|Drinks With Friends, or Something Like It|
|Summary:||Gedeon's friends…or something…come to visit him as he recovers from his belly-stabbing. After that, Jarod and Rowan have another of their talks. It all involves liquor, as well it should.|
|Related Logs:||The March West. Most of the logs in which some combination of Jarod, Gedeon, Rowan and Isolde are involved, including the Tordane letters business.|
|Oldstones Campsite — Terrick's Roost|
|Tent. Stabbed guys. Poultices.|
|Sun Jan 08, 289|
It's late afternoon, and Ser Gedeon Rivers is doing pretty much what he has been doing all day. Which is to say laying still and mostly not bleeding. The man lies on his back a cot in the Oldstones tent, no armor or shirt, with a poultice and bandages covering a deep, nasty gash across his abdomen. He looks paler than usual, maybe even a little bit grey, and he's somewhere between awake and dozing, eyes half open, chest rising and falling slowly as he breathes.
Into the Oldstones tent slips Ser Jarod Rivers. As much as the Terrick bastard ever 'slips' anywhere. He's naturally given to clomping. But he's making some effort to be quiet. He's looks none the worse for wear from their encounter with the Ironborn the other day, save perhaps a bit tired. He's carrying a flask, which he takes a plug on as he steps inside. From the smell of it (and it's very fragrant stuff) it's a sort of rum common in the Westerlands.
Caytiv sure doesn't help Jarod in his efforts toward subtlety. At least the squire is good at being taciturn, but given his recent growth spurt he's been given toward… looming, rather, and his motions are efficient but utterly graceless, as they generally are in growing lads.
Unsubtle as their arrival is, the lord inside the Oldstones tent does not appear particularly surprised by it. "Ser Rivers and Squire Hill," he greets them, "Is there a bastard convention I wasn't told about?"
If he was dozing, he isn't now. Gedeon blinks a little more alert, peering over at the clumping new arrivals as they step into the tent. He smirks faintly as Anton speaks. "Bastards naturally attract one another," he says, he voice a little weaker and more worn than usual, "We can make you one, honorarily, should you like to stay."
"We should see if we captured ourselves a Pyke, Lord Ser Valentin," Jarod replies to Anton. "Then we'd be near half-way to making the eight just among ourselves." He passes the flask to Caytiv, saying to the boy, "Have a pull, Cayt." It sounds rather like an order. To drink. Though the main of his attention is on the other Rivers. "I'll not stay long, no worries. Just wanted to look in on my fellow Rivers. Hello, Gedeon."
Caytiv looks to Anton askance with a slant of smile, slouched in his shirt-sleeves, then takes the flask of Jarod and, "Ay, Ser," he rejoins in a rough mountain rumble of mischief, twisting the words of feudal loyalty to indicate he has no compuntion of tipping back and drinking deep.
"Kind of you, but I think I'll stick with Valentin for the time being. Though my mother was a Storm, if that helps," Anton offers, flippantly, as he returns to sliding a whetstone along the blade of his sword. "I suppose I'd be a Flowers. Closer and closer," he smirks in answer to Jarod.
"Eh, well," Gedeon lifts a hand, tilting it back and forth to offer his opinion of Anton's mother qualifying him for bastardry, "It'll do." Looking back over at the other Rivers and his squire he offers, a bit more somberly, "Hello, Jarod."
"Just need a Snow, at this rate. We should see if the Flints brought any camp followers from the cold North," Jarod replies with a grin that's not quite reflected in his green eyes. He holds out his hand to Caytiv, to retrieve his flask when the Hill is done. "Thought you could do with a drink. If they're letting you drink. How bad is it?"
Caytiv gives the flask back when it's gestured for, nostrils flaring like a bull with the heat of the liquid, but not giving any other outer indications of discomfort with its strength. He's been studying under Jarod too long for that. He fixes his sea-grey gaze on Gedeon, looking for the answer to the question posed by his Ser.
"And a Sand," Anton reminds, "Can't forget Dorne."
