|Wives and Mothers|
|Summary:||Jacsen and Anais have a falling out over Lady Evangeline.|
|Clearing - Terrick's Roost|
|A clearing off the Green with a big tree!|
|November 3, 288|
Word travels quickly in the Roost, especially when it carries such interesting news as this. There was, it seems, a show down between the old Lady Terrick and the new one, in the entrance hall. Rumors, of course, run wild. They shouted at each other. Ice actually formed on the walls. Anais kissed Jarod. Evangeline told Anais she'd never be lady of the Roost. Anais called Evangeline fat. Who knows what's true? What is true, however, is that Anais stormed right back out of the hall, and has been quite difficult to track down. Kincaid, one of the former Banefort guards, managed to follow her out, but with no backup, he's been stuck standing nearby, keeping a lonesome guard and listening to the railing from Anais. They're in the small clearing in the woods not too far from the Green, and Anais has managed - despite her dress - to climb up into a lower limb of a sprawling oak. "If she wanted to judge me," she growls at Kincaid, "Then she ought to have done it before the wedding, not after!"
Eventually, she is probably expecting, or hoping, or should at least anticipate, that her husband will come and track her down. After all, this is only the first time they've blown up in such a manner, and its early on enough that unless he's cold by nature, he might be expected to worry after her state. It's likely that Kincaid warns her of his arrival, such as it is, moving across the grass and leaning heavily on his cane, one of his own guards following beside him at a leisurely pace.
Kincaid, frankly, looks relieved to see Jacsen approaching. And it isn't Anais he warns. "Best of luck, m'lord," he murmurs to Jacsen, bowing before beating a hasty retreat. Anais, for her part, looks over when Kincaid makes his escape, her chin rising stubbornly at Jacsen's approach. She doesn't say anything just yet, though, watching for his first move.
If she expects him to say something to her, she's sorely mistaken. Even more so if she expects he'll look up and pay her much attention at all. No, he's rather busy making his way to the trunk of that tree, that he might turn and rest his back against it, slowly sliding down to the grassy earth beneath it, wincing as he spreads out his bad leg.
Anais actually relaxes a little bit when Jacsen moves to sit against the tree. It's easier if she doesn't have to look at him. Quiet, she looks down at the branch on which she sits, picking at the bark. "So what'd she try to tell you?" she finally asks, trying to keep her voice even, but unable to keep a faint, sullen note from it.
"Nothing," he responds after a long moment, his hands working soundlessly over the thigh of his ruined leg, "I haven't spoken with anyone, save to hear word of some conflagration betwixt you both." He draws in a sharp breath and adds, "Next time, go run someplace more close by, won't you?"
"Close by sort of defeats the purpose of running away," Anais points out, though she sighs afterwards. "Sorry. I guess I kind of figured Jarod might have left, too. Which…means I clearly didn't understand the relationship /he/ has with your mother. And I should have." She picks off another piece of bark, flicking it down to the grass below. "It was stupid. It's just- It's like your mother's decided that because I'm not some wonder at embroidery like Igara Frey, then obviously I know nothing about being a woman, or running a household, or anything. And that isn't true."
Jacsen rests his head against the bark of the tree, glancing up, insofar as he might. "And you figured that the best way to show her how capable you were was to… run off and climb a tree?" he asks, with a remarkable lack of judgment in his voice. He draws up his good leg, wrapping his arms around his knee.
"That was maybe a little bit more spite," Anais is at least mature enough to admit, letting one leg hang down and swing. "If she's going to treat me like some hayseed bumpkin from the backend of nowhere with no sense of what ought to be done whether it's true or not, then I might as well get the enjoyment of acting that way." She's quiet another moment, then sighs again. "I just don't understand why she's so fixated on the sewing thing. There are plenty of things I'm good at. I can sing, I can play music, I can dance. Those are perfectly respectable skills for a young noblewoman. And if she wants something useful, then I'm very good with numbers, and keeping books, and allocating resources. I don't see why she's so fixated on the one thing I don't do well."
