(123-01-04) A Cartful of Parcels
A Cartful of Parcels
Summary: At the end of an afternoon's shopping in the city, Lady Hastwyck returns to the Hightower with a whole cartful of parcels — including one she certainly didn't expect…
Date: 04/01/2015
Related: None in particular.

A booming, wildly off key bass voice echoes out of one of the tunnels, along with the distressed sound of a vitner trying to convince the singer to "Come along now, please, your Grace?" His grace sounds far too interested in mangling some lullaby in high Valaryen to listen to reason, alas.

"… Why, I know that voice!" exclaims Lady Joyeuse Hastwyck, in triumph, to the servant whose customary burdens are at this hour compounded by a basketful of other triumphs, wrested from the shopkeepers of Oldtown, and also a supplementary triumph done up with extra string and tucked under her other arm. What's the sense in having things brought to the Hightower by delivery boys the next day, when one has a maid who can carry them now, so that one might have the fun of unwrapping them and congratulating oneself upon one's impeccable, one's well nigh flawless taste that much sooner?

The merry widow is attired in one of her most courtly though also most clinging sandsilk gowns, in a shade of violet which almost but doesn't quite clash with the redness of her hair — the barrier of white-golden pearls in between, wound again and again about her throat, just suffices to save the situation, in conspiracy with her golden Myrish veil. Hardly so necessary with the sun on its way down, but fetching at any hour. She'd thought to reward herself for her cleverness and her generosity both (half those parcels are presents) with a glass or two of something pleasant; it seems now the winery in Lower Hightower Street has still greater treats to offer…

Oblivious to the girl who was leading her to a table and has now wandered off, equally oblivious, without her, she hovers by the entrance of that tunnel, she cants her head listening to the song and understanding not a word, and she calls out a speculative greeting: "Prince Dhraegon—?"

The song stops and the vitner's voice comes clearer as he begs the Prince to please come. The pause is very long. Eventually, a slurred voice booms out, "My Sunflower?" The Prince must finally be in motion as the Vitner can be heard encouraging him forward. Eventually he shuffles into sight, squinting confusedly at the better light in the main room and leaning against the wall for ballance. He is clutching a bottle to his chest like he is terrified it will be stolen His face is red from drink and likely from crying, his pale lavander eyes looking strange with the surrounding whites so red. His massive head swings like a confused bear as he tries to spot the one who hailed him.

The Flower of Oldtown is nowhere to be seen, alas; only this cousin of hers, who as luck would have it was just behind Prince Dhraegon when he emerged into the light and who now circles round him, explaining in a cheerful tone, "No, Your Grace, I don't think she's here — it's only me." Both her hands are already outstretched to the enormous prince, for she's quite used by now to his habit of hugging practically anybody who comes near enough — and, goodness, the longer she looks at him the more he seems to need a hug. What an early evening he's making of it! Does this portend trouble with Marsei? She looks up at him with wide-eyed, friendly, absolutely unjudgmental concern.

Whether or not he really grasps what she is saying is unclear, but he lumbers unsteadily toward the small red headed person offering hugs and clings to her, swaying alarmingly still clutching his bottle. He has no volume control at all, so his attempt to whisper, "Eggs!" to her is clearly audible to anyone in the area.

The vintner is apologetic, "I am sorry, My Lady." He gives the sticky, wet, and as it tuns out rather wine soaked outside as well as in Prince a rueful look, "I fear there is not much to be done."

Well, so what? Lady Hastwyck hardly does her own laundry, with those soft pale beringed hands patting the prince's great broad back.

She wobbles somewhat beneath the onslaught and quickly shifts her feet further apart to help keep her balance and perhaps find a wee bit extra to lend to her friend's husband, since his need appears to be greater than her own. Her servants look on dubiously, the guardsman poised to intervene and yet not quite daring, given that this isn't the worst person he's ever seen her embrace — and from the vintner's point of view her head pops into view round the side of Prince Dhraegon, announcing brightly, "Oh, nonsense, there's lots to be done." She gives the prince another squeeze for good measure but doesn't let go, her lifetime's experience of drunken embraces having taught her that letting go must be a mutual endeavour if one doesn't wish to fall down in an untidy heap and show all the world one's garters; and addresses herself next to him. "What about these eggs, sweetling? Boiled or poached or scrambled, or is it an omelette you fancy? I know I often want something in particular to eat," she confides, "when I've had a few drinks… although, if you want to know the truth, I haven't yet! I've been shopping this afternoon; I thought I'd pop in for a glass of something before I went home, but, do you know, I think I've just had an even nicer idea…"

