|Summary:||After leaving the execution, Jaremy and Anais speak on Amelia and what is to follow for them.|
|Related Logs:||Hanging Around|
|The Cape of Eagles looms out over Ironman's Bay, a vast, blue ocean inlet, that spreads its watery depths out beyond the horizon. The path that leads down to this coast winds down behind the towers for several hundred meters before arriving at the rocky water's edge. Rather than sand, the coast is covered with innumerable smooth and rounded stones about palm-sized. They stretch up and down the coast in all directions with the battered remnants of driftwood scattered about. Above the beach, one every mile or two, are towers with a large bell and mallet atop them which are to be beaten to warn of an incoming invasion.|
Anais's mount is well-trained, and hardly needs any guidance from Anais to follow the path toward the coast. Which is good, because Anais doesn't seem likely to give much in the way of guidance at the moment. She's still quiet and pale, and respectfully, her guard and handmaid leave her and Jaremy a decent amount of space. "That was…clean, at least," she finally says as they near the shore, quiet.
Orvus, the destrier that Jaremy rides, is decidedly larger than Anais' riding horse, which sets him a good deal taller than her as his horse matches pace. Ultimately comfortable in the saddle, Jaremy rests his hand with the reins on the pommel of his saddle and casts his gaze to her. The whole of the ride they've been silence, and she is the first to break the tight-lipped seal between them.
To her words, he slowly nods a few times, gazing past her shoulder to the tall grass past her. "Yes…at least." Jaremy replies, focusing his gaze on her jaw-line. "It was…not easy doing nothing. The one grace I find in this is that I don't see her as guilty as my father does, and that she'll receive kinder judgment at the feet of the Seven."
"There were better courses of action," Anais says quietly, her gaze fixed on her horse's mane, and the fingers she pulls through it as she searches for the right words. "For everyone involved. She…was not the wisest woman ever, but I do believe she meant well for the Terrick family. For us. But every new move boxed her in more tightly." She glances up, features carefully composed. "She was easily fooled, Jaremy. No matter what else may have been true about her. Do not let her death be without worth."
"No, no I would not let it be without worth, and I'll have to follow her clue that she yelled out to me to see what she has hidden beneath that rock. It's just…" He scowls, shaking his head as he locks his gaze onto hers, reaching out for her across their small, mounted distance. "…I nearly became boxed in myself, and perhaps the only thing that's protected me is my title. She wasn't as lucky, and I find myself knowing that at many occasions over the last few months I could have directed her, or attempted to. She acted in autonomy and when I was one of the few to listen she acted further. Bold, yes…but I feel a bit of this blood is on my hands."
"It is there, in part." Anais doesn't mince words now, looking up to him from her own mount. "She took off on her own course, Jaremy, and when she gained what she saw as support, she no longer answered to anyone but herself. That is what was dangerous. I tried to guide her, but there was only so much I could do. Only so far she could trust me." She reaches over for his hand, her own chilly still from the execution. "I don't know what your interactions with her were like, Jaremy. I can't say what you might have done differently. But she trusted you. She loved you. And yes, some of her blood is on your hands. But it's on your father's, as well. And mine. And hers. That is what it means to be who we are."
"You've had dealings with the Ironborn, one of the first things we spoke about, and while I'm no stranger to the Lord's justice through the sheriff I've never had an execution strike anywhere rather close to home since the casualties from the war. As much as it pains me to say it, she pressed out too far." His fingers slip around hers and he brushes the tip of his thumb across her knuckles. Squeezing, he takes in a deep breath, shakes his thoughts clear, and turns his gaze back to the ocean before them. "You are right about one thing, though, at some point she answered to herself, and at some point I encouraged her, like a light at the end of a tunnel. I tried to convince her to calm, but at some point even she would not listen to me. She wanted absolution so badly that she was willing to drive herself into the rocks to get it one way or another."
