(123-07-11) A Bullfish's Regret
A Bullfish's Regret
Summary: The heir to House Tully is summoned to the chambers of his favourite cousin, returned from her Dornish adventures and simply itching to share ALL her news…
Date: Not sure anymore (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 letter arrives unexpectedly, addressed in a flamboyant and feminine hand, sealed with red wax, borne by a lissom brown-skinned Dornish handmaiden.

My dear cousin Thadeus,

How long it's been since we met—! And what a bore I was that afternoon…

My time in Dorne was replete with delights and I'm sure I couldn't have torn myself away without the promise of seeing family and friends here as well as there. Won't you come and call on me at the Hightower one afternoon and tell me all your news, and let me tell you mine—? We might set a bowl of cherries in between us and see if we couldn't make it seem quite like old times.

Your wayward cousin,


Never, during the lady's last sojourn in Oldtown, did she entertain the heir to House Tully beneath House Hightower’s roof. Once in its gardens, for a very proper, very chaperoned stroll — but lines must be drawn, and she drew them.

Nonetheless on the appointed afternoon (of course the Bullfish, hoping to find his cousin awake during the daylight hours, sent back a specific suggestion) the same Dornish handmaiden shows the visitor into her mistress's palatial chambers as though this were the most natural of all possible arrangements.

The suite’s sitting-room has been made over in the Dornish style with draperies of colourful silk and cloth-of-gold, costly carpets, silken pillows. The promised bowl of cherries is set in the middle of a low table of golden wood; to one side of it Lady Joy reclines in a nest of cushions, robed in layers of scarlet and golden sandsilk, her hair half up and half down and her lips already stained with the juice of one of her favourite, favourite fruits. She's just popping another cherry into her mouth as Ser Thadeus comes in; she smiles up at him, chewing, not saying a word yet. She looks well. Indeed, she looks years younger than when last he saw her.

The Tully heir is dressed in finest garb and no doubt in the intention to impress, doublet of blue and red slashed mid-sleeve to allow glimpses of the fine shirt worn beneath, the sigil of his House embroidered upon the front worn with the expected pride. There is of course a matching pair of breeches of blue to go with the doublet, tucked into fine leather boots that shine from fresh polish. His hair has been recently groomed, his confident visage sports a clean shave, and his grey-blue eyes emanate the confidence that the Bullfish is known for. He has been escorted to the Hightower by a group of few retainers he can be heard jesting and laughing with, before he discards them at the entrance of the building, only to be led inside by the attentive attendant. Hands clasped at the small of his back, he enters Joyeuse's personal chambers, a warm smile flashing on his face as his focus is first and foremost on her, where she lounges so comfortably, in deliberate casualness - and enticing Dornish attire. His eyes are bound to wander over her enticing frame, lingering perhaps a bit longer on a pair of oh so familiar curves, yet there is nothing but appreciation in the smirk he wears. There is a moment - potentially awkward because of its extended duration - before said eyes lift to the face that belongs to the body, and a slightly caught expression sneaks onto his face when Ser Thadeus Tully realizes, his long fond consideration of her appearance may not have gone unnoticed, and that his favorite merry widow has not been idle during her observation of the Bullfish as well.

"You are eating cherries," Thadeus states, clearly pleased with the fact, and the memories that come to mind. Coming to stand right before where she is so pleasantly arranged, he reaches down for her hand, leaning in to press his lips against its back, all gallantry, if permitted. "Fair cousin… You look astonishing, which proves that your visit to Dorne must have been quite pleasurable…?" Dorne, one of the topics that have piqued his interest always, when it came to her colorful past. "You see me thrilled with your return, as your presence has been missed, on more than one lonesome evening I was forced to do without your fascinating presence.", he continues, lifting a brow, the smirk deepening as he seems to be amused by his admission and other things he does not mention. "Your letter did the trick of raising my spirits on a rather horribly dull day of dealing with trade arrangements… Still, I wasn't prepared to be confronted with such radiance. Tell me…? How many lovers were needed to fill you with this gleam in your eyes, sacrificing their bodies and souls to sate you in such a way?" Slightly impertinent question? Probably not, given the personal depth of previous conversations they have shared.

