The cooling temperatures of the evening give much respite for those in the Red Keep, for it had been sweltering for most of the day. It isn’t surprising that there is a good amount of people, ladies in particular, taking walks or just lounging in the sprawling yards at this hour. Bright, amiable chatter, the whisperings of Conquest widows, and the giggling of maidens fill the air to mingle with the sound of crickets chirping from the surrounding greenery. Amidst all this, however, there is a certain group somewhere off the side and close to the Royal Sept that seem to be waiting for a particular someone, someone who has made a habit of visiting the Sept religiously at this hour to say her prayers.
As Jyana Arryn steps outside, her hands folded together in front of her and a faint smile on her lips, she blinks, just a little bit, at the group waiting for her outside. Ladies younger than herself, and from different families, whom she had met in passing during the homecoming feast, and enthusiastic sparks in their inquisitive eyes.
“....yes?” the fair-haired Arryn prompts delicately.
“We were wondering, Lady Jyana,” says the ringleader, a pretty maid with straight, dark hair. “If you could oblige us with answering a few questions that we have all been curious about for quite some time.”
“Would you like to walk with us?” perks another, younger, with equally dark tresses.
Jyana cocks her head slightly to the side, a look of half-confusion, andhalf-curiosity besieging the normally gentle, yet serious mien. “I would love to, my ladies,” she remarks diplomatically, taking a couple of steps towards them. “May I ask as to the nature of these inquiries?”
The group of four girls look at one another, and smile.
“We were wondering about Ser Jaesin Lannister,” they all say in unison.
‘I regret this already,’ Jyana thinks, but she maintains the smile on her face. “Well there’s really not much to say, only that—”
There is no chance to finish the sentence, for the barrage of questions assail her the moment she even decides to open her mouth to answer.
“Is it true that he turned you down without even meeting you?”
“Did you do something to offend him?”
“Do you think those rumors about him and Ser Aemon are true?”
“Oh my lady, to turn down a beauty such as yourself, it MUST be!”
“You must have been heartbroken, -devastated-!”
“Well, I assure you all that I’m not in the very least—”
One of them reaches out to take her hands, squeezing them and looking at her right in the eye. “My lady, my beloved mother would tell you that there is no man in this world killing yourself over!”
Jyana can’t help but stare at the latest. “I…I…I…” Unnoticed, aquamarine eyes dart left and right for a chance of escape. And since she doesn’t find one, it is time, she decides, to save herself from this little hubbub. Staring far away and off to the side as if she had noticed something remarkably fascinating, she purses her lips and furrows her brows. “....well, that’s certainly surprising. It seems that the Dragonknight has recovered from his wounds rather quickly.”
“WHERE?” Heads turn as if by one entity. This is when Jyana takes her moment of escape, sidestepping as the four of them as look around one another in attempt to espy the splendid knight that Jyana had just shamelessly use as a diversion…only to find noone there. When they turn back, they find the Jewel of the Eyrie missing.
“Odd, where did she go?”
“She must be around here somewhere.”
“We can try looking around for a bit, she must have been called away….”
Jyana has not gone far, though she certainly wishes she has. Peering around the corner, she has managed to duck around the eastern wall of the Royal Sept, and slinking either forwards, or backwards depending on the sounds of the voices. A hand coming up in an attempt to calm her pounding heart, she does her best to look out the corner unseen. “...where do these people -get their information-?!” she breathes under her breath, though she takes care to keep her voice low and relatively
quiet. Insanity, she decides, is what this is….
“Did she return to the Sept?”
This, she decides, is when to start running. Turning around, in a flurry of skirts, she makes a break, so to speak, for the safety of a place anywhere but the Sept. Perhaps there will be a time in where she ends up appreciating the irony of being chased away from a holy place by a group of childlike gossip demons, but for the life of her she was at a loss as to how to deal with such inquiries with the same, delicate touch expected of her. At present, she is very much content in making
Set beside the path from the Royal Sept to the expanses of the Yards, a small grove of trees provides a welcome shelter from the unkind sun to many of the Red Keep’s denizens at the height of the day. Yet at this hour, with the sun fled and the oppressive heat fleeing, the little copse has been deserted by most—save two.
For here again, as they often are, a young man of no more than twenty years and a squire—who has known perhaps twelve—are enjoying the relative quietude. Clad alike in plain, loose cotton shirts, beyond their drab raiment they bear uncanny resemblance to one another— the same sharp blue eyes, the same rich golden hair on their heads, aye—but alike specially in the sweat and dirt that smudge and soil their faces.
They sit with their backs to a pair of old oaks, and a small, rounded boulder rests from recent use between them. Neither one bears any telltale colors or insignia, but rather the signs of arduous training.
The younger one rises, unsteadily, to his feet. His elder brother—for they must be brethren—favors him with a lazy smile of approval. “You’ve done well this day, Mat,” the elder says.