"It could be worse," Gedeon answers. "It's a deep cut, but the blade didn't go full through the muscle. Had to rinse it through with firemilk, which, Ser Rivers, I should not recommend as a pleasant experience. If it's healing as it should, it'll be sewn up in the morning." For the offered alcohol, he gives a small shake of his head. "Not until the stitches are in, more's the pity." He sighs faintly, "I've no thoughts on how to get a Sand to ride all the way here."
"True enough, m'lord. I would never forget Dorne," Jarod replies to Anton, his smile crooking toward a wry smirk. As to the firemilk, he winces. "Better than infection, I suppose. Aye. Fair enough. I'll save you some from the bottle I brought from the Roost." He takes another pull, then stoppers his flask up again. "Anyhow, that was it. Try not to die. We've still many Ironborn to kill."
Caytiv tips up his chin and sets his jaw, unsure of the exact level of pain involved but putting on a good approximation of the stoic fortitude a fllow would need to get through it. "Ay, reckon on uns needin' ye, Ser, 'fin ye c'n get ye rest an' well on the road," the taciturn squire finally speaks up, brows flat in a serious expression.
Rowan arrives from the Worn Road.
"Sure we'll have him well enough again by Seagard, if not the Roost. Hard to tell with gut wounds," Anton comments, like a man who has plenty of experience with the topic.
"If it's an Ironborn that bests me, I mean to take down far more of them, first. I won't die just yet, Jarod," Gedeon assures with a weak smirk. He glances a Caytiv and it takes a beat before the words filter through the accent. Then he nods, or nods as well as a prone man can. "Thank you, Squire Hill, that's my hope, as well."
Jarod is standing not far from where Gedeon's bedded, arms crossed along his chest now that he's put away his flask. Apparently he came for the drinking. There's still the faint smell of hard Westerlands rum in the air. He brought a bottle from the Roost, and tends to favor it now for his day-to-day liquoring. To Gedeon, he nods, offering the other man a smile. His eyes aren't merry enough to really call the expression boyish anymore. "We're still not friends, you know. And you're still an asshole." There's an odd companionability to the way he says it, for all that.
Caytiv tips his chin up in a sharp jerk as a gesture of approbation for Gedeon's attitude, downtrodden as he might be, and his own eyes wander across the camp, fixing on Anton a further moment before looking on down the way. His Ser's companionable degrading of the wounded man pulls his attention back to the here and now.
"Oi — who's drinking without me?" demands Squire Rowan cheerfully, stepping into the camp. "Swear to the Seven, Ser, I can smell that Westerlands rotgut over the piss and shit the Ironborn left behind." Caytiv's given a friendly not, but the Nayland squire's more focused on Ser Gedeon, pulling up a camp stool to sit at the wounded man's side. "They sew you up yet?"
"Oh, get fucked," the other Rivers tells Jarod as cheerily as he can manage. Gedeon's still on his back, still pale and grey, still got a swath of bandages about his middle, though his brows lift faintly as squire the second comes sauntering in. He shakes his head a little as Rowan plunks down near him. "Tomorrow morning," he answers for the sewing.
"Amazing how many people who don't really like you come to visit you, Gedeon," Anton comments to his former squire and the man's own former squire enters. He sits on the other side of the tent, quietly running a whetstone along his blade.
Jarod's head turns as Rowan approaches. Expression difficult to read. He does rearm himself with his flask, however, handing it toward the slimmer squire. "Rowan. Here, take a few pulls. Thought I'd see if Ser Gedeon was up for it. Not quite. So there's plenty left. Keep it, in fact. I'd best be getting going. I've got…spears and things to see to." He's suddenly eager to leave. He adds, to sort've explain, "Ser Rygar skimmed some equipment off the Ironborn we captured. Allotted me ten spears for the Terrick volunteers I rounded up back in Stonebridge." His refugee 'army.' "Gives each man a weapon, at least, which is something."
Caytiv's mouth twitches out a smile for Rowan, accompanied by a friendly glance not let to take much better form than that. He tucks his thumbs into his riding-belt, neck hunched forward rather like a vulture and elbows poking out behind him as he narrows his eyes at Jarod. "Ay, an' I'll set ye up some targets for'm to prattice on, ay? Have 'em get used to the throw of 'em Ironer spears?"
