|What Squires Are For|
|Summary:||Veris makes a confession to Hardwicke, which turns into a discussion on why he's a squire.|
|Related Logs:||Swimming and Sand is where Veris sprays sand on Muirenn.|
|The Green - Terrick's Roost|
|The Green is a large field of deep green grass, nearly flat, that runs along the base of the towers. The road into town runs along the far edge, hemming it in neatly to a confined area where beyond a line of trees serves as a subtle windbreak. This area is most often used for drilling or practice for the guards but also serves as home for festivals, tournements, and another other gathering that might require the space for a large number of the local residents. A well-trodden path winds around the side of the wall and moves towards the coastline.|
|Tue May 28, 289|
It's a somewhat overcast day, clouds darkening the skies as the sounds of drilling and sparring drift across the Green. Veris is present too, though he's not sparring nor drilling or anything else that the odd gatherings of folk are up to - he's running around the large field from group to group, quickly scanning for something, then running on. Finally, after near a full lap of the large plain, he stops to catch his breath, doubled over with his hands on his knees.
Hardwicke is somewhere among the groups, moving between them in a manner that allows for a comically coincidental miss of his erstwhile squire. Until he /does/ notice him. "If walking out of the castle exhausts you this much, you can run laps every morning," he snaps quickly at his poor, maligned squire.
Still bent over and breathing heavily, Veris looks up at the Captain with a 'seriously?' look. "Just did… lap 'round… the field," he pants, wiping away sweat from his brow. "'Fore that… through town… all over." Deep breath. Slooooow exhale. "Good. I'm good, Ser, now I've found you. Wheeew." Standing back up proper, the realization that he's found Hardwicke registers and he gets an immediately guilty look on his face. Whatever he has to say can't be good.
Hardwicke immediately scowls when he registers that guilty look on Veris's face. "What is it?" he says with brisk impatience.
"It was an accident, Ser," Veris immediately blurts. Back up, context. It starts out as a normal enough explanation but as it continues, the squire speeds up and speeds up until all the words run together in a massive rambling run-on sentence. "I was down at the cove, earlier today, just to catch a quick swim after my training and such, and the Lord from the other day at Stonebridge told me to swim in my clothes since there was a Lady present and so I did and everyone left except for her and I came out and was drying off and she said she would lend me some books but my towel was wet and sand got stuck to it and I was only trying to make polite conversation with the Lady and it was an accident Ser."
Hardwicke just squints at him. For a long moment he is silent. Then he says, "What?"
"I was down at the cove, earlier today," Veris reiterates, slowly, "just to catch a quick swim after - " Wait. Hardwicke's not asking because he didn't hear. "My towel, I dropped it wet, and it got sand all over it. I threw it over my shoulder when I was leaving and it just sprayed everywhere, all over her, her handmaiden, her Septa - it was an accident, Ser, honest to the Seven it was, I'd never do something like that to a Lady like her, 'specially not one so pretty, 'specially not a Mallister."
"/Who/?" Hardwicke asks with increasing impatience.
"Uh - uh…" Veris stammers, trying hard to remember her name when put on the spot. "Lady… Mu…irenn Mallister?" He doesn't look too sure if that sounds right. "She wasn't angry or nothing, Ser, she laughed and told me to come find her for the books but I thought her handmaiden or Septa might speak about it to someone who wouldn't be too please and it'd come back down…"
"You sprayed some sand onto Lady Muirenn," Hardwicke finally gathers enough intelligence to conclude. He watches Veris, brows lifted, for confirmation.
"By accident, Ser," Veris confirms, feeling the need to re-emphasize that part. "I didn't mean to, and I apologized eight thousand times, and tried to make it right, I asked if I could carry something up for her or anything, but…" He shakes his head.
"You sprayed sand on Lady Muirenn, who laughed and wasn't bothered or upset, and you decided you had to run around the whole village twice to tell me," Hardwicke says, gathering dryness as he goes.
