(514-05-30) Siblings and Love
Summary: Kamron and Heulwen talk about the most serious of topics while on the hunt for scoundrels.
Date: May 30, 514
Related: Follows Unnamed Feeling I: Hatred and To Return a Favor. References Beltaine: Catching Fire, Arthur's Wedding Tourney, and the Kamron/Arian romance.
kamron heulwen 

A tracking party is not something you put together in a few minutes. It takes time to get writs written by Lords, and knights properly attired in the right accouterments (it doesn't help when one of them has pranged his shoulder and getting into his hauberk hurts like the blazes). But eventually, a group of knights, squires, soldiers, trackers, and ladies rides out from Sarum. Kamron may not be entirely sure why his sister and his cousin are along, but his is not to reason why, his is but to go out and kick some butt in the name of justice. Riding alongside his sister now, he trusts to the others to follow the trail left by the villainous knights, instead indulging in some of the quiet conversation he was too busy for at the tourney and on the way home, "So… you were proud of how your favor inspired Sir Acwel, were you Wen? From what I've heard, he did very well." Because he spent most of the melee either on his back or in his tent.

During the hooplah of arranging for knights and lords and ladies and whomsoever wished to track the Evildoers, Heulwen managed to slip free of the bustle. She left unaccompanied and returned in the same manner, and no amount of questioning looks or subtle inquiries have managed to pry information from those tightly-pressed lips. So it wish a most somber, even pensive, air that she takes to her horse and rides out with the group; perhaps a little dread mixed with dark resignation as to what may come of their quest.

Wen clicks her tongue to urge Ffionn into a canter, mostly so she can keep abreast of her brother whose presence is the closest form of comfort. She seems content to ride in silence, listening to the seemingly distant clamor of a large group on the move, but the sound of her brother?s voice so near startles her out of her introspection. "What?" The question is rhetorical, a dumb reply meant to delay for a moment more. "Oh, aye, it did inspire something within him," she murmurs in reply, skillfully dodging the question for the moment by adding: "He returned it to me just before we left, not but an hour ago." She is staring dead ahead while she talks, face a careful mask of a (hopefully) unreadable nature.

The tone and somber nature of the reply is enough to strike up warning bells in Kamron's head, and he sighs a little, "If affairs of the heart were simple, they would be more common and less talked about in the stories, wouldn't they, Wen?" There's a little note of resigned amusement to the words, but he blinks and covers that up as best as he can with a concerned, "But you're not proud of what it inspired him to?"

"If affairs of the heart were simple, they would likely not be called affairs. They would maybe be relegated to the category of 'tasks' or 'chores'," Heulwen replies, attempting to stir up a little bit of humor - at least on her end. She exhales slowly through her nose and then slumps in er saddle, turning to gaze off to the right. "I think the stories are misleading, those that speak of grand loves and great displays of the heart. Some poor sot is going to be taken aback when they find their plain wife is the most boon companion they will ever secure."

Still, Wennie is not going to sit in her morose brooding for long. She straightens suddenly and shakes back her hair, letting the light breeze take it and send the waves bouncing behind her shoulders. "I am more proud of what Sir Acwel has been inspired to do with is life now than I will ever be of any mere tournament. I suppose I am pleased that he honored my favor so well, too, but it is a shadow compared to what will come. And you, brother? Do you think you have honored your lady?" My, how blunt.

Kamron indulges his sister with a chuckle at her witticism, nodding his agreement, "I think you're quite right. About why affairs of the heart are called that, although I think it would be a shame if they became tedium." Shaking his head slowly, he smiles a little, "If that poor sot cannot find the beauty in his poor wife, then that is his own failure." He starts to nod at her description of Acwel's future, a smile starting to gather at his lips — and then she neatly turns the conversation back on him, and he clears his throat, a tiny little blush creeping over his ears, for all that his cheeks remain clear. "I think that, to my own disappointment, I may have left the lady whose favor I carried," or perhaps 'carry,' given the unconscious touch of his right hand to his belt-pouch, "somewhat disappointed." Clearing his throat again, he adds, "I think, perhaps, that I need to learn to protect the haft of my weapon better."

