|Ladies and Champions|
|Summary:||Anais comes across Rowan on the rooftop after the tournament. Jacsen joins.|
|Related Logs:||Wedding tournament logs|
|Roof Terrace - Four Eagles Tower|
|This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenellations are about.|
|October 23, 288|
The light is just beginning to fade from the sky, a glorious sunset on a glorious day, and from the terrace the view is breathtaking — stars just beginning to greet the evening in a deep lapis sky, a welter of gold melting into the western sea. Squire Rowan, who has been nowhere to be found since making a hasty retreat to resume his squirely duties, is sitting on the battlements, one leg drawn up and the other dangling over the edge, a silver flask in his hand. He certainly doesn't look like a young man who's just made such a fine showing at the joust. In fact, there's no other way to describe his aspect and posture but heartbroken. And getting soppier about it by the minute as he takes another pull from the flask.
It's been a very busy few days at the Roost for the young bride who is now the newest member of the Terrick family. Many duties, many ceremonies. So she can hardly be blamed if she's made a brief escape up to the roof terrace, her cheeks flushed from more than a few glasses of wine. The first breeze to blow across her brings a sigh of relief, her face turned to its cooling touch, where she finds Rowan sitting. There's no disappointment at finding her quiet spot occupied; rather, she smiles faintly, moving toward the squire. "Rowan," she calls, smile fading as she draws close enough to see his expression. "Rowan?"
The slender lad startles a bit — but not so much that he's in danger of plummeting to his death. He quickly caps his flask and tucks it away, scrubbing at his eyes and cheeks with his sleeves. It would appear the boy's been in tears. "My lady," he rasps, swinging around to stand (a bit unsteadily at first) on the terrace proper, even managing a bow without falling on his face. "Seven, Anais, I'm — forgive me. Truly. I am… I'm in a wretched state." He straightens and offers a sweet, painful smile. "Getting away from the madding crowd, for a bit?"
"Careful," Anais says quickly when Rowan starts, hurrying to the wall to offer a hand in support. "Wouldn't do to have you plummet to your very messy death." A faint frown draws a line between her brows, concern in her eyes at the explanation. "I am, a bit. It looks like you are, too." Quietly, she produces a handkerchief from somewhere in her dress, offering it over. "You're drinking some of that terrible rotgut my brother brought, aren't you?" she smiles faintly. "It makes /their/ eyes water, too."
Rowan declines the offer of the handkerchief with a slight shake of his head, though his smile is warm and fond. "You are kind enough, lady, to melt the very Wall and bring spring to the lands beyond — but I'd not sully your hanky with my tears." He smirks and takes out the flask again, uncorking it and taking a sniff. "Oh, is that why? That's good to know. My manhood is intact, then."
"Quite," Anais assures with a faint, crooked smile. "Thank you, by the way. Less for my feelings, and more for keeping the peace here." She reaches out to give his arm a squeeze, smile quirking. "I'm a bit envious of Oldstones, though I know they can well use a knight of your caliber." Carefully, she gathers up her dress, then hops up onto the wall herself, feet dangling over the walkway. "So. What has you up here, oh brave and valiant champion?"
"Hah," says Rowan, smiling crookedly as the lady seats herself on the ledge. Nimble despite his inebriation, he nips up to sit beside her. "The peace," he muses. "I'm glad to keep the peace, given the opportunity, my lady — but my goal wasn't nearly so lofty. You're a sweet and lovely lady and the wife of my good friend. No knight, no squire — hells, no man would allow such a woman to be slighted in his presence. And at her wedding celebration?" He bristles, visibly. "It flies right in the very face of chivalry." Speaking of that, he offers the flask over. Only chivalrous to share, after all.
Anais laughs, taking the flask and sipping carefully before wincing. "Ah, yes. That's my brother's stuff," she says with some certainty. "I think they make it out of tar. Or pine resin. Something like that." Smile crooked, she passes the flask back. "Thank you all the same. Whatever your reasons, it's made things a good deal easier on everyone. Emotions…" She trails off, shaking her head. "Much too high for petty slights to go ignored, I think." She watches the young man next to her in silence for a moment, pensive. "I'm sorry if it got you in trouble with Ser Gedeon, though. If there's anything I can do…"
"No," says the young lord, rather abruptly. He shakes his head, modulating his tone. "Forgive me, my lady. It is a kind offer. Things between Ser Gedeon and I are… irreparable, I think." He drinks again, breathing in through his nose at the burn. "There is no place for me at Oldstones. It was, perhaps, folly to ever imagine there was."
