|Summary:||Harold visits Aeliana and Ser Harper joins them.|
|Reading Room, Braeburn House|
|This square room is one that invites a quiet atmosphere, with its great bay windows overlooking the courtyard within the very heart of Braeburn. Its the walls though, that tell the history of the room, for opposite that great bay window sits a large desk, framed by smaller windows on either side to ensure the light stays balanced. Theres a scattering of chairs in between, to ensure that guests are comfortable but the walls.. The walls are filled with books and parchments; a testament to the long standing glory of the house. From agriculture to law and everything in between, even works of fiction. Every heir thats come before has made it a point to add to Braeburns collection of books until it stands as it does today, full to bursting from the shelves and a welcome treat to those privileged enough to use them.|
|25, February 290|
Behind the desk her betrothed seemed to favor, no doubt for both position and for light, Aeliana Ashwood sat tucked comfortably, with a glass of cider to compliment the scones that had been up sent over from the kitchen. The poor thing was sitting there, reclined with a sigh and rubbing the painful kink from her hand. Seven be kind she'd never have need to marry more than once, because if she'd to pen another invitation, just one, she was going to scream and elope and that would be the end of it. At least the pain in her back was minor; hardly enough to note at the moment, though she'd been sitting quite a while at any rate and it'd taken no more than a pinch of willowbark to take care of the inital bite. "There. The last of them, find Gale and make sure they're sent out today."
"I'd be bloody happy to, if you told me who the hell is Gale," came Harold's familiarly belly-deep voice, resonating with fond bemusement. It had taken a bit of bullying, but after he'd his horse seen to his and squire saddled with the business of taking care of their possessions, he'd gotten a servant to lead him to the apparently -invalid and in no shape to see any visitors, Ser- Lady Aeliana. "You're looking surprisingly up and about for someone supposed to be half dead."
Time tucked away in Kellen doing little other than watching over his pregnant wife, and now their infant child, had left Harold to gain a few pounds. Or ten. The aftermath of the defeat at Stonebridge and the defection of House Highfield had also left his thinning hair a little bit thinner, and the grey in it more than a little greyer. For all that his eyes were still sharp, and he held himself as always with an aura of self contained authority. The battered sword at his hip was as sharp as ever.
"What in the…Uncle Harold!" Aeliana's face lit up like a child who'd just been given a treat; those dark eyes lighting warmly on his own. "You're here! But you're really here, in Kingsgrove!" It baffled even as it delighted and the girl pushed herself up to her feet, mindful of the stitching and wove her way free of the desk to make for the bear of a man directly, with every intention of wrapping her arms around his neck, whether he was covered in road dust or not.
"Rumors will forever exaggerate my state, I fear. But such is the case and matters little akin to the truth. I can not believe you're actually here! Are you staying for the wedding? How's your Lady? And your son, I was thrilled when I recieved your letter."
"It's either that or you're worse than you think you are, and suffering one big fucking clusterfuck of fever delusions," said her Uncle with his usual complete disregard of proper language when his shoulders were low and the company someone he actually trusted not to judge his rusty sense of etiquette. He wore a wry grin as she wrapped her arms around him, giving the top of her head a paternal pat and a kiss.
"But aye, I figured it would be bloody rude not to come visit my favorite niece when I was coming down to Seagard anyway. Though I'm afraid I ain't gonna stay until the wedding. It's a brief one, just the day. But I'll be back for the wedding, dontchu worry, Ae." Aeliana and Harold were standing by a writingdesk overlooking a lead-lined window and the courtyard, in the process of a familial hug.
"Lady Serica's doing fine, a bit weakened but that's to be expected. Girl's got some skinny hips, and my son and heir's got my damn build." Harold being six feet three, and build like a bear.
"If that's the case someone needs to adjust my dosage, I distinctly remember requesting pleasant delusions, of course you're here…so there's that but if it were -mine-, someone else would have handled all the damn invitations." With her Septa in the corner, nodding in and out over a bit of sewing, because Ae's armsmen were going to require new crests on their tunics. "Aside from that…," the woman trailed off and shrugged. "It was just a bit of needling. I swear you and Rodrick caught me worse teaching me to handle my own, over the years," she teased; gesturing the Charlton to a seat.
