Page 204: If You'll Have Me
If You'll Have Me
Summary: Einion is reassured.
Date: 6 February 2012
Related Logs: Promise for a Promise and Not What They Appear. The Tam/Starling/Einioin triangle, basically.
Einion Starling 
Nayland Camp - Seagard
The Nayland encampment at Seagard. Tents. Grass. Fires. You know the drill.
February 6th 289 A.L.

It's been a rough day; some of his comrades have made at least an attempt to cheer the fellow up, and for the most part, Einion Wycliffe, tanner turned serjeant, let them think they were succeeding. Still, a hole is a hole, and he sets himself to a task, forming that little leather horse— turning what he'd seen over and over in his mind. The cheek caress, the kiss to her palm.. and then before he knew it, the explosion? It simply didn't make sense, and he's pretty sure that he won't ever make sense of it.. not when it has to do with a girl. Well, and Ser Tam.

But, the day does pass, and pass fair when word is given that the Green and Orange quarters have been dismissed— sent home with the caveat that they are to be part of the home guard. But— they are being sent home. Asking to be sure he's simply not dreaming it, Ser Bruce does indeed give the tanner permission to go home. Home! It's once he's swallowed that bit of news that finally, finally he's got something to hold on to— something he can give Starling.. if she'll have him. Before, he couldn't go to her because, well.. there was nothing he could offer. But now?

Einion turns to limp quickly back to his meagre supplies; bedroll, his kit.. and some tools he'd thought to bring before piling them up with the other mens'. With that done, he's able to stand in something approximating the center of the camp, leaning on his pike, looking about— searching.. all the while hoping that she hasn't simply left him. He has news!

This area of the camp is abuzz with good cheer and activity, in the wake of the dismissal of certain quarters. Everyone is packing up, for the most part, though some loiter around campfires for food and good-natured conversation. Of course, not everyone knows the reason for all this sudden movement, do they? Making her way through the crowd, hands shoved as ever deep in the pockets of her coat, Starling regards her surroundings with her habitually wide dark eyes, not daring to ask what's going on.. and the soldiers, in turn, leave her be. For many reasons.

Pausing mid-stride to allow a handful of figures to pass by unimpeded, seeing as they're hefting rather impressive quantities of gear in armfuls, the slender girl half-turns in a pivot on one bootheel, the better to halt her motion. For, despite her apparently aimless and lacking-in-purpose manner, she's evidently looking for something. Or someone.

It doesn't take long for her gaze to fall upon the tanner, now that he is a lone still statue within the clamour and bustle. Regarding Einion for a moment, she begins to smile slowly. Her feet carry her almost of their own accord now toward the familiar figure. But there's something hesitant to her mien. There's news of some sort. But what shall it be? That curve across her lips, while genuine in pleasure at having her eyes alight upon him, is tremulous. You have to be ready for the worst, after all. Drawing nearer, she raises one hand to push back her tousled dark locks.

Now, it could possibly be news that everyone is finally shipping out and the final battle will be underway— but there's no furious barking of orders. No, this is a merry, mirthful gathering with good natured swearing, and the occasional raised voice of what 'I'm gonna do first'. THAT should give it away.

As for Einion, he leans, his gaze searching until finally she comes into view.. Starling. The smile that slowly rises, takes over her features, as far as the tanner is concerned, and that expression alone makes her more lovely than the ladies at court primped and dressed in their finery. But.. there's a hesitation that he simply can't help, and while he sees her, can he trust the expression is for him? Taking a shallowed breath, deep, lung-filling ones are a thing in the past now, he turns fully to face her and begins to close that distance on his side, the pike used as a walking stick, his expression hopeful. "Starling.. I have news." Question is, does she?

