(123-01-10) Apology Tea
Apology Tea
Summary: Prince Dhraegon invites Lady Hastwyck to tea, by way of an apology for… well… the last time they shared a libation.
Date: 10/01/2016
Related: A Cartful of Parcels, the week before.

If one is to listen to servant's gossip, Dhraegon is so taken with his new wife he skipped lunch yesterday to closet himself in her room with her, emerging rather disheveled at dinner time, so likely whatever happened between the Clown Prince and the Merry Widow has not done serious hurt. Dhraegon did send word to Lady Joyeuse that he might like to take tea with her today.

Thus at the hour appointed in his note, attired in sea-green sandsilk and a judicious scattering of pearls and with her maid Dora trundling along at her heels, Lady Joy climbs the two flights to Prince Dhraegon's chambers.

Well… at three or four minutes past the hour, in truth; and so she's a little rushed; and breathing swiftly as though in anticipation of cakes to come as she's shown into her host's presence. She appears comfortably unconscious that they've caused any talk they ought not to have done; she's smiling as though to greet an old friend, rather than such a new one. "Am I late, Your Grace? Oh, I do hope not… The buckle on my slipper broke," she sighs, "and I couldn't make up my mind which pair to put on instead!"

Flox answers the door, as polite and correct as always and ushers the Lady and her chaperone in. Dhraegon's bedroom door is firmly closed, but his sunny, flower crowded sitting room has a cheery, welcoming air to it. Dhraegon himself has his hair up in an elaborate style his wife favors on formal occations and is dressed in various shades of green silks, in that half Dornish style he favours, with long wide sleeves under the short cut Dornish style overtunic. The tea is elaborate with an array of savory pasties, egg tarts, dips, rolls, and the inevitable cakes. A mint tisane and a lavander tisane sit under coseys while a pitchure of honeyed lemon water stands ready as well. The Prince leaps up on seeing her, and bounds over for a hug, though there is worry in his eyes. "It is never too late for food or friends!"

"Luckily for me," chuckles the lady, as she folds the prince yet again into her warm and spicy embrace. Oh, and he's so fresh and clean and dry today: what a treat. She gives him a good solid squeeze and after a few seconds leans away, hands on his arms, to get a good look at him. "I like your hair," she says frankly, "haven't I seen Marsei's done rather like that? She has such beautiful taste — it wouldn't work for me, though, with all my curls."

He is not even a little sticky, but clean and vanilla lavander scented. he nods eagerly, pleased that she noticed, "She has the best taste. I which my petals were as pretty as hers… Joy, are you terribly angry at me? Because of last week?"

Her grey-green eyes widen, and rather than letting go of his forearms she holds tighter. Another liberty; but a woman of her nature is apt to take those in any case, and despite his mountainous frame and his princely title there's nothing in his to forbid them. "Sweetling, is this an apology tea?" she asks. "If I tell you I'm not cross at all, will you still let me have the tea? … Because I'm not, I promise; and I wouldn't tell you an untruth." This is uttered firmly, unwavering, looking straight up into his eyes.

Dhraegon gives not indication of being aware of things like impropriety or taking liberties in this case as in most others. He watches her with big worried eyes, "It is an apology tea but you are welcome to tea any time you like, Joy. Would you please come eat cakes with me even if you are not cross?"

"Sweetling, I'd adore to eat cakes with you," declares Lady Joy, in just that same gently firm tone, because she has come to understand that he's most at his ease with straightforward statements. "I'm becoming so awfully fat," she whispers, leaning in as though to keep this confidence from her maid, who has found a corner of the chamber to settle in, and taken out her knitting, "since I've been staying here — there's always such wonderful food at every turn — I try always to have fruit near me, because I do love fruit, and it's not fattening at all; but your cakes, Your Grace, they're always the loveliest. One can scarcely be expected to resist them, can one?"

