(122-03-12) Your Own Heart
Your Own Heart
Summary: When Princess Visenya bursts in distraught, she leaves a wave of distress in her wake that Camillo tries to temper.
Date: 12/03/2015
Related: Blessing In Disguise, To Understanding

The Hightower - Marsei's Chambers

By the next day, Camillo has pulled himself together and is once more a faithful servant. He perhaps rises even earlier than usual to work at accomplishing his tasks so that he will have time to pay a call upon Marsei, with a couple of small pouches in hand. He knocks at her door. "My lady," he says softly, so that she will know who he is. He's cleaned up and neat today, but there is stubble upon his chin that keeps him from looking entirely fastidious.

He's allowed entrance without a word and without the lady moving an inch; Siva takes up the duty of opening the door. She herself is wordless, as she often is, simply standing aside to let Camillo pass. Marsei is seated at the table near the lofty window, dressed fastidiously in green, but there is some evidence that she has not completely prepared for the day yet, as her hair is all down, not festooned with any decoration. She's quietly watching the inhabitant of the borrowed box, which she's placed right in front of her next to a small, peculiar spiked plant with a white flower in a black-and-red pot. It takes her a moment to look up; when she does, it is predictably with a kind smile. "Camillo," she greets, "come, see the dove. Does it not look better?"

Camillo slips inside with a glance at Siva, then cautiously approaches Marsei and her little patient. He peers at the little bird and nods softly. "Have you given it any feed, my lady?" he asks.

The dove sits upon a bed of clean straw and even has reeds for a floor, at least protecting the bottom of the box somewhat from its habitancy. "Seeds and bread," Marsei replies, a touch of pride in her optimism for nurturing the wayward creature. "And water. It drinks more than it eats." She gives the bird a fond look, peeking closer into the box peek. "Have you brought its medicine?"

There is a knocking at the door. It's a rather sheepish looking servant who is leading a rather impatient looking Visenya. "The Princess Visenya." The servant announces when Siva opens the door. Visenya bustles past poor Siva with a rather distressed look on her face.

"Yes, my lady, a little more to keep the fever down and let it sleep." Not that he actually knows that there's a fever, but even if there isn't, the herb should be harmless. He turns when the princess is announced and takes a few steps back from Marsei and bird, bowing to Visenya. He looks different than usual, thick beard pared back to a light stubble.

"Good," Marsei tells Camillo. She's is in the midst of gingerly petting the dove's little head, fevered or not, when she suddenly receives the noble guest. "Princess Visenya!" Her startled first impression keens gently toward concern as she realizes the Targaryen's hurry. She presses palms upon the table as if to stand, but stills, beckoning Visenya with a gesture instead. "Come sit, you look distraught! Has something happened?"

Visenya wanders over to where Marsei has indicated she ought to sit. She gives the dove a disinterested glance as she settles into her chair. She puts her hands in her lap, and rubs one thumb with the other. "I…I spoke to Prince Dhraegon last night. It's the strangest thing." She moves from rubbing her thumbs, "He says that he likes you and he is hoping to court you." She blinks then. Once. Twice. "You aren't hoping to marry Dhraegon Targaryen, are you?"

Camillo fades back a bit, but…he doesn't leave the room. Even though that would be polite.

Marsei is intent upon Visenya, empathetic, right up until she says "Dhraegon". Her face falls upon realization and she sits back straighter in her chair, abandoning the dove and the wooden box it sits in, clasping her hands in her lap. The dove makes a quiet coo like its pigeon brethren, out of place in the fine chambers. "Is that why you've come in such distress?" she asks tentatively, discomfited. "Because of that?" Outside the box, the flowered plant on her table, in its telltale black-and-red pot, draws her eye and then seems to burn it; she looks down, quite the picture of sadness. Her hair falls uncommonly in her face, not yet styled for the day. "It is not a … simple thing."

