(123-02-25) The Least-Informed Lord in Oldtown
The Least-Informed Lord in Oldtown
Summary: Ser Adarian Tyrell calls somewhat more voluntarily upon Lord Antony Rowan, because this time he's the one trying to gather intelligence…
Date: 23/02/2016
Related: Previous meeting between these characters.

Some while after Lord Rowan has succeeded in his epistolary efforts, word is brought to him that Ser Adarian Tyrell is upon his threshold.

Adarian is immediately met by Edgar, who still does see to handling the front door and guests—at least guests of Antony. The last time they met, things seemed a little cozier in the room without that desk in the corner taking up space and making the room feel more business-like than it did before. But Antony doesn't go so far as to sit at it and distance himself from his guest, however much he might be inclined to. He gets up when Adarian comes in and greets him, but lets him pick his own seat. A word to Edgar summons a fine and robust wine to be poured for them both. "Lord Adarian," Antony says, polite but lacking in the warmth that was even detectable in small doses the last time they met. His voice doesn't sound as robust. He sits. "You are of course welcome. Though I had not expected you would be eager to call here. I suppose you have some matters you want to discuss regarding your wife's stay. Of course we mean to make her comfortable in any way we can."

The Tyrell is attired in garments as near as nevermind to those he wore the last time he paid a call at the Rowan Door Manse: comfortable and understated, yet in the first style of masculine fashion, and in his proud house colours. "Ser Antony," he says with a nod, offering his hand to clasp the other man's arm, if such should be permitted; "I hope I'm not interrupting you. I took you at your word, you see." He smiles, but slightly. "The ladies did tell me of their plans, yes," he admits. No more than a touch of awkwardness. Yes, let's pretend everything's normal, and it's not a colossal change of direction. "I know how they can be, though, when they want something, so I thought I ought to ask you myself whether you don't mind taking on Bryony and the brats." Rather a breezy way to refer to his beloved offspring—!

Antony will certainly clasp arms with the Tyrell. "There is nothing in particular to interrupt," he says. The fact that he does not appear to be acknowledging the drastic shift in positions is perhaps rather disorienting, indeed. At the question, he shakes his head, though his eyes have a tendency to wander in contrast to the frank eye contact and straight-shooting that he has been known for in the past. "My wife has long enjoyed her hospitality and therefore wishes to repay the debt," he responds.

Adarian's hand gives the other man's arm a good firm friendly squeeze, and then he accepts the wine lately poured by Edgar and nods to that exemplary domestic and finds somewhere to sit down. The chair he occupied last time, as it happens. He's a creature of habit. "There's no debt," he insists in sitting, and in his capacity as a Tyrell of Highgarden; "it's an honour to welcome kin — and I know Bryony wouldn't know what to do with herself without Margot's company. It's good of you to keep her from having to find out, and for that you have my thanks." He inclines his head in genuine gratitude.

Once they are served, Edgar steps out, though presumably he waits just outside the door should more wine be called for. Antony abstractedly watches him go, then his eyes return to Adarian. "It is Margot's idea," he says. "You should thank her. She spoke of returning the hospitality. I thought she might have meant later on, at Goldengrove, but she meant here and now. There is plenty of room. Margot will see to it that there are enough servants for everyone."

"Nonetheless," remarks Adarian. He sips his wine and lifts his eyebrows, nodding this time in a silent compliment to the vintage. Then he clears his throat: "I'm told they're waiting to move together when I've gone," he mentions then, "but my plans aren't settled yet, you understand." He has then an air of quiet expectancy, as though he's waiting upon his host's words.

Antony blinks once or twice at Adarian, not in astonishment but in a kind of…dullness. "In saying that, you mean to ask me whether I would like you to go quickly or slowly," he surmises. At least he has not ceased to be a direct person, with little patience for innuendoes and unspoken suggestion. He hasn't made a move for his wine, yet. His hands are tucked beside him in the seat.

Adarian sighs. "They won't tell me what they want," he explains in sudden frankness, "and I thought you might have some idea. I don't mind where Bryony goes or when — she's her own woman in that regard, as long as I know where to find her — but I'd not like to be more of an inconvenience than I can avoid."

"Oh," Antony says. "I do not know why they are being secretive. I believe my wife is making arrangements for things to be ready as soon as possible. But I cannot say for certain. If she will not tell you directly, I cannot say why. She will know best when she is prepared to move. The servants have her orders and will have told her when all will be ready."

