Page 281: Love is Madness
Love is Madness
Summary: Ser Jarod and his Mire Rose commiserate in the Fortress of the Sevens. Some talk of the future, but mostly of the past, and some old ghosts…
Date: 26/04/289
Related Logs: The Prodigal Daughter and the Rowan/Jarod logs…and Rowan/Gedeon logs, in general.
Jarod Rowan 
Guest Suite — Fortress of the Sevens
Semi-nice room in the Mire.
Thu Apr 26, 289

He's met her mother, though this night his role was more to stand by as Rhiannon and her long-lost daughter embraced and wept — Rickart wasn't at all far off the mark, there. Then there was just enough time to make themselves ready for dinner, a fairly formal and polite meal, if tense. Even the Lord of the Mire seemed a bit exhausted by all that's transpired. Tomorrow, when everyone's rested and ready for drama, might be a different story, but tonight the newlywed couple make it back to their small but well-appointed guest suite mostly unscathed. Rowenna leans back against the door as she closes it behind them, closing her eyes and breathing out long. "Seven smite me senseless, thank gods that's done." She shakes her head slightly, amending, "Or begun, at least. Just… thank gods."

Jarod put off speaking proper with Lady Nayland, figuring the highlord and dinner with the family enough for a day. He spent dinner very quiet and rather tense, though he certainly ate his fill and then some. Picking are slim at the Roost nowadays and priced high besides, so it was probably the fullest meal he's had since he left the army on the Pyke. "Far from over," he says, kicking off his boots once the door to their guest sweet is closed. "But, aye. At least it's begun. That was well done today. With your lord father." For all he seems to mean it, he looks more pensive than anything else.

Rowenna shakes her head again, smile wry and eyes tired. "It wasn't much but honest. He has a right to his anger, as your father does." She takes another breath and pushes off the door, ungirding her blade and hanging her belt before going to sit at the small dressing table. She gazes at her reflection a moment, then lifts her hands to remove the band of abalone shell flowers from her hair. "I keep trying to… figure out his angle." She frowns at herself in the glass. "I want so badly for there to be none."

"He was kinder to you than I figured he'd be," Jarod says, placing his own sword in its scabbard beside the bed. Within easy reach from where he'll sleep. "Kinder than Lord Jerold, even." And, despite himself, he sounds perhaps a little sullen about that. He goes over to stand behind her at the dressing table, reaching out to pluck the flower band in his own fingers when she removes it.

She relinquishes the bit of decoration to his inspection, propping her chin in her hand and watching him in the mirror, the sullen note in his voice drawing concern. "I'm sorry it's so… out of balance, how hard this has fallen on you." There's another quick, wry twist of a smile. "It'll even up, in the long run. I have plenty of ignominy yet to endure."

"I just thought, with how I'd served the Terricks since I was knighted it might…actually mean something, when I reached for something of my own." Jarod shrugs, not looking at her, though he keeps playing with the decoration as he walks over to the window. Looking out at the Mire by night. And listening to the insects and other creatures chirrup. He frowns, like they annoy him some. "Is it always so loud here? All the time?"

Rowenna stands, smoothing her gown thoughtfully. "You get used to it," she says, lifting her head to watch him at the window. "My first year in Terrick's Roost, I had trouble sleeping for the silence." She moves to join him, resting her head against his arm and kissing his shoulder. "Your father just needs time, Jarod."

"Aye. Might've been easier if he'd had a few days to chew on it," Jarod says. "I've still friends there. It'll just…it'll all take time." He slips his arm around her, pulling her close and warm, for all that he's sort of pouting. Though something in what she says seems to jog something in his mind. "How long do you figure I'll have to get used to it, Rowenna?"

She's easily pulled in, wrapped in his arms and tucked against him, nestling against his chest. His question, however, prompts her to lean back a little — just enough to look at him. "Get used to — which?"

Jarod noses her hair, inhaling it deep. Absorbed in that, it takes him a moment to answer. He's a little slow to pull his head up, but he does so, so he can look properly down at her. "The way the Mire sounds at night. Rowenna…how long do you want to stay here?"

"I… don't know. I hadn't thought we'd stay more than a day or two — long enough to father to… decide what he wants to do about me. Or not." She shrugs gently, reaching up to smooth his hair "Either way, lingering doesn't seem an option, considering we're trying Lord Jerold's patience simply being absent from the Roost. We've Seagard and Lord Patrek to face. That summons should come soon enough."

This seems to relax Jarod some, and he bends down again to kiss her roughly. "Sounds good. I was sort of wondering, with the way Lord Rickart welcomed you back…" He shrugs. "Aye. Seagard'll have to be done next, and I figure after that we'll have a better idea of where we stand, far as our options go. I was figuring we'd stay in the area at least until…until after the matter of Stonebridge was decided." What with the upcoming duel and all.

"That…" says Rowenna, tucking herself against his chest once more, "will certainly make our options more clear." She closes her eyes. "My father will want me to stand with the family on the matter of Stonebridge, of course. As much as I crave the… affection he's shown me, lately — my loyalties are what they are."

