(123-07-16) Laurent Does the Done Thing
Laurent Does the Done Thing
Summary: Ser Laurent eats cake like a proper Tyrell. Well, almost…
Date: 16-17/07/2016
Related: Other things with these characters. Getting to be too many to mention.

Ser Laurent Tyrell, arriving at his family's manse, has not the leisure to mount the stairs in pursuit of Lady Olenna Roxton before he is confronted by the sight of her coming down the stairs to meet him.

Another blue silk gown, shown off to advantage (or vice versa?) by her slender figure and superb posture, proves that his coin has not been spent in vain — with one hand she is holding her skirts just high enough to reveal the pointed toes of a pair of fine black leather boots. Her other hand skims lightly down the bannister, her touch seeking only future security rather than immediate support, and as she cannot look at her feet she doesn't: she carries her head high, her sightless grey-blue eyes gazing out at nothing at all. Two steps behind her follows the more modest figure of her handmaiden Sallei.

Ser Laurent Tyrell, for all of his poor manners and lesser looks, never fails to dress himself a Tyrell lord in full bloom. Black leather, white silk, green and gold brocade, and a shapeless hat in the most current fashion decorated with a black feather. Though he wears a sword at his hip, a necklace of woven gold, and a handful of fresh cut flowers, his most arresting accessory is a jaw that hangs agape. Dark eyes track Olenna's progress down the stairs, absorbing her figure with no mind at all for manners, until finally he stirs himself to approach the foot of the stairs. "Lady Roxton," he declares, and the utterance has rather the sound of a lewd compliment. A whiff of fragrance and a soft rustle accompany his initial presentation of the flowers - vivid blue bonnets and lilies of a golden-yellow hue - and then their awkward withdrawal. "Flowers," he mumbles as he awaits her, "I've brought flowers, but I'll hold them for the moment."

When he speaks the lady hesitates, poised with one foot above the other, her hand tightening upon the bannister — whereupon Sallei appears from behind her, looks down, and soon reports, "Two more, your ladyship."

Two more indeed, and a diffident, apologetic murmur from Lady Roxton to Ser Laurent: "I lost count…" Her hand curls for a moment around the ornately carved newel post at the end of the bannister; then, confident she's on solid ground, she reaches out with uncertain hands, toward that tempting scent. "May I smell them?" she asks. "That is…" A belated, but utterly genuine smile. "Thank you, Ser Laurent; it was very thoughtful of you."

"…Of Lord Medgar," Laurent admits with no joy. "He'd be a romantic sort, I'll wager, a fine hand with women, if he weren't so gawky and poor. And lame." Dutifully, he offers the flowers toward Olenna's face for the smelling, careful not to brush her with them. "You're becoming well acquainted with the manse." The change of subject is obvious and intentional, following a brief and awkward pause. "Or at least with the parts as matter, aren't you?" His free left hand has come to rest easily on the pommel of his sword, so it remains steady as he backs away, keeping pace with Lady Roxton's progress. "Had you any thoughts on sights you'd see or places you'd visit away from the Garden Isle?"

Once more Olenna's fingers accidentally brush his, upon the bound stems which make up the bouquet; once more she is swift to retract them, letting him retain charge of his gift whilst she breathes in its sweet aroma. "They're very lovely," she declares softly, taking their appearance on faith; "if it was thoughtful of Lord Medgar, they are no less fragrant for it. Thank you. Sallei will carry them," she offers, "so that we need not be burdened…?" And her maid, who has made an uneasy peace with the idea of this leering lord, for the sake of his sincere interest in her lady's welfare, bobs a curtsey to him and will take hold of the floral tribute if he relinquishes it.

"Somewhere quiet," suggests Olenna, and then, in an even lower voice, "and somewhere we can be seen. That's— that's the point, after all, is it?" She thinks a moment. "Is there… anywhere you know of that a lady might properly be seen to take a small meal, or something of the kind? The other maids told Sallei there is a cake house in Hightower Square, but… but perhaps you do not care for cakes…?" Somewhere, wrapped up in all that whispering diffidence, is a hint that she, Olenna Roxton, does like cakes.

