|Summary:||Nicodemus gives Rosanna a promise before he leaves.|
|Date:||January 15, 2012|
The discussions have been happening before the call to muster, and they happen with greater intensity after it comes. In the end, even if the Groves decide to go to arms for the wrong side, the point is that they do agree to go to arms, which means Rosanna's father and three brothers are all packing and readying themselves to march. Nicodemus is at the part of the process where he's rooting through his room for clothing that is appropriate for travel when one is unsure when (if) they'll return. He's tucking an extra leather jerkin into a small satchel atop a couple pairs of pants and a few shirts. His sword rests, sheathed and leaning up against the wall.
She's been a presence alternately silent and accepting, and inconsolable. When Rosanna slips into his doorway to watch him, it is in teary silence this time. Her dress, which she is usually so fastidious about, is rumpled in a way that suggests frequent throwing of herself to her bed for crying. Finally, unable to just watch him, she pleads, "Don't go."
He knows she's there, most likely, though he doesn't stop his packing and he doesn't look up. Not, at least, until she speaks. The satchel is set down, and Nicodemus looks over at his rumpled sibling with a soft, fond sigh. "I have to go, Rosebud. You know that."
"No you don't," Rosanna insists with a familiarly stubborn set to her jaw. "You don't have to do anything you don't want to."
"Course I do," Nicodemus says, sitting down on his bed and patting the spot beside him in invitation. "I'm honorbound to go. To defend what's right."
She doesn't immediately take the invitation, but watches him with a fierce gaze as she attempts a new angle in her current state of upset. "But you have to stay here and protect me and mother," Rosanna claims. "Or else they'll come and kill us and you and Kit and father won't be here and then you'll feel terrible forever."
"No one is coming to Kingsgrove," Nicodemus reassures with a soft smile. "There's nothing here to fight for, when the usurper is after King's Landing. We'll fight to stop him, and when he falls, Kit and I and our father will all come back home with fearsome stories to tell you before bed."
Still, she persists: "You don't know that. They might come." Rosanna hesitates longer to admit, "You might not come back." It's now that she finally takes the invitation to sit down next to her, eyes watering.
"Of course I'll come back," her brother reassures with that pure, certain confidence that only comes when one is aware of the lie they tell. Nicodemus smiles gently, thumbing a tear away from Rosanna's cheek. "You're a brave girl. I know how brave you are. Strong enough to say goodbye, when it's only for a little while."
Rosanna sniffles quietly as he brushes away a tear. "Don't say things you don't mean," she insists. "I know when you don't mean them. I'm not stupid."
"I do mean it, Rosanna. I'll come back." Nicodemus considers, breathing out softly before he admits, "I'll do everything in my power to come back."
Again, she gets that stubborn look about her until he amends his words, at which point her lip quivers a bit and she fetches up against him to hug him tightly. "You have to come back," Rosanna tells him. "I order you."
He laughs softly, wrapping his arms around Rosanna and holding her close as he presses a kiss to her coppery hair. "Yes, my lady," Nicodemus murmurs. "So I shall."
"And take care of everyone else," Rosanna adds for good measure as she cuddles close. "Make sure everyone comes home."
"Yes, of course," Nicodemus agrees. "I shouldn't dare to come back without the others."
Rosanna is silent for a while, head snuggled up against his side. Eventually, though, she asks in a quiet voice, "Why are they fighting the King?"
"Because another man, a very brash and selfish man, thinks he has the right to claim the throne from the force that unitied the kingdoms and has guided us ever since. He thinks he is more important than history, valor and honor," Nicodemus replies, his hand rubbing Rosanna's back in small, slow circles.
"Oh." Surely she has heard reasons before, but Rosanna seems quieted by them now all the same. She hesitates a distinctly longer moment before asking in a hushed whisper, "Is it true the king's mad?" She is clearly scared to even ask, the words no doubt drawn from some overheard whisper in the keep.
"Maybe," Nicodemus admits softly, "But he's also old and his son is a great man. It will be a new golden age when he takes the throne."
Rosanna wipes a hand surreptitiously under her nose, her comprehension a quiet thing. Perhaps to draw her mind away from less pleasant manners, she asks, "Will I get to marry a great man?"
Now, Nicodemus leans back, brows lifted high as he peers down at his little sister. "Well, of course you shall," he says, his tone affronted at the question. "Do you think father or any of the rest of us would give you up to anyone less?"
She smiles despite herself, all shy and damp-eyed, but with a hint of mollified sunshine. "As great as Prince Rhaegar?" she presses.
"I believe the prince is already married," Nicodemus points out, his smile reflecting hers, "but we shall find someone for you just as worthy."
"I said as great as," Rosanna points out with a sniff of her nose. "I know he's married. I'm not dumb."
"All right, little dragoness, all right," Nicodemus murmurs, leaning back and holding up his hands. "My mistake."
"I am going to marry a great Lord with lots of money," Rosanna informs him. "And a castle."
"I'd make a list," he advises straightfaced, "and give it to Septa Day. She'll start teaching you the best ways to win a Lord with a castle. They can be difficult to find."
Rosanna gnaws on her bottom lip, apparently taking him at his word. "I will," she decides. "I want a castle, and I'm smarter and better than the other girls." All the girls EVER.
"You won't find a body here who'd argue with that, Rosebud," Nicodemus grins, reaching over to ruffle her hair with a hand gone rough with callouses. "You're already a queen in our eyes."
Rosanna smiles through the lingering threat of tears. "I'd be a very good queen," she says. "All of you could be my guard."
"Should we all wear white capes, as the Kingsguard do," Nicodemus asks, sitting up straighter and affecting a very solemn expression. "Or red capes? For your hair?"
"You'll wear green and purple," Rosanna says, as if this should be obvious. "For Groves."
"Of course," Nicodemus says, giving his head a small shake at his failure, "of course we should, Queen Rosebud, you're quite right." He sighs softly, glancing around the room. "Give me one last hug. And then I must finish packing."
Rosanna draws in another unsteady sniffle, but she lifts her chin proudly and doesn't break this time. She does squeeze him viciously hard, though.
He gives an obliging "oof" and hugs back just as fiercely. Well, nearly. He's no wish to hurt her. Finally, Nicodemus sighs softly, easing her back. "Now, show me that brave queen face and tell me you know we'll be back, soon."
Rosanna has an excellent brave queen face, all fierce and proud. "You'll be back," she says firmly.
"There, that's just right," Nicodemus approves. "Now go on and give Kit a kick in the shins, and tell him he's meant to be packing, not looking through his old poetry."
"Okay," Rosanna says, taking quickly enough to any suggestion of kicking Nico's twin. She passes another little hand across her face before sliding off the bed. "I'll tell him you told me to," she promises before darting off.