|Summary:||Anais, Igara, and Lucienne share tea and gossip.|
|Guest Suite — Four Eagles Tower|
|A guest suite! Charming and well-appointed, of course.|
|August 19, 288|
Igara has been on her feet again for several days, at this point, but has shown no strong desire to leave, having been able to take care of some great deal of needful correspondence (by courier from the town, not Raven, nothing as dire as that) from here, and finally having her promised walk with Rowan in the gardens, under the careless eye of a young maid willing enough to let them be a bit to themselves. And among the last things on her list of tasks to complete here at the Roost is to give something back to her kind hostesses, going into town and buying up some fine dainties on which they might snack at tea, coming back and setting them all out herself, as a good and industrious girlchild should, even making the tea without the aid of sworn, a nice concoction in strawberry wine cut half-and-half with water and brewed with a tea flavored to match well with the wine. A fine drink for a girls' afternoon in. She's in nothing too fancy, a day dress with a fine cape collar to dress it up, but no gown-sleeves to get in the way as she sets out plates, saucers, cups, glasses, ware, fine white lace-edged napkins from her own collection, everything just so.
This morning, Anais left the rooms shared by the Banefort girls in a chilly mood, hardly speaking to anyone. Now, as she returns, she seems to be in a much better mood, a faint smile lingering on her features. The handmaid trailing her today looks like she can hardly believe her luck. Yesterday's handmaiden had the supreme ill-fortune to be involved in both a slaughter, and an altercation with a visitor. Today's has had nothing worse than a trip to the reading room, and now a tea party. It's clearly her lucky day.
"Lady Igara," Anais greets as she steps in, smile flashing. "How lovely this is. I hope you're feeling well today?"
Ah, tea. Come the afternoon, Lucienne's braids have been tugged at in frustration several dozen times over and are looking a little worse for wear. Her dress is simple, though still of the fine silk she likes. Her own favourite handmaiden, Hattie, is wringing her hands as she follows her lady into the room just after the Lady Banefort. "But milady," she protests, only to be pointedly ignored by Lucienne. A breath, close to a sigh, and Lu summons a genuine smile for the others inside the room. She adds a polite, "Good afternoon," on the heels of Anais' greeting, though a hint of the days' stress shows through in her tone.
"I'm feeling very well, I thank you, Lady Anais," Igara dips into a short, chipper courtsey. "Please, have a seat," she gestures with one hand, the other tucked behind her back as she intends to serve, herself, holding up a hand of forebearance should the handmaiden endeavor to do so. "And I hope the day is finding you well? Ah— Lady Lucienne," she smiles, dipping into another short motion of greeting, though a further perusal of Lucienne's features causes the smile to fade. "Goodness. I hope all is not lost," she remarks, tone threaded with a heavy concern despite its spark of light jocularity. "Please, take a seat— if you do have time to stay? I would not keep you from… anything of import, of course."
"Better now than I was first thing in the morning, Lady Igara," Anais says ruefully, shaking her head with a faint smile. "I'm afraid I let a few things from last night get under my skin." She half turns as Lucienne enters, brow arching slightly. "Though it looks as though I haven't been alone, at least. You look like you need to have a seat and stop worrying about things for a bit, Luci," she suggests, moving to do just that herself.
A warmth seeps into Lucienne's smile, and she shakes her head as she dips to one of the offered seats. "My dear Lady Igara, I have been looking forward to taking tea with you /all day/." The emphasis suggests it's been a long one, at that. Hattie hovers behind her mistress, fingers twitching with the itch to start rebraiding. "This all looks lovely, Igara," says Lu, impressed by the spread. "We've been Seven-blessed to have such a wonderful guest as yourself."
Igara straightens just a little bit, going rosy-cheeked but restraining a smile at the praise. "I can only hope to give something back for the warmth and graciousness with which I have been received in this place." She gives a cursory glance toward the handmaidens, then looks to each of her two guests, "I think that we shall be well on our own, shall we not?" she asks, obliquely, whether they would have the handmaidens dismissed. "I have brewed up some teaberry-tea," she admits with a winsome little smile of girlish playfulness, moving with pristine bearing if a somewhat girlish gait to take up a thick red flower-shaped bit of knitwork in one hand, using it to shield her hand of heat on the belly of the teapot, where it steadies the body while she lifts the pot by the handle and turns to the table to pour.
