Page 195: Quiet Aid
Quiet Aid
Summary: Hardwicke offers Patrek a moment.
Date: January 28, 2012
Related Logs: A battle log which will no doubt be up soon.
Patrek Hardwicke 
Armory — Seagard Castle
It has armor in it.
January 28, 289

Coming home was never supposed to be like this. At first, Patrek imagined a return home as the proud squire of Lord Jerold Terrick. When the ironborn struck, he changed his daydreams of Seagard to a victorious reunion with his father. And now, Seagard is indeed saved and Patrek Mallister is indeed home, but his father's body is being washed and readied for the pyre and the new Lord of the keep is in the armory, peeling himself awkwardly out of stiff, heavy armor and sniffing hard to force back further tears.

Hardwicke has had his own duties to see to, though his wounds have fortunately not required the attention of a chiurgeon. He moves stiffly, but does not bleed. He is still in his armor as well as he tracks down the no-longer-Young Lord Patrek in the armory. He watches him a moment in thin-lipped silence before saying very quietly, "My lord."

For all that armor clinks and clanks, Hardwicke still manages to sneak up on the lad as he eases his arm free of its metal sleeve. Patrek starts, clearing his throat sharply and dragging his arm quickly across his eyes before peering over at the somber man. "Captain," he offers, his voice gravelly from shouting and tears. "Have you a report?"

"No remaining Ironborn have been found lurking in the castle, my lord," Hardwicke says, comfortable in the familiarity of reporting to a commander, if not for — who this particular commander has turned out to be. He hesitates, watching Patrek across that distance with a hint of uncertainty to his gaze.

The young Lord nods as he works the other arm of the armor free. "Good. Have the rest been routed? What of-," he pauses to clear his throat sharply, "Rodrik Greyjoy?"

Hardwicke is silent a moment at first. Then he says, "No word on Greyjoy, my lord. He — may have escaped." He hesitates a moment before offering, quieter, "I am sorry."

"I see," Patrek whispers. He reaches around to begin to unbuckle the clasps at his side, but his fingers don't seem up for the task. The apology, if Patrek hears it, goes unnoted. "Captain, I apologize but might you assist me?"

There is no verbal answer, but Hardwicke immediately moves to Patrek's side to begin efficiently unbuckling the remaining straps of his armor with the dexterity of long-familiarity. He works in silence, the line of his jaw tight.

This, at least, is something Patrek can offer a sort, "Thank you, ser," for. He holds his arms out, breathing a soft sigh as the heavy armor is removed.

Hardwicke nods silent reply, although Patrek might not even catch it. He draws the armor off and sets it down carefully. He hesitates a long moment after that before finally setting one worn, callused hand on Patrek's shoulder. "Your father fought with more courage than most armies put together."

"He's…" Patrek stops himself, "He was," the boy corrects softly, "the best of men. I never thought…" the boy falls silent to stare down at his feet, unblinking.

Hardwicke draws in a slow breath as Patrek looks down at his feet. Then his hand squeezes lightly at his shoulder and he pulls him in gently to offer an embrace that is at least sincere, if it fails to be well-practiced.

The young Mallister is stiff and surprised for a long moment, tense in that awkward and well-meaning embrace. And then he swallows and presses his face into Hardwicke's shoulder, his arms lifting to tentatively curl around the other man.

Once Patrek presses into the hug, Hardwicke seems secure enough to just keep the wrap of his arms firm as long as the young lord might want it. He stays silent, his gaze settled on nothing in particular over Patrek's head.

His breath shudders and he draws in a few quivery gasps, and likely the shoulder of Hardwicke's armor will need a little wiping. Then Patrek straightens, squirming a hand free to once again, wipe his eyes. "Thank you," he murmurs again. "I'm sure you have things to see to, Captain. I appreciate your assistance."

"Of course, my lord," Hardwicke says, stepping back and politely averting his gaze from any hint of tears. "If there's anything you need—" He trails off and leaves the rest unspoken before sketching a stiff bow. "My lord."

"I will keep your kindness in mind," Patrek promises quietly, tugging his padded jacket straight, set askew as it was by the removal of the armor. "I thought I had time, so much more time, to learn what I would need to rule properly."

Hardwicke looks down at Patrek a long moment, something quiet and complex in his expression. "You also fought bravely today, my lord," he says softly. "You are your father's son." And then, with a final tip of his chin, he turns to go.

The boy nods a little, unable to speak further. Patrek watches Hardwicke depart in silence until he once again finds himself alone with the armor and his thoughts.