“My thanks… Ser,” the boy replies, catching himself at the last moment and supplying the formal mode of address. The pair share a moment of laughter.
The search for her, and her persistent evasion of it, has pushed her deep into the path leading away from the Royal Sept and towards the yards, and Jyana knew well that wide, open spaces would do little to hide her. The thought of ducking under a wide skirt worn by one of the older ladies she sees from the distance crosses her mind, but she dismisses it on the account that she was no longer eight years old. The copse of trees just a bit off the side will do, and without any second thoughts (after all, who could possibly be wandering there this time of day?), she spins around, and runs in that direction, pushing aside a branch and moving forward.
The shade of the trees prove to darken the landscape more. “Best take advantage of it,” Jyana murmurs softly, looking over her shoulder, and remembering a few words from an aged voice at the back of her mind that spoke of using the terrain to benefit the current circumstance. She maneuvers, as carefully as she can, through the shrubs, the thick trunks of the surrounding trees, and their roots that jutted precariously from the soil, intent on catching careless victims with their gnarled, wooden selves. She yanks her skirt away from a branch that had snarled a bit of the fabric, and when she presses on, she tries to be quiet, but her rustling around is quite evident. Even from here she could hear voices.
“I wonder where she had gone.”
“What a pity, and she looked like she was going to tell us the entire story, too!”
“I think I saw something over there!”
The last is particularly alarming. Jyana spins around, too quickly perhaps, to switch directions, only for a high, twisted root to catch her by the calf of one leg. The quiet enjoyed by the Lannister brothers is thus broken by the image of a young maiden toppling in a burst of leaves and greenery into view, landing, thankfully, in a soft patch of grass and a pair of wide, aquamarine eyes turned upwards at the shock of the fall.
There is silence, for a few moments.
These few moments are enough for the young woman to get up quickly, brushing off her gown and drawing a leaf or three from her hair. Dipping a quick curtsey, she smiles, face flushed with embarassment but quick to laugh at her predicament. “Forgive the interruption, good sers,” she remarks brightly. “It was quite inadvertent, I assure you, but—”
“Maybe she went this way after all.”
“...but I was never here,” Jyana amends with a bit of exasperated laughter, spinning around and stepping around a tree trunk to hide in that general direction. Tucking her skirt between her legs to keep herself as narrow a possible, she presses her back against the trunk.
Just in time for one of the other girls to come to view, treading up the path with a confused look on her face.
The whole of this strange turn of events is witnessed in a rather stunned silence by the golden-haired brothers. Whenever one or the other seems poised to speak, another unexpcted distraction quite suddenly snatches the words from his mouth—
The blue-eyed girl, and her sudden emergence? Her dignified curtesy rising, phoenix-like, from the ashes of her less-than-stately stumble? Her equally sudden departure, and the arrival of pursuit?
Nothing is said by knight or squire throughout this odd sequence, until finally the younger shares a wink with the elder, then inclines his head to the dark-haired maid that arrives all a-wonder, searching for her quarry, now fled.
“My fair lady,” inquires young Mathin Lannister, on more-or-less equal footing with a maiden not far from his own age, “if you are looking for a pair of blue eyes and golden hair, I daresay you’ve found them, yes?”
The girl’s wide eyes grow even wider in startlement, and passing over the elder brother—who rather conveniently chooses this moment to turn aside, hawking and spitting a disgusting gob of phlegm into the underbrush—she nearly faints.
She will never catch the crafty look and mischievous grins that pass between the brothers, before Mathin rushes forward to guide her from the wood, the very epitome of knightly chivalry.
And the squire, Mathin Lannister, gloriously saves the day - fittingly, of course, considering the Lannisters’ chivalrous birthright. Unfortunately however, judging by the Vale maiden’s reactions from earlier, she had nary a clue as to who they were. And as the younger brother steps to aid her luckless (or lucky?) pursuer, Jyana waits for a few moments, before re-emerging from behind the tree. It is only her head that is visible at first, poking out and her hair curling against her cheekbones at the gesture, and while watching Mathin’s progress out, she cannot help but exhale an undisguised breath of sheer relief.
“....” Was it her imagination, or did her pursuer just seem like she had fainted? Stepping out cautiously still, she cannot help the confused look on her face, and planting her hands on both her hips as she, and the taller knight (or whom she could only assume was a knight, for he was dressed in similar sparring attire commonly worn on the grounds), who is very much an inadvertent companion, both watch the two younger persons’ egress. Again, there is silence. Save for one word from the young woman.
Turning to address Jaesin, she couldn’t help but laugh. “I suppose I’ve your younger brother to thank kindly for this erstwhile rescue. But since he seems rather occupied at the present moment, I was wondering, m’lord, if you could be kind enough to pass on my most heartfelt gratitude.” It was a logical deduction on her part, both men looked so alike save for age and height that a blind man could sense a family resemblance.
