(121-05-12) Girl Troubles
Girl Troubles
Summary: Tameron doesn't know what to do with feels.
Date: May 12, 2014
Related: Tam & Magden logs

It's early evening at the Quill & Tavern, just before the supper crowd begins filling out the place proper, when Veronica descends from her temporary rooms on the floor above. She's dressed in ivory silk, peach satin and gold brocade, a vision in ribbons, bringing with her the scent of night-blooming jasmine and white gardenia in her luxuriously unbound hair. The golden-haired woman creates a stir as she passes through the common room, settling at a table by the windows with the best view of the room, already set with plates of delicate stoneware and a cup of gold. The proprietor hurries over to make sure she has all she needs; for the moment, she takes only a flagon of Arbor Red to fill her cup.

It's fairly quiet at this hour, though there is at least one other patron present, seated in a corner table and sipping from a mug of something steaming, despite the summer heat. Ser Tameron Sand is not dressed nearly so finely as the woman that descends from the upper rooms. His white shirt has a tear in one sleeve and the rest of his clothes, in better repair, are still simply and plainly made. He considers the elegant woman, her lack of a chaperone, the richness of her gowns and the way her hair spills down her back. He takes another quiet sip from his mug and peers down at the wood of his table with a faint frown.

Where she's seated, her stunning attire, even the plates and cups from which she'll sup are a beautifully orchestrated pantomime. That may be more obvious to some eyes than others. She's like the jewels decorating a palace, meant to be looked on and never possessed, her presence creating an ambiance and telling a tale. The way she decants wine from the flagon to her cup is a dance, precise and perfect. Everything that looks, to the naked eye, elegantly effortless has be drilled into her like swordforms. The presence she projects is both weapon and armor.

The young man at his corner table has another swallow of his drink. If ever he wished he could stomach something stronger than juice or tea, now might be that moment. Breathing out slowly, he pushes away from his table to approach the refined woman as she begins her meal. "Mistress," he offers quietly, "might I join you for a word or two as you eat?"

The golden-haired woman blinks, her cup of wine halfway to her lips, and takes the young man in with keen curiosity. "Aren't you interesting," she muses, with the beginnings of a smile.

The proprietor comes over in a hustle, looking rather horrified that so common — and swarthy — a young person is accosting his prize patron. "Mistress Veronica, is this… person… troubling you?" He looks over at the members of the watch who stand by the door, lately the Quill's ersatz bouncers.

"No," says Mistress Veronica, succinctly. Not unkindly, but making it clear the proprietor has overstepped. "He's not bothering me at all." She nods at Tameron. "Please sit." Then, to the proprietor, "Please bring the gentleman another of whatever he's drinking."

Tameron stands, quiet and still as the proprietor gives him the hairy eyeball and then gets shooed away. He offers a nod to Veronica before he sits in the chair across from her, hands in his lap. "Thank you. I'm sorry to interrupt your meal." Glancing over to place his order (again), he says, "Just tea. Thanks."

Veronica lifts her eyebrows at the proprietor as the man hesitates, affronted, which sends him hurrying away for the tea. Then, turning her gaze back on the young man at her table, "Just tea? You are interesting."

Tameron's shoulders lift and fall for his 'interestingness'. "You are likely a better judge of what is and isn't than I," he agrees quietly. His hands rest on the table: calloused, scarred hands with knuckles somewhat misshapen for the number of times they've smashed against wall or feed sack or flesh. His fingers lace together, a little awkwardly for their discreet asymmetry. "I…" he swallows tightly. The words are a harder feat to manage than tilts or sword fights. "I seek your advice, mistress," he manages at length. "And your discretion."

Her perfectly arched, perfectly groomed eyebrows, a darker shade of gold than her hair, lift again. "Curiouser and curiouser. What about, sweet pugilist?" A serving wench hurries over, bringing a whole pot of tea for Tameron to take from, as he wills. And honey, and cream. A basket of steaming bread, a crock of whipped honey butter. All the things that come with tea, if one's seated at the right table.

A world of tea Tameron has never known. Or perhaps, considering he's served under one of the larger and more powerful families of Dorne, a world he has just avoided. He pours a cup of the brew as a means to keep himself from fidgeting. No honey. No cream. Again, it takes a moment for him to muster his words. "A girl."