He shrugs, enough though she might not see it. Jacsen seems to be working through his own thoughts on the matter, for certainly he did not see this coming. "Who knows? A moment's thought brings a few ideas to mind. You're the new Lady Terrick, a woman who will one day replace and eclipse her, so how do you suspect she might feel? Threatened perhaps? It might not be reasonable, but whenever are feelings so? You're wife to her son, who no longer needs her to care for him, at the very least in her mind. Perhaps she sees that you are good at all these things you are good at, and she sees that she could be no longer useful. Or worse, that you are better at things she is no good at. I can think of many reasons, Anais. But there is a very simple way to solve it, don't you think?"
"If you're going to say sit around all day and poke myself with needles so that your mother doesn't suffer from some baseless, neurotic fear, the answer is no, Jacsen," Anais says grimly, her jaw setting so that her teeth grate together. "Every serving maid in the keep can sew. Anyone can sew. Not everyone can keep the books, or make sure the supplies are stored correctly, or that everything is where it needs to be. I'm not going to humiliate myself to make her feel better."
His eyes flick upward. "You do know how incredibly insulting that sounds right, Anais? I mean, humiliate yourself? So you think my mother is some embarrassing creature?"
"That's not it at all, Jacsen, and you know it," Anais says irritably. "It has nothing to do with /sewing/ and everything to do with her sitting over my shoulder and critiquing my every move, with that smug little smile and that pitying attitude of oh, that poor girl, it's too bad she never learned to this most /basic/ thing that /everyone/ should really know how to do, and it's just something I /really/ must teach her for her own good, no matter how miserable it makes her."
"Yes, I know. She and you are new to each other, and you're a part of her house now. I did point this out already, but let me be more plain. You both want to be seen as invaluable, and smart, and worthy, in that way that no matter what people assure you, you just need to feel. She doesn't know you, not really, doesn't know if you're cunning, cruel, devious, ambitious, any of that. So she's asserting herself over you. As is her right, and her place as Lady Terrick. Does it grate? Certainly, I'm sure it rankles you to no end, as I rankled when your Lord Father inserted himself into my business, however short it might have been. Do I wish we could avoid it, and have harmony at Four Eagles Tower? Surely. But she has raised five Terrick children, seen one flee, and endured more than either of us know. So if you want life to be easier for yourself, and everyone else, let her feel like you have much to learn from her, indulge her some, and get through it. You're the one who's new here, Anais, you're going to have to ingratiate yourself some."
"I won't. Not with that. I told her I'm not sewing a stitch with her until she can say /something/ kind about me," Anais mutters, picking at the bark again, furiously. "She had months before the wedding to decide if she liked me or not, or if I was /lacking/ in some way that made me unfit to be a wife. Now isn't the time. And I won't be made to feel a fool and a failure in my own home, Jacsen. I won't. Not by your mother and not by anyone."
"You can be as stubborn as you like, Anais. Sit out in as many trees, argue against as many things she thinks are worthwhile…" Jacsen lets out a breath. "She's the Lady of the Roost Anais, and she's going to win. You'll outlive her, no doubt, but she's plenty of life left in her and if you want to come out of the other end of dealing with her, you really need to learn to swallow your pride some, and look at the bigger picture." He's very matter of fact about it all, and he reaches over to get his cane. "Anyways, to be logical about it, you're her subject and if she tells you to do something, you're obliged to do it. Not argue with her. You'll get your chance in due time to do things the way you want them done. For now it's hers. Like it or not."
"It's nothing to do with how things get done. It's to do with what /I'm/ doing. And I'm not going to spend all day sitting inside listening to stupid people talk about nothing important while doing something I /hate/ that gives me terrible headaches and I can't even /see/ what I'm doing." It's finally on the last words that Anais' voice breaks, and she quickly dashes a hand over her eyes. "It gets all blurry, and twisted, and it's not even the threads that get crossed over, it's the colors, too."
