|The Art of Blushing|
|Summary:||Ser Leon encounters the kitchen maid Evayne in the gardens before the kitchens. They are soon joined by Leon's sister Samphire. Evayne's family circumstances are discussed as well as a recent occurence in Lady Rebecca's chamber.|
|Date:||22/12/2012 and 30/12/2012|
|Related Logs:||References A Treasonous Pork|
|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.|
|December 22th, 289|
It is late morning, and the first wave of bustling activity in the kitchens of Braeburn House is followed by a phase of relative tranquility. On the age smoothened bench facing the tall hedge that shelters the kitchen garden from the rest of the courtyard a maid sits and has fallen asleep. Easily being indentified as one of the kitchen maids, Evayne leans against the wall with the trusting innocence of a child sitting on its mother's lap, her eyes closed, the light brown hair with a hint of red falling in a braid over her shoulder while her forehead is covered with a bonnet of white linen. She wears the usual garb of a kitchen maid, made of light cotton - most appropriate for the warm season - and dyed in an onubtrusive greyish brown - the colour being well suited to obscure the stains from her daily work in the kitchen.
Leon has slunk away from his sister and her bizarre lady and ambles aimlessly around the House. The smell of delicious cooking has drawn him to the kitchen where he is informed that those pies are nowhere near ready yet and not for him anyway. When the cook shoos him out, he takes the backdoor rather then the one from which he had entered and finds himself in the garden, in the company of a sleeping maiden. He can't help grinning a bit and seizes the chance to stalk past her to the unguarded apple tree nearby.
The bulk of preparing those pies had been Evayne's task, the attentive observer might even glimpse traces of the fillings on her hands, who have been not thoroughly cleaned after she had finished. And now that the pies are in the oven, emitting those delicious smells, she awakes - whether from the promising smell or from overhearing the knight's footsteps remains unclear. Sleepy light grey eyes are suddenly wide open as Evie notices Leon, and rubbing her hands on her skirt she rises, opening her mouth as if to say something. It takes a long moment, before she manages to utter a simple. "Ser.", followed by a quick little curtsey.
Leon turns when he hears the voice and smiles. "Oh, I apologize, Mistress, I did not want to rouse you from your slumber. You slept so prettily. I merely came to… uh, take a look around."
Hearing the knight's words Evayne can not help but blush, the red creeping slowly from her rosy cheeks to cover all of her face. "Oh you didn't, Ser. I… wasn't supposed to sleep even. Dunno how that could happen, ser." The kitchen maid lowers her gaze as she tries to regain her composure. And when she finally does, she glances to Leon with a curious stare - and fresh confidence. "Take a look around, ser?" The rest of her questions remains hanging unsaid in the air, although they might include his name, business and origin. As they probably would be a bit out of place for a kitchen maid.
Leon grins at her. "Yes… I do like to take an interest in the local… fruit.", he replies and plucks an apple from the tree. "But I've been told those pies are not ready yet. So… I may come back later. Mistress." He bows deeply and disappears again with his trophy.
Evayne looks at the hedge knight with a shy smile and chuckling lightly covers her mouth as she watches him plucking the apple from the tree. "Beware, ser. If the cook sees you. She can fight like a lion to protect whatever grows here… As if the fruit and vegetables are her children." she says in a hushed tone, casting a glance towards the kitchens to check if anyone has witnessed Leon's 'theft'. The blush had almost left her cheeks as it returns once again, as soon as the kitchen maid realizes the double meaning in the knight's words - and she is left staring behind him as he so hurriedly vanishes - right into the kitchens in his folly, with the apple in his hand for all to see.
The knight is soon back though, grinning at Evayne. "The cook was in the kitchen", he stage-whispers conspirationally, "I did not dare to pass. Will you protect me from her wrath if she catches me?", he asks and cheerfully bites into the apple, while he waits for her reply.
Surprised to see him return this quickly Evayne's eyes widen in true terror. "Did she see you?" She tries to catch a glimpse of what is happening in the kitchen, although the view is almost blocked by the knight's impressive stature. "If she catches you, ser, noone would be so bold to run to your aid. Least of all me, ser. Why, I'm a simple kitchen maid." the girl replies in a likewise hushed voice. But then, as she beholds his cheerful demeanour, a realization dawns on her. Turning her gaze towards the knight the expression of concern vanishes as she stares at him with light reproach in her grey eyes. "You're making fun of me, ser. She didn't see you. So why have you come back?"
