(121-05-18) There Once Were Two Maids
There Once Were Two Maids
Summary: Girl talk is complicated for a princess.
Date: 18/05/2014
Related: Precedes A Farewell Fete

First Bedchamber - 2 - White Stone Manse

Starry Street

This large bedchamber has windows overlooking Starry Street. Like the rest of the house, it has white walls and polished floors, clean and cool-looking.

There is a large canopy bed in here, curtained with pale green and white silks, enough to obscure sleepers in a gauzy veil but still allow light. Its headboard is pressed against the wall opposite the door. Near the windows are a pair of chairs, padded in white leather. Beyond the bed a wooden screen, painted with a desert scene of tiny flowers speckling the foot of a dune, separates the part of the room where a capacious wardrobe, a wash stand, and a dressing-table are positioned.

On an overcast day, Mariya is at her closet, sifting through her dresses. The ones of any sort of color are still pushed to the side and she pulls out a long dark one, places it against herself. Looking down, she sighs. "Oh, I don't know. Is it appropriate to wear mourning black to a farewell party? Black is a Targaryen color, perhaps they will think I am merely attempting to fit in. It's not as if Ser Aevender minds dressing in black all the time, despite not being in mourning." It seems as if she is attempting to pick an outfit for Aevander's farewell soiree that evening. "But, then, I am not about to wear Martell colors again because of a party."

"Is a farewell party a somber affair, or is it a feast with wine and dancing? I suppose, if it's a party…" Mariya's handmaiden is quick to offer reply but not so certain what reply to offer, standing nearby with one hand on the open wardrobe door. "I think it should be a'right, your grace, and it's a fine dress. Surely the Targaryens wouldn't fault you for wearing black for mourning or fashion," Embry reasons optimistically, suggesting, "We could put yer hair up, more festive." There's a small hesitation before, as neutral as she can muster — a fragile tone of questioning clinging nonetheless — she puts forth, "You'll see Ser Daevon…"

"I believe there will be wine. The goodbye feast for me at Sunspear was a joyous affair. Fire eaters, courses, wine and frivolity. Though, that was also punctuated with my mother giving a short and pointed speech about how I was a dutiful daughter and what terrible things would happen should anything happen to me." Mariya sets the dress down on the bed and then sinks down upon it herself with a sigh. "Of course, that was a public warning to me so that I might not run off again one I was out from under the safety of Sunspear. Not even my mother could have foreseen what was to happen upon my arrival." Idly, she pulls her long, loose hair together and then drapes it over her shoulder and starts to twirl it about. "She also feared me a much braver woman than I am proving."

Mariya's musings abruptly stop and she smiles at Embry, "An updo, yes. That would be nice. And, yes, I will see Ser Daevon. He's keen to have more people see us together since the rumors of the Bravo lady." There's a bit of a wrinkle of her nose at the mention of the Bravosi lady. "I am sure Ellia will have many things to say of that."

Embry closes up the wardrobe and shadows Mariya at a comfortable distance, listening with her usual more-than-dutiful interest. Her smile for talk of Sunspear becomes gradually pinched at the corners; mention of the Bravo causes her to abruptly avert her gaze. It is only in worry for the princess, however, that her eyes fall to the corner of the bed she's stopped by. "Then you shall put them to bed," she encourages quietly, only to hurriedly clarify, " — the rumours. To rest." Quelling a half-started wringing of her hands, she quietly passes on in sincerity, looking up, "You are brave, your grace. You don't have to run off to be brave."

Despite herself, Mariya gives Embry a soft laugh at her quick correction. "Yes. I am sure we will put those rumors to…rest." Instead of using bed, she uses a different word. "I fear there has already been too much talk of beds." She continues to twirl her hair until she has one long twisted loop that she then lets unwind of its own accord. "No, I'm not quite sure. Were I so brave, I might have protested house arrest more. I would not allow Arri—-I would not find myself unable to act or assure. I know many think me to be a silly, naive girl."

"They're silly," Embry bursts out, albeit quietly. Her lips thin in apology. "Sorry." She sits herself gently down upon that corner, looking over at the princess. "It's just, I think, you don't hafta know everything, to be brave. My brother said sometimes the smallest, quietest people are the bravest, 'cause doing what you have to, movin' forward in a bad situation, that's brave. And weren't that what the arrest were? And everyfin' else." Her hands clutch one another on her lap. "If— I'm to do your hair up, your grace, we ought to put the dress on first."

Mariya grins at Embry and then laughs. "Yes. They may just be silly." She is glad that someone does not think her naive in Oldtown. "There is no need to apologize. Thank you. You're right. And perhaps your brother is, as well." She stands and starts to pull off her dress, evidently expecting Embry to help her put on the new one so they can start to fix her hair. "I just wish everything was not so complicated. It all seemed so simple in Dorne." She pauses, thinking something through, biting her lip as she debates asking a question. "May I ask you a question, Embry? You may tell me no. And even after I ask it you may tell me that it is none of my business. For, truly, it is not."

