|Summary:||Jacsen offers support as Anais reads Elinor's last message to her.|
|Related Logs:||Continued from Nobles In Great Earnestness|
|Jacsen and Anais' Chambers|
|Tidy and neatly-appointed chambers for the young lord and lady.|
|January 15, 289|
Anais is very quiet on the walk back to the bedroom, her hand heavy in her pocket and her heart heavy in her chest. Only once she's inside does she draw out the packet, looking down at it for a long moment. "It's from Elinor," she murmurs. Not that he couldn't have guessed. "She sent it with Lady Tiaryn." She looks up then, holding it out to Jacsen. "Would you just…hold it for a moment? I'm going to change before I open it."
He doesn't take the packet right away, reaching instead to cradle the side of his wife's face with his calloused hand. Jacsen's eyes search hers, though he says not much more than a simple, "Of course," and reluctantly takes his hand away that he can receive the package Tiaryn brought for her all this way.
Anais presses her cheek to his hand, raising one hand to hold it there for a long moment. "Thank you," she murmurs, pressing a kiss to his palm before stepping back. There is something of an air of ritual, then, to the way she undresses. The chain in her hair carefully removed and folded into a cloth, then placed into a jewelry box for safekeeping. The sash of her gown untied and smoothed before being hung over a peg in the wardrobe. She takes off her gown, hangs it, and inspects it for any damage from the long day. She even runs a brush through her hair a few times, then finally twists it into a loose braid before she looks to Jacsen once more. "All right," she murmurs, moving to sit on the edge of the bed. "I'm…I'm ready."
In all that time, he could not think of remaining upon his feet, and so he's seated himself on the edge of the bed as he waits upon his wife to complete the orderly disrobing she commits to this evening. Jacsen watches her, without need to avert his eyes, and he offers a supportive expression as she takes the spot next to him. "I'm not going anywhere," he reminds her, when he hands over the package, a touch solemn.
"Thank you," Anais murmurs, pressing a kiss to his cheek as she takes the letter from his hands. There's one more pause. One more deep breath. And then she opens the letter, unable to keep a faint tremble from her hands, and begins to read, holding it so that he can see it as well.
(The script is rushed, a few old tear drops stain the parchment, causing some of the ink to bleed.}
When I had thought to send these letters I had no belief these would be my last words to you. Though as the threat of these Ironborn draw near I fear they may be as I have chosen to remain for reasons I do not believe you to understand.
I knew happiness in the Oaks for their ways so different than our own and at first I had believed should I come to marry the Lord of the Oaks their elevation would be accredited to my efforts. The longer I had stayed the more I wished for this place to remain unchanged. I knew peace and most of all I knew love.
In truth I had despised you. I had learned to temper my ill thoughts and found comfort in dedicating my passions in the verses of the Seven. Still I was given some small pleasure to know you were so ill fit among the Terricks, a place that was rightfully mine then stolen from one I had believed cared for me. It was clear as crystals your generosity and pleasantries were bore from guilt rather than any true affections you have ever had for me.
And as I face my most likely death I will do so with pride. A Banefort will never submit to the will of the Ironborn and as so I do not intend for their blades or hands to ever touch me. Preparations have been made and in that last hour my thoughts will be for those brave men and women who will remain behind to defend what they hold dear. It may come to be a slaughter with the forces we face but I understand their need to protect the Oaks.
In this I suppose should be our last words to one another. Be kind to Ser Drakmoor. I am thankful he was not here otherwise his soul would have shared the same doomed fate. Should he be found and encountered do see that he knows I am ever grateful for his kindness. As with the Lady Lucienne and the Lords and Ladies of the Roost. I should also hope my prayers will soon find Ser Aeric and that he will learn to be happy again. In another life, perhaps he and I would be a fair match. And lastly of Banefort. To father and mother, our brothers and sisters. Let my death serve as a reminder that the Ironborn are never to be trusted.
