|What Am I Waiting For?|
|Summary:||After the men depart, Anais and Saffron begin the wait.|
|Related Logs:||Yes, but I am not linking them|
|Courtyard — Four Eagles Tower|
|The Courtyard of Four Eagles Tower is floored with a fine grey stone that match the color and tone of the interior structure of the castle's yard. Plants have been potted and placed around the entrances to add some color, the greenery accompanied by several trellises of flowers that climb the support columns. The most prominent structure in the area is the set of large slab steps that lead up to the great oak doors of the Great Hall. Several hallways and accesses lead off into different sections of Four Eagles which makes this the hub of noble activity when court is not being held.|
|October 2, 289|
Saffron looks after the departing men before she casts a glance toward Anais. "They'll find him, Annie." She gives the woman's arm a gentle squeeze before she tugs. "Come on. Let's have some tea. Or brandy." She hopefully encourages Anais to turn a bit back toward the tower's doors. She looks once over her shoulder toward where the men have gone before she turns her attention back to her cousin.
"Him or his corpse," Anais says quietly to Saffron, letting her smile slip as she turns to follow her cousin. "And if they find him and she's wrapped him around her finger again, what then? He ran away from the tower, Saffron. He left without leaving any word with anyone. Oh, and before he left, he took the time to stop and get into a chambermaid's skirts," she adds in a tight voice, cheeks flushing angrily.
For a moment, the fellow Banefort has nothing to say. She breathes out a steady exhale, squeezing on her cousin's arm comfortingly. "Jacsen… are you sure, Annie?" She whispers with a small frown on her lips. "I mean, are you sure that the chambermaid isn't… isn't lying?" It is hard for Saffron to imagine her goodcousin committing such affairs, but there has always been a soft kind of innocence about this girl. She shakes her head a bit, sighing. "I don't even know what we could do, Annie. Couldn't she be sent off to a motherhouse by now?"
"She didn't want me to know," Anais notes, dry. "For fear she'd lose her job. And she didn't tell me, she told Justin and Brogan. Why make that up?" she adds, shaking her head slightly. "I never- I never expected him to be faithful to me that way, Saffron," she says quietly. "But I would have preferred if he could have been more discreet so that it didn't have to come out this way. As for Lucienne, much as I might like to send her to a motherhouse, it won't happen without Lord Jerold's approval."
Saffron sighs, shoulders falling under the weight of this news. "I'm so sorry, Anais. I… I cannot even fathom what sort of words I can offer for comfort. Lucienne is poisonous and terrible — she could not even uphold her own betrothal to Stafford." She slips an arm around her cousin's shoulders, squeezing softly. "If Jacsen and Lucienne are both found, then they will be brought back here and perhaps Jerold can be made to see the flaw of his blind affection." She sighs a bit. "I hope Ser Bolland isn't as… absorbed as Lord Terrick."
"Yes, and I can have Jacsen back. Because that's worked out so well so far," Anais says quietly, reaching up to scrub a hand over her face. "Ser Bolland seems to be much more sensible than Lord Jerold. Which would be more of a comfort if I didn't think we weren't already perilously close to being so useless we ought to be replaced. Just when I thought everything was all right again, it starts slipping through my fingers, Saf."
"Anais," Saffron says almost reproachfully. "Certainly Ser Bolland wouldn't replace Lord Jerold. Lord Mallister favors Jarold, and that says something for certain." Then she turns to face her cousin fully, placing both hands on her upper arms with a steadying grip. "It will be alright. Lucienne certainly has made too many mistakes that if Jerold forgives her again then it proves he's weak. Perhaps Justin can be given the seal so there's someone in charge that you have some trust with."
Anais stops when Saffron steps in front of her, pressing her lips together against her first response. "And Jacsen?" she asks quietly after a moment, her gaze steady. "What is the optimistic view on him?"
Saffron abruptly looks hurt at her cousin's words. She drops her hands away from Anais's arms, crossing her arms at her chest as she takes a step back. "Would you rather I point out that if things go as bad as some are whispering that you may lose complete control of this House, that you could actually be sent back to the Banefort to be married off to someone else?" She frowns steadily. "I could say such things if you prefer."
"I don't need you to point it out," Anais replies in a steady tone. "I'm well aware. But I wouldn't mind talking over what my options are if the worst should happen." The last is said more gently, and she steps forward to catch her cousin in a tight hug. "I'm sorry, Saffron. I'm trying very hard to be- to stay- to just hold everything together right now. But I have to be ready for whatever comes."
