|Summary:||Kittridge and Rosanna chat on the way home to Kingsgrove.|
|Date:||May 27, 2012|
|A Road Somewhere — Wilderness|
|There's probably grass about.|
|May 27, 289|
The ride from The Twins to Kingsgrove is not an arduous one, and with retainers tasked with seeing the wagons full of gear and pavilions safely back, Kittridge and Rosanna and their companions can ride back at their own pace. With the weather finally nice and in no particular hurry, the second (or possibly third) son of House Groves rides up alongside his sister at a pace conducive to conversation. "So," he says, once they've ridden a ways, "Are you angry with me?"
Rosanna is not so expert a rider as some ladies, but she's more than comfortable in a saddle and quite fond of horses. She looks over at Kittridge with something of a dryly amused expression
Rosanna is not so expert a rider as some ladies, but she's more than comfortable in a saddle and quite fond of horses. She looks over at Kittridge with something of a dryly amused expression as he brings his horse apace with hers. "Whatever would I be angry at you about, dear brother?" she wonders innocently.
"I certainly have no idea," Kittridge replies, too lightly, "Since all I've done is take you to Stonebridge, introduce you to loads of new people, allow you to be courted by a lord you like and I don't, give you a wonderful nameday, take you to several parties, and now to a tourney where you got to watch me be a champion. So I can't think of any reason why you'd be angry with me. But I get the distinct feeling that you are."
"Well, obviously I would never be unreasonable in my anger," Rosanna claims haughtily. "I'm quite sure that, if I am angry at you, you did something to deserve it." She does not look entirely unaffected by his listed boons, however.
"And what would that be, do you think?" Kittridge asks, "If there were a reasonable reason for me to deserve your anger?"
"Well," Rosanna says in that same light, innocent voice. "You are a bit rude to Lord Rutger on occasion. Even if you don't like him, you ought to be polite."
"I was very slightly rude to him once, and I apologized and he accepted," Kittridge replies evenly, "And that's a reason for Lord Rutger to be angry at me, not you."
"I can be angry about it if I want," Rosanna sniffs. "You're the one insisting I be angry at you about something."
"So are you angry about it, then?" Kittridge asks, beginning to sound exasperated with this game even though he sort of started it, "Can we stop doing this? It's stupid. You're obviously angry, all you ever do lately is glare at me and stomp your feet and things. I'm not sorry that I won't let you immediately marry Lord Rutger and run off to have his possibly murderous babies in a swamp. I'm not sorry that I think you deserve better. I hope you can try to understand that's why I'm doing things as I am."
"You started it," Rosanna is quick to point out, because that is what siblings do. And, just as expected, "I don't stomp. And I understand everything. I'm not stupid."
"And now I'm ending it," Kittridge retorts. So there. "You do stomp," he replies, "You know you do. And you huff at me and you generally behave like you're about two seconds from throwing a tantrum at me everytime I don't do exactly what you want. It doesn't exactly make me think you're ready to be married. Do you understand that, then?"
"I am ready," Rosanna insists with surprising sincerity that is less stompy, if still at least a little whiny. A little. "I'm seventeen years old. I want to get married."
"Why?" Kittridge asks, "Why do you want to? I understand that you like Lord Rutger, I do. I don't understand why, but I can see that you like him. But he's the first of many. We haven't even had a chance yet to look further afield, to find you someone better. You could have a rich lord with a big castle and bigger prospects, just like you've always said you wanted. Why are you settling so quickly?"
"Because he sees me," Rosanna blurts out. She goes a bit red after she does, drawing her gaze away from her brother. "He sees that I am clever and ambitious and he likes that. He wants to marry me because of it. Day always said I should marry someone who would make me his partner. And I know what you're going to say," she adds before she can say it. "That he is just pretending and saying things so that I like him, but I don't think you're right. At least not about this."
"That wasn't what I was going to say," Kittridge replies when she's finished, "I mean, I do think it's possible. But what I was going to say is that what makes you think he's the only man who would? What makes you so sure there isn't anyone else out there who could appreciate that, who will want you as his partner in better things than Rutger Nayland can offer you? You're only just seventeen, Rosie. We have time to look. If Lord Rutger really admires you as much as you think, he'll wait."
"Because I want him," Rosanna says with all the conviction of an attached teenager. "You just don't like him."
"I don't like you settling for the first man to ever make an effort," Kittridge replies, a little bit harshly, frowning at the road ahead, "For someone who spends all her time claiming to be clever and ambitious you're not approaching this very cleverly or ambitiously. If you're either of those things you can see that you can do better and you should want to at least try. You can settle for Lord Rutger once you've taken the time to at least attempt to find someone better."
