|Summary:||After Jaremy's recovery, he and Anais discuss current events and future plans.|
|Related Logs:||None. Or all of them. Or something in between.|
|Roof Terrace — Four Eagles Tower|
|This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenellations are about.|
|August 11, 288|
Anais takes Jaremy's arm as he rises, as much for propriety as to offer tacit support should he need it. One of the Banefort guards joins them when they step inside the tower, though he does linger far enough back for propriety's sake. "I'm glad you're well," she sighs as soon as they're out of earshot of visitors and servants alike. "Things have been…interesting, and I've been so uncertain of how I should or could act in them." She leads the way toward the stairs and the terrace, seeking somewhere with a little more privacy.
"I could see it in your eyes that things haven't been as well as expected, just don't expect me to die sick in a bed before I'm well old, Anais." Jaremy replies, bringing his free hand in to brush affectionately against her forearm as they reach their quiet place. "I never had time to speak to you, but…" He lowers his voice. "…I'm afraid my father's going to do something that will risk war with the Naylands. Did you receive word back from Banefort?"
"Just today," Anais nods at the question, turning to lean back against the crenellations, unafraid of the drop below. "And there's…more to that," she adds, a bit more cautiously. "I spoke with Amelia. Several times. She was…" Trailing off, she sighs. "I suspect you know why she did what she did and why you did what you did better than I do, so I won't belabor it. But she gave me a few things to think about. I looked into the records regarding Stonebridge, but there was nothing /here/ to help. Even the arrangements regarding the proceeds of the taxes merely name the rightful overlords, rather than using family names."
"My father, though…" She pauses, looking down to pull a letter from her pocket. "He says that Lord Tordane was at both the Banefort and the Crag during the time in question. And that he was marked for spending a good deal of time with the Harlaws, for all people. But he also said there were a couple of knights from Terrick's Roost at both tournaments. Did you know that?"
"No, I didn't." Jaremy replies, lowering his head to gaze down at the letter in her hands. "I hear rumors of the tourney but I wasn't there myself. All of that, gods, I would have been just a young baby at the time. The Harlaws though? Gods, Ser Harras Harlaw was at the joust. That strikes me rather odd, though, that Lord Tordane would have been so friendly with the lot." He raises his eyes to hers, speaking in low, hushed tones. "What do you make of this?"
"That it's entirely /possible/ Isolde wasn't his?" Anais suggests, catching her lower lip between her teeth. "And that perhaps there are men in your own lands who can offer testimony to the timing. But look here," she adds, pointing to one paragraph. "My father wasn't aware that Oldstones was anything more than ruins, Jaremy. Now I know he isn't perfect, and the Banefort is isolated sometimes. But…It makes you wonder, doesn't it? What do we know about Ser Anton? And what he may have to gain in this?"
As Anais mentions Ser Anton and her questions about Oldstones, Jaremy's eyes shift up and down the corridor, making sure there are no servants nearby. Her sworn sword is far enough away, prompting him to reach out and place a hand over her wrist. He turns her wrist gently, pressing her letters close to her. "Anais…" Jaremy locks eyes with her. "…Ser Anton had never made an appearance before but seems to have eyes for my sister, Lucienne. Those damned letters could never give Stonebridge to Gedeon, not unless Valda would allow a bastard to take the seat. Why in the name of the seven would Valda or the Naylands poison Gedeon and let the boy's body be found in their back yard? The fact remains that we do not know this house. I have tried to calm my father but he's bent on sewing his revenge against Lady Valda and the Naylands, and I fear…" He lowers his voice some more. "…I fear he may allow a noble house to be crushed to get his revenge. I do not trust Oldstones either but he refuses to listen to me."
Anais slips the letter back into her pocket with far more facility than a well-behaved young lady should have, without looking away from Jaremy. "There's nothing to gain for certain, even should we disprove Isolde's claim and prove Gedeon's," she shakes her head. "The laws on the tariffs…" She pauses then, blinking, and suddenly grabs Jaremy's hand, her grip tight. "The laws on the tariffs, Jaremy. The taxes. The proceeds from the bridge. Before, five percent came to the Terricks, two and a half each to the Mallisters and the Tullys, with the tithe to the crown. But if Oldstones put Gedeon in, if Stonebridge was an /Oldstones/ holding…Who does Oldstones answer to anyhow?"