Dhraegon gives her another relieved ug, oblivious to the majesty, nay natural wonder that is her bosom. "I am so glad we are friends, Joy. I like it when you call me Sweetling…. We can have fruit too if you like. Shall I tell Flox?"

Lady Joy's first reaction is wide-eyed surprise. Again. "Oh! Did I…?" She lets out a peal of slightly bashful laughter, and lets go of him just to press a hand to that natural wonder and shake her head at him. "I hadn't realised I was calling you that, but if you like it— sweetling," she adds deliberately, and restores her hand to his so they can walk together to the tea table. He seemed to like that the last time, and it goes well with what else she has to say. "And I'm rather glad, too, you know — so many of the friends I had, or thought I had, last time I was in Oldtown seem to have melted away… It's the nature of life, really, and I suppose I oughtn't to judge them for it when I left, too. And you're Marsei's husband, and it would have been such a shame for me if you hadn't liked me, and hadn't wanted her to know me anymore."

Dhraegon is not really sure why she is laughing from his expression, but her laughter makes him happy so he laughs along with her to be companionable, "Most people call me Uncle, but you can call me Sweetling all you like." He wrinkles his nose, "I don't really like formal stuff like your Graces and titles are so hard to keep track of, don't you think?" He lets he lead him towards food, not needing much urging that way, "I hope I didn't mess up your gown. Do I owe you a new one? I could have Flox send down silks for you to look over if you like…. Oh, if she likes you, you are a friend. All I wish for My Hyacinth is that she be happy. If you make her happy how could you not make me happy?"

His visitor's eyes gleam with the sudden intensity of her feeling. "You really are the sweetest man," she informs him, holding his hand tighter before letting go to survey the tea table. "Oh, just look at all this," she sighs; "you really are spoiling me. I didn't mention the fruit just to ask for it, you know, when you're always so generous anyway — it just happens to be something else I like particularly, and so I always eat peaches and oranges and grapes all summer to make up for the dearth of them in wnter… The gown's ruined," she admits, meeting his eyes sidelong and rather upwards, with a mischievous smile playing about her lips, "but let's keep on telling the truth, shall we, just between the two of us: that shade of purple wasn't really my colour. I only thought the cloth was so beautiful and I wanted it! I think you did me a favour, really, you saved me from yourself. So do please promise me you shan't fret over its fate. I have rather a lot of other gowns, and they suit me far better."

Dhraegon goes to the door of what would normally be a dressing room and knocks lightly. Flox appears and is soon dispatched for fruit. The Minder gives the lady an approving glance as he leaves. Then he is back at the table, "You do have very lovely petals, Joy…." He starts to reach for the lavander tisane, but remembers his carefully drilled manners. He blurts out his memorized question, "What would you like to drink Lady Hastwyck?" He gives her a hopeful look that says, 'did I get it right?'

Perched daintily opposite him, with her skirts arranged to her satisfaction by a negligent caress of a ruby-laden paw, the lady looks also to the lavender tisane and then up to her host with another bright laugh. "Oh, but I don't mind 'Joy'," she reassures him, "or — 'Lady Joy' is quite all right, and if you called me that where others could hear nobody would think anything of it, for it's what all my friends call me. And I think that's lavender, isn't it? I should like it very much — to drink," she stresses, a teasing note in her voice, "but certainly not to wear, for I've learned my lesson now. I do like what you say — petals. You have such a pretty way of talking to ladies, sweetling, it's lovely just to listen to you. There are so many oafs in the world, and I seem to meet far too many of them, and they never offer me cakes and fruits and a lavender tisane and talk about my petals… I do think my cousin's fortunate in you. If I marry again, which I hardly think I shall," she sighs lightly, "but if I did, I could only hope to do so well."

