|Much Needed Editing|
|Summary:||Jarod composes promises on Ser Gedeon's behalf. Rowan scribes for him, and they finally talk about some things.|
|Related Logs:||Practicality and the various other Jarod/Rowan/Gedeon logs|
|Library — Seagard|
|Books, parchment, chairs.|
|Sun Jan 29, 289|
It's taken quite a bit of junior detective work to track down Jarod Rivers in the library of Castle Seagard — but Rowan can be stubborn as fuck-all when she has a mind to be. She's spent the morning asking this person, who recommended she ask that person, who pointed her to — you get the idea. She's a little bit skeptical when a page finally tells her he saw someone matching Ser Jarod's description in the library not long ago, but as the leads are running dry, she tries her luck. And there he is.
She doesn't announce her arrival. Instead, she shuts the door and drags over a chair, wedging it beneath the door-pull. Surely, were she a villain in one of the takes of Symeon Star-Eyes, such an act would be followed by nefarious laughter. As it is, she only glances at her handiwork, gives it a little kick to firm it up, and strolls over to her wayward Ser.
Ser Jarod Rivers has indeed gone to the library. Not the first place most who know him would go looking. But there he is. He's tucked away at a small table. It's near a window but, judging by the burnt-out candle sitting on it, he was making use of it before there was proper sunlight. He's armed with an inkwell and quill, and a roll of what was once fresh parchment. He's gone through a few sheets of it, which are laying semi-discarded on the table next to him. At present he's just reading rather than writing, brow furrowed as he goes over what's presumably he's latest work of authorship. There's a cup of something-or-other to drink by his elbow, but he's largely ignoring it. He's so intent on his proof reading that Rowan's entrance - and trapping of him - goes unnoticed.
Still not employing any purposeful stealth — but not going out of her way to alleviate his distraction — Rowan strolls over and picks up a balled-up early draft, uncrumbling it and giving it a squint. She draws a nonplussed breath, hesitates, tilts her head and squints squintier. "Asshole," she says, after a moment, "is one word."
Up tick Jarod's green eyes from his latest draft. Squinting at Rowan. He stifles a yawn that he seems to just realize he'd been wanting to do. "Rowan? What're you doing here? Figured you'd be back at camp still. What time is it?" He then sees her reading his work. He tenses a little, though finally he just shrugs and snorts. "That's a hard one to look up in official correspondence. Anyhow. I was messing around a little bit in the first one. Just trying to get some ideas down. This is what I ended up with." He offers her what's, for the moment, the final product. "What do you think? I wanted to keep it official, and to the point. And short. Strikes me there's less room to manipulate what you're promising if you don't promise much." It reads:
I, Ser Gedeon Rivers, natural son of Lord Geoffrey Tordane, do pledge that, in the event I am made lawful and legitimate heir to and/or lord of Stonebridge, I shall return vassalage of all Stonebridge lands to loyalty and liege of Lord Terrick of Terricks Roost, directly upon my taking lordship of aforementioned town and lands. By my hand, this twenty-ninth day of the first month, in the year 299, it is sworn and witnessed.
Without looking up from the page, Rowan holds a hand out, palm up. "Quill?" Once she has it, she makes a few little scribbles. "Pretty good. Little apostrophe here, and-not-an… year is actually 289, since I'm assuming you wouldn't have stayed up all night writing a document you didn't mean to have signed for a decade." She looks it over again after her corrections, then hands it — and the quill — back over with a nod. "I'm no Maester, obviously, but it looks good enough to me. May I ask, however — what the fuck?" She lifts her eyebrows just a little, the mildest of inquiries.
Jarod hands over his quill, giving Rowan clearance to edit as she will. "Did I seriously write two ninety-nine?" He winces, looking up at the window. He picks up his cup and takes a gulp. It's strong black tea, by the look out of it, though it's long gone cold. He winces at the taste. "I don't suppose you'd mind scribing the final copy, would you? I think I'm starting to muss things. It's just what you might call suggested verbiage, but the final product's going to be something like that, or I don't figure it'll be worth much." As for her question, he shrugs. "It's what Ser Gedeon's going to copy and sign in his own hand before my lord father and whatever witnesses I can scare up today. Do you know nobody in my family's bothered to press him to put his pledge to swear back to us if he got Stonebridge in writing? Not my father, not Jace. Nobody. Well. That's getting done."
