Akane (chija) wrote in familienehre,

“You’re excused”, Jonathan answered with played generosity, then he himself turned and disappeared up the stairs. He would meet Rebecca soon enough, there was no need for him to see her now.

A little more than two hours later they all joined again at the beautifully set dinner table. Rebecca, sitting at the top of the table with her brother on her left and Ian on her right side, greeted her guest again formally and wished them a pleasant stay, before the soup was served. She had made sure Tristan and his brother would have an appropriate welcome.
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Tristan stood up and bowed and after a second's hesitation, Ian did the same. Tristan thanked Rebecca in both of their, and their family's, name for the invitation.

They sat down again and the dinner commenced. Tristan held their end of the conversation, as usual, but made sure to include Ian more than he normally did. Rebecca seemed to have taken a liking to his little brother and while Tristan didn't know what to make of that, Ian's smile relaxed him and he allowed things to take their natural flow for now.
Rebecca once more prove she was a natural born hostess. With her lively attitude and her talent to draw people into the conversation, she managed to keep the mood at the dinner quite good - a difficult task regarding her guests. Rebecca always turned the conversation’s topic away from critical subjects and towards other, maybe more superficial, but also more natural things, easy to understand for Ian, too.

At the moment, she talked about Rosefont, introducing the mansion’s surroundings to her guests.
“If you take a pleasure in riding, there are beautiful paths directly along the shore, but also into the inland. You can go for hours without noticing. But the sea also is fantastic at this season, warm already, if you wish to sail or to swim, you can go down to the two little bays belonging to our possession.”

The sea was so near to Rosefont, you could even hear the song of the surge in some rooms of the east wing.
Tristan continued to watch Ian from the corner of his eye, every small reaction to whatever Rebecca said. The way his brother's eyes lit up when the sea was mentioned, made Tristan smile.

"I think we'd both very much enjoy a ride at the sea," he said with a smile of his own, not as naive and open as Ian's, but for once, honest enough, "Maybe you'd like to join us?"
"I would love to join you." Rebecca returned Tristan's smile, registering it was the first honest one she saw from him. "In contrast to what it looked like on my engagement party, I actually *can* ride a horse." She laughed before reaching for her glass of wine.

While Tristan and Rebecca talked, there was another conversation at the table, only consisting out of small gestures and mimic.

'So you will ride with them.' Jonathan touched his sister's arm as he reached for the wine.
'I will. And you won't come.' The smiled at him.
'Sure I won't. But you'll be careful.' He asked the maid for the potatoes.
'Don't you worry, John. I have my aims.'
Tristan couldn't help but throw suspicious little glances at Jonathan from time to time, just to make sure that he wasn't going to press a knife or sword at his throat at any given moment.

It wasn't that he trusted Rebecca more, he just figured she'd use different, more subtle methods than her brother. Stil, he almost liked her.

The wine tasted well and Ian seemed to like it, but when he opened his mouth to ask for more, Tristan touched his arm, shook his head ever so slightly.

"Thank you very much for the this wonderful dinner. I think we'd like to change before we take you up on that offer of a ride."

Ian seemed excited at the prospect of a ride near the sea and that was more than enough to make Tristan look forward to it, too. AT the same time, his nerves were strained and he was waiting constantly for the situation to blow up.
Rebecca nodded.
"Take all the time you need. You'll find me in the library."
With that, Rebecca stood up, giving everyone at the table the admission to do the same.

The left the room to go up and change herself, then she sat down in the library, a good book on her lap.
Ian stood up a bit too fast, his chair would have clattered and fallen had Tristan not caught it in time. He threw Ian a soothing smile, couldn't stand the way his brother had ducked, the guilty look in his eyes.

Together, they walked upstairs, into Ian's room first where Tristan helped him pick the clothes for the ride. "Remember to clean yourself up a bit," Tristan said, before he left Ian alone. Ian could manage washing and dressing himself. He hadn't always been able to do that.

A few minutes later, they were both dressed in comfortable clothes. Tristan took his time, sitting on Ian's bed for a while, staring at his brother's naive features, his trusting eyes.

"Let's get going, huh?" There were days when he really didn't want to do any of this anymore.
When the two man came down the stairs, one of the servants described them the way to the stable, then explained the Lady had already gone there. The elderly man’s tone was like a father’s when he added that Rebecca always saddled her horse herself.

What she was doing just this moment. Johnathan leaned against the wall next to her, watching his sister with a raised eyebrow.
“You’re sure about that?”
“Of course I am. He is the first man I have met for a ver long time who is sensitive. If anyone is able to ride her, it’s him. But…”, she turned to glare at him, “don’t you dare telling him - or his brother.”
Ian trailed behind Tristan who, before they entered the stables, ran one hand through his brother's hair. "You'll be okay. Just keep calm, no matter what happens, 'kay?" he said, worry and hope likewise curling in his stomach. "I got you."

Ian nodded, smiled at him and Tristan couldn't help but smile back. "Okay, let's go."

They walked into the stables and Tristan called out, "Rebecca?"
"Here I am."
The young woman greeted them with a nod for both her hands where holding a horse's rein.
"Ian, this is Ophelia." She nodded towards the slender, fairly small, but beautiful white mare on her left. "She is yours for your stay. Be a little bit gentle, and she'll love you."