Saffron sags against her cousin at the hug, and she returns it with her own tightness. "I'm sorry, Annie," she murmurs in reply as she continues the hug onward. "You're a strong woman, you always have been." She shakes her head a bit as she pulls back to look into her eyes. "Whatever happens, I won't let them send you away. I will protest until the very end."
"If it comes to a choice of staying here while some other woman runs things or going home, I'd much rather go home," Anais grimaces, though at least there's some humor in the words. "But I don't intend to give this up easily. Justin, I think, will marry me if Jacsen is gone or dead. Lord Jerold may protest, but there is a matter of honor in it. Of course, if I were pregnant, I would hold the Roost in trust for my son."
A touch of a guilt hints in her pale eyes — perhaps a look she can disguise from some but not from Anais. "I don't want you to go home," she murmurs softly as she offers a small smile. Then she releases a small sigh. "It… it wouldn't be bad to marry Justin if this all goes bad. He is a good man."
Anais sighs, reaching up to flick her bangs out of her eyes. "He is a good man," she agrees quietly. "Though is it too much to ask for someone who at least wanted me?" A small, sad smile flickers at one corner of her lips as she looks away. "Anyhow. I will get by. I always do."
Saffron continues to hold that guilty look a moment more before she reaches out to hug her cousin once more, rubbing her hand between her shoulder blades. "And it probably does nothing to say that I want you to stay," she offers with a slight smile before she pulls back to loop her arm with hers once more. "Maybe Jacsen will be brought home tonight and everything will go back to normal."
Anais sighs softly against Saffron's shoulder, shaking her head slightly. "I'm not even sure I want normal back, Saf," she admits in a soft voice. "But what happens now is out of my hands. All I can do is…wait." She draws back, taking a deep breath and straightening her shoulders. "They'll be a while, I suspect. Is your room all right? I had to do some juggling with all these new people arriving."
"Do I ever complain?" Saffron asks as she glances over to her. "It is just fine. Kamron could sleep on the ground if you asked him to. I hear some of the boys are camping in order to keep some rooms open." That reminds her, and she offers a smile of dimples. "We still need to go on a camp-out, you know. Seems every time we get a chance, the banditry elevates."
"Banditry spikes, and it seems no one has the sense to recognize it," Anais snorts softly. "Apparently Lady Aeliana's disappeared, too. Went out riding alone. After the crazy Nayland woman shows up with an ancient hag of a septa and a boy. And Jacsen and Lucienne both ride off unescorted. After Kell and his men slaughter another group of bandits but bring back a girl. I swear, Saffron, I'm going to sit everyone down and give them the talk Papa used to give us about how not to end up dead."
"Crazy Nayland woman?" Saffron asks with a sharp blink. "Which one is that?" Though she does offer a crooked smile that sends one coppery brown aloft. "Perhaps you should sit down with them if they are being proper idiots, though it surprises me to think Ser Kell as an idiot." It is then she drops into a conspiratory whisper. "Did you hear about him and Jiselle?"
"Lady Rebecca Nayland," Anais clarifies. "The younger one. From the first marriage. Who is…not all there," she adds with a significant arch of her brows. "Then we had a Frey messenger show up with bandit heads in a bag. And she tried to claw his eyes out. And he fell down bleeding like a spit pig. I swear, Saf, everything always goes at the same time," she shakes her head, turning toward the keep to head inside.
Her nose wrinkles at the news of this strange Nayland woman. "She must be ancient," Saffron notes idly. Because obviously over forty makes one over twice her own age, which is beyond reconciling at this point. "What is she doing here instead of Stonebridge or the Mire?"
"I have no idea. Worse, I have no idea how to get her to leave," Anais mutters, glancing over her shoulder into the courtyard. "She just rode in, and no one from Kingsgrove seems inclined to take her back. I'm hoping I can send her with the Naylands back to Stonebridge, honestly. She can't share a room with anyone because I can't put anyone in with her because she's so unstable."
"You are not required to host her forever, Annie," Saffron points out with a small snort. "Go through the proper traditions, give a small gift and suggest that her room will be required for family. If she knows her etiquette, she will get the hint. If she is as unstable as you say, though, perhaps you should send her to the Freys." Because this new Mallister has not given up her dislike for the weasle-faced family save for a handful of lucky sorts.
"Did you miss the part where she tried to claw the face off the Frey messenger?" Anais arches a brow. "I'd like to avoid starting any wars, thank you very much. We'll see how all of this goes. At least if they come back and tell me they found Jacsen's body I'll have a decent excuse to ask her to leave," she says with grim humor.
