|Summary:||Anais and Rowenna prepare for frog-hunting and vent before the sharp spears come out.|
|Related Logs:||A Very Mire Family Morning|
|Rowenna's Chambers — Fortress of the Sevens|
|Rowenna and Jarod live her. Imagine the chaos.|
|May 27, 289|
Rowenna leads the way to the (slightly messy) chamber she and Jarod share. There's bits of gear in various states of polish and repair, both of them squireless for the time being; stacks of books; a few cast-off items of clothing. She kicks a boot out of their path, gesturing to a clutter-free chair. "So — not that it's not kind of hilarious — but what's the root of today's running joke?"
Anais's handmaid and guard trail behind as Anais follows Rowenna back to the living quarters of the castle. The looks they exchange should be enough to warn anyone of what might be coming, and they both step very quietly until they can reach the relative privacy of personal chambers where any outbursts can be safely contained. Derek takes up a position outside the room, while Nina steps inside, wincing at Rowenna's question. "Joke?" Anais echoes icily. "The running /joke/ is that your husband, Jacsen's brother, has all the subtlety of a brick to the head. That your husband, Jacsen's brother, is in the impression that I can't keep my legs together. And instead of letting me /handle/ this situation in a way that is /tactful/ and not /conspicuous/, your husband, Jacsen's brother, seems to think the best way to handle of it is to clumsily and constantly point out the fact that I am married to Jacsen, my husband, his brother." Hands fisted until her nails dig into her palms, she drops heavily into the indicated chair, cheeks flushed and shoulders tight.
Rowenna bites the inside of her cheek, coughing slightly as she throws open a chest and goes rummaging. It wouldn't do to laugh with her goodsister so obviously and sincerely piqued. "His subtlety is absolutely one of his finer traits," she deadpans, shaking out a shirt and holding it up for inspection. "What, pray tell, is the situation that's prompted my husband, your husband's brother, to be so… repeatedly specific?"
"There /is/ no situation," Anais grimaces. "Though the more he acts like there is, the more people are going to think there's one." She draws a deep breath, rubbing a hand over her face. "Your brother, who is not my husband, has been very kind to me, and rather friendly. The other night, on my way back to camp from the Twins, I stopped and danced with him in the square, and he kissed my hand. Which is apparently a sign that I am not in the least to be trusted, and I'm certainly not faithful, and I must be planning to embarrass Jarod's brother, my husband with some sort of affair."
Rowenna pauses, peering up over the shirt she's inspecting before casting it aside. "You're getting awfully riled over something to which there's nothing, Annie." She goes back to rummaging, continuing, "Jarod's mind doesn't work like that, you know. 'Shame to the family' and all that rot. He's just worried about you. He loves you and his brother's a turd. I'm shocked if you haven't taken a lover by now — but Rio'd be a seriously bad choice for that."
"Jarod doesn't care about me," Anais snorts. "Jarod cares about his family and how things look for his family. His family, which I married into, which makes it my family now, whether or not that was a good decision." She shifts in the chair, pulling her feet up under herself as she watches the other woman dig through trunks. "I'm not going to take a lover, Row. I can't. It's everything I can do to get Jacsen to even speak to me about anything in anything other than single syllables. If he thought I'd taken a lover, I'd be lucky if he so much as looked at me. The only thing that would be worse than the way things are now would be if I wasn't even allowed to do anything useful. And he'd do it." Pulling her knees up to her chest, she settles her chin on them. "Riordan is nice. He's fun. And he actually looks at me. That's all there is to it."
Rowenna cuts Anais a fairly sharp look. "If that's what you think, Anais, then you don't know the first thing about Jarod. And that's something you should correct." She pulls out a pair of breeches and stands, holding them up to her. They're a bit short on her, which seems to pass muster. "If Jarod's primary concern were his family for his family's sake, he'd be sitting pretty with his armor and his spurs, serving his father — not outcast from everyone he loves, serving my family." She frowns, tossing the breeches to her goodsister. "Can you even begin to imagine? He bleeds purple and gold, and he's wearing Nayland colors. It galls him to the bone every single day — but he did it for me. And I'm not a Terrick, not even by marriage. Not even close. He loves where he loves and he does what's right, damn the consequences. So you think good and hard about how you're painting him, just because he's making your flirtation less than comfortable." She takes a breath. "Now, as it happens, I love you, too. And I don't blame you a bit if my brother makes your heart go pitter pat — you deserve that from someone. I know how lonely you must be. Now toss me one of your shoes so I can see if I've any boots that might fit you."
