Sunlight filters in through an open window, shards of shimmering yellow that highlight the floor in pools of gold, bands that show dust dancing in the air, disturbed as easily by a puff of air from one’s lungs as they are by a breeze. The faint call of birds, out on the Blackwater—gulls—carries even at this distance, circling over the water looking for food that comes in forms of fish and garbage. The Red Keep sits high above the harbor below, though, far away from the smells and sites of the common folk that scurry about on their daily chores.
Jasmylla Fowler sits near the window, gazing out with a soft smile spread out over her olive features. Her hair sways a bit as a breeze dances through the open window—strands of red that seldom see much fuss beyond a thorough brushing every night—and an open book lays open in her lap, the pages warm from the sunlight. Suddenly, her breath catches, a series of sharp intakes that end in a abrupt sneeze. On closer inspection, the girl’s nose is quite red, and after the sneeze, Jasmylla sniffles a bit, wrinkling her nose in the process. Having become sodden in the rain the other day has not treated her all too well.
As if mirroring Jasmylla’s sneeze, a soft and short cough is heard before the tall carved doors leading to Lanei’s room open, announcing, shyly, the arrival of the young dornishwoman. Against her best habits, and as it has become some sort of a rule for the last days, she looks not to be the healthy woman she used to be in the past. Dark shadows beneath the azure eyes, the pallor on the cheeks and the unruly hair, framing her face with no order, mark her as someone who has been certainly ill and both in body and mind. However, and whether if her sickness can be easily guessed or not, for sure the reasons which drove her to the current poor condition are widely known. At least within the walls of the Fowler Apartaments, that is.
Marcia’s daughter stops by the doorway for a moment, and going by the empty expression marking her features, she is lost. Or, most likely, the young falcon has forgotten what she was about to do. Lanei blinks, and memory washes over her and hits back her mind. With slow, dragged paces that are far away from her usual graceful walking, she approaches one of the couches and drops on. “You got a cold. This place is so humid” the elder of the Fowler states, and rises a hand to cover her mouth. A couple of yawns later, and Lanei adds, looking distractedly through the open windows, “So, this is how Summer looks in the North.” Pretty different from home, of course.
“It’s because I stayed out in the rain the other day,” Jasmylla responds with a rueful shake of her head. She is about to sneeze again, but catches it before it erupts, squeezing her pointed nose between her her thumb and forefinger. “Ah. Phew. Anyway, I visited the maestor, and he gave me a few herbs to mix into my water. But I don’t think it’ll last long.” The small girl shuts her book around one of her fingers, turning in her chair as to better face her older cousin.
Suddenly, the red-headed girl laughs, a lilting thing that borders soprano. “Summer? This would almost seem a cool summer, wouldn’t it? These Northerners would not know a summer if it came up and gave them a pinch to the rear.” The laughter fades quickly, though, and the girl regards Lanaei with a faint echo of her cousin’s distress. “We’ll go home again. I know it. They can’t keep us here for forever. They *can’t*.” Trying to convince herself as much as Lanei, Jasmylla’s mouth quirks into a deeper frown, and she looks down, at the cover of her book, which she traces the lettering of the title with a thin finger. “I told a Stark girl that I don’t worship the gods anymore because they don’t listen. Is that wrong?”
As it happens now and then, her cousin’s passionate –yet innocent?- words, have the gift to startle Lanei. She rises her head to look at her, and after a brief moment, the elder lady nods. “I… will see to prepare for you some tonic, if the cold refuses to leave.” And this single work would be more than all she performed for… how long? She cannot remember and, anyway, she does not care.
“Oh, they had the chance to know a little of our Summers, and of our Sun—and a few of them, of this I am sure, will be trying to find their way out the desert until they stop breathing” Lanei comments with a shrug. “Still, they would have a better death than they deserve, feeling the warm of the sand instead the cold of iron piercing their hearts.”
