(122-12-07) Bitches Who Brunch
Bitches Who Brunch
Summary: A meal in celebration of Lady Marsei Hightower's impending nuptials is held.
Date: 7 December 2015
Related: Advance Wedding Party
Players:
Marsei..Leire..Camillo..

Soft chatter interspersed with giggles and the clink of glasses drift up and down the dining table in one of the sections of Lady Marsei Hightower's spacious chambers. That is, one of her chambers, the other waiting on a high floor above next to the prince she's set to marry in several days time. The table is long, but not grand, lined with armless chairs so that the guests, ladies all, sit elbow-to-elbow. Pitchers of sweet red wine, sweet plum wine, and the much, much bolder strongwine from the Hightower's Dornish guests are in abundance, as well as thick honey tarts and sweet sliced apples.

Behind the head of the table is a tall window. The day is not sunny, but the light cast inside is clean and white. Lady Marsei sits closest to the light, across from other members of House Hightower. Targaryen princesses sit next to the Hightowers, followed by Tyrells, followed by an assortment of ladies from different families, mostly from the Reach. Beesburys are in abundance, as well as Fossoways.

Marsei herself is the bright host she always is, engaging in conversation with those around her but not forgetting about those further down the table, except for one of the Fossoways — the round-faced, brown-haired Lady Jana - who seems rather insistently to want to tell her something, given her important stare. On that count, Marsei instead turns to a Targaryen she doesn't know well, commenting politely instead, "How lovely your dress is, your grace."

There is an Elaine Fossoway who gives Jana's arm a smack. "You /must/ stop glowering down the table!" she insists. "Unless you have something exciting to say!" A soprano titter escapes her at the prospect. "Then you mustn't hold back but tell /everyone/!"

Lhaeda Targaryen was among the entourage that recently arrived from King's Landing, a niece of Viserys and a striking, haughty beauty. Her reputation precedes her; her husband is a great Crownlands lord and her brother is a high ranking Crown diplomat to Dorne. She is dressed in an amethyst samite gown tailored impeccably to her form, so fine as to put to shame the ladies sitting at the furthest end of the table. She'd been speaking with the lady to her side, but her companion is forgotten when Marsei compliments the dress. She switches from High Valyrian to the common tongue to make her reply with a feline smile. "You are too kind, Lady Marsei," she says smoothly. "Though at a time like this, there is none more beautiful than a bride." Her eye contact is direct and intense.

Hovering at the fringes of the social occasion is a woman in septa's robes, an odd guest among their numbers and one who does not generally participate in the meal or the revelry. In fact, she is not paid much notice by the noblewomen at all; she is dressed in a simple grey robe, with a seven-pointed star at the hollow of her throat. Her role tends toward supervisory over participatory, and should anyone chance to observe her in the moment they would find her attention rather focused on Jana Fossoway. Only vague curiosity is telegraphed by her expression.

Lady Jana takes offense to Elaine, giving her a sharp look out of the corner of her long-lashed eyes. She lifts her little chin stubbornly and looks up at the ceiling, desperately trying not to say what she's thinking.

"You flatter me," Marsei responds to the Lhaeda, her modesty only heightened under the Targaryen's intense look. The bride-to-be is clad beautifully in pale blue, the curving neckline beaded with gemstones, but the cut is simple; casual, by noble standards, but suited to the dinner, which is as informal as it can be given the Targaryen guests. "Am I right to place your brother as a Crown diplomat here at the Hightower?" She does not speak his name, just in case.

Jana downs her present cup of wine. "Do you ever tire of secrets, Elaine," she complains.

Elaine either doesn't notice that Jana is irritated with her or else is deliberately provoking her. She's fairly young and has a reputation for being silly. "Not until I am dead!" she declares, then presses fingers to her mouth and giggles as though that was a great and naughty witticism. "And now is just the time for them, with the men away from the room!" She shimmies plump shoulders in the pleasure of potential gossip.

Lhaeda and Marsei might as well be at a private dinner, for that's how directly the Targaryen princess addresses her, in spite of the other Taragaryens and Hightowers between them. "I think we flatter each other," she says in reply, that same smile still lingering in the wake of the words. She reaches a hand for her goblet of wine, finding it as if by sixth sense, without breaking her gaze from Marsei's. "Rhaegor," she says, as if the two syllables were unequivocally sufficient confirmation. "Are you acquainted, Lady Marsei?"

Marsei gives a slight pause to adjust to the information, aligning the sister to brother in her head. A flash of surprise brightens her gaze, followed by intrigue, and she smiles certainly. "I spoke to him only some days past, in fact," she says pleasantly and starts to look away from Lhaeda. It proves difficult - her gaze lingers as though caught in the trapping Valyrian intensity before landing on her cup of wine, sweet plum, to lift it for a drink. Like most cups on the table, hers has already been refilled more than a couple of times. "I cannot say I know him well, but he seems very noble and loyal indeed."

