|The Trouble With Love|
|Summary:||Anais comes to the Nayland camp looking for Roslyn and finds other sorts of trouble instead.|
|Related Logs:||Not directly|
|Nayland Camp — Seagard|
|June 23, 289|
Many of the men now gathered in Seagard have wandered out for a day of drunken debauchery. Which means that the women who are left behind have a bit more freedom to do whatever appeals to them. Or mysterious womanly things. It's likely one of the latter that brings Anais by the Nayland tents, followed by her handmaid. No guard? Perhaps he's just lagging a bit behind. So many tournament groupies hanging around, after all. "Lady Roslyn?" she calls softly as she approaches the tent. "Are you in?"
The tentflap stirs, but the figure coming from Roslyn's tent is not, in fact, Lady Roslyn. Or even a woman. Instead, it is her brother. Ser Riordan is indeed Ser Riordan this time around, dressed in noble's clothes, and looking much less skulky then the last few times Anais has seen him. "Lady Anais," he says, his voice a bit quieter then normal. He pauses to close the tentflap gently behind him, and then turns back to the Terrick nee Banefort. "It is good to see you again, my lady."
"Oh." It's a sound of surprise, though it's not clear whether it's a pleasant one or not. Anais flushes slightly before she takes in the details of his clothing, the lack of cape, the fact that he's coming out of the Nayland tent, and manages to put together that he's no longer incognito. "Lord Riordan," she greets more appropriately, smile flickering. "I'm afraid we missed your particular skills of performance this tournament. I'm afraid these Reach knights are going to go home disappointed for not having had the chance to face one of the better-known jousters in the Riverlands. I hope everything is all right in Stonebridge?"
"Flattery will get you everywhere, my lady," Riordan tells Anais, a wide smile on his face, both in pleasure at her words - and, perhaps, a slightly more intimate look of amusement as would be had between two co-conspiritors. "Stonebridge is… well as could be expected, I suppose." There is a minor grimace as he says this, indicating that he expects little good from the cursed place at the moment. "And how have things been in my absence?" he asks her.
"Quiet," Anais answers Riordan's question with a wry smile. "Mostly. Everyone seems to have quite enjoyed beating the stuffing out of each other in the various tournament events. Well. And there was the incident with the flaming sugar at the tea party, but Rosanna swears that was an accident, and I don't think she could have managed it on purpose without burning the tent down." She and Riordan are standing outside of the Nayland tent, with Anais' maid lingering nearby. "I was…hoping Roslyn might be in, actually," she admits. "Justin's been feeling a bit unappreciated after his showing in the joust. He came in second," she adds, smile flashing with familial pride. "His first as a knight, even."
Rowenna sweeps her way into the Nayland camp, wearing a particularly gorgeous gown, her growing-out curls unbound and wild. She stops, blinks at Riordan and Anais, waves, and proceeds into the tent the shares with Jarod.
"Flaming… sugar," Riordan repeats, somewhat incredulously. He is standing a bit closer then Anais to Roslyn's tent, having just come out of it. And he is dressed as befits a nobleman, so clearly has returned non-incognito. For those who knew about the incognito, of course. For anyone else… you saw nothing. "I see." Clearly he doesn't see, but he won't pry into the homocidal tendencies of excitable women. "She is in, but she is resting. She is a bit under the weather," Riordan explains. Which also explains why his voice is slightly modulated so as to not disturb his resting sister. "I am sure my sister quite appreciates his efforts on her behalf." A beat. "I heard about the rather grand gesture they both made, with my sister's favor." There's a small smile there. And then… oh look, a Rowenna! In a dress! Something Riordan always likes to see. "Evening, Rowenna," he greets warmly.
"I can't imagine she doesn't," Anais grimaces faintly to Riordan. "But it seems Justin's gotten it into his head that no one cares about him because no one came to check on him as he recovered." She catches her lower lip between her teeth, but before she can elaborate, Riordan greets Rowenna. Turning, she offers a small smile to the other woman, raising one hand to wave slightly. "Rowenna," she greets. "That's a beautiful dress." Please don't look at me like I was doing something wrong.