"Oh, Rowan." Anais' voice is soft, and she reaches over for the squire's hand. "I'm so sorry. /So/ sorry." She presses her lips together, holding back any other words for a long moment of silence. And then, a faint smile at one corner of her lips, she leans forward to try to catch his gaze. "Will you think me a terrible opportunist if I immediately mention how very glad I'd be if you stayed here?"
The squire huffs out a tight-chested laugh, bowing his head and giving the lady's hand a gentle squeeze, his own hand tapered and nearly delicate, though it's callused and traced with pale scars. "Thank you," he whispers, taking a deep breath and drinking again, making sure he has a rein on his emotions before he goes on. "It's… not entirely his fault, really. He knows my heart belongs to the Roost. To the Terricks. It always will."
Jacsen has arrived.
It's early evening in the Roost on the afternoon of the tournament, and while many are feasting once more in celebration and gossiping about the events of the day, two of the major players in said rumors and events have retreated to the rooftops of the Roost. As the sun sets and the stars start to appear, Anais and Rowan are seated on the edge of the walls - facing inward, at least - speaking quietly. Anais has a hold of Rowan's hand, and Rowan likewise has a hold of a silver flask. "Then you should stay here, with your heart," Anais says firmly to the squire. "If no one here will take you, then I'll simply demand Father leave us a knight who will. Warrior bless, Rowan, after that performance today, I can't imagine you aren't within a hair's breadth of being knighted anyhow. And then you can swear your sword where you like."
Less a major player in that particular bit of drama, and closer to but not quite a pleased bystander, Jacsen too takes to the rooftop, pausing as he crests the final steps that he might let out a slow breath through his grimace. He shakes his head at the guard nearby, whom seems eager to help one of the Terricks, and straightens so that he can continue making his way towards his wife and her most recent savior, though the going is ever-slow.
Rowan offers the flask over to Anais again, though he doesn't release her hand. "It does all seem to finally be happening," he says, softly. "It should be known, though — it should be well-known — that for all that Jarod's taught me, I'd not had come this far in this time without Ser Gedeon, as well. He was generous to take me on when… things would no longer hold with Jarod and me." He takes a breath, sighing. "Annie, do you think my showing out there humiliated him — damaged his chances to be taken seriously as — well, to be taken seriously? He's still making a name for himself and…" He looks wretched. "I'd thought — hoped — that despite being a little annoyed by the stunt, he might be proud of me."
The boy looks up at the sound of that distinctive gait, curving a wan smile. "Evening, Jack."
"Gedeon?" Anais asks with some surprise, taking the flask and holding it without drinking as she considers. "I…don't know. I like Ser Gedeon, but I don't know him very well. From what I've seen, though, he doesn't seem a particularly prickly or prideful man." She takes a drink, coughing again before passing the flask back. "Besides, he'll manage to get his own back in the melee, won't he? I'm reasonably certain that a solid fistfight is supposed to…" She waves a hand in a vague circle, "Wipe out all those sorts of things between men." At Rowan's greeting, she looks up to see Jacsen as well, her own smile curving. "My lord. Come hide with us," she invites, holding out her other hand.
He frowns as he nears his wife and the squire, reaching out to take the hand of the former while he looks at the latter. "And I take it he wasn't," Jacsen remarks, shaking his head lightly. "Proud of you, I mean." He offers his wife's hand a gentle squeeze before he releases it, and he leans up against the nearest parapet.
"Understatement," Rowan tells Jack with a wry, inebriated smirk. He lifts Anais' hand and kisses her knuckles, then returns said hand to her. "A new husband shouldn't have to share his bride — not even so small a thing as a hand." He lifts his slender shoulders in a shrug. "Long and short of it is he doesn't want me as a squire any longer. The why's just a lot of drama. I'll survive being dismissed, aye? I've got practice." Just like a lad — insert another male into the equation, and he's got to be tough and nonchalant about it.