Glancing up from where he sits against the tree, the young knight—for so he is, despite the lack of silk or sigil—considers the newcomer for the length of a moment. He studies her, not so much as his less worldly peers might look on such a maiden, but rather as a curiosity worthy of puzzling out. The dress, the dirt, the leaves, and the pursuit—how odd it all must seem to him.
And when she finally speaks, he answers in kind, laughing softly. “His is the noblest duty in all the realm, I think,” the knight says of his brother. “He does it well, and if you thank him he will merely say his knight would expect such action. And so he would.”
Now Jaesin smiles a wry but friendly smile. “But what of you, O mysterious Lady of the Wood? You do not look like a Child of the Forest. Has so much changed since Daeron led us to the desert that noble maids now hunt one another willfully through an oak grove? I might have known such fun once,” he admits, “but winter’s memory of summer is cold, and Dorne has changed all of us who followed the King. I think you are lucky, to know such sport.”
She would be more embarassed with the way she looks, but Jyana certainly takes things in stride. Blessed with enough practicality given the circumstances of her childhood, she is of the mind that as she has embarassed herself once already, there was no need to pretend that these events were not happening. Good humor mingles with the flush on her cheeks and the impish light of her eyes, and taking another careful step away from the tree and away from its offending roots, she cannot help but dust off her skirts once or twice. “So I wasn’t too far off to think that he was a squire, being one so young yet so able. May I inquire as to who he squires off to? Certainly not yourself, or you would’ve said so already.” Her smile broadens into a grin. “Unless of course you speak of yourself often in the third-person, which is a predisposition I don’t sense from you in the very least.”
Folding her arms behind her back, she inclines her head a little bit at what he says, but when he is finished, she laughs openly. “I was attempting, before your younger brother decided to come to my aid, to evade certain particular questions revolving something I hadn’t known had caused much controversy until now.” She shakes her head. “It seems my younger brethren was under a mistaken impression that I have attempted to take my own life due to the rejection of someone whom I’ve never even met. And so I thought that if such ridiculous notions are running rampant then it isn’t all -too- unfair to make the rest of them chase me.”
She tilts her chin defiantly - but this isn’t serious. In fact, the laughter that she represses is quite clear on the look on her face. “If I were to give any answers, then by the Seven, I’ll make them earn them!”
At what he says about Dorne, and the Conquest’s marked effects, her humor fades into something a little more curious. “Ah, you were part of it then,” she muses softly. “And perhaps you have, but…” She seems to hesitate for a few moments, before pressing on. “I wouldn’t wish to downplay any of the sacrifices made by our men, but I think what was known once could be learned again, if one is willing.”
And so the lady speaks, explaining away her sudden appearance and all of its circumstances; by turns the young knight laughs, or simply listens to the tale… and then she is done. In all of this time he has made no move to rise from his place by the tree, standing—or more properly, sitting—on ceremony.
“I’m afraid it may be more a matter of unlearning the lessons of warfare than remembering the lessons of balls and of tourneys,” he ventures, the barest hint of remembered sorrow touching his smile—until he laughs again of a sudden, and all that is forgotten.
“I would ask you to sit, but I think you would decline the offer,” he says instead, eyes sparkling. “The maids of Daeron’s court are not the sort to sit on grass and rest at trees, save maybe Daena,” he chuckles, oddly referring to the king’s sister by her familiar name, “so I suppose I must stand if I’m to ask you more questions. What man is worth killing oneself over? You have the right of it—my brother squires for another man—but neither that knight nor this one are worth such folly.”
The way he informally speaks of the king’s sister is noted, Jyana looking rather surprised, but smiles regardless. Whoever this man is, he probably had rank in court, and his informal manner does wonders to make her well at ease, despite a status she could detect, but cannot identify specifically.
“I wasn’t even speaking of the lessons of balls and tourneys,” she remarks simply, with the same quiet, gentle tone, lifting a hand to tuck a lock of hair at the back of her ear. “But rather a much simpler one.” She, however, fails to specify what that is - she certainly wasn’t jesting when she had said that she would try to make people earn their answers from her today.
But the jest causes her to laugh. What harm would a few blades of grass do? And she certainly has enough of them on her skirt. “Well,” she remarks, moving over, and with great, and exagerrated flourish, takes a seat across from him, on the stump of a dead tree cut away, a subtle, wordless retort to his teasing. “He is, supposedly, one of the best knights of the realm, a paragon of chivalry, a pedestal that all knights must and should strive to climb onto.” Her tone of voice changes then, with more flair and drama with a grand sweep of her fingers caressing the air…before it drops on her lap yet again and she chuckles. “I have little doubts of his reputation, of course, for if many people in different walks of life can corroborate on a single story, then it stands to reason that there is, at the very least, a certain grain of truth to it. Personally I’ve never met him, but I was to be betrothed to him, two years ago. My relatives were quite disappointed when it didn’t come to pass, but again, it stands to reason why I ought to be devastated losing someone I never had, or someone I don’t know nor I’ve met to begin with.”
