(121-05-27) This Too Shall Pass
This Too Shall Pass
Summary: Ainsley learns a bit more about Riderch's heart.
Date: May 27, 2014
Related: Crowded Island

Luthier's Manse — Appletree Wynd

This modest stone manse is well appointed, with three levels, each about forty feet square. This lowest floor is open, except for the kitchens. They are separated by a wall of polished maple-wood that matches the golden-bright floors. The other walls are plastered a fresh and creamy white.

The room is dominated by is a massive fireplace with colourful tiles set around it and on its hearth. It stands on the wall that's shared with the kitchen and so lies more or less in the center of the house. There's a long dining table, painted blue, near the kitchen door, and a sideboard to match it.

There are no windows facing the wynd, but an arched door and wide windows give a view of a walled garden in the back. A set of couches and chairs in pale blue leather are placed there, offering a pleasant spot to converse and take in the view. To one side of them is the rather narrow staircase.

There's a bit of hustle and bustle in the manse on the part of one of its erstwhile residents. Bootsteps herald the comings and goings of one Riderch Blackwood is busy unpacking a medium sized, dusty box full of what appears to be one of his favorite hobbies. Maps. Having carried this thing downstairs, he proceeds to unfurl a couple of the battered things on the surface of a large dining table, cursing a bit without bothering to form full words as one of them remains particularly stubborn. He plants a heavy cup upon its corner to hold it in place.

He's wearing fairly comfortable clothes, for the most part. An untucked, lightweight black shirt and riding trousers that look somewhere between grey and green. The only fancy thing about his outfit is a silver, braided belt which hangs around his middle.

As seems to be her preference, when in her house and not expecting company, Ainsley is in a loose burgundy top, comfortable, soft gray skirt and no shoes. The shirst occasionally slides off one shoulder or the other, and her bare feet pad down the steps lightly as she walks over to the table Riderch has taken over with his maps. Smiling faintly she queries, "What's all this then?"

The man's head juts upwards as a familiar presence graces this place "Careful." The first word out of Riderch's mouth is one of caution. "I had to drag this thing from out behind one of the wardrobes. I think I avoided leaving splinters, but — well. You know what they say about the best of efforts, hmm?" The smile that shows on his face is exactly the same as hers. It's an uncanny thing.

As his hand goes to more futile efforts at straightening the map, his fingertip traces its way down the rough surface of it. This one is a map of western Westeros, with Winterfell at its Northeastern point, and trailing all the way down the coast to the very top of the Westerlands. "Just — Mm. Trying to make sense of this. I feel as if I pay enough attention to the lay of the land I might have a better idea of where to look for these Pirates. I know there are better men at this sort of thing than me doing this." He admits. "But it is an exercise. Did you sleep well?" He finishes, with a sidelong tilt of his head, now fully studying Ainsley and not the map.

Walking closer, regardless of possible splinters, Ainsley comes to stand at one of the curling map's corners so she can hold it in place for her brother. "Pirates? The ones who ransacked that ship you found?" she queries. "I did, quite well. And you? You seemed… restless."

"Probably." Riderch's admission comes now as he thrusts an ink-stained finger along the coastline. It starts right there at a place they both know. Seagard. And trails on down, down, down. "I need the other one." He murmurs, reaching into the box. "Right now it is guesses. All guesses." His head cants to the side as he glances back up at his sister. "Restless? Me? I'm always restless." He flashes her that same smile again.

"Well, different restless than usual, then," Ainsley allows. She looks down at the map before glancing over at her brother. "What is between you and the Princess Elionys, brother? Were you lovers?"

"Oh, you know me." As Riderch is caught, fiddling with the other map that he attempts to lay out, bordering this one, he just stops. Suddenly, in fact, as his arm twitches and he looks again between parchment and sister. And for just a moment, the parchment wins. "Pfffft. No." There's a flash of color in his cheeks when asked, though. "Would you honestly think I would be as foolish as to presume something like that?" The tone of the response indicates that this question hit a nerve, though. And Ainsley would certainly be able to get that.

Ainsley regards her brother and the color in his face. "If I did not before, I certainly do now," she muses with a small, sad smile. "Something has passed between the two of you, that much is clear. You took her to the weirwood tree, and your cheeks are red as apples."

"I didn't — take her there." There's a measured response from him that just is immediately tossed out. They're also not the biggest apples on the tree that Riderch's sister has just described, but they're there. "She was just there. Sort of. We've talked quite a bit. But nothing dishonorable has happened. I've made sure of that. Ainsley." He uses her full name now. "You saw her anyway. I was meaning to introduce you but hadn't had a chance to do so yet."

