(123-07-12) Second Glances
Second Glances
Summary: They reveal so much more than the first — even in the case of direwolves…
Date: 12/07/2016
Related: The Wolf and the Butterfly

The morning dew has long since evaporated from a thousand, thousand flower petals; the Maidenday Gardens are awake and in full bloom under a blinding southern summer sun. Oldtown's own people are far too wise to stroll about merely for pleasure's sake in such heat, but at least one visitor to the city is reveling in the warmth she can feel upon arms left bare by a sleeveless blue silk gown… Two visitors, counting the handmaiden who (true to her title) is leading Lady Roxton by her hand along a white marble path between banks of flowering shrubs and beneath arbours of twining wisteria and clematis.

In the lady's other hand is an ivory fan, a new toy lately presented to her by a new acquaintance, with its painted picture mistakenly turned in to face her instead of out to be shown off to the world. She plies it lazily to and fro, savouring the fragrant breeze she can thus waft toward herself: "Sallei, is that lily-of-the-valley?" she inquires wistfully of her maid, as she catches a whiff of it… A word of confirmation brings a smile of genuine delight to her finely-drawn pink lips; "May we go nearer?" she asks, for form's sake, though her quiet words are of course commands. And so nearer they go.

See… This right here is precisely why Bryce is fucking nocturnal when left to his own devices. This pure and utter hell, this heat that can only be a sure sign of the South being truely and totally forsaken by the Gods. He'd left the house fully dressed, really, he had. Coat and vest and everything. That has been eschewed long ago, just down to linen shirt and breeches and boots. This is a nightmare. And by the look of the direwolf at the nobleman's side, Sentinel isn't enjoying the heat any better than Bryce is. But at least outside meant moving air, and that was something, right? And the gardens have smells! So many smells! Like honey sweet lily-of-the-valley, which draws his nose, seemingly not caring that he happens to be moving in the direction of two people. Which, luckily, Bryce notices. "Sentinel." He says sharply, making the wolf stop and return to his side. Seems the Knight still remembers the handmaid and Lady's response to the wolf that last time.

Bryce may be in his own personal hell, but Viserra is having the time of her life. The princess wanders a few yards fron her husband, not wanting to let his and Sentinel's whining ruin such a perfectly good day. But, from her slight lag around the corner she hears Bryce's sharp commands to the wolf and quickly closes the distance to his side. "Is something wrong, Bryce?" She says just before noticing the lady and her haindmaiden and the unfortunatly commonplace picture of Sentinel frightening people falling to place in her mind. The princess has been convinced into a dress for the day, something comfortable and casual for the summer sun, but the materials and workmanship are still befitting a noble of her rank. The cloth is the black and red of her house, more red than black. White hair is left down to move freely about her shoulders, and the princess is surprisingly devoid of jewlrey… Not that Lady Roxton can tell any of that, but her haindmainen sure can.

An armed guard in Tyrell colours is lagging behind the pair of women, and Lady Roxton is in the lead in her eagerness to run her fingers through the lily-of-the-valley's tiny, soft, fragrant bells; but yes, the handmaiden Sallei is the first to notice that they're about to find themselves in company. She stops stock still and with Olenna's next step she finds herself tugging against a maid-shaped anchor. All at once she herself pauses, tilted onto her tip-toes, and cocks her head; and through the quiet sounds of birds and bees and muted street traffic beyond the garden walls, she discerns not only approaching footsteps, but the heavy breathing of… a large…? animal…? And then there's a whiff of something furry and doggish upon the breeze. It would take rather longer than a fortnight to erase that impression from her memory.

"Good day, my lord Stark…?" she calls, inquiringly.

"And a good day to you, Lady Roxton." Bryce says with a small smile that colors his tone. Though not more than the exhaustion of this bleeding awful heat. There's a nod given her handmaid. "My dear," He says, looking pointedly at the younger woman, "I raised Sentinel here from a pup. I really do promise you, on my oaths, he won't harm you unless I tell him to or you move to harm myself or my wife." Because the girl's rigid fear is… He doesn't know how to put it except cloying. Not that it can be that. But it grates strangely. Sentinel, for his part, gets bored with Bryce's presence and moves to Viserra's side, nosing at her hand.

Viserra 's bright, violet eyes drift from her husband, to the lady Roxton, back and forth one more time before being distracted by the direwolf bending to press his nose into her palm. She chuckles, lifting her hand to run over the direwolf's head before bending at the middle to kiss the creature on the very top of his crown. "In the girl's defense, my lord husband, Sentinel can be intimidating." 'my lord husband' being Viserra-speak for 'Bryce stop being an ass because you're hot'. The Targaryen princess waits patiently for her Ser to make introductions between herself and the Lady.