She laughs, shaking her head. “It’s laughable, don’t you think? I can’t even begin to describe how ridiculous I think the very notion is.”
The tale, as related, finds the nameless knight a careful and silent listener under his oak tree. Idly stroking his chin, he nods along at each turn of the story until she is done. And then—as if with an air of careful deliberation—the young man sighs, albeit with yet another smile; this one is different than the others, wearier and somehow wiser than he may have seemed formerly.
“There is only one paragon whom all other knights should emulate,” he says when he speaks at last, slowly—as if judging his words with care, “and that is Aemon Targaryen.” A note of admiration enters his voice as he says, “There is no man in this kingdom or any other who is the Dragonknight’s equal, and I at least am sorely aware of that fact.” At this he laughs, but warmly and openly, not in a self-mocking fashion.
“But this tale—why, you must be Jyana Arryn,” he concludes as if it all made perfect sense, “and if you speak of Jaesin Lannister, as I think you must—well, perhaps the notion is ridiculous. Young men do foolish things when they are riding off to war. Even paragons. I think Ser Jaesin would be glad to know you were unhurt.”
At what he says, his clear reverence to Aemon Targaryen’s reputation…well, it was an answer that she has commonly heard around the men in the Eyrie, especially squires with dreams of knighthood, much like her twin half-brothers, who are squires themselves. But Jyana’s bright expression takes on a more contemplative bent. She folds her arms around her knees, forearms draped over the cloth of her gown, and as she looks above at the dark of the leaves mottling the deep blue color of the growing night, she speaks yet again.
“Perhaps,” she remarks. Certainly not with a tone that suggests that she disbelieves him. “I’ve heard many tales about Ser Aemon Targaryen, his devotion to the realm and the code, and his vows. However…” She leans back, tapping her fingers against her kneecap. “I would like to think, or at the very least hope, that there is more to being a man these days aside from being the best knight he could be. Not everything can be written down and memorized, after all. Not everything can be promised no matter how great or good one’s intentions are.”
And when he correctly identifies who she is, she blinks, and she laughs, good humor returning to the serene bout of seriousness on her face. “Forgive me, for not introducing myself sooner, and treading on your quiet time so suddenly! But aye, I am Jyana Arryn. I was recently introduced to court formally just a few days ago - I haven’t been able to make the journey here until now. I am very much a newcomer here, which would explain, m’lord, as to why I don’t hesitate in sitting down on grass, I’m guessing.”
She laughs at what he says about young men. “That they do,” she agrees, standing up and stretching her arms over her head freely. “And one day perhaps I’ll tell him, once I manage to know which one he is. I’ve heard he is a man of great conscience, and I wouldn’t wish him to hear such blatantly false rumors and think them to be true. I doubt good men relish the idea of young women killing themselves over alleged heartbreak.”
Until she speaks of Ser Jaesin Lannister’s vaunted conscience, the nameless knight attends Jyana’s words as he has throughout—carefully, thoughtfully, and not without a hint of a subtle good humor. But at that simple word, he pales visibly—even in the starlight—and rises to his feet.
Rises? Certainly. “There is more to manhood than knighthood,” he agrees, “as there is more to knighthood than a sword and a few mutterered words.” But he stands only briefly—
For as swiftly as he reached his full height, now he bends a knee and bows his head before the girl. Before she can remark on this or respond in any manner, he begins to speak himself, and his tone is clear and free of sorrow; in fact it carries almost a note of… relief.
“You have heard much of Jaesin Lannister, it seems, but half is tales and half is truth, I think. So here and now will I tell you truly, for he is a man of conscience—in that at least you have heard aright—and he would beg your pardon if ever he wronged you.”
“So he would, and so he shall,” the knight explains, lifting his eyes with a grin, “Because I am Jaesin Lannister, son of Loren of the Rock, and my conscience will flay me for a Dornish traitor if I don’t apologize for any harm I may have done you or your family in my youth.”
Jyana turns back to him, and indeed she has it in mind to apologize yet again for disturbing his quiet time and to beg his leave, and to wish him a good evening. But once he rises, perhaps to expect a curtsey and a more formal goodbye from her, she is stunned…when the man gets on one knee in front of her, and his head bowed, asking for her…..
Wait, what WAS he asking of her?
