(124-06-12) Looking for Weeds in the Garden
Looking for Weeds in the Garden
Summary: Dhraegon seeks to get to know Jana Fossoway while Flox has a small task.
Date: Not June 14th
Related: Fossoway Folly plot

Dhraegon has invited the Lady to tea in the newly opened Children's garden. There is mint tisane and honeyed lemon water. The cakes are assorted and plentiful. The Prince has dressed in his house colours, hair in two small braids drawn back over the bulk left loose. The effect is striking and rather severe. Several small children are playing on the climbing frames under the care of a nanny, their shrieks and giggles carrying, but the tea is set up well away, so they might watch, but soft words would not reach the Nanny's ears.

Flox is dressed as a servant and looking rather older and stooped. He has broom, bucket, and scrub brush with him and is cleaning the floors on the same tower level as Lady Jana's quarters. He has room keys, off course, this being home turf and him having legitimate need to be in rooms cleaning.

Whatever opinions have formed of Jana Fossoway, the fact of the matter is that she has a few things in common with Marsei: one of which is that she has polite standards. She shows up with no complaint when she's asked to meet Dhraegon in the garden. Of course, one can't very well say no to a Targaryen prince, but she is the picture of lady-like courtesy when she arrives in the children's garden with her handmaid, who is a few years past being a child herself. The Fossoway has a curious look for the garden and its climbing implements and inhabitants, and another for her host as she smiles her greeting. Her dark hair is pinned up and curled, shown to Dhraegon as she bows her head before sitting. "Hello, your grace," she says, smoothing down her dress of dark green and gold embroidery. Everything about her is very neat, orderly. There is a stiffness to her shoulders that is slightly beyond fine posture. "What a whimsical idea for a garden."

She left her room empty.

Dhraegon gives her a dignified nod and gestures to the other chairs. There are enough chairs for five, but no other guests in evidence. He does not bound over and hug her. He just stares at her, mouth half open in that vacant way he has until they settle. Then he giggles and is suddenly manically animated, "will you have tisane or lemon water? We have lemon cakes and various types of jam cakes. I like jam cakes. Ormund let me design the garden myself. It seemed like there ought to be a safe place for children to play and all the plants and flowers can be eaten. I like flowers."

Flox cleans in that direction and is soon inside checking all the usual laces and a number of unusual ones for papers, broom to hand so he can be sweeping if the door starts to open.

Jana looks at Dhraegon in the way many people tend to: quiet and staring and with a slight smile, not quite sure what to make of him or how to appropriately react. "I— suppose the jam cakes sound superb, then. I'll have lemon water," she says with politely navigated cheer. She pauses to exchange a few quiet words with her handmaid, excusing her to wander through the garden near the children. Perhaps she hasn't advanced enough to have tea with a prince. "It is logical," Jana commends. "The Hightower does seem rather treacherous for children. This is nice."

The room Flox searches is more Hightower than Fossoway. Jana has hardly left her mark on it at all; it is only upon closer inspection that evidence of her temporary habitation becomes clear. A dressing gown draped across the bed; it has pockets, but they're empty. A brush on the vanity, little else except gleaming apple-shaped earrings and other assorted jewelry. Boxes stacked by the wardrobe; all empty, the garments they carried hung in the wardrobe itself. The Book of Holy Prayers on the table beside the bed, bookmarked in several places with parchment pressed with dried flowers.

Dhraegon is surprisingly graceful with the long layered silk sleeves and pours for them both out of the same pitcher, letting her choose her cup and fairly dividing up the jam cakes, letting her choose her plate. "I grow up in many different gardens and in high towers and low lands…. Why don't you like my Beloved Asphodel?" There is no change in tone from the childlike gush up until now. The last question is asked in exactly the way the question of lemon water vs. tisane was asked.

Flox is very careful that anything he disturbs goes back the way it was when he arrived. He will need to riffle through the prayer book, check under mattress, bed, drawers, pockets, pouches, and in each box for false bottom or slit lining.