In the lady’s cheeks is a faint blush of colour, lent by wine or anticipation; her smile is indolent beneath his compliments, but her eyes gleam already with mischief. In Dorne she has acquired moreover a luminous contentment, a deep and deep-down satisfaction, which deserves every bit of the comment it has received. She looks younger, indeed, but hardly a maiden again — for no maiden has ever incarnated so many opulent, sensual promises… So near, her new perfume — headier than her last, and just as Dornish — envelops him in its warmth. She offers her hand to be kissed, her fingertips pressing his; and then she reclaims it (she is lolling propped upon her other elbow) and lifts a dainty thumb and forefinger to her lips. What’s left of the cherry: the pit, yes, and the stalk tied by her tongue into a knot. Say what you will about her reputation — and Ser Thadeus has! — Lady Joyeuse is a woman of many talents.

She deposits the pit and the stalk in a dish with their fellows, and lets loose the mirth which was bubbling up in her all the while she chewed that tasty little fruit. “Why, how indiscreet!” she laughs. “I shan’t ask you for a similar accounting of how you’ve occupied your hours since last we met, cousin, or we should be here all the evening and into the dawn, shouldn’t we? … I am glad to see you look well, too,” she says generously. “Perhaps the sea air here suits you, almost as well as Dorne suits me. Won’t you sit?” A vague wave of her hand, granting him the liberty of all these Dornish carpets and cushions. “And tell me some of your news — do. Is it all trade talks,” she winks, “or have you yet chosen your beautiful young bride—?”

Joyeuse can boast to have his fullest attention, grey-blue eyes glinting with a similar sort of mischief - the Bullfish expression - as he indulges in a view of such thoroughly relaxed beauty in the fullest, ripest bloom. His lips curve even more, appreciative as he is of such display, and he inhales her scent through his nose, in the moment he lowers his face to touch his lips against the knuckles of her hand. "You smell of Dorne," he sighs, in a remark hovering somewhere between reproach and compliment, only to watch with undeniable fascination the arrangement of the stalk that she picks up from her lips. "Oh… Joyeuse…", admiration for her skill there in his murmur, as well as something else, the sudden urge perhaps to test that very skill against an entirely different matter. His eyelids lower just so even as he watches the merry cousin deposit the evidence of her tongue's exquisite nimbleness upon the table, and never has he actually added taint to her reputation, as he has always viewed her as a player in ever ongoing pursuit of pleasure that at least was on par with himself! What others may have perceived as ill repute, recommended her always, in his humble eyes, to be sought out, chased and claimed, over and over again!

Her easy chide earns her a chuckle from the Bullfish, brows lifting at once in a readiness to comply to her indirect suggestion. "Oh! You could! I have nothing to hide from you, fair cousin. Thinking of one of our last exchanges, I did share a juicy story or two, did I not?" He smirks. "But you are right, of course. A full account may take too long and distract our attention from other pleasant ways to pass this afternoon, Joyeuse?" And with the seat offered Thadeus Tully sits down, even if he needs a moment to adjust to those unfamiliar Dornish seating cushions. His demeanor shifts into a slightly more and possibly mock officious cast, when she mentions his business in Oldtown, and his shoulders lift in a shrug. "Trade talks, aye. As for the bride…" He sighs, shaking his head as his gaze stays fixed on his lovely redhead cousin. "None has been found. I mean, it is not definite. But following the train of thought from one of our last conversations, I have narrowed my search onto the young and innocent specimen of noble ladies - Stranger's cock, father will insist she'd be young and fertile, to give me many children." He laughs. "So yes… there may be one such paragon of uninformed and unaware innocence whose impending fate is to be matched to a Tully heir."

His lady cousin answers these fragments of speech with an indulgent nod here, a breathy half-laugh there, regarding him first upwards, from beneath her eyelashes — and then straight across, face to face, with some amusement for his awkwardness upon these marvelous cushions which are in so many ways her natural habitat. Her smile never fades. Rather, it passes through a dozen delicious modulations, following the fluttering of her mood.