"No one is sure. At least no one that I've talked to truly knows, save for that I've heard Lord Tully granted the land and title that Ser Anton inherited. Ser Gedeon stands to gain nothing but is a familial tie to Stonebridge." Squeezing her hand back in return, Jaremy steps closer, lowering his head to half-whisper towards the side of her jaw. "Anais, for all I know Gedeon has a valid claim but something about it seems too convenient. I want to trust them, Seven, because I have a theory my father will try to wed Lucienne to Ser Anton. Part of me wants to naievely believe that there isn't something more going on here, but my instinct tells me otherwise. If this is the case, and Lady Valda is ashamed and in response he gets some Nayland blood and Stonebridge could be granted to whichever ally aids him the most." He leans back, catching her eyes. "Valda is a snake, but she's not this foolish. She's too careful for this."
Anais tenses as he draws closer, her breath catching for a moment. The Banefort guard takes a half a step forward, but she raises a finger, a slight motion of caution. "I-" She pauses as her voice catches, clearing her throat. "I don't know Lady Valda. I can't speak for what she might or might not do. But Jaremy…If Oldstones answers to Tully, then it would behoove both of them for Stonebridge to go to someone sworn to Oldstones. House Tully would double its proceeds from the bridge while rewarding a loyal vassal, and Oldstones would have an important source of /income/, which I can't imagine they have much of if they're rebuilding ruins. And Terrick and Nayland both would be out in the cold."
"Or heavily damaged and diminished from exhausting each other in battle." Jaremy whispers, taking a step back. His ears and cheeks turn a shade darker as he glances to Anais' guard, letting him know that he's backing off and that the young Lady's dignity will remain far intact. He breathes in slowly, turning his head to the side to sigh audibly. "I will try again to speak with my father. Speak is all I can do, as I've no proof, though he's a good man, Anais, he clearly wants to see Lady Valda and Lady Isolde suffer." Turning back to her, Jaremy dips his head until he's sure that he has her eyes. "Anais…I can't let that happen. Not without proof. Their lives would be destroyed over greed. Even though Ser Anton claimed he is not sure but believes the documents are real, he's sworn to my father on his knighthood that they're genuine. When I mentioned to my father that, oath or not, this is a dangerous undertaking to make over so many oaths while not being sure…he silenced me." His jaw muscles tighten.
Still holding his hand, Anais tightens her grip ever so slightly as he steps away, keeping it hidden behind a crenellation with a small, conspiratorial smile. "Is there anything I can do to help?" she asks quietly. "Perhaps if I…Perhaps if he thought that my father would see pursuing this issue as an insult to us? That he'd rather pursue vengeance over the loss of a girl who might be a bastard than focus on his new alliance with us? I don't know, Jaremy." Once more she catches her lower lip between her teeth, concerned. "All I know is that something is /off/ here. Starting with the fact that no one apparently noticed this timing issue when Isolde was /born/."
Allowing his hand to be kept with a small smile, Jaremy turns his back to the wall so that the guard cannot see. He turns his head to her, eyes narrowing as he fights his memory to find something of a plan. "Damn…" He frowns, eyes tipping to the end of the walkway to check their privacy once more. "…I've met in private with Ser Ryker, Isolde's husband. They're preparing defenses. We've made an agreement to fight this on both sides as Lord Nayland himself is preparing for my father's reprisal, up to and including refusal to take the field. So what we have to do is find a way to wedge this situation into a standstill. Perhaps instead of researching Lord Tordane we need to research Ser Anton, though we're running out of time quickly." Jaremy pauses, a serious look coming to his face. "Perhaps if I dared to become a guest of Stonebridge my father would slow…"
"That would be mad," Anais says firmly, slipping her fingers between his. "You'd be lucky if your father didn't assume it was because they captured you. And then you'd be lucky if he didn't disinherit you. But you'd be more likely to start a war than stop one." Pensive, she rests her cheek against the stone, still warm with the heat of the summer day. She pauses then, quirking a brow. "But if my /sisters/ were to visit Stonebridge…" No ulterior motives there whatsoever.
