|If You Could…|
|Summary:||Kerrigan and Ae have a talk, Stafford asks a favor.|
|Related Logs:||Excuse me, Milord|
|Kennels, Braeburn House|
|The kennels are full of the sounds of the hounds, and the musky smell of them. Braeburn House breeds hounds meant for the hunt, as opposed to the shepherding breeds that are common on the countryside. The cages are spacious and clean, and the dogs show no sign of neglect. The Kennelmaster lives above the kennels.|
|Nov 23, 289|
Aeliana had come out with a bucketfull of scrapes left over from the kitchen and some choice bones that the cook had been tucking aside for the past two days. There were now enough for everyone and as such, while the pregnant bitch that was laid up in the first slot recieved the price piece, the sire for the litter got the next. She'd spent a few minutes crooning to him too, since the scarred bastard was the one who often led the hunt and Stafford had promised to let her run them tomorrow. Septa and handmaid both had taken chairs to either side the open doorway of the kennel, the one disinclined for the smell and the other afraid of dogs. Ae sat on a bucket, tossing out bits and pieces to those who were left.
Kerrigan finds his way into the kennel; just barely, because he leans against the doorframe in his usual, casual way. At the looks of the septa and handmaid, he presses a finger to his lips, thus earning their silence (at least for the moment). Then, he just watches Aeliana's progress with thoughtful hazel eyes, his mind a million miles away, but the subject clear. He doesn't even seem about to creep up and frighten her!
The subject is hardly clear to the lady who's oblivious; as much to the man as she is to the fact that it's probably not very healthy for her gown to sitting in hay strewn earth. The Septa gives him a glower that says, by the way her posture changes, quite specifically, that she's watching him. The handmaid simply looks bored.
Kerrigan just rolls his eyes at the septa, suggesting that, yes, she can watch all she likes for all he cares. "Why are you hiding out here?" he breaks the silence with a question, which for all its innocence, is still accusing Aeliana of hiding from something.
<FS3> Aeliana rolls Reaction: Failure.
For all her composure and the general air of always expecting the unexpected, the woman still bounced up off the bucket to her feet like a snake had bit her; whirling around to face the voice with wide eyes and a hand clutching her chest. "I wasn't hiding!" And it might, perhaps, have had a little more heat to it than necessary because her heart was still stuck in her throat.
"Then why do you look so guilty?" Kerrigan'd like to know, his voice light as he resists a grin. He's intentionally provoking her, really. His eyes drop to Aeliana's hand on her chest. Hello, hand. Hello, chest!
Stared at him for that question, a very droll, very deadpan sort of stare and her then she sucked in a deep breath and…, "Because you just scared me half to death! I'm not guilty of anything!" He's staring at what now? She's not noticed. Perv.
"That's a shame," Kerrigan looks disappointed. "I was hoping that would be. It'd certainly be interesting, don't you think? I suspect that behind your lady-like facade there is a passionate woman that wants to strangle everyone around her." He finally remembers that Aeliana has a face, and grins crookedly at her.
"Strangling is far too kind, personal yes, but kind. It doesn't really hurt, now does it." Which suggest that she wants to do /something/ but strangling isn't it. "Though I'm not sure you of all people should be thinking about…," oh. There. When his eyes finally moved, she realized where the'd been and cast a very decided glower in his direction. "As I was SAYING. You shouldn't be thinking about what's behind my anything." Hmph.
Kerrigan smirks then — probably because her comment about 'thinking about what's behind my anything' has made him immediately wonder what's behind her clothes. He's a classy kind of guy. "Probably not," he agrees, "but I'm not a person that's very worried about shoulds and should nots. Life's too short, wouldn't you agree?"
"That demends on what." Where he smirks, she straightens, until she's stretched just as tall as she could be and for Aeliana that was pretty tall. "In some ways it's short and in others, I think it's entirely too long." Siiiiiigh. "How come you're out here anyway?"
"I'm hiding," Kerrigan owns the very thing that Aeliana objected to. "Certainly, if I were attempting a romantic assignation, I would have picked somewhere that smelled better." How… thoughtful? "What's taking too long?"
