(123-06-15) The Unstrung Harp
The Unstrung Harp
Summary: Gratuitous Rowan vignette posted purely in order to use the title.
Date: No idea. Oops.
Related: Related Logs (Say None if there aren't any; don't leave blank. You have to use full URLs, like http://gobmush.wikidot.com/logtitle)

The plangent note of a single harp string, plucked and plucked again, never quite in tune, beckons Lord Antony Rowan into the sitting-room of the manse he has shared for several months now with his long-wayward lady.

Margot Rowan is not alone therein. She has a visitor, and not one of her usual great lords or elegant ladies, no Hightower or Tyrell kin. He is an elderly man, what hair he has gone white; he is dressed in the clean, neat, humble garments of a respectable craftsman, but even so a cloth has been spread out for him to kneel upon, to preserve the manse's fine carpets. He is addressing himself to the lady's standing harp, a tall and majestic instrument with curves as graceful as her own. At present it has only a couple of its strings, the rest scattered about on the cloth among the tools of a luthier's trade.

The lady is sitting in a chair stationed a couple of paces away, watching over the craftsman, unobtrusively guarding her treasured harp. She looks up at her husband's footsteps; "My lord," she murmurs, with a question in her voice. The luthier looks round, too, but bends his head quickly to his work.

Is the constant plucking beckoning, or does it draw Antony simply to break up the monotony of it? At any rate, he appears, and gives the craftsman making the interminable noises a look. "Lady," Antony replies to Margot when she greets him. "You have a moment for me?"

Lady Rowan does glance to the harp, to the careful fitting of the next string into its proper place — but then she turns again to her husband, rising as she does from the edge of her chair. "Of course, my lord," she answers. If her heart is beating faster beneath her black silk gown, she doesn't show it.

"Should we go to another room while your…craftsman is at it?" Antony suggests, as she's already rising.

This Lady Rowan answers with a tiny nod of her pointed chin. "Master Cedrick, I shall return shortly," she explains to the luthier, who glances up at her and bobs his head and mutters a polite 'your ladyship'. And she will, too — looking just as she looks in this moment, steady and serene, glacial in her dignity. No matter what her husband has to say to her in their moments apart.

She follows her husband into the foyer and draws the door discreetly shut at her back. Then she clears her throat; echoing, the small sound seems larger. "The dining-room ought to be empty," she suggests, "at this hour."

"There, then," Antony replies, moving in that direction. Perhaps he is guarded, but that is not terribly unusual or unexpected in him, especially at a time like this.

Again she nods; and they repair in silence to the dining-room, as cool and quiet and stately a refuge as even Lady Rowan could hope for.

That door in turn has just been closed behind them, when a handful of yards away the front door opens and a commotion ensues in the foyer. For a moment Lady Rowan simply looks vexed — and not with her husband, either.

Antony is just getting ready to open the subject when there are /commotions/ in his house. He looks back over his shoulder. "What in the Stranger's name is that noise about?" he asks, put out. Then he turns to Margot. "What I've come to talk to you about is—"

Lady Rowan, normally so courteous in these matters, interrupts him with a raised hand. "—I know. I know," she repeats, dully, bringing her hand to rest against the warm golden wood of the door. "But that is Ser Adarian's voice," she explains, with a speaking glance in the direction of the foyer, "and I… though I wish very much to know what it is you would say to me," her voice quavers like a harp-string, "I must greet him, my lord, and make him welcome. May I ask you, please, to wait until I have attended to my immediate duties as his hostess? We did not… expect him quite so soon." Her tense tone conjures up images of chambers unaired and linen unchanged and orders ungiven.

Antony looks annoyed that his important announcement is to be preempted by the untimely arrival of some other man. "Very well," he says somewhat darkly. "You want me to sit around here and wait?"

Her attention torn between this chamber and the other, her hand upon the doorknob, Lady Rowan looks to her husband and shakes her head. "You must do as you wish, my lord," she murmurs. "If you don't wish to meet him, now, I'll see him swiftly out of your way… I only ask your patience. That we might," she licks her suddenly-dry lips, "speak later in the day."

"I'll come and see him later on," Antony says in a low tone. "We'll deal with this later. But not very much later."

"Soon," agrees Lady Rowan, with a true apology in her voice. Has it ever happened like this before? Has she ever wished for a few minutes alone, only to be denied them by circumstance? It's difficult to imagine; and perhaps that's why, balancing duty against duty, she finds a sad smile for him before smoothing her face consciously, with effort, into a mask of polite surprise. On her own battlefields, the sitting-room and the solar, the garden and the great hall, she shows no more fear than he upon his.

And then she opens the door and slips out again into the foyer; and exclaims with evident delight, "Ser Adarian! What a pleasure it is for us to see you so soon… How was your journey?" She pulls the door to slowly, as though it were of no moment and no one at all were hiding behind it; whatever reply her sister's husband offers her, is softened to a murmur.

Before long the foyer is silent again — but for the plucking of new harp-strings, by a practiced hand bringing them slowly into tune.

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