(122-08-10) Choices
Summary: Visenya and Marsei try to reconcile.
Date: 10/08/2015
Related: Your Own Heart, Seeds of Peace plot

Butterfly Garden - Lower Gardens - The Hightower Battle Island

A fork in one of the paths leads to this spot, nestled away amid the bushes. The young shrubs and flowers here were carefully selected to attract butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds. In fair weather and season, the little garden is graced with bright wings and song. There are ornately carved birdhouses, some made to resemble a few of Oldtown's more famous buildings. Hanging from tall spiral-wrought iron hooks are hummingbird feeders in the form of oversized blown-glass lilies and irises in glittering and fanciful colours.

The Butterfly Garden is positioned to have a particularly pleasant view of the ships in the Whispering Sound. A few smaller tables and benches are set among the flowers and rare herbs to take best advantage of the vista.

At the heart of the garden is a stone fountain featuring a statue of a woman strewing water droplets from her fingertips like they are petals from the broad shallow basket she carries. The basket doubles as a bird bath for those avian visitors who might prefer it to the little ornamental pond at the statue's feet, where the droplets from her fingers and the stream from the basket splash among water lilies of pink and yellow and white. The stone lady stands ankle deep in the water, and tiny colourful fish flit about her bare feet.

It is the mid-afternoon. While the thick stone of the Hightower makes for a relatively stable temperature inside it is still summer, and it can be a little stifling during the day. And so Visenya sought refuge in one of the Hightower's terrace gardens. The lower garden is high enough to catch some pleasant breezes without being horribly stifling. She is clad in the garments of her husband's people; a flowing sandsilk gown dyed a dark crimson like the spear pierced sun of House Martell. She looks a little more mature than when she rather promptly was taken from Oldtown to Dorne to marry, but perhaps that is just the outfit.

Songbirds sing more sweetly in the new part of the garden than any other, and it is there, behind the fountain with its statue of an elegant woman carrying a waterbasket, that Lady Marsei takes her own moment of peace in the fresh air. She wears a flowing, sleeveless gown on this warm summer day, a youthful happy pink that brings out the freckles in her complexion. The soft hue is is not especially suited to her House colours — reminscent of the Hightower itself and the mighty beacon above — nor her future House Targaryen, but she favours it. She's watching the colourful little fish dart about in the pool when she notices the crimson sandsilk. The moment she realizes that it Visenya who wears the Dornish dress, her eyes are doe-like, despite their seawater colour, startled even though she expected the princess to be nearby. It could be Visenya's new wardrobe, but— no, although that warrants a study, it's a cautious sort fright in the Hightower's gaze… and hopeful, as it turns out. She nears by a few steps. "Visenya," she starts, warm but testing.

Visenya turns when she hears her name, and looks over the Hightower for a moment or two before she also takes a step towards the other woman. "Marsei." She says in return, and she stops when they stand in front of each other. While the sunshine in the Reach could never change the Targaryen princesses' fair complexion it seems the harsh sun of Dorne has added color to her skin where there was none before. It is subtle, but there all the same. She hesitates a moment before asking, "How are you?" It is the sort of question that could mean something or it could mean nothing, but her tone suggests that she genuinely wants to know.

"I'm well," Marsei replies, sounding sincere, her buoyant self, yet the answer is hurried. "I received your letter. I wanted to see you straight away, but I … I was pulled away. You…" She starts to smile, distracted from seeing the expression through by truly taking in the sight of the Targaryen turned Dornish princess. "You look different," she says, and the smile comes to fruition.

"I may still not be completely well." Visenya says, and then she glances downwards for a moment as if ashamed before she looks back up at Marsei, "Someone tried to kill my husband. A viper hidden in a wedding present." She smiles a smidgen, but it is a bit pained. "It bit me on the arm." She holds out her left hand then and turns it to show her the still bruised place where she was bit. "I nearly died." But she has made a suitable recovery because beyond the mark there is no sign that she is still ill. "I confess I sent the letter because, well…we didn't part on the best of terms."

Shock animates and then freezes Marsei's features. "No! You look well. A snake? Oh, what you must have been through!" The mark on Visenya's arm might as well be a flame, and Marsei a moth, for she hurries with gentle outstretched hands as if to touch it with an outpouring of concern. It's the elbow of the princess that she means to take, though, with the intent to lead her to one of the pretty benches set up throughout the garden. "Let's take a seat, shall we? I should have went to see you sooner, when you were still in Oldtown," she says with clear regret, looking to the path at her feet. "I was never angry with you, not truly. I didn't know how to explain myself, and— I was frightened by what you might think."

