Page 076: Second Choices
Second Choices
Summary: Anais and Jacsen discuss their situation now that Jaremy has disappeared.
Date: 29/September/2011
Related Logs: Jaremy's disappearance logs
Anais Jacsen 
Cellar - Four Eagles Tower
The Cellar's stairs drop down from beside the kitchen entrance and drift below ground as a shallow angle. The dirt floor in the basement provides just enough dampness in the air, mixed with the cooler temperatures, to help keep the goods stored down here somewhat fresh. The foods are kept to one side and down a set of halls while the casks of wine and mead are kept closer to the stairs.
September 29, 288

The cellars are one of the few places in the Roost that remains quiet and still this close to the wedding and with so much unrest slithering around the keep. It's only two weeks until the wedding to an absent groom - too late to stop the momentum of such an unwieldy event just in case he should be found. After a few days of 'illness', Anais has been seen about the tower again, though just now she's managed to find herself a few moments of solace in the castle cellars. Even her guard and handmaid have taken up their places near the stairs to the hall, leaving Anais in relative silence in a back corner of the space. The lights are dim here, and it's cooler than the rest of the summer air. Torchlight reflects off of pale hair, betraying Anais' presence where she sits on top of a cask, crosslegged, her head and back leaning against the cool dirt walls.

Where others might come upon her unawares, that is like as not impossible for Jacsen, whom makes his way down into the cellars with that ever accompanying thud of his cane, the sound accompanying his steps down into the cooler air beneath the Tower proper. The guard and handmaid both are given a slight nod, and he shares a brief word with the handmaid. Then he can be heard to be moving again, down the hall in Anais' direction.

Anais sighs softly without opening her eyes at the sound of footsteps on the stairs, though she doesn't seem to recognize it as Jacsen immediately. She almost starts to sit up at the approaching footsteps, though when she opens her eyes to see Jacsen, she relaxes a bit, a faint smile touching one corner of her lips. "Jace," she greets, reaching up to brush a hand through her hair, checking for any dirt lingering there. "I'm going to start thinking you're /trying/ to catch me when I'm being useless," she teases lightly, a faint blush coloring her cheeks.

His lips quirk faintly when she greets him thus, though as might be expected Jacsen offers a slight shake of his head. "We all have moments of pause, or reflection, after all. Why should I want to interrupt you in the midst of some important business or another?" His smile widens a touch. He comes to lean against another cask not far from the one Anais sits upon, and glances about. "I don't think I've been down here since I was a child, though Seven, it is much cooler than the rest of the Tower. Not a bad idea."

"And it's quiet," Anais notes with a small, crooked smile, reaching up to pat a hand at the dirt behind her. "Buried under the castle and several tons of cool earth. I usually prefer the open sky, but it feels like nowhere is quiet right now. And if I went out, I'd have to bring an entire retinue," she sighs, then leans over to pat a hand at the top of the cask next to her. "Have a seat," she invites. "I'm reasonably certain these are turnips, so there's no harm to do to them."

Jacsen lifts his shoulders as if to say 'why not' and leans on his cane as he makes his way to Anais' side, climbing somewhat awkwardly atop the cask and sitting. "I imagine all you want, right now, is a bit of quiet to let you sort through all the thoughts that must be swirling about your head," he suggests, turning his eyes upon the woman beside him. "I wish," he concedes with a small sigh, "That I came with glad tidings, or really, any tidings at all."

Anais sighs once more at that, reaching up to tuck her hair behind her ear. "I wish you did as well," she murmurs, gaze on her lap. "I don't know /what/ tidings I'm wishing for," she admits. "I just…" She drops her hands to her lap as well, one thumb rubbing at the ball of the other. "I expect my father to be here within the week, Jace. And I don't know how this can end well right now. If the alliance is dissolved and I go home…I go home alone, and I don't know that anyone is going to be terribly interested in taking the girl Jaremy Terrick ran away from. What am I supposed to do? Wait for years in hopes that he might come back, and if he does, that he might uphold the arrangement? And what sort of match will that be, then?"