Rowan looks rueful, frowning as his knight makes excuses to depart. "Right," he says, accepting the flask. "I can go see to that myself, if you like," offers the slender boy. "You know. Being your — " He smiles wanly. "Or Caytiv can do it." He nods at the other squire, his expression not unfriendly for all that it's a mite… complicated. Perhaps by other things. Whatever the case, he sighs and returns his attention to Gedeon. "I'll do my best to be here," he tells the wounded one.
Rowan looks rueful, frowning as his knight makes excuses to depart. "Right," he says, accepting the flask. "I can go see to that myself, if you like," offers the slender boy. "You know. Being your — " He smiles wanly. "Or Caytiv can do it." He nods at the other squire, his expression not unfriendly for all that it's a mite… complicated. Perhaps by other things. Whatever the case, he sighs and returns his attention to Gedeon. "I'll do my best to be here," he tells the wounded one.'
"How generous of him," Gedeon replies a touch dryly for Rygar's spears. "Good luck with your men." Smirking over at Anton he agrees, "I've many not friends, it seems." And then he glances over at Rowan and his shoulders twitch in a faint way that suggests a shrug, if shrugging wouldn't hurt. "See to your duties, Rowan. I'm hardly going anywhere."
"Actually, you can both have the rest of the day to your liberty," Jarod says to Caytiv and Rowan once he's relieved himself of his flask. "Yesterday was hard. Sure you need the rest. Use it as you will. I've got the targets managed. Do as you will for the remainder. Just don't drink quite all that, Rowan, I only brought the one bottle so I'm not rich in refills." He clears his throat. "I would like some assistance drilling them proper tomorrow, though. We'll make it noon, Rowan, so you can be here for the…sewing, thing. Anyway. See you all. Mend well, Gedeon, we need all the swords we can get." And on that note, he retreats from the tent. Briskly.
Anton snorts, and continues running the whetstone along the edge of the blade with a soft swicking noise. "How many of them you rounded up, Rivers?" he inquires of Jarod just before he departs.
Caytiv looks to Rowan, brows drawing slightly as he senses some tension, and he's about, quite willingly, to give over the work to his fellow-squire, did he want it, when the both of them get the rest of the day free, instead. The time of tmorrow's drills is noted with a brisk "Ay, Ser," and he looks to Rowan again, in turn, "Ay, Rowan, want ye to spar later on'r have us a footrace'r aught?" he asks, this evidently comprising a fine lad's evening for the rough Mountain fellow— perhaps a way to soothe over whatever might be ill betwixt them.
Rowan watches Jarod depart, tucking the flask away on his person, apparently with no interest in drinking it. He quirks a slightly uncomfortable smile, then shrugs. "Looks like I'll be able to do both, then." He clasps Gedeon's hand, giving it a squeeze. "You look tired, though, and you're best off resting for tomorrow's ordeal. I'll be back bright and early." He pushes to his feet, nodding at the other squire. "Aye, mayhaps a good run," he dark-haired boy agrees, easily enough. "I've got to get a few details from Ser. About tomorrow." He nods. "Find you after?"
"Mmm," Gedeon murmurs for Rowan or stitches or spears or… something. The Nayland squire's hand, so offered, gets a faint squeeze as the blond knight closes his eyes with a small shiver. "Bit cold, for this point in the year," he muses drowsily before sinking down into a properly sleep.
"Twenty volunteers from among the refugees," Jarod answers, again briskly, turning only briefly at the tent's entrance as he's ducking out. Attention directed to Anton only now. "Ten archers, now ten spears. Lord Rafferdy Nayland's managed to get our archery volunteers trained in how to fire in a proper volley, so that's something. And Ser Darant, a knight from one of the holdings on my father's holdings on the Stonebridge border, brought ten men. His estate was too far east to be really troubled by the Ironborn. So, thirty in all, such as they are. Able-bodied men. They're just smallfolk, though, not proper soldiers."
"Ay," Cayt agrees to meet up later for a footrace with Rowan. He looks to the knight on the verge of passing out to the Lord still wakeful over there, to Rowan again, not sure whom to properly look to for dismissal, now his Ser is gone. His etiquette is still not stellar. As it stands, he bends at the waist in a short bow to Anton in preparation for taking his own leave.
