|The Distance Between Us|
|Summary:||Riordan and Danae have a bittersweet reunion amongst the roses of the Tower's Gardens.|
|Related Logs:||Any Danae and Riordan log, especially Do Me The Honor, Wine and Vinegar and Unhappy Hellos|
|The rose garden of House Tordane is about three hundred square feet and hemmed in by walls about eye level to keep out the attention of wildlife. Bees hum about the area and around the stone archway which has seen the flowers grow up over and nearly encase in solid vine. The scent is sweet, mixing with the air coming off the water to produce an atmosphere some might find extremely calming. Stone benches have been chiseled out and placed along the path for visitors to relax on.|
|Tue Apr 17, 289|
The evening Riordan and his cousin Ser Rygar arrived in Stonebridge, they immediately sought private converse with the Lady Valda, and then Riordan turned in to rest after his recent travels (not to mention his continued recovery from the wounds his recieved on Pyke). The following day was spent, by and large, in his rooms, with a circus of servants coming in and out with documents of all kind. And so, today is the first real day that Riordan has really had a time to re-explore the tower. It is mid-morning, and the rest of the Tower seems busy with the days chores, and preperations for the feast that will be held in a few days time. For the new Regent of Stonebridge, however, he takes this time to wander the gardens and gather himself. Garbed in a simple, yet well made surcoat done up in the colors of House Nayland of Stonebridge, with a harpy embroidered on one breast, and a crane on the other, he moves silently through the quiet beauty found here.
Amidst the dense walls of greenery, thorny vines long since crept up and through the bends in the wall, from a far corner of the garden a rustle can be heard. Leather soled slippers have left footprints in the soil near the wall. The imprints showing the steps around the plants that led Danae to her current stance, up on her tip-toes with her arms extended in an attempt to clip off some dead ends of the bush that is just beyond her reach. The sleeves of her gown have been twisted neatly back and bound with ribbons, exposing freckled forearms. Pale pink rose petals are caught in her hair like bunches of snowflakes, tangled in her blonde locks. "Just a little…" She sighs exasperatedly, glaring up at the disagreable vine.
Idle curiousity leads Riordan's steps towards the movement further in the garden. The wisps of golden hair, those few words spoken by that dulcet melody of a voice heard only in dreams these past months, those are what slow his steps. For a moment, the Nayland knight remains where he is, his boyish features frozen in time as he stares at the figure he has not seen in months. And then, his movements begin again, leading him to approach her. Reaching up and past, he will assist with pulling the vine down in assistance for her, saying nothing, as if words would make him wake from this bittersweet dream.
As the vine is drawn down into her reach, Danae's hands dart up to meet it. The garden shears in her palm catch the morning light, neatly cutting through the length. She catches the snipped end in her free hand, turning towards Riordan with a soft smile of thanks — unaware. Instead of familiar aide, she is met with a face that is nearly a ghost in her recollection after these many months. Wide blue eyes stare up at him, flickering with a medley of emotion as she freezes on the spot, breath caught. "Oh…" Her fingers tighten around the vine. Finally, the shock of a thorn piercing her thumb jars her into motion and the greenery falls from her fingertips. "Oh! Ouch." She presses her thumb to her lips, a flush rising to her cheeks. Hello.
Having reached out to assist Danae with the fine, Riordan had put himself close to Danae. When she turns towards him, he finds her closer still. Unbidden, his hand rises to touch her face. A hairsbreath before fingers meet soft cheek, the lady's finger is pricked. The movement, the noise, the bright bead of blood, these are enough to jar Riordan back to himself. His hand withdrawing before he could touch her, the Nayland knight turns away from those saphire eyes, lest he be caught under their spell again. "Danae…" he murmurs, before stopping to clear his throat. "Lady Danae, forgive me. I did not mean to startle you."
The fringe of long, blonde lashes flicker over those keen blue eyes, lips pursed as she sucks on her injured finger. A scattering of fallen rose petals catch on the sleeve of Riordan's coat as he withdraws his arm, shaken free from Danae's hair as they each pull back. "My apologies, my Lord," Danae murmurs around the shape of her finger. "I — I had not yet heard you had returned." Cheeks still flushed with embarassment, she shakes her head. "It is your garden, now. I should have — I hope you are well?" The response comes in a hesitant stutter-stop, punctuated with a slight smile.
