|Family Farewells, of a Sort|
|Summary:||Ser Jarod bids goodbye to Lady Lucienne before departing for Seagard to deliver the news of Lady Evangeline's death to the Lord of the Roost.|
|Related Logs:||Battles of Women|
|Four Eagles Tower|
|Tower, sad people.|
|Thu Feb 16, 289|
It is very early morning when the last living girl who can trace her lineage to the Middleton tree is found venturing out of her rooms. Lucienne's door creaks open, and the red-eyed little lady peeks about cautiously either way down the hall. She expels a quick breath, and hurries to step out, pulling the door back behind her until it snicks shut. She scuttles over toward the stairs, descending them at a clip unnaturally fast for one in slippers and a skirt, and at the bottom finds…
Jarod was waiting at the bottom of those stairs. Leaning against the wall, arms crossed along his chest. Standing still - a rarity for Lord Jerold's bastard - yet there's none of that restless, enthusiastic energy about him that usually bubbles up when he's forced to stillness for a time. He's dressed for the road, one of those sturdy green Riverlands traveling cloaks thrown over his shoulders. The sort that keep off the rain, much as it can be kept off. The sound of footsteps, even slippered ones, make him turn his head and look up at the Terrick girl. "Morning, Little Luci."
"Jarod," she says, her voice raspy and hoarse from hours of crying, pitched just above a whisper. Lucienne runs her hands over her face, as though it might wash away her disheveled look, then smooths them over the black of her mourning gown. "Good morning," she adds as an afterthought. "Are you - you're riding out?"
"For Seagard, aye," Jarod replies, his own voice muted with gravity. "Lord Jerold shouldn't hear this from a courier, or on the wings of ravens. Or worse, rumors. I wanted to see you before I went, though." And he reaches out to catch her in a big-armed hug, if she so allows. "I'm so sorry, Luci."
Lucienne will take any and all comfort Jarod has to offer her, including his strong hug. She's a little limp in his arms, like she's no energy to return the sentiment, though she does mak an effort to twine her own about his waist gently. A round of fresh tears starts to wet her cheeks, and she shivers as she complains, "I miss her." A beat passes, and she wonders in a whiny little tone, "Can you take a letter for me?"
"Of course," Jarod replies readily, as to the letter. "Lady Evangeline wrote him one as well, before…I figured I'd bring it to him when I rejoined the army but…well. He'll have it now." He kisses the top of her head roughly, pulling back from a proper bear hug, though he keeps his hands on her shoulders. "I'll get him sent back here to see her laid to rest, Luci. Promises."
Lucienne bites down on her lower lip, too hard. The sting doesn't seem to reach her, but a trickle of blood opens free inside her mouth. "Okay," is all she can manage to respond with as she tries to reign in the tears and compose herself. There's a little nod, and she repeats, "Okay."
Jarod reaches a hand over to tip up her chin, as she bites her lip hard enough to bleed. His green eyes try to meet her darker ones. He doesn't say anything more just then.
Those deep brown eyes of hers are glassy, and so terribly sad. They're imploring, begging to be told it's all a dream, but at the same time… it's as if they're not really seeing, not open to anything. Lucienne looks at Jarod, blinking dark lashes occasionally, and finally admits… "I don't know what to do now."
"You'll go on is what you'll do. Be strong for Jace. See her honored properly as she's put to rest, and see her memory honored after." Grave words aside, Jarod's hand reaches up to muss her hair.
He's right, of course. That doesn't stop Lucienne from protesting, though. "Yes, but… how?" She reaches up to swipe at her wet cheeks, right as Jarod musses her hair - is that the ghost of a smile upon her lips. Maybe not. "I… I need her. I still need her, Jarod."
"I know, Luci. I know." Jarod hugs her again. Hugs make things better, is his simple approach to most situations. The ones in which hitting things doesn't make them better, at least.
Lucienne is a little more responsive to this hug, tightening her hold on Jarod. She squeeeeeezes, the muscles in her own bony arms aching with the effort. It's a long time before she's ready to let go. A long, long time. When she does, she swallows a lump in her throat and murmurs a soft, "Thankyou. I'll… will you come upstairs, and wait while I finish writing?"
