|Remembrance on the Shore|
|Summary:||Lady Anais and Ser Hardwicke discuss family and the past.|
|Date:||December 4, 2011|
|Related Logs:||None that I know.|
|Coastline — Terrick's Roost|
|The Cape of Eagles looms out over Ironman's Bay, a vast, blue ocean inlet, that spreads its watery depths out beyond the horizon. The path that leads down to this coast winds down behind the towers for several hundred meters before arriving at the rocky water's edge. Rather than sand, the coast is covered with innumerable smooth and rounded stones about palm-sized. They stretch up and down the coast in all directions with the battered remnants of driftwood scattered about. Above the beach, one every mile or two, are towers with a large bell and mallet atop them which are to be beaten to warn of an incoming invasion.|
|A small dock is being constructed of thick northern timbers, with mooring space for two large ships, or perhaps a half dozen smaller craft.|
|December 4, 288|
It is the Day of Remembrance. Or, as some people call it, the Day of Recovery. While much of the castle is indeed recovering in their rooms, Anais has ventured out to the shore for her own thoughts. She does have a couple of guards with her - one of whom is looking a bit rough around the edges - to assure her safety. Proper or no, she's gathered her skirts up just enough to allow her to stand at the very edge of the surf without getting them wet.
It has only been a few days since he was last here, but Hardwicke nevertheless is riding his chestnut mare down the stony coastline. He slows as his approach brings him closer to Anais and her retinue, and he casts a quick, assessing eye over the state of her guards before looking to her. (He, too, is looking a little rough around the edges. Perhaps he's trying to ward off a hangover through fresh air.) "Be careful, Lady Anais," he suggests. "It's colder than it looks."
Anais looks up at the approach of another horse, though she must recognize the rider from the Roost, since she doesn't seem concerned by the arrival. "Oh, I know," she says lightly, dipping a toe into the surf. "I don't mind, though. It reminds me of home." She takes another step forward, toes sinking into the sand as the water recedes. "And it's been where much of my family's ended their days." Looking up to the man, she tilts her head slightly. "It's…Harwicke, isn't it?"
"Of course," Hardwicke murmurs, tone one of respectful acknowledgment for fallen men. He tips his head to confirm. "As you say, my lady. Ser Hardwicke Blayne."
Anais smiles faintly, as if she wasn't standing barefoot in the surf. "You've been here for some time, haven't you?" she asks. "I…Well. I haven't had a chance to meet everyone at the keep just yet. But it seems it would be prudent to do so, since this is my new home."
Perhaps to level the playing field of their conversation, Hardwicke dismounts from his mare in one smooth, expert motion. "Most of my life," he confirms. "I squired for my uncle, who was sworn sword to House Middleton until Lady Terrick was wed and he gave his vows here. I came with him."
"Ah." Anais looks toward one of the guards with her, a red-haired man who looks to be about her own age. "Like Kincaid, then. I imagine Lady Evangeline was glad to have you here. And good to see that you've been able to remain." She shifts her skirts to one hand, leaving the other free. "Is it much different here from where you grew up?"
"Not so very different, my lady," Hardwicke replies, one hand loosely in his mare's reins. "The Middletons have a smaller hold, naturally, but one place in the Riverlands is much like another."
Anais quirks a brow, a smile tugging at one corner of her lips. "I'm not sure I agree," she admits. "When we went to Riverrun, it was like you could watch the land changing. More green, more water. I could /smell/ it in the air. And as we came back here, you could…The salt, I think. You can smell the salt. And the wind is sharper, and cleaner. Though I suppose it would be less of a cultural change." She looks over once more, sidelong, as a teasing smile starts to curve. "I suppose Lady Evangeline was always perfectly proper, hmm?"
"I suppose the smell may be different, as you say, but the experience is much the same." Hardwicke does not quite share in the humor of her tease. "Yes," he says definitively. "She was."
"Elinor's like that." Anais trails a foot through the water, watching the ripples it makes in the wave. "Maybe it's something to do with E names." Because that's a reasonable extrapolation. "I don't suppose you might have any advice for…getting along with her? Since you've known her for so long?"
Hardwicke offers a dry, low chuckle and rubs at the bridge of his nose. "Be like her, I guess," he says. "Or like Lady Lucienne. She is hard to convince otherwise once she's made her mind up about someone."
Anais wrinkles her nose with a grimace, watching the wave push back to the sea. "As well ask me to be a dragon," she murmurs, then shrugs with a sigh. "I'm not like her and Luci. I'm like me." Her brows furrow as she wiggles her toes in the sand. "I think she made up her mind about me before we even met, though."
"Lady Terrick is very — attached to her children," Hardwicke says diplomatically.
Anais' lips twitch as she looks over once more. "That's one way to put it," she agrees. "To be fair, I'm rather attached to one I married, as well. What about you, Hardwicke? If you've been here all that time, you've seen them grow up. Are you attached to Lady Evangeline's children?"
Something of a smile flickers before it is shuffled away, and Hardwicke's gaze skips out onto the sea. "They have grown into fine men and women," is all he says.
"Do you see, Kincaid?" Anais calls toward the red-haired guard, grin flashing. "Some people know how to keep their big mouths shut!"
"You don't pay me enough for that," the guard calls back with a grin of his own, waving a hand. "Besides, talking back's the only way to get you to stop talking."