The brush of fingers does not go unnoticed by the Thorn, who pulls the flowers away as Olenna withdraws her hand, holding them out for Sallei now without so much as a glance for the maid. "They've a fine cake house, if memory serves," Ser Laurent declares as he turns to put the staircase at his back. "Their lemon cake isn't too terribly dry, and I've a weakness for it. I took the liberty of readying a carriage, assuming we might take a bit of air. You aren't insulted?" He seems uncertain of the question, though his tone is challenging rather than deferential, waiting for some form of rebuke.

Fortunately Sallei is adept at catching things nobles drop at her. She takes the flowers in her left hand and her lady's left in her own right, and assists her to orient herself neatly at Ser Laurent's side; Olenna's sightless eyes stare ahead with a vacancy echoed in the rest of her expression of complete incomprehension. "… Insulted?" she asks timidly. "By what, ser? It seems to me you have been very considerate… I should like to try that lemon cake."

"Good." Laurent's single word discounts the question entirely, and he orients himself to match Olenna. "I might offer my arm, Lady Roxton," he suggests, though with a note of pessimism. And he does raise his left elbow in the gesture, despite that he expects no success. "Though being as you're accustomed to… Seven bleeding hells, but I don't know. I'm for cake, and you on my arm, or not." He holds the posture, stubborn in his offer, even as his tone shades further and further into the belligerent.

Olenna acts at once to soothe her ungallant knight in his present temper; "Sallei?" she murmurs, and a moment later her hand is placed neatly upon the crook of his elbow. It only rests there, rather than hanging on; but it does make them appear a more proper pair — and with a maid following in charge of a great big bouquet of flowers, their party sends an indubitable message.

The carriage is no simple affair; painted in green and black, its motif of roses picked out in gold leaf, it befits a Tyrell lord courting. Drawn by two horses of pristine white, it is a romantic conveyance, its perfect aesthetic sullied only by the countenance of the knight who shares its interior with Lady Roxton. Ser Laurent manages to seem crowded into the cushioned interior, one arm resting in the window, his broad mouth drawn down into a frown. He picks out landmarks and places of note as the small group travels, dismissing some and sullenly admitting to the importance of others.

His lady companion of the afternoon listens respectfully to all that he has to tell her of what her own eyes can’t glimpse; and Sallei, flowers in her lap, quite frankly gawks. She has seen hardly any of the city, so far, being bound to Lady Roxton's side, watching always her hands and her feet and the state of her garments during their brief outings together. It's rather a treat for the girl to entrust her lady to someone else's arm, and to have half an eye spare to admire Oldtown.

At the Good Queen's Cake House Ser Laurent's… manner, as much as his name, obtains for them the most coveted table currently unoccupied by other aristocrats of the Reach; Olenna's hand slips again away from his arm and hovers in the air, waiting for Sallei, who belatedly tears her gaze away from the paintings and tapestries (look, dragons!) and places it upon the back of a drawn-out chair in their usual manner, trusting not to the knight to remember such details.

There's a moment's awkwardness as Laurent begins to reach for the chair, Sallei arranges it, Laurent lets his hand fall to the side, begins another reach, aborts. His lip curls as he looks aside at Sallei, but he holds his tongue, rounding on his own seat. That he drags out rather too vigorously, then settles heavily into so that the wood creaks in protest. "It's a fine shop, if you're for cakes," the Thorn declares, with the sound of someone who is not at all for cakes (though, in fairness, he rarely sounds entirely for a thing). "I favor the lemon, as I said, though there are others on offer as come highly recommended."

Sallei hides her eyes from that quelling glance; her mistress, though oblivious to that particular undercurrent between her companions, is sitting meanwhile bolt upright and with a discreetly nervous air about her. They're pretending to be courting. But how does one pretend at such a thing, when one has no idea at all of the reality of it—? One sits very properly and attempts a polite remark about cake, apparently… But she leaves it hesitating upon her tongue for too long, and ends up shutting her mouth at the sound of Sallei's voice, murmuring down to her a description of the place in which they have found themselves: beginning with the size of it and their place within it, how many tables and how many people sit at them, the shades of silver and blue employed so liberally in the decor, the height of the windows and the kind of lace which comprises the curtains, and the height and splendour of the figures in the painting of Queen Alysanne and Silverwing on the ceiling…

The smallfolk girl reveals herself to be possessed of a precise eye for detail, and a logical mind for its relating; if she knew the right words for such things she could no doubt sum up the dispositions upon a battlefield just as neatly… At her quick, salient description of the chairs they're sitting in, Olenna turns in hers to explore with curious fingertips the carving of the queen and her dragon upon the back of it. She smiles. Silently, secretively — not for her maid, or her knightly escort, but only for herself.