Her questions about eggs earn a look of owl eyed confusion. The confusion is so profound he lets her go and falls more than sits on a nearby bench, where he slumps rather sideways. After some time to adjust to his sudden change in perspective, his gives one of his unhinged rising in pitch giggles and shakes his head no hard enough he almost goes over, "No,no, no. Baby Eggs." After a pause he elaborates, trying hard to enunciate carefully, "On vines. Like dragons." Pleased with himself for making his point plain to the familiar red head, he sets about manueuvering the mouth of his beloved bottle into his mouth, which is rather harder than it sounds, his face being numb and the whereabouts of his lips being unknown, but he manages a swig, choking a little, then focuses on her again, "Asked me. For ad…advice. On Mrig." He tries again, "Mar.riage. Said… said Joy. An…An eggs….wigs. Want…wantadrink."

He cannot possibly want a drink any more than Lady Joy does in this moment, after she's had a quick glance down at the front of her frock. Oh, well, in for a copper… She perches next to him on the bench, companionably, listening closely until she begins to follow, and moreover to discount the brief suspicion entertained before the words began to fit together that one of the things he's trying to explain to her is about her.

"… Oh," she giggles, "babies hatching from eggs. Oh, that would be rather sweet. If only they were quite little eggs one could even keep one's figure…" Wistful sigh. "I might have had one or two more myself, if that were so! Who was it asking you for advice, or oughtn't I to ask? What I was going to say, was that I bought some rather lovely pastries and they simply have to be eaten today, while they're fresh. Since we've run into one another like this perhaps it's fate, Your Grace. Would you like to come back to the Hightower and visit with me? We could open a bottle of something and try the pastries and have a good talk — perhaps about our hair party, mmm? Or anything else you like — I know we only saw one another the other day, really, but it feels like longer, somehow, doesn't it?"

Dhraegon nods solemnly, "Safer. On vines like melons. Thick rind to keep out crows. No… no women lost. Neesa wife. Diff…difficult." He perks up, "Cakes? Hair? Would…would like that. On…Only here is…" his wild guesture rather sprays wine everywhere. "No Flox. Analla wine. Wine! Di..Diyouknow you can… can lie un.der. The bung. An'drink? Learn. a. new thing. Everyday!" He looks suddenly distraught, "Not… Not angry? Sososo sorry."

Just look at that face. Worried that she has said something, the merry widow tucks her hand into Prince Dhraegon's (that is, not the hand with which he's clutching his special bottle) and laces their fingers together in a gesture oft found reassuring by grown men reduced to little boys by the fragrant juices of the grape and the grain. "Angry? Me? I can't see why I ought to be… and I hope you're not either," she says gently, "even if I can't lie under the bung to drink. I really don't think I ought to, you know," and she lets out a little laugh; "just think what would happen to my hair!" Though the image of Prince Dhraegon sprawled upon that poor vintner's cellar floor, drinking thirstily straight from a cask of wine, is clear enough in in her mind and does explain a thing or two. Including the less than pristine condition of his own coiffure. "Just between you and me…" And she leans nearer to whisper, brushing a few silvery strands away from his ear, "I do happen to have rather a lot of wine in my rooms. I've an arrangement, you see, and I'd never want any guest of mine to go thirsty. I may not offer hospitality as grand as yours, Your Grace, but I do try."

Dhraegon is weeping again with the freedom of the very drunk. "Don'wanna dis…disapoint." His hair is indeed a complete mess. "Not… not sup.posed to. Drink. Not… not SPINNY Drink. Cro. cus. Want… want to be good. But… but wigs and wedding nights and sisters and… and breeding. Ask JOY. I said. Not… not me. About wives. And… and tilling. Seeds." He shudders, all wide eyed alarm. "Needa drink. Too loud, too loud!" Her leaning close has him throwing his arms around her neck, the bottle unfortuneately drip, drip, dripping down her back. "Wine? In'r'rooms? Please? Sorry, so sorry. Need a drink?" He is all desperate pleading now. "Not angry?"