Heulwen is looking at Kamron intently at this point, attempting to study his features as she speaks. It hurts the heart to see his growing smile, as if perhaps she has promised him something she will never be able to give. Rather than respond in kind, she gasps as her heart gives a squeeze, and her eyes begin to water. Or is it actual tears? In any case, she looks away again under pretense of studying the terrain. One hand reaches up to surreptitiously dash away the offending droplets before they can leave their tracks upon her cheeks.

"Left her disappointed? I doubt very much that is possible, brother, unless you mean that?" No. Definitely not. Her cheeks flush a brilliant crimson, embarrassed that her mind should actually wander in that particular direction. So, naturally, when he mentions the 'haft of his weapon' - while her brain is still in dangerous territory - she barks out an irrepressible laugh. It is hearty and loud, and perhaps a good sign of her mental health, but it forces her to lean over the saddle and clutch at Ffionn's mane to stay aloft. "I cannot — no, brother, we — must speak — of other things," she replies, gasping between gales of laughter. "I d-don?t want to talk ab-bout your haft! How did you fare in the tournament and the melee?!" The last is asked in a high-pitched voice as she attempts to cease her sudden fit of giggles.

Kamron totally didn't mean that. At least not consciously. He coughs, just barely managing not to rub his face with his mailed mitts as the blush washes over his cheeks as well as his ears, "That's not what I was talking about, Wen!" His words are a choked hush, trying to keep his laughter — and embarrassment — from being broadcast throughout the group of hunters. "I meant the haft of my axe." That's not much better, so he adds, "Which kept breaking. When it was hit with swords. And none of this is helping." Bowing his head, he shakes it slowly, trying to force the blush from his face. "I did acceptably across the personal challenges, winning as many as I lost, but the melee… well, it's best you didn't see my performance there. It was quite embarrassing."

For the most part, Heulwen has managed to calm her whoops of loud laughter, and is now only prone to a random burst of giggles. Another threatens, bubbling up from the diaphragm, but she holds it bay by sheer force of will. "Oh, my brother, if I cannot tease you, I cannot live. Don't deny me my life's breath, hmm?" Another giggle comes and goes, and she heaves a loud sigh; it seems the young Dinton really, really needed that. "Ah, well, not everyone can be victorious at all times, else life becomes tedious. Sir Acwel once told me that a tournament is not a true test of mettle, but that you have already proven yours half a dozen times over. If it can be of comfort to know he values your skill where it matters, then I offer you that balm joyfully."

Kamron nods his acceptance of her words of wisdom, still grinning just a little bit as he continues to fight against his own blush. "I would never deny you your life's joy, dearest sister. I will always endeavor to allow you chances to tease me." Letting out a little breath, he looks about the group, his crooked little smile fading into a thoughtful look, "I suppose that the good will and thoughts of my fellow knights toward my comportment in actual defense of the people of Salisbury are more important than what I can present during a tourney. SO yes, thank you for that." And the thoughtful frown twists into a wry smile once more, "Although I should have liked to show well before the High King and his lovely Queen, to say nothing of the Lady who had been so kind to honor me with her favor."

Heulwen bites down hard on her lower lip, threatening to pierce it with her teeth and draw blood at any second. She stares ahead intently, focusing on the bobbing back of the knight in front of her who is busy passing a skin of wine back and forth with his companions. When he turns about to offer it to her, she holds up a hand to turn him down and instead gestures silently toward Kamron. While this exchange is taking place, she is trying ever so desperately to control her features, but the redness in her just won't recede.

The battle is fought well, but in the end she loses. "I think your Lady might have a different lance in mind when it comes to doing her honor, brother." Aw, hell. The giggles resume, and she is fizzing with laughter; her shoulders shake, tears trail down her cheeks, and she sounds much like a cat dying from strangulation as she tries so hard to avoid notice from the others. Hmm, perhaps she isn't so mentally balanced as she would like.

