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A proper visit to the Green Fork

Posted on Tue May 11th, 2021 @ 9:12pm by Lord Jonah Tully & Ser Jevan Darry

Mission: What Came Before...
Location: The Twins
Timeline: 15 years before the great council, three weeks after Jevan's arrival

It was the beginning of a beautiful spring morning. Jon had risen with the sun and broken his fast in pleasant silence in his solar. The castle had slowly been coming alive around him as he ate. The smith had arrived and started his forge. The stable hands were feeding the horses. As Jon looked about the the Green Fork he felt more than he saw that it would stay dry today.

He had been pleased about how Jevan was adapting to life at the Twins. The boy was still often a bit sullen about being taken from his home, but between their visit to the kennels to see the new born pups, and their first riding lessons, there was more and more time between bouts of the childish behaviour. "Aleister?" Jon called to his attendant.

"My lord?" The slender, older man, replied as he stepped into the solar.
"Have the boat prepared, would you? I plan on taking Jevan out for some fishing today." Jon replied as he turned to look at the man.
"Very good my lord." and just like that Aleister disappeared from the solar to make the arrangements.

Jon, for his part, made his way to the rooms Jevan had been given, near his own sleeping chambers. He knocked and then opened the door. "Are you awake yet?" he called.

Thick curtains kept the room dark but for a singular crack of sunlight where they didn't quite meet in the middle and a solitary candle lantern to the side of the boy's bed. Shadows cast across a wonky pyramid of quilts and blankets propped up by something sat upon the bed - a chair as it turned out. Jevan was indeed awake, sat beneath his bedding playing with a toy horse and knight versus a chunky wooden dragon.

He looked up as Jon's voice crossed the room and slunk out from under the quilt to stand in nightshirt and bare feet.

"I'm awake," Jevan confirmed. "Is it time for breakfast?"

"Yes, I think Layla has something ready for you in the kitchens. Eat up quickly, I have something planned for us after you're done eating." Jon replied as he stepped into the room fully.

Wide eyes regarded the tall lord before him, and Jevan considered this for a full second before attempting to run past Jon, still barefoot and undressed.

"Breeches." Jon said with a chuckle as he was barely able to grab the boy by the shoulders. "Breeches and a shirt, Jevan."

"But I'm hu... yessir," Jevan reluctantly agreed, as his head raised up to meet Jon's gaze. He dutifully returned to his closet and pulled a fresh shirt over his head, then dragged on the same pair of breeches he'd worn yesterday and presented himself for 'inspection' before the lord of the house to see if he passed muster this time. His stomach growled. "Can I go now?"

"Much better. Go." Jon nodded to the stairway. "I'll be waiting at the gate, so hurry." He smiled fondly as he saw the young boy scamper down.

Jevan hit the stone steps at speed, and reached the kitchen, two flights down, breathless. Layla, well used to this routine by now, handed him a seeded roll and a chunk each of ham and hard cheese - leftovers from the adult's dinner the night before. She made the nine year old stand still at the back door and eat slowly while under her watchful gaze, then made sure he had his boots and a cap before letting him run around the outer wall to meet Lord Tully.

Jon was talking with one of the sergeants of the guard as he heard young feet approaching.

Crossing the inner bailey at speed, Jevan aimed himself at the main gate, boots thumping on hard-packed ground. He lost the cap before he even cleared half the ground, and didn't stop or turn to recover it. Jon had told him to hurry, and his excitement for whatever lay ahead for the day overrode any concerns about what that might be. The boy skidded to a halt a little too late and ran straight into the sergeant's legs with an 'oof! sorry!' accompanying his recovery.

The sergeant rocked slightly from the impact. Jon scowled for a long moment as he looked at the boy. "Jevan." Jon said in a tone that was now commonly known to be a mild rebuke. He then turned back to his sergeant. "Carry on Jos." The sergeant nodded, "Aye m'lord."

"Come now, boy. We have places to be." Jon said to Jevan as he nodded to the gate. He then bent down to grab two long poles and a basket, which he handed to Jevan as he stepped up next to Jon.

