(122-07-15) Hindsight
Summary: Torren and Alaeyna talk a little bit about the past, and a little bit about the future.
Date: 07/15/2015

The preparations for the wedding have continued to move along, as these things do. Torren has been involved in some of that, but he also has other duties that cannot be neglected. Consequently, he has been quite busy in the last week or so. At the moment, however, he's found a brief respite, and Princess Visenya is elsewhere, so he is not entertaining her. He's sitting by himself in the gardens, some half-forgotten food in front of him and a thoughtful look on his face.

Alaeyna approaches Torren's back, and if the sound of her sandals on the stones doesn't give her away, maybe her perfume does. "Hello, darling," she says against his ear, going in for a kiss to his cheek from over his shoulder. She smells like something else that's a little bit familiar. Someone else? In any case, she helps herself to a vacant seat at the garden table, one hand smoothing absently over the swell of her stomach, the other reaching cheekily to help herself to some flatbread from the prince's plate. She offers Torren a mildly apologetic look and says, "I'm ravenous, and you look like you're longing for my company."

The smell is distinctive, yes, and the kiss on his cheek more so. Torren smile, and actual smile, not one that he tends to get with most people. "My lady," he says, just the slightest of teasing leans on this title. "How do you always know?" He leans back a little bit, looking her over, "I believe you have more use for my meal than I do. How are you enjoying the festivities?" This is said just a little dryly.

Since he more or less surrenders the plate, Alaenya slides it closer to herself, popping an olive in her mouth and chewing it lazily while she gives Torren the same look-over he offers her. "Oh, splendidly!" she replies, and it doesn't even sound totally sardonic. "There was a time your princess had her sights on your brother, and I had mine on cutting her tiny throat. But this? Much more agreeable." She flashes Torren a toothy smile, sucking some juice off her finger thereafter.

The mention of his brother gets a short laugh, about halfway between amused and wry, and Torren nods. "She mentioned as much," he says idly, as though it's of no importance, but the look he gives her may suggest that Visenya did, indeed, mention. Everything. "I do think that this is far more agreeable, yes. I have already lost one wife. Should I lose another, people may begin to talk, and I have no desire to become known as Prince Torren the Black Widower."

"More's the pity. It's got rather a nice sound to it. The Black Widower." Alaeyna snags another olive and then leans back against the chair, smiling at Torren before turning her face up to the sun. She sighs, contentedly. "I just had my eyes on him," she says, absently. Alaryn, of course. That much is obvious when she adds, "And my tongue." Heavy with child, but no less brazen or shameless for it. She's got nothing else to say about Visenya, but in that moment when he'd given her that look, she offered him one of her own, and it hinted at satisfaction.

Torren reaches for his wine and takes a sip, looking at her over the top of his cup. "You and Alaryn," he muses, his smile tilting a little bit crookedly at the blatant statement. "An interesting pairing. If I thought either of you were interested in settling down, I might have suggested it. I think I should like to call you 'sister.'" He leans back, setting the cup down again, but he doesn't let go, turning it absently in his hand. "But I suppose I should despair of that notion, should I not?" His words are still more teasing than serious.

Her hand still on her belly, Alaeyna turns her face from the sun, letting her dark, glittering stare alight on the heir to House Martell. "Who am I to wed a prince of Dorne?" she asks airily, as though she were some dusty desert lass. She doesn't miss the quirk to his smile, and she seems serene even as he teases her. "No worse than some of the things you've had occasion to call me in my eight-and-twenty years," she gives back like she gets, leaning forward to put her hand on his and wrest the cup away. Slaking her thirst on some of his strongwine, she adds, all of a sudden seriously, "The Prince of Ashes wants to take me to wife. To give the babe his name when it comes."

There's another laugh at this; no one can make him laugh like she can. Torren relinquishes his cup readily, shaking his head a little bit, "Much better than some, as you well know." When she becomes more serious, his smile fades, too, and he leans his forearms against the table, clasping his hands as he studies her. "The Targaryens seem to have developed a taste for spice," he comments, but his next words are more straightforward. "And what do you think about that?"

Alaeyna Fowler, Fury of Skyreach, reknown xenophobe, answers his straightforward question with a straightforward answer. "I think we are fools." She indulges in a little more of Torren's wine, eyeing him over the rim of the cup like he'd done her just moments earlier, putting it back down in front of him when she's had her fill. "The Dragons have always longed for Dorne's capitulation, and now they will breed it into our sons and daughters. One Martell at a time." Her tone is thick with disdain.

Torren's face is much more impassive now as he listens, the thoughtful look that he had been wearing back in full force. Though he can't help but quip, "No child of yours will ever learn to capitulate. I doubt they will have that in them." But he does nod, tapping his clasped hands a few times on the table as he considers. "The Targaryens want power," he finally says, "the more the better. Perhaps, by us uniting with the branch so far from the throne, we shall have the upper hand, and not them."

Alaeyna smiles a smug smile. Maybe it's prompted by what he says, no child of hers, the truth of it resonating at her very core. "No child of mine will sit on the Spear seat, either," she says in retaliation, leveling the Martell prince with a meaningful stare. "Their proximity to the Targaryen king makes no matter. Having blood in common encourages the having of other things in common." She is resolute in this, as she has always been, for it's not like the first time they've had conversations such as this one. Helming House Fowler has only encouraged her outspokenness, age and experience and power lending her the courage of her convictions. In contrast to the Martell appetite for diplomacy, she is black and white in her rejection of the same.

There's a hand held up when she says this, as though in surrender, and this time Torren's laugh is both amused and resigned. "That is quite true," he acknowledges. "So then I may assume that I should not expect an invitation to your wedding to Prince Maelys? How fitting that he is the Prince of Ashes, as his dreams for that are destined to die unrealized." He shakes his head again, as though in sorrow, though the smile still playing on his face belies that. "A pity. You would look well as a bride. But then, you always look well."

