|The Olive Branch|
|Summary:||Like mating porcupines, Jarod and Rowan make up — carefully… and the words "so's your face" never come into it.|
|Related Logs:||Almost everything Jarod/Rowan|
|The Sea Shore, Terrick's Roost|
|Sand, rocks, waves, and seagull poop.|
|31st Eighthmonth, 288 AL|
Ser Jarod Rivers is in search of some private time. Actual alone time, not the sort that often draws him to the ale and wenches in town. As such he's walked, afoot, away from the castle and down toward the shore. There are coves and little inlet caves he knows well from his boyhood, and he often goes to explore them when he's truly in search of quiet.
And of course it's never that easy, and things never go as planned. Jarod isn't the only one exploring the shoreline today, and it's in a certain cove sheltered with rocks dotted with tide pools that he comes upon his former squire. She's in her shirt and breeches, the latter rolled up to the knee, watching the big puddle she's standing in fill and swirl and bury her feet, then recede. Her hands are in her pockets and the breeze lifts her dark curls in every which direction. She wriggles her toes, causing the sand to buckle and break above them — and then there's the soft crunch of boots on sand and shells and pebbles. She looks up.
Jarod clues up to the fact that he isn't alone. He stops in his tracks, looking at Rowan. He sighs heavily. "So. What brings you down here?"
She sighs, smiling mirthlessly. "Same thing as you, probably. In general." She hesitates. "I can go," she offers, without drama. "I know there's a lot going on. And — I mean, I'd like to talk. But we can do it later."
"Well, I figure you're going to make me have this out with you sooner or later - whatever it is now - so just get on with it," Jarod says, sitting down on a rock. He takes off his boots, idly rolling his his trouser legs so he can dip his bare toes into a pool. "I don't actually want to fight with you anymore, Rowenna. It's plainly doing no good, you don't actually want to hear or understand anything I've to tell you, so I'll just stop with it so it doesn't cause more embarrassment around folk in my house."
"I don't want to fight anymore, either," Rowan says softly, looking down at her toes as the water sworls in again. "That's… what I wanted to talk about. I'd have — " she smirks faintly, still looking down. "I'd have done something silly, like left you an olive branch to signal my intentions. But… we don't have any olive trees." She glances past the rocks, out to sea, pulling wind-reckless curls back from her face. "I'm sorry." She shakes her head. "I know you must be sick to death of hearing it, but… I am. Not for what I did before, but… for being so horrible to you after. I shouldn't be angry with you. It's not fair. I think — " she blinks a few times and swallows, looking down again. "I think it's just easier than grief."
"You act as if I'm trying to oppress your free-spirited soul. I'm not," Jarod says. "Fuck it, Rowenna. You want to be a Dornish firebrand? Go to Dorne. Or go North and fight with the bear maidens. Go across the Narrow Sea to Braavos and ride an elephant, like Ser Gedeon said he saw a warrior woman do. But if you honestly think you'll ever hold the knighthood, you're setting yourself up for a world of disgrace and pain that's just going to break your heart one day, and I seem to be the only one willing to say it. None of us make the world, and we sure as seven hells don't remake it to our wishes. We just got to live in it. And that's the truth. But you don't want to hear that, everyone's got to have their heart broken by the world themselves, so I'll just stop saying it, because you'll not believe me until it happens. I'll be sorry when it does, because we were friends and as I *have* said to you I'd like that not to end, but that's all I see coming from this."
"But some people can change the world, Jarod," she says softly. "Or else it would never change at all." She bites her lips, then wades over to stand before him, seeking his eyes, her dark ones shining with unshed tears. "I don't think I'm the one to change it, Jarod. I wish you'd believe me. But I have to try. Because if no one's brave enough to try, nothing ever happens. And… it hurts — a lot — that you think the reason I'm so set on this course is because I'm a stupid child. You're right about one thing — I'll never know the full extent of the heartbreak until I experience it. But I'm willing. Just as any knight is willing to die. I know… no one will accept me. I know I'll be mocked and shunned. But… I've never seen being a knight as something you are because all the other knights agree. Maybe I'm wrong about that. But I've always thought… it was about merit. And virtue. And honor and courage and a way of living life — for others. If one person can see I'm worthy of that, and no one else ever does… it will have to be enough. I can't change the world in my lifetime, Jarod, but I can make a start. Like Nymeria did for me."
Jarod meets her eyes, his own green ones sad but unwavering. "I'm not sure the world ever does change. And people who struggle against what they are just end up hurting themselves. There's no good come from it. You think it's cowardice to accept your lot in the world and try and be happy in it? And that *is* what it is, though." Jarod takes a deep breath. "Would I be a less competent swordsman if I hadn't won a 'Ser'? That's not what it is, Rowenna. It's not the knowledge of weapons or riding. It's…to be a knight, it's a brotherhood. I meet another knight, and he knows something of what I am before he knows anything else. He knows I hold to a code, that my oaths have meaning, that I'll fight with honor and in honorable quarrels, and not just as a brute mercenary for coin. I am no knight, save the esteem my fellow knights hold me in. That's all it means, and if I did a thing that dishonored my vows in the eyes of my fellow Sers, even if they still called me Ser Jarod I'd not truly be one. As for Nymeria, and as for Lord Eddard Stark and all the other Northern cavaliers who pray to the weirwood rather than the Seven…they are what they are. They're not knights. Do you think them lesser for it?"
