(123-06-15) Red Heads Together
Red Heads Together
Summary: When Lady Joyeuse Hastwyck arrives unexpectedly at Starfall, she and her cousin Lady Marsei Hightower seize the opportunity to put their heads together and discuss life and love and princes.
Date: 17-24/06/2016
Related: Follows on from The Merry Widow at Starfall.

When? Late afternoon on the 15th.
Where? Starfall.

The knock upon the outer door of the apartments Lady Marsei Hightower is sharing with her prince whilst they are guests of House Dayne, is an impetuous one, verging upon the frantic. Hardly has a maid's hand opened it than the sitting-room is full of Lady Joyeuse Hastwyck, trailing sea-green sandsilk robes and delicate clouds of some new, unknown, unknowable fragrance. The lightness of her step has the few loose red curls about her face bouncing. It's late afternoon and she has wine already upon her breath.

"… Marsei!" she cries out, in unfettered delight. And though she's beaming fit to burst, the moment she sets her sea-green eyes upon her lady cousin, they're filled with tears. It's been that sort of surprise.

The chamber filled so suddenly with Joyeuse is well-appointed and arranged suspiciously like familiar accommodations at the Hightower, complete with some furniture and Dhraegon's scent of lavender, all warmed by the sun of Starfall. It is one of the rare moments in which Lady Marsei is alone here — besides the maid — and she's in motion, a whirl of delicate pink silks and curled hair, on the verge of going from one place to the other when the delighted cry of her guest fills her ears and the teary-eyed sight fills her vision. "J-Joyeuse!" she exclaims in a nigh on matching tone, halting so quickly she might trip over her gown if she did not have an elegant recovery. Her own eyes — a hint of that sea-green, familial perhaps, hers muddled with soft blue and grey — are suddenly a'shine. "I did not expect you!" She reaches an arm out for a warm embrace. "That is, I did wonder if I would see you for the nameday celebration, and the tourney, but— " Not right this moment. Her beaming smile, sunny as ever, fills in the space.

Folding Lady Marsei in against her own scented and generously-upholstered figure the sea-green apparition gasps, "Oh, but as soon as I knew you were here I had to come, and tell you everything—!" On the 'everything' she squeezes her tightly, then releases her to arm's length just for the pleasure of looking at her out of those glimmering Tully eyes. "You're too beautiful," she sighs. A tear falls. "How marvelous of you to be here, you can't imagine. Oh, just look at me," and she sniffs, and lets go of one of her cousin's hands to fumble in between the layers of her Dornish robes in quest of a handkerchief, "I nearly wept when Princess Visenya said you were here, and Dhrae too, but I thought I'd managed to stop." She dabs at her eyes, sniffing again. The handkerchief is embroidered with her usual lavish J and H, in a shade of green to match her robes. Though she was followed into the sitting-room not by her usual dour-faced crone, who has long been responsible for stitching such trifles, but by a lissom, brown-skinned Dornish girl… "What a long time it's been," she sniffs. "You must have thought me dreadfully rude, when I went away as I did, but the fact of it was that I had to get away." She blinks, eyelashes fluttering, her gaze uniting with her tone of voice to implore Lady Marsei's understanding. "And now — oh, but it's too wonderful!" she exclaims, suddenly cheered up again, laughing, radiant despite the dampness about her eyes. She looks years younger than when she left Oldtown; presumably Dorne has offered more than cosmetics.

Marsei is all joy and bewilderment; it's all she can do not to take Joyeuse's handkerchief and dab the tears herself. She laughs instead, joyous and light, pressing a fair hand to the neck of her pink gown. The other lingers, friendly, upon her cousin's shoulder. "Oh, but I did not think you rude - I was only sad to see you go, whatever your reasons," she assures, all smiles. "It's wonderful to see you again-and how vibrant you look! I knew Dorne suited you, but…" There's a hint of question in her eyes if not her voice, seeking out what new and - one might wager wonderful — things the lady has run away to here in Dorne.

One lady’s sentence trails away into a torrent of the other’s giggles, stemmed only by Lady Joy catching her rather reddened lower lip between her teeth and sighing delightedly. “I scarcely know where to begin,” she confesses then; “and it’s a great secret still — we’ve tried to keep talk from getting about before we had it all arranged; I’ve been wearing a veil for weeks — sweetling, I hope…” And she sighs, her eyelashes again beaded with tears. “I hope I shall soon be inviting you to my wedding,” she says simply.

