|Shadows and Scarecrows|
|Summary:||Blaire shows up at Highfield, much to Bastien's consternation.|
|Date:||November 7th 2012|
|Related Logs:||Into the Wild|
|Mews — Tanglewood Manor|
|The corridor between the courtyard and the paddock, with kennels on one side.|
|November 3rd, 289 A.L.|
Stepping out of the Great Hall, Bastien adjusts his finery and looks down at himself now that he's no longer under the meticulous eye of his fellow nobles. Plucking at the admittably comfortable fabric, he smirks and shakes his head before mumbling to himself. "I look like a painted jester." Those brown eyes of his wander the hall for a moment before he finally addresses the squire who drew him away from the gathering. "Now what was this about invaders in the kennels?" The young lad takes a quick moment to nervously explain about Blaire's presence, and the story draws Bastiens eyebrow upwards before he's walking quickly through the Keep towards the source of the commotion.
"I'm afraid I really can't open the door.." The recognisable sweetness of the Terrick retainers voice drifts on the evening air, though the cause of it wouldn't be apparent until one passed into the mews. Hunkered down on her heels, both hands extended forward, Blaire is apparently deep in conversation with the Lord's hounds, through the bars of their kennels. The scuffling of wagging tails and dogs jockeying for attention is a muted clamour, further muffled to those in the courtyard, most likely, by the music and merriment emanating from the Keep itself. Rubbing the ears of one glossy animal while another nuzzles inquisitively at an open palm, the girl is grinning to herself, evidently rather fond of the simple creatures already. The steady thumps of approaching footsteps do draw her dark eyed gaze toward the archway, though she doesn't rise, as yet. Wearing that same dress of white worsted wool in which Bastien had first seen her, the teenager certainly doesn't present as a likely assassin this time either.. especially with that smile unfaltering as she recognises the knight through the darkness. The courtyard is bright with lamps, of course - but here only the one offers illumination for those passing through. More than one set of revellers have done so, probably. There's a perfectly nice hayloft in the stables, after all.
Stopping in the doorway, the light pours in past Bastien's large silhouette. The man's arms are crossed and while the features on his face are hard to make out, they seem to resemble something similar to a scowl. "A young woman accidentally stumbling upon Ashwood territory, I can vouch for. A young woman stealing away into my Brother's castle to play with his hounds, that is a much harder story to stand behind. You do realize we've quarters and accomodations for guests?" Striding into the room, he doesnt seem angry so much as annoyed to whatever questions this will bring down upon him in the coming days. It isn't that big of a deal, honestly, but when things get boring, people tend to look for something to dramatize. "Blaire."
That tone and posture, regardless of intent, promptly steals the smile that had curved the girls lips, and she rises hastily to a stand. Much to the dismay of the dogs, who whine for a moment or two before padding back to their sleeping places. "I'm sorry." The placation seems quite genuine, as is everything she says of course. Dusting her hands off on her skirts, then looking mournfully down at the dark dog hairs now spoiling the pristine shade, Blaire wraps her arms around her slender waist, shrinking into herself. "I didn't think I'd be welcome inside, but.. well.." She glances toward the kennels. Dogs are a temptation! "I came with the few other servants. Just.. I was curious. I'm sorry." she says again, those big eyes rising to regard the scowling knight with an uncertainty that wasn't there before. "I didn't intend to cause you trouble. I'll.. I'll go." Maybe it's the towering form that actually keeps her in place a beat or two before she moves forward to do just that. Well, she did say she had a habit for wandering. At least she's not in the kitchens.
Bastien's brow crinkles ever so slightly when she starts to shrink inward. Placing a hand on her shoulder, he squeezes it gently and mutters. "You're not in trouble, nor are you trouble. You simply must be more careful." Moving around her, he takes a few steps towards the dogs and crouches down to put his hand forward. "I'll not be able to keep you from getting hurt, but I'd like, should the occasion happen, for my home not to be the source of it." One of the hounds sniffs at his fingers and wags its tail weakly, the man's demeanor a tad bit less welcoming than the younger woman's. "Your journey was uneventful?"