“… That poor child!” she sighs at his last. “She really doesn’t know what she’s in for, does she? … Well, perhaps she’ll prefer pretty jewels to a husband’s faithful and abiding love — I know I was easily captivated by what sparkled,” she points out archly, “when I was that age,” and ever after, to judge by the panoply of precious stones she’s so reluctant ever to remove from her person. “Of course,” a thought occurs to lift her perfectly-plucked eyebrows, “you never can tell— oh, bless you,” and she beams up at the Dornish girl who has just placed a goblet of her own country’s fine but astringent red wine in front of Ser Thadeus, and is now bending lithely to replenish Lady Joy’s own. “What was I…? Oh, yes. You can’t quite be sure a virgin will prove fertile, can you? Even if her mother bore a dozen babes… it’s a game of chance, isn’t it?” She chuckles, she can’t help it — and then she lets out a breezy sigh and snuggles down against her cushions, reaching over blindly to find the bowl of cherries and pluck one from it to play with.

“I suppose you’ll send her back to her father if you haven’t a son from her in a year or two… It would be altogether like you,” she decides, eyeing him as she twiddles the stalk of the little red fruit round one finger, sighing at him. (She’s a little drunk. Thadeus Tully among all men ought to recognise the signs.) “Well, for her sake I hope you will be patient… and don’t go on at her, mmm? Every Westerosi bride knows well enough that she is valued only for the sons she’ll carry; she won’t need any more reminding than she has already had.”

Brows lift and the Bullfish's smirk fades into a slightly more thoughtful cast. "She doesn't," he confirms with a low, almost sympathetic rumble of a chuckle. "Not that I'm eager for virgins." This admission issued right in the moment, the Dornish maid arrives and offers him a goblet of wine. Grey-blue eyes lift to meet the dark gaze of the girl, should she indeed dare to look his way, in which case she will receive a wink. Wink, wink, wink!!!

"So…", Thadeus Tully attention shifts back to the lovely redhead clad in red Dornish silks. "You are suggesting I should appease her impending pain with jewelry, given to her in advance to assure her at least of one measure for happiness?" A good sip is taken of the wine, and the Bullfish smirks. "Dornish Red, the best there is, isn't there…?" The fingers of his hand stay curled around the stem of the goblet even as he lowers it, resting his wrist on the corner of an upturned cushion. Casually. As if he had ever been to Dorne, and none of this exotic flair were tempting him in any particular manner. "The question of fertility…" the Tully responds with a sigh. "Yes. It is a game of chance, and none I look pretty much forward to. It makes it all the more of a duty and less fun. Ah…" He shakes his head, then chuckles. "Nonetheless, the Bullfish will make the best of it, for both her and I. Hah!" Narrowing his own byname down to a certain asset, or was it just an unintended ambiguity? "At least she's lucky she doesn't get to deal with some inexperienced, fumbling young lad on her wedding night. I'll make sure to keep her focused on the pleasure, and that way…" He sighs. "It will prove to be more fun for the both of us, I suppose." Little enthusiasm there, in the way he shrugs his shoulders, and the way in which his other hand comes up in a dismissive gesture.

"Let us not talk of her… I'd rather hear about your adventures in Dorne, cousin, or what you intended when inviting me to your private chambers…" At which his eyes flicker with amusement and a hint of anticipation. "I'd wager, a number of naughty things. Will they involve cherries this time?"

This new Dornish handmaiden is not too shy to meet the Tully’s eyes — but she answers his wink with only a lift of a dark eyebrow. Who does he think he’s calling a virgin…?