"I did see her," Ainsley agrees, "and how you looked at her. And the way you walked off so suddenly…" Her lips press together and her brows lower over her clear blue eyes. "She has hurt you, brother."

Well, that sort of cut to the bone. "No." comes a sudden and rather ardent refusal to Ainsley's words. "No she hasn't. She never promised or did anything, really. And she was never really in a position to —" He shrugs a sharp, lopsided shrug. "You know. 'duty' and 'station.' I just briefly entertained thoughts I should not have. And listened to some very bad advice because I chose to." He's looking at the map again. This one stretches down the coast, including the Westerlands and the Reach. All of them bother to include the Iron Islands, though. Wonder who drew these?

Ainsley presses her lips together and draws a slow breath in through her nose. "She did," the girl confirms, "promises or no. Good advice or bad. What right has she to play at your heart strings like some maid learning the lute? Arrogant, selfish dragon!" One foot stomps on the floor, not very effectively because barefoot. Ainsley lets go of the map so that she can stalk for the door. It looks like the whole crazy-when-a-sibling-is-involved thing might be genetic.

The box of maps is given a thump as Riderch shoves his hand against it, sliding the thing across the table as his blue-green eyes widen. "Featherhead. Aine. Ainsley." Maybe the third iteration of whatever he normally calls her will get her attention and maybe get her to turn back at him. "She's not some fan-fluttering Andal making eyes at me. She was honestly a friend when I sorely needed one down here, and I merely made the mistake of thinking past her name and seeing her. This has nothing to do with her blood." And everything, one would surmise. But in this case, not in such a good manner.

"If anything that was the problem. She's not imperious and she actually respected me when I've had something to say, unlike half these twittering fucking ponces here who —" He stops, really trying to take stock of what he's saying.

Ainsley's got one hand on the doorknob, and oh she is aching to yank it open, stomp barefoot through Oldtown and… what exactly? Charge into the Targaryen manse to yell at a princess? "There is respect, and then there is… surely she must have known. You are an open book when it comes to your feelings. You couldn't have been discreet if you had tried."

First and foremost, Riderch spits out a response. It's sharp, but not quite a shout. "Are you saying I cannot be disc—" at this time, the Manse's raven (the one actually born with wings) screams out from his place of keeping upstairs "QUOOOORK! ARSEHOLE!"

The elder Blackwood obviously pauses in the face of this. Because, well, why wouldn't he? Another time he'd be laughing, but all eyes are on Ainsley now, rounding upon her defensively with his arms crossed.

"I don't — I don't think she did. Because I'm not one of these people, as you so remind me. Flaunting my affections at whatever pretty woman crosses my eye. I'm a fucking heir now, thank you Tewdric that couldn't bloody stop for five seconds and realize he had no justification for pretending to be me, and I have to behave myself!"

Ainsley spins around to face down her brother, scowling just as fiercely as he, arms crossed, shoulders back, chin high. "Then she is blind," she snaps, "which is just as inexcusable. You do have to behave yourself, you're right, but that doesn't mean… how could you have asked me to be friends with her? How could you wish to have her here?"

The three seconds of that sharp anger have ensured a sharp pause on Riderch's part, as he briefly just — stops. Stops moving, stops speaking, and it's clear to one that knows the man as well as his sister does knows what's going on here. 1) He clearly regret something he just said. 2) He's composing himself, and 3) He is clearly so out of his social element with this conversation that he's considering just storming off, altogether. And for those few moments, it seems that anything is possible.

But no. "Do you think for a second that I would ever, EVER think so little of you as to inflict someone terrible on to you?" He slams his hand into the box again, narrowing his eyes as he does shout now at Ainsley. "I wanted — that's not what I wanted at all. She's the daughter of a fairly influential and dangerous man. And how in the name of the Gods, Our Gods, yours and mine fault her for being 'blind' if I was so very blind myself? Think about this. I can't just storm up to whatever ponce is courting her and lop parts of him off like some people have (quite successfully I might add) done in this kingdom? That's what the 'knights' here do. I am not a 'knight.' I am a Knight."

"Of course not!" Ainsley manages to both scoff and shout at the same time. "But you think little enough of yourself, you would swallow your own unhappiness and carry on as if nothing happened at all. You love her, you fool, and she doesn't love you back! Or if she does, she can't do so honorably! And I will not, will not play a part in that unhappiness, whatever her station, her connections, her father."

"Do you think this is just me wallowing? I'll have to swallow unhappiness with whatever I'm going to do. Our own brother had to get tossed off to that horse-monging stoat that we all had to make nice with at his betrothal feast, and now that I'm the next fool in that seat I'll probably end up with something worse. Maybe I should have said yes to that joyless churl of a Mormont who I've never seen truly express a single laugh in her life. At least I could have stolen her sword. Father would have been SO pleased.