With Prince Dhraegon once again all over her, soaking her with tears and wine alike, Lady Joy gestures frantically behind his back to the vintner who hasn't been quite able to tear himself away from the spectacle. She mouths something to him and, when he still looks puzzled, clears her throat and declares, "You'll be so good as to call for a cart, won't you, to see us to the docks?"

And, with an agreement reached that she'll remove the prince from his establishment if only he'll provide her with some means of doing so, she gives her charge's back another soothing rub and then unwraps his bottle arm from about her much smaller figure. "Oh, I know," she sighs, "it is rather loud in here sometimes, isn't it?" In truth it isn't at the moment, not really, but that's a matter of perspective. "But I'm not angry at all and it's going to be all right, sweetling. We'll just go back to my rooms and have a drink and you'll feel better, I know you will. And so will I." Truer words…

She lets him hang on to her with his other arm if it makes him any happier; more importantly, she extracts from the bosom of her gown a warm, fragrant, lace-edged linen handkerchief embroidered with the letters 'J' and 'H' in violet silk thread to match her gown. She shakes it out and dabs at each of his eyes in turn and then holds it to his nose: "Blow," she instructs.

The vintner scurries away for a cart greatful that someone is taking charge of the alarming drunk Prince Man Baby.

Prince Dhraegon likely thinks he is whispering, "Loud. Inmyhead. Allatime. Drink quiets it." He submits to being wiped with the air of someone used to being taken care of in just this way and blows loudly on command. Her promises seem to cheer him up, "Love you all so much!" He beams up at her, making an effort to focus on her face. "You are sosonice."

After another gentle wipe here and there, corners of fabric applied to corners of face, Lady Joy's maid is honoured with the gift of the royal hanky.

"If it's in your head," she says thoughtfully, "there's just no getting away from it, is there? … Come on, sweetling," this in answer to a hand gesture from the vintner, who has had a cart lately emptied of barrels brought round; hardly a princely conveyance but at least it's available at once, "just you hold my hand, and you can put your arm round Udo on your other side if you're feeling wobbly," her guardsman pales, "and we'll get over to the island just as soon as we can. It might be quieter when it's just us, don't you think?" she suggests. "Perhaps a little quieter. Though I always talk too much, I know I do, I've often been told so… usually by men," she giggles, rising to her feet with her wine-sodden gown clinging about her in a manner which causes masculine jaws to drop all round the winery, tucking one hand into Prince Dhraegon's to encourage him up likewise and beckoning urgently to poor Udo with the other. Goodness. Of all the parcels she hadn't thought to carry back to the Hightower… but if there's one present she knows her cousin Marsei would like above all others, surely it's an unhappy, straying husband brought home to those who know best how to look after him.

Dhraegon nods sadly, "Was doing better. Lately." Does make it upright on the third try and trustingly throws his bottle arm over the guard's shoulder and breathing wine fumes at him, "So kind. Love you sooooo much!" he clings to her hand and says to her with an odd attempt at dignified formallity that he can't possibly pull off given the circumstance. "Bid me." Then he is giggling, "Like your talk, Hyacinth…. Talktalktalk. Soothing… And hair. no… No wigs between us."

Seven above, he's drunker than she supposed. Calling her by all those sweet little floral names he has for Marsei. Well, perhaps from that angle (looking down from above, past masses of red hair) two women with Tully blood don't look so very dissimilar… Lady Joy elects on the spot not to say anything either way, not to alarm him by arguing, not to say anything that might make him less reluctant to come along with her — not when they've finally got him moving and are charting a meandering course through the winery's gawping patrons toward the tunnel which leads up to the street. At least it's a slope. Not stairs. Stairs. The Hightower. Oh, Seven above—!

"Wigs?" she inquires doubtfully. "You said something before about wigs… I know my colour's a trifle unusual but I've always had red hair, you can ask anybody, it's all my own and it's no end of bother, it really is, having such curls. Well. You'll see when we have our hair party," she giggles, "you'll see what it looks like down and how my maids struggle to put it up." The worthiest of these creatures, trailing behind, looks even less than usually pleased with her mistress, if such a state can be imagined.