"Yes because of that." Visenya says, and glances about in a manner that suggests she thinks she must be taking crazy pills or something. "I just…" She falls quiet as if lost for words before finally gathering up the nerve to say. "Do you know that when he is frightened, and he is always frightened, he hides under the bushes in the garden for days? I just…I know I'm probably meddling, but you are my friend, and I don't want to see you in a situation where you don't have all of the facts regarding him."

Camillo clasps his hands in front of him and keeps his gaze leveled downward so that he will seem to intrude less. A good servant has mastered this unobtrusive gaze at nothing.

"Yes," Marsei answers with a tinge of discomfort in her soft voice that may be guilt for knowing and yet still being in this situation. She begins to give Visenya a reassuring smile, but it falters too easily, too quickly. Her gaze does not make it all the way to the other woman's eyes, returning to her lap. "Camillo," she says quietly, without looking, "would you give my dove its herbs? I would not wish it to suffer."

Visenya stands up from her chair. "Just…think on what you're doing. Please." She gives Marsei a concerned look, "You don't have to marry him just because he's a Prince, you know. Maybe you thought marriage to him would keep you from having to marry another man who would demand things from you, but I believe Prince Dhraegon has.." As she says this a shudder of disgust ripples through her, "romantic designs on you." Her lips purse, "I…you look like you're busy. Have a lovely day." She turns her head to give Camillo a light nod, and strides towards the door.

"Yes, my lady," Camillo says softly, and steps forward to efficiently do just that, never lifting his eyes from his task except when he senses the princess's nod, which he returns with a deeper and more respectful one.

Marsei lifts her head abruptly, eyes filling with vivid alarm as the disgusted princess rises. Her lips part to speak out urgently, to call Visenya back and somehow explain, but she only watches worriedly as Siva — who is staring very determinedly at the floor — opens the door to let her depart. While Camillo tends to the dove, Marsei sits very still, her head down, mimicking a sullen little statue of herself.

Camillo lets a long quiet moment elapse, seeing to the bird more than is strictly necessary. At long length, he ventures, "My lady, it is not my right to ask. But…what is your reason for considering the prince's suit?"

Marsei is even quieter than the dove, with its ghostly feathers just barely rustling at the edge of hearing as it comes 'round; her head lifts, but she does not look at Camillo. She does not look at anything. The on-and-off tensing of her slender neck is the only potential sign that she's processed his question. It's also the only warning — a scarce one — for what comes next: the sudden planting of her elbows on the table and her palms against her eyes as she's racked with a sob that seems too fierce for her small frame. "Is this my fate now?" she cries, bereft. "To be questioned and and thought of in disgust?" Her hands squeeze tight, fingertips pulling her hairline; overwhelmed, the lady sobs, "Oh, what have I done!"

Camillo keeps his eyes and fingers on the dove while Marsei is quiet, but when she explodes, he turns toward her, pale eyes open, then blinking once. "No, not by me, lady," he says, reaching out to put his fingertips to her shoulder, though even this over-familiar movement is cautious. "Forgive me. There may be some who think such things, but I wanted only to understand your mind."

Siva is beckoned by her lady's distress, coming to stand behind her chair. "I— do not— know that there is anyone who could understand my mind, when I myself do not," Marsei struggles to say, high and quavering between sobs that threaten to leave her breathless. She sinks down toward the table, inadvertently away from Camillo's well-meaning touch, burdened, leaning her head into her forearms. She composes herself just enough to speak without gasping, looking up with teary, reddened eyes. "Visenya was right in part. He places no demands on me. He is so— unlike other men."

Camillo draws his hand back and steps back a few paces to cede the ground to Siva. "Might that not be good, for some?" he ventures quietly. "A man who makes no demands? I have heard women speak who sound as if they might envy that, in the right circumstance."

Marsei nods in response, her tumultuous mood lending an over-eager nature to the gesture. Tears shake loose and she wipes at them fruitlessly with her fingers until Siva hand a square of cloth over her shoulder. "He is gentle in his way, and offers me freedoms I may not have with another husband, and … " She searches for words, or attempts to choose one thought from another; she shakes her head while dabbing beneath her eyes. "… safeties and purpose I do not have without one. I convinced myself it was worth it," she says, another bout of crying sounding as though it's just the corner.