"Have a scone," suggests Veronica, gently, though she watches him intently — which may be unsettling on its own. "The cranberry and cinnamon ones go beautifully with the tea." The corners of her lips curve up when he finally admits the crux of the matter. "Tell me about her."

Tameron eyes the scones warily before picking up a cranberry one and setting it on one of the small, delicate plates that come with the table. Or maybe just with Veronica. He doesn't actually move to eat it, though. "She's strong," he offers, "and clever. Resourceful. Deadly. But, innocent." There is a small wince as he amends, "mostly innocent. I have never met her like, before."

Veronica props her chin in her hand, giving Tameron her undivided attention. "Mostly," she echoes. "Does that trouble you?"

"…I suppose it shouldn't," Tameron replies to the wood of the table as his untouched tea slowly cools. "Sometimes."

She nods, very slightly. Encouragingly. Lovely features composed and utterly open. "Tell me a little about that," she suggests.

"Well, I took it," Tameron confides very quietly, his shoulders rounding, "and I shouldn't have. She could have been…. I mean, her options would have…" he presses his lips together a moment before he tries again, "She deserved better."

Veronica cants her head, curiously. "You sound as though you admire her a great deal, from how you've described her," she posits. "Tell me what you think she deserves. What does 'better' look like?"

"Someone else. Someone not-" but whatever he was going to say, Tameron settles on "…me. She doesn't understand. She thinks because I was the first person to be kind to her, I'm the only person she ought to consider."

"Does she think that?' asks Veronica, without judgment or derision. "Has she told you so?" It's likely a rhetorical question. "Tell me about you."

"She doesn't need to tell me, I can see it," Tameron replies. "I doubt she even realizes it's what she's done." For the second request, he only gives a small shake of his head.

Veronica nods slowly. She gives him time, a space of silence for wine and tea, to say more. It's as comfortable a silence as can exist between two strangers of such different circumstances.

Tameron watches the dwindling steam as it curls up from his tea to twist through the air until it vanishes half a foot above the cup. "I'm her knight. She's my squire. I'm supposed to be safe. I'm supposed to teach her and help her down her own path. Not…"

Even a professional has to blink at that. At least one with Westerosi sensibilities. "Your squire?" She smiles. "How very remarkable." Veronica breaks off the edge of his untouched scone, spreading a bit of honey-butter on it before offering it back. She doesn't look like she's going to take no for an answer — on the matter of this small morsel, at least. "Though it's different where you're from. Isn't it?"

Tameron accepts the morsel, though he looks about as keen to eat it as he would be to swallow ash. After a moment, it is gently set down on his plate beside the rest of the scone. "Not so very different. Women take up weapons, but they do not become knights."

"So you're doing something new," Veronica says, watching as he sets the bit of food aside. "It's sad to see you so deeply troubled by it, Ser. Physical love doesn't have preclude a safe, nurturing, and enduring partnership. Religions and societies do try to insist that such a thing can only be called 'marriage' — but that's not really the case." She sips her wine. "You're devoted to her, it's plain. And she, I would imagine, to you. You've spoken vows."

"That has not been my experience," Tameron admits softly, "but I expect you know more of that world and its nuances than I do. We… yes. Vows. But not… her to serve, I to protect. The vows of a knight and a squire. We are doing something new. Something we will be judged for and harshly. The things that will be said, the insults they will use, I know well enough how base they will be, the implications they will center on. How am I to defend my good name and her honor if what they say is true?"

"But it's not true," says Veronica, with gentle emphasis. "For what they'll say, unless I'm very much mistaken, and imply, is that she's a whore." Now there's something upon which she can speak with some authority. "And that she's not worth anything but her sex. That she's not fit to be a squire, or a knight — not because she's known love, but because of the cleft between her thighs." She sips her wine again. "They'll say you're using her, and that you took her on to polish your lance, not to fight at your side."

"I am using her, if I do this," Tameron argues, soft but certain. "If I slake my needs in her body at night and teach her a trade by day, how have I not made her a whore, mistress? I took her on because she was drowning and I know what that is, and because I could see she was a skilled fighter and keen enough to become better, yet. And now I've turned it into something wretched. Worse yet, because she doesn't understand."