The girl seems not quite to grasp what this vague threat might be that she need be so wary of. There's music and dancing. There's dogs to be petted! And now, there's Bastien. The world can't really be that fearsome a place? "You worry too much." she replies, gently, still trying to regain her usual cheerful appearance as she watches him, a little balefully truth be told. "Yes, the journey was fine. Quite dull, in fact. And I'm not really sure the Lady Anais even noticed me tagging along.. I just didn't see the harm in her having an extra pair of hands." Slowly beginning to settle - come on, the man's formidable at the best of times, let alone when he's annoyed - Blaire ventures a half-step back toward the kennels, her expression softening as she watches the dogs. It goes some ways to mellowing that startled doe look of a moment ago. "I'm not going to get hurt, Bastien. Unless shadows or scarecrows have ill intent." Her gesture with one hand encompasses the relatively empty surroundings. "And I'll return to the inn, soon. I just wanted to see where you live.. and it looks so pretty, what with the wedding and all." There's a brief pause before she absently enquires, "..aren't you supposed to be dancing?" There's an undeniable glimmer of amusement as she more properly takes in his appearance. "Those are certainly not the accoutrements for squatting in the mews."
Scritching behind the hound's ears, it starts to let itself enjoy Bastien's attention. In reply to her assurance that she won't get hurt, he mutters, "Your confidence in that is what worries me so much." Looking over his shoulder towards Blaire, the large man gives her a shake of his head. "It's petals are hiding thorns. Ashwood is beautiful, but its as rife with the cloak and dagger politics of Westeros as any other hold, if not more so." Her comment upon his attire recieves a grunt in response as the man looks back to the hound. "I'll not be pranced around for them to gawk at. I am no show horse." Those frustrated words are quite obviously not aimed at her, though the hound shies away when he speaks them.
Blaire pays no mind to these warnings - politics are as far removed from her as the stars she so adores, anyway. What could they have to do with her? Similarly, the faint rebuke in his latter comment doesn't seem to upset her, this time; instead rousing a slow smile. "Well, I think you look lovely. From the neck down, that is." Squinting, she adopts a feigned expression of consideration, stooping from the waist with her arms still folded to try and steal a peek at his grumpy features. "From the jaw up, you'd think the sky was falling. Don't you like dancing?" Straightening again, she wanders to the other archway, and the gate that leads to the paddock, resting her elbows atop the wood and gazing up at the night clouds. "I was always hopeless at it, myself. But I still like it."
Grumpy features present and accounted for! The large man rises from his crouch as she moves away, and places a hand behind his head as he rubs his scalp with calloused fingers. "Never fond of it, no. Compound it with the large crowds and you have pretty much the opposite of what I consider to be a good time." He leans against the kennel and crosses his arms as he watches the girl move towards the opposite archway. "A bunch of pretentious fools writhing about and acting as if they're the center of the world." Grumble grumble.
"Does that only happen when they're dancing?" The question is simple, and to the point. If one can see the point. She does have an odd way of putting things - vague, with an occasional flash of uncanny insight. "I never understood that desperation to be the center of things. To hold all the reins and have fingers in all the pies." Wrinkling her nose, Blaire glances back toward the knight as he adopts a nonchalant lean. "..you're going to get dust on you." With that helpfully pointed out, she continues. "I'd much rather just.. I don't know. Not care? You only get one life, as I understand it. Shouldn't it be a happy one?"
"It's always happening, you are correct. Yet, these occasions are like celebrations aimed only at making sure everyone knows its happening." Another shake of his head is given and as he casually looks down at his clothing, his shoulders rise and fall with a shrug. "Let them gripe, I'd rather be dirty and comfortable than clean and miserable." Her uncanny insight strikes a chord within the older man as his eyes settle easily upon her. "I've been trying to express that exact point for years. Very few of them are willing to actually give up on what they've put so much time in to."
"Oh, Bastien, do cheer up." Now it's her town for the chiding tone, though it entirely lacks annoyance. Blaire's probably not even capable of annoyance. "I'm sorry that you're not enjoying the celebration. But you've found an excuse to escape it now, haven't you." That 'excuse' being her sneaking about the property. But that doesn't need to be said. Ahem. "What would be more fun, for you? Shall we get some swords and have a spar? Maybe borrow some horses and practice jousting?" She mimes what she considers to be a passable hold of an imaginary lance. It's not very good. Though, seeing as she clearly intends to lighten his mood, it could be that the terrible parody is intentional.
The mime draws a small chuckle from the man's throat, and the corners of his mouth turn upward ever so slightly. Moving across the space between them, Bastien shakes his head slowly as he lifts a hand to place it upon her own, stopping the imaginary joust. "That's not necessary. I'd just like to take advantage of this situation and actually manage to relax for a moment."