"Gale! Fetch my Uncle a drink and see those invitations go, quit gawking girl," Ae urged, before giving the man a very solid pout. "If you miss my wedding…," she warned, a threat looming on the horizon like a dark stormcloud. One that she didn't finish.
"Still, I'm glad that your /heir/," she used the word simply because she knew it'd tickle him after waiting so very long in life to have a proper one, "Has entered the world hale and hearty. I've something for him as well, that you can take back with you, by the by."
"Hips break and bend like chicken bones if you're babe's too thick. Luckily, I married a woman with fine thick hips." How's that for a greeting? Perhaps the door opening into the collection of Charltons (former and current) was not noticed, nor the slightly sweaty man who apparently has slunk in for some respite. There's a look as the bearded fellow eyes Harold for, but a moment-and then he is bowing his head. Teeth white, flashed for Aeliana before the knight closes the door quietly (as he had opened) behind him. "I do hope I'm nae interrupting some family reunion. I just wanted to get ain a cool room and have wine.." Apparently the reading room provides the ample amount of air to cool down a knight that has been outside. Still Ser Harper's not making a retreat-rather he is looking for the wine decanter-or something potable to drink.
There is a shift of his weight as gloves are yanked free, and the big and burly Groves' knight is turning his head to regard Harold for a moment. "I don't believe we've met." At least here-he likely could have crossed blades at some point during the rebellion. That was always embarrassing-to find someone whose kin you either killed or someone who was there when you surrendered.
"Hah," came Harold's amused bark. "Might've broken a couple of your fingers, but only because you were too bloody fucking cocky to stick to the drills, and always had to wave the damn sword about like we were dueling, making it a damn pain to know where to smack you without hitting something valuable. Don't remember ever stabbing you, though. Perhaps I aught to have. Warrior knows the first time you're stabbed is a damn shock. Best get it outta the way so you don't spend a whole lotta time gasping and groaning and whining about it, rather than killing the bastard who done it while he's still smirking about his success."
He slid his hands down towards her narrow shoulders, then pushed her back just a touch so he could view her properly and take note of just how badly those scoundrel bandits had hurt his little girl. "Dontcu worry, though. I'll be here, and if they'd been fit to travel, I'd brought my wife and son too."
Harold had waited until he was done looking Aeliana over before he acknowledged Harper properly. Turned on his heels did the Charlton, his weight comfortably settled in a relaxed but ready poise as he looked over the burly Groves. With sharp eyes that saw plenty, he made a point out of looking his opposite over. Finally he grunted, cracked a gruff smile, and said: "It's your bloody Manor, Ser. If anyone's the intruder, it's me." He offered a knightly bow, not as smooth as a courtier's, but it did the job. "Ser Harold Charlton."
"Aye, you did and you're the very reason the damn things are hurting right now, too," Aeliana grumped, but it was with fond affection. "Still, what you refused to smack, Rodrick did and so between the two of you, I learned. Some of those tricks have been useful since, too. You should have seen Stafford's face when we danced," the Ashwood mused, lips curled up at the corner with affection for the memory.
That look remained, even as he looked her over too and Ae gave her Uncle a reassuring smile. "I am fine, I told you. Though I can't wait to see your son. Perhaps there'll be a fine painter at the event Ser Stafford has chosen that I can send your way to capture your family," she smiled; flashing a grin in Ser Harper's direction as he joined them.
"If ever I've been grateful for my own hips, it's after hearing the pair of you talk. Good afternoon, Ser Harper. We'd be delighted to have you join us for a drink."