“What?!” An inelegant exclamation from some, perhaps, but from the Hightower lady it springs forth as elegantly and joyfully as her near-tripping surprise upon seeing her cousin. “How—I mean—to whom—can you tell me if it’s a secret? Oh!” She takes Joy’s arm in hers and hustles her over to the lush sofa. “Begin at the beginning!” she suggests – and reassures, her excited grip transforming into that of an anchor, willing to steady the whirlwind that is her cousin, prepared for (and expecting) a story.

Lady Joy lets herself be steered, since that’s just where she’d like to go in any case. With her hanky tucked away again both her hands take hold of her cousin’s and it would be tricky to say which of them is more determined in her grip, more eager for the telling of the tale.

“Well,” she breathes out, laughing, “to begin at the beginning we’d have to go back more years than I’d like to count, to when we first met… I don’t remember exactly,” she confesses, “what year or what month, but I’d heard talk of him before then, of course, and wished I could meet him, but when I was very young I used to be left behind rather a lot when the others went to Sunspear, and one way or another I missed him till… till he was betrothed to his second wife, yes. They weren’t married yet, but they were certainly betrothed, I remember the feast quite clearly,” she’s exaggerating, “I’m sure I was at court for that.” She gives a firm nod. “And we knew each other then, on and off, till he went away to the Stepstones to fight…” The light in her dims, just fractionally. “What a relief it is now, to see the Dornish and House Targaryen on such good terms again, after those years. I don’t know if I ever told you, sweetling, why exactly I left Dorne when I did; the succession was in doubt at the Hellholt and it wasn’t,” she admits softly, “a very good time to be the widowed Westerosi mother of an inconvenient child… If it hadn’t been for the war, if he hadn’t been away fighting, perhaps I might have been able to stay. I’d have liked to stay. But I was a little too much alone — everyone who had any love for me was dead and buried, or gone away — and it was… well, it was a difficult time,” she concludes, not very satisfactorily, skating over a wealth of detail. She nibbles her lip again. “Of course when I came back to Dorne I went first of all to see my daughter — but then, well, we met again…”

On the edge of the sofa, turned toward Joyeuse, Marsei is hardly settled at all, the cousins’ combined eagerness for the story not giving her time to actually get comfortable before she’s caught up in listening. And indeed, she is rapt from the start, but her keen attention is afflicted here and there by the narrowing of her eyes over unexplained details and nameless men. “This is all terribly mysterious without saying who he is,” she points out good-naturedly, her curiosity taking on a dose of caution as she tracks back the points of Joy’s story and inquires, “Wait, but— Hellholt— ?”

“Oh, did I not say?” laughs Lady Joy. And then an instant later her chattering falters, and her joyous mien (much the most suitable to her) wavers through a brief period of sobriety before she pieces it together again by sheer force of will. “… Oh, did I say ‘Hellholt’?” she asks, brightly, blinking two or three times at Lady Marsei. “… That’s another story, sweetling, though I suppose I ought to tell you, now you’ve come to Dorne, or you might hear it from somebody else, and that wouldn’t do, would it.” She hesitates. “And I didn’t mean to make this one so mysterious! It’s only that I’m a little beside myself, I suppose. The reason we haven’t said anything to anyone is that he must ask his sister’s permission first — and he’s asking her now,” she confesses, deliberately widening her eyes to underline the drama of it all. “I don’t suppose you have any wine to hand, sweetling, or anything of that nature—?” Blink, blink. “He’s Prince Auberyn Nymeros Martell,” she explains at last, “Princess Amarei’s youngest brother.”

Blink, blink: it’s Marsei’s turn. The surprise comes before the utterance of the prince’s name, instead emerging roundabout the time Joyeuse explains a man having to ask his sister’s permission for marriage – and since she’s ascertained by now that he’s a Dornishman…

Marsei doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with this information at first. A few soft syllables escape her lips but don’t come close to fully-fledged words. “Oh!” emerges as the most whole before Joy’s delight before the faltering (Hellholt briefly forgotten) catches on all over again. “Prince Torren’s uncle, then— ? Oh, that’s—“ She looks about the room suddenly, calling out lightly, “Siva! Will you get the wine from its spot?”