Laurent fumes in silence through the beginning of Sallei's description, but its efficiency has placated him somewhat by its end. He has an appreciation for effectiveness at a task, and she is undoubtedly effective. "In truth," he puts in on seeing Olenna's pleasure at the carving, "I had never noticed the chairs were carved." He is admiring an empty chair close to hand, still slouching in his own in a way that makes viewing its back impossible. "Fine enough work, I suppose, though I'd prefer they be done in roses. I wonder if the craftsman is available for commission."

His fingers drum on the tabletop, dark eyes drifting from the carving to the small crowd of other patrons. "I see Ambrose colors; there Merryweather," he lists slowly, "One of Lord Ball's bastards, I think; a Conklyn lady of my acquaintance; an Inchfield," he laughs at the sight, "With whom I've had words - I saw his cousin hanged."

One last caress for a dragon's wing; and Olenna turns to sit properly again, hands folded in her lap, not quite facing her host. "Sallei doesn't know much of heraldry," she remarks neutrally, not quite thanks, but appreciation; "though we have got a book for her… Maester Tirius's suggestion, for when he cannot be with me." In his grey robes he would have made an odd and unfitting companion, today. "What was the Inchfield hanged for, if I might ask? … I was going to say," she adds, with a tiny huff of amusement, "I would like to try the lemon cake, please. When they ask." She seems a trifle embarrassed to have expressed her preferences so plainly. "Maester Tirius tells me," she explains, "if I am in a public place in the company of a lord, I should not speak to such people myself — I should speak only to him… You. The lord."

"Lemon cake," Laurent calls out, not quite a shout but well above a polite volume. Conversations around the room hush as eyes turn to the Thorn, in response to which he adds, "And wine, Arbor Gold." The serving girl, who has not yet made it to the table, is momentarily transfixed by his look, but makes a quick recovery to stammer an apology for the lack of wine on the menu. "If I'm in the Reach - and I believe I am - then I'll have Arbor wine or Highgarden mead," he growls, with a foul curse for emphasis. "Bring citrus water then, damn your eyes, and the lemon cakes. Or mayhaps something more… Floral, to pair with the cakes." He's out of his element now, and the rising anger in his voice is impossible to miss.

Flatware rattles as he drops a fist heavily onto the table, turning back to face Olenna. For a time, the effort to breathe evenly consumes his full attention, but as the buzz of conversation rises again around them so too does his pique come under control. "The young Inchfield lord, whose name escapes me, was hanged as a raper who defied justice. Petyr, it was, or Cragar. They're brothers." Another rough laugh, and he adds, "Or were."

Nobody but Sallei notices Olenna's tiny flinch when Ser Laurent first raises his voice — she sits very still, daring not a word of her own, till he catches his breath and turns to more cheerful matters. Rape, hangings, that sort of thing. Justice being their usual bread and meat, albeit not their cake, she doesn't presume to reprove him for his grim talk or the candour with which he answered her even here. After a moment's thought she offers, very softly, "It must be dreadful for the living brother, to be so shamed by the deeds of the dead… and to know no woman can look at him without thinking of it, and mistrusting him for his kinship to such a man."

Laurent frowns, shaking his head in slow disagreement. "A hell he deserves," Laurent pronounces the judgment easily, "As he were there as well. His good luck came in their being interrupted before he'd had his go, and he had the good judgment not to name me a liar, nor to bare his blade to Ser Daevon Targaryen. The Father's pendulous balls, but I'd have seen him dead as well, and another heir found." Suddenly aware that the topic may not be palatable, he moves on, the awkward segue all too plain. "You don't mind water, rather than wine? I could send someone for wine."

… Sometimes, of course, as an unmarried lady of high birth, blind from the age of six, who never set eyes by mistake upon a naked brother or caught the castle's animal population in an indiscretion, Olenna simply doesn't know what he means. It must be dreadfully coarse, though, if it's uttered in that particular tone of his. She doesn't ask. She listens doubtfully, a little paler for the turn their talk has taken; "A pity, sometimes," she ventures, "that— that one cannot hang a man for his intentions." She hesitates. "The water will suit me well, ser. I— I do not care for wine."