Visenya lets Marsei steer her towards a bench without resistance, and she turns to sit down with the other woman. "I don't remember this garden from my last visit to the Hightower, but then I never lived here so perhaps it escaped my notice?" She looks to Marsei then, and returns to the topic at hand. "It…well…Prince Dhraegon said something disturbing to me. After the party we threw. That liquor I was able to procure. He…" She bites her lips as if it's difficult to say, "He wanted me to get some for him. And then he told me some personal things that I really never wanted to hear from him." She sighs, "It's none of my business what you do when you are wed. They did not tell me that I was going to marry Prince Torren, and I thought they would punish me for Daevon's insults by marrying me to one of The Ruling Princesses' brothers, and they are quite old. So, I suppose I was projecting onto you. Because the idea of marrying an old man is unappealing to me." She doesn't mention that Dhraegon is also rather unstable mentally.

Marsei, herself, appears a bit disturbed, concern faintly marring the spot between her soft brows. The expression gentles but remains as she's quiet in thought for a moment. She shifts neatly on the bench to better face Visenya as she speaks. "I'm glad you were not married to one of the ruling princess's brothers," she says in earnesty, "but what one of them might… have expected of you is not the same of what Dhraegon expects of me. Or of himself. I know he was worried then that he could not be a proper husband, but we…" She struggles to voice these matters, pausing to fret, but she's insistent to tell Visenya all the same. "We have an understanding. Ours shan't be a traditional partnership. How could it be," she manages a small smile, a light good-natured jest. "Also…" she begins, but bites her lip and trails off uncertainly.

Visenya looks relieved when Marsei says that she will not have a 'traditional' marriage with Dhraegon. She actually even lets out a gust of air her relief is so great. "Then if your marriage to Prince Dhraegon will make you happy…" She reaches for one of Marsei's hands and squeezes it, "Then I am happy for you." She hesitates when Marsei begins to say something, but doesn't finish. "What is it?" She asks with a concerned little frown.

Marsei looks up out of her uncertainty with eyes near welling with her own relief, smiling bright, only to settle into seriousness. "I know it goes without saying that all I've said is in confidence…" Yet she needs the reassurance of saying it out loud. "But even Dhraegon does not know that in the days before and after you came to see me, I was in such conflict with myself that I wasn't going to go through with it," she confesses. "And then, suddenly, word came from King's Landing — my father said that I was to be wed to Dhraegon." Guilt pulls at her delicate features, but her shoulders relax and she breathes out, lighter. "I feel better for having told someone! Please, I don't want Dhraegon to know. I wouldn't like to hurt his feelings. I am happy now, truly. I was glad of the decision after all."

"Of course." Visenya says when Marsei says that what she is about to say is in confidence. When she says what she does she gives her a sympathetic look. "Seven Forbid you ever be allowed to make a choice for yourself." Her voice is slightly bitter. "But I won't tell him. I yelled at him after he told me all of…well, what he told me, and I do not think he is likely to speak to me as he once did, anyways." And she doesn't sound much like she cares. "But it was the same for me. In some ways. My parents tried marrying off my younger sister before me, but once I had my sights on a man I actually wanted…" She shakes her head before saying, "They don't want us to have any choices at all. Ever."

Marsei nods in rather pained understanding and agreement, although she can't quite seem to actually summon a negative word about her parents. "Now I'll be married to Dhraegon and be done with it and be safe from another marriage I didn't ask for or suitors who must knock at their door. Or at Ormund's." It's remarkably blunt for the sweet Hightower to say. "I was sorry to hear you could not marry Prince Rhaegor," she adds with her easy, true empathy; her eyes glimmer with curiosity, however, as she goes on, "So… Prince Torren— ?"

