(123-06-20) Motherly Advice
Motherly Advice
Summary: From Joyeuse Hastwyck. Er. Yes, it's about what you'd expect.
Date: 30/06-02/07/2016
Related: None

The garden in Starfall's upper bailey is fragrant even into the evening, with the tang of lemon trees and the sweetness of hydrangeas.

Most of the castle's denizens have gathered already in the great hall in advance of dinner, but one feminine (it's unmistakable) figure wanders dreamily still through the twilight, in a flutter of red and golden sandsilk robes. Lady Joyeuse Hastwyck, the promised wife of Prince Auberyn Martell, hasn't been seen lately but in his colours. Well, those of his colours which flatter her. Orange is not a friend to her peachy Westerosi complexion.

She is all alone, an unusual circumstance. Unless one counts as a companion the goblet of wine which was in her hand when she came out of the guest tower, and which she absent-mindedly set down on a stone bench she passed and quite forgot about whilst quartering the garden, this way and that, searching its elegant blue and white and green precincts as methodically as she can be bothered to for… what? A lost earring? A particular flower?

She's not entirely alone. There's another quiet female presence in the garden, this one sitting daintily with her knees drawn up to her chest and leaning back against one of the slender trunks of a lemon tree, slowly and meticulously shredding a fallen leaf until it's nothing more than a skeleton. In the falling darkness this other, much younger woman glows, pale linen contrasting the dark green grass, and watches Joyeuse's movements about the garden, rapt.

Tending though she does to the same luxuriant plumpness as a ripe fruit, Lady Joy is light on her feet and graceful in her weavings to and fro. The light breeze which has just room enough up here to manoeuvre plucks at her sandsilks, outlining her opulent figure differently depending upon which way she turns, affording her unnoticed observer the opportunity to examine in detail the lady herself and her mode of dress and today's hairstyle, which is half up and half-down, dark red curls wind-whipped.

The lady comes further out from between the sheltering bulk of the Palestone Sword on the one hand and the Little Hall on the other, and a stronger gust ruffles those curls: her hands lift to protect them and she lets out first a startled little cry and then a quick laugh. Turning way from the breeze she turns toward that lemon tree, and the girl in white beneath it, and she laughs again, simply because that's her response to a great many things. "Oh!" and she giggles. "I didn't see you — you must think I'm quite mad!"

Vynesa, for the girl has the misfortune to go by that name, shakes her head hurriedly, eyes widening just a little as she's picked out for conversation. "Oh, no, no. Not at all." The leaf is forgotten, abandoned beside her with its far less skeletal mates. "You're not mad. You're… Lady Hastwyck, aren't you?" Those wide eyes take in every part of the woman before her, the beautiful silks to the wind whipped hair. There's a moment longer of slightly awkward silence, as though she intends to speak, and then a sudden blurted, "Your dress is really pretty."

On the point of agreeing that she is, in fact, Lady Hastwyck, that lady's expression shifts from amused cordiality into open delight, quite as though the compliment had come from a close personal friend of the masculine persuasion. Her lips, already parted to speak, form instead the words: "Oh! Do you really think so?" She beams, one beringed hand smoothing red silk over the curve of her hip. She really does possess some extraordinary jewels, for the widowed lady of a minor house. That ruby ring for one… "It's another new one from when I was last in Sunspear. That is, yes," she adds belatedly, "I'm Lady Hastwyck, and I think you are one of Princess Visenya's ladies, though for the life of me I can't recollect your name. I know you're not Lady Lara," she chuckles, "but I don't think we've met before, have we?" She blinks inquiringly.

The ring, likewise every jewel sparkling about Joyeuse's person, gets an awed look before Vynesa looks back up to the woman's face. "I'm… uh… I am! I'm one of Princess Visenya's ladies. I'm here with Princess Visenya. For the tourney. With the princess." Well done, yes, we get the idea. "I'm not Lady Lara, no. She's taller. And… ah… she's… oh. I'm Vynesa?" It's almost pleading, that part, impressed so earnestly on Joyeuse. "I'm… well, I'm… did you lose something? I can help you look?"

Lady Joy blinks again, nonplussed by all this girlish gibberish. One thing she seizes upon: "Oh, no," she laughs, "I haven't lost anything. It was only something Au— Prince Auberyn said to me, about the flowers. I wanted to prove him wrong," she confides, one woman to another, "but I don't think I can, isn't it dreadful?" She giggles. "Well, I'm pleased to meet you, Lady Vynesa; now that I think of it I think we did almost meet, didn't we, at the end of last year? When you were all staying at the Hightower? Or am I thinking of somebody else?" Her brow furrows; she smooths it hurriedly, by a great mental effort, so as not to encourage the formation of wrinkles, which she's far too young for yet, of course, but just in case. She blinks again. "I suppose if you weren't sure who I was either," she deduces, "we couldn't have met then, could we? One of us would surely remember. Unless we'd been drinking!"

