|In Which Things Are Awkward|
|Summary:||Alric arrives at Four Eagles somewhat late but manages to bump into Ilaria. Tepid conversation follows.|
|Related Logs:||Burdens, Times Are Changing|
|Reading Roost - Four Eagles Tower|
|The room has a large glass window and seat that looks out partially over the cove, in daylight hours the sun provides illumination to the room. Other stools and chairs linger in small groups as shelves along the walls are littered with scrolls, books, letters and documents. The contents are a modest collection of local records, histories, and literature offered to both the family and guests of Four Eagles Tower.|
|14 Oct 289|
The hour is growing late at the Roost, and most of the nobility as well as part of the staff have retired to their beds for the night. Perhaps it is nerves that have kept her awake, however, because Ilaria is tucked into a large wingback chair with a book in her hands. Her attention is not for the written word, however; she flips the pages restlessly, and the focus of her hazel eyes flicks between the letters and the sight of her Septa sewing quietly nearby.
The heavy tapestries and parchment-laden bookshelves have a dampening effect on the atmosphere, lending a somewhat muffled quality and an almost eerie stillness to the reading room. Through the window drifts a faint cool breeze that causes the flames of the various candles to jump quickly. With a sigh, Ilaria snaps her book shut and tosses it aside blindly before rising up from her chair and striding over to the window. She kneels on the padded bench set beneath it and leans forward to peer over the stone sill toward what part of the cove she can see. "Is the tide high tonight?" she inquires idly of her Septa, squinting into the night awash in an array of grey courtesy of the bright moonlight.
Having not arrived too long ago the Fenster heir was unable to go straight to bed. Instead opting to go towards the reading room to get some time to think. Although met by a sight he perhaps had hoped to meet later. Not that he has anything against the lady that he spots, he just thought he would have more time to prepare. Taking a deep breath as he continues in. Seeing her toss the book and move to the window.
Alric's eyes move to the book before going to the lady. "I would think that it might, my lady." He offers in a calm tone. "My apologies to intrude, my lady." He says as he bows deeply.
At about the time that Alric appears in the room, Septa Shiella is opening her mouth to reply. The man's movement catches the old woman's attention, and she turns to stare at him shrewdly. Despite her hunching back and wrinkled skin, the Septa's eyes are clear and penetrating, and her hands are steady with the needle and thread. Still, she is sensitive to the wants and needs of young ladies, and instead of announcing the Fenster's presence, she resumes her task. Her pale blue eyes turn upward to watch the young heir occasionally.
At the window, Ilaria is already pulling away and slipping down from the bench, turning to look down and smooth out the resulting wrinkles from her skirt. The unexpectedly masculine voice startles her, however, and she yelps as she jumps, reaching up to cover her mouth with her hands. Wide eyes stare at Alric, and after a moment's silence recognition sparks to life behind her gaze. "Lord Fenster," she greets somewhat coolly, dipping into a deep curtsey appropriate for a man of his station. "We - I was under the impression that you would not be arriving until tomorrow." Suddenly nervous, she clasps her hands tightly together and stares at some point to the left of Alric somewhere around the level of his elbow.
Alric offers an incline of his head to the septa as well before paying attention to the lady. Seeing that he startled her. "My apologies, my lady. And I assure you, Alric is enough." He offers and smiles a bit. "I wanted to hurry back to the Roost. I did not expect to see you in here though." He offers, finally letting out the air he had kept. "It seems you have had trouble sleeping as well perhaps?" He suggests and looks out the window behind Ilaria.
"Of course—Alric," Ilaria answers quietly, and behind her Septa Shiella clears her throat in warning. In case the two were under the impression that the old broad was not paying attention to their every move, the noise is enough to announce otherwise. Ignoring the sound, Ilaria unfolds her hands and moves forward to stand behind the chair she most recently occupied. To busy herself, she picks up her abandoned book - a tome on the history of vinting - and returns it to its home on a shelf. "A little trouble. I am worried for Lady Anais. I do not think there has been word about her husband yet," she admits quietly, staring at the spines of the other books present as if she were scanning the titles; her mind is elsewhere, however. "I hope your journey from Highfield was without incident, my lord."
Alric nods and looks to the septa, grinning a bit. "It seems she would prefer the lord part to remain." He says a bit lightly, even though he still seems to be a bit awkward. Clearing his throat and nodding. "I understand, unfortunately I found nothing on my rides between Highfield and here." He offers. Though at the last part, he shrugs. "I have not been in Highfield since house Ashwood changed allegiance. While we kept with Hollyholt. It seems that we broke those ties as well now." He offers and shrugs, thought smiling. If just a tiny one.
