(123-11-09) Fast Friends
Fast Friends
Summary: Lars and Marsei both pay a visit to Orsino's shop and everyone finds they have much in common!
Date: Nov. 9, 2016
Related: The Politics of Fashion

Dressmaker's Shop - Kettlebelly Lane

Near midday, and Orsino has the drapes pulled back and door open to let in light, so the shop front is bright and cheery. He is holding, draped across his arms, the green velvet cape Lars ordered for his wife, turned out to elegant perfection, not even a stray thread hanging. "I hope," he says, moving one arm the slightest amount to show off the subtle sheen of the plush fabric, "That it is exactly as you desired, and that it will delight your wife all through the winter." If any of the shop girls are present, they must be behind the curtains separating front from back.

Lars clasps his hands together, eyes bright with excitement at the entire concept of the cape. "Oh, good gracious, she'll be the talk of the town, it's marvellous," he gushes. Sheep fail to feature in his eyes. It's sad. "Oh, and look at the darling embroidery! Gosh, this must have taken you hours, old chap!"

"You're not mistaken," Orsino says proudly. "Though of course the shop girls do some of the work. To my exacting standards, you understand," he is quick to add. "Now," he says, eyeing Lars appraisingly, "I imagine that you might like a receipt in writing, am I wrong?"

Marsei Hightower is the next to grace shop to inquire after Orsino's finery, her entrance heralded by gentle laughter and softer giggles as she's accompanied on either side by handmaidens in mid-conversation. The ever-loyal Siva at her right, and a much younger, noble Reachlady at her left, both subtly matched to the vibrant blue worn by the Flower of Oldtown, as bright and cheery as the shop itself. On a whisper from her, the women are seated — and Marsei, too, would hang back in wait if it weren't for the green cape catching her eye and drawing her in straight away. "Hello, Orinso— oh! How lovely, what fine colour and detail. Your wife will certainly be thrilled," she says without quite looking Lars fully in the face, too focused on the garment.

Lars runs a hand over the green velvet, then gestures welcomingly towards it in case Marsei would care to do the same. "It's quite marvellous, really," he enthuses, distracted by not only the cape now, but also the trio of young women coming to join him. "Oh, hello…" he greets, voice smooth as melted caramel, giving a little bow of his head and an eye-twinkling (not sheep-twinkling) smile. "I can't recommend Orsino enough, I really can't, my dear."

Orsino holds the velvet so that each of the nobles can have a touch of the soft, plush fabric. "Aya?" he calls over his shoulder. "Bring the bill and wine, three glasses, my dear." He nods over to his small table. "Lady Marsei, if you have a moment, perhaps we can join my lord the customs master in a glass of wine to celebrate the first of many purchases to come at my shop, hm? You'll have a glass, my lord, will you not?"

Marsei is eager to lay hands on the velvet, however gently. She even makes sure to smooth it the right way so as not to leave even a hint of her delicate fingerprints. "Nor can I, but I certainly try at every opportunity," she replies to Lars with a beaming smile turned in Orsino's direction. "I'd love to, for such a good cause. Oh!" She turns her sunshine on Lars, really looking at him now with as much bright-eyed perception as she studied the cape with. "You're the customs master!" This triumphant fact seems to please the lady perhaps more than the average noblewoman.

The look Lars gives in return is three parts pleased to one part bemused. He gives a small, slow nod, agreeing, "Well, yes… yes, my dear, I am. I have to say that's a rare reaction," he confesses with a small laugh, turning briefly aside to agree mutely by way of an eyebrow and a slightly lifted hand that why yes, a glass of wine might just slip down a treat. "I'm more used to suspicion, concern, or even outright hostility! But of course, you're a Hightower, my dear, and as such I am entirely at your command. Orsino, old chap, will you have the bill sent to my office? I don't tend to carry money with me, it seems so… well, mercenary."

Orsino pulls out chairs at the table for each of his noble guests. Then he fetches one from the other side of the room for himself. The mousy girl Aya comes with a bottle of wine and three polished wooden cups, as well as a slip held between two fingers of the hand gripping the bottle. She sets that down and brings the paper to Orsino, but he gestures toward the door with his chin. "Set this cape carefully on that chair over there, then send a boy to run the bill to the customs house," he instructs her, then turns to join his guests with a broad smile, pouring wine into each cup. "Do you know one another?" he inquires of the two nobles.

Marsei responds in turn with a small laugh, good-natured. "I've no command for you, you can be sure of that— ! Costayne, is it?" If they don't yet know each other, it looks like Marsei means to amend that error. Her smile is constant. She sits neatly and is immediately surrounded by her handmaidens. She gives a gracious nod for Orsino's pouring of the wine. "From time to time my husband is involved in the business of shipping and trade," she says pleasantly, and then adds, as if the identity of her husband isn't vastly public and gossiped-over knowledge, "Prince Dhraegon. And so I've been curious about all aspects of how things come in and out of our harbour."

"Oh, thank you so much, old fellow," Lars mentions for the wine, fingers closing around his cup with a well practiced air. "It is, my dear! Lars Costayne, that dreadful little terrier of the master of coin, scourge of the docks." Another little laugh and an easy shrug. "I promise you I'm not as awful as they say. There are just so many little laws when it comes to commerce and finance, and it can be awfully difficult to remember them all, so I'm here to help. I'd be very pleased to introduce you to some of the fine chaps who import and export from the harbour, if you'd like? The sheer number and variety of different goods is truly breathtaking. It's a modern marvel of our age!"

