|The Night Before|
|Summary:||Rose and Jack have a heart-to-heart the night before his wedding.|
|Related Logs:||Too many to mention|
|The Terrace — Four Eagles Tower — Terrick's Roost|
|Battlements. Rookery. Crenelations. Panoramic view.|
|20th of Tenthmonth, 288 AL|
It's late the night before the wedding, it could possibly be called 'morning', though the darkness remains deep and the stars bright. Rose has come up to the terrace to view those very stars, unable to sleep and having restlessly paced the keep over a half dozen times. Her elbows rest on the crenelated wall, the breeze tugging her dark curls every which way. Her chin is tilted back, eyes on the velvet sky.
It's quiet up there in the late night, called such by one who has yet to find his bed, a bed that belongs to himself alone for tonight and no longer. Jacsen must have been there before Rose found her way up to the terrace, for his passage is never a particularly noiseless thing, and he already sits, recessed, upon a bench the men at the top of the tower take turns lounging on during bouts of quiet duty. It's impossible to say if he'd already fallen asleep there, or if he had just let the woman find her place on the terrace in peace before disturbing whatever thoughts drew her up. Still, when he does, it is with a volume and tenor suited to the late hour. "Are you finding sleep as elusive as I, then?"
She startles like a doe, jolting and turning in the same motion, reaching for her weapon — but breathing out and slouching in relief even before the turn's done. The voice is, of course, familiar. It only takes a moment for her brain to catch up with her training. "Sod all, Jack," she breathes a low laugh. Taking a breath and leaning back against the wall, facing him, she shrugs almost guiltily. "It happens." Then, lamely, "Big day tomorrow, huh?"
"So it would seem. The Rockcliff was rather full this evening of those whom will be quite disappointed if it is not," Jacsen remarks, his smile visible in the sliver of moonlight that illuminates the rooftop this night, just enough to catch in his eyes and offer them some soft inner luminance.
Rose sighs, pushing off the wall and loping over to drop onto the bench beside the newly minted heir. "The whole situation's balls," she sighs, sympathetically. She glances at him sidelong. "You going to be alright with it?"
He laughs, though it is a very quiet sort of thing. "You've a way with words, Rose," Jacsen observes, "I suppose your observation is rather apt." It's her question that he lingers over, sparing a glance at the woman beside him on the bench before he answers, "I must be. After all, it is not so bad, is it? She will be Lady of the Roost, and mother my heirs… I will enjoy her company and find life easier, or ignore her company and find it more complicated than it might otherwise be, but life shall still go on."
"Don't ignore her," Rose shakes her head. "That's cruel. I mean, it wouldn't be if she were different — but she's not. She's Annie. And she wants very badly to be a good lady, and being a good wife's part of that. Just… be her friend, is all. If she's not the love of her life nor you hers… what of it? If you have a bond of fond respect, and an alliance of common purpose… you'll have a good marriage."
"Yes," Jacsen remarks, his tone thoughtful as he considers the woman's advice, though like as not he has heard as such before tonight. "In any case, it is almost done, and soon everyone shall stop looking at me with that mixture of affection and pity." His lips curve into a vague smile, though his eyes are distant. "While telling me how everything will be just fine, and how good this really is."
Rose sighs. "Oh, Jack…" she begins, shaking her head. "Shut up."
"There's that way with words again," Jacsen remarks, flatly.
"Nobody pities you, you colossal ass!" Rose laughs, more with frustration than mirth. "No. One. People love you — woe! — and people want you to be happy — a-fucking-las! — but Seven above, the only person I ever hear pitying you is you." She leaps up and sprints to the battlements, leaping again to stand on one of the high points of the crenelation. "Woe!" she shouts out at the night, flailing her arms. "WOE, I SAY! JACSEN TERRICK DOESN'T GET TO CHOOSE HIS FATE — LIKE EVERY-FUCKING-BODY ELSE!"
There is some humor to him as he watches her sprint to the battlements, even though she quite surely mocks him, and Jacsen reaches out for his cane and uses it to leverage himself to his feet. "Everybody else, hmm?" he asks, his brow rising as he slowly moves in her direction, considering the woman. "You'd make an eloquent, humor, poignant point, my dear…" He waves a hand at her. "If you weren't the exact fucking opposite given flesh." He's still smiling, so one might presume he is amused.