Veronica raises her eyebrows mildly. "You, Ser," she observes, still with that air of keen-yet-gentle interest, "are very chauvanistic." A beat. "For a Dornishman." She shakes her head. "Women are a great deal… more than you seem to give them credit for." She leans in a little, gaze intent. "You cannot make a woman a whore, Ser. Unless she lies beneath you in exchange for your knowledge and protection. Do you think that's so?"

"So you suggest that because I would not withdraw my protection if we never lay together again, that it is… acceptable?" Tameron frowns softly. "That seems more a technicality than an argument."

"I suggest that, unless there is a business arrangement, she is not a whore. And anyone who calls her that is mistaken. Including you," Veronica says. "Do you not think she has her own mind, on all this? I recall that you began by describing her as a clever girl, before you starting insisting that she doesn't understand what's going on."

"She certainly has her own mind," Tameron agrees wryly, though the smile that tugs at the corner of his mouth can only be described as 'fond'. "But someone can be clever and naive at the same time, mistress. I believe that is the case, here."

Veronica nods her assent to that point, but asks, "Naive as to… the consequences of her actions? The social status she'll lose? The names she'll be called?"

"Naive as to her options," Tameron replies quietly, "Her worth. My worth."

"You won't discuss your worth," Veronica says, gently. "Which is a shame. You won't have another opportunity with such scrupulous counsel, I think. But…" Be that as it may. She reaches to warm Tameron's tea from the pot. "What are her options? And her worth?"

"On that, I require no counsel, mistress, though I thank you," Tameron replies softly. "She could become a knight or a warrior. She could follow a gentler career if she preferred. She could have any suitor she wished, if he was not of noble blood, and perhaps even a few that are, if she wanted to take up with someone or pursue matrimony. She deserves whatever life will make her happiest, and she hasn't even had the chance to explore what that might be."

"Has she been very sheltered?" asks Veronica, curious once more.

Tameron considers, his jaw working slightly as he chooses his words. "Sheltered. But not protected. Her life, her choices have been… limited."

Veronica considers his phrasing a moment, then laughs, a low and warm chuckle, not at all unkind. "You are very stubborn, Ser. I imagine it's served you well, in life. But I think it may be serving you ill, now." She rests her chin in her hand again. "Tell me something?" She lifts her eyebrows. "Didn't you want to ask me something about a girl?"

"I did," Tameron agrees with a wry smirk, "but found myself being interrogated, instead. May I?"

Veronica laughs aloud, startled, a sound that's quite extemporaneous and draws a few eyes in the room. She bows her head, smiling, and holds her palms up. "My apologies, Ser. I am quite correctly rebuked." She nods, her smile easy and warm. "Please."

The knight drops his gaze, smiling almost shyly for Veronica's laughter. "You know much of the story, now, mistress. I am sure it will increase the wisdom of your reply." Glancing up again he asks, more sincerely, "What do I do? I… cannot deny that I desire her, nor that desiring her makes me feel like a villain. I do not want to give her up or turn her away, and any rote, I doubt she would have it if I tried, but I cannot trap her, either, or hold her back from what could be a far better life. I just… I don't know. I don't know what is right."

"Talk to her," counsels Veronica, softly and with gentle emphasis, after listening well. "There is nothing amiss in telling her all you've told me… save that she will want to know why you're unworthy. And you may very well owe her an answer." She studies the young man at her table, blue eyes kind. "But most of all, Ser? Respect her. Not the flower of her innocence or the blasted pedestal of ivory that is in every man's head, but her strength. Her spirit. Her mind." She nods once, a mere dip of her chin. "If she is naive, give her the tools to make a good choice. Tell her the truth, then respect her decision."

Tameron swallows softly, thinking on Veronica's advice before managing a small nod. "Thank you, mistress. I will do ask you advise. Or try. You were kind to speak with me."

Veronica shakes her head. "On the contrary, Ser… It's not often I am permitted down from my ivory tower, to speak with whom I will. I'm glad fate brought you my way." She touches the young knight's hand very lightly, fingertips on the back of fingers. "Now go fix your heart, so you can eat something before you disappear."

Tameron huffs a soft laugh and dips his head. "Mistress," he murmurs, the word both a thanks and a farewell. He eases back his seat and stands, leaving behind cooling tea and an uneaten scone.

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