|Taking the Bit|
|Summary:||Dafydd and Liliana talk on the vagaries of noble women.|
|Related Logs:||None posted yet, but soon.|
|Stables — Tall Oaks Keep|
|The stables line one of the walls to Oak Hall and likewise have a guarded and gated entrance into the courtyard beyond. There is a riding arena attached towards the side of the practice field and also hugs the remainder of the wall. Wood shavings from the carpenters are used as main flooring besides field grass and hay.|
|07 Dec 288 AL|
It's early afternoon, yet, and the stables are just settling, after the departure of the Lord of the Oaks and the woman from the Iron Isles. Peace, as it seems wont to do, reins under the tall trees, and here not least of all. The hands have left the horses to their equine revery, and only a pair of women now remain within the building, the smallfolk out in the riding arena. Eli sits working at her embroidery, as seems her greatest pleasure. Liliana, however, is sitting on the top step of a small ladder, high enough to both keep her skirts out of the hay, and to allow her to reach Tanis' mane, which she's carefully unbraiding, taking care not to give the mare any discomfort. There's an ease to the movement, born of long practice, done with a skillful hand, Lili's voice soft, as she speaks gently to the benefactor of her work.
Dafydd, when discovering the departure of his brother and the Lady Kathryna, was fit for company for neither man nor beast. Unfortunately, when straws are drawn, beasts draw the short on. As a result, the Captain of the Guard, taking on his farrier duties, leads a horse back to the stalls before intending upon taking his rest for the night. Ale in chambers, then sleep. Slowing when catching the fact that there are people within, it takes a moment of consideration— perhaps he'll just turn the horse out rather than stabling him? Taking a deep breath, the needs of the horse wins and he finishes his walk into the stables, a muttered greeting given first to Liliana before he brings the horse to his stall.
"Your moods are legendary, Uncle, but you have been outdoing yourself these last few days. I am tempted to wait a day, before I return to the Roost, but I promised my Lord Jerold that I would return as soon as I was able." That's lightly said, but there's more than her fair share of concern, as Liliana pauses in combing Tanis' mane, to look towards her youngest Uncle. "What has happened to make you so unhappy, Uncle? The Maester tells me that your head is healing well." Liliana climbs down from the ladder, offering a gentle pat to the mare's side, before she moves off towards Dafydd, having long since perfected the art of walking in stables without soiling the hem of her skirts.
"Perhaps then you should have ridden with my brother and the Lady Kathryna, Liliana." Dafydd doesn't want to sound harsh, he really doesn't.. but the fact they'd gone just eats at him. Sure, he could see it as an escort for the Lady, but.. but he's seen how Saro can encourage her in ways that Dafydd just doesn't want to see. It's an uphill battle.
He leads the horse into the stall, turns him around, and takes the halter off the horse before walking out and hanging the rope on the end. "Things were a great deal easier before the Lady Kathryna came to these shores. I should have walked away." Dafydd raises a hand and touches the spot where he was hit lightly, a wry, humourless smile touching his face. "Another day I'll be fit enough to ride distances."
Seeking to change the subject, he lifts his eyes to the mare she attends, his expression softening a little. "You're taking good care of her. She'll be fat and healthy well into her 30s if you keep this up."
"I had considered it, but I had still things to do here, before I could return. And their escort was already large enough, without adding what I brought with me." Her handmaiden, and pair of sworn from the Terrick's stocks. "Despite the story we tell ourselves, within our woods, Uncle, life is not meant to be easy." Liliana slips inside the stall where Dafydd is setting the horse he brought in to rights, a hand rising to, if he allows, push back his hair and give her clear view of the still only newly healing cut on the side of his head. "If things could be easier now, Uncle," again in that soft gentle voice, "Would you truly wish them to be? The Lady Harlaw seems to have taken hold of you. Would you wish for her to release you then?" And then, as if in explanation, "I may know nothing of love, or the ways of men and women in anything more than theory, Uncle, but I have eyes in my head and they can still see." A glance back towards Tanis, "She is very much like most girls that I have known. She loves having her hair tended to."
"Yes.. and no." How's that for an answer to her question? Dafydd holds still for the moment that Liliana takes to check on the injury before he shakes his head. "I would wish that she be more.. of a lady." The main sticking point. "And I would that others not.. encourage her to do things that are counterproductive to that." He shakes his head slightly, "While you have abilities in some things that may far outshine your husband, whomever that may be, it would be a disservice to constantly and continually encourage that behavior, to the detriment of your health and safety." If he's not careful, he's going to begin pacing.. "I … I don't know." A tight smile comes to his face, "You, my niece, are a prize."