"She…" Anais is quiet for a moment, letting her hand rest in his. "I don't think she thought very highly of herself, Jaremy. I suspect that somewhere, deep down, she /wanted/ to die. I doubt it was her first choice. But I feel as though…As though she'd had so many bad things happen to her that she began to think less of herself as a result. I think perhaps she felt dying redeemed her for her mistakes. More than any action ever could." She draws a deep breath, the smell of the sea bringing at least some relief to the tension in her shoulders. "At least now, it is done. We can hope, at least."
"She wanted to die. There was…very little that I could do for her in some ways. We were close friends, spoke often, perhaps once a week when I'd return from patrol with the house retainers when I'd sit at the Rockcliff for a mug before heading back to the Tower. She never wanted to do what she did, and she wanted to be a part of our household. There were things she wanted that I could not and would not offer her, and despite my suggestions to back her on her way out of the profession, she seemed to feel as if nothing she could ever do would place her in a different path in life. Seven, even after winning the tournament of song she felt as if that dragonbone flute she'd won was something she had to hide in fear of being killed for it." He frowns, looking to her once again. "I wish we were wed now so that we could speak of this alone. Alone where I didn't have to wonder whether or not these hands were consolation enough."
Anais' cheeks flush at the last, and she shoots a glance over her shoulder toward her retainers. "Soon," she murmurs, giving his hand a squeeze. "Just a month, now." A faint smile touches one corner of her lips as she looks back to him, rueful. "Just think," she says with forced lightness. "It could have been a betrothal period of six months. Or a year. I think a year would be…Well. If we were apart, it would be all right, but a year of /this/ would be maddening. Of being in between."
"Utter madness…" Jaremy replies with a nod of his head as they slip into a more comfortable topic. "…and I'm not sure I could stand that. I knew this month was going to stretch across forever and after what we've just been through I just want to hold you without causing a scandal. No…six months would have me clawing my own eyes out to the point that I would have to invite myself to tall oaks for a few weeks at a time so that I could manage to think without cursing time itself." He squeezes her hand again, casting a quick glance to the mane of his destrier, making sure they are still riding on the correct course. "And just think…the severe lack of trouble I've been these last few weeks. After a month you'll be so impressed, Anais."
"Really?" Anais laughs suddenly, looking back up at him. "The severe lack of trouble you've been these last few weeks," she echoes. "Jaremy, you are…" She twists a bit in her saddle, trying to lean over and reach up enough to flick at his ear with a grin. "We're going to have to hire an /army/ of nannies for our children, because between what they get from me and what they get from you, we'll be lucky if they don't wander off the tops of the castle walls at random just to see what happens." She sobers somewhat as she settles back into her saddle, casting a measuring, sidelong glance his way. "You've heard about Jacsen, I presume?"
"I've….heard, yes." Jaremy says, the slight reddening at his ears at the mention of their children and nannies fading slowly from view. He opens his mouth, baring his teeth, trying to be angry about it, but instead he leans out and brings her knuckles to his lips for a kiss. "I want to be angry. I want to feel as if they've lost confidence in me, but in truth even if my father were long past Jacsen would be my preferred envoy and the situation is too volatile at the moment for me. I need to focus on you and I need to focus on getting my head in the right place and be comfortable with trusting in my brothers to maneuver these problems. Because of this…I have to admit to myself that my father made a good decision." He casts a shallow smile towards her, cheek tugging in a look of bashful displeasure. "It's a step towards correcting this and I've learned a lesson that will protect you and our children in the future. You'll get no such trouble from me…" His cringe twists into a sly wink. "…our children on the other hand…you'd better hope they take after you."
"/I'm/ angry," Anais confesses, sighing as she admits it. "Whatever your mistakes, handing that sort of authority to /Jacsen/, so publically…" She trails off with a grimace. "I understand it, and I want to think it a good decision. I'm just very wary right now." When he mentions their children again, she laughs softly, arching a brow with a rueful smile. "Do you think so? I'm not so sure. I was quite a handful as a child." She glances back toward her retinue, then laughs once more. "To be fair, I'm quite a handful now, in my own way."
