|Rights and Fears|
|Summary:||Anais and Jacsen discuss the ramifications of Jerold's gift to his younger son.|
|Related Logs:||With This Seal|
|Arbor - Terrick's Roost|
|An arbor of trees with a clearing and a bench.|
|September 7, 288|
It's not so far from the Roost, this little arbor, more cultivated than the surrounding woods, but not quite so cultivated as to be a true garden. There's a small stone bench to one side of it, evidence that the place is - or at least once was - fairly regularly visited. Currently, the bench is occupied by Anais' ever-present handmaid Nina and the most put-upon of the Banefort guards, a younger fellow with red hair by the name of Conrad. He and Nina seem to get along well enough, chatting amiably.
Anais, on the other hand, has set herself up on one end of the clearing, a bow in hand and a quiver at her feet. One of the trees at the far end has been cruelly peppered with arrows already. Notably, they /are/ reasonably well clustered.
"Poor tree." It's warmly spoken on Jacsen's part, his approach not nearly as noticeable here in the arbor, where there is soft earth and thick grass to cushion the strike of his cane, a novelty of peace for one so afflicted as is he. "I had not heard a reputation for archery attached to your name, Lady Anais," he offers once he's garnered the attention of the group, "Though I think, mayhap, I should have." He nods at the cluster of arrows stuck into the bark of the tree. "You've a keen eye."
Anais looks up at the voice, quickly putting the bow behind her back, as if that's going to hide what she's been doing. A faint flush finds her cheeks when she realizes what she's done, and she shifts one more to hold it in front of herself. "It's not really a suitable activity for a lady in these lands, I understand," she sighs, reaching up to tuck back a few flyaway strands of fair hair, escaped from her braid. "So I've taken care not to be too obvious. It's not /really/ appropriate for women of the Westerlands, too, but in the Banefort…" She trails off a moment, smile touching one corner of her lips. "It is always wise to be prepared, should enemies strike while the men are away."
His lips quirk in a smile, no disapproval or reproach to be found there. "It sounds much like you would expect of a woman of the North, if anything, or perhaps of the Dornish… but I find nothing shameful in a woman's interest to see her kin protected," Jacsen remarks, as he closes within a comfortable conversational distance of the Banefort Lady. "Is it something you have had much practice with?" he wonders, looking again at the tree, "Or are you just something of a prodigy with the bow, my lady?"
"I started during the war," Anais admits, turning to look at the tree with a hint of pride in her features. "My father left with Lord Tywin to take King's Landing, along with most of the strength of the house. I was thirteen, and I demanded that the captain of the guard who was left behind should teach me how to defend the castle should the Ironborn try to attack while they were gone. My mother was too busy with my siblings to object, especially since it kept me busy as well." Another smile curves as she laughs. "I know the basics of using a pike, as well. From a wall, at least." She taps a finger to her lips, indicating secrecy.
Jacsen places a hand over his heart. "You've my silence on the topic, surely," though something seems to make him grin, if even for just a moment. "Since the war, you say? You are surely gifted with some natural skill, from how you handle the bow… I am not so far removed from my time as a squire to remember such things. Are other Baneforts, men I suspect, of any such note with the instruments of war?"
Anais' lips curve at his question. "Father said Quenten was planning on coming for the tournament. That's my eldest brother. He's quite a warrior, though he doesn't make many tournaments. He tends to be of the opinion that they're quite a lot of playacting. He rode with my father to the war. And Father is…Well. Father. He doesn't make much show of himself, but the Ironborn know to step carefully around our coast. He's learned well from Lord Tywin. No mercy for the enemy, and cut their legs from beneath them before they can take a step toward you, if you can."
"I should hope your brother would come, as I suspect you will just have ever the one wedding tournament." His chuckle is softly delivered, though he does begin to look about them both. "If I am to shadow your afternoon archery with my presence, might we take a seat and talk? Or perhaps I will just sit, if you wish to continue your practice…"
"No, I…" Anais sighs softly, pausing to unstring the bow before moving toward the bench, vacated by Nina and Conrad during the conversation. "I actually wanted to speak with you. Well. I did want to speak with you, though I intended to wait a bit longer. So that I could sleep on my words, gather my thoughts." She settles down gracefully, even the exasperation in the motion eloquent. "I hope you'll forgive me if I'm not as well-spoken as I might otherwise be."
Jacsen's brow rises at that. "Well. That sounds half-ominous, my lady." He takes a few moments longer to find the bench, though he does settle down beside the Lady from Banefort with a grateful expression. "I shudder to think at what I've done to earn words that need sleeping and gathering… but of course I'll forgive that, and more. What is on your mind?"