Anton listens and nods to Jarod. "Good luck with them," he says. He nods to Caytiv's bow, as well, and then turns back to his sword.
"Oh, uh, dismissed," Jarod oafs in Caytiv and Rowan's general direction. Even if the slighter squire is following him. He flees.
You head towards Worn Road
Jarod exits the Valentin tent, not quite jogging, but he's certainly taking all advantage of his naturally long stride to retreat at a quick clip. He's headed generally toward the Terrick encampment. Such as it is. It's but one tent, which he's sharing with his squires, and an open area where the refugee 'army' is crashing.
"Hey!" says Rowan, jogging to catch up. She's not nearly his height, but she's leggy for a girl. She finally falls into step beside him. "Hey," she says again, more softly. "You alright?"
Jarod slows, in a resigned sort of way, when it's plain he's not going to escape that easily. He lets her fall into step beside him, shrugging at her question. "Didn't get so much as a scratch yesterday. Aye. I'm fine." Which is not what she meant at all, of course. He clears his throat. "You did well, by the by, the other day. Cavalry against routed foot troops isn't pretty business but…you bore up well. Good control of your horse, decent aim. Well done."
"Hah. Right. Well. I managed to not get stuck this time, but I didn't hit much of anything either. Nimble pieces of shit." She shoves her hands into her breeches pockets, hunching her shoulders a bit. "Thank you?" she ventures. "For — uhm — you know. Making it possible for me to be there, tomorrow morn."
"I know Gedeon's important to you, Rowan," Jarod says, not looking at her as he says it. "I know you…" His tone drops very low. "…I know you love him." He can't, quite, pretend saying that wasn't difficult. More throat-clearing. "Whatever happened. Won't claim I understand it but…never did understand much about the pair of you, so that's not new. I am trying to respect that. So. Umm. You got the day. Go do…whatever you feel you need to do."
Rowan takes a deep breath. "Love's… definitely not simple, is it?" she says, softly. "Sometimes you can love someone, and… love just isn't enough. It seems like it should be. But it's not." She frowns a little. "You know… how you'll always love Iz? No matter how stupid or feckless or wrong she is?"
"Yeah, Rowan, we went over this at Riverrun. I agree with you. Cats, dogs, bastard swords." Whatever in seven hells that means. Jarod seems to have absorbed into the trite sayings he uses to explain his world. He looks on point of fleeing some more. Though mention of Lady Isolde makes him pause. He takes a deep breath, and sighs. "I know you want to hate her, Rowan, but she isn't a bad person. It'd be easier if she was. And if Gedeon was a good person. But it's not that simple."
"I don't want to hate her," says Rowan, shaking her head. "I want to shake her until her teeth rattle, I'm angry at her — but hate… life's too short. And there are so many people who better deserve it. You're right. It's not that simple." She sighs. "I guess my point was — he isn't a good person. But he might have been. If things… had been different, he really might have been. And for a while, that was all I saw."
"Thinking about the Tordane house makes me very sad," Jarod says, looking down at his hands, though this time he seems less avoiding looking at her than in trying to organize his own thoughts. "C'mon. Let's talk on this proper." He starts heading back to their tent. "Caytiv'll be off for awhile. And I've…I never explained what Iz and me were to each other. Never explained a lot of things." Though as he walks up to open the flap he says, "There is one thing you should understand, Rowan. Wherever else her life has taken her, Isolde nee Tordane has always been, unfailingly, kind to me. There's not enough kindness in this world for me to count that a small thing."
Rowan ducks beneath Jarod's arm and into the tent, dropping to sit in a camp chair, slender legs akimbo. She takes the flask he earlier gave her from a pocket and offers it over. "Here."
"Thanks." Jarod takes the flask, offering her a pseudo-toast, before taking a sip. He doesn't drink too deeply. He's not, really, trying to mess himself up. He passes it to her when he's done, and goes to sit on his bedroll. One leg stretched out, the other knee raised so he can reset his arms on it. "My childhood was a happy one, Rowan. Not just comfortable. I was loved by my father and my siblings and Lady Evangeline - though she may not be easy with me - never let me really see it when I was a boy, before I knew any better. She let there be a place for me in Lord Jerold's house, and if I'm a lucky bastard that's the reason. Isolde and Gedeon…" He lets out a long breath. "…Lady Valda made life very harsh for Gedeon. I don't know the full of it, but I can imagine. I know a bit more of how Iz was treated at her mother's hands and it…nobody should treat their child like that, Rowan. Nobody." He says it softly, but fiercely. "She's the one I'd like to shake, only one of them I'm really angry with. Won't claim she didn't have it easier than her half-brother. If they're even that to each other. But…it wasn't a happy house for anyone, Rowan."
