10.02.3013: Risks We Take
Summary: Jane and Garus go for a ride.
Date: 2 Oct 2013
Related: Too many to list.
Garus Jane 

A Field - Southern Wilds
The environment goes between a stables, a field, and back again.
2 Oct 3013

It is early morning. Very early, in fact. Dawn has not yet arrived, but a pinkish glow has begun playing about the horizon, warning those who are silly enough to be awake that the sun shall soon be in the sky. Jane, unlike many sane people, has had enough of that ridiculous sleeping business and decided to take a jaunt out-of-doors. It was a simple thing to rouse a dozing servant, fetch assistance into her riding gear, and then be lead to the stables. She has not yet departed on a morning ride, but instead is busy re-introducing herself to her mount.

A stall door hangs open, and just inside stands Jane, leaning into the side of a roan palfrey already bridled and saddled, and murmuring sweet, unintelligible nothings to the animal. She snorts quietly, perhaps even judgmentally, and reaches back to nuzzle Jane with her snout. “Well don’t blame me, darling. I haven’t any room in Phylon for a horse. I think mum and dad have been keeping you well without me, though not enough exercise. You’re all pudgy around the middle.”

Perhaps Garus Leonnida is paying just enough attention or has a house servant with enough care to tell him, or perhaps the man, with all of his warrior pride and hard breeding has been forced into a minuscule sleep cycle that allows him to notice things. One of these things, for example, happens to be his guest preparing for what seems to be a ride alone, in the early house, without an escort.

It sends him into a flurry of activity.

Minutes later he's stepping out into the yard in his militaristic riding leathers with inserted plates for protection, old leather gloves on his hands, and his sword at his hip that taps against his thigh as he adjusts the tightness of the belt around his hips. With a bit of spring to his step, he brushes his hair back over the top of his head and slows as he nears the stables. He steps inside and turns his blue eyes to her and her horse, feigning as if being caught doing the same thing.

"Busy stables, small world, Jane." Garus murmurs, loud enough to be heard as he approaches.

Jane is not paying much attention to her surroundings, although perhaps the sound of approaching riders is masked by the noise of the groom going about his early morning business. In either case, she is entirely unaware of Garus’ presence until he is practically on top of her, remarking on the busy-ness of the stables. So as not to startle her horse, Jane manages to keep her wits enough about her to turn about slowly and blink owlishly up at Garus, surprised - but certainly not dismayed - at his presence.

“I would say so, my lord,” she answers slowly, one hand still stroking the side of her horse’s neck. “I did not take you for a morning rider, though. To me, you seem the get-up-and-eat type, the man who will grab a second to browse the news over coffee before striding off to a Six-only-knows-where meeting.” Jane offers Garus a soft smile, holding out her arms to him in an obvious prompt for a hug. “But I will happily accept your subtle insistence to chaperone me on a simple ride. I like your company enough to let it slide.” Or perhaps, deep down inside, it almost feels awkward to think she suddenly requires an escort.

"In truth, Jane, I normally am the type to do that very thing, I like the quiet in the morning." Garus replies, his spurs and armor shifting as he steps to her. He takes one of her slender hands into his to crush between them as he leans in to wrap his arm around her in a slow, savoring hug. "But, when word came my way, I cannot lie to you, I wanted to at least be nearby while you ride."

Pressing a kiss to the corner of her jaw, he leans back to brace his hands over her shoulders and levels a look to her that he would never dare show in front of his brother Godric. There's a quiet concern there, laced with the affection he holds for her mostly in reserve, but it's there and he shows her. "I went riding once with a friend and came into contact with the Hostile, and would not lose you. Not that there is much fear, and I wanted to see you again, but I want to protect you if you need me."

Some girls might be downright insulted that they require ‘protection’, but Jane is quite aware of her mortality - or so she thinks, anyway. A delightful flutter of happiness settles in her stomach, and she tilts her head to kiss Garus on the chin before he steps back. “Hostiles? I wasn’t going to go very far…” Still, the idea of running into the dreaded enemy is enough to sober the actress, and she darts a glance toward the stable doors leading out into the courtyard. “But I am glad you are here, because now I will feel much safer.”

