|The Same Old Argument|
|Summary:||Jarod and Rowan have it again. For the last time. Maybe. Possibly. Probably not.|
|Related Logs:||Many of the Jarod/Rowan scenes. Read Rowan/Gedeon scenes for subtext.|
|Practice Yard — Riverrun|
|A grassy yard where play-fighting happens.|
|Wed Nov 09, 288|
While Ser Jarod Rivers has not been anything less than attentive to the Terricks since arriving at Riverrun, he's spent rather a lot of time outside the company of his family's retinue, be it in scuzzy taverns, wandering the woods, or elsewhere. Lady Evangeline's somewhat inescapable presence likely has something to do with that, not that said Rivers would admit it. Today, his wanderings of Riverrun have brought him to the practice yard, where the house knights and some of the visitors are having beating on each other. It's largely a combination of Tully, Mallister and Terrick men at the moment, so the beating is fairly good-natured. Several pairs of knights fence or square off at archery in spots around the grassy yard. Jarod is but one of them. Presently he's trading blunted blows with a very tall knight with rather long sandy brown hair in Mallister purple-and-silver. One of the ones he tends to pal around with, when paling around with Mallisters is an option. The Mallister knight aims a rather vicious blow at Jarod's face, which the Rivers has to roll on the grass to duck. He manages to regain his footing before being 'killed,' though it's a near thing.
Ser Gedeon's had his squire hitting the books in lieu of practice dummies and/or other people — and in her near-desperation to be doing something useful, she's been hitting said books hard. But even the most studious scholar has to come up for air, sometimes, so Rowan's wandered her way out to the yard. She takes a seat on a low wall, watching the practice, eyes easily picking Jarod and his partner out of the various sparring pairs. Her expression is both admiring and deeply envious, though she winces in sympathy at the killing blow. "Oi! That's gonna leave a mark."
For some reason, that makes the knight Jarod's sword-playing with laugh uproariously. Not that it interrupts his swordplay much. They're well-matched, of similar heights and both built to handle the demands of wielding a greatsword without being overly bulky, though the Mallister man has a few years on the Terrick Rivers. "Only a little blow to the head, boy! I'm being kind. Least valuable part of this one, I assure you!" the Mallister man yells in response to Rowan, grinning wide enough to flash white teeth.
Jarod says nothing, though suddenly being aware he has an audience makes him press his attack less playfully than he was before. He's still grinning as he presses the sandy-haired man back toward the wall of the grassy courtyard, however. He's enjoying himself.
Laughing at the commentary, Rowan calls out, "Just not the face! We get a lot of mileage with that face!" Certainly, as sidekick and wingman, the lad's bound to benefit from Jarod's way with the wenches, too, right? And if she swoons a little, being the audience he's showing off for? It probably just looks like she's enjoying the show — on a purely masculine level of appreciation. Honest.
The pair of knights trade blows a good while longer. The match would have worn both of them down long by now if they were fully armored, and even just in leather jerkins they're dripping in sweat and breathing hard as it winds down. Perhaps Jarod really is motivated by his audience. Or he gets dumb lucky, and lands a stinging hit on the Mallister man's wrist, which makes him swear and loose his grip on his blunted blade. "Ever the lucky bastard, aren't we, Rivers?" the Mallister quips, before yielding properly. "You owe me a turn a-horse later. Luck often failed you at lance-work, if I do recall. As I hear it still does."
Jarod stands up a little straighter, grinning over his shoulder to Rowan. Just a little. Though he chuckles and offers a handshake to his 'opponent' a moment later. "My exploits in the Roost tourney made their way to Seagard, then? My reputation grows. There's a song about me now, you know." After the hand-shaking, the Terrick and Mallister knight stride in Rowan's direction. Up close, the sandy-haired fellow bears a vague resemblance to Lord Jason (complete with an air that he's very impressed with himself, though he's more smirky than the Lord of Seagard). He's quite dashingly handsome, save for the rather large scar running almost directly down the length of his face from forehead to chin. Old cut from what looks like a bludgeon weapon or spear, though fortunately the slice missed both his eye and nose.
Rowan hoots and hollers for Jarod's victory, lucky or no, beaming and pumping a fist in the air. "Well done!" She flashes a big smile at the other knight, as well, as the pair approach, giving a friendly nod — but not presuming to introduce herself or greet him like an equal. Still a squire, after all, and apparently working on knowing her place. Practice, perhaps, for when she has to do it with Ser Alek and it actually stings. "Are you still getting use out of Lord Jerold's Lament?" she asks Jarod, smirking. "Or is there some new verse circulating about your special talents?"
"It's destined to be a classic, Rowan," Jarod replies lightly, as to Lord Jerold's Lament. Despite the joke, he rather beams at her. "Though I've heard it sung little in the taverns here, and I can't say I'm sorry. Anyhow. Lord Rowan, Ser Kendrick. We knew one another in my days at Seagard."