Jana chooses her cup and plate and arranges them both equidistant from each other in front of her. She's lifting the lemon water to her lips when Dhraegon so seamlessly questions her; she lowers it half an inch, blinking long-lashed, intelligent eyes at him. "I'm sorry?" she queries — her own voice seamlessly cordial — for clarification. Either she's put off by the question, or she doesn't know what an asphodel is or why it's beloved.

The parchment is pretty, little else; the page markers denote pages with evidently meaningful prayers about faith, marriage, childbearing, loyalty, sacrifice and morality in the eyes of the Seven. There is one at the very back, marking no page, that has what looks to be a word written on it with the vague flourish of a signature. It is aging, however, and has been smudged, crumpled and straightened so many times that the only letter that remains legible is the first: M.

There seems to be nothing else for Flox to find; nothing more hides beneath the surface of Jana's room, typical in every way of a visiting noblewoman.

Dhraegon's mouth is already full of jam cake, so it takes him a moment to swallow. There is a small blob of cream and raspberry jam on his nose, "My Crocus. My most beloved wife. Why don't you like her?" His eyes are wide and clear of malice, his tone childlike and curious.

Flox studies the damaged page, hoping to better make out the smudged word, but if there is nothing to find, he cleans the room, taking a last check of the bottoms of chairs, desk, and the like as he scrubs. He’ll finish the whole floor before changing and going to seek out the Lady marsei.

Perhaps it is the way he says it, so… innocent, that Jana allows herself, whether she realizes it or not, to look openly at him. Somehow, she even looks past the cream and jam. Disarmed for a moment, she simply looks… sad. After several seconds, she bows her head, looking into the fragrant cup of lemon water. It is not out of respect this time, but some measure of distress made demure. Regret. "Is that what she said?" She sounds, sincerely — however quietly — hurt.

Dhraegon shakes his head no with the emphatic exaggeration of a child, "No. She likes you. She has always liked you, but you seemed… not kind at the feast, and then that Flowers made her sad. She… did not have the happiest time with your house, I think, but she valued her friends there and speaks well of all, living and dead. I just… wondered what happened, if you were friends and now you are mot."

The Lady Marsei happens to be in the corridor where the entrance to the lower gardens lies, catching glimpses outside even though she can't see the children's garden from such a vantage point. That is precisely where she's been the entire time, but don't tell anyone: she whisks casually down the hall as though simply passing every time anyone approaches.

Flox spots her and bows, "Might I have a word, My Lady?"

Jana does not quite look relieved, but she does appear conflicted; she opens her mouth, closes it. "I had a difficult time after my brother died," she admits. It is not easy for her to do so and it shows. She takes a tense sip of her water and sets it down, dainty hands wrapped around the dainty cup. "And she left … in the middle of it." There is only the ghost of spite in her words. She smiles a little, wistful. She looks up, but does not quite make it to Dhraegon's eyes before looking down again. "Grief does funny things to a person. So does distance, and time. I … know I have not been the most kind. I have been meaning to…" Jana's gently squared jaw clenches determinedly. "Well… to apologize."

Indoors, Marsei stops her furtive stroll, realizing it's just Flox. "Oh, of course," she says, looking to him receptively.

Dhraegon looks terribly sad, "I miss the Old King every day. He was Kind. And My Hyacinthe… we met right after, you know. She was very sad about your brother, that I am certain of. I think it hurt her to much to be there for… for all of it, after, and when one hurts, one likes to hide where one…. She wanted her brother and her old room from when she was small, I think." His gaze goes distant, "I refused to come out from under the bushes for weeks after the Old King died." Then he puts a huge, baby soft hand over the Lady Jana's a focuses on her again, "I know you must miss your brother all the time, and I am sorry for that."

Flox steps close and pitches his voice not to carry, "Did you… gift the Lady Jana a prayer book of yours?"

Instantly perplexed by Flox's question, Marsei's head tilts to one side, curiosity turning to hesitant worry. She thinks longer than warranted. "No…?"