As if she had spoken too much, Lanei bites her low lip. Rising her legs and putting them too on the couch, the dornish lady allows herself to lay down. One of the little cushions is taken, though, and Lanei starts following, with a finger, the intricate leaves and birds embroidered on the silky piece of cloth. A fine design that, perhaps, would be appreciated in its full beauty if only Skyreach’s woman was in a very different mood. But she is paying no attention to her finger’s play. “Who did you meet? Lady Marian?” Lanei asks. “They worship not the Seven, and since I know so little of that people of the North, I cannot say if you offended her or not. Let’s hope you did not?.” She pauses. “Or did you ask for my opinion and what I have to say to your… heretic words?”.
“No… I… No.” Jasmylla seems unable to follow up with her claim to any logical extent, and so she keeps her head lowered, still studying the cover of her book. She takes a breath, releases it with a sigh. “I don’t remember her name, now. Eryn. Marion. Falyn. Elyn, maybe. It’s in my notes.” The young Dornishwoman makes no moves to retrieve said scribblings, however, and instead looks up at her cousin, locks of red hair shading her eyes.
“I don’t know how you can still go into the sept with any amount of faith. Look what They have taken. Franklyn, Uncle Gerald, Landon, Astin…” the last, Jasmylla regrets as soon as it escapes her lips, and she winces, lowering her eyes again. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t… I shouldn’t bring up names. I just hate it here, Lanei. Hate it. Seems that most of the people her at the Keep would piss on us as soon as look at us.” With that, the girl sneezes again, and she sniffles, rubbing her fingers against the bridge of her nose. A sharp gust of wind comes in through the window, tousling Jasmylla’s hair. She seems not to notice.
Jasmylla and her memory. Of course. Lanei cannot help but to exhale a fain sigh while tilts her head. “As far as I know, I have spoken, only, to one of the Northern ladies, Marian Stark. Does the name ring a bell for you? If it does not… do not worry about. I do not think it would be important enough to cause you any trouble.” She hopes, at least. But only the Seven know what she told to that lady of the North, or if her words will be misunderstand.
The names that Madoc’s daughter ventures to speak aloud, though, cause Lanei’s sorrow, a feeling that she does her best to hide to her cousin. She gathers her forces to say, all the quiet she can, “You do not need to be sorry, Jasmylla. They are our people, and were killed for a good cause. We honor them every time we speak their names, and I wish we did more often than we actually do.” Shaking a hand, as if trying to change the topic now, she rises to her feet and walks to the windows, closing them. “You should take care of yourself, cousin. It is not wise to stay by an open window if you got a cold.” Still, it takes her some time to turn back to look at Jasmylla. But as she does, something has changed on her face.
For the first time, the ghost of a smile plays upon Lanei’s lips, as they curve up a little. “And do you think I enjoy to stay here? My dear and little cousin, I do worship the Seven, still, and probably will. Why, you asked me. I will tell you: because, for now, they are all I have. Did you stop to worship them, you said?. Well, I am not going to judge you. It is up to you to decide what you want to do or not, for the Faith is not a matter that can be forced to follow, and if it is, then it changes to plain hypocritical devoutness and insincere piety. If you would not, you would not. However, this issue should be kept privately, for I am not sure how strangers to the family would eye it or wouldhave to say, and I will not have you accused of impiety.”
“Privately.” Jasmylla echoes the word with some dubuiosness. Not because she doesn’t agree with her cousin—she does—but because this girl has always had something of a struggle in keeping her mouth shut. A hard practice for one who has had to train for so long to repeat everything she is told, in order to try to retain it to her damaged memory. “I can do that. I’ll write a note.” She giggles, then, trying to find a little humor in this otherwise sad situation these Dornish hostages are in. “I was wondering last night why I even write my idiotic notes. I either ruin them, lose them, or don’t know which one is referencing what most of the time. I need a maester to follow me around and scribe everything I’m told.”
“Maybe it’s just the septs here. They seem so much more cold than the ones in Dorne. But so does all of King’s Landing, I suppose.” The red-headed Fowler turns in her heard to look out the window that was just closed, sharp features outlined against the blues and the yellows outside. “So close, yet so far, isn’t it? What I’d give for a boat to take us south. Mmph.” The girls places a small finger against the glass, tracing an outline of a barge out in the Blackwater.
