Page 586: Sweet Peas
Sweet Peas
Summary: Falling back into old habits Young Lord Groves decides to 'steal' some sweet peas from the kitchen garden and engages in a conversation with a kitchen maid until his betrothed arrives.
Date: 01/03/2013
Related Logs: None directly, although the upcoming Kingsgrove Wedding Tourney is referenced.
Evayne Stafford Aeliana 
Gardens, Braeburn House
A small kitchen garden by the kitchen entrance, with herbs and some vegetables, and sheltered from the rest of the courtyard by a tall hedge. Theres a long age-smoothened bench lining the wall. From a low window one can hear everything that goes on in the kitchen. The whole little garden smells strongly of herbs, and woe be anyone who raids it without the head cooks permission.
March 1st, 290

Early morning have the kitchens always bustle with activity. Even here in the garden hurried foosteps can be heard, the clanking sound of kitchenware and the issuing of instructions, probably coming from the cook herself. It is when the racket finally subsides - all preparations finally finished - that a young kitchen maid steps to the door leading outside to the gardens. Looking a bit undecided at first, Evayne casts quick glance behind her before she decides to step outside, her grey eyes lingering on the apple tree for a moment, while her tired face is conquered by an absent smile.

Woe be those who raided the kitchen garden without permission. Even Young Lord Stafford had in his youth been chased off, hands full of ill gotten gains; sugar peas for himself and a carrot for his pony, laughter wild with delight, hooting like a little Valyrian devil. Full in the knowledge that it was all thrill and no risk if he'd gotten caught. After all, a lord's bottom did not get spanked by the likes of some cook. The memories endowed the handsome heir to Braeburn House with a small and introverted smile, tucked in against one corner of his mouth, pushing back a scruffy bearded cheek. Of course these days there'd be no chasing, not so much as a raised voice. Just immediate courtesy and obedience. Which of course was how it was supposed to be, and frankly he'd allow nothing else. But a man could still ride the waves of the past, couldn't he, and enjoy a bit of nostalgia?
The gentle noise of soft leather boots on smooth worn flagstones sounded in the air, the pace even and unhurried, giving a measure of warning before the man himself arrived. He was tall without being too tall, with a sinewy lean and athletic build, and a proud and straight backed posture. There was a natural grace and lordly dignity in the way he moved, effortlessly confident. The daylight played against his darkly brown hair, giving it some lighter highlights, while adding just a hint of red to his beard.

Noticing the lord's arrival a touch too late, Evayne finds him already at the close distance of a few feet from her as she finally turns around. "M.. M'lord." she stammers, lowering herself into a deep curtsey, as she beholds the Groves heir himself. A little blush appears on her cheeks, as his appearance has taken her quite aback, and distracted her from thoughts of a rather personal nature. As she straightens her posture she adds: "Forgive me, M'lord. I didn't hear you coming." And awaiting his reaction she rubs her sweaty hands against that plain grey skirt of hers, lowering her gaze to the ground, as would be expected of her.

Stafford knew the names and faces of the servants of Braeburn House; though it was a large manor, it was not an immense enough Seat to provide an ocean of bodies to hide within. That was not to say that he was in any way -familiar- with any of them. They served his meals, they washed his clothes, they ensured that his large chambers up in the private family section of the manor was always meticilous and cleaned, but beyond that he barely traded two words with any of them. Of their lives and hopes and dreams, the Young Lord knew nothing. And let's be frank; cared very little either. So it was somewhat out of character of the highborn heir to pause in his meandering walk, and actually focus his dark eyes on the blushing kitchen maid.
"It's fine.. Evayne," he said, his voice mellow and easy on the ears, and there'd only been a minor hesitency before he dug out her name. "Afraid I was in a bit of thought myself."