Affection and all aside, Harper, doesn't seem to mind whatever Harold's doing. Instead, his focus is split between chat and drink of course. A grin and bow is offered, though-it's more short and sloppy-clearly he is more suited for the field than for Court, but as it is-Harold is given Harper's bow. "Well met Ser Charlton. I admire yaer liege's courage and of course gumption for stickin' it to Lord Walder." His accent-not as posh as some around here in the Kingsgrove-but despite it's backwoods birthing he is understandable. There's a smith on the property who is entirely hard to figure out what he is saying. With a grin he is looking back to Ae. "Well then I'll be delighted to drink, Young Lady." A big smile. "Are you excited for your comin' nuptials? I believe my own wife was dreading the boar she'd be saddled to." A chuckle there, as one hand takes a hold of his belt and adjusts in a rather jaunty fashion. "But, we've come on nicely."
"Perhaps wait until he ceases being a squealing little swaddled infant, and is strong enough to hold a wooden sword and start being useful," said Harold with a wry chuckle at the thought of immortalizing his little family. AFter all, who had a use for infants, or the memory of them, anyway? Besides smelling good, they were just squealing, crying, pitiful waste of spaces. Boring ones, too. "I'm looking forward to him being able to understand what I'm saying, and not just staring at me with big fucking watery eyes."
A grunt for Harper's praise of Keegan's choices, before he with some relief sank down into a chair. The way he was rubbing his right knee said it wasn't a moment too soon in his opinion. "My brother's a proud man. He expects promises to be kept. We were loyal to our lieges, until they forgot that it goes two ways." He made no note of Harper's backward accent. Though Harold himeslf could often have a rough way of speaking, that was more a matter of choice of words and tone of voice; beneath it all his breeding was always apparent. Highborn noble, him.
"Is it terrible that one of the things I'm looking forward to most about our nuptials is finally having my name changed again?" For all that she might have been an Ashwood and had her reasons for that particular decision, it was never meant to be one forever. After all, she still wore the mistletoe of Hollyholt in her hair instead of wolves on those steel pins. "But yes, Ser," another grin at Harper and this one mischevious. "I am indeed looking forward to them, it's been a long time in coming."
Clearly, that was far more worthy of being discussed first, over infants too. "That's why you get a wet nurse Uncle, a guard to ensure they are not smothered in their sleep and tutors lined up for when they can talk. When it comes time to learn heraldry, /then/ my children can find me." Boy, what a mother she's going to make. Though like her Uncle, there's no remark for Harper's accent either, if anything she finds it part of his charm as she, though walking carefully and with a mind to her stitches, goes to pour for the men herself.
There's a snort from the other knight as he is listening to Harold and Ae go back and forth on the infant debate. "You'll find yourself with em at your heels soon enough. And then." Harper gives a look to Harold. "You have t' pull your bloody resources in order to make sure the boy has a knight to page under. Sure, I am sure he could do it under you Ser. But, it speaks better of your station to nab someone-like a Tully, or maybe a Mallister." Some have come to him, as such he's on his third Squire now. The First was knighted in the rebellion and died-his second knighted on Harlaw. Both two and three are both still alive. "Girls are harder still to know what to do with. I've been blessed by the Seven, that I have a patient enough wife to know what to do with them. My boy is young enough yet to be underfoot." he adds, before he is looking back over towards the woman-and more importantly the drink.
"Though there is not much learning I can accredit to my own matriarch. I believe for the most part, I was entirely focused on swords an bein' a knight like my father." A lick of a tooth before he is moving to snag a seat now. No need to stand right?
"Perhaps a Groves," Aeliana suggests, mischief there with humor in her eyes. "Though my mind would be towards a Tully, simply for the relations with your leige. My Uncle will do well enough in his selection, I am sure," Ae offers, a warm smile to her Uncle with the statement. As a guest, it was he that she served first before Harper, though there was naught but a moments pause in between before the woman wove gracefully back to her seat.
"If the Gods are kind, I'll know only boys myself, a woman's loyalty to easily swayed when she enters the world, wooed by love or lust and a kind hand, by the change of a name. Such things are not drilled with us so deep as they are to you and yours, when taking vows and earning spurs. But even I'll not deny they still have their uses and every now and again, the rare one can be properly shaped."
