(122-12-16) Losing Hours
Losing Hours
Summary: Prince Jurian Targaryen pays a call upon Lady Joyeuse Hastwyck, bearing a bottle of wine in exchange for which he loses more than he gains…
Date: 16-17/12/2015
Related: This and this.

As late as Prince Jurian is wont to rise, rumour has it — when he's crossed Oldtown to Battle Island and climbed to the fifth floor of the Hightower, to find himself at a height to hear it — that Lady Hastwyck has only just got up. Her dour-faced maidservant establishes the Targaryen in a sitting-room where perhaps he'll feel at home, facing a painting of the sunrise over King's Landing or perhaps a tapestry of a golden dragon in flight, and in the company of refreshments soon summoned from an inner chamber. Intended perhaps for the lady's breakfast, these pastries, this honeyed tea—?

A message comes to him quickly, scrawled in a lavish and curlicued hand upon heavy parchment, that if His Grace will promise to be PATIENT (underlined once) she'll promise not to be LONG (underlined twice).

Jurian is not particularly pleased about being kept waiting, but he has no one in particular to vent his displeasure to. He tries giving a servant an irritated look, but they just keep their heads down when they come in and out. Jurian leans back in his chair and chews on a roll.

Another note succeeds the first, inquiring rather whimsically whether His Grace prefers blue, green, red, or gold? Would he please send his answer by the maid?

Jurian squints at the note, then looks up at the ceiling. Then he frowns at the servant. His answer 'Blue; or whatever causes fewer of my youthful hours to evaporate.'

Without once meeting his eye, the maid curtseys and withdraws.

Two chambers hence eyes are rolled and the prince's name is taken in vain; but still, only a further four or five minutes elapse before the advent of Lady Hastwyck in Dornish sandsilk robes of a glowing cerulean blue, and a smile of honest-to-goodness pleasure to see him. For she can, you see, be vexed one minute and then decide that after all it is kind of him to call.

In further deference to his youthful hours and his desire to preserve them her mass of dark red hair has been teased and pinned up into the simplest of arrangements, with just a few stray curls left to fall artistically about her shoulders and her throat; and she wears a rope of glowing white-golden pearls twined round each of her arms, gathering the loose sandsilk, but few other ornaments barring her favourite, positively enormous ruby ring set in gold.

"Your Grace," she sighs lightly; "you see, I couldn't make up my mind, and rather than put on one and then another to see which I liked today, and leave you sitting still longer, I left the choice to you. I hope you don't object to helping a little, so that I might see you all the sooner." And her very pretty curtsey becomes with another two steps an outstretched hand.

Jurian has not surrendered the bottle he brought to a servant, surely because he wants to be thanked for it personally, and also be sure of the opportunity of being offered some. He stands up when the lady makes her appearance and takes her hand in his free one. "Lady Hastwyck. Kind of you to rush." He doesn't smile yet. "I might ordinarily be more patient in my waiting, but I must see my uncle after our visit. Since I have climbed five flights already."

"… Oh, your uncle?" the lady inquires politely as the pieces fall into place. Of course. "Confess, Your Grace," she teases, a mischievous smile playing about her lips; "you didn't come to see me at all — you're only looking for a place to sit down for a few minutes!" She clasps his hand for a long moment, chuckling — softly, for it's early yet by her reckoning. "I don't hold it against you in the least, mind," she assures him at once, "all these stairs are a terror, aren't they? If they'd put me any further up than this I think I'd have gone back to the Golden Maiden in sheer despair! Well, sit as long as you please, and I shall hope my chambers become a famous resting-place for dragons doomed to climb the Hightower."

Jurian probably has no particular love of stairs, given that one of his feet turns the wrong way. Nevertheless, "Nonsense," he claims, waving a hand. "I wanted to deliver this bottle to you personally, so it wouldn't go missing in the hands of some clever servant. Or stay in my room to be drunk up, for that matter." He releases her hand and proffers her the bottle, then moves into the chamber proper.