"I told him that I would be very pleased if he would stay here with us," Anais informs Jacsen, giving Rowan's hand a brief squeeze as hers is released. "Because no lady could possibly turn away the brave knight who so defended her honor. What a terrible way to treat a champion that would be." A little tipsy and red of cheek herself, she reaches over to tuck a piece of hair behind Jacsen's ear, the crook of her finger lingering against his cheek.
Jacsen laughs, though more at Anais' inebriation than the situation itself. "And here, … Rowan, we have my wife already beginning to make the case for finding a way to ensure you could remain," he tells the squire with a lopsided smile, "Be it by the strength of her argument, or the warmth of her gratitude." He touches his wife's cheek fondly before looking back to Rowan. "You know we'd have you, if that was what you wanted, and what things dictated. I fear Ged… he's prickly about his honor. And its hard to criticize him for it, when you look at all he has, and has yet, to overcome. Still. I'm sorry things have gotten so poor between you both on my wife's account."
"No, no, no," Rowan shakes his head emphatically. "Not on Annie's account — s'not a bit her doing, never think it. Was on the sodding Freylings account. Or — hells, you know what I mean." He sighs. "Anyhow. Even that — if it'd been only that… but it's not. It's… a series of things. And those things were my fault. Small sins, in any other situation, but… Seven smite him, Ged's so damned slow to trust an so quick to feel a wound. S'not his fault either, that. It's just like… fire and black powder. Bad sodding combination, him and me." The squire clenches his hands close together, then 'explodes' them outwards. "Boom."
"Mmmm. I don't know anyone like that," Anais murmurs, lips quirking as she leans over to brush a kiss to Jacsen's temple. "The truth is, Rowan, you're in a dreadfully awkward situation all around to begin with, given the relationship between our two families." Our, not your. "But you're /good/. And you're so close to being knighted already, which only makes it more awkward. But you will always be welcome here. I might not even try to slip your watch," she winks.
Jacsen frowns, listening to Rowan's explanation. "Well. I always thought it was a pairing that was poorly thought out, too much a thing of convenience for good sense," he says, without getting at all specific. He holds out his hand for the flask the two had been passing back and forth with a raised brow for the squire that possesses it. "Has he said what he intends to do? Or have you made any decision in the same regard?"
Rowan draws up a leg, resting his chin on his knee. "Mm," he makes an affirmative grunt. "If I acquit myself well in the melee, he means to declare me fit to be knighted and have done with me. Then… then I suppose I'm free to do as I like." He smiles faintly, wryly. "I've always said I'd be your father's man, if he'd have me. Since I was a child."
"Oh, Rowan," Anais says again, though this time there's more excitement in her voice and a small smile on her lips. "Well. If he should knight you, then early congratulations. And if he doesn't, then he's rotten and I'll think terrible things about him on your behalf."
That seems to surprise him, though it's a mild thing, and Jacsen nods once. "Well, if that comes to pass, I'm certain Lord Jerold could be convinced to take you into his service," he remarks, offhandedly. Of more interest to him is, "What if you do not acquit yourself to his satisfaction, if you've both reached such a point, Rowan?" The name sounds a bit awkward on the tongue, though the drink the other two have shared might save him from being caught on it.
The squire smiles at Anais, obviously touched, and briefly re-steals her hand to kiss her knuckles in gratitude. To the lady's husband, he utters a faint, mirthless, "Heh." He releases Anais' hand and shrugs. "I asked him that. After a fashion. I threatened to throw the melee, to lose so badly that no one in their right mind would declare me ready to be knighted. And he said, in that case, I'd have forced me to keep a squire who he cannot trust and who would see him humiliated twice in near as many days." Another mirthless smirk. "So I suppose I'd best kick some arse, eh?"
"Why would you want to throw the melee when you could be knighted instead?" Anais asks, brows furrowing slightly as she looks to Rowan. She glances toward Jacsen as well at the question, for confirmation that she may be missing something else.
Jacsen shakes his head when Anais looks at him, and glances over at the squire in question. "You'd best do well, I think," he agrees, before he adds, "But I admit I'm as curious as Anais on that last bit, Rowan. Seems like you'd want to be on to making your own path in the world, no?"
"It doesn't feel earned," says Rowan, lowering his lashes. "It doesn't feel… right. I mean, I suppose no one ever thinks they're ready, but… like this? Knighted so that… he can be rid of me in disgust?" He swallows, uncorking his flask and taking a pull, blowing out a breath. "It casts something of a pall. You know?"