Rowan simply nods her assent. She'll help. That's easy. Still, she looks wry and curious and a bit troubled. The girl-squire parks herself on the small table he's working at and props her arm on the opposite side, neatly occupying his workspace. "Fair enough. But why now? A lot's happened and this… seems sort of unrelated." She studies his face. "You two have another row?"
"Ser Gedeon and I don't row," Jarod replies with a shrug, pushing his remaining parchment across the table for her to use. "We're rather past that. We understand each other better now, I think. And I don't particularly trust him." He says it without any heat. Just a certain weary sadness. "It's late for it now, true enough. The time to do it was before Riverrun, when he needed our support, and our ability to get the Mallisters' support. He's got that now, and Lord Tully with it, so I suppose if he wants to refuse to do it and leave himself room to fuck off his promise and do something more…practical. Well, not much we can do to pressure him not to. But I'd like to see it coming, if that's what'll happen, and I figure what he does with this will be as good an indication as any."
Rowan listens, frowning slightly as she takes in his thoughts. "I'm not in a position to influence what he does, any longer," she says. "I'm sorry."
"I'm not asking you to, Rowan," Jarod says. "I wouldn't ask you to. Not where he's concerned. I don't figure dividing your loyalties like that is fair. And I wouldn't like myself too much if I did. And…" He sighs, looking down at the table. "…not sure where your heart'd be if I did, though I'm sure you'd do what I requested of you best you could. Just make sure my apostrophes are in order. We'll see how it plays."
"Well — no," Rowan shakes her head, frown deepening. "That's not — precisely what I meant. Really." She takes a deep breath. "What I mean is… this is obviously the right thing to do. For him to do. And… I just wish — " She shrugs, finally. "I can't be his moral compass. Fucking exhausting, heartbreaking job." She bites the corner of her bottom lip. "It's not… right to be with someone because you want to fix them, you know? Besides, I don't think it's possible. That is the sort of thing that's mummer's takes and bardsong. The blackguard that becomes a good, compassionate man, redeemed by the love of a virtuous maid." She smirks. "I never was very good at the virtuous maid thing."
"But you wish you could." Jarod still keeps looking down at his ink-stained fingers rather than Rowan. "What if, Rowenna." Rowenna now. "What if, tomorrow, he showed up at your door and was precisely the man you wanted him to be, and asked you to…fuck, I don't know. Run off to King's Landing or something. Would you do it? Or would you turn him down just because you felt…obligated to something…safe and comfortable that wasn't what you truly wanted, but was all right, after a fashion. For so long as you could be contented with it, at least."
"Of course I wish I could," Rowan says, dismissively. "You don't just unlove the people you've loved, Jarod. You know that." She listens to the scenario she's presented with, then frowns at the choices she's given. "Are those my only options?"
"Only ones I can think of. Any others spring to mind for you?" Jarod asks it quietly, trying to keep his voice down. Though, after a glance on his periphery, he squints at the door. "Did you lock us in here? Seven hells, woman!"
"What?" Rowan asks innocently. "I figured you had something stuck in your craw — maybe multiple things — and privacy's hard to come by, these days." She swings a leg over to the other side of him, then levers herself off the table to straddle his lap. "I'd turn him down. I didn't like who I became, when I was with Gedeon. Doesn't mean I didn't love him, it just means… there's a subtle alchemy, with people. Some people combine to become stronger. Some people combine and… everything gets blown to fuck."
"But you still love him. And I wonder if you still don't want…" Jarod takes a deep breath. "You know, it's funny, but thinking back on it I think it might've been better if I hadn't fucked you right away. When we started being lovers. Such as we were. You never really broke with him, did you? Not in you. And I always felt like, when we were together that you wanted something…else. Something I just…wasn't. Something I couldn't be, wouldn't want to be even if I could. And for awhile I thought that if I just…I don't know. Fucked you better or said the right thing or acted a certain way - not that I knew how the fuck to begin doing it - it might just go away. But it never did. That was what you wanted. And finally, at Riverrun, you went and got what you'd wanted. Am I wrong about any of that?"