"No, I don't think it's cowardice," whispers Rowan, lowering her lashes again. "Just because I think one road requires courage doesn't mean I think all others are for cowards. I'm… sorry if what you want for me is to accept my lot in life. I'd do almost anything to please you, Jarod, but… I won't do that. I can't." She blinks, and despite her composure otherwise that flutter of her eyelids breaks the fragile meniscus of her tears. Two fall, racing each other down her cheeks. "I still don't understand why… why you can't accept that I have to try." She meets his eyes again, swallowing painfully. "Do you — not everyone else, but you — think that earning the right to call myself Ser sullies your brotherhood? Is it so… so insulting that I'm a woman, even if I prove myself capable as a man? I'm not trying to insult or challenge you in asking, Jarod… I want to understand you. Because more than almost anything else, I want peace between us."
"I think a woman cannot be a knight," Jarod says, gently as he can. "I think a bastard cannot be a lordling. And I don't think what we are is so horrible that we need to try and make ourselves into something else entirely."
"Why?" she breathes, reaching out impulsively to put her hand on his. "Please. I'm not obtuse. I'm not being willfully ignorant. I need to know… why can't she be? Is it as simple as the others not accepting her? Because if there's more… it has to be some deficit specific to being a woman, doesn't it? I've thought about this, chewed it until my brain hurts, trying to understand what's so obvious to you that isn't to me. I can't."
"Because that's the way the world works, Rowenna. Am I any less worthy a knight to this Tower than Jaremy? Am I less a dutiful son to my father than Jace? I don't think so, but I'll never be Jarod Terrick, because that's the world. It just *is*. And you'll drive yourself mad and twist yourself up inside in ways that'll make you someone you won't like very much if you just dwell on it being unfair and don't accept what you've got in the world." Jarod eyes her when she puts her hand on his, but he doesn't instantly pull away.
"I made a crest for myself, a while back," Rowan says, looking down at her hand on his. Or perhaps just looking down. "I took your colors, I'm afraid. The wing I put on a rampant lioness, above the motto, 'I am what I dare.'" She looks up to meet his eyes again. "I can accept you, Jarod, with all you believe." She takes a soft, careful breath. "Can you, me?"
That makes Jarod smile some, despite himself. "The colors go nice together, I think. I tried to use Terrick purple as well somewhere, when it I did it up, but it didn't seem to suit me. The gold does, though, so I've got half it going for me, at least." He slips his hand out of hers. "I accept you, though I wonder if you accept yourself as much. And I'll still be your friend after all this comes to absolute ruin for you, because it will, but I'll stop saying it after this, because you'll not believe me until it happens. But you accepting me and my family loving me doesn't actually make me different, Rowenna. Which is all right. I'm not unhappy with my half-eagle's wing. It's just something different."
She smiles faintly. "I have a special gift for absolute ruin," she replies, without self-pity but plenty of rue. She leans in, though her trajectory is wrong for the lips, and kisses his forehead. Her lips linger there a moment, unless he moves again. "I wouldn't love you if you were anything other than what you are," she says, adding with gentle smirk, "Though I'm sure that's a dubious reward." She retreats to a less intimate distance, raising her eyebrows a little. Moving on. "Is there anything you want to talk about?" she asks — though it's likely too soon for her to become a confidant, she offers. "I haven't seen your tail wag in days. Except for when Avinashi's around, that is."
Jarod's eyes widen with something resembling panic, and he sort of freezes. Though he relaxes when she kisses his forehead rather than his lips. And, perhaps, looks a little sorry. Though he doesn't try to kiss any part of her. "Huh," he mutters. He stands up as well, retreating. He shakes his head. It takes him a second to summon up anything to say. "These're rather sober days around Four Eagles, Rowenna. We'll get through them. As we do. We're family." He smirks, ruefully, at mention of Avinashi. "She's a remarkable woman. I'm a little sore at Jace for holding out on my about some of his Seagard adventures. He's very lucky to have one such as her."
Rowan chuckles, shaking her head and shoving her hands back into her pockets. She rocks back on her heels a little, re-examining her toes in the sand. "Well. He hasn't been home long. And you've all been rather busy." She nods. "You're family. You will get through it," she agrees. She turns, then, and goes to retrieve her boots. "You came here to be alone, so… I'll leave you to it." She stands there a moment, holding her boots, awkward. She nods again, finally, a short dip of her chin. "Thanks, Jarod."
"Later, Rowenna," Jarod offers to her. He remains standing in the pool for a beat. Then he just sits down again. Resting his arms across his knees, thoughtful. He'll be here for awhile.