"Lady Valda I'd like to shiv," states Rowan, darkly, taking a pull from the flask and passing it back. "I know it wasn't a happy household, Jare. And I know a lot of what Isolde's done — it's been The Frey Whore pulling her strings. Which is why I don't hate her." She sighs. "And because you love her. And I cannot hate what you love. It's just not in me."
"Iz and I are a lot alike, you know," Jarod says. He doesn't sound happy about it. He drinks again, and passes. "We're both…we work very hard to please those around us, at our expense a great deal of the time, I'm seeing now. Lord Jerold has never, and would never I don't think, use me ill. Lady Valda, the same cannot be said for her. It was easier when Lord Geoffrey was alive, I figure. As to that…it's not quite that. She's like family. Near to it. Just near enough not to be. Same with Gedeon, really. We've all spent too much time together, the Tordanes and me and my trueborn siblings, for me to untangle it all that easily. More than anything, as children, we were happy together. During their times at the Roost especially. It all seems like a dream, looking back on it now."
Rowan listens in silence, nodding once or twice — drinking once, and passing. She wipes her burning lips on her sleeve. "They both might have been very different," she says at last. "Had Geoffrey been a stronger man, or Valda died early on."
"They might've." Jarod agrees soft, and drinks. "I wish, more than anything, Gedeon had come back to Terrick's Roost after the Trident. And that Isolde had come back there to stay, and never gone home, until she had Lord Jerold's troops following her to see her instilled in power proper. Or even seen Gedeon's letters aired properly before that seal was broken, though I don't pretend to think it would've been so easy getting my family's support while Stonebridge was still Terrick land. Maybe it still would've been a mess. Different kind of mess, though. Maybe they could've found a way to work things out between themselves the way they were then. We were all still just children. Children who didn't know what the fuck to do with the broken parts of them after the war, but children still. Too late now, though."
"It's a magical thing, to be a child," Rowan says, unfolding from the chair to come sit beside him — and make a grab for the flask. "I don't think any of us make it to adulthood unbroken, though. I think maybe that's what it is, growing up. You have to be broken, and you're either forged into something stronger, or… you stay that way." She smiles faintly, sadly, and drinks. "Maybe the ones who're never broken end up like Jaremy — madmen and fools, beyond reason or taming."
Jarod laughs, at mention of Jaremy as he passes her back the flask. "Maybe. Maybe it really is just as simple as, he fucked up and lost the girl he loved, and it drove him rather mad for awhile." He sounds like he, at least, believes that. "Hope he finds another sort of life for himself on the Wall. He did love her, I think. And she loved him. They were just…both sort of idiots about the whole thing, and it never managed to work." He does sound sorry for that. Shrug. "Anyhow. As for Iz and me. What it was was this. After the Trident I came home and…nothing seemed to fit anymore, like I remembered it should. And Jace, who might've understood, was in Seagard. And Jaremy I think tried but he was jealous of not having gotten to go and he just…didn't get it. And he was spending his nights at the Rockcliff, dreaming of being in the Kingsguard and listening to Amelia Millen sing. And Isolde's father and brother, who'd made Tordane Tower something like a home for her, were dead. And Gedeon was off in Braavos doing fuck knows what. She spent a good deal of time at the Roost, and she seemed to…get it. In a way nobody else did. Feeling like you were somehow all wrong, at least. So we started talking on that, and it made it a bit easier, and then we started fooling around." He cracks a grin. "Never did go very far." He sounds like he's unsure whether he regrets that or not.
