|Men and Women|
|Summary:||Anais visits Igara, and they discuss their betrotheds.|
|Guest Suite — Four Eagles Tower|
|A well-appointed guest suite.|
|August 14, 288|
Igara whittles away another afternoon of sitting on ever-bloodier towels by writing up a draft of a letter to Master Harold's next of kin. Her efforts are somewhat stymied when she has no one to summon to ask after who, exactly, his next of kin would be, and then a particularly heavy bit of flooding makes her sides and legs ache with cramping and she lies down to breathe through it, pale and drawn and a little sweaty.
There is a gentle knock on the door, met by the chambermaid already in presence. And when the door opens, there is something even better: the smell of fresh baked goods. Whatever it is, there's a whiff of spice, warm and welcoming, and something else underneath it that promises a sweetness to go with it. "Lady Frey?" the girl asks after a moment, looking to Igara uncertainly. "The Lady Anais Banefort is here to see you. If you're accepting visitors?"
Igara looks thoroughly put-upon at the first knock, but once the girl announces the visitor, Igara makes an effort to push herself up onto her elbows, eyes lighting up somewhat. "Oh, yes. Please, show her in," she answers breathily, still feeling a little clammy. She pulls a pillow down hard into the small of her back to keep it supported, and almost manages to look presentable to Anais. "My Lady. How kind of you to come and visit," she addresses Anais when the door's opened. "I was going to make certain to call upon you when I was out of bed again."
Anais peeks carefully into the bedroom when she's invited inside, following just a moment after with a small basket over her arm. "Lady Igara," she greets, smile quirking at one corner of her lips. "So the letter said. But given the precipitous departures of this morning, I didn't want to risk that you might slip away in the night and I'd never have the chance to meet with you," she adds lightly. "That, and as I was passing by the kitchens, they insisted that I take some of this spice bread, and if I didn't find someone to share it with, I was going to eat it all and be too fat to fit into a wedding dress."
Igara gives a light trill of a laugh despite her condition. "I hardly think it likely I would be able to, even if I had a mind to," she assures Anais, shaking her head, "I was telling the Lady Lucienne, earlier… how strangely men act, sometimes. And Lord Ryker not least amongst them. Please, sit. It smells wonderful, Lady Anais. Let me look at you. How lovely you are. You shall never worry of being fat," she assures her warmly.
"If you knew my mother, Lady Igara," Anais laughs, moving to draw a chair up next to the bed, "You would never promise such a thing. Though I suppose it's natural enough after bearing eight children, isn't it? And if that were the reason, I'd think Jaremy could hardly complain." The basket she sets on the edge of the bed, leaning over to gently fold back the napkins on top of it to reveal the cake inside. "I forgot to bring either plates or a knife, so I'm afraid we'll have to be dreadful savages," she cautions with a crooked smile. Thus revealed, she can see that not only is it a spice bread, but there are nute, raisins, and cherries baked into it.
"We shall break bread as they did in days of old," Igara answers with a ready smile, though her eyes still look a little tired. Not displeased, just the normal sort of weary that you can hardly blame her for letting to set in as the fourth day of bleeding approaches, an anemic lethargy she can't quite shake. "How fine a thing it was to hear of your betrothal to Lord Jaremy. How boorish I must have seemed, in looking back upon it, to have intruded so upon the pair of you at the bridge, where certainly some courtship was occurring."
Anais herself is looking less than entirely alert, with growing and darkening bags under her eyes, for all she tries to play it off. But who can blame her for not sleeping well? A wedding, murders, and four families worth of guests could wear on the strongest woman. "Oh, not at all," she shakes her head, laughing suddenly as she pulls off a piece of the bread to offer it to the other woman. It's crumbly stuff, and still warm. "To be honest, Lady Igara, I was feeling rather boorish myself. I know you have many siblings. You must understand how sometimes it feels like…like a whole school of fish shoving against each other, and no way to break free."