"Oh, I doubt all of that will come to pass," Jacsen remarks, his brows raised as he considers the woman beside him. "My Lord Father is not about to insult you, or more precisely your Father, by not following through on the contract they've made between them." He draws up his good knee and folds his hands atop it, leaving his cane to rest against the cask. "Jaremy, as it stands, is no heir of Lord Ser Jerold's, and Jaremy has given up all rights and titles he enjoyed, abdicated the lot of them. Unless he can be found, and both my father's needs be met, I think he'll have to find you another Terrick to wed." His gaze finds some place upon the dirt wall to stare. "But I suspect your thoughts have already travelled down the road I am implying."

"Mmm," Anais hums. "And therein lies the most complicated bit." A faint smile touches one corner of her lips as she, too, looks away, this time at the earthen ceiling. "Two weeks is a rather short time in which to redeem oneself, particularly after this. Even if Jaremy comes directly home, even if Jarod and Cayt bring him back tomorrow…what then?" Her words are quiet, measured and calm, but a slight tension in her back and the way she still rubs at her thumb betray her concerns. "I…am less worried at the prospect of marrying you, Jace, than I am that Jaremy might return, Seven help me."

He's quiet for a moment at that, eyes staring off at some detail in the earthen wall, some pattern or mark he feigns interest in. "I suppose I can understand that, after a fashion, Anais. Still, he's my brother, and I'd not have you say you'd rather he did not return," Jacsen stresses. "I do not share Jarod's feeling that it might be best for Jaremy, nor what speaks better to his heart."

"It's not…" Anais stops, shoulders slumping with a sigh. "There is no easy, moral road in this, I fear. Except perhaps Jaremy's." There's a bitter note to the last - should Jaremy return, he's not likely to find a happy betrothed waiting for him. Uncomfortable, she shifts to cross her arms over her chest, guarded. "What happens if he returns the day before the wedding? The day after? Gods, Jace, he's just- He's made such a mess with this. I hope /he/ feels better, because I feel like I'm going to be sick, and I can't imagine it's any better for you and your family."

"Our father loves his sons, but he is no fool," Jacsen remarks, his eyes settling back upon then blonde-haired Banefort woman. "His first duty is to the Roost, and its ongoing prosperity. He will act in accordance with that, not with the vagaries of Jaremy's coming and going. Each day that passes, I think, hardens Lord Jerold's heart. Had Jaremy been found in a day, maybe even two or three? It might have been different. But this far gone now…" He shakes his head some. "Though I do not relish saying the words, I do not suspect Jaremy will find himself heir to the Roost, no matter the manner of his return."

"I'm sorry, Jace." Anais looks back over to him, and though she sighs, there is sympathy in her features. "I can't even imagine what I'd do if Quentyn just up and disappeared one day. Blame the Ironborn, most likely." She shifts then, drawing one knee to her chest and crossing an arm over it. "I imagine you're feeling at least as torn about all of this as I am, as well."

He makes a noise that sounds something like agreement. "Imagine it, and then imagine having to step in for someone else, take their place and their responsibilities, especially on the cusp of one of the rather more important responsibilities in one's life," Jacsen remarks, his tone level and without too much pity for himself. "Though my brother seems to have forgotten the moment after the novelty of having me back home faded, I did have something of a life I'd made for myself already. Which I was quite content to lead."

"In a grander place than this," Anais murmurs, smile twisting ruefully. "Here I am clinging to this place, hoping I don't have to go back home, and all you'd really like is the chance to leave." She leans back against the dirt of the cellar once more, pressing the heel of one hand to her brow. "For what it's worth, your father is still young, and healthy. And you…you don't need to be present here the way Jaremy did. You know what you need. You've practiced it." Looking over, her smile ghosts across her features once more. "I wouldn't mind seeing Seagard."

Jacsen draws in a quiet breath. "I'd not… put it that way. That I would only wish to leave," he tells her, glancing over his side at Anais. "No, I do not wish to leave, not yet anyways. I wish to do things for the sake of my kin, to see grievances over recent matters addressed… And then I thought I might ask for my Lord Mallister's guidance in finding a bride somewhere in Westeros. You know, one who is smart enough to discuss matters with me, pretty enough to hold my attention, and per your suggestion, have a keep of her own." He smirks, lightly. "I suppose two out of three isn't bad."

