|Ladies of the Roost|
|Summary:||Ladies Evangeline and Anais discuss marriage, conception and Terricks.|
|The stone here gives way to more carefully tended grass and the plots of the deceased members of the Terrick family. Headstones dot the area with flowers clipped and placed at a few of them. To the side, built into the wall, is a locked gate that descends under the castle to the crypt where the House Lords are entombed.|
|29th of Tenthmonth, 288 AL|
A quiet presence on the walk to the lichyard, Evangeline does not yet break her silence as she steps carefully down the path between plots, her dark hem lifted in the grasp of white fingers without even a thought for the gesture. Her attention is sharp on the care taken, the impression that if anything were not properly arranged she would see it in a moment. When she does break the silence she has inflicted, it is with a gentle but morbid, "One day you and I will be buried amongst these graves as well."
"I know," Anais answers, looking to the gate toward the crypts. "I actually stopped by here just before the wedding. It was…helpful. A way of coming to terms with leaving my childhood home behind and finding myself truly at home here." She steps carefully, her voice kept respectfully low in the quiet of the lichyard. "Still, I hope that neither of us is /here/ for good any time soon, my lady."
"Of course you did, Lady Anais, but that is not the point I am trying to make," Evangeline says quietly, drawing to a stop as she pauses before gesturing the younger lady to a bench nearby. She seats herself in one slow sink, perching on the edge of it as if resting would be too uncomfortable. "Neither of us were born to this house, we have choosen it. Whatever happens now, you are part of it forever, beyond death, even."
"Indeed," Anais agrees slowly, though she sits as directed, hands folded politely in her lap. She watches the other woman in silence, gaze veiled behind her lashes. "I will do my best to bring honor to this house, my lady. And to leave it better than I found it, as well."
"How?" Evangeline prompts expectantly, her gaze finding Anais's with a curious study.
Anais grimaces faintly, looking away. "For one, Lucienne told me about the state of the finances," she says quietly. "Between the wedding and the loss of Stonebridge…and the dowry can only do so much. Hopefully once the port is built it will bring in more revenue than Stonebridge ever did. But once it's built I know many merchants and the like from hom- the Banefort. Hopefully I can help to convince them to do business here. And with Jacsen's contacts from Seagard…We could be a great port city in time."
"And, Lady Anais? What else shall you do?" The question isn't said harshly, only a quiet rush of expectant weight to the words that are soft in Evangeline's mouth. Though, her gaze does not waver as she watches Anais as if she could see through the younger woman. "I have watched you. You know little of womanly skills, not much more of truly running a household it seems."
Anais blinks once, taken aback somewhat by the other woman's words. "That's not entirely true," she says slowly. "I may not have a fine hand for needlework, but I'm quite capable of running a household. I understand how to balance the household books, what things are needful in the household. I understand how to deal with the people of the household, which is especially important. I can entertain guests." Her cheeks a slowly turning pink, though her features are otherwise composed. "If I may ask, my lady, where have I fallen short?"
"And what of instruction, and education? When you have a child, will you know what is needful then? You may be adequate, but you have much more to learn," Evangeline says, shaking her head in a slow gesture before she looks away. Anais's answer must wait as the woman peers out at the carefully maintained graves, fingers tightening into fists in her own skirts. It is another long stretch of silence before she asks quietly, "Do you love my son, Anais? You were so willing to take one in the place of another, but they are not the same people, my children."
"My lady…" Anais falls silent for a moment, then sighs, shaking her head. "I don't know that there is a good answer I could give a mother. If I tell you that I love Jacsen, then what does that say about Jaremy? If I tell you that I loved Jaremy, could that be fair to Jacsen?" She rubs her thumb over the back of her hand, choosing her words carefully. "I saw a possible future for Jaremy and I. I saw a heart that was good and pure, and eyes that saw the best in everyone. In Jacsen, I see a mind like Valyrian steel, a will as indomitable as the Wall, and behind it, a fear as dark as winter that he can't be himself and what everyone else needs. I trust Jacsen more than I think I could have trusted Jaremy. I don't know that he /needs/ me the same way that Jaremy did. But I believe that we will work well together."
Evangeline's gaze turns back to Anais, her answer bringing a small smile to the older lady's lips though it holds more sadness than anything else. "That is," she starts, lips pressing together and wiping away that smile, "likely better, in the end. I do hope you two work well together, Lady Anais, and I am not wishing for your failure. That is why I will take you under my tutelage so that you can learn what you will need as the Lady of the Roost."
Anais reaches a hand for the older woman's, meeting her gaze if she can. "I am not saying that I don't love Jacsen, or won't, or don't want to, my lady," she says quietly. "Only that I had all of two weeks to come to know him." Her smile slips crooked, rueful. "And he is still coming to terms with having lost /his/ choice in the matter, especially in the way that it happened. I want to love him, but I also want him to love me. And that, I think, will take time."