To this, Rosanna has nothing to say: she frowns in her usual stubborn fashion, but can't quite find the words to refute this particular logic. Silence is better than admitting defeat, however.
"I'm not doing this to try to make you unhappy, Rosie," Kittridge goes on while he's got the advantage, "I want to make sure that you're going to be as happy as you can be. And I know Lord Rutger seems to make you happy right now, at this moment, but I think that setting aside your dreams and ambitions for this, for him, without at least trying to fulfill them first, will be something you'll live to regret, and ultimately you won't be happy. And I love you too much to let you choose that. I'd rather you be angry at me now than that you spend decades of your life wishing someone had made you think twice about this."
"Well apparently it doesn't matter what I think," Rosanna says a bit miserably. "Everyone just cares about what they think. What if I don't like anyone as well as Lord Rutger, and we take too long and his house makes him marry someone else? It's not as if he could refuse his duty if his father dictated a match."
"Lord Rutger has plenty of unmarried brothers and sisters and cousins for his family to make alliances with," Kittridge replies, "And he has two sons already besides, so he's in no need of heirs. And in a couple months time he may not be heir to anything anyway. Not to mention that his family is mostly known for being poor and greedy and unpopular with nearly everyone who knows them," he says dryly, "I really don't think there's much risk of that happening. And if Lord Rutger is everything you think he is, would he just roll over and go along?"
Very grudging and reluctant to give up on this point, Rosanna mumbles, "No."
Kittridge nods, "Right. So there's no hurry, here, for all Lord Riordan wants to make it seem there is. We have time to do this right, and that's how we're going to do it," Kit says firmly, "We're not cutting corners on this, it's too important. Alright?" He turns to look over at her, awaiting a response, it seems.
"I did get Lord Riordan in trouble with his sister for trying to rush or act like we were being at all unseemly in our pacing," Rosanna says a bit smugly. "He came by to apologize this morning." Which is kind of like acknowledging Kit's point?
"Did he?" Kittridge replies, and snorts, "Well that's something. He seems a nice enough fellow but it's like he's trying to live four days for every one of everyone else's. It's a little ridiculous. And dragging his sister about everywhere after him like part of his baggage train isn't very nice, either. I'm glad he's been made to understand that we're doing this in a totally reasonable fashion."
"I made it quite clear," Rosanna says, sounding genuinely proud of himself. "I felt that he deserved to work for my forgiveness." She glances at Kittridge with a gaze slightly narrowed. "Well, you seem happy whenever he's dragged his sister somewhere you are," she says.
Kittridge snickers briefly, and smiles a little, saying, "Well, good." As for Roslyn, he shrugs, glancing back at his sister as she looks over. "So do you," he replies, "You two seem to getting along well, and I like her. She seems intelligent, and to have some influence on her brothers. A good person to be friendly with to get some insight into the family."
"I like her perfectly well, but I'm not the one she's making eyes at," Rosanna says with a disapproving sniff. "You know that Lord Justin Terrick fancies her, too."
Kittridge laughs at that sniff. "What, can't you see any reason at all she'd like me?" he jokes, and lifts a brow, "Does he? I know Ser Riordan's trying to convince his Lords Rickart and Jerold to match them. I'd gotten the impression Lord Justin wasn't too keen on the idea. She is a fair bit older than him. Old to be married, too."
"Really?" Rosanna says with considerable interest. "Lord Riordan had let slip that she might have a match soon, but he didn't say who." She mulls this over thoughtfully. "Curious. Well, I suppose with all of this talk of Lord Riordan and Lady Anais, the entire families are getting closer." She smirks.
"Is it a secret?" Kittridge seems surprised to hear it, "She spoke about it openly enough." He shrugs, "We'll see, it seems a bit of a longshot to me, but who knows." At the last, he laughs. "Maybe so," he replies, shaking his head, "I don't know what they think they're playing at. Nobody'd look twice at a dance, but several, out in the square, and kissing her hand like that, and now run off to the Mire with them? I can't see anything good coming of that, whatever it is."
"She certainly danced with the whole hall, but hardly like that," Rosanna says in full gossip mode. "I don't know if it's a secret. No one's told me." She looks a little put out by that.
"Nobody gossips about just once dance out of a dozen unless there's something different in it," Kittridge agrees, "Else half the ladies in the Riverlands would be rumored to be engaged to me by now," he jokes with a quick flash of a grin. He shrugs, and says, "I assumed you knew. I didn't realize it wasn't about. You're the gossipy one."