"I might as easily send someone for whiskey, if you had a mind," Ser Laurent offers gamely, though it's only a beat before he realizes it might not be the done thing, and scowls at his own offer. "No, Lady Roxton, if men were hanged for their intentions then I'd be a younger corpse and swinging, rather than here and sharing your table." He says that over the sound of a servant's approach, and continues without a word to her as she sets out the beautifully plated cake and an assortment of flavored waters, served separately, with a pair of empty cups to accompany each. "Though by the end of our time together you might wish it so," he claims, urged again to a bark of laughter at his own dark jest. At a soft question as to their need for anything else, Laurent growls: "Off with you. You'll know if you're needed."

In fact she shan't be needed at all — for Sallei (who has left the flowers upon an empty chair) moves at once to serve her lady, cutting a slice of that fine round lemon cake and depositing it on her plate, and doing the same for Ser Laurent. "The… the lavender water, please," murmurs Olenna, having given due consideration to the offerings; "Ser Laurent?" she inquires next, that Sallei might be acquainted with his preference. Her pale face flushed again at the offer of whiskey, but she seems content with what she has already. Her fingers questing over the edge of the table find the linen napkin set at her place and she unfolds it and spreads it out over her lap, more slowly than a sighted woman because to touch takes more time than to glance, but without any unfortunate fumbling. Another tentative touch reveals the placement of a fork. This she claims; she does not yet put it to use, but holds it where it is upon the table, gathering herself. "I… I am sure your intentions are not so bad as you paint them," she attempts, "and… have we not agreed, ser, that we shall count only the weight of a man's deeds—?"

For his part, Laurent has taken the first bite of lemon cake before Olenna's propriety reminds him of his own table manners, so that as he is spreading the napkin on his lap he is also remarking on the lemon cake. "As good as I remember; nearly equal to that offered on the Garden Isle," he claims, brushing a crumb from his lips with the back of one hand. "Yes, the lavender," is slurred somewhat by the dragging of knuckles across lips, but intelligible enough. "We've agreed on that very thing," he finally accepts, "And you've my gratitude. My deeds are heavy enough, I need no further load."

If she were alone Olenna would eat cake with her fingers.

In the Good Queen's Cake House, accompanied by Ser Laurent Tyrell and surrounded by well-heeled citizens of Oldtown, she makes a tentative pass with her fork. The tines scrape against her plate. She tries again and strikes cake. So soft, so tender, so crumby — she spears a morsel of it and says a silent prayer that it won't simply fall off her fork before she can get it to— her mouth. The taste is its own reward. She begins to relax, just a smidgeon.

"You have… so much praise for the Garden Isle," she observes. "The flowers, and the cakes, and the chambers… I have been wondering why it is that you choose to live elsewhere, ser, when you are in Oldtown."

"It's…" Laurent stops, a bite poised halfway to his mouth, searching Olenna's face for a sign of her intentions. Is he being mocked? Suspicion overtakes his mien as he considers his answer, but the sight of Olenna's trouble saves him, at least for a moment. His fork clatters to the plate, and a touch more loudly, he claims, "I had a visit from a mercenary capatain not so long ago, Braavosi, who suggested the strangest thing to me, Lady Roxton. In Essos, I'm told, it's the fashion to take cakes just as you might take bread: with your fingers. Crude, I thought at first, and who wouldn't?" His broad shoulders rise and fall. "But I saw Lord Merryweather's wife put her fork aside not long after, and by the Maiden's untried charms I find it's a fine way to eat cake. I wonder if you might join me."

The question was an innocent one, and nothing about Olenna's demeanour suggests anything besides an honest desire to understand what is yet a mystery to her. She has just succeeded in delicately separating another fragment of cake and guiding it to her lips when Ser Laurent holds forth upon his hastily manufactured Essosi custom and, not deceived for a moment, she takes his courtesy for what it is and lowers her fork to rest upon the table. "… Like this?" she asks, with a wry hint in her tone, her soft and well-kept pale fingertips reaching toward the sweet lemon cake with its deliciously tart icing… She breaks off a little piece, just barely bite-sized, without adding a single crumb to the collection upon her plate. A generation or two ago, before forks were known in Westeros, her table manners would have been regarded as very dainty indeed. Likewise the rest of her untried charms.