He grits his teeth and grunts at Ainsley, with as sour a look as he can muster. At least at her, which is uncommon. "The only thing, the only joy I can take from all of this is that if I do what's expected of me I can make gods-cursed sure you don't have to settle for some…some.." He searches for the word. Something unflattering, certainly.

"And I know all of this about her, which is why I am not making an issue over it. Well, not much."

"Not much," Ainsley repeats, still frowning. "Define 'not much'." She reaches a hand out, though, to rest it on Riderch's arm. "I want you to have more happiness in life than what you think you can offer me, Riderch. I can find my own happiness, and we all must make sacrifices for our house. But not everything, or what will be left to protect?"

"What do you want me to do?" Riderch asks. "Throw fits? I — well. I did do a small thing but it was much for myself as for her." Riderch's shoulders shrug sharply. He eyes Ainsley's hand and for a second it looks like he considers batting it away, but it is telling that he does not.

"I don't know. I don't even know what this is about, anymore, do you?" He admits, sourly. "What am I supposed to do other than just be gracious? Look at me. Falling into this nonsense over a woman, I've been south for too long already."

It almost sounds like a very true statement, and would possibly work. On someone that hadn't grown up with Riderch and learned how he handles these affairs.

"What what is about? Your being here?" Ainsley asks. "Father said it was for trade, but I don't think that's why you're here at all. I think you're here to learn just what you're learning, now. How to live among the twittering ponces without becoming one of them. How to navigate their world but be not of it. I want you to… not hurt." Her smile is weak and almost apologetic. "Could you do that for me?"

"I was actually asking what we were shouting about." Comes the measured, thoughtful, and altogether softer reply here as Riderch seems to come to the realization that he was shouting. And slamming boxes. And other futile things. His lips are pursed, pressed together in a pensive shift to one side as his eyes drift searchingly to his sister with a sudden look of pure embarrassment. And hit the floor.

"I think you just answered a better question than the one I asked, though." He doesn't immediately answer her with a yes or no, just another shrug. "You needn't worry about me, I am grown and not some little boy chasing —" He spits that out with a sigh and just completes the statement with, "Whatever it is? It will pass. All of these things do."

"Nor am I some little girl, but you worry about me," Ainsley says. Her slender finger pokes at Riderch's chest. Poke poke. "Did you think I would not do the same? I know you are grown. I know you are capable. But you are still my brother, and I worry for you. If I am to stop, then you shall have to do the same." He brows lift in quiet challenge.

He reaches for the finger, it's like a bird in a cage going for a piece of food. No doubt Esra has gone for rabbit chunks in the exact same manner in the past.

"I think you are asking quite a bit from me here, to stop. You're the last bit of home I have left right now and if I wouldn't try to burn down half this fool of a city merely for slighting you, I'd be a poor brother." Well, here's a scary dynamic. Old Gods help whoever gets in their way at the same time.

"I'm not asking you to stop," Ainsley replies, smiling softly as her finger gets caught. "Dolt. I'm asking you to expect no less concern from me."

The finger-grab was merely a clever ploy of misdirection as a bit of Riderch's characteristic cheer manages to slip through his features, and he lets go of it just in time to whump her softly on the forehead with his knuckle, before trying to retract the offending hand before the risk of massive retribution.

He smiles a tightly drawn smile and sighs heavily. "Well. Fine. Fine then. FINE. But if you're thinking that I'm the first fool who got caught up in dreams of a woman he couldn't have, you're treating this as something far more unique than it is. Thank you for allowing me the luxury of my dreams of beating your suitors bloody, by the way. It makes me feel better."

There is an indignant gasp as her head gets… knuckles, but Ainsley opts to play the bigger person and let it go. For now. "What do I care about any other fools? They're not my fool." Which Riderch is, clearly. She smiles softly. "You're welcome, brother. I know how you like to feel useful."

"Gives me something to do. Now —" Riderch admits, with a half-sigh as he considers the matter somewhat settled. There is a tentative glance towards the maps as his eyes narrow slightly and his smile returns, half-crooked. "She really didn't seem that pleased to see me anymore, did she? Ah. Well. There were a lot of unplanned things last night." Certainly there were other — guests.

"Quite a few," Ainsley agrees, willing to leave it lie, for now. "So, that was Jorah Rivers, then. I hadn't expected the eyepatch."

"I would half-expect that too much war would do that." Riderch confsesses. A little helplessly, one might add. The topic has been moved for now and whatever halfhearted assurances he gave his sister, he seems more relaxed for it. "He is — well, he is what he is. I don't think he had many options when he went South."

