(123-10-13) Tasks and Tools
Tasks and Tools
Summary: Princess Vhaerys matches one to another.
Date: 20/10/2016 ish
Related: Not really.

Called to his princess's chambers Ser Jaemion Waters finds her installed in a low gilded chair between two priceless mirrors of real glass: the long piecework one on the wall of her bedchamber, and the single framed pane in the hands of a dragonseed girl hovering behind her. Another girl has a pair of silver scissors, which she employs only when directed. A drying-cloth spread upon the floor shimmers with fragments of white and golden hair. Vhaerys Targaryen's luxurious hip-length Valyrian-pale tresses are nowhere to be seen. All that remains is the perfecting of her sleek new long bob.

She sits with one leg crossed over the other at the knee, regarding with a critical eye her multiplying reflections; a red silk robe embroidered with her favourite two-headed golden dragons hangs loose upon her rangy frame. When she hears his approaching steps her violet eyes narrow fractionally. By the time he sets eyes upon her she is nonchalant again, wholly composed.

"Pour me a glass of the Arbor gold,” she directs him casually without turning away from herself. She wouldn't drink with him, last week. Only command his participation in practice bouts which went on till she could hardly hold a sword in her aching hand, and then walk off without a word to him.

With Vhaerys's attention on her own reflection, Jaemion feels safe enough to scowl at this demand. Reduced in status in the matter of a few weeks from near prince like to mere butler. It's enough to drive a man to drink. Wine poured, he thrusts it out in the direction of the princess, his toes sweeping a path in the shorn blonde hair. "Practical," he notes, that being his concession to acknowledging her new look.

A hand bare of adornments beyond its own neat fingernails, buffed till they shine, reaches out not to take the glass but to have it placed within its grasp. Vhaerys draws it near and sips meditatively. "It pleases me," she agrees. Not only is her hair shorter than at any time since he has known her, but it is parted towards the left rather than in the middle. A suspicious asymmetry from a woman who has been known to walk into other people's castles and straighten the decorations on the walls. "You never knew my father, Jaemion," she mentions. "More to the right. Hold it… He was a great prince and a great man; you would have admired him as you did Prince Vhaeron."

"They do say you take after your grandfather more than your father," Jaemion notes, tone emotionless enough that one can never be quite certain whether he means that as a compliment or a slight. He snaps his fingers with some irritation, then gestures with a flick of his wrist towards the mess of hair on the floor. Something he has in common with Vhaerys there, at least. Mess, or mess without a purpose for mess, should be removed.

"I haven't finished," points out Vhaerys with a sudden chill in her tone, when she hears that snap, and sees the flicker of a gesture in her glass.

She runs her empty left hand through her thick, shining, but so much shorter hair, tousling it to study the effect — then a snap of her fingers is the cue for the girl acting as hairdresser to comb it once more into the arrangement earlier settled upon as ideal. "They were both great princes," Vhaerys goes on, and she does seem to be appreciating the compliment; "there is not only the one manner of greatness. But it was my grandfather who set the course for our line… a brilliant man," she muses, this being subtly different in her eyes from being merely 'great'. "… A fraction off, just here," she decides, indicating. Silver scissors with gilded handles snip at her command, very cautiously. Tiny slivers of gold fall onto the cloth. "I have a task for you," she confides then, "in the interests of that illustrious line."

And there we have the tiniest hint of a smile, more predatory than pleasant but a smile nonetheless, a slight straightening, and a small change in Jaemion's stance from casual lounging to coiled anticipation. Tasks. For him. And, judging by the tone, something more worthy of his considerable talents than just pouring the damn wine. "The man," he decides, partly as a question, partly as a simple statement.

Vhaerys's chin dips in a nod before resuming its regal altitude.

But before satisfying his curiosity she lifts her hand to indicate a different angle to which the mirror behind her ought to be moved — she turns her head one way, and then another — she repeats that gesture, long white fingers combing through lustrous tresses — and her reflected smile is bright with delight as she gets up out of her chair, letting the cloth round her shoulders fall to join the one on the floor, and leaving the girls to tidy up.

