|Of Pages and Firetraps|
|Summary:||In which Saffron gets into a fight with a page in the Banefort practice yard.|
|Date:||10 June 2012|
The practice yard ground was muddy and wet in the wake of the warm summer rains. As the morning sun began to mount the sky, the heat caused the wet earth to steam in faint tendrils that twisted and climbed as high as they could before they dissipated into the air. There was a loud squelch of mud as young Douglin Banefort sprawled across the ground, gathering up mouthfuls of the fertile sludge.
"Ugh," he groaned as the laughter of the other pages rang out across the enclosed courtyard. He sputtered and spat as he hoisted his pre-adolescent frame onto his knees and then onto his feet. The practice blade was sinking into the ground where it fell a good three feet from his own crater. And there, standing over it, was the little brat of a girl with a crown of crimson hair and the fiercest blue eyes he had ever had the ill-fate to meet. "You cheated," he groaned as he moved to take up his blade. Saffron Banefort's foot stomped solidly on it, causing it to immerse further beneath the pressure.
"I don't cheat," Saffron proclaimed in a firm, indignant voice. Only two years Douglin's lesser, she still almost met him in height though he was a bit more squat in frame. She was a willow, just like her mother — but also deceptively nimble; young Douglin however moved like a slow-witted ox. "You said three hits, I hit you thrice. Its not my fault the last two came within seconds of each other because you don't know how to parry!"
Behind them, the boys continued to laugh. "You hear that, Doug? You were bested by a girl of what… five years? Six?"
"I'm nine and a half!" Saffron snapped back to the uproarious boys, flushed with anger.
It had been a casual challenge at first. Lord Bernard had reluctantly left his daughter in the practice yard after a squire came to fetch him because, once again, Ser Jeoffin Greenfield had fallen off his horse and couldn't get back up again. He had told her he would not be long, and by the Seven, to stay out of trouble. He was meant to be bringing her to her mother for a picnic with her sisters. It was a rare day in which his older daughter Terras was up and bright, and Lady Alyss wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. She had done quite well at first, standing near a wall in her pretty blue dress with the flowered hem. And then she caught sight of Ser Whitworth's pages practicing their stances, and she had to correct Douglin's form. As they say in the North, the whole thing snowballed from there and soon Saffron was trading blows with the page in the practice ring, gathering mud up around her hems without care.
"You cheated," Douglin repeated as he bent down to try to wriggle his pudgy fingers in the mud to grab hold of the sword's hilt. Saffron pressed as much of her weight as she could against the shaft, a stubborn look on her round face. "You should have yielded!"
"Why?" Saffron asked hotly. "Because I'm a girl?"
"Yes, because you're a girl!" Doug croaked as he tugged hard on the hilt. Saffron promptly removed her foot, and the boy was sent sprawling into the mud again, this time on his back.
"Well, you should have better guarded your flank!"
Girl or not, Douglin reddened with both embarrassment and rage and he raised his fist as if to punch Lord Bernard's daughter. "I'll not be talked to like that by a little… cunt!" He said that foul little word with an air of having no idea what it meant, but perhaps overheard it. It sounded vile, and she deserved a vile word. Everyone who could hear halted immediately in their activities, and the once-laughing pages gasped. Saffron was as crimson as her hair, and she felt her heart slamming in her ears. She released a screaming battle cry and flung herself at Douglin.
It was an hour later, and Saffron stood beside her Lord father as they faced Douglin and Ser Whitworth in the entrance hall of the Banefort. A bit of rag had been twisted and shoved up Douglin's nose, and he sported an impressive black-eye; Saffron's lip was split and her cheek had started to purple where the page had landed his own fist. Both were exceptionally interested in their feet as Bernard and Whitworth scolded them. They covered every wrong-doing from hitting a girl to taunting the pages.
"Now," Lord Bernard said as he looks down at his sulking daughter. "You apologize to Lord Douglin, Saffron. You say you are sorry for all your wrong-doings. I want to hear you say it."
Saffron mumbled something that might have been confused for an apology. Bernard pinched her arm firmly, causing her to flinch. "Ow! Alright!" She looked up fiercely at Douglin, hands balled up into little fists. "I'm sorry for all my wrong-doings," she chorused stubbornly.
"You next, Lord Douglin. You apologize for yours," Whitworth instructed his page.
"I'm sorry for all my wrong-doings," Douglin said despondently.
The Knight and his page began to depart the hall, leaving father and daughter standing in awkward silence in their wake. It was Bernard to was the first to break it. "You should go see Septa Ara, get cleaned up. I've arranged for extra lessons with the maester for today."
"But, the picnic— " Saffron began to protest.
"Young ladies who get in fights do not go on picnics!" Bernard shouted. It caused her to jump; so rare it was that he raised his voice to her, it brought tears to her bright eyes. He scrubbed his hand across his beard. "Go now. If I check in, I want to see you nose deep in the geography of the Northern Westerlands."
Not daring to argue, Saffron scampered to the stairs, leaving her father trying his hardest not to look guiltily after her.