(514-08-31) Complicated Feelings
Summary: Claire Stapleford visits Falt Manor to geet to know some of the family of her intended.
Date: August 31st, 514
Related: Will add links later.
leodwen claire 

Falt - Salisbury

Overlooking the eastern banks of the River Avon, the manor at Falt is quite clearly of Roman construction, although the years since the occupiers left have meant that repairs and rebuilding have given it a more hap-hazard look. The main hall runs parallel to the river with smaller wings at either end, all two stories high, with a small courtyard in the middle. Gardens stretch from the buildings to the river and beyond the northern wing is a range of old service buildings. While the main body of the manor has been kept in reasonable repair, this range has long since fallen into disuse, with stone having been robbed from the walls to patch gaps elsewhere, with the exception of the old bath house which has since been converted in a small chapel to serve the needs of the manor.
Away from the building itself is a yard set aside for the training and drilling of men under arms, and a set of archery buts underneath the trees that line the road down to the river. A small docks can be found on the banks, and to the south a lone path lead towards the edge of the forest.

It is a wonderful late summer day, and the weather lives up to the season, the sky is blue with only a few clouds drifting here and there, and the warm rays of the sun offer sufficient reason to spend time outside. Which is where Leodwen can be found on this late morning, as she enjoys a moment of tranquility on the bench by the chapel, the long blonde hair falling openly about her shoulders a slight contrast to the dark blue of the dress she wears. Her hands are loosely joined before her, and her eyes closed, as the Falt lady indulges in the warm rays of the sun caressing her comely features.

Someone must have stayed in Sarum overnight to reach Falt at this early hour of the morning. Maybe just beyond. There's the sound of two horses coming down the road nearby, moving at a casual walk. Turning onto the property, the lead woman is wearing a thin cloak of black over her features. The sword on her side is visible, and really the cloak doesn't seem like it would hide much except against the sun's rays and blowing dirt. Maybe that was the intent. Definitely female, too. The one at the rear is a Squire, maybe about 15 or so, a girl with her eyes watching the area around them without drawing too much attention to herself. Moving closer to Leodwen, the cloak's hood is carefully lifted back over her head and the face there smiles at the blonde girl. The cloaked rider is pretty without being memorably so. Her eyes are the color of the sky, though, and it might be worth remembering. And despite the stoic look on her face, there's a very subtle turn of her smile towards something friendly. Nothing spoken juuuust yet.

Were she not already alerted to the arrival by the usual noises that come with such - sounds of hooves and horses, calls from people working at the manor as they send a servant to bring word to the Head of Falt Manor - it will be the shadow falling over her view that finally makes those hazel eyes of Leodwen de Falt open and glance up into an unfamiliar face. She has not fallen asleep, certainly not! But instead moves to stand with a swiftness as if she had only been waiting for such an interruption. "My lady. Sir." A glance given the sword at Claire's side. "Welcome to Falt Manor… What brings you here, if I may ask?", Leodwen inquires with an amiable smile meeting the stoic expression of the other lady, fingers brushing hastily over her skirts as if to smooth the fabric, her gaze curious - and then a touch caught as she realizes she has forgotten to introduce herself. "I am Leodwen, older sister to Sir Custennin de Falt." A mild breeze tugs at her blonde hair, and her hand comes up to brush a strand back.

The initial greeting of Lady and Sir brings but a single nod of acknowledgement. Maybe both apply? Only one? Still, she remains silent and begins a slow dismount The long black cloak is thin, but does manage to hide everything but the shape of the sword. While Leodwen smooths herself, the rider dismounts and gestures for the Squire to do the same. Her shoes look more like slips that any Lady would wear around a home. With the turn to face Leodwen, there's a littttle more of a smile and it clues towards friendly. "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lady Leodwen de Falt." She bows and rises. The cloak comes off and the reason for it is less surprising. She's wearing a very nice bliant in deep velvety green with black and orange stitching that works with the gold hemming quite well. The cloak was to protect the fabric from dirt. "I am Sir Claire de Stapleford. I-" She twitches that smile a bit. "I am of many titles right now. I think the most relevant point is that I am betrothed to Sir Drustan and I wished to meet his family."