Of course she would continue with her teasing just as Kamron has ridden ahead to gather in the wineskin and dropped back alongside his sister to pour a measure into his mouth. He manages not to spit it out through his nose at her words, but it is a near-run thing. Very near-run indeed. Squeezing his eyes shut to hold be chokes, coughs, or anything else that might expel wine across the countryside, Kam very carefully swallows once, twice, then clears his throat, trying to remove the burning sensation in his sinuses — and trying to cool the burning sensation on his cheeks and ears. Damn it, he had just started to get that blush under control.

Finally managing some measure of control, Kamron chokes out, "And just what would you know about what My Lady might like, or even who she is, Wennie?" After all, he's been careful to spend time out riding and picnicking with a wide variety of eligible young women — and with several of his fellow knights as well, just to make it clear that he's not just spending time with ladies. "And what in the Virgin Mary's name is making you think of what My Lady might think of my lance… I'm nowhere near married, thank God." Despite his protestations, there is a thread of humor and amusement running through his words… alongside worry and near-panic.

Heulwen watches gleefully as Kamron chokes on his wine, eyes closed tight as he struggles to keep from drowning in the humiliation she heaps upon him - playfully, of course. With another loud sigh, this time sounding quite exasperated, Wen reaches out to snag the wineskin from her brother's hand before he can kill himself with it. She does not reply immediately, but instead sips daintily a few times before lifting it up and wiggling it questioningly. Would he like more?

"I have only the faintest inkling of who The Lady may be, brother, and I daren't invest any hope in that," Wennie replies cordially, lifting her chin and trying for a more diplomatic air. "But you would be surprised what ladies will talk about when left unattended, and it isn't all prayers and swapping recipes. Oh no. I know what ladies think and feel and want, and while some will naturally fall outside of what is typical, I daresay most will not." She offers a mischievous grin and knocks back one last hearty swallow of the wineskin before wiping her mouth dry with the back of her hand. "Married or not, we contemplate men's skills with their lances."

Kamron waves off the return of the wineskin, his eyes still watering from wine-up-the-nose. Pulling off one mail mitten and draping it over the front of his saddle, he wipes his eyes, gentle around the little scratches still remaining from his self-inflicted face-scratching after the melee. "Good, and you keep it that way," to her promise not to invest hope in the identity of his favor-giver, "I would hate to embarrass the Lady who was so kind as to give me her favor by letting it be known how poorly I honored her generosity." And then she mentions what really goes on in stitching circles, and Kamron's brows rise up his forehead, "I think I should be very careful not to walk in on Ladies when they are discussing… well… anything. I don't think I would do myself any good by hearing any of that." And then he blinks and rubs his face again, pretty clearly thinking 'How in God's name am I talking about this with my sister.' "So," to totally change the topic, "I gather there was some awkwardness between yourself and Sir Acwel, but how did you like seeing Beltaine?"

Heulwen checked her Trusting of 10, she rolled 7.
Heulwen checked her lustful of 7, she rolled 5.

Heulwen takes a moment to slow Ffionn enough that the knight behind her catches up. She half-turns in the saddle and leeeeans out to hand off the wineskin, and then nudges her mare back into place beside her brother. By then he has had time to compose himself, and she has as well; although a touch of pink remains in her cheeks, the majority of the blush has receded. The cool breeze on her face is a soothing balm to the lingering heat, and she reaches up with chilled fingers to press them to her face. Outwardly calm, Wennie also seems somewhat distracted; the lapse in conversation is enough to have caused her thoughts to wander.

When Kamron mentions Sir Acwel again (damn his eyes!), it is as if a door has been slammed. Her face goes cool - nay, cold even - and she purses her lips into a thin line of disapproval. Clearly this is not a topic she wishes to broach…ever. "What does he have to do with Beltaine? I barely knew the man then." But of course, the mention of Beltaine… "Oh God!" she exclaims in startlement, reaching up to touch her throat and then cover her mouth with her fingertips. The blush is back, and more red than ever, and she is silent for several minutes while lost in her own thoughts.

You check your suspicious at 10, you rolled 9.

