(123-01-08) The Widows of Gallowsgrey
The Widows of Gallowsgrey
Summary: When the funeral feast is over, the packing begins.
Date: 17/01/2015
Related: None

The chamber customarily occupied by the Lady of Gallowsgrey is spacious and well-appointed and well-windowed, with a peerless view of the rain.

A woman in a gown once blue and black and dyed black now all over is superintending the efforts of two serving-women as they fold garments upon the silken coverlet of the four-poster bed and lay them tenderly in open trunks. Colour upon colour, red and rust and orange and green and gold, the pale linen of smallclothes — though curiously little blue, curiously little black.

The man speaking with her, the new Lord of Gallowsgrey, does not appear to have noticed this. He has eyes only for his mother in her swaying progress from trunk, to window, to trunk, to him. The weak light, the unrelieved blackness of her garb, hardly flatter her caramel complexion and her lustrous black and silver curls, but he can't be relied upon to notice that either. He's a good boy, intelligent, dutiful, but to him she's only his mother.

"You know you needn't," he utters, in the tone of one repeating the obvious; "Maryam doesn't expect— Rest here as long as you wish it. A few more days, certainly, whilst you…" He shifts from one foot to the other, imperfectly acquainted with what a woman might wish to do after losing her husband, after receiving him again from the care of the Silent Sisters and watching all night by his cold body, after interring him in his own dank ancestral crypt and presiding from a place of honour over his funeral feast.

"A few days will change nothing," she informs him, coming nearer, slipping her hand into his hair and pulling his forehead down (but only by a few inches) to be kissed. "I'm pleased to have something to do with myself."

A sound at the door; she seizes upon this excuse and, when her servants look up as well, ushers the nearest one to open it. Her goodsister. Standing behind her son, she meets Lady Deirdre's eyes and rolls her own.

"Here's your aunt; we'll keep one another company. Why don't you go to Maryam? I'm sure she must feel she's hardly seen you; and, in her condition…"

Reminding him of his other obligations does the trick. The newly-succeeded lord, who hasn't yet learned how to balance them, excuses himself with a bow and a not-too-trite word of sympathy to Gallowsgrey's other widow.

The door shuts.

Encouraged by the brief draught a candle begins to smoke and rather than interrupt the progress of her packing a second time the widowed Lady Trant herself steps over to snuff it and then to trim the wick.

"They keep trying to console me," she explains absently, wielding a pair of fine little silver embroidery scissors. Another gown is tucked away, this one amber in hue. "All four of them. In shifts. How are yours?"

Deirdre has opted for an overgown in her former House colours that was made her last visit to Amberly. It is black, after all, with silver touches and with an appropriate underdress switched out for the Trant blue, looks mournful. Her woman is in her old room packing what things she will take.

She hesitates in the door, eyes downcast in her apparent grief. She has powdered away her tan subtly. She must have caught the eye roll as her own dark eyes widden in warning. She curtseys to the new Lord Trant. Once they are alone, she rushes over to take her hands, expression now warm and excited. "Small Rob doesn't really grasp any of it and is soimply excited to have so many strangers here for the funeral Dahla truly is inconsolable, so I have been comforting her, poor mite…. I feel a bit cruel not bringing her, but the last thing she needs is to be whisked away from anything familiar."

Alone but for the maids. But maids don't quite count, do they? Especially these two, who have been with Ynys Trant a good long while.

"They hardly knew their father enough to miss him," she reassures her goodsister, holding pale hands in darker ones, thumbs stroking gently. "They'll miss you in the beginning, but not as much as they'd miss their home, their Nan, their cousins, their friends, every other familiar face… You do right. We love our children; we can't be their slaves always. It is your time, and you do right," she repeats. Which is what she has been saying in every snatched moment the two women have had together in the endless round of funeral preparations, final duties, and dealing with that plethora of visitors who came to console but always ended in needing consolation themselves.

Half the bed cleared she leads Lady Deirdre to it, holding her still by both hands, and sits down with her back against the carven post at the foot of it. The dark red draperies which were her own choice seem somehow to lend more vibrance to her skin. "Not that one," she orders, letting go of her goodsister to lift an apparently exhausted finger and point at another gown of dark blue and black. "Add it to the pile of those to be torn up for rags."

Deirdre smiles sadly, "I keep telling myself that…" She sits beside her, "I do so want to see more of the world. Poor sweet, silly man. Following his brother even in death…"

Lady Trant's hands rest comfortably now in her lap, her stillness absolute but for the drawing of one slow breath after another. "He was consistent," and her tone is faintly apologetic, for the elder Trant brother was always her special responsibility. "It's to be Oldtown, then, for you?"

Deirdre nods yes, "I think so. I should like to see your beloved dorne too, but it is already so much to get used to. I thought i might ease into it this way."

Warm dark eyes run sympathetically over Lady Deirdre's Amberly gown, her powdered skin. "You would like my country… My country would like you. And if it's another man you look for, I think you would find him there more easily than in such a—" Is that hand Lady Trant's, or Ynys Yronwood's? It describes a lazy figure of some sort in the air. "Place," she concludes, her language much moderated by twenty-odd years in Westeros, "ruled by such a people."

Deirdre smiles softly, "I do think I would like a man eventually, but not just now. I want to… feel strange cobbles under my feet.

"I want to feel familiar ones," says her goodsister, shrugging. But that's old news; she has consistently said: home. "And to feel the heat in my bones again, and smell the orange groves, and watch my hawk come back to my wrist over endless sand… Don't wait too long, though," and her eyes narrow, "don't let these choices that have come upon you be taken again by time."