"MEN ARE PIGS!" she calls back, matter-of-factly, as she disappears into the tent and starts to rummage. Which… in some language, somewhere, probably means, Hello to you, too.
"YEAH, WELL WOMEN ARE…" Riordan begins to call back to Rowenna, but then cuts himself off, with a glance to Anais, and then to Roslyn's tent. "Awesome," he finishes, in a modulated tone. And then coughs lightly. Grinning at Anais, he picks up the conversation where it got left off. "Well, between my sister being somewhat indisposed, and trying to maintain her propriety… Well. Between Justin's behavior both here, and at Stonebridge…" Meaning the rather public kiss, "Can you blame her from trying to maintain some level of reserve? He is not even courting her after all." Not to mention the reports Anais gave him regarding the negotiations for their betrothal.
Anais quirks a brow after Rowenna, leaning over to look after the other woman. "I wonder what Jarod's done now," she muses, then looks back to Riordan with a grimace. "Don't tell me you're giving up now, too," she sighs. "I just- I just thought that maybe if she went to see him, then he'd feel a bit more appreciated, and maybe /he'd/ be more invested, and if they were both invested, then maybe there could be a way to salvage…" And then she trails off, reaching up to rub a hand at her brow. "Do you know, I sometimes think my life would be infinitely easier if people weren't so in love with love."
"You're gods damned right, we're awesome," says Rowenna, shoving her way out of her tent, a bottle of 'reaver honey' in her hand. She snorts about the 'in love with love', popping the cork. "Sodding tell me about it. Do you know what our brother's done?" she asks Riordan, bristling and drinking from the bottle.
"Hopefully nothing I'll have to punch him for. The has a rather hard jaw, have you noticed?" Despite the kindof half joke, and the taunt before that, he actually does shoot a concerned look at the tent. And, while Rowenna is still in there, murmurs in response, "And no, Anais. I haven't given up. And I will do damn near anything to see this work. But one of the few things I won't is risk the eligibility that Roslyn has left. I know what a wonderful woman she is, and how lucky any man would be to have her for his wife. But we both know that isn't how the world judges things. And if Justin can't be appreciative of that fact…" He clenches his jaw, slightly annoyed. Not at Anais. Just in general. Before he can say more, however, Rowenna comes out of her tent, with the bottle and those words. And he groans. "Do you know, the last time I said those words, it led to you punching Rafferdy rather publically?" He looks like he might be ready for a drink himself, and he hasn't even heard the specifics yet.
Anais is already looking dismayed as Rowenna comes out in a temper. Nayland temper tantrums just aren't likely to end well for her. "Which brother?" she asks, because there's one brother who could be a lot of trouble to /her/ family, and there's one brother who's mostly just trouble for /their/ family. And let's be honest, she's hoping Rafferdy's the problem.
Sometimes, the gods are kind, Anais. "Rafferdy," she says to Riordan, "was going to elope. With Kartin Haigh. Whose family has forbidden her to even see him and is apparently ready to kill him if he can't manage that."
Hugh comes round one of the tents, a battle axe in his hand. One of the type that they use in the tournaments. He spies a small group here and stops, his face lighting up when he sees Riordan. "Hello, Ser! You're here!" Master of the obvious, Hugh is. He drops the axe from his shoulder to the ground. "When did…" He stops and is at least astute enough to realize when he might be walking into something. He looks between them all, bows and stands there with his bare face hanging out, ready to sop up any info he can get.
Riordan blinks at Rowenna rather owlishly for a moment, as he takes in this bit of information. "Of course he has," Riordan says, making the words sound half a sigh. "I suppose I should only be surprised if he hasn't managed to somehow make this my fault," he adds, a bit dryly. He glances over as Hugh comes up, and forces a smile for the lad. "Indeed, Hugh. A little birdy told me you'll be competing in the Squire's melee. I'd rather see you in a squire's joust, but got to start somewhere. Figure we can work on your form in the morning or what have you before you do it." Talking about something else is a pleasant distraction right now. Yes indeed.
