|In Need of Mending|
|Summary:||Katrin and Ilaria take a moment to catch up and discuss sensitive issues.|
|Related Logs:||Don't Beat Your Visitors, Burdens|
|Ilaria's Room - Rockliff Inn|
|It is a room fit for a lady with furniture and things ladies need.|
|15 October 289|
It is early evening. Wedges of orange evening sunlight filter in through the cracked window, scattering liquid gold over the floor and highlighting clouds of dust motes dancing in the air. Furniture is scattered about the roomy living quarters assigned to Ilaria, and the room is currently in disarray. Dresses new and old are draped over shelves and tables and spread out upon the bed, and the young Haigh is examining each and every one of them with the assistance of Heolla. "The lace on this sleeve needs mending or replaced, but I will take it. Hmm, no, the red of this velvet is too faded, and it's a bit warm for velvet. Have the hem raised and keep it for yourself. The rest of these - well, just find the dresses that look the least worn and the easiest to repair. I won't be looking a-beggar when I call upon my cousin."
Turning away from the mess, Ilaria's gaze drifts over the room in search of a new task. Ah! Silent steps carry her toward the table, and she slips into a chair. Taking up a quill, she checks the point before uncorking a bottle of ink and setting to the task of drafting a letter. The room is silent except for the scritch-scritch-scritch of her writing and the quiet mutters from Heolla as she sorts clothing.
Tap tap tap. Outside is the slender form of Katrin, accompanied by her maid, Serra. The cuts on Katrin's face are healing nicely and the girl is owning them - no disfigurements to bring her down. "Lari? It's Katrin," she calls through the door. "I brought some tea if you would care to share an afternoon snack with me, dear one."
The tapping on the door gives Ilaria pause, and the scratching of her quill on parchment ceases. Rather than move, however, she spares a glance upward at Heolla. The handmaiden is already dusting her hands on her skirts and heading toward the door, allowing the young Haigh to resume writing. "Come in, my lady," Heolla murmurs welcomingly as she opens the door, backing away with it and dipping into a curtsey in greeting. Her gaze flickers to Serra, and she offers the other maid a curious smile.
Once the last paragraph is finished, Ilaria signs her name with a flourish and sets the paper aside while the ink dries. Without prompting, Heolla clears up the work and pulls a chair for Katrin, and only then does Ilaria look up. Bright hazel eyes focus on her sister's face, tracing the faint scars present; a certain sadness lingers behind the younger girl's eyes, but pink lips draw up at the corners in a warm smile. "Sister, I feel it has been ages since we have seen each other. Sit, please."
Katrin drops a kiss on each cheek as she smiles. "I am so very sorry that we have not had more time together of late, Lari," she replies gently. "With… everything that has been happening, I felt like you would be better off far away from me and my mistakes. I even considered leaving the Roost, but I did not wish to put so much distance between us." Sitting opposite Ilaria, the elder sister flickers her green gaze across her sister's face. "You look well."
"I am well - very well." Ilaria's breathy voice is warm with emotion as she says this, and her own steady gaze is occupied searching Katrin's features likewise. "I only wish you could be, too." Pausing for a moment, she leans back in her seat as Serra serves the tea, and in the background Heolla has resumed her task of sorting gowns. Conversation resumes when her sister's maid is no longer betwixt the girls, but Ilaria stalls to search for words while tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. "You did get a chance to talk with Lady Ceinlys while she was here, didn't you? I know she was looking to have a word. Did she—bring news?"
"Only warning," Katrin replies, nodding a thanks to Serra as the maid withdraws to a corner. "You are the only betrothal to be sanctioned and blessed by Uncle Leslyn or father." A faint smile appears. "To be outshone by my little sister. If you were not bursting with goodness, I would be outright jealous. But all I can be is happy for you, so long as you tell me he is a good man and will treat you well."
With her cup sandwiched between her fingertips, Ilaria sips from it quietly. Her gaze darts to Katrin, pinning her there with an almost hawkish stare that softens only when the potentially awkward moment passes uneventfully. "You will get your betrothal, Katrin, although it may not be to the man you desire. I urge you to reclaim possession of your heart, my dearest sister. Women cannot afford to give it away so recklessly." But now is not the time for a lecture, and Ilaria speaks this wordlessly with a heavy sigh. Her cup clinks quietly as she sets it upon the table.
Reaching forward, Ilaria seeks out Katrin's hand and squeezes her fingers tightly. "All of this you know, so I will spare myself the breath and tell you instead what I am really feeling. Whether my betrothed is a good man or a kind one is largely irrelevant, because this does not change his status nor my purpose. Be happy for me in that I am fulfilling my duty and turn your gaze ahead to the coming months in which you must do yours."
