(124-06-13) Sorry
Summary: Jana Fossoway finds Marsei in the library; the past won't stay in the past this time.
Date: Not June 15th
Related: Fossoway Folly plot; Looking for Weeds in the Garden

The library is a place of calm for Marsei, who sits at one of the furthest sets of chairs and tables, the one that's the most hidden between stacked shelves of books. Rather than read, she is lost in thought while she aligns the corners and spines of several tomes in front of her so that they form a single smooth tower. All but her own cherished copy of the Seven-Pointed Star on her lap, ribbons trailing out from various pages, each marking a certain section, passage, or important line. A half-drank cup of tisane — medicinal, by the scent — has been left on the table perpendicular to hers, belonging to Siva, who has since left the table.

"I simply don't understand why you spend so much time in the library."

Marsei is surprised to see Jana at the end of the aisle, walking toward her in a dress of blue velvet, holding a prayer book, almost as bookmarked as hers. She isn't certain how to react, except to give her former goodsister a rather conflicted look; it winds up looking more forlorn. She splits the tower of books in half and sets one aside to see her better. "It's … peaceful," she says quietly. "Hardly anyone wanders this far back. Sometimes I find it calming."

Jana gives a resigned sigh. "I know," she says quieter. Her gaze becomes downcast, and she only looks up as far as the holy book on Marsei's lap. "I used to know you better than anyone did, I think." Her erudite voice is soft; conflicted, too. "You used to tell me about it. The great Hightower library. You spoke of it as if it were the Citadel." She looks all around, her eyes sparkling with interest for the old tomes— and with nostalgia.
"For all I know, it might as well be identical," Marsei fills in; she would sound cynical if it weren't for the lightness of her voice, a familiar humour that bridges a gap between them. Jana smiles, free of spite.

Marsei looks at the book in Jana's hands for a long moment. At length, she says, "The same book?"

Jana looks down at the prayer book, shifting her hands slightly around its binding. “And the same bookmarks,” she answers, wanting to smile again but one corner of her mouth turning down dourly instead. “Your husband… Prince Dhraegon… he isn’t what I thought he was,” she says in an allowing tone. Marsei does not have to ask what, exactly, she thought he was; it is likely the same estimation many people come to over Dhraegon. “As strange as it is, I understand, I think, why you married him. Why you seem…” she hesitates, “…happy.”

Some part of Marsei wants to feel relieved, but she simply finds herself staring up at Jana with more worry than words. “And Jesper?” she ventures.

The Fossoway looks off to the rows of books and lifts a shoulder within the structured velvet confines of her dress, somewhat dismissive. That would be it, until she decides to add, “There is not much to him beyond what the eye can see. At least he does as I ask.” She takes a step toward the table, growing tenser by the second. “I’m sorry.”

Marsei rises from her seat. “It’s … all right, Jana. I should have—“

“No,” Jana says, insistent, retreating the same one step. She is upset by her own determination, by whatever fuels it, but determined she is: she keeps it together. “I’m sorry,” she repeats, painfully earnest. “I must do what is right. What is moral and good.” Her grip of the Book of Holy Prayers is white-knuckled now. Jana looks on Marsei with care that wrenches harshly into regret. She bows her head and strides back the way she came.

Marsei makes a move to hurry after her, but is startled into standing still as though there is an invisible barricade between them. She is left going over and over Jana’s words in her head with rapidly escalating anxiety. What could— ? She stares until the other woman’s form disappears around the end of an aisle.

It’s then that Jana’s meaning blazes into her consciousness and urgency hits. She starts to run.

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