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Old 12-02-2006, 05:40 PM   #617
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: The Edge of Faerie
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Eodwine, Saeryn and Kara have a little talk

Eodwine overheard the conversation his almbudsman, stoneshaper, and carpenter were having, and was pleased by the turn it was taking. He smiled to himself, got up from his chair, and went into the kitchen. They noticed, but he waved and went on his way. He noticed Saeryn come into the hall from the opposite door just as he was leaving. He would have liked to talk to her by the fire, but he was already in the kitchen by the time he thought of that, and let it go.

It had been a full and strange day between revelations at Meduseld and the goings on at these ruins to the east of Edoras. Who knew? Ah well, Eodwine thought, life is certainly not dull.

He sat down in the kitchen, Kara his only company, and began a late night snack of toasted and salted black bread and a particularly dark brown ale. Kara was doing some final ordering, puttering about the place; it seemed as much hers as Frodides' now.

Having spoken with Eodwine, Kara now knew that her time off was secured, and as she put the cleaned and dried plates away and got out what would be needed in the morning - for Frodides had taught her that it was easiest to be prepared - she thought of where she would take Nain. Young Garmund’s tale of what he had seen at the old ruins had intrigued her, but there seemed little point in going to them when they had all already heard all there was to see a good few times. Still musing, she looked up as Saeryn came through the doorway.

"Good evening, Kara, Eodwine. The Hall seems mostly settled for the night. Is there anything else that needs doing before bed? I would have a word or two with you before then, Eodwine, though there is no rush."

Eodwine saw in Saeryn's eyes a seriousness, but one far less worrisome than in some of the many times she had come to him before.

She padded her way softly across the floor. She had very carefully lost her slippers quite some time ago and now calmly felt the cold of the floor against her toes and hoped she would step on nothing sharp. The kitchen lamps flickered invitingly and she poured herself a cup of relaxing tea with a smile to Kara and she sat quietly, brushing her skirts smooth, waiting for Eodwine to respond.

Eodwine watched Saeryn, wondering where this demure young woman had come from. She had grown quiet and perhaps a little distant of late, and he did not like it. But maybe he had been somewhat distant himself.

Seeing that this was serious, Kara made ready to leave. While she was as much a lover of gossip as the next person she had seen the hurt that the recent rumours had been causing Saeryn and felt that perhaps this ought to remain private.

"There is no rush. And Kara," Eodwine said, "you need not leave. When you are done, sit with us, if you will." He turned back to Saeryn. "What do you wish to speak of?"

"Not a what, but a he. Trystan." she stated bluntly, though politely. She watched Eodwine's eyebrows raise slightly. "Tell me what you think of him?"

Surprised but glad at the turn the conversation had taken, Kara followed Eodwine’s instructions and sat down. Trystan was a less volatile subject than the one she had thought was about to be discussed, and one she was interested in. His treatment at arrival had caused some distress, not least because of the odour that had clung to him for days after, and while she had heard Saeryn’s opinions on the matter, she had yet to hear Eodwine’s.

"A callow youth in need of training, he is; smart but unwise, and needs to learn wisdom. He has begun to learn it. I am surprised that he has chosen to stay here and learn it; but it is a good sign." Eodwine eyed Saeryn and allowed a wry smile. "Unless, of course, he has other reasons to stay, such as a fair maiden or two."

Saeryn smiled in return, though only briefly. "I understand your intent, Eodwine, but Trystan as a soldier? He may take orders for a time, but what will happen when he cannot any longer? It is not in his nature, I do not think, to serve for very long in such a role."

"Not in his nature, you say?" Eodwine could not suppress a grin. "His derring do and dash and romance means that he cannot be a soldier? Look at me, Saeryn. I am a lord and have been a soldier. What do you think I was like when I was his age? Take a guess."

At this Saeryn laughed gleefully, the image of Eodwine just out of boyhood coming to her. "Oh fine." she accepted with a full smile. "I suspect very much that you were much like Degas used to be, and the spitting image of our Trystan. But..."

Suddenly Saeryn's plan seemed to her less perfect than it had before. She could think of many things to say, but allowed none of them to be heard. Would Eodwine have this young man, already too wise in the ways of the world, become battle hardened and lose his impertinent grin? Would he ask Trystan to settle into such a calming role when he so obviously thrived in the center of a room's attention?

Saeryn saw chains, not unwelcome, but neither were they inviting. To bind a young man into soldiery was fine... for some. How could Saeryn make the suggestion she'd been thinking on without it seeming that she disapproved of her friend's decision?

Eodwine's heart skipped a beat the moment the smile came to Saeryn's face. That glow was one of the things that drew him to her despite twenty and more years' difference in age. It was not so easy here, now, with her, to take a dagger, as it were, and cut his thoughts and feelings about her in two as he had been able to do before Queen Lothiriel.

"But you still think that Trystan should not be made into a soldier." Saeryn nodded. "Has he said he does not want it?"

"Not in any way so that I could hear it, but what words are more important to character, Eodwine? The words one says or the words one keeps to one's self? This attribute of him... it makes me think... it makes me wonder, really..." Her thought spilled suddenly forth in her impatience to be done with them. Let what may come, come. "Eodwine, you have protection for your household already in terms of soldiery. With the menfolk in your service and who are friends to you, I cannot forsee an offense they could not counter, if not out of strength than out of love and loyalty.

"You have protection, if it comes to that, and you have cooks and those who help to clean. You have Léof for your stables, though I wonder, if with so many guests, he might find use for a young helper. No, not Trystan. He is too dramatic for horsework.

"You have builders and quilters and healers-in-training. You have a lady for your hall who minds the affairs of the household and guests in the position of housekeeper as well." She smiled slightly before letting it fade into worried seriousness. "Eodwine... please hear me.