"I see," says Adarian, who doesn't. He clears his throat. "I've only been told that of course Bryony won't leave me before I leave her, but I'm not to change my plans for their sake." Another sip of his wine. "Of course I'd take their wishes into consideration — and yours," he admits, "if I knew what they were." It's angling, to be sure. But of the quite courteous variety. "Should I ask Margot again, then, you think? Perhaps without Bryony present?"

Antony shrugs with his hands open as though he truly had no clue. "I suppose possibly she's hesitating because she does not know my mind on the subject, but it makes no difference to me when they come. The house has space and resources for them at any time." He doesn't sound like he's planning any special parties or welcome events. "Please suit your own convenience unless Margot has some other preference."

If that's what the fellow says, that's what the fellow says. Adarian nods, and there is a pause. Then he adds, quite lightly, "The other matter is that Bryony has got it into her head that you don't like her, and that you might find it uncomfortable to have her under the same roof. She'll do what Margot wishes, of course, but all the same I think it's troubling her."

"I do not know what I have done to offend her," Antony says. Maybe he's a little put out or a little wounded to be accused of disliking Bryony, for he heaves a faint sigh. "Though she was looking on me quite fiercely when we chanced to meet in the sept. I have no reason to look poorly on her. She has been kind to my wife. I will cause her no trouble. My servants will see to her every need. She need not see me if I worry her."

"Of course, of course," nods Adarian slowly; "I told her I was sure she needn't worry, but I'll tell her again." His eyes narrow slightly as he considers the rest of what Antony has said. "I'm not sure I'd know my Bryony," he admits, "if she were looking fierce… I daresay whatever it was only meant she was worried about Margot. Mother hen with an extra chick," he reminds the other man; that was his description, the last time he visited, of his wife's recent demeanour. "She hasn't been herself lately, it's true. Your lady, I mean, not mine — mine's been more so," he clarifies.

Antony rolls a shoulder to indicate that he cannot venture a specific guess about Bryony's antipathy for him. "Perhaps Margot told her something about me that she does not care for. But I have heard nothing about her." His gaze drifts back to Adarian's face. "Not herself?" he repeats. "You mean she has been unhappy? Perhaps she has had to see me more than she has liked. But we are reaching an agreement of reconciliation."

"I am glad for you," is Adarian's honest answer to that, his eyes meeting Antony's without hesitation as he speaks. "And for your lady; for I understand this is what she wishes also… I would wish you both," he adds carefully, "arrangements as comfortable as Bryony and I enjoy."

Antony doesn't look particularly joyful. "I'm sure you're very kind," he says a bit flatly. "Would you like anything to eat? More drink?"

"I might dare to ask for another cup of this," and Adarian lifts his goblet indicatively, "when I've finished the first — it's remarkably fine. If you're not careful you might find an extra Tyrell pushing his way into your establishment," he jests. When he's had another quick sip he puts it down, however, and goes on. "When I say Margot isn't herself, I refer only to… having lost a child, of course. I know it has affected you as well, very deeply." A small bow of his head, to acknowledge a father's grief as well as a mother's.

"You are welcome to it," Antony says. "If you can say where you are going next, I will have something from the cellar sent to greet you there. If not, I will save something for your return," he offers, and that much is genuine. Then he listens to Adarian's talk with a nod of his head. "Ah," he says. "Of course. It has been hard for her."

That idea lifts Adarian's eyebrows again. "You're too kind," he insists, "and it's not at all needful! All I could ask of you is the privilege of calling freely enough upon my wife when she's residing here. That's really," he sits up straighter, inclining his head confidentially towards Antony, "what I came to speak of. I know I haven't been as much help to you as you might have wished," he concedes apologetically, "and in light of that I'd not wish to make a nuisance of myself. But I don't know my plans far in advance, and she may still be with you when I return." In fact, he'd bet on it.

"I would be pleased to do it," Antony replies. But he doesn't muster much of a lean-in for Adarian. He simply nods, vaguely, at the request. "Come and go as you please," he invites, though again with a tone more limp than his usual robustness. "My man Edgar will see to your needs if I am out. I would not bar you from your own wife."