Jane runs her fingers along her braid before flipping it back over her shoulder. She offers Garus a demure smile before turning her back to him and reaching up to place her hands on the saddle. “Give me a boost?” She lifts her left foot to slip it into the stirrup while waiting for him to help hoist her right leg over the back of her mount.

A moment of concern crosses over Garus’ eyes as he reaches out to stroke the mane of the horse with his gloved hand, washed over by the kiss to his chin. He leans into her kiss with a growing smile. “Perhaps I’m just being too over-cautious. Nothing would get so close to us, and I’m sure there’s probably no danger whatsoever, as when I was attacked and injured we were out in the wilds, but still, this will probably give us some more time together. In fact—” Garus stops himself, stepping past her to brush his hand across her back as he moves to her side. “This may just me finding a way to get some time to ride with you and I’m presenting it as a knightly thing to impress you.”

On the other side of her, Garus re establishes eye contact and steps in close, bringing his hands to her hips with one hand for her boot as he lowers his body to press in close. The leather he wears makes it impossible to tell, but the red-headed actress has seen just how his muscles can flex, and flex they do beneath his clothing as he lifts her, helping her swivel out into the saddle. “So after this vacation,” He starts again, brushing a hand down her leg as he looks up to her face. “Will you come back when you can to visit me, Jane?”

“Oh, your knightly gallantry never ceases to impress me, Sir Garus,” Jane replies with a light laugh, glancing to him over her shoulder as he moves around to assist her. When his hand is securely beneath her foot, she pushes off of him and swings her leg over to settle into the saddle. She flips her braid back over her shoulder and leans forward to pat her pretty palfrey on the neck. “I do not mind your excuses to spend time with me, you know. Although you really can just ask me. I promise not everything need be so contrived.”

Grinning rather impishly, Jane clucks her tongue and gives the horse rein to move out into the main corridor of the stable. “After this vacation,” she begins to answer, half-turning in the saddle to look at Garus, “I will be starting research into that movie role. Did I tell you I have decided to take it? I think - or, well, I hope - it will be something of a breakthrough. Maybe something that will really put me on the map. Is it bad for me to wish that? I hate that it will be time spent away from you, but… Well, let us just say my career has not always been conducive to long-term relationships. Most men I meet think I will give it all up for them, but I don’t want to. I hope I’m not speaking out of turn or saying too much too soon. If I am, just pretend I’m reciting a script and we can discuss it at a later, better date. Come now, where is your horse? Mine is practically itching to get out for a run.”

Garus looks up to her, for a moment looking to her as if she's grown antlers and is speaking in some strange, foreign dialect. It's a teasing look as he pats her knee and trails his hand up the side of her horse's neck, keeping the horse educated as to where he is as he leads them closer to where his own horse and guardsmen are posted. "I suppose it's about time I realize I've already got my foot in the door with you and don't have to convince you." He admits to her, sparing a glance back as they approach his mount, a chocolate brown destrier that has been tied to a post, happily drinking from a trough as they arrive. "So with that in mind, I'd like for you to stay with me tonight, like we did at your apartment."

Confident once more, he untangles the reins from the post and helps himself up easily onto Orson's saddle. Settling in, he whickers at the horse, who lifts it's head to attention and they start to stroll out of the stables. "You know, Jane, the reason I think this will work between you and I, is because I am in the same situation. There is a war on, a war I have to fight. Like you, I have to travel away for sometimes weeks at a time, and we would only have letters and video messages, but when I returned I would want to see you." He looks over to her, his accent disappearing just a little as he quiets. "You're a professional woman, I'd expect you your space. The question is, could you deal well with mine? You're only acting war. I would be truly fighting."

Jane does not answer Garus immediately. Instead, she gazes around at the stables, taking them in silently while mulling over the knight’s words. His news is hardly unexpected, but his question is an important one and she must consider it very carefully. To the first, she answers with a brief: “Yes, I will stay with you tonight, Sir Garus.” Silence follows as she fights back the butterflies that alight within her belly once more. It isn’t until they have paused in front of his horse’s stall that she finally considers a response.