"He's a knight," Ainsley points out, a little displeased. "Is that a trend? Will Benjicot be getting knighted, next? Because I do not like it, brother. Not the smallest bit."

"He was 'knighted' as a sign of respect by them." Riderch counters, again with one of those sighs, though. This talk. They keep having it. And they always will. "He was less formal or poncy about it than I was. At least the first time I was." There's a little telling look that he shoots her, indicating a certain reverence for what happened beneath that tree that night.

"And Ben will, well, who knows what will happen? He needs to put down the wooden sword first."

"Mmmm," is all Ainsley murmurs, shooting her brother a flat look. Yes, they will keep having this conversation, most likely. Over and over. Forever. "He's getting pretty good with that wooden sword, you know. You'd be proud."

"I suppose I'll have to be. I'm dangerously running out of pride for my siblings, you know. Well, Jorah is —" Riderch doesn't really have a word for it. One might surmise 'bastard' but he's clearly annoyed on some level with the man. "What he is. And my sister is good at talking her brother out of dark places. Among other things. What did you think of the Starks?" Her brother clearly loves his little bit of gossip. "So far, I mean? I like them better than the Mormonts. But that woman is just unpleasantly churlish." A terrible churl he spurned, in his words.

"I haven't met the Mormonts, so I cannot say, but I quite liked Lord Carolis and Lord Andolin, both. We were invited to their home here, to sup, some evening. We should accept. And I look forward to hunting with them. I would like to have some company of those who know the Old Gods," Ainsley replies. "You protest a great deal about this Mormont woman, you know…"

"Well, maybe you can see how bloody unpleasant she is yourself. Even if she is respectable. And honorable. That I can't deny." Riderch says but he doesn't protest much further. He seems a little sore about something, but it is what it is. He settles into a chair with an economical motion as his arms cross, sitting and peering at the maps.

"But the Starks. Lord Carolis is an amusing man, at least. When did you plan on doing this?" Bemused is his grin, lazy are his movements. "I think we were sitting around one evening at that very Tree. The living one, when I figured something out. Something very important." He looks like he's about to say something else but for whatever reason, doesn't.

Ainsley's eyes narrow. "Don't tell me she spurned you as well?" For when, her shoulders lift and fall. "Today, perhaps, tomorrow. Whenever it suites everyone's schedule." But, of course, she can't just ignore a comment like her brother's last. "What did you figure out?"

"She spurned me? No. It was the other way around." Riderch says. Of course, he's not going to elaborate. This is all delivered very matter-of-fact. "A terrible idea I am sure. But I think we've already established my lack of wisdom here."

His head nods as he gives his sister a little bit of an intent glance. Not quite a stare, but it's close. He blinks, only once. "Well, you know where to find me and I'll be ready. I would like to be rid of this place." Whatever else he said about 'getting over it' it's probably not going to be an instantaneous thing, with little admissions like that.

"Oh, I figured out — Remember — this was the first living Weirwood I've seen, too. You know what it's like to see the last one standing for the first time? The last one in a place that was once flush with them?" He asks, wide-eyed.

He spurned her. Ainsley's brows raise in interest, because clearly there is a story there. "Then we will be. Why don't we go camping as we used to? I shall invite the Starks and they may come or stay as they wish." She is quiet for the last as she considers. "When I saw it I felt… angry. Pleased that it was there, but upset that it was so alone. Solitary and without its kind. Like us, I suppose."

"I would like to just go. But please invite them. I'll make ready. I might — bring something to pass the time." Riderch says, with a half-hearted gesture towards the laid-out maps." With this, he rises from the chair, having just sat down a short while ago.

"I saw all that too, Featherhead. That's what I was trying to tell you. But I saw one more thing. It endured. All right? Just — I'll endure. As we will. Even if I keep doing damn fool things which get me in trouble. Would you promise me this much? If you see Elionys in the future? Don't hate her. I don't care if you think you do." He at that point waves his hand in such a way that he considers this matter resolved, and the sort of deferent, half-pleading, and altogether silly (on him) look that he shoots Ainsley is gone. Gone and replaced by a goofy, familiar half-smile as he strides over and clasps a hand on her shoulder. "I should make ready."

"Well," Ainsley murmurs with a small frown for being given the onerous task of not hating someone, "I shall try." Still, that smile is infectious and Ainsley gently returns it as his hand falls to her shoulder. "So shall I."

The smile warms just briefly on her brother's part in response to the frown. And so it goes. Riderch does in fact then depart stair-wards with heavy steps to gather his things. And make ready, as he promised. Hey, he only sighed once while doing so.

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