A measure of residual, matitunal languor clears from Lady Joy's heavy-lidded eyes when she realises her caller is not only a prince, but a prince bearing a bottle. She accepts it without thought and, stepping after him, turns it in her hands to read the label. "Why, I misjudged you, Prince Jurian— oh! The '06," she declares in a sudden rapture. "Oh, Dora, where are the cups?" Which can only be the response Prince Jurian trusted he'd hear from she who so blithely put away two-thirds of the last such bottle he set before her.

Tactfully oblivious to the prince, his foot, and his unsettling gaze alike, the maid Dora sets out a pair of rather pretty cups; and beneath her mistress's watchful gaze sees to the opening of this prize.

"You'll join me in a glass, I'm certain…?" the lady inquires of her guest, ushering him to whichever seat he prefers. She has been trying each of them in succession and hasn't her own favourite yet.

"Yes, I will," Jurian says, occupying a comfortable-looking chair. He has a way of accepting offers while never /quite/ extending thanks. He watches the lady choose her own seat. "I thought I must see you to a little more of it, as you enjoyed it at the winery. And you were good to my uncle on his wedding day."

Blue sandsilk and the woman therein are soon draped upon a chair across from Prince Jurian's — close enough to keep their conversation pleasantly confidential, with the serving-woman banished to the far corner. "Oh, your uncle," exclaims Lady Joy, smiling slowly, giving a little shake of her head; "of course. It's so early in the day, I haven't quite got the cobwebs out of my head! I thought he was very sweet, you know," she says seriously, touching her cup to his, "and if he swooned, well, what of it? At both my weddings I thought I might!" And then her first taste; and her eyes half-close as though she might even now… "Oh, thank you," she sighs, having saved those words for when she could mean them most truly.

Jurian smiles now, pleased by the emphatic thanks. "How nice," he says. "Nobody in my family is every grateful for anything." Or so he claims. "As for my uncle…" He glances toward the window. "In some ways, he is embarrassing, but he seems to be generous to many." Not that Jurian is more interested in what the 'many' receive than what /he/ does. "And in the end, he has the last laugh. I don't suppose anyone ever suspected he'd marry so well." His gaze drifts from the window back to the Lady Hastwyck and the line she makes in her blue gown.

'Line' is not the most accurate term. Below the neck Lady Joy is more a series of curves of varying richness, accentuated now here and now there by the sandsilk robes which cling to her differently when leaning forward to toast, or when settling into her chair, or when resting an elbow upon its arm and cradling her chin in the palm of her hand… "Perhaps Prince Dhraegon is trying with his generosity to train your relations into a little gratitude, mmm?" she suggests. "It might prove a becoming quality, even in a Targaryen, if it were displayed once in a while as a special surprise… Oh, I shouldn't tease about him, should I, now that he's my friend's husband? He has a very pleasant temperament and I know he'll always be good to her; and so even if I tease I shall always be grateful to him in turn for that. Some of the likeliest matches don't prosper, you know, and some of the most surprising… why, they can continue to surprise, for a good long time."

Jurian looks thoughtfully at Lady Joy, perhaps a bit too long. "I think many of her friends would not be so generous," he says. "Including my cousin Visenya." He's quiet a moment longer, then observes, "But you are not like the most ordinary run of them, are you? For example, your robes. Rather a different fashion than most of our local ladies favor, aren't they?"

Lady Joy laughs easily over the rim of her cup as she lowers it; "I suppose so," she agrees. "I lived for quite some years in Dorne, and I became as fond of Dornish robes as of Dornish food and wine… They're very comfortable in the heat, which isn't so much less in Oldtown in the summer, and quicker to dress in than a formal Westerosi gown, when one has an unexpected caller."

Jurian appreciates that last remark with another faint smile that curls the corners of his mouth just a bit. "You must meet my friend Clovis Tyrell. He too spent time in Dorne owing to various circumstances and has a fondness for some of their ways."

"Ah, another Tyrell…" The lady's eyes twinkle. "I think he must have come along after my years in Dorne, for I don't recall ever hearing of him in Sunspear… A Tyrell with various circumstances." She tilts her head (a red curl tickles her neck) and treats herself to another taste of the '06. "My circumstance was simply being married into House Qorgyle; but perhaps with that act the Florents were suspected of stealing some sort of a march upon the Tyrells…? The Tyrells might have liked connections in that part of the world themselves, if they supposed the Florents had a use for such. Of course it's all rather over my head," she sighs; "I was hardly consulted in the matter. Several such marriages were made in those years, to secure peace… You see how well it worked," she points out; "now it must be done again."