Kamron frowns slightly at the wash of cold over his sister's face, wincing a little but nodding to himself. "Nothing, actually. I was trying to brush aside a previous topic, but you've done it even better." The reaction to the mention of Beltaine stirs the suspicious, protective nature in the knight, and he narrows his eyes, "I think, probably, that God had very little to do with the revelry of Beltaine, Wen." He lets her sit for a moment or two, watching the blush creep higher, and then he leans over slightly, keeping his voice low, "Should I be worried about what happened at the end of the parade?" When he left her alone to 'say her farewells,' "Who was he who caught your eye then? Do I have to worry?"

Heulwen checked her Honest of 16, she rolled 9.

The sound of a thumping heartbeat rings in Heulwen's ears, and she notes belatedly that it must be the pounding of her own. The sound recedes to be replaced by a loud buzzing that is eventually overcome by the sound of Kamron's voice. It is a bit like hearing someone speak while underwater, and as one rises to the surface the voice becomes clearer until eventually words become intelligible. She only catches about two-thirds of his words, but it's enough, and unfortunately she cannot ignore the peppering of questions. "No, God had nothing to do with Beltaine, at least not there," she confirms, choosing to stare down at Ffionn's mane. One hand reaches out to pluck a leaf free, a remnant of having brushed by a tree at some point. How long had it been there.

As the questions continue, Heulwen's shoulders hunch inch by inch until she looks as if she's ready to fold in on herself in order to escape. "No, you needn't worry. I only went to— gah. I only went to Burcombe Manor to check on Sir Caerwyn, because he was incredibly unwell at the ceremony and he seemed to think he was dying and I was so worried." She stops, swallows, and then continues in a barely audible murmur. "I paid my respects to Sir Roaman, was welcomed as warmly as could be, and I merely watched what everyone else was doing. I think I had one whole sip of mead before Sir Caerwyn emptied my cup himself andthenhekissedme. And then he ran away. And I went home. The end." Cue total mortification.

Likely much to Heulwen's dismay, just the mention of Sir Caerwyn's name causes a look of distaste to twist Kamron's lips like he had bitten into something rotten. Still, he nods along with her, starting to pull his mailed mitt back onto his right hand. He freezes at her quick, compressed words, and that distaste hardens into anger. Vengeance, they name is Brother. "He kissed you?" The question is flat, cold, and angry. That anger, of course, is not directed at his sister the kissee, but rather at the kisser. "The Black Burcombe kissed you." Not a question this time. "Beltaine is no excuse for such actions, nor is drink." We'll ignore the fact that he probably got at least one smooch in with his own amor earlier that evening. "It sounds like I will have to have words with him for his liberties." And then brotherly concern erodes some of that worry, "You're alright though, Wen?"

If Heulwen were to be honest with herself, that brief but irate tirade was to be expected. Nevertheless, she blanches visibly and looks away at the first cold query, and that terrible blush disappears in an instant. Pale and half-frightened, her fingers clutch the reins so tightly that her knuckles turn white, and after a few seconds of that nonsense, Ffionn balks and snorts loudly to communicate how annoying her rider is being. Wen lets out her breath in a loud *TCHA* and loosens her grip, and the mare settles down once more.

Heulwen's jaw clenches visibly, but her expression is one of grim determination with eyes backlit by something akin to a blazing inferno. "You will not," she replies calmly, although the words quiver in the air with barely restrained fury. "It didn't happen because of Beltaine, and I kissed him back." There, let him work through that revelation.

Kamron opens his mouth to immediately respond to her demand that he back down, and then she continues, and he freezes, his eyes widening with horror. "You… but… wait… how…" Okay, less horror, more sick feeling in his stomach now. Grimacing broadly, he looks down, "Jesu Christo, Wen." He runs his right hand through his hair, uncaring of the heavy scrape of the mail over his scalp. At least he actually thinks the situation through, "Sir Caerwyn? Really? But he's…" what, Pagan? That would be incredibly hypocritical of him. Lusty? Likewise. A mealy-mouthed, two-faced bastard who looks at every pretty girl like she's a lamb and he's a wolf? Probably not very politic or polite. In the end, he's forced to settled for the repeated, "…really?"