Said knight inclines his head in a perfunctory recognition of Rowan, though he eyes the squire with some interest. "Young Rowan Nayland? Ser Jarod's former squire. Well met. He speaks highly of you, and it must not be entirely undeserved. My Lord Jason tells you put in a good showing in Terrick's Roost against one of the Late Lord Frey's spawnlings."
Rowan hops down from the low wall and inclines her head respectfully to the Seaguard knight. "Ser Kendrick. A great pleasure." She blushes a bit at the praise, replying humbly, "I was lucky, and your lord is generous, Ser. Whatever part of that unlikely victory was skill I owe to Ser Jarod and Ser Gedeon, furthermore. Really, I just held the lance and let the horse have his head — the Frey obligingly rode up and unseated himself." She smirks faintly. "For which I later thanked him by ransoming his armor. Alas."
"I shall shed a single tear over the indignities visited upon the denizens of the Twins," Ser Kendrick says with a feigned sort of dramatic sadness. "Perhaps they will suffer more before this week is out. But speaking of my generous lord, I should get back to him. Ser Jarod." With that, the Mallister man offers a parting nod to the pair of them, and pivots off.
Jarod raises a hand to offer him a wave, waiting until he's walked off a ways before turning back to Rowan. He looks half-surprised. "That was done well. Been practicing?"
Rowan snorts mirthfully. "That was sincere, actually. Though — you know. Can't hurt to be a little mannerly." She rubs the back of her neck, abashed. "I suppose, on reflection — " She sighs, rolling a shrug. "It's no small thing, the whole Ser bit. Not that I ever thought it was, but… It's a hell of a thing. And it probably makes more sense — or at least, it's more right — to give those who've achieved it the respect — deference, maybe — they deserve. Instead of resenting the fuck out of them for having what I might never." Her smirk is a little painful. "So — right. I've been practicing. Doesn't mean I didn't mean it."
There's something in all that which softens Jarod's manner, and he returns her smile easily. "C'mon, let's walk," he says gesturing a thumb and striding toward the edge of the yard to drop off his borrowed blunted blade. "Unless you've other business to be about? Anyhow, things're expected of squires and those they serve. I wouldn't think on it too much." Though he sucks in a cheek, thoughtful. "It's funny, though. I mean, I don't mean funny like a joke, I mean…" He stops himself, before he gets off on a tangent. "…I never noticed you lacking any of that in the years you served me. I mean…not saying we got along precisely traditional but…you were a good squire to me, Rowan. Never felt you resented me, at least, if you did." He ducks his head in a handy water barrel and splashes himself rather than actually have to look at her as he says it.
"I never did resent you," replies the girl-squire, softly. "You were never high-handed, never held yourself above others, even squires and pages. You always remembered where you'd come from, not just what you'd ultimately achieved. You never belittled my mistakes or used me ill. I thought — I still think — that if anyone …" She shrugs. "I think you wear it well. That's all. You're a fine example, and I hope your new squires learn from who you are, not just your martial skill."
Jarod shrugs to that, flushing some as he runs a hand over his newly-sopping hair. "I have acquired a few of them, haven't I?" He snorts. "Well, Veris'll be a knight in little time now, if he doesn't entirely fuck it up. He's along enough in the martial stuff. Just a matter of polishing the edges. And I'll try and do right by Cayt. I wasn't sure Lord Banefort would want him staying on with me after…well…everything." He snorts. "He's a good lad, though. Works hard at it, and wants to earn it. I do miss you, though." He admits it with a shrug. "I mean, I don't of course speaking literally. You're here. But I miss you squiring for me. I sometimes wish I'd done things…different. When you told me…well. You know what I mean."
"You did what you felt you had to — what you felt was right," Rowan says, simply enough. "You always do. I didn't fault you then, and I certainly don't now. But…" She smiles wryly. "For what it's worth, I wish I'd done things differently, too. Not — " she sighs and rakes a hand through her curls. "I don't know. I suppose there was no good time or way. It was probably best done as soon as I was able."
"Probably. We'd certainly not be as we are now if you were still squiring for me," Jarod says firmly. "I don't think…I mean…" He trails off and doesn't say whatever it is he was going to say. Ahem. "…anyhow. You served me well, is all I'm saying, if I never said it before, and I never had any real complaints about you. It just…seemed easy for us." As opposed to what they are now, which is a lot of things but rarely easy. "Maybe it's just difficult, being so sworn to the Terricks for so long and serving a new…well, serving Oldstones."