She stares mutely, and she speaks at first in protest at the gesture. “M’lord, please,” she says, stretching out her hands in an effort to tug him back up, looking around frantically in hopes that his brother wouldn’t come back so quickly and demand to know what’s going on - because she herself doesn’t know! “When I said there was more to manhood than knighthood I didn’t mean you should demonstrate that RIGHT NOW, I—”
The apology cuts her off. And when he lifts his handsome head to grin at her, she could only gape at him in disbelief. Despite the look in his eyes, as impish as the rest of his expression is, she knows he is serious, and she knows that he is telling the truth. It certainly explained a lot.
At the very least it explained the nigh-near overwhelming urge to kick him while her face flares in an embarassed blush yet again.
“Oh, Mother, save me,” Jyana groans melodramatically, crossing an arm over her chest and resting her opposite elbow on her palm, burying her face into her other hand as she feel the heat creep down to her neck.
After a moment’s pause, she lifts her head up again, still as red as the sunset now past. “.....your apology, ser,” she remarks, flatly. “Is denied.”
Denied? She -dares-?!
She grins, despite her color. “Because I just spent a good amount of time just explaining to you the exact reasons why I believe any apologies regarding this matter are quite moot, and perhaps even needless. You have not injured me, and you certainly have not inconvenienced my family in any way. We’re already allied to the Lannisters by marriage, if my father thought the match would prove influential, what more really could it do to our status? My cousin is already married to your sister, it baffles me as to how any further bonds between us could strengthen our families’ ties any further that wouldn’t be the slightest bit redundant. So for the love of the Seven, -please- get up. If anything I should be the one apologizing on my knees for not knowing who you are in the first place.”
Freed from any weight of overbearing conscience, then, Ser Jaesin Lannister does climb to his feet again—his identity revealed, and thankfully not reviled. He accepts her explanation with a devilish smile, and folds his arms over his chest to regard the maiden casually.
“Well—as to our ill-fated marriage,” he begins by way of explanation, “My father is a far-seeing man. The dragons are no more, and a day may come when the East and the West might benefit from a closer alliance. But that is neither here nor there. At eighteen I cared little for alliances and less for painted lockets.”
He laughs, then, but it is almost a snicker; it would seem his own youth is an object of his scorn. “As far as knowing my face,” Ser Jaesin continues, “I am glad that you didn’t.”
“Since our return from Dorne, too many have seen my face—and more, my family arms—and been quick with their tongues to disparage us. In barely a year of campaigning beside them, my brother Jonn has made more enemies in the Reach and the Stormlands for Casterly Rock than we will ever have in Dorne. I would sooner go unrecognized than be associated with such slander.”
How could she despise someone she doesn’t know? Again, Jyana doesn’t seem to recognize any sort of logic in that. Still when he arises, and certainly stands much taller than herself, the maiden cranes her neck upwards so she could meet his eyes - it seems she is of a predisposition not to be at the very least demure, despite her youth and relative inexperience.
“Perhaps,” she replies, folding her arms behind her back. “I thought that since you turned down the prospect before even laying eyes on me or speaking to me that you’ve decided on another path that rendered having the burden of a wife unnecessary. Reasonably I would think that any man seriously considering marriage would investigate the prospects introduced to him before he said aye or nay, but you did neither those things.” Her grin is teasing, and bears no ill will. “As for being happy that -I- didn’t know your face, I’m rather surprised of your reason. To think I thought you were glad of it so you could wrangle the truth out of what I felt about the arrangement more expediently.” This last was a jest, judging by her expression, but she can’t help ribbing him about it just a little.
She inclines her head slightly at what he says about slander directed onto his family, and she sighs. “That’s certainly too bad,” she muses. “I don’t particularly know your entire family well, but your sister has been nothing but kind to me, and Jonn….I’ve heard ill words directed to him in particular, and with so much contempt directed on one person it’s hard not to notice or wonder. I can’t help but be saddened in a way. I think your brother, deep down, is a good man.”
Her voice sounds a little far away at that, glancing to the side and a more serious look cast over her features. “It’s certainly difficult to see him in any other way. For the longest time, he was the only one who could make me laugh, and for longer still, he was really the only one who tried.”
This admission—that the girl he might have married knows his brother, and well—seems to surprise to the Lannister knight for the sparest of moments. His eyes widen slightly at her assessment of Jonn, and even more so when she speaks of his kindnesses. All this gives Jaesin pause—and it is a lengthy pause indeed before he speaks again.
“This… is a revelation, of a certain,” he admits, carefully choosing his words as if the very thoughts behind them are new and ill-formed as of yet. “I suppose it should not surprise me; I had heard that Jonn rode to the Eyrie with Lira.” Almost distractedly, the knight adds, “That was the year of Garvys Tyrell’s grand tourney at Highgarden…? Yes, I remember it now.”
Then he looks back down to meet Jyana’s gaze, and grins again. “You are kind to my brother. He was not always the wicked man these lordlings think him, so perhaps your words have merit. Still—when such as Tyrell and that scourge Dagur Saltcliffe, Doran the Blackbolt and even Bryce Bullneck agree on his failings… you see the man that I wish he was, my lady. Would that I had your vision. But I do not.”