"The customs master really does have a fine way with people," Orsino opines. "He is even courteous to someone at /my/ level." He favors them both with a smile, then sits down to drink his wine. "And of course Lady Marsei too is known for her kindness and friendliness, so I think you really must become friends on the spot."

Marsei appears absolutely delighted by Lars. "That's right, I'm certain I've seen you about. The Master of Coin is my Uncle Orland," she chirps. "But how good it is to meet you properly, Lord Lars." She's quick to beam again at Orsino. "You oughtn't sell yourself short, Orsino. Everyone ought to be courteous to someone so irreplaceable as yourself!" Someone so skilled in fashion, that whole scandalous bastard thing can be overlooked, right? She sips her wine, but it's quick too; she savours the conversation more than the drink. "I should love that," she tells Lars then, "and to brush up on the laws myself if you'd be so kind."

Lars beams a genuine smile across, creases at the corners of his eyes deepening. "I'd be absolutely delighted, my dear. And you're quite right, of course. Orsino is a wonder with a needle, and that's worthy of more than even the usual courtesy, but I do strongly believe that if we treat everyone with respect, as a decent human being, then they will strive to live up to those expectations. I don't mean to get all political, but I do think it's the little things like being polite that can help keep the poor from becoming savage, don't you think?"

"How kind you both are," Orsino observes, sitting back in his chair with a smile that while genuine, also has just a trace of keen awareness of his status within it. "Do you find there is much danger of savagery from the poor in Oldtown, my lord?" he asks, but his tone is not harsh. He seems relaxed, amused, interested, pleased to be drinking with kind patrons.

"How right you are," Marsei tells Lars with absolute sincerity, leaning ever-so-slightly over her clasped wine cup. "I have never seen a need for cruelty." Rather undoubtedly the softest of the mighty Hightowers, she's smiling 'til her cheeks dimple, and she looks to her companions as though to make sure they're as pleased as she is. It's a rather high bar to set. "The people of Oldtown are good people," she says — quietly, not truly wishing to interrupt before Lars can answer Orsino, simply passionate about her city as much as her belief in goodness.

It's not often that Lars meets somebody with similar views to himself, and he was all prepared to defend his stance. As such it's a moment before he responds to the unexpected agreement, tilting his head to look the Hightower over more closely. "Well, yes, yes they are good people. When I say savagery, I will admit to some hyperbole. The people of Oldtown are, as a rule, hardworking, honest people like you, Master Orsino. It is only when we strip away their humanity and their hope that they are reduced, by necessity, to act like animals, scraping and fighting for what little they can still grasp. Is it not our duty to make sure their pride and drive is encouraged, for the sake of our civilisation as a whole?"

Orsino glances into his cup, then drinks, smile still lingering. "People must be sustained," he says, in a tone of quiet agreement. "And people do need respect, regard. Pride." He nods decisively. "I can drink to that."

"I should like every person of Oldtown to be happy and proud to be of Oldtown," Marsei adds, gratified and raising her cup just so. "What better time to be reminded of that than now, with winter coming. Orsino! You must have been busy since the white ravens flew with orders for winter clothes."

Lars turns to observe the tailor, sipping from his wine and nodding appreciatively. "I can't imagine I'm the only one looking for a warm cape, certainly," he agrees. "You have enough staff to keep up with demand, I hope?"

"Terribly busy," Orsino confirms in an exaggerated tone, turning his head toward Marsei. "But they say the animals that survive the winter are those who were most busy in the fall." He smiles at Lars. "Yes," he says. "And we have piece workers we send out to for certain things when times are busy. Some women with seasonal work, particularly around the local farms, change to handiwork as the last harvests come in."

It takes the noblewoman a moment to sort out Orsino's meaning about fall and winter — focusing her curious hazel-centered eyes on the tailor all the while — but she's pleased when she does. "You'll have everything well in hand then, all while keeping others in work too," she beams. "We're lucky we don't get the snows like in the north, but I'd be curious to see what you'd design if we did." She gives a soft laugh. "But not enough to wish for snow. I'd be happy with a new cape to match my new dress, and perhaps a warmer cloak-but I'm in no hurry."

"And here I am, taking up your valuable time," Lars suddenly realises, although his concern doesn't stop him from knocking back the rest of his wine before he sets down the cup. "My lady, Orsino, I shall leave you to your negotiations. I do hope very much to see both of you again very soon. Lady Marsei, do please send word any time you'd like a tour of the docks, and Master Orsino, I shall see that one of the lads has your payment sent over. Thank you awfully for your fine work, as ever. If you'll both excuse me?"

"I think red would look very fine against snow," Orsino says. "And fur trim would be excellent for keeping out extreme cold." He sips wine, and smiles a bit wistfully. Then he looks to Lars, amused. "I invited you," he says, and from his tone he really hasn't minded a break for wine. He stands up. "A pleasure to work for you, my lord," he says. "Good day!"

"Of course. It was a joy, my lord. I look forward to seeing you soon!" The lady stands as well — as do the women with her, who nod graciously.

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