Anais balances her bow against the edge of the bench, taking her time with it before looking back to Jacsen. She grimaces, but choosing actions over words, she simply reaches for his hand, picking it up - should he allow - to tap a finger at the signet there with a significant look.
He does not deny her that gesture, though he does raise a brow as she lifts up his hand. "Ah, so that is what troubles your mind?" Jacsen asks, transferring his attention from the hand weighted with the signet ring to Anais' features. "You worry for the choice of my hand to bear such a thing, my lady?"
"I do." Anais lowers his hand once more, clasping hers on her lap to keep from fidgeting. "Not because I don't trust you. Of course I trust you. And not because I don't think you qualified. You are…" She looks away, reaching up to rub a hand at the back of her neck. "You are a valuable asset, Jacsen. You are clever, and you are patient, and you know how to use your mind, and those are all the things that a father should hope for in the son to whom he would pass his authority." It's then that she looks up, a faint line between her brows despite efforts to keep a neutral expression. "But it seems Lord Jerold wishes to separate the heir from his authority. And I fear for what that may mean in the future."
He lets out a small breath, retrieving his hand and settling it upon his lap. "You are not wrong for being concerned, my lady, but I think such is not quite the case," Jacsen shares, as he considers the woman to his side. "I would not say this so plain to many, but for the love you must bear my brother and the place you must play in his life I shall make exception… My Lord father has not separated the heir from his authority, he has simply made clear what most everyone of note save my brother has already come to understand. Jaremy must work to regain the authority and influence he should enjoy by dint of his birth. He will be better for it, and the Roost will love him better for overcoming what missteps he's made."
"And if he can't?" Anais arches a brow, voicing what others may as well be thinking. "This is not just a way to make him earn authority and influence, Jacsen. Lord Jerold could accomplish that by keeping his signet himself. This sets him further back by granting that authority to /you/. Who will take whatever moves he makes to regain that respect seriously while your father has made it clear he has no faith in him?" She presses her lips together, gaze fixed on the arrows in the distant tree. "I am /trying/ to teach him. But I've had a month. I can't…/fix/ him in a month."
"I think," Jacsen tells Anais with a careful voice, "That you go a touch too far in your earnest attempt to do well by my brother, my lady." His eyes remain heavy on her profile, even when she glances beyond to the tree and the arrows that pepper it so. "His attempts to rebuild himself will take some time, and the process I trust Lord Jerold to decide when either of his sons should bear any responsibilities at all. Do not forget that my brother, for all his earnest acknowledgement of his mistakes, seems to think nothing of continuing with vague conspiracies and insinuations based on advice taken from a whore. I love him, but not so much that I do not hear his words denying any misstep when he drives the Knight of Oldstones from our keep." He shakes his head lightly. "This is about Jaremy earning his authority and respect anew, my lady, but I suspect it is just as much, perhaps more, a wake up call for the Young Lord. The clearest sign our father can give him that he is stepping in the wrong direction, and must quickly right his path before he is too far gone."
"I /know/," Anais whispers at the mention of Jaremy continuing on Amelia's word. She pushes out of her chair, a graceful spin that has her skirts twisting around her. "But it isn't just Jaremy. I am here. My father- This betrothal is based on the understanding that I am to marry the heir to Terrick's Roost. But it seems to be growing more and more unlikely that that is the case. And I do not-" Her hands fist at her side, her back stiff to Jacsen's view. "I will not be pushed aside for Jaremy's mistakes."
His eyes follow Anais and track her as spins. "You do not know well our Lord Jerold, so I'll not hold that against you, my lady… but know that Lord Jerold Terrick does not break his word." Jacsen reaches for his cane, and uses it to assist in rising to his feet. "If you are comforted to do so, think of it as the chance you need to work the change you seek in my brother. He's no authority to exercise that could jeopardize his place, and plenty of time to take and think on the advice we all offer him." His jaw sets. "For what it is worth, Anais," he says, using her name there instead of her title, "There are none here who seek anything but Jaremy's ascension. We are all working with that goal in mind, Lord Jerold chief amongst us. I should think him, at least, worth trusting."
Anais' hands shake at her side, the fist not quite enough to hide it. "I'm sorry," she says quietly. "I don't mean- I don't mean to cast aspersions on you or your father. But I am…frightened." She turns back to Jacsen then, chin rising in defiance of her fear. "I am a long way from home. I will soon be alone here. And while I hope you will all be family, right now…Right now I feel very much like every time I try to make one thing work, something else falls to pieces. I have never felt so utterly /powerless/ in my life. And I am frightened."
