|Summary:||Anais and Jacsen share a moment the morning after their return from the bandit ordeal.|
|Lord Jacsen's Chambers - Four Eagles Tower|
|Dis mah turf.|
|Tue Jun 05, 289|
Anais spent more time in bed than she usually does through the night, perhaps exhausted by the entire ordeal. But once the sun is over the horizon, she too emerges. A morning bath is longer than usual, the attentions from the maids - for once not including her own handmaid from the Banefort, who went through it all with her - more welcome, and by the time it's late morning, she's once more dressed and cleaned, her hair brushed out to shining waves and her gown a stubborn Terrick purple and gold. The only sign that she may have gone through something is the fact that, instead of the reading room, she sits at the desk in the bed chambers as she looks over ledgers. The windows are open, welcoming in the sea breeze, and she nibbles persistently from a plate of cheese and flatbread at her elbow.
Enter Jacsen, looking far better than he did the night before. There's some color back in his cheeks, and he looks well-rested and at ease if still a bit frail from his illness. He's even walking lighter, not relying on his cane as heavily as he did the day before. "You look as though you're feeling much better this morning," he comments to his wife, moving across to his dresser as he undoes his shirt. "Has the food and rest recovered some of your strength? I told them to keep sending up platters even if you refused them."
Anais looks up from her ledger with a faint smile, making a final notation before setting the quill in its stand and leaning back with a careful stretch. "Which is why I'm taking my time with them," she answers in regard to the platters, wry. "If I eat too much at once, I start to feel ill. But I'm well." She reaches up to rub a hand at her brow, accidentally smearing some ink there. "Honestly, Jacsen, I'm fine. I've had hunting trips with my brothers that went worse." A pause. "Well. There was a similar amount of hunger and discomfort, at least, if less fear of death. I'll be…fine." The fragility she displayed just the day before is once again behind strong walls; it seems Jacsen isn't going to be the one who sees her cry, either.
"Well. I'm glad to hear it," Jacsen says, though he eyes the cheese and bread plate skeptically. The shirt is stripped off and replaced with another - laboriously, since he does it one-handed and refuses to sit. His fingers are not as sure doing up the shirt as they once were, resulting in more fumbling than success. "You needn't concern yourself with the ledgers, not today, Anais," he says over his shoulder, trying to do up his cuffs. "You should rest, and eat, and let the maids make you comfortable."
Anais pushes up from the desk, wiping her hands on a rag before coming over to help him with his buttons and cuffs. "If I did that," she says, smile faint, "Then I wouldn't be fine for long." She smooths a hand over his shirt, reaching up to tweak the collar just so. "There were bandits in those woods because we didn't keep out the reavers, Jacsen, and because we didn't keep out the reavers, we have people starving. And starving people do stupid, dangerous things. I just…" She looks up to him, sighing softly. "I know the numbers aren't going to change, but at least it makes me feel like I'm doing something."
As Anais helps him with his shirt, Jacsen rests his hand lightly on her wrist for just a moment. It's not to stop her, but a gesture of warmth. "No, I understand that," he murmurs, nodding. "I've much to make up for, having been of no use to anyone these past months." He tweaks the collar in exactly the opposite way, pushing it off-center again. "House Groves may prove to be of use," he says casually, in the same tone he'd use to comment on the dryness of a meat plate. "If Lucienne could be married to Lord Ser Stafford, we may yet be able to feed our people in exchange for some land."
"Mmmm," Anais hums quiet agreement. "I've said as much, and Luci requested as much when last we met with your father. But he's reluctant to let her go." She eyes the collar a moment, then leaves it, brushing a hand against his chest before she steps back. "Which. I suppose is fair enough, given the recent loss of your mother." Not that she sounds particularly like she believes what she's saying. "Lord Rutger is courting Lady Rosanna, though. I'm not sure if they mean to follow through on it, or if they even mean to make a statement of allegiance with it, but it would be wise to at least make an attempt to balance things out with our own alliance."
Jascen grunts at the mention of the courtship. "What a mess of a web this has become," he murmurs, grabbing his cane and standing up again. "And what do you think?" he asks, nodding to the ledger. "I don't have a full appreciation of our situation yet, not the extent of it. But I know our standing is less than favorable, and not likely to improve of its own accord." Standing before the mirror, he readjusts his collar right back to the way Anais had it. "How do we turn our luck around?"
"Right now, unless we get some food, we'll run out stores in six months," Anais says with a weary sigh. "No matter how many times I try to change it. The rabbit hutches and the crab pots are helping to take the edge off, but it's not going to feed everyone. We need a harvest, and for that we need seed and work beasts. And time." She walks past the table to pick up the tray on her way to the couch, settling down with it. "I've been working on making a peace with the Naylands. Gedeon…" She pauses, perhaps realizing he may not have heard. "Gedeon was confirmed by the king, but accepted a challenge from Ser Rygar and lost it and his life. Now Danae Westerling claims she and Gedeon were wed the day before the challenge, and that she carries his child - an heir for Stonebridge."
