|Racing The Sun|
|Summary:||The next morning, Gedeon tries to make a discreet escape from Rose's room before sunrise, but unexpected company makes that difficult.|
|Related Logs:||Bindings and Lances|
|Rowan's Room — Four Eagles Tower|
|This small, modest bed chamber is about the size of a large closet, with room for a single bed, a foot-locker, a chest of drawers and little else. Everything is pin neat, the bed made, a large rag-rug covering the rough floorboards underfoot. A half-melted candle on a small, chipped saucer decorates the rickety nightstand, and a number of books are piled up on the low shelf beneath it. The chest of drawers, just left of the door, is wider than it is tall, about waist-height, topped with a pitcher and basin. On the walls are hung the banners of both House Nayland and House Terrick, along with an old but intricate map of the Riverlands, and another of Westeros entire. A single, dormer window looks out on the tower courtyard, the deep sill seeming a pleasant and inviting place to sit and watch the world go by.|
|7 August 288|
So there was kissing and a quiet dash back to Four Eagles and up into the stables to Squire Rowan's posh and impressive rooms. Well, room. Small, simple, but the bed held well enough for their uses, though it was a bit of a balancing act for two bodies to share it. Still, share they did amid muffled sounds and gasps and 'shushes' in attempts not to rouse the other occupants of the stables loft. And sleep, after, for a couple hours. The smallness of the space demands they stay tangled up in one another as they rest. It's a good pair of hours before sunrise, the stars still stretched across the inky sky, when Gedeon stirs and then slowly begins to sit up. "I should go," he whispers.
Rose stretches and stifles a yawn, grumbling a small, kittenish mewl of displeasure as the body spooned and tangled with hers shifts and withdraws. She turns to face him, studying the few hints of form and feature she can see in the near total darkness. A hand slides caressingly over his hip, and her lips press against his collarbone. "Should you?" she murmurs.
He pauses in his creeping away, tipping his head back a little for that kiss and breathing out a soft sigh. "Yes," he whispers. "The stables rise early. Neither of us want the questions it would cause if I was seen skulking away from your room."
"Mm," Rose agrees, and sighs. "I suppose you're right. I should be getting up soon, also. Drills at dawn and all." She slides her foot down his calf, circling his ankle with her toe. "Come back tonight," she whispers, lips brushing the shell of his ear.
Gedeon smiles faintly, ducking his head and reaching a hand down so that he can slide it lazily up Rose's leg. "We need to find a safer place to meet," he murmurs in her ear, "But I would like that."
Rose shivers slightly, goosebumps breaking out in wake of his fingers. She bends her knee, drawing her leg up the outside of his. "We could get a room at the inn," she suggests, lidding her eyes, fingers trailing down his sternum to his navel. "I do, actually, own a dress. So it wouldn't appear as though you were meeting… well… me." She laughs softly at that. "You owe me a memory," she adds in a whisper, nipping delicately at his earlobe.
"Was that the price of this tryst?" Gedeon asks softly, and despite his words, he's leaning back onto Rose, letting the bed take his weight again. "You're a very dishonest trader, Rose. You never warned me of the cost." His lips dust across the underside of her jaw and begin to travel down her throat. "What memory would you have, lady squire?"
Soft laughter chimes in the darkness. Her breath catches; her eyes lid. "Not for this…" she replies, fingertips tracing light, intricate patters at the nape of his neck. She arches to give him more of her throat. "Though I'm flattered you'd so readily pay a price so dear. For my secret. That is the price of secrets, is it not? And certainly you now know the greatest secret of my life."
"It was a very," there's another kiss to the side of her neck, "very," and another, "good night." His teeth nip at her collarbone. Gedeon's head lifts a little as he considers. "I'm afraid my great secret is public, now, and no worthy trade for yours. I can offer this, though. The first time I held a proper sword, I was no bigger than you are, now, and no one would have imagined me a proper knight, one day. Didn't help I near sliced of a piece of my own foot trying to manage the weight of it."
Rose laughs, amused at the anecdote, but shakes her head. "No sale. I want a real memory. Something that was important to you. That made you happy." She hooks his leg and rolls them both over so she's stretched out atop him. She drags her short nails down his sides, dipping her head to taste his neck in turn. "You may consider it if you wish, and owe it to me later. I'm a patient girl."
"That made me happy," Gedeon repeats, once he's rolled onto his back and finds himself at Rose's mercy. His hands settle loosely about her hips as he relaxes into the sheets and closes his eyes, enjoying those attentions. "I'll think on it, then, and have one picked and wrapped for you tonight, at the inn."