"He's right," Anais admits to Hardwicke, not quite able to hide a smile. "If I'm going to be stuck with someone all the time, I might as well get something out of it."
Hardwicke levels the young redhead with a silently disapproving look that is some thirty years in refinement. Then he looks back to Anais. "As you say, my lady."
Kincaid has the grace to blush a little…or maybe that's just his complexion. For her part, Anais turns a speculative look on Hardwicke. "Don't you ever get tired of agreeing?" she asks, sounding genuinely curious.
"I am not a young man, anymore, my lady," Hardwicke tells her with the faintest hint of a smirk. "I have learned when my opinion is appropriate with the nobility."
Anais squints a bit at the man, then wrinkles her nose. "I like opinions," she confesses. "Even if I don't agree with them. At least it's something new to think about. And opinions tell you things about people. If all you ever hear from someone is an echo of your own opinions, then you never really know them. And if you never really know them, how well can you trust them?"
"I am sure the Lord and Lady have had my service long enough to trust me," Hardwicke says simply as he watches her. "I give my opinion where it is appropriate."
"Well, timing matters," Anais agrees, nodding once. "I mean, I don't want Kincaid chiming in in the middle of a conversation with Lord Jerold. That's not the time. But afterward, sometimes it's nice to get another opinion on things. To see it through someone else's eyes." She pauses, smile quirking sheepishly as she looks over. "And I've never really been good at being alone. I like people."
"If that is what you wish for, my lady, than I should hope your man will oblige you." Hardwicke tips his head. "Not an uncommon feeling."
"I'm not saying he always has /good/ thoughts," Anais adds, raising her voice just enough for the guard to hear her. It must be an old jest between them, because he just smiles at it. "But they're thoughts, all the same. What were you doing down here at the coast?" she asks, shifting the subject once more.
"Just clearing my head, my lady," Hardwicke tells her. "Nothing of particular import."
Anais takes a few steps back from the surf, still holding her skirts up to let her feet dry. "It's a nice shore, isn't it? Very good for clearing the head. Soon…Well, maybe not /soon/, but someday we'll have docks here. And with docks will come the places that serve docks. Trade, and inns, and merchants. People."
"It's — familiar," Hardwicke allows. He smiles very faintly. "Are there not enough people in the Roost for your tastes, my lady?"
Anais tilts her head, considering the question. "I…don't know," she says after a moment. "We get quite a few visitors. Exciting things happen. But there's something about- Well. Ports are home, I suppose. It's something familiar, when so many things here aren't."
"I see." Hardwicke glances back out at the horizon. "I'm afraid I've been here too long to consider anywhere else home."
"I'm sure I'll be there in time," Anais agrees with a small smile. "But there's something to be said for building something as well. For /taking/ ownership in a thing, for leaving something behind you. Watching things grow." She tilts her head, and her smile curves as though she can see the port city growing before her eyes.
"I can understand the sentiment," Hardwicke says evenly. "My father is a smith. If my life weren't here, I would be building weapons with him."
"A smith?" Anais looks over, brows rising with a small smile. "He must have worked very hard to find you a place with a knight. Or else made someone a very fine blade."
Hardwicke snorts something of a dry laugh. "My uncle earned his knighthood after many years' service to House Middleton," he explains. "I squired to him."
"Ah, I see," Anais nods, finally letting her skirts fall and absently brushing out the wrinkles from where she'd been holding them. "Was it something you wanted to do? Or something your family pushed you toward?"
"Knighthood?" Hardwicke asks with an arch of his brow. "Sometimes I think my father would have preferred me staying at home and continuing to learn his trade."
"But you?" Anais prompts, brow quirking with a small smile. "Did you dream of swords and chargers and white cloaks? Or was it saving fair maidens? The glories of duty to king and kingdom?"
"I would have been happy with my lot if I had grown in my father's trade," Hardwicke allows. But after a moment, he says, "But every lad dreams of knighthood, my lady."
"Do they?" Anais considers that, smile curving. "I suppose that's not inaccurate. Personally, I think I'd rather my sons dream of being the sorts of men that knights are supposed to be. Whether or not they earn a title for it."
"I am sure any sons you bear will grow into honorable men," Hardwicke says with proper courtesy.
Anais laughs, smile flashing across her features. "Or else little hellions who cause me as much grief as I ever caused my parents," she suggests in turn, reaching up to tuck a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "I'm afraid the latter is probably more likely."
"All boys are difficult when they're young," Hardwicke says, unbothered by the idea. "They learn honor as they grow."
"And wisdom. And cleverness." Anais smiles faintly. "We value cleverness in the Westerlands. Perhaps more than honor," she confesses. "But to raise children with both…That would be an accomplishment."
Hardwicke's lips purse with a certain tension of disagreement, but he says nothing. "I am sure you will do well, my lady."
Anais turns a sidelong glance on Hardwicke, amusement in her eyes. "You are a very agreeable man, Ser Hardwicke," she murmurs with a low laugh. "I can see why Lady Evangeline is fond of you." With that said, she starts to move away from the shore, toward her guards and her own horse. "I should be getting back to the Roost, though. I imagine Jacsen will be up and about soon."
"If you say so, my lady," Hardwicke replies, humor dry and bland in his voice. He nods at her words. "As you wish. Good riding, my lady." He sketches a stiff bow, little more than a tip of his head, and then turns back to his horse to mount for his departure.