|Friends And Family|
|Summary:||Anais visits Jarod and Rowan in their self-imposed Rockcliff exile.|
|Related Logs:||Jarod / Rowan stuff|
|A teensy room at the inn.|
|April 22, 289|
Though Ser Jarod (nee Rivers?) has taken his leave of Four Eagles Tower, he isn't hard to locate. He's taken a room at the Rockcliff - along with she who was Rowan Nayland - and is presently waiting. For the coming of the Naylands, for further judgment from his lord father or Seagard, for whatever comes. They've rented the smallest room possible, so it only contains a bed, stool, and bundles of what things they took with them from the Terrick's castle piled into a corner. For his part, Jarod's presently seated on said stool, in stocking feet (otherwise more-or-less dressed) with his longsword across his knees. He's engaged in cleaning it, a comfortably familiar and monotonous chore.
Anais did not get far into town before there were people willing to share rumors. It's inevitable, given how closely the people of the Roost have been living since the siege was lifted, and how many have taken sanctuary near the keep. And so, while a few of her escort ride back to Four Eagles, Anais and her usual, smaller escort of handmaid and guard enter the Rockcliff, where Anais knocks lightly on the door to the room the inn keep said belonged to Jarod and his new wife. "Jarod?" she calls softly. "Are you…home? It's Anais."
Rowenna, dressed but tucked up to sit against the headboard of the bed (since it's the only other place to sit), starts at the knock and looks up, closing the book in her lap. She blinks a few times at the voice, then hurdles out of the bed and opens the door. She still looks remarkably like Rowan Nayland. Just… in a gown. With breasts. And uncertain whether to embrace or shrink from the lady at the door. "Annie!"
Jarod puts his sword aside and stands, going to open the door. He neither shrinks nor attempts to hug Anais, once he lets her in. "Anais. Glad you made it home safe from Stonebridge. I was wondering if it'd be you or Jace who'd show up first." He looks tired, and with a weary sort of resignation about him, but apart from that he's the same as ever.
Anais blinks when Rowenna opens the door, tilting her head to one side for a moment to take in the changes. Eventually, her lips quirk, a smile tugging at one corner. "Well, don't I feel foolish," she murmurs, stepping forward to answer the other woman's uncertainty with a hug, just a bit cautious, as if she's not entirely certain this isn't a joke yet. "I think you make a bit more sense now," she informs Rowenna when she draws back, considering the space in the room before stationing her handmaid at the door and leaving it cracked open. "I don't know about Jace," she admits to Jarod. "Someone told me on my way back in, so I came here first." And then she looks to Rowan, arching a brow. "Are you pregnant?"
Jarod's face goes hard at Anais' first question to Rowan. He takes a a very long, deep breath in, sets his jaw, and crosses his arms along his chest. It's a beat before he says anything, his fingers clenching white-knuckle on his arms. When he does speak his tone is low, though he sounds like he's physically clamping his voice down to avoid yelling. "You know what, my lady, on second thought I'm not particularly in the mood for company just now. If you could kindly take your leave, I'd be most appreciative." There's a cold bite in his tone, proper politeness of the words aside.
Rowenna sighs at Jarod. "I love you, but stop that." She embraces Anais fiercely, more grateful for the simple reassurance of an embrace than words can express. "No. Just knighted." She pulls back a little, hands on Anais' shoulders, giving a gentle squeeze. "This all must seem a little sudden," says the girl who was a boy, still looking at her good sister, though her words are pitched soothing and rational — perhaps for Jarod's sake. "A lot sudden."
"Congratulations on the knighting, by the way," Anais adds with a small smile for Rowan. "I suppose I might have gotten around to it earlier, but it looks as though you two have been busy." Only after his wife addresses Jarod does she look to the knight, arching a brow slightly. "It's not an unreasonable question, and I'm not judging. It would just make sense with what you said the other day about wanting your sons and daughters to grow up here, that's all. And it would be my luck," she adds, looking to Rowenna with another quirk of a smile, reaching up to cup a hand at her cheek, as though reassuring herself that her eyes aren't fooling her. "It's a bit strange," she allows. "But I'm mostly concerned that it might cost me the company of one of my few true friends here. Or both of them," she adds with a pointed look at Jarod.