"I am," Riordan says, answering her question easily, honestly. Despite the weight of responsability, despite the pain of healing wounds, at this moment, he is in all sense of the word, well. As he says this, he turns back to Danae. Despite steeling himself, his eyes are caught by hers once more, held there. He reaches out once more, this time for her injured hand. And gently, should she allow, he will draw her hand to him, and will place the lightest of kisses on her injured finger. "I am sorry," he murmurs, warm breath on her skin as he speaks. The words seem all-encompassing, not meant mearly for the physical injury caused by his presence.
His attempt to draw her hand closer is met with no resistance, although a deeper flush burnishes her cheeks at the light press of his kiss. "I am glad," Danae whispers, dipping her chin and modestly dropping her eyes. They land somewhere around his shoes. The apology leads her to shake her head. "You have nothing to be sorry for, my Lord. It is not your fault that roses grow their thorns," she replies, swallowing slightly. The impish humor does little to take away from his all-encompassing words and she only tries to meet his gaze beneath the shadows of her lashes.
Despite himself, Riordan smiles. His smile, despite everything, is as the same as it ever was. Large, infectous, boyish, stripping years from his visage, in it's lopsided manner. Though the kiss on her finger has already ended, Riordan will not only maintain his light hold on Danae's hand, he will cover it with his other as well. Drinking in the chance to touch her, however chastely. "True, but for all else, I am guilty," he says. "The rain, the clouds, the distance between us."
His continued hold does little for Danae's fluster, the pink of her cheeks spreading down her throat and darkening her freckles. The toes of her shoes shift lightly in the dirt; she chances a look up at him. "I think you may flatter yourself too strongly to think that all those things might be in your power alone. The Seven help a man taking in all that guilt. You leave none for those who have commited too cruel a crime."
"Perhaps you are right," Riordan says, his words soft. His smile grows smaller, softer as well. More intimate, meant just for Danae. "It would take a stronger man then I to bear such burdens. I do not have such strength…" Even as he says this, he is closing the distance between them, until they are so close that the smallest of feathers passed between them would touch both their skin, their faces, their lips. And still he does not release her hand. "I am sorry for the way we left things. I have thought of little else, of that time… and the time before…" When they said their first goodbyes. That sweeter time, when he thought he might not ever see her again. "Seven, I have missed you, Danae," he murmurs.
"I do not think there is such a man alive. The few who were have fallen to the stories," Danae replies, breaking off with a swallow as he steps closer. A bare scrap of distance, beyond that significant space which separates them by height alone. Their closeness forces Danae to tilt her chin up to look Riordan in the eyes, waves of blonde hair falling from her shoulders as she does. While he speaks, she watches him intently, lips pursed. "I am certain that you had other things to think of, my Lord, than that alone. But," she pauses, allowing for a heartbeat of silence, "I am very glad you are returned safe." A soft line of heat curves around the edge of his palm, left by the idle trace of her fingertip as she speaks. "Very glad."
If there are further words to speak, they are left unsaid. What follows is not spontaneous like the first, and last time this happened. Rather, Riordan at least has fought against it. But that last distance left is no distance as all, and so his lips have not very far to travel as he leans but a hairsbreath, and kisses Danae. He does so gently, but with the passion that only months apart can breed. One hands remains clasped in hers, while the other moves up to gently cup her cheek, and run warm fingers over soft skin.
The skin of her cheek is warm with the slow radiance of the morning sun, a smudge of dirt building an artificial ridge in its smooth surface. For a moment, Danae sinks into that gentle kiss and the simmering passion beneath it; her eyes flutter closed as her pulse races. A moment to etch into memory after a long, hard silence. A moment, but no more. The small blonde lady pulls back with a regretful smile, giving his hand a gentle squeeze. "We cannot do this…not here. Riordan, no. My Lord Nayland," she corrects reluctantly, licking her lips. "You are in charge of this holding now and I— Well, things are more complicated than they were."
The moment lasts for longer then a lifetime, and yet shorter then a hearbeat, all at the same time. Riordan keeps his eyes closed for a moment longer, even after Danae breaks away. He holds onto her hand just long enough to raise it one last time to his lips, gentle kissing the back, then the palm, before gently releasing the Westerling Lady, his eyes opening once more. "Lord Nayland," he says, and despite the softness of his tone and the sweet gaze he gives her, his words are as bitter as a curse. "If only I was not. You are right, Danae… Lady Westerling. Everything is complicated now, everything is different." His hand moves up to his own breast, over his heart, fingering the harpy embroidered there, or perhaps something underneath. "I will not forget myself again," he says, as much for himself as for her. And, even before her eyes, he seems to steel himself. His spine straightens, his features become slightly older. Duty takes hold. "Forgive me," he requests of her, gently. "I wish things were different."