She laughs again, gently sampling the side of his throat with her teeth, soothing the bite with her tongue. "I'm sure it did. I can remember the first time I managed to block one of Jarod's blows in practice. We were both quite frozen with the shock. He recovered first and I was black and blue all over for a week, but still. It was a very proud, happy moment." She smiles, a thing more to be felt against his skin than seen. "It's a delightful thing, discovering something you're really good at." She continues sweetly biting and suckling down to his shoulder, then shifts against him to work up the other side.
"Mmm," Gedeon hums softly, shifting a little beneath her, hips lifting up against hers. "I am pleased to inform you, lady squire, that you have discovered yet another skill at which you excel."
Her breath catches and she makes a soft sound in her throat, rolling her hips against him in answer. His words net a bubble of delighted laughter, her cheek hot against his as her lips work back up to his ear. "Truly?" Her lips can be felt to curve in another smile. "I have a feeling that's the clever thing to say to a girl you mean to bed again. Have you had many, many women?" she asks with impish, salacious curiosity.
"Shh," Gedeon whispers around his smile as he returns that roll and his hands squeeze at her hips with a little more purpose. "Truly," he replies, "clever or no. The wise knight doesn't lie. He merely holds his tongue. And if I wish to bed you again, that should suggest something of the encounter as well, should it not?" For the number of women he's had, Gedeon's hands slide up Rose's back, rough palms exploring her softer skin. "A prudent lover does not kiss and tell," he teases softly.
Rose makes another sound, softer but just as sweet, gasping against his ear. "I wasn't asking for names…" she protests, laughing breathily. She arches beneath his hands, tongue flickering over his ear. "Just numbers. And perhaps some choice anecdotes. How else am I ever to learn?" she poses with elaborate innocence and a wicked smile.
"That's good. I daren't give you any names. You might skewer them in a fit of jealousy," Gedeon teases, his breath coming more quickly for those whispers in his ear. For how she is to learn, without anecdotes, the knight has a very simple answer. "Practice." He lies on his back in the room's small bed, Ser Jarod Rivers's squire straddling his hips, head bent down as if murmuring something in his ear. Neither of them have a stitch of clothing on, though a small collection of rumpled garments litters the usually tidily-kept floor.
Thank goodness for doors, because Josse tends to walk so quietly they wouldn't have the tap-tap of heels to warn them. His mind's on something quite far away, so much so that he doesn't stop to listen for any sound before he knocks on the door…
…which despite its mass has a latch that requires some work to shut. Whoever was the last through here neglected such a thing. And so, under the septon's gentle knocking, the door promptly comes open with a loud creak, leaving Josse stranded at the threshhold with his closed hand up in the air and, you know. An eyefull. "…well."
Rose starts and whips around, sheets clutched to her, cold panic followed hard-upon by a mortified blush as she registers the voice and the silhouette. "Sweet, sodding seven!" She gasps. Her eyes dart past the septon, paranoid. "Don't just stand there, come in!" she whispers urgently. "Quick." 'Shut the door behind you' doesn't really need voicing.
The knight's head turns sharply at the sound of knuckles on wood, and he presses his hands down onto Rose's back to help urge her against him so the sheet can cover her more effectively. "Shh," he whispers agains, "Gods, I knew this was a bad place for this."
Dont' just stand there, GO OUT would have been Josse's first instinct, but as reflex clashes with the sudden words from Rose his feet dart inwards instead of out. The heavy door shuts with a much more trusty bang than the first time, the septon's weight pushed securely back against it. His gray robes are dusty, the smell of something strongly medicinal clinging to him. Blue eyes, still rather stunned, flicker from Rose to Gedeon. "Really?" His attention tries to go back to Rose but is immediately chased away again, reminded of the whole lack of clothes thing. "I'll come back-…uh…later, let me…"
"Don't be silly. You're here now. Just…" Rose twirls a finger in the air. "Turn around a moment while I put something on." She barely waits for Josse to comply before she's out of bed (leaving the sheets with Gedeon) and pulling her long shirt over her head. In the same motion, she tosses Gedeon his breeches. "So!" She tugs on her own breeches, lights a candle, and goes to lean against the door beside Josse, grimacing in apologetic mirth. "To what do I owe this… fatefully timed, extremely awkward pleasure?"