Ilaria blinks once at Alric, following quickly his train of thought. Her cheeks turn a light pink at the edges at noting she was misinformed as to his whereabouts. "Oh, then you were coming from Tavin's Rest? Of course, to meet with your father, I assume, about…" Her voice trails off, her cheeks turn a darker pink, and she clears her throat politely. A noise in the background is loud enough to draw attention, and Ilaria frowns slightly at Septa Shiella who is coughing into a handkerchief—or laughing; it's hard to tell.
"My apologies, my lord. I hope your journey from home was equally as uneventful. If you would like, I could rouse Heolla to fetch some tea or wine, maybe some cold supper, if you would like." Glancing up from beneath a fringe of dark lashes, Ilaria fixes Alric with a studying gaze, although if caught she looks away quickly.
Alric offers a comforting smile to her, as he had done more or less each time they met. Glancing towards the septa as well, with a raised brow. Though it lays only there for a moment before going to Ilaria. "It is quite fine, my lady. It was quite uneventful, luckily." He offers. As for something to drink, he smiles, "I wouldn't want to bother her. Though if you care to join me then I would be glad to have some." Studying her as well, seeing her look away as he seems to notice that gaze. His smile growing just a bit. "I apologize for making you uncomfortable."
"Septa Shiella," Ilaria murmurs, turning toward the woman. The grey-haired dame lowers her needlework and levels the young Haigh with a look that communicates a firm 'do not ask me'. With a faint smile, the girl does just that: "Could you please ask Heolla to fetch some -" a pause here as she glances toward Alric and then back to her guardian - "some wine, please? We will take it right here, of course. And anything for yourself, too."
The Septa's expression is a stony one, likely disapproving of the idea of leaving the two unattended for even a moment, but she sets aside her work and skirts out of the room without protest. The door, of course, is left hanging wide open. Turning back to Alric, Ilaria reaches up to tug up on a loose curl before gesturing to the array of seating available. "Please, my lord, I am sure you are ready to find a seat more comfortable than a saddle." She resumes her own seat in the wingback, perched on the edge exceptionally straight posture. "I have heard they are opening Stonebridge to merchants again. It will be bustling again soon, I think."
"Ahh," Ilaria, blushing profusely, casts about for a better topic. "Lady Anais shot a twenty-six point elk with her bow last week. I had no idea she was so proficient. Do you take to hunting, my lord?"
Alric offers the septa an apologetic look before looking back to Ilaria. Inclining his head before finding a seat. "Thank you, my lady." He offers and keeps his own posture as well. Nodding about Stonebridge, not being too concerned. "I heard, it would be quite nice to hear. My cousin is there as well." He explains. If memory serves he remember that his cousin had mentioned the lady, so he won't offer his name.
As she blushes, he smiles to her and nods, "That is quite a feat. Might you have such hobbies to indulge in?" He asks, trying to get them both at ease. "I am not much of a hunter, unfortunately."
"Your cousin?" Despite Alric's reserve, Ilaria is content to niggle out the details one question at a time, although her pursuit seems to be purely out of curiosity. Her smile widens a bit, growing less tremulous and more genuine as the conversation continues. "Which cousin? I know so many people in Stonebridge. I was there for quite some time, you see; my brother was conducting business on behalf of the family before." Her gaze darts to the door, but the lack of a Septa looming at the threshold causes the girl's brow to furrow. She turns her attention back to Alric. "A hobby? Oh, no, I am most certainly not a hunter. My mother would have a fit. Since you do not hunt, what activities do you use to fill your spare time, my lord?"
Alric nods, "Ah, I see. I hope your stay was pleasant. And yes, lord Hugh Asterholm." He explains and smiles still. Though studying her as he says that. Nodding about no hobbies for her, "Perhaps you sing or dance. Or play an instrument then?" He suggests. As for himself, he thinks about it for a bit. "Poetry and dancing mostly. I suppose it is not what most do, but I suppose I am not like most."
Ilaria's eyebrows arch upward at the name. Oh, Hugh; yes, she remembers him quite well. Much to her credit, the girl only glances away once as if recollecting the memory, and her expression nothing more than pleasantly curious when she turns back to Alric. "Lord Asterholm, yes, I remember now. We met by chance at the dance after the tournament of Seagard - were you there, my lord? I was somewhat ill and only managed to view a few of the events, sadly. I think I shared some wine and conversation for a bit with Lord Hugh before we parted ways. He was bound for Stonebridge and I was forbidden to go there; father sent me here instead."