"Aye, sure. Rowan's seeing to the horses and the packing of our armor and such, so I've got a bit of time," Jarod says, only releasing her from hugging so he can take her hand. He'll be led upstairs to wait while she writes whatever she's going to write.
Back up the stairs then, off they go. In Luci's chambers there are letters already laid out, addressed to several different acquaintances. Some of the dates are the days leading up to her mother's death, but one is dated the previous day and addressed to Lord Jerold. Lucienne has only to sign this letter, and seal it up. She addends a different page with another paragraph, signs and seals that as well, and offers both to her… well. She still thinks of him as her brother. "The other is for Patrek," she says softly.
Jarod stands a little off to the side as Lucienne finishes up with her letters, so there's not even the chance he might inadvertently peek at them. "I'll see them both delivered safely, little sister," he promises, in that earnest way he has of promising things. She still is his sister. He's not been any different toward her since tracing the rumors of her bastardy down those months ago, and he certainly isn't now.
Lucienne takes a deep breath, safe in the knowledge that her missives will be delivered. "Thankyou," she practically sighs, a little relieved. Her cheeks flush a little as she experiences a pang of guilt; relieved is not an appropriate emotion just now. "I… I wish I could ride with you, but I don't want… I don't want to leave her. Here."
Jarod nods to that, understanding. "She's your mother, Luci. You should be here to see she's seen to proper. Our lord father'll be home to help you, soon." For his part, "I likely won't be returning for any services. Lord Jerold should leave Seagard and he'll likely have things with the army he'll need seen to and…" He shrugs. "…well, wouldn't really be proper for me to be there."
Luci nods back, just a quick bob of her chin. But then… "Oh." News of Jarod's intentions not to attend the Lady in her death rites causes a flat response from Lucienne. "I… she wanted you to know… she was sorry. She loved you, Jarod."
"Loved?" Jarod might argue the choice of word. But he doesn't. "That's what Anais said. She needn't have been. It was by her grace that I had a home here at all. I could've been sent off with my mother's father…" Never 'grandfather.' "…to Fairmarket and it'd have been seen as just as proper. Perhaps moreso. I think…I only now realize what it cost her, to allow that." He sighs. "When I was very young, it used to confuse me, that she wasn't my mother the way she was Jaremy and Jace's. As I got older and understood…well, I just wished she was."
Lucienne can sense that hint of disbelief, and after Jarod has said his piece she goes on to explain. "I think she wished she was too, Jarod. You have some of the best of Lord Jerold's characteristics, and you would have made her proud. I'm certain, Jarod, that you did make her proud. But…" Luci pauses, ducking her eyes to the ground. "My mother was a difficult woman to understand. Some people misconstrue her courtesy as indifference but… it's not. It… it was not."
"I know it wasn't, Luci. I always understood that," Jarod says. "Courtesy is armor, in a way. If you behave perfectly, it's harder for people to disrespect you. It's true for a woman, it's true for a bastard as well." He half-smiles. "I tried to make her proud. I never wanted to do anything to dishonor this house. Her house. She was a good lady. Not perfect but…" He shrugs. "…nobody is, really. And we hurt the ones we love the easiest. I still don't quite understand why but…that's the way it is. Doesn't mean we don't love them just the same."
Lucienne reaches out, closing the few steps between she and Jarod so that she might stroke her hand tenderly down his arm. "She loved you," she insists, eyes wide and shiny. "You were a part of her house, Jarod, and she loved you."
"She was kind to me. I'm grateful for that, and I'll honor her memory for it," Jarod replies. There's just a hint of correction in his tone. But he leaves it at that. "Anyhow…I love you, Little Luci." He reaches out to catch her in another hug. "I'd best be off. I want to ride fast and get to Seagard as soon as possible. Look after Jace, all right? I worry about him these days."
"She loved you," Lucienne insists again, just a whisper as Jarod hugs the air out of her. "I love you too." She hugs back tightly, and lets her brother go in a more timely fashion. "I will try," is what she promises, to his last request. "You ride swift and safe, Jarod. May the Gods and the wind be at your back."
"Love you always, little sister," Jarod repeats. He doesn't hem and haw about the correctness of that, at least. "Seven watch over you. Be strong." And with that, he turns to head off, and eventually back down the stairs and out of the Roost.