"It is old gossip, being drummed up again," Jana mumbles to Elaine, although she's leveled her gaze singularly at her redheaded former goodsister. "I should be asking you for gossip, Elaine, except we all know how reliable that would be. Haven't you heard your handmaiden whispering about the brothers?"

Elaine ducks her head, a coy expression drawing up her pink lips. "I /suppose/ I may have overheard /something/!" she admits, green eyes rolling aside. "Though she's a wicked thing to let her tongue roll so. But can anyone /resist/? We /never/ get to talk about it when it's absolutely dripping with— Well. I suppose Haemon kept Lady Adrienne at home with him so we couldn't hear anything from /her/, but where do you suppose her eyes have been roving with you-know-who out of reach?" she asks, barely suppressing another giggle.

Lhaeda, for her part, is drinking some of the Dornish wine, though she's either not had much or is sharp as a whip even in her cups. She lacks her brother's propriety, perhaps, for though the diversion of Marsei's attention might otherwise be a polite signal that she ought divert her own, the Targaryen princess continues her study of the Hightower bride. "One wonders which acquaintance you made first; Rhaegor's or Dhraegon's." In fact, more than one of the Targaryen ladies perk up at this question and slyly slide their gazes towards Marsei in reply. After all, when Rhaegor Targaryen first took up residence at the Hightower he was very much eligible.

Marsei is usually so restrained with her wine, but she seems rather intent on having her cup filled again the second it's emptied. For the time, it's sent down forlornly hollow until a servant will step forward and expend the slight effort. She upkeeps her smile as Lhaeda goes on; when she turns her face back to the Targaryen, it is sweet and gentle and shows little sign of being needled by the words, although words of her own are stalled. " It is fortunate Prince Rhaegor was able to take part in such an important union with Dorne," she says in an upbeat manner instead of precisely answering. Where princesses' attention goes, so do others, and gradually faces all along the table start to peek toward the head of the table to listen in. At least, those who aren't starting to titter amongst themselves about Fossoway gossip.

Jana's eyes start to narrow, but she snaps her stare away from Marsei to roll her eyes dramatically at Elaine. "Is that the rumour you believe? Not everything is a sordid affair. I think it was a deeper plot."

"Oh, that is just precisely like you!" Elaine proclaims in a tone that would sound almost complimentary if it weren't idly backhanded. "To think a matter of the heart is underhanded scheming! Faugh!" Her two small hands flap once in opposite directions to dismiss the notion. "If it /were/ such a thing then who would /even/ be behind it?"

Camillo is not slow to refill glasses, least of all Marsei's. He never looks much down at the Fossoway end of the table. But his stare at the edge of the rug suggests he might like to kick one of the ladies if his station permitted.

Lhaeda dangles her cup, suspended in midair, focused on Marsei like a cat intent on the little mouse that is its prey. Her tone is playful. Or at least, would seem to indicate that this is a game she is enjoying, regardless of whether or not her host is. Mention of political alliances cause the princess to sag a shoulder for dramatic flair, glancing at last away from Marsei and between the other Targaryen ladies, at least half of which would seem to be of an age to be cousins or nieces. "Unfortunate for Dragonstone, now littered with broken hearts." Knowing glances and flushed cheeks among her companions prove the veracity of her words. She looks into her wine glass, swirling the Dornish red within idly. And then she tilts up her chin, and her bright, purple eyes lock with Marsei's once again. "Including mine." Somehow, she's still smiling.

Marsei does not look at Camillo as her cup is expediently filled, however much she might want to; even from here, within this bubble Lhaeda has created, bits and pieces travel to her from the Fossoways. The grip on her refreshed cup goes from simply curled to tightly grasped. She manages to give Rhaegor's sister and the other princesses a look of sympathy - but with the bride-to-be not expressing any mourning of Rhaegor's availability, it is slightly lacking. Her cheeks pinken faintly after another drink of the sweet wine. "I-well, I suppose that makes him a true diplomat, to leave broken hearts behind."

Jana briefly flushes in some manner of partial embarrassment, partial annoyance. "It is not," she mutters, reaching for a honey tart, which she puts in front of Elaine. "Stuff your face, why don't you." She stares at her hands for a moment. "Oh, who could say I don't like to think anything so cruel could happen so close… but see, I think it was their father who plotted the whole thing."

"Lady Jana," Marsei says suddenly, her soft voice uncharacteristically pointed as she looks down the table, "Have you had enough wine?"

Lhaeda tilts her head toward the companion she'd forsaken in favor of Marsei, once Marsei forsakes her in favor of Jana, to hear some low, whispered quip offered at her ear. Her unwavering smile is now flashed sideways, at her blonde cousin. Rhaegor's sister may have pressed her host for sport, but she is gracious when the Hightower bride puts an end to it and does not try her further.