Facing Jaemion she explains with cool confidence: "He is a son of my father. His name is Talaevon Waters; but he has not yet enjoyed the opportunity to perfect certain of the skills and qualities necessary to uphold it. You shall be his tutor in swordplay and the other knightly arts. I believe you'll find him an eager and able pupil." In speaking of this son of her father Vhaerys Targaryen's smile grows luminous; and with the sleek new lines of her coiffure accentuating the strength of her jaw and the lovely shape of her head, she has suddenly become something more than a princess and a scholar. She's an attractive woman whose prime has not yet quite faded away, who carries herself as though she expects her looks may yet be her good fortune.

The more unkind might let the thought 'mutton dressed as lamb' cross their mind, of course. Not that Jaemion would let the words cross his lips. Not with how unpredictable his benefactress is, and how much he rather enjoys the benefits of being her man. A hand idly rests on his sword hilt and he gives a slow, thoughtful nod. "What do you aim to do with him?" he asks bluntly. "Am I training him for war or tournament?" Or, as he suspects, training this suspicious hanger on to look attractive in training, simply to please her. "He's old to begin learning."

Vhaerys tilts her head and eyes Jaemion and his scepticism with bountiful indulgence, as she passes by him and into her sitting-room.

"He is already a killer," she says bluntly; "perhaps a man more difficult to conquer even than you, Jaemion." A glance over a lowered shoulder. A lift of golden brows. A reminder that her discovery of the night before is not the only leg of baseborn mutton kept on hand to serve her various appetites. "But now he must learn the elegancies — sparring, dueling, tournament fighting, in the style suitable to a prince, or a prince's bastard. Who better than you to teach him?" she asks reasonably as she settles in her chair by the fire and adjusts her robe to cover the glorious length of her legs, all too briefly and accidentally bared as she sat down. "You're a master of pretending to knightly honour when it suits you," she reminds him.

"'Honour' is a tool like anything else," Jaemion doesn't disagree, shrugging one black clad shoulder. "I can teach a man to use it, but it'll be down to him to work out the when and where. I have full discretion over this training?" he queries, one glance at her legs enough to have him scowling again and reaching to find another log to throw onto the fire. "No limits?"

"Why don't you let me worry about the when and the where," drawls Vhaerys, smiling into her goblet of wine as though she may already have an idea or two. "… You'll find my brother places limits where he wishes them to be," she goes on, drawing the lines of authority in places where Jaemion really ought to have expected to find them. "Provided you are free at the usual hour to spar with me, your sword will be at his disposal the rest of the day. There is a measure of haste," she explains vaguely, "about his education."

"If I'm training him, Your Grace," Jaemion begins to argue, then just scowls again more deeply, and shakes his head. "Very well. Let's make this darkest dragon into a gentleman, if we can. What's his story? His background?"

Vhaerys smiles. "So out of sorts," she murmurs, almost to herself; then, in her usual voice, "I am teaching him High Valyrian. It would be useful," by which she means, it's obligatory, "if you would conduct his lessons in our tongue also. See to it that he learns all the appropriate terms, the slang also, and provide him the opportunity to use them in simple conversations."

"To what end?" Jaemion demands to know again, this time with a hint more irritation. "Is he to represent you on the field in my place? Why do you need him?" Because it's all about how people are used, and for what purpose. And not at all that Jaemion's Targaryen shaped nose is put out of joint.

The princess grows very still. Her breath hardly seems to lift the golden dragons embroidered upon her flowing Targaryen-red robe. Her eyes betray just a hint of incredulous displeasure as they hold to Jaemion's.

"Talaevon Waters," she reminds him slowly, placing each word once and once only, and with an air of permanency, "is my brother."

"We will make him your brother," Jaemion allows cautiously. "You can't claim him as he is. You'll be a laughing stock."

Vhaerys smiles without a hint of warmth. "You seem unusually certain," she remarks, "for one who has not yet exchanged two words with him."

She sets down her goblet on the table drawn up close for the purpose and laces her fingers together. "The task ahead of me will be swifter and easier with your complicity," she informs her sworn shield with inviting frankness, "but if I find I have less than your wholehearted efforts on my brother's behalf, I may be forced to conclude I can do better without you." She quirks her eyebrows. "I hope not, for all our sakes — but I am, as you know, a practical woman."

“Failure is not in my nature,” comes the captain's retort, pricked into compliance by little more than his own pride; the barely veiled threat is coincidental. He folds his hands behind his back, strolling over to where the mirror has been replaced on the side table, admires himself in it for a few moments, then straightens it and turns away. “What is the end goal?”

“Why would you suppose,” Vhaerys inquires, all silk and gilded steel, “that I have only one?”

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