"And there are those among us whom have bled, and fought, and sacrificed for this House, and the place you will secure by dint of marriage," Jacsen reminds the woman before him, leaning heavily upon his cane, "Whom feel little better than you. It is my lord father's hope, as it is mine, that I might be able to rein in some of the worst that has afflicted this house, and help steer it back onto its natural course. My Lord Jerold has many years of life left, by grace of the Seven, and once we've repaired the worst of the damage, he can focus himself on preparing your future husband for the duties of lordship." He touches his brow and lets out a breath. "I understand your concern, I do. It is not as if I did not share them on some level. But I trust in my lord father, as must you. I will do my duty, and prepare the way that my brother might rule every bit as proud as our father does now."
"Will you?" The question is oddly curious, rather than accusing, or even truly questioning, and Anais looks up to meet Jacsen's gaze with open features. "I don't think anyone would blame you if you sought your brother's place. Not right now. And I'm sure there would be some who would think you would do a better job of it, as well. Not all lords must be those who ride to war." It's easy to find that face guileless, all rosy cheeks and blue eyes, vulnerable. Or at least it might be, if Jacsen hadn't heard her contemplating murder or the desecration of corpses.
He smiles, though there is no mirth in his expression, regarding that innocent seeming expression that Anais is so very good at casting. "Would you counsel me otherwise, Anais?" Jacsen asks of her, his tone refraining from the weight of judgment. "Perhaps you would help me see the paths I might take to seize the place of heir for myself?" He stalks a step closer. "It would be so easy, no? The marriage contract could simply replace my name for Jaremy's, and your new position would be secure again. Lady Anais Terrick. Mother to the next flock of the Roost."
Anais can hear the sound of rotten ice, and she casts a suspicious look on Jacsen, shaking her head slightly. "I don't mean it like that," she mutters. "I just mean- I just mean that what happens if Jaremy makes another mistake after the wedding? I /will/ be mother to the Lord of the Roost, Jacsen. And if you think that I am fierce in fighting for Jaremy's rights, you can only imagine what I will do for my son. I'm only- I'm only asking you to bear in mind how much damage you can do to him simply by holding your father's ring."
"Yes you did," Jacsen tells her, brushing aside her denial with a decisive ease. "But truly, who could blame you? You are a woman cast into the world with but a few sisters and retainers, sent to make the most advantageous match you might. It will be a triumph for the Banefort, as much as the Banefort's alliance will strengthen the Roost. What love should you have for Jaremy, whom you barely know? It is not as if he has not made something of an embarrassment of things, with his whore." He takes a short breath, and shakes his head. "But even so. I intend to do him no harm, he is my brother, and I love him despite his sometimes glaring flaws. If you do not feel you can trust me in such… I am saddened, Anais, but determined all the same."
"Everybody loves Jaremy," Anais sighs, exasperated. "He is very loveable. Like a…like a floppy little puppy who runs from person to person, and so long as they will love him back, then he is happy. But love will not keep the Roost for him." She crosses one arm over her chest, pressing the back of the other hand to each cheek in turn, trying to cool the flush from them. "And what am I supposed to do? I try to guide him, and I get yelled at for stepping out of line. But we aren't wed yet, and no one will include me in any councils on how to help him. But it isn't just him. /My/ life hangs on what he does."
"No. Love will keep the Roost for no man, or woman," Jacsen agrees with the daughter of the Banefort. He watches her, taking a careful, considering breath. "There are some things you cannot help, Anais, no more than Jarod could help the accident of his birth, or I the accident of my youth. For that which can be helped, offer your counsel to him as you do me, and ask those that he listens to to listen to you in turn, to make their councils yours." He straightens. "I shall, for your sake, consider all this simply a round about way of asking me just that. Should you have no objection."
"I object to the implication that I've had some shadowy, nefarious ulterior motive in this conversation," Anais replies in a dry tone, rubbing her hands together before wiping them on her skirts. "Aside from anger born of fear. I only want to feel secure. That's all." She moves to collect her bow once more, holding it to her chest. "And I am no longer thirteen, to chase my fears away by learning to use a bow."
His smile holds some warmth, though not much, an expression given to the topic more than the woman. "I think it not shadowy, nor nefarious," Jacsen remarks, "But very much a valid concern put forth by a woman too intelligent to miss what might seem like obvious strokes. I do not begrudge you your security Anais. I am willing to do what I can to see them eased. Know that."
Anais sighs softly, rubbing her hand over the bow. "I'm sorry. I miss my father," she confesses quietly. "I miss my home. I…should go and spend some time with Cayt instead of hiding out here practically by myself. Perhaps then I'll be able to have a little sense. Good evening, Lord Jacsen," she says politely, quiet.
"Come find me, when you're ready to speak again," Jacsen invites, and gently so, before he turns and leaves Anais to her bow and her thoughts.