"I can't imagine that the three of us could get into too much trouble sipping tea here in the ladies rooms," Anais agrees with Igara, smoothing a hand over her skirts and settling back comfortably. For all her assertions that she's feeling fine, there's still a slight undercurrent of distraction in her manner, fingers flicking through the fabric of her skirts. "I hope you haven't been too busy this morning, either of you?" she asks, arching a brow to the other women.
Agreeing wholeheartedly, Lucienne twists a look over her shoulder to her hovering servant. "Hattie." The girl bobs a curtsy, dips her head, and makes to leave. That done, Lu shifts a look to Anais, something wry tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Just the usual. There was a dilemma with some salt in the kitchens this morning, I'll be surprised if the cook's yelling didn't carry all the way to town. And yourself, Anais? Igara?" Now that the formalities of greeting have occurred, she switches to the more comfortable firstname basis. Her eyes drop briefly to her lap, where a forefinger and thumb pick at her skirt to settle it out, ankles crossed comfortably underneath.
As the daughter of the Lord of the realm, Lucienne's cup is filled first, a gentle slant producing an easy pour from the slender spout. "Would you have anything in it, Luci? I've sliced a lemon, and there's some honey I discovered at market this morning. It had, ah, the saddest tale to its selling," she recalls. "I did go out the tower; it was quite a fine excursion on foot. I think my feet are only glad to be put back to work. One feels so genuinely useless lying abed. I was positively yearning to be kept busy," she smiles to Anais.
"I actually had a bit of a discussion with Rowan this morning," Anais admits, looking up to Igara with a small smile. "You're a lucky woman, Lady Igara. He really is a very kind man. Easy to speak with. Comfortable. A very balm." She looks to the others then, curious. "Did you not hear about our visitor last night?" she asks of them. "I suppose I thought it would be all through the tower by the time we woke."
"A slice of lemon would be most agreeable," nods Luci, lifting another smile for Igara. She arches a brow at the mention of the honey story; care to share? Her skirt settled satisfactorily, she attempts to contain the amusement in her smile. "And halfway to Riverrun," she tells Anais. "Is it really as bad as they say?"
Igara takes up a contented smile and a pair of delicate silver tongs, taking up a slice of lemon from the splayed fan-pile of them she'd made on a tiny platter for the table. There's a tinge of red in the middle of the lemon slice that creeps out in pinkish veins toward the rind. "I've put a wee drop of cherry syrup on them, see? It takes away some of the sting of the tart, if you'd care for a slice to snack on, as well." This slice gets slid carefully at a diagonal into the tea, in without a splash and then bobbing to the top of the tea, almost covering it over. She takes up the teapot and fills Anais' cup with equal care. "And would you care for any honey or lemon, Anais? I heard half a dozen things on my way out of the tower, and another half dozen on my way in, but I was unable to put together a coherent narrative of it, nor did I stop to question anyone on it, as I was bound for market and then to set up tea. What has transpired?" she wonders. She can tell the honey story later.
"A touch of honey, please," Anais requests, sighing softly as she shakes her head. "It was…Well. It was not good," she answers Lucienne carefully. "It was- Well, you know how it is, Luci. Men do things one way, and women do them another. The lady steward was /not/ truly polite. But she did couch her words in the barest semblance of courtesy, and Jaremy did not let the well-implied insult pass. She implied," she adds, looking up to Igara, "That Terrick's Roost had sent someone to spy on Oldstones. Of course she also said she gave the man a full tour, and then followed him back here to Terrick's Roost, so I can't say it all makes complete sense."
Lucienne hides her first reaction to Anais' response behind her teacup, blowing carefully across the surface of the lemon in the liquid to cool it some. Her wide eyes speak some of the dismay. A sip is had, and a nod is given in appreciation to Igara. "The tea is divine," she murmurs. But on the story at hand… "And so he sent her away. Banished, is a the word I heard used in one instance?"