"It has been," Rowan nods, breathing a soft and rueful laugh. "It definitely has been. I — " she breathes out. "I'll always feel, I think, in my heart — I'll always love the Roost. I'll always feel more like a Terrick than a Nayland…" Her expression takes on a cast of regret. "But… I was wrong. To swear an oath to Oldstones, and to Gedeon, with… provisions. I have to find a way to love Oldstones the way I've loved the Roost, and take people like Ser Alek and Ser Anton, neither of whom very much speak to my heart — I have to find a way to love them, too. The way I do Jack and Luci and your lord father." Evangeline? She sort of scares Rowan, too. But that's neither here nor there. "I have to live my vows — and somehow be Lord Valentin's man as I've always dreamed I'd be Lord Terrick's."
Jarod rarely speaks of Lady Evangeline, save as 'Lady Terrick' and with the utmost respect. If little warmth, and occasionally some sadness. And he doesn't speak of her now. "You'll not be Ser Gedeon's squire forever. Who knows what's to come after that." More stuff he doesn't speak of now. Not like he knows what in seven hells might. "As for now. You've a duty to Ser Gedeon as a squire, he to you as a knight. That's not so difficult if everyone remembers who they are. I figured that's why…well, why we worked so well as we did, even you being a Nayland." There's more he, perhaps, wants to say on that subject. But he doesn't get going on that further, either. Instead he asks, our of nowhere, "You been to the godswood?"
Rowan shakes her head. "I haven't. I mean to." She looks in that direction a moment, thoughtful, then shares, "They say there's one in the Mire. Hidden in the swamp." A faint and wistful smile curves her lips. "My mother swears all her children were named there. I don't remember it, of course."
"You should go, while you're so close to it," Jarod says, with the boyish enthusiasm he summons up about random things quite often. "I managed to get Jace out to it yesterday morning. Not quite sure what I was expecting. I mean, on the one hand, it's just a tree, and I'm not Northmen who prays to such things. On the other…it's beautiful, Rowenna. There's things in this world…well, men should see them, if they've a chance to. I figure that's one of them." And then, quite randomly, he asks, "What's your mother like?"
Rowan leans against the wall of the outbuilding by the rain barrel. Her lashes lower as she reflects, and when she speaks, her tone is wistful. "I don't — we were never close. But that's really par for the Naylands. She's beautiful?" She looks up, shrugging slightly. "And sad. Very intelligent, I think. I remember she was always reading something. History and philosophy. Mathematics and science. She got on well with our Maester — still does, I would imagine." She tucks a curl back behind her ear. "I had a couple of siblings who died young, before I was born. I think… I think maybe by the time Row and me came along, she was a little afraid of loving anything."
"Have you thought on taking her name?" Jarod asks, like it's something he's been pondering in the back of his mind for awhile. "After…well…" He trails off and shrugs. "Her surname, that is. If you couldn't - or didn't wish to - go by Nayland anymore."
She frowns slightly, considering. "I hadn't, really. I don't think she'd probably welcome it. Scandal and shame that I'll be, it's probably seem to her like sullying her family." She shrugs again, smiling wryly. "Maybe I was hoping you'd overcome your objections and I could keep Rivers. I've sort of grown fond of it."
"I don't know about that," Jarod says with a shrug. "Jaremy's Ser Jaremy Middleton now rightly, and Lady Evangeline doesn't mind it. He gets no inheritance or anything from it, after all, and she loves him still. And it's proper. Proper as matters can be when there's a break between a noble and their family. And it's not that so much…if my lord father wanted not to do with me, or me with him, I'd be a Bevins, like my mother's family. So I did object to Jaremy calling himself a Rivers in that idiotic note of his, though I know he meant it out of love for me. I'll not call you wrong for doing it, though." He snorts. "Not like I could stop you from doing anything you wanted anyhow, but that's how I think on it."
"You mother's relationship with Jaremy is… different than my mother's with me," says Rowan. "I'm not sure she'd forgive what I'm going to do so easily. Probably much the less if I drag her family through the mud with me." She smiles again, rueful — and perhaps a little sad — at his summation. But. "I think I'll keep Rivers. I know you don't think it's proper, but since when have you ever agreed with what I do? And you'll call me whatever you like, whatever I call myself. And that's fine."
"All right." Jarod seems resigned to that more than anything else. "Though that gives your lord father more credit than I think you strictly mean to. Anyhow, I've explained it as well as I know how, why I feel on it as I do. Not like anyone else will think it wrong of you. It's just…it's the one thing my father could give me and…not saying I'm proud of it, precisely, but it's a sign of regard, and that's what it's meant to me." He doesn't seem to keen to argue about it beyond that, however. "What is your mother's name, anyhow?"
"Rhiannon," Rowan replies. "Her family name's Asterholm — minor northern house. There's this bizarre supposition that it was a love match, her and the Old Man, since… she didn't bring much to the table, as far as the vaunted Nayland ambition goes. But there must have been some advantage in it. Grandmama would never have allowed it, otherwise." She chews the inside of her cheek a little, taking a deep breath and abruptly segueing, "I've… been thinking about what you asked. Back in the Sept."