The words are spoken carefully, slowly. “I can, I think, deal well enough with the implications of your work, Garus.” The serious tone of the conversation warrants a drop in title at this point. “I think to some degree I would most sincerely pine for your company, but I know also that I will be extraordinarily busy. It will do to take my mind off of less pleasant matters. My only request is that you do not push me away even when your duties grow more difficult, more unpleasant, more burdensome. Can you do that? Can you make sure to always be open and honest with me?”

Directing Orson, his destrier, into line beside her, Garus’ eyes follow hers with that same subtle intensity that always marrs his features. His horse shakes its head, brushing the hair of its mane to quell a bit of its early morning sleepiness from its features as it gets a good, long look at Jane’s mount. Even Garus’ horse seems to have adopted that manner of looking at everything. Uncanny. “I can promise that.” Garus decides with an air of finality. “I can’t…always provide you with details about the war, but I wouldn’t push you away and when the war wears on me I would tell you, let you see that fatigue. I could confide in you. The woman I see wouldn’t misuse that trust.”

“And what of you, Jane?” Garus turns his attention from her to the road ahead, only just for a moment to make sure that they’re on a safe path, alone, and that no one’s closed the door to the stables without them noticing. When he looks back, some of that iron has shed, leaving more honest skin around the corners of his eyes. “I would like for this to continue. I know what I do and who I am isn’t glamorous sometimes. If it’s the way of things and your exhausting schedule leaves you thinking of me, then I’m a lucky man, but if it ever leaves you wishing for closer things, things that are easier to grasp, I would understand. Disappointed, but I wouldn’t wish you torture. Could you always be honest and open with me, no matter the risk?”

Jane leans over in the saddle to give Orson a fond little pat on the neck. She urges her mount forward a step or two, offering her hand to Garus’ animal to snuffle and take in her scent - you know, for future meetings. “I wouldn’t ask for details of the war, Garus. Six knows the news will tell me more than I will ever want to know. I would ask for details of you, though, and your well-being. I wouldn’t even know where to begin in abusing such a thing.” She offers him a faint smile before nudging her palfrey into a quick walk, temporarily pulling ahead of Garus.

“What of me?” The words are an echo, the insufferable answer-a-question-with-a-question that so often grates the nerves. She glances sideways as he pulls up alongside her before turning her attention outward and to the scenery. The horizon is now awash with a line of pink fading upward into purple and indigo, and slowly the stars are beginning to fade. “I am glamorous enough for the both of us, Garus; I don’t need a pretty ponce on my arm. And you should know by now that I never take the easy path. I will be honest with you no matter what may come of it.”

Orson’s massive mouth twists and turns, leaning in towards Jane’s painted fingertips to blast her fingertips with warm air to take in her scent. For a warhorse, the beast is surprisingly tame when not layered in protective plating or charging across a stocks towards another knight with a lance. His eyes turn in their sockets, gazing up at Jane before he shakes his head softly, turning his attention to the road ahead. In appreciation of the massive beast’s work ethic, Garus leans down to brush a gloved hand over his mount’s long, black mane, patting his shoulder too hard for a human, but just right for a destrier.

“I mentioned you in a missive to my father.” Garus admits to the wind ahead, his eyes scanning the painted, black clouds that will shadow over into white as the sun rises more fully. “It was a mention about the private concert, with Drake and Letha, but a mention no less. It’s not something I’m known for with him, but maybe a little bit of testing the waters.” His blue eyes turn over to her, taking a moment to express this new honesty thing they’re trying out. “Would it be stepping too far if I said I’d like to keep a room for you at Castle Leonnida, so that when our schedules match we could be together?”

Jane smiles at Orson in admiration before straightening in the saddle. Her hand rejoins the other at the reins, but there is little guidance required; the mare knows what to do - although her shorter legs have to work a little harder to keep up with the destrier’s strides. They ride together in what she assumes to be companionable silence, but it is broken before two minutes pass.