Laurent finds himself unexpectedly spellbound at the sight of Olenna picking apart the cake, so much so that his answer lags perceptibly. "I'll say, so that you know, you look a damned sight better doing it than I do." If it draws a look from a nearby table, for odd manners or for language, he is presently incapable of taking notice. Hurriedly, upon noticing that he has paused, he pinches off a bit of cake himself. "You've the knack of it, there. Yuth." The last, said around his fingers, is accompanied by a nod of the head that makes its intention obvious, even if its enunciation lacks.

Olenna touches her fingertips to the napkin in her lap to brush away a faint stickiness of icing, and then picks up her cup of lavender water and drinks it gladly despite its capacity to intoxicate only the nose. The compliment does bring a tiny, rueful smile to her lips; "I suppose I am used to touching things carefully," she concedes. "I… I could easily cut my hands, or bruise them, if I am too reckless. I did, often, when I was a child."

Laurent, by contrast, sucks the stickiness from his thick fingers, and noisily. "Well," he opines, after an inspection of Olenna's fingers, "They seem to have come through it well enough. You won't have noticed, but mine are scarred as the Smith's own knuckles." Despite himself, he holds his right hand out for inspection, though he quickly realizes the absurdity and lays it on the table between them. That doesn't look as purposeful as he might have liked, in the end, so he inches it back toward himself. "Does the water pair well with the cake, then? What's your estimation?"

Olenna's eyebrows lift. "But I did—" And she remembers herself and abruptly changes tack. "I think they taste wonderful," she admits, "especially together. We… didn't often have such things at home, of course. Lavender wasn't… to my father's liking," and she shrugs a shoulder in the philosophical acceptance of parental wishes. To her, you see, Ser Laurent Tyrell is a very polished and sophisticated fellow, with his love of flowers and fine taste in cake.

"I was near drowned in it, as a boy," the Thorn laments, now sullen for a turn. "A particular favorite of my lady mother, though it vanished from my life when I was squired to Ser Marwen, who saw it replaced by mud." If that is mean to be a joke, Laurent fails in its delivery, making it a complaint instead. "I suppose I retained a fondness for it, anyway. It's well-served with lemon cakes." Add to that declaration the sound of slurping, as he too takes a drink, draining half of his cup noisily at the first pass.

One can always, so reliably, hear what Ser Laurent is doing. Some ladies might be appalled by his lack of finesse; Lady Roxton, however, is reassured that he also lacks mystery, and inspired moreover to take up her own cup again for a silent but savouring sip. Then she reapplies herself to the lemon cake, deft and sensitive fingers collecting the tiny fallen fragments left behind by her attempts with the fork, and sweeping them together up and into her mouth. At once her plate appears tidier. She missed only the tiniest of crumbs. "How old were you," she asks at last, "when you were made a squire?"

Laurent leans back into his chair, blowing air out audibly as he tries to recall. "Hard to say," he finally returns, "But young. I was a page first, of course, but squired at… Eleven years, perhaps?" He pauses, as though to give Olenna a chance to answer, then suggests, "Ten, even? I think eleven." He drums his fingers on the table, vexed by his own inaccuracy, but in the end a single shake of his head puts an end to the matter.

"Lucky, I was, in the knight I was squired to. Many young lords in my situation - Ser Loryn being an example - might have found themselves squired to great knights of the Reach, of course, but my lord father understood a better path, and saw me to the side of a poor tourney knight. Now there's a life, isn't it? And not an easy one."

The differences between such paths aren't all too clear to Olenna, but she thinks about it for a long moment and another bite of cake, and consults her mental library of histories and romances before venturing, "I think it must have been a great change in your life," in a voice full of the respect due such reverses. "I was six years old," she adds matter-of-factly, "and some months, when I lost my sight. I'm sure you must have… wondered."