The maid's eyes, riveted at first upon the direwolf, turn doubtfully to the Stark lord as he addresses her: she bobs a curtsey; she murmurs an acquiescent, "Milord"; but she doesn't for an instant release her lady's hand.

"Thank you, Lord Bryce," Lady Roxton offers, her tone diffident though she at least has the courage to take a step nearer, obliging Sallei to come with her, "for your reassurance. Of course we don't doubt your word— do we, Sallei?" She inclines her head toward the girl, encouraging her to speak.

"No, milord," the girl adds, apprehension still in every line of her face — though Princess Viserra's ease with the creature does melt the rigidity of her shoulders. She'd be a pretty girl, if she weren't so pale just at present.

"… Sallei is very accustomed, you understand," adds Lady Roxton, by way of explanation, "to protecting me from harm I cannot see. But there is no harm here," she insists, squeezing the girl's hand and then quite deliberately letting go of it; "I believe it, and so must you." The girl murmurs a 'yes'.

The response to his wife's subtle chiding gets a very lupine huff from the Stark lord. Puts that direwolf right to shame, it does. Speaking of that direwolf, the attention from Viserra seems to please him. A little woofing whine proceeds him flopping to the ground, rolling, twisting himself sideways as his tail thumps upon the path of the garden. Complete idiot, he is. Bryce rolls his eyes at the wolf's antics. "Thank you." Bryce says, geneuinely sounding grateful, though the gruffness of his accent makes almost anything a little sarcastic, "And I can understand the trepidation. Your dedication to keeping the Lady safe is admirable, Sallei, truly." But it's then that he looks to Viserra. "You want to tell me that great oaf is intimidating, my lady wife?" He quips back, nodding to the direwolf rolling about like a fool.

"But I am being terribly impolite." He says, "Lady Roxton, may I introduce you to my wife, Princess Viserra Targaryen?" All spoken like that is definitely the most normal, mundane thing in all the world to say. No big deal. Definitely. Damnit Bryce.

"He's really just an oversized child, but he takes a little getting used to." Viserra says with her best comforting smile to Sallei. She's talking about the wolf, right? Not her husband? Probobly. Most likely. Safer to assume, anyway. Speaking of Bryce, the glare levied at him at the term 'lady wife' is one where the poor maid might actually be concerned that the princess will open her jaws and literally spit fire at Ser Lord Stark. But, the dragon princess tolerates her husband, for now. Particularly because there is no gentle way of putting her introduction. None at all. "It is a pleasure, Lady Roxton." She says, offering a polite, respectful dip of her head, mostly out of reflex. Sentinel is left to his rolling around while the adults talk.

Much of the inspiration for this interplay between husband and wife is lost upon Olenna; Sallei, stepping up closer behind her, murmurs something about 'wolf' and 'like a puppy', and the lady draws in a surprised breath and begins, slowly, to smile… She who didn't know what a direwolf looked like, the last time, is now imagining a direwolf rolling about in the sunshine.

From surprise, then, to surprise — and Sallei's hand upon Olenna's back suggests that she turn slightly to the left — and then, facing Princess Viserra almost directly, she gathers folds of her blue silk skirts in both hands (one still holding her closed fan) and executes, very neatly, the slight curtsey appropriate from the head of an old house to an unknown minor royal. "Your Grace," she murmurs, staring ahead with sightless eyes turned more blue than grey by the colour of her gown, "it is an honour to meet you."

Sentinel is a curious creature. And when Viserra has walked away from his puppy like antics, he gets bored with his rolling rather quickly. Turning himself so he lays upon his stomach, golden eyes turn to Sallei. Sallei who had been so afraid. And he is friendly. Always has been. So then he's approaching. But not in any sort of dignified fashion. No, no that would be all too easy upon Bryce's life, and he seemed to be amused with the heavy sighs his antics elicited. So how he approaches the handmaid is patently ridiculous. Without rising, he pulls himself with his front legs, inches by inches, toward the young woman, panting in the heat, but his tongue lolling and eyes bright in a lupine smile.

And Bryce does, in fact, sigh. Damned creature. "Sentinel…" He groans the name, shaking his head, but keeps it relatively quiet. Introductions being what they are.

"You as well, my lady." Viserra responds politely to Olenna. She is a hitherto unknown minor royal, there is a certain ammount of being comparativly casual which comes with that status. At Sentinel's antics she sighs, "Sentinel, don't pester our new friends." She says, sounding for all the world like she's chiding her own son. "He is intrigued by your haindmaiden." The princess explains for lady Roxton's benefit. "And is dragging himself across the ground like a dolt to investigate. He wants attention and something to distract him from the heat, nothing more." As she speaks, Viserra moves, leaving her former post by the direwolf to instead stand beside her husband, taking his hand gently in her's.