"Well, now it will be," Rosanna says, rising eagerly to the task of disseminating this information.
Kittridge laughs. "Oh good," he says, "I'm so glad someone's on top of that pressing matter." He stretches his arms up over his head and yawns. "The Terrick's've asked for more time to decide about giving us back our land for the surplus," he informs her, "I told Lord Justin they could have three days. I've no idea what they're going to decide at this point. Or what father will do. I've half a mind to give it to the Naylands anyway just to teach the Terricks a lesson about dragging their feet."
Rosanna wrinkles her nose. "Haven't they had enough time already?" she says. "I'm surprised they have any smallfolk left."
Kittridge snorts. "Apparently not, and I guess they must," Kittridge replies to each comment respectively, shrugging. "I'm not sure what Lord Jerold's doing, letting it go this long. I'm not surprised he's reluctant to part with land, who wouldn't be, but he's got to have exhausted all of his options by now. Or decided that he'd rather go some other way. It's not like the situation is any different today than it was six months ago except that they've got less food now than they did then."
"Maybe they eat less in Terrick's Roost than we do in Kingsgrove," Rosanna brainstorms helpfully.
"They certainly do now," Kittridge agrees dryly.
Rosanna laughs all in a tinkling manner that is blithely ignorant of any actual manners of starvation. "Well, it's their own fault if they can't be bothered to pursue what food is available in a timely fashion," she says carelessly. And then, with a pleased smile, she offers a rare compliment: "Clearly none of them are as clever as you, Kittridge."
"Well that's obviously true," Kittridge replies with a grin, before looking ahead again, stretching an arm across his chest. "It'll be good to be home for a bit," he says, "I like Stonebridge well enough, but I don't like living in someone else's home for so long."
"I don't mind it," Rosanna says cheerfully. "I like being other places."
"So do I, but I like having a place to sleep in other places where I'm not beholden to anybody for their hospitality. At least not all the time." Kit glances over at her, "So you're not at all pleased to be home, then?"
"Well." Ever so reluctant, Rosanna admits, "I suppose I'm a little pleased."
Kittridge smiles. "Alright then," he allows, "So long as it's at least a little. Not like there's any shame in liking being at home," he says, mildly, "You can like being at home and still want to go see other places, too. I like both."
"I shall be pleased to see mother and father," Rosanna allows. "And the orchards. And the pond. And my tree." Her smile comes a bit uncharacteristically shy. "I suppose I'm rather pleased."
"I'm definitely going for a swim right off," Kittridge announces with a grin, "Dibs on the pond. I missed that at Stonebridge most, I think. And my room and the orchards and mother and father and hunting and everything. But the pond." He nods decisively.
"They should build a pond at Stonebridge," Rosanna decides. "You should include that in your dealings with the Naylands."
Kittridge laughs. "I'll keep that in mind," he says, "And make sure to insist on it. They'll have to have it dug before we'll return."
"I think this is an acceptable demand," Rosanna says from her haughty place of never negotiating.
"I quite agree," Kittridge replies in a similar tone, "I'll put it on the list behind a great deal of coin and ahead of an elephant."
"I think I'd want a tiger first," Rosanna informs him. "I like cats." Then she frowns. "You don't think a tiger would eat Barristan, do you?"
"Probably not. Probably the tiger would become Barristan's mentor," Kittridge replies, "Teaching him all sorts of foreign-cat tricks. And Barristan in return would introduce the tiger to all the best places in Kingsgrove to climb about and irritate people."
"Oh, I think Barristan would like that," Rosanna decides. After a moment she frowns faintly. "Do you think I'd be able to come home often once I'm married?"
"I'm sure Barristan would like it plenty, it's the rest of us I'd worry about," Kittridge replies. He considers her question for a long moment before tilting his head back and forth in that way he does when he doesn't quite want to shake his head but is definitely not saying yes. "I don't know about often?" he says somewhat hesitantly, "It's… I mean, not never? But your life will be there, with your husband and your children. Taking care of them and running that household. Spending much time at Kingsgrove with us probably won't be an option. I mean… when was the last time mother went back to Gulltown?" he points out, shrugging a little.
"But Gulltown is rather far," Rosanna reasons. "It is not a short journey for her to make. She might visit more if her home were closer." Still, the thought lingers with her, quietly unsettling the very act of returning home.
"True," Kittridge doesn't disagree, "So maybe a bit more often than that, but… I mean, you'll have to have a new home," he says, shrugging again, "That's just… what it means."