"I didn't lay with her while we were knight and squire, my lady. Not that I expect anyone to believe it, but I'll swear any oath upon it you please." And, if there are technicalities in that you could probably drove a cart through, Jarod looks her square in the eye when he says it and seems to mean it. "But we were wed, in the remains of the sept, by a septon proper and in the light of the Seven. I don't know if that'll make the way we've kept company all these months any better but…it seemed right. And it's what I wanted." His words are still rather terse.
Rowenna takes a steadying breath and blinks at tears, then embraces Anais again with a wet chuckle. She sniffles a little and wipes her face on her sleeve. "You're too good, Annie," she whispers, then says to Jarod, reaching out an arm to draw him into the fold. "Not everyone's been privy to our epic love story, Jare," she says with a wry smirk. "Or how long you've known. But," she looks once more to Anais, emphasizing the most important point, at least to Jarod, "it's true. He never touched me while I was his squire. Even after I came back home. Not until our wedding night."
"Did I ask if you did?" Anais arches a brow at Jarod's protests. "I'm not your father, Jarod, or Lady Evangeline. I'm less interested in what happened than in what we're going to do about the future." As Rowenna joins in, a glimmer of amusement touches her features, and she shakes her head. "Rowan, you spent the last several years as a squire. You went to war. The two of you being together as man and wife while you were squiring for him? Would not be the most scandalous thing I can imagine happening. Come now." She returns the hug with a laugh, then draws back. "Let's have a seat and talk about what we're going to do next, shall we?"
"You plainly have a good many ideas about what we did, my lady, as does everyone else," Jarod says. Though he's drawn in easily enough by Rowan, leaning against her a little. He goes to sit on the bed without any other complaints, though.
"You and me both," sighs Rowenna to Anais about which is more scandalous than what. "But what do we know?" She gives Annie a parting squeeze, then sits on the bed beside Jarod, leaving the room's only chair (well, stool) for their guest. She leans her shoulder against Jarod's. And leans. And leans. Playfully invading his space.
"I have no idea what you did, Jarod," Anais exclaims, throwing her hands in the air. "What I'm trying to say to you is that /whatever you did/, whether it was honorable, or dishonorable, on purpose, a mistake, something you're proud of, or something you regret, I care about both of you and I want to help you." And so with a bit of a huff, she settles in on the stool, facing both of them and flicking her skirts back into place. "If I can. This is probably going to get a bit messy," she sighs.
Jarod is still tense when Rowan joins him, though he relaxes just a little when she invades his space. He elbows her back almost playfully, settling in against her. And then looking up at Anais. He doesn't look contrite, precisely, but he loses that tight-jawed appearance of trying really hard not to yell. "I didn't appreciate the implication in the first thing you asked of us, my lady. Given everything else people're saying. But…thanks for the rest. I'm well aware it'll be messy. I always knew that." He adds quietly, looking down at the floor, "I knew what I was doing, and what the cost would be."
Rowenna wraps her arms around Jarod, situating herself somewhat behind him so she can prop her chin on his shoulder and still look at Anais. "Just your love and acceptance, Annie, is — a big, huge thing. Huge. That you came — that you're here is such a comfort. I'm not sure there's much anyone can do, beyond that."
"Forgive me, Jarod. Sometimes it feels like the whole world wants to know if /I'm/ pregnant yet, so it's sort of lost any meaning. And like I said, I thought maybe you were happy about it, from what you said before. That's all." Anais props her feet up on a higher rung of the stool, setting her chin on one hand. "I take it Lord Jerold wasn't exactly thrilled?" she asks, looking between the pair. "Does Lord Rickart know?"
"My lord father did what he had to do," Jarod replies, finally looking up at Anais again after he says it. "I figured he might. I've been dismissed as a knight of Four Eagles Tower. And stripped of all privileges of the knighthood. Save my Ser, which no one can unmake, though it means little in the land without horse and armor and a house to bend the knee to. And I've still my sword. That was a mercy from him. I can still make a living with it, such as we're able now that this is known." He eases an arm around Rowan's waist, taking what comfort he can just in the closeness of her. "If Lord Rickart doesn't know now, he will soon enough. Lord Jerold sent a letter to inform him of what he'd been told, after Rowenna and I spoke with him. It was the right thing to do, and will perhaps preserve some of his honor in this."