Hey, breeches. Breeches are wonderful things. There's the sound of sheets shifting about as Gedeon moves around in them and tugs his pants on. He steps off the bed to squeeze his way around the two other bodies an an attempt to locate his shirt. "I was on my way back to bed, if the two of you have private thoughts to discuss."
"Getting a new locksmith might be at the top of your priorities, young lady." Josse has his eyes dutifully averted — waaay over there — until he's sure Rose is dressed. And Gedeon too. It's to the latter that his eyes flicker first after that, slightly narrowed in the moment that an older brother spends deciding if he should be shaking hands or reaching for a sword. As for his own priorities, only one takes precendence first: Rose. "You're…okay, right?"
Rose actually melts a tiny bit, placing her hands on either side of Josse's face and leaning up to kiss his forehead. "I love you," she says simply. "Yes. I'm very well, thank you." She glances back at Gedeon, struggling not to laugh, finding comedy in the sublime discomfort all around — even her own. "And yes," she says again, eyes back to Josse. "I'll have that fixed. Top of my list." She raises her eyebrows a little. "Are you okay?"
Gedeon pulls his shirt on, a bit awkward (well, extra awkward) in the tight quarters. It's his boots he hunts for next, glancing over at the question of whether or not Rose is well and the girl's reply. He offers, for that glance and the septon's study, a weak, sheepish smile.
A slight pallor and circles under Josse's eyes speak to having been up all night as well, easier to see when she gets close to him to kiss him. Whatever he's been doing, it wasn't nearly as enjoyable as Rose. "I'm fine." He looks back at Gedeon, sharp blue eyes not quite letting the man off the hook — until that sheepish smile. A tiredly amused sound comes from his throat, and fades. To Rose: "I had been hearing things out of Stonebridge that concerned me for you. Which is why I came, though…" He nods to the rumpled bed and people, raising an eyebrow. "Now I haven't a clue where to start."
"Out of Stonebri — ?" Rose begins, then winces. "Oh. Gods. That." She takes a deep breath and goes over to the nightstand, taking the largest, thread-bound volume from the bottom of the stack. Sitting cross-legged on the bed, she opens it to the last page. It appears to be a keepsake book of sorts — scribbles of text, pressed letters and flowers and sketches. On that last page is a letter in lovely, delicate script, and a length of beautifully embroidered ribbon. She holds it up. "She made me a favor. Pretty, isn't it?"
"Stonebridge?" Gedeon asks softly. "Certainly that place holds a vested interest for Geoffrey Tordane's bastard. "Is everything…" he halts and shakes his head. "Forgive me. If the septon had words for me, it would have been my door he knocked on. Good night, lady squire. And you, septon." Gedeon steps into his boots and begins working his way towards the door.
"I'd call it tragic, myself," Josse replies drily. "And I would like to cling to some hope that we don't differ too much in how we believe people ought to be treated." He looks back at Gedeon as the man heads for the door. "I don't know, ser knight. Given that you are one of the balls Rose has in the air — certainly no pun intended — perhaps it wouldn't be terrible to listen." Back to Rose though, questioningly. "It is your call, dear."
Rose wrinkles her nose delicately at Josse's clinging belief. "Don't be mean," she rebukes mildly. She puts the favor back in the book, smoothing it over the page. "She's a lovely girl. Of course it breaks my heart, and I would never — " she sighs, for the girl is already misled. "Never further mislead her. In this regard, at least." She tucks a lock of hair behind her ear, glancing at Gedeon. "Stay?" she asks him. "I would have told you eventually, anyway. It's…" She shakes her head. "It is my family's wish I be engaged. To Igara Frey."
Gedeon hovers by the door, listening quietly. For the balls in the air, he blinks before glancing briefly down at his crotch. "Rather prefer them right where they are, in truth," the knight murmurs, and then for Rose's admission and her troubles, he blinks again. "I see." Easing back from the door, he looks for somewhere to sit or at least crouch. "That… will be tricky."
"To put it lightly." Josse comments on the end of Gedeon's words. The septon lets his heavy bag slide off his shoulder to rest by his feet, though he remains standing. "Frankly with such unsubtle hostilities on between Terrick and Nayland it's a wonder they haven't called for your return."
Rose blinks at that, frowning. "Well. I wouldn't go. They can kiss my androgynous ass." She shuts the keepsake book. "But I've no idea what to do about Igara. The first bit is to decide what I may say that would convince my cousin and father. Then to compose it in such words as not to further wound the girl's delicate heart." She looks deeply unhappy. "I wish — perhaps if I'd been cold to her, she wouldn't have come to admire me so. But — what's done is done." She looks up at Josse. "Obviously, I need your superior wisdom. Again."