Ah, there is Septa Shiella. The grousing woman passes into the reading room without announcement and promptly resumes her seat. From here, she has a good view of both Alric and Ilaria. The latter is paying the Septa no mind, but is instead running her palms over her skirts, stretching them over her knees while Heolla - a sleepy, tawny-haired maid - pours wine first for Alric and then for Ilaria. The Haigh dismisses her servant with a quiet murmur, and the girl is banished to a corner to doze in an armchair. Quite the crowd now. "No, I do not play an instrument, but my singing is passing fair. A great deal of my time, however, has been devoted to study. Do you write poetry, my lord?"
Alric studies her though as she doesn't seem too bothered, he let it go. "I see. No, I was captive I am afraid. I only saw very little." He explains in return. Looking over to the septa as she returns. Though only briefly before looking to Ilaria again. "I do, though I can't say that I am great at it." He offers and rolls his shoulder. Taking the offered wine, sipping just a bit. "I would love to hear you sing at some point, my lady."
"Captive?" A faint smile plays about Ilaria's lips now rosy and wine-stained as she sips at her goblet in a most leisurely manner. She does not press the subject, finding the word choice to be rather unusual, and instead sinks back into the plush, inviting embrace of the chair with a contented sigh. Perhaps all she needed was a little liquid courage to make herself more comfortable in Alric's presence. "I will sing for you some day, my lord, if you send me one of your poems."
Alric nods, "Along with all the rest that were aligned with house Charlton. They were all brought in. The commoners to be put in the dungeon while the nobles were treated decently. Though without getting to leave the tower, of course." He says, and has a hint of a smile. Drinking as well. Though not as much in a hurry. Being a diplomat so he doesn't have too much issues with talking. "It's a promise, my lady. I will send you poems." He tells her, relaxing a bit in his posture.
"Oh of course, that fiasco," Ilaria murmurs, frowning at the thought and studying Alric more openly now. "I had no idea you were there, my lord, although it goes without saying that where a liege goes so would his vassals." She weighs the goblet in her hand thoughtfully, swirling its contents in a distracted, contemplative manner. "That must have been terrible," she murmurs, feeling for a moment the chill of her own experience in captivity. "No matter the surroundings, one can feel the sting of their loss of freedom just as keenly." She shakes away the gloom of her memories, however, and turns a once more charming smile upon Alric. "Tell me about Tavin's Rest? I have never been, but I am most curious."
Alric nods and studies her in return. "I suppose. And I was helping out from there." Not mentioning what, not wanting to bring back any bad memories from her, especially not when he sees that expression on her face. "Indeed. I do hope that will not be the case again." Perhaps hinting to how she might feel about this betrothal, though he will not ask it straight to her. "It is a smaller town, though still quite lovely. At the boarder between Haigh and Charlton. It was a nice place to grow up." He offers. There is a tilt of his head then, "I only was in Broadmoor a few times. Enough to take a look around the area. I am surprised that I did not get to meet you there."
Ilaria listens quietly, taking the occasional sip from her goblet. Her frown returns about halfway through Alric's description of Tavin's Rest; it appears her goblet has been emptied. Looking up, she spies her handmaiden curled up in the corner seat fast asleep, and with another glance notes Septa Shiella's head tilted back and her mouth open in sleep. "Broadmoor?" Ilaria echoes, turning back to Alric and leaning forward to pour herself a second cup of wine. Soft lips curl up in an apologetic smile as she offers the bottle to him. "I was very sheltered, my lord, and spent a great deal of my time with Septa Vivan combing over religious texts. Have you ever traveled outside of the Riverlands?"
Alric notices the frown, looking to the others before moving to pour some more wine for her, of course gesturing to see if she actually wants more first as well. Nodding about Broadmoor. "I understand, my lady. It is a good thing to get to meet you now. And not far. The crag once when young, if I remember correctly. As well as Oldstones." He offers. Hopefullly I can bring you to see something at least." He offers and shrugs.
"The Crag?" The corners of Ilaria's eyes crinkle with amusement as she accepts the wine, nodding her head in gratitude before sinking back into her chair to sip at the goblet. "I haven't been quite that far, but I've been to Seagard twice in the past year," she replies, as if it were truly a bragging point. "But to Oldstones?" She wrinkles her nose and lets out a half-giggle, half-hiccup sound before cover her mouth in surprise. "What did you do at Oldstones?"
