|Summary:||Men can be pretty dumb sometimes! A picknick with her hedge knight does not go the way Evayne would have expected.|
|Date:||13/03/2013 and 14/03/2013|
|Related Logs:||Stranger's Masquerade, A Tree Unmasked and some yet unposted logs of Evie and Leon.|
|King's Grove, Kingsgrove|
|The line between the Grove and the farmlands that surrounds it is stark and immediate; one step yields soft pasture grasses, and the next a wall of trees.|
|Where most of the woodlands of the Groves lands show plenty of signs of human habitation and use, this large and ancient grove - from which both the House and the nearby town takes its name - is a forbidding relic of a time before men conquered the land and bound it to their will. Since the Age of Heroes, its been protected from the bite of steel. The trees are allowed to grow as old and big as they want, and their branches form a great impenetrable ceiling above. A few paths are maintained, cutting through the pristine woods. Step-stones have been sunk into the clear and crystal streams, easing the crossings, but there are no proper bridges. Most of the forest floor is covered with a wriggling carpet of interlocked roots.|
|March 13th, 290|
As if the Seven had given them their blessing, no clouds whatsoever are obscuring the sun today, with the sky an ever radiant cobalt blue. The pleasentness of the weather somehow echoed in her mien, Evayne smiles, leaning back against Leon's arm that prevents her from falling off the horse as they leave the courtyard through the gate house. Although that smile seems to be dampened by something, as her gaze wanders over Braeburn House as she turns back to cast a glance over her shoulder.
The hedge knight is dressed in his usual leathers, his sword by the side. Once he's put girl and basket and himself into the saddle, they are off and he leads the horse down a grassy road towards … somewhere to the south. He smiles when Evayne turns back to face him but as he notices the dampened look, he frowns. "What's wrong?"
When their eyes meet some of the warmth returns into Evie's grey eyes. Her general disposition stays rather thoughtful, though. Which the faint smile on her face can't hide. "Nothing… Not with you, I mean…" she offers feebly in reply. "I have looked forward to this. And I would hate to have this ruined. No, I won't have it ruined. It's some family stuff, ser." She hesitates for a moment before she adds with a sigh: "It's my Mum. It's… complicated."
"Oh?" Leon frowns and remains silent for a while as if he's contemplating whether to touch this or not. But they've got a while to go still anyway, so he finally asks: "What about her?"
"Not what you think…" the kitchen maid is quick to answer as she notices Leon's hesitation. "This has nothing to do with you and I. But haven't you wondered where Rychard has been these past days?" She lets a short moment pass before she gives the answer. "Carys and Rychard have left Braeburn House a few days before the wedding festivities were to start. To avoid the hustle and bustle. They are with my family now, at the potter's place." Straightening a bit in her seat she tries to glimpse it somewhere between the houses in the distance, before she raises her arm to indicate the direction. "Over there, actually. She should have returned by now, with Rychard. My sister, I mean. But my mother has seen it fit to keep her from coming back."
Leon follows her look towards the houses and frowns. "But why would she do that? Perhaps she just meant well, knowing you were so busy with the feast. Have you followed them? We could go and talk to them. Perhaps on the way back. Pick up Rychard and take him home with us.", he suggests.
"There has been an incident." Evayne replies, eager to explain. "My sister was seen with a servant. It probably was nothing more than an innocent kiss, but a lady's maid saw everything and had nothing better to do than tell my Mum about it. My mother used to be a handmaiden at Braeburn House when she was younger. She still has many friends among the staff over there." The grey eyes wander over the houses in the distance again in some inner agitation. "Oh dear, my Mum probably blames me for not keeping an eye on her." Leon's suggestion seems to calm her again. "Yes, I think we should do that. I miss little Rychard."
"Of course. A child belongs with his mother.", Leon says firmly and very matter of factly. He tightens his arm around her briefly, as if to give her some sort of comforting hug, then nudges his horse on to a gently trot until they reach the forest.
As some of her unease leaves her, Evayne leans into his arm, her eyes closing for a short moment. "Yes. I didn't want to bother you with this, but my brother came an hour before we left, to tell me about how things are at home. It has been on my mind, but now that I've been able to tell someone-" her smile broadens a touch as she turns to look at her knight with a sudden warmth, - "I already feel better about the whole… affair." Upon reaching the forest Evie inquires: "Are we already there? Where do we make camp, ser? For our picknick?" And indeed, she is back to her usual blushing excited self.
