread, the lit candles remind him of another evening and another supper on the eve of his Vigil ere he was knighted. Justin looks it over, and the women as well who is not Roslyn. If he notices Septa Waldesteinia's hand upon Muirenn's arm, there is no indication. Justin inclines his head politely to them both, "It nonetheless does not excuse my tardiness. I did not intend to keep you waiting." His faint smile includes the elder woman. He turns to pull out a chair for Muirenn and hopefully one of the gentleman servants will see to the Septa's chair and the handmaiden's. "Did you go and cool yourself in the ocean today?"
With a soft laugh, Muirenn shakes her head "No, I did not journey to the seaside today. I was the picture of laziness in a cool bath though." A hand sweeps beneath her to smooth her skirts as she seats herself, glancing up "Were you able to get your work finished then? At least enough to be able to enjoy dinner?" Indeed, the Septa and Minnie are settled at their table a discreet distance away. The fare is not elaborate but Muiri made sure the china and silver are one of the better sets and she insisted that the fine goblets and serving ware were used.
Justin was not able to go hunting to suppliment their supper as he would have prefered to do. It will be a number of weeks yet until he will cautiously draw a bow. He moves to take the seat opposite, settling a napkin from the table into his lap. Whatever is upon the table to pour to drink, Justin fills Muirenn's cup first, "Yes, I completed what was most pressing and the rest can wait upon the morrow. I may be appointed Sheriff for the Roost. If that is to be so, I must study law. I need also to seek out those among us know the law best that I might consult with them to aid and advise me."
The wine actually is excellent, some of the arborwine Muirienn was able to wheedle from Kamron's winnings. A finger points to the wine before her hand moves to sweep some auburn tendrils away from her face. "What is happening to Sheriff Mortimer?" She asks curiously, smooth brow beginning to pucker into a frown as a tureen of a fragrant soup is set upon the table along with trenchers of fresh bread. "I hope nothing has happened to him. He has a wife and family to take care of."
To that Justin nods, tasting the wine and lifting a brow at it's unexpected quality. "Where ever did you get -this-? I do not think it came from my father's cellars, did it?" Distracted, he sets the goblet down to pick up his spoon instead. "No, nothing ill has befallen the man. I spoke with him yesterday. He is 'acting' Sheriff since the appointed man went missing during the Ironborn invasion. I asked him if he would have the position as I intended to appoint him to it but he refused, thinking I would do it better. He is apparently more content to help but does not wish to take the lead himself. I have passed this onto Jacsen and apparently also thinks I would be suited to it."
Lifting her goblet she takes a sip, dimpling over the rim of her cup "I wheedled some of my cousin Lord Kamron's winnings from him. I thought that I would bring a little of it out tonight." Muirenn's eyes shine in the light of the candles as she takes a sip of the soup which has been pleasantly chilled. Wild greens have been found and washed. Nibbling a bit she listens, attention focused on the man across from her "I agree with them, you care for your House and your people." Another sip of wine is taken, as she adds "And you care that justice is served, whilst there is nothing in this life that truly is fair you would see that fairness as much as possible is applied." She smiles and then asks, "If you could do whatever you wanted Justin, what would it be?" Her head tilts curiously, watching his face.
Chilled soup might not be his favorite but after the heat of the day, it's a nice change. Justin's not really a salad man but as food is rationed and things are expected to get a great deal leaner before they are better, you won't find him being picky, even if he longs to feast on meat. So he eats and listens, though her last question raies his pale eyes to her. There is a hesitation, caution as he pauses to pick up his wine to taste of it as he considers his answer before he speaks it. "I am not free to do whatever I please anymore than you are yourself. There really is no point in day dreaming like children, Lady Muirenn. I will make myself content to do whatever serves my house best."
"Justin Terrick! I did not take you for someone to avoid a question." Muirenn smiles as she swirls the wine in her goblet, "There is always a point in day dreaming. Perhaps the world is as awful as it is because we leave behind too many good things in childhood." Looking up at the stars, her lips curve into a dreamy smile "If I were someone else instead of Lady Muirenn Mallister, I would sail all over the world and explore…maybe get to discover new lands." Lowering her head she flushes charmingly but doesn't look the least embarrassed, "There is nothing so exhilerating as sailing upon the sea."
"I loath ships. I can't abide the confinement, though sleeping on deck isn't too bad for a short trip. I love the sea but I have no desire to be a sailor." That's an honest enough answer. Justin eats a bit more, having some appetite though he's gotten mostly accustomed to rather thin meals. He's lost some weight the past months but he's not gaunt yet. "Actually, I'm mostly already doing what I want to do. I wanted to be a knighted. I wish serve my House and I would like to marry well. I hope to distinguish myself in battle." Justin shrugs lightly, finishing his soup, "I would like to please my father. I do not wish to be another failure to him." The last is offered a bit more quietly. "Most of all I want to see the Roost and my House restored to strength."
