(123-09-04) Waiting
Summary: Lord and Lady Rowan wait for their future to kick in, maybe.
Date: 01/10/2016
Related: Related Logs (Say None if there aren't any; don't leave blank. You have to use full URLs, like http://gobmush.wikidot.com/logtitle)

Through all these last months of grief and uncertainty and painful negotiation, Lady Margot Rowan has returned again and again to her winter garden.

This piece of tapestry two feet wide and a foot and a half high, stretched across a frame which sat first in her seventh-floor suite at the Hightower, next to a window looking out upon the Whispering Sound, and which has since found a home in the Rowan Door Manse's cool sitting room, adjacent to the garden, has been her refuge in difficult conversations, her employment in intolerable hours, her reassurance that she'll have something, some small victory, to show for this endless, hopeless, daunting year in her life.

Stitch by stitch she has made a barren but glitteringly lovely landscape, in silver and gold thread, the softest greys, and every shade of white. Golden rowan trees dominate, not a one of them bearing leaves or fruit… More recently she has added a scattering of tiny blood-red flowers, glowing and blooming impossibly bright, riveting even the most casual eye.

She sits this morning as on so many other days, in a dainty velvet-covered chair angled toward her work, her gaze resting tranquilly upon the product of so many hours of her labour. For it's finished, and she has cut the last thread, and her hands are at last wholly idle in her lap.

Lady Bryony is plucking dead leaves from an arrangement of purple and orange and golden flowers, exotics sent from the Hightower.

Both women look up at the turning of the doorknob.

Antony lets himself in. He looks up to see both women present, and nods a little. "Look, I'm sorry to come in unannounced," he begins, on entering his sitting room. "But do you mind?"

With her handful of leaves, Lady Bryony turns further to look at Lady Rowan; the latter is giving the slightest shake of her head, and rising to her feet in the gap between her chair and her embroidery frame. She steps round the latter, black silk skirts brushing over the floor at her feet, murmuring: "Please, my lord." Please what she doesn't say. Whatever he wishes, presumably. But on the assumption that he has come to speak with her she sits again on the edge of a sofa, where he might more easily find a seat of his own opposite her. She looks pale, and a bit tired. Lately she usually looks pale, and a bit tired.

Antony eyes Bryony briefly, but then looks back to Margot. "It has been brought to my attention that you are feeling somewhat unwell," he says as a careful foray. "It's possible that I am the last in the house to hear of it, but in whatever case I wished to know if there is something you would like. Some special food or comfort we might send for."

On which note Lady Rowan's head turns, just fractionally, to take in the plump little figure of Lady Bryony Tyrell leaving the room behind Lord Rowan's back and in a rustle of lavender silk. Then she lowers her eyes in her habitual, defensively modest manner, and answers her husband's gentle request with equally soft words. "Please, my lord, you must not trouble yourself. I have already all that I might need. I…" She hesitates. "Imagine I shall feel considerably better in a few weeks' time."

"In a few weeks?" Antony asks, brow puckering slightly. He comes to find himself a seat now that Bryony is just about out of the room. "Will you tell me?" he asks. "Plainly?"

His wife just sits there another moment or two, her head delicately bowed, as though the weight of so much glossy blue-black hair were too great for such a slender white neck to bear. Then, all diffidence and apprehension, she slowly lifts her gaze, to meet his and to murmur, "It is early yet to… Much might go wrong, in the first three months. I haven't wished to speak too soon."

Antony goes still for just a moment, only a faint tremor in his right hand disturbing the air. "Then I've…put my nose into it too soon," he concludes. "But I couldn't think of what to do but ask. Possibly you understand." He pauses to think of what to say next. "But if it's as you say, do you really not want anything? You could name it."

Lady Rowan could have kept her silence and yet revealed herself by this instinctive curling of an arm round her belly — still flat, but already the focus of her whole attention as she reckons up the sum of her desires. After a long moment she admits, "If you have still the intention to build me a small manse here in the city, you know I would be— very grateful for such a kindness. But for the present, I am… content with my waiting."

Antony's jaw comes forward a fraction. "Ah," he says, nodding once. "Yes. Of course you realize I had said that in anticipation that I might be meeting an end soon." He glances to one corner of the room. "But then one never knows the future. I'll contact someone and see if plans for that can't be got underway. I suppose you can have it built to your liking, if it doesn't break the family bank. But I'll find a builder first."

The projection of his jaw triggers, as ever, the lowering of her cool and evasive blue eyes. "Of course circumstances are not as they were," she agrees quietly; "and I am sensible of your kindness in even considering…" She pauses. "I know little of such things, but I imagine the time required to find land, negotiate its purchase, lay foundations, build… It is a task which might perhaps occupy years," she says, "in all. Surely there is no harm in examining the possibilities?" she suggests gently. "As you say, one never knows the future. And if not all is as we may wish…"

"It might," Antony allows, nodding a little, a very little. "Is it therefore your intention to raise my child in a separate house from mine?" he asks next, eyes cutting back to Margot to see her in the moment that he asks.

Well, ideally; but Lady Rowan is willing to work with what she's got. Her head remains slightly bowed, her eyes on the floorboards between them, as she murmurs, "It is my hope to remain near my family much of the time, my lord; and you have duties which require your presence at Goldengrove. It seems to me too soon yet to decide upon the best arrangements, considering…" Another hesitation. "That nothing is yet wholly certain."