Dhraegon nods eagerly, "I like lavander. I like flowers I cat eat!" He giggles delightedly and pours carefully for her first, then himself. The tea turns out to be midly honeyed and there is cream nearby, some of which he dumps in his own, "I like how it looks like clouds or smoke, don't you? Like there is a whole world in the cup…." The cups are wood, nice and sturdy, carved in bas relief floral patterns, realistically painted, and sized for large, Dhraegonish hands. There are no sharp impliments in sight anywhere in the room. He reguards her and explains with great ernestness, "I love her very much, you know and she is kind and gentle and understands me and we… enjoy being together. She is very peaceful to me around and never scary. I will never be able to diserve her. People keep telling me that as if I don't know. All I want is to make her as happy as she makes me and to see her stretch her petals towards the sky like a Sunflower…." He blushes and grabs the nearest food type object to stick in his mouth which turns out to be a meat and vegtable pasty with spices to give it zing.

Listening, nodding occasionally, Lady Joy sips her tea just to try it as it is and lowers the cup from lips curved into a smile of true and uncomplicated delight. She doesn't reach for the cream. Fattening and unnecessary. "Oh, I wouldn't say you don't," she protests gently. "I suppose I don't know either of you quite well enough to judge which most deserves the other, but it sounds as though you're going the right way about trying to deserve Marsei. Some men never even think they need to try — it simply wouldn't enter their heads to attempt such a thing." She sighs, giving her head another little shake as she regards him. "If you both keep on trying, together, to look after one another and make one another happy, that's the most anybody can do, don't you think? And— and just the very fact you are a husband who's trying means a great deal, to a wife. You must see that."

Dhraegon looks down at the food. "It's scary, being sent off to marry someone you don't know and not having any choices. It was scary for me when they sent me here to marry Adalais and she was scared too and hid and they made her come and she was really nice but she escaped and I didn't blame her. She should have had a Prince out of stories…. I still was supposed to marry a Hightower widow to set another example of grafting for…. Like the King is doing… And I thought if I could have any say in it, the woman I was to marry would have one too. And she was so sad and I was sad and she understood about pillow forts and cookies and was kind and clever and I thought what if I could make her smile? What if I asked in a way that gave her choices… So many of my young kinswomen are scared. I saw how it was for Elionys and Visenya and Faelin. Worrying about who thir father would pick. Even boys like Daevon and Jurian worry about it. I thought I'd match rather the woman I marry know beforehand what she was getting and decide for herself instead of being… Surprised with me. So I asked her at each stage in a way that kept her family and mine from pressuring her. And we talked of flowers and gardens and cakes and things. It just seems… kinder."

The grey-green eyes across the table come perilously close to melting again; Lady Joy, who conceals her feelings only when she must, is looking upon her friend's husband with greater and greater admiration. She sets her cup upon the table and leans over to rest her hand impulsively upon his. "It is a terror, isn't it?" she agrees. "And you saved her from it — you've done a great deal already. Anyone who presumes to say you don't deserve her must have forgotten what it's like to be young, and to know little enough of the world, and to be called into one's father's presence and told what one's life is henceforth to be… My second husband saved me, too," she explains, settling back again with a lemon cake which has been calling to her so seductively it can no longer be resisted, "in a different way. I was quite alone — I had coin, but it was still tied up; my affairs were in disorder and I didn't know how I ought to proceed — I didn't know where I would go, or what I'd do, or how I'd live. He began by offering me advice, and then— then before long he confessed to me that all he wished to do was to take care of me himself. There were people who said unkind things about us, as well." And her smile turns regretful. "He couldn't bear to hear of me spoken of that way… But those people didn't know about us, they didn't know us; they were quite simply wrong. And anyone who doesn't speak well of you and Marsei — well, they're wrong too," she insists, "and they oughtn't to think they know when they don't."

Dhraegon sets his own cup aside so he might set his own massive paw over her so much smaller one covering his left. He gives the hand a gentle squeeze, "I was terrified and they kept making me come out from under the bushes…. People look at us together and think it is funny. I know that, but being together feels like safety…." His eyes go wide, "Oh! I am sorry he died. I am glad you were happy together and very, very sorry you lost him." He gazes in the direction of his wife's room as if he could see her through the walls, "There is no one like her, no one I would rather be husband to…."

