|Hide and Seek|
|Summary:||Jurian and Aelia are wed at last, but the bridegroom hides away after the fact; Marsei thus occupies Aelia by playing games, hiding while in plain sight.|
|Date:||January 14th, 2017|
Sitting Room - Dragon Door Manse - Starry Street
This lush room is comfortably furnished with chairs and couches, all thickly upholstered in either black or red leather. There are upright reading chairs, sofas that allow people to sit side-by side, one of those 'gossip' couches that separate a seated pair with a curving arm, and lounges for lying down. Placed handily among them are end tables with polished stone tops, black veined with red. Their wooden legs are dragons, each carved and painted differently, with gilt details. A similarly carved sideboard holds wine bottles and glasses, and two matching chests contain blankets and extra throw-pillows.
The room is well lit in the day by three large arched windows that offer a view of the garden. They are framed with carved stone dragons that match those of the arch leading back into the entry hall.
It was an abbreviated affair, the wedding held early in the morning at the sept without particular fanfare. Jurian seemed anxious to get the whole thing concluded, seeming generally in bad temper, whether for anxiety or for not feeling well. On the other hand, Aelia was placid and quiet. The septon figured out the preferred pace and therefore all was concluded within an hour, and during the walk back to the Manse, Jurian claimed to feel ill and disappeared off to his chamber, leaving his new bride somewhat at loose ends. So she has come into the sitting room to flop down on a sofa.
A supportive presence before and during the ceremony — all the more given Jurian's general mood — it only makes sense that Marsei's role would continue afterward. She did not expect it to extend to precisely this circumstance, however; that Jurian has absconded to his quarters straight away, and without his new bride, leaves her rather … conflicted. She's not long behind Aelia, coming to sit down beside her on the sofa. "Well," she starts, upbeat for Aelia while she takes stock of how the bride is feeling. "You're married now! I thought you looked very pretty during the ceremony. It is unfortunate Jurian does not feel well, but the day is still early."
"Yes," Aelia agrees, apparently with everything that Marsei has said. But especially: "I was very pretty during the ceremony. You were also pretty," she adds, beaming a smile in Marsei's direction. "But Jurian has not been feeling well for a while. I don't think it is my fault."
Marsei reaches over to clasp a hand over Aelia's in response. "It isn't your fault," she agrees confidently. "Or his fault, probably." The sitting room seems so quiet compared to the hustle, bustle, fanfare and celebration that so often follows a wedding. She glances aside at the red and black furniture of the Targaryen manse as though it's going to close in on them, stone dragons and all. And so, she suggests brightly against it, "Shall we celebrate?"
"Yes," Aelia agrees immediately, matching Marsei's brightness. "How do people celebrate?" is her follow-up question, looking to Marsei's eyes as the source of all secrets of human behavior.
The princess's guileless question prompts a warm little laugh from Marsei, delighted to be asked. "Traditionally with good food and drink, for a start, and music. Dancing! Games. I suppose there is not a whole feast prepared," she glances out of the sitting room as though a member of the kitchen staff might appear to give them a contrary answer. "And we don't have any music — but I am certain we can drum up some fun. It's your day. What would make you happiest?"
"Oh," Aelia says, bobbing her head. "I think there has not been time for a feast to be prepared—the kitchen people are slow," she replies. "But for two of us, they can bring a lot of food. Will you call them? I don't remember their names. Except Mae and she says she is preparing my chamber today." Perhaps as a nuptial bed. Whether that is going to happen or not. "You can tell them that we want wine and all the good food and then we can play a game." She seems to warm instantly to this idea of celebrations.
"Perfect!" Marsei squeezes Aelia's hand and rises, quickly making her way out of the room, just beyond it, where a servant is sure to be waiting — and indeed, her soft murmurs can be heard right away. The instructions of this particular guest are received easily today. "A game!" she says upon her quick return, clapping her hands together without much of a sound. "Do you have a favourite? If there's one thing I've learned about Targaryen parties, it's that you grew up with some different pastimes than I have," she says in good humour (while hoping no fire will be involved).
A servant is indeed easy to get hold of and swiftly obedient. "I like all games," Aelia answers. "I like the one where you are blindfolded and have to guess the person you catch." She pauses, thoughtfully. "But parrots are clever so it would not be a very good game with only two."
Marsei remains on her feet, looking thoughtful as she paces, wandering, past the sofa. "I don't suppose the servants could play, to make it a challenge for a clever parrot," she ponders out loud, but quickly dismisses the idea with a smile and shake of her head. "No, that would be strange, wouldn't it." She turns about. "Dhraegon and I sometimes play hide and seek," she says in the slightly over-exaggerated tone of a confession while smiling wide, even though it's no particular secret. "I don't know if that would be such a good idea here. Perhaps we could play imaginary hide and seek."
"I would never guess them," Aelia says. Being that she doesn't remember their names, this is likely true. But she cocks her head like an interested bird. "What is imaginary hide and seek?" she asks, all intrigued.
Marsei looks away, quickly thinking — thinking, in fact, of the rules that she is trying to make up this very moment. Pleased with the results, she comes around behind the sofa and leans in next to Aelia's blonde head. "Imaginary hide and seek is the same as regular hide and seek, except you needn't move at all, except inside your mind," she announces. "So you have to be especially clever! I'll go first. I'm…" She looks around the sitting room, past the window, back to Aelia. She watches the princess closely, waiting to see if she'll get the knack of the childlike game, by most accounts an odd way to spend one's first married day. "Somewhere on the property, and it's your task to guess where I've imagined myself."
"That sounds very difficult!" Aelia exclaims, delighted. She takes handfuls of her skirt in her hands. "Are you…inside or outside?"