Anais arches a pale brow as he mentions chatting with Lord Mallister about finding a bride. "What would you need with a keep anyhow?" she asks, lips quirking despite her best efforts at a straight face. "You've one of your own now. Besides, you'll never find a woman willing to do all the work of keeping up /two/ keeps. They're a dreadful burden, you know." She falls silent for a moment then, watching him closely before reaching a hand out to try to brush a crooked finger along his cheek. "You are certainly more complicated than your brother," she sighs softly.

He does not shy away from the touch, though Jacsen's eyes remain more or less upon Anais' features, ducking only a moment to watch her reach for him. "Is that so, Anais? I think, all truth be told, you knew my brother of late better than I." That confession seems to pain him some, by the way his expression changes.

Anais tsks softly at the last, her touch against his cheek only the slightest brush. Her fingers are cool, whether from thoughts of her future or from the cooler air of the cellars. "I doubt that. If I'd known him that well, then maybe I would have been able to stop him from leaving," she murmurs, starting to draw her hand back. "I don't think anyone's really seen Jaremy for some time, Jace. He's been…playing the part of the storybook knight for years now. Apparently he just isn't finished yet."

"Mayhap, Anais." He catches her hand as it begins to draw away, and Jacsen looks to it, whether surprised at his action or simply considering how the two seem together. "You are right to say I am complicated, you know. Much more so than he, who could still enjoy the luxury of boyhood dreams. Nor do I cut so gallant a figure, but as you are not blind, I know you are more aware of that."

Anais glances to Jacsen's leg, and a faint smile touches one corner of her lips. "A stiff leg is hardly a terrible disfigurement," she notes, a glimmer of amusement in her voice. "My father's captain at arms is missing an eye, half his nose, and the scar that connects the two has practically caved in his face. Ironmen. Elinor can still hardly look at him. I can dance for the both of us. And Jarod can carry a lance or a sword for both of you. Respect comes from more than your legs."

His fingers splay and let Anais' own drift from between them, that he might set his hand atop his knee again. "You think so, Anais? I hope you never have a notion of what it is like," Jacsen tells her firmly, though without much other emotion one way or another. "In any case, it shall not change, and so there it is. If you've no issue making peace with it, then very well."

Anais watches Jacsen for a long moment at his reaction, considering all the implications of it. Her brows flicker downward, furrowing in a faint frown. "Jace…nobody respects Lord Tywin Lannister because he's a tournament champion. Ser Jaime, perhaps, yes. But they respect and fear Lord Tywin for his /command/. And that has absolutely nothing to do with his legs. You are…" She pauses a moment, choosing her words carefully. "I have spent the better part of the last week considering what it would mean to marry you instead of Jaremy. And I thought of your leg exactly once, in regards to a dance. It's nothing /I/ need to make peace with."

Jacsen answers only with a single question. "And what would it mean, Anais?"

Once more, Anais considers his features before she answers, careful. "A partner, and not a duty," she murmurs, shifting to face him more fully. "Someone I can trust to act wisely if I'm not there to guide him. Someone I can /trust/," she sighs, and there is a profound note of relief in her voice.

His brow rises slightly as he considers her, and more specifically her answer to that question. "And for me, Anais? I suppose I have the Tower already, without any unfortunate end coming to meet me," Jacsen remarks, "And we know I am capable. What shall you bring to this, that I do not already see? For beauty is welcome, certainly, but also somewhat temporary."

Anais tilts her head to one side, smile quirking once more. "That's not how the courtship game is played, Jace. Especially not when the contracts are already inked." It's a token protest, though, and she leans back against the dirt wall once more, tipping her head back. "You've had ample opportunity to answer those questions, Jace. You know I'm no fool, and no coward. You know I can smile and entertain. You know the gifts House Banefort brings, not the least of which is apparent impartiality in the swamps of the local politics. What else do you think I might bring?"

"Perhaps I do not speak of politics, or the niceties you can spare for guests," Jacsen remarks, resting his own head in like fashion against the cool earth of the natural wall behind him. "If you are to be my wife, Anais… what sort of wife do you have it in your mind to be?"