Rebecca handed Ian the reins, then turned towards his brother.
"And for you, this is Oberon." Well, yes, Rebecca really liked Shakespeare's plays. The brown gelding on her right was a lot more impressive, but he also seemed calmer. "I'm sure you'll get along."

One of the grooms came with her own horse, Titania, while Johnathan looked at Ian, looked at Tristan, looked at his sister. Then he pushed himself off the wall. "I'm coming with you."
Tristan kept an eye on Ian and Ophelia while petting Oberon's strong neck lightly.

At Jonathan's announcement, he rolled his eyes, but he kept quiet. He jerked his chin towards the exit when he caught Ian's gaze and his brother led the horse outside. Tristan followed, smiling politely at Rebecca as they passed her.

Outside, they mounted their horses, Ophelia trippling nervously on the spot. Tristan considered exchanging horses for a moment, before deciding against it. Ian wasn't bad with animals and Rebecca's judgement was probably right. Ophelia would love his gentle brother.
Johnathan hurried to get his horse – Demetrius and he still hated his sister for this – ready and joined the other in front of the stable a few minutes later.

He couldn’t really explain what had driven him to this decision. He trusted Rebecca, he really did, but there was something bothering him. His sixth twin-sense, as he preferred to call it, seemed to have something to tell him.

Rebecca led the small group to a path that linked Rosefond with the shore and the small beach, leading through a beautiful valley.
But she really seemed to have some plan in mind, for she always made sure it was Ian who rode beside her, chatting with him almost all the time, while Tristan and Johnathan mostly where left on their own. What made John scowl at his sister’s back.
Tristan worried his lower lip between his teeth and hoped that Ian wouldn't say anything stupid. With a horse-length between them and Rebecca's insistance that it be Ian to ride beside her, there wasn't much Tristan could do to keep his little brother from (unknowingly) screwing up.

They finally stopped at a beautiful beach. Rebecca was the first to dismount and Tristan followed immediately, walked over to Ophelia and held her still while Ian dismounted as well. "You all right?" Tristan whispered and closed his eyes for a moment when Ian nodded.

Together, they turned and smiled at their hostess.
Rebecca tied her horse up at a washed up trunk before she got a blanket out of her saddlebag and unfurled it on the still warm sand.

“The sunset is beautiful to watch here.” She pointed at the western sky slowly beginning to turn orange. With a quick glance she made sure all her precious horses and her guests were okay, then she sat down on one edge of the blanket, smiling at Ian.
”How are you getting along, you and Ophelia?”

Johnathan had seen it coming. This small bay belonging to Rosefont’s possessions was one of his sister’s favourite places – especially at sundown, and they wouldn’t get away from here until the sun had completely set.
With a sight, he resigned to his fate and sat down, too, still eying Tristan. He was so tense, it was a struggle for John to keep from mocking him, but there had to be more to him. Some kind of reason why he behaved this way, always looking after his brother, always so overprotective and earnest… It intrigued him. Especially because the other man had nice – and fairly attractive – eyes.
"She's a lovely horse," Ian said, beamed. Tristan allowed for some of the tension to leave his body, but still held himself rigidly upright, prepared to react at any given moment.

He motioned for Ian to sit down next to Rebecca - but in a suitable distance - and went to tend to their horses.

"This is a gorgeous piece of land you have," he complimented Rebecca, including Jonathan with a short glance, as he sat down close to his brother.
“It’s belonged to my mother’s family for centuries”, Rebecca explained, smiling at Tristan. She noticed he relaxed a little bit and was quite happy about it. Though she had arranged this stay at Rosefond mostly for Ian, his older brother should have some fun, too.

Johnathan eyed the whole scene, a little smile suddenly playing around his lips. His sister followed one of her usual plans and it was always a pleasure for him to watch her doing this. And he could watch Tristan…

He hadn’t finished his thought as he saw a bird leaking out of a nearby bush and heard the panicking shriek of one of the horses.
Tristan's instincts leapt up, combined and strengthened by years of training and he was on his feet before he had even finished taking in the happenings.

"Ian, go," he barked, even as he was sprinting the few steps towards Jonathan who was, that very moment, in the direct line of flight of one very frightened horse.

He grabbed Jonathan's arm and more jumped than ran, dragging Jonathan away as he heard and felt the horse rush past them, brushing his ankle and leaving hot pain in it's wake. Besides, the sand didn't taste all that nice and his shoulder was protesting at being shoved into the ground, Jonathan's weight heavy on him.
Johnathan saw the horse sprinting towards him, he wanted to get away, but it all went to fast, he couln’t move, only hear Tristan shouting and his sister’s cry “Oh my god!”.
And then he felt how he was dragged backwards, how he fell and how the horses’ hooves hit the ground only inches away from his head.

Breathing heavily, he forced himself up to a sitting position next to Tristan. It took some time until he had stopped his body from trembling and was sure his voice wouldn’t desert him.

“Thank you.”

He was easy-going and loved to mock people, but in this very moment, he really was thankful. Tristan had just most likely saved his life.