“Lanei,” she says, then, forehead all-but pressed up against the window, words stemming from thoughts of home. Thoughts of Skyreach. “What were the last words you received from your Lady Mother? What was the last thing you talked about before you went to Hellholt?” With these words, she looks at her older relative, auburn searching out the other’s azure.
The smile on Lanei’s lips grows a little more, and yet, there is a touch of sadness –and some quiet resignation- within her eyes as she returns to the couch and sits down. “As long as you do not lose those notes of importance, or any note which content would be considered inconvenient…” she starts saying but soon will cut off her words. Jasmylla, being but fourteen when they arrived to Hellholt, was too young –and innocent and shy- to have lovers around and to send them letters. And wartimes are not the best of times for courting… Lanei supposes.
“This people are very different of us, Jasmylla, from the lower of their servants to the higher of their lords. Or they feign to be, for I am not sure if they speak their minds when despising us, and secretly would envy those of Dorne.” Lanei shrugs helplessly. There are so many questions, and so few answers. “Perhaps you would like to go outside, to visit the city? That would be relieving for you. I would tell Athis to escort you, with some of his friends, and of course there are our… guards. No ill would befall on you.”
Was she trying to divert her mind, to find a way to skip answering her cousin’s question? If Lanei was, it lasted not for long. Wasn’t it an innocent and understandable query?. “Well, my dear, there was not a lot to speak about. Uncle Gerald and my mother summoned me to tell me, simply, that we would leave Skyreach before things get worse, as if they knew what was about to happen. Now.. thinking about… I am almost sure that, indeed, they knew. I, of course, complained, and do not think I have not cursed, a thousand times, the day I left. Perhaps I should have… but nay…”
“My mother told me to be a good girl and mind my brother. That is all. Oh, and to not forget my charcoal.” A well-known tool the girl keeps on her person for scribbling down her various messages-to-self. “Well, maybe it was for the best, in the end. We likely would have ended up here, anyway, one way or another. Should we complain? Other girls are not handled so half as gentle as we have been.” Tink. Jasmylla’s fingernail taps against the window, before letting it slowly fall away from the glass portal.
“Yes, Athis probably should take me out. I think he’s been restless, as well. Though I really don’t like King’s Landing, all that much. It stinks like a cranny and we Dornish stick out like diamonds amongst granite.” Jasmylla sets her book aside, on the windowsill, and folds her hands in her lap, thumbs out, which she twiddles. “I like the ocean, though. It’s pretty enough.” The younger Fowler falls quiet, clearly something else on her mind that she’s avoiding. But it finally spills out.
“Lanei. What are they going to do with us? They could easily send up back to Skyreach, and it would not change anything. We’re not changing the war. Are they… are they going to marry us off? I’ve seen some of the looks, from some of the lordlings, here at the keep. And the ones who don’t act like they are smelling old fish by holding their noses up in the air have looks that… scare me.” She doesn’t know how to put it, beyond that. “They just scare me. I know we’re as safe as we’re like to be, but… I get the shivers.”
“And, certainly, you are doing what your mother asked you, my dear” Lanei says. “Even if I am not sure if we would have be sent here the same. After all… Well, who knows. Skyreach has challenged them for months. We might have been wounded, or… sent to Kingsgrave, or to the Free Cities. At least we would be free, for I do not think they will allow us to head back home.” She sighs and clasps her hands on the lap. Jasmylla voiced some of Lanei’s thoughts and fears.
“On the other hand, and to offer you some reply, I must to say that, when I learned of the fall of Starfall, and what they did to Alia, I could not help but wonder if they would have done the same to me, if I had stayed home. Even if they would, now, to my mother, if my father has been killed during the siege. But” Lanei rises her eyes to look into her cousin’s, concern reaching her words as she asks, “Do tell me. Did anyone bother you? Try to molest you? Who are the offenders? If they did, I will demand of you to tell me the whole tale, for I can bear many things, but others, I will not suffer them in silence.”