"A Groves would be a fine choice, my Lady. As it would ever endear the relations between our two houses." And if there were two houses on the rise in the Riverlands it would be the Groves and the Charltons. All by the luck of the Gods-or the fact that war hasn't ravaged either house. Still the other knight grins once he is down in a chair, and slouches in a rather unnoble like fashion. His smirk showing, before he is reaching for his drink-a quiet salute of raised glass given. "Thank ye." said softly around his cup.
Harper swallows and things for a moment. "I believe my daughter is loyal enough-but you are likely right in that hold of a father changes as soon as the name does as well." a lick of his lips before he is looking back over. "The rare what? Girl or boot?" Likely they are both one and the same in some fashions.
"There are more knights and competient the same, among Groves than I have seen of Ashwoods or Haigh and the Harpies seem to find more pleasure letting their youth root in dirt than focus on matters elsewhere. Less here certainly, than other places where, and Ser Harper I pray you forgive my wording, they're lead unreasonably by their cocks. And you're welcome," for the cup.
At her chair, Aeliana eased back slowly; her eyes pinching at the corners as her lips went tight. "Girl, of course. Though by no means do I mean to imply that I'm an exception, I am very much aware that I am not though…I don't feel I should be blame for it. My father made the decision to split off from Keegan, not I." And still, it seemed, she was sour for it.
Harper snorts. "You'd have no need to apologize to me, Lady. I rode with many a man who was led by one sword than the other." A grin there before he's laughing, good and deep. Something that resonates through the belly and spills out of his mouth. Luckily no wine accompanies it. Many things can be said about Ser Harper Groves, and likely still a many of them true. But, one of the few things he is not, is a sloppy drunk.
"Of course." He adds with a grin there, though he does not let it stay for long. "I don't believe you should be at all. Nor were you among the decisions and those who make em, Lady." he says softly. "Besides you are with fine family-and you are accepted here as quick as kin."
"Yes, but I had to say it, least my Uncle decide to chime back in by yelling at me, besides it only reminds him of precisely where I picked up my vocabulary, sitting in one too many emcampments visiting he or my brother, Warrior keep him." She still wore the full black of mourning for his memory, there was some debate as well, as to whether or not she'd be married in it. "Unlady-like habits, they say and yet, because of them I'm still sitting here, not run through like some pig and with only five stitches to show for it." For plotting and vile and viper as many might name her, she is at least made stern and sharp. Though it softens here in good company and with the ease of Harper's laughter.
"Ah, but had I been…had I been," there's miscief in her eyes and just a pinch of cruelty with it. "Alas, I've no room to complain, it's brought me here after all and no place else I'd rather be. Your acceptance means a great deal, Ser Harper and I do hope you know that I am grateful for it."
A smirk shows. "I am sure if anything, your Uncle would simply nod and agree eh?" A glance to Harold for a moment, before he is looking back to his soon to be good cousin. "My own comes from m' father. We're a rougher sort, my lot is-than perhaps the polished lads of Braeburn house." A grin given before he is taking another drink, allowing his eyes to close in an almost lazy fashion.
ONe eye peeks open, much akin to a sleeping dog's before he is grinning. "But you were not. I wouldn't worry yourself over the past. There are many a thing in the past that we wish we could change. From decisions to results. I for one will not beat upon myself because of my past mistakes. I have the future before me, and will do what I can with that." he adds before he crosses a leg. "It is the very least one can do for such a charming woman, Lady Aeliana."
"Oh he would," Ae grins at Harold even as she speaks, "But he'd still try and ensure it was known that regardless of the occasional…slip I might possess, he still had his hand in ensuring I was raised as was proper even /if/ I spent my time at Kellen running about barefoot and harassing everyone in sight." Her smile is soft for the memory and remained, when she turned to look anew at Harper. "Oh, but all those rough edges can be polished to a shine or! Made sharper yet to cut the unwary, I think you a fine man to have around."