"Oh, I see.", Leon mutters in response to her brother. Alas, he's his usual taciturn self, though when she smiles at him again, he responds in kind. "It's another few minutes.", he explains, "I didn't want to take us too far away from Braeburn House, so we'll easily make it back in time." And indeed they continue down the forest path for some more minutes until they reach the clearing known as King's Grove. They cross through it until they reach a brook by the far end, where a nice grassy spot awaits underneath the huge ancient trees near the water.
Evayne's eyes widen with wonder as she casts a glance about the clearing. "What a marvellous place, ser. Almost enchanted. And… even a brook." she remarks, as she jumps elegantly off the huge horse as soon as Leon's grasp loosens around her, managing to do so with the basket in her tight grasp. Putting it down she points to the grassy spot beneath the strong and old branches of the ancient trees, casting Leon an inquiring glance before she reaches for the blanket to place it right there.
Leon leads the horse to the brook so she can drink before he ties bridles to a low-hanging branch. He nods briefly to indicate that the spot she's chosen is fine, then unties a saddle bag from the saddle, before joining her. "It's a nice spot, isn't it.", he comments and smirks slightly. "Let's hope that no band of passing knights appears to use it for a resting place just now."
"It's nice here." Evayne says beaming as she turns towards Leon. "I am so happy that you've taken me here. It's a tranquil place. And I'd prefer it stays that way." The last part added in comment to the threat of passing knights. Her curious gaze is on the saddle bag then. "What do you keep in there, I wonder. I've taken care of the food and drink, as I promised, ser knight."
"Doesn't mean there's always room for more.", Leon winks, though he keeps the bag closed for now. "Thought you'd like it here.", he adds as he looks around briefly, before finally sitting down on the blanket to stretch his long legs. "So what have you got on offer today?", he grins.
Biting her lip at his grin, the kitchen maid lowers herself to kneel beside him while she starts to relieve the basket of its contents. "Well, we have a loaf of broad, fresh from the oven today. A strong spicy cheese from the Mire." The bread is put on the blanket, as is the cheese, the latter though wrapped into a cloth of linen. "Aaand we have a bit of smoked ham as well." Evie announces with the exaggerated voice of a herald announcing nobles at a feast. "Ser Smoked Ham is accompanied by Lady Pastry. With an onion and chicken filling. And then come Ser apple and Lady apple." Evayne chuckles with delight as she presents those two pieces of fruit, one in each hand, before she puts them down beside the other things. As her hand delves back into the basket she looks at the knight with a raised eyebrow. "And? What do you suppose comes next? Young Lord Red Wine!" And with a triumphant grin she pulls a wineskin out of the basket, not a full one of course, but moderately half filled.
Leon watches her with an amused smile and chuckles at the ham and pastry. "I knew it was a good idea to take a kitchen maid out.", he remarks jokingly, "This looks amazing, Evayne. I hope the cook won't give you any trouble about this…" Then she produces the wine and he's quick to look around for wine glasses.
"The cook hasn't noticed, I'm telling you! I prepared the reqired amount of bread and pastries, and the other stuff I've put to the side during the wedding. With so many guests attending large amounts of food and drink where devoured, with no chance for the cook to keep an eye on everything!" Evayne replies her eyes gleaming with mischief. "There must be something very special about you, ser, that a kitchen maid like me would provide you with these things and even steal for you." As she notices Leon's gaze she lowers her hand once again into the basket and hands him two cups made of clay with a little wink. "Ah yes, I forgot. Knights and ladies of high birth drink from cups, not from wineskins."
"Ah yes, I wonder myself what a kitchen maid might see in me.", Leon replies, perhaps jokingly but with a certain undertone. But when she produces the cups, he's quick to grab the wineskin and pour for them, happy for the distraction. "You've done a wonderful job, Mistress.", he says, "In my house, you would earn a promotion already."
The undertone is noted, the praise accepted, but Evayne stays silent at first as she takes one of the filled cups from his hands and watches him thoughtfully while she takes a first sip. "A promotion?" she inquires then, her grey eyes never leaving the handsome knight. "To what office I wonder?"
Leon winces a little under that unrelenting stare and realizes he might be in hot water with that innocent remark. "To… um, being the mistress of the kitchen perhaps?", he suggests, then lifts his wine cup. "To the best kitchen maid of Braeburn House.", he smiles.
Somewhere in her grey eyes the sparkle seems to diminish slightly at Leon's answer, as does the smile - but only for a short moment. After another sip from the cup Evayne lowers her gaze with a grin. "I thank you, ser. But I already am the best kitchen maid at Braeburn House. Where's the promotion in that?" It is then that her gaze returns to the saddlebag, and leaning a bit forward she offers him an inquiring look. "Hmmm? Will you tell me now, what's inside that bag, ser?"
