(123-04-28) How Do You Solve A Problem Like Miranda
How Do You Solve A Problem Like Miranda
Summary: Ser Laurent Tyrell comes to pay a condolence call upon his cousin, Lady Rowan, and her husband. The talk turns to a recent betrothal in the family.
Date: 28/04/123
Related: Tyrell-Merryweather Betrothal Party.

The facade presented by the Rowan Door Manse is not the grandest upon Beacon Boulevard: it suggests however long-established wealth, substance, and high taste, an impression only confirmed by the manners of the servant who admits Ser Laurent Tyrell to the premises, the snowiness of the man's rowan-embroidered tabard, the pleasant arrangements of the foyer and the summer flowers blooming here and there within, each bouquet betraying the infallible hand of Lady Rowan herself. The only object not placed by her to perfect effect is Lord Antony Rowan, Marshal of the Northmarch, who was halfway up the stairs when the advent of a guest obliged him, in courtesy, to come down again.

Enter Ser Laurent Tyrell, long absent from Oldtown and longer absent from Highgarden. The brutish Tyrell knight is a perfect foil for the pristine room - his hair unkempt, clad in dark leather armor stamped with his personal sigil, still dusty from the road. He wears at his hip a longsword, and his left hand rests casually with his wrist upon its hilt. A day's growth of stubble and more shades his jaw. "Lord Rowan," is half question, half greeting, in a clear baritone voice. Then, to the departing servant, "Arbor red. Or gold, if you don't have the red."

And down indeed Lord Rowan comes, perhaps out of place in this home that is so much his wife's domain, though neater than his guest. He comes across the room with his hand out to clasp the guest's. Though it seems to tremble a little in the air. "Ser Laurent, isn't it," he says, making no objection that the fellow is ordering his servants around before they've even exchanged greetings. "You look as if you've been traveling. Come in, sit down." There's something graver about him than his usual deportment at tourneys. He's a military man, a hunstman, and a combatant usually full of high spirits and a love of people. But now he's quieter. Of course, Ser Laurent has likely heard that Lord Rowan's heir was recently killed in a hunting accident. And that may well account for the reserve.

Laurent is not one to mince words, nor to talk around a subject. He clasps Antony's hand, nodding to confirm his identity and growls, "Damn shame about your son." A second firm shake, and he releases the grip, taking a half-step back and to the side. "That's why I came, of course. To pay respects." His eyes scan the entryway, lingering a moment on the doorway the servant used, before he adds, "Didn't expect you to receive me yourself, of course.

Antony lifts his eyebrows at the suddenness of those condolences, but he nods once, seeming to accept them in the spirit of manly sympathy in which they're given. "You're very kind to come yourself to say so," he replies, nodding again. "It has gone hard upon myself and Lady Rowan, I admit. It is good to see a friendly face now, when our visitors are fewer. Will you stay a little while, have something to drink? Or to eat?" he offers, gesturing to bring Laurent further in. "Would you like to speak with Lady Rowan?"

"Of course," Laurent answers as he steps inside. "I sent your man for wine a moment ago…" And then without warning, "AND A GOBLET FOR MY LORD ROWAN!" A voice that cuts across the din of a battlefield has no place in this fine manse, but such niceties are quite lost on the Thorn of House Tyrell. A scowl toward the door he assumes leads to the wine, and then he turns his attention back to the lord. His right hand, and its glove of black leather, comes up to stroke his chin. "I've lost count of the things that folk have called my face, but 'friendly' is a new one," he says with a rough laugh. A few slow paces as he eyes the decor, and he adds, "I was suprised to hear that you were sheathing your sword at home again, Lord Rowan."

"That's true, you did," Antony observes, the matter not having escaped his attention. He smiles at Laurent's joke, though it's dimmer than the toothy expression he might have favored it with in times past. He decides to interpret 'sheathing his sword' innocently. "Not exactly 'home,'" he reminds quietly. "I had not been from Goldengrove in a while. But given the circumstances, Lady Rowan and I have had much to talk about. Let's go through to the sitting-room," he suggests. The servants will find them.