Elaine takes the tart and bites into it viciously, chin bouncing as she looks at Jana. She swallows, then smiles down the table. "Oh, Lady Marsei, I think Lady Jana has had /more/ than enough! But if you ask /her/ of course, there's never enough." 'So ha,' says her side-eye at Jana.

Marsei presses her lips together and looks as though she very much has a response to Elaine - although it's her former goodsister she looks at - but she's quiet as can be, a stroke of worry between her brows.

On the heels of Elaine's jab, Jana reaches for a pitcher of wine herself. "I don't think I have had enough wine, thank you," she states higher in her precise, erudite voice. "Were you going to say 'it runs in the family', or are we not allowed to talk about Jarvas before your new wedding?" Although most Fossoways go quiet, giggles — nervous or amused, it varies — skitter about the table. Marsei, for her part, has nothing to say in return just yet, only looking hurt and disappointed.

Emerging from the tapestries where she'd been standing sentinel, Leire suddenly catches the attention of ladies at the table who had no idea she was there all along. Marsei might for a moment think people are staring at her, before the septa moves closer still, standing right up at the edge of the table by the noblewoman's left elbow. Her hands are raised, and between the moonstone circlet on her brow, her priestess robes, and her solemn, pious airs, the table begins to take notice and quiet, even those who initially hadn't taken notice, but notice that the others are noticing and are quiet. Leire is prepared to wait until the hush fills the chamber proper.
<FS3> Leire rolls Command: Success.

Elaine can't help sending up a titter when Jana asks about Jarvas.But then when Leire comes in she presses all her fingers to her tiny, but full, mouth. Are they in trouble??

Even Camillo looks up.

Lhaeda and the Targaryens are remarkably swift to defer to the septa's presence. After all, even the Blood of the Dragon bends the knee to the Seven. Their deference promotes more deference, and on and on down the table.

Marsei's discomfort rises until she realizes her guests stare at Leire, not at her. Without even knowing what Leire might say, if she the septa is to say anything at all, looking up and seeing here there seems to put her at ease, a relaxation in her shoulders and hint of gratitude on her lips.

Leire waits, with lowered eyes and raised hands, until the silence has permeated the chamber to her satisfaction. Long enough to promote introspection and reflection. Finally, she lifts her gaze, letting it travel down one end of the table and up the others, as though Marsei's guests were but her congregation of supplicants. Last, she catches Marsei's eye. "Let us offer a prayer to the Seven on this most auspicious occasion," she suggests in honeyed tones, her voice soothing to the ear, soft but clear, as audible to those at the head as at the foot of the table. "As Lady Marsei prepares to don her bridal cloak, we pray to the Mother Above that her heart be full of perfect love. To the Maiden, that she know the grace and security of her husband's protection. To the Crone, that she govern her marriage with wisdom and clarity."

Elaine bows her head to at least pretend to be pious and observe the prayer.

Even Jana - in fact, especially Jana — respects the prayer, turning to sudden respect when she looks from the septa to Marsei and to then to the table. She stares at it in devoted (and slightly shamed) reflection contrary to her little outburst. Looking admiringly up at the Most Devout, Marsei's head remains tipped up, smiling toward Leire until last second of the prayerful words. "Thank you."

Leire concludes the prayer with a touch to the seven-pointed star pendant she wears, then she folds her hands in front of her. She meets Marsei's eye a final time before bowing her head, smiling briefly at the tableful of guests before retreating to invisibility once more. There are other thank yous murmured at the table, but this time they are directed at Marsei herself, as hostess, with one kindly elder relative rising to say a few well-wishing words in the wake of the prayer, before the din of conversation has an opportunity to set back in.

Elaine is maybe a little disappointed all the juicy gossip has faded, but Camillo seems relieved. He quietly refills glasses while the elder relative is talking because some people like to have alcohol at hand when old people talk for a long time.

Giggles and gossip that have nothing to do with any of the dangerous threads pick back up; the younger ladies wonder who's coming to the tourney and share who they want to give their favours to; the air has lightened around Lady Marsei. She blinks as if to clear her head, to re-set the scene, and comes out slightly dizzy on the other side. She turns her head all the same, looking to the curtain where Leire stands so unobtrusively, silently, sweetly expressing her gratitude a second time. She manages to catch sight of Camillo between the silhouettes of two coiffed heads and give him a small reassuring smile, too. It shan't be long before someone else catches her for a snippet of conversation, but for the moment she enjoys a pause.

Camillo glances at Marsei and gives a small, unobtrusive nod. All is well enough. And maybe one of Lady Jana's dresses will end up looking shabby and faded after the next time it's washed by her made, completely by happenstance.

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