“Tell me more of my brother. How is it you know him?”
“From what I have observed, Jonn is rather close to Lira. He sees her as often as he could,” Jyana says, her gaze still lingering on a far point, as if traversing distant memories that had no place in King’s Landing. After a pause, she turns her head to look over at Jaesin yet again and smiles. “You are careful in how you approach my feelings on Jonn,” she observes. “Some of the other lords aren’t quite so kind, nor nearly so considerate.”
She takes a step or two around, turning to watch the goings on in the yard while she and Jaesin are hidden behind the same copse of trees, mirth leaving her face and her expression falling in that state of serene, not severe, seriousness - so completely unlike her famous cousin’s, and a far cry from her famous grandfather’s.
“I was a child then,” she tells softly. “And sick. My father opted not to betroth me from the cradle despite knowing that I will eventually have the look of my lovely mother because he, along with everyone else, wasn’t certain that I would survive girlhood. Most of my life I was confined in my bedchambers to keep harm from befalling me. Due to that precautionary isolation, however, I grew ill-tempered, and lonely. For a child that age, knowing mostly a mere four walls and looking outside the window longingly every day….it was almost unbearable. But I endured it, because I knew despite my growing rebelliousness that it was for my own good.”
“Jonn somehow made that bearable. I met him while he was visiting m’lady Lira. He and another of his retainers, Albert Hill. I managed to escape my room that first time, but I was so weak I almost fell down the stairs, I couldn’t even run properly. Jonn intercepted me and kept me from breaking my neck in the fall. That was the start of it. I was angry at him at first. I told him he would never understand what it was like to live in such a way that you couldn’t even go outside. He looked at me and said that he knew more than I thought. It wasn’t even so much as his words so much as the way he said it. I knew even in my young heart that he was sincere.”
“Every time he would visit the Eyrie, he would spend time with me. Asking me how I fared, talking with Maester Arett about my condition. He read to me, while Albert entertained me and made shadow puppets on the walls for my amusement. He was always gifted with the ability of making me laugh, me, who almost didn’t know how in those days. I truly believe….that I would’ve grown into a much different person without him.” She turns to face Jaesin then, grinning. “My countenance would most probably be as severe as grandfather’s.”
She folds her arms around herself, and she sighs. “In coming here that’s all I’ve heard about him. It was as if he were a different creature entirely. But I couldn’t help but love him anyways, Ser Jaesin, despite his failings - as misguided and naive as that may seem.” A melancholy twinge laces her smile. “Perhaps I’ve been cursed after all with a heart that isn’t prone to being fickle.”
To all of this, Ser Jaesin lends an ear—if he has proven aught today, it is his willingness to listen—and keeps silent while the so-called Jewel of the Eyrie speaks. Idly stroking his stubbled chin, he nods along at particular points, following the tale as she tells it.
And at last, when she is done, he says in answer, “I am sorry that your girlhood was such a struggle. The gods have been good to you, if you stand here in King’s Landing on this day, healthy and given to laughter after all of that.”
For a moment he falls silent once more. In the surrounding grove, a nightingale’s song rushes in to fill the void of human speech, and Jaesin tilts his head to the left that he might hear it more closely. Soon the carol fades, and the bird is off in a flutter of wings and rustled branches.
“You tell a tale that is strange to me,” he says at last, smiling bitterly. “In the days of our own adolescence, my brother Jonn spent more time in his cups than at the quintain. And your Ser Albert was his happy guide to the taverns of Lannisport—the fool thought himself our elder brother. I daresay he thinks it still, though he dares not trouble me with his fraternal fancies now… ah!” The knight sighs, frustrated by unwanted memories.
“I will not tell you: forsake my brother,” Jaesin tells Jyana plainly, “for then by rights I should forsake him as well. But as a knight and the heir of Casterly Rock I must warn you, be wary of him—and yes, the bastard’s son as well. King’s Landing is not the Eyrie, and men such as those care little for chivalry.”
“I was glad of it, to be honest. I’ve learned to be strong in other ways. Looking back on it now, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.” Jyana smiles faintly at Jaesin’s remark, but it is sad, at the healthy comment. She doesn’t correct him however, and instead she lifts a hand so she could idly rub her fingertip on the rough bark of a nearby tree.
She has turned so he would not see the look on her face at the bitter smile, and his sigh. He has struck her as someone who, at least, tries to be fair - she couldn’t help but feel a certain degree of doubt to set in. But as she squashes such with a mental boot, she looks up at the leaves hanging overhead.