“I’m sure your Lady Mother and Father are okay,” Jasmylla says with a firm nod of her head. “Skyreach is strong. And they are as brave as any man or woman in all of Dorne. I’m sure they are more worried about us than we are of them, when all is said and done.” The young Dornishwoman smiles, despite herself, addings, “I was always so scared of Lady Marcia. I never wanted to be caught underfoot. Now I’d give anything just to see her face again. It’d mean I was back in Dorne, and away from this bloody place.”
Jasmylla pauses, a moment, face coloring slightly at the full import of her cousin’s words. “No, no, no man has touched me in that way. At worst, it is looks, but I am not so naive that I don’t know what those looks mean. What they want. But I’ve never been assaulted or apprehended in any way. But…” But. “Enough drink and little enough will, and who knows what will happen to me? Us? Any of we women of Dorne. Oh, I’m sure any offender would likely be punished, but, we are hostages, and that word implies a lesser status than any Stark or Rosby or Royce girl that might be here. I don’t want to be struck with some Lannister’s bastard because he couldn’t hold his drink or keep up his pants.” The girl’s words have a harsh edge, judgemental of all things not Dornish. “But, then again, maybe I worry too much about silly things. I don’t know.”
Lanei’s back, which had turned truly rigid while waiting for her cousin’s words, relaxes a little bit and, relieved, the elder Fowler notices as if tension left, slowly, her neck, realizing that no man dared to bother her cousin so much. Not for long, though: soon she starts regretting to have spoken, so frankly, her mind to Jasmylla. The young lady looks scared and, indeed, there are reasons to feel so. As a matter of fact, Marcia’s daughter shares her feelings. But, surely, time has arrived to quiet her companion.
“Why would they harm her? That would bring more problems to Skyreach, our people would not appreciate to have the enemy causing the Lady any ill.” Well, Lanei has been telling herself the same for weeks. If only she could believe on her own words!. “As for you, my dearest” Marcia’s daughter ventures, reaching out a hand to take Jasmylla’s, “Remember what their King said, and also that Lord Hand of them, that we are safe here. Who, among them, would challenge both Daeron and Viserys’ words? They have no guts to do so—they are not dornishmen. Nay” Lanei Fowler shakes her head, “You are not silly, and I do hope you will be smart enough to let them not harm you. Don’t wander alone, outside the Tower. If you must, ask a couple of our companions to escort you. Don’t trust them. And, if you have a chance to do so… and can cope with it” she bits, again, her low lip, “Try to make some acquaintances. Even if you like them the same I do –nothing, that is-, it is good to have some friends around—outside this Tower.”
Lanei sighs. “I wish we had more money, so that I could bribe some of the guards and they would remain interested to protect us. I will see what can I do about, Jasmylla.”
“Cousin, I have a way of ferreting—no, leeching—my way into the meanest of hearts. I think the gods determined that since I’d be in a constant daze, that they’d give me a silly charm that makes people pity me. People tend not to stomp one what they find amusing.” The girl’s words are honest, but light, and Jasmylla does not say them in self-pity. She is actually quite proud of her way with people, even if much of it has to do with her appearant silliness.
“But, if they do decide to use me as leverage by marriage, let us hope that it is a respectable House, yes? No Tyrells or Florents or Grimms.” The girl laughs, then, and give her cousin a quirk of a lop-sided smile. “Who’d in their right mind would want me for a wife, anyway? I’d go to their bed and not remember their bloody name.” Jasmylla curses too much for a ‘proper’ lady, but, then again, she is from Dorne. “But, truly, in the end, you are right. Drunk or no, a man would have to be a fool and something more to disobey an edict like that. Sometimes thinking too much about something hides the obvious right in front of your nose. Besides,” with this, Jasmylla stands, moving back a few paces, and spins, once, her dress swirling in an show of uncharacteristic femine grace, “when you have so many Dornish women running around your castle, it tends to make those hailing from other houses seem a bit plain and boring, doesn’t it?” Her smile touches her eyes, her dimple lighting up on her right cheek. “Even *I* know that. And I live my life in a near-constant stupor.”