Jurian makes a vague gesture, apparently having no idea when Clovis was there, nor recalling the location. "I hardly know about squabbles between the— Well, the Florents and Tyrells," he amends smoothly. "But perhaps it's the Dornish themselves who are trying to get an infusion of foreign blood."

The thought provokes further amusement in Lady Joy. For an instant she nibbles her thumbnail and then she sits up straighter, shaking her head. "I don't think it can be that," she confides gravely, with mischievous eyes.

And, for these are her chambers and she is hostess here, she takes up the '06 and edges forward in her chair to inspect the prince's cup and pour in a little more before replenishing her own. "How are you, then, since the wedding? And were you fortunate enough to capture a taste of Princess Rhaenyra's firewine? I quite lost track of where the bottle went once the acrobats began to perform — weren't they beautiful?"

Jurian does seem to enjoy the wine, though he doesn't press for any more than his hostess offers in her time. The bottle was a present for her, after all. He sets his glass aside a moment. "Yes, but her appearance was a shock. There was a tense moment when one wondered what her motives were, was there not?" He can chuckle about it now, since no one died of poison. "I wonder if she brought such a potent vintage to see how it affected people?" As for acrobats, that question makes him nod. "Yes, Uncle /does/ have a way of procuring /just/ the right sort of thing. He must have a good servant. There's one that tends to hang about him. He never /did/ tell me if they were dyed for the occasion or if they regularly whiten their hair. They were something. Not /bawdy/, but Uncle would never choose something bawdy. Not on purpose, anyway." He doesn't exactly say how he's been.

Was there not…? Lady Joy's eyes widen. "Oh, but I hadn't thought… It wouldn't have crossed my mind, Prince Jurian, for such a thing to be done with a gift of wine presented in public before so many august witnesses," she says frankly. "In Dorne my husband and my paramour both died by violence, but nothing could be proved against their enemies — I would hardly expect less cunning from a daughter of your house, you know." A beat. "If she should wish…" she amends, with a sudden bashful downward glance into her cup. She looks up again and affects a sweetly disarming smile. "But, of course, the suggestion is absurd from any angle, which is really what I'm trying to say. There could surely have been no cause not to drink her wine."

Jurian laughs when Lady Joy says that such a thing would not occur to her. "She is already upsetting a great many people…" he says, pausing for a moment as this information about husband and paramourdying under mysterious circumstances. And then this idea that his house is cunning. His gaze floats across the room. Perhaps he's deciding whether to be offended and, if so, how much and by which part. Finally, it slides back to Joy and he smiles. "Well, in the end there was not," he says as if agreeing.

"… And so many reasons to drink it," laughs the lady in agreement tinged with relief at a crisis averted; "cardamom and ginger and star aniseed and— but you tasted it, you must know," she sighs. "'And the mysteries of Myr, and the secrets of the dragon.' Remarkable, wasn't it? Unlike any other spiced wine I know… I despair of ever feeling such flames in my veins again… but you've brought me the taste of my favourite cherries," she lifts her cup to him, "and just as I was beginning to miss them. It was very thoughtful, Prince Jurian." As her cup approaches once more her lips she lowers her gaze, as though to admire the hue of the wine, or her own reflection therein.

Jurian lifts his eyebrows at her nearly poetic description of the rare wine's flavors. "But don't you think there are enough pleasures in life that one need not despair when a single pleasure is fleeting?" he proposes. Which may be innuendo, as he looks across the rim of his glass at the lady.

"Oh, I quite agree with such a sentiment…" allows Lady Hastwyck; the fleeting adoption of a more serious mien shows, well, that she's serious. "But when the delight is so acute I feel I ought to be permitted a little wistfulness in looking back upon it, mmm? Just as in looking forward to the next." Which may also be innuendo — or then again, it may only be her way. She says these things so naturally, without significant gazing into his eyes.