He lets out a long, slow breath, his shoulders heaving with it. "Oh Gods, Anais, is that what this is about? I mean…" Jacsen rests his head back against the tree. "If it frustrates you, if it hurts you, then you should find a way to explain that, not… this. I mean, you don't think the woman will understand? Her son's a bloody cripple, Anais. You can make her understand. Also, she's not so unreasonable as you seem to be expecting."
"Yes, Jacsen," Anais replies irritably from her perch in the tree. "It's not that I can't do it because I don't want to, because I'm willful, or because I'm uneducated. It's because I /can't/. And if your mother would take a few minutes to get to /know/ me instead of just assuming I'm a failure and acting as though I'm worthless, then maybe I could explain it to her, but she doesn't want to hear it."
"Well, point of fact, I've gotten to know you rather well, and I did not know until just now," Jacsen points out, however gently, "And if I know you at all, I know you weren't simply just put upon by my mean and imposing mother either. Still, it's rank foolishness to expect someone to do something that the Seven themselves have seen fit to say they cannot." A pause. "Do you wish for me to say something to her about it, Anais?"
"Mean and imposing is not how I would put it," Anais snorts. "Condescending. I might put it that way." She gives up on picking at the bark, shifting to lean back against the trunk of the tree. "What I want is for your mother to accept that I am not a loss, I am not a failure, and I /can/ be of use to this house. What I want is for her to respect me and not assume the worst of me. What I want is not to be treated like a child." She pauses, then releases a heavy sigh. "And the part of me that is a child wants to make /her/ feel awkward, and unwelcome, and useless."
"You'll need to show her that, then, Anais, if it's what you want her to see," Jacsen points out, very matter-of-factly, as he listens to his wife's concerns up above in the tree. "And that will take some work, and some determination, and will likely frustrate you to no end at first…" He takes a look up at her. "But she is not heartless, or cruel, or even too stubborn to amend her thinking, so you must do it. I… I'm willing to do what I can, but you must see this mended, and quickly. Alright?"
"Don't tell me what I /must/ do, Jacsen Terrick," Anais warns, her jaw setting once more. "That's what started this whole mess, is your mother telling me what I /must/ do, like I'm some sort of child on apron strings."
"I am your Lord and husband, Anais. It is precisely my place to tell you what you /must/ do," Jacsen points out, though his tone is rather level. "And while generally I'd like to ask, and have you wish to acquiesce to my request, and other times I won't know what I want, and will seek your counsel on it… when I have decided something must be done, it must be done. If I cannot trust you to trust my judgment, do you ever suspect I will be able to trust your advice?"
"I'm beginning to doubt anyone here gives two figs about me," Anais replies with a soft snort, slipping gracefully down from her perch on the tree and brushing off her skirts. "I told your mother that she'd see me in the solar when she could find something kind to say about me. I don't think that's an unfair thing to ask from someone who is, as you insist, kind and gentle and only interested in seeing all of us prosper. Do you?"
"Oh Anais, you know that is not the truth. If I did not care, I'd be back at the Tower, and my leg would throb considerably less, hmm?" Jacsen asks rhetorically, before he answers her question. "To be honest? No, I think it is unfair. Whatever you think of what she is asking of you, this is the woman's home, and she is due the respect of obedience. Were I able, I'd have counseled you to handle that very differently. Perhaps…" He lolls his head over to the side to watch his wife as she brushes her self clean. "Come to the solar as she requested, and when the conversation began, find some ways in which to share some of the notable things you've been able to accomplish in the meanwhile. Learning the books, as you've said, or the like. And interject that while you think that sewing is not quite what the Seven intended for you, at least they've graced you with the ability to do that. Then you've made noteworthy what you can accomplish, what you like to do, and not slandered what she thinks important at the same time."