Laurent leans forward to rest his weight on the table, over his elbows. "The Mother's loving eyes, six years? So you've memories of… Seven hells, but that's cruel." There's something incongruous in his tone: admiration doesn't match the words, but it rings through nonetheless. "Great changes in my life be damned, but you've…" His head cocks to one side, chin at an angle, as he searches for a word. His knuckles rap the tabletop again, and he abandons the hunt, opting instead for a second drink of the lavender water, followed by another sympathetic, muttered curse.

Again Olenna has that tired look about her useless eyes — tired of her blindness, of other people's curiosity, of being so freakish — but in Ser Laurent's words she finds, not for the first time, something strengthening. Not pity for her loss, but appreciation of how she has, in a very real way, soldiered on despite it. "Yes, I remember some things," she says quietly. "My nurse's face. Sallei when she was a babe, and taking her first steps. The Ring — it has changed very little. They tell me," she clears her throat, "when there are new curtains, and the like; the furniture is kept in the same places, for me. I am never lost anywhere at home." In Oldtown, however…

"And as lady of The Ring," Laurent says, seizing on the opportunity, "That must be a comfort. You miss it? Oldtown will be a poorer place, of course, when you return home. Its dreary self once again." His volume pushes beyond the conversational, and not by accident. Falling into silence, dark eyes cast about to see who might be listening, Ser Laurent takes up the remainder of his cake. First one bite into his mouth, then another quick behind, and he's chewing noisily with scarcely a bit left in his hand.

A brief period of bafflement ends when Olenna twigs to what he's doing; "Yes," she answers, more boldly than usual, for the benefit of persons at adjacent tables as well as Sallei at her back and Ser Laurent opposite, "I do miss my home, often… I have, I think, the advantage over most ladies, in that the home of my childhood shall be my home always. I shall not go away to live with a husband; when I marry, he shall come to me," she points out.

And they continue to exchange careful and civilised commonplaces for another half an hour, passing cues back and forth across the table, attended by a Sallei determined to enhance her lady's lustre by means of flawless service.

Their return journey to the Garden Isle Manse is taken at a slower pace, that Sallei might describe (more fulsomely than Ser Laurent) the streets they pass along, the most striking buildings, the garments of an occasional particularly elegant or garish pedestrian. She's quick, when she has to be.

Then, at last, over the threshold of Olenna's own chambers — the fairest in the manse, with much the best view over the seven domes and seven towers of the Starry Sept, and the treetops of the Maidenday Gardens; nothing but the best, Ser Laurent insisted, for his blind lady visitor — the pretense is dispensed with and Olenna, holding her blue-bonnets and golden lilies in her arms, sits down with a breath of relief in her usual chair and asks, anxiously, "Do you think it went well, Ser Laurent? Did people look? Did they listen?"

Laurent follows Olenna through the door, his baldric already removed and held in one hand, to be put aside as soon as he is within Lady Roxton's rooms. His hands then come to the high collar of his doublet, thick fingers fumbling at its clasp, cursing softly until it comes loose. "They most certainly looked," Laurent answers, casting his eyes about, considering one seat and another. "And heard. We'll know it went well when someone takes the bait." In the end Ser Laurent opts for an armchair near Olenna, dragging it around to face her more fully before he settles in. "How did you feel it went, Lady Roxton?"

The first thing Sallei does, of course, is pour the whiskey. A standing order for when Ser Laurent comes to call. Then, with a murmur of, "Milady," she relieves Olenna of the flowers and takes them away to be put in water, leaving her lady temporarily alone with this hulking Tyrell knight who, however he may leer, believes at least in the hanging of rapers. It's safe enough, surely, for a minute or two, when the lady counts him such a great friend.

"I… I don't know," admits Olenna uncomfortably. "We did… talk; I was afraid we would not think of things we could say in front of others, but we did. I don't know… how it was supposed to be." She hesitates. "Courting, or… or the appearance of courting. You would surely know more of that than… I."

"Little and less," Ser Laurent says. "My marriage was arranged entirely without my input, and no courtship to it. Before that… Well, if passing coin counts for courting, then I suppose I'm a fair hand," comes the next lewd jest, delivered in a rough tone, to be followed by a bout of laughter. "But otherwise, I've little experience indeed." He holds his whiskey glass in one hand before him, occasionally looking away from Olenna and into the amber liquid, but rarely enough.