"Oh." Blaire looks down to his hand as it settles on her smaller one, then back up, features remaining bright with renewed amusement. She forgets unpleasant moments as swiftly as many other things it seems. "..was it that bad? I've never actually been to a tourney. Only read about them." The ghost of a thoughtful frown darkens her brow, fleetingly. "Maybe the pictures weren't very accurate.." A light shrug raises and drops her narrow shoulders. "Or maybe I simply lack talent for that, in the same way as dancing? Alas, my dreams of becoming a grouchy, intimidating knight are dashed upon the rocks." Withdrawing from his touch, though not without a slight warmth to color her cheeks, the girl braces both hands on the gate, now at her back, and hops up to perch on the top rail. And yes, Bastien is still holding the height advantage. Settling her heels on a lower bar, she studies him in silence now.
"It wasn't too bad, though you need work on your posture. You'd also have lost your lance the moment it touched steel." Humoring her with his criticism, his eyebrow raises as she hops up to sit upon the gate. Her words draw a dry chuckle from the man as he places a hand against the doorframe. "Why would anyone wish to be a grouchy, intimidating knight? I've no knowledge of such things."
"I've really no idea." replies the girl, airily, to the matter of 'why'. But she does attempt to emulate Bastien's former glowering, thereafter. With little success. She just manages to pout and frown a little, then gives up, returning to her habitual smile. After a pause, in which she calmly regards him at a different vantage, she says, a little softer, "..your friends will believe you to be fighting off a terrible foe, the amount of time you are taking to deal with this 'situation', Bastien. Should I punch you in the nose, just to make it more believable?" Balling up one small fist, she raises it between she and the knight, looking at it uncertainly, then back to him, arching her brows in polite enquiry.
The pout and frown draws a perplexed look from the man as he watches, aware of her mockery but unoffended by it. "I would prefer they thought me distracted by beauty rather than violence. Though I doubt they would believe it." Lifting his free hand, he places it upon her small fist and lifts it gently up to press it against his eye. "Now then, you must put your strength into it, lest we have to repeat the process. As much as you might enjoy that possibility, I prefer we avoid it. Step into the punch as you throw it, and put the weight of your body behind it. Though…you've little weight, it seems, so we might have two do this twice."
If she's surprised by Bastien actually seeming to accept her suggestion, it doesn't show. Instead, Blaire listens with an almost sombre expression of concentration, avidly soaking up the helpful tidbits just as she would storm through the paragraphs of a new and informative book. Nodding her understanding, pressing lightly with each of her knuckles to physically remind herself of the correct position, the girl then obligingly draws back her fist, keeping her arm steadily raised. Really though, the lesson turns out to be a rather futile one. At the knight's assumption of her inability to do damage, she raises her brows, clenches her fingers tighter.. and then boots him quite solidly in the shin. It probably doesn't hurt, but it's still worth it and she begins to laugh heartily.. enough that her already precarious seat deserts her and she topples to a stumbling forward step back to the ground. Still laughing.
Bastien lets out a small 'oof' as the tip of her shoe strikes his shin. Damn it, these clothes offer no real protection! Her laughter lightens the mood, but at the same time draws a certain sense of insecurity across the man's conscious thoughts. A slight frown is quickly dismissed as he steps back and crosses his arms, watching her as she enjoys her moment. "Having fun?" Those lips turn into a slight, light-hearted smirk as he waits for her laughter to subside.
Eventually sobering, though still grinning, Blaire nods up at the knight while rubbing one eye with the heel of her hand. "Yes." One last snicker. "Sorry. But I'd rather kick your shin than bruise your face." With a satisfied sigh, she pushes her hair out of her face and returns back to lean against the gate once more. "Are you alright?" she offers, managing to withhold a giggle as she watches his decidedly less amused expression. "..I haven't made you grouchy again, have I?" The girl poauses, maybe drawing the courage to say what just crosses her mind. It's rare that she even considers - usually words just fall out of her mouth, without any sort of filter. "You do so suit a smile."
"No, you've not made me grouchy again. I wasnt grouchy to begin with. Concerned, maybe." As she clears the hair out of her face, his eyes settle upon her own and the man's arms uncross. Lifting one of those large hands, he rubs at the back of his neck when she comments upon his smile. Strange to see someone so large brought low by someone so teensy. "I…am not the smiling sort. Besides, I've a reputation to uphold."
"Alright." She's not going to argue the details of his mood; he knows better, in the end. Nor the reputation bit, seeing as they stand in his world now, not the protection of a sunlit glade. She has seen him smile though. She knows it can happen. "Well.. if I'm not going to blacken your eye, shall I help you imagine an enemy that might have so distracted you? Certainly none of them.." She indicates the figures across the courtyard with a slight nod. "..who saw me would believe the beauty story. Hmm. Perhaps you could say you were rescuing a bunny from a fox?"