Lady Joy meanwhile is sighing at her cousin’s inexperience. A rare view of him, did he but know it. “… You don’t know very much about highborn virgins, do you, sweetling?” she inquires in a rueful drawl. “The pleasure of it may be more difficult to find than you suppose. Still, you’ll have the rest of your lives together to look, won’t you? Or… till you tire of her, I suppose.” Her estimations of his character aren’t the most glowing, this afternoon. But she moves on smoothly enough, once she’s popped the cherry between her greedy lips and propped herself up on her elbow again to reach for wine to wash it down with. Sandsilk ripples about her, falling away from a bare ankle as she shifts onto her side. Her mane of red curls threatens to come loose.

“Oh, what I intended?” she inquires airily, having left that perfectly knotted cherry stalk with the other. “Simply what I wrote to you — to bring back the flavour of those old times of ours — not so very long ago, really! — when you would come to call upon me in those inconvenient but rather sweet rooms I’d rented, and we’d talk of this and that, and eat cherries… It was cherries, wasn’t it?” she inquires brightly. “I do think it was, with you… I don’t think we can really do much more today, can we? I’m a married woman now; I have my husband’s feelings to consider… I can’t very well take advantage of his absence to make love with such a handsome man… He would be simply crushed, sweetling, that he wasn’t invited to join in.” And, her point made to her satisfaction, she beams at him and devours another cherry with a ‘mmm!’ of delight.

Oh, the look the Bullfish gave the Dornish handmaiden held little suspicion of her being a virgin! Rather the opposite, judging from that slightly dirty glance he gives her. Oh, the Bullfish and his appetite…

And it seems he is about to be misunderstood by his lovely cousin as well. "Oh… I've had some… highborn virgins", Thadeus dares to boast, before he falls silent. Perhaps too much of a scandalous admission that. His brows lifting in slightly defensive attitude. "And… no. Tiring of her won't be an option, I'm afraid," the Bullfish adds then, with a slightly apologetic look to Joyeuse; as if he sensed her sentiments there between the lines, but assumed the wrong reasons. "I've never tired of you, my fair cousin," he tells her, leaning a bit forward as he gives her bared ankle a light pat with his hand. "And yes! Let’s have some cherries!", the Bullfish declares, grey-blue eyes glinting appreciatively, as he tries to catch a cherry from her bowl, if it should indeed be within reach. Whether or not, it matters little, as his arm freezes in the moment he leans further, reaching out, and a sudden word catches his attention.

"Husband?", Ser Thadeus Tully echoes, pulling back as he settles himself into a more considering posture, reclined, head tilted, and the hand that had almost claimed a cherry lifted to rub against the clean shave of his chin. "Seven Hells! When did you get married…?" The question leaves his lips in an almost rebuke, the tone no compare to his usual confident rumble, as it sounds rather thin and a touch hurt. "Joyeuse…" His gaze goes distant as the meaning more and more sinks in, while his lovely cousin continues to babble and chatter in her oh so conversational tone.

"Join in?" These two words have his eyes brighten ever so slightly then despite the frown - not as a sign of relief but comprehension that suddenly dawns upon him. "So you married a Dornishman?", he asks, lifting his gaze to meet hers, his eyes narrowing just so.

Perhaps there’s something slightly brittle about Lady Joy’s smile as her handsome cousin reassures her that she has ever been to his taste — not a lie, not quite, and in fact he probably believes it himself, but she recalls meetings growing briefer and fewer, and one or two moments when perhaps, perhaps… But she looks away and laughs and steals another cherry for herself before nudging the bowl nearer to him along the table. The fruit, he may have.

Then her great moment comes — the first of her two or three great moments, and she still hasn’t decided whether to have the third today or to reserve it for her future amusement — and as the heir to House Tully takes on the aspect of a kicked puppy-dog she glows all the more brightly, chattering and laughing again and rolling her lively sea-green eyes. She’s a happy woman, now, more than she was with him. Let him see it. But he sees it already, doesn’t he?