And Adarian, who was looking into Antony's eyes as the latter spoke, bows his head again. "My thanks. I hope of course not to have to trouble you, but…" Well, she's his wife, isn't she. "And I hope," he goes so far as to admit, "that this will be the beginning of much-improved relations between all four of us."

"You won't trouble me," Antony says, and indeed it is unlikely Adarian, among all of this, will be the one to cause him any trouble. "I cannot say," he replies, "What this will be the beginning of." Last time he was much more keen to talk, but this time he doesn't seem eager to start conversation topics.

Thus the sitting-room is quiet for a long moment before Adarian ventures: "I'll pass on what you've said, of course, and assure the ladies that whether they move before or after I depart is immaterial. I would also not wish…" He hesitates. "To bar you from your own wife," he echoes quietly, "at a time when matters between you are at last improving. I hope you'll believe that I don't bear you any grudge, Ser Antony, and that my reticence is an artifact of not wishing to interfere in personal matters between husband and wife, or in the friendship my own wife shares with her closest kinswoman."

Antony quirks a bit of a brow when Adarian says he wouldn't bar Antony from Margot. Apparently the thought that he would never occurred to Antony. "I realize that," Antony replies, nodding once. "And perhaps I was inapprorpiate on our last meeting in overestimating what, as you said, was but a brief acquaintance. I regret asking as much of you as I did. I am sorry to have put you in an uncomfortable situation. You were someone in Oldtown who was familiar to me, and I did not think enough of your position."

"You were justified," Adarian concedes in a gentlemanly fashion, "in exploring any opportunity you felt you had, in order to mend the rupture between you and your wife. Any awkwardness between us, is inconsequential next to that fact."

"Well," says Antony softly, "It does not matter, now." Although it feels a bit as if it does matter. There is less hope and openness in the room, now. Not that Antony is being unkind: "Shall we have your wine refreshed?"

"But you're not drinking," the Tyrell points out, "and I can hardly keep putting away your wine if you're not doing so yourself, Ser Antony." Not his first mild attempt to lighten the mood, if such can be done; he seems at least conscious of how different it has become.

Antony seems to remember only now that he has wine. He picks up his cup left-handed and lifts it to Adarian. "Not very welcoming of me," he observes, and drinks from it. After he swallows, he says, "But please don't stand on ceremony and let my lagging stop you." He calls in Edgar who comes with bottle already in hand to refill Adarian's cup.

"You're very kind," insists Adarian in a courteous murmur, holding up his cup for Edgar's attentions, meeting the servant's eyes for an instant and nodding to him as well. Then he returns to his study of his host, whose lack of enthusiasm at being reunited with his lady is a feature of particular interest. He takes another sip, as a token. "Have you been enjoying the festival?" he asks in passing.

The servant is efficient and bows his head in return for the lord's attention. He makes himself scarce without dallying. Antony blinks once, given that it was such a flop when he brought up the festival in their last conversation and suggested attendance for Margot. "I haven't attended," he says, drinking mechanically. "Have you?"

"Bryony and I took the children out to see the dolphins arrive," says Adarian, with the faintly satisfied smile of a husband and father who is always welcome when he shows up; "I think the children have all been living on dolphin bread and dolphin cakes, as much as the women will let them. I never seem to see them when they're not covered in crumbs, in any case." He pauses. "Margot hasn't been out and about," he offers, "as far as I know. She walks in the gardens, or she comes here to see you. That's about the sum of it."

Antony nods vaguely. "I am sorry if grief binds her so closely," he murmurs.

"… Or you," adds Adarian quietly.

Antony closes his eyes and shakes his head a little. "Oldtown is not my home," he points out, eyes opening again. "I have no deep associations with its customs and festivals. "For her…" He trails off, shaking his head once more. "Well, as you pointed out, it would inappropriate for me to expect her to go and experience any joy in it. I believe I have a poor sense of how other people might be made happy."

Adarian clears his throat again. He looks at Antony with his head tilted, his eyes fractionally narrowed, his lips forming an odd line. "… Do you mean," he asks slowly, reluctantly, "how— Lady Margot might be made happy?" The first time he has given her a title as well as a name, in her husband's hearing.

"Her included, yes," Antony replies. "I have taken the tactic of granting her every request," he admits. "But somehow I wonder whether that will be sufficient." He drinks again.