Lady Joy casts a grateful glance after the maid. Then, looking again to Lady Marsei, inclining her head nearer, she confides: “Yes, his uncle. The baby’s great-uncle! And you see it wouldn’t do, for a Martell prince to announce his betrothal without leave, and to a foreigner… and it wouldn’t do either for Princess Amarei to hear of such a plan from anyone but him. We’re sure she’ll give leave,” though her tone is more hopeful than certain, “after all, he has married twice already for duty, with never a complaint, and nobody can say he isn’t old enough to know his own mind,” she chuckles, “but the last thing I’d like is to… to make a poor impression, at the very beginning.” She presses her lips together and then breathes out a pensive sigh.

Then a cup of wine arrives in her hand and she murmurs her thanks and drinks as though parched by a long journey through the desert, rather than along the seacoast. “I’ve been wed before into a house where my husband was the only one who wanted me,” she confides, very softly, when Siva has moved away. “Such a position as that can be almost worse than having nobody and nothing at all. We are trying to do as we should, even though the last thing either of us wants is to wait any longer…” Sigh. “We aren’t very good at hiding what we feel.”

The plural pronoun trips off her lips again and again, easily, comfortably.

The younger of the cousins nods her head in understanding, even though she can only understand, through her own life, bits and pieces and barely that. Still, her empathy is such that she looks to live and breathe Joyeuse’s own love-story while she listens. “I confess I do not know much about the Martells except Torren and what everyone knows of Princess Amarei… but if the sound of your voice is any indication, he must be lovely, for you sound in love,” she expresses. “Princess Amarei must agree,” she says, perhaps knowing less of Princess Amarei than even what she said. “Especially given Prince Torren being married to Visenya, and Prince Rhaegor betrothed to another Martell, that you’re foreign shouldn’t be such an issue as it might have been.” She reaches over to clasp her palm over Joy’s knuckles, reassuring, encouraging. “Will you tell me about him?”

Will she? Will she ever! “Of course I’m in love,” sighs Lady Joy, draining her cup after the manner of the besotted and the sots; “and if Her Highness doesn’t agree I don’t know what I shall do. Don’t let’s talk of that. I’m sure she’ll agree, but— but let’s not even think of it now,” she insists passionately. “… He’s terribly handsome,” she confesses then, “I think so, though I suppose we’re neither of us— young anymore.” She pouts, but only for as long as it takes her to rattle off in another direction, in praise of her beloved. “He’s one of those very lean Dornish men who are so much stronger than they look. He has beautiful hands and the most perfect bottom and he smells like— oh, I can’t begin to say. They call him the Perfumed Prince, did you know? He makes perfumes,” she explains, and having put down her empty cup she brandishes a pearl-braceleted wrist for Lady Marsei to sniff. “He made new scents for us both, so we’d smell even lovelier when we’re together than when we’re apart… “ A gesture calculated to please her, if her dreamy inhalation of her own fragrance is anything to judge by. “He never takes anything too seriously — he has a glorious laugh, I can’t help but shiver whenever I hear it! — and he likes wine as much as I do.” Naughty giggle. “We’ve been tucked away at Lemonwood for, oh, weeks now, so that nobody would know about us, and we’ve been having the loveliest time you could possibly imagine, sweetling. We only came out of hiding because — well, if we’re to be married, there’s nothing to hide, is there? … I’m safe.”

She did ask, so Marsei can only blame herself when she’s met with certain details – but besides a tiny widening of her eyes here and there, she’s nothing but enamoured with Joyeuse’s account of the Perfumed Prince (and the perfume, as it happens, does draw an awed stare). In truth, it’s her lady cousin’s effervescence and verve in the happy telling of it that captures Marsei more than the details of the prince himself, but there’s little differentiation in her attentive if slightly doe-eyed gaze. “I’m so happy for you, Joy!” And no more mention of Princess Amarei. “You’re so fortunate to have found one another again. It is a rare thing, I think!” She pays mind to her own cup of wine only now that the other lady’s is emptied; hers is a quietly sipped afterthought.

People in love, absorbed as they become in themselves and their other halves, are always in want of an appreciative audience: Lady Joy, having found hers, is less inclined than ever to let go of that hand she’s still holding, that sea-coloured gaze which so readily meets her own.

“We are fortunate, aren’t we? Of course I never thought, in those days, that…” And she turns misty-eyed again and breathes out another besotted sigh, impatient with being able to say only one thing at once, impatient with all she doesn’t know how to put into words. “He’s always surrounded by so many admirers; of course he is, he’s a Prince of Dorne!” she laughs. “But he has a generous heart; he never seems to run out of affection for his friends… When you talk to him it’s as though you and he are the only two people in all the world; people tell me he’s always like that, with everyone. It’s beyond anything I can understand, that his oth—” She catches herself. “That his wives didn’t love him; I don’t know how to do anything else!” A helpless giggle, a hand clasped to her bosom. “We seem to feel the same way about so many things — sweetling, he’s for peace,” she declares in what is suddenly an even greater passion. “He did fight Prince Daemon in the Stepstones but he’s always tried to keep away from the border troubles — he says it is a thing very near to madness to keep fighting the same little battles again and again with one’s neighbours and expecting any different result.” She blinks twice.