"When my parents lived, they had no need for such thought... their news came from all sorts. Morning chats with sellers in the market, passing travellers, visiting nobles. My parents were well known and well liked. People spoke candidly to them. You are well liked by those who know you, but Eodwine, you have not been a lord for long. Word travels and words meet and words twine around each other until trouble arises. Most times talk amounts to nothing but more talk, but it is always good to know what people say and think."

"I know well enough what people say and think, for the gossip is rife around this town," said Eodwine with a touch of ire. "And who are my sources for the juiciest morsels? The queen herself, if you can believe it. I suppose, Saeryn you know what they say?" He eyed her briefly but looked away, embarrassed by the subject now that it was on the verge of being spoken in this, their very own kitchen. "They say that I dishonor you, Saeryn. And what's more, they are right. So I must know something from you, and 'tis good that Kara is here to witness my question and your answer. Is - Would - Do you - . Do you want me for your husband, or would you rather seek another?" There. It was out. Raw and poorly it was asked, he could feel it, and he could read nothing on her face other than a wide eyed look of amazement or horror, he could not tell which.

Suddenly desperate to leave, Kara fidgeted in her chair. Everything had become so serious so fast that she had not had time to make her excuses and go, and now she was stuck in the midst of a conversation that she was sure Saeryn at least did not want witnesses for. Perhaps she could still find a reason to leave, but it would be obvious why and, though she hated to admit it, she wanted to hear the answer.

Saeryn stifled a gasp. She had heard the rumors, yes both heard them and tried to ignore them and worried herself into not sleeping soundly over what was said of her, of Eodwine's honor, of Saeryn's upbringing and her parents. She'd heard slights upon her dead father, whispers of a mother who did not know how to raise a daughter properly. She'd been asked outright if it were true that she was with child. She had told Eodwine none of it and had borne it in silence, but she had forgotten that Eodwine would hear it just as well as she might. But from the queen! Saeryn's eyes grew wet with angry tears.

"Kara and Frodides and Medreth work for you and nobody speaks of them in such a way!" Saeryn finally exclaimed, furiously wiping her eyes before the tears could spill over. She knew what she said was foolish even before saying it; they were wonderful women, but none of them ladies.

Would she seek for another husband? She wanted no husband at all! It wasn't fair, that was all there was to it. If she stayed, the rumors would continue until and even after she married Eodwine.

"Eodwine..." she began. She stopped suddenly, shivering. What would Mother and Father say? Father would have given her the very same choice. It was no bad match to wed the Eorl of the lands, and to marry a man of such years was not unheard of. He would ask her to think and to think very hard, but he would not make the choice for her. My little Saery, you will do what you must. You will do what is right. She could hear him so clearly. She closed her eyes, trying to hold back the tears that still threatened. Her mother's voice... Little one, would you be content? Would you be happy? You must do what is right. There seemed no other way. No way to end this, but perhaps a way to escape the harsh words, the hard reality.

"Eodwine..." she began again, casting a quick glance to Kara who seemed both shocked and enraptured at the exchange before her. "Your wife." she ended simply.

Meeting Saeryn’s eyes Kara saw the turmoil in them. This wasn’t a good choice to the girl who was too speedily becoming a woman, it was simply the best of a lot of bad choices. She wanted to interrupt, to explain this to Eodwine in the hope that she could somehow dissuade him from putting poor Saeryn on the spot like this and was on the point of doing so when he suddenly demonstrated that even an Eorl could have moments of idiocy.

"My wife? She is dead. I no longer seek her. It was a passing fancy. Is that your worry? I-" Eodwine glanced at Kara who's eyes appeared to be about ready to pop out of their sockets with what appeared to be mounting frustration at him. "- ah -" Suddenly he understood. Eodwine, you fool. "You would wed me." He said it as if he were a law man in court, checking what he'd heard with the witness on the stand. "Saeryn, I will be old and a wretched man weak in his bones and sinews while you are yet hale. Are you sure?"

"No." she sniffed. "I am not. And in that lack of surety, I would not wed you. I just want this public viewing of my life to end and I know that it cannot."

She stood suddenly, smoothing her skirts, and quietly, gracefully, fled the kitchen leaving a dumbstruck Eodwine and a very confused Kara behind her.

Eodwine turned to Kara. "Well, at least she can stay here then." He sighed with relief, tinged with a sense of loss. Not to wife. Then he would father her as best he could. But she had not said that; she had said she was not sure, which was the most true thing he could have hoped. All the more reason to father her and end all such gossiping once and for all. He would relieve her of the confusion. He turned to Kara again. "You have been quieter than I thought you would be. I will tell you my mind in any case. I will foster her and not woo her. I'll make it clear to her and all here, and to the queen. What think you?"

“I have been quiet, lord, because this business is between you and Saeryn, or at least she would prefer it that way. But since you do wish for my thought I will give it. You are pushing her too hard and too fast and that, along with the difficulty of dealing with what many people are saying, is causing confusion and worry within her mind. She is still young, and this may be the most important decision she will ever have to make. It is possible though that, in future, she will wish to wed you, and be sure and happy about it. Lord, if there is a way that you can stop the rumours and take this pressure off Saeryn yet still leave the option open for her, I think that would be best for all.”

"Then I will demote her to head cleaning girl, and make you hostess. That is my thought." He sighed. "And maybe a bad one. I have let my own wishes get in the way of what is best, and I am sorry for it. I think we will all three of us do well to sleep on this and speak more of it later. Good night, Kara."

Last edited by littlemanpoet; 12-05-2006 at 10:56 AM.
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