Alric nods, "Only briefly." He offers to her. Smiling about being to Seagard. "That is quite lovely as well, my lady." He offers. As for her giggle or hiccup, he let out a soft chuckle of his own. "Mostly there on behalf of house Charlton. Tough it was nothing much. I did not get much time to stay and admire or anything." He explains, at least able to be glad that they two of them seem to be able to talk to one another. "This is nice." He offers and sips from his goblet.
"It is nice," Ilaria agrees, blushing pink and glancing down into her goblet. Oh good, it still has plenty to spare. She hides behind the rim of her cup for a moment before peeking over it at Alric. Just at that moment, Septa Shiella snorts in her sleep and shifts in her chair, causing the girl to jump in startlement. After a tense moment of wide-eyed staring, Ilaria giggles a second time and turns back to Alric. "This is not at all how I expected to be married, my lord, if you will forgive my frank words."
Alric nods before the lady is startled again and he chuckles. Nodding as he agrees with her frank words. "I understand, my lady. Not as I had either. Hopefully we can manage though. I do hope to be able to somehow make you happy. Though I understand how that might be a rather hard thing to do." He offers and looks into his own goblet before looking over to her. A rather apologetic smile given to her.
"I am not so worried about that, my lord." Ilaria is staring down into her cup now, unwilling to raise her gaze lest she risk meeting Alric's once more. The girl is obviously shy in many respects, yet is still willing to speak her mind when she deems it necessary. A pregnant silence follows, broken only by the gentle sound of Septa Shiella snoring. "I think happiness is a result of a combined effort to live with mutual respect and understanding, much like I have seen in my parents. While the other women in my family may be eager to pursue a passionate, romantic marriage, I believe that there is far more to building a life together than—that."
Alric nods and seems thoughtful as well, seeing that she has her gaze elsewhere. "I believe that you might be right. Although for some that would not leave out romance or passion." He offers and takes a deep breath, "I think it takes time to develop such feelings, would one want to. I am sure that one day you'll be having me fall for you romantically as well." He offers, though in a rather light tone. "Then again, I've always been one for romance." He says and chuckles.
Ilaria shifts in her seat, although whether she is uncomfortable with the chair or unsettled by Alric's words, she cannot say. Has a man ever been quite so brazen? No, not with her. Leaning forward, she sets down her nearly empty goblet on the low table between them, glancing sidelong to Septa Shiella and Heolla. Perhaps if one of them were awake… "I should see to my attendants, Lord Alric. I have been unusually cruel in confining them to chairs instead of their beds, all for the sake of satiating my curiosity. Of course, I am satisfied for now." Rising up from her seat, she presses her palms against her skirts as if to wipe them clean before dipping into another low curtsey. "If there are no further pressing issues, my lord, I had best take my leave. I prefer to sleep before the sun rises."
Alric smiles to her, "I apologize, my lady. If I've upset you, in anyway. You are quite a lovely person. I look forward to get to know you better." He offers. Perhaps a bit tired as well. Looking to the servants as well before looking back to the lady. "I understand, my lady. Take care of them, and get rest. We have a lot of time to learn about one another." He says as he bows deep to her. "I hope that your curiosity was sated in a positive way." He offers along with a charming smile. "Be well." He offers as he moves to the window. "Oh, and please. Do be honest with me. I understand if this might not have been what you wished for." He adds.
Ilaria accepts the pleasantries with a faint smile, fatigue mingled with wine starting to make her rather lightheaded. She is half-turned and poised to wake Septa Shiella when Alric's last words penetrate the growing fog in her brain. She straightens, gazing down at the sleeping woman, before turning her head to take in the sight of Alric silhouetted by moonlight filtering in through the window. "I hadn't the time to wish for anything yet, my lord, so I am not experiencing the pang of disappointment." With that and a parting smile, she shakes her Septa awake before moving along to rouse Heolla. Together, the sleepy trio offer Alric deep curtseys (except the old woman, naturally) before departing toward Ilaria's bedroom.
Alric offers a faint smile in return, nodding to her words. "I understand. I suppose that is good." He replies. Letting her wake up the servants, "Good night, my lady." He offers with a deep bow. Then looking to the remaining wine in his goblet. Standing alone in the reading room. "Here's to hoping." He says in a low tone to himself before downing the rest of the wine and then making his way to retreat to his own chambers.