Embry has a smile for the notion of things being simpler in Dorne; like the one that forms all over again for her brother's truth, it's a touch sad. Behind Mariya, she stands up as well, preparing to reach for the old dress as it's shed to make way for the new. "Of course, your grace, please," she answers readily, her curiosity washing away any hesitancy over being questioned; there hardly seemed to be any in the first place.

Even after Embry gives leave to ask the question, Mariya hesitates. She knows that values are different in Oldtown than they are in Sunspear. And even in Sunspear, such a direct question would not be considered polite. She blushes slightly, knowing that this is embarrassing. "Are you a maid?" Quickly she adds, "You do not have to tell me if you do not wish. Either way, I hold no judgements against you."

Mariya's former dress laid out on the bed, Embry pauses in the act of carefully lifting the new choice — cradling it like a precious babe, so as not to wrinkle its fine dark fabric. She stares at the dress with large eyes, not quite seeing what's in front of her, mouth parted. "Uhhh," she answers just to answer rather than fall into odd silence, an inelegant sound that's yet somehow calculating. She fills the space with thought more than nerves, though those itch stiffly at her shoulders. Her earnest answer rings clear and simple. "Yes," she says, swinging around with the dress held high for the routine of donning the princess, carrying on like there's been no embarassing question at all. "In the way what matters," she adds more nervously, there blushing under her smattering of freckles and trying to peek at Mariya's eye to question this line of thought.

Knowing that this is an awkward question, Mariya allows Embry to think and answer as she will. She will not pressure the girl. "I am as well." As she meets Embry's gaze, she blushes, attempting to explain herself. "I know many think that all Dornish are wanton, but that is not always the case." She frowns. "Forgive my asking. I was just…I am attempting to figure out…I know many Westerosi would think a marriage forfeit if the bride was not a maid. That is not quite the way in Dorne. It is just that…" She pauses, fretting. "I just…I am to married to a Westosi. But, I am Dornish. And I know he would not spurn me if I am not…if something were…" she is not quite sure how to explain this. Finally, she looks down, blushing a deep, deep scarlet. "It is just…Ser Arrick…"

While there's a solid measure of modesty that skirts Embry's eyes about and has her chewing at her lip, she brightens at the name Ser Arrick in a moment of girlish, conspiratorial excitement. Pressing her forehead down, then, she tries seriously to think these sensitive matters through — and, at the same time, help the princess into her gown. There's a gesture for her to move her arms as her loyal and faintly blushing handmaiden sweeps it over her head. "'m still learning the Dornish customs. It's so— different— in this household than it is— out there…" An adjustment, for the smallfolk Reach girl living in these walls. "I don't know which is more confusin', to be honest. I'm not rightly sure the traditions here in Westeros make sense as it is. Men actin' like they change a woman. But— " conflict warps the shape of her lips. "Now that you're betrothed, princess, I-I'm not sure. It's an important thing, to be betrothed. Honourable. All I know's I wouldn't blame you even still if…" A pause; she quiets, shuffling properly in front of Mariya to meet her eye, "You want to?"

Mariya upholds her arms and allows the new gown to slip over her. As she does so, the blush does not yet leave her face. "Yes, I can imagine the difference." She laughs and grins. "I'm not even sure the Westerosi think they can change their wives. Perhaps they just think they can control them. Luckily, Ser Daevon is not like that. He wishes my happiness - much like I wish his." Speaking of Daevon and Arrick her face turns more serious. "I…I know. That is my worry. If I…" she pauses. When Embry faces her, she is clearly embarrased, but she meets her eyes. "If I had no worries of betrothals or the like, yes. I want to."

Embry takes in this answer and, keeping her gaze on Mariya's, simply nods. She's still trying to work this all out while she pulls fastenings on Mariya's dress. Her thought process is written all over her face, involving much backtracking, thinking and deciding. "The Targaryens — " Blush turns to pale, as she briefly considers that she's somehow betraying the royal family of Westeros by saying, " — wouldn't have to know." She clips another spot on the gown and smooths out the shoulders— fond, then quielling her urge to adjust everything else in sight, as the fabric already falls where it should be and is not in need of her fussing hands. "And they do, your grace. Men. Think they change women by laying with them. Why else would they want a maid on their wedding night? It seems different, with the Dornish."

Once the dress is slipped on, Mariya does not say anything for a moment. With all the fussing and smoothing, it seems there is ample things to fill the bit of silence. The Martell princess grasps her hands in front of her, looking to the floor. "I'm sorry. I've put you in a position. I didn't mean to. But, I know my family thinks differently than the rest of Oldtown. I doubt they would see a problem with taking Ser Arrick as a lover while I am betrothed to another. It does not matter so much in Dorne. Marriages are made for politics and family, yes, but love is not always found there. Passion is passion and is nothing to be ashamed of." She sighs. "But, this is not Dorne. And I've always wished…I've dreamed that my marriage would never require anyone to look outside of it. That we would love each other."