"Battle is ugly, Justin…please do not wish to go into it again." Muirenn sets down her spoon and leans forward, "Please, it would be…just do not wish for it Justin." Her eyes dim, "It would be awful. Though I have no love for the Naylands, I don't even want to see war to come to Stonebridge." With a sigh she picks up her spoon and absently stirs at her soup, "I am not sure why you call these things daydreams and childish, it sounds exactly what you are supposed to desire out of life." Glancing up suddenly she gives a wry smile.
He tastes the wine and then sets his cup down, "One need not suffer war to embrace it. What point is there in my becoming a knight if I do not defend my house and lands for my brother, and someday his heir? Every man wishes to prove himself well among other men, Muirenn. I am no exception there. Even if someday I must die doing so, I would rather die well than grow old and feeble in my bed." Justin quirks his mouth, "However, I also have no intention whatsoever to ruin a perfectly nice supper with a lovely lady for company. You are like a sister unto me, Muirenn. You have my thanks for your friendship. You said you might sing for me?"
"Yes, I know men have that drive to fight and protect" The teenager replies. "Like women want to have families and take care of people." Muirenn's lips curve into a wistful smile that warms into something wonderful as he compliments her and her company. About to take a sip of wine, the goblet rests against her lower lip as Justin continues by saying she is like a sister. Silently, a swallow of the wine is drunk and then the cup carefully placed upon the table. A slow smile teases the corners of her lips and Muirenn searches Justin's face, murmuring "Justin Terrick, I am glad that you are fond of me but I have an abundant family and a brother than I love." Glancing back up towards the night sky, "I am not looking for another brother." Looking back to the man across from her she adds, "Your friendship means a great deal to me." She glances towards the servants as they begin to clear the table and she smiles, "Sing…yes I will sing for you Justin."
-That- could probably not be more clear without giving her Septa a heart attack. Justin finishes his wine and eyes her for a long moment. He then reaches over to pour himself a second cup without saying a word. Justin lets them clear the table, moving to stand and walk over to the crenulated wall. The stars have come out brightly, the lights of the town easily seen from the tower top though there be a fair number of trees between. To the north and west lays the sea, the wind coming in off of it to ruffle his dark hair and Muirenn's long cascade of auburn hair. Somewhere below the tower the surf laps at the base of the cliffs while a nightbird calls. Candles burn, wisped to flickering in the breeze as Justin watches Muirenn and waits to hear her sing whatever she pleases.
Always and ever the most forthright is her Muirenn and Septa Waldsteinia looks mildly shocked as the girl speaks loud enough for her to catch if not everything at least the gist of what was said. A brow is raised and a warning shake of the head given, though for the moment she remains silent. Pulling out her embroidery. It is, rather likely, she anticipated an outburst of this sort and perhaps is grateful it is not nearly as scandalously forward as she was fearing. The food is cleared away and she bends to pull out her embroidery, gesturing for Miniella to do the same.
As Justin studies her, she returns his gaze mildly but remains silent. Once he stands and moves towards the parapet, her lips curve into a faint smile "Hmmm, perhaps this will amuse you. It is a song I learned from some of the smallfolk who farmed around my parents keep." Her tongue moistens her lips and she draws in a breath and begins to sing,
"Gonna build me a cottage
on a mountain so high,
so I can see Milly
as she goes walking by.
Ohhh the cuckoo, she's a pretty bird,
Father how she warbles as she flies;
She'll never say cuckoo
till late July."
The tune is spritely and seems like it would be a good song to drink to, Muirenn's voice dancing across the notes as she sings.
"My horses they aren't hungry
And they won't eat your hay.
I'll drive home just a little further
Wondering why you treat me this way.
Oh, the cuckoo she's a pretty bird.
Father how she warbles as she flies.
She'll cause never more trouble
And she'll tell you no lies.
There's one thing that's been a puzzle
Since the day that time began:
A man's love for, his woman
And her sweet love for her man."
Another round of the chorus about the cuckoo is a pretty bird, and then the sound of Muiri's voice dies off into a whisper as she gives a soft giggle, "That one always makes me laugh."
He twists his mouth a bit, "Why does it make you laugh? Cuckoos aren't pretty. It's the males that sing I think, and the females like to lay their eggs in other birds' nests and push out the other young to die, do they not?" Justin might be relaying something he was told as a child himself though he's something of a woodsman and might have seen such behavior among those birds. He tastes his wine, falling quiet to look out over the night landscape, his eyes slowly adjusting to the dimness. Thoughtful he is, contemplating things yet he frowns a little and only drinks his wine rather than say what is upon his mind.
"I don't know. It just always has." Her shoulders lift in a bit of a shrug, "Hmmm, what would you like to hear Justin?" Rising, Muirenn leaves the table and goes to stand beside the young Terrick nobleman, not close enough to start rumors, but not across the terrace either. "The stars are not as bright as on cooler nights, but they twinkle more tonight." Crossing her arms, she leans against the stone and then turns to look over at the man beside her, "Say it Justin. I know you well enough to know you have something you want to say."
"Hmmm… I love lots of old songs. One of them goes something like … " Justin tries to remember the words, "Here's health to the company, and one to my lass … let us drink and be merry all from one glass…" He can manage the tune at least fairly well, his baritone good for singing if only Justin had practice and learned the song better, "Do you know that one? I'm sure I've botched the words. I haven't heard it in years." It's definately a drinking song but has a good tune.