Jana's hand flinches — instinctively wanting to curl away from Dhraegon — before it goes still. There is a flash of distrust in her gaze when she manages to look steadily at him, but it is overwhelmed by sadness, the kind that wells up, glimmering, and is staunchly forbidden to spill from the rims of her eyes. "Yes, thank you," she says decorously as not to give in to emotion.

Flox looks genuinely distressed to be asking her these things, "Might you have left one… or a prayer from one… somewhere else, My Lady?"

The Prince’s own eyes are a touch damp and his own sorrow and empathy for her own grief so terribly deep. My may be childlike in so many ways, but in this, he might be an ocean, old and filled with salty tears. "I am sorry to have distressed you, Jana."

The Fossoway lady nods acceptingly and smiles. It is tense, but true enough. "It is clear how much you care. About her," she says. Again tense; again true. "Marsei … she taught me a great deal during her time at Cider Hall. I… do want to do right by her. It took me some time to come to it, that's all. I fear, however, she will not forgive me." Jana hasn't touched her jam cakes. She eats half of one to satisfy politeness — or to fill time.

Marsei's source of distress, meanwhile, is Flox. She gives her head a small shake that's as much of an answer as it is a question, going by her searching expression. "Flox…?" she prompts gently, simply wishing to know the source of his queries.

Dhraegon has complete and total faith in the goodness of his wife. It is in his confidence as he assures her, "Of course she will! She was merely distressed at the thought you might not be friends any longer. I'm sure if you talk to her, all will be well again." he gives her a reassuring smile.

Flox bows, "All is well, my Lady. I have been… merely making sure that all is well here. I think it likely is or will be soon, but let me not delay you further."

If a person can appear reassured in the same moment that they are altogether uncomfortable, Jana has achieved this feat — all while eating a cake of cream and raspberry. Now that she has had her show of emotion, she is restless; rather than fidgeting, she keeps it in, her shoulders stiffer than they were before. "Will she… be joining us?" she ventures casually as she can, glancing over Dhraegon's shoulder and her own.

But the children's garden still belongs to the children, as inside Marsei tries to delay Flox. "Wait," she says, soft but decidedly insistent. "What is it? Did you… discover something…? I should like to be kept apprised."

Dhraegon's tone is very gentle, "I have hopes she might still. Would you prefer company? Or to wait alone with your Lady?"

Dhraegon shakes his head, "Her belongings are innocent. No letters or diary entries. Just a prayer book with pressed flower book marks with your name in it. All is likely well, My Lady, if you wanted to go to them."

"It's fine." It is Jana's turn to give a reassurance. Hers is less warm, although she does have a pretty smile. She finishes her cake.

Marsei's eyes grow wide in startlement. The expression starts to fade almost as soon as it arises, realizing she should not be so surprised. Still, she asks, "You went through her things— ?" A small sigh. "I could have told you that you would have come up empty if only I'd known," she says with quiet disappointment— the thoughtful, regretful variety, not with ire directed toward Flox. She turns to look the way of the entrance to the garden, lightly wringing her hands and lingering here rather than venturing out. "It was … nothing," she says. "A scrap. I remember. She never liked to waste her pressed flowers."

Flox bows. "We had to be sure after the feast, and…”

Marsei is distracted; she hears him yet she doesn’t.

“… can't ask you directly without… intruding, I think. At least in Dhraegon’s mind, but all is well, My Lady."

Dhraegon lets go her hand and starts in on his own cakes in earnest, babbling happily to her abut edible flowers and climbing frames in animal shapes as if nothing serious had gone before.

Jana chats. She responds, at the appropriate points. Every time she begins to look skeptical about one of his tangents about flowers or animal shapes, she's winds up smiling by the end, understanding more about him than when she sat down. The bottom line is that she's polite and lovely, even if she can't quite engage with Dhraegon's enthusiasm all the way.

Marsei makes it out to the garden, but only to the outskirts: she's on her way and all of a sudden she isn't, catching sight of Dhraegon and Jana and for whatever reason losing her nerve and quickly going back the way she came. She's there for a moment, glimpsed — at least by one of them — and gone, off on her own.

Dhraegon half rises, and calls gently, "My Sweet Asphodel, I have saved you half my cakes!"

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