"Fair to say," Laurent says in agreement, falling into step with Antony as they head toward the sitting room. "In your wife's… Home, then," he amends with a grin that doesn't suit his features. "How is my cousin, then? Women sometimes take these things poorly."

Indeed one servant finds them immediately, a handmaiden who opens the sitting-room door hard upon Lord Rowan's words, sent to see what the shouting was about: her eyes widen and she steps aside, making way for the men.

The manse's sitting-room has become even more a fragrant, feminine bower; lilies here, purple amaryllis there, a standing harp silent at this hour, and an embroidery frame placed to receive the best of the afternoon sunlight.

It is here that Lady Rowan has disposed herself, attired as always of late in high-necked black silk, her lustrous black hair pinned up plainly beneath a draped mantilla of the finest and blackest Myrish lace. The two familiar notes presented to the eye of one who knows her of old are the seven-pointed star pendant setting her bosom ablaze with diamonds, and the composure with which she looks up from her work (silver needle still held between white fingers) to greet these two knights who between them bring the dust of the road and the echoes of the training-ground into her quiet and sweet-smelling retreat.

"Why, Ser Laurent," she murmurs, without a trace of surprise in her voice. The shouting now makes perfect sense. "I had not known you were in Oldtown. Did we simply not chance to meet at your brother's betrothal party, or…?" A slight, inquiring tilt of her head. Her cool blue gaze flicks to the maid waiting with a hand upon the door. "Fetch wine for my lord and his guest," she directs softly; and when the door closes, the three nobles are alone.

Antony was perhaps unaware that his wife was already in that very sitting room, but he covers for his surprise as well as he can. "Well, here is Lady Rowan, I'm certain you can inquire after her directly," he says, going to find himself a seat while his guest encounters his wife. "Wine is already on the way, I believe," he notes for the sake of the servant. Although it may be too late.

The Thorn follows Antony into the sitting room, breaking from his place at Lord Rowan's side to stand before his cousin. "Lady Rowan," he greets, inclining his head in her direction as he looms over her. "I missed the party by some time," he says, plainly without regret. "I only returned to Oldtown today, and came to you straightaway." And so, the dust and dirt. Though, to be fair, it may have come with him either way. "My castellan told me of your son's death. I came with condolences, and to deliver my mother's sympathy. She grieves with you, I think, were her words." An awkward pause, he pokes at the floor with the toe of one boot, and then steps away. "Messages were never a strength of mine, were they?" His broad shoulders rise and fall in an unapologetic shrug.

At the mention of the wine Lady Rowan looks to her husband; impassively, she turns her attention then to the Thorn of House Tyrell, threading her needle through the pock-marked cloth at the edge of the elaborate winter garden she is embroidering in shades of silver and gold and white, the better to concentrate on his words. She clasps her hands in her lap, the left over the right. The wedding ring she wore through all her years of tactful but determined separation from her lord gleams in its accustomed place.

"Your lady mother has never lacked for graciousness to me," she murmurs, meeting his eyes from beneath the shadow of her mantilla; "in any of my troubles. I shall write to her again at once, to let her know that I have seen you, and that you have arrived well and whole in Oldtown, and that you were the soul of promptness in bringing me her words…" Thus letting him know that he is relieved of the disagreeable burden of putting pen to parchment re: same. "Indeed, you need not have come in such haste; you were certain to find us at home. We live very quietly at present, though we do look forward to another wedding in the family — and as I hear it is to be held in Oldtown…?" Another tilt of her head, a lift in her voice, implies that a Tyrell may have better knowledge than she. "We rejoice for Ser Loryn that he shall have his brother by his side. Won't you sit…?" she suggests, lifting a hand in elegant indication of the chairs and sofas from which he might make his choice.

Margot reminds Laurent to sit before Antony can get to it, so he just settles in where he is while Margot makes all the appropriate comments and polite replies.