The declaration startles the actress somewhat, and she immediately straightens in the saddle. “You did?” It is a tentative, probing question bearing a faint, pleased undertone. “Oh, yes, the private concert…” Her voice trails off, and she presses her lips together. Her expression is pensive, and she looks on the verge of asking a question, but at the last second she decides against this. “No,” she answers Garus after another full minute of contemplation; “I think I would like my own room very much, so long as I am not stepping on any toes.”

Though Garus' eyes remain forward, Orson's reins wrapped in a loop beneath his gloved hand, he can hear her shifting in her saddle. He shifts in his own, reaching to his chest to brush a stray tie of his riding armor away from its awkward, poked-out angle, serving as a distraction. He falls into a new silence as his body rocks from side to side, guiding the horse with his knees and taking the time to enjoy the crisp, morning air that sends his hair blowing softly to the right of his forehead.

"I'm not the kind of noble that preys the citizen population for women, Jane. I don't have the reputation for that sort of thing nor would I want it. You are glamorous for the both of us; I prefer my private life to be a smaller, more meaningful thing." The scar on his neck twists as his gaze turns back over to hers. Now it's his turn to look as if he's about to say something. Hesitation settles in, but he gets over it. "If my father were to ask what my intentions were with you, I'd tell him that I think I've found a friend in you I wouldn't find elsewhere. That, if he would allow, I'd make your room at the Castle the same as mine. Have you thought about this at all with us? The future? What do you hope for, Jane?"

Jane is looking away from Garus when he turns toward her, admiring the scenery and watching as the sun rises slowly in the east. Her gaze turns back to him just in time to see him look, and she offers an affectionate smile. With a click of her tongue, she encourages her mount into a trot to catch up to the knight lest he continue to draw farther ahead. “If you were less of a noble, you’d realize that we are hardly prey. Citizens are not a helpless breed, Sir Garus, and I would no sooner accuse you of being a predator than I would accuse you of being a ballerina.”

Her little joke draws forth a quiet chuckle, and she pulls ever so lightly on the reins to keep her horse in time with his. Glancing to him out of the corner of her eye, she watches as he struggles for a moment to consider his next words. The sight causes her to smile, a somewhat sultry but amused expression. “You would tell him I am a good friend, hmm?” Her eyebrows hitch upward and her grin widens by degrees. “I hope for many things, Sir Garus, but I never stow all of my eggs in one basket. I will admit to considering a future with you, albeit briefly, but it crossed my mind nonetheless. I do not want to get too ahead of myself. It would have been presumptuous, and I like to think I have a little class. Do you want to open your home to me? I think I would need to meet your parents first.”

"I didn't mean it like that. You're not helpless by far but there are nobles who do things that they should not." Garus returns to her, his lip curling at the side to bare his molars to her in a half-smile, half-grimace. "I don't find you to be easy prey, in fact you're rather challenging, and no, friend is probably not the best word at all, but it would let the man know that there's something that has formed between us that is tighter that just attraction." She's wearing on him a bit, drawing some playfulness out of the man as he cocks a sarcastic brow towards her. "Unless, of course, you'd prefer friend."

His eyes lower to her saddle, a new vein of thought creasing his forehead as he adjusts his grip on the reins and watches the muscles of her horse pull against its soft matting of fur with each step. "Then perhaps it is time to introduce you to my parents for dinner, give you an opportunity to meet them," He looks back to her face, another small smile forming. "I wouldn't want you to be some kept secret, forcing you to hide and sneak through the halls like you weren't welcome." His head dips towards her. "Are you sure you're ready to brave the horrors of meeting a man's parents as his guest? My father is a hard man. It may be tense at times. He sometimes lacks a filter; can be very direct."