"Might it not be, then?" Camillo returns softly, watching Marsei carefully. "Whoever a woman marries, there is gossip. This is as true in the servants' quarters as in nobles' banquet halls. "If you marry a man old and wealthy they will say you wait for him to die to get claws on his money. If you marry a man young and handsome they will say you are filled with lust and foolishness. If you marry a man who is short, or tall, or fat, or skinny, some people will laugh and make sport of it because it makes their own lives feel less hollow and their own decisions feel less stupid," he says, tone uncharacteristically harsh toward the end of that pronouncement, though the harshness is of course not aimed at Marsei herself. "But are you really a woman to have her life guided by the wagging of idle tongues?"

Marsei grasps at all comfort, literally and figuratively; she reaches over her shoulder to clutch Siva's hand tightly while she is rapt by Camillo's words, able to focus on them rather than devolving into tears, even for a moment. A flash of her empathy resurfaces in her unusually bleary gaze when she notices the harsh turn his voice takes, but her own problems flood all around her. "What if I am?" she asks, sincere and rhetorical at once, forlorn despite her efforts to allow herself to be uplifted. "It is beyond me! Oh, I get so anxious," she despairs, curling her fist around the handkerchief and pressing it to her cheek. "I allowed this with Dhraegon to carry forward for selfish reasons and yet I fear it for the same! I am selfish, I— !" She starts sobbing.

"If you are, then that is your own decision," Camillo says more softly, "But if you would be above mockery, that is a game that only the blandest and stillest people have any chance of winning." He tucks his chin a little, but does not cease looking at Marsei. "All people are selfish," he says. "If we were not, we would die. All we can hope for is our own desires aligning with those of others. If yours align with his, then who is injured?"

Ceasing breathing, for that seems to be the only way in which to cease her sobs, Marsei looks to Camillo hopefully, as if wishing he had all the answers. Yet as sobs push at her emotions and rend her smooth features tense and ruddy, she appears to be gearing up to refute him instead. She looks down, trying to fend off that urge, trying to smile. "Then I will hope," she says, small, "hope that is the case this time."

"Perhaps…" Camillo ventures quietly, hesitates, and then continues: "Perhaps if you were honest with him. I know that he is rumored to be simple-minded, but perhaps if you told him your fears , he would listen. Surely he could tell you best if you are injuring him or not. If it is he you are afraid of hurting. Do you think, my lady, that he will have an offer from anyone more kind than you?"

"Who else would accept him?" she replies, saddened on Dhraegon's behalf. And on her own. She nods more thoughtfully, agreeing. Her long-lashed eyelids droop nearly closed. All of this has tired the noblewoman out. She looks to Camillo, though, on a new thought. "Do you— know Prince Dhraegon? He seemed to… recognize you in some fashion, at the ball…"

Camillo tilts his head slightly. "I have met him a few times in passing," he says, "But…when I was injured in the fight with the poisoners, he saw me taken into his manse. They installed me in my own bed, in a fine room, as if I were a knight and not…I had not even work in those days. I was nothing. But his house was generous, even if I saw little of him." He recounts this with quiet earnestness.

"He is kind," she says with a distant fondness, mostly addressing the table as she says so. She abandons the handkerchief and Siva's comfort in order to pull the box closer and fuss idly over the dove. "The way the sweetest children are kind before they learn that others are cruel." She's absent the cynicism such a statement asks for. Her voice has gone slightly hoarse and dull. "Thank you Camillo."

Camillo bows his head. "I have said more than I have a right to," he says. "But I would not see you suffer at gossip and misunderstanding."

"I will remember your words," she says in gratitude. Her own words don't quite have their usual warmth, but that doesn't mean the intent isn't there. She hugs the box to her. "I would rest now."

Camillo gives a little bow. "Forgive my intrusion," he says, and heads toward the door. He hesitates there. "My lady," he says, though he doesn't turn back to face her, "My words are not so important as your own heart. I would see you happy rather than dutiful in any case." And with that, he goes.

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