"Oh, that's nonsense," Anais says firmly. "Rowan, you just unseated the man who unseated Lord Mallister in four, /hard/ passes. And you did it in a single pass. You /are/ eighteen, and you've served several years as a squire. You won the squire's melee at the last tournament, and handily from how I hear it. You demonstrated just this afternoon that you've a better grasp of chivalry than nine of ten knights on the field. And," she continues, reaching up to try to ruffle at the squire's hair, "You may be pretty, but you're no prettier than Jaime Lannister was when he was knighted. Rowan, in your heart of hearts, do you truly think you aren't yet a knight?"
While he is often good at this sort of thing, Jacsen finds little reason to repeat his wife's very thorough reply, instead merely watching the squire and nodding for emphasis.
"I… truly don't know, lady. I want to be. Your kind words certainly make me sound so." Rowan claims Annie's hand one last time, placing a final kiss upon it before hopping back onto the terrace. He smiles at he newlyweds, placing a hand over his heart and bowing. "If the Seven will it so, I would be an honor beyond my dreams to serve House Terrick once again — as Lord Jerold's man, and in time, Lord Jacsen's. I cannot think of the thing that would make me more proud." He straightens and smiles. "But drink has made me maudlin… and it is a beautiful night for newly made lovers to be beneath the stars." He bows once more to Anais'. "Wheresoever I go, lady, I will always be your champion." And so the squire takes his leave.
"And I will ever be a very lucky woman. Be well, Rowan," Anais offers gently, a small smile curving for the squire. She stays where she is on the wall, making no move to stop him.
Jacsen's eyes favor Rowan's motions as the squire hops back onto the terrace and shows the newlywed Terrick couple that affectionate sort of obeisance. Mirth is there, somewhere betwixt the glimmer of his eyes and the subtle curve of his lips. "If it is to come to pass, don't fail to come find me, Rowan. I suspect there are things best spoken upon before you take your fealty to Lord Jerold properly," he advises. "In any case, we are glad to have you, as friend and champion for my fair lady wife. Be well, Seven walk with you."
Rowan has left.
Anais watches Rowan leave, a hint of concern lingering in her features. "I really do like him," she murmurs to Jacsen once the squire is gone, leaning over to slip an arm around her husband. "All heroics aside. And I did mean it. If we have to take him on as the beginning of /our/ household, I really do think we should."
He does watch Rowan as he saunters his way from the rooftop, letting out a mild breath at his wife's words. "I… can promise nothing with that one, Anais," Jacsen tells her, though he sounds reluctant for the fact that he cannot simply agree. "But I would not be so opposed, and will do what I can to help. Rowan just… does not make much of anything simple, or easy on himself. Just ask Jarod, sometime."
"Mmm, that's right," Anais muses. "He squired with Jarod." She moves to set her chin on Jacsen's shoulder, letting out a soft breath. "Were we needed downstairs?" she asks. "I could make my way back down if we are. Though…" she looks up toward the sky, then closes her eyes as a breeze wafts over the battlements. "It's very nice up here."
An arm winds easily about Anais' waist as she drifts so near, and he's slight when shaking his head so as not to disturb her perch. "No, but I had heard the two of you were seen up this way, and I thought I'd join you," Jacsen remarks, his lips framing a small smile. "You needn't abandon the open sky just yet, Anais."
"Not worried I'm going to run off with my champion, are you?" Anais teases, smile tugging at one corner of her lips. "That would be rather foolish of me. Given who I've already married. It was a close thing, though," she sighs, smile fading away. "If Rowan hadn't ridden in, hadn't won, if the Freys and Nayland had decided to slight us…" She shakes her head slightly. "Things could have gotten ugly."
Jacsen frowns, and puts a kiss to his wife's brow. "You shouldn't dwell on such things, Anais. It did not come to pass, after all, and you should not doubt I would have made sure the slight was righted if it had…" He glances over in the direction Rowan disappeared down, and sighs. "I'm grateful to him, without a doubt, don't mistake me. That was a comeuppance I was greatly pleased to watch," he stresses. "And if you do run off with your champion… well." A short laugh. "Good luck with that."