"She would have seen me, if I had crossed further through the kitchen to make for the other exit.", Leon replies with a little smile, "So a tactical withdrawal seemed wiser. Especially when it is followed by destruction of the evidence." He takes another big bite out of the apple and chews quite happily. "Besides, your company seemed more pleasant than that of a bunch of babyfaced squires. How long have you been in service here?", he asks pleasantly.
Her irritation appeased by Leon's explanation and the following compliment, Evayne relaxes slightly and the shy smile reappears on her young and innocent face. "I started work here in the kitchens… six years ago, ser. At the age of thirteen. Got married two years ago, though, and returned to my family when my husband… fell at Seagard, when they broke the siege. I have just returned a month ago, ser. Too few experienced hands in the kitchens, and I was asked to return." Her hands are folded before her as she kneads them against each other, the smile on her face is a bit nervous while she speaks about her past - telling much but not all there is to tell.
Leon listens in silence, though his brow does quirk a little when she mentions a husband… who didn't last long. "I'm sorry to hear about your loss, Mistress.", he says softly, "I know what it's like to lose loved ones. At least you have an occupation here that keeps you busy, a steady income and pleasant company?" He finishes the last bit of apple and tosses the remains of the core into the grass, where it's hidden from view by anyone who might spot these things.
The knight's sympathetic words make Evayne feel a bit awkward. She shakes her head with a shy smile, hurrying to offer an explanation for her lack of grief. "We weren't married that long, ser. But Gedyon was a good man. Too bad he didn't live long enough to… see our child. Rychard was born two months after his death. He… is my family now, ser. Although my sister Carys helps me to take care of him while I'm working during the day." The kitchen maid's gaze follows the apple core, as Leon tosses it into the grass, and arching a brow, she steps closer and picks it up to hide the 'evidence' of Leon's theft under her apron. "I know the cook. She has very good eyes for her age. Better if I take care of this…" she mutters, almost apologetically in Leon's direction.
"Could have been a bird, pecking at a falling apple.", Leon suggests with a wink, though he seems oddly pleased by her concern for his safety from the cook. "So you have a child to raise on your own? That must be hard.", he muses, "At least you have a family to support you. What a pity though, that the little lad will never meet his father…"
"On my own? No, ser. As I said, my sister Carys helps me." Evayne replies. "And I… I am happy to be back at Braeburn House. The other maids and servants - they are a kind of family, too." Her gaze drops to her hands as Leon continues about her dead husband. "Aye. He would've liked him. I am sure." Another glance towards the kitchens. "Little Rychard is asleep right now. In his little cozy corner beside the hearth. I'll hear him when he wakes up." At the moment a little sound of snoring can be heard, if one cares to listen carefully.
"I met a seamstress the other day who was in similiar straits.", Leon replies thoughtfully, "Two little children even, husband killed in battle. I never thought about it much..", he admits, "It's rather… sad, when one thinks about it. Not just that so many good lives are lost, but what becomes of those left behind… At least I needn't worry about that, once my sister is safely settled with a husband."
"It's what happens in times of war." the kitchen maid offers with a shrug, before she asks with curiosity sparkling in her grey eyes: "You have a sister, ser? I have many sisters and brothers. There are seven of us."
Leon's face sets at the question, though he controls himself and inhales deeply. "I have only one sister left. The rest of my family died in the upheavals at Stonebridge recently. I came back from King's Landing to find them … gone. I have been able to find my sister though and will take care of her now. It's because of her I am here actually. She serves Lady Rebecca."
Now it is Evayne's turn to look at the knight with concern. "I'm so sorry. That's a terrible way to return home." Her hand almost reaches out to pat the knight on the arm in a sympathetic gesture - yet she hesitates and lowers her arm. It is not appropriate, of course. That other piece of information, however, makes her stare incredulously at Leon. "Your sister - serves Lady Rebecca? You're Samphire's brother?"
Leon perks a little and grins. "Oh, you know her then? Yes, Samphire is my sister. So I assume you know each other? And she hasn't mentioned her dashing brother to her friends? I did not know I was to be hidden like a shameful secret!", he declares with all the flair of amateur theatricalics.