The Oldstones knight eases over to the window, glancing out into the night's darkness as he seats himself on the deep sill and considers. "You have enough brothers, even without you, to create political alliances to appease the head of your house," he muses thoughtfully, scratching at his jaw. "I doubt your family has much interest in seeing you swear yourself to the Terricks, but if you could demonstrate a way to bring power and influence to them without a wedding, they might be amenable."
"Wisdom." Josse snorts quietly. "The easiest thing to do is convince your father that you don't wish to be married until you have achieved knighthood. Distractions and whatever excuse." He clears his throat. "But that's a temporary fix and leaves the larger problem still at hand." He glances between the two of them, silent a moment. "Do pardon me for being vulgar," he starts, rather insincerely. "But is this the plan, then? Fucking in Terrick beds and biding time until the axe falls? What if that had been some servant just now and not me?"
"What, and let Lady Igara believe she's engaged and will be wed to this… figment she's built on my image?" Rose frowns. "I could have sworn you made some earlier remark about the way people ought to be treated. I won't lead the poor girl on, Josse." Her frown deepens as he goes on. "If you have a problem with my behavior, Josse, say it," she states, keeping her voice down, but her diction is very clear. "It obviously would have been a disaster if someone other than you'd stumbled in — and thank Seven it was you. But there seems to be more to what you're berating me for than choosing a less-than-ideal place to fuck."
Gedeon keeps his eyes open and his mouth firmly shut. The better part of valor, that. He clears his throat faintly, if only to remind the other two that he's still perched on the windowsill.
"I have a problem with it for one reason and that's that you refuse to think ahead," Josse answers Rowan. His soft-spoken voice never raises. "Even if the situation with Lady Igara is shifted to a brother or what juggling needs be done, the rest still remains. And now with more involved." He glances at Gedeon, thinning his lips into a wry half-smile. "When I recognized you, Ser Gedeon, I had a moment of soaring hope that Rose had decided to be your squire instead."
Rose blinks, stung. "Years ago, you told me that the reason you'd keep my secret is because you thought Jarod was better off, having me around." She pauses, taking a breath. "Has that so changed, that you wish me at Oldstones?"
"I think perhaps the septon's point is more for your own safety and future than Jarod's," Gedeon points out gently. "Um, in regards to the other issue, have you given any thought to the Kingsguard?"
Josse gives Gedeon a clearly grateful look at the interjection. "I think the way it stands, you are excellent for Jarod. You've done well by him, I'm sure I don't need to go on forever on how I believe that. But it remains as fact, Rose, that it won't last forever and the day it ends it's going to be…difficult. Not only for you, but for Jarod as, and for the Terricks. My mind is on what keeps things the least dangerous for all involved. If you wish to take that as insult then I don't know what to say." He looks over at Gedeon questioningly. Kingsguard?
Rose has, at least, the grace to look abashed for misreading — and misjudging — the septon. "Sorry," she murmurs, looking down. "That — wasn't fair of me. Or worthy of you." She nods a little, looking down at her hands. "I've considered it, yes," she says with a glance at Gedeon. "It would hinge on whether my father and cousin felt that was a more… advantageous position for me to be in. I cannot see, though, how they could fail to covet having eyes and ears at King's Landing, and so near the king himself." She looks up at Josse, sighing. "It wouldn't. It wouldn't have to be difficult. Or dangerous. If they'd just… let me serve them as I always have."
Gedeon nods his agreement. "A very useful pair of eyes and ears you'd make, then, and ones belonging to a person ineligible for marriage." He draws in a soft breath before he asks, "Then why not just confess it, now? If you think the Terricks would be willing to keep you and, in time, knight you, stop hiding."
"It's alright, Rose." And when Josse says such a thing he's never lying. He listens to both her and Gedeon and gently scratches the dark hairs that are rapidly turning into a bit of a beard. His mouth opens to say something but Gedeon takes the words right out of his mouth. A slight nod. "As hard as the truth will be, it is harder to imagine their being amiable if they catch you in dishonesty."
"I still have so much to prove!" Rose says passionately, shaking her head. "If I'm knighted when they still believe me to be a man, then no one can deny my ability. If I told them now — " she closes her eyes, the cascade of every goblin and dread that keeps her awake at night taking her breath for a moment. "If I told them now, I would have to leave. Before I'm done being a squire. Who would take me then, and train me? Who would believe I can be a knight unless I prove it?"
