|On the Mend|
|Summary:||After a spectacular beat-down at the melee, Rose is on the mend. Gedeon may be, as well.|
|Related Logs:||Melee at the Roost|
|Recovery Room — Sept of the Seven — Terrick's Roost|
|A small, tidy room in the back of the sept with several narrow cots and cabinets.|
|25th Tenthmonth, 288 AL|
In the small, makeshift recovery room of the sept, there is a cot with white sheets upon which lays a sheet-white squire. It was a near thing, it seems. Ribs shattered, lung punctured, she might have drowned in her own blood had Septon Josse been less skilled and his intervention less timely. Only time and rest and her own body can replace what she's lost, so the road to recovery will likely be a long one. Her torso is bound tight from beneath her arms to her waist — not a condition to which she's unaccustomed, day-to-day, but this time to bind her bones, not simply her breasts. Two fingers on her sword hand, broken, are splinted and wrapped together. She's covered in bruises and scrapes, otherwise. Remarkably — and ironically — her face is untouched, for she would certainly have preferred a broken nose to broken fingers. Drugged for the pain and to ensure she rests, she sleeps in a light, restless doze, long, dark lashes further shadowing the bruise-like hollows beneath her eyes.
It's not so much that Gedeon arrives first come morning. It's more than he never left. Jarod was equally inclined to stay and watch over her, but as the half-Terrick had his own squire as well as the security of the keep to see to, during what was promised to be another night of drinking and celebration, it's Gedeon who remained in a chair beside the pale squire's pale cot. He's got a bandage on his own arm from the slice Quentyn Banefort gave him, but otherwise, he looks well enough. He's slipped into a light doze, but blinks awake as the first streaks of light creep in through the windows.
The drugs must be wearing off, her sleep so light that even the slight shift of his posture on waking registers, somewhere, between waking and dreaming. Someone's there. She wakes, then, with a tiny start, more a quick intake of breath than an actual jolt. She blinks at Gedeon, the pale grey light, the room — it all takes a few moments to come together. There's confusion, then a sort of naked, stabbed-through-the-heart pain that causes her to turn her face away. Once she has a hold of that, she breathes dee — ow. Right. None of that. "Fuck…" she whispers. Swallows. And begins a careful inventory of her body — making sure everything's intact and functioning.
It's an inventory every knight knows well enough, and Gedeon offers to Rose, "Broken ribs, punctured lungs, two fingers broken on your sword hand." He breathes out softly, studying the girl on the bed. "I'm sorry," he tells her quietly. "For all of it. That was not how I wanted it to go. Jarod had to see to the guards, or he'd be here. I'm sure he'll arrive shortly."
She turns her head very slightly, regarding him with dark, dark eyes. Her lips are dry and she wets them with her tongue. "Is there water?" she asks, after a long moment. Apology not accepted, it seems. Not immediately, anyhow. But neither is she cursing his name and having him thrown out. That's something. Isn't it?
The blond knight nods, leaning over to pour a little water to a small glass from a larger pitcher. "Lift your head, not your body," he advises, moving the glass to her lips and resting his other hand behind her head.
She does as instructed, wincing as that slight movement aggravates her ribs despite her caution. She drinks — a sip at first, then thirstily, draining the glass if she can. However much she's allowed, she's not inclined to keep her head up — even with help — very long, dropping back to the pillow. "Lightheaded," she mumbles. "My brain's all woolly."
"That would be blood loss and whatever the septon gave you for the pain," Gedeon opines, setting the glass down. "I'm told you can drink more if what you had stays put."
Rose closes her eyes, breathing carefully, finding that sweet spot where she can get as much air as possible without causing herself too much pain. Once she's fairly sure she's got that down, she opens her eyes just enough to study her unbroken hand, pale and slender and long-fingered — nails short, covered in tiny scars. She flexes it slightly, watching the tendons move beneath the skin. "I would always have loved House Terrick," she says softly, her voice both heavy and brittle with regret. "But I would have served Oldstones well and true. And I would have come to love it, too, in time."
