|Summary:||Jacsen and Avinashi discuss brides, brothers, proud lords, legacy and just what it is that makes a man.|
|Related Logs:||The Politics of Face Breaking|
|Avinashi's Room — Sept at Terrick's Roost|
|A small, simple room with a desk, a fireplace and a collection of shelves lined with various labeled little bottles. A window looks out to the sea and different herbs hang, drying, from strings stretched across the ceiling.|
|18 October 288|
Instead of seeking out her lord directly when his time is so hectic and scattered, Avinashi instead conveys to him a short letter that reads only
My afternoon is yours. I shall be at the Sept.
That is, indeed, where the Dornish girl works, in her little room scented with drying herbs and various potives that line the tidy shelves. The fire in the hearth is burning, and something in the cauldron suspended above it bubbles gently as it heats. The food taster herself sits at the little desk, working a mortar and pestle so that whatever individual components were within are becoming a fine, green paste.
He does come eventually, not so late into the day, to find Avinashi at her work in the Sept. He cannot hide his presence, even if he should so wish, for the sound of his cane clearly marks every step that the Terrick lord might take. Still, he enjoys the illusion of such, to come upon the food taster whom is clearly so much more than that title insists unawares, leaning on the doorframe rather than announcing himself.
He wears a smile.
Perhaps she is deeply occupied in thought or perhaps she only wishes to offer Jacsen his illusion of stealth. But it is a long few moments between when he arrives in her doorway and when Avinashi looks up to blink over at him. For that smile, or perhaps just for his presence, her own lips curl upwards. "My lord. Good afternoon."
"You are hard at work, I see," Jacsen remarks, his smile settling into a quieter version of itself, while he leans his head against the frame of her door. "It's strange, that for all our time together, I have so rarely viewed this side of things, when you are doing…" He waves a hand. "All of this." His brows rise and fall as he looks about, eyes settling back on Avinashi. "You're well?"
"It is more mysterious that way, is it not?" Avinashi asks with a warm little laugh. "That things might magically appear in my hands which carried healing and restorative properties. I think I enjoy that perception of myself. I am well, thank you. And you, my lord? How are your days?"
He lifts his shoulder, the one not leaning against the door frame, in a small shrug. "They go, forward and onward, towards inexorable result," Jacsen remarks, pushing off the wall and stepping proper into Avinashi's small laboratory. "I can see why you might like that, that perception I mean," he says, looking at some drying something or other he needs to duck his head to avoid. "It does suit you."
"That is a bleaker outlook than the one you most often carry, my lord," Avinashi points out, lifting a hand so that she can gesture to the other chair in silent invitation. "Speak to me."
His smile turns into something of a smirk, as the Terrick makes his way over to the chair, and he lowers himself into it. "It's nothing, I… I am more irritable than I ought to be, I suppose. Vexed by my brother, not the usual vexing one either. And she whom in such short order shall be my very own Lady Terrick, besides."
"Ah, me. I had always thought the vexing was meant to occur after the wedding took place. For brides I do mean. Brothers can vex at any time, most artfully," Avinashi muses. She sets aside her crushed herbs for the moment, resting her hands in her lap. "What has happened?"
He sets his cane aside and comfortably seats himself in the chair, his hands settling on the arms of the wooden thing, occupying it with a greater presence than the humble seat is likely oft used to. "There is a knight, sworn to Oldstones and completely unfamiliar with the decorum he owes in a place such as the Roost, whom was rude towards my sister. Aside from it being ill-advised in itself, it would have served as a fair point on which to drive some concession from Lord Ser Anton, or at the least burst a measure of his hubris. Instead…" He waves a hand. "My idiot brother went and confronted the man, and the two of them had themselves a brawl. Apparently, they are fast friends now." He lets out a breath. "Rather puts the matter behind us all, and pushing Anton on it would be merely petty, now."
"Mmm," Avinashi murmurs for that opportunity lost. "Such leverage could have been of use, considering what it is this Lord Valentin wishes for his prize. Still, if his knight was so crass, once, perhaps he will be yet again. And after a seeming friendship with your brother, the insult would cut deeper."