Again Adarian's eyebrows lift. "You couldn't do more," he opines, in mild surprise. "I can't but think she'll be obliged to appreciate such generosity. … Not but what," he admits, "I don't see that Bryony has whatever she wants." He hesitates, almost biting down upon something.

Antony can't help letting out a faint laugh in responds to Adarian's assertion that Margot will appreciate hs generosity. He drinks again. He doesn't say anything.

At first Adarian doesn't know what to say to that. On the other hand, he has an almost-full cup of wine. Life could be worse. He drinks again, and mulls it over, and says… "You think not?"

Antony smiles mirthlessly. "People rarely appreciate what they consider themselves entitled to," he says. "After all, she is my wife. Why should she not live in the Rowan Door Manse and command its servants and entertain her guests and receive as much money as she likes?"

Now that's a tricky one. Again Adarian doesn't answer right away. He glances down into his cup. He's willing himself not to speak; but his curiosity somehow gets the better of him. "I take it," he says tentatively, "you feel there's a reason she shouldn't." He looks up then, with foreboding in his eyes.

"No," Antony replies, perhaps frustratingly. Especially since his tone is still so far from pleased. "There is no reason. That is why she will do so." He pauses, then perhaps takes enough pity on Adarian's confusion to add more. "I thought," he says, "That I might go into the Sept. But she found that would be unsuitable to her."

Oh, he thinks that's going to help…? "I have always known her," Adarian attempts, "to be a faithful woman… If you had a strong desire to enter religion, somehow I can't imagine why she would—" He halts, uncertain.

Antony shrugs his shoulders. "It did not meet with her desires," he says. "So I will remain here and she will join me here. With Lady Bryony. And the children." He has another mouthful of wine.

"I'm certain she must like that," Adarian tries; his tolerably handsome features register nonetheless faint confusion. He breathes in and lets it out as a sigh, his cup again at his lips. "I don't know whether you'd recall," he mentions, "when Margot visited us at Highgarden a little over a decade past, bringing with her your son Gareth, when he was newborn…" A few weeks, she claimed as she set off; weeks which became endless long months.

"Yes, I recall," Antony affirms. But he says nothing negative now, until he hears what Adarian might say next.

"We had lost a daughter," explains Adarian briefly, with a certain tension in his face, "and there seemed to be nothing, then, that I could do for my wife." He pauses. "Margot came to her, and then she began to heal. I will always be grateful," he meets Antony's eyes, "to your wife for that. And I am certain that for the two of them to be together now, must be what they'd most wish."

Antony is still and makes no reply for several moments. Then he says, "In that case, I shall look forward to the novel experience of seeing my wife happy by a decision I have made. When I agreed to her request, her face was like stone."

"… Well, that doesn't mean anything." And only when he has spoken does Adarian belatedly realise Antony may in truth know Margot less well than he himself; and having embarrassed a fellow man (you see, he has some idea of the code) he looks away to his cup again in sudden appreciation of the wine.

Antony lifts his eyebrows slightly. After an awkward pause, he concedes, "I wouldn't know." Then he clears his throat. "Forgive me, I've said more than I intended and made you uncomfortable. I…haven't slept or eaten well. I am not at my best. I should not give you unwelcome burdens. And you came to know if you and your wife will be welcome in this manse. You will. But my wife may have most of the burden of hosting."

With a nod and then another nod, both of them well-timed, Adarian indicates that Antony's present situation is, by him, understood.

Then: "Ser Antony," he attempts, with that dutiful look about him again, "you and I… we must concede that we have certain things in common." Another hesitation. "… You know how they were brought up. It didn't take with Bryony — not permanently — she was younger, and she's a different kind of woman — but Margot always seems to me to be alarmed by strong feelings. I used to think she was unfeeling," he says honestly, "but on the evidence I came to think she feels very much."

"Yes, she has acquainted me at length with some of her feelings," Antony replies evenly. He drains his cup. "But I am sure you did not come here today to inform me of my wife's finer points."

So much for not adding to a chap's burdens. Adarian takes refuge for a moment in the wine, which is truly superb. "… I came here," he concedes at last, "because although I don't assume I have a right to know more than the ladies have told me of their plans, I have a deep regard for them both and if there's anything I can do to make them happier and more comfortable I should like to do it. I came here in an attempt to understand what has happened this last week. But I will not trespass any longer upon your privacy and your grief, Ser Antony. You owe me nothing." Another deep mouthful, and he stands.