Leon is blissfully oblivious to the diminishing sparkle. Ah it's good to be a man sometimes. "Oh don't be so curious.", he replies to her question and gives her a playful nudge, shoulder to shoulder, "Let us enjoy the wonderful things you've brought." He picks up a slice of ham and shoves it into his big mouth wholesale.
Following Leon's suggestion Evayne reaches for the pastry to unwrap it from its cloth, and before he has a chance to see where it came from she suddenly holds a kitchen knife in her hand and cuts the pie into manageable pieces. "I'm really hungry, ser." she admits, her gaze darting to the saddle bag for a short moment. "We'll eat and drink, and you'll show me later." And taking a bite from a piece of the pastry with hardly concealed appetite, she sighs with delight. "Mmmm, M'lady Pastry tastes terrific, with her chicken and onion stuffing!"
Leon reaches for a piece of the pastry as well and takes a big bite, which results in some stuffing dropping onto his white shirt. But he doesn't care for this apparently, busy munching. "This is excellent indeed.", he confirms, "Did you cook this?"
Already finished with her piece of pastry, Evayne licks her lips. "Of course, ser. Pastries are my specialty." And noticing the filling that has dropped onto the knight's shirt she leans forward and removes it carefully with her fingers - to swiftly pop it into her mouth! "To good to let it go to waste, ser." she explains with a grin.
"Indeed, so it is.", Leon replies, his eyes on her fingers for a bit longer than necessary. He takes another sip of wine, the picks up a piece of cheese. He seems to be quite happy, but even he is starting to see the elephant in the room. Or in the clearing, so to speak
Evayne takes another piece of the pastry, her munches now less ravenous than with the first one while her gaze keeps lingering on the knight. This time it takes longer to finish, and doing so she takes care to clean her fingers by putting them into her mouth, one at a time. She feels it too, the awkward silence building up between them, and leaning back, supporting herself with one arm while the other is busy raising the cup of wine to her lips, she eyes Leon with a touch of unrest.
Grumble. Leon feels that she is waiting for him to say something but he isn't good with words. He's better at drinking. So he chugs some more wine and soaks it up with some of that fresh bread. Munch, munch, chug, chug, munch. His gaze always drifting back to her between bites and chugs. Offering a wobbly smile.
Maybe it is not words she is expecting but actions. Returning that smile of his Evayne keeps drinking as well, until the cup is all empty. And then she reaches out for some of that bread, accidentally brushing Leon's arm as she does so.
Leon knoooows. So he finally drops his cup and straightens a bit, while he shifts closer to her and finally places a hand on hers. "Evayne… if I did what I'd want to do, my sister would kill me and rightly so. I… I have taken advantage of girls before, but you're… too good for that.", he admits quietly, "You deserve better…"
Evayne freezes as she hears Leon's words. Her gaze drops to his hand on hers then rises to meet his eyes, the feelings raging inside of her clearly visible in her flushed face, the affectionate expression in her grey eyes. "I… should be grateful for that, I know. But it makes me feel so incredibly bad, ser. My mother would kill me as well, she doesn't trust me, and rightfully so! I've failed her once already." Evie's eyes cloud with tears as the words come out of her without her volition.
Leon blinks. "What do you mean, failed her? Because you lost your husband?", he asks curiously, though he seems a little less tense now that they are finally talking.
"I failed her, because… I didn't show any sense, went to a dance and got involved with Gedyon. Got pregnant with Rychard. I was lucky after all that he agreed to marry me; to save Rychard from being born as a bastard." Evayne confesses, tears flowing down her face now. "And now she's probably worried that I'll make that same mistake again…" Sobbing heavily she turns away from him. "I wish I could have kept the truth fom you. What you must think of me now…"
Leon listens to her tale with a look of confusion, as if failing to understand what the big deal is. But finally the penny drops and he nods. "Your mother need not worry.", he finally says quietly but firmly, "I won't let you make the same mistake again… as much as I'd like to.", he adds softly and reaches out to place a comforting hand on her shoulder. "My parents did not give me much, but they did give me a sense of honor."
The soft tone of the knight's voice doesn't fail to soothe the kitchen maid's despair. The sobbing ceases, and her breathing goes back to normal. "I know," Evayne replies finally, leaning her head against that comforting hand on her shoulder. "I've never doubted your honour, ser. But your willingness to spend time with me, now that you know about my… past." Grey eyes look pensively over to Leon, studying him for a moment. "I hope I haven't scared you off."