“… Oh, you!” And loose curls bounce agreeably about her face as she shakes her head. “You must know there are Dornishmen who keep only to their wives, and Westerosi who would savour any excuse to bring other men into their beds,” she chides gently; “it doesn’t follow necessarily that I wed a Dornishman. But,” and she can’t help but smirk in her radiant complacency, “as it happens, I did. Two or three weeks ago, at Starfall… It was all a little sudden,” she sighs dreamily, “but we had so many of our friends and relations already gathered together and we thought, why not? … We used to know one another a little, years ago when we were both married to other people,” she sighs, “and it seems he hasn’t tired of me either.” This with rather an arch glance. “Nor I him… We mightn’t have got out of our chambers at Starfall at all,” she widens her eyes at him dramatically, “if it hadn’t been for this little bother about the money — you know,” she waves a cherry vaguely in the air, “what I have from my first two husbands and what’s still mine now that I’ve married again and all that nonsense… Well,” she giggles, “at least I shan’t have to worry about that sort of thing myself anymore. I never was very good at it. A husband is a convenience in so many ways. Are you going to have a cherry, cousin?” And, sitting up the rest of the way, she leans nearer with her present specimen upraised, as though to ensure its arrival by feeding it to him personally.

It seems her Bullfish cousin is still in shock, less so by the happiness displayed by his favorite merry widow, than the news she has chosen to drop so casually in his presence. "You married a Dornishman," he repeats, as if savoring the words might ease comprehension. "Two or three weeks ago." The tale of their insatiable delight in each other has Thadeus lift a brow, and yes, from the way he blinks and the way his lips curve into a faint grimace of a smile tells Joyeuse all she wishes to know: that this stab hit right home, all the way through the layers of Bullfish pompousness and confidence. He inhales, as if he were about to ready a reply, but then his mouth closes and he waits patiently until she is done. It really is hard to get a word in, when Joyeuse's voice ripples through the room like the never ceasing babble of a brook.

The Tully heir had already pulled back from the cherries, reclining in his seat. Even so, he will meet Joyeuse's eyes with his gaze now, that she leans forward with her offered cherry. "You see me surprised, fair cousin," he finally manages. "But I believe, congratulations are in order and required. I wish you and your husband happiness. And…" A brow lifts as a familiar spark of mischief flashes in his grey-blue gaze. "In case you should wish for it… I believe that shouldn't change anything between us, should it?" Leaning forward, his eyes narrow, holding her gaze, in the moment he snatches the offered cherry from her fingers. "After all, you insisted on seeing me in person, to give me the news. It can only mean, you still care about me, Joyeuse."

The cherry leaves Lady Joy’s grasp; she leans in nearer to him, her own ripe red lips parted, almost as though she might follow it with a kiss… “Can it,” she breathes.

And then she sits straight again, reaching for her goblet, laughing merrily as the moment passes. “Really, Thadeus,” she chatters on, “of course things have changed, though I suppose not for the reasons you might think. And of course I still care for you, as my cousin even though I wonder whether I ought properly to count you as my friend.” Which calculation she refers to so casually whilst rattling on from one thing to another. “That’s why I thought I ought to tell you my news, instead of leaving you to hear it as gossip — such things come better face-to-face, don’t they?” She blinks inquiringly at him. “After all, you were rather more to me than a fancy of an evening, and so was I to you… And then, well, at least if you hear it from me you must believe it, which I shouldn’t think you would’ve done if it were only a rumour… It does astonish you, doesn’t it?” she asks slowly, as though the nature of his reaction were only just now dawning upon her. “But why should it?” She shrugs. “Why should it be so difficult for you to believe now, as it was difficult for you to suppose then, that there might be a man to care for me more than you do — to care for me enough to give me the protection of his name—? Is it,” another bat of those long dark eyelashes, “so unthinkable, mmm?”

The simple order of things in the life of a Tully heir is about to be shattered, it seems. The breathed echo has the Bullfish lift a brow. "Why? Yes!", he responds. A cautious smile twisting his handsome features when Joyeuse in a way confirms she cares for him. Were it not for the word 'friend' and the doubt uttered there, referring to him. All of this appears to be quite confusing. And such is evident from the slightly confused look, Ser Thadeus Tully gives his charming lady cousin. "Why should I doubt a rumor saying you married again?", he asks, the question issued into the room, as if not even directly aimed at Joyeuse. "Why, by the Seven Hells…! Should you say that it astonishes me?" Grey-blue eyes may flash with astonishment, but perhaps for other reasons. "I never said…", he begins. But then his mouth closes and it dawns upon him.