Igara takes up the jar of honey and lifts from it the silver pinecone crafted on the end of a slender rod, positioning the jar next to Anais' cup so that it doesn't drip, even so much as on the saucer, before a droplet can swell heavy enough to pull a string of a tail along behind it and down to dance spirals through the wine tea. The pinecone returns to the honey jar, and is set back into place. "Banished? Oh, goodness me. It hardly seems the manner in which to quell an insinuation, does it? I hope that this doesn't have to do with the Lili not being able to make tea today," she frets a little bit over the missing fourth for the table. "Do you expect there's anything to it?" she gets rid of her worrying eyebrows in time to smile brightly for Luci's compliment. "I'm honored that you find it so, Luci." And she takes up a tray of a selection of three small snacks to distribute next. Though dainty mouthfuls, they seem each thoughtfully crafted. Wine-sauteed mushrooms on small slips of honey-glazed pork. Little pastry-dumplings filled with a cheese and spinach concoction. Crushed nuts and pepper in a rich, fruity oil with small slivers of bread for dipping. She returns to Lucienne, a somewhat larger set of tongs in hand than the first time, ready for her to select what she'd like for her plate.
"Banished…may have been used," Anais allows, pressing the tips of her fingers to her brow. "It was rather uncomfortable. I tried to smooth things over, of course. But the woman simply kept /pressing/. I hate to say it, but I half suspect she was trying to cause trouble. As for Lili…" She trails off with a sigh, shaking her head and taking a sip of the tea. "As soon as the steward left, she promptly accused me of betraying Jaremy and emasculating him for /daring/ to ask him to gentle his hand. It was all rather…" Once more she shakes her head, sipping. "Is there something between her and Jaremy? It's the sort of thing I would expect if she had feelings for him, perhaps."
Lucienne pairs her teacup to her saucer and sets the aside for a moment as Igara approaches with the morsels and tongs. Mmm, wine-satueed mushrooms and pork look delicious, and she chooses one to go with another of the little pastries for her plate. "/Thank/ you, Igara," bears a mention, before a sympathetic slide of her eyes back to Anais. She blinks a few times, possibly surprised to hear the news of Liliana's behaviour. "Really? That's…" A small hum, is what Lu sees fit to describe it as. Her brows sink into a furrow. "It all sounds like a troubling mess, to me. Anais, I'm /so/ sorry your time here has begun this way." She sounds rather as though she longs to say it's usually otherwise, but… perhaps it's not.
Igara lifts one of the mushroom-topped pork slices and sets it next to a spinach-stuffed pastry on Luci's plate, looking content enough to be doing so, proving herself a model of domestic industry— when she's not trapped in bed. She turns to Anais, then, keeping her expression clear of clouds to suit the mood of the tea, but issuing the general note, "It is not befitting a Lady to pine after a Lord otherwise promised. Aye, certainly, to pine at all. Though if I am let to speak frankly, Anais, and — do bear in mind I hold you in only the highest regard," she sounds almost pre-apologetic. "I would not question my Lord Rowan in public. But you and I are separate people… you have such a strength and wisdom about you, I can understand it must be difficult to be silent. And furthermore, as I was not there to see, I may certainly never judge you on it. Some Ladies are quite good at offering suggestions in the most wonderfully cordial manners. Would you care for a bit of pork?"
"Well I wasn't exactly haranguing him with a frying pan," Anais waves a hand to one side. "I've a bit more sense than that." She sips again, grimacing. "But I wouldn't be much of a wife if I didn't make any effort at keeping the peace either, would I? A fight with Oldstones isn't in anyone's best interest. Oh, my, Igara, the pork looks beautiful," she adds, looking up with a brief, distracted smile. "I'd love a piece, thank you. It's just that he's /told/ me how valuable Oldstones could be as an ally, and with Lord Anton courting Lady Lucienne…Honestly, Luci, I just couldn't bear the thought that you might lose out on this over a steward who had her back up over what could easily have been a misunderstanding."
Lucienne has made an effort to remain quiet for a time now, waiting for the gracious hostess to finish serving before even contemplating taking part in her snacks. She does take the time to contemplate each of their little components, though, as she listens carefully. The mushrooms look so perfectly cooked, after all. When she does look up again, it's firstly to Igara for her contribution to the conversation. A nod is given. And then to Anais, she delivers after a deep, wistful breath: "I fully understand, dear Anais, how… vexing my brothers and their ways can be. I do. Sometimes they do not have the benefit - or the foresight - to seek counsel upon these matters before reacting." It's a shame, that. "Although," she disclaims, "If Lili saw fit to say something… without having been there I cannot say, of course."