"How clever you are already!" Marsei, giving Aelia a beaming smile when she sees the game has taken on, winds her way around the sofa and sits back down on its edge, smoothing down her own skirt. Her gown is lovely and modest, a subdued pale shade that leaves Aelia's front and center. "I am outside."
There is the sound of crinkling fabric as Aelia thinks. "Are you outside the wall or inside?" Presumably the rules would call for her to be inside, but Aelia takes no chances.
Marsei can't help but watch the skirt of Aelia's dress crinkle, but at least the threat of wrinkles has occurred after the ceremony has ended. "Inside," she advises.
Two servants come in and start laying some rich foods on a nearby table, as well as pouring goblets full of fine wine. "Are you…somewhere in the garden?" Aelia asks next.
"Yes! I am somewhere in the garden, but where," Marsei replies, undoubtedly adding to what must be the servants' growing confusion. She takes quickly to the array of food once it's set down, settling more comfortably against the sofa. "Our very own feast," she says with an encouraging smile to Aelia.
Aelia closes her eyes. "I must think what is in the garden," she says. "Are you…under a bench?" She opens her eyes to see the food that has been laid out and makes a pleased sound. "I did not eat breakfast," she says, already reaching for bread before the servants are done putting that plate down.
"I would be if I were Dhraegon. It really is rather remarkable the things he can hide under," Marsei answers with earnest wonderment. "But you're so close!"
Aelia laughs softly. "He is so big to hide somewhere so small!" she says, though most might avoid saying it so bluntly. "Are you…near the pavilion?"
"Yes!" Marsei answers, celebratory, her voice uplifted by a soft laugh. "Do you see me?"
"Mmmmmm," Aelia says, half thoughtful hum and half giggle. "Are you inside the pavilion?" she asks with anticipation. But she doesn't let the anticipation get in the way of bread-munching.
Perhaps Marseo ought to be forlorn, her hiding place discovered, but of course she is not; she claps her hands together. "You found me!" She lifts the glass of wine poured from her mid-victory; her recent conversation with Jurian comes to mind just as she does, and she looks so abruptly into her cup that she steadies it with her other hand so a drop does not spill. She sips regardless. "… Your turn to hide!"
Aelia laughs and nudges Marsei's arm now that the lady has been found out. She inadvertently sprays a few breadcrumbs with her laugh. "Mmm…all right. I am hiding. I like this kind of hiding where you can also talk. And eat."
Marsei subtly smoothes errant breadcrumbs off her own knee. "You could even play by yourself sometimes if you wanted," she suggests more quietly. "To imagine yourself somewhere else … if you didn't like where you were." But for now, the lady sits up straighter, readying. "Forgive me if I am not so clever as you — I am no parrot, after all," she warns good-naturedly as she sets about pondering, tipping her well-coiffed head to one side. "Are you outside?"
"No!" Aelia answers proudly, reaching for a cup to wash down her breadcrumbs with. "And don't worry, I never blame anyone for not being a parrot."
Marsei ducks her head thankfully under Aelia's good graces — rather sincere, even when accompanied by a warm, amused smile. "So you must be inside," she reasons. "Are you upstairs or downstairs?"
"Upstairs," Aelia admits a bit shyly, putting her cup aside. Then she reaches for another bit of food, some sliced sausage and cheese.
Marsei stacks things from the array of food neatly onto her bread while she realizes the limitations of imaginary hide and seek. "You've another advantage on me up there," she points out. She takes her time, eating, drinking, before going, tentatively, with what she knows. "Are you in your chamber…?"
"Yes," Aelia further allows, now unable to conceal a giggle. "But you have to guess where, too!" With Mae not present, she looks like she might be about to wipe her fingers on the bodice of her dress.
With rather reflexes so quick they're instinctual, Marsei hands Aelia a tiny buttered cake in hopes of saving the bodice of the princess's dress for at least another few moments. "Are you…" she narrows her eyes, her smile playfully hopeful, "Under the bed…?"
Aelia lets out the tiniest of screams. But she also takes the cake. "How did you know?" she asks urgently. "You didn't guess the wardrobe or anything!"
Startled — either by the tiny scream or the fact that she guessed correctly — Marsei swiftly recovers with a small laugh. "I was hoping hiding under the bed ran in the family," she explains. "I've lost track of the times I've discovered Dhraegon under my bed even outside of hide-and-seek." There are not many people she could say such an odd thing to so casually.
"Uncle is very funny," Aelia says. "He seems to hide under everything!" She smiles fondly at Marsei. "Parrots nest in tree cavities or the hollows of rocks," she says gently.
"Do they? Is a rock very comfortable for a nest?" Beyond simply entertaining Aelia, or even being interested, Marsei sounds almost concerned for all parrots until she reasons with herself, "Just as comfortable as under a bed, I bet."
"I have never lived in a rock," Aelia says. "But many birds lay down some of their own feathers in a nest. Or bring in things like grasses." She looks curiously at Marsei. "Isn't the Hightower made of rock?"
Marsei's dawning realization is as visible as a light shone into her face. She laughs merrily, delighted to witness her logic bested by Aelia's. There may not be a raucous feast following the wedding, but the frequent laughter of the two women at least fills this single room. "You're absolutely right, it is!" She lays her hand upon the younger woman's shoulder. "You are such a bright girl, Aelia, even besides your feathers. I hope you're having a lovely day. I'll stay as long as you like."
Aelia seems pleased. "This is a very good day," she says firmly. "And now I am married and that means also that we will always have my first home and that I don't have to wait anymore for any other husbands I don't know." She smiles. "All I have to wait for is to have children and to become lady of the house because Jurian is heir. The old house," she clarifies. "But it doesn't matter when that happens because I can eat and drink and play games with you and choose dresses and look at books about birds."