Gedeon is quiet for a long moment as he studies the squire prone in bed, wrapped and splinted and pale as her sheets. "Would you like to prove that?" he asks her softly.
"To whom?" asks Rose, her brittle tone now dry, as well. "To you? You don't trust me, Gedeon. You think — " The faint, mirthless snort of mirth she utters becomes a grunt of pain. She flashes a shade paler, shutting her eyes. "Fuck if I know what you think. It doesn't matter." She breathes out, quietly marshaling her emotions. "Who won?"
"To me," Gedeon agrees quietly. For who won, he frowns a little. "Oldstones," is the rather dry answer. "When Jarod yielded, Ser Anton requested the victory be shared equally among the three of us. I'm sorry about that, too."
She looks utterly blank for a moment, staring at him without comprehension, then turns her head, focusing on the ceiling. "I humiliated you," she says. "In the joust. Without meaning to. Without wanting to. And I swore I wouldn't do it again in the melee. I swore I would fight with all I had, and I did." Her slender throat works in a swallow. "I came to the field in scarlet and white, a squire of Oldstones. And my own house beat me into a pulp, and shared the victory as proud comrades?" She nods. "Well done, Gedeon. Masterfully well done." She shakes her head very slightly. "I am not of Oldstones. And I don't want it, any more than it wants me."
"That wasn't my doing, and you can rest assure I will make sure Alek knows I don't approve his actions. It wasn't what I was after." He breathes out softly and simply nods. He's quiet for a beat, studying his wrapped arm before he says, "All right, then. When the wedding celebration is done and the Mallisters have left, I think it's well and time I went back to Oldstones. You'll stay here, in a proper Sept, to recover, and then I am sure Lord Jerold will be pleased to have you as part of his household again."
"Do you expect me not to have a scrap of pride?" Rose whispers, bleakly. "Do you expect me to come crawling like a cur to a house that despises me?" She turns her head to look at him, swallowing hard, eyes over-bright. "Whether you planned it or not, Gedeon, it was perfect. All your disdain — it could not have been more beautifully or completely expressed." She turns her head again, regarding the ceiling once more. "There's nothing for me at Oldstones, and there's nothing more for me here. I can't serve Ser Jerold under false pretenses; I can't ask Jarod to have me as a squire again. I am done. It's finished."
"Alek comes in like a damn storm and he bites anything that isn't collared as one of ours," Gedeon says, unconcerned over the miserably mixed metaphors. He pushes a hand through his hair. "He didn't know you, and that was my fault. You are not despised by Oldstones, Alek beat me near as badly when I was first squired to Anton. If you had yielded, he would have stopped. You are not hated, you are unproven. You think I am the only one to note you are more loyal to your former lord than your current one? So, very well, you cut me to the quick without meaning to and now I have done the same. Quit, if you like, after all of that. But I would rather wash away the old mess and start something anew."
"If I had yielded after two blows, no matter how punishing, you would have assumed I threw the fucking fight. That I was faithless, my vows worth nothing, and that I sought to humiliate you once again. Fuck you, I should have yielded. Fuck. You." As for Alek Coope, her lips curls. "I would have stood with Oldstones. I would have defended you as faithfully as any squire has ever defended their knight. Would you have done the same? Would you have stood with me against Ser Alek?" She shakes her head. "When my own colors were against me, I turned to defend the one man on the field who would have had my back, no matter what. And you wonder why?"
"Not if you yielded fighting Alex Coope, gods, Rowan," Gedeon replies tersely. He raises his hand, the unwrapped one, to quiet whatever reply she has waiting. "No. Stop. This leads nowhere. Think on what I said. When the Mallisters leave, you can tell me whether I should go back to Oldstones or remain here to wait for you to recover. You can speak of the great things you would have done for Oldstones all you like, we both know your actions so far have said differently. And I can offer explanations all I like, but we both know they will not be enough. So, here we are. Think on it, Rowan. Until the Mallisters depart."