Anais' brows furrow at that question, and she turns her head to look back at him. "I'm not sure I understand the question," she says slowly. "Wife is…a title. I will be me. I will be me, bound to you. But I will be myself all the same. I'll see Terrick's Roost strong, and secure. I'll stand at your side. I'll give you counsel. I'll do the things you can't."

He ruminates on that a moment, his lips pursing together slightly. "I suppose that it is, Anais. Forgive the question," Jacsen requests, offhandedly, his gaze favoring somewhere other than her face. "I've never been married before, you understand, and until a few days ago had given it next to no thought. I suppose I don't know quite yet which questions I'd ask, versus the ones that don't require it."

Anais' lips quirk, rueful, as she reaches up to rub a hand at the back of her neck. "Whereas I've spent my entire life expecting to be married, and planning for it," she murmurs. "That is what girls do, after all." She lowers her hand then, only to offer it out to him, palm up. "To be fair, though, I think once the whole wedding part is over, no one stands around and tells us what the rules are supposed to be."

Jacsen looks back over at Anais, his eyes dropping to that offered hand of hers, as if he might reconsider this whole venture. His fingers unfold atop his knee and he reaches out, taking her hand into his own. "Well. I hope you've better luck in seeing your plans fulfilled than I did with mine," he remarks, with a morsel of humor somewhere in his voice. "Much better, in fact."

"I wouldn't count on that," Anais laughs softly, even as she twines her fingers through his. "I was /planning/ on marrying Jaremy." Her gaze softens as she watches him, her grip tightening. "But I'm not disappointed. I…hope you're not. At least in the end."

His grip strengthens some at that, though his eyes don't seem to soften like hers. "I… I'm not, but I don't know what I am, Anais, all of this…" Jacsen begins, before he lifts his eyes again and matches hers. "But I am here. So I think that says enough for now, and we can just… figure the rest out later?"

"Eventually." Anais seems loathe to release his hand, though more from the comfort of contact than anything personal. Suddenly, she winces, raising her other hand to her brow. "The seamstresses," she groans. "They'll need to see you. For fittings. I am…so, so sorry."

His brow knits. "Fittings…" Jacsen frowns slightly, though he does not pull his hand away from her. "I… that seems a bit rash, or at least, it would to those beyond the few that know of what is going on, don't you think?"

"Maybe?" Anais grimaces, dropping her head back against the wall once more. "But it takes time to do that sort of thing. And I don't know what the fashion is at Seagard, or how you've followed it, but you can't just get married in anything, and you're not nearly the same size as Jaremy."

Jacsen frowns slightly slightly at that, but nods once. "I understand that, of course. I… perhaps we can concoct some excuse to get me before them, that measurements, some fabrics and whatever else might be arranged but work can be stalled until the last minute, when things have become more clear?"

"Have you been fitted for the wedding at all?" Anais asks suddenly, shifting to look at him with a speculative, narrowed gaze. "Because even if it's your brother's wedding, you should have something new to wear. Something suitable for the wedding. Particularly if you were to stand with your brother. Don't you think?"

"I've… no, I've not," Jacsen admits, shaking his head some. "I suppose it would serve as a reasonable excuse to get in front of some of these fitters, yes?"

"It would," Anais nods once, firmly. "And they need not even know that it isn't exactly what we say it is. You could wear the same thing to your brother's wedding as your own." She draws a deep breath then, letting it out slowly with another nod. "That should do." Because Jacsen's lack of appropriate wedding attire was major concern number one.

He smirks a bit, not quite able to ignore the humor that he finds in what seems to him to be something so mundane being such a relief to her. "Well, now that we've averted that tragedy…" Jacsen's fingers gently slip from her own. "I should really be back to the day's work, Anais. But do feel free to enjoy the cool air down here a while longer if you like." He reaches for his cane and lightly moves off the cask. "I won't tell them where to find you."

"Like I said," Anais smirks in return. "/I've/ spent my entire life anticipating my wedding. I won't have you showing up looking the beggar just because Jaremy decided to step out." She loosens her grip as she moves away, folding her hands in her lap with a small smile. "Thank you, Jacsen," she murmurs. "I…Well. Be well. I'll see that the seamstresses visit you soon."