|Play the Subtle Game|
|Summary:||Anais and Jacsen talk politics and marriage, which leads to comparing their differences in approach.|
|Date:||24 June 2012|
|Cripplesex Central - Seagard|
|Dis where da magic happen.|
|Sun Jun 24, 289|
It's morning in the Terrick camp, and Anais is enjoying a chance to stay in bed. With no dire responsibilities or threats of immediate starvation hanging over her head, it's a bit easier to do. She lies in her stomach, a pillow gathered between her arms with the covers down around her hips, hair tangled with sleep and other pre-sleep activities, idly kicking her feet beneath the covers. "This is nice," she sighs, wistful. "I wish we could just stay here."
"We could," offers a sleepy Jacsen, turning sideways to face her. His shaggy hair is all a mess and there are pillow lines on his face. "I don't think there's anything major going on today, if I recall. I mean, we've still business to do, but." He rubs at his eyes and stretches. "Nothing pressing." His hand sneaks toward her under the blanket to her hips. "Nothing official that's pressing," he amends.
Anais laughs softly, scooting her hips across the bed to let skin touch skin. "I meant here in Seagard," she clarifies, leaning over to press a kiss to his shoulder. "As opposed to here in bed. Not that there's anything wrong with here in bed, either." Teeth scrape skin in a gentle nip, and she turns to rest her cheek on the pillow. "I learned something interesting about one of the Haighs last night," she notes, smile curving as she holds back on the details.
"Mm," Jacsen grunts to her kiss and nip, letting himself fall back to the bed sideways. He seems to be a fan of staying in bed over staying in Seagard. "Less stairs when everything is tents," he says with a small smile. His hand moves slowly up to the small of her back, slowly starting to trace the curve of her spine. "Oh? What's that?" he asks, though he seems more interested in her soft skin than Haigh news.
"I wouldn't spend time trying to negotiate over Lady Katrin," Anais advises, pushing up on her elbows a bit to arch her back at his touch. Since the siege, she's looking a little thinner, especially without the camouflage of gowns, the line of her spine and the curve of her ribs starting to show against the skin. "I stopped by the Nayland camp last night, hoping to have a few words with Roslyn. And apparently, Lord Rafferdy and Lady Katrin were going to try to elope. Nevermind that she's been handing out favors to Lord Martyn. It wasn't entirely clear if it was her idea or his idea, but Rowenna was in a tizzy over it. Apparently Lord Haigh threatened to have Rafferdy killed if he continued to toy with Katrin."
Jacsen raises a brow. "Tried to elope? Good Gods, what in all the hells…" He shakes his head. "I don't understand where Lords and Ladies get it in their heads that they're at liberty to do as they desire, not as benefits their House. If we all eloped and married for love to whomsoever we wished, then we might as well all be commoners." And what a mess that would be. But there's also the reminder that their own marriage was not one of love but of position and influence - as it should have been. There's a quiet moment before his hand stops moving and he frowns. "What were you doing at the Nayland camp last night?" Last night, before she showed up intoxicated and all but jumped him.
"I wanted to talk to Roslyn," Anais answers, leaning over to brush a soft kiss. "Apparently Justin's feeling a bit unloved because neither you, nor I, nor Luci, nor Roslyn came and visited him when he was recuperating after the joust. I didn't think he'd been hurt that badly, but…" She trails off, shrugging slightly. "I thought that maybe if Roslyn could come and visit him, it might smooth things over a bit. She was indisposed, but Rowenna shares the most excellent drinks when she's already had a few," she laughs softly, claiming his lips again before lowering her chin to the pillow once more.
"Justin's a grown man," Jacsen grunts unsympathetically. "And a knight now besides. He'll not have my wife plying for attention from a woman to whom he's not even betrothed." Is this really about Justin, or about Anais going to the Nayland camp? Her kisses and laugh reassure him, and his hand starts moving across her back again as he rests his head on his arm and watches her. "Was Ser Riordan there?"
"He was," Anais answers. "Though he was rather busy being wroth with his brother. They're setting guards on him, apparently." She wrinkles her nose slightly. "So. That makes Lady Katrin more trouble than she's worth in dowry, and Lady Briallyn wed just yesterday, I hear. I haven't seen Lady Ilaria since the bandit incident, I'm afraid. Have you had a chance to speak with any of your old friends here?" she asks. "See if anyone with coin would be interested in Luci?"
"No, nothing solid yet," Jacsen says noncommittally, his hand now up between her shoulderblades and rubbing in small circles. "How stand the Haighs on their commerce, and grain? I imagine they side with the Naylands on the matter of the Charltons. Hm." He lapses into silence again, digging into his thoughts as he strokes her skin. "I did speak with Ser Kittridge again regarding Ser Stafford. Their initial demand for the dowry is, as expected, the land they lost to us."
"Actually, if this whole Rafferdy and Katrin thing is any indication, I'd say the Haighs don't much care for how the Naylands handled the Charlton issue," Anais muses. "Though I haven't had a chance to speak with them about politics. Every time I see Lady Katrin it's in a crowd, and I suppose I understand now why she's been a bit distracted." The muscles beneath his hand tense at the talk of lands again, and she makes a soft sound something like a growl. "Those are /ours/ Jacsen. I still don't understand what you're expecting to gain out of this."