"But you mean that, when things are more certain, you would prefer for me to disappear to Goldengrove while you keep the child here," Antony guesses, eyes not leaving Margot's face, now.

Is it any wonder she hasn't rushed into having this talk? Lady Rowan's posture grows more correct under pressure, her arm uncurling and her hand returning to join its fellow, the two of them neatly clasped and very pale against the blackness of her gown. Her face is a mask of calm, behind which blood is draining away down to her feet. "Surely there is no sense, my lord, in holding such an interrogation before we know which it is," she says very softly.

Antony blinks once at Margot without changing his posture at all. He seems more rigid than he used to be, these days. "Then shall we talk about the weather?" he asks. "Or shall I go away?"

"As you wish, my lord," the lady answers with that submissiveness which is the next best thing to a slap in the face. A specialty of hers, always.

But she adds, still in a voice as soft as it is low-pitched, relying on his attentiveness rather than seeking it by her words or her gaze, "Of course when you and I find ourselves in the same place we must reside beneath the same roof. But it is not my wish, my lord, either to oblige your presence at the cost of your duties or to surrender the freedom of my recent years. My sister and I have always wished that we might raise our children together… My wishes in this matter stem not from hatred of you, but love of my kin. I think you mistake, my lord, the guiding intention of what I have said."

She rises fluidly from the edge of the sofa, and after a hesitant flick of her gaze toward the door, moves again toward her finished tapestry.

"Right," Antony says, although it's clear from his tone that he does not quite believe Margot, or otherwise that he finds her plans unkind." He stands up. "Well. I hope you will tell me if there is any change. I'll send a note, perhaps, to keep you apprised of the real estate developments. Good day." He moves for the door, then pauses to turn back to say one more thing: "I'll be standing for the next tourney. Perhaps we'll get lucky." Then back to the door.

In fact it would be decidedly unlucky for Margot Rowan, to find herself widowed and expectant and her goodbrother's pensioner, without a manse to call her own. The new dresses being stitched for her in the nervous and fluttering anticipation of another change of wardrobe would go to waste, too.

She recognises however that it would be futile to say so, or even to reiterate the simple fact that she meant what she did say. Nonetheless her eyes lift in surprise; she looks straight at him, to see whether he means it.

Antony looks back at Margot with an expression that hints that he does not understand what hers means. "What are you looking at me like that for?" he asks. "You know I'll show my best in a tourney. I may not win, but honor dictates I fight as hard as I can. And I'm a hard fighter. Aren't I."

She's looking at him like that because his recent battles with knife and fork fail to inspire her with confidence in his wielding of sword and lance. Pale, tense, eyes clouded with foreboding, Lady Rowan's arm curls a second time about her body, just below her narrow waist. "Of course you must do as you think best," she says quietly. "But if the child I carry is your son, if he lives to be born, I hope I shall see you live long enough to secure his rights peacefully."

"I trust in the Seven to give us what we both deserve at this point," Antony says. "Do you?" His eyebrows lift slightly. "No nobleman would kill me deliberately in a tourney and I will not seek to be killed. But I'll have my honor. You cannot use guilt to keep me confined to the house so that I can serve as your tool until I'm pointless to you. I'll do what I was made to do and the Seven shall guide our fates. You and I both know that being careful doesn't guarantee anything, either. Good day, wife. Take, order, buy, or request anything you need. Do not exert yourself excessively. Get them downstairs to make the foods that you like rather than what I prefer." His gaze only wanders on the last few sentences as he turns back toward the door.

This incredibly nuanced approach to divine providence doesn't seem to reassure Lady Rowan. "It isn't," she murmurs glacially, sitting down in her embroidery chair with less than her usual grace, "the thought of what is deliberately done, that troubles me… My lord, when you were a child, did you never hear the tale septons tell of the man of Faith, and the flood?"

Antony stops with his hand on the doorknob, and from his body language it first looks like he's considering walking out through the door without hearing her story, but then he does turn round at last. "No, would you like to tell it to me?" he asks. And not harshly, but he looks tired. "Alternatively, you could just tell me its meaning because I am notoriously slow to appreciate the finer points of allegory."

A faint flush has begun to relieve Lady Rowan's pallor. She takes a breath and — yes, simply tells him the meaning, in a small and diffident voice. "The gods enter into this world through human hearts, and do their work by human hands. What They send to you will not ever have the appearance of divine intervention… To disdain advice, or care, or opportunities offered you by mere mortals, for the reason that you 'trust in the Seven', may be to turn away from Them at the very moment they are trying with all Their might to reach you in time." She looks decidedly pink by now; her eyes aren't quite focused upon him. "You might wish to bear that in mind for the future, my lord."

Antony lifts his eyebrows at that speech of Margot's. "You believe that?" he asks. "Then why, I wonder, do you do your best to push me as far away as possible if you think it would be useful — of course I say 'useful' and not 'desirable' because Seven know I wouldn't go that far — for me to stay here? I'm sure you've observed that if you push something far enough away, it falls off the edge. Maybe you should bear that in mind for the future, my lady." And on that note, he really does go.

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