Anais' brows rise at Rowenna's explanation, and she looks to Riordan with something like sympathy. "Doesn't anyone here just arrange a decent marriage and /stick/ with it?" she asks, looking between the Naylands. "Tordanes break betrothals, Jaremy runs off and abandons his name, your brother wants a woman whose family won't have him, and I've got Justin sulking because Roslyn didn't come and kiss his boo-boos." She crosses her arms beneath her chest, eyeing those assembled. "Where are these people's /parents/?"
"It's taken care of," Rowenna tells Rio, shaking her curls. "I stopped by to see Lord Harlyn and told him to keep his cousin on a shorter leash. He's apparently turned the girl's head around with tales about what hateful ogres we all are, and she thinks she's the only person in the world who loves or understands him. So she asked him to run away — even though her family would hunt him down. The whole. Thing. Is just. Amazing." She points at Anais. "Excellent question. That girl should be sent to the Motherhouse until they can marry her." She turns to Hugh. "Grab a waster, lad. Let's fight."
Hugh grins and nods to Riordan, "I'm still trying to decide whether to go with an axe or a hammer. I don't think I will have a chance with the sword…" Then the boy shuts up again and lets the adults talk about marriage. Something he wants no part of. At the moment. He then puts the axe aside at Rowenna's command and scrambles to grab a waster. He's not going to miss an opportunity.
Riordan glances back at Rowenna as she fills him in on the details, and manages a sound that is half groan, half sigh. "Should we post a guard on him just in case, do you think?" he asks her. Because apparently Rowenna is more a Rafferdy expert then Riordan is. "He is rather good at slipping off, after all." At Anais' question, he just shakes his head. "It makes me appreciate a bit more the fact that I'm due a somewhat normal marriage. Even if it does come with a castle." Yeah, unlike you heir-seeking girls, he says that last word in a rather mournful tone. "But yes, Rafferdy does know how to boldly go, even where others have gone before." And then he's looking over as Rowenna is taking charge of his squire. He almost looks like he's about to interject… and then seems to think better of it. Probably a smart move on his part, right now.
Rowenna sighs, taking another long drink. "A guard on him wouldn't hurt. I hope Lord Harlyn will put one on her as well, but there was really only so much I could boss around a man I'd just met."
"Aye, well. At least you know Isolde will marry whoever her mother tells her to," Anais points out to Riordan with a faint, crooked smile. "And probably be happy about it. And manage to convince herself she loves you. And have lots of babies." Increasingly, the emotion in the words bleeds away until she trails off, distracting herself with watching Hugh prepare to spar.
The flap to Rafferdy's tent slowly pulls back, revealing the rather battered Nayland. He's shirtless, his chest bandaged, one of his eyes is swollen shut, and his neck is swollen and bruised. His left hand is wrapped carefully. He looks at his siblings, and asks, with a hoarse voice, "Why do I need a guard…?"
"You know?" Rowenna looks at Anais like she's a radiant goddess of wisdom and revelation. "I never appreciated Izzy's spineless, feckless damsel thing before… but you're right! At least she does as she's told. Thank the Gods for that, at least." Rowenna sighs at Rafferdy. "So you don't get yourself killed."
"I'll see to it," Riordan says, simply, in response to Rowenna. He's a bit distracted by Anais' words, however, and they draw a rather long look from the Nayland knight. It's definately a mixed bag, as looks go. Probably Roslyn could interpret it if she were here. But as she is napping, let's call it unreadable for now. "Anais," he murmurs, quietly, since she is still the closest to him. But before he can say more… hey, there's a Rafferdy! "Because apparently you're going to be following Rowenna's example, in new and fabulous style," he explains, a bit of exasperation leaking into his voice. Beat. "Not the dressing up as the opposite gender part." Just to clarify.
"You look dreadful," Anais informs Rafferdy helpfully when he steps out, blinking in surprise. "You weren't going to try to elope like that, were you?" Because, as not a Nayland, it's really the logistics of the thing that are more interesting than the actual consequences.
"Not the anything part," huffs Rowenna, glowering at Rio. "There's no comparison."
Rafferdy looks at Rowenna, brow lifting a bit in a way that clearly notes he's annoyed she's told everyone, "Really?" He sighs, shaking his head a bit, "Fuck you all." He waves his hand at them, and slips back into the tent.