Nobody could really be frightened of that. Not even Sallei, who seems finally to have reclassified the enormous toothy creature as an honourary dog, and who finally manages a smile. "He's like a cat, isn't he, Your Grace?" she says, rather bravely in this exalted company. "Cats always know who doesn't like cats, and that's who they go to…" Then, having exceeded the quota of words it's permissible for country girls to speak to princesses, she falls silent again, and offers the princess another propitiatory curtsey.

"Thank you, Your Grace; I can picture that very well," Olenna says simply to Princess Viserra. "I'm afraid the two of you must have many conversations such as this one, in Oldtown even if not in the north where you are known…"

"He is precisely like that," Bryce says with a small laugh, "If only to cause me a headache at every available opportunity." And for all the sighs and assurance of exasperation, Bryce is smiling like a fool down at that wolf. Best friends always did make you groan the worst. Sentinel pauses at Viserra's command. But his head flops down with a huff and then he whines. No more movement, save for the thumping of his tail, and golden eyes shifting from Sallei, with which he has become quite enamored, to Viserra, and back, over and over. A lupine 'But Mooooooooooooooom…' It makes Bryce shake his head. "That we do, My Lady," He says, "But those conversations are almost always worth it."

"My mother and father were… surprised." Undestatement. "The frist time the three of us made the trip to dragonstone to visit." Viserra supplies. "He's quite the conversation starter. But it always interesting." Neither the Stark nor the Targaryen seem particularly fussed about Sentinel being a talking point. Nor, for that matter, is Viserra fussed with Sallei speaking to her, endeared even. "Indeed, he is like a giant cat." she echoes her husband's sentiments. Her expression towards the direwolf softens at his whining, "And it seems he would very much like to get to know you better. Assuming that does not bother either yourself or your lady."

"Are they…? I wish I might say the same of all the conversations I am obliged to have about being blind," remarks Lady Roxton to Ser Bryce, directing toward the sound of his voice a crooked smile which reveals more of her own nature than any of the polite nothings she has spoken aloud.

Sallei's chief concern, beyond her lady's safety in the presence of potentially ravening beasts, is her lady's dignity — and how she, Sallei, might best live up to it in this very strange and very grand city they now inhabit, side by side with such personages as wolf lords and dragon princesses. And this, well, this isn't in the handbook. How to address a princess, yes. How to address a direwolf when a princess wishes to introduce you to one, no. Her gaze flickers. "… Your ladyship?" she asks, a soft-voiced plea for guidance.

"I'm sure there is no harm in what Her Grace suggests," is Lady Roxton's answer, "though you need not do anything you don't wish, Sallei." She stands up for her servants better than for herself, if the truth be known.

Again the young woman looks to the wolf, and to her lady… and, at length, to Princess Viserra. "What… what should I do, Your Grace?"

"Yes, I imagine conversations on that topic would be rather less enjoyable than explaining the giant ball of fur that follows me about." Bryce says, a hint of sympathy in his tone. And by sympathy, it's really more annoyance at the thought of people asking stupid questions on Olenna's behalf. A Northern sort of sympathy. "And really, my love, surprised? Is that what we're calling it?" He says, laughing easily. "I thought they were going to send me back home."

Sentinel, getting a hint of leave to be interested, pulls himself another few inches closer to Sallei. Bryce does not answer Sallei, as she asked Viserra. But Sentinel, it seems, has an answer of his own, as he leans to nose at Sallei's hem, tail thumping.

"I don't know what they were expecting me to come home with after they sent me off to Winterfell, but it certainly wasn't you or the furry oaf." Viserra remarks to her husband. Viserra has had two social circles of note for most of her life, her own family, and the Starks who surround Bryce. The latter of whom had become… comfortable with Her Grace's presence over the years. Thus, it catches up to her a little belatedly that, in Oldtown where people do not know her well, her words might be taken with slightly more weight than intended. Thus, she clarifies, "Indeed, it is as your lady says. I would not obligate either of you to anything you did not wish. My apologies for implying anything otherwise." A princess who apologizes to servants, quaint. Viserra is a rather gentle dragon until she's crossed or her loved ones are hurt. "He's sociable and hard to offend." Viserra begins to explain, glancing at Bryce for a second, as Sentinel is his wolf. "Hold out your hand at about his height." Assuming that Sallie does so, Sentinel sniffs at her hand for a moment, then progresses to pressing his nose against her palm, then dips his head so her hand runs over his head back between his ears, effectivley petting himself.

In wary obedience, Sallei offers her hand — much as she does so often to Olenna — and soon she's taking the hint, and gently scritching at Sentinel's head with her neat, rounded fingernails. Yes, definitely a dog. And that giving and receiving of simple physical affection breaks the spell at last, and the next time she looks up from the wolf to the wolf lord, she's smiling.