Laurent's eyes follow Lady Rowan's gesture to the chair, then to the sofa, and his frown deepens as he considers his choices for an absurdly long moment. "If it were possible, Lady, she would no doubt give her eldest son to return yours to you," he says with what might be a grin. It's an ugly thing, but passes quickly. He takes a moment in removing his sword belt, then puts blade and baldric onto the chair before he drops onto the sofa. "Is Oldtown the fashionable place to be married," he asks as he settles in. "If so, then that's where Loryn will have it, isn't it?" A single shake of his head betrays that he has no knowledge on the subject. "I'll see to it that he sends you news of the ceremony as soon as there is news to send."

Lady Rowan breathes in. "… Ser Laurent, no mother's heart could contain such a sentiment as you suggest," she promises him softly, "no matter what others her son might, from time to time, inspire therein."

On which note her maid admits herself with a tray: Arbor red, yes; a pitcher of chilled water flavoured with lavender and slices of lemon; a plate of bite-sized cakes; another of savoury treats of similar dimensions; three goblets, three plates, and three white linen napkins embroidered with rowan trees in thread-of-gold. She occupies herself serving first the guest, then the master of the house, and then its mistress, leaves the snacks equidistant between the two men, then withdraws. Lady Rowan continues speaking as though nothing of any consequence were going on. (Of course it isn't.)

"I do not know if it has become a fashion," she murmurs to Ser Laurent, "to be wed in Oldtown; but certainly Ser Loryn and Lady Miranda both have many friends here, and many ties to the city itself. I believe they both think of Oldtown as their home, in ways that perhaps Highgarden and Longtable are not… perhaps it's unconventional," she concedes, with a delicate lowering of her eyes, "but with their parents' blessings, there can be no harm in it; and what could be more seemly, or more beautiful, than a wedding in the Starry Sept—?" Her gaze lifts again upon that question. "Especially for a bride who came so near to taking a different kind of vow beneath that sacred dome… I think for Lady Miranda no other sept could be preferred." Which conclusion goes no farther than is general knowledge in the city, and coincides with the maid's departure.

"Is it Lady Miranda, then?" Antony puts in, not having followed the news nearly as closely as his wife has. He has not been out much since coming to this manse, nor has he had many friends come in.

"The Lady Josanne was never sentimental on my account," Laurent counters matter-of-factly. He has long since accepted her dislike of him, understands it, even. Just settled, but now Laurent's leathers creak as he leans forward in his seat to take his glass from the table. His next order of business is to drain half of it at a swallow, and then he slouches again. "Stealing from the Sept, my brother? And they say I'm the villain." There's amusment in that, and he turns a sly eye toward Antony as he adds, "She must be a jewel. Loryn is quite the catch for a Merryweather fated to disappear into the Sept, isn't he? He must have pleaded until my lady mother's ears bled." Another slurping sip of wine and he adds, "Spoiled."

The lemon water is for Lady Rowan, who takes a token sip of it to be hospitable and then sets down her goblet. She glances to her lord when he speaks; her feline chin lowers in a nod of confirmation. But Ser Laurent speaks again, and she finds herself still listening, giving another considering nod when he acclaims the lady Miranda a jewel. "Love must be counted a power higher than mere sentiment, Ser Laurent," she murmurs at last; "it withstands, it endures far more… Though whether it shall in the case of our young couple, only time will tell." Her shoulders shift into an elegant shrug. "Lady Miranda of course is Lord Merryweather's only daughter," a gentle emphasis fit to conjure up visions of a rich dowry, "and I understand he was most anxious that she did not disappear into the sept. It was only the young lady's own vocation which kept her in grey… A vocation I, for one, believed genuine," she confides softly. "Her love for the Seven and her joy in their service was a beauty to behold. She was tireless in her work for the orphaned children of Oldtown, and in offering solace to souls in distress. In wooing her away for himself Ser Loryn has deprived the gods of a treasure indeed."