I will leave this world without remorse,
He doesn't look to it right away, putting an arm about his wife's shoulders and pressing a kiss to her temple. But when that is done, and he has her close, Jacsen does turn his eyes down to read those final words committed to paper, a sister gone for the sake of eagerness to see what she'd hoped would be her new home.
Anais leans close against him as she reads, lips pressed tightly together against whatever may come. Gently, she brushes a finger over the page at the first, though she flinches at her sister's feelings about her actions with the Terricks, tension building in slender shoulders. "Oh, El," she breathes toward the end, eyes closing on her sister's final message. Weary, she lowers the letter to her lap, turning to press her face to Jacsen's shoulder, a few silent tears dampening the fabric there.
Whatever he thinks of the words written across the page, it matters for not, his time much better spent drawing Anais' head closer when she rests it upon his shoulder, cradling the back of it with a warm hand. "I'm sorry," is all Jacsen can say, for really there is not much to be said, and none of it strong enough to undo what the Ironborn have done.
Anais shakes her head against his shoulder, very still in his arms. "There's nothing for you to be sorry for," she finally sighs, looking back to the letter once more. "She…chose her course. Lady Tiaryn made it out. Elinor was a good rider. She could have tried to escape as well." Moving carefully, she sets the letter gently aside at the foot of the bed before looking back up to him. "I should feel sorry, Jacsen. For pushing forward. For shoving my way past her to take this." She doesn't quite frown, though the corners of her eyes tighten, the faintest line across her brow as she asks, even softer: "What if I don't?"
He gently lowers her head enough, and lifts his chin too, that he can press a kiss to her brow as he considers her words, breath warming the skin there. "Then you don't, Anais, and that's all there is for it," Jacsen tells her, shifting to rest his forehead against hers. "You'd not be the first sister who reached out for what they wanted at the expense of another, and…" Another kiss to her brow, before he turns to look at the letter. "I'd not speak too ill of the dead, but I wonder after a heart that casts away a lifetime of sisterhood for the sake of the events of a few months, and chooses /that/ to be the message of her final words."
"I /did/ wait." Anais ducks her chin, eyes closing at his kisses. "I gave her a chance. But I wasn't going to wait forever. I wasn't going to grow old resenting her for not marrying before /I/ was too old to find a husband." She sighs again, reaching out to wrap her arms around his waist, drawing herself close. "But it is my fault, Jacsen. If I'd left things alone, then Father probably would have arranged things through your father, and for Elinor. She would have been here, and she would have been safe, and she might even have been happy."
His arm is strong where it winds about Anais, and he shakes his head. "And perhaps you'd have been the one at Tall Oaks, writing a letter for us to read? No, Anais, I think not," Jacsen says, his manner determined. "The Roost is better served, I am better served, with a wife that has more sense than give up without even trying to escape and survive, and writes vitriol as her final words. One that is able to work for what she wants…" he lets out a soft breath. "Even if that means a dirty hand ever now and again."
"Tall Oaks," Anais snorts softly. "I'd have been at Oldstones, and /Luci/ would have been here, sewing away with Elinor," she supposes, though she does manage to summon up a small smile, tipping her chin up for a soft, slow kiss. "I'm sorry that I couldn't help her," she concludes after a moment. "For that I can be sorry, and that I can try to change in the future. I let my fear of hurting her feelings get in the way of being a sister to her. That I regret."
He returns the kiss, granting a nod of affirmation at the last of her words. "I'll not regret that she is not here in your stead, but I'll not begrudge you if you feel sorrow for what existed between the both of you," Jacsen says, reaching for one of her hands and taking it in his own. "Such things are between you and the dead, and I shall see you no differently for it."
Anais closes her eyes, setting her head to his shoulder once more. "I am so glad," she murmurs, "That the siege is ended, and you are safely here with me." Quiet, she rests a hand over his heart, letting her breath fall into rhthym with it. "And I don't give a damn if it's selfish," she adds.