"Right, because you totally didn't run off, or get married to someone you weren't supposed to," Riordan tells Rowenna. It's a dry tone he uses, but there is still warmth involved. "Ok, well, maybe not consecutively. But still." But hey, he still likes Jarod, so it's all good, right? He glances to Rafferdy then, and bites back another sigh.
"I'm keeping you from getting your stupid ass disowned and deadified, Rafferdorf!" Rowenna calls after him. "THAT is love — not helping you ruin your life!" Fuck it. She drinks.
Normally, a lady should probably take offense at a general fuck all of you. And yet, Anais can't help a faint quirk of her lips. Is it sympathy? Or is this just more like life at the Banefort than the Roost.
Riordan turns back to the two ladies, forcing a rather tired looking smile on his face. "I'd offer to help you finish off that bottle, Rowenna, but I think I should escort Lady Anais back before any debauchery begins within our camp." He pauses, and then directs a totally, utterly innocent smile at Anais. "Unless you'd like to join, of course? Rowenna can be your chaperone." See, fullproof plan!
Rowenna looks at Rio. And looks at Annie. And looks at Rio again. And sighs. "Right. You… do your thing." She turns and pushes her way back into her tent.
Anais looks after Rowenna, perhaps a little wistfully. "Rowenna?" she calls. "I think you were going to spar with the squire, weren't you?" And then she looks back at Riordan, uncertain.
"If he manages to find a waster, wake me up," Rowenna calls back.
"Rowenna…" Riordan begins, then bites off his words with a sigh. "I really, really do love my family, I swear," Riordan says to Anais, raising a hand to rub at his forehead. "Well, I guess the least I can do is escort you back as I alluded to? We should… probably finish our conversation." Plotting, scheming. Whatever you want to call it. "Unless you want to share a drink first." Cause there is no way that could end badly, right? No, he doesn't actually seem to expect her to say yes, judging by the light, tired, teasing grin.
"Of course you love your family," Anais replies to Riordan, smile quirking as she looks after Rowenna. "I love your family, and I'm not even a part of it." She looks around the camp at his offer of a drink, clearly tempted. "Maybe…just one," she says when she looks back to the lord. "Out here, of course. In case Roslyn wakes up and is willing to receive a visitor." And not at all because she likes it here.
Blinking in pleasant surprise, Riordan grins brightly at Anais. "What would you prefer? Wine, beer, or something a bit tougher?" He is nothing if not a attentive host. And, while she mulls the over, he drops his voice a bit lower, murmuring just for her, "I swear, I'm not trying to get you in trouble. I just… could use a drink. And, I like the company." Her company in particular. It isn't said, but it's strongly alluded to.
Hugh appears back from whatever odd job he was sent on. A squire's life is a busy one. But now he is back to cramp Riordan's style. e's guessing he'll be fetcdhing drnks.
"You choose," Anais suggests in regards to drinks, smile flickering uncertainly. "Surprise me." Everything in her good sense is shouting 'BAD IDEA' right now, but it's just so tempting to stay here for a little longer, where at least the fights make sense. "I'm surprised you're here, actually, Lord Riordan," she continues, looking for a place to sit. "It seems half the men in the camps are all out trying to drink all the taverns in Seagard dry. And line the pockets of every whore on the wharf."
"Weren't you supposed to be fetching a waster?" Riordan asks Hugh as the lad cramps his style… er, appears. But he waves the question aside, likely assuming he got nabbed for some other odd errand. Poor squire. "Never mind. Rowenna… needs some alone time. I'll spar with you in the morning. Promise." Even if there's a fair chance he might end up hung over. He glances over at Anais at her response, grinning, "Are you sure? I'm not lauded for my good decision making, recently." He's teasing. Mostly. At the question, he chuckles, moving to fetch a camp stool which he offers to Anais. "Honestly, until Rowenna's news, I had thought to enjoy a rather sober night. Or next few days. I'm afraid I got rather inebrieted just recently… with Lady Valda, no less." For some reason, he reaches up instinctively and rubs at his cheek without thinking.