"I know her. And admire her courage." Evayne replies, beaming. "To serve Lady Rebecca, of all." The maid shudders lightly. "And no, she hasn't spoken of you. I can't imagine why." Shaking her head as she lets her gaze wander over this impressive knight, Evayne shrugs. "Maybe we should ask her. Ser." Emphasizing that last 'ser' in a way that should remind Leon that the kitchen maid does not know his name yet. And he probably doesn't know hers, which she suddenly realizes with a slightly bewildered look on her face. "I'm Evayne, ser. By the way. Evayne Potter."
"How terribly negligent of her. We should ask her indeed.", Leon agrees and smiles when she introduces herself. "A very pretty name for a very pretty young woman. A pleasure to meet you, Miss Evayne. I am Ser Leon Undyl. I am a few years older than Samphire." Obviously.
As was probably his intention by flattering her again, Evayne blushes lightly but returns his smile. "Ser Leon. Thank you for your kind words." But the expression in her eyes shows a little doubt about the sincerity of his compliment - as she is a widow with a child. "You are in Lady Rebecca's service as well?" she inquires a bit timidly then, remembering her rather disrespectful remark about the lady from a few moments ago.
"Lady Rebecca seems to think so.", Leon replies carefully, "But nothing has ever been contractually arranged. However, right now she provides me with room and board, so I do wish to return the favour by being of service. I have yet to seek formal employment with someone for something."
Evayne fumbles at her braid, the shy smile still on her face while she listens to Leon's reply. "You are in her service then. But I trust you won't hold against me. What I said about her, I mean? I'm a bit afraid of her. She tried to ask me out once. About the other Groves lords - and ladies." That addition is a lie of course, but one that prevents Evayne from blushing again - ironically.
"Oh, oh no, don't worry, Mistress Evayne.", Leon smiles warmly, "Lady Rebecca has a most.. peculiar personality. While I appreciate her taking care of my sister, I would not wish for this employment to last very long. It's useful for Samphire to learn how to be a lady's maid, but I hope she will move on to another family soon - or have a family of her own."
The kitchen maid sighs with relief, assured by the hedgeknight's words and smile. "She is… peculiar." Evayne nods. "And not as much part of the family as she should be. The other Groves's - are nice people. Maybe you should try to speak with Lord Stafford, if you are interested in an employment - if Lady Rebecca lets you go that easily."
"Perhaps. I am not in a rush, I brought quite some savings from Kings Landing.", Leon assures Evayne with a smile, "For now I really rather make sure that my sister is taken care of. A knight like me will always find employment." They are sitting in the garden by the apple tree, sharing a bench and some small talk on this lovely morning.
As if she had sensed, that some people were talking about her, Samphire walks in with slow steps. Her duties with her lady must have gone over into late hours of the night yesterday, for the girl is still yawning and squinting into the sun with tired eyes. As so often she is carrying a small whickerbasket over her right arm. Her flaxen hair is neatly braided, her maroon dress sits properly. Catching the sight of the two people nearby, a smile conquers her lips. "Evie, Leon! ", she says walking over.
Evayne's eyes grow wide as Leon mentions the capital. "You've been to King's Landing, ser? Have you seen the king?" she gasps, obviously in awe but utterly unaware of how foolish especially her last question must sound. "Samphire!" the kitchen maid exclaims then, as the sound of the handmaiden's footsteps catches her attention. "We were talking about you. I didn't know you had a brother. And such a charming one!" And a knight that has obviously been to King's Landing.
Leon chuckles a little at Evayne's excitement, though this is apparently not an uncommon reaction to his recent whereabouts. "I saw him indeed. Him and his pretty queen.", he confirms rather proudly. And theny are interrupted by Samphire's arrival and he grins. "Indeed, Samphire, how come you have failed to mention my existance to your friends? And the existance of your charming friend to me?"
Samphire eyes the kitchen maid for a little moment, then her brother for a slightly longer one. "Oh, he is charming, yes… you should have seen him as a boy, when he claimed one of the beehives we had back at Stonebridge was a ferocious man of the mountain clans… But yes, I should have mentioned both of you earlier. Now though, I see you got to know each other well."