"Some of it," Rowan says, after a moment considering. She smooths tender fingers over his hair and cups his jaw, sliding the pad of her thumb over the stubble of his cheek. "Not what happened in Riverrun, though. That was just you and me. I…" she sighs. "I think it was a mistake, us trying to be together, when you'd — we'd — when we couldn't be together. Like this. Our friendship, our partnership — those are small words, they probably sound dismissive, but we have a bond, Jarod. It's right at the heart of what we are — it's the alchemy that makes us better together than we are when we're apart. And when we couldn't be together that way, anymore — the trust, the — fuck, really, there aren't words. It was so good. SO good. And we had to sacrifice that so we could fuck?" She shakes her head. "I think we both resented the hells out of that, and out of each other. You missed your friend — " she swallows, verklempt. "I missed mine. I missed the man who believed in me when I was a skinny boy and thought I could do anything anyone else could and was proud of me. Suddenly — and I know it's because you didn't want to see me hurt — but suddenly I just had this… overbearing jerk who couldn't open his mouth but to remind me that I was DOOMED." She shakes her head. "We weren't… who we were anymore. And when it fell apart, yes — I went running to Gedeon. But if you think I sabotaged us so I could go running to Gedeon?" She snorts. "Then I'd better get out of your lap so I can punch you in the groin."
"Whoa, hey…" Jarod fumbles with single syllable non-words for a bit, his ink-stained hands instinctively going around her waist. "Umm…don't, please?" That seems to be in reference to the groin-punching. He sighs. "Rowenna…look, I'm not saying I wasn't pretty shit to you. I was. That was…that was never about me, you know? Was barely about you. But can you honestly say you didn't think on Gedeon Rivers while we were together? I think we were pretty shit to each other, all around. I did miss you. And this…" He looks up at her, reaching up to play with her short dark curls. "Rowenna, I am finding it real hard lately to picture my life without this. And it scares the seven hells out of me."
"Welcome to my nightmare," Rowan says, dryly. Then, with simple candor and tenderness, she says, "You're not the only one who's scared." She takes a deep breath, committed to full disclosure, and back-tracks to answer his question. "I missed Gedeon. I — it was easy. With him. And the more we fought, the more exhausted and frustrated we became with each other — the more I missed that ease. That simplicity. Gedeon… didn't want anything from me, or my life or my future. I was enough, just as I was, in the moment. So… yes. I thought of him. But it wasn't… like that you think. Or seem to think. I wanted you…" She sighs. "I always wanted you. And when it seemed like nothing either of us did — when it just kept getting more impossible — " she shrugs. "I'm sorry. It wasn't my finest hour."
"We just did everything wrong," Jarod concludes with a snorted laugh that's very rueful. "Or we were wrong then. I sure as seven hells was. Not just with you, Rowenna, I…" He does some sighing himself. "My whole life I feel like I've been buying affection from people. In some manner. Coin to whores is the easiest and most honest way of it. But…I don't know. It always seemed like I was just a little…less than those around me. But that was all right, so long as I didn't mind too much. And if I was the dutiful brother, or the good knight, or…whatever, I'd get all the affection I pleased, so long as I was willing to settle for never quite being…first, with anyone. Then, after you dropped me at Riverrun…I don't know, but it felt like somebody'd dropped me into cold water. And I took a look at my life and what I had and I…I had nothing. Nothing that was mine, or about me, or that I could be about in return."
Rowan twines her arms around him and kisses his forehead, shutting her eyes with a heart-heavy sigh. "Is that why you hated it so much? Me reaching beyond my grasp… refusing to settle?" She kisses his temple and his eyebrow and wraps him up tighter. "I'm so sorry, Jarod."
"I didn't hate it," Jarod says soft, leaning tiredly into her as she kisses him. "Envied it, more like. That you could just pick up and be whatever you wanted, go by whatever name you wanted…Rivers especially." He snorts. "I hate it, you know. Last thing I want to be is a Rivers forever, because the moment you give your name to somebody, that's all you are. But I love it, too, because it's the only thing of his my father could give me, the acknowledgment and I…I've a right to it, if nothing else. And I was jealous that you could pick it up or take it off as you pleased. And that you didn't hesitate to go after what you wanted. And I thought you were naive, about what battle was, what sort of life it was you were trying to live. But everyone is who hasn't seen it. Jaremy sure as seven hells was, and he was a knight sworn and two-and-twenty. And I thought…I felt like I was the only one telling you this all might not work out, and that you didn't have any sort of idea what you'd do if it…didn't. After the Oldstones it seemed you did so I guess I let go of that a little. And, like I said before, figured I couldn't stop you. Might as well try and help you do it…better, if I could."