Dhraegon shakes his head and nearly goes over, "No, no no. Ad.vice. Wedding. Night." he peers at her, swaying, forgetting to shuffle forewards, "Bright Petals." And then he stays there, eye lids drooping, swaying, swaying.

It is a complete mystery to Lady Hastwyck.

She looks up at him and nibbles her lower lip and considers wrapping his arm round her shoulders instead of only holding his hand; but, let's be realistic, he'd only take her down with him. Much better leave that to Udo.

"Well, perhaps you'll explain it all to me," she suggests with an effort at brightness, as she takes a step ahead of him and turns to lead him onward, "just as soon as we're at home, mmm? Come on, sweetling, it's not far now to the cart and then you can sit down… Do you like," she suggests wildly, "riding forwards or backwards? Looking at where you've going, or where you've just been? It feels a little funny, doesn't it, looking back?"

Udo's attempts to get him moving are failing. He's as immovable as a tree, despite swaying like one in high wind. His head swings to follow he movement, a little jerkily. He pleads, "Bid me?"

If there's a Dhraegon Targaryen Manual, no copy of it was issued to Lady Joy when she moved into the Hightower. An unconscionable oversight. She hesitates, not quite knowing what is called for, and resorts to manners: "Please, Your Grace? Come along with me, and see me home."

Dhraegon cocks his head. There is something almost eery about it. Some decition much have been made though as he makes a soft sound and starts shuffling forwaerds again. His balance is all wrong, but his back is rather straight. It's not the posture of a knight or soldier, but there is something vaguely dignified about it, perhaps a hint of the Prince he might have been if he were not so… as he is. "Yes. M'lady…. Bright Petals…."

And Lady Joy senses something, though she can't put a name to it — all she can do is reward him with a broader smile as he does just as she wills, following along with that stiff back of his as she leads him by the hand.

The cart is waiting in the street just beyond the tunnel, the driver having made his way nearer through the always-thronged Lower Hightower Street during the time it took to coax the mountainous prince thus far. It's empty of barrels, empty of anything at all, with only narrow wooden benches built in along its sides: Lady Hastwyck isn't at all too proud to ride in such a conveyance when needs must, and she has Udo more or less prop the prince against the back of it and kneel to make a stirrup of his hands for her. Meanwhile her maid Dora, lips pressed tightly together, stows the shopping beneath a bench; and the hand which has brought Prince Dhraegon so far is stretched out to him again from atop the said bench.

"Can you get up all right?" Lady Joy asks anxiously. "Udo can help you if it's too awkward — it's rather a funny little cart, isn't it? Not like a wheelhouse at all, but open to the skies — I rather feel as though we're going on an adventure…" The sun at least is low upon the western horizon, its rays not too bruising to the sensitive eyes of the drinking classes.

Dhraegon giggles, and slurs out, "Went home in a cart like this. From the party. Jurian too…. Best. Party. Ever…." He peers up at her, clearly confused, "Where…?" He is doing his tree imitation again.

Oh, Seven, lost him again. Lady Joy's outstretched hand beckons distinctly. "We're going to my rooms at the Hightower," she reminds him, "to have a drink together, and eat pastries, and perhaps you'll tell me about this marvelous party you went to… Won't you get in, please, sweetling? You must know all about carts like this, if you've been in one before," she coaxes.

Dhraegon's face wrinkles up as if he's trying to work something out, but it proving to difficult he begs her instead, "Bid me? I'm… I'm lost…."

It's the third time and it's beginning to sink in. Heavy-lidded, grey-green eyes look deeply into Prince Dhraegon's violet pair reddened by weeping; and she enunciates clearly, gently, "Get up into the cart, Your Grace."

Dhraegon looks wildly relieved. Clear directions even his wine soaked brain can figure out. The result is a rather undignified sea mammal flop, but he does manage to get all his parts in eventually. He crawls so he might lean against her legs. "There it is…. Quiet."

The maid Dora rides up front with the carter, giving him directions to the docks, to where the water taxis depart most regularly to the Hightower; the guardsman Udo climbs up in the back to clamber across the sprawled limbs of Prince Dhraegon and sit opposite his lady, trying not to appear as though he has any opinions, whatsoever, on any subject, at all: no, no, no.