Katrin shakes her head slowly, "My little Lari, all grown up and wiser than I," she teases affectionately. "But you know what it took me longer to acknowledge and realize. I have put him far from my heart," she promises. "I cannot afford to let him sway me to further ruin. My reputation stands on the very edge where it could tumble down beyond repair. Lord Patrek Mallister will not consider a betrothal between myself and Ser Martyn without a test to prove my innocence. Ceinlys advises against such a thing for obvious reasons." Her voice drops down enough to avoid being overheard by prying ears. "I will find another path where I might be of use to our House."
Concern is etched in the downturn of Ilaria's lips and the crease of her brow as she listens, studying Katrin intently. "Put them all from your heart," she advises with one last squeeze of her sister's fingers before withdrawing. Those same slender digits encircle her rapidly cooling cup of tea, and she wets her lips and throat with a sip. "In our lives, our hearts are one of the few things that belong wholly to us. It is unwise to entrust its safekeeping to anyone else. I think you will find yourself more useful by settling down and learning more of those around you. I plan to ask Lady Anais for another ladies' cliff diving afternoon to entertain Lord Alric's sister, Lady Arabella, who is newly arrived to Terrick's Roost. Join us and make acquaintances - show them you can be a sweet and temperate woman. Ride out the gossip and overcome it. I think this is the greatest balm for a wounded reputation, don't you?"
"Ceinlys offered the same advice," Katrin replies. "And advice I plan to accept." She slowly wraps her hands around her own cup of tea, blowing across the amber liquid. "She offered me a place in service to her once things have settled and the gossip has turned its attention in a different direction." A brief pause. "I do plan to take her up on such an offer. It will put me in the view of others within power and allow me to grow on my own. Without the aid of a man." She bows her head. "I will bide my time and wait patiently for father and Uncle Leslyn to choose a match, but until then, I will not allow any amount of gossip and rumor to hold me down. Especially not when you need me most, Lari." She smiles across to her sister. "I will be there to assist you in preparations for your wedding. No matter what it is."
The tea has reached a temperature that can only be described as 'tepid', and one that Ilaria does not seem to favor. She pushes the half-empty cup away from her in silent signal for Serra to refresh it with something a little more piping. "Our cousin is wise in a way I can only ever dream of being, but I am a little heartened to know we have offered similar advice." The perfect ovals of her fingernails begin to drum against the table as she shifts in her chair, half-turning to prop her elbow on the back of her seat. "I am sending a letter to Highfield, to Ceinlys, asking if I may visit. I will add a postscript for you, if you are interested in a change of scenery. Lord Alric has given me use of one of his personal guards, so we will have protection. I mean to write to father to ask for funds to secure another, or for him to send one."
"You grow in to a Young Lady right before my eyes," Katrin murmurs gently. "But yes, I think a change of scenery to Highfield again will be of great comfort at a time such as this," she says with a nod of her head. "I will be pleased to depart a Mallister vassalage for the time being."
Ilaria blushes at Katrin's praise, likely feeling it somewhat undeserved at this point in time. She glances down to the tabletop modestly, watching her fingernails tap-tap-tap out her feelings on the surface as if in a secret code. "I know you had your heart set on him, sister, and I know it will take some time to feel your whole self again, but if it is any small comfort, I do not think the match would have been particularly advantageous for either of our Houses. We do not all of us get the leisure of choosing our husbands like Lady Briallyn; in fact, I believe her father did himself a disservice by wedding off his only daughter to a Westerling. Luckily he has sons aplenty."
Her soft hazel eyes drift away from her sister's visage and she takes in with some surprise her altered surroundings. Heolla has been hard at work packing the wanted dresses into trunks while the others have been whisked away for distribution. The maid is seated near the fireplace now with a heap of sewing in a basket beside her, tending and mending the few gowns in dire need of upkeep. "If you would like to stay longer and talk, sister, would you mind terribly if finished up some last-minute business too?"
Katrin shakes her head, bouncing to her feet and leaning across to kiss Ilaria's forehead. "No, please do get what you need done, dear one," she says gently. "I will be about. I have hidden myself away in solitude for far too long. Do let me know what Ceinlys replies with so that we might extract ourselves from Terrick's Roost at the earliest convenience." She smiles. "I am very proud of you, Ilaria. I do hope you know that."
Smiling, Ilaria closes her eyes at Katrin's kiss and reaches out to grasp her sister's forearm for a moment. "I will be around - just busy. Feel free to call when the mood strikes, and perhaps soon I will be able to introduce you to Lord Alric." Pausing, she tucks her lower lip between her teeth, and for a moment her hazel eyes grow misty with the threat of tears. The tender moment passes, however, and she clears her throat with a quiet cough. "Thank you, Kitty. That means much to me. Be safe, and Seven keep you, sister. Serra, thank you for the tea."
Heolla rises from her chair, setting aside her work to help Serra collect the miscellany of their repast before holding open the door leading out into the hallway.