He loved her. She loved him. They were both idiots about it. The summation makes Rowan snort and chuckle. "That sounds eerily familiar," she mutters, and drinks. She shoulders Jarod just for the hells of it as she passes back the flask. His ambivalence about having tapped that makes her roll her eyes. "Fucking boys." She's grinning, though. So. She obviously doesn't fault him and his penis entirely.
Jarod crooks an impish grin, shouldering her back and reclaiming his liquor. Sip. Pass. As to the eerie familiarity, he snorts. Not going there. "We made each other happy while it lasted. For a bit." His grin fades. "I don't think I ever let it get in me too deep, is the thing that bothers me. It wasn't even Jaremy, really, not that I'm proud to admit that. Iz was always…I don't know. I'm not sure I ever saw her as a woman, properly. She was like a fairytale princess, and I spent too much time marveling that I was getting to touch her to let it be too real. That's a shit way to treat a person, I realize now, and I'm sorry for doing that to her."
Rowan considers that a moment, then drinks with another mirthful snort. "I don't know," she says after a moment of quietly dangling the flask between her knees, then realizing she's breaking the rotation with a sheepish start. She passes. "I mean, I think most women want to be a fairy princess. Just a little. Doesn't seem a shit way to be treated. But… you know… you're all wrapped up in the objectification of her and not really thinking of her like a real person. I get that. That part's not so nice, but fuck, Jare… you were both kids."
"I think most women just want to be seen as women. Men, too," Jarod says, standing up, and giving her back the flask without drinking. He leaves the flask with her. "Nobody wants to be a picturebook anything. Too much to live up to, and too little of anything real to matter, and it's all more about what the other person has in their head of you and ever is about you. Anyhow. We're past that now, Iz and me, I think. We're friends, and I'll always care for her. I hope…I really do hope, with my family having thrown their lot in with Gedeon, I don't do her too ill, when all is said and done. And I really hope I don't come to regret it." It's said more to himself than her, and he's looking at his hands again.
"I'll put it to you like I put it to Raff," Rowan says, capping the flask if there's to be no more sharing. "I don't much give a fuck of those letters are legitimate or a forgery or what all. We all know for certain Geoffrey wanted Iz to marry Jaremy. With that fucked in the ear, there's no telling what he would have wanted. But I can tell you what he would NOT want, and that's Stonebridge in Nayland hands. What else we know for sure is that Valda Frey made it so through deceit and treachery. I know Gedeon will be a good Lord — not because he's good, but because he's smart. Ryker is neither good NOR smart, and that's disaster." She nods. "We're on the right side, Jare. It's not perfect, but we're not just doing what's right for your family — we're doing what's right for Stonebridge. For the people who live there, who are the town."
"I give a fuck whether they're real or not. I think I want them to be real so much, because it meant a lord thought his bastard son worthy of all he was, that I can't really see past that. But the truth is we'll never know, I don't think anyone - particularly Iz or Gedeon, perhaps - knows what Lord Geoffrey would've wanted," Jarod says, very soft. "It still matters, though. It matters. And there's more than one way to be a bad lord, Rowenna. Don't think a cruel man will be better than fool." He sighs. "Anyhow. It doesn't matter now. It's in Good King Robert's hands, and too far gone for any of us to make other choices. I will live with mine as best I can."
"And I don't think a cruel man will be good for the people of Stonebridge, Jare. If I thought Gedeon would use these people ill, I'd — well, I don't know exactly what I'd do. But support him I would not." It's said with more than a bit of heat. She frowns at the closed flask, then sighs. "You don't listen very well, sometimes," grouses the girl-squire. "But, then again, maybe I don't speak very clear."
Jarod half-smiles at that, shrugging. "Some things never change. You know Gedeon now better than I do, Rowenna, I figure. If you can live with the idea of him over Stonebridge, I will take that as some comfort. But the truth of it is, I only barely knew the boy who fought beside me on the fields of the Trident. The man who returned…we are not friends, and are too different deep down in us to ever really like each other. I have no ease with where I stand, and I won't pretend it's undoubtedly right just because I can't go back now. We'll have to see how it plays. I hope you're right."
"Never asked you to pretend anything, Jare," Rowan sighs, pushing a bit unsteadily to her feet. "Just giving you my take. Of the two options we have, one of them being 'Do nothing' — I think we're doing okay."