A wave of Laurent's hand threatens to slop wine onto the sofa, and he clarifies: "I meant a jewel in the sense that she must be pleasant to the eye, Lady. My brother is fond of shiny baubles." He frowns as he looks, for a moment, away from his company and toward a window. Finally he says aloud what no one with manners would. "There are more common causes for taking the vows than a calling to serve the Seven. A woman can do that as a mother." The look he gives Margot, at that, is perhaps intended at sympathy. A lift of one eyebrow, a twist of his lips. It has more in common with a sneer. "A wealthy daughter enters the sept, but not fully. Just the tip, so to speak." Another sip of his wine, and he wipes a bit from his lips with the back of one gloved hand. "Enter my brother, who woos her away. Quite the romance, isn't it? I wonder if it will hold Loryn's attention, once the drama is gone from it. Or if it will go the way of his other hobbies."

Antony tries not to choke on his wine at Laurent's phrasing. "I'm sure it is a matter much discussed in Oldtown," he finds it meet to put in, "But from what I gather, Ser Loryn is a man with a preference for the dramatic."

The Tyrell knight's habitual coarseness draws no more reaction from Lady Rowan than a tightening about her fine blue eyes; for a lady does not, cannot, ever, acknowledge having understood such words.

The others, however… "Ser Laurent, perhaps I have not made myself plain," she murmurs, in a velvety contralto which never once hesitates. "Lady Miranda stands to me in the place of a sort of protegee. She has offered me unstinting sympathy and real, practical assistance during a difficult time. Though it is my honour and my delight to return, in however small a part, the bountiful hospitality House Tyrell has always offered to me, I must ask you, beneath my roof and my lord's, to cease from impugning the character of a young lady whose intentions are, I am certain, of the very purest. By your own admission you are not acquainted with the lady, and you have not yet been privy to the family's closest councils upon their nuptials; you know only what you hear, and what you suppose; I ask you also, ser, to put your trust in my assurances, above any low or common gossip, and to trust moreover that House Tyrell cannot have found anything exceptionable in this match, or it should not be proceeding. The tale is," she insists steadily, seriously, "as it has been retold to you."

"I know my brother," Laurent counters churlishly, "But I can bite my tongue, when it's called for. Seven hells, living with Lord Garvin I tasted blood more often than not." That draws a bark of laughter, sudden and loud, and a look from Margot to Antony and back that says, 'Know what I mean?'

"Even if Loryn were to lose interest, these things happen in a marriage, don't they? The Father knows that my own foray into matrimony was a disaster." He should perhaps be abashed at that, but apparently hasn't the decency. "I've no doubt the ceremony will be splendid, and long, and I'll be required to stand in it. And the feast after will be extravagant, as befits a Tyrell wedding." A pause, a thoughtful frown, and he nods. "I will keep your counsel, Lady Rowan, on the subject of Lady Miranda. I hope that she's as comely as the other women who have caught Loryn's eye."

This all puts Antony in an awkward position for the moment. His wife, whom he has been known to have disagreements with, is defending the former septa who has comforted her while offering less such help to Antony. But on the other hand, it is unseemly for a man to encourage another to be insulting to his wife. He looks to Laurent. "I am certain," he says, "That your brother, Ser Loryn, has chosen himself a fit bride and the arrangements will satisfy all concerned. And that the feast will have enough wine that you too may be well rewarded for your work standing in the ceremony. I shall send a cask myself to be sure of it."

One consequence of their long separation is that Lady Rowan doesn't think to look to her lord to defend her sensibilities, or her opinions, from Ser Laurent's bluff assaults; she speaks for herself, and when Lord Rowan puts in a word which might be construed as supporting her position, that Lady Miranda is a fit and proper wife for a Tyrell lord and that their courtship can be considered above-board, she favours him with a slow nod. "A gift I'm certain all shall appreciate, my lord," she murmurs to him, before looking again to Ser Laurent. "Thank you, Ser Laurent; I hope you understand I speak only as one anxious to prevent the least harm coming to one who will soon be your goodsister, as well as my friend." A pause. "Lady Miranda is… comely indeed," she concedes, answering what is after all his chief question, "and pleasing in all her ways. She was married once before but the match was not a happy one; she was widowed after scarcely a year, and she found the life of a septa, of prayer and of service to the gods, more congenial to her nature. I think she will if anything prove a steadying influence upon her husband."