"I didn't miss it," Saffron says idly as a small smile quirks at the corners of her lips. Then she shakes her head a bit, releasing a small sigh. "Perhaps he's lost. Maybe he's become like the prince who lost his memory in that pauper tale." Everything relates back to stories in the Mallister woman's mind.
Anais rolls her eyes, though there's a flicker of a smile across her features. "I doubt that. If he's lost, it's because he ran out of poppy before he got where he was going." Ever practical, she drops into a seat on the steps to the keep, clasping her hands over her knees. "I just can't see him running off for himself after what Jaremy did. He was so angry about that. They all were. He'd have to be addled to do the same thing."
Following suit, Saffron drops down to sit beside her. She sweeps her own skirts around her, picking at her orangey-yellow skirts. She looks down at her hands for a few moments before she casts a glance toward her cousin. "I almost… wonder if he has been slipped poppy by someone. Lucienne was sent away, she couldn't have done it, but it just seems like he's been having a constant access. Was Maester Pyrs still in charge of that?"
"Oh, someone must have," Anais agrees without hesitation. "We sent Pyrs away, though. I don't think Dania would have done it, but I wouldn't put it past the maester to have left some behind in revenge. Supposedly his eyes were glassy when he left the chambermaid and made it to the stable. It's the only way I can think he would have made it out of bed, honestly." Quietly, she rubs at her brow. "I can assure you, if they bring him back, there will be a tighter guard on his chambers."
Saffron slips into thoughtful silence once more as she looks out across the courtyard. She shifts a bit against the step before she glances back toward Anais. "My cycles are late," she announces quietly to her cousin. "By a week." She glances down at her fingers as they twitch at her skirts. "I've been wanting to tell you for days," she continues onward without pause. "But, I was worried you'd be upset."
Anais looks over with a sidelong glance, arching a brow. "Saffron Banefort," she drawls. "Don't tell me you and Kamron…anticipated the wedding night." All right, maybe she is a little upset. But at least she's trying to mask it with humor, right?
"No!" Saffron says with a touch of aghast. "No, I'm just… late. Mistress Dania has already said not to get my hopes up." Roses bloom on her cheeks with such incredible vibrance they almost match the red of her hair. "But… we have been practicing." That blush sinks further into the shades of crimson, and she tilts her head a bit. "I'm not suppose to really tell anyone for a few more weeks in case it's a fluke, but I had to tell someone."
"It's only a week, Saffron," Anais says quietly. "And you've hardly been wed for a month yet. You'd have had to get it right the first time." She rubs her hands together, catching the inside of her cheek between her teeth in a moment of silence. "Congratulations," she finally says, though her voice is low, and despite her best efforts, lacking something in enthusiasm.
"A month and a day," Saffroh corrects softly, though she does seem intent on her fingers. She then glances over at her cousin with a half-hearted smile. "It is alright for part of you to be upset, Annie. As long as you aren't upset at me…" She nudges her shoulder against hers gently.
"It's not as though I can blame you, Saf," Anais shakes her head, though she isn't really looking at her cousin either. "It's not like I could expect you to take moon tea or something until I got pregnant. It's just-" She clasps her hands more tightly in her lap, jaw clenching. "Everyone already whispers behind me back and blames me for not providing an heir yet. How much worse will it be if they come back without Jacsen and my cousin is pregnant after barely a month?"
Saffron's gaze lingers on Anais, and she sighs a bit. "We wouldn't tell anyone right away. Perhaps after a few months." There is a touch of guilt in her voice as she looks aside toward the opposite of the courtyard now, shuffling her feet a bit again. She breathes in through her nose, settling her shoulders a bit. "When will they be back?" She offers as a hopeful change of topic.
"It's not something that has a fault, Saf," Anais says quietly, leaning closer to press a kiss to her temple. "Aside from possibly Jacsen," she allows after a moment, smile quirking. "I imagine we'll be lucky if they're back by morning," she answers with a sigh. "So we should go inside and find something to keep us busy."
"Go spy on the crazy Nayland lady?" Saffron offers with a hopeful note in the wake of the kiss. She slowly begins to sweep up to her feet as she offers to help her cousin to her feet.
"I don't have that much patience left," Anais answers bluntly. "But you are welcome to do so and come back to give me the much embellished version." She reaches to take the offered hand, straightening with a flicker of a smile and brushing off her skirts.
"I'm not spying on a Nayland without back-up," Saffron offers with a touch of cheer before she loops her arm with her cousin to step back into the tower.