(123-06-28) The Wolf and the Butterfly
The Wolf and the Butterfly
Summary: Lady Olenna Roxton, exploring the gardens of the Hightower, meets a number of unexpected creatures… including Ser Bryce Stark.
Date: 28/06/2016
Related: None

Near the heart of the butterfly garden which was Prince Dhraegon's gift to his own beloved Flower, a lady in a sky blue gown is sitting upon the grass.

The gown has seen better days; the thread-of-gold embroidery about its square neckline and bell-shaped sleeves, a pattern of interlocking rings, appears worn and dulled by time. The lady herself has seen three decades of life and some part of a fourth; though the brown-black hair gathered into thick braids and looped at the back of her neck has yet to show silver, the faintest of creases have arrived to frame her blue-grey eyes. She is fair enough, though the strength of her chin and the sharpness of her cheekbones suggest a stubborn demeanour. A pink and yellow butterfly has alighted upon her outstretched hand, lured by a sticky streak of sugar water; she is just exclaiming, softly so as not to frighten it, "I can feel the wings beating!"

It may not be immediately apparent to an observer that her eyes aren't focused upon the little creature, or that the garden's colours, its statuary, its fanciful bird-feeders, are so much nothing to her. In that moment she's all delight; and that delight has lifted years of patience, of frustration, of small daily sufferings, from her features.

The younger woman kneeling next to her has the look of a maid. It's her eyes which lift to Ser Bryce Stark as the sound of his approach makes both women suddenly all too aware of themselves and where they sit.

Things being moved in. People asking questions. Just… So many people. He was sick of it. Furthermore, Bryce was sick of being indoors. The day being warm, he's opted for a lighter set of clothes. A grey tunic bearing silver threaded embroidery, in the northern style, the wolf of his House emblazoned over the span of his shoulderblades. It's all sturdy, well made, but not exactly high fashion. He stands out, despite his knighthood, being so obviously, well, Stark. Funny how that worked out. Near Olenna's own age, but he had not been spared the marks of time, though they seem to suit him. Greying at his temples, and sweeping back, creases near his eyes. Though above and beyond his own appearances, he stands for yet another, greater, reason. The real reason he went on the long walk that has lead him here. A wolf, dark grey, tall as his shoulder, following alongside the Knight, bright eyed and excited. Flowers are sniffed, investigated, and Bryce smirks faintly. If he notices that he has been spotted, he does not yet let on.

Only one of the women reacts to the direwolf strolling through the Hightower gardens: the maid, who breathes in sharply, a hand pressed to her bosom, her eyes wide and staring as the creature comes further and further into view. She makes a grab then for her mistress's empty hand, to try to encourage her up onto her feet and away — which has no immediate effect upon the lady, though it does alarm the butterfly into flight. How vexing!

"Sallei! What is it?" Olenna demands, irritable now, even as she's tucking her feet beneath herself and getting up again in answer to that urgent hand tugging at hers. At least it also constitutes a hand-up.

"Please, your ladyship!" exclaims Sallei. "It's a wolf!"

Luckily, perhaps, Bryce has gotten used to people noticing the direwolf. He has also gotten used to having to calm people about said direwolf. "He will not harm you." He says, catching the exclamation of the maid, "Even if he looks frightening." Because, well, Bryce had long ago taught Sentinel to leave people well enough alone.

The lady in the sky blue dress still doesn't turn to look at Ser Bryce and his faithful companion; she does however cock her head, listening. "… He is tame, ser?" she calls softly, smoothing her dress with the hand her handmaiden isn't clutching at arm's length. "Can one tame a wolf?"

"One can make agreements with a wolf, if they know how. Especially direwolves, if they've a kinship, for they are wickedly intelligent creatures." Bryce responds with a small smile. Sentinel, for his part, continues to sniff around flower beds, bright golden eyes watching signs of movement, but never straying too far from the Knight.

Olenna turns slowly, in a quarter-circle which becomes a half-circle, listening in a manner that is visible, palpable. She is almost facing the prowling direwolf; her sightless eyes are of no use, but her keen ears have picked up that distinctive sound of canine panting. "Please," she asks quietly, of her maid more than Ser Bryce, "where is he? How far away?"

"Ahead of you, your ladyship — about eight paces away," admits her maid in a very small voice, from almost directly behind her. She tugs once more, futilely, at her mistress's hand, silently urging their departure.

Bryce is not a man who is amused by scaring other people. "Sentinel, come here." He says, and the direwolf rounds, coming to sit before the Knight and look the short distance up to him. Bryce looks the wolf in the eye, and then nods back and behind him. There was an alcove some way behind, quiet, secluded, forgotten on an afternoon when people had fancy lunch dates to be at. The wolf trots off. "He is gone, and will not return lest I bid him. I did not mean for him, or I, to disturb you."

"… Thank you, ser," murmurs Olenna, looking past him without meeting his eye, almost as though she were watching the wolf go— but of course she is not; and having spoken thus she lets out her breath in a shaky sigh. "But if this is your accustomed place, it is we who ought to go." Her hand breaks free of her maid's at last and she clasps both before her waist.

It is then that Bryce notices the pattern of her glances, though he stays quiet on the matter. "No, my lady, I am new to this city, there is no accustomed anywhere for me as of yet." Bryce says, shaking his head, "Please, be at peace." His tone is almost apologetic, though it is added a stern quality by his Northern accent that doesn't allow it to ever tread toward gentle.

The lady's chin lowers in a slight nod. "I have… no accustomed anywhere either, here," she concedes quietly, making an apology of that as well. "Not yet." And she takes a couple of steps toward the sound of his voice, unclasping her hands and offering one to where she thinks he might be. It's not a bad guess. She's accustomed, at least, to guessing. "My name is Olenna Roxton," she explains, "the Lady of the Ring. The blind one." It is on the whole more efficient to give people permission to talk about it.

"I suppose then, that we are both new here." Bryce says with a smile that warms his voice. Greeting her, it is an action that is almost rote. While he is well accustomed to social graces, it is obvious, even just by proximity, that it is not a natural thing to him. "Ser Bryce Stark. It is good to meet you, My Lady." He says. It seems he isn't going to comment on the blindness. It's none of this business.

Olenna inhales at the name of so great a house — she breathes out again evenly, but only because she's doing so on purpose. "It is an honour, my lord Stark… I understand now," she murmurs, "how you might come to make— an agreement, with a direwolf. My house," and the fingers of her reclaimed hand twist at the golden signet ring on the middle finger of the other, "has a sigil neither fearsome nor companionable. Only… golden rings." Which thought seems to amuse her somehow, or at least to twist her lips.

Bryce laughs, and it is a pleasant thing, the sort of laugh that is good to have around a fire on a cold day. "Some would argue rings are a lot more companionable than direwolves." He says, smirking. It is then, however, that courier makes his way into the gardens. A message, delivered to Bryce, which makes him sigh. "And on that note… I need to go convince the steward that yes, actually, I do need a kennel that could house a pony…" He says, laughing again, "I must beg your leave, My Lady. Perhaps we shall meet again."

The blind Reachlady listens in respectful silence to the Stark lord's brief exchange with the courier. Her expression is unchanging; her gaze which isn't a gaze drifts slightly as she turns her head the better to enjoy a slight breeze, and the scents it brings. "Perhaps we shall, my lord," she agrees. "I will try to teach my maid not to be so frightened. It is an advantage sometimes, you understand…? What I don't see, I often foolishly don't fear."

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