Heulwen lets out a breath she doesn't realize she has been holding, and it escapes in an audible whoosh. Feeling relieved but slightly queasy, she offers Kamron a jerky nod of the head, lips still clamped together tightly, but as he continues to process the information, her jaw relaxes and she finally relents enough to spare him a glance. Just the one glance, though, and reading his open expression is more than enough for her. She shuts her eyes in momentary anguish and turns her head way to collect her wits. "Really. He acts the charmer, Kam, but it's superficial. If you spend any time with him at all, you would be able to see that for yourself. Do we not all wear our own masks in public? Some of us simply choose a less-desirable cloak than others."

Kamron isn't quite done with his Caerwyn-bashing, even if he's not going to be totally out-front about it, "And how do you know that he is not presenting you with the mask you wish to see?" And then he thinks back a bit, and his eyes widen ever-so-slightly, "In Carlion, he was an utter boor to me, but as soon as he saw you, he stopped attacking, and he began talking of making peace between our houses. I wondered why there was such a change…" He draws in a slow breath, his brows still furrowed, "Be careful, so very careful, Wennie. I do not trust the man so far as I can throw him, and I do not want to see you hurt."

"Perhaps my presence reminded him that there is something worth more than sustaining lifelong rivalries and fostering hatred and enmity," Heulwen snaps back in irritation, jostling the reins and causing Ffionn to shy sideways for a moment. With an angry grunt, she tugs the mare back into formation and turns in the saddle to stare intently at her brother. "It isn't as if I could hear a damn word being said on the field, not over the clashing and grunting and growling of so many people pounding each other with wooden sticks." She pauses to catch her breath, feeling the shortness that comes with a tightening of the chest signalling impending anxiety. His concern touches a nerve, and she clenches her teeth again before inquiring ever so quietly: "Are you so sure I am not already hurting, brother?"

Kamron grimaces in the face of the irritation from his sister, throwing back, "And perhaps your presence made him vomit out sweet words in hopes of getting another kiss after the match." And he immediately regrets the words, shaking his head, "I'm sorry. That was not well-said, or well-anything of me, Wen." The quiet inquiry that follows draws him up, even if his charger continues pacing ahead. Letting out a slow sigh, "And are you, Wen? Does it feel like every moment you are away, there is a pull on your heart drawing you toward them? And every time you are near, you have to smother a smile for fear that everyone will know? Does the slightest touch send a bolt of energy through your body from your head to your toes?" Romantic that he may be, that last certainly sounds a great deal more… personal… than Kam is used to speaking.

Heulwen shivers despite the late spring sun overhead, and if she weren't mounted she would have probably stormed off by now. Stuck as she is in this horribly awkward and painful conversation, the girl can only glower at the back of the knight in front of her, sending out daggers with her eyes that would probably blind anyone who dared meet her gaze. "No, it was not well-said, but you spoke your feelings. I may disagree with them - and I do, with every ounce of my being - but you're free to feel how you choose about it."

The silence that follows this is tense and fraught with potential dangers of splintering what was once a most amicable sibling relationship. This melts away immediately, however, as Kamron begins to question her in a way that speaks volumes of his own experiences. She is not so naive as to be unable to cotton on quickly. Her heart, however, is clutched in a vice-like grip and slowly being squeezed to death. "Yes, and more," Wennie replies simply, and she turns her head to stare intently at Kamron as her lips part in surprise. Her next words are spoken breathily, almost whisper-soft and filled with astonishment free from judgment. "As it is with you."

Kamron's shoulders tense up as she responds, but he manages not to snap back. The way she responds, however, causes him to sigh heavily, nodding slowly, "Damnation." He nods again, this time in agreement with her words. "Yes, as it is for me." The words are barely more than a whisper themselves. Apparently, romance involves a lot of sighing, because there he goes again. "This complicates things rather a lot, doesn't it? To hate someone that my dear sister loves." She may not have used the word before, but he has no hesitation in speaking it aloud.