Removing her hand, Skyreach’ heiress leans on the couch again. Considering Jasmylla’s concern to be used, as she says, ‘as leverage by marriage’, it is good to have, still, two siblings –or at least a sister- that would take the Lordship, if something happened to Lanei. Jasmylla’s nerves would not let her find her rest, were she Marcia’s heiress. But her cousin is only fifteen, and has known a quiet life, far from Courts. No wonder, then, her fears and thoughts.
“And who in the right mind would marry a dornish lady, if not a dornish lord? They are so proud and prudish that most of the lords matching our position would die before to speak the Vows and to get married to a woman that, surely, lost her maidenhood long ago and knows better than he how to rejoice a wedding night.”
Despite her words, Jasmylla’s first words have not been missed, and now Lanei’s features turn more serious. “If you truly can make your way to their hearts, and this would be, certainly, the Seven’s gift… don’t let them know. I do hope you will be the same good feigning your friendship to them. Aye” she nods quietly, “To arouse their pity must be a good way, especially since you look so innocent and young. Surely they would believe you.”
Too quiet a life. The girl had only travelled between Blackmont and Skyreach before going to Hellholt and then King’s Landing. Though her books have given her an awareness of people through history and stories and tales, she is largely naive to how the real world works. “I’m trying to be friends with that Stark girl I talked about earlier,” Jasmylla states with a nod of her head. “Or, at least, kindly. Ewyn. Elyn. Yes, Elyn Ryswell of the Rills.” Jasmylla perks up, happy that she could remember the girls’ name. “Though that one will be tough. She looks at Dorne like it is a scab, waiting to be picked. I think she must have lost someone important at some battle… but I don’t know. I didn’t ask, and she didn’t tell.”
Jasmylla pulls her hair from out of her face, tucking a red strands behind her ears, her dark eyes looking at her cousin—through her—for a moment. “Serion has been kind to me. Carmella. Though she’s half Dornish, so that’s to be expected. But you know that most around here treat us like we carry the plague. It’s not like *Dorne* wanted this war. Mmph.”
Jasmylla’s bare feet clench and unclench on the floor, colored the same olive of her face, ankles hinting at legs too slight and too thin for most girls her age. Truth be told, the girl would like nothing more than to fill out, but nature seems not to heed the wants of little girls. “I have not lost my maidenhood,” she admits with an embarassed shrug of her shoulders. “But… I haven’t thought much to it, to be honest, even though I’m old enough.” She says the last somewhat defiently.
Jasmylla’s first words are met with a frown. Indeed, in public this would have been well hidden but, in the comfort and safety of their “home”, if a jail can be named so, there is no need to disguise her feelings. “So she does not like Dorne, eh? And surely has lost anyone there. I do bet that this lady has not lost the half we did. To start, she has a home. And, damn, noone forced them to invade the South… but that boy they have as king.”
This said, Lanei wills herself to calm down. Her cousin is not the one to blame, nor the younger lady needs to pay for her sour mood. “Dondarrions have showed their friendship to us many times, yes. Their sister is dying to know of Dorne and their mother lineage and…” A short smirk here. “Who would say that Yronwoods… half-Yronwoods… would act thus? As for her brother… well, you know”. Winking an eye to Jasmylla, she continues. “I was older than you, first time I was bedded. And I cannot say I regretted to have waited for the right man to show up, and declined some offers I got at the Court. Do not be in hurry, cousin, for you will lose your maidenhood only once in your life, and hopefully it will be in the arms of a man that will appreciated it.”
Jasmylla shies a bit, at her cousin short moment of anger, but seeing it is not directed at her but at the Fowler situation, she quickly bounces back to her ready smile. “I’ll certainly pass onto you any information that I come across. What that may be—if anything—only the Seven knows. But I am a Dornish Lady of a respected House, and in that, I will do what I can to help my land and my family. And I’m pretty good at going around unnoticed. Besides, fuck the Targaryens.” Jasmylla drops the curse like a warrior might drop an axe, lopping off the proverbial head of the Targaryen family that has put Dorne under its thumb.
