|The Lady and the Lad|
|Summary:||Evening in the kitchens, Liliana encounters a tipsy Caytiv.|
|Related Logs:||Stragen likes his whores: Oak and Stone. Cay and Lili go ahunting: Interlude: The Hunting Party.|
|Kitchens — Four Eagles Tower|
|The kitchen is usually alive with activity but for the latest hours of the night. Stone counters with wooden tops line the interior except nearest the large brick ovens. Open fire pits in the center have iron bars across them for grilling as well, the hot surfaces on the other side of the room from the tables in the center used for final food preperation. Huge cabinets have been carved out of the walls to store the dishes and utensils for serving the meals to the House Lords and Ladies. The few exits lead towards the Servant's Quarters as well as the Throne Room and Entrance Hall.|
|7 Aug, 288 AL|
Caytiv is usually in bed by this hour, but perhaps Ser Jarod's new squire's been a bad influence on the mountain lad, keeping him up 'til all hours and getting him home from the tavern disgruntled and hungry and prowling the kitchen for either some feed or Thea or one of her like-minded cohorts.
Perhaps there are some of Thea's like-minded cohorts still afoot in the kitchens, but the woman currently moving her way through the kitchen, collecting a small tray of this and that, is about as far from like-minded as any woman is likely to be. Dressed in one of her softer evening gowns, it seems, Liliana moves through with nary a sound, save for the soft rustle of silk, and the light sounds of this storage bin being opened and that. A carafe of juice sits already on the table, the tray she carries collecting a small sampling of the more savoury pastries the kitchen has produced today.
Caytiv isn't as sure-footed in a kitchen as he is on a mountaintop, and maybe it's a drink or two in him, but he catches his hip on a table edge, grunting as he turns with the force of the hit, leaning forward over the table to snag up a hard-crusted roll, standing up while digging a hole in the top of the roll with one finger, plucking out tuffs of bread to eat on his way around the corner to the— bins. He stops there, ceasing to blow through the place like a tornado as he takes a moment to watch Lili move about with the tray.
The sound of the mountainman, as it were, trundling into the kitchens isn't something that can really be missed as the heavy table scrapes on the sanded stone of the floor, but Liliana finishes setting out the last of the pastries she picked out of the selection. Well, perhaps she adds one or two, after giving a glance towards the direction of the sound, "Vena, are you alright out there?" The handmaiden, looking up from where she's seated at one of the servant's tables, answers her lady's call, "I am well, my lady. The squire I am not certain about." The bins, however, block her view of the table's assailant, and he goes unseen and unrecognized as she moves, until she turns to make her way back out. This squire she knows, "Cay. A good evening to you."
Caytiv unfolds his arms— he's still got a little bit of teenage gangliness to his limbs, making them look a little too long as he stretches one to each side, resting his hands on the doorframe and standing there, head tipped to one side, eyes bleary with nighttime and drink. "Ay, lassie," he greets. "There a bit a stew 'r aught'n the place?"
"The servants always keep a bit of something warm, even through the night," the retainers of the House, of course, work day and night, so meals must always be ready for them. "I can set some out for you, if you have the mind. I have not brought up any wine, but perhaps you might enjoy some juice instead?" Liliana finds a side table, setting down the tray she brought with her, to go to a cabinet and pick out a bowl for the squire's use. "And some fresh baked bread?" An amused glance to the roll he's already disemboweled.
"No more wine, or I will fall asleep where I stand. Some stew, and, here," he holds out the bowel-free breadroll, "Drop a slice or two of the meat and some gravy in here, and I will eat my bowl when I am done," he tells her, wandering after her as he does.
"As you like, Cay." Liliana takes the time to replace the bowl, taking a plate out in its stead, before she steps away from the cabinets, getting a second tray, on which to place the breadbowl, "I have never managed to get myself to like the taste of wine." She continues to move quietly, easily, as if she had much practice at such things. The bowl is lightly plucked out of Caytiv's hand, set on the plate, before she attempts to step past him, tray in hand, to make it back out to the hearth where the stew is kept on a low simmer to last through the long hours of the night.
Caytiv brings down the hand propped up by his pinky on the doorframe, holding out the breadbowl between forefinger and thumb for her to take, but being slow in lowering his other arm from the frame, and even when he does, he never quite clears the threshold, letting Lili step by, but rather compelling her into his proximity if she'd like to pass him by, getting a sniff of her and turning about after she passes, following along in a long-legged stroll. "Wine is well enough, young, and late enough in the eve. Makes a bloke drowsy. Or makes me drowsy, at least. Some blokes swear otherwise."