Jane offers Garus a pleased smile as he hurries to disabuse her of the notion of ‘helpless Citizens’. The smile turns into a quiet laugh, and she reaches up to draw her braid forward and wind it around her fingers. “Are you saying that you find me to be like prey anyway, Sir Garus? That is hardly flattering. And here I was so sure that your knightly gallantry knew no bounds, but it appears you stop just short of my expectations. Such a pity.” The playful sarcasm of her tone is practically palpable as she clucks her tongue again, urging her horse to move forward and outpace Garus’ destrier.

His words, however, have her pulling back to fall in at his side once more - closer than before, even. Their knees nearly brush as she shifts in her saddle to turn and stare at him intently. “A man in his position would be less suitable to it if he were anything less than ‘hard.’ I do not expect a fond or warm welcome. I am not going to be your wife. I do not bring welcome alliances nor anything of which they can boast to their friends, and I will never have your children. I may be just an actress, Garus, but I’m hardly stupid. I do know, however, how to carry on polite conversation and how to dance away from direct insults. Most of all, I know my place. That, I think, will be quite a shock for him, but one that will please. It usually pacifies most of the haughty gentry, at least in my experience. So please, I must ask you not to immediately dive to my rescue. I am not here to drive a wedge between you and your parents, and if the choice comes down to me or family, you will choose family. Always.”

"I will, and I am glad that you understand this, Jane, as it couldn't be any other way. In fact, I wouldn't begin to dive to your rescue and nor should you mine. My family regards strength above all, and the moment either of us failed to stand their ground on their own it would be noticed, calculated, and most of all remembered." Their knees brush once more, and as they do Garus holds her eye contact tightly, a certain stone face coming over his features meant to convey the utmost honesty that the man can muster. Orson plods along, his hooves brushing through the dirt with soft claps as a long, intense moment passes between the two of them.

"You're no wilting flower," Garus laughs softly, his eyes dancing over her face in appreciation. "The thing that draws me the most to you is this, and coupled with the fact that you don't need my attention, you choose it." His smile fades. "If my father demands we sever this, I must and I will, and you and I would go our separate ways," His eyes peel away from hers, turning to the gradually muddying road before them. "And if it does come to that, I want you to walk away knowing that this time we've spent together has only made me stronger."

For several minutes, Jane is completely silent. She gazes down between the ears of her palfrey and watches as the ground passes beneath them. Her expression is firm and nearly closed-off as she considers carefully Garus’ words. It is, perhaps, the first time they’ve discussed just how tenuous and finite their relationship may be - and what exactly stands in the way of their becoming something more. She swallows visibly, and although she is no ‘wilting flower’ as he says, it’s obvious by how she straightens her back that Jane has had to steel herself to face the possibility.

“I understand,” Jane answers slowly, looking straight ahead rather than at Garus. “I understand very much that you are and always will be held to higher standards than I could possibly achieve, and that if you are required to make sacrifices, you will do so. I must do the same, and be a better person for it.” The words, although optimistic, taste of bitterness. The moment has been ruined by honesty, and for a second the actress looks quite regretful. “We should go back. The sun is nearly up, and our day is starting. We both have work that needs to be done.” Without waiting for a response, she tugs gently and directs her mount away from Orson and points her back toward the stable.

For a few seconds, Garus stares forward as Jane veers away in his peripheral vision, the sound of her horse turning slips her away and his eyes narrow to the landscape before him. Fingers tightening around the reins, he bares his teeth to the wind and mentally curses at the sky.


Pulling gently on the reins, he turns Orson around for a few quick gallops that bring his massive destrier to bear close alongside hers. He has to lift his knee in the stirrups to avoid crashing against hers, but a seasoned tourney knight it's a move that requires little effort. He reaches out to her hands, a silent request to stop her horse as he searches for her eyes.

"There is nothing more I want in this world or the next than you." He sets aside his normal reserve, his words coming out in force. "And being told that we could not have each other would burn me like nothing else, because all of me right now, is yours to keep. Whatever burns, whatever pain is necessary to risk that in the future I would rather said that I had our story than to have watched you slip away out of fear of loss." His hands tighten over hers. "I am brave for you, Jane. For the chance. If it is too risky for you I will understand, but there isn't a second we've spent together I will ever forget."