Hugh looks back and forth between Riordan and Anais. "Yes…" He pulls out a waster… "But then I had to…" He trails off as Riordan glosses over that, and he nods, "All right. You want me to bring drinks?" Hugh certainly isnt afraid to choose. It dawns on him suddenly what the situation here is, and he's going to be helpful if possible and see what he can pick up as well.
"With Lady Valda?" Anais echoes, brows furrowing slightly as she peers at Riordan. "Surely you mean /you/ had a bit too much to drink in the lady's presence. I…have a hard time picturing Lady Valda tipsy, let alone drunk." She takes a seat on the stool as he offers it, smoothing a hand over her skirts. "I had a bit too much after the tea party went south, though," she admits. "Rowenna had brought some of the reaver stuff, and Saffron had certainly had enough, and there were just…a lot of half-full glasses." There's a bit of a wince, though she follows it with a self-deprecating smile. "Anyhow. After all of the drama with Rosanna and Katrin, I needed something." She pauses, tilting her head curiously. "Rosanna's courting Lord Rutger, though, isn't she?"
"I had to deal with it. With her. And after I realized I could not stand doing it sober… well, the rest was easy," Riordan says, with a wryly satisfied grin. "In the lady's defense, though, she likely wouldn't have if I hadn't made it clear it was her only chance of getting free of her room anytime this year." Yes, he's admitted to blackmailing Valda into getting drunk. Quietly. Turning to Hugh, he nods, "Sure. You decide. There are a few choice items in my things." Despite the earlier proclomation that he had intended to remain sober. Apparently he likes to also be prepared for anything. Then, turning back to Anais, he says, "Last I checked, which admittedly hasn't been in a week or two. I haven't heard anything to the contrary, anyhow. Why?"
Hugh puts the waster aside and moves to fetch drinks, disappearing for several minute before returning with jug of wine. It's really not bad stuff that Rio must have brought along. He also has two goblets and a couple of purloined jam pastries. And while the source of the wine is known, one might wonder the source of the pastries. Best not to ask. Good quality, though. He returns and serves the drinks and pastries in time to hear about Lady Valda. His eye are curious as hell and he has to bite his tongue from asking questions.
"Oh, nothing," Anais waves a hand to the question. "I was just thinking, is all. About Katrin and Rosanna and how they snipe at each other. Trying to put a reason to it, I suppose." Her smile quirks as she laughs softly. "I should know better than that, though. Some women just don't care for each other." Pausing, she presses a thumb to her lips to hold back a broader smile. "Gods. I imagine it must chafe Katrin not to say something along the lines of a Nayland not being good enough for a Haigh, but apparently just fine for a Groves." Taking a drink from Hugh with a small smile and a nod of thanks, she looks back to Riordan. "Do you know why your family bought up the Groves surplus, by the way? It seems to be a sticking point in the negotiations with your brother."
"Lady Katrin is the one that Rafferdy…?" Riordan begins, before just giving a frustrated sigh. "Seven hells, this is all rather a entangled mess. I'm just glad I get to use my gender as an excuse to stay out of the cut-throat world of lady politics. Flaming sugar." He snorts to himself, accepting the wine from Hugh with a grateful nod. And, seeing the pastries, gives his squire a large grin. When did squires start being useful? This one is a keeper. "What's that?" he then asks, looking back at Anais, raising an eyebrow? "What do you mean, sticking point? Doesn't Lord Terrick want part of it as Roslyn's dowry?" He shakes his head, not in a negative but in an effort to clear away confusion, not having been present for the negotiations. "What exactly is the problem? What has Rutger said about it?"
If Riordan cannot follow it, Hugh cannot hope to. He will file it away. Useful Hugh is still new and a useful squire can lurk about and learn what is going on. Crumbs on his own tunic are evidence of benefit received. He hangs back a bit now.
"Of course we want part of it," Anais smiles ruefully. "That's a large part of everything we're doing right now, is being able to feed ourselves." She takes a sip of the wine, humming her approval before she continues. "It's just that Lord Rutger seemed…reluctant to part with very much of it. He said he'd have to check with his father on the figures. I believe we left negotiations requesting forty percent of the Groves surplus and thirty of the Nayland harvest. We'd begun with seventy-five percent of the Groves surplus and a thirty percent reduction in tariffs through Stonebridge, but your brother seemed reluctant to part with the surplus. Which confused me," she admits, taking one of the pastries and nibbling at the edge. "I was under the impression that Stonebridge was thriving, and the Mire untouched by the troubles of the invasion."