With no other way to escape the bins save to move past the squire, Liliana turns, so that she's facing away from the man, making what use she can of the space he allows her, while still managing the serving tray. It's late evening, and the cares of the day have long since been washed away, leaving in their wake the scent of green woods and citrus, drifting to Cay, in those few moments when she's close enough. "You'll be sitting by the fire?" The tray is set out at a table, not far from her handmaiden's. "It's just so…I don't want to say sour, though some are, it just has such…an unpleasant taste."
Caytiv has never much minded a lass turning her rear toward him, and this is sure no exception, lulled by the hour and the wine, he tips his head down to let his eyes linger freely when she passes him. "I don't find it so," he answers, following along, "But to each man, ay?" he leaves the rest of the idiom unspoken, understood. "By the fire's well. An' will you sit ye down, lassie?"
Liliana continues into the larger room, making her way towards the pot of stew at the hearth, "I imagine it isn't that way for most people. It certainly seems favoured by the members of this House." A hand reaches out, taking the ladle, and after a mix of the stew, and a rest against the side to gather more meat and root vegetables than sauce, serving a generous portion into the bread bowl. "If you like. The juice is just there, if you wouldn't mind carrying it over to your seat." With the tray properly prepared, it's carried back and set out once Cay decides on a table.
Caytiv is thrown off of his track by the request for juice, the oblique command sending him toddling in a circle while his eyes look for the desired juice flask. Once he spots it, he heads over to take it down and bring it with him fireside, electing, of all things, to sit down on the very hearthstones, kne knee lifted toward him, the other leg outstretched. "What manner of juice is this, then, ay?" he wonders at it, opening it up to smell.
Liliana pauses, just about to set the tray down on the tables closest to the hearth, when she sees Cay opt, not for that one of the tables, but the hearth, she shifts her steps, bending down to settle the tray beside him, the bowl in its center, along with a spoon, plucked just before she left the bins, "Orange, still chilled, but with some sugar to combat the tartness." A studious look, at the hearth, before she reaches into a pocket concealed in the voluminousness of her skirts, pulling out a handkerchief, and spreading it out on the stone, settles herself, taking the time to arrange her skirts properly.
Caytiv looks at the juice through the top of the flask once more, then tips it back for a drink, swallowing and then passing the flask on to Liliana before he lifts the bread bowl, beginning to tear a strip of crust from the side to dip it in the stew and pick up a bit of carrot, making the poor spoon feel all superfluous as the mountain man chooses to eat soup with his hands in such a fashion. "I don't reckon many a Lady would put food down on the floor for a hound such as I'm," he grins crookedly.
Liliana accepts the juice, allowing the glass of the carafe to cool her hands, before she takes a sip. The juice set aside on her opposite side, away from the heat of the hearth, as she watches Cay enjoy his late meal. Whether taking the usual pleasure in seeing a meal prepared be well-received, or just to make certain his wine-addled senses don't end up with him choking, well…"I don't suppose many would. But many I have met have an opinion of themselves which precludes them from acting in any way except that which allows them to look down their noses at the rest of the world. I was not raised so."
Caytiv is a little drunk… not quite fall-down, choke-on-his-own-vomit drunk, though. Only a little wine-warmed in the cheeks. "It's only to do with how a soul is raised, I reckon. Why, my Lord Ser has me going about in service to the townsfolk, and I don't mind a bit of it, ay? Same sort of work as I'm used to. But I reckon many a lad who might be a young Lord's squire might have need to be humbled some by service, so," he goes on, through a mouthful of bread-wrapped stew, already tearing off another swatch of crust and scooping out more of the meal. The boy can put it away.
"Indeed," is Liliana's quiet reply, hands folded politely on her knees, her legs tucked up beneath the billowing fabrics of her skirts, "There are those who are bred to believe that service is part of their duty, their role in life, that it should be celebrated and seen as no great punishment. And others who are bred to believe that there should be nothing done, if it is not done for them. Their baths drawn, their hair washed, their clothes put on for them. A retainer to wait hand and foot, and everyone else to bow and accede to every thought, wish and opinion. Of those there are many, especially of the noble-born, and they will never learn the good that can come of criticism, of correction and good, honest labour."
"The words sound to taste bad in your mouth, Lady," Cayt mumbles around grub, taking a moment to push another scrap of stew-soaked bread into his mouth. "Have some more juice," he offers, half-facetious. "Life in the tower still not sitting well with you?" He leans over the bread bowl as a bit of gravy drips down his chin.
Liliana seems more amused, than disgusted, by Caytiv's appreciation for his meal, though the sight of him causes her to pluck another handkerchief from her skirts, reaching out to attempt to wipe the gravy from his chin. "It is not the tower, persay…it is…the general attitude that prevails with so many here. I wish it were not as it is, and I do my very best not to show how it rankles me, but…" A lift of her shoulders. "Perhaps i should not speak to openly with you. You have seen me as I am, the Lady and the common, and you seem to accept me for who I am…but you are still…" Still a smallfolk, still a squire…still a Banefort? She doesn't specify.