"I suspect that you'd have also brought a female with you, for this romantic assignation," Aeliana mused, "But why are you hiding?" She pressed, ambling over to the stall of one of the younger brutes and waiting for it to come collect it's scrap. As for what's taking too long? "Everyone's expectations to go away?" Shrug.
"One would hope," Kerrigan wryly says of females and romantic assignations. He laughs, then, grinning crookedly as he shifts topics to answer Aeliana's question. "I may as well wait for the sky to fall. And then, I still probably wouldn't be happy, because rebelling against expectations doesn't work as well when there are none to be had. I'd be hiding from Stafford until the say I died, if that where the case." Speak of the devil!
Stafford was looking for Kerrigan, which was not always a particularly easy quest to complete. This time it had gone quite alot easier, thanks to a busybody retainer of the household snitching on the younger son of Campbell. Whether or not he had actually been trying to stay away, now he was found. While wearing his dutiful business expression; eyes purposeful and mouth a thin and hard pressed line of thoughtfulness, he appeared in the kennels. If he was surprised to find Aeliana there as well, it didn't show. Instead he cleared his throat, then approached.
"Brother. My Lady." The first getting an acknowledging nod, the second getting a deep bow of proper respect.
"Just whom I was looking for. Wonderful coincidence."
"Yes, there's no point in hiding but…sometimes I think of how nice it might be to be without masks and given the ability to take a fucking walk without two harpies eavesdropping on every conversation and following me every where I go. There's no freedom in it. At least you can go for walks by yourself," she sulked and kicked at a bit of hay. "But..you want…things in life, you told me so. Why rebell then, when simply following along will get you what you want in the end?" It was given with a sigh and thank you Stafford her maid's there and so is her septa. Anyway, she straightened when he appeared and offered a curtsy and went through the proper gauntlet of respectful social blahblahs and went quiet.
"I like you when you're pissed off. You curse like a sailor," Kerrigan says, approvingly, and apparently he's been spending his time wisely with Aeliana by getting her all fired up. His grin is a little less pleased when he returns his brother's greeting. "Good to see you, too, Stafford. Funny, how hard it is to find people in this house, sometimes." Particularly when they don't want to be found. "I just want to say that I had /no idea/ that girl was engaged—" he starts off by explaining himself.
"Save it," Stafford bit off the explanations with a brusque wave of annoyance. "I don't particularly care whose bed you've been tending to. But I'll warn you, if we have to pay compensation for some girl's lost maidenhood, or gods forbid, bastard, then it's coming straight out of your allowance."
He flicked a look in the septa and handmaiden's direction, then stepped a touch closer, al the while ignoring those dogs who recognized him, and were madly barking and tail-wagging for his attention. "I've something I'd like you to look into. Quietly, preferably. I don't like scandals."
"Much to the demise? No, that sounds like I'm wishing them dead," to which the pair at the door, (the women) earned a cheeky smile and then she straightened and siddled just a tinsy bit closer to Stafford, bucked tradition and let her head collasp onto his shoulder with the implied suggestion that petting her hair wouldn't be remiss. "I don't much think your brother likes my mouth when it gets colorful either, to be honest." But as for looking into things, her expression was clueless and her mouth was politely shut.
Kerrigan can't help but look amused, rather than chastised, when Stafford cuts him off. But, when another topic is offered, he gladly takes it up instead. "Scandal? I wouldn't know the meaning of the word," he answers. He doesn't stop leaning on the wall that he's so heroically holding up. "What can I do for you, Stafford?"
That proper lack of appreciation for the seriousness of Stafford's displeasure regarding seeding bastards around, earned Kerrigan his disapproval written large in the firm lines of his scruffy features. The only thing that softened it up, was Aeliana's sudden breach of impropriety. For a moment the Young Lord looked uncertain as to how to respond, as if some unwritten rule had been breached. Which, let's face it, it had. Puzzled for a second, but then he *did* give her wild mane a pleasent little stroke. It would have been rude not to. Right? Of course, that's the only reason!
"Far be it from me to judge another's language," said Stafford airly to Aeliana talking about her language. and his opinion of it. Though she was prbably right. He was a stuck up bastard when it came to these things. Never heard *him* curse like a sailor.