“Even if you asked me, I wouldn’t,” she remarks softly, looking over her shoulder at him. “Forsake him, I mean. I was never a fickle person, I’m not about to start now.” Scrutinizing his face carefully, she speaks up. “Is it really so hard to believe that your brother or those who he passes his time with could be capable of great kindness? The same blood in your veins runs in his, and you have been nothing but kind to me despite everything. I understand very well that King’s Landing is not the Eyrie - I was warned of it, before I left. But you and I both agreed earlier that chivalry isn’t all that makes a man a man.”
“No matter what you think of chivalry, I am a poorer example than you know,” Ser Jaesin says in reply. “No man is without his own sins—not even Aemon Targaryen. And certainly not Jaesin Lannister.” He seems to consider this statement for a moment, pausing briefly in his speech.
“My brother… is given overmuch to his drinking,” the knight explains at length. “It has only grown worse since the Conquest. I wonder if you know what too much wine will do to a man—any man—let alone one who has been away to war?”
He studies Jyana then, more intently—for she is young, and the sheltered upbringing of which she speaks must seem plain to him. But ere she can answer, he amends himself:
“I suppose it matters little. Jonn has a wife and a son, and if he cares so much for his sister and her babe, he pays his own wife and child little mind. If my brother was the man you think he is, no-one should be more glad for it than I would, myself—but they might be happier even than I. If by your sympathy you can prevail against his temptations and send him back to the Rock as a dutiful father, then may the Seven grant you every glory on heaven and earth. But I do not think it likely.”
“I believe that chivalry can teach a man many things, but not everything that is necessary to live a good life,” Jyana rebuts, her aquamarine gaze unwavering once it falls on Jaesin’s face. “And perhaps you are - I wouldn’t know. I’ve only met you today, after all, and I know very well as to how tales can be exagerrated. My byname, for instance.” She smiles at that, though without its usual impishness.
She nods. She knows Jonn loves wine, she just doesn’t know the very extent of it. “I have heard rumors. Stories. I live in a region besieged by clans that would kill all the men but make off with all the women. I know of rape.” She says the deplorable word without flinching. “I wish I did not, but I will not survive here if I do not know of base, human desires. I lack little in experience but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be informed about what’s necessary. I am physically feeble, still, despite my improvements - without my wits my chances of surviving here are nonexistent.”
She bears his scrutiny with good grace, her soft, serious face unrelenting. “I don’t think it very likely either. I have no plans on trying to change Jonn. I’ve grown up knowing that no one can really know your brother, as a man or otherwise. You are both alike in that regard, I think…you hide enough of yourselves to get the rest of the populace confused. While the rest of the world may love you, Jonn loathes you for reasons he wouldn’t tell me. The rest of the world, or at least most of it, thinks little of Jonn, and you are surprised when I paint a different picture of him. What is an outsider like me to do but accept the two of you for whatever faults you may have, perceived or otherwise?”
She smiles and looks upwards again. “I think that may very well be my own personal disposition that has kept me from loathing you unjustly.”
At this, there is laughter from the golden young knight—a welcome sound in this place, that has grown too sad and solemn. “Then that is my good fortune,” he agrees, smiling again.
“I can tell you why my brother loathes me,” Jaesin says more lightly, his heart seemingly freed once again of its burdens. “It is a point of irony, to be sure. You say the populace loves me?” He meets her gaze with a pointed glance, asking the question. “It may be so—and for many of the same reasons, I think, my own brother hates me.”
“I am not so foolish as to think it all is jealousy,” he goes on. “Jonn thinks I lecture him, I suppose; that I expect too much from him. Perhaps I do.” The elder brother says this with finality. “He is a Lannister. He is incapable of nothing, should he set his mind to it. But all he sets his mind to is drinking and wenching.”
“Oh I don’t know,” Jyana states with a laugh, after he claims it a good fortune. “My septa would tell you that I’ve grown to be quite a handful. Perhaps it truly is in our best interests that the contract fell through. Otherwise I don’t think we’d be speaking to each other so frankly.”
She leans against the tree trunk, her hands folded behind her and kicks up a little bit of the grass under her feet. “I can only tell you what I’ve heard,” she tells Jaesin simply. “About the populace loving you. As I said - I’ve only met you today. I can’t even say if I’m -fond- of you to join the alleged ranks of the populace, being so sneaky to let me go on and on about what I’ve heard of you before telling me who you are.” The mild teasing returns, for his laugh and her own injects much wanted levity.
She nods. “I don’t think it’s purely jealousy either. And lecturing is the prerogative of older brothers, so hopefully he’s not too surprised of that.” She falls quiet again, a silence which stretches for a while. Finally she speaks up yet again. “Do you hate him then, truly?” she asks. “Or is it just a very severe case of utter disappointment?”
Though he laughs in turn as the object of teasing, as the talk returns to Jonn, soon enough Jaesin’s handsome face wrinkles in the faintest of frowns, albeit a good-natured one; perhaps he is rarely forced to consider his true feelings for his brother, and finds it taxing. Perhaps.