"I prefer to look forward rather than back," Jurian states. In contrast with Lady Hastwyck's naturalness, there's something of the unnatural about Jurian much of the time. An odd tension in the body language, or a hint of artificiality in a smile. Of course, among certain sets of Targaryens, he'd seem the most ordinary of the bunch. "But. I permit you as much wistfulness as you like. Still. One never knows when a pleasure thought past may be regained."

Lady Joy listens with the same courtesy as ever and really does seem to think about what her princely visitor has to say, before venturing her feeling that: "One can't rely upon those, though — the only certainty in our changing world, I find, is change itself." Her shoulders shift beneath that rippling blue sandsilk. "One can never really know what the next week will bring, let alone the next month. Careful plans can be upset in a moment! It doesn't do, I don't think, to become too set upon what one may hope for the future… or to have only the one hope, to the exclusion of all others."

"The present, then," Jurian proposes with a smile. "We have the present, if not the future or the past, in which to take our pleasures, have we not?" He shifts his position in the chair, leaning one elbow on the arm rest. "Like you, I enjoy the finest."

The lady lowers her cup, leaving behind a lazy smile. "Well, once one becomes accustomed to life's finer pleasures… how can one settle for less? Though I suppose from time to time I find my own joys in places where a prince might not think to look for his — I think a ripe peach is one of the gods' finest creations," she confesses, "and as soon as I was shown to my chambers here I felt so enchanted by the view that I've lost hours already to staring out my windows…" Another low chuckle escapes her lips, as though she found something therein to be bashful about. "I think among all things, there are fine examples to be found, if one cares to look."

Jurian lets his gaze drift to the window and then back. "Would you like to lose another hour?" he proposes, expression less draped in smarmy smiles than one might inspect. In fact, he looks rather serious, though his brow is clear of furrows. "I've brought no peaches, I admit. But surely between the two of us there would be plenty to enjoy."

Ah, and here are Lady Joy's words proven for her: one can never really know what the future might bring. For instance, another situation which necessitates the most delicate of handling… Perhaps a misunderstanding of his premise? That might do it. "I had thought not to drink your lovely bottle all the way down at once, tempting though it is," she begins, with a twinkle in her eyes where a moment ago there was a flicker; "having it to look forward to would be a great boon during a rather tedious appointment I have before me later in the afternoon. And aren't you promised to your uncle, mmm…? He'd wonder at it if you were late… I know family visits can sometimes be a little tedious in their own way, Your Grace, but I'm sure that afterwards you'll only wonder what it was you could possibly have been putting off." And her smile deepens — in a friendly, encouraging sort of way.

Jurian smiles now, odd timing though it may be. Was he testing her virtue, and glad that she is putting him off, or does that smile have a less pleasant meaning? He picks up his glass and finishes what remained in it, then sets it aside. "I suppose often people regret putting things off later in life," he replies, and sets about getting to his feet. "Enjoy your appointment with the help of the wine, Lady Hastwyck." He makes one sharp tug at his clothes to be sure that the lines are presentable after having sat down.

Silk sways as Lady Hastwyck rises also, leaving her cup next to the bottle, to see him out. "It was very kind of you to call, Your Grace," she assures him again, "and I hope you'll feel free to do so again, perhaps the next time you visit your uncle—? Even if I'm not at home — please, sit for a minute, if you like. Those stairs really are a misery. I'm told the view from the very top is a marvel, but somehow I've never quite been so high myself…" And she shrugs one shoulder as though to say, well, who could blame her?

"I wonder if I'll have time," Jurian replies, tone cooler now. "I have a strike against pirates to plan, and one can never quite count on returning from battle or a trip at sea, can one? And if I do, well, then soon it will be my nameday. And after…" He trails off, heading for the exit. And, yes, those wonderful stairs. "Good afternoon, Lady Hastwyck."

A feminine breath is drawn in behind him. "Pirates—? … I suppose I oughtn't to ask you your business; but I'll light a candle for your safe return to Oldtown, Your Grace." And if he should pause in his departure, now that he is so determined upon it, it will be to see Lady Joyeuse Hastwyck framed in the doorway, smiling fondly after him. "Good afternoon!"

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