Vynesa laughs, more because it seems the appropriate thing to do than because she has suddenly developed a sense of humour. "I don't really drink. Not that there's anything wrong with drinking. I like a drink. Drinking's good. Do you drink? Maybe we both had a drink? You were there. I saw you." Not stalkerish in the slightest. Nope.

"… Well, you're so young," sighs Lady Joy generously; "perhaps you haven't got anything to drink about yet." And she perches herself upon a white marble bench, and immediately makes a pleased sound. "Oh, that is better. I really don't think," she confides, "these slippers can have been made for walking in at all." She lifts her skirts an inch or so to display them to Lady Vynesa, a pair of dainty little trifles so embroidered it's difficult to say whether the silk beneath is red or gold, and very pointy about the toes.

"Oh, but they're so beautiful!" Vynesa gushes, clasping her hands together. "I think I'd wear them even if they made my feet bleed. Are they red? Or… I can't tell!"

Again Lady Joy blinks, the fuss being to her way of thinking a little more than such slippers deserve. "Why, I don't know," she confesses, peering down at her feet. "I don't think I looked when my maid put them on for me. Shall we see?" And she presses the toes of one foot to the heel of the other, wriggling her way out of her left slipper; and with the grass tickling her bare toes she bends over to pick it up. "Red," she declares cheerfully, turning it over in her hands. "At least, most of the inside is red. I suppose they'd have used the same silk for the lining as for the outside, wouldn't they?" She doesn't sound particularly invested in the issue one way or the other. She drops the slipper again next to her pretty little foot, and wiggles it back on.

With the slipper still in Joyeuse's hand, Vynesa reaches out as though to tentatively touch the ornate embroidery, but her nerve fails her and her hand shrinks back. "The red. It looks really nice on you," she manages. "I think everything would look nice on you, I mean, but… red is particularly nice. It goes with your face." With. Your. Face. Well done. Best compliment ever.

The copper drops. It's quite flattering, really; and Lady Joy's smile has an extra kindness in it before she lowers her gaze to attend to her slipper. The wretched thing's a hair too small, into the bargain, and her heel requires the assistance of her fingertip to find again its proper place. "Well, I like red," she confesses; "people say I shouldn't wear it, with hair like mine, but I don't see why I shouldn't wear what I like." She straightens, her slippered feet lined up side by side, her hands idle in her lap. "And red and orange and gold will be my house colours, soon enough — I don't know whether you've heard about that," she laughs, though in truth her impending nuptials have formed the greater part of Starfall's gossip in recent days. "Hastwyck colours are olive-green and a sort of yellowish ivory. Awful," she pronounces, shivering, "and I never could bring myself to wear them."

"I think you should wear what you like," Vynesa agrees loyally, head nodding like a children's toy. "Does… I mean, does your husband mind? Your new husband, I mean. The one who will be your husband. Or does he insist you wear them? I think you're very brave."

"Oh, Auberyn?" asks Lady Joy casually, once again forgetting to give him his proper title, accustomed as she has become in these last weeks to addressing him by his name alone — or by other, sweeter words. "Oh," and a smug, sensual little smile curves her wine-reddened lips, "he likes what I wear, I think, and giving me presents to wear. He always did." A beat. "Brave? About what?"

Vynesa takes a moment to blink, swallow and gather her thoughts. “Oh. I just… I just thought that… well, I thought if you wear what you want then he might not like it, and… but if he likes it, that’s good! That’s very good! I mean, I like it, but I’m not your husband, am I?” A little, nervous laugh, her hands fiddling with opposing knuckles, then folding and unfolding, never quite sure what to do with them. “I think you… well, I think you’re… uh… I think I’d like to be more like you.”

The elder lady’s eyes widen, and gaze at the younger in lively green-grey surprise. “Like me—?” she laughs. “Sweetling, you hardly know me — and I'm sure you can do better than that. Why not be like Princess Visenya?” she demands lightly. “You must admire her very much.”

“Oh, I do!” Vynesa hurriedly replies, never wanting to be disloyal, “Princess Visenya is wonderful, she really is, it’s just that… well, she’s more like a sort of big sister. But you… I want to… I mean I don’t mean you’re old, you’re not old. You have experience, though, and… and you know exactly what you want! And if you want to wear red, you wear red! And if you want to walk in the garden, you walk in the garden! I wish I could be like that.”