"I suppose we got on well enough," the Thorn concedes. "Never a silence that drew out. If our other forays go so well, I should begin to think favorably of our odds. It may be as I'll be taking on extra guardsmen here, to keep the crowds of courters from coming too unruly."

After a warm, fragrant taste of her whiskey, Olenna leans forward to put down her glass — and it falls out of her hand and onto the table. Straight away she sits forward, fingertips prospecting, finding no spill and no perceptible damage. She doesn't hear half of what Ser Laurent has to say. Her only question, uttered with dreadful hesitance, is: "… Your marriage, ser?"

Laurent hardly starts at the dropped glass, at least until Olenna seems troubled by it, at which he shifts himself into a more upright posture in the chair. "Don't worry for the glassware, Lady Roxton, we've more somewhere. And my marriage was annulled by his extreme holiness, the High Septon, and also I assume by whatever heathen gods House Locke bows to, that bit being none of my affair." That he is aware of the lapse of manners presented by his failure to mention an annulled marriage, there can be little doubt. That he is unsettled at its mention, there can be less. Emotions cloud his voice, even at this brief description, and anger is not least among them. A long drink of whiskey stalls his next words, giving him time to consider them, and when they come they are a grudging apology. "I might have mentioned it before, but I assumed you were aware. That was thoughtless of me."

Lady Roxton only shakes her head, looped braids brushing each of her blue silk shoulders in turn. "I didn't know," she confesses, "that you… had been married." Her voice has already strengthened again; at least he isn't married now. "I… I understand why you might not wish to speak of it, and I hope you will forgive me for… My curiosity," she admits. Then, because she seems to be holding her glass again, she drinks from it again. Almost as deeply as he.

"I'll speak of it," Laurent counters hotly, but immediately repeats himself in a tone less bellicose. "I'll speak of it, if you're of a mind to know. You've a right to know what sort of man you've thrown in with." He is no longer sprawled in the chair, but instead hunched forward over his glass, staring at its contents - is there any doubt that in his mind, it is half-empty? "She is a lady of House Locke, and… Better than I expected. She proved herself false though, following the Trial of the Seven, and…" There is anger buried there, and pain, so that what comes next seems almost trivial by comparison, if its delivery is any indicator. "There was a matter of barrenness. Not proven, not to my certain knowledge, but she lied to me about a pregnancy."

Though Olenna has no inquiring gaze by which to elicit such confessions, she is attentive after her own fashion: her ear tilts toward Ser Laurent and she sits absolutely still, not making a sound of her own for as long as it pleases him to speak. When Sallei returns with the flowers, disposed in a suitable vase with their stems trimmed, some part of her mind recognises her maid's familiar tread — she dismisses it, straining to hear only each modulation of her friend's tone, the colour given to each word. "… Might she have lied to herself too?" she asks diffidently. "My mother used to— hope, with little cause for it. I didn't understand at first, but… but now I do understand that fear. It is… a heavy one, for ladies of a certain rank."

Laurent shakes his head, though that gesture is lost on his present company, and he soon realizes it. "No, she lied, and to a certain purpose. When my father was killed, she claimed pregnancy in the same moment as I learned that Ser Maelys Targaryen - may the Stranger soon bugger his corpse - had desecrated his body. She later confessed this to me, that she said it so as I wouldn't see Ser Maelys out in the heat of the moment. But she let the lie grow beyond us, too. Told half the Reach, I think." His grin at that is wry, and entirely without humor, his expression altogether devoid of anything positive in that moment. "A lesser betrayal than some, to be sure. Even than some as passed between us."

Olenna's cheeks colour as she listens. "Forgive me, please," she says in a rush; "I should not have spoken when I… knew so little. Ser Laurent, I am… very sorry she was false to you," and she sounds sad and sincere, "and I hope you shall… find a more faithful and more truthful lady, one day."

"I will, or I won't," Laurent says, not dismissive, "And learn not to want for one. Hardly a necessity, I reckon, is it? What need have I of a wife, beyond the bearing of an heir?" Another sip, and he adds, "But it's a fine sentiment, and I'll take it in the spirit it's offered. Mayhaps you'll find a fine lord, the same. Honest and upright. Shouldn't we be wishing that, rather than my fortune?"

"That, I… I never stop wishing," admits Olenna.

And with that there is little more to say, but whiskey enough to drink.

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