"And a wise one to boot," she's still watching, when he peeks in here direction and there's a grin to echo his own but not as sharp. "The what if's of the past may kill us, but as a very wise man once told me, the past must be acknowledged at least, if ever we are to learn from our mistakes lest we make them again." Pausing to take a sip of her cider, Aeliana considers, "How your wife wasn't pleased for her freedom I'll never understand, you seem quite the likeable man and a pity that too, you're already married. I suppose I'll have to make content with stretching out our roots with the rest. Though, you're more familiar with the knights of Braeburn than I, do you know of one who might be worthy of the reward of a Groves." After all, it was cheaper to gift the women in house, than it was to pay to see them gone elsewhere.
"As any good uncle should. I believe Lord Campbell, my own uncle would do the same of my children-or try to of me. Though t' be fair an honest I am sure he has given up on me. I am my own cause and of that, I am lost." A grin there before he drained the rest of his wine in one solid gulp. No wince of pain, no face made- a sign of a true champion if one's battlefield was to be a inn's table. The cup is carefully held as he rises from his chair and makes for the decanter now himself. No need to have the lady serve him another time.
A glance over his shoulder and he laughs. "I am sure she was pleased for her freedom, and I am sure she worried fine when I rode behind the Banner of the Dragon." he adds thoughtfully for a moment before he is looking to her. "I am very familiar, I run and ride with em most. And beyond my own cousins, I can count a few good men-that'd profit by coming into our house and elevating their position." he adds with a glance. "Mind you they are not all polished. But, they are loyal and can easily work on being courtly if needed."
"I still believe that was the right thing to do," Aeliana remarked of the Dragon's cause, "Upon that my Uncle and I agree, though with the others we never did. A note of some debate and contention once upon a time. Besides," she laughs, an easy sound rich and full as her voice, "Wars are won on lost causes, women too, as I would wager your wife will attest." A tease if ever there was, but it wasn't forward, nor any suggestion of it meant as such.
"I did my time with the Frey's, I confess. I would think anyone free of there, would be grateful. Seven knows I was glad not to have to stay longer than I did. Too many and too much!" Yet she goes pensive, when his answer comes, her expression thoughtful, as she reclines, legs crossing at the thigh while a hand smooths down the length of her thigh. "Watch for me, would you? For all you'll never see me dirty my hands in a garden, I'm of a mind to strength our roots and spread our branches wide. Anything can be polished."
Harper nods there, as he fills his cup-takes a sip- and fills it once more before turning back to the other member of his House. "I have never had a thing to say to a Frey-and words I would save for a Mallister might be seen in anger in these days." A rueful smile there, before he bows his head. "But, as to your request, I can figure out which saplings are of worth if you were wishing to water them in some kindness." he adds before taking a long draught. "And which ones likely need pruning." he adds with a bit of a bow. "If I may, It has been wonderful this lapse of time-but I must to my Lady wife. I promised a lunch with her.." Though it does nigh the time of supping anyway. "I shall catch you soon, my Lady." a promise there.
"I can claim to know…one Mallister and more Freys and would trade the latter for the former and all of them, for a Charlton or a Groves," Aeliana admits, flashing a wry grin. "But if ere you need someone to rant too, Ser, my door is always open." So long as it's not her bedroom door. "And I shall be grateful and more than, for the wisdom of your judgment, in all things. Give my best to your Lady, if you would be so kind and my apologies if I've kept you overlong. I should like to catch her for tea one day very soon myself. Good day, Ser Harper," the Ashwood offered, with a low bow of her head in response.
A grin there as he remains by the door. "Then you already know what you want-and in that I can easily work." A tugging of his lips, before Harper is easily opening the door and keeping it propped with a boot. "Oh you've not. I infact believe it was myself that kept me overlong." he adds with a grin. "Of course, Lady." Harper says as he slips on out into the wing's corridor. "As is my door, or stool at the inn." A bow of farewell, done gracefully with his head-before he is gone with the swift and silent swish of the door behind him.