(122-03-23) As You Wish, But...
As You Wish, But…
Summary: Ormund and Marsei speak of Dhraegon's courtship.
Date: 23/03/2015
Related: Asphodel, To Understanding, others

Ormund knocks, well after the evening meal.

He's let into his sister's quarters by her handmaiden, who is gently dismissed afterward by Marsei herself, who has risen from her spot at her small table in order to greet him. "Brother," she says, warm, and she's ready with one of her kind smiles; although it's no less sincere than ever, Marsei is altogether reluctant to see Ormund, which is highly unusual for the sweet Hightower who is typically so eager and unerringly loving toward her kin. There exists a dulled mood about her; something casting shadow over her brightness, as it has now and again ever since returning from Cider Hall a widow. Recently the clouds have parted much more frequently, allowing her to shine, her mourning seeming an increasingly distant memory. "What brings you so late?" She looks down, expectant despite her query, seeming somehow burdened by whatever she knows or imagines is next.

Ormund is carrying a couple of glasses, a wine-skin. "Are you all right?" he asks, simply and directly.

She looks up and opens her smiling mouth to give what, ready so quickly, was sure to be a simple polite platitude; instead, she decides to pause and actually gives Ormund's inquiry thought. It takes her a few long seconds. "I am," she determines, optimistic, if only borderline. "I think I am." Her gaze hops from the wineskin to her quarters' small table. "Shall we sit down?" She leads the way. Before she sits down, she — as casually as possible — removes a wooden box from the table which seems to house a … dove? She sets it closer to the window. That's a story for another time. The only other oddity on her table is a small black-and-red pot housing a rare flowering plant.

Ormund follows her. "What is that bird doing?" he asks, looking a little baffled. "And. Mm. Do you want a drink?" he seems unsure of himself.

"Sleeping, I hope, the poor creature," Marsei answers, as if it is entirely natural to have a bird in a box in one's room. "I have been nursing it back to good health." As she settles into a chair, she nods to Ormund and his offer, smiling eagerly, though it is more for the distraction than the wine itself. Her expression evens out, more serious, slightly downcast. "I have just been lost in thought, is all," she says quietly as if to preface or explain herself of late.

"Thoughts of what?" asks Ormund, sitting down. "Wine?" Not a question, exactly, more an offer.

Her eyes have fallen to her lap and don't move as she speaks simply, "Prince Dhraegon came to you."

Ormund nods. "He did," he says, setting the glasses on the little table but not moving to pour. "I didn't know you were so. Interested in marriage. I am sure we can arrange a suitable match. I didn't mean to neglect you…"

"I'm not," Marsei replies rather quickly, her voice small. Her gaze lifts — and keeps lifting, all the way to where the wall meets the ceiling. "Which… is rather the thing," she tries to explain delicately; it's a struggle, and she appears a touch guilty. Her perfect posture mars ever-so-slightly in the shoulders as her hands wring together under the table. "What Dhraegon offers is not quite— like a marriage."

Ormund frowns gently. "Is Dhraegon actually… what you want?" he's baffled.

Marsei's features all pinch at once and only gentle as far as a worried expression. Her pale brows are tense to do it, but she meets her brother's eyes now, hers full of animated, conflicted emotion. "In… a manner of speaking, yes," she manages to get out as though forcing the words through a barrier. "Not romantically," she clarifies gently. "Ever since Jarvas, I have not been able to bear the thought of marriage. But Dhraegon… he is kind, and gentle, and could be a friend to me. An unusual friend, but … he is pure in his way. I would not have to worry about some future arrangement, another marriage. He would place not many burdens upon me— in fact, I expect the greatest burden would not come from him but from the thoughts of others." She looks down, up; her voice becomes tremulous. "Would it shame you?

"He is a Targaryen," replies Ormund flatly. "But." A pause. "You know, my sister, you need not marry at all, if you'd rather not. I can." He shakes his head. "Speak to our father about it if it ever comes to that. You don't need to do this to spare yourself a future husband."