Once the distance between them has narrowed enough, Starling eases to a halt perhaps a foot from the serjeant, tilting her head a little as her hand drops away from her thick tresses again. Drawing a deep breath.. then loosing it with equal care.. she braces herself, not really daring to hope. " sold the dirk and invested in full plate..?" It's a half-hearted jest, but it's there. And it precedes a furthering curve of her generous mouth to a slight grin as she meets and holds Einion's gaze, searching it for clues. In the end, typically, she just has to come out and ask, forthright. "..just tell me what direction they're sendin' you, Einion. So I can decide if I need to go an' throw up somewhere."

The smile fades, but only to allow her to bite down hard on her lower lip. Those dark eyes flit, just once, in assessment over the man's form. He's looking better. Damnit, is that good or bad? Apparently it means the difference in being sent off to die a hero or being allowed to linger behind and dismissed from further recognition. Which side a woman would want is a hard enough choice for a -friend-.. but for one that's more than that? Nightmarishly impossible. Of course, there's no mention made of Coop. Why would there be?

"Nah, I have that on my belt still," and with that, he does lift it with a free hand— but Einion does get the jest, and the response is laughed, though it still holds those traces of hesitation. Shaking his head, his lowers his voice, but it's not as if everyone around doesn't know. "Ser Bruce," Never 'Bruce' to the man's face, mind, ".. and apparently his Lordship has seen fit to let us go home. Green and Orange quarter. They've sent for the others t'come." He lowers his head at that, however, and the smile fades a bit. "I don't know about the ser," he begins hesitantly, "but I thought you might like t'know." It's now that he waits— he's offered up his neck on the block; will she stay behind to find out if Tam is leaving, or come with him? He hasn't seen the hedge knight since.. yesterday, though he's heard word.. and he's not really very happy about the messages.

For a few beats, the young stablehand merely stares. Given the tears when she was told he was to stay, then the subsequent stress of trying to keep her chin up these past few days.. and now.. he's coming home? She doesn't have to trudge back to Stonebridge on her own and find a way to busy her hands while she and his kin wait, with everyone else, for word of the battles on the isles? It takes a moment for all this to truly dawn upon Starling. So, truth be told, her blank gaze upon him, save for a few slow blinks, might be a little.. unnerving.

As the tanner lowers his head, though, the girl impulsively steps closer, bringing her waifish form within a breath of his and seeking to raise his eyes with a soft touch to his jawline. He 'thought she might like to know'. That the man she fully intends to marry won't be going off to almost certain doom. Considering that, she can't help but begin to smile, even with the real threat of dewy warmth in her eyes now. If she cares about the curious glances being cast their way, there's no trace of any such concern upon her features, which warm further with every passing second. No, spectators be damned. With a soft breath, her palm settling gently at Einion's stubbled cheek, she leans inward without a thought.. and seeks to press a kiss to his lips, lightly encouraging his mouth to descend upon her own with naught but a stroking caress of her fingertips.

Einion waits.. and it is more than a little unnerving to watch her hovering, as it were, between one emotion and the next. It's not for long, however, when Starling approaches him and in the time of a single heartbeat, the warmth of her hand touches his cheek, and a kiss is bestowed. And what a kiss! Einion takes his free hand, the one that had gestured to his belt and wraps it around the waist of the groom, pulling her in as his own kiss deepens. He needs that hold on the pike, however, as the dizzying effects take hold— the sweet kiss, the smell of hay and horse.. and the heady feeling that perhaps everything will be okay. There are hoots and howls, however, coming from the clumps of pikes, some low grunts and barks of pleasure from comrades. When the kiss concludes, he doesn't pull away completely, though it's really easy to see the reddening of his face, his cheeks.. "You're good with that, then."

Maybe she'd genuinely expected to be rebuffed, or for Einion to draw back from her, scandalised. Starling certainly looses a quiet sound upon the sigh she breathes across his cheek, finding herself drawn closer against the warmth of his chest.. but more than likely it's simply that. Pleasure in being accepted. And needed. And yes.. it's one hell of a kiss. The girl's slender back arches just a little at the behest of the tanner's hand at the small of it, the tilt of her jaw accepting the fleeting deepening of the gesture with ease. While he might smell the hay and horses, the stablehand's senses are flooded with.. just.. Einion.