Alaeyna is content to let him laugh, and to return it with a smile, pinching a bit of cheese from the plate and devouring it. She shrugs off his question, rather like she doesn't know the answer herself, and says merely, "Who among us knows what tomorrow brings?" She's easy company, not one to cling to a mood or a sentiment, but neither one prone to falseness as so many must be in pursuit of Martell favor. She's making to rid a blood orange of its peel when he quips as he does, and she flicks a bit of the skin in his direction, replying in kind, "Shirk your mother's will and let us put paid to your words, my prince." Her dark stare sparkles with the taunt.

It's probably for precisely this reason that Torren likes her so much — at least, this is surely one of the reasons. He hasn't always been the heir, and while he was always a Martell, being born the third child does not at all mean that one will ascend. But it had ended up that way, and Alaeyna had never treated him differently once it had, unlike so many. It's that, as much as anything else, that solidified their bond.

One eyebrow raises at her last words, even as he moves to knock the bit of orange peel away. "If I thought for a moment you meant that, all my mother's well-laid plans might be in real danger," he says, reaching across to grab an olive from his relinquished plate and pop it into his mouth. "But I have never recovered from when we were children and you spurned my advances of giving you a kitten instead of a ring."

And now it is Alaeyna's turn to laugh. She does, with delight rather than derision, all her fondness for the Martell prince writ large in her stare. The rest of the peel is abandoned on the plate, rather than launched in his direction, and she splits the orange down the middle, offering him one of the halves. Peeling one of the segments from hers, she teases, "A few summers your junior, and yet somehow I was the one with all the sense. Still am, though, aren't I?" She sinks her teeth into the bit of blood orange, savoring it for how lush and ripe it is. "Still, I seem to recall you recovered well enough your last summer at the water gardens to teach me what you'd managed to learn of kissing. It's stood me in good stead, these past years."

Torren accepts the half, peeling off a piece of his own, and he nods at her words, as though acknowledging a hit. "Beautiful women will always cause us to lose our sense," he says with a little shrug, as though this should be obvious. And let's be honest, it probably is. "How fortunate that I could assist you to perfect your technique, so that you could then put it to good use with my brother." He takes another bite of orange, before continuing, "Of course, if I never kissed anyone who Alaryn has also kissed, I should not do much of it anymore."

"And certainly not with your lady wife," Alaeyna parries with a grin and a wink of her eye, as though in challenge. But of Alaryn, she says, "He's taught me a thing or two besides. But I shan't repay you in kind, lest I scandalize you utterly." Of a sudden she glances about the garden, down each of the two paths that converge on this spot, as if in search of him.

"Indeed not," Torren says of the first words, that amused look still on his face. "How dull that would be for both of us, if I kept her at arm's length simply because of a tryst with my brother." He leans back, finishing off the orange half, and he turns his head to follow her gaze down that path, then looks back to her, as though he knows exactly what's on her mind. "You know how I dislike scandal," he says, a bit sardonically, since of course, this is Dorne. 'Scandal' means something very different here. But he gets a little more serious when he continues, "There was a time where I dreamed of nothing so much as that, to move past kissing with you. But perhaps it was wiser that we never did. The past looks different now, does it not?"

"Mmm," Alaeyna murmurs in response to the first, devouring another fat sliver of the blood orange, and then another, her attention restored to the prince presently in her company. She offers him a pleased smile, equal parts nostalgic and affected by the sentiment he voices. "So it does," she agrees, of the past. "How lucky we are to have navigated it without the misfortune of hindsight to spoil it all for us." Her smile spreads into a mischevious grin as she goes on, "And how charming you are, my prince, summoning the heat to my cheeks now just as expertly as you did then, and with aught but a sweet word." She sinks her teeth into the last segment of the blood orange, leaning forward to see if there's any wine left in the cup.

"We are," Torren agrees. "I much prefer you as a lifelong friend than a brief lover." There is a little bit of wine left, though not much, but Torren seems to have given up that he is going to have it, and so he merely pushes the cup a little bit closer to her. "Call it a gift," he says of his putative charm. "Since I did not inherit the martial talent that my brother has, I must make due with my tongue to fill the breach." There's a little suggestive lean on the word 'tongue,' just enough to lend it a different connotation.

Alaeyna does not hesitate to take the wine he offers her; she drains the cup, her throat working with the brief effort, and sighs with satisfaction when it is done. "And you have left me well and truly sated, between the wine and the food and the whisper of that silver tongue," she tells Torren with a grin, putting down the chalice and letting her fingertips ghost the back of his hand as she teases, "My lifelong friend. I only hope I've spoiled you with my fine company, or else I think I've had the better of it."

"Then my objective has been completed," Torren replies, "and I can go to bed tonight knowing that at least I have done one productive thing today. As well as enjoyable." He gives a little bit of a weary sigh as though to denote his other duties which are perhaps not quite as pleasant, but it's mostly in jest, it seems, since he smiles a second after, which widens a little bit at that light touch to his hand. "As always," he confirms, "your company is welcomed and appreciated. I may selfishly wish that you deny your Prince of Ashes, because being a wife may take up so much of your time that I shall never see you."

Alaeyna rises at length, with such a sigh in echo of his to give proof that she laments doing it at all. "I won't delay you further, darling," she tells the Martell prince, rounding his side to stoop and deliver him a kiss to each of his cheeks, parting ways just the same as she'd greeted him earlier. "How selfish indeed. But while we're making wishes, I'll hope the same sad fate does not befall you when you become a husband." She offers a jaunty cock of an eyebrow as she peels off Torren's side, pinching the lobe of his ear between the tips of two fingers in passing affection.

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