Deirdre nods, "I do not blame you, Ynys. For all only a narrow strip of water seperate here from there, you might as well be a world away." She gives her a sad, crooked smile. "I will not wait to long. I promise."

"Why are you looking at me in such a way?" Lady Ynys asks softly. "Have you let all these black gowns, all these wailing women, too far into your heart—?" She looks steadily into the younger woman's eyes; her own are vast and fathomlessly dark. "Our husbands chose each day the manner of their lives." What is implicit is the deaths they also chose.

How studiously her servants struggle not to overhear—! They have every excuse, busy as they are: packing up her books, her stockings, the jewels which are her own rather than House Trant's, oils and salves from her still-room, whatever she shan't want upon her journey into the southern sunshine. Her winter clothes will be stored at Gallowsgrey. Perhaps for years.

Deirdre's expression firms, "They died as they lived, as they'd have wanted to go. Now I must decide how I wish to live the rest of my life."

"You'll find you have many years of it yet," with which words Lady Ynys intends, quietly, to encourage rather than to disconcert her goodsister. They have both been granted an honourable second chance, before it's quite too late: the future is as full of possibilities as the sky beyond her windows is full of rain. Her gaze drifts that way and is recalled, as she draws in a breath, to Lady Deirdre's face. "I don't remember Oldtown well," she mentions, and recalls then a tale her husband told proudly enough from his side. "We had only two days there, before I was taken to Highgarden to be sold like a prize mare to a boy with golden flowers upon his doublet and no idea how to ride."

Deirdre nods, watching her face with wide intelligent eyes, "And I was barely flowered when they sold me to Toland, but we'd barely left when the raven reached us with news of his death. I never even made it two full days ride."

Lady Ynys shakes her head of silvering curls; "And here you sit with a Dornishwoman anyway. The gods will have their little jokes." A familiar call; a familiar response. More pensive perhaps today. "Be careful with the sleeves," she advises a maid, without appearing to shift the focus of her gaze. "Are you packing anything black?" she inquires practically. "I have not decided. One or two gowns, perhaps, in case of…" Well, just in case.

Deirdre runs her thumb lightly in a circle on the other woman's hand, "Having you for a goodsister has never been a joke, but rather a Godsend. I have several things I can wear. I think I will wear mourning a while, especially as my old colours suited me. I've brighter things for when I'm ready. Poor little Dahla. She saw so little of her father, but the glimpses were so precious to her…"

"… Black doesn't suit me," admits Lady Ynys, sitting there draped in it, "and in Dorne I shall be smiling so much," she begins to demonstrate; or did she begin when she was called a godsend, "that it would defeat the effect. I will be taken for a frivolous woman sooner than a hypocrite," she decides. Then she's quiet a moment, her hand in Lady Deirdre's, her smile resting upon her. "And you will tell Dahla stories of her father. Only the good ones. She will love him and regret him more and more, but a daughter should feel so."

Deirdre, softly, "You shouls be in bright silks and sunshine. You are too vivid for mourning weeds I think. Me, they suit better." She smiles at the thought, "I should hire some singer to write him a cycle that my children might hear the best of him sung. I expect Rob will have mostly forgotten him in a year or two else.

"They'll both hear more of him here," Lady Ynys reminds her, just as softly, "than anywhere else, anywhere he was loved less."

Deirdre hugs her, "We will always be sisters whatever happens next, won't we?"

This comfort is much easier to accept than her son's — Lady Deirdre smells better, too, to be frank. Thus Lady Ynys echoes her embrace and leaves a kiss not upon her forehead but her agreeably clean hair. "You know I've only ever had one sister." She lets out a quiet sigh, watching all her worldly goods (or rather, those of them she cares for) undergo consolidation into so few trunks, so few boxes… What to take, what to leave; it hasn't been difficult. "Shall I visit you in Oldtown," she suggests lightly, "when you're settled?"

Deirdre has not been able to get out for a ride, so there is less of forest and garden about her than there might normally be. Her tone is eager, "Oh yes. I would like that, as I hope to visit you.

"You will. Past the mountains and along the Boneway is a long journey — but on a fast ship, two days, three at the most, from Oldtown to Starfall," muses Lady Ynys, "then to Skyreach and down the river… You will like the journey; you will see terrain such as you have never seen. It's all possible now." She pauses. "We could hardly both be away before, could we?"

Deirdre says, "No, we couldn't. I'm ready to be off, truly I am. You must think me terribly soft. This is an adventure and one I've dreamed of since I was a girl."

"… I've seen you cut the throat of a wounded deer," points out Lady Ynys drily. So much for softness. She squeezes Lady Deirdre's shoulder once more and rises from the end of the bed, straight-backed, more amply curved than when they met twenty-three years past, otherwise not so very much altered — to look at, that is. She twines her arm round her bedpost and leans into it and gazes through her leaded windows at the green ghosts of trees, hardly visible through the downpour. "I'm not going to miss that," she gestures.

Deirdre gives an unladylike snort, a touch of her usual temprament showing through. Her own figure is not that much changed, a little fuller in the breast after the children and though her skin has begun to wrinkle and sag, underneath it she is harder than she was. She laughs softly, "I do not know what the sky would look like without it rains a few days of every week. I have trouble picturing a land so dry there's barely any green. when i was small i imagined that Desert was exactly like Ocean only yellow, and wondered what fish swam therein…."

"Such a sky looks," Lady Ynys promises her simply, "beautiful."

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