"I suppose," ventures Lady Roxton to Ser Bryce, "what is immediately apparent about you, and what is so about me, and what is so about your lady, is in each case… so monumental, that it is difficult at first to see past it." A quick, flickering smile passes across her largely impassive features. "And then, with most of the people one meets, what there is at first… is all there is."

Sentinel is delighted. And it's obvious in the ridiculous, undignified noises he makes, muffled whines of joy at meeting a new person. The rumbly calls that are the predecessors to howls, though he doesn't go so far as to tread into the latter. His jaws open and close happily, quite thrilled.

When Sallei smiles, Bryce returns it, nodding his head to her. "You've made a friend." He says, sounding amused, before turning his attention back to Olenna. "I suppose that is true, my lady, though unfortunate." He says.

Viserra smiles at watching Sentinel and his antics, heartened to see this sort of interaction go well, for the many times it has not. Sentinel gets a bad wrap with first impressions. Really, all three of them did. "You are both correct. It is true and it is often unfortunate." She squeezes Bryce's hand a little tighter, the sound of shifting fabric from her drawing closer to her husband's side perhaps serving as enough of an indicator for the particularly keen eared. Her tone of voice is certainly enoiugh to pick out the fact that the princess is deeply protective of her Northern husband, particularly in a place where him, and their mairrage is so likely to be missgudged at a glance.

The Reachlady's dark head tilts, as though she is indeed listening hard. "And your friend Sentinel, too," she suggests. "He is judged upon his teeth, perhaps, by new acquaintances who don't wait long enough to see any deeper… I am glad, my lord, Your Grace, that Sallei and I have had the opportunity to know him better; I hope, perhaps," and given the disparity between their ranks, which she perceives as greater than it is, "I might even… know you yourselves better, in time. If your stay in Oldtown is to be a leisurely one."

The Reachlady's dark head tilts, as though she is indeed listening hard. "And your friend Sentinel, too," she suggests. "He is judged upon his teeth, perhaps, by new acquaintances who don't wait long enough to see any deeper… I am glad, my lord, Your Grace, that Sallei and I have had the opportunity to know him better; I hope, perhaps," and given the disparity between their ranks, which she perceives as greater than it is, this next suggestion she frames feels a daring one, "I might even… have the honour of knowing you yourselves better, in time. If your stay in Oldtown is to be a leisurely one."

"Great oaf that he is." Bryce says with another low laugh, turning his eyes to the direwolf and making a small, sharp clicking noise that pulls the wolf's attention. "Sentinel, come here, you've pestered the good woman enough." But his tone is indulgent. With a final nuzzle to Sallei's hand, Sentinel gets up and trots to Bryce's side, leaning against Bryce's side, putting half his weight there. "Oh, you brat, you're not a pup anymore. Get off…" And he pushes Sentinel from his hip with a laugh. The wolf mostly just seems pleased with himself. That daring suggestion does not seem to bother the Northerner one bit. "That sounds a right sight more decent than some of the other things I could get up to around here. You ought to come to tea with us some time, my lady." Because they did tea in the South, right? Is he Southing correctly? There is a look to Viserra then, something warm but slightly edged. The look he gets when he's saying he wants to go home. Because it's hot and he's been out here awhile and please?

"It is likely to be such." Viserra answers about their stay in Oldtown. "And as my husband says, we would be happy to host you for tea or some other occassion that strikes all of our fancies." Much like her husband the princess is equally non-fussed about the daring suggestion, though she can appreciate the perceived leap of faith taken. At the look from Bryce the dragon princess turns her hed to regard her husband, considering his silent request. She was a reptile, who had passed her most recent year in /Winterfell/. She had longed for the heat and the sun… but her affections for her husband are strong. She sighs and speaks, "Another time though. I fear if I keep Sentinel and my husband out here for much longer they will expire." She turns to face the lady and her maid, bright smile on her face which infects her tone. "It was a pleasure to meet you both, and thank you for indulging Sentinel."

The prospect of adding a Stark and a Targaryen to the Tyrell on her list of Powerful Friends — and the pride in having thought of the right thing to say, to bring about this chance — brings a like expression to Olenna's bold features, a smile mingling triumph and hope. "Of course… Ser Bryce must be unused to the heat," she agrees sympathetically. "Don't let me keep you — please. When we first met," she looks toward where she supposes the Stark lord to be, "I was a guest at Hightower; but I am now staying at the Garden Isle Manse, House Tyrell's home in Oldtown… the Tyrells have been very generous to me." It doesn't hurt to stress one's existing acquaintance with such people, does it. "An invitation sent there would find me most easily; I would be honoured to receive it, and indeed, I hope, to return it."

"Then it will be sent in due course." Bryce says warmly, with a nod, even if Olenna cannot see it. "It has been good to see you both again. And thank you, for indulging my need to escape this heat. And my wolf's incessant friendliness." There's a small squeeze to Viserra's hand then, his own gratitude to her. "A good day to you both."

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