"Perhaps," he says, nodding once. "Though I should not like my sister to need endure such ignorance a second time… and it does sound as if Ser Gedeon is bent on instructing the man in ways to not engender the anger of his lord's hosts." Jacsen lets out a breath through his nose. "I shall just have, then, to hope Anton comes around somewhat on his own."
"I imagine he will, if he values an alliance with the Terricks," Avinashi says. "He can walk the path of the wounded warrior only so long before he must call himself your friend or foe. And friends, it seems, would offer Oldstones more than enemies might. This Lord Anton, from what I hear of him, does not seem a fool."
Jacsen seems inclined to agree, from his mannerisms. "He is no fool, though he does seem content to draw his mummer's game longer than I might have expected," he says. "There is pride in him, perhaps a touch more than is advisable for the situation we all find ourselves in, I think."
"Then it is all the more important you offer Lord Anton reason to end his distress. After the wedding, take the promised gifts to Oldstones. Make good your promise so that you might seek some promise of his own," the Dornish girl advises gently, "Or if he will not, you will know the game he plays comes at too high a cost."
"Perhaps I shall. It is a delicate thing, and a delicate time," Jacsen admits. "The revenues we have lost from Stonebridge have begun to see our treasury vanish. Oldstones will not bring much revenues, even if it is sworn to Terrick's Roost, and there is much gambled in bringing gifts to earn a favor I cannot guarantee." He sighs, and considers Avinashi. "Gedeon is my best hope for Stonebridge, but it is the harbor we seek to build here that will ensure the Roost's future."
Avinashi nods a little. "Harbors can be built quickly, though not with such speed that a visit to Oldstones would see it complete. There may yet be a way to gain all for the Roost, rather than one or another. But, perhaps more important than the harbor is the woman who brings it. How does courting of the Lady Anais go with you?"
Jacsen chuckles mildly. "You ask so matter of fact… I feel a bit interrogated…" His faint smile does not, however, disappear. "Things with Anais… could hardly be called courting her. We're both well aware of things between us, how unusual and unexpected it all is. If I read her rightly, she is less worried about being with me than she is worried I will not want to be with her…"
She laughs softly, her gaze dropping for a moment as Avinashi is briefly abashed. "Forgive me, my lord. I did not mean to make you feel… questioned." She quiets as she listens to his words before noting, "She is a very lovely girl. It seems a strange concern for her to harbor."
"I think… it is more a matter of things beyond being a lovely girl," Jacsen remarks, with a faint shrug. "She wishes to be valued, welcomed, needed… And I think we can all say that my brother needed a woman of a mind such as hers more than most, can't we?"
"Perhaps we can," Avinashi agrees with a small nod, "and I expect, for a woman who has come to know that brother and his ways, yours must seem as foreign as mine may."
He nods to that, and lets out a faint breath. "And hers to me, Ashi. I liked her well enough, I thought we'd be friends, the both of us, but married…" Jacsen shakes his head. "I suppose I always understood the choice would not be mine, but, with less import to it, I thought I might have /some/ input. I just…" He frowns. "I do not like feeling forced in this, Ashi, not at all."
"I understand what it is," the food taster says gently, "to find yourself in a place, unable to understand how it is you came to be there. It is not a pleasing feeling, by any means. You said… things with Anais could hardly be called courting, for the way in which you find yourselves bound together. But, my lord, perhaps, if you wish to seek something beyond the shape and size Jaremy cut for this marriage, courting is very much the thing you should be doing. You may yet make this union your own, if you can come to know the Lady Banefort with different eyes."
He lets out a breath. "Perhaps, yes. I did, and I was…" Jacsen points out to her, "Until Anais' thoughtless commentary became a bit too much." Another breath, more of a sigh, escapes him as he confesses that. "I can stomach much, truly, I can. But can I endure the idea that my wife finds…" He shakes his head, frustrated. "How can the woman not know how that would sting? To state how appealing two bare-chested knights fighting each other would be to her, when I only just-" He stops, and gives his head another shake. "No. Perhaps we ought not to go down this path. I don't wish sympathy just now, but I think I might rankle if not given it either. I am being wholly difficult, Ashi."