Ah, that word - 'love'. It isn't one Heulwen has spoken aloud, nor is she likely to even in this moment. Instead, she merely offers Kamron a slow nod of acknowledgment. "To be fair, big brother, it really only complicates things for me. We shall continue about our business as if nothing has changed, I will eventually be passed off to someone from whom our family needs something, and then I will try to endure a bland marriage, bear his children, and eventually die of the ague." But no, she's not bitter. Snorting loudly, Wen clicks her tongue and tugs on the reins as Ffionn spies a particularly luscious looking bit of grass and tries to peel away from the group to go graze. "Not now, you fat arse, keep to the road."

Kamron takes off his mitts again, tucking them his belt this time so that he can scrub his face without tearing up his skin. Because he really, really needs to scrub his face. "Likely," he confirms, "at least the first couple of points. And likely, I will avoid marriage because I'm not important enough, and the woman that I love," he will at least speak that here, to his sister, quietly, even if he won't name her, "will likely be married off to another, bear his children," his lips twist wryly, "and die of the ague, likely well after I die on the battlefield." At least the little is some comfort. Some. Very little, really. "You realize that if there is any chance to change that fate that you so horribly lay out, of course, he would have to convert. Really convert." Okay, so he's a little bit of a hypocrite. "And polish his rather tarnished image… and not just when he is in your presence."

Heulwen casts Kamron a suspicious glance bordering on a glare, perhaps thinking he is patronizing her. His expression, however, is honest to a fault, and her mouth turns down into a grim frown. "Aye, well, we shall both wed someone we do not love, spawn children we can barely tolerate, and die before our time. How romantic." She laughs quietly, but it is a cynical sound without mirth. "Oh, brother, how I do love you, but I am not quite so much a child as I once was. I ken what would be required to gain a betrothal to the Black Burcombe, but it would be far easier to uproot the standing stones and move them into our courtyard. I would not ask him to become someone he is not for my sake, and I grant him benefit of the doubt in assuming he would refuse to do so likewise. The minute I recognized this for what it is was the minute I knew my true fate. But I thank you for trying to give me hope, nonetheless."

Kamron shakes his head at the mirthless laughter, "Love can, I think, conquer even that. Even if there can be no betrothal to the one you love, even if he cannot prove himself worthy of that." Apparently, the two things he mentioned earlier are prerequisites for proving worth, "Love can sustain. It can nourish, and protect. It can bring you peace in times of strife, and hope in times of despair." He leans over in the saddle, reaching out for his sister's arm to squeeze it lightly, "And ask yourself this… would you change yourself for him? If he would do any heartbeat less for you than you would for him, he is not worthy, and never will be."

Perhaps the problem is that Heulwen does not want to indulge herself in such fantasies. She bites down on her lip and closes her eyes as Kamron speaks, kindling that tiniest spark of hope even as she struggles to extinguish it. The feeling is quite uncomfortable, and it causes her to squirm in the saddle much like a misbehaving child would quail beneath the knowing stare of her parents. Wen looks up as Kamron offers that comforting gesture, and it does cause her to grow still and contemplative. She offers the briefest flickers of a smile and a single nod of her head to show she is at least listening, even if she is not quite yet believing. "As much as I fear the answer to that question, Kam, I already know that I would and without hesitation. He need only ask and I would. I wonder, though, if I would ever dare ask him."

"Luckily," and wryly, on the part of her brother, "Pagans do not often feel the need to convert Christians." And just how does he know that? Straightening up and offering a crooked smile that is a little helpless as well, he notes, "Well, at least we are both enjoying interesting lives, aren't we, Wennie?" Drawing in a long, slow breath, he adds, "And you know, if you ever feel the need to test him, what you may test him with." His lips twist, "I will try to give him the benefit of the doubt, for your sake, but I will never do less than judge him justly." And that is enough to bring things back full circle, some anger sparking in Kamron's voice as he nods ahead, "As we will this blackguard we are tracking."

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