"Well, we had very good years together," Lady Joy points out, smiling, "and I don't let myself be sad, or miss him too much, because I know he wouldn't have liked that… He only wanted my happiness, always; he'd have given the wind a stern talking-to for touching my hair too roughly. His children — from his first wife, you know — they thought I was only interested in his coin," she admits it, though more to her lemon cake (deposited on her plate, where she can separate bites of it with her fingers) than to her host, "they didn't understand that someone they only saw as a dull, greying old man who wasn't dying fast enough could be a very different fellow indeed as husband to his wife… I think we're all quite different, aren't we, alone with that one person who means so much? Gylbert and I; you and Marsei… You saved her, you really did," she repeats, her gaze following his to the wall, imagining pretty well who and what must be on the other side, "and just because you did it in an unusual way, that doesn't mean there oughtn't to be a story about it."

Dhraegon looks wistful, "I am sorry I did not get to meet him. I think I would have liked him, if he felt that way about you. he lets go her hand in order to push the lemon cakes closer to her, an snag a straawberry jam cake for himself to munch. He giggles and shakes his head, "She saved me too. We are safe now…. I do not think people would want to sing about us." Luckily, he is blissfully unaware of the very graphic song they are likely singing about his bed sport with his wife in the Tooth and Nail right now. Do you… do you think you will marry again, Joy?"

What must it be like, to be wedded to a man so reliably, unrelentingly gentle and kind—? Lady Joy has some idea, as it happens, and that's why she can't stop smiling at him, and looking at him as though he's the most wondrous curiosity. "Well… well, I don't know," she confesses. "I might like to, I suppose; but first of all someone would have to ask me, and — it's not so very likely, is it? At any rate I'm comfortable as I am," she states, with more optimism than conviction, all this talk of the married state having left her somewhat wistful herself; and her smile is interrupted by lemon cake.

Dhraegon studies her a long moment, "I am sorry about Jurian. I panicked and just started listing women I knew. It wasn't kind of me. I'm not good at… at things like that and I was worried he'd… become interested in my Cosmos and bruise her petals and I am so sorry. I tried to get him to ask Visenya for advice but they don't get along and…. I am sorry Joy." He cringes, ashamed of his cravenness.

Now, that reminds her. When he mentioned Prince Jurian earlier, revealing perhaps some connexion between them more personal than their shared blood, she had it in mind to sidle up to a question of some sort— but this… She chews her present morsel of lemon cake rather slowly and one can almost see the gears turning beneath her fragrant red curls. "I'm not quite certain what you mean," she confesses at last. "What… what about, Prince Jurian, exactly? Is he… inclined to bruise girls' petals, do you think?"

Dhraegon looks very worried, "I don't know, Joy. And he's very nice to me and I don't like thinking about these things, and how was I to advice him on who he might wed?"

It says something, in Lady Joy's opinion, that a fellow with Prince Dhraegon's innocent manners and gentle heart is thinking such things — he must have reason, mustn't he? "Did you…" she attempts carefully. "Suggest I might offer him advice, or…? Sweetling, do you by any chance recall what you said?"

Dhraegon looks a little wild eyed, "I'm not sure! I was… I thought he wanted to know… about tilling and seeds and things and I wanted a drink and I tried to get him to go ask a woman who had been married only he wanted advice on who to… who might marry him quickly and courting and I'm…. I'm the wrong person and that's why I tried to drink a whole barrel of wine, joy. I'm really, really the wrong person. I do not think it is wise marrying him to his sister because most of the babies were winged and dead and that means it is time to graft and why can't they just grow on vines like melons only eggs and…" Throughout his babbling the hysteria is rising in his voice and by the end, he looks like he might flee, possibly into Flox's room. It is at this point flox arrives with a large platter of assorted fresh fruit, the peaches, apples, and oranges all in slices and three flavors of grapes in the center.