"I do believe that would be worse for my reputation than smiling and dancing in the Great Hall." Tapping his chin, he looks away from her towards those distant figures who seem to be paying them a quarter of their minds at most. "Unfortunately…I can only think of one such thing which would seem a reasonable explanation for my absence." Turning back towards Blaire, the large man looks down at her for a moment before his eyes flit to the hayloft. He is a chaste individual, and while his feelings for her seem to be blooming, he seems reluctant towards asking her into a situation that would mark her as a harlot. "N-Nevermind. I'll simply tell them you had a message for me…or some other such thing."
At first, Blaire listens with interest, watching him as he grows thoughtful and looks out to the yard. Those big brown eyes meet his when he returns his attention to her, then follow his gaze, flickering to the stables and the loft above. A slow blink, then another, precedes her sudden understanding of his implication. "Oh." Shyly capturing her lower lip between her teeth, she slowly raises her gaze to his again. "Well.." As he stammers a little, though, she softens; the healer in her relenting at the sight of another in discomfort maybe. "Bastien." Tentatively reaching to brush his fingertips with her own, she musters a tremulous smile. "..you can.. tell them we were trysting, if you like. I'm not of high birth, it doesn't matter what some Ashwood men might whisper about me. I'll be gone in the morning anyway." Her smile become less uncertain, warming in the face of his unease. "So long as you know I wouldn't.. be so easily.. you know. Then that's fine. I can put some bits of straw in my hair." She's even brightening at that, her natural creativity finding a new purpose as she glances suddenly about the floor for that very thing.
As her fingertips brush against his own, Bastien slides his hands around hers. It's a touch, soft and gentle, and none too forward one would hope. He looks up from her hands to her face and smiles for her, a shake of his head given as he replies. "I do not care if you are not of high birth. I've fought besides the sons of farmers and kings, and the only differences I've seen are not worth forsaking the pride or honor of an individual." He does seem to calm when she takes that understanding tone, though, and after a moment of thought he gives her hand a squeeze. "I would not think you easily swept off your feet, no." Her comment about bits of straw does draw a laugh from the man as his smile turns from something meant for her into something meant for himself. "I will tell them you'd a message to me from a friend in the Roost. It'll only be half a lie."
Roused from her idle search by the gentle enfolding of her hand, Blaire looks up, catching Bastien's smile and reflecting it with one of her own. His words on smallfolk are kindly, though whether she believes them or not is something she keeps to herself. they have such pretty words, the nobility, even when they're insulting. It makes it so difficult for one as plain-spoken as she to translate the truth of things, sometimes. "Swept off my feet. That's a nice way to put it." Her nod emphasises her approval for that thought, at least. "And alright. I.. may use the same reason if someone from our household thinks to ask why I was here, too. If that's alright." Returning the light squeeze with far daintier and more fragile fingers, she adds, with a spark to light her eyes, "..and that reminds me. There's something for you in the tree. It's nothing much, but i hope you get to it before the mice do."
"Of course, should anyone ask." There is a warmth in the man's demeanor, new and small, but slowly growing as he watches her. "I've free time tomorrow, while everyone is busy recovering from the festivities." Whether his feelings are romantic or platonic is anyone's guess, but the man is obviously starting to cherish the girl's genuine nature. Lifting her hand, he presses his lips against the back of it, before continuing in his best mock-courtly voice. "I must take my leave, M'Lady. I have taried for far too long, and I've a feeling they'll string me up by my toes if I am not back for them to gawk at within the hour."
"I don't like wine very much." The admission is absent-minded, as her gaze wanders toward the sounds of the Great Hall. But it was likely intended to imply she won't be nursing a roiling gut tomorrow, either. And she's already mentioned where she's staying. Whether anything comes of these half-finished suggestions.. well, tomorrow will tell, won't it. Grinning broadly at his courtly flourish, Blaire responds, almost equally solemn, with a curtsey and an affected, well-spoken voice far less charming than her usual manner of candid speaking. "Of course, M'Lord. I thank you for the pleasue of your company." Unable to help it, she adds, with a giggle to shatter her facade, "..and that of your shin."
With their farewell spoken, Bastien genuinely bows his head this time and turns to leave. There is a moment taken, as he coughs and makes grumpy sounds, before that sour and sordid demeanor is taken once more. Looking back to her, it fades like a veil as he gives her one last smile, before turning around and marching out of the kennels and towards the soudns of celebration.