"I did not know it weighed on you so heavily." Visenya says, and her hand tightens a little on Marsei's. "We've never really spoken about your first marriage, and I assumed you were grieving so I did not want to pry." She smiles a touch sad at the mention of Rhaegor before she admits, "I think it's the loss of his friendship that hurts the most. We decided it was better if we only interacted at social functions excluding when we go to find my dragons." When she asks about Prince Torren, however, there is no reluctance or falseness in her smile. "I am far more fond of him then I thought I would be." She confesses before she describes him, "He is clever. Witty. Occasionally he can be a bit dry in his humor, but he is never cruel. He is not brash like most Dornishmen I have met, but instead is a clever diplomat. He is not a warrior, but he is not a weakling either, and men seem to listen to him because of the conviction of his words and the trust they have in him that he means them. He is honorable although he is not overly religious. I am happy with him. More happy than I ever thought I would be."

Although there's a small hitch in Marsei's expression when Visenya mentions her first marriage and her grieving, she's fully engaged in the other woman's telling of Prince Torren, smiling here and there over his pleasant qualities. "He sounds like a good man. It seems you have been blessed in the most unexpected of ways under unwanted circumstances," she says. "The Seven are mysterious. I wish I could have attended your wedding, although," she smiles, a light laugh to her voice, "I can scarcely imagine myself in Dorne. But you wear its colours boldly."

"He is. He is very courteous and intelligent. You would like him." Visenya smiles then before she says, "Yes. It could have turned out much worse for me." Her words grow more somber as she says, "His first wife was killed at the Red Rookery, and he mourns her still. He loved her very much. Despite that he has been more than kind to me. He was my only friend in Dorne before we were wed, and now…?" She smiles, and it is the smile of a woman content. "He is very good at being a husband." And then she glances down at her own clothes. "Oh. Yes. Well, not everyone in Dorne is happy with our marriage. They think my family plans a bit of a hostile takeover? So, I am making a show of adopting Dornish ways."

Marsei smiles to see Visenya smile, dimpled by some manner of modesty. "Then I look forward to getting to know Prince Torren," she decides buoyantly. "That is wise of you," she commends thoughtfully on the matter of Visenya's show of Dornish ways. "I remember getting letters from the Hightower back when the incident at the Red Rookery had more recently happened. People were shocked to be housing noble Dornish refugees from the city. I expect not everyone here is at ease with your marriage… you said— someone tried to kill Torren?" Perhaps she doesn't regret being unable to attend the wedding, in retrospect, looking shocked all over again by that ordeal, but she is just as intruiged and concerned as she is aghast.

"I remember the mobs." Visenya says a little anxiously, "I believe some Dornish commoners were murdered after the Cockshaw holding was attacked." She hesitates a moment before nodding, and her voice lowers slightly before she says, "…Yes. But I cannot say much regarding it because it appears to be some sort of conspiracy that goes beyond Dorne. It might even have something to do with the original attack on Wickham's Nest. But..we cannot speak of it. Not yet. But, that happened outside of Skyreach. Save for a Dornish Knight killing a Targaryen Knight over some insults it was…well, not peaceful, but not horrible, either."

"Goodness," Marsei replies, the most gentle of exclamations, her eyes wide. I do believe the Targaryen and Dornish union will help secure peace. I'll pray for you both, you and Torren." No mention of Rhaegor and his bride. She squeezes Visenya's hand; her opposite hand fusses with the edge of the bench. "I'm glad you're back alive and well, Visenya. And that we've made peace, too. Let us promise to not turn from each other again, hm?"

"Yes. I…" Visenya sighs, "I'll tell you more when I can. I promise." She nods then, "Thank you. Your faith has always been such an inspiration to me." She smiles then, "I'm glad things are going better for you. And yes. We should never do that again. I will try to be less hysterical next time. But, I just want you to know that it was never that I thought badly about you. I just didn't want you to be thrown into something you may not want." For all the good it does now.

Marsei's kind smile is grateful. "I never thought badly of you, either. I couldn't blame you, least of all for being concerned about me. It… it was a confusing time," she summarizes. "But now look!" she lifts both hands to gesture brightly. "All is well and we need only travel a few stairs to visit." A few stairs for a Hightower is an understatement, but in this case, at least, not nearly as gigantic as it could be.

"Yes." Visenya says, and she nods her head before smiling. "It will be nice to have a friend again. I don't think I've been around an actual friend since I left the city. I confess I have been starved of female companionship. Well, trustworthy female companionship." She releases Marsei's hand then, and stands up smoothly. "I'm glad we've put this behind us." There is a pause before she says, "Goodnight."

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