"Rowenna Rose Asterholm…" Jarod mutters, as if trying it out. He smiles, so he seems to like it. "It's pretty, I think." Though his grin fades a little at that last. He shrugs. "We don't have to talk about that. I was just saying, it was an…option." In a mutter and without looking at her he adds, "I know it's not what you want."
She draws a breath to speak — but doesn't. Not immediately. Instead, she lowers her lashes, studying her boots with a furrowed brow. "No," she says, finally. "It's not what I want."
"Aye." Jarod's still looking at his boots as he replies. Doesn't seem to have much more to say than that. "Just forget it, then. I mean, not saying I won't try and make a place for the Roost for you if you ever do…just forget I said anything on it. It was stupid."
Rowan shakes her head, looking pained at that. "It wasn't stupid. At all. I… appreciate the thought?" She makes a plaintive face. "I mean… I appreciate the feeling. I think. That… caused the thought. Or something." A grimace. "I know… you wish I was different. I hate disappointing you, Jarod."
"I don't wish you were different," Jarod says softly, raising his green eyes to meet her finally. "You drive me mad at times, but I don't think I'd like you so much if you didn't. Not as if you're always easy with me, either." He snorts. "What I wish is…I think the world's going to hurt you, and make you unhappy. I wish that wouldn't happen."
The girl squire quirks a wry, melancholy smile. "Six of one…" Half a dozen of the other. She shrugs. "The things I want? My ambitions? They're a part of me." She sighs softly. "I know you want to protect me. And… I do think that's lovely. And sweet. I know it frustrates you that — you can't."
"Rowenna…people think the things they can't have…they think they'll make them happy but…they just end up twisting them up inside. Making them sad, and bitter, and making them do things they don't care for when they think back on them," Jarod says. Though he sighs heavily following saying it. It's not an argument he wants to have again here. "That's how it was for me, at least. As I said. Not like I can stop you from doing as you please. Just…you've a place at the Roost if things go tits up with Oldstones. You know Jace and I will see to that. That's…that's all it has to be about."
"Does it ever seem to you that when we're not — " She stops herself, glancing around. Apparently what she was about to allude to isn't something that would go well, overheard. So it's fairly easy to fill in the blank. "When we're not — you know — that we're having this same conversation? Over and over? Just with varying degrees of vehemence?"
"I think that's exaggerating, rather," Jarod says with a shrug. His own voice drops, though he frowns as much at her as anything around him. "But, aye, comes up. What do you want? I know you don't like it, but I'll not say I feel different. If you don't want to talk on it anymore, that's all right."
"I don't know," says Rowan, shaking her head. She looks deeply unhappy. "I don't know what I want. I don't want — have never wanted — you to pretend to feel something you don't, or say things you don't mean. I don't want for there to be a thousand things we can't talk about, or even a handful of things, especially when those things are so important. But I don't want to do — this. Either."
"Well I'm not sure how to give you what you apparently want of me, Rowenna, so I'd appreciate some instruction," Jarod says, still quietly, though it's almost snapped. With a sudden frustration, though one that seems to have been summoned up from somewhere deeper rather than just appearing. "I'm sorry I've been so great a disappointment to you, in my opinions and as your lover, from what I'm told, so maybe if you'd just bloody well give me some hint as to how I'm failing to live up to your grand fucking expectation of me, I'd appreciate it."
Rowan blinks, looking at a loss. "I never said that. I never said any of that. There's nothing — Gods, Jarod, there's nothing wrong with you. I adore and admire everything about you. If I were a man, I'd want to be you." She passes a hand over her face, rubbing her eyes. "I don't — know how to respond to that. Any of that. I can't — you're not — this — fuck."
"You admire me. That's nice. I love you." Though Jarod sounds more like he's laughing at himself when he says it than anything else. "I did tell you, you know, that I wasn't…" He takes a deep breath. "…but you kept on and I figured you might…" He exhales. "…guess that was stupid of me. Anyhow, I'm not going to do this here. I've got to go get myself cleaned up and see to Jace. I'm sorry I don't make you happy, Rose. So why don't you go and find…whatever the fuck does." He pivots on his heel, on that note. Time to go, it seems.
She shuts her eyes and flinches when he uses her name — one of them anyways — thus. "I love you, too," she whispers. "I always have. Always will. But this…" She pushes her hair back slow and tight, breathing out. "We can't keep doing this to each other." She slides down against the outbuilding wall to sit, hands clasped behind her neck and forehead against her knees. She'll remain that way for some time, exploring that kind of ache that's too desolate for tears.
"Go fuck…something," is Jarod's parting to her as he stomps off, less achey than just very hurt and angry. Perhaps as much at himself as the squire-who-would-be Rose Rivers. He's running by the time he leaves her sight. He may take a long, exhaustive jog around Riverrun.