(122-04-07) No Harm Done
No Harm Done
Summary: Camillo has questions for Marsei and answers to other questions in a box.
Date: 07/04/2015
Related: The Dolphin Tournament, Your Own Heart, lots of others

Northwest Suite - 7 - The Hightower Battle Island

This is one of the smaller of the Hightower's suites, but it is still grand. It offers a unique view from its large window — from the opening one can overlook the city and see the seven domes and seven towers of the Starry Sept, and the Maidenday Gardens in the middle distance. The window has a wide padded sill large enough for one to sit comfortably and watch the city. The room is decorated to reflect the view, with images of flowers and gardens. Vases of flowers sit on all the tables with beautiful blooms and greenery. In the large sitting room are velvet-cushioned chairs and couches. The dull gray stone flooring is covered with a dark hunter green Myrish carpet trimmed in gold.

On one side of the suite an archway leads into a little dining room, suitable for ten or twelve people, and on the other there is a door leading to a bedroom. In the sleeping chamber a large four poster wooden bed rests in one corner, with a green and gold coverlet and lavish pillows. A matching wardrobe and nightstands are also present in this room. The nightstands boast crystal vases with lily flowers. The wall that leads to the sitting room is equipped with a hearth that heats both rooms should it be needed. In one corner sits a large copper bathtub.

There had been some socializing within the Hightower earlier, but now Marsei keeps herself more or less occupied in the quieter realm of her chambers. She sits in one of the comfortable velvet chairs of her sitting room, her lovely gown rather blending into the lush fabric; speaking of which, several lengths of fabric, from her shopping trip, are laid out on a nearby table in various combinations and something of a small — and rare, for her impeccable room — mess. That project must have been abandoned in favour of needlework, which she works at with a daydreaming half-interest.

She hears a sound at the door — or thinks she does, only to second guess it upon coming out of her daze, pausing thread and needle in hand. She's unattended inside the suite, so calls out half unsure, half welcoming, "Come in?"

Camillo lets himself in quietly, opening the door no more than enough to make space for himself to slip in. He has his battered bag with him, which he usually only carries when he's going outside the tower. He notes the pile of fabrics, and the needlework in the lady's hands. "Am I disturbing you, my lady?"

"Oh," Marsei is surprised, but barely, smiling warmly. "Not in the slightest." She lowers her needlework project, relaxing the thread. It's a different project, now, all blooming pinks and greens, which is more or less the best thing one could say about it. "Sometimes I'm not sure why I bother with this drudgery." Spoken in the most upbeat tone, nevertheless. "Is all well, Camillo?"

"Does it while the time?" Camillo hazards uncertainly, looking at the needlework. He doesn't seem to be judging it particularly. He looks at it as if it were a relatively foreign thing. "Yes, my lady," he responds. "But…are /you/ well, may I ask? I haven't seen terribly much of you, if I may say."

Marsei gives her needlework a considering look that seems to concur that it does pass time, at the very least. "Oh, I'm— " she starts upbeat again, ready to assure and cheerfully hurry through her answer, but she pauses, marking truer thought. "I'm well enough, I think…" she carries on in a more subdued version of the same cheerful voice. "It's a strange time, is all. I do hope you don't worry, Camillo. I know I was upset before, but…" Her head lowers.

"I do worry," Camillo admits, looking from the ground to Marsei's face. His beard has mostly grown back. "Are you…well? Are things clearer to you?"

"A few clouds have been lifted. I do see more clearly now than I did. I do." She lifts her head again, led by a raised chin, confident or, at least, aiming to be so. "Everything will work itself out," she says, sincere, optimistic, and not unlike a mantra. A small, briefly perturbed fluttering of feathers near the window draws attention to the fact the dove still takes up residence here, in its gilded cage, hanging from a curve-topped post that might have once been meant to hang a lamp on. Marsei looks from the bird to Camillo more precisely, insistent, "You needn't worry."

Camillo glances at the bird, then looks back to Marsei. "May I ask, my lady? Do you intend… I only wonder…would you be staying at the Hightower if…?"

She watches Camillo curiously for asking before she answers. "Either way," she supplies. However, the answer —allowing for either option, the if and unspoken if not of the matter — causes a sudden and rather regretful expression to cross her face. She looks down, abandoning her needlework altogether to smooth her hands over her knees.

Camillo inclines his head at that confirmation, then guiltily drops his eyes at her expression. "I'm sorry, my lady," he says. "I've overstepped, it isn't my place to question."