There does exist a touch of uncertain curiosity in the younger lady’s gaze, a lively but oh-so-fleeting flash, when Joyeuse mentions the prince’s oth—that is, previous wives, and his admirers, being a prince of Dorne. One can’t help but wonder over what seems like a Dornish tradition of “paramours”. “Oh!” Marsei is quick to catch up, “I hadn’t even—of course he is for peace, that is good news! What with him being so beloved to you, I didn’t imagine any other way, but I am glad to hear he is so dedicatedly against conflict. Those are … clever words, aren’t they… such battles being akin to madness,” she says, turning thoughtful. “I suppose men in battles only do as they’re told. And Prince Daemon—“ Let’s never mind Prince Daemon, apparently, as the lady simply shakes her red head, airy and dismissive, her foray into gossip about certain Targaryens over before it began.

“You and Visenya are blessed to find the most peacefully minded of the Martells,” Marsei beams upon Joyeuse. “Dhraegon and I should like to speak with Prince Torren about the trade between his kingdom and ours. Shipping and trade is not… so romantic as betrothals,” she smiles, sunshine behind modesty, “but every little bit to strengthen the bond.”

Never before has the subject of shipping so diverted Lady Joyeuse. But everything, everything is an enchantment this week — except possibly Princess Amarei… She misses the uncertainty; she shrugs off Prince Daemon; she breezes ahead in her most characteristic style.

“Oh, of course!” she exclaims. “Your flower fleet… I’m a little envious of your figureheads, sweetling; they must have gained you admirers all round the world,” she giggles. “Now, how does that old poem go — about that Essosi queen — ‘the face that launched a thousand ships,’” she quotes, “‘and burnt the topless towers of…’ Where was it?” She blinks again, wide-eyed, in amiable and inebriated puzzlement. “Oh, one of those terribly foreign places, with names that make me want to change the way I do my hair… I do think all the Martells believe very passionately in the dignity of their house, and of their kingdom — the difference,” and she gives a speculative little shrug, “perhaps is in how they would defend that dignity… I don’t think Prince Auberyn thinks it is dignified,” she says more slowly, “to be so often up in arms over ancient slights. Certainly it isn’t in his nature.” A touch of smugness there. “I have never seen him angered… There are stories,” she admits, “but so few of them! They are still told, perhaps,” she cants her head in consideration of the gossips’ motives, “because they are unusual… It is because he thinks more of Dorne, and not less, that he feels as he does,” she concludes. “Hating Westeros and the Westerosi is all very entertaining for the young men, but it doesn’t make Dorne any better off — or Westeros, for that matter…”

And the light in her flickers lower, and she sighs, “Almost all my life, sweetling, people I love have been caught up upon both sides of the trouble. If only there could be enough marriages like— like my first, and I do hope my third, if enough people could feel just as I do,” she declares passionately, “no Dornishman would ever again take up arms against the men of the Reach, and no lord of the Reach would dream of sending men against Dorne. The price of it is too high,” she insists, “too… too…” Her handkerchief makes a return appearance; she dabs at her eyes, sniffing distractedly. “Too dreadful, isn’t it?”

Marsei gives a quiet little laugh over the talk of the Flower Fleet; she smiles as though it’s a all a bit of whimsy, a tale, rather than a true fleet of fancy figureheads. Joyeuse is on her own with the foreign poem, the details only garnering a blink and a glimmer of amusement (only after Joy gives up on finding the name).

“Dreadful,” she repeats more softly, wholeheartedly agreeing with a particularly gentled look around the eye. “No matter what way you look at it, but I expect it would feel especially dreadful with someone you love in the middle of it. I admit bits and … just pieces of the history of Starfall against Oldtown started to come to me as I was preparing to leave and … well,” the reflective, dim path takes a sharp right turn into sunshine as she goes on, “We’re blessed to live in a time of peace now!” An optimistic outlook on the fresh and some might say tenuous alliances with the Dornish, but such a high-spirited expression on the beaming fair face of the Flower of Oldtown might be capable of willing away the darkest clouds—none of which she finds here. No one could ever accuse Lady Joyeuse of being a dark cloud, least of all Marsei.