"Would you have found her of interest to you, if she had come to you as a Lady, Uncle? As a Lady of the Seven Kingdoms? You have met many of those, in your years, and yet none of them, so far as I can remember, have caused you such fits of temper. And it is unfair of you to wish her to be anything less than she is. She is a Lady of the Iron Isles. Their ways are not our ways, as our ways are not the ways of Terrick, or Nayland, or Mallister. Perhaps, in their eyes, she is precisely what they consider to be a Lady. We do not know." So little is known of the Isles. "They are hard people, savage, cruel and brutal. In our eyes. Do you think that a Lady such as myself would survive there? I think that I would not. But the Lady Harlaw has survived, and if the fact that she was chosen to represent her House here is any indication, thrived. It may well be that she thrived because she was as necessity made her to be. It may be that here, she has the chance to learn another way. But forcing it upon her will not work. A horse will not willingly take the bit if you force it upon them." A snort, at her Uncle's comment, as Liliana moves to give him his space. "I am an old woman, Uncle, fit for little more than the sickroom and study. My time has passed." There is neither pity nor anger in the comment, only that long accepted truth. "But there is still hope for you."
"She's not going to learn a thing if others keep poking at her as if she is some freak." That's said a little more loudly than he wished, and exhaling in a sigh, he tones it down. It's not fair to the maid that he's venting. Dafydd leans against the post of one of the stalls, his legs threatening to fold up to put him on the ground. "All I ask is help, but it is not coming. Your uncle believes it to be a fine thing, and even against my wishes, encourages it. In our lands." He doesn't sound quite so angry, but now.. resigned. "I put a soft bit in her mouth, and others rip the bridle off and smack her in the flank to get her to run." Now, Dafydd does lower himself and he sits on the hay and pine-shavings floor. "If that is the case, I will recommend you come home and live your days here. With us." He's serious. "But, I have my eye on a couple of men that I think would be suitable. Both are lords, both are knights."
"What else would you expect of them, Uncle? In the Riverlands, she is a freak. She is a human face to the nameless fear that has haunted us for generations. A spectacle that people are still flocking to see. I have seen the same upon the arrival of Lord Jacsen's Dornish food-taster. When she first arrived, it was as if she were a mummer in her own show, and people queued to see the new oddity in the court. But months have passed, and now she is a sight most in the Roost have become accustomed to. Quite likely, she knew that would be her fate when she came. Just as likely, Lady Harlaw knew the same when she did. I am surprised that she has been treated as kindly as she has. But like any show, it grows stale after extended exposure. You cannot expect her to break to your will in a day, a week, even a month. To set aside all that she has been at your whim." Liliana settles as well, leaning against one of the posts of the stall, "When she heard you fall, as angry as she had been when she walked away, she ran back to your side, and would not leave it until you woke." And Daffyd knows what came after that, "Do not be so quick to imagine that the bit has been taken from her mouth." A tilt of her head, at Dafydd's comments on potential husbands, "I will do as my duty to the House demands. If my Lord Uncle and my Lord Ser Jerold deign that I should marry, I will. I will always do what duty requires of me."
"I expected better.. I suppose." Dafydd brings his arms up to rest upon his knees, his gaze setting on something just in front of him, though he looks to be seeing something in the middle distance. "I'm certain she was just checking if I were dead. Because after I woke, she left my side and hasn't been back." And left with his brother. He gives something of a lopsided grimace and tilts his head up, looking at his niece. "It is what we have, no? Our duty. Duty to the House, to the Land, to its people." A fist clenches, and loosens, and clenches again as he brings his gaze back to that forward middle distance. Even his duty had been questioned during that bout.. no doubt to spur him on.. and it had worked. "We will discover an answer to you, my Liliana, if I have to throw open Lord Jerold's chambers myself."
"Why did you first speak to her, Uncle? Was it to…see her become more of a Lady? Or did you not go, as others have gone, to see this strange new woman in the Riverlands? Were you different from all of the others, truly?" A smile, that follows a shake of her head, "She was certainly concerned about whether Uncle had killed you, but the way in which she chastised him, I think spoke more to her reasoning than that. I would not give up on her, even if you believe she has given up on you. "She left your side because she was angry that you preferred continuing a fight with your brother to spending her last evening at the Oaks with her. She was angry that when she asked you to stop, you refused, because you were so angry at your own brother for fighting her." A tilt of a smile, just at the edge of her mouth, "You have the fortune to have more than your duty, Uncle. You have a chance to find your heart's desire. You have a chance to be happy. Truly happy. That will never be my lot. That is not the lot of noble women."
A look into the confusing mind that is woman. That is Iron Isles woman. Dafydd shakes his head slowly and carefully, "And yet, she was willing and eager to continue to spar with Lord Ser Aeric. Who, I will say, was gracious to decline, citing that the lady was obviously fatigued and rest would be better use of her time." Dafydd leans to place weight onto a hand to help push himself up off the floor. Brushing the debris off, he closes the slight distance between himself and his niece, and looks down at her while reaching out to tilt her head up so she can see him. "It's not always the case, even for us, Liliana. The smallfolk, always. But that doesn't mean you won't be happy. I won't allow you to be sad." He smiles as he lets his hand drop. "I forbid it, actually." The gruff uncle returns.