"Think about if you, before you were married, managed to give your chaperons the slip for five whole years, and you spent that unchaperoned time with countless men — all under the nose of your guardian. Lord Jerold feels the scandal reflects on him and the honor of his house…" Rowenna frowns, looking down and threading her fingers with Jarod's, tucking herself closer to his side. "There are those who'll look at the situation reasonably, and understand he couldn't have known and it wasn't his fault… and then there are those who love scandal more than reason. Unfortunately, I think the majority of people are in the latter."
"I usually limited myself to an hour or two," Anais admits with a crooked smile. "And Nina," she adds, looking back to the young woman at the door, "Is very good at coming up with stories. But no, I quite understand how it's going to look to Lord Jerold. It's going to be hard to convince anyone that he didn't know." She reaches up to tuck a curl behind her ear, pensive. "Well. I suppose there isn't going to be food coming from Stonebridge now. Jarod, if you could stay here, would you?"
"Lord Rickart himself, and her cousin Ser Rygar, and her brothers…none of them knew when they saw her on the Isles and before," Jarod says. At mention of the food from Stonebridge, he looks puzzled for a moment. And winces. Though the last of her question seems to puzzle him, "Here, my lady? What, precisely, do you mean? And where is it, precisely, that you do not think I can remain?" There's a level quality to his voice not unlike when he was snapping over the question of Rowan's pregnancy, though it's more tempered now. And he just regards her to see what she'll say.
There are a a great many unforseen consequences for any folly, but that people might go hungry because of her disobedience clearly wasn't one she'd considered. Rowenna closes her eyes, breathing slowly through a wave of panic and nausea. "Fuck," she murmurs. She gives Jarod's hand a squeeze, glancing at him with concern as his tone goes measured and even — so unlike him, and never a good sign.
"Surely you don't mean to stay at the Rockcliff for the foreseeable future?" Anais asks Jarod, looking around the room. "It's a bit small." She reaches up to rub a hand at her head, falling silent as she tries to think things all the way through. "I'd really like it if you were both here. Maybe I can speak with Lord Jerold. Maybe there's something…Some way. Otherwise what are you planning to do?"
"You have absolutely no measure of the kind of man my father is, my lady," Jarod says. "I thought that when we spoke about the rebuilding, I think it now. You think because he is honorable he lacks strength to do what he must, because he is honest he is foolish, and because he does not mistake cruelty for necessity that he is weak. Lord Jerold knows precisely the cost of what he is. And what he is, is the only reason I have had any sort of decent life at all." He takes another breath, as if to calm himself. Though he keeps his voice level, his muscles have gone tense in Rowan's arms. "And you've no idea what he'll do for his children. As his knight, he did what a lord had to do to me. But I am still his son, and I was not banished from Four Eagles Tower by his hand. He told me that I, and my household…" He holds Rowan a little closer. "…would always have a place there. But I cannot stay there, I cannot do that to him now. He cannot be seen as condoning this in any way. Not by Seagard, not by the Naylands, and not with the question of Stonebridge still undecided. Surely you both see that."
Rowenna blinks a few times at Jarod, frowning. "All right," she sighs. She changes position to get a better look at him, taking his chin in her fingers to turn his eyes to hers. "Completely inappropriate target for your hurt and anger. Anais didn't do this to you, Jarod — I did. But like me, she loves you and wants to help. So if you can't stop biting her head off? I think you might want to go out to the bar and get a drink. Nobody said anything about your father. Please, Jarod. I need you to calm down." She frames his face in her hands, dark eyes earnest. "Please."
"No, Jarod, I don't. I don't know a damned thing about Lord Jerold, because Lord Jerold couldn't /give/ a damned about me because I'm not Isolde Tordane. I don't know about Jaremy because he ran away. I don't know about Jacsen, because he'd rather talk to his food taster about serious business, and I don't know about you because as much as I'd like to, I can't say anything to you without offending you." Anais slips down from the stool, fists clenching in her skirts. "As for honor, the only thing I see coming from it right now is people hurting. All of us."
"I did this to myself, Rowenna. I knew what the cost would be, at least for my own part," Jarod murmurs to Rowan. But he does meet her eyes, and nod a little, reaching up to clasp one of her hands in his. After that, he turns back to Anais. Actually contrite this time, and very weary. "I'm sorry, my lady. That was uncalled for. You are trying to be kind, and give us what aid you can, and I have no right to speak to you so. We've not really settled where we'll go when the dust settles. I would like to stay in the Roost, if we can, though not in Four Eagles. Maybe years from now when the wounds're less raw but…not now. Perhaps we can go to Stonebridge, if Ser Gedeon receives it and returns it to the Terricks. There's too much unsettled right now to decide anything firm."