Igara puts one of the pork slices on Anais' plate, as well, "Will you have a pastry, too?" she asks. Glancing back toward Lucienne, her mouth wrestles down a giddy smile to see her examining the food. "Please, eat, drink… no need to stand on ceremony, here, 'tis just we girls," she quirks a little grin with a lift of one shoulder to punctuate the sentiment. "In any case, I should think that the person whose opinion is of the essence here is Lord Ser Jaremy's, himself. He didn't seem cross with you, did he, Anais?"
"Exactly," Anais agrees with Igara. "And no, Jaremy was fine with it. I'd love to try a pastry, yes," she adds, taking another sip of the tea. "Honestly, Luci, is wasn't anything so horrible as to merit her dressing me down in the middle of the courtyard, in front of Jaremy. It isn't as though I told him to stop talking and let the women handle things. I just…" She sighs, reaching up to tuck a piece of hair behind her ear. "I am trying to be fair about it. Her family's just left, and surely that's been unsettling. And she was just telling me how she was concerned about whether or not she'd find a match. So perhaps all of this with the wedding is just salting her wounds, and it's made her…sensitive."
"I agree with you, certainly," says Lucienne to Anais in earnest, "If Liliana felt she /must/ say something, that was not an appropriate time." She shakes her head disapprovingly to boot, and picks up the pork morsel from her plate. "If you like, I might speak to her about it? Although I don't believe it is Jaremy that she pines for, if any." With a scandalous smile she leans forward a little to divulge in a quiet voice, "She tells me that my dearest /Jacsen/ is the fairest of all my brothers." And having betrayed her lady-in-waiting so easily, she leans back to nibble daintily on her snack.
Igara slips a pastry right next to the pork slice, and then her cheeks are turning all sorts of amusing colors as talk turns to lads and their respective fairness to look upon. But when she comes around to her own plate, unloading a few slices of bread and using a spoon to smear some of the pepper-peanut spread onto them, and taking a pork slice, herself, she just tucks her chin toward her shoulder to half-stifle a giggle at the bit of gossip. But the mirth draws back like a wave into the ocean, leaving some seafoam sympathy in her eyes while she pours herself some tea, as well, and finally sits. "Not find a match? Why, she is so very pretty, I can hardly imagine she has a dearth of suitors."
"Well, and it's hard to argue," Anais smiles ruefully to Lucienne, reaching for her plate to take a small bite from the pastry. "Mmm," she murmurs, hand over her mouth. "Lovely." A sip of the tea, and she's laughing again. "Jacsen is /quite/ fair to look upon. And clever, as well. I suggested as much to her, but she's of a mind that she's simply not a good enough match. For anyone I could name, at least. Personally, I'm suspecting she's being picky," she suggests, looking up from her glass conspiratorially. "I cannot imagine there aren't perfectly suitable household knights. Shayla married a captain of a war galley. He was knighted, of course, but he wasn't noble."
The pork is delectable enough to warrant a slow, savouring manner of chewing. "That is /beautiful/, Igara," pays Lucienne as she's able to without a mouthful. "He has a subtlety to his appeal, was Lili's opinion of Jace. The Tall Oaks girls… perhaps are not as refined as some. Maybe she lacks confidence in her own appeal," surmises Lu as she reaches for her teacup again.
Igara takes a moment while her lemon slice is stewing in her tea to spread the pepper butter across a slace of bread and nibble through it happily, eyes closing for a moment while she enjoys the last bite of it. "Thank you, thank both of you, both for your kind words and for every kindness I've had of you since coming here. I don't think I've met this Jacsen, but from all you say, perhaps that's best. I think I've spent enough time looking at a fair lad this trip, and I shouldn't be making a habit of it outside of going walking with Rowan. But Lili will find a good match, I'm sure."
"Maybe," Anais sighs to Lucienne. "Anyhow. I'm sorry. That was all very unworthy of me. It's just that I was so taken aback by it all." She shakes her head, taking another bite of the pastry. "I'm sure it was all just a misunderstanding, and everything will be fine in a few days. Are you planning on staying for long, Igara?" she asks, looking to the other woman to change the subject.