At first Lady Joy doesn't notice Flox: her attention is all upon Prince Dhraegon, and she reaches again over the table for his hand, her own fingers slightly crumby from the lemon cake. 'Grafting' suddenly makes sense. Other things do so too. "Oh! Oh, sweetling, is that what upset you the other day? … Oh, good heavens. I'm sorry I asked you." Now she sounds a wee bit upset, though she battles it down for his sake. "I do think," she ventures, "Prince Jurian could do with a little advice on courting; but I'm the last woman who ought to give it to him, and I don't think he'd take it, anyway, he didn't strike me as the type." The platter of fruit swims into view and she seizes upon the excuse it provides. "Have a peach, sweetling," she suggests, gently authoritative; "I know that always makes me feel better."

Dhraegon doesn't mind or notice the crumbs, being so often jam sticky himself. He nods fast and hard, eyes wide, but her ploy is a clever none and he obediently sucks down several peach slices to calm his nerves. he does calm down enough to ask, "But you are very clever about people and marriage things, why wouldn't you be a good adviser?"

Flox had crossed the distance quickly on seeing his Master's distress and has placed himself not to block the room exit or Dhraegon's bedroom exit, but that of his own room, as if that were the real risk. He has not but the tray down, but his holding it convienient for the nobles to snack from, hovering, eyes on the Prince.

Pleased that the peach slices seem to be doing the trick Lady Joy helps herself to several, just to encourage him. It hasn't escaped her notice that there still isn't a knife in the vicinity; but they don't need one, with everything so neatly sliced, so what of it? She eats a grape as well, whilst trying to think how she can put it in front of someone else's servant, and without upsetting her sweetling any further, and all she can come up with is: "Well, I just don't think I would be. Anyway the last time we met he scarcely said two words to me so I rather think he's decided he doesn't like me after all… Oh, these really are lovely peaches, aren't they? I'm sure it's you we have to thank, Master Flox, for seeing we had the best ones." She smiles up at him with a tinge of apology for Prince Dhraegon not being quite as he was when he left him; and urges the said prince, "Do have a grape, too, I promise you they're quite delicious. And so convenient, aren't they? They're already the right size." She takes another, of a different variety, for herself.

Dhraegon looks genuinely confused, "How could anyone not like you? You're nice and like hugs and you think about other people." Flox says in a bland tone, "Only the best for the Prince and his guests." The man is greying at the temples, with a bit of salt in his goatee, and dressed to blend into the walls, really. He is not large for a man and very average of feature, his clothes cut loosely, but within the realm of fashion for a member of the lower gentry or a comfortable merchant. Up close the fabric is quite fine, soft and well made. For all his correctness, there is a sharp intelligence in his eyes and an acknowledgement of her silent message to him. Dhraegon lingers over his choice of grapes as if it is a great matter of state and selects a dark one, "These have the most flavvour, I think."

"… I think you're right," agrees Lady Joy, looking down from Flox to the platter still in his grasp. "The grapes, I mean," and she pops one of the darker ones into her own mouth, following his example now. "Anyway," she adds, "there are lots of reasons why someone might not care overmuch for someone else… Not everyone sees with your clarity. I try to be pleasant company, certainly, as much as I can, but tastes vary, you know, it's only natural." Could she be any vaguer? If she really put her heart into it? "Have you made any other new friends lately?" she inquires, hoping it'll serve as a diversionary tactic. Prince Dhraegon is suitable only so far as a confidante.

Dhraegon has another grape and some more peaches as he listens to her with a quizzical expression, but shrugging off things he doesn't quite understand he has an apricot jam cake and answers her question, "I went to visit the one who pushed me at my party at the winery and brought him cakes and brandy bec ause when I am sad or sick that is what I liked best and told him i was sorry for scaring him with hugs and he said he was sorry for pushing me down and we had nice hugs even though he had all these bandages so I had to be really careful and we are friends now."

Flox's shoulders relax subtly and he sets the platter down and withdraws to his room, leaving the door ajar in case he is needed.