"Yes, and I'll hold on to them if I can," Jacsen answers calmly, caressing her soothingly. "The lands are useless to us right now, Anais. They're there, they're ours, but they're unworked - and won't be, not for a time yet. The Groves are a rising House, same-sworn to the Mallisters, and Lucienne would marry their heir. No matter what happens with Stonebridge, we can trade with them. It makes sense to cultivate their friendship and link our houses. We've two harvests to bear yet before we're through this, and we've already lost one from them."
"They're useless now, but so is the friendship of the Groves," Anais points out. "We'll get no more food from the Groves this harvest than we will from those lands. But in a few years, those lands will still bear crops, while the Groves? Will still charge for them, even if Luci marries their heir." A frown lines her brow, jaw hard against the cushion of the pillow. "I don't like giving up things that are mine, Jacsen. Especially for nothing concrete in return. Luci's marriage can wait. Roslyn managed to wait until her marriage could be a boon to her family. Surely you don't think your sister has less dedication to her family than Roslyn does?"
"Their friendship will not be useless," Jacsen says, shaking his head. "Would you have Luci wait until she is Roslyn's age, when I must listen to some other Lord sit across from me, as I sat across from Ser Rutger, and tell me she is nearing the limit of suitability and past her prime?" He scoffs. "She is ready now. The Groves are close enough that good relations are a must, both for commerce and defense. We'll have their next harvest, at a reduced rate, and until then, a loan from them may tide us over if other plans fall through. It opens up paths now and later, all for two parcels of land which we cannot farm for years. We must be willing to give as we take, Anais, and be willing to make expedient and difficult decisions if we're to get through this."
"This is not an expedient or a difficult decision, Jacsen," Anais drawls, dry. "This is giving Luci what she wants and what you want her to have, rather than what's best for the house. Just because it isn't about love doesn't mean it isn't about wants rather than what's advantageous." She sighs, turning her head away to hide her expression. "What are we going to do about the maester when we get back?" she asks instead, changing the subject.
"You can't honestly mean to tell me that you don't see the advantage to having Luci married to the Groves heir," Jacsen says, starting to get frustrated. "Just because the results are two steps removed doesn't mean they aren't plain to see, Anais. Gods, if you could put your feud with her aside to think about this for two minutes, it's what's best for you - to have her gone from the Four Eagles and building her new life at Kingsgrove which will be hers." He lets out an exasperated sigh and rolls over onto his back, drawing his hands to his chest. "What of him?" he asks about the Maester. "Name it, and it'll be done."
"Jacsen, you know I want her gone. If I'm willing to keep her at the Roost despite that, don't you think it says something about what I really think about this Groves marriage and what /I'm/ willing to put up with for the good of the Roost?" Anais crumples the pillow a bit more, shifting until they're no longer touching when he rolls over. "I want him gone," she says in regards to the Maester. "I can't trust someone who tries to convince me to lie to my family, then suggests having me beaten. Not with our children."
"Then we'll get rid of him," Jacsen says simply. "We've done it before." That's that. He sighs and looks over toward her, his hand twitching toward her but staying gathered to him still. "Yes, it does. And I promised to fully consider your proposal. But until such a prospect appears, there's little I can do on it. Until then, Anais, you must see that I am trying to do what is best in the long term, not just for the Roost but for you, to set you up as its Lady. I'm trying to set the pieces up just right for when your time comes."
"I don't-" Anais buries her face in the pillow before turning to look at him again, only her eyes visible, and those half-hidden behind her bangs, blue skies behind golden clouds. She just looks at him for a long moment, then sighs into the pillow, pushing it aside to rest her cheek on it. "I don't want the Roost /given/ to me, Jacsen," she admits then. "It won't really be mine. I have to earn it. I have to take it. Then it will truly be mine." A pause, and she sighs. "Thank you, though. For wanting to."
"I'm not trying to give it to you," Jacsen says quietly, rolling toward her again. "And I couldn't, even if I wanted to." Especially not after that last explosion. "But I can set the conditions. That's what I do. I can stand back, look, and see - and understand. Feel the natural progression of things. Where to intervene, where to intercept. Where to influence the outcome to become more favorable. To play the subtle game."
Anais reaches for his hand, drawing it close to place a kiss in the center of his palm. "I am not generally that patient," she says honestly. "Though…I think I have a way to work on that. Do you remember how I used to practice archery, before the invasion?" she asks, looking back up to him as she weaves her fingers with his. "It helps me focus. Calm down and push other things aside. And Master Kain's offered to teach me more on it."
"As long as you promise me you won't try to become like Rowenna," Jacsen says. He's not too fond of the idea of his wife doing archery practice, but if it'll make her more patient and calm… He caresses her cheek with his kissed palm, then gently pulls her over closer to him, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. "My brother may have strange tastes, but I'll have my wife be a proper lady - save but in bed."