Justin stops and looks at Muirenn's face in the candle light while he holds his cup of wine. He reaches with his other hand to gently snag a wavy tendril of her hair blowing across her face, "You know we can not marry. Do not get your hope up for it, dear Lady."
Listening to the song her grey eyes gleam almost silver in the flickering light of the candle and stars. She searches his face, smile brightening and softening at his words. There is silence, though she turns her face as his fingers push a dark red curl away so that her cheek brushes against fingertips as they pull away. Softly she takes up the tune, slowing it down, changing it from a rowdy drinking song to something fraught with meaning,
"Here's a health to the company and one to my lass
Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass
Let us drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
For we may and might never all meet here again.
Here's a health to the dear lass that I love so well
Her style and her beauty, sure none can excel
There's a smile upon her countenance as she sits on my knee
Sure there's no one in this wide world as happy as we."
Breathing softly, she says quietly "There is precedent. Our houses are aligned and were it something both parties wished for greatly. I just wish I had more to offer."
Ah yes, she does know the song, or at least part of it. His face eases into a smile, "That's it," Justin says softly as she begins to sing it. It has some good memory attached to it, his gaze to unfocus in that rememberance whatever it might be. When she has stopped singing, he is quiet to sip of his wine before Justin turns to face her fully. His gaze flicks to her Septa, then back to her and he keeps his voice quite low.
"Your House would gain nothing from it that they do not already have of us. We are loyal vassels unto the Mallisters, Muirenn. More, you can not bring what my House requires in my marriage. Not in coin, nor food, nor likely in children either." Justin tries to say it gently, not wishing to hurt her, "Your health is fragile. My friendship you may have, as well as my thanks, but I would not drag your heart through what can not be. Lord Patrek will match you well to a good husband, Muirenn. One that benefits both houses. Such is how political alliances are made and you know that well."
Returning the favor, Muirenn's fingers brush aside a dark fall of hair so that she can see Justin's eyes. Gazing at him she says quietly, "My lungs are fragile, nothing else. I have been assured…my parents have been assured…" The girl's cheeks flame bright enough to be visible even in the darkness…whether out of frustration or embarrassment is anyone's guess because her voice remains a whisper for his ears alone, "we have been assured that when the time is right, there is nothing to prevent me from having children. And while I cannot give food, we do hold one of the largest ports and there can be perhaps concessions made with regard to taxes and tarriffs. Her fingers linger a moment before she withdraws her hand, "Justin there are things that are just as important than food and coin." Her lips twist slightly and she gives a faint smile, "I will let it go for the moment, but do not think that I have given up. Stability is needed in this home Justin, Uncle Jerold needs family he can depend upon…not family that are trying to usurp power from each other or go around each other at cross purposes. Who better than one who already loves this House and wants to see it thrive with no competing family loyalties to contend with." She pauses and her smile is sunshine and shadow in the flickering candle light as she murmers, "I will let it be for now Justin, but do not think that I have given up. I am a flower I know and a delicate one at that, but I fight for what I want as long as it is not going to negatively impact my House." There is a pause as if a thought has come to her and she suddenly draws back, "Unless…unless you were just trying to be kind and you find me repulsive and couldn't imagine making a life with me." Not wounded, more..curious..determined.
Her Septa is either watching them like a hawk or trying very hard to ignore them. Justin doesn't know which nor care for his attention is for Muirenn. Justin's face gives nothing away asshe touches him, wary against doing so. When her hand drops, he captures her slender fingers in his calloused ones to hold her focus. "I am not trying to be kind, I am speaking the truth. I will not waver from my duty to my House." Justin draws a slow breath and gives her hand a gentle squeeze, "You are a very attractive young woman and I would be a liar to say I had not noticed. You sing and play beautifully, and you, like the Lady Saffron, bring laughter and warmth whereever you go. You are bold and sharp tempered when it pleases you and don't you think for a moment that I'd prefer you tamer or less determined." Justin releases Muirenn's fingers, "I could seriously be tempted, but I ask you, don't. Not while my House is yet so rawly in need of things I might yet bring through marriage, Muirenn."
His wine glass left on the parapet wall, Justin steps back from Muirenn and turns to head for the stairs.
Her fingers tighten around his for a moment and her eyes shine with unshed tears as he is honest with her. The comment about her temper draws a breath of laughter from her, but she remains silent until his words are finished. The silence stretches on for another moment and she gives him a nod, "Yes Justin. I cannot argue against this for it is wisdom, but please do not rush into marriage as a first option when other avenues may be available to get the things this House needs?" She doesn't release his hand though he lets go of her fingers. Holding them a moment more she nods, and then says quietly "I still want to get to know you…for now…in friendship." Finally, she lets him go and watches his broad back as he moves down the stairs. Turning, she rests her arms on the edge of the wall and stares out into the darkness silently. Though she says nothing, as her Septa comes up to put an arm around her and murmers something about her boldness, Muirenn leans into the comforting hug. Eventually, leaving everything for the servants to clean up, she too heads down to her chambers.