"And what do you think now?" Rowan asks softly, combing her fingers through his hair, nuzzling and breathing him in.
"I think you've a better understanding of what you're getting into, after all this," Jarod says. "And I think, like I said before, you're good enough to make money with a blade. Maybe not in precisely the way you want, but you can make a life for yourself in that fashion. You stood upon the field at Seagard and gave an account of yourself, Rowenna. Whatever happens, the men there'll remember that."
"Am I good enough?" Rowan asks, straight out and simple, pulling back to meet his eyes. "If I were a boy, would you knight me?"
"Rowenna, if you'd still been my squire and the boy I knew as Rowan Nayland, I'd have knighted you after you beat that Frey in the joust at the Roost," Jarod replies. "Maybe if we'd kept on together, you'd have been ready then. I don't figure you were at just that time, way things were between you and the Oldstones." He shrugs. "And with you and me. I wasn't much good to you then, in that fashion. Now…" He takes a deep breath, letting it out slow. "…after this business with the Ironborn is over, many squires'll be knighted, and you'll have earned it as much as any of them. So, if that is what you want, I will do that. I will knight you as Rose Rivers, or whatever you want to call yourself as a woman. And the cost to me will be…well. It'll be what it'll be, and I'll live with it. It'll be worse on you than it is on me, anyhow, but it's what you want and I can give it to you. I decided I was prepared to do that when I took you back on. Seven hells, I'll knight you as Rowan Nayland, and you can continue living as a man if you want. Many houses, including my lord father's, would take you on as a sworn. It's all just facets, my fair Mire Rose. God has Seven faces, those who serve Them may as well, too. I figure I can live with that, too. If it's what you want."
"What do you think it'll cost you? In truth?" Rowan asks, studying his face, fingertips tracing his features. "I know some of what it'll cost, to be Ser Rose…. But if I'm not to bear it alone, I'd like a full accounting."
Jarod shrugs. Looking up but not quite meeting her eyes. "I think it's one of those things it's best not to dwell on too much. It's never been done before, so it's not like I can say for certain. And it's like getting wound up to dive off one of those cliffs at the Roost, I think. You think about it too much, you'll lose your nerve. I'm preparing for various eventualities." Whatever that means. "I mean, Rowenna, this was always going to cost the knight who did this to you. This is rather late to be worrying about it."
"No. It's not," Rowan says, simply. "Late would be after. What eventualities, Jarod?" She shifts slightly, placing a had beneath his chin, seeking his eyes. "I have a right to know."
"My reputation would be…well. I'd be the bastard knight who kept company with a woman, in his tent even, unchaperoned, for weeks even during the Army of the Cape's campaign. Not to mention those years we were together alone a thousand times at the Roost. That's why…well. That's one of the reasons I've been so…I would really like to be able to swear truthfully that I did not take you to bed while you were my squire. Most won't believe me, but my lord father will, I think. Perhaps men who've served with me and know me might." He shrugs. "Though that bit'll be worse on you and it will on me, tenfold. I'm a man. Practically expected we fuck everything we can. The knights and nobles will…" He looks away from her again. "They will call you things, Rowenna, that're very ugly, and perhaps some will try to…" He shudders. "It'll be best if I can say I treated you in an…honorable fashion. So far as the world deems it."
"Like I said, that's mostly for you, though. For my part, a knight's reputation is his currency, in some respects. If I want to work as a sworn in Houses other than my lord father's that'll be…difficult. How the knights I've fought beside will look on me, I honestly don't know. Certainly not better, for the most part. And I doubt I will find my place with the Terricks as comfortable as it is now. I don't think my father would dismiss me, but his lady wife would…well. I don't think the propriety of the whole thing would please her. And Lady Evangeline has been good enough to me that having my father and Jace force her to accept what I'd done…I think I owe her more consideration. I figure at worst I'll perhaps travel as a hedge knight for a few years. Which sat better with me before the Roost was in the state it's in now, I'll admit, but it's still hardly the worst life a man could have."