"And what are they, my Mire Rose?" Jarod asks soft, turning a little so he can look at her straight. "Rowenna…I don't want you to be enemies with your kin. I never wanted that. And with the way your father's received you - and I'm not a fool enough to think there aren't strings attached and demands he'll make that neither of us'll be able to stand but…they're still your kin. I understand you'll always be tied to them."

"My oaths to the gods, first and foremost. Which places you, the Mother, and knighthood all about in an equal sphere." She considers the question, looking a shade troubled. "Past that? Things get murky. I won't — I can't cast aside my convictions for my father's approval. And one of my convictions is that Stonebridge belongs to Gedeon Tordane. However wrong he's been in going about it all."

"Gods'll decide that soon enough. And we'll see how it plays," Jarod says. Then, suddenly, he grins. "Distinguished company, though I hope I'm more fun than the Mother and the knighthood. When I'm in top form, at least." And then he pulls her close to kiss her again, more forcefully than time. His hands almost try and move down to the curves of her chest and hips. There was a good deal in that he liked, for whatever reason.

Rowenna isn't long in warming to that kiss, arching sweetly beneath his hands, pressing her body to the length of his. She laughs unsteadily in a breath between kisses, twining her arms around his neck. "I seem to be saying all the right things today," she murmurs, softly biting his bottom lip before tasting his mouth again. "I wish I could manage it more regularly."

"I'll just enjoy it while it lasts," Jarod says, as well as he can, with his lip in her teeth. "Occurs to me…this is the finest room we've had to ourselves since we were web. Seems a shame to waste it listening the damn frogs."

"Are you suggesting we make some noise of our own, my lord husband?" Rowenna asks sweetly, dulcetly batting her lashes even as her fingers are industriously unlacing his breeches.

"I'll try not to wake your lord father," Jarod says. Though he, perhaps, gets a laugh out of the prospect of defiling Lord Rickart's daughter in the man's own house. He's cooperative at getting himself undressed. He can disrobe in the blink of an eye. A skill the Sword of the Tower long ago perfected. His own hands work to undo the laces and fastens of her gown, which also makes him laugh. "You know, I almost miss you wearing trousers. Less frippery to deal with."

"You just liked being able to ogle my ass," Rowenna laughs, words mumbly as she kisses his throat. "Besides, there are advantages to dresses. Quick trysts in corners, up against walls — skirts around my waist, my legs around yours…"

"Maybe not against the Mire walls," Jarod says wry, though he seems intent on trysting here. Her dress isn't so complicated that he can't get it off, and with that he gives her a playful shove toward the bed the lord of the fortress granted them during their stay.

She falls cooperatively back onto the bed, dimples and mirth all the way. She props up on her elbows, gaze raking over him with lascivious appreciation. "Where's your sense of adventure, Ser?" she teases, grinning.

"Let's see if I can find it!" Jarod says, and pounces her with familiar boyish enthusiasm. His lips find her chest first, toying over the marks Harras Harlaw's Valyrian sword left on her. The scars don't seem to bother him. He was with her when she got a fair few of them, and he's acquired some new ones of his own from his adventures in the Iron Isles.

Her fingers twine in his hair, eyes lidding as he traces her scars with lips and tongue. She arches beneath him with a sweet, throaty sound — part purr, part sigh. "Mmmnn… you have strange taste in women, Ser," she murmurs, laughter still in her voice, though it's somewhat more taut now — and decidedly breathy.

Jarod chuckles some at that, rather breathlessly. "So they keep telling me. At least I'm reasonably sure you're a girl." He edges his mouth up to kiss her neck. He's always seemed to enjoy her cropped hair, given his affection for that general area. His hands caress against her shoulders, fingers of one of them idly moving down to tickle at the underside of her arm. Where they pause, against a cauterized circlet of skin. That he wasn't around for the getting of.

Rowenna flinches, as though the mark were still raw. She takes a breath, gone from molten heat to self-conscious hesitancy. She doesn't say anything — at least, not right away.

Jarod notices the flinch, and the sudden hesitancy, though it takes him a bit to stop and roll off her. Panting and looking at her quizzically. "What? What's the matter?" His hand remains on her arm, though his fingers ease away from the mark.

She frowns, looking profoundly… guilty. "It really seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it? You and I parting. Gedeon. It's…" She goes on frowning, at a loss. "I did some stupid things, Jarod. Things that — I was naive, I was entirely ignorant of… anything real. And like any other painful misstep — I have scars."

"Did he do this to you?" Jarod turns her arm some, so the burn - if that is indeed what it is - is clear for both of them to see in dim candle light. It's not painful, but it's firmer than he might mean to be. "I wondered…you didn't have this when we were together before, and it's no wound the Ironborn gave…" His tone's lower, and he looks at her arm rather than her eyes.