"Oh…" The gaze of the Bullfish takes on a distant expression momentarily, even as his lips curl into a somewhat faintly dumb looking smirk. "So…" He tilts his head to the side, just so, regarding the redhead cousin of his for a moment, eyes narrowing slightly. "You've taken my honest confession from back then as a slight, and wish to pay me back, by returning to Oldtown as a married woman?" It seems, even a Bullfish can have his rare enlightened moments. "I didn't wish to marry, and I know what expectations my father, Lord Tully, imposes upon me. I felt we were wonderfully matched, you and I, for pleasurable encounters of the non-committal kind. I thought you felt the same way about it. Even… after that rather candid conversation we had…" His features shift into a more serious cast, the Bullfish's gaze showing that hint of regret and even affection for his lovely relative. "I continued to see you, on your conditions. I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on your company. Does that count for nothing, Joyeuse?"

He sighs and shakes his head. "I never ever claimed it would be unthinkable for you to marry again. You are too…" And here the smirk sneaks back onto his face, even if faintly. "Hungry for life and its pleasures, to assume such would be impossible."

Now it’s her turn to gaze in wonderment, at him. Lady Joy’s eyes widen and she forgets even to drink from her goblet, so occupied she is in gazing at her cousin and gauging the sincerity of his words and comparing them with her own, rather differing recollections.

“… Is that truly how you remember it?” she sighs. She glances down into her goblet and finds it wanting, and shifts up onto her knees to lean over the table and annexe the decanter for her own purposes. “Well,” she goes on, pouring, “one thing you thought, or you used to think, is certainly true. I did feel the same way, that we were matched as we were… I daresay I’d have said ‘yes’ if ever you’d asked me; but I knew you wouldn’t, and I didn’t mind that you didn’t; and didn’t I prove that to you, mmm?” she demands. “Time and again—! And how often did I put it into words for you, to be certain that you understood, that you never doubted that I expected no more from you than we already had… But still, here you are now quite certain I must all the while have been secretly measuring you up as an answer to all the troubles in my life, and that even when I married quite another man, it was all really about you. Men!” She sighs, and sits down again with a goblet of wine filled so near the brim that it very almost splashes all over her robes as her bottom once more meets her cushions.

“I married for all manner of reasons, Thadeus,” she explains; “for my happiness, and for my safety, and because I can’t help hoping I might now be in a position to do a little more good in this part of the world… certainly if I can, I shall. It did cross my mind that it would rather shock you, and that your shock would amuse me,” she confesses, “and I did recall the way you looked at me, once or twice, when you were speaking of the grand marriage you intended for yourself and I said that even I might marry — you certainly looked as though you didn’t believe it, and that I did take for a slight… But I didn’t go to Dorne and marry the first man I met simply to spite you; truly, I didn’t.” And her words ring out with perfect veracity, though her pleasure in administering that shock is perhaps rather greater than she admits, and responsible for some portion of the gleam in her eyes and the healthy colour in her cheeks.

Perceptions and memories of the parties involved can differ quite substantially. "You’d have said ‘yes’ if I’d asked you?", Thadeus echoes, attempting to clarify what so far must have been nebulous claims of his lady cousin. "I remember we lightly broached the possibility, but when we did, I had assumed it to be in jest…" Admitting as much both in regards to perception and quality of memory. Brows jump upwards when Joyeuse clarifies. "It wasn't for that reason?", he asks, and for a moment his eyes glint with a hint of mischief. "For the sake of this conversation?" Teasing a little, just a tiny bit, before his expression shifts back into a slightly more serious cast. "You mistake my intentions with those of my father, and what he would wish me to do. But being the heir, it is what it comes down to, does it not?" A bit of hurt feelings at her estimation of him apparent in the look he gives her. "I am glad for you, I don't see why I shouldn't be, apart from this complicating things between us. Happiness, safety and position seem to be valid motivations. I only can hope he is on par with you, though, in regards to certain qualities."