"Oh, the poor fellow," and thus does Lady Joy prove once again, less by her words than the shift in the expression, that she does think of other people. "I went to see someone who had bandages too," she says wistfully, "and I almost gave him a hug, but I don't think he'd have liked it. He's Dornish, you know, and Dornishmen can stand rather on their dignity sometimes. He's my nephew, in a manner of speaking, but it's been so long since I was married to his uncle — he didn't even know me at first." She shrugs, sandsilks shifting about her distinctly ripe figure — it's a shame, really, that Flox is gone and Dhraegon couldn't care less. "I'm so glad you were able to make friends after all with yours. I think it's when someone is hurt or ill that it matters most, don't you think? It's easy to feel one has been forgotten."

Dhraegon nods, "I thought Dornish liked hugs, but Manny doesn't like being surprised by them. He says to always ask him first. Like with My Lobelia…. Sometimes when I am sick I like someone nice to come braid my hair and talk and sometimes I just want to curl in a ball and hide."

Lady Joy's lips curve into a curious, wistful sort of smile; she confirms knowingly that, "Most Dornish are quite fond of hugs." Then she blinks. "Manny? Not— not Ser Manfryd Qorgyle? But he is my nephew."

Dhraegon nods, too busy selecting just the RIGHT Dornish spice cake to eat next to notice her surprise. "Yes. he was at my party and had a big arguement with Rhaegor after the hug misunderstanding. I don't like yelling and people waving weapons about, which is why I wanted everyone to turn them in before coming to drink, but Rhaegor is more important than I am…."

"Prince Rhaegor… yes," sighs Lady Joy. "He's the one who is to marry Emira Martell — Manfryd's cousin, her father being another brother of my late husband's, and so a niece of mine as much as he's a nephew. He's more important than most people, isn't he? At least that's the impression I've had from the talk…" She hesitates, fiddling with another grape. "I wanted to call on Emira — but it seems she lives with him already in the Dragon Door Manse, and I wasn't sure I ought to — it's been as long since I saw her as since I saw Manfryd, and I don't imagine she'd remember me either and it would only seem ridiculous to her, as though I were scraping an acquaintance long since lapsed… They were both only children, when I knew them." She gives another little shrug and, her interest piqued, resettles one of the Dornish spice cakes upon her own plate, breathing in its aroma en route.

Dhraegon nods, "He is nephew to Viserys and was a dragonrider before the Accident. I hate Accidents. They have high hopes for his future. Like young Daevon he's… well, less eccentric, though they both can have a quick temper when it comes to matters of honor or justice. If you are worried about your Emira, I mean." He drops his voice and leans across for a true whisper, so soft the chaperone would not hear. "Rhaegor's not one of the ones dangerous to women, Joy, it's is men he has a temper with." He sips his tea, "He was to marry Visenya, but I think this is better. Both of them to graft in hopes of Peace." The spice cake is still a little warm from the oven though rapidly cooling and is redolent of cinnamon and cardamon, with little bits of orange in it. "I know most people would much rather marry a brother or sister or cousin, but sometimes the blood gets too pure. Viserys was wise to show that it could be done and the couple happy."

With a mouthful of spice cake Lady Joy contrives nonetheless to smile as well as to nod in answer to that welcome reassurance of Emira's safety with her husband-to-be. It's not that she'd worried about it precisely — but she hadn't been quite easy in her mind, either, not having met the prince in question. "I think," she confides then, in a voice modestly low, "most people — most people who aren't of your house particularly — wouldn't rather marry a brother or a sister or a cousin," a strange theory, but perhaps Prince Dhraegon has heard it before somewhere or another, "and from what I recollect of Emira, she wouldn't stand for a husband who didn't treat her well, no matter who he might be in the world. So I think it must be all right. And I know Princess Visenya can't have any trouble with Prince Torren — I used to know him, a little — just enough to flirt with," and she sighs in recollection, "and he's a good man, I'm certain of it. He was faithful, too, to his first wife, and that's an uncommon trait in a Dornish prince… I do hope," she adds urgently, "for the success of their marriages. Mine was the same, you know — there were others, too, at the time — grafting, you call it," she smiles again, this time in amusement; "the grafting of Westeros and Dorne, peaceful unions instead of… well, you know how it can be."