It is true, Evayne has been in service to House Groves for quite a while now - until she had been absent over the course of 10 months and then returned at the explicit request, shortly after the Great Boar Hunt that had been held at Kingsgrove three months ago. The kitchen maid seems pleasantly surprised to find that Young Lord Groves knows her name, however little she has seen of him since then. A shy smile appears on her face and she lowers her gaze after looking once again at Staford. And so she stands there in silence for a moment, pondering something, as her hands start fumbling at her light brown braid. Glancing over at the apple tree she starts to speak again. "The cook's pride. One could think she's a gardener, as she sees herself as the keeper of this garden's fruit and vegetables."

"Is it?" Asked the lord absently, a glance thrown in the direction of the apple tree and the bit of information she had volunteered. His fingers raked back through his somewhat unkempt mane of darkish hair. It and his beard stood in contrast to the careful elegance of his attire; slightly understated, but undoubtedly fashionable. Subtle hints of Reach fashion sprinkled through. Stafford had spent the majority of his life in the southern courts, as page and squire, and later as a frequent tourney entrant. Spending the family coin on leisurely persuits. "I was always rather preferential to the sweet peas, myself." And the neat rows of them was what had attracted him to the garden in the first place. Leaning down, he plucked off a few with long fingered and graceful hands that had never seen a day's hard labor in their life.

"Oh you may help yourself, of course." Evayne replies with a light chuckle. "I mean,… you're Young Lord Groves. The cook wouldn't dare to rebuke you. Whereas… servants such as I will have to face her wrath if we should we be foolish enough to take… an apple even." One hand moves to cover her mouth as if to hide the smile that unfolds behind it. When her thoughts return to what she had pondered before. "M'lord," she begins. "The wedding festivities… I've heard there's to be a tourney?" Her cheeks seem to colour a little as she voices the question.

After a quick brush of the sweet peas to remove any bits of dirt, he took a crunching bite out of one of the long boats. The rest of them vanished into the side pocket of his finely embroderied tunica. His head turned in Evayne's direction as the maid continued to chatter, a dark brow rising up in question as she took it upon herself to suggest what he might help himself to. The look on his fine sculptured features said that he was very much aware of his own right to take anything and everything he desired within the lands of House Grove.
He didn't immediately respond to her inquiery, taking his time to chew off another crunching bite from the green boat. A simple pleasure though it might be, when he could afford to dine on succulent meat, honeyed bread, and fine seafoods exactly as he pleased, his priorities of what was a treat was somewhat skewered. "Yes," said finally. "A Joust. Most of the household will be given the midday off to watch, if you're worried you'll end up on kitchen duty while the knights break lances." His tone turned slightly bemused.

There is an innocence in Evayne's gaze suggesting that possible ambiguity of her remark from before had completely escaped her notice. As does the look of the Groves heir, which she seems perfectly oblivious to. Or maybe she is already so used to these looks, that she has learned best to ignore them, to avoid trouble. "A joust." she echoes, her grey eyes dreamy. "I've never seen one…" Her thoughts seem to start wandering off again, as she contemplates one particular knight she would gladly see in action with his lance.

Aeliana stepped out into the garden from the kitchen, having just excused herself with a conversation from the head Cook about the ever changing dinner menu that Braeburn seemed to possess. Be it from the fickle minds of men who begged changes and brought new work, late in the day or the Nayland-Bastard that still got to live within the house. There would be no more of it. Everyone would eat what was on the menu to be served for the day or the change in it was going to have to go through the Almost-Groves, first.
The heat in the kitchen was enough to stiffle anyone, too. Which had led her here, the soft swish of black skirts and the quiet fall of her slippers the only thing to mark her passage. A wry smile split her lips when she caught sight of the pair though and the chuckle that threatened was gently nudged back down. "My Lord," Aeliana murmured offering courtsey as was his due, before Evayne was offered a polite bow of her head in acknowledgement.