Lady Joy’s lips form a small perfect red ‘O’. “Well, I don’t think I’m so old,” she murmurs in a mildly defensive, taken-aback sort of undertone. She sits straighter on the edge of her bench, preening after a fashion. And then when censure becomes praise she finds herself smiling again, soothed back into the good humour which is her most natural state, which sits upon her as lightly and becomingly as the pearls in her hair. “Well, why shouldn’t you?” she asks. “What keeps you from it? The Princess isn’t such a tyrant, is she? And you must have a dress allowance,” she points out. “That white,” she gestures, “is really quite pretty.”

Vynesa beams, no, more than beams, she glows at this praise from her new hero, absently fingering the fabric of her skirts. “You like it? You really like it? It’s not… striking, like your clothes, though. I don’t think I could… well… everyone would look at me. But you don’t care if people look at you, and I think you’re… it’s wonderful!”

Well. Lady Hastwyck wouldn’t quite go that far. “It’s pretty,” she repeats, temporising, “in a quiet sort of way… I don’t think it would make anybody look at you — not if you didn’t want him to,” for that’s the pronoun which springs first to her mind, “but if somebody did look at you, for any other reason, why, he’d think that was a pretty dress, just the thing for a young lady of high birth, wouldn’t he?” She nods decisively. “And if you like it, too — well! Then you are wearing what you like, aren’t you?” she declares.

Then she sighs. “I think I should be quite upset,” she confides, “if nobody at all looked at me; but we can’t all like the same things, can we? There might not be enough to go round if we did.”

“If I were as pretty as you, I wouldn’t mind if people looked,” Vynesa admits, teeth worrying at her lower lip. It’s an attractive affectation, if lost waifs are your thing. “But if I wear bright colours, and go where I want, and drink, and… well, people will say things about me. But people don’t say things about you. They just say that you’re Lady Hastwyck, and that’s what you do and who you are, and they don’t… I mean… you don’t…” At this she just trails off, unable to form the words.

“Oh, sweetling,” sighs Lady Joy, shoulders sagging with the weight of her sudden pity for this poor little creature. “Why do pretty young girls never believe they are pretty—? I didn’t think /I// was,” she confides, “when I was your age; and what I wouldn’t give, now, to look as I did then!” She affects sighing, and languishing. “Youth has a charm all its own, you know, and once you grow out of it you’ll never have it back again… You ought to enjoy it whilst you do have it,” she explains. “You live in Dorne, after all, where even unmarried girls have a freedom there’s no such thing as on the other side of the border… Why, when I was your age, and so pretty I didn’t even know it,” and she drops her voice, for the sake of emphasis more than bashfulness, “I couldn’t even go to the privy without my septa or one of my mother’s women following along to be certain I wasn’t sneaking away to speak with someone I shouldn’t. And here you are, free of kin and septas alike, waiting upon a Princess of Dorne. Really, you’re luckier than you know, I think, and too much concerned for what you oughtn’t to give you a moment’s worry. You make too much of what you say of me, too. I’m hardly the only lady in Dorne who wears colourful robes and likes the occasional cup of wine, am I? Why, think of Lady Fowler — think of Lady Lara,” she laughs, “or some of those Dayne girls!” She breathes in, smiling. “My, my.”

“So you think I shouldn’t worry, and I should wear bright colours?” Vynesa confirms, leaning forward to hear Joyeuse’s ineffable wisdom on the matter. “I can try… I think…?”

“Well, if you want to… you’ve only yourself to please, haven’t you?” points out Lady Joyeuse. “Or perhaps the princess — but she wears very bright sandsilks sometimes, so I don’t see why she’d mind if you did. She might think you looked more cheerful,” she suggests.

“I don’t want people to look at me when they should look at her, though,” Vynesa reasons, brows furrowing. “Perhaps I’ll get some nice slippers or a belt. Nothing too much. What do you think?” Because clearly she’s incapable of making a single decision for herself, without asking her idol.

“Oh, people always look at princesses,” says the idol vaguely, “it’s only natural… A girl standing next to a princess would have to try twice as hard to get a look in, I should think.”

Then her natural volubility deserts her; for a low, masculine voice, rich with the accents of Dorne, has just called out from the far end of a garden path: “My lady…?” It is Prince Auberyn Martell, of course; younger brother to the ruling princess of that house, notorious perfumer and even more notorious philanderer; and Lady Joy’s own promised husband.

She blooms instantly in her breathtaken silence.

She rises and stretches out her hand to him, sandsilk sleeves swaying in the breeze; and each has taken several steps toward the other before, belatedly recollecting Lady Vynesa, Lady Joy turns to offer a parting, “Oh, I must go — but just you do what pleases you, mmm?” And, suiting her actions to her words, she floats off into the company of that tall and lean older prince whose hair has just begun to silver and whose robes were patently chosen to go with hers. He does indeed like what she wears. He wears such similar things himself…

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