"I /already/ told her that, Jacsen," Anais insists. "I told her that the /first/ time she started nagging me. When she opened the conversation with, so, I see you're not very good at sewing. You know, a week and a half after the wedding, when she then suggested I start taking some sort of drug because I wasn't pregnant yet. Clearly it's yet another failure on my part, completely under my own control, which I'm only doing to spite her." She pauses then, eyes narrowing at her husband. "Do you think I'm /lying/ about this?"
"No, I don't think you're lying, Anais. I simply know my mother, and so I know this cannot be trouble all of her own fashioning, and that you've your own part played in it," Jacsen remarks, with a slight shrug. "And the same would go for her, if she talks to me of this matter… though I suspect she will be stubborn and not wish to do more than say a few words. Anyways, I can't change what happened, and I certainly can't storm back into the tower and give my own mother what-for. So what, precisely, do you suggest is done here? Recall, she is Lady of the Roost and you need to abide by her. Tell me what you'd have done?"
"I'd have you keep your nose out of it, Jacsen, and let us work it out," Anais answers him. "I've never in my life let anyone bully me. I won't start with your mother, when we're both going to be living here for some years to come. That won't end well for anyone." She draws a deep breath, looking toward the castle once more. "And maybe you could explain to her that I'm not…useless. Seven know, she doesn't believe me when I tell her."
He frowns. "I'll try," Jacsen says on both counts, and lets out another long sigh. "Seven knows I'll end up saying something, but I'll try to make sure it's constructive, for what that is worth."
"Thank you." Anais reaches up to run her fingers through her hair, plucking out a few leaves as she goes with a weary sigh. "I'm sorry, Jace. I don't mean to cause trouble. I just- I feel like I'm being attacked, and I'm already uncertain enough without- I know my shortcomings, very well. I don't need someone pointing them out."
"I get that, I do, Anais… It's just… She's my mother," Jacsen points out as he looks over at her, and offers out his hand in her direction. "And if you let her get under your skin like this, knowing full well she has only the best of the Roost in mind… What happens when it is someone less friendly to our cause?"
"I can deal with those. Those are supposed to be enemies." Anais moves to take the offered hand, then wraps her arm around his. "You put on your public face. You play the game. You dance the dance. And then you go home to your family, with whom you can be /yourself/. Your family doesn't make you feel small."
"I reckon, with a chance to hear the both of you talk, it is not as bad as you make it out to be," Jacsen says, not without some sympathy for his wife. "You're uncertain about things, and it's making you look for things to confirm that uncertainty, Anais. I've been there before, when I first emerged from Seaguard, much as you see me now. I promise you, Anais, it's not as bad as you think it is."
"/You've/ never been forced to sit in a chair for hours with a needle and thread in hand, blindly stabbing yourself and trying to explain that you really can't see it, and you're trying your hardest, and no one believing you," Anais snorts softly, turning her cheek to his arm. "It wasn't until my father came in that someone believed me."
"So your own kin did not believe you, did not understand…" Jacsen remarks, turning to look upon the wife on his arm, "But you expect mine to just intuitively know you can't sew, and shouldn't be asked to? I do understand your frustration, better than maybe even you do, and…" He sighs, and turns to put a kiss on the crown of her head. "You're really doing too much feeling sorry for yourself. And if you keep making a mountain out of this, you'll end up regretting it later. Even talking to me, now, you say things… it only takes a few careless words, tossed about in anger, or hurt, to cause a lot of damage."
"Well the reverse is true too, you know," Anais mutters. "Your mother doesn't have to come out and slap me in order to say things that hurt, or cause a lot of damage."
"Yet I know, clearly, that wasn't her intention, Anais. I know my mother. You're being prickly, and letting your worries get the better of you, reading more into something than is there," Jacsen insists, again. "You need to not be so ready to find the worst in what is being said or done."
"I wish you wouldn't treat me like I'm crazy, Jacsen," Anais says quietly, stiffening somewhat. "I don't want to spend my life inside, sitting down, on frippery. Your mother expects me to. It is not /crazy/ to see that as a threat."