Antony raises a hand briefly to rub his forehead. "Forgive me if I've been rude," he says, and stands, putting his cup aside. It at least sounds like he means the apology. "I have…I have not been myself. I have never been so much not myself." And that admission is at least sincere enough to bring some light into his eyes. Not a positive light, but some living hope for understanding, yet. "But I am certain your wife will be well looked after here. And as I have told you, I have granted my wife's every request. I cannot do more." He shows his empty palms. His right hand trembles a bit.

That seems to inspire Adarian Tyrell, who has had his gaze intently upon the other man, to a degree of sympathy he certainly didn't reach the last time they met. He steps forward, to clasp his host's forearm as though in farewell, but at the same time he meets his eyes and he admits, "Ser Antony, I hardly know how to… You could not do more," he repeats sincerely.

Antony clasps Adarian's arm, and some warmth is a reward for his having said that and meant it. "I never…wanted her to be unhappy," he confesses quietly. "We've fought and at times I've wanted to…win, I suppose, but…" He heaves a sigh. "I'm sorry. I know you haven't wanted to be embroiled. And…you shan't be."

Adarian holds Antony's arm for a little longer than circumstances dictate. "Of course," he agrees, "you haven't wanted… You wouldn't have married her to make her unhappy." He appears pensive, as his arm leaves the other man's. "I haven't wanted to be embroiled," he agrees, "but that's because I know I am."

Antony moves back to sit again. "I see," he replies, nodding once. Which somewhat changes things. "I ah…I had thought that…she didn't always hate me, that it came on gradually. But…she let me know that even when I thought I was courting her, she…" He clicks his tongue. "Apparently she never wanted it. She says I was blind not to see." He shrugs.

"I don't know how it was," admits Adarian awkwardly, as he takes a step back towards his own chair, though without quite sitting again, "but from the little I have come to suppose… I think that might be truth." A pause. "It isn't easy to be certain, with Margot, of course. She shuts herself away. Bryony says thus-and-such is the case and I look at Margot and gradually her behaviour proves it. Not all at once. I don't know her well," he insists.

Antony nods a little and shrugs. "Well, at any rate. I do not ask you to explain my wife to me." He offers a brief, apologetic smile. "I've stopped fighting her. We will live together for the first time in many years."

Another difficult remark. "I wouldn't like," Adarian admits, "to try to fight a woman such as Margot. You might say I gave in to her a long while ago… It has brought me ease, in my marriage, and in knowing that my children seem to be cared for by two mothers instead of one." He draws a breath. "She has been very good to our children, Ser Antony. I always supposed because she was missing her own. I don't know that it's praise of her you would like to hear, but I'm afraid I have praise more than anything else. I don't know how matters have sat between you," he concludes reluctantly, "but in my limited sight…"

Antony puts up his left palm to hopefully stem the tide of further praise for his wife. "Yes, I realize," he says, but more gently than before. "You are her friend. Very good."

Hint taken. "… But I hope," insists Adarian, "that as you and your lady reconcile, it will become a simpler matter to be your friend as well." He takes a breath and lets it out. "You understand my work, Ser Antony. I am not well-constituted to take one side without being able to see the other."

Antony also takes a breath, and lets it out slowly. "Yes," he agrees simply, so that nothing else snarky will come out. "I do understand. So. I have told you more than I should and as much as I can. I hope that allays your concerns about your wife's presence here."

"Her concerns," Adarian clarifies at once, "rather than mine. She gets a bee in her bonnet every so often. Best just to humour it till it flies out again." He hesitates. "From what I know, my wife doesn't hate you, Ser Antony. Her position is a difficult one, but she has a very warm heart."

"We probably will not see much of one another," Antony predicts realistically. "So I do not imagine there will be a problem."

Adarian nods slowly. "As you think suitable," he agrees. "… We'll meet again, I'm sure," he mentions, "with those dearest to me under your roof." At which prospect he does not appear reluctant. "Ser Antony, thank you for your wine and your reassurance. I will encourage the ladies to do as they wish."

Antony inclines his head. "Yes," he says. "Good day to you." He doesn't stand, but he looks somewhat tired. He did mention trouble sleeping.

"Good day, Ser Antony. And my thanks for extending your hospitality to my wife." Adarian gives an impeccable half-bow, and then Edgar sees him out.

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