"I have no desire to be a knight, thank you," Anais laughs softly, settling into the curve of his arm. "But I think there's something to balance." At his last, she arches a brow, smile tugging at one corner of her lips. "What is it that improper ladies do in bed, my lord?" she asks with some amusement. "And how exactly do /you/ know?"
"Have you ever heard my brother speak?" Jacsen asks with a laugh - referring of course to Jarod. "After all the stories I've heard from him, I feel I know enough to start training up a brothel of my own." He cups her cheek and leans in to kiss her, his chest pressing up against her. "Why don't you start… guessing, my Lady, and I'll let you know if you're right or wrong?" By the tone of his voice, he doesn't mean for it to be a guessing game so much as a show-and-tell.
"I always thought," Anais muses, tracing a finger over his shoulder, "That it was more about what improper ladies /let/ a man do to them in bed. Because I've /heard/ that there are men who enjoy any number of improper things." She returns his kiss, warm, then draws back again. "Did you want to go to the squire's melee?" she asks, quirking a brow. Maybe this leads into things improper ladies do in bed? Like give their husbands blue balls.
"Wrong," Jacsen responds to the question with a grin, the word accompanied by a gentle poke to her ribs. "And what do proper ladies hear about what sorts of improper things improper ladies allow proper men to do to them?" he asks, pulling her close again, his lips hovering just a hair from hers.
"Well, it's terribly improper to let a man do things to you in public," Anais notes, lips curving against his. "You know. Where people might see." Like…on parapets. "There's the fact that they have relations outside of wedlock, of course. And with multiple men. Let themselves be seen in an indecent state. Suck men's cocks." She pauses with a wicked arch of her brow, laughing low. "Come to think of it, maybe I'm not very much of a proper lady after all."
"Why, which of those have you done?" Jacsen asks jokingly, ducking his head for the inevitable.
"You know perfectly well what I've done, Jacsen Terrick," Anais laughs, pressing a hand at his abdomen. "With you, and only you," she adds as she presses another slow kiss. "I didn't think you minded that part of being a proper lady, though," she adds afterwards, looking up to meet his eyes.
Jacsen laughs and flexes his abdomen against her hand, the smile still lingering as she kisses him. "Which, that you're mine and only mine?" he asks, looking down into her eyes. "Were that not to be the case, there would be none of… this," he says matter-of-factly. "No talk, no lazing in bed, no… touches. I'm a jealous man, Anais. And you are my wife."
"If you weren't my wife, I imagine you'd still be off in the Westerlands somewhere," Jacsen answers with a small smile. "If you weren't my wife, I'd have no claim to you, no matter what my feelings were. You'd not be beholden to me." Then he frowns a bit, his hand coming up to her cheek. "Do you think my feelings come from our marriage instead of your character?" he asks.
There's a moment of hesitation, dark lashes veiling Anais' eyes. "Yes," she murmurs after, resting her cheek against his hand. "Which is- Which is fine," she adds quickly. "It's not- You certainly didn't choose me. It wouldn't be…unusual for you to value the sanctity of marriage over the wife you didn't choose."
Jacsen lets out a deep breath and just strokes her cheek, the frown still on his face as he looks at her. "Well, you're wrong," he says at last, leaning forward to lay a gentle kiss on her forehead. "I didn't choose you. But I do admire you."
"Good." Anais presses a kiss to his wrist, letting out a soft sigh. "It's a pity your family doesn't seem to." Distracted by those thoughts, she lets her head fall to the pillow once more, looking up to the silken roof of the tent.
"They'll turn around in time," Jacsen reassures. Though he does follow up quietly with, "As long as you give them no reason to question you." But at least it's accompanied with an apologetic look.
Anais makes a soft sound, turning to roll out of the bed. "I think I'm going to go and watch the squire's melee," she announces, disappearing behind the changing screen in search of a reasonably clean dress. "See who looks likely to make knight any time soon now."
Well, there goes that. He just had to tack on the caveat, didn't he? "I doubt it'll be as exciting as the proper melees," he says lamely, but pulls himself up out of bed as well. He groans and almost falls over when he gets up on his feet, the pain surprisingly strong. "I - I think I need an early dose," he stammers, seating himself back down on the edge of the bed with a shaky breath. "You go on ahead. I'll be along."
"I missed the last one, and Quentyn apparently made quite the showing," Anais says from behind the screen. In a few moments, she's back out in a sleeveless dress of deep purple linen with gold embroidery, a full hood hanging down her back. She's reaching for a brush when he stumbles, and pauses to look to him with a slight frown. Slowly, she resumes brushing, though she watches him in the mirror. "I'll leave Kincaid for you," she says carefully. "Just in case anything happens."
"As you please," Jacsen says, his leg dancing this way and that as he bites down on his lip. "It's fine, just surprised me," he says to Anais' reflection, waving away any concern. "Go, go. Enjoy yourself."
Anais pulls her hair into a loose braid over her shoulder, tying it off with a small ribbon, then steps over to press a kiss to his brow. "I'll be back soon," she promises. "Let Kincaid help you." And with those instructions, she's slipping out of the tent, and is shortly replaced by the cheerful, red-haired Banefort guard. Who is all about helping Jacsen. In ways that take as long as possible to get him a dose.