Rowenna breathes out, leaning in to kiss Jarod's temple in gratitude as he recants. She hugs him tight, but looks to Anais, adding her own apology with her eyes.
"Stonebridge…" Anais trails off with a sigh, turning away to press her brow against the door. "Stonebridge. I'm beginning to think our chances of getting Stonebridge back are slimmer than ever. For whatever reason, someone among the Naylands has gotten smart enough to play nice," she says to the door, drawing a deep breath before turning back to them. "They've replaced Ser Rygar with Lord Riordan, who understands…more subtle paths. He offered to send us food. Guarded, so that it didn't get ambushed by bandits. We had the high ground. They seem to have realized that they can also take it."
"It's just…" Jarod inhales deep again, trying to meet the eyes of his goodsister. "I hurt my father so much, Anais. And he's not being unkind to us, in his way. I don't want you to think ill of him for it." As for Stonebridge. "That's not really in our hands anymore, Anais. If it ever was. And it certainly isn't about high ground. It's all down to Good King Robert. And blood. Everything about blood. It's all about names and blood and what the king says about the truth of them. If Lady Isolde is not of Tordane blood - if she is bastard-born, as Ser Gedeon's letters claim - she has no right to that land and the Naylands claim to it is invalid. It isn't really about us, or the Naylands. It's about Ser Gedeon and Lady Isolde. We're all just fighting over what they're trying to hold, and what we may gain from it. We always were."
Rowenna lets Jarod say his piece, now that he's more himself, resting her head on his shoulder. The talk of stonebridge troubles her, it's plain, but why precisely… well, it's a troublesome topic. Whatever her thoughts, she keeps her silence for now.
"Jarod." Anais sighs softly, walking back to the stool without sitting down. "It's not just about blood. Maybe it is for you and for Lord Jerold. But it's not for the Naylands. For the Naylands, it's about who holds the land, and who /can/. And while I can't speak for the King, for plenty of other people, it's about politics, and profit, and advantage."
"This is why I said to you - and to my father, when we spoke on more normal terms, before all this - that I think it's important we get in touch with the Tullys and get out ahead of this a little." Jarod still speaks in 'we's, even gone from Terrick service as he is. "Get someone here from the Lord Paramount to observe the decision and help see the king's judgment done. Ser Gedeon can do little if the king decides in Lady Isolde's favor, and the Terricks shall respect that decision because we lose nothing from it we've not already. And may gain some goodwill if we accept it with grace. But if Ser Gedeon is given his father's lands…I don't figure the Naylands will have much respect for the king's law, with the king himself so far away. They have gained strength there and they have Stonebridge's gold in their coffers and their words are 'Reach beyond thy grasp.' And I think we will see Ser Riordan's high ground quickly disappear."
"That's smart," say Rowenna, when Jarod mentions getting Tully involved. "Assuming he'll commit even that much. It's certainly to his advantage to see the thing done smoothly, whichever way it goes." She brushes her fingers over Jarod's hair above his ear. "Other than that… you're right. We all wait on King Robert's pleasure, in this. Anything my family does to oppress or endear Stonebridge… it's all for nothing, once the King has his say."
"And what, exactly, will we or Lord Tully's men be able to do about it?" Anais asks, crossing her arms over her chest. "He couldn't be bothered to do anything when we came to him with all the proof. What makes you think he'll commit forces to enforcing a decision when he wouldn't /make/ one?" Weary, she reaches up to scrub her hands over her face. "I'm sorry. I'm just feeling a little…Overwhelmed right now. Like everything is going to fall apart."
"They cannot hold it without the right of law in Westeros and the Riverlands to back their claim. Not for long," Jarod says. "We all still bend the knee to King's Landing here, and I doubt they'll openly defy him once eyes are turned on them. But we're far away from Riverrun and the Crownlands both, and they'll use that distance and what time it gains them. They can use their knights and levies - the very people of Stonebridge - to bleed us in the reclaiming of it, if we play this wrong. And make the town hate us, and weaken us further and make it a ghost of a place when Ser Gedeon holds it, and spend the next years chipping away at our borders to find another way to take from us what is ours. Like they did with Lady Valda nee Frey the first chance they had." He shakes his head a little at Anais. "Lord Tully could've stopped Ser Gedeon's claim at Riverrun. He didn't. That he let it pass to King's Landing at all was, I think more due to his regard for the Mallisters and his dislike of the Freys than anything else. Lord Tully is the lord paramount of the Riverlands, and the Naylands won't defy him, though they may try and fuck with us a bit for as long as they can manage it. That's what I'm saying, Anais. We're in a precarious place but it doesen't have to fall apart. Not if we're careful, and not if we do more than throw up our hands and pretend we can't do anything with the law on our side."
