|Men Want What They Can't Have|
|Summary:||Jarod and Rowan discuss what people want, what they get, and how rarely the two coincide.|
|Related Logs:||How to Make an Entrance|
|Crane's Crossing Inn — Stonebridge|
|While Crane's Crossing is technically an Inn, it caters to the traveling nobility almost exclusively. The floors around the heart are finely crafted stonework, as is the slate blocks that the firepit is constructed of. The rest of the floor is done in stained oak that matches the few long tables and the chairs. The rest of the main room is furnished with plush couches and seating to entice visitors to delay their leave. A full service kitchen provides food of all kinds as well as high quality ales and wines. Also available are several women to provide hospitality to the lonely or those in need, the quality of them to be beaten by but a few in the Riverlands. A hallway near the kitchen leads off to the rear of the building and several up-scale rooms.|
|Sat Jul 23, 288|
Jarod slept in late and has only recently rolled out of bed and made his way to the Crane's Crossing for some hybrid of breakfast and lunch. He spent the previous evening polishing his lance for fun and profit (well, hers) with Amelia of Seagard, so he slept away through the morning what the hours he'd missed in the night. He's slouched comfortably at a corner table, wolfing down a chicken.
Rowan has been up since before dawn — which is his habit, having squire's work to do, but one'd think the lad would sleep in from time to time, given the chance. Perhaps it's nerves for his first tourney. At any rate, by the time Jarod's sitting down to lunchfast (brunch time's easily past and done), the horses and the armor and the saddlery and the barding and the blades and the lances and everything else that could possibly be checked… has been. Thrice. Finally, Rowan seeks out his knight where there's food and ale and wenches — as absolute a no-brainer as seeking the squire himself in the stables and kennels of Terrick's Roost.
Spotting his quarry immediately, the boy comes over and drops into a seat at Jarod's table. "Oi."
Jarod swallows, raising an arm to wave to Rowan when he spots the squire. "Good morn, Rowan. Or afternoon. Or…something. Late enough that a man can enjoy a beer, at least." And he is having an ale to wash down his chicken. "Sit down. Cook's got some bird still left on the roaster, if you're of a mind."
The pale lad shakes his head, drumming his long fingers on the table pensively. "Can't eat," he mumbles. "Bloody stomach's in knots." He takes a deep breath. "You know Isolde doesn't want to marry my brother, right?" Just out with it. Quiet enough that he keeps it between then at the table, at least, but no varnish. "Her mother and my cousin signed some agreement that Isolde had nothing to do with. Traded her like she's chattel."
Jarod waves a hand dismissively. "Not much for you and I to worry about today. It's Jaremy's time to sweat, with the joust upcoming. I'm having what fun I can until I've got to get serious about the melee, which'll be days yet. And placing bets on the lists on my fair lord brother. Looking forward to seeing him take the field, come to it. The Nayland lordlings will needle him less after he's knocked a few heads, whatever comes of it." Mention of Isolde draws a shrug from him. "Aye, that's what I've heard. Some plot of Lady Valda's to make sure Stonebridge falls into Nayland hands. And adds its taxes to her family Frey's coffers, instead of my lord father's." There's distaste in his tone, and sympathy, but no real surprise.
"But… isn't there anything we can do?" Rowan looks positively tragic for the unfairness of it all. "She's so unhappy! She loves Jaremy. Jaremy loves her. They should be together!"
"You've been listening to too many of your sister's minstrel songs," Jarod says, drinking some more of his beer. "You truly think anyone marries for love, Rowan? Well, anyone like my brother and Lady Isolde, that is. Jaremy's waited so long precisely because this *isn't* the life he wanted. My fair lord brother grew up dreaming of being a knight in the Kingsguard. Wed to the realm and his white armor, like Ser Barristan Selmy. For me, the whole celibacy vow took some shine off the legend, but I'll not begrudge a man what tales he enjoys. Anyhow. By the time he woke up and realized that wasn't going to happen, and that Lady Isolde was easily the best he could end up with given his lot, he's near lost her. People want what they can't have, Rowan. That's the nature of men. That's what fucks us up." Drink.
"No," Rowan admits of people marrying for love, sulking. Then, with renewed conviction, "But they should do, damn it all!" The comment about wanting what one can't have subdues the squire, and he studies his knight for a moment, silent. "I suppose we do, at that." He sighs, resting his elbows on the table and picking at a splinter in the wood. "What is it you want, then?" He asks, looking sidelong at Jarod. "If we all want what we can't have?"
It's a moment before Jarod answers, and after another gulp of ale. "I, Rowan, am a lucky bastard and fortunate among men. And while I may not be bright as a maester, I'm smart enough to see that. When I was a boy I wanted to be a knight, and by Seven's grace I've managed that. Would I like it under my lord father's name? I'll not deny it that I would, but that'll never be, and I'm better done by than most born on the wrong side of the sheets. My father's given me a place in his house, treated me as a son, and I'll *be* him a good son by blood and steel if not in name. On my best days, I think that's enough for him. I've friendship - the best of it from my fair lord brother, who I love better than any in this world and who's never treated me as half of anything. All told I think I got the better deal than Jaremy. He never wanted to be an heir, and I never wanted anything he had…" A pause, another drink, and he adds like he's amending to himself, "…in lands or title. He has the name, but I've more freedom to do with my life what I will of it, so I'd not trade him for it." There wasn't a straight answer to Rowan's question contained in that anywhere.
Rowan squints at Jarod a moment, dark eyes canny. "You all grew up together, more or less, didn't you? You and your brother and Isolde." He tilts his head, watching Jarod's face carefully. "Did you love her, too? And before you give me some tripe about 'of course I love her' — you know precisely what I'm asking." He adds, rather quickly, "It would make sense if you did, of course. She's very beautiful. And gentle. A little fragile, but spirited — everything a lady should be."
"More or less," Jarod replies. "Her father was vassal to Lord Jerold. And his friend, more than that. They'd pledged Jaremy and Isolde to each other when we were just children, and I always figured she'd be my sister. If my brother didn't sack up and run off to join the Kingsguard, that is." He laughs. Though his good humor fades at Rowan's question. His green eyes regard the squire across the table, flat and serious. "That's a fool idea, Rowan. And you dishonor her, and me, by suggesting it. I know better than to fool about with noblewomen. There's not but shame for them and trouble for me come out of that. I love my brother, not her. If a man has an idle fancy or two when he's seventeen…well, I'm not a fool enough to call that love. Now, you'll never speak like that again. Understood?"
The squire pales and then flushes, flinching as though slapped. "I'm so sorry, Ser," he whispers. The lad's brows draw together hard and he swallows, taking a breath. "I would never suggest anything I felt dishonorable — about either of you. And I'd beat senseless the man who did otherwise. I… didn't think through what I was suggesting. I've forgotten my place and become too comfortable in your good graces… when your kindness is all the more reason to remember it." He moves to stand. "It won't happen again. I'm sorry." He clears his throat. "I… should go. See if I can make myself of use before the ceremonies begin."
"Best not happen again, Rowan," Jarod says. This is a thing he's not just going to laugh-off thirty seconds later, apparently. "And long as it doesn't, I'll do you the kindness of forgetting we had this talk, and you'll do the same." He takes a bite of chicken, chewing, and nods. "I'll join in shortly. I've a fair few other matters to talk over with you, about certain missives in my pack, but that can wait. I want to place a few more bets on my fair lord brother before he's due in the lists."
Rowan flushes again, not meeting Jarod's eyes. "Yes, ser," he says meekly. He hesitates a moment, as though about to say something else — but rather than put his foot in it again, he makes a valiant retreat.