Not all girls have a desire to be chased, despite what all the romance novels and ‘vids might say otherwise. So when she hears the sound of Orson’s quick gallop bringing Garus close once more, Jane grits her teeth to bite back a wave of annoyance. It isn’t his fault that she hates feeling like a pathetic female at times. “What?” The retort is more brusque than intended, but the sound helps a little to calm her nerves. So when Garus reaches out to entreat her to stop, she obliges by bringing her mare to rest but continues to stare straight ahead. Eye contact would be inadvisable right now. The horse makes known her annoyance, by stomping, snorting and shaking her mane to and fro.

Jane listens in silence as Garus explains his position, and while she is chomping at the proverbial bit to argue, she remains in a stony, albeit acquiescing, quiet. Only when it seems he is quite finished does she let out a sigh. “I am not looking for profound proclamations of love, Garus. I understand, I truly do. I understand, and I don’t like it one fucking bit, but I like you so much - I like our time together so much - that I am willing to endure despite the looming possibility that it will all be taken away much too quickly. I don’t have to like it, however, or laugh about it or smile about it or anything. I just need to take it in stride with a good, stiff drink and come to terms with it on my own. I will, too, because I know my place. I just need a little time to get my frustration out, that’s all.”

She pauses, pursing her lips, and finally glances sideways toward him; it’s the briefest, barest flicker of a glance. “I can risk it.”

Slowly, carefully, Garus retreats his hand from hers, not so much letting her have control of the reins again, as in truth he has not been forcing her. Garus is many things, but he's not forceful, not with her. He brings his hand to he chest to pat softly as he clears his throat, regaining his composure as the two settle into a long stare, looking at everything but each other.

After what feels like an eternity passes, Garus can't bear it any longer. Fighting against whatever words claw up his throat to try to mutter out over his tongue, he nods vacantly in the direction of the stables ahead and squeezes his hips, urgin Orson to start forward again. The destrier, slightly annoyed by the stop-and-star, whickers a grunt and begins to plod forward.

"I'll walk you back." Garus says quietly to her, gaining forward, as he dares, should she not ride just yet, to leave her behind.

“Maybe I’ll walk you back,” Jane retorts, and although it’s childish, it is also meant to be so. She nudges her mare into a quick trot to catch up to Orson and, in fact, attempts to overtake him and pull ahead. It isn’t so much a race yet, but perhaps the intention is to do something ridiculously silly so they can get over their tense, little tiff. “I appreciate the intimacy, Garus,” she calls back over her shoulder, “but sometimes it can be too heavy even for me. So instead of talking all about feelings, I’m going to make you eat my dust.” She snaps her mare’s reins to urge her into a gallop, and in the distance she can see the stable growing larger by increments as they draw nearer. It’s quite infantile to run, yes, but from the look of it Jane does not seem to care overmuch about the impression she’s making right now.

"Garus Leonnida does not eat dust." The knight calls back to her, a sarcastic tone lining the boom of his voice as he gives her a fair, fun head start. Orson shifts in place, another grunt rushing out of his snout as he watches another horse get to run without being commanded to do so himself. As if in question, his ears point back to Garus expectantly. "Think we can catch up, lad?" Garus muses, reaching out to clap a hand over the destrier's shoulder before he digs his heels into the stirrups and barks a command. Like racing off with a lance, the horse begins to fly after Jane and her mount, fighting forward with speed to catch up.

The thunderous sound of hooves making way to catch up draws Jane’s attention over her shoulder, and her braid swings out behind her, propelled both by the motion and the wind. She laughs in delight at seeing Garus giving it his all, urging Orson to catch up to her. At this point in the race, they might be rather evenly matched - her mare has shorter legs, but is lighter, as is the rider; Orson has longer legs, a more muscular body, but a heavier frame and heavier rider. It doesn’t take long for them to catch up, however, and despite Jane’s best attempts at urging her mount forward, she is also far too cautious to risk her neck on the road.