Caytiv was to be content to let the gravy drip back into the bowl, but the handkerchief's touch is welcomed with a mirthful snort. "People are as they are, so I reckon. Only soul you can change's your own. The rest you just learn to live with." He tilts his head to a curious angle as she trails off in the middle of her question, eyes lingering on her for a moment, then brows rising as if in encouraging expectation. Finally, "Am I still? The hearth has not yet begun to spin, so, ay, I reckon so."
"I imagine one must learn to live with it, if they mean to have any peace in the world." The soiled end of the handkerchief is tucked under, leaving the rest clean, and ready for further use. "You are your own man, with your own concerns. You should not have to bear my burdens as well." Eyes shift to the hearth, "No, the hearth is yet solid, and you have not toppled off."
"I'll have to, ay. Not to say I find the folk here bad, d'ye take me? Why, Ser Jarod and Rowan and Lord Revyn and the Septon al seem like the best manner of blokes. It's just all so crowded, and what parts of the place are not stood in by folk are stood in by whispers of folk. One can hardly move for the whispers, ay?" Cayt gives voice to his complaint. "An' I hain't the faintest what half a 'em mean!" he adds with a laugh. "I think Lord Jaremy means to make me a helper in these whispered matters, but I fear lest he e'er take any advice a mine on it."
"That is certainly true enough. As a Lady of the House, I am accustomed to never having time alone. Indeed, there is hardly a moment of the day when I do not have someone with me, in my room, or trailing after me, though, for the most part, I do not mind their company. But it is nearly impossible to find time to have only ones own thoughts as your company. To have some sort of peace and solitude. But that is a part of my life I cannot change, as I have been reminded. But it must be much more difficult for you, who are used to being able to range as you please." Liliana tips her head, at the comment of Jaremy, "Perhaps the Lord Ser does, but perhaps he also wishes to train you in those things which might be required, once you recieve your knighthood. It is not always to martial pursuits, that knights are bent."
"I reckon it's harder on you— at the least I'm let to go as I please, and may ride in the wood of a morning as I like, without no one peering upon me or wondering what I've been up to." Cayt takes a break from dismantling his bowl in order to look Liliana over for a moment, lips twisting to one side. "I think if I were in a dress, with a Lady's name upon me, I'd jump from the parapet for the sheer loneliness of it all. You're a stronger man than I am, Lady," he tips his head as if in toast to her. "Ay, I reckon well it's a useful thing to know, an' all 'at. Don't mean I have a clue what I'm about."
"What other way is given to me, Cay? I cannot be anything but a Lady. To do less, to not live up to the honour of my House and this one would be to shame those who have loved and cared for me. Those who depend on me. I cannot love as I choose, but no noble woman can. My husband, should one be chosen for me, will be my first and my last. I can hope that I might grow to love him, and he me, but I know that I am not expected to love. But that I am expected to give him sons. I could never have the freedom that your…women friends have with you. With the other men of the House, of the Roost." Liliana remains sitting, still her hands only moving to reclaim the juice, taking a sip, "But I have many opportunities smallfolk women might never have. I can read, and write. I can hunt and ride if I choose, take my ease, if it pleases me better. I have the security of knowing that there are many around me who look after my safety, and who preserve my virtue. Perhaps those are enough to outweigh the loneliness, the feeling of having only so much control over my life as I am given by my Lords." A smile then, at Cay's comment about Jaremy's training, "That is why you squire. Some lessons will be easier to learn than others."
"You can write, ay?" Cayt seems no little bit impressed by the fact. "I guess it stands to reason. Did you see there was a whole room in here with nothing but books?" He puts the thought out of his head with something more palatable, like a slip of steak from the stew. "I ne'er had much need to read, as I was small. The Lord Banefort did try to have me taught, last year, but I ne'er did take to it. Makes my eyes ache. But for ye, I guess, it's the give an' take a the thing, ay."
A nod, in answer to Cay's question, "I can read and write." A moment, to pause, before she continues, "I would be glad to teach you, if you might be interested in learning. And to read, if you wished to make another attempt. But yes, I have spent many a day in the library. And you would be welcome to come with me, to pick out a book for yourself. I could read it to you, if you preferred. There is much to be learned and enjoyed in books. "Always there is some sweet, to salve the sting of the bitter. But the bitter stings regardless."
Caytiv's brow furrows, as though feeling the pain of trying to read, already. "I reckon I'll need to know it, so," he sighs. "There is study to be done, of heraldry and letters. But it is so awful unpleasant," he mutters, very nearly sulking again, that way he does when he runs up against a wall in this new culture he's found his way into. "I fear to ask it of you, Lady. My last tutor infuriated me so I nearly throttled the man."