Marsei nods to Ormund — unsurely, as though he's both assured her and unnerved her at once — as she swipes gingerly under one eye with a small knuckle. There are no tears to wipe away, but they're held only tenuously at bay as she struggles quietly to answer her brother's logic. "It is more than that," she lands on but rather than explaining, she sniffs and thinks to ask, "What did he say, exactly, when he spoke to you?"

"He said," says Ormund, "That he wishes to court you." He looks away from her, towards her window. "And that you, also, wish it. Is it true?" He's not looking at her when he asks.

"I agreed to it." Marsei finds herself looking at the flower on the table, its odd spikes and white bloom, but quickly looks instead to toward the window as well. A coincidence; she stares at the wooden box, focusing idly on the gentle rustlings of its inhabitant. "…one day I am content with the possibility of such an uncommon marriage," she admits slowly, "… and the next I fear the entire concept and question what I have done. The next day it is different again." She pauses, vulnerable, then turns practical. "But… would… it be such a terrible thing? As you said, he is a Targaryen… and he would like me to help with his trades to Dorne and beyond."

"He is a Targaryen," agrees Ormund. "And no, it would not be such a terrible thing. Many have made worse matches for their daughters, with older men, and crueler ones, with lesser names, and called it a fine match." He shakes his head. "But it is strange to me that you should want this." A pause. "I would have thought you would be thinking of. Children."

"I guarantee you, brother, it is stranger to me," Marsei says in an attempt at humour that happens to be too painfully true to keep her smile on for long. Her face becomes rather grave, in fact, though her sweet features are only barely capable. "Well," she starts, soft as a murmur, "What of children? I was married to Jarvas for years and had none. Maybe I cannot, anyhow."

"Maybe you can," says Ormund solemnly, still not looking at her. "Do you not want them?"

Conflict wages across her face, wistful smile versus a frown. "Perhaps," she says; it's too light and unclear to hold much weight. "Dhraegon said…" Though she had begun to look at Ormund again, now she very decidedly does not, bringing a curled hand gently to her face, which reddens. "Never mind." Too embarassed for this line of thought, she asks quietly, "Will you pour me some wine, please."

Ormund turns his head to look at her now. There's a question on his face, but he doesn't voice it. He pours wine, instead. Arbor Gold.

Marsei accepts it gratefully, though when she drinks, her sip is modest. "I do not wish to rush into anything for certain," she assures.

Ormund watches her face. "All right," he says. "Do as you wish. But don't." He shakes his head. "… not unless you really want to."

Her head hangs, but her look is sincere up at her brother. She smiles. "Thank you for having my best interests at heart, Ormund." After another drink, she exclaims "oh!" and utterly changes the subject, "It nearly slipped my mind. Maester Leandro was talking about a friend of his; a musical expert he wishes to show our artifact to, but of course I said it was up to you, given the sensitive nature of everything. His name is Madhrigal," a brief pause, "Sand?"

Ormund makes a wry face. "I've heard the name," he says. "I am not happy to find myself believing that Leandro has mentioned our little treasure to some Dornishman. If he wants to ask me, he can ask me, the silly fellow." A shrug, then he watches her face. "Don't be unhappy, my sister," he says after a long moment.

Marsei's knowing smile, while gentle, has much the same effect as Ormund's wry face in that she agrees with his assessment. She gives him a reassuring look upon his last words; it fades quicker than usual. "I do not wish to be. And I don't wish for you to worry about me! I think… there are twists and turns, when it comes to finding happiness."

Ormund laughs at that, softly. He sips his wine, then says, "All right," quietly. "I wish you the best of it."

Marsei accepts this with a grateful nod and raises her glass just a bit. "And I wish yours to continue," she says, smiling more brightly like herself, "with Lynesse."

Ormund's smile warms, a real one. He is indeed happy with that evil twin. "Let me know, my sister, what I can do to warm things for you."

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