And the Bullfish grins, confidence returning as he gives Joyeuse a tempered wicked glare. "So. You were more picky with your match, and you've already let slip that he is a Dornishman. Not the first, but maybe the second you met?" Bullfish way of asking what Thadeus will clarify when he rephrases: "So… what kind of fish did you catch, as the Grandest Trout was not available?"

And his grey-blue eyes cannot help but linger on the lovely Joyeuse, with her slightly flushed cheeks and gleaming eyes - and other assets that will no doubt come into his view as he lets his eyes wander appreciatively.

“Of course it was in jest!” Lady Joy giggles, taking up another cherry to play with. The ripe red curve of the fruit is echoed in the shape of her lips, the flow of red sandsilk over her opulent body, even the tight red curls of her hair… A man could hardly be partial to cherries and indifferent to Joyeuse, or vice versa. “But of course I thought about it, cousin — every woman thinks about it,” she claims, widening her eyes theatrically, “when she’s sharing her bed with a man she likes. It doesn’t matter whether one knows it’s impossible — it’s only natural to wonder to oneself, could it ever be possible? And what would one say if it were? And I would have said ‘yes’,” she explains candidly, tossing the cherry into his lap, “because I really didn’t think I could do any better… Which just goes to show you how wrong one can be, doesn’t it?” She quirks her eyebrows, inviting him to agree with this rather less than flattering estimation.

“Now, I am glad you’re so happy for me,” she adds, his kicked puppydog air of a few minutes ago notwithstanding; “and, you know, anyone who wishes me well has every reason to be.” She nods seriously. “Did I not…? I suppose I didn’t say, did I? We became so distracted… Well. My old friend, and my new husband,” and she pauses for effect, and to let him admire her entirely satisfied and very feminine little smirk, “is Prince Auberyn Nymeros Martell. Princess Amarei’s youngest brother,” she explains, “the one they call the Perfumed Prince. You know — you must know. The one who led the Dornish forces against Prince Daemon in the War for the Stepstones, and who has taken even more lovers than you,” she giggles.

He sighs, in that boyish 'I just can't help it' way, as his eyes feast on the so familiar, so desirable curvy shape of his lady cousin. Reluctantly drawing his gaze away to regard her face when she admits she would have accepted a hypothetical proposal that never came. "You would…?" Breathless echo that is indeed tinged with regret and also a hint of bad conscience. One can almost see the thoughts wandering in the Bullfish's head, considering, asking himself perhaps, why he had not tried to push this possibility far enough to present this idea before his oh so powerful father?

Bullfish fingers reach to pick up the cherry from where Joyeuse tossed it, turning the fruit in his hand, considering it as well as her words for a moment. His grey-blue eyes lift suddenly, narrowing slightly, before they widen in astonishment. "Prince Auberyn?" For a long moment there is silence, after she is done with her explanation, and only her giggle ripples through the room. And Ser Thadeus Tully repeats, just as if to confirm, he has heard right: "Prince Auberyn. A Prince? And a Martell?" He shakes his head slowly, not so much in denial of the news than open wonder. "How did you manage?" Ignoring her latter addition, apart from a low snort. And a more pronounced shake of the head. More lovers than the Bullfish? Impossible.

Well, in fairness to Prince Auberyn, he’s some years Ser Thadeus’s senior — and he seeks his pleasures amongst men as well as women, which does rather widen the field…

Meanwhile his wife, Princess Joyeuse Florent Martell (to give her her full and correct style), answers her cousin’s softly-voiced question with a hint of a nod: yes, she would have. But that jest is an old one — that possibility is forever beyond their reach — and aren’t they both the better for it? Such at any rate is the message in her gaze: she has given up dangling after trout, if ever she did, and though she is exquisitely attentive to each shift in the Bullfish’s expression as he digests her news she can’t speak her husband’s name without the light of longing in her eyes. He’s the one who has imbued her with such radiance: one man alone, and not the horde of lovers Ser Thadeus theorised at first. (… Well, perhaps he had a little help.)