Dhraegon looks at her in utter disbelief at the idea that incest might not be thing everyone could do if they could, but politely takes another sip of tea rather tan argue. He does nod at the Prince torren part, "I wish I could meet him, but I do know young Visenya is very happy with him and very much in love. I think Dorne will be good for her, give her a change to spread her branches." He nos emphatically, "I do not like it when people fight. It's why I work so hard to get people to trade. I think if people get to know each other and their livelihoods depend on getting along they are less likely to quarrel…. I did so want to get the Martells to sign on officially for a larger trade deal to tie us all closer together in friendship, but Alarn was always too busy for tea and we will have to hope grafting is enough."

"… It wasn't when I tried," sighs his visitor, who doesn't understand quite what she said that was so surprising, any more than her host understood her surprise a few moments ago; "but then, I'm not a princess, am I?" It's eminently reasonable when you think of it. "Perhaps it's because all our marriages seem to have fallen apart, one way or another, that it's been done again, between the more important houses. It'll make a much greater difference, I'm sure of it. And it'll be easier, too, for princes and princesses — such consequence is a much greater protection against the social difficulties which naturally arise crossing such borders. I did always try to— to persuade the Dornish I knew that Westerosi weren't all so bad," she explains, "and now I try to persuade the Westerosi I know that our Dornish visitors aren't so bad, though goodness knows it's not always easy! I'm rather sorry about that trade deal of yours," and she catches her lower lip between her teeth, "it sounds as though it would have been a good thing for us all."

Dhraegon reaches for her hand to squeeze gently, "I very much hope so, that all these ties will eventually add up to enough to make us all friends. Too many people have accidents along the border and riots are scary. Better lots of young people raised to love both countries through loving their parents." He lets her hand go in favour of another spice cake, "It's not all to waste. My fleet does trade in Planky Town, Sunspear and… is it Ghost Hill one of those other places? A number of other times I tried to work deals with the great houses fell through, but we carry our goods to Dorne and Dornish goods here and to the Stormlands and Crownlands and occasionally to the Westerlands… Flox always works out the details. I like the boats though! And perhaps I can talk your Torren into coming to tea. There is always hope."

"Oh, he's not my Torren!" Which immediate disclaimer is uttered with a giggle and a sparkle, as though just for an instant the possibility was contemplated that he might have been, and it was found not half bad; but Lady Joy shakes her head and returns that squeeze of her hand and then takes up her tea and sips it and sighs. Quick, delicate, fluttery motions, as though she were still playing at being a butterfly. "No, he wasn't ever. But Ghost Hill, yes, that's the name of it. House Toland's domain — my daughter Vanora lives there since she married a Toland boy… Though she's often at Sunspear; I said to your… niece?" she suggests, for by his own admission he's everyone's uncle. "Well, to Princess Visenya, that she might like to look her up. I think Vanora knows better than most who at court might be friendly to a Westerosi bride — shall we say, who has been willing to forgive her her Westerosi mother…?"

The Prince giggles along with her though it's hard to tell how much he understands. "I hope she makes lots of friends… I do think dorne will suit her and I very much hope they all come to love her as we do. Neice is fine." he wrinkles his nose, "there are so many of us it is hard to keep track of how we are all related, don't you think?"