"Hey. I know you didn't," Jarod says, reaching out a hand. Ostensibly to steady her, but it'll linger on her arm if she allows. "I've just spent a good part of my life pretending things sit right with me that don't quite. I'm trying not to do that anymore. As to that…well, it's not nothing. That is a fact. At this point, though, I think if I had my way I wouldn't just mind saying fuck all to Stonebridge altogether. Let Hoster Tully take it back from all these fuckers and let King Robert give it to a commoner who distinguishes himself somehow for the crown, like was done with the Valentin land. Too late for that now, of course." He just repeats, "We'll see how it plays."
The hand does stay her — and also distracts her attention from the rather demanding task of staying steady, prompting her to drop back to one knee. She laughs, nodding and curling a hand at the nape of his neck, leaning her forehead against his. "We'll see how it plays," she agrees. "And I'll always have your back."
Jarod laughs, dropping back down with her and just steadying himself against her like that for a moment. "Aye. I know. And I'll have Ser Gedeon's in this matter, for better or worse. I gave him my word I'd be his ally in the matter of Stonebridge, after Riverrun. Because I'm not better than anybody else at the end of the day, I suppose. I call those letters real because…well, I'd like to believe Lord Jerold would think of me worthy of all that, if things were different. And Gedeon's cause, ill as I feel about many parts of it, will be as close as I'll ever come."
"I know… what it's like to want something you might never have. And I wish…" she sighs, closing her eyes, fingers idly stroking the hair at his nape. "I wish I could give that to you. I know I can't I just — I hope you know… it wouldn't change you. In my eyes. I couldn't hold you in higher regard if you were heir to a king." She frowns a little. "I hope that came out like I meant it."
"You're sweet. I've never wanted to be a lordling, though, really," Jarod mutters, and that much is certainly true. He continues to just lean against her like that. "I think what it asks of you does change you, and not in ways you're always better for. Being the young lord nearly broke Jaremy, I think, and it weighs heavy on Jace. What it'll make of Gedeon…well. I'll leave you to think on that, as you know him better than I. It's made my father make comprises that I think he regrets. Being a baseborn man gives me some freedom in what my life'll be. Who it'll be with. What I'll never be is Jarod Terrick. The name's all I want. All I've ever wanted. I think my father would give it to me, if he could. Maybe that's enough."
Rowan nods just the tiniest bit — not enough to jostle their closeness, but enough to be clearly read in the affirmative. "I think he would. I think he loves you terribly. And is proud of you as any father could be."
"I think…I understand better now, why my father raised me as he did," Jarod says. "And it was for love, I think." Though he sounds more sad about it than anything else. He clears his throat, straightening up. Pushing himself back from the closeness between them. "I'm going to go for a walk, I think. Stuff gets to your head harder than I always figure it will. I'll…umm…yeah. Don't worry about doing anything until noon on the morrow. I'm sure Ser Gedeon will find you a great comfort, and it's where you want to be."
She lets him create whatever distance he needs, lifting her head, dark eyes tracking his retreat. There's the faintest of frowns between her brows, and she sighs. "Jarod — " she begins. Words are a slippery muddle, escaping her efforts to use them. "The other night, in the sept…"
"Aye, I figure we should do more stuff like that," Jarod replies without actually making eye contact, when she mentions the sept. Taking it down an entirely different road than he well knows she probably means. "Study on the virtues of the knighthood and all that. Stuff. Good stuff. It's stuff many don't really pay attention to but…we're going to do this right. Until it's done. Which won't be long, I don't think. You think on that botch of a melee at the Roost too much. It was a mess, but that was as much because you weren't ready for it as anything else. You're coming along well, Rowenna Rose Nayland, and I don't figure you'll need me for much longer. If I were you, I'd start thinking about where you wanted to go when all this was done. I hear Dorne's a hell of a thing to see." With that, he turns to flee.
She looks down, rebuffed, even blushing. "Right," she nods, grimacing faintly. Not looking at him. "We'll do more of that." She nods agreeably, however, all through his speech and retreat, then crawls over to her bedroll and collapses onto it.
"Wherever you are," she murmurs to the empty tent and her pillow, just before sleep claims her. "I think I want to be wherever you are."