"I cannot blame you for your curiosity, Camillo." For now, her candor toward the servant brightens her out of the expression that briefly plagued her. "Besides which, you've been kinder than anyone toward me about this whole ordeal. You do deserve to know what comes of everything."

Camillo takes a step closer. "But should I refrain from asking about your decision?" he asks quietly, glancing Marsei's way again.

"It isn't that— you know what's silly? I almost feel that I dare not say my decision out loud." Marsei smiles — silly, and sheepish, clearly thinking herself absurd, but sincere all the same. "But you can keep a secret, can't you," she says like it's a given already, rhetorical, pondering. She looks down and to the side, small hands tensing on her lap. "It seems I will remain simply a widow for awhile longer," she admits, ever so quietly; the statement sees the last of her previous smile, not even a polite ghost of it left.

"I can keep one, my lady," Camillo confirms, nodding faintly. He's a little quiet after hearing her decision. "May I ask…do you look…sorry…because you think you'll hurt your suitor? Or because a part of you wants to marry him?"

"In both aspects," she admits further. "In every aspect." Not only sorry, but sad, acutely and emphatically so, but as soon as she allows the expression, she smooths it determinedly away. Chin up.

Camillo looks quietly concerned. "Well…I know you must have thought about it hard," he says. "I won't trouble you with asking all the whys. But I'm sorry if it doesn't make you happy, my lady."

"Would it have the other way, really," Marsei counters softly, shaking her head, but not wanting to delve deeper into the troubled sentiment that starts to gleam in her gaze. Instead, she simply states, "I must be reasonable." She settles back a bit more comfortably in her chair, having become tense without noticing. Her smile appears once more, gently turning the page on the subject. She glances at the bag Camillo carries. "Are you on your way somewhere, then?"

"No, my lady," Camillo admits, turning his head to stare at the bag. "But. I thought I might ask you about this. And I thought…it wouldn't be fair, asking such a private thing without telling anything in return."

Marsei tips her head aside in a burst of surprise and inquisitiveness. "Are you carrying a secret in that bag?" For a moment, all smiles and curiosity, the lady appears rather delighted. "I'd say you needn't, but now you've gotten me curious, and you must." In truth, she has no trouble sobering more respectfully, understanding the exchange; she nods to Camillo, to agree or to beckon, wondering over that bag.

"That's right," Camillo says. "I'll show you it because you've always been kind to me and trusted me, even when it seems to hurt." He goes to kneel by the bag, from which he carefully withdraws the box that is well known to Marsei. "It's presumptuous of me to place us on equal footing, but it would be worse not to." He turns the hinges toward himself so that he can open the box in Marsei's direction. He looks quite solemn about it all, possibly guilty. Inside, on a folded piece of fine, plush fabric, is the dolphin necklace from the tourney.

Although Marsei looks upon the familiar box with keen interest, she's not surprised by the appearance of the box itself — to her, it seemed a likely holder of secrets. But when it's opened, her brows press down, shadowing her face in concern and confusion. "Camillo, is this…" She reaches out to touch the wooden corners while her eyes are utterly fixed on the fine jewelry. "This is from the Dolphin Festival. The tourney. Why do you have it?"

Camillo lets Marsei touch the box, looking aside to some corner of the room. "I know it is," he confirms. "I bought it. It isn't stolen," he seems keen on having her know. But he doesn't seem terribly proud of having bought it.

"She did sell it then, the woman from the crowd— ? But… why did you buy it? And how?" Marsei inquires, still confused, but clearly thinking; when she looks up from the necklace to its apparent owner, she's perplexed, but her gaze is clever.

"The very next day," Camillo says, looking at the box. "After one night in it, she sold it." He pauses before answering at least one of her questions. "I had some money saved up before I started here."

"Yes, but," Marsei poses her skepticism as gently as possible; it may sound more incredulous as a result, "… to buy a dolphin necklace?" She pauses, allowing good humour seep in around her rather more serious intent to get to the bottom of this. "I have to say, I don't know that it's your style." She lets her hands drift away from the box and leans back, watching and waiting on Camillo's further explanation.

Camillo closes the box when Marsei moves away. "No, of course I'd never…" he says, glancing up as if unsure whether Marsei is mocking him or simply flummoxed by the situation, or something else. "I know I shouldn't have it," he says. "But someone was going to, it was just sat on the counter. You yourself, you said it wouldn't do any harm. She'd need the money from selling it, he'd want her to and never expect to see it again."