The hoots and catcalls, though, do gradually rouse a smile against his lips and she doesn't prevent the serjeant when he pulls that short distance away from her. A breathless laugh carries her initial reply as she sweeps her thumb softly across his flushed cheek again. "Yes.." She nods gently to emphasise, holding his gaze. "..I'm good with that." In a moment of sheer mischief, she leans to murmur softer words by his ear. Maybe she just wants to see how red he can turn? "..and I've a whole new notion of how best to make use of the hayloft, when we get back.."

The touch of her thumb against bristled cheek makes a path of heat on the skin, and Einion knows his face is red. Still, even flushed, he's .. happy, and the smile broadens. He catches the hooting of comrades, and simply chooses to ignore them.. for the most part. At least he won't turn his head in order to yell at them, anyway. Not right now, now when he's got Starling right in front of him. At the whisper, the whisper that would scandalize any lady present if it were heard or even suggested (in public) causes the tanner to blush a deeper crimson. He's not entirely certain if he's expected to reply, or truth be told, he's not entirely certain he can actually form proper words. Sh-sh-should we?" is followed rapidly by his headshaking. Isn't that supposed to wait.. but he's.. entranced, and intrigued, his arm, his hand remaining where it is, resting upon the small of her back. "Not her Ladyship's barn…?"

"I think, considerin' what you've been through to protect her Ladyship.." Starling's keeping that throaty undertone, even as she draws back to meet the tanner's spellbound gaze again, in close proximity. "..and her barn.." At this she grins slightly, no small amount of amusement surfacing as she watches the changing hues of Einion's complexion. "..she could spare you the use of the hayloft for an afternoon.." Relenting somewhat, she lets her hands drift to a settle upon his chest now and simply takes a moment to regard his features, up close.

Is she joking? Who can say. But the girl likewise ignores the approval and appreciation that's carried toward them both on the salty breeze, dismissing it as mere background noise. Why shouldn't the men be happy for their beloved serjeant? That's fine. But the suggestions on what they ought to do next she probably oughtn't pay heed to. Apparently some of these men have a vast learning, in such areas.

missing pose here

Chuckling quietly, the girl rests her brow gently to Einion's for a few beats before nodding; clearing her throat a little and straightening her posture. "Aye.." As her fingertips withdraw from their careful rest upon his chest, Starling casts a wryly amused look in the direction of his culprit friends. "..let's wander a bit." It's possible she feels a little guilty, for making the man stammer. A little.

Seeking his free hand to twine with her own, should he allow, the tall brunette steps to stand beside him unhurriedly, allowing him to lead the way. As he should. "Plans for you and the men, you mean?" she asks, conversationally, as if nothing untoward had ever crossed her mind, let alone passed her lips mere moments ago. Arching a brow, she keeps her gaze level upon Einion's.

Einion doesn't want to let her go, even in the loosely held embrace. Still, he lets his hand fall, only to be captured by her own small hand, delicate in comparison to his. With that last glance towards his crew, the men he'll be marching home with, he begins his path into a different direction. One where there'll be enough privacy to speak. Hopefully.

He uses the pike as a walking stick, though by all rights, he shouldn't have the weapon at all; he's not on duty. He's been given the night off and the eating and drinking will be in excess. "Plans.. aye.. for them, and us.." As he gets a little further away, now, his expression shifts from the man awashed in dreams and hope to one that is simply.. painfully hopeful. "But I have to ask, Star.." in this, he slows to a stop, not letting go for a moment of her hand, "What's Ser Tam in this?" The other man?

Keeping happily at the pace Einion sets, the girl lets her gaze wander the surroundings as they stroll, idly taking in the sights of the encampment all the more fondly now that it's soon to be at their backs. A deep lungful of the sea-salted air and she begins to relax further. But the gentle insistence of the tanner's grasp on her hand bids her slow as he does.. and then stop, turning to face him with the curve still playing across her lips.