"Tell me, Gedeon, what you would have had me do differently?" she asks, suddenly very tired. "Truly. Assume that I am deliberately obtuse, if you like, but tell me all the same. All I know is that you don't trust me, you find me disloyal, and you don't want me — so I don't understand what you're offering me. Or why. But I'd like to understand how we came to this point. So tell me, please, what I've done — and I will tell you if I'd do it differently. Then perhaps we'll understand… where we stand."
"Wanting you was never the problem," Gedeon answers softly. "I think you know well enough what I wish you had done differently, but I understand, too, the impossibility of that wish. But, it made trust… tenuous for me. You are forever going off on your own, Rowan, and bounding back with grand finished plans in which I had no part. Perhaps that was simply the way of things when you served Jarod. After four years, you knew each other well enough. But we were new, still learning the measure of the other, and it was all the more difficult being in the middle of the Roost where half the people still think you're Jarod's squire, and feeling there was nothing but… but what we no longer had as a foundation. There was nothing to build from but old hurts, and with Lord Anton aware of the risk I took in squiring you and my own… caution with new alliances, every time you put the Roost's interests above mine, or I felt you had, it made it worse. I wanted to see you in Oldstones' colors and feel you wore them proudly rather than simply because you had no other option. I never could. So, what I am trying to offer now is another start with eyes more open and able to see more clearly. I know better who you are and where your heart lies, and I am willing to start there and more forward, rather than becoming angry that you are not already loyal to a home that you have yet to even see."
Every once in a great while, Rose shuts up and listens. This is one of those times. Her eyes are focused and attentive — and even when something he says, round about the bit about Oldstones colors and pride, brings tears to her eyes… she doesn't interrupt or interject. Just swallows and listens some more. "Oh, I hate you sometimes," she whispers roughly at last, a tear spilling down her cheek. "I want to die rather than yield, and you say 'Please'… I want my heart to finally, finally turn cold to you — and you do this." She closes her eyes a moment, taking a breath to quell her tears. "I've never seen Oldstones," she agrees. "I don't know Lord Anton, I… don't know Ser Alek. Oldstones has never embraced me and been kind to me, it hasn't mentored and nurtured me for years. I want to love Oldstones… I hope I will… and I hope it will love me back. But these things take time." She nods a little, swallowing hard against a lump in her throat. "I was — am — grateful to Oldstones. But no… I never wore Oldstones' colors with pride. Not like you and Alek do. I don't yet know how." Another tear slips silently down. "But I was proud to be yours, Gedeon. Before this all went to seven hells, I was so very proud to be yours."
"Then be mine," Gedeon says softly, lifting a hand so his thumb can wipe some of Rose's tears away. "Or, at least," he quickly amends, "be my squire. I was proud to have you."
Rose nods, uttering a fragile, wet bubble of a laugh and sniffling back her tears. "Then stay," she whispers, reaching up to touch the back of his hand. "Stay when the Mallisters go. Please." She smirks painfully, and adds, "And please beg Lord Jason's forgiveness for me if I ruined his armor."
"You saved his honor, first," Gedeon points out, smiling a bit more easily. "A coat of armor is a small price to pay for that. Gods, but that really was well done." He sighs softly and shakes his head. "Try and sleep. I need to go blacken Alek's eye and dent a few of his ribs in retribution, and Jarod will want to see you awake and a bit yourself."
She holds his hand a moment, lips quirking up at the sides. "This was worth the beat down," she opines. But… "Let's not ever do it again, eh?"
"Mmm," Gedeon murmurs, "Agreed." His fingers offer her (unbroken ones) a careful squeeze. "Sleep. We'll talk again, later."
Rose nods, watching him a moment longer as she settles back against the pillow. It doesn't take long for the exhaustion she's been fighting to overtake her, however, and her eyes drift shut. Soon, she's sleeping once more — far more deeply and peacefully than he's seen in a very long time.
He sits a moment longer and lets his fingetips touch her cheek a final time before Gedeon stands and slips quietly out of the Sept, leaving Rose to her dreams.