"Of course," Rosanna murmurs. She looks back over at him, a bit quieter than before. "When will you marry?"
Kittridge shrugs yet again. "When Father asks me to, I guess," he says. "I'm not really in any hurry."
"Not in a hurry to marry Lady Roslyn," Rosanna teases.
Kittridge laughs. "Not in a hurry to marry anybody," he corrects, "No offense to Lady Roslyn."
Rosanna frowns. "It's not fair that men have so long," she says. "You're older than she is, and no one thinks you're an old maid."
"Well, we can have kids forever," Kittridge points out reasonably, "Look at Lord Frey. It's just different."
Rosanna wrinkles her nose. "Ugh," she says. "I don't want to look at Lord Frey."
"But he has such a nice castle," Kittridge replies, "With towers and right by the river…."
Rosanna actually looks briefly concerned. "You don't think father would ever marry me to Lord Frey, do you?" she asks worriedly. "Or someone like him?"
"Of course not," Kittridge shakes his head quickly, "Father would never do that. And I'd never let him. Nor would Mother, or Stafford, or Day, or Tommas, or Brynner…. Seven, we all think Lord Rutger's too old, and Lord Frey's three times that."
"But Lord Blackwood married Lady Alyssa to him," Rosanna says, shaking her head. "I can't even imagine. How awful that would be. He seems so disagreeable. And old. And ugly."
"He is all of those things, definitely," Kit agrees. He shrugs, "I guess some lords just care more about trying to make friends with someone like Lord Frey than they do about the girl they send off to marry him. But you know Father's not like that."
"I know," Rosanna says, taking in a reassured breath. "I want to marry someone clever," she says. "And handsome."
"Well, you can't marry me," Kittridge replies teasingly, and then shrugs. "That's not so hard, really. It's a big world. Maybe," he says, slowly, "Maybe we can convince Father that we should take a trip to Lannisport," he suggests, "I think you'd like it. It's huge compared to Riverrun. And of course they're all rich so the shops and things are very fancy."
That clearly catches her interest. "Lannisport?" Rosanna says, brightening right up. "Do you think he'd let us go? Could we take a ship? That would be so exciting."
"I think he might," Kittridge says with a nod, "I'll ask him. And sure, a ship from Seagard is fastest, that's how I'd want to go. I'll see what he says," he nods, "Though probably not right away," he says, "I'm betting the Mallisters will through a tourney for Lord Patrek's betrothal, they won't want the Freys showing them up. And we'll want to go to that."
"Another tourney?" Rosanna says, brightening even more. Kittridge is sure pulling out the shiny stops. "So soon? That would be so exciting." So much so that she forgets to be put out that Patrek is marrying someone else.
"I mean, I don't know, nobody's announced anything," Kittridge hedges, "But that's my guess. I mean, the Mallisters will want a big deal to show people they're doing well and not get out-done by the Freys, and the Redwynes are from the Reach, they're all tournament crazy. I bet some would come up for it."
"Oh, I'm so excited now!" It's like Kittridge just told her the exact confirmed dates for it. Rosanna nearly wriggles in her saddle. "The last one was so wonderful. Do you think all the same men would come to compete?"
"Probably not," Kittridge says, shaking his head, "I mean, some of them, sure, but there'd probably be a lot of new people, too. More Mallisters, Redwynes, friends of Mallisters and Redwynes."
"Well that would be good, too," Rosanna says, canting her head as she pictures it. "I hope it doesn't rain."
"Maybe some more real tourney knights, too," Kittridge says, "Not just random knights like me. They're more fun to watch, the ones who are really good at it. And we can see how many houses' arms you remember from all Day's lessons," he jokes.
"I remember all of them," Rosanna declares haughtily. "It was that or be eaten by trolls."
"A nasty end," Kittridge agrees, "I hear there are still some lurking around in the woods these days, so we'd better hope you're right about remembering."
That, Rosanna rolls her eyes at. "You're silly," she declares her brother.
Kittridge laughs, and shrugs. "Yep," he confirms, "Almost definitely."
She smiles at him in a fond, lingering fashion, and finally Rosanna says, "I'm sorry I was mad at you, but I still want to marry him."
Kittridge looks, just for a second, terribly disappointed. But he shifts it into an affectionate, if crooked smile, and replies, "Well, I'm still not going to make it easy for you. So I guess you'll just have to be mad some more."
Her smile widens, unbothered, and Rosanna looks ahead of them with a lifted chin. "That's all right," she says airily.