"A threat. No, Anais, not crazy, but definitely overreacting. It's not unreasonable for the woman to think a proper Lady that will be her heir and replacement someday should know certain things, and want her to know those things," Jacsen tells her. "Where in the…" his voice calms some, "Where does that say you'l spend your life inside? She said you should learn to sew, not become a tailor, Anais."
"She wants me to sit in the solar. I suggested that perhaps we might do other things. Like check supplies. Like look at the books. But all she wanted was to make me sew. She got all huffy because I'd been out riding." Anais draws a deep breath, forcing it out slowly. "You are never going to believe that there is anything reasonable about my fears, so perhaps we should stop discussing them before you say something even more hurtful than 'you silly, foolish woman, how stupid you are about everything.'"
"How does that translate into never doing anything else, or spending your life in a solar? Seven help me, Anais, but you aren't stupid, so how is it you are so stubborn about this?" Jacsen reaches for his cane with his free arm, and tries to tug the other free of his wife. "She asked you to do something. She expected you to do as she asked, so when you tried to tell her you didn't want to do that and should do something else, she insisted. That's normal. That's what a Lady of a household does when her new good daughter /refuses/ her. She puts her foot down until the good daughter does what she is told to do. It means nothing more than that, Anais. I'm not going to listen to any more of this ridiculous talk of my mother, as if she was some warden looking to lock you away in a dungeon."
"Oh, there it is." Anais releases his arm without any struggle, stepping away as she does. "Women don't /act/ like wardens, Jacsen. But that doesn't mean they don't reach the same ends. Go ahead. Ask your mother when you talk to her where she expects me to spend the majority of my time. See what she answers. You're right, Jacsen. I'm /not/ stupid." She grimaces, then starts to stalk away. "And I'm not crazy, either."
"Yes, Anais, ignore all of what I've said, just answer with a snipe," Jacsen responds, as he awkwardly struggles to his feet. "I'm at a loss for what to say to you. You're dead set on imagining my mother is out to ruin you. I wonder if you even hear how you sound. Before, it was just that she needed to say something nice, to acknowledge that you had other skills and you'd come to the solar as she bid. Now, it's not that she doesn't acknowledge your other skills, but that she wishes to lock you away forever! If that was the truth, then to hells with telling her you'd come once she had a nice thing to say, Anais, because saying something nice wouldn't be enough to make you consign yourself, especially because you cannot sew no matter how much you'd try! You said it yourself. Seven help me, you're all over the place, just tossing any argument at me rather than considering I might actually know what in the bloody hells I am talking about!" He does not stop his voice from rising now, given the space between him and his wife, and his pained stance upon his leg. "And I swear, you can go and sulk and conspire all you like tonight, but if you carry on like this at /all/ tomorrow, or any day after, when I have /so much/ hanging on my shoulders… if you carry on like this, weaving these inane conspiracies about a bloody mother wanting to loom over her good daughter like every mother does, instead of /supporting/ me and being the advisor and wife you told me you would be…" He lets out a breath, and his voice calms. "Don't test me, Anais. I'm far more willing to understand than you've any right to ask me."
"If I was supporting, and advising, and standing with you, then I wouldn't have to deal with your stupid mother!" Anais shouts back at him. "If you'd just let me help you, I'd be too busy for her to nag about gods-forsaken needlework! And if you wanted a wife who'd be content to sit ignorant of everything that's happening in favor of pretty embroidery, then you married the wrong woman. But you already think you did, don't you? You always did. Jaremy's life, Jaremy's wife, and you didn't want any of it. Well I'm sorry, Jacsen." She dashes a hand across her eyes, shaking her head. "Just- I- You don't want my help getting back anyhow, so I'll just go."
Whether he is enraged or stung or indifferent, she can likely not tell as he stalks away, awkward on his bad leg. And the truth of the matter? He's certainly not indifferent to her words, though it's hard to tell where the anger ends and the hurt begins, or vice versa.