Leon doesn't respond for a bit, though he does give that shoulder a light comforting squeeze. "None of us is flawless, it is known.", he says softly and smirks. "Will you decide you don't want to spend any more time with me if I told you that there's a chance of a kid or two running around Kings Landing with my face?", he asks softly.
"Hah. Are you serious?" Evie exclaims with a grin, staring at Leon with incredulous amusement. "You have kids? Bastard kids?" A light chuckle follows, as she leans into him, bringing herself closer to his face. "No, I wouldn't." she says softly. "But those women would never have the chance to get you back, I swear!"
Leon blushes a bit. "I don't know.", he admits, "But I think… there's a possibility. I'm just saying, I'm hardly blameless.", he tries to explain, though he looks relieved when she starts to cheer up.
"There's… a possibility?" Evayne echoes softly. "You know, I actually don't mind. As long as you would stay true to me from now on?" Her brow jumps upwards and she gives him a teasing smile, while she is running her hands through his blonde locks. A moment of hesitation, and then she leans forward to give him a long and affectionate kiss.
"Wh…?" Leon begins to say something but then he's shut up with a kiss. He does respond to the kiss and starts wrapping his arms around her, but finally he pulls back, his face red. "Evayne! We… I… what do you think this is going to be?", he finally asks.
The colour of her face is a deep red as well. But Evayne beams and doesn't seem to be offended when he pulls back from her. Radiating a deep inner happiness she replies: "I gave you a kiss, ser. Nothing more, nothing less. I couldn't resist. Are you mad at me?" She smiles and extends her hand to stroke his face affectionately, her gaze dropping for a moment. "I didn't mean to… make you do anything, ser. Just to express the love I have for you. It's overwhelming, sometimes…"
Leon smiles faintly, but his shoulders droop. "All this walk of staying true and having love…", he mutters, avoiding her eyes, "Evayne… I'm not a man to fall in love with… I shouldn't have… "
Evayne's eyes widen a bit, as she watches Leon's reaction, her hands opening and closing before her. "You… shouldn't…?" she repeats hesitantly as if she dared not believe her own ears. "But you have…?" There is a tension in her posture, in her face and in her silence that follows, as she awaits a reply of some sort.
"I shouldn't have given you the idea.", Leon clarifies before she leaps to conclusions, "This was all wrong from the start… I am not staying here forever, Evayne, and you know that. I will go where someone will need me. Far away perhaps, in Kings Landing. And even if I were to stay here, you deserve better than a man with a life expectancy like mine…"
Her mouth is gaping for a moment, before Evie shrugs and gives her answer with a slightly annoyed tone at his stupidity. "It was wrong? Nothing's wrong, ser. I could come with you. Even to King's Landing." She shakes her head vehemently as she reconsiders his words. "Nothing's impossible. Not if you dare to believe, ser. That your feelings are true!" Her eyes narrow as she contemplates adding something, but rather chooses to give Leon the chance for a reply instead.
"I'm sure you'd make a fine wife.", Leon agrees and smiles faintly, "But there's naught I can offer you, Evayne. No home, no money, nothing… you deserve better than that."
"So this is what you have the kindness to tell me, Ser Leon?" Evayne inquires, sobering at once at his matter-of-factly tone. "That you don't think I have it in me to find a profession whereever you are? As a cook, perchance, at an inn? To provide for myself and my son… and you and our kids, should we have any? Is it so completely out of the question to take me as a wife, ser?" She rises to her feet now, and stamps her foot onto the ground. "So you have a bad opinion about me after all." Wrapping her arms about her she stands there eyeing him in hardly subdued anger - and other strong feelings which are hard for her at the moment to tell apart.
Leon stares and all he can is keep his jaw from dropping at her spirited defense. "Seven, no!", he protests and gets to his feet at well, "I know what a wonderful cook you are… and that you are perfectly capable of taking care of yourself. But if I am your husband, I want to be able to take care of my family. It's my job to give you a proper home and everything!"
Some of the anger fades as she hears his answer. Biting her lip Evayne feels tears in her eyes and tries to blink them away. "You will. I believe you can. But until then, let me do what I can to provide for us. I don't see why something like that should be allowed to stand between us and our happiness, ser."
A massive male ego, that's what. Leon frowns slightly and stands there like a big lump of stupid as he's trying to mull things over in his head. "Let me find us a home first. Enough money to start a home.", he finally says, "A place in Kings Landing…"
Evayne exhales deeply. And nods, finally giving in. "Anywhere." The word is left hanging in the air for a moment before she adds: "It doesn't have to be King's Landing, ser. I'll wait for you. I promise." The last part is added with a sigh. And then her smile returns as she looks at him. "I haven't lied about my feelings for you, ser. Just don't make me wait forever."