“Hatred isn’t it, certainly,” he says after an interval of moments. “Nor would I choose words so strong as ‘severe’. But am I disappointed in him? For a fact, I am. Absolutely—he could be so much more than this. Your devotion to him—which I must admit I find a trifle unnerving, my lady—speaks to that, at least.”
Now the devilish grin returns, and Jaesin adds rather drily, “If I am glad I did not marry you now, it’s for this alone, as much as anything. I could not have stood second to my brother in my lady wife’s affections, I fear.” He enjoys the jokes, for his eyes sparkle and he quickly explains, “Though I did not guess at it then, of course. You were a face in a locket, and a young one at that.”
“Why is it so unnerving that I would so fond of your brother?” Jyana states with a small laugh. “I adore him like an older brother. Certainly you didn’t think it more than that? I don’t know much about such things I’m afraid - perhaps I never will. I’m not much of a romantic.”
Her face turns more solemn. “I am however,” she speaks softly. “Glad that you don’t truly hate him. Because I know that despite his own loathing of you that Jonn would be the first person to defend you should your honor be bismirched. It is as much as you would do for him, yes?”
She looks a little taken aback by the devilish grin, and at his teasing, she sputters. “I…well….-what-?!” she cries, throwing him a mock-outraged look, but her lips betray her expression utterly, before she bursts out laughing. “It’s really impossible to say,” she gasps, wiping a bit of moisture from her eyes. “Perhaps if I’d known you then I would’ve been equally as fond of you as I am of him. Alas knowing that for certain is impossible now, and certainly pointless to speculate on.”
There is a pause, and she grumbles good naturedly. “No wonder you decided to reject me. That picture was -terrible-. I think I was more mortified of my father sending it to your father than I was at the prospect of being betrothed at thirteen!”
“Frankly, I’d have rejected any match they tried to make me at the time, excepting a royal one,” Jaesin answers rather blithely—as if it were nothing—though that light of mischief has yet to leave his eyes, and it betrays him. He seems to know it, for he laughs again, long and easily.
“Even that might have proven vexing, I think,” he quips airily, “and not only because Targaryens wed their sisters, and are quick to jealousy. The Young Dragon would make a terrible enemy.” Another grin, before he grows slightly more serious, and agrees by way of explanation, “It was a poor likeness, I can see that now. And you are right, speculation is pointless.”
“It was all very long ago, and I had notions in my head—foolish notions, I can happily admit today—that my time on campaign chased away.” He does not say what—or whom—they might have been. “Even so, I shall not be returning to the Westerlands for many a year, I think. Did I mention King Daeron? There is much work to do in his name.”
“This was a fair meeting, Jyana Arryn. Not the last, I think.”
“Which was what I suspected, really,” Jyana remarks. “As I stated - any man who would’ve been serious about getting married would have investigated his prospects properly.”
It was getting darker. She realizes this now, and she pushes away from the tree to take a careful step or two onto the path leading outwards and towards the yard to the side of the Royal Sept. “He most definitely would,” she says. “They are called blood of the dragon for a reason, I surmise. Fire runs in their blood, and angering any Targaryen must be a terrible sight to behold.”
She pauses a little bit at what he says about the likeness, and she smiles just a bit. “It was probably accurate back then. I wasn’t…” She hesitates, awkward in discussing such things and waving a hand to the side. “Well, needless to say I didn’t look as…-polished- two years ago.” She gives him a look. “You can imagine how -thrilled- I am to admit that to you.” But she does wink at him impishly at that, the last comment was more of a jest than anything.
“Aye,” she says after a pause, a strange glint in her eyes at what he says about King Daeron and much work to be done. “There is.”
But the look fades and she smiles more cheerfully now, taking a step towards the sept. “Indeed it has been,” she says. “And most probably not. I intend to linger here myself, and while King’s Landing may look big, it’s not -too- big. I’m certain I’ll encounter you again.” She waves a hand, turning to go. “Goodnight, Ser Jaesin.”
Smiling almost sadly, young Ser Jaesin Lannister, a bloodied hero of the Dornish Conquest, says nothing to her talk of terrible Targaryens. The man is widely-known to have been there at Sunspear, beside the Dragonknight on the day that Prince Aemon slew Garyn Uller.
As she so recently observed, there is much to this Jaesin Lannister that the man himself leaves unsaid.
But the fey mood passes as quickly as it came—his is not the type to sulk and brood over things long past—and he laughs at her laughter, and grins at her jest. “I think we shall not be enemies, at least,” he confrims aloud. “Good evening, Lady Jyana. May the Mother keep you.”
There is a hint to his mouth, or his eyes maybe, of the faintest shade of regret as he waves a hand after her briefly—but it is a small thing, and quickly forgotten. The king’s work calls indeed.