"There's some discrepensies between our official ledgers on taxation on Cliffton, and what the villagers themselves claim to be paying. Either they're lying, which seems unlikely but possible, or someone is stealing from us between there and arrival. The sheriff, or perhaps some of his men. It might be a problem in other villages, too. I'd like you to find out exactly what's going on, who is hoodwinking us, and whether it's happening elsewhere, too. Then quietly bring them, and proof, to me."
Aeliana has gotten her little pet, she's happy. Her nose wriggles and there's a faint nuzzle to the tips of his fingers before she's content to be arm candy and let Stafford be her perch. Though one dark little brow -does- climb when she hears just what the issue is. Because that…where was Cliffton anyway? While her look was inquisitive, it wasn't pressing because she was forced to regard Kerrigan as well, in part simply to see what his reaction to Stafford's request was.
Kerrigan rubs his jaw, thoughtfully, as he mulls it over. "That shouldn't be a problem," he says. "I'll head over there. Do you have any particular leads, or should I just see how it goes?" 'Just See How It Goes' could really be Kerrigan's motto. In any case, he doesn't seem worried about how he's going to accomplish this, or devising any particular plan. "It'll be nice to have something to do."
"Only advise I can give, is take it seriously," Stafford said grimly, his dark eyes fixed on Kerrigan. "Because I am. I don't have time to do it myself, so I'm offering you a bit of my trust, here. It would be really nice if I a month from now I don't realize nothing has been done, and have to deal with it myself anyway." It wasn't anything personal, really, but Kerrigan was a well known ne'er do well. Low expectations weren't mean, they were just plain smart.
Aeliana stood listening, pretty and listening and quiet because this was Stafford's decision, not anyone else's and he already seemed to have the right of it.
"Sure," Kerrigan stops leaning on the wall with a stretch. "Consider it done." Though, there's always a touch of worry when /Kerrigan/ of all people sets himself to a task. In any case, his feelings don't seem to be hurt by low expectations! They have been his constant companion these twenty three years.
"Good," Stafford said, offering his younger brother a nod in gratitude for the matter being 'considered done', though only time would tell if it actually *was* going to be handled. He still likely harbored a fairly large suspicion that he would, yet again, end up having to handle things himself. Even if there were only so many hours of the day that even a dutiful son like Stafford could dedicate himeself to.
"In that case, that was all I wanted." and like that, he looked like he intened to leave.
Aeliana looked like a poor kicked puppy since he intended to leave without saying goodbye, but not really. "I'll just finish bribing the rest of the darlings," the DOGS, thank you, "And then I'll be in."
Kerrigan pouts. "Where's my bribe?" he wants to know.
Of course Stafford said proper good bye to Aeliana. A little parting stroke of the back of her head, and a: "I'm sure I'll see you later, my Lady, for the evening meal?" And then he was gone.
"I'm still working on yours, I ran into a bit of trouble finding some pink thread," Aeliana flashed an amused grin in Kerrigan's direction; having offered a nod of her head in agreement to his brother before he moved on. "And now, look at you, Mister Almost but not quite yet, Responsible." Snerk.
"Careful, or I'll have to fuck it up just to spite you," says Kerrigan, cheerfully. "Though I'd venture to say there's a difference between being responsible and being able to take care of bullshit."
"And fucking things up, of course," Aeliana mused, lips still holding that slightly bemused quirk. "And you would too, I'd bet. Because I'd do the same damn thing if someone were to poke at me like that," she teased. "But then…I'd probably hate myself for it later. It wouldn't be the first time. So -are- you riding in the hunt tomorrow?"
"Oh, you may rest assured that I thoroughly hate myself," Kerrigan gives a bow in Aeliana's direction. "We'll see. It depends on if I can drag myself from my bed."
"You shouldn't," she frowned at him then. "You're handsome and you're very educated. You've an over-powering measure of charm that I'm not sure is entirely safe for any of the females in the local vicinity, but…," wait, he'd said he'd bedded someone who was engaged earlier, hadn't he? "Why did you do that if she were ment for another?" Not that it's really any of her business at all.