Anais tosses a shoe. She might toss it with a little more force than strictly necessary, and might be sort of aimed at Rowenna's head, but at least it's a slipper. "It has nothing to do with making flirting less comfortable," she mutters, standing to take the breeches and start pulling them on under her skirts. "It has to do with making some potentially dangerous rumors seem more credible. If the one person who knows Terricks and Naylands equally well feels a need to personally attend the young Terrick bride every step she takes around the Naylands, then he must know something the rest of us don't about what she may or may not do." There are a few moments where she fiddles with buttons and ties, trying to see around the bundle of skirts at her waist. "It's just- Gods, Row. Sometimes it feels like they never miss a chance to remind me that I'm not a Terrick. I'm not gentle enough, or honorable enough, or ladylike enough. Nevermind that I stayed when Jaremy ran off, never mind that I stayed through the siege, that I've put everything I have into rebuilding. I'm not Isolde gods-be-damned Tordane, and I'll never be what they wanted."
"Isolde is a weakling and a ninny — thank the bloody Seven you're not Isolde gods-be-damned Tordane." Rowenna finds a likely pair of boots, bringing them over — along with that slipper that whizzed by her ear. She kneels to roll up Anais' pant legs at the bottom, several inches too long. "I'm sorry the Terricks don't appreciate you, Annie. I truly am, and I still believe they'll come to, in time. Just…" She looks up at her goodsister, sighing. "Look, I'll ask Jarod to lay off the slapstick, but honestly… if you do have any fond feelings for my brother, it'll be easier if you're not alone together. Jarod knows what it's like to he only half a Terrick, too. However well he was treated, he's carried that in his heart his whole life. And he knows what it's like to be lonely. His concern for you — it's borne of too much empathy, not a lack of trust. We're all human. We all want to be seen."
"/I/ certainly don't want to be Isolde Tordane," Anais agrees, holding her skirts up out of her way. "I'm just…very frustrated. And I haven't yet been alone with your brother, and I don't intend to be." She falls silent for a moment, then sighs softly. "Thank you, though. I'm sorry to yell at you. Out of everyone, you understand the best. I just…if I don't let it out somewhere, I'm just going to fall to pieces, I know it. And I can't exactly go into the cellars and cry here." Tucking her skirts under her arm, she reaches up to brush the back of her hand at her eyes. "They sold my dowry, Row. The ship. It's gone."
Rowenna blinks, then stands and pulls Anais into a hug. "Oh, sweetheart," she sighs. "I'm so sorry. That's awful."
Anais wraps her arms around the other woman, letting out a soft sob that's as much relief as anything else. "Thank you," she mumbles into Rowenna's shoulder. "No one else seems to think so. They all think- They all think it's just as well, that a ship was a silly dowry anyhow. But it was my /dowry/, Row. And it came from home." She sniffles once, then starts to draw back, wiping at her face. "So you see, Row, I'm not going to turn my back on the Terricks. I can't. I'd have nothing."
"I truly don't think that's — well, enough speaking for my husband. It's not what I'm worried about, Annie," Rowenna says, stroking Anais' hair. "I'm only worried about you getting hurt. I know you're lonely, and I know you feel alone, and I know I'm redundant, but — " she takes Anais' hand, giving it a squeeze. "We're on your side, Jarod and me. He does love his brother, but he's not blind and he's not a fool."
Anais's hand is tight around Rowenna's, a lifeline as she tries to rebuild her usual facade. "Thank you," she says again, quiet. "It's just…Just a few minutes ago, out there. It seemed so much more like home than the Roost ever does." It's a few moments before she gathers her dignity once more, grip slowly loosening on the other woman's hand. "Now," she continues with a semblance of her usual composure, smile flickering. "I suppose as you managed to go for years without anyone even /knowing/ you're a woman, you know some way to keep the appropriate parts from being seen under a wet shirt, yes?"
Rowenna laughs, kissing Anais' forehead and going to find an appropriate shirt. "It's called about seven leagues' length of bandaging," she reveals her gender bending secret. "And Annie," she returns with the shirt, holding it up to the smaller woman for fit, "you can yell at me any time. That's what family's for."
"Seven leagues of bandaging and letting people see what they expect to see," Anais adds with a faint, wry smile of her own, looking to Nina, who comes to help undo the laces on her dress. "Let's go and hunt some frogs and get completely covered in mud and act like irresponsible children for a few hours, shall we?"
Rowenna grins and sheds her surcoat, tossing it over a chair and finding her muddy muck-about clothes. "Sounds like a plan."