"The septon wasn't wrong, I could use a squire," Gedeon says, "and a knight's duty is to his lord. He pledges himself, his loyalty, his sword, his life. A Lord trusts his knights with everything important to him. Do you really wish to be sworn into knighthood blanketed in a lie?"
Josse doesn't say a word, watching Rowan as Gedeon poses important questions. As long-winded as the septon can get, he doesn't repeat what's not needed.
Rose looks long at the young knight of Oldstones, clearly speechless. She swallows and opens her mouth to speak — but doesn't seem to trust her voice. "You'd do that. Truly?" she asks finally. "I mean… Lord Anton. Do you think he'd allow it?" She looks helplessly at Josse, then, obviously in pain. "I've loved this place and these people so passionately, for so long — how could I leave it?" She swallows again, hard. "How could I leave him?"
"Lord Valentin may," Gedeon says quietly, "if you can prove yourself capable, he well may. Neither he nor I have led lives you might consider traditional. A life spent in part traveling can broaden minds. But the question that most needs to be answered is not whether you could leave him. It's whether he would keep you, if he knew."
"Rose." Josse finally moves from where he's been standing, coming closer to the bed. "You don't have to decide right this moment. There's a lot to be considered from all sides and it can't be done tonight." He exhales quietly, clearing his throat. "We've piled up a lot here, and I think I ought to give you two time to talk. I've got to speak with you a little later, Ser Gedeon. Wouldn't want you to get tired of my face so quickly. I'll come back later, Rose, alright?"
She nods, eyes closed, head bowed — breathing slow and deep. And looks up, blinking rapidly, to nod again, her eyes a bit swimmy and overbright. "Of course," she whispers, trying on a smile that's far too tight. "I'll see you later."
"I'll find you later today, septon, if there's something you need to discuss with me," Gedeon promises. He waits until the door closes before he breathes out softly and studies Rose with her swimmy eyes. He shifts a bit to offer a space beside him on the windowsill.
Rose breathes out a shaky laugh, wiping her eyes with the heel off her hand. "I'm sorry," she says, clearly abashed. "I'm not usually — " She laughs again, shaking her head, and comes to join him on the windowsill. "I'm not usually such a girl."
"I noticed that. Usually, you seem more keen to punch or stab things than fret over them," the Oldstones knight opines as he lets his arm drape over Rose's shoulders. "The septon was right. There's no decision that needs to be made tonight. But there are things you should take time and think on."
She rests her head on his shoulder, taking his hand and threading her fingers through his. "Where did you learn to be so kind?" Rose wonders aloud. "I can't imagine it was in Valda Frey's house."
"It was Geoffrey Tordane's house as well, while I lived there," Gedeon points out, "and sometimes cruelty is the best guide for kindness. You just do the opposite of everything you know." He huffs a faint chuckle, offering Rose's hand a squeeze.
"Most people don't," Rose counter-points softly. "Most people do only what they know. What they've been shown." She traces the veins and tendons on the back of his hand with her fingertips. "I think that makes you rather remarkable, Gedeon Tordane."
He's quiet, watching Rose's fingers trace the back of his hand, flexing the muscles beneath the skin to watch veins thicken and slack. "I am not always so kind," he says softly. "You would not have known me in Braavos, Rose Rivers. You would not have wished to."
Rose lifts her head, trailing her fingertips from his jaw to his chin, bidding him turn to meet her eyes. "I know you now," she whispers, and kisses him sweetly, ardently, with something dangerously approaching tenderness.
He exhales against her lips, responding to that kiss, savoring it and letting it lead into another and then another after it. When Gedeon leans away, he is a little breathless again, and the sky outside is already showing the first hints of light creeping from the east. Nearly sunrise. "It's late," he whispers. "I have to go."
Rose smiles a wide and lovely smile, full of silent laughter. "You keep saying that."
"And I keep meaning to follow my words with action. But, this time," Gedeon leans in to steal a final kiss, "I truly must. Good night. Get a little sleep before you're expected to train. I'll try and do the same."
"Good night," Rose whispers. She steals her kiss back, laughing and giving his shoulder a shove. "Go quickly, before I decide to make you change your mind."
"Save your wicked ways for tonight," Gedeon laughs softly as he pushes away from the windowsill. "I think I'd like to see you in a dress. Then again…" he lets his gaze side over her before flashing a wide grin, "think I might miss the breeches." Then he's heading for the door, to slip out and down the stables so he can make his way back to Four Eagles proper before the whole keep begins to wake.