It's mostly clear meanwhile to Lady Joy: she settles the prince's head in her silken lap and rubs his scalp with tender fingertips and and feels a wild stab of pity straight through her heart. It's rather a lot to understand, when so much more has come upon her now than she knew before, but all the same… All the same, he deserves the effort, and she makes it. "Quiet?" she suggests as the cart pulls out into the traffic, her gaze wandering over the manses and guildhalls they pass during the part of their journey which, on land rather than by sea, is shorter but slower. "Well, that's all right, then, isn't it… I really don't understand about the wigs," she confesses.

Dhraegon sighs happily as his scalp is rubbed. He snuggles up with the complete trust of a sleepy child, still clutching the bottle, though he has spilled most of it. He mumbles, "Di..Din't unnersand…Understand. Thought… thought he was not wanting a wife… wasn't US. So… so wigs? An… pink stuff… Vis…Visenya…. Thought I'd bru…bruised yourpetals. Petals. Bright, Bright, petals. Not Us? So wigs? Or… or dye? Onny… Only not that. Likes… Not Us. Wants… Wants a high… highbirn…. Highborn wife? _Tried_ only… only… tilling and… and… Not _good_ at this. Wanted… wanted a drink…. Drown in wwine, Drown in wine. Spin until we all float away. Vines an… and eggs're better, Iris, Lily, Jonquil Wife…."

"… Oh, dear," sighs Lady Joy, as bewildered as before; but still providing that soothing touch of soft fingers in silvery hair which seems to be calming him, at least, and keeping him from looking quite so forlorn. How much has he had to drink? She can hardly fathom it. One hand alights; she reaches down and, within his field of view, taps the bottle. "Will you let me have a sip of that, sweetling? I'm awfully thirsty… I forgot to have something at the winery and I'm not sure I can wait all the way to the Hightower."

Dhraegon obediently hands it up to her, "Will you sing to me after?" He is calm and there is a detatched note to his speaking, along with a childlike delivery. "And… And braid my hair?"

One unlikely request and one unprecedented: but having calmly drained the bottle, for it's not as though there was that much left, Lady Joy feels suddenly as though she might be able to manage it. Really, what else does she have on the rest of the day? The suitors aren't precisely beating down her door with roses clenched between their teeth. "If you like," she offers, with only a hint of surprise in her tone. "… Sweetling, I'm sorry, I think I drank it all — there wasn't much left," she apologises. "But we'll find another one, won't we, mmm?" And she passes the empty bottle back to him just so she has both hands with which to stroke his silvery Targaryen head. "I can sing a little," she admits, "though it's easier with someone to play the music… I don't know if I'd know any songs you might like." She bites her lip, gazing off into the shifting middle distance, for she's worked out by now that sexy Dornish tunes might not be the prince's bottle of wine, as it were.

Dhraegon peers up at her as she apologises but then settles back to cuddling her legs and resting his head in her lap, "Cakes and wine and home…. S'all right. it's gone quiet now…." He holds the bottle with absent minded obedience. he giggles, "Some…something pretty and soft…. Sorry I got drunk. Not supposed to…."

"I'm not supposed to either," confesses his self-appointed keeper of the evening, "but once in a while I do. It wouldn't be so much fun, would it, if we were supposed to? It's just the nature of the thing."

Dhraegon confides in her, "Snuck OUT. Not supposed to be OUT without a Minder…."

"… Oh! Well, you'll be in again soon enough, won't you? And there's nothing wrong with just visiting me, is there?" suggests Lady Joy conspiratorially. Though another wheel has clicked into place, deep beneath her red curls. "Mind you, the pastries might be a little fattening, but I'll risk it if you will, sweetling. They just looked so perfectly delicious."

Dhraegon beams happily, "Tol'you, Love. Want to get plump with you. All the cakes you like forever and ever…. Safe…"

"… Not really," is his companion's sighed estimation of the effect of cakes upon the feminine waistline. "Only if one's already married, you know; if one isn't it's generally best to keep away from them. But you're all right, aren't you? You've a lovely, lovely wife."

Dhraegon sighs and closes his eyes, "Maried now. Safe. Safesafesafe."

Married, and being shepherded home by his wife's cousin, and with not a care in the world… or is that, after his late babblings, too simple a summation? Lady Joy sighs in contemplation and keeps petting his hair, as long and soft and silky as a girl's, not disturbing him any further till the time comes for them to disembark from their cart and take ship to Battle Island.

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