Riordan takes a fair bit of the wine into him as he response. He'll reach for one of the pastries, too, and offer it to Anais. "I'll see what I can do, Anais. But if I understand the figures right, seventy-five percent is exhorbiantly high, with the coin it took to purchase it all. Likely more then a dowry is worth. But," he says, holding up a hand to forestall objection, "I'm not as familiar with the figures as Rutger. He's the one who oversaw the deal. I'll speak to him, he'll speak to my father… and I'll try to make this work. I swear. You know I want this too."
Hugh stands by and fills the goblets again, or at least Riordan's as his Ser makes short work of the wine. He smells faintly of wine himself, as well as horse, and 15 year old boy. He patiently attends, more patient than one might expect. Patience has earned him some things, though, and might be one of the qualities that his Uncle Rickart might have seen as inspiring him to appoint him to Riordan. Or it could be that he was the only one old enough and his uncle could remember the name of. In any event, there he stands.
"Well it /is/ a negotiation," Anais points out with some amusement, wry. "Obviously we didn't expect him to agree to the first figure we named. It's just that he made it seem as though you had a pressing need for it, is all." She takes another bite of the pastry, considering as she chews, then flicks her fingers dismissively. "I know you want it to work, Riordan. And maybe if we hadn't been so foolish, we'd still be in charge of the negotiations. But we weren't, and now it's in Jacsen's and Rutger's hands. And…And there's so little trust. Your brother asked for some sort of assurance that Roslyn wouldn't be set aside after the marriage, you know."
"He what!?!" Riordan asks, voice rising, launching the newly filled wine cup at the fire. Even as the flames raise to lick the alcohol, Riordan rises too, suddenly pacing. "Fuck. Setting her aside… a better way to get Jerold fucking Terrick back on his high horse, I've yet to hear it. Do you know that was a rather particular sore point with your dear goodfather? He rather pointedly besmirched the way my father's first marriage was annulled… never mind that the marriage went an additional ten years, without another child, after Rebecca was born? And so of course, Rutger brings up… fuck." At this point, Riordan is more frustrated then angry, clenching his fists as he continues to stalk around back and forth. Catching sight of Hugh, he gestures off in the direction of elsewhere. "Hugh, there's a black bottle in my tent. Fetch it for me. Oh, and then find a guard. There needs to be a guard on my brother at all times. He's like to run off and elope if we don't keep an eye on him. Tell them they're not to take orders to the contrary from him, and to report to me anything suspicious." Cause, you know. It's Rafferdy. He's a bit tricksy. "He's in his tent right now."
Hugh jumps at Riordan's rant, and loses his eyebrows into his hairline. "Yes, Ser!" And thank goodness he didnt trade the black bottle for the pastries. But off he scrambles. He brings the black bottle back, only to turn around and take off to fulfill part two of the errand.
Anais' brows rise at the display of temper, head tilting as she watches Riordan pace. "That's a bit of irony, isn't it?" she murmurs, taking a measured sip from her glass. "Ten years." A sip, and she shifts a bit on the stool, crossing her legs and letting her feet swing a bit. "Your father stayed with his wife for ten years when he only got one daughter out of the arrangement, and Lord Jerold holds it against him. But eight months into my marriage, with Jacsen nearly unconscious for three of them and the Roost under siege for another two, and they act as though-" She cuts herself off with a rueful laugh, shaking her head and taking a larger swallow of the wine. "That's rich."
Riordan turns his head sharply at that. If he was mainly just frustrated and annoyed, Anais' words cause his temper to flair in full. This time, though, it's on Anais' behalf. "They're already talking about…?" he breaths, incredulously. He stares at her for a moment, and then his lips curl back in a rather fierce grin. "Let them," he murmurs, thankfully keeping his voice low. Somehow, it makes his next threat more crediable, as he says, "Let them, and then you come to me, and we'll take them apart, brick and mortar. We'll show them the high ground. And just before the last of it tumbles down around their ears, they'll look up to see you, a Harpy cloak around your shoulders and holding a bouncing baby boy sporting the Nayland nose."