Leodwen's bliaut of dark blue seems to be of the plainer sort, less refined and only showing off very few embroideries at the hems of her sleeves. But then she did not expect any official visitors to arrive. She watches Claire dismount and listens to the courtly greeting. Where Claire offers a bow, Leodwen will execute a graceful curtsey. "Ah! Sir Claire!", she exclaims, as her hands are brought together before her in a gesture of obvious glee. "I am so glad you chose to come and visit! We are happy about this new development. And Drustan is a dear… dear… cousin of mine. It seems you have chosen yourself a worthy… kind… valorous husband, Sir!" She smiles and gestures towards the main building of the manor. "Would you like to come along… I mean…. after you have taken care of your horse?"

The gesture of glee brings a smooth expression of pleasant agreement. Its clear that Sir Claire does not smile, or outwardly emote, much. Schooled to rarely give something away, it's no wonder Stapleford carries the Death Cult status. "He chose me, actually. I was a bit opposed to it in some ways but your cousin has the ability to be stubborn, which it seems I cannot help admiring in a man." The riding gloves are removed and she sticks them into a saddlebag. A gesture for the Squire to approach. "Lady Leodwen, this is Ellee, my Squire. Ellee has given me her word that she will be on her best here and requested that she clean the stalls before and after our horses have taken to using them." Or more likely Claire told her she's going to be doing that. Being no older than 15, Ellee is still new to this game and looks like its just one more in a string of groan-worthy activities. "Ellee, see to the horses, please." The Squire moves off before she looks back to Leodwen. "I would love to come along and see the manor." A nod to the gesture, but she seems insistant Leodwen lead the way. "I could not stay away from the Falt family. Drustan has made my future family out to be an honorable one with much to give. I know his injuries have kept him in recovery, so I decided to pay a visit not just to him but also to you all. I'm going to assume your Head of House or Heir are quite busy at the moment?"

Less schooled in keeping her natural cheerful disposition at bay, Leodwen's features quite openly give away her obvious delight in encountering her cousin's intended. "Is that so?", she smiles, lifting a brow at the revelation that it was Drustan who chose Claire in the first place. When the squire is introduced, the blonde Falt turns her head to offer Ellee a nod of greeting. "A pleasure, Ellee." Hazel eyes flit back to Claire. "But… No need for your squire to clean our stables, we have our own people to do that. It would be an odd sense of hospitality to require her or even you to do that." She chuckles, a melodious chuckle that, and indeed, leads the way when Claire is ready to follow along. "Custennin is the head of our manor, but till recently it has been Sir Cadogan who has taken care of the manor," Leodwen explains. "Our uncle." She pauses, shooting Claire a glance. "Sir Cadogan arranged another betrothal only recently. It seems I am to marry as well, soon." Her smile dims ever-so-slightly. "Which means I will have to leave Falt Manor again. Only shortly after I returned." The question whether Custennin is available has her gaze flicker as she considers. "I am not sure whether Custennin is detained. We shall see. Until then, you'll have to put up with my company." Effortless modesty, offered with a good-natured wink, as Leodwen enters the Hall of the Manor, which is at the moment less crowded with residents and family members than at other times of the day.

"It would be a false word to say I was very accepting of the situation. I was, as he termed it, flustered. I'd no intentions of returning home from Squireship to find myself tripping over words about a man I'd yet met." Huff! But there's a bit of a smile to it. She really does seem to like Drustan quite a bit, even if she kvetches about the inability to help thinking about it. The laughs from Leodwen are easy enough to smile to and the Stapleford Lady finds herself mirroring the expression a little more. "You are to marry as well? You don't seem as enthused about it as you could be. This is to be a marriage of politics, then? She sighs and lifts her chin a bit. "Unfortunately we have our own duty as women. Is he a man of courage and refinement, at least?" She keeps her words quiet while she looks to Leodwen. There's a sisterly intimacy but also something else- the way she preluded it. For her age she seems to have absorbed some sort of authority or leadership.