Liliana's expression is gentle, as she sees the younger man's consternation, "It will not be easy, Cay. I will not lie to you on that account. It will take real work and effort. But I can promise you that you will not have so unpleasant a task master as the one you had before. And I can assist you in learning heraldry, so that you can better serve your Lord Ser. We can work at a pace that is both comfortable for you and that which will help you to gain the skills that you require." There's a sparkle of humour in her eyes, "And if I should see you coming towards me with murder in your eyes, I shall make certain to have my spear close to hand."
Caytiv rubs at his face with the cleaner of his two hands, not well looking forward to the needful task. Yet from the middle of his surl a chortle is dragged up from his core and out through flared nostrils. "Ay, lassie. If any may hold her own against me, I reckon 'tis you. So teach me this thing, if you dare to do so, but keep your spear nigh at hand. It will stop folk wondering of your virtue, too, I reckon," he snorts.
"I think I would enjoy the challenge. And perhaps, as we work together, you will find it enjoyable yourself." But there's a shake of her head as she looks across at the younger man, "I have no worry in regards to my virtue with you, Cay." There's some trace of the humour left in her eyes, but the rest of her is serious, as her hands settle back on her knees, "That part of myself belongs not to me, but to my husband. The one gift I can give that is mine alone." Liliana takes a moment, before she considers, but her eyes never leave the man, "I know the rumours that fly about, about your escapades, Cay. But I think, I believe, that you know how important that is to me, and will not try to take undue advantage."
"I should never do aught with a lass, be she Lady or common or what, without her giving her nod to the thing," Cayt returns by way of assurance. "I know what nay means when a lass says it to me, and have ne'er failed to heed it, and ne'er shall." This seems to be something of a point of honor in his mind, something engrained in him long before any notions of knightly virtue were introduced to him. "Only make your will plain, lassies," he seems to address all the ones he's ever known. "For some say nay when they wish to say aye, and then are sore mad when I leave them be. And others say aye and then have cause to rue it, and so chide me for not knowing they well ought to have said nay."
Liliana dips her head, accepting the young man's assurances, "I have never had cause to believe that you would truly attempt to engage a woman when she was not truly willing, Cay. But it, perhaps, needed to be said, so that we would both know where we stand on the issue. I have little enough to offer to a match, by the reckoning of the noble Houses. I have no great force of arms to bring, nor great storehouses of trade or wealth. But I can offer the good will of my House and the honour of our name. What alliance we can give and the ways in which we might be able to build up the power of the House I am sent to." A pause, "And myself. All of myself. I will never ask of you more than you are also willing to give in return. But you must also be honest with me, about your own feelings and expectations from our studies together, and the time we might spend in each other's company."
And now she's talking like a noble, all alliances and building up power and honor and good names, and Cayt has his work cut out for him not letting his mind wander. By the end, he's squinting a little bit, "Feelings and expectations?" he answers back. "You mean, would I, given your assent? Aye, likely so, you're a fine lassie, Lady, fair, and a good huntress, besides. Not saying it hain't e'er crossed my mind. But you wouldn't have anything of it, I reckon, ay? With your honor an' all. An', as I say, I can listen when a lass says nay. There are always several more who won't say nay, after all."
"I mean, if you should begin to feel that you cannot be comfortable in my company. If you wish to discontinue your studies, or would prefer someone else to spend your time with." There's a ruefulness, in her expression, as Liliana looks down at herself, "Am I? As time has passed, I have begun to wonder at that. I know it is not…easy, for a…" Liliana shakes her head, "You know…I had a man tell me once, that a whore's company would be preferable to mine. As if I were so…unpleasant….that…" Again, a shake of her head, "Are we agreed then, Cay? You and I will study, and I will teach you reading and writing and heraldry, so that you may better serve your Lord Ser?"
All of these incomplete thoughts leave Cayt with rather an incomplete picture of what's wrong. "I don't think much of whores, myself. I mean… fine folk, some of 'em, don't get me wrong. But they rather touch my heart with a sadness. Fucking should be a fine thing between folk who fancy each other. For women to be forced by need to do things they don't want… I… I don't think much of it," he sums up his disapproval. "And ay, if I ever feel I can no longer bear to keep my cock away from ye, I will be sure to part ways with ye before it comes to such. 'Til then, I shall try my best not to murder ye," he jokes.
For her part, Liliana, having said what she already has, seems content not to explain further, the deep breath that follows, and the dimness of the kitchens doing much to mask the sadness and the shame that darkens her expression, "If there is one thing that I can be sure of with you, Cay, it is that I will never have to wonder if you are trying to play word games with me. You are certainly a blunt one. It is…a welcome change." But with the matter settled, there's a smile offered, her own troubles set aside, as she often does, to focus on the positives, "When shall we begin? perhaps when you are no longer besotted with wine and much food?"