(122-12-11) On the Death of Customs
On the Death of Customs
Summary: Two unimpressed Targaryens reflect upon the marriage of one of their own to another Hightower girl.
Date: 11/12/122 AL
Related: Follows on from this wedding feast.

Far away from the feasting and fighting and acrobatics with which a marriage is being celebrated at the Hightower, the great hall of the Dragon Door Manse is quiet and pleasantly cool with every window open to let in the fragrances of a summer garden at night.

In a high-backed chair placed next to one such window, a small book open in one hand and lamplight angled to fall upon its pages, sits Princess Vhaerys Targaryen in the pale golden gown she wore to the wedding and briefly to the feast, the silk gauze over her muscular arms and shoulders ending in a diamond collar and matching bracelets, and thousands of tiny glittering crystals stitched into the shapes of flaming dragons… Her whitening hair is as immaculate as this morning; her expression is pensive. Her violet eyes lift from the page at Prince Rhaegor's entrance and, though he is not the cousin she was watching for, her gaze follows him through the hall.

Rhaegor stalks into the manse like some pacing, predatorial beast, bristling with the mercurial heat of his dragon fever. Evidently he lasted out the wedding festivities much longer than Vhaerys did, though that's a fact he likely now laments. This is a different Rhaegor than the usual one. The usual Rhaegor is staid, uptight even, with an unflinching, tight-fisted control on his emotions. Rhaegor the diplomat. Rhaegor, the King's man. Rhaegor, the sane Targaryen. But that fine control has begun to waiver, unravel, turn volatile. He hardly realizes Vhaerys is there at all, intent on ascending to the second floor and the suite he shares with Emira of Dorne, though they are yet wed, that being the sort of thing neither of them cares about. But he feels the eyes on him, and he meets his cousin's stare. "Vhaerys," he says, as casually as if they were resuming a conversation.

"Rhaegor," the princess echoes, lifting a pale eyebrow. She looks him up and down deliberately and lowers her book into her sparkly golden lap, one finger marking her place. "Have you had enough of our lofty relations at last…?" she inquires drily, this a reference to the ambition of the Hightowers as well as their eponymous stronghold.

"Princess Rhaenys has informed me, at great length, that I have spent far too much time under the hot Dornish sun, and that I have become restless for it." Rhaegor relates this dispassionately, averting his course and instead approaching the sitting area where Vhaerys enjoys her book. His oblique comment seems to confirm, wholesale, that he has had enough of pretty much everything to do with the farce of Dhraegon's wedding.

"Sunstroke makes one weak, dizzy, and lethargic, not restless. I'm fond of Rhaenys, as well you know, but she does talk shit sometimes," is Vhaerys's learned dismissal of that diagnosis. "What's really upsetting you? This—" She lets out her breath in a rush. "Fancy of Dhraegon's, and all we've been put through in aid of it?" She's one of the elder members of the family; she rarely sees the need to rein in her inquisitive nature. "Did some fresh disaster befall him after I escaped?"

Rhaegor decides to claim one of the adjacent seats, parking himself rather heavily opposite Vhaerys and adopting a surprisingly casual repose. "Dhraegon requires a caretaker, not a wife. My boy of ten is more suited to the role of husband. He at least can hold a sword." But though the words are blunt, there's not much of scorn in them. Only a flat sort of detatchment. If she was attempting to armchair diagnose the reason for his shifting moods, the wedding is not it.

Sitting rather more upright than he, poised and dignified as is her wont, Vhaerys neither invites nor disdains his company. She merely accepts that he has a right to present her with it. "He likes new toys," she agrees drily, "but I doubt he knows how to play with this one. I don't see the need of marrying her — it's certainly not to get children." Diamonds flash at her ears as she tilts her head, poking at him again. "How is it with your Dornish girl? An alliance which may at least provide some benefit to our house." Which, needless to say, a second pretty Hightower daughter will not.

Rhaegor makes a low, derisive sound, evidently concurring with his cousin's assessment. But he clearly lacks the desire to to say much of Dhraegon, maybe not reckoning it sporting or otherwise worth the effort. Emira proves a more agreeable subject. The Targaryen prince replies, "She is fierce and fine. I have never known her equal." No offense to present company, of course.

"Our customs may be dying; but at least you and Dhraegon will be happy," drawls Vhaerys, though without venom.

While she's speaking one of her personal servants appears with a tray, an open bottle of wine, a single silver goblet. She sets the goblet upon the small table drawn up to the princess's chair, pours pale golden wine, and places the goblet next to the bottle, neatly aligned, two inches apart as nearly as she can judge by eye. Without looking at either the wine or the deep and nervous curtsey Vhaerys opens her book and drapes it across one knee and reaches for her goblet, her hand simply knowing where to find it.

At the first taste her mood chills visibly. "Too warm," she pronounces as she puts it down. "Fetch another, and two goblets."

When one's Targaryen king weds an Arryn and then a Hightower, it ought come as no surprise that he advocate marriage outside the family for his kin as well. Rhaegor says as much. "It has never been for me to choose my own wife. I might have wed my sister, Lhaeda, before I left for Qarth, had it been so." Still. His betrothal to Emira may have been arranged from on high, but his response, She is fierce and fine. I have never known her equal, betrays the depth of his attachment to the Dornishwoman.

Rhaegor lifts a hand when the instruction is given to retrieve a second goblet, gainsaying the command. "I'll not linger long."

But Princess Vhaerys's servants cannot be countermanded by even another Targaryen; and she drawls, "I didn't say it was for you." A hand still bearing a wedding-ring in the likeness of a golden dragon biting its tail smooths over the cover of her book and she adds, "You understand, much as I might wish these matters were conducted differently I don't blame you for being a loyal son of our house. You do what you must. So do we all. And when it's your turn to host another such circus as we saw today, I'll even bring you a gift — though you may as well tell me what you'd like," she amends with her customary frankness, "to save me the trouble of guessing. I don't seem to have the touch where you're concerned."

"Do you not?" Rhaegor asks, at the last. "Modesty does not become you, cousin. And I would no sooner instruct you in that matter than I would the number of goblets you ought send for." He did, of course, just attempt to instruct her in that explicit matter. A minor detail. And then he is making to depart, with the suggestion that they resume their making up for lost time anon.

A low laugh follows him out — and a few more words in High Valyrian, the language of their conversation, muted and confidential, uttered by Vhaerys to herself, or perhaps the intended recipient of that second goblet.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License