"Perhaps that is part of the reason I'm not as angry as you are, Anais. In truth, my father has a good reason to be furious with me. We've received an angry, insulting letter from Robert Baratheon himself due to my actions, whether they were worth it or not. Jacsen is ambitious, and for that I agree I'm a little bit wary. He's not Jarod, who just wants to be a good brother and is comfortable with the degree of responsibility he's received despite being a 'Rivers'. Jacsen…" Jaremy tsks, tilting his head a little. "…he's now got his own staff arriving from Seagard. I trust him, but in all truth I am heir. I'll speak with my father but I assure you when my father believes I've learned my lesson that signet ring will be in my hands. Even then, I won't forget Jacsen." He narrows his eyes, watching her carefully. "I am heir to Terrick's Roost. That will not change. You will be the Lady of these lands, Anais."
"I will," Anais agrees, and though her voice is quiet, there is a steely determination in it. "Jacsen says he wishes to help you," she says slowly. "And I believe that is true. But I also believe that he has far less capacity for forgiveness than Jarod does. You could make foolish mistakes until the sun rose in the west, and Jarod would forgive you for it and stand still by your side. I think Jacsen…has a greater sense of self-preservation than that." She lets her hand drift away from his, reaching up to tuck a piece of hair behind her ear as she arches a brow to Jaremy. "Surely you don't think I'm taken with him?" she teases gently, smile touching one corner of her lips.
"There's a certain mortar that solidifies Jarod and I together that's had years to settle into place. Jarod is…my rock. We've done each other wrong time and time again since we were children but never something we couldn't solve without a few well placed headlocks or a shouting match that ends in a few drinks and understanding. He's a full brother to me and…" Jaremy raises his shoulder. "…that very well could offend Jacsen. He's been gone quite some time. You're right, Jacsen does likely have an upper limit, but the only way I could know whether or not the issue of his signet ring has been taken as a vote of no confidence in my father and a signal for him to become more ambitious is with observation. First I must speak with my father about this and then Jacsen, but I assure you my father intends to see my redemption and that right now there are immediate needs. At least that's what I believe until I speak with him." Jaremy pauses, biting his lip and averting his gaze to cast a mischievous look towards the ocean. "Anais, the thought had occurred to me that there was a decidedly less attractive and less problematic full-blooded Terrick." He dimples with a sort of reserved bashfulness. "I don't think you're taken with him, not one bit. We've shared things just for us. Though I'm sure there were moments where you probably wished I had his reserve."
"Once or twice," Anais allows with a small smile. "And he is pretty. But really, I prefer /slightly/ less pretty and more…masculine," she chuckles softly, reaching up to brush the back of one knuckle against his jaw before withdrawing her hand again. "If I were you, Jaremy, I would spend some more time with Jacsen. Talk to him. Listen to him. Learn what you can from him, and let him see you for your redeeming qualities, not just the mistakes you make. Start trying to think of him as your brother as much as you would Jarod. Build that trust."
Jaremy's lips part into a broad, cheesy smile as she brushes her hand across his jaw. Taking the compliment with a bit more pride than normal, he straightens up in his saddle a bit and his eyes sharpen with a bit more resolve. Even firstborn eagles aren't above preening their feathers, it seems. "Jarod has suggested that the three of us travel to a winesink, perhaps the Rockcliff, to throw some pints back, tighten ourselves up a bit, and perhaps buy a round for the house and sing that blasted song at the top of our lungs, damn them all. I've agreed, Seven help me, because this is a Jarod idea and I assure you that he's the most trouble of us all. But…" His shoulder lifts once again. "…maybe what I need is to throw some pints back and spend a night being a happily betrothed brother and not some stuffy elder brother that doesn't spend time with them. They're my brothers and it's as if we all speak three different dialects. Lu…her and I are practically one, but Jacsen has few reasons not to see me as a fool. He needs to see me as a brother."
"He does," Anais agrees, dipping her chin in a nod before levelling a narrow-eyed glare on Jaremy. "Though if I hear you've gone and taken up with some whore, bonding with your brothers won't be sufficient excuse to spare you from my wrath," she threatens, shaking a finger. It can't be a very serious threat, though, for she's turning around again with a crooked smile as soon as it's delivered. "You're right, though. You need to spend some time with them. Be family."