When he does finally catch up, so does Garus also pull ahead. Jane is willing to let him win, and she allows the mare her head to set her own pace. “I think you ate a little dust whether or not you wanted it, Sir Garus!” she calls out, followed by another laugh. He will surely beat her to the stable, but he will only do so by mere seconds.

When they arrive, she slows her horse into a brisk trot and then into a walk, waiting until they have drawn near to Garus and Orson before once more resuming the conversation. Adrenaline rushes through her system, giving her that giddy, weightless feeling she was seeking. She is most assuredly a ‘junkie’. “You may have bested me on your horse, Sir Garus, but I am sure there are ways in which I can best you.” Her smile is sultry, and should he look her way in time he might even catch her wink.

Opening his mouth to reply, it takes a second for her words and that wink from her to burrow deep into Garus' brain. His lips clamp shut and his ears darken with a shade of red as he casts a playful look to her with narrowed eyes. It is almost shameful, scornful, and with no other avenue to reply he reaches out to her shoulder and gives it a light shove. "There are, are there?" His words come out, the man entirely aware of the mirrored speech.

His competitive side stoked, he guides Orson to his stall and dismounts, leading the beast into the bay so that he may tend to his saddle. Competitive side thoroughly stoked, he looks up to her from beneath the separation of the stall door and flashes his teeth to her. "I'm still trying to decide who won that day at the beach. With convincing I might be willing to call it a tie, but looking back on things I gave as good as I got. You're just better at hiding your reactions than I am."

Jane’s grin is positively impish by the time she dismounts, leading her mount into a stall beside Orson’s. She busies herself with undoing saddle and harness, waving away the offer from the groom to assist her. “Thank you, I’ve got it,” she murmurs, using the work as a cover to hide her own furious blush as Garus mentions The Beach Moment. “Honestly,” she replies after a moment spent overcoming her own mortification, “you have no manners at all, Sir Garus. I was assured that all Valens big and small were taught to be gentlemen. I see have I been told wrong.” There, let him stick that in his pipe and smoke it for a while.

Before long, she silently gestures for the groom to return and assist her carrying away the riding gear back to its proper place. Plucking up a brush, she returns to the stall to begin grooming her horse, all the while considering what her retort might be. She hasn’t got one, though, and so foists the burden of continuing the conversation upon Garus.

"I am a gentleman I was just trying to get under your skin a bit, Jane." Garus replies as he lifts the saddle off of his horse to hang from the hooks. Detaching everything, blanket and all from Orson, he gets out a brush to tend to his mount personally and build on their long-term connection. Murmuring a few unheard segments with the destrier, he clears his throat and makes sure the mane is laying correctly as the brush smooths out over the thin coat of fur. He smiles quietly. "Are you suggesting that I am anything less than the gentleman I aim to be, Jane?"

Finishing his work, he pats the back of Orson's neck and arranges for a feed bag, then steps out of the stall and brushes his hands over the front of his armor. Frowning at a stray thread of leather, he plucks at it and when it doesn't come free, his brows lower. It is something that he should have to remedy. "Though, if I have offended, I apologize. I think your fire has been rubbing off on me."

Jane’s brush pauses as she glances toward Orson’s stall. Something in Garus’ tone of voice puts her off her ease, and it’s with a guilty expression that she hastily resumes grooming her mount. “I am suggesting no such thing, at least not in earnest,” she replies somewhat snippy before finishing her task, giving the palfrey a friendly stroke on the neck, and turning to exit the stall. She takes great care to secure the latch on the lower half of the stall door before dumping her tools for the groom to sort. She dusts her hands on her riding pants and turns about to watch Garus groom himself now.

“Oh, now you are being too gentlemanly, Sir Garus,” Jane murmurs, glancing away with a faint flush of shame. “I was really only teasing, and I can swear you haven’t said a word to offend me. Although I am glad to know that something of me is rubbing off on you. A woman likes to leave her mark you know.” Her lips curl up into an amused smile for just a moment before her expression grows somber again. “Jests aside, are you alright? Don't answer that now. Let's go inside and get some hot tea to drink first.”

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