"Why'd I do what?" Kerrigan asks, because he'd completely forgotten until Aeliana brought it up just now. His memory jogged, he goes, "Oh. I need to remember that even when you're not running your mouth, your ears still work."
"My darling man, even when I'm sleeping, my ears still work. But that's not really answering the question, now is it." Those brows rose with the faint taunt in his direction, before she gave a little shrug and then reached over to pet bitch that'd wondered close to the end of her cage in a quest for attention.
Kerrigan thinks about it a moment, then shrugs. "I didn't know," he says, "and I've never forced a woman to share my bed. It was as much her choice as anything. So, maybe the better question'd be why did she sleep with me if she was meant for another? Though, if I did know, perhaps that wouldn't have changed anything."
Aeliana shrugged in response, conceding the point before she stepped away. "Fair enough. Sometimes I suppose it's not always about politics, but hearts and…other things as well." She made a murmured sound of apology to the swollen bitch too, for running out of scrapes and with one last pat, pulled herself away. "I suppose I ought to be finding something useful to do with my time, now. I've run out of excuses to linger and hide as you put it."
"I suppose my method of distraction won't really work for you," Kerrigan opines. "Ah, well. There will be plenty of people here tomorrow, and perhaps that will provide some entertainment."
"Depends on what it is? Honestly I'm tired of sitting round on neat little picnic blankets or horse races or comfortable walks where no one discusses absolutely nothing of importance and in the end all I feel like is that I've wasted an hour or three of my life, accomplished nothing and didn't even get to enjoy it." Sigh. Another little pile of hay went scattered beneath her dainty foot.
"Then what would you prefer to do instead?" Kerrigan glances back at Aeliana. "Without making excuses about why you /can't/ do whatever it is you want, I mean. Just what you want. No ifs, ands, or buts."
"I…can't answer that, Kerri," the lady lied but it was done with a smile that was sweet and without ever so much as batting an eyelash. "I've never really considered it. One day I will. When I do? I'll tell you." She winked and then turned to leave the kennels. If he wanted to continue to talk, he was welcome to follow. She hadn't dismissed the conversation after all, just…moved to change locations.
"You, my lady, are a liar," Kerrigan accuses Aeliana's back as he follows her out. "And a coward."
At that she turns, a whirl of skirts and the sharp cut of her eyes. "You're right," Aeliana said. "I am a liar. But not, I think, a coward. I take risks, when I figure the rewards are worth it. It's just not appropriate for a lady to say that she'd rather be on a river fishing," which earned him a frown. "I also didn't feel like being laughed at."
Kerrigan blinks at Aeliana. "Is that it?" he says, kind of surprised. "Well then. We'll have to see what can be done about that. But, of course, if you want to stick to appropriate conversations, I'd be more than happy to oblige. I'm certain my brother would prefer it."
"It surprises you? My most favorite place in the world was my Uncle's holding, you could fit it into a single wing of Kellen. He's the only Lord for miles. I could walk there and swim and splash and play. I could be a person, it's…," Aeliana shrugged. "I remember it, being here. I miss it. And I've enjoyed the conversations that we have, whether they're appropriate or not. Don't you get tired of the fake charm and the pleasantries or…are they not fake for you?"
Kerrigan tilts his head to the side. "There are times when I genuinely enjoy exaggerated charm and flowery compliments and dramatic, gallant statements," he says. "If it's all done in good fun, then I have no problem with it. But when there's no substance beneath it, I have little use for social niceties."
"You can say that, a man can frown on what's expected but there will still be women who want you and there will be people who flock to you because of that. They are not so easy to shun for me, despite how I might so often loathe them," she shrugged and brushed her hair back behind her ear.
"I didn't make the double standards," Kerrigan shrugs. "I think you have to grab whatever happiness you can and cling to it, because no one else is going to give it to you. If that means thumbing your nose at social conventions, then so be it. If it were easy, I daresay everyone would be hugging instead of waging wars." He moves towards the exit. Apparently, he's leaving!
"Too true, my lord, too true." And with a polite curtsy, off she goes as well; entourage in her wake.