Lucienne says nothing further about Liliana, giving a little shrug instead as she lifts her teacup to her lips. Ahhh, sweet teaberry-tea. Over the rim of the cup as she sips, she fixes Anais with a sympathetic look. The cup hovers not far from her mouth between tastes, and her eyes slide to Igara as well. "As much as I'd love to steal you for our own, I imagine you must be missed back at Stonebridge?"
"Not even at Stonebridge," Igara answers, "But at the Mire, in fact. Issie's gone a-visiting, and, yes, I will need to be gone, in all likelihood on the morrow if the weather cooperates. I have a few errands I need to run at Stonebridge, and will likely stay a night or two there before travelling on to the Mire to be reunited with my gentle Cous." She smiles at the thought, if wearily, at the thought of all the travel between here and there. Travel has never sat well with her. "I shall miss you both dearly… and miss seeing Rowan, of course, though I suspect some degree more than vice versa."
"Ah, well." Anais sips, looking to Igara with a small smile. "We shall miss you as well. And I'm sorry that so much of your visit had to be taken up with unpleasantness. Though I can't say that I'm sorry it's allowed you to stay a little longer. Still, I'm sure you must be eager to be back to more familiar surroundings."
"Aye, we will," adds Lucienne to Anais' sentiment. She sips again, eyes fluttering closed for a brief moment, returning to Igara as her lashes part. "Perhaps some occasion might see us together again, in good time," she says, not making mention of the wedding directly. "All that travel sounds most taxing, I must say. Thanks be for a quiet afternoon tea before you embark, dear Igara." She smiles warmly, and raises her cup.
"Yes, it's a blight, travel is," Igara shakes her head, but smiles lopsidedly before taking a sip of the laced tea. "But I can only imagine how it is for the pony," she adds with a giggle. "I will have to chill some of this and have it on the road. It will soothe my nerves, and, if I get through enough of it, put me to sleep 'til Stonebridge. It's just all that bumping in the road, it… makes me go quite green."
"I hope you'll be able to make it back for the wedding, Lady Igara," Anais smiles crookedly to the other woman. "Though I promise, I will /completely/ understand if you can't. So much travel back and forth is wearing on anyone. It's a pity you can't sail to more of your destinations. Personally, as much as I may enjoy riding, I'd much prefer to sail whenever it's possible."
Lucienne sends a chuckle into her teacup, judging by the echo of which is nigh empty now. She pairs it again with her saucer and trades both for the pastry left on her plate. Cheekily, she shrugs her lady shoulders and admits, "I prefer to stay in my castle, and have the guests come to me." A beat, "Stay in this castle, that is. I'm yet to know whether or not Oldstones is fit for a lady wife to receive her visitors in. I don't suppose that rider saw fit to tell you, Anais?"
"I fear by boat isn't much the easier," Iggie answers apologetically. "A road has bumps, but they are wee… the bumps in the waters… they can be awfully high, can't they? For my part, I would be glad to see the wedding. I… well," she hesitates, "I will have to see where my cousin's heart is on the matter. If she doesn't want to go, well— you understand, I should stay with her."
"Of course," Anais agrees with Igara. "And I would understand that as well," she adds, smile rueful. "Absolutely." She sets her tea aside, reaching for the pork to take a small bite before answering Lucienne. "It's…Well, I got the impression that it was in a fit state to be lived in? Though not that it was in pristine condition, or very…elegant."
"It would warm my heart to see Issie again," murmurs Lucienne, in case the conveying of such a sentiment to her one-time sister might help sway her. "Fit." This, she repeats a little louder. "A fit state to be lived in. Well, that sounds grand, doesn't it? Fit." The words are, quite obviously, dripping with sarcasm. Good-natured, but still.
Mayhap it's the tea that loosens her tongue, or just the comfort of good company, but the rest of the afternoon passes between the ladies jovially and without hindrance to the conversation, especially given the awkward topics have now been navigated. It's a welcome respite from the weary matters going on elsewhere in the castle, and dear Igara will most certainly be a presence missed upon her departure.