Anais stills at his words, her glass still held to her lips as she watches him. Slowly she lowers it, her cheeks flaming as she slips from the stool to pace a few steps herself, turning her back to him. "Riordan." She raises a hand to her lips, shaking her head, before she turns around again. "You can't say things like that," she says quietly. "It's not- Your father needs you to marry Isolde. To secure Stonebridge properly. We're trying to make a peace between two families. We're trying to /end/ a senseless feud. Don't…Don't worry about me. I can take care of myself. I don't need to be rescued." Except when there are bandits, but that's totally beside the point.
Riordan seems to come back to himself, a little, at Anais' reactions. The anger is still there, but it becomes slightly tempered. "My father needs a Nayland son for Isolde. There's more then one of us. And if you think my father wouldn't just up the chance to thumb his nose at the Terricks, especially in a way that makes him look like the better man? Then you clearly haven't met my father." It's around then that Hugh swings by with the black bottle, so it takes a moment before they are more or less alone again. Except for Anais' ever watchful, trusty maid of course. "Anais," he murmurs, softly, stepping closer to her, but still with enough space for them to at least mostly be appropriate. "Yes, I want this feud over with. But I'm also not a complete idiot. You're the only one of them that's really fighting for this. If we lose you, it's done. And then what? You're back to the Banefort in disgrace, or off to a Motherhouse?" He shakes his adamently. "No." The word is said harshly, passionately. "This isn't about rescuing you, Anais. It isn't about me being your white knight, or you a damsel in distress. I think we both know which of us is likely more in distress most of the time." Even in his fierce protective anger for him, he can slip in a joke. But then it's back to the softly spoken truths. "You may be the woman who wanted a cottage on the beach, but you're also the woman who stood toe to toe with the reavers, with death, and said no. That is what this is about. If they do this… You will not go quietly into the night. You will not vanish without a fight. You are going to live on, and I will damn well be there to give you the push you need if that is what it takes."
"I'm going /nowhere/ in disgrace," Anais objects fiercely, jaw tensing before she looks away to try to hide the flicker of temper. "I don't even think they could. Not with- Jacsen's not exactly- /Dammit/ Riordan, why do you make me think about these things? Why do you-" She turns away again, holding a hand to her brow. "Where were you when your brother married Isolde?" she murmurs more softly. "Everything used to be so simple. Know what you want. Know how to get it. Reach out and take it. And it was knowing, not…/feeling/. Not wondering, not any of this senseless-" Finishing a sentence is beyond her for a moment, and she drains what remains in her glass before simply holding it out to him without looking.
"Would it have mattered?" Riordan asks Anais, very quietly. "If I was here? Would you have settled for a third son, even a favorite son, with nothing to his name but tourney wins?" He smiles at her, and it's clear he doesn't expect an answer. They probably both know what it would be. And he doesn't seem to take offense, not at all. Instead, he just silently takes her cup, and fills it. The only problem is, he has the black bottle in his hand. And as his mind is elsewhere, it isn't until after he hands it back to her that he realizes what he did. "Oh, damnit. That's… not wine," he murmurs, apologetically. Which is likely obvious, by the light amber color, and the rather sharp and potent smell coming off it. Not reaver honey, either.
"I don't know." Anais looks to the glass, nostrils flaring slightly as she takes a sniff of whatever it is. "Jaremy was…" She pauses, shaking her head. "Jaremy," she says instead, "Was an object lesson in something that looks too good to be true. I did what I was supposed to do. I found a good match, and I took it. On paper, it was the best possible arrangement. I would've been a fool to let it slip through my fingers. Now…" She trails off, looking down into her glass. "Now I wonder if it was worth it. What is it, if not wine?" she asks, lifting the glass to take a cautious sip without waiting for the answer.