"But you hardly know me.", Leon replies, looking puzzled, "What makes you believe I am such a wonderful man?"
"I… don't know." Evie admits, looking likewise puzzled. "But something tells me that you're the man I want to spend the rest of my life with."
That does actually make Leon blush a little. "Let's hope you may never regret these words.", he smirks, though he soon becomes serious again. "I would want to be a good father for Rychard. I just… I don't know the first thing about being… a father." Or being mature and responsible.
"I am sure you can be… a wonderful father to Rychard. And to the many beautiful blonde children we'll have." Evayne replies, taking a step towards him. "You can be anything, if you just dare to give it a try…, ser."
A bunch of blondies, yay. "I do, I will…", Leon promises vaguely, "I just… I need time. I need money. I need a name Rychard and you can be proud of. Because Ser Goldilocks is not.", he admits with a wry grin.
"I understand." the kitchen maid replies, a warm smile brightening up her face as she sees his grin. "I'll give you time. And I am sure everything will turn out fine."
"Alright then.", Leon agrees and leans forward to kiss her cheek gently. "I'm glad you understand… Shall we finish the picknick now?", he wonders and looks down to the abandoned goodness on the blanket.
The smile broadens at the kiss. "Aye, we should." comes the reply from Evayne, and she resumes her seat on the blanket. "Perhaps ser knight would be so kind as to pour a kitchen maid some more wine?" she inquires, holding her empty cup out to him. "And then we can see if Ser and Lady Apple are still around…"
Leon nods and picks up the wine to pour two fresh glasses, then chugs the content of his glass back in one big go. He seems to be thirsty… or he needs the buzz. "So tell me more about Rychard's father", he finally urges.
Evayne almost chokes on the wine. "Rychard's father? You must be joking. Well, he was a nice kind of man, I suppose. Good-looking in a certain way, and he was funny, too. He made me laugh a lot." She shoots Leon a bewildered glance. "Although I'm not sure I would've married him, if I hadn't been forced to…"
"And yet you chose to…" He makes a vague gesture, "What makes you think I am different? Or better?" He chuckles softly. "I still can't believe you think so highly of me…"
"I chose to…?" Evayne echoes with a rebellious stare. "I was sixteen, ser, and although he didn't exactly force me, I was too young back then to really understand what I was doing. Whereas now I've learned from my experiences. And in you, I've sensed some… honour, or even chivalry. It's strange, I've never doubted your good intentions, now that I come to think about it. You've had many a chance to take advantage of me - yet you didn't." She smiles as her grey eyes study him with open admiration. "I sometimes wished you had, though. That makes me sound pretty contradictory, doesn't it?"
Leon gives her a long look, then he smiles. "No it is not. I quite wish I had, too. I'd still want to. At the same time I know I must not. And it was hard, I admit. Especially in Stonebridge.", he admits, "After all, it had been easy to say - what happens in Stonebridge stays in Stonebridge."
Evayne's eyes take on a dreamy expression as he mentions Stonebridge, and she chuckles lightly. "Aye, it was. I had a wonderful day with you, and with all the wine and all,… I wouldn't have refused you." Her gaze drops at that confession and she bites her lip. "But I am sure we'll get our chance. It's something to look forward to, isn't it?" With a wry grin she raises her gaze to look at him again.
"It is.", Leon confirms, "And I will try to find proper employment again soon… perhaps here in the Riverlands first, if I can… but most likely Kings Landing. I liked it there. Life feels dull here compared to the city…", he admits with a sigh.
"Does it? I can't wait to see for myself." Evayne finishes her cup of wine and shoots Leon a glance. "Would you care for an apple now, ser? And after that, I'd suggest we should pay my home a visit. To take Rychard back with us to Braeburn House. Carys won't return in the weeks to come, I suppose. My Mum's too worried she'll follow in my footsteps…" Her tone is slightly sarcastic, but as so often her sarcasm might be a shield to hide some hurt deep within. "You've suggested it yourself on our way here, remember?"
"Some day I'll take you.", Leon promises and accepts the apple. "And yes, we'll take Rychard with us." He grins weakly, "I guess I better try to become friends with him…" He falls silent then to enjoy his apple and think thoughts to himself.
A smile is offered at that promise, and Evayne eats her apple in silence and contentment. It doesn't take long, and the few belongings are stuffed back into the basket, and when the pair leaves on that huge destrier the clearing looks much like it did when they arrived, with no trace of their short stay - apart from half a pastry with a chicken and onion stuffing, still resting on the cloth it had been wrapped in, accidentally left behind.