"Oh, I've no doubt you and I could have turned it all right. I am very good at being gracious. But I rather like the way this turned out better." Anais laughs at the last, poking at his side. "And what do you mean by that, Jacsen Terrick? It seems to me that young Rowan Nayland has no shortage of ladies who'd appreciate his company. Surely you aren't saying I couldn't compete."
He shrugs a shoulder at his wife's questioning, lips framing something of a smirk that her poke causes, though he does his best to remain above the fray. "Oh, nothing, Anais," Jacsen assures his wife, finally dipping his chin to get a better look at her. "Whatever am I supposed to think, anyways, with you so interested in my good friend's squire? Your champion, and it seems, your drinking partner…" He reaches to touch her chin, and lift it just so. His words are warm, almost drawled. "You are too new to me for some jealously to not seep through, you know…"
"The poor boy had some of Quent's awful brew," Anais laughs softly, leaning forward to brush a soft kiss. The fiery taste of that pine liquor is still on her tongue, her cheeks warm from it. "And he looked like he'd been crying, actually. I didn't come up here looking for him, but when I found him…" Her lips curve against his, a gentle smile. "He's been entirely too kind to me for me to be anything less to him."
He smiles at that, and nods, the kiss returned and its companion placed upon her brow. "That does sound as if it tastes most terrible," Jacsen concedes, lips curving against her forehead. "And I'm glad you were there when he needed someone. It is not so easy to be a harpy that loves a house full of eagles, not in the slightest. The rest of this business would only seem to make it worse."
"Rowan's family may be harpies, but I refuse to think of /him/ as one," Anais says firmly. "He's much too noble for that. Granted, my opinion may be colored by the very nice things he says about me," she laughs softly. "And the very valiant thing he did this afternoon. But all the same." She sighs, eyes drifting closed. "So how long to you think it will be before we really get a little bit of time to ourselves?"
Jacsen neatly tucks his wife's head beneath his chin, at least once he's given a small shake of his own. "I don't know, really, given how things have been of late. I've to meet yet with Lord Mallister and my own Lord father to discuss matters of import to us," he reminds her, "So it is hard to tell. We shall do what we can with the time we have, I promise that."
"Will you tell me how those meetings go?" Anais asks, looking up to him. "Please? I know-" She presses her lips together, choosing her words carefully. "I know you don't need me the way Jaremy did. I know you can make your own decisions politically, and do so wisely. But I would like to help you. Even if it's just by listening to your thoughts."
He lets out a sigh that spill onto his wife's blonde hair, warm and brief. "You needn't reassure me of your thoughts, Anais, at least not so much as you do." Jacsen's shoulders rise and fall with a deeply taken breath, and its slow exhale. "You are my wife, and of use for far more things than just adorning my arm or warming a bed," he reminds her, drawing back enough to look at her. "I'm not about to forget all of that, Anais. I'm just not, alright?"
"I'm not afraid you're going to forget," Anais smiles ruefully, shaking her head slightly. "I'm afraid you'll never have thought of me that way. And you can't blame me," she adds. "Most men…Most men wouldn't think of their wife that way. But then…" She looks up to him, brushing another brief kiss. "I should know better than to think you might be only most men."
He snorts. "Then most men would be fools, though I think you might underestimate the power of a wife… most men wish for peace in their home, Anais, and so at least would give the appearance of listening, and even sharing from time to time…" Jacsen's lips turn up in a teasing sort of smile. "But I shall be truer about it than they, and for that, perhaps, I am a rarer breed. I've the wisdom to know that your mind can be as sharp as any advisor's, and your vantage unique."
"And now," Anais laughs softly, "You are flattering me. But it's nice." She rests her head on his shoulder once more, comfortable there. "I suppose we'll need to rejoin the party at some point tonight," she muses. "The newlyweds excuse will only allow us so much time."
He makes a noise of agreement, buried somewhere in his throat, and nods once. "You're right. We should go down, and be gracious, and show our guests how much we enjoy them coming to feast on our coin, to celebrate our wedding," Jacsen remarks with a hint of dry humor in his voice. "Come?"
"It's very kind of them, isn't it?" Anais murmurs ruefully, taking his hand and gathering her skirts carefully once more to hop down from the wall. "Ah, well. It's all already paid for. Someone ought to at least enjoy it."