Straightening her skirts, she sinks down at the bench too, stretching her legs comfortly as no noble seems to be around. "The queen herself…", she muses "Our dear grandmother would have fainted only for your words about you beeing close enough to see her. "
"The king? And the queen? They say she is the most beautiful woman and has hair of gold." Evayne gasps, eyeing Leon with a new sparkle of worship for even having met the rulers of Westeros. At least claiming to have done so. "He is in your lady's service at the moment, as he has told me." she remarks in Samphire's direction. "And, by the way… Did Lady Rebecca speak to you about that conversation we had in her chamber? What is she trying to do, asking me out like that. What revelations did she expect, I ask you?" The look on her face and the light shudder speaking volumes that the kitchen maid found this experience to be a quite unpleasant one.
"It's no more golden than mine.", Leon replies with some confidence, "But she is a very pretty woman indeed. The king is a lucky man indeed." He eyes his sister when she joins them and smirks. "We are getting to know each other. To get to know each other -well- will take a bit more time. " He smiles warmly, then sits back as the girl start sharing gossip about Lady Rebecca.
Samphire chuckles lightly as Leon's grumpy reply struts through the morning air. "Oh, you don't have to worry too, Leon. I know your lovely curls are groomed well enough and every flea slain with your knightly wrath.". To milden the peak of her words, she ruffles his hair with a familiar gesture.
To Evayne she answers "Your blushing is lovely. Look at my brother, his eyes cling so closely to your cheeks, they would follow them all across the Riverlands. Nobody could resist your beauteous blushing, if you ask me it is sometimes indeed a wise thing to do and not the stain of foolishness. You have to teach me how to do it! And for Lord Kerrigan, well I certainly can't look into m'lady's head." she hesitates, before emphasizing "Seven, I can't! But did something happen with Ser Kerrigan?". Certainly a fair amount of curiousity is conquering her last words, raising her voice to the delicate question at the end.
"Lady Rebecca questioned me, Ser Leon. About any 'entertaining details' of the Lords Stafford and Kerrigan. At which I blushed, foolish girl that I am." Evayne explains to Leon, a bit reluctantly perhaps. Turning to Samphire, she gets a bit more lively in her answer. "You see, Lord Kerrigan… He's a scoundrel. Good with his words to impress noble ladies and such. Making them forget to guard their reputation. Still… the kind of nobleman we kitchen maids and handmaidens like to gossip about in the servants' quarters. When I gave my reply to Lady Rebecca I didn't want to betray my masters. And on the other hand I have to admit… That Lord Kerrigan is a handsome bloke. So there it was. A blush." Evayne rolls her eyes and shakes her head, as if that could make that deep red color on her cheeks vanish. "Nothing has happened between me and Lord Kerrigan. He probably doesn't even know I exist. Yet I have to admit that I admire him from afar. I am a fool you see? But not too dumb a fool as not to know that… a romance with one of his like would lead into misfortune."
The following silence is disturbed by the cries of an infant, coming from the door to the kitchens. "Oh no, little Rychard is awake." Evayne mutters, rising and wiping her sweaty hands on her skirt. "Ser Leon. Samphire. I must look after my poor little child. Probably hungry again!" She smiles at the two Undyls, even making a small curtsey for the knight before she disappears into the kitchen, as the cook starts already calling her name. The crying ceases momentarily, as the child's needs are taken care of.
Leon nods in understanding of Evayne's tale about Lord Kerrigan. "As long as you are aware that nothing would come out of a liaison with a Lord.", he remarks, before she suddenly leaps up and departs. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Mistress.", he calls out after her before turning back to Samphire with a smile. "Well, well!"
"Yes, a pleasure to meet you, Evayne.", Samphire calls after the kitchen maid, before turning to her brother again. "She certainly isn't a fool! She is a pleasant young girl, pretty and kind, isn't she?", she asks him with another smirk.
"She is indeed.", Leon confirms, "You should have introduced me to her earlier…" He looks dreamy for a moment, then looks up at his sister. "Uh, I had only come in here by mistake. I shouldn't have lingered but now time has flown and the sun is high already. I should be on my way. Did you see whether the pies were ready on your way in?", he asks curiously, "They smelled rather delicious…"
"Well, my duties kept me busy, and I knew you two would meet sooner or later. But, brother dear, I'm sure you will keep her from another liason, that will lead to misfortune, will you? Oh, dear" Samphire says, standing up immediatly "The sun /has/ wandered. Uhm, the pies, yes, they should be ready and I… Seven, I should be back at m'lady's chambers with a bit of lavender and sage. " Almoust on the run to another corner of the gardens Samphire adds. "Take care, Leon and see you soon!"