"So it's not the knighting of me that would… harm you. Not really," Rowan says, softly. "It's… just me. That I'm a woman. Knighted, unknighted, alive, dead… it wouldn't matter when or how it came out. It'd all be the same in the damage to you."
"It'd be difficult, whatever happened," Jarod says with a shrug. He chuckles, actually crooking a boyish grin up at her. "We sort of break a lot of rules, the pair of us. Though, I mean, that'd hardly be the end of the world. There are women who take up the sword in the North, and in Dorne, and even some mercenaries in Westeros proper. Not to mention the fucking Iron Islands, not that that's a comparison you'd want to draw." He snorts. "Like I said, though, I'm a man, and whatever vows knights might take, chastity isn't precisely a virtue that's widely practiced. I figure I'd be a bit of laughing stock for awhile, and a lecher, but when has that ever bothered me? And you'd be…well. Not saying you'd be looked on kindly, you'd still be treated rough, but you'd not be doing anything that'd not been done before in some fashion. Knighted…" Another shrug. "It's a title. Like lord or lady. It's something that sets you above…whatever you were before. At least in the eyes of the world. And the world is unkind to those who try and do that. I'd probably be seen as having treated it…without value, if I gave it to a woman. Even though you've earned it by now well as any boy on the fields of Seagard or Alderbrook did. Where we'd be then, I don't know. Never been done before. World puts value on titles above just about everything else, even if they don't tell much about what a man's worth. Or woman, for that matter."
"I… you can't leave the Roost, Jarod. They need you." Rowan swallows hard. "I mean, you can — of course you can, but you want to stay. You want to help rebuild. And it sounds — it sounds like this could all force you from your home."
"What I want…" Jarod says that low, letting it trail off. "…is to be a man who's not so afraid of displeasing someone that he compromises any kind of life he might have for himself. And part of me thinks if I don't have the courage to do this, Rowenna, I'll never be that man. Whatever becomes of you and me, really. I will always be Lord Jerold's son." Which is, perhaps, not something he would've said with any confidence a few months ago. "And he will understand why I do this, I think, if not what I do. What precisely my place will be able to be there, I don't know. It'll be different. More different if you're knighted than if you're not, that's about the most I can say. But, I know I can give you the thing you want, but you can't have. And, let's be honest, that I'm probably your last chance at that happening, after your break with the Oldstones, and now that you won't have yourself taken by a knight who doesn't know you've got tits. I wouldn't have pledged to do this again if I wasn't willing to face what came with it."
"I know it's my last chance," Rowan says, voice low and thick as she struggles with the lump in her throat. Her lashes lower and her dark, dramatic brows knit in a pensive line. "I'm just trying to figure out what kind of person I am if I let you do this for me."
"Hey." Jarod takes her hands in his, or tries to, lacing his fingers through hers. "You've devoted five years of your life to training for this. You've been bloodied in combat beside men-at-arms in defense of the Riverlands. You've earned it, Rowenna. And it's what you want. Look, maybe it's best we don't talk on this much anymore. Neither of us really know what it'll be when it's all said and done, and it's not the right time to do anything anyhow, with fighting still probably not done against the squids. We'll see how it plays." He chuckles again. "I mean, we could die next week. No real sense in sweating the stuff beyond it."
She leans her forehead down against his, taking a deep breath and swallowing hard; she squeezes his hands. "I love you," she whispers. She seems as though she might say more, but then simply shakes her head a little, and repeats, "I love you."
"I love you, too," Jarod replies in kind, tilting his chin up to kiss her properly on the lips. When they break, he says, "Well, we've covered most of the complicated stuff I wanted to talk on. I mean, don't know how much it really changes. Like I said, it's maybe best we keep on as we are for now, figure out where it all goes when…everything's more settled. But, we're not ruined." This surprises him. "Huh…"
"No," Rowan agrees, unable to help a soft snort of mirth at his surprise. "We're not. Actually… I think we're in pretty good shape. For — whatever. Which I guess we'll see." She smiles and kisses the bridge of his nose.
"We'll see how it plays." That seems to be Jarod's new stock go-to phrase, but at least it's arguably an improvement over 'Men want what they can't have' and his various others. He kisses her for awhile longer. He will eventually have his letter/textual dare to Ser Gedeon to refine, but he's not in a great hurry any longer.