(123-01-09) The Content of Rumours
The Content of Rumours
Summary: Prince Jurian Targaryen examines the truth of certain rumours about his 'Aunt' Vhaerys; and she treats him to her views upon the matrimonial matters so much upon his mind of late.
Date: 09/01/2015
Related: None

"Because I do not have /time/ to be dealing with these idiotic annoyances!" Jurian is hissing at some unfortunate servant, who he holds with a pinched fold of the man's shirt, because of the servant's tendency to back away. "You have a brain in your skull, yes? Well, go and use it!" Jurian releases the servant, who hurries away and out the door to the street.

"Can you be so certain he has?" drawls an unimpressed voice from the stairs. It belongs to Princess Vhaerys Targaryen, called by some in days of old the Golden Dragon, a lady in her fifth decade and so frequently resident in the Dragon Door Manse that her suite is kept waiting for her in her absences — which have of late overlapped to a degree with her young cousin Prince Jurian's presences. On her way out she trails a grey-robed, violet-eyed maester and two of her trio of exceptionally fair dragonseed handmaidens, girls dressed in violet linen with white ribbons in their hair, alike enough to be sisters; her own colours are red and black, finely-tooled leathers over a silken shirt, and her hair of whitening gold is braided as usual for war.

Jurian takes his eyes from the back of his fleeing servant and sees the retinue coming down the stairs, including Vhaerys. He straightens up and stands where he is. "You must be Aunt Vhaerys," he greets, disregarding the fact that she seems to be mid-conversation. Gaze a little wide, perhaps he is keen to take in every detail.

Perhaps he'll notice then that she's a tall woman, as tall as he; that on the third finger of her left hand she wears a ring in the form of a golden dragon biting its own tail, whilst her right hand is weighed down by an enormous black pearl surrounded by a swirl of smaller pigeon's blood rubies; that the daggers at her hips boast dragonbone hilts; and that she regards him with only the most casual recognition. One of the family, patently, but which? "I am Vhaerys Targaryen," she concedes, speaking once again in High Valyrian, "though I make no pledge of being your aunt. You are—?" And, having reached the bottom of the steps she pauses for his answer, obliging her retinue to come to a rapid and in some cases wobbly halt on various levels behind her.

"My name is Jurian," the man replies, tone polite and gaze meeting his relative's but not that of any of the members of her entourage. "I have heard that you are with us sometimes in the Manse," he explains. "But I think it is the first time I have seen you. If you object to being called 'Aunt,' you must tell me what to call you." He wears a near smile, spark of curiosity or interest evident in his eyes.

The princess's fine and intelligent violet eyes travel from the golden head of the young man before her down over his costly garments and the twisted leg concealed beneath, and up again more swiftly to meet his eyes intent upon her in turn. She's assessing him; she doesn't trouble to conceal it. He might as well be something floating in a glass jar. "Jurian," she agrees coolly. "Baelon's boy, I believe…? I have no objection," and her strong shoulders shrug into black silk, "you're not my only 'nephew' in this manse. What have you heard of me? I should be so interested to know." Her lips broaden.

Jurian seems to expect the inspection, almost welcome it as though he either expects high marks or might find some pleasure in disputing low ones. He lifts his eyebrows a little at the question, but not really in surprise. "There is a rumor that you are formidable," he answers.

And his 'Aunt' Vhaerys nods, considering this estimation of her character, her abilities, her history as a dragonrider and a ferocious partisan of House Targaryen and its customs and its privileges. "Perhaps there shall soon be a rumour you're a sycophant," she suggests pleasantly.

Jurian doesn't lose his smile, but his eyes waver narrowed for a moment as if he's deciding whether to take that as an insult. "I can't be held responsible for the content of rumors," he decides on saying. "Do you dispute what I've heard?"

"No… no, I do not," and Vhaerys's eyes narrow; "I think it only a curious way of beginning. If you want something from me you may ask it. We are kin, after all; what's," and she lets out a breath approaching laughter, folds her arms beneath her high, small breasts, and inquires of him in a low and purring tone, with that almost-smile playing upon her lips, "the worst I can do to you?"

Jurian broadens his smile. "Nothing at all," he claims. "I only thought it would be polite for us to introduce ourselves, now that we meet at last." He gestures toward the door. "Don't let me detain you if you have other business."

Nothing at all. Of course. Vhaerys returns his smile with a pretense of good nature perhaps even more successful than his own. "Ah, you don't trouble me: I am early today," she allows; "I was woken again by…" And her arms unfold, and her rubies glitter as she describes a vague gesture in the air. "The incessant cacophony produced at every hour of the day, the night, the early morning, by our assorted relations and their pets." Her smile has faded into an expression of grim, fastidious, wholly regal dissatisfaction which bodes ill for the other inmates of the Dragon Door Manse. "I trust you, Jurian, don't keep sheep, goats, cats in heat, or screaming Dornishwomen?"

"The blasted sheep," Jurian says with a faint edge, but not enough for it to be an inappropriate show of anger in front of a new acquaintance. "I do not keep any pets, Dornish, sheep or otherwise," he assures Vhaerys, "Or livestock of any kind, and I have scolded Daevon for the very same thing."

"That boy's lack of consideration is extraordinary," agrees Vhaerys, with a certain tightness about her eyes; "he treats this manse as though it were his own personal residence, as though no one else had the right to live here in decent privacy and quietude with her property unmolested and without strange children popping out of cupboards at her. My husband and I began coming here for months at a time before Daevon had so much as clawed his way out of his mother; and we have never behaved so."

