Page 129: So Close
So Close
Summary: Just when things seem to be falling into place, bad news threatens to undo it all. Rose has a suggestion that is not at all sneaky or subversive.
Date: 21/11/288
Related Logs: Night Ride Out
Rowan Gedeon 
Valentin Common Room — Riverrun
A common room that leads off into several bedrooms for guests to stay in this space.
21 November 288

While she's yet been unable to secure an audience with her elder brother, Rowan has, after a fashion, been attempting to make herself useful. Wandering about the keep, she's been listening more, talking less, leading conversations. She knows, now, a fair bit of trivia concerning the smallfolk who work here, their families, and even the Tullys — though it's such loose talk as to have no real value. That she's not just galloping through her days with little mind to anything other than her chores and hitting things more effectively, however, is something.

Today, however, what she's heard weighs heavily on her mind, and drives her to seek out Ser Gedeon, a frown etched between her brows. She shoulders open the door to the Valentin contingent's parlor, nearly mowing down the serving girl who's just delivered lunch as the hapless creature makes to depart. There's a bit of stumbling, stammering farce as both hasten to apologize and claim fault, both blushing, and finally Rowan grabs the girl's hand, kissing her knuckles in abject contrition. The girl-squire gives the now-silenced (somewhere between shocked and swooning) maid a winning smile, stepping deliberately and elegantly out of the way. The girl fairly floats out, and Rowan straight-arms the door shut. Sigh.

Gedeon's in a chair, reading through a large book on the laws of the land, especially a they regard to last wills and testaments. He glances up as the collision in the doorway occurs, smiling faintly as his squire woos and apologizes her way out of the mess. He watches as the maid drifts off and Rowan manages a rather appreciable escape, though he waits until the maid is gone before he points out, bemused, "I think she's sweet on you."

Rowan smirks, shaking her head as she ambles over and flumps into a perpendicular chair. "And why shouldn't she be? I'm a rather comely lad." She eyes the tray on the low table, leaning forward to pile roast beef and pale cheese between slices of brown bread. "We may have a problem." A problem, by the sound of it, that has nothing to do with besotted chamber maids.

"Far too comely, if you listen to the gossip," Gedeon agrees, still smirking. The expression drifts into something closer to pensive curiosity, however, as Rowan goes on, and his brows lift a little in query. "Oh? Go on."

"Jealousy," Rowan says around a mouthful of sandwich, dismissing the gossip. About that other thing, though: "You're aware, of course, that Ser Rygar returned to Stonebridge a few days past? Gathered a force of men and rode out again?" She swallows and pours herself a measure of small beer — a special request for the squire who is likely put off wine for the rest of her natural life. "And then Jarod running off in the middle of the night."

Gedeon nods slowly, leaning forward to grab up a curl of meat, though he leaves the bread alone. "Yes, I'd heard both those things." He takes a small bite, chewing thoughtfully. "You have a suspicion?"

"Not until today," Rowan says, frowning again. "I overheard some folks in the market talking how the little war party came riding back with prisoners. A bunch of smallfolk… and a single knight in full armor, on foot and tethered to a Nayland pommel." She drinks, draining her cup, and pours again, cutting inelegantly to the heart of the matter. "Gedeon… if that's Jaremy Terrick they've got, we're fucked."

"Jaremy…" Gedeon repeats, though it takes a beat for that to process. "You really think… even Jaremy Terrick has enough sense not to charge a keep with a handful of smallfolk."

Rowan only raises her eyebrows at that. Very slightly. And drinks again. Finally, she says, "I don't think Jaremy Terrick has enough sense to get out of his own way. And I think leading a peasant revolt to victory or death — more than likely death — is just the sort of thing Jaremy would do, fuck all to the consequences." She closes her eyes and blows out a breath, as though even speaking of the eldest Terrick makes her head ache. "And I think that if I were my cousin — holding Jaremy Terrick hostage is exactly what I'd do." She opens her eyes, looking sick at heart. "If it's between your claim and Jaremy's life — we've as good as lost the Terricks."

Gedeon breathes out softly, sinking against the back of his chair and blinking up a the ceiling. "Then Jarod must have ridden out to learn the truth of it and, like as not, to negotiate. Gods, what am I meant to say to that? 'Never mind the life of your blood and kin, it's the access to trade that you really want'." He closes his eyes, pressing his lips together. "And we were so close. So close/ How is it, even miles away and disinherited, Jaremy can manage to ruin everything?"

"Everyone has to be good at something," Rowan whispers, grim and without mirth. She slips from her chair and kneels at his feet, resting her forehead against his knee. "I'm so sorry, Gedeon," and she sounds it — utterly heartbroken, for whatever the broken heart of a cross-dressing squire is worth. "Truly, deeply sorry. I keep trying to think of ways around it — maybe it's not him, but… with Jarod gone in haste like this, and the last sighting of Jaremy being Stonebridge bound…" A very anemic hope, indeed. "Jacsen and Jaremy were close once, but — that's become become bitter and strained. Maybe Jack will make the best decision for his family — not the sentimental one…" She takes a breath. "Do you want me to talk to Jack? He's fond of me."

As Rose settles by his knee, his hand finds itself resting lightly on her head. The one not holding a half-eaten strip of roast beef, naturally. He sighs softly with a small shake of his head. "No, thank you, Ro," he murmurs. "I had best speak with him, and we've both a right to hear the truth of it from the other."

"I don't mean in your stead, of course," Rowan amends, still pensive and tense, eager to have some other office than harbinger. "But perhaps as a prelude. To get the lay of the land — so you know precisely what to expect, walking in. If he's torn about what to do, that could be useful to know."

Gedeon lifts his head a little to peer down at his squire, a corner of his mouth lifting in faint, muted amusement. "Rowan," he murmurs, "is that a hint of scheming I hear in your words?" Amusement, indeed, and a thread of approval as fingers run once through her hair.

She blushes at that, guiltily, and offers a somewhat sulky denial. "It's not scheming — it's common sense!" She wrinkles her nose, adding with a bit more vigor, "This is important. You should be prepared." Then, sighing, "And if it is a little scheming, what of it?" she challenges, though it's difficult to tell who she's arguing with, approving as Gedeon is. "It's to a good end. Jacsen just might need some help making the right decision."

Gedeon only smiles faintly and holds his tongue on his opinions of plots and plans. "All right, then. Speak to Jacsen and tell me what you learn. Then I'll go to him myself and let's hope he'll realize the path that's best for his family."

Rowan — still clinging stubbornly to the idea that she's not scheming and very, very virtuous — gives Gedeon's smile a baleful look. "Fine, then. I shall." She climbs to her feet with a faint — but distinctly feminine — 'hrmph' and returns to her sandwich.

Gedeon nods, schooling his expression into something more solemn and appreciative. "Thank you," he replies before finally finishing the bite of meat before wiping his fingers clean on his knee. "I'm glad… you came to me with this. You're listening and paying attention. It was well done."

The squire finishes chewing and swallows a rather large bite of sandwich before replying. "I do try to be of use." She washes lunch down with another draught of small beer, standing. "I should go see if he's around, then."

There is another small nod from Gedeon, though his regard is seeking. "Rowan?" he asks softly, the name a question in and of itself.

She pauses at the question, turning to meet his searching gaze, raising her eyebrows a little. "Aye?"

"You're all right?" Gedeon asks, tipping his chin down a little and lifting his brows, pale blue gaze resting on his squire.

She flashes a smile that's well-nigh convincing. "Fine," she affirms, nodding. "I'll be back shortly, whether I find him or not." And with that, she goes.