Embry's eager to assure the princess that whatever she says is all right, but she clamps her mouth shut and listens instead as the fine-tuning of the dress comes to a neat close. Question twists her lips (particularly over words like lovers). She steps back, smoothing down her own dress in an idle fussing while examining Mariya's. "D'you not feel the same about Ser Daevon than Arrick, then— d'you think he really were with that sword lady," she ventures hesitantly in a bout of sincere, concerned prompting.

"I love Ser Daevon," Mariya admits, hands moving to tug a bit on the ends of he hair. "But, not in the same way as Ser Arrick. And I know he feels the same toward me. He told me of the Lady Bravo the other day. He said that she was in love with him and that all they have done is innocent. I believe him." She pauses, debating saying this next part. Eventually, she says, "But, I do know he's has—-had lovers. And he has said he would not judge me if I took one myself." And yet, if it were truly that simple, this conversation would have far less blushing and far more gossip. "But, the rumor with Ser Daevon was bad enough. What if there were some of me and Ser Arrick? It could break the engagement, angering both my mother and the King of Westeros."

After a relieved smile upon the news that the rumours around Daevon seem unfounded, Embry's already wide-open eyes widen a tiny but important measure further, taking in the gravity of it all. "I s'pose that's true your grace," she agrees, "Things sure is complicated for you nobles. Romantic, though!" She strides off, which by her pace is more of a quick shuffle that hurries her skirt about her feet, to fetch Mariya's brush and wait near the dressing-table. "But, if I may say, princess, one way or another, I don't expect anyone'd be so quick to think such rumours about you. Even if you are Dornish." She pauses to ponder whether or not she regrets saying the last part (she does). "Eve— even if they were true, in this case. I'm sorry, I'm tellin' you one thing an' then the other! I don't know what I'm saying. Were that I had better advice, princess."

"Complicated, yes." Mariya moves to the dressing table and sits down in the chair. "I can hope not. Certainly not now." Though, who knows what people may say or think. The mention of 'even' being Dornish is enough to cause the princess to frown a bit as she thinks this through. "But, if they are true when people speak of it, what can I say?" She sighs. "No, you have been a help, Embry, thank you. I'm not sure there is good advice for this situation. There is - 'follow your heart' and there is - 'follow your duty'. Neither of them seem like they lead the way to proper happiness."

The notion of neither lining up causes Embry to frown, herself. It pinches her face as she stands behind Mariya and begins to brush her hair. The distress doesn't bother her brush; she's gentle and careful with every pull through the dark waves. "That's not right, is it," she says quietly. That is, Mariya's not wrong; the world is, if it won't let happiness and duty cross paths.

"No. It's not." Mariya sighs, feeling melancholy. She allows this to go on for a bit before she has the urge to shake her head. She almost starts to, but then the brush in her hair reminds her that she is supposed to sit still, face forward. "Let us think of something else. We should plan an outing soon. One where I won't have to be 'princess' all the time." Finally, her face breaks out into a smile.

Embry's taken pins from the dressing-table and begun to twist and separate Mariya's hair in preparation to create some manner of style. She brightens out of her own quiet melancholy with a sudden smile, mirroring Mariya's. "You can do whatever you want then!" she says, appearing childlike in her cheer. "Well— almost. Still, it will be fun." A very different outing than the one Embry twists the princess's hair for. "T'will be good to have a change. We could go to the— what's it called. There's a tavern, it's a few blocks. The Fist and Falcoln? Or maybe we'll go all the way to Oldtown Street."

"Yes, within reason." Mariya laughs and attempts to keep still so that Embry can do her work. "And I think it will be fun, too." There's a conspiratorial grin from the princess. "The Fist and Falcon. That sounds as likely a place as any. I've already been to the Quill and Tankard. It might be best to go some place that has never seen me. Not that I would think they would remember one lone Dornishwoman many weeks later. You know the city better than I do, I will bow to your wisdom in choosing the appropriate spot."

"I think plenty'd remember you, your grace, but we'll be smart about it at the Fist," Embry says, highly amused by this conspiracy, now, her gap-toothed smile unintentionally crooked. "We'll work on your disguise."

"Yes. Now that I have obligations, I don't want to ruin anything." However, that doesn't stop her from actually attempting to do the things that may tarnish her reputation. No matter, she has her mind set to it now. "But, I'm looking forward to it." A time when she will be able to shed all her noble problems and take a drink and experience as a common person.

"Me too." The mood from when Mariya first told Embry of her secrets plans to sneak about as smallfolk returns; a girlish conspiracy before the Trial of the Seven struck a very different mood upon the household. She's eager to think on it rather than that— rather than the complicated matters of love and duty that weigh on her princess. Embry bounces once in place as she dutifully does Mariya's hair, a task as content in her hands as though it's no duty at all, simply a favour from one friend to another.

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