"I was willing," Rowenna whispers, unhappily. "It was madness — we created our own ritual, swore ourselves to one another. We called it a marriage. It wasn't." She says the last flatly and unequivocally. "It wasn't. I had no idea what — who he was. I'm still not sure. But I thought I knew, then. And…" She swallows, taking an unsteady breath. "Maybe I saw who he might have been, if Valentin hadn't got his hooks in him. But that's… irrelevant, really. So I was a fool, but by the time I knew how great a fool… this — " she shifts her arm slightly " — was already done."

"You swore yourself to him…" Jarod lets go of her arm. Roughly, that time. To get his hands off that spot as quick as possible. He sits up straighter and turns away from her. Legs hanging over the side so his feet touch the floor, elbows on his knees, hands clasped together to create a place for him to rest his chin. He lets out a long, slow breath, and says nothing else. For quite some time.

"I thought I was in love," Rowenna says bleakly, sitting up as he withdraws — lifting a hand to touch his shoulder… but it only hovers in the air a beat, then retreats to her side. "I knew as much about love, about myself, as did… Jaremy and Isolde, I think. I was at least as stupid."

"Stupid. Heh." Jarod snorts the last. His eyes are back on the window now, and he goes back to being quiet for a beat. Just listening to the strange rhythm of the frogs and insects and other bog creatures. "Love'll do that, I guess."

"It was nothing, nothing like what we have," she says, closing her eyes. "It was madness. It was based on lies. It's over."

"I know it's over, Rowenna." And Jarod does sound like he believes that. "You think I could've ever been this with you again if I didn't believe that?" His tone's still a level quieter than usual. He shakes his head, snorting. "It was always so damn easy for him, with you. He let you be whatever in seven hells you pleased, and you hated me for telling you it might not end so pretty as you'd made it up it would."

Rowenna frowns, drawing a slow breath. "You still don't get it. That's…" She sighs, shaking her head. "I never understood, will never understand, where you got that. That I ever thought things would end pretty. And I'll never understand why you cling to it, that idea, no matter how many times I tell you otherwise. I was never angry at you for telling me the truth, Jarod. I was angry… because you never accepted that I knew the consequences and I accepted them. You kept repeating yourself, but louder, like I wasn't hearing you. It's insulting, hurtful — maddening to be told what you think, what you feel, especially when you've said the contrary a thousand times."

"And you always acted - at least to me - like accepting you might have to have another kind of life was awful and unthinkable and I was some sort of…dream-oppressing ogre or something. And he was your golden hero, and he was easier, and that was what you wanted. Until I guess he wasn't, and then it came to something so bad you'll not even say straight what in seven hells happened." Jarod tenses at that last though, after another long breath out, his shoulders seem to deflate. And he does turn around to look at her. "And I guess I wonder…what makes us different than that to you? Because this will never be easy, you and me. Like I said, I'm not your damn fairytale, but I hope I'm…" He trails off, not sure where next to oaf to, though he does look up into her dark eyes now.

"Shut up with the 'my' damned fairytale, Jarod — it fucking tries my patience," Rowenna says, tersely. "You weren't trying to get me to accept what my future might be if I failed, Jarod — you were trying to get me to quit. Give it up. Settle down. Make things easy — a thing I think you've just got done maligning, ease. Yes, Gedeon was a fairytale, and just as true." She draws a breath through her nose, gathering the fraying edges of her calm. "What makes us different to me. Really?" She rakes a hand back through her hair. "Well, first of all, you're real. And I know who you are, I know your heart — unless you're a far more talented liar than Gedeon Tordane ever dreamed of being. So it follows that our love, our devotion, our friendship, our laughter, our stupid samey fights are real, too. I trust you. I know I can trust you. We have history — a ridiculous, sort of epic history. We've grown up together, these years. We make sense. You're my husband not because I want to mark you or lay some kind of desperate, jealous claim to you but because — because we have a future together. Because with all the ups and downs and occasional absurdity of our lives together — I want more. More of our life together. I wake up every day looking forward to more."

"We are entirely ridiculous." But Jarod laughs as he says it, reaching out to hook an arm around her waist, and pull her back close to him. "Part of me just wants to run away with you. After Seagard's done. Go…I don't know where. Fairmarket, King's Landing, the Reach, the Wall to see dumb-arse Jaremy, where you could dress as a boy and see the Wall and we could make him faint by telling him we're husband and wife. And part of me still feels like…I could do some good here. That we could, now that we're honest with the world, for better or worse. But maybe it'd all just get twisted up by our damn fathers. I don't know. I don't know where I'll be in a month. Just that I do want to build something with you that is our own. Forever. So strong it can't be broken, even though we ourselves might try sometimes. I want this to be…my life. Though I've no idea what else it'll be."

"Gods, you stupid man," Rowenna laughs as well, though there's a painful note to it — possibly the stomped-down urge to throttle him. She kisses him instead, a series of fierce, passionate kisses with her fingers tangled up in his hair. "This is your life. Our life. Yours and mine. Whatever else we do, Jarod — it's you and me."

Jarod just shuts up and kisses her after that. As he's back in the mood again. It takes so little. He doesn't seem to take much care not to mess with that strange, cauterized wound on her arm, though he doesn't brush against it again as he takes her.