Head bowed for a second or two, Jevan's chin rose a little then and he watched the guard leave. "Sorry dad... sir!" He corrected swiftly and tensely, then lowered his head again. When the only chastisement was verbal and the fishing poles were picked up, he relaxed a little more.

"We're going fishing?" Jevan asked, excitement colouring his tone as he took the basket and pulled it close to his chest for ease of transport.

"Aye lad, there's a boat on the pier for us." Jon said as he lead them to the little pier entering the river. "How about you row us out?"

"Yessir!" acknowledged Jevan with confident surety. He steadied the boat with one foot, placed the basket into the space beneath the forward seat, and then climbed in after it. Once he was settled in a balanced position, oars in his hands, he looked back up to Jon and braced for the moment of imbalance as his elder took his own place. "I'm great at rowing!" The boy declared proudly, taking them out into the wide river with a deft balance of oar turns.

"You sure are Jev." Jon nodded in agreement as the boat slowly headed out. "Rowing like this will make you as strong as me, or maybe even stronger." A wide smile formed on Jon's lips as he looked at the young boy working the oars. "Just a little further and we can throw out our anchor stone."

The pull of the river got the better of him for a moment and the little boat turned heavily left as Jevan's rhythm struggled to compensate. The waters here were obviously slightly different to those around Castle Darry, but the boy knew what he needed to do and valiantly persisted against the current, his expression sternly tense with the level of concentration. "I can do it!" he insisted out loud through gritted teeth.

He let the boy fight the strong current for a few minutes longer before Jon grabbed the large stone in the bottom. "This is a fine spot, lad." and with a heavy splash the rock sunk to the bottom. It kept the boat from moving much farther down stream.

Jevan slammed the oars' two ends down into the boat then let go, temper getting the better of him just as Jon called the location. As the flipping back riverwards of both oars ensured cool, muddy water inevitably splashed back over both of them the boy crossed his arms and pouted. "I wanted to drop the anchor!" He protested futilely.

"Jevan, you cannot get everything you want." Jon said calmly as he speared his ward with his look. "Nor can you lose your calm when it happens. This is a difficult lesson to learn, but an important one if you ever want to become a knight."

"I never get what I want," Jevan threw back with the addition of a kick against the supports in the middle of the boat. He attempted to hold Jon's gaze, eyes dark and moody as he did so, but the boy broke away before Lord Tully did. "It's not fair," he said. Clearly this was about more than just a stone.

"Life rarely is fair." Jon reached down and took one of the two rods. "But there is always fish to be caught." and offered the rod to Jevan.

The boy snatched the rod, and glowered for a moment, unable to dispell his temper as swiftly as he might want. His fist clenched about the handle so tightly it hurt, a visible representation of Jevan's attempt to calm himself. "I used to fish with Papa," he said, moodily. "Until he didn't want me anymore."

"And you think I'm going to kick you out after a few weeks too?" Jon asked as he took his own rod. He kept his eyes on the hook as he put the bait on, allowing Jevan to not feel watched.

Silence followed for a long minute as Jevan adjusted his hold on the fishing rod and located the hook. He nodded, then realised Jon wasn't looking directly at him. "Yessir," he admitted, with a quiet inevitability to his tone.

"Well lad, I'm afraid you're wrong there." Jon simply replied as he tossed the baited hook far from the little boat.

Blue eyes brightened just a tiny little bit with hope, and Jevan baited his own hook with the speed of someone who'd learned this skill a while back. He checked around him, shifted position to ensure he didn't smack the older man when he cast, and flicked the line out into the river. "How long will I stay here?" he asked, that question half-intrigue, half-concern.

"Until your father summons you back. But that won't be for quite a while. You're almost old enough to become a squire, and I am in need of one." Jon explained off-handidly as he looked over the water. "If it goes according to my design Jevan, you'll be here for at least a few years."

This was some confusing information to process, and the boy's face shifted into a scowl as he considered Jon's words. He liked it here, Lord Tully seemed fair-minded and wasn't cruel, but three weeks in his company was not quite enough for Jevan to be comfortable giving up on family. "I can't go home at all?" He asked. His mother. His sisters... "For years?"