"Would you expect her to say any differently? She is a stranger here, taught, likely from birth that she must be stronger, faster and more vicious than all of her opponents. A woman like that, taught that warfare and combat are the only ways to live life, and that weakness is not to be tolerated, would you expect her to beg off, or would you expect her to want to prove, rightly or wrongly, that she was as strong as the stories of the Irons Isles would have her believe her to be? It is a hard thing, living up to the reputation of an entire land of people. 'We Do Not Sow.' The words of House Greyjoy. Words that speak to all that we know the Iron Isles to be. Hard and ruthless and relentless. Now this one woman must stand for all of them. What a burden on her shoulders." Liliana's head tilt, allowing her Uncle to raise her eyes to meet his own, "I am not sad, Uncle, I could never be sad. But I have learned to take comfort in what is, and not to hope for things that can never be." The smile is returned, as she lowers her chin, "You may take Tanis, if you like, when you ride to find your Lady. She has missed you. You have not ridden her since you brought her to me before we left for the Roost."
"And I've tried to tell her there is no competition here. That I don't need her to prove to me every waking hour that she is good, or better, or .. whathaveyou. I know she's had to do that there." Dafydd is truly frustrated, and the pacing begins anew, his hand gesturing at each thought. "It's just.. I can't do this alone." His pacing brings him closer to the mare, and his mouth quirks to something of a smile as he raises his hand to pet Tanis' head. The horse starts, but quiets quickly with his touch.. he remembers the spot where she likes her scritches. "That's fine.. If I ride out, I'll take Gethin. The fat thing could use the exercise."
"Perhaps you might not need it, Uncle, but she does. Perhaps she needs to prove to herself, that she is worthy of you. And the only way she knows how, is to prove the only skills she has. I do not know her well, but I venture to think that if she were to attempt to impress you by dancing, playing the harp, displaying her needlework or skill with ink and quill, that she would fail miserably, and feel ashamed to be seen by your eyes. So she attempts to prove herself to you in the only ways she knows how. Can you truly fault her for that?" A shake of her head, as Liliana's eyes follow Dafydd's movements, "You are not alone, Uncle, you are never alone. I am here, and so is your brother, for all that you think that you would gladly fight him all over again, of that I have no doubt. And the women of the Roost, though they know you not, would be sympathetic to your cause, and I have no doubt are attempting to show her the ways of the Riverlands at every opportunity." A sniff, in her Uncle's general direction, "He is not fat. He is fit and healthy." That's her story and she's sticking to it.
Dafydd strokes the mare's nose, blowing in the large nostrils and receiving a *chuff* of breath in return. Proper horse greeting thus given and received, he nods thoughtfully at Liliana's words, his mouth forming a frown. He'd told Kate… but like everyone else, does she actually listen? It's his guess that she doesn't. "I was sort of hoping that you'd aid her there, Lil. She needs quiet words whispered in her ear." He chuckles soon after, dropping his hands and dipping his head when he opens Tanis' mouth briefly. He takes a quick sniff of the horse's breath.. "Apples? I know Gethin has been putting on a little weight.."
"I will do what I can, Uncle, when I return to the Roost, if she has returned there as well. But often, I find, that it is experience, and not words, that make the best teachers. Words can be lost, forgotten, denied, but actions and deeds live on, long past ourselves. But I will try." Another sniff, "She is a good girl, and never asks for sugar. She eats apples and carrots and healthy snack between her feedings. And she is not fat either." Liliana turns, studying her horse, who does look a bit rounder than might be strictly necessary. But she is not, after all, a war horse. But a lady's mare.
"Well, her feet are fine, and she's sound. Can't see her ribs, but as long as she can carry you comfortably and as far as you need her to, that's okay. Though.." Dafydd runs a hand along her back, and down around her belly. "She needs a little more work on her topline, though, Liliana. More transitions. Walk to trot, trot to canter, canter to walk. Makes her engage her hindend, which means she'll use the muscles on her back." Taking a deep breath, he exhales slowly and takes a step back. "You're doing fine with her, and I promise.. Gethin will not fade away to nothing if he doesn't get that apple you are probably holding in readiness for him." Leaning to give his niece a kiss on the forehead, he offers a tight smile. "I'm headed to bed. Don't be too long out, and make sure you come and see me before you leave on the morrow."
"I will make sure to take her out more often, and do as you instruct, Uncle." Liliana's hand, as if of it's own accord, tries to hide the almost hidden bulge of said apple in one of the many pockets of her skirts. All very sneakily of course. Not that Dafydd would not notice. A smile, soft, as she receives the kiss on her forehead, before she steps back to allow Dafydd to depart the stables, "I will not be much longer, I promise. And I will find you at your first convenience tomorrow. Sleep well, Uncle." And she won't…stay out too late that is. Only long enough to set Tanis to rights, before she and Eli retreat back to her rooms at the keep.