Seeking light again in Joy’s eyes, Marsei frees a hand from her only to pat the other lady’s again and leans more comfortably, if ever so properly, against the sofa’s cushions. “I look forward to meeting your Prince Auberyn.”

And Lady Joy nods once slowly and then twice quickly, her smile echoing her cousin’s with such readiness for a return to good cheer that they seem almost to have had the same thought in the same moment. “… I’m longing for you to meet him too,” she confesses, “but at the same time I’m just a little bit afraid you’ll find him— a scandal.” She widens her eyes on purpose, affecting to look concerned — but then she gives way to a giggle, cut off only by the catching of her lower lip between her teeth. “Dornish customs, well, they aren’t quite like the way people go on in the north… and I know you’ve been twice a wife, but — sweetling — you have a way of seeming always so beautifully innocent… I think there are moments when I envy you that.”

Straight away, Marsei looks as though she might portray some of that beautiful innocence with a modest shake of her head, perhaps a blush; maybe wide eyes at the thought of scandal. The very earliest stages of all of these things cross her face as wisps, possibilities that don’t quite bloom. Instead, she puts them aside, thinks for a moment, gives Joyeuse a sweet—indeed, innocent—but good-humoured little smile with a lift of her fine brows and says cleverly, “I get on just fine with you, don’t I?” After a pause, she smiles wide.

… And her cousin bursts into laughter and impulsively embraces her with one arm, the other hand holding her goblet of wine up and out of the way. “Oh! You do, don’t you?” sighs Lady Joy, leaning away to regard the Flower of Oldtown with a delighted smile and yet a gleam of tears in her eyes. “Oh, I deserved that, didn’t I,” she sighs then, wrinkling her nose. “Though… though I’ve never really been certain whether that was because you didn’t mind me, or you didn’t know me…” For which suspicion she apologises with a very speaking glance. “I know I am… not spoken of well, in the Reach… I’d be quite mortified to think you of all women listened too much to the tales I know are told of me,” she is quick to insist. “They’re not all true — I suppose one or two must be,” she allows with, at this hour, a trace of regret, “simply because when people talk so much they’re apt to hit upon the truth now and again by chance…” And after that little flood of thoughtless words she collects herself.

“You know I was very young when I was sent to Dorne,” she explains gently, “just barely fifteen years old. And I knew nothing of anything — except that I understood, in those days, that I was to live all my life in this country, among these people. I was determined to become Dornish, just as much as I could, to try to earn the love and the respect of my husband’s kin… It seemed to be my duty as the wife of my husband, whether or not he— wished anything of me, or took any notice. I don’t think he did, most of the time.” She wrinkles her nose; she shrugs.

“Of course I never quite could,” she admits. “There will always be Dornish who look askance at a woman with Westerosi blood; and now I am too Dornish — somewhere deep inside, where it doesn’t always show but even people who don’t know me seem sometimes to sense that it’s there — too Dornish to be at home again in the Reach. I haven’t a natural place anymore, you see? … Save, I hope, with Prince Auberyn, when the day comes and he makes it so.”

Marsei's is a patient look. Accepting, without hesitation, regardless of any bits and pieces she might have heard of her cousin's reputation. "I don't know about any stories, not really," she says. "You hear things," she admits, not without a glance away and back, "but they're just… they are stories. And besides, Dorne suits you in a way it could never fit to me. It suits…" she ponders, smiling triumphantly when she lands upon it, "your spirit. Not all the shocking things— that is— even then, I think it is good to remember that what might seem startling is common here, and that doesn't necessarily make it bad." Spoken like a fresh new outlook. "Although I have not found Starfall to be nearly as startling as I expected." Marsei's attention grows briefly distant and wondering, as though she's not entirely sure if she's relieved or disappointed. She snaps back from the thought cheerfully. "Anyway, you'll have your place, I'm sure of it!"

Lady Joy’s eyes give up beseeching her cousin for understanding, and threaten instead to brim over with tears of relief and affection and generally nervous spirits. She tilts her head back a wee bit and wipes under each eye with a fingertip — her eyelashes are beaded with tiny teardrops, but she doesn’t give in to them. Oh, no. Today of all days she can’t be melancholy long. Listening to her cousin speak such sense, for all her sweetness and her innocence, having it all out and finding that it’s all all right after all, her toes curl in her dainty embroidered slippers (another present from the prince) and her eyes shine and she finds her smile again.