Jurian looks surprised, but pleasantly. "Yes," he says a bit eagerly. "It's infuriating." Not that he has any idea about children and cupboards. "Barely more than a whelp but he thinks that because people call him the Maiden's Knight that it gives him some sort of authority." He faintly snorts air from his nostrils. "I wonder if it ever occurs to him that the people may be laughing at him."

For Vhaerys the denigration of minor cousins is less an absorbing sport than a mildly diverting intellectual exercise. "He revels in the adulation of the smallfolk perhaps because no dragon has ever taken an interest in him," she suggests drily; "but a substitution of the lowest for the highest will never lend a prince true stature within our house. When I was seventeen I bonded and rode my late father's mount, and even had I not been wed I assure you it would not have occurred to anyone I met to mock me as a maiden."

"That's true," Jurian says, recovering his studied coolness once the initial excitement of finding someone in Westeros who does not admire the Maiden's Knight has faded a little. He gives a tilted, but restrained, smile. "Yes, I heard one of Visenya's dragons was first intended for him, but that it rejected him," he says.

Well, there we have it. "The monarchs of the skies have finer taste than street rats, would you not agree?" And Vhaerys shrugs again, her point doubly proven. "Are you in Oldtown upon any particular business, Jurian?" she inquires then, repeating his name, as though to impress it into her own memory. It might slip otherwise. There are so many blonde cousins.

"Oh, yes," Jurian confirms for Vhaerys with another lingering smile. "I first came to find a wife," he answers. "But by the time I got here, Uncle Dhraegon was betrothing himself to Marsei Hightower. And you?" he says, sending the conversation back her way.

"Don't tell me you, too, had your mind on a pretty Hightower widow," drawls the princess, suddenly less impressed, and no more troubling to hide that than she has anything else that has crossed her mind… at least, so far as her 'nephew' could possibly tell. Her openness is in itself a token of her status within the royal family. She doesn't prevaricate. She doesn't fear.

Jurian lifts his eyebrows. "Why shouldn't I?" he asks. "She is sister to the queen and, while she was married once before, still of an age to have children. There is nothing wrong with her breeding."

Regarding him still with coolly disapproving violet eyes, her stance somehow more that of a swordsman than a princess of that gentle breeding he so admires in Lady Marsei Hightower, Vhaerys inquires: "And what of our traditions? What of the future of House Targaryen, when our blood is turned from fire to milk and our dragons no longer come when we call?"

Jurian suddenly pulls his chin back slightly. "Have you been talking to my father?" he asks with quiet suspicion, adding, "I wonder if you would say the same thing to the King. And what of Visenya and Rhaegor, both being married off to Dorne?"

The most immediately interesting thread remains, at the last, the first. "Talking to your father? Why; has he a match in mind for you within our house?" inquires Vhaerys with a like suspicion. "You have my word however that until this moment your matrimonial arrangements or lack thereof had never crossed my mind. I have been part of no secret councils the object of which were to see you creditably wed: I don't lie awake at night," she drawls, "tossing and turning as I try to settle upon just the very girl for you."

Jurian seems a little soured, still, or perhaps his suspicions are not so easily laid to rest by the assurance that he is not important enough to concern Vhaerys. Or it could be that that itself insults him. "Yes, in fact, he does," Jurian confirms, crossing his arms. "My sister."

"And why should you not do as generations of our house have done?" The princess tilts her pale head, studying him again. "Do you not care for your sister? What is your age? Perhaps your father is simply eager to hold his grandchildren upon his knee before he passes from this world."

"Yes, perhaps he is," Jurian says, tone indicating that he's not exactly pleased to be reminded that he has failed to marry for so many years. "But my sister is quite mad."

"A reasonable urge," is Vhaerys's quiet decree. "I take it, however, you don't mean the notion of your marriage… angers her. Have you only the one sister unwed?" Having taken no interest in his marriage before she seems certainly to be making up for it now — marriage in general is, as her retinue could attest were they not sworn to silence, a subject much upon her mind.

"No, I mean that she is insane," Jurian explains, teeth rather on edge. "Most of my siblings died quite young. There may be one or two other girls living, but they probably still have their milk teeth."

"Perhaps if you proposed a cousin. Act, or be acted upon; those are invariably our two choices in this world," muses Vhaerys. She doesn't appear moved by her 'nephew's' plight, let alone that of her absent 'niece'. They constitute an intellectual curiosity, no more. "Gaeron, has Prince Jurian any eligible cousins?"

This remark is addressed to the maester hovering behind her. He clears his throat and commences, in a voice strong and clear despite the silvery-whiteness of his hair, to recite a list of unmarried Targaryen princesses and Velaryon ladies, their ages and their illustrious bloodlines. After half a dozen his principal (who, with her eyes steadily upon Jurian, has not spared him a glance) cuts him short with a raised hand.

Jurian narrows his eyes when Vhaerys has a list recited at him. He doesn't bother looking at the maester, either, but looks at Vhaerys. "Eternally grateful for your help," he says, probably sarcastic.

"So I see." And, pursuant to her belief that actions are vital, Princess Vhaerys acts to remove herself from the presence of this ungrateful cub and to waste no more of her time upon his troubles. She nods to him and no more, and she has taken three or four steps with her boots ringing out crisply upon the marble floor when the front door opens and a blonde bastard knight with dragon's blood in his veins appears to sweep her a low bow.

"Your Grace's horse is waiting."

"How is the weather?"

"Your Grace may wish for a cloak."

Vhaerys snaps her fingers and one of her patient handmaidens, who throughout the discussion between her betters has never lifted her eyes, turns on her heel and flees upstairs in search of such a garment.

Jurian watches the maid flee, then heads up the stairs unhurriedly in her wake now that Vhaerys is departing.

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