"You can visit home at times. I can't imagine your mother would be kind to me if I withheld her boy from her. But you'd return to the Twins after a few weeks at Castle Darry. For as long as you were my squire, this would be your home. And if you have earned your knighthood, or reached your majority, you could choose to stay or go elsewhere." Jon explained calmly as he pulled his line back in and examined his clean-eaten baithook.

Again, Jevan processed this detail, his musing interrupted by the sight of his host's bare hook. "You have to make it dance a little, my sister says," the boy offered, jiggling his own line lightly in the water. "Make the sun flash on the metal and then the fish get curious." It didn't sound so bad, having another home, a safe place away from his father and brother, but there was still a great deal of uncertainty. "Were you a squire, once, sir?"

With a good arc, Jon's hook ended up back in the water. He then took the boy's advice to gently bounce the hook. "Aye lad. I was a squire to Ser Jeremon Tully of Riverrun, Lord Samwell Tully's younger son. I was a ward and page at Riverrun before. Jeremon was quite a bit younger than I was when he took me as his squire, only two and twenty. We visited quite a few tourneys."

Jevan's eyes went wide at the mention of tourneys. He'd heard a great deal of talk about these from his older brother, mostly boasting and scornful comments. If, his mind calculated, Lord Tully had been squire to a Riverrun Tully... he'd know a lot worth teaching. And those skills? They'd be different from his father's own. Which was both an interesting thought and a painful one, because he'd wanted and expected to learn from his father.

"And if I'm your squire, you'd teach me to fight?" Jevan asked, voicing only part of his thought process. "Not my papa?"

"You'd learn to fight, to ride a horse, to lead men into combat." Jon explained. "And if you learn well, and show honour in battle, you might even earn a knighthood. But be warned, Jevan, it is hard work. It also means taking care of horses, fetching food, scouring armour, and long days on horseback. And while tourneys are good and fun, real war is nothing like the songs say and I pray you never have to fight in one."

The boy screwed up his face at the mention of hard work. Scouring armour and taking care of horses, fetching food?! This did not sound like the rosy and wonderful image he had in his head when he thought of knights. And all the old knights and lords he had ever come into contact with (not many but those whose words he'd heard had captured his interest) always made conflict and battle sound so exciting and heroic.

"Just your armour and your horse?" Jevan piped up, hopefully. His fishing line twitched with a hopeful catch and he focused briefly on this, then sighed as the fish moved on. "But you'd teach me to fight?" The boy pushed. "You're a really good fighter, right?"

"I'm a fair hand with the sword, aye." Jon agreed as he looked at his line. "But yes, I'd teach you to fight, to ride, to tilt, and to be a man of honour. All you'd need to know to be a good knight and hopefully a good man."

"Maybe that wouldn't be too awful," muttered Jevan, mostly to himself as he internally mulled the options. "If I want to be a bad man, I think I could stay at home."

"Who knows, Jevan, maybe one day you'll be able to hold a keep of your own for your father or your brother. Not a hedge knight, but a landed knight." Jon offered as he pulled in another empty hook.

That didn't sound very likely in the boy's mind. He shrugged demonstratively, then yelped and shifted in his seat as the line was abruptly tugged sharply away from him. Feet braced against the inside of the boat, Jevan pulled back. "Got one!" He shouted, casting thoughts of land and male relatives aside.

Jon turned to look at the boy struggling against the line. He put his own rod in the boat and leaned over to put a hand on Jevan's fishing pole. "Come lad, reel in the line and we'll get that big one in." he encouraged as he helped him pull against the fish.

As the fish ended up at his feet, Jevan beamed a bright smile and met Lord Tully's gaze. Where before he'd had criticism and high expectations without much help or support, in the last few weeks he'd encountered constructive feedback, structured discipline and fairness. Perhaps staying here for some time wouldn't be as bad as he'd first thought, considered the boy.

"Please would you teach me to be like you?" Jevan asked Jon, a quiet seriousness infused in that youthful voice.

"Yes." Jon agreed simply before tussling the lad's hair. He then took out his dagger and swiftly ended the fish's suffering. "Now if we can grab a couple more of these big fish we would have a good stew tonight."

The moment passed swiftly and, his confidence now sky-high, Jevan cast his line back out into the lake.

"I'm definitely going to catch at least two more!" The boy declared boldly.


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