"Seven, love, I couldn't let your sisters risk that. If they were captured then your father himself would come to start that war." Jaremy replies, lowering his gaze to their joined fingers with a small look of pride. He turns her hand over in his, lost in thought. "You're right though. If I place myself publicly against my father he will disinherit me. He is a fair man though, he doesn't trust the Naylands for good reason. They aren't known for their ethics. He will do this alone because he feels it's the safest thing for the region." He runs a hand through his long hair, allowing it to brush over the top of his head so that it falls back into place with a slight bit of futility. "Wait…what if you had a raven sent to Banefort to ask when the next shipment would arrive and how long it took for the war galley to get here? Perhaps if I faced my father and made him realize that a war in this region over Stonebridge would leave Terrick's Roost in danger of Greyjoy reprisal we could get a few extra months from him? I feel if there is a plot, this all rests on my father's action."
"I could ask," Anais says slowly. "Though I'm not sure I see how it would help things. Your father seems like a horse with the bit in his teeth. It will take something spectacular to pull him off this course now. Or else some other victory that assuages his pride. I don't know what that would be, though, or how to give it to him." She pauses, the faintest smile touching one corner of her lips. "You know, my feelings might be a little bit hurt that the betrothal hasn't soothed his pride. We may not be a great house, but we're nothing to scoff at, either."
"No, you're not in the least. Your house are bannersworn to the Lannisters themselves. If things get bad enough word that gets back to the Banefort could likely find its way to Casterly Rock. He won't want to upset Lord Tywin in the least. No…" He shakes his head, turning back to face her again as he carefully keeps their connected hands out of view from the guard. Though the topic is serious, he can't help but smile at their sneaking around. "…I have to face him alone. If this happened publically he'd only press forward. If your father pressed him he'd only press forward. His pride must be kept. If that can't work then the only other option is to try to get information to magically appear in front of Lord Mallister. Though that would be very risky." He smirks wryly. "I'll go to my father. If I come back bruised but victorious, we'll dance, aye?"
"I don't suppose he's a sentimental spot for weddings?" Anais asks wistfully. "I could always summon up a few fretful tears over how I'll possibly have the perfect wedding if we're going to alienate all of our neighbors." Her free hand rises, reaching up for a tentative flick of her fingers against the hair at his temple, shying away from any more lingering touch. "If there's anything I can do, Jaremy…You know you've only to ask. It's important. If we can get just a few more weeks…"
"You may have a point…" Jaremy murmurs, freely turning his head towards her hand, casually accepting and anticipating the small bit of affection she provides him. It's met with a thumb brushed over her knuckles, and for the first time Jaremy looks to her with a genuine sense of connection. Her role as a stranger to him is fading quickly, and he guards himself less before her. "…the wedding. Seven, Anais, you're an archmaester!" He smiles broadly, catching himself before he raises his voice too much. "The wedding would be delayed if this action were taken against the Naylands and Tordanes and I am a knight of the realm. I'd have to take the field. He couldn't forbid me of it. He would risk our wedding, the anger of your father, and…" He blushes darkly. "…his possible future heirs. The betrothal is less than two months away but that's more than enough time. Perhaps if you were to…voice your concern, show him he's picked a brilliant match for his son…you would catch his ear."
Anais's brows rise at his praise, a glimmer of amusement in her features. "I might be a bit young for an archmaester," she suggests, though she can't help but laugh at his enthusiasm. "More than enough time to talk to your father, not nearly enough time to hold a war, and not enough time to rush the wedding any more than it already is," she muses. "Because he might try. Try to rush the wedding, in hopes that he could still have his war. I can't see my father agreeing to that, though. Propriety is important."