"I believe you must be thirsty from the ride, and in need of some refreshment?", Leodwen asks, lifting her hand in a gesture towards a servant who hurries off to get some ale as well as some bread and cheese. It is then that the Falt lady points towards the table. "Please, sit down. Lady Claire.", she says then, noting the smile that somehow does not seem to fit the words. "I can hardly notice any vehement objection to the match on your part.", she observes then with a glint in her eyes. "I assure you, Drustan is a nice sort of person, but I sense you are already aware of that." Her hands move to straighten out the bliaut as she lowers herself onto a seat, and a soft sigh leaves her lips, even if the smile remains on her features. "I am to marry indeed, and it will be my second marriage. My first husband died more than a year ago. I am already well acquainted with the hopes and fears of matrimonial life. Which may explain why I am neither very nervous nor excited about it." A nod comes then. "A match made for political reasons, aye. To Sir Ailil de Broughton. He has paid me a call, here at the manor, and I must say, he is quite agreeable. The kind who is actually literate and valorous on the battlefield, as it would seem." The smile deepens, as her hazel eyes go distant for a brief spell. "A well-spoken knight with interest in herbs of healing. Moderately handsome, and of gentle air, even if a little formal and courteous." Her gaze finds Claire’s as she chuckles softly. "We shall have more opportunities to speak, I hope. It is always awkward in the beginning. But that is one of the many purposes of courting, to allow us to get to know the spouse-to-be." Strangely enough, despite the lack of enthusiasm verbally expressed, there is no open objection to this match either, when Leodwen speaks about her intended. But instead, a deepening of a smile, and an optimistic gleam of her dark eyes.

"I would not speak against something to deal with my thirst." Dressed more formally, the ride was quite warm. She does her best to hide it but there is only so much that can be done. Pointed towards the table, she smooths the skirts from behind and takes a seat, legs crossed. "Mm. In the time I've spent with Sir Drustan we've found each other to be a good match. I'm sure he is nice to his family, but I have rather complicated, ah, feelings. I am certainly of the mind to try and keep him around, though. I do rather enjoy him." Despite the schooling, she can't help a bit of blush. There it is - the youth. All the official exterior cannot hide her age for long. But while she listens to the description about the Broughton man, Claire's smile sits. "Regretable about your first, but this second husband certainly does not sound as if you have lost a contest. Well-spoken, valorous, knowledgeable. And easy on the eyes?" That smile from her looks a little more sly and sisterly. Just a bit. "I never liked the formal, courteous men. I always thought it was demeaning to a Knight. Drustan made me realize that first, it is my place to be courted as such and second, that he does it as respect for my status as a Lady as well. I was not expecting to learn anything from being courted."

The ale is brought, and generously poured for the both of them. While Leodwen leans back in her seat and regards Claire de Stapleford as she listens what she has to say. "Complicated… feelings?", the blonde Falt echoes, lifting a brow in intrigued curiosity. "Oh… those can be a trifle to deal with. Especially since you seem to be quite agreeable, and he could become all too sure of himself as a consequence." She chuckles, a soft melodious chuckle that is easy on the ears, Leodwen tilting her head then just so, as her long blonde tresses rearrange about her shoulders. The blush is well noted, but Leodwen would be the last to hold Claire's youth against her, being herself only slightly older, and only more experienced as she is already one husband ahead. "I actually value a knight's ability to express himself in eloquent manner. Sir Ailil is well-read, and it seems we share an interest in the healing arts." Her smile deepens. "And Drustan… well… He is a good man. Prudent. And reliable. I believe he insists on this courting thing, as it shows his esteem for your person. So… be so kind and do him the favor." A bit of a jest there, truly? Leodwen de Falt raises her mug of ale in a toast, intoning warmly: "Welcome to Falt Manor, Lady Claire. We may be an odd kind of people, but we appreciate happiness - especially in the matches of members of our family. My brother Custennin will regret to give up his cousin to your House, but I trust he will insist on you two coming to visit us. Often!"