She sips her wine slowly, studying her companion in his incredulity. “… And how can you say to me now,” she teases, “that you’re not astonished, you’re not full of doubt—? You can hardly believe your ears, can you? Well, it’s true, all of it — but it’s all right, cousin… you needn’t call me ‘Your Highness’ when we are alone together like this. I shan’t insist.” An impish smile. “How’d I manage what? You know I’ve been married into Dorne before; it doesn’t alarm me.”

"I…", Thadeus counters, a bit hesitantly perhaps, "am surprised… impressed… But hardly astonished in such a way that I wouldn't have thought it possible. But, Joyeuse, this is quite the feat, for anyone of your position." A faint grin curls his lips. "Are you meaning to turn my surprise against me? Why? I am happy for you." That grin intensifies, "Your Highness." And with that said, he pops the cherry into his mouth, as his features take on a more Bullfish-like cast, of amused impertinence. "You know I have a hand for princesses. That shall not put me off in the slightest." Said in a much lighter tone and manner, after he removes the pit and places it into the smaller bowl with the others. "Princess Joyeuse Martell…" His smile deepens. "Don't play your conquest down, fair cousin. A prince is a prince, and stays a big catch. Regardless, of you having been married into Dorne before…" His hands join loosely in his lap, fidgeting there a little with each other. Then unjoin. And a hand lifts to rub over his chin that sports such a clean shave. "Your husband," Thadeus begins, then corrects himself, "His Highness, Prince Auberyn… He is with you here in Oldtown?" His eyes linger on Princess Joyeuse all attentively, with only a hint of mischief.

“A hand for princesses—!” His cousin bursts into gales of laughter — really, it would take the Bullfish to boast of all that business with Princess Cerys Targaryen… No other man would dare count it a victory, or bring it up in such an interview.

Pulling herself together she sighs, “If you’re so happy for me, why do you keep saying such unflattering things — and making such unflattering faces…?” She glances about and shrugs her shoulders as though she seeks an answer and cannot find it lying anywhere amidst her cushions. “Isn’t it traditional on these occasions to utter pretty lies, if one can’t manage pretty truths? … Oh, but I shan’t go on at you anymore,” she decides, gazing at him again over the rim of her goblet as she lifts it to her lips. An instant later she lowers it to reveal a smile restored, by wine and sensible reflection, to all its former glory. “I’m too happy, truly I am — and it would be so foolish of me, wouldn’t it, foolish and ungrateful, to think of one little thing that might put me out of sorts, when everything else is so heavenly… So you and I shall be friends after all. It’s all I hoped for us, you know. He’s with me — of course he’s with me,” and she breathes out a smug, glowing, newlywedded sigh. “Should you like to meet him?” she inquires brightly. “He’ll wake up soon enough, I think…” Smirking, she tilts her head toward a closed door. Dark red curls bounce with the quick motion. Her implication is unmistakable.

He has at least had a hand on princesses, a thing only a few can boast! And this refers not only to the lovely Cerys, but also her sister, Visenya!

Ser Thadeus Tully seems to be baffled though, by Princess Joyeuse's next remarks. "Saying unflattering things? Making unflattering faces?", he echoes, brows wrinkling, and his forehead too. "I am telling you, I am glad for you! What more can you possibly expect or wish for? I am not ending our friendship here, and assure you I am willing to offer a listening ear or even comfort if such is needed, just like before!" He shakes his head, grinning a bit awkwardly. "And tell me if you'd prefer our paths not to cross in the future. You have made your point. You have made a good match, and I… shall be left to make a good match of my own." The outward cheerful disposition fades into a more thoughtful cast. "I shall treasure the memory of the more intimate encounters we have shared. Even if such moments will be doomed to be just that: Fond memories." A look he gives her, genuine regret flashing there in grey-blue Bullfish eyes. It is after all, what she wished to see?

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