Though he shared the garden with the maid, they weren't particularly close to each other, with the Groves lord more preoccupied with revisiting memories of sweet-pea thefts than the dreamy grey eyes of Evayne. He was still crunching on that one long green boat when his betrothed appeared, causing his lips to immediately cruise in a small but winning smile. With courtly elegance he gave her an elaborate bow more befitting a royal court than a kitchen garden. "My Lady Aeliana," he murmured in welcome. "Come to share my pillaged booty?" One sweet pea boat was plucked free of its stalk and offered to her.
It took Aeliana acknowledging the maid with a nod - something he'd never bothered to do - for Stafford to remember her presence. "You'll have the chance, then. Hopefully we'll have a good spread of knights to make it a challange." His eyes returned to Aeliana. "Might I inquire, my Lady, who your second Champion will be?"

As Aeliana enters the garden, Evayne lowers herself into a deep curtsey with a friendly smile. "M'lady." So far the new head of the household has been reasonable and kind - in contrast to a certain Groves lord, not the heir of course, who had threatened to fall into a rage because he had been denied his desire for lamb - indeed always uttered at the last moment, when dinner almost had been prepared. And then a woman in charge usually doesn't cast kitchen maids those awkward glances, like some noblemen do. Beaming at Stafford's reply, Evayne nods. "I… thank you, M'lord." And falls silent as the two betrothed nobles converse.

A sudden wail from the kitchens catches Evie's attention then, and turning her head she hears the unmistakable noises of a sobbing infant. "Oh dear," she mutters, her brows furrowing. "Seems the little one's awake again… If you'll excuse me, M'lord. M'lady." And off she goes, moving swiftly back into the kitchen. After a few moments the wailing has stopped, and peace and tranquility returns to the gardens once more.

"Evayne…was it? The Cook will have a new set of orders, when you return, I suspect you'll find they make kitchen light a sight more tolerable. In the event that problems still arrise, come find me, would you? I won't have the staff accosted for no reason." The smile she gave was reassuring and one full of quiet promise and it was kind as well, until she heard the infant sigh. And then it just looked understanding. "Of course," she granted, waving the woman off with an easy gesture before her gaze slid back in Stafford's direction.
"Pilfering already? My Lord, could you not wait? Were you so starved that absolutely anything else would do compared to the meal you have waiting on you?" She teased, before accepting the sweet pea boat. She crunched off a bite to enjoy, licking at the corner of her lip before she answered a moment later. "I had a mind to ask your brother, simply for a show of House loyalty and appearance but he's refused me. No matter. Ser Erik Jast will ride in my name."

Having given his soon-to-be-wife the run of the household, Lord Stafford looks perfectly content to let her make the decisions without interference. There was no point in delegating if you were going to meddle, micro manage, or interfere in general. At her begging to be excused, he gave a slight nod in agreement to say she was free to depart. A few moments later the girl was out of mind.
His eyes took a shine of wry amusement as they returned to Aeliana. "I'm the Lord of the manse. Is it not my right to harvest the bounty as I please? To suck on an oh so sweet pod if that's what I've in mind?" One of them, come free of its casing, rolled around his tongue and lips playfully. "Besides, I remember raiding these rows when I was a kid. Though back then the cook actually dared chase me off, which was part of the fun."
"Refused you?" His brows gathered, and did obviously not approve. It was an honor to stand champion of the Queen of Love and Beauty, and not to be easily discarded. "Well. Ser Erik will do fine, I'm sure."

"Perhaps," Aeliana agreed, "If of course, that's what you had in mind. Though, then, much as now, I think I'd enjoy the watching. After all, it's entertaining to share those return trips to youth, is it not?" Oh so sweetly inquired, while she matched him and couldn't help but grin. A moments passing spared her Septa as well, who watched with her face pressed to the window.
"Oh do not hold it against him, it's as he said, he is not a man who jousts and according to him, I would be served far better to ask my bridegroom to ride in my honor instead. Ser Jast will be perfect. Which reminds me, you're not going to fuss if I wear black yet, are you?"