Those slender white fingers are also cold, the feel of steel to them where they grip back against Anais's hand. "If you could come to love him and he you, it would warm my heart, Lady Anais, though for now we may as well hope for this summer to last decades or for the sky to turn green," Evangeline answers, her smile brief before she releases her own grip and moves to rise. "Better we hope for children, and leave what we will of the future until later."
"True enough," Anais agrees with a small smile, straightening once more to release he other woman's hand. "And I will be glad to learn the Roost from you, my lady. I can think of no one who could better introduce me to it."
"Excuse me for the bluntness, but it is necessary, gooddaughter. Has the marriage been consumated? Is there a chance you are pregnant yet?" Lady Evangeline questions, not even a hint of embarassment at the question she poses as she makes a gesture for Anais to follow. Her hem is gathered once again as she turns to make her way back to the gates protecting dead relatives.
Anais's brows rise at the question, he cheeks growing bright. "It has been, my lady," she answers. "And is. Regularly." She brushes her hands over her skirts as she rises, making certain there's nothing stuck to them. "So I suppose it's entirely possible."
"Very good. I will have Lucienne look into whatever herbs or teas may make you more fertile," is said with quiet thoughtfulness, Evangeline's thoughts already straying to other things. "And we will need to prepare the nursery, as it has been long abandoned by my own children and must have repairs to be fit again."
"My lady, perhaps you might give things a chance before we resort to herbs and teas," Anais suggests, just barely biting back a less pleasant note from her voice. "My mother has borne my father eight children, and all have lived past the usual childhood ailments. Nor has there ever been need for additional measures."
"It cannot but help, Lady Anais, but I shall not force such on you if it would make you uncomfortable. I am certain you will find yourself with child in due time," Evangeline murmurs, her brows drawing briefly together as she glances over at the younger lady. She merely nods, a giving, gracious gesture. "You are from hardy stock."
"I'm not convinced that it might not hurt, my lady," Anais admits, voice still measured. "If something isn't broken, then trying to fix it can sometimes be counterproductive. It is only one week past the wedding, my lady, and as everyone now knows, I came to it a maid. It is a bit early to be worried." She draws a breath then, bracing herself. "What sort of lessons did you have in mind, my lady?"
"I am not worried, and as I said, I shall not force such measures upon you," Evangeline replies after a moment, drawing to a stop as the same hint of steel winds around her tone where before it infused her fingers. "We shall go over the Roosts's books themselves, and discuss our lands and further that will concern you in particular. When you are ready." That dark gaze slides measuringly over Anais again before she turns to resume her walk.
Anais arches a pale brow, and if there's steel in the other woman, it's answered by something in Anais. "Lady Terrick," she says, incredulous as she follows the other woman. "Are you insinuating that you don't intend to teach me anything about the Roost until I'm with child?"
Evangeline stops yet again, surprise written brief in her expression with the impression of drawing back from Anais. She asks slowly, "Do you look for insults, child, or do you take me for that type of person so easily?" She does not draw to comfort the woman, but she adds simply, "You do need a child to secure your marriage, and I will not presume to tell you what you already know, so I will simply explain: I meant only to offer you the opportunity of choosing when you would like to start your lessons, Lady Anais."
"I'm not sure it would be an insult," Anais replies, though she still looks a little perplexed, watching the other woman carefully. "It's your household, my lady, and your choice." She's quiet a moment, then adds on: "It wouldn't have been very fair, though, given that I only have so much control over that particular situation." She follows still, if a little more slowly now. "I am ready to learn when you are ready to teach, my lady. I do wish to be useful here."
"Then I will make use of you, though I must warn you that we shall have to do something about your skill with the needle," is warned with a light humor hinted at in Evangeline's words. "Other than that torture, I am sure you will find me as fair as I can be in my position."
Anais sighs softly at the bit about needlework, smile touching one corner of her lips. "I can do basic mending," she says in weak defense of her abilities. "I just don't really have the patience for fine needlework. Not when there are so many more /useful/ things to be doing."
"When there is a houseful of people to provide for in the way of clothing and embroidery, you shall be glad you know the skill. At the very least, one should always make their husband's shirts by their own hand," Lady Evangeline imparts stoically, no hint of a jest in those words as she glances back to Anais. "Never let another woman sew his shirts."
Anais just eyes Evangeline for a long moment. "I'm not quite sure how he'll feel about that," she says slowly. "Jacsen seems to appreciate some…skill, in the construction of his clothing." The implication being that she doesn't suspect he'll be pleased with a square of fabric with a hole for his head.
"You will learn." This, it seems, is the final word on the subject as Evangeline sweeps through the gates, allowing a guard (that has totally been trailing them the whole time, srsly. he was so subtle you didn't notice) to hold it open for her gooddaughter.
Or pay someone under the table. Either's a possibility. That's a thought that Anais doesn't voice, though, taking to silence instead as she follows after her mother-in-law. There's a polite nod for the guard as she passes.