"Propriety is very important." Jaremy repeats, eyes narrowing in conspiracy. "After all, you and I have lost a week to my sickness, a week of you and I having time together. To speed the process even further would take away from the future lord and lady of House Terrick from learning how they're going to rule beside each other. These things can't be rushed." His thumb brushes over her knuckles again, eyes lowering to hers. "You know I could see you wanting to speak, waiting for an opportunity to find your place even though we're not wed yet. I think we've just found that very point. So what say you, Anais? Do you wish to speak of this to my father or would you rather wait?"
Anais's lips quirk at his observation. "It's the hardest part," she admits, rueful. "Knowing that some day- that some day this will all be my responsibility. Knowing that the future is tied to what happens now, and it's my future as well. But not wanting to overstep my bounds, not wanting to offend anyone." The shadows of the evening add a grey cast to her eyes, like the warning of a storm on the horizon. "If you think speaking with your father may stay his hand, then I will do it. It's past time I meet him anyhow, don't you think?"
"I think it is. My mother is a strong, beautiful Lady. As are you. Seven know I've angered him enough, perhaps this will require your more delicate approach. I think he's seen my point that we should be careful, though perhaps he feels that time is of the essence. I don't know…" Jaremy shakes his head. "…perhaps he feels the Naylands will dig in." He lifts their connected hand, daring to place a soft kiss to the back of her knuckles. "We'll be okay. I promise to be a good part of your future. We'll share this responsibility. I feel we can do this."
"Don't just feel it, Jaremy," Anais murmurs, lifting her free hand to press it briefly over his heart. "/Know/ it." Cautious, she dares to tap a finger to his brow, a faint smile tugging at her lips even as - or perhaps especially because - her guard clears his throat. "I'll send word to your father begging an audience. And I shall tell him how your recent illness made me think what should happen to me should anything happen to you. And how I fear that should war start before the wedding, I might find myself lost here. I will beg his forbearance. And if I must, then I will gently remind him that the Naylands had half the Riverlands as audience to their wedding to Isolde, and he cannot hope to be outshone when not only the Riverlands but also the Westerlands are bound to attend our wedding."
"Westerlands as well…" Jaremy's eyes tilt to the corners of their sockets in the direction of her guard. Though his back is slightly facing the man, he is capable of turning his head in such a way to gain a few more seconds of privacy. His eyes lid slightly, brows relaxing as he bites the side of his lip. "I know it, Anais." He mouths the words 'we are driving him crazy', followed by a wink. Taking a step back, he brings the back of her hand to his lips again, falling back into propriety. "My lady I think you have the sight of things. Truly. Now with the Camdens and Valentins at the Tower I've to prepare to receive them now that I'm well and out of my bed rest. It would be rude not to. Allow me to walk you to the junction?"
"Of course," Anais replies, lips twitching against a broader smile for his shaped words. As the pair turns back to the walkway, the Banefort guard gives them both a warning sort of glare and a good, firm harrumph for good measure, earning a swiftly-stifled giggle from Anais. "The Camdens seem good sorts, Jaremy," she adds as she walks. "It might be well to cultivate them as allies. As for Valentin…No doubt he is no fool. Tread carefully. I feel like it would be wise to make a friend of him, even if he's behind all of this. Perhaps especially if so."
Jaremy can't help but to give the guard a half-cringed, silent apology, though both of the men are clearly aware that Jaremy isn't truly sorry. It's just a formality. The poor guard, however, has to bear the burden of keeping Anais safe as well as ensuring she isn't ever alone with Jaremy…for good reason. "We invited the Valentins first, so I will meet with Ser Anton first. Lord Camden sent me an invitation to visit, though he traveled personally with the lumber? I really do look forward to meeting the man. Trust me, I have an interest in seeing their mannerisms. We may need to know them one day." He comes to a stop at a fork in the corridor, quietly allowing her to take her arm back. "So…until dinner then, my betrothed?"
"Until dinner," Anais agrees, giving his hand one more squeeze before finally releasing him. "It's good to see you well, Jaremy. Do try to stay that way?" She's only half-teasing, despite her easy smile, but as the guard takes a few leading steps away, she moves to follow. "Be well, Jaremy," she calls over her shoulder.