Ale. Thank the Lord. She pulls it close and takes a drink that is a bit longer than lady-like. Its warm weather. The dress is warm. The bodice is tight. Settling the tankard down in both hands, she clears her throat and looks to the container. Complicated feelings. "Dealing with them is, yes, a trifle. And he's -quite- sure of himself." The Lady-Knight tilts her head a bit, still looking at the cup, cheeks reddening all over again. "Never thought I would be so..drawn to that sort of man. Maddening sometimes." She gives a short, flustered breath and looks back, trying to clear away the thoughts in her mind. "He has shown me that I have no choice and I will behave as he see's fit in regards to courting. He seems to know how I will react before I will." Thus, maddening. "As for Ailil, I've had limited dealings with Broughton but they do not seem to be bad people." And for the religious center of Stapleford to say something like that says a lot more than simple words. "I respect their views during my few interludes. I believe you have not come up short. I take it you will be moving to Broughton manor then, yes?" She lifts the cup in toast, though. She clinks tankards and smiles a little more warmly. "Thank you. But I will sadly be unable to spend much time here. Drustan will split his. However I was thinking of doing our wedding here. Stapleford has many demands upon men and women for marriage but I'd like to show goodwill between homes by having our words exchanged here."

Leodwen leans a touch forward, brows twitching into a slightly intrigued furrowed state, as her hazel eyes study Claire de Stapleford with the shadow of realization dawning upon her. "He ruffles your feathers… Is that it?", she dares to ask. "While at the same time you catch yourself thinking of him?" The pause left for dramatic effect is only brief, as the blonde Falt lady extends her hand to reach for that of her guest - a bold gesture perhaps, but encouraged by the growing confidential tinge of their exchange. "Marvelous. And so romantic." Leodwen's lips curl into a dreamy smile and she sighs softly. Claire's assessment of the Broughtons is received with a nod and a slight dimming of the smile. "I still need to visit the manor, to return the call, Sir Ailil paid us. And yes. I would believe so." The latter said to the question of Leodwen going to live with her husband after the wedding. Her demeanor lightens up, when Claire mentions her thoughts about where to hold the wedding with Drustan. "Oh! I believe, Custennin will be delighted… And I am thrilled! Our chapel may not be the largest, but it is a fine one. I… could show you around later, perhaps?"

Claire flicks her gaze to Leodwen, then away. Then back again. Leodwen hit the mark. "I… would never admit such things whether they be truth or fable." Ahem. "But." A long, haughty breath and the inability to hide her smile leaves Claire looking like any other blushing bride to be at 21. Like all her other emotions, they are understated. But it is clear the girl is extremely excited and is probably holding back a huge amount of gushing. Though given her stations at the moment, she probably hasn't had anyone to talk to at all. And she only just met Leodwen. "I have traveled past Broughton a few times and always admired the fields. That is quite a gorgeous area. Then scents of the grass and the river nearby are something that near puts me to sleep while I ride." At least that might be a bit more reassuring. "Chapel size is not important for our wedding. We only require a priest, our families, and the blessings. And hopefully a gathering of families for supper and feast after. …I know not how Drustan feels about joining Stapleford, but I have more excitement for joining Falt than I show. Hopefully one day I can show that." She turns the hand over and squeezes Leodwen's.

There is a momentary blink of her hazel eyes, when Leodwen de Falt beholds that rather contradictory and hence so female reaction in Claire de Stapleford; still, the warm-hearted smile remains on the blonde lady's comely features. "Of course…!", Leodwen assures, lowering her gaze, and bites her lip as if in acknowledgement of a potential misstep; then flicks her gaze back up to meet Claire's just in time to catch the deepening of the blush.

The shift of topic, Leodwen accepts without even the blink of an eye, though now it is her turn to become slightly awkward, in the way her eyes show a momentary unsteadiness, and the tone of her voice, more breathy than before. "They way you speak of it, Broughton sounds like a wonderful place to be… I shall have to see for myself, as soon as I can get there." Her hand accepts the squeeze then, Leodwen's other hand in fact moving over Claire's, keeping it there for a moment, as she meets Claire's gaze with her own. "You are gaining another family… even if not by name, my lady. As these bonds enhance our web of blood ties… with our next generation to come."

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