"Peace with the Naylands," Jacsen echoes with a long sigh. "Westerling. Well." He frowns, eyes closed, as if trying to think through a painful headache. "What a complicated web this has become." The bridge of his nose pinched between two fingers, he glances over to his wife. "Famine is a harsh mistress. Attrition and hunger. We can't attack it directly, nor can we bore out the brunt of its harsh seasons. We must attack it sideways. There is a way, and we will find it."
"I certainly hope so," Anais agrees quietly, starting to nibble again. She's silent for a long moment, absorbed in the food, before she looks up again. "Was your leg bothering you last night?" she asks, not quite as nonchalant as she might have like.
"Quite a lot," Jacsen admits, pacing back and forth about the room. "The ride took more out of me than I had thought. I was brought Milk of the Poppy when I returned, which served to quiet the pain, but I found myself unable to fall asleep. I had to seek out the Maester for a second dose." Stopping his pacing, he turns and looks to her. "I didn't wake you, did I? I wanted you to be able to rest without interruption."
"No, I just…woke up, and you were gone," Anais answers, managing a faint smile. "The bed was cold, so I'm sure you didn't wake me." Whether that's a reassurance or an indictment isn't entirely clear either, despite the smile. "I don't want you to work yourself into another episode, though. After all, I've only just gotten you back."
Jacsen frowns, looking at the bed. "I didn't think I was gone for so long," he says, sounding puzzled. "But the Maester did say that Milk of the Poppy can play tricks on my senses. Perhaps it was longer than I had thought." Coming closer to her, he takes her hand in his. "I won't, don't you worry about me. You're stuck with me now that I'm back. Just don't be getting yourself kidnapped anymore."
"I'll work on that," Anais laughs softly, pressing a kiss to the back of his fingers. "As I've only done it the once and didn't find it particularly enjoyable, I think I should be able to resist." She holds his hand for a few long moments, apparently content with the contact, before slowly releasing it. "Maester Pyrs is being cautious with the Milk of the Poppy, I hope?" she asks cautiously. "I know Maester Gwyllam had been worried about it."
Jacsen smiles faintly at the kiss accompanied by the joke. "Maester Gwyllam worried too much of naught," he scoffs, moving back to his closet and looking for something to wear over the shirt. "I'm given just enough to turn the pain into an ache, no more. It is almost… pleasant at first, but the pain returns. It always does." Having just put on a vest in the Terrick colors, he turns around again. "I just had a dosage, in fact, and I feel quite… light. It's a wonder Maester Gwyllam tried all those other remedies when this works so well."
"Because it works so well," Anais says quietly, drawing a knee up toward her chest as she watches him, still nibbling on the bread and cheese. "But it can be addicting. And taking too much is worse. At least that's what he told me." Still, she can't help a small smile when he turns around, unfolding from the couch and approaching to slip her hands around his waist. "But why should I worry? You're the smart Terrick, after all." And she pushes up on her toes, tipping her chin back to claim a small kiss.
Jacsen tilts his head slightly, not sure if she's being ironic by calling him the smart Terrick. "I won't need it once I'm recovered," he reassures as she puts her arms around his waist and comes up for the kiss. But instead of a quick, chaste kiss, she feels his arm wrap around her waist and pull her in closer for a deep, searching one.
Anais makes a soft sound of surprise at his response to the kiss, though she certainly doesn't seem to object. Indeed, she reaches up to slip an arm around his neck, cupping his cheek with her other hand. He knows with a certainty that no one else can that she came into the marriage a virgin, but she's never been shy about the process. And despite having spent the last three days in a cave being terrorized by bandits - or perhaps because of it - the contact is all too welcome. She's breathless by the time she pulls back, just far enough to look up at him with a curious arch of her brow, and she has to clear her throat before she can speak. "That…was nice."
Jacsen opens his eyes to find her looking up at him with that curious look, and can't help the smile that spreads across his face. "The Maester said that it may amplify my… desires," he says. Of course, he doesn't mention that the Maester also said that with prolonged use and increased dosages, the exact opposite was likely to happen. He slowly relaxes the arm around her waist, still focused on her face as though looking at her through new eyes. "Still worried?"
"Yes, but I may be willing to overlook that at the moment," Anais allows, a slow smile curving despite herself. Her hand slips from his cheek to tug at his collar once more, and she laughs softly. "You just got dressed." Except her fingers are at the laces of his breeches anyhow. "I don't suppose you need to get to any appointments soon?" Not that she seems concerned about those appointments. She needs to welcome her husband back to the land of the living, after all.