|Summary:||Brigid reminds Ceinlys of a few home truths.|
|Ceinlys' Chambers — Tanglewood Manor|
|October 30th, 289 A.L.|
“Passion is a positive obsession. Obsession is a negative passion.”
Draped on her stomach on her bed, chin resting lightly atop her folded arms, Ceinlys watched thoughtfully as Brigid huffed and heaved a weighty trunk across the room, setting it against an entirely different section of wall. Quite why this needed to be done was beyond the resilient handmaid - all she knew was that her mistress has been quiet all day, before making the request as she prepared for bed.
With her waist length ebon mane brushed to a glossy shine, spread over her back and shoulders like a cloak, the Steward had long been readied for slumber. But she had continued to pace her chambers in her chemise, re-reading parchments that needed no such attention, rearranging her table, fastidiously checking her herb supplies. Not ill-at-ease.. Ceinlys Haigh would not stoop to such a flawed lack of decorum.. but certainly restless.
Vibrant blue eyes lingered idly, farsighted, upon the waning candlelight of the main chamber, visible with the gauzy curtain of her bed-alcove drawn back as it was. Arranged in such a fashion, it was more readily apparent that the young lady, for all her reputation and ambition, was still only twenty and one. And she looked far younger, in moments like these, when her facade was permitted to ease.
"If I may, m'lady.." Brigid ventured, in a gentler manner than her usual bullish lack of tact, "..you seem troubled. May I fetch you something? Milk and honey, perhaps?" Slightly out of breath, she stepped back, hands on hips, to ensure the trunk was properly appointed, before promptly seating herself on it for a little reward of respite.
"I suppose I am." Her charge admitted it, with an uncharacteristic candour and a lacklustre quality to her tone. "Things are changing, Brigid. Something I usually not only enjoy, but cultivate. It's just.." The ghost of a frown touches her brow. "..I question myself. I have never done that before."
"And why do you do so now, m'lady?" Aside from Ceinlys' brothers, her attendant knows her better than anyone else. Her enquiries are borne not so much of real interest or idea, but to prompt the girl to look at her thoughts from a different angle. Hopefully find a way out of their entangling web.
"I think the arrival of the Freys started it off." Tilting her head a little, resting her soft cheek against her slender arm now, the dark-haired noblewoman regarded her maid with the faintest twitch of a smile - one lacking in her usual guile and instead awash with a wistful mien. "And the arranged union of my cousin and so many others. Life comes so easily for them. And I do not grudge them it. Not my kin, whom I adore and would do anything for.." Trailing off at the mention of family, the young woman lowered her gaze suddenly, swallowing back a sudden lump in her throat. How unseemly. Quelling the perfectly natural urge with practised good-sense, she continued, still soft-spoken. "..it comes to this, Brigid. I am the only daughter of Lord Walder's first daughter. Oughtn't things be at least a little easier, for me?"
Easing back to a more comfortable recline, Brigid folded her hands in her lap, pondering the situation, her shrewd eyes lingering on the expectant, oh-so-naive features of her charge. "..you really wish my opinion, m'lady?" Always better to check. While a fraction kinder than her siblings, Ceinlys is still prone to the familial outbursts of rage, at the most unexpected of moments. For now though, the young lady simply nods sombrely, so her chaperone carried on, without faltering. "You were always meant for greater. I think you have crafted such an enchanting web here that you have become lost in admiring it. And, if I may be so bold, m'lady..?" The handmaid voices an opinion long held close to her chest, her gaze unavering from Ceinlys'. "..You were never meant to fall in love with him. That was not the reason for your placement."
Ceinlys slowly closed her azure eyes in a silent, drawn out wince. There's little point denying it, any of it. Instead, she buried her face against her folded arms and, after a pause, spoke upon a muffled groan. "..I know. I know." Looking up once more, shaking dark tendrils of silken hair from her brow, she fixed her servant with an expression of pleading, perhaps for understanding or sympathy. The former is apparent but the latter? Unlikely. "I don't pretend to know how that happened.."
"Do not play the fool, child, for we are both well aware you are no such thing." replied the older woman, primly. "..he took you from a worthy adversary, to an equal, to less than that. And at the same time, he draws your esteemed reputation down into the mire in which he dwells." Rising to her feet, Brigid gathered a handful of strewn garments - the typical by-product of dressing any young noblewoman, even just for bed. "My advice is this, m'lady. If you cannot do what you set out to do, if he has so firmly bound your foolish heart.. then leave him. You yourself told the Lady Katrin, 'We cannot afford to love'. You, Lady Ceinlys, least of all." The servant looked toward the young woman, her free hand rising to ensure the proper lay of her demure wimple.
Ceinlys took all this in quietly, and ddidn't argue with her lifelong companion. Not on certain matters, anyway. But others.. "Abandoning my duty and my station would imply guilt of some sort. As well as a lack of character. I will remain as Steward until I am given leave to go." The determined set to her jaw brooked no further discussion of that. "..but.. I will distance myself, from now on. Not that it should be difficult." Her lips twisted into an expression that was half sardonic, half something else entirely. "I barely see him, of late. No doubt he has found other ways in which to amuse himself. Between the thighs of his Castellan, maybe. Or one of the honestly-employed whores at the inn.."
"M'lady." Brigid's voice was curt, in an attempt to very bluntly make her point. The accompanying sour scowl really wasn't necessary, but it added emphasis. "What business or concern is it of yours where or how he spends his time? You are above such things. He seeks to manipulate, to undermine you. Especially now. Without the backing of the Charltons, this is only a vassal. A prosperous one, certainly. But beneath the glory of Broadmoor, by far. Stop forgetting who you are, and never forget your worth and value in this world. You are not a pretty trinket to be cast aside like the last one."
Pushing slowly upward to a seated position on her downy bed, curling her legs beneath herself to one side, Ceinlys raked a hand through her long hair, loosing a deep sigh of frustration. "You are right, Brigid. I know you are. He tries to keep me under-heel because now, more than ever, I could become a threat. Perhaps the first, in such proximity at least." A glimmer of her old fire returned to the woman's striking eyes as they flicked to her chaperone. "..perhaps I am not the only one who should be reminded of that." Brigid remained quiet, allowing her mistress' thoughts and plans to unfurl, as they were wont to do. "The Lady Lyanna seems a sensible sort, aside from the company she keeps." Unbidden, a vague shudder rippleed through the Steward's form. That bastard knight really got under her skin. Not that anyone outside these walls would ever know it. "I wonder.. if it might be time for a visit to my higher-born kin." A slow smile began to play across her lips, smoothing the worry from her features in increments.
Scooting back across the bed, drawing her knees up to her chest and sliding her feet beneath the light sheets and blankets, Ceinlys nodded to herself as she settled back against the heaped pillows. "Yes. I need to remind some of them that I yet exist, rather than find myself strewn with cobwebs and scandal." The idea seems to comfort her. Watching Brigid as she padded to the main chamber and set about snuffing the remaining candles, the young lady's dark lashes were soon settled upon her cheeks as she succumbed to much-needed rest, offering only a last, breathy murmur. "..remind me.. in the morning? To write to my brother."
Brigid, unseen, permitted herself a small, triumphant smile in the darkness, her back to her charge's bed even as she whispered a reply. "As you wish, m'lady."