Her fingers curl around her palm, cupping the heat of his kiss as if something delicate and tender were caught within her grasp. Watching the boy shift to the man and above all the Nayland causes some of the brightness to dim from her eyes, she dips in a slight curtsey. He cannot afford to be careless and she cannot be brazen nor invite scandel. Although, she does not miss the brush of his fingers over what lays beneath his doublet. "I would not…forsake your friendship, my Lord," Danae says after a moment, breathlessness giving way to something calmer in her voice. His friendship or more. "It is our lot that we cannot return to what we were so simply. There is no forgiveness needed, although I so do as well," she replies. They have no ties to bind them so quickly at the moment. "Would you walk the gardens with me, my Lord? I know I am not quite suitable for the stroll but with your goodsister ill with child, I could not leave the roses be," Danae offers with a small, warm smile.
"Nor would I forsake yours, lady," Riordan assures her. Despite the duty laid our before him, steeling his spine, he can do nothing but be gentle in words and action to Danae - if not quite so sweet as they were, a moment ago. He inclines his head simply to her, granting her request without hesitation. "Of course, my lady. I am sure my Lady Goodsister will appreciate your kindness." He pauses a moment, looking up at the tower looming over them as if he can see through the walls to the lady in question. His face takes on a thoughtful, distracted caste for a moment, before clearing and offering his arm to Danae. "How have stood things in my absense?" he asks. Likely he has had the official reports, given his position, but that does not mean he would not enjoy hearing her own version of things. And it gives them something else to talk about.
"I should hope that the sight of returning to the gardens in bloom will do her heart good, if nothing else once her covalescence is at end." Danae's glances towards the Tower is more cursurory than searching, busied with setting aside her tools and unbidnding her sleeves. The corners of her small smile twitch brighter at the offer of his arm as she reaches to take it, settling them into a leisurely pace at which to stroll. "Stonebridge itself seems to have stood in good steed, my Lord. A pervasive melancholy settled by the hand of the war that I should think will be soon lifted. More direly, I have heard escalating reports of bandits in the area."
"I have done what I could to ease her burden, but I think your works will do her heart better then mine own," Riordan replies Danae with a smile that, though warm, maintains a distracted quality. He nods at her further words, and whatever his distraction is, it does not prevent him from listening, or responding. "The feast will, I hope, aid in that, as will so many of the men returning home to their… loved ones." His voice barely skips over these last words, before continuing. "I have heard some word of this, yes. I will be looking into it further, though I doubt it will persist overlong. I have appointed Ser Rygar as Sheriff, and my cousin has never been one to allow for a laxness in the law."
"A celebration will do much to warm spirits. Although, little enough can surpass the return of a missed…beloved," Danae agrees gently, look over the bushes as they stroll. "Ser Rygar does have a certain sterness about him that could only be an attribute of character. It serves him well. Something about the nose, I think," Danae opines, drawing a finger along her own not-so-prominent feature. It is rather freckle marked in truth. A Nayland nose that it is. "How will you fare at the feast, did you manage to learn how to dance while among the isles?" She wonders, nudging the conversation to something lighter than their other options.
"Yes, we Naylands are rather known for our noses," Riordan replies, his smile alighting boyishly once more, if still slightly subdued. Her question elicits a soft chuckle, as he offers, "Sadly, the Greyjoys were not the best of teachers in that regard. I suppose I will have to claim tiredness and extract myself prior to such, lest I make too much a fool of myself." He slows as their steps take him near to a certain grove, from which comes the sound of soft and delicate snoring. "Your escort?" he wonders, in bemused fashion.
Lips quirking at the thought of his forthcoming evasion, Danae replies, "It is unfortunate that it comes so soon that I cannot offer you those lessons I promised so long ago to prepre you. Perhaps the next time we will share a dance." Perhaps. Danae stifles a note of laughter at the sound of that delicate snoring, blue eyes flitting towards him mirthfully. "My escort does not find the same joy in the dirt that I do, my Lord. I should wake her. Thank you for the accompaniment," she says softly, releasing his arm to curtsey genteelly.
"I both dread, and look forward to it," Riordan says, the statement true on many levels. He smiles kindly at the Westerling lady, giving her a bow that. He hides the stiffness, and any pain it causes, as best he can - knowing the healer in her, and the feelings she holds for him, he does not want to reveal just how much he was injured. "Have a pleasant day, Danae," he adds, softer then before, not able to resist the familiarity one last time. And then he will turn, and dissapear amongs the flowers and tree, before he can do anything else he will regret.