Oh. The smile falters, then fades. Casting her eyes toward the ground, Starling mutters only, "I knew you saw that.." before biting her lip again and falling silent, for a time. When her doe eyes rise again, they seek Einion's with an almost ferocious determination. It's time to set this right. "..I didn' mean to upset you. And I know it must have, the way things looked yesterday." Squeezing his fingers in reassurance, she doggedly continues on; not exactly known for being elegant with words. "For some reason, Coop took it into his head that he mighta liked to court me, if things were different. Well, things ain't. And when I told him I'd accepted your.. y'know.. offer.." Oh, now she blushes. "..he was a bit upset. But yesterday.. I thought you were still gettin' sent out with the pikes again. And I asked him to watch your back, regardless." Harsh. But Starling has always been fairly straightforward in her dealings with the hedge knight.. if not their past. "..don't be mad with me. I was worried. And he only took offence 'cause I offered to pay him.." She's losing her track now, so she pauses to reaffirm it. "What you saw.. was a thank you. And a goodbye. And please believe me when I say this.." Tilting her jaw down a touch, she keeps her gaze firmly on that of the tanner. " are my choice."

By daybreak, it'll be a memory, and for him, not a necessarily good one. But, any army camp he can walk away from, though he knows his mother and sister will fuss, is a good one. It's that other bit that just.. pulls at him. "Ser Tam.. court you? Isn't he a bit old?" Okay, not unheard of, but.. he is a knight. Of course, that's the first reaction that comes, and of course, it's the one that exits his mouth before he realizes that there wasn't a stopper firmly planted beforehand. Einion is attentive, very much so.. and as he listens, he gets more confused and has to ask for clarification. "All's just for me?" As things sink in, there are so many questions, and he has no idea where to go first with any of them. He doesn't want to ask about Tam's part, the kiss so quietly and caringly accepted. At least in his view. "Y'don't love him, do you, Star? C'uz if you do? Wife of a knight's a lot better than one of a tanner. You might have real land, and someone to sew you dresses when you ask.. or-or-or ride when you want.. like the Lady Tord— Nayland." Is she really sure? He's told her all he can offer.. and because of the war, it'll take him some time to get back to where he simply was. "He loves you?"

"Einion." There's a soft tone of authority in the girl's voice; presumably the same she uses for a particularly stubborn horse when it doesn't want to back up in its stall. Seeing as they're mostly away from the bulk of the crowd now, Starling steps in close again, slower this time, to keep her eyes on his as she speaks. Then, inexplicably, she falters to a grin. "Do I lo-..?!" Exhaling a low laugh and shaking her head, she sweeps a hand lightly across the tanner's neatly cropped hair. For some reason, the notion is obviously entertaining. "No. I don't love Tam Cooper. And I've no care for dresses, an' I'll take myself ridin' if I want to go." Pausing, something seems to occur to the girl, sombre enough to quiet her expression. "..he's been a good friend to you, Einion. I'll give him that. And even knowin' that I'm to be yours, he was willin' to go out of his way to keep you safe. So.. I wasn't goin' to slap him for darin' to steal a kiss. I owed him somethin', for bringin' you back safe, after all." She doesn't stumble on with further words, since she can see in his eyes that the tanner has more to ask. Instead, she falls quiet and calmly waits for him to voice his thoughts.

Einion falters at her words, though he does crack a smile at her laugh, and it's one of decided relief. It is until he realizes that.. "Oh, Star.." He shakes his head, "You don't ask a man like that what demands payment.." He straightens his back, before he lets his pike fall and uses her as balance. His now free hand begins to play with her hair, the curls as they fall across her shoulders. He's torn now, and it plays on his face like the open book he is. "D'you think he'll not be my friend? I.. I think some of my men went after him, and told everyone so after.. and I didn't want them to. Told them not to." And if Tam doesn't want to be, there's.. a loss felt. He hasn't had the chance to say, well.. anything.