"Lady…Anais…Banefort." Jaremy starts, sounding out each word with definition, eyes narrowing in her direction. He holds up a finger to her, making a direct point of his words. "I give you my word of honor that if there's whoring to be had you'll hear one pair of spurred boots stumbling to his room late in the evening. All contracts and conditions aside, you are witty, beautiful, dangerous, and everything a young, foolish lordling would hope for in a bride. I'd rather suffer for years only being able to sneak the hold of your hand than to give you some impression that you're not worth waiting for. I'd rather our children be proud of their father for that."
Anais pauses a moment at that answer, head tilting to one side as she watches him, weighing the truth in those words. "You mean that, don't you?" she asks softly, color flooding her cheeks. "Seven bless." Pressing the back of one hand to her cheek as she looks away, she can't quite hide a small smile as she shakes her head. "I…am a much luckier woman than I ever even realized. You understand that, don't you?" Turning back to him, she holds out her hand once more. "You realize how few men are willing to- I was /prepared/ to be…dismissed, or ignored, or treated as nothing more than an arrangement. I'll confess, I find myself constantly…baffled, almost, to find that none of those things are the case."
Looking down to her hand, Jaremy reaches out and takes her smaller fingers into his. "Damn these horses and a lack of seat…" He chuckles softly, doing his best to face her in the tender moment. "Yes. I do mean this. All of it. Anais…I believe being a knight means service to people and to actually protect people. I don't celebrate myself. When I joust? I do that for competition and for other reasons but certainly not to show off…though in your case I might make an exception in a few weeks." He smiles quietly. "Anais, we are going to have children that will be the heirs to this place and if their father isn't some whoring drunk that treated their mother like a sold commodity but actually a mother that deserves respect for who she is, then perhaps they will make the right, noble decisions and…I don't know. Maybe it's not the way the whole of Westeros works but here it can work that way. You ceased to be an arrangement the moment you became my betrothed, Anais, and before then you were a girl I met at the docks."
Anais lets her fingers twine comfortably with his, her thumb brushing over the back of his hand. "You are impossibly good, Jaremy Terrick," she murmurs, lifting his hand to place a kiss at the back of it. "And I don't want that to be lost. Just…tempered. And with a little bit of time and a good deal of work, we will see it so. And by the time our children take the Roost, these lands…We will be strong, and safe, and the last family anyone would think of causing trouble with."
"And that's the least I could ask for. Sure, some would see that I care for you as a sign of weakness. So we'll hide that to a degree. Come a month we'll have a place we can always talk alone. Tempered is fine, as clearly in my quest to do good lately I've done a fair share of stupid, so I have no qualms with tempered. My father taught me much but we haven't had much in the last six years but theory." He smiles quietly as he focuses on the imprint of her lips on the back of his hand. His fingers curl around hers, finding prize there. "Just…know that in a month I will vow to be your husband. It is a vow that I will honor. Even if we have to be hard as Ironborn at the throne room, at the least we deserve to enjoy this when and where we can."
"Absolutely," Anais agrees quietly, a small smile curving her lips. "And in the meantime, we'll have to make do with a few of these sorts of meetings. In a month, then no one can say anything if the new lord and lady want to do all sorts of scandalous things. Like /kiss/ each other where people can see." She chuckles, amused. "Terrible, I know." Reluctantly, though, she lets his hand slip from hers, reclaiming her reins with a sigh. "Speaking of duty, though. We should probably be getting back to the keep."
"Aye, you're right about that. The horses have been out a while and I'd like to check up on Lucienne and Jarod as well." Jaremy replies, taking the reins up again and steering the horse back in the direction of the Tower. Orvus has ridden the path so many times that he seems to be interested in the new direction, holding back at walking faster. "Exactly, in a month they'll have to tolerate us. It's not that far away, mind you. It's not that far away at all it's just going to seem like forever." Jaremy replies, nodding in the direction of Four Eagles Tower.
"Ah, well," Anais laughs, smile faint. "We'll have a lifetime after that, won't we? That will be time enough." And with that, she draws her horse up next to Jaremy's, knee to knee with him, for the ride back to the tower.