"No," Rose sighs, shaking her head. "Jack, no — I'm not." She vaults down from the wall, leaning her shoulder against it as she addresses him, softly now. "You think I'd've chosen to be a Nayland, and a girl? Sure, I've made the best of it, s'much as I can, but I've had to hide and to lie — still do — and when it comes times for the hiding and lying to end? I'll be a knight in name and in deed, but Jarod's right — the others won't accept me. They'll curse me and revile me. Do their best to shame and hurt me — and that's if I'm at liberty. Chances are the old man might just capture me back for spite. Achieving my dream doesn't mean I get to keep it. Doesn't even mean I get to live it. It just means I got to try."
She shrugs. "Look. You're smarter than the Smith and more clever than the Stranger. You're handsome, you're heir to a proud keep, a beautiful land, and good, decent people. You're marrying a beautiful woman who wants nothing more than to be a good wife to you. Your mother and father, your siblings and friends — we adore you and would do anything for you. Aside from a good leg — which I can understand — and the freedom to do whatever you please — again, I say woe — what in the fuck do you want?"
"I think you vastly underestimate what it is to lack something so fundamental, Rose," Jacsen tells her as he steps up beside her, and puts a hand on the battlement, looking out over the quiet of the village below. "And perhaps that is it…" He lets out a breath. "You talk of all the things I should be grateful for, and in my own way I am, you know? It could be much worse, I understand that, I am no fool. As you so kindly pointed out."
"It's just… there is something that rankles in me about feeling… bound. Restricted. Bound to be Lord of the Roost, bound to be Anais' husband, bound to be father to my heirs… I don't wish to avoid these things, but I hate feeling so… locked in place." Jacsen glances down at his leg, and there is no fondness in his eyes for the ruined limb. "Perhaps if I knew that if I wished, I could run down the steps and into the village, hop on the back of my horse and run to the sea, swim in the waters… pick up a sword and give a man a real fight, or heft up my dainty wife and carry her to bed…" He looks up, and shakes his head. "One's wits are a fine thing to have, and useful in spades, but wits can only serve you so far as you can make others do the things that you wish done. And there are times when there is no sufficient replacement for not being able to do it yourself, Rose. But. I wax, and I am more than a bit drunk, you can thank Jarod for that."
Rose listens, sighing softly. She nods. "I know, Jack. Or, rather, I don't know. But I have an excellent imagination — and…" She reaches for his hand. "I want you to be happy. And… I don't know how to do it. So… I guess I'm trying to beat you into submission. Which… you know. It's what I do best with things." She looks down, abashed. "The beatings will continue until morale improves."
He breathes through his nose. "My brother… you know, he'd stop at nothing to be a Terrick proper, like Jaremy, like myself," Jacsen tells Rose, glancing down at the hand she puts over his own. "And it's not as if I would ever give it up, I'm not fool enough as Jaremy but… he does not realize how fortunate he is. He's hale, hearty, fucking strongest built of us all, you know? And his ability to shrug aside a blow, be it verbal, emotional, physical… It's amazing." He turns his hand over beneath hers, his thumb running along the back of her hand once. "I envy him. His freedom, his laughter, his love, his indomitable body and spirit." Slowly, he withdraws his hand from the crenellation, and Rose's touch. "But I am not such a fool as to miss the blessings I myself possess, and on the morrow I will do my duty and even find pleasure in it, and dwell on such no more."
"You will, Jack," Rose promises earnestly, eyes and voice full of feeling. "In time, you will. Happiness isn't a destination, y'know? It's just… moments. Islands in the stream of time." She nods. "Jarod envies you. You envy Jarod. We all want something else — more, less, different." She steps forward, then, and with just a fraction of hesitation, puts her arms around him. "We're all going to be alright. All of us. I promise."
He lets out a small breath as those arms go around him, and after a moment he returns the gesture with one about Rowan's shoulders. "I might well hold you to that, Rose," Jacsen warns her, though gently. "In fact, were I you, I'd count on it."
She takes his face in her hands and leans up, pressing a kiss to his forehead. "Good luck tomorrow, Jack."
His eyes close a moment as she puts that kiss to his brow. "Thank you, Rose," Jacsen says, warm. "For everything."
Rose flashes a sweet, sad smile. "Thank me later when I can say, 'I told you so.'" She takes a step back. "Drink a bucket of water and try to sleep, eh?"
He nods once, leaning his side against the battlement. "I'll see what I can do. Go get some sleep, I'll surely see you on the morrow."
Rose nods, kisses her hand to him, and then hurries down the stairs to find her rest.