Well, when you say it like that. Veris seems a mite unsure of himself now. "Well, I - she's - I thought that - everyone's always sayin' how I should tell you when I mess up instead of hiding and hoping you don't notice but this time since it was… her, I figured…" He blows a sigh through pursed lips. "Just didn't want you hearing 'bout it from someone else, was all, Ser," he mutters. "Shit rolls downhill, they say."
Hardwicke scrubs a hand along his beard and sighs. "Consider me informed," he says in a weary voice. "Try to keep your sand to yourself next time. Not every lady will be as uncaring as Lady Muirenn."
"Well I wasn't trying to dirty her with sand, Ser," Veris says stubbornly, and perhaps a bit too indignantly. "We were just talking about reading, and it just… happened." Then, out of curiosity, "Haven't you ever done something by accident 'fore a highborn lady?"
Hardwicke levels a Look on him. It is absolutely a capitalized kind of Look. He does not answer the question.
"So… that's a yes, then," Veris says, brows raised, after a long and tense silence. Dramatically stroking his stubbled chin, he tries to think of what it could've been. "Trousers. No, sleepwalking. No, throwing soup. No - hmm."
"It's a stop asking stupid questions," Hardwicke growls at him. "Don't come over here to confess and then get snippy when I respond. Go run some more laps around the Green."
Veris looks disappointed - did he really expect a story out of Hardwicke? "Would you mind, Ser?" he asks, then realizes he gave no context to the thought that his words came from. "If I saw Lady Muirenn for some books, I mean. I won't let it get in the way of my duties and all. Maybe someone's written one on how to get horses to stop eatin' at your face."
"You get horses to stop eating at your face when you stop being scared of them," Hardwicke says. "Do you want to be a knight or a Maester, Veris?"
"But I'm scared of 'em 'cause they try to eat my face!" Veris says, agitated just thinking about it. "I don't want to be a Maester, Ser. But I did grow up thinking I'd be assistant to one, like my father, which is why he taught me letters and ciphers. I just like reading, is all - it's like having a conversation 'cept I don't have to say anything." Which is nice for someone as poor with words as he is. "But a knight? I don't know if I can see myself as that either," he says frankly. "My brother Kile was a better fighter'n me and he never earned himself a title, just a sword in his throat at the war."
This has Hardwicke drawing up even straighter than he already was, if that's possible. He steps up to Veris, right in close, and looks down at him with a deathly glare. "Veris," he says in a low rumble of a voice, "do you often see me taking my leisure?"
Veris isn't all that much shorter than Hardwicke physically, but the knight looms over him and makes him seem to shrink down in size when up-close like that. "'Bout as often as I see you smile?" he asks in a small voice.
"Do you think," Hardwicke continues in that same voice, "that knights take squires for their personal entertainment? As a hobby?"
"I'm good at the squiring things," Veris protests, but still in that small voice, getting smaller still. "On the field or at the tournament. It's the cleaning up, the polishing, the shining, the sharpening, the grooming that isn't…" His voice fades away as he realizes he probably shouldn't be talking right now except monosyllabically. He amends his answer to, "No."
"Knights take squires," Hardwicke says with ruthless precision, "to make knights." And, you know, the cleaning up, the polishing, the shining, etc., etc. "It is the way the order is handed down. Don't you think I'd rather have time to spend with, perhaps, my /wife/?"
Well, that shuts Veris up for a good minute. "Me, a knight?" he says, and from the way his eyes are staring past Hardwicke into nothingness, he's talking to himself. Then he comes back into focus. "Do you really think that's - I mean, that I could become a knight?" he asks.
"I think," Hardwicke growls, "that if you don't want it, I've got no bloody reason to keep you in my service. Now get moving before I start listening to the urge to knock you upside the head."
That, he can do. Veris takes a few steps back to get himself out of the menacing shadow of the Captain. "One day, I'll find out your embarrassing story, Ser," he says with a grin. "Stories. I bet there's more than one. Someone somewhere must know!" And then he's off - if Hardwicke wants to knock his squire upside the head, he'll have to chase the lanky boy first.
Hardwicke looks of half a mind to try, but Veris has managed a head start, and the Captain has other duties to see to. He just scowls instead before returning to them.