The girl then clears her throat, then, a moment of national pride passed. “Pardon my speech. I blame my brother. He curses too much around me.” Laughing, Jasmylla shakes her head. “In anycase, whatever poor man is unlucky enough to bed me, that’ll be a tale to tell. I used to find these books, hidden by the stables, that were fairly, ah…” the girls cheeks turn warm. “I’m not sure if what I’ve read entails what all is involved, but it doesn’t sound like something I’d be very good at. But what am I going on about? I’ll worry about that when the time comes!” She nods sharply, as much for herself as Lanei, crossing her arms over her chest. “Anyway. I don’t remember what we were talking about.” A truth, unfortunately.
Once again, Lanei leaves her couch, now walking to one of the little tables next to them. Looking down at the pitcher of wine, in the last moment she decides to pour some cold lemonade. Feeling weak as she does, wine would only help to make her feel worse. “Aye, you are a good girl, Jasmylla” the lady says as she approaches her, ready to resume her former place. Yet, she will halt for a moment to pat her cousin’s shoulder. Yes, Jasmylla is. Too good and too innocent. “And aye, fuck the Targaryens—with a long spear made of red hot iron.”
“But, the Seven help me, my dear” she adds, “You are already fifteen, and surely you have had some… experience, so to speak. Or are you going to tell me that you have never left your room to join some handsome boy at the stables? There is a lot of strings you can play to please a man, and to have him pleasing you, and keeping your maidenhood intact.”
The last line of questioning makes the girl’s cheeks burn even more. And she already thought they were white fire. “No. I mean… well, no.” Jasmylla shifts her feet, toes sinking into the carpet, clenching in tight curls. “I don’t… I don’t know much about that, really. No.” The young Fowler is clearly out of her element on this topic. Geography? Yes. History? Yes. But sex? Uh…
“There was a boy. A Toland. They were at Skyreach. A year or so before Hellholt.” Jasmylla’s eyes narrow as she remembers back, thinking intently. “He liked me. I think. My face, maybe. Even after he noticed I didn’t have any of ‘these’,” the girl cups her hands near her chest, clearly indicating breasts. She frowns, a finger twirling a strand of red hair into a curl. “Um. He tried cornering me, later, and tried to kiss me, but I was scared and didn’t let him. And I don’t even remember his name, now. Mm.” She looks at Lanei, then, olive skin warm with blush, “There are some Dornish boys, here, yes. Ones I like. I wonder what it would be like, sometimes. But…” she shrugs, unsure of herself beyond that confession.
Well. She had not laugh for… months? If she ever did. Was there a time when, truly, this dornishwoman was a cheerful girl who liked –and used- to laugh? It looks to her as if that young lady she vaguely recalls were a different one, nothing to do with the current. And yet, as soon as Jasmylla starts telling her cousin her adventures with the Toland boy, Lanei does. Softly, then louder.
“By the Mother, Jasmylla! You made me remember my own experiences! Ah, but I was younger than you. Still, yes, more or less there all began for me. However, the day after, I accepted the boy’s kisses, despite he always thought he stole them.” She takes a draught and nods, “So, a year before Hellholt? It seems I missed a few things while I was away.
Nodding now, Lanei shakes her head, “Well, now your breasts are growing, and they will more. Beware the corridors, for you might find more than one boy eager to corner you. Surely you’ll get their attention soon. But may I ask for those you like? There are a few of our sers around. One of your brother’s friends?.” As if sudden recalling someone, Lanei rolls her eyes. “Older than them? You surely are not thinking on the Prince, eh?”.
“Growing? I’ve seen mountains weather away at a faster pace, Lanei,” Jasmylla responds with a sigh. She looks down at her own flat self—somewhat mournfully—her lips quirking into a slight frown. “Bah. I’m not about to mourn something I cannot do anything about. Though I would like to be more like the other girls…” the young Fowler’s voice trails off into a lilting wish, before she shakes her head.