"Everything will be fine, Annie," Rowenna soothes, giving Jarod a squeeze before untangling from him and going to her good sister. "Maybe not soon… but it will. Choose your battles, fight the ones you can, leave the rest to the gods." She puts an arm around Anais' shoulders. "My father isn't — he's a lot of things, but he's not completely insane. He won't defy the King just to keep hold of Stonebridge. It'd be the end of him." As for Lord Tully, "There's no one for him to pass the buck to, in this case. If only because of that, he might come through. And… I don't think any Tully force would be there to force the King's will be done, it's more… symbolic. The winner increases in stature simply because the Lord Paramount stood 'with them.'"
"There's no harm in asking," Anais grimaces. "But I don't expect much. I miss /my/ father," she admits in a lower tone, though she turns to catch Rowan in a hug once more. "I am happy for the two of you. And a little envious. But I should go speak with Lord Jerold. There's…a good deal to see to."
"Not soon. But years from now. Things'll be better years from now…however much it hurts in the short" Jarod mutters, not looking at either woman. He seems half talking to himself, and about things beyond Stonebridge. "That's how a man's got to build his life, or else what he holds in this moment'll never amount to anything…" He takes another breath and looks up at his goodsister. "And that's why I did all this, Anais. Perhaps we should have waited until after the Stonebridge matter was decided but…that's why. This is my life, and I need to build something that'll last, that is mine, not just a gift of Lord Jerold's, much as I love him. Please tell him that, if you tell him anything at all."
Rowenna embraces Anais in return. "Go easy, when you talk to Jerold. You might even give it some time, if you think it wise, and not broach the subject of Jarod and me right away. He's done what he felt he had to, but he's in a lot of pain right now. Anything you touch will be raw, no matter how gentle you are." She kisses Anais' forehead. "Thank you for coming, Annie. Maybe we can go riding together sometime, soon. Out somewhere where you can shoot things and I can swing my blade. I can feel myself getting rounder and doughier by the hour."
"I've spent the last several months not broaching anything with Lord Jerold, or with Jacsen," Anais points out, grimacing faintly. "I think it's time we actually spoke to each other about some important things. Jarod…" She trails off, turning back to the knight and stepping toward him with open arms. "Be safe, all right? And be nice to her. I think she could probably beat you up if she wanted to."
"The time for it was long ago, Anais." Jarod pauses and admits, "For both of us. I didn't really get to thinking until I was serving in Stonebridge, and even more when I was on the Isles…this is a good place and there's so much I wanted to do here…" His voice chokes a little. "But that's done now. I'll see what I can do with what's left." He walks into Anais' arms and catches her in a tight hug. "I am glad you'll still call us family. And…thanks."
She who called herself Rowan Nayland steps back, allowing Jarod to get his hugs in. "I could totally beat him up," says says with a soft smirk, giving Anais another quick hug goodbye. "And yours too. In case you ever need it."
"Thank you, but no," Anais laughs softly to Rowan. "I really prefer it when people are far away if we're going to be fighting." She steps back, giving Jarod's shoulder a squeeze. "If there's a way for you to stay here, I'll find it. And if there isn't, then Jacsen's just going to have to get to the idea of me traveling to wherever you are to visit."
"Could not," Jarod retorts to Rowan, jutting out an elbow in an attempt at another playful nudge. He may try to test this whole conceit of hers. After Anais is gone, of course. "We can stay in the Roost, Anais, it's just a matter of if it'd be good for the Terricks - and us - to stay. Which in the short, it may not be, and we'll figure it out if that's the case. Give Jace my love."
Rowenna gets nudged, but stands her ground so she can sneak a hand down and goose her husband. "Could so." She winks at Anais.
Anais's smile quirks, and she shakes her head at them. "I'll leave you two to the whole process of deciding that matter," she drawls, slipping out the door. "Play nice!" she admonishes, sticking her head back in once more before pulling it shut after herself.