“Oh, goodness,” and she draws in a breath which sounds as though it might become laughter, though in the end it doesn’t; “I wish I could be so certain for ten minutes altogether without wavering… Oh, I’m so glad you understand,” she sighs, “something of how… stories of that nature come to be. You know, in our part of the world — in the Reach,” she clarifies, being herself attached to more than one such part, “the Dornish have been the enemy for so long that people adore to exaggerate tales of Dornish wickedness, and to impute whatever sins they can think of not only to the Dornish, but to anyone who has…” She gives an elegant shrug, sandsilks rippling. “Lived in Dorne… Whereas here, you see,” and her smile turns proud; “people just don’t make quite such a fuss about those things. It’s the same with children and wine, isn’t it? Bring up your little ones to drink watered wine with their meals, accustom them to it, and they’re much more sensible about what they drink when they’re grown… But I know of some terribly strict parents who won’t let their children have a drop till they are grown, and what do the children do then? Why, they make a terrible exhibition of themselves,” she answers her own question, “because they’ve no notion how to drink. The lords and ladies of the Reach,” she sighs, “are forbidden romance on a similar scheme — is it any wonder that it becomes such a fuss, and such a fascination…? And that what the Dornish take for granted as a natural part of one’s life, and know how to manage without mixing too much bitterness or jealousy in their pleasure, is made into something— illicit, and shameful? … Princess Amarei herself has children by more than one father, did you know that?” she declares; her chin rises triumphantly with that unassailable point. “And none of her people love her the less for it.”

Marsei might have made the sensible conclusion, but … she is is one of those ladies of the Reach, isn't she; a realization that is definitely not beyond the Flower of Oldtown as she listens so intently to Joyeuse, nodding here and there. A realization quite apparent on her face, in fact. "I did hear that… I simply can't imagine— how differently she would be looked at if she were the Queen of Westeros." Her sister, in other words. She glances down, considering, "Perhaps not if she were the king." But she does not dwell on that theoretical dichotomy long, quickly giving her head a shake and Joy a gentle smile. "I shan't say the Dornish culture isn't difficult to get my head around," she admits. She looks through the room straight to the window. "I'm still having a hard time remembering where I am when I wake up in the morning!" There's a laugh to her voice. "Especially with this furniture and everything arranged just so, but it makes Dhraegon feel a bit safer."

“Indeed not if she were the King,” and Lady Joy’s instinctive laughter at the thought of Princess Amarei in a doublet and hose and a golden crown set with gems of seven hues, fades softly into a sigh. “But in Dorne she need not be a king, or a prince. In Dorne a woman has the same right as a man — to inherit, to govern, to make her own decisions and to seek her own happiness… to make her own mistakes, too, sometimes,” and she sighs again. “She might be judged upon her deeds, but no worse than a man is judged for doing the same things. It isn’t like Westeros, where men can do as they please and nobody thinks anything of it, but let a woman put her foot just once beyond a line other people have drawn for her— but sweetling, if I start going on and on like this, I’ll preach so long we’ll both miss our supper!” Another, far breezier sigh. “I only wish all the really clever ladies I’ve ever known could come and live in Dorne and do as they please — so much freedom seems just a little bit wasted, sometimes, upon a woman as silly as I am,” she laughs. “But I shall try to see that it isn’t truly wasted… And you’ve reminded me now, that I’ve been discourteous — chattering away about all my own news, and not asking after yours. How are you, sweetling? How’s Dhrae?” she asks, catching hold of her cousin’s hand again and gazing into her eyes in earnest inquiry. “Are you still so beautifully happy together?”

Marsei could easily become swept into Joy's line of thought; it's plain to see, the pensive look dawning in her gaze. She's just as easily swept right along when the conversation is turned to her, although it's with a widening of her eyes and soft "oh!", the thought of her cousin's so-called discourtesy not even having occurred to her, needing a quick moment, in fact, to adjust to talking about herself.

Telling, perhaps, that maybe she'd rather listen to Joy's news than speak her own, but it turns out to be nothing but pleasant: how Dhrae is wonderful and their visit to Dorne is lovely, how it's all a bit overwhelming but they're both doing just fine, how absolutely pleased she was to be there when Visenya gave birth but — laughing — how Dhrae tiptoes around the baby; how she's barely left the company of Dhrae, Visenya, or Septa Leire, and will Joyeuse tell her all about Starfall and how it compares to all the other places in Dorne she's been…?

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