Igara holds out her hands for the piece of bread, making a bowl of both of them and then carefully shifting them so that the cake and all crumbs are situated on one hand for use as a plate, picking off a corner with a raisin inside of it to nibble on first. "Oh— oh, yes," Igara smiles. "And oftentimes nothing to see before you but the fins of the fish ahead of you, such that you must take blind faith in the schoolmaster." She pauses. "Still, I thought you would like to know that things turned out well for Miss Eyrian. As the wrong that was done to her far outweighed the wrong that she had done, she was let free. I thank you for having let me so… awkwardly interrogate your future betrothed on the subject, yet— we women… we must look out for one another, must we not?"
Anais tears off a piece for herself as well, sucking off a thumb before looking back up with a small smile. "Ah, that /is/ good to know," she agrees, letting out a slow breath. "She sang so well. It would have been a pity to see her suffer for the tendencies of the Ironblooded." Laughing softly to herself, she takes a bite of the bread. "My father once threatened he'd betroth me to a Greyjoy. I was all of ten, and we had gone for a sail with the family. I tried to climb up into the rigging, and he said if I didn't get down right that instant, he'd sell me to the Iron Isles. I did get down right that instant," she chuckles, shaking her head. "But yes, you've the right of it. We must take care together."
"For certainly few and far between are the men who will do so when it does not suit their interests," Igara continues slowly, wincing with her eyes at the story. "Your very father? Certainly he was only jesting you with bogeymen to make you to behave. Yet still… they little understand how much a word from them can ruin us, and how utterly it can do so. The bread is wonderful, Lady Anais. Thank you," she veers off-topic to comment on the shared morsel. "And so I can only hope you as content with your match as I am with mine."
"I was too young to truly understand the depth of his feelings regarding the Ironborn," Anais admits with a low laugh. "No, I cannot see my father consenting to that sort of match. They can't be trusted enough for that, even if they were interested. And I somehow doubt they would be," she adds with a wrinkle of her nose. "It is fine, isn't it? I suspect Thea must have been involved in it. If you've not met her yet, she's a lovely girl. She's excellent with hair, and bakes the most divine strawberry tarts. Are you well content, then?" she asks, looking up with a swift, conspiratorial smile. "I will confess, Rowan seems very congenial, if a little pretty for my taste."
"The only way I would be more content is if he wished for the match as much as I do," Igara answers with a shy little smile, looking aside in her girlish confession. "He is lovely fair. And though I never supposed I would be set aside for a man who was prettier than I, I cannot say that it causes me ill to look upon him. Quite the opposite, in fact. And that I have a year to look upon him with impunity suits me well, if I may not be his for longer than that. But what of you? Are you well happy with this match you've been made?"
Anais takes another bite of the bread, considering as she chews. "I am well pleased, yes," she agrees after a moment, brushing a thumb against her lower lip to check for crumbs. "I could not have hoped to wed an heir, of course. Not as a third daughter with four brothers. I am lucky in that. And Lord Jaremy is the sort of /good/ man that I think few sensible women can dare to hope for," she adds, surprise still in her voice at that. "He is fair, both in features and in heart. And he is one of those men who takes the virtues and vows of knighthood with full seriousness."
Igara tips her chin down with a knowing nod. "As a seventeenth daughter who has sadly lost track of the number of her brothers… I well know what it is not to hope for an influential or wealthy wedding. Especially as sickly as I have always been, and with the… troubles… I have… during bleeding, and so am not a good bet to produce an heir, myself. But I had hope for a fair and gentle man, and this I have found in Rowan, if he will have me. He has grown into a good man here, and as much as the Naylands bear the bindings of oath to my family name, I am so very grateful to Ser Jarod and the Terricks for having made him into that."
"I must admit," Anais smiles crookedly. "I've only met Rowan a few times. But I do like him. He's funny. And if you ask me, any man should be able to make you laugh if you intend to spend your life with him. Laughter eases all things." At her mention of bleeding, she glances sympathetically to the other woman, pressing her lips together a moment. "Is it always so for you?" she asks gently. "I would think that would be a difficult thing to bear."
"For several years, now, since it began," Igara murmurs. "The Maester at home told me it would get easier, in time. I pray that such will be the case, and, for the time being, I bear up under the trials I have been given. The bleeding hasn't killed me yet, though it seems ever so eagerly to try," she adds with a crooked smile to substitute in for a laugh.