"When I was a girl and I had lessons in heraldry and the history of all the great houses and all the local ones too, I always thought of it as a game," explains Lady Joy. "All the marriages, you know, and the cousins, and trying to see how one might find between even the unlikeliest people, with as few links between them as possible…" It's another game, of course, speculating upon what Prince Dhraegon will understand and what he won't; though she doesn't quite suppose she'll always know whether or not she's won. "It would be rather a tricky game with House Targaryen, I think," she muses, "though lately I've been paying more attention… Marsei married her dragon; and Emira is to wed her own; and my daughter's husband is kin to Prince Torren's father, and so to Princess Visenya; and so on and so forth. It's an extraordinary web, don't you think? And all the more reason why Westeros and Dorne ought to be friends, despite the bitternesses of the past…"

Dhraegon giggles, "We had a primer with the sigils and the words and little rhymes to help us remember. I still have it. With us it is simpler to say 'cousin' or 'uncle' or niece than worry about the whole tangle of cousin marriages and the like, though i do have a true cousin and Uncle here in town…."

At the mention of a true cousin Lady Joy lifts her eyebrows in polite interest. But what she says is, "It's one of the nice things about cousins, isn't it? They're not like brothers and sisters; they can be as near or as distant as you'd have them be, according to how much you like them… Marsei had reason enough to make of me a distant cousin, and she could have done it, too; but she's too sweet to do anything of the kind, isn't she?"

Dhraegon nods eagerly, "There is no one as sweet and understanding as my Sunflower. She puts up with me, does she not?"

The Dornish spice cake has met its destiny; Lady Joy helps herself next to a slice of orange, so fresh and tart and juicy that she gives a little shiver at the taste of it. "And with the rest of us, too. Really, she's prodigious. I feel myself becoming sweeter and better-natured the longer I'm with her… Do try the orange slices," she urges next; "oh, do you like blood oranges? They became my favourite in Dorne but I don't see them often outside it."

Dhraegon is obedient to his guest's urging, sampling the orange, though eating three to her one. "She is certainly good for me. I am… calmer with her close. I have never ha a blood orange, though once I was allowed to taste a liquor they make of it." He looks terribly wistful, "I could have drunk bottle after bottle, but the cup was very small and the drink very rare." He eyes Flox's door as if considering disturbing him, but then his shoulder's slump, "Better not though."

His visitor's lively mien stills into a similar wistfulness as she recalls her own past dalliances with blood orange liqueur… "Oh, Seven above, I can quite imagine." She peers down into her almost-empty cup and finds the lavender tisane suddenly, inexplicably less satisfying; nonetheless, she takes up the pot in two careful jeweled hands (it may be heavy!) and pours a drop more for Prince Dhraegon, then for herself, to try to keep up their spirits. "At least we can have as much of this as we like, mmm? A flower we can drink…" Though she bites her tongue upon further remarks in, er, that vein. "We drink fruit too, of course, don't we? Almost invariably. Delicious when it's fresh; and then, if we leave it long enough, it becomes wine! One can't say half so much for a mere vegetable, can one?" she demands reasonably.

Dhraegon sighs a little sadly at his own alcohol free cup, but thanks her as she freshens his. He tries to sound more cheerful, "A flower we can drink… Perhaps we should toast something?" He clearly has no clue that one might say that phrase and mean two things which is likely for the best given the givens. "I do like Flowers…. I have heard they make wine out of some flowers, but I've never tried it." Then he is giggling and shaking his head, "Imagine radish wine or turnip! I will stick to fruit and wheat and sugar and honey…."

"… To fruit and wheat," suggests Lady Joy, picking up his idea of a toast and lifting her cup, "and sugar and honey; and to all the fairest flowers—?"

Dhraegon lifts his cup and lightly touches the painted rim to hers, "To Flowers most of all!" He lifts the tea to his lips to drink, and then he must have figured it out as he chokes and blushes through the coughing.

"Oh — oh, there there," laughs Lady Joy, reaching for his hand again, feeling fleetingly ashamed of herself for saying such a thing only not very; and she encourages him to another dark grape, another slice of peach; and in trying different fruits together to see how they'll taste (in fact she already has rather a good idea, but it amuses her nonetheless) the balance of their teatime is passed in agreeable innocence.

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