"Something I found while raiding the cellars at the Tower," Riordan says. "Lady Valda and I went through nearly two bottles of the stuff. It's pretty potent. She says it comes from the Summer Isles." Riordan takes a quick swig from the bottle itself in an attempt to demonstrate, but more then likely they do it at about the same time. Very, very potent stuff. The kind that grows hair in places you never thought you had. But rich, and sharp, and surprisingly pleasant after it starts to go down. Even with his recent experience with the stuff, Riordan still gasps a bit at the first swig. He'll try another, then put the bottle down for now. And he'll keep an eye on Anais. If she goes any further then a few small sips, he'll be rude and take the cup from her. He's not actually trying to get her drunk. That could be bad for them both. "Just straight love, like in the songs, isn't enough either," he points out quietly, speaking from the opposite side of experience as Anais.
Anais presses her lips together tightly as she swallows, just barely holding back a coughing fit. Still, she blinks several times, pressing a hand to her chest. "That's…powerful," she murmurs, though she shakes her head to his words. "I always knew nothing but love would lead to a messy failure. Or misery. I knew I couldn't count on being able to marry for love. So I never…let myself think about it at all. Why bother?" She takes another small sip, letting it linger in her mouth this time. "I think I missed something important, though. I don't know what it was, but I missed something."
"I'm hardly the expert, am I?" Riordan asks, with a light shrug of his shoulders, doing his best to hide the small smile that comes from her reaction to the drink. "But I'd settle for a woman who I could trust implicitly, as easy as breathing. A woman I could respect, in ever sense of the word. Someone who would work with me towards the same goals, and be willing to compromise to do it. And a woman who looked to me with all these same qualities, and found herself well satisfied in the match." There is a pause, though, as he holds Anais' gaze. "But there are other things that would make it better, I expect," he adds, very, very quietly. He holds her gaze for a long moment, and then will reach out to take the cup. There might be a light brushing of the fingers, there, but it's very brief. Surely accidental. "Anais…" he begins, before giving her a rueful smile. He doesnt finish the thought, and lets out a wry grin and continues to talk very quietly. "I truly think we bring out both the best and the worst in eachother. Or maybe only the best, at the worst possible times. Regardless… Perhaps we best get you…" He can't finish the sentance, not right now. It's too bitter in his mouth. But she knows. Home. To her husband. Jarod's brother.
Anais holds his gaze as he takes the glass, though she holds on to the glass too, releasing it only reluctantly. "It all seems so easy with you," she says in a soft voice. "Tell me…tell me it wouldn't be. That I'm just not seeing everything, and I'm making it look better in my imagination than it would ever be in life." Yet as she speaks, she looks to his lips, his hands, his throat, clearly using her imagination. Her cheeks flush with the alcohol and the thoughts, though she doesn't move any closer to him.
"I'd prefer not to lie to you," Riordan says quietly, despite himself, or perhaps because of himself, wrapping joke with truth and tying it all up with a boyish grin. But it's a distracted murmur and smile, because he notices those looks, and they make him look at her, in that same way. "I don't know, Anais," Riordan says, after a moment, a long moment. "I really don't." Still holding her gaze, he takes another sip from the cup. Quite possibly where her lips were a moment again. Must be another accident. Or just imagined.
"I have to go." Anais turns away quickly, closing her eyes against a veritable deluge of inappropriate thoughts. It can't quite hide the increase in her breathing, but it's better than the alternative. "If Roslyn starts to feel more herself, could you please tell her Justin would appreciate it if she'd visit him?" Her voice is low, and though she may try to pass it off as the drink, there's more than alcohol behind it.
"I will," Riordan says in quiet acknowledgement of her request. "And Anais…" He is still looking at her, if she happens to look back. But whatever he was going to say, as he seems to be doing more and more around her, he thinks better of it. So it's a moment before he replaces it with a quiet, "Good night, Anais."
"Good night, Riordan," Anais murmurs, turning only far enough to see her maid. It's enough to grant her a glimpse of him, which is almost too much. "Nina." The maid takes Anais' hand, and where Anais can't look, Nina manages an apologetic look for Riordan. "Good evening, my lord," the handmaid nods, and then the pair departs…at a slightly faster pace than might be strictly appropriate.