Avinashi's lips quirk upwards a little as she reaches a hand out to see if she can clasp one of Jacsen's between her own. "Anais said she admired two bare-chested knights in your presence? I can, indeed, see how that might strike at you but, my lord, you should be flattered. She did not think it would sting because she did not think on it. On your cane or your leg. Because it was of no matter. Had she corrected herself or abstained from the comment, that is what would suggest an awareness and perhaps an unspoken dissatisfaction with your physicality. Can you see?"
He frowns. "I see it, Avinashi. I am not interested in pretending I am something that I am not," Jacsen tells her, shaking his head. "And I don't have a desire for her to imagine I am something I am not either."
"Are you suggesting to me, my lord, that a woman cannot see your worth without seeing you as less than some other man?" Avinashi asks, her brows lifting a little.
Jacsen glances down at his leg and gestures. "I am, Avinashi." He says, with an ache in his voice. "Can't you see? Can't anyone see? I don't want his life because… He's had it all, handed to him, whether he deserved it or not. Whether he worked for it or not. I had to work for what I became, and in spite of being half a true man. And now no one will ever see that I could have been all I wanted despite myself, all because they will think I am what I am because he did not want it. The damned fool."
"Half a true man," Avinashi repeats softly. "Oh, my lord. Listen to me." She leans forward, lifting a hand so that her fingertips can rest against his cheek. "Hear my words. Your brother's foolish choice has set you here, and for now, it may be so that this is what the people will speak on. A second son, a default lord, a lame eagle. All of this will be said and worse. But you have heard such before and you already know you are stronger than to bow beneath such nonsense. But, hear me. History will not remember you for the reason you came to this place. It will remember you for the things you do, now that you are here. You will do great things, and it is that greatness that will be your legacy."
He smiles for her touch despite himself, a touch that is won through the strangest and most byzantine of paths, for there is nothing quite usual about the relationship betwixt the Dornish woman and the lame Riverlord. "I…" Jacsen heaves a quiet sigh, and turns his face into her hand, that he might put a mild kiss to Avinashi's palm. He seems set to finish the words he only just began, but instead lets off another sigh and settles his cheek against her fingers.
Her palm rests there, against his skin, fingers stretching so that they might gently brush the hair against the young lord's temple. "You are a good man, Jacsen Terrick," Avinashi says softly, "better than any other I have known. Do not let your doubts belittle who you are and who you have yet to be. Your worth will be measured by more than the soundness of your legs. It already is measured by more."
Jacsen's hand rises to close over the back of Avinashi's, warming there with a fond and light grip. "And you are indispensable, unforgettable, always dear to me, Ashi," he insists to her, while letting his face rest against her touch a moment longer. When he straightens, it is with a questioning look for the food taster. "Should I apologize to her, do you think? For, for letting this have the better of me?"
For those first words, Jacsen wins a smile, warmer and less secret than the usual ones that lift her lips. Her gaze drops and bronze skin goes a little darker with a rather rare flush. Her hand rests, caught between his cheek and his touch, until Jacsen straightens. It is then that Avinashi looks up and cants her head a moment as she settles her hand in her lap and considers the question. "It might be wise, my lord. If nothing else, I am sure she never meant to inflict the hurt she caused. To apologize would give her opportunity to do the same and know she is forgiven both at once."
He considers that for a moment, though one could hardly fail to see how the darkening of already darkened cheeks cause him to sport a renewed smile. "I suppose I shall go and do that, then," Jacsen says, leaning over to collect his cane, and begin to his feet. "She… shall be my Lady and wife. She deserves as much, I think."
"May she prove herself worthy of such a place," Avinashi agrees, still smiling faintly. "I have much hope that she will, and your respect and care will go far in giving her the strength she will need."