"AH!" It's a short burst of sound from Laurent, a discovery. He raises his empty hand to point, but then lets it fall again. For just a moment, his broad mouth twists into a sly grin. But he pushes it no further. Instead, he complains to Lord Rowan. "I can afford casks of wine. Better you bring good company - that is more likely to be in short supply." He raises his glass in an incongruous suggestion of a toast to the scarcity of good company, then finishes what he has on hand. "Unless I miss my guess, Loryn's friends are likely still a band of pampered wastrels."

"Well, I suppose we'll have to see to that," Antony says to Laurent, lifting his glass with a smile though perhaps a certain wanness suggests his lack of appetite for weddings and feasts at the moment. He looks to his wife for just a moment. She did actually say something vaguely positive about a proposal of his. Then back to Laurent. "And your friends, Ser Laurent? What are they?" Maybe an attempt to set Laurent up for a joke. Though it is perhaps unwise to give him such a platform.

"I've seen little enough of Ser Loryn during my time in Oldtown," admits Lady Rowan; "I cannot speak to the nature or the habits of his friends… If Lady Miranda is a portent of a maturing of his tastes, such will I'm sure be pleasing to your lady mother." She inclines her head gracefully; and, as she reaches again for her lemon water, her mantilla almost but doesn't quite slip from one shoulder. It wouldn't dare. "Bryony might know more than I; she is staying with us here, whilst Adarian is away," which casual use of first names she only makes within the circle of blood kinship. "She has gone out this afternoon to pay calls of her own: she will be so sorry," she lies smoothly, her blue gaze resting upon Ser Laurent, "to have missed your visit."

Laurent snorts something that definitely isn't agreement, leaning forward again to put an empty glass on the table. "I've no doubt I'll get my fill of Loryn, and soon." A shrug, and it's time for Antony's question. "My friends, Lord Rowan… Have been damnably few, and are getting fewer. The sort of man who enjoys my sort of company has too much in common with the sort of man who dies young, I suppose. I shall ask after Ser Riderch Blackwood while I'm in Oldtown, and there was a redhead at the Bawdy Bard who I mean to call on if time allows. Thankfully enemies are more persistent. I'll ask after a few of those as well, as long as I'm here."

"Then perhaps we'll manage to be friends after all," Antony says. Which is either black humor or nonsense. "Though I don't think we will meet in any place such as that."

A quiet 'clink' as Lady Rowan's goblet is restored to the table at her elbow where stands also a greenish glass bowl of amaryllis. And then a rustle of silk as she rises from her chair, straight-backed, hands clasped, the pointed toes of her black leather shoes just barely stirring the hem of her black silken gown. "I hope you will pardon me, Ser Laurent, if I leave you to my lord's company; I've recollected a task of mine which ought not to be left any longer undone… It was so good of you to come to us," she says sincerely, "and to serve as the bearer of your lady mother's sympathies. I do hope we shall meet again, soon, during the wedding festivities." She bows her head to him, and then to Lord Rowan, with a murmur of, "My lord," and then with her skirts trailing behind her she executes a dignified, perfumed withdrawal, leaving them to their talk of friends and of whores.

Antony stands while Lady Rowan quits the room, then resumes his seat once she's gone. He cuts his eyes to Laurent. "Afraid you haven't won many points with the Lady Rowan," he comments, with a weary wryness. "She likes things just-so, my wife. But don't take it personally."

Laurent nods as Margot explains her withdrawal, only remembering to stand himself a moment too for propriety. "I've no doubt you will get more than your fill of me, Lady Rowan," is his response, a deadpan growl. "If you've need of anything, of course…" A half shrug and a wave of his empty hand will have to suffice as an end to that sentence, as he watches he go in silence.

"A man like me, and a family like mine? You learn to deal with much worse." He falls heavily back into the sofa, reaching again for the empty glass. "Have you anything stronger at hand than wine?" His dark eyes flit about the room, as though to search out likely hiding places. Apparently the Thorn intends to make a nuisance of himself for a while longer yet.

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