"You're right about that," Marsei allows easily, a smile ready at the corners of her mouth as she ponders it through. "I should think you did do her a favour. An expensive favour." She's quick to arrive at a conclusion: "You should keep it."

"I didn't buy it from her, I bought it from the shop she sold it to," Camillo says, though he seems to know a bit about when exactly she sold it. He crouches to put the box away. "I probably shouldn't," he admits. "You're right that it's a waste, if nobody wears it."

"Her to the shop to you, and all in need of coin. That necklace is as good as any coin. Better! An investment. It is beautiful, but never as much to the old woman the moment Ser Malcolm gave it to her. That's what was cherished. The way I see it…" Marsei purses her half-smiling lips and nods. "It's not a waste. Nothing is lost, only you've gained a prettier bit of wealth."

Camillo pulls the flap of his bag over the opening to cover up the box again. "I've never seen someone do something like that, and mean it," he says quietly, standing up again. He glances over at the bag. "Good investment," he repeats as though the thought hadn't occurred to me. "As long as it isn't stolen, I suppose. If it were, no one would ever believe I owned it."

"I did wonder over your interest in the fate of the necklace," Marsei admits gently, hearkening back. She looks to the bag where the box now hides. "It— it does look…" she trails delicately, "… a little…" Odd, suspicious, something, for a servant to own such a piece; she implies it without accusation, only trying to look out for him, but her worry is short-lived. "Well, you'll keep it safe!" But she backtracks as a thought occurs. "You don't think it was stolen— ?"

Camillo looks down when she so haltingly and delicately implies that it is suspicious for a person of his standing to have it. "I am certain it wasn't," he says, looking up. He does sound certain, indeed.

"Good!" Marsei all but cheers. "How do you know for certain?" It's that curiosity that prompts her to ask, not suspicion or even doubt that Camillo could know; the distinction is quite buoyantly clear in her pleasantly inquiring gaze.

Camillo looks up just a tad sharply, though it's hard to say if that's ill feeling toward Marsei or a reflection of his dedication to getting his hands on this prize. "Because I followed her to see to it that it wouldn't be. I followed her to her house where they celebrated, and I waited the night through, and I followed to the jeweler's the next morning where she sold it." Even though he's explaining that he /didn't/ steal it, the utterance has a ring of confession.

Yet Marsei's contemplation of Camillo is one of admiration. She gives him a bit of a funny look for the way in which he spoke rather than what he said, then smiles warmly. "You went through all that trouble? You were very devoted to seeing it through," she commends. "Thank you, for telling me. I don't think you have anything to be guilty about, Camillo, yet … you seem worried by it."

Camillo tightens the corners of his mouth a little. "I think it's wrong," he says. "But. It seemed a shame for it to be sold off to just anyone. That is…I'm no better than anyone, but at least I know where it came from and how it was won."

"I think … that's a very considerate way of looking at it," Marsei says sincerely, trying to see it from Camillo's point of view. "I suppose I'm glad the little dolphin has found a safe home for now as well." She thinks a moment. "You know, if you ever need the money it holds, but don't wish to send the necklace off into the wilds… don't hesitate to tell me; it can always be placed in for next year's tourney, and you'd be compensated its worth," she offers, a touch on the tentative side; it almost seems too business-like, after the dolphin necklace's adventure and its care from Camillo.

Camillo hunches his shoulders. "I don't think I could sell it unless things were very bad," he says. "Unless…that's your way of saying it would be better off with the Hightowers."

"No, Camillo," she reassures, made all the kinder by her gentle and genuine way. "You should do whatever you choose with it."

Camillo looks almost puzzled by Marsei's manner, brows drawing together. "You're a very kind lady," he says.

"Am I," she wonders, "I hope to be." She smiles gratefully, considering Camillo quietly before picking up her needlepoint again, although she doesn't have any particularly insistent desire to get to work on it.

"Yes, my lady," Camillo says rather insistently. "But…why does it seem to me that you're always willing to see the good in others, but you might not extend yourself the same courtesy?"

Although Marsei has every intent to answer, her attempt to bring such thoughts to words, let alone to say them, proves too big a task — and too much. For now, she smiles; she shakes her red head ever-so-slightly. "Oh, I don't know…" she breathes, airy, in a self-aware sort of way; the way that expresses she might know, but also knows it's not a tale for today.

Camillo inclines his head at the tone. "I've troubled you long enough as it is," he says, and gathers up his bag. "I…hope you'll be well, my lady," he wishes her sincerely, then slips out of the room once more.

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