“Ser Edmyn Wyl is here. Um… Ser Tamlyn Toland.” The girl’s blush deepens even more, but then almost immidiately starts to fade. “And Serion Uller. Though he’s very dour.” She ‘mimics’ the man by putting her hands on her hips, intoning in bad baritone, ‘Speak for yourself, Jasmylla.’ Well.” The girl tilts her head, considering something for a moment. “He’s always been nice to me, though, so I won’t ill. It’s just like a cloud hiding the sunshine, yes.”
Lanei narrows her eyes, examining her cousin’s body. “They will, do not worry about, Jasmylla. You think they are not growing—but they are. It is only some girls need more time than others.” Shrugging, she offers, “Some young ladies use to… put clothes there, so that men would think their breast are tall and pointy as Skyreach’s seat. Yet, I won’t counsel you to do so. Sooner or later they would learn of the truth, and you would get ashamed.”
And then, the younger lady drops those names, and Lanei’s eyebrows rise together. “So, Serion Uller? It must be in the family?”. She drops her eyes, as if being busy looking into the glass she keeps on the right hand. “I know nothing of him, I am afraid. I was… closer… to his cousins. Is he, really? Dour? I would never have guessed…” But also Lanei’s mood has been the same for long. “It is not as if he had no reasons to be so. We do know, better than others, all what happened to Hellholt and the Ullers.”
Jasmylla’s features perk up at the idea of stuffing her clothes. What an intriguing notion. But, the thought it tossed aside with Lanei’s warning that it’ll likely only end in disaster. “Oh. Well. I would not ever do that. That’s just silly. Yes, silly.”
The question about it being in the family makes the girl reconsider, though. “No. Well, no, I would not say it *has* to be. But I have no interest in filthy Tyrells or snooty Starks or anything like that. Bah! Now that I am thinking about all of this, I don’t know whether to be embarassed, scared, or intimidated.” Jasmylla wrinkles her nose. “No matter. It’s not like they’re looking my way, anyhow, so I gather I have some time to sort all of this information out.”
“Still, Serion doesn’t need to be so… so…” Jasmylla grasps for a new word to describe the man, but falls short. “Mother always told me that no matter how bad it seems, there is always something to smile about. He could try that. Smiling, that is. It won’t hurt him. Or you, for that matter. You could smile more. We could *all* smile more.” The younger Fowler proves that very point by lighting up her own face with a white grin. “As a matter of fact, next time I see Serion, I’m going to demand he smiles, or I’m going to kick him right in the shin.”
“Why…?” Marcia’s daughter starts asking, but she changes her mind and won’t voice her thoughts this time: Why does her cousin worry about so much? Is she eager to get married or what? Eager to get a bedding, Lanei would understand, though. “I do not think you should think more on this issue, my dear. And, of course, please do yourself a favour and remove the Enemy from your head. We do not wish to have anything with them, do we? Now as for smiling…”.
She does not smile, though. However, Lanei’s lips curve up in something that mimics a grin. “Are you sure you wish to tell him what he must to do or not? If he is that… dour, surely he will not appreciate a young lady interfering. On the other hand, I must to agree with you: some of us need to smile again. But, also, we need to have reasons to smile, and the Mother knows that we have none. For now. At any rate” the grin turns into a smirk, “I see you have an interest on Serion Uller.”
“An interest in kicking him in the shin,” Jasmylla corrects with a loftly air to her voice, dismissing anything further with a wave of her hand. “Why, he just growled at me the other day. And him and that Rywell chit. Watch out. If that does not simmer into violence, it will boil into love.” The girl cannot help but laugh at *that* thought, though it is a quick giggle, deftly caught after only a moment.
“I think you are right, though, Lanei. Maybe people lack reasons. I think about mother and father and baby Alekyne. I think about watching my brothers and cousins tumble in the courtyard, playing at swords with tree branches and the shafts of rakes and shovels. I think about watching the sun set in summer, the warm air rising to almost make me seem like I could fly. I think about the banquets that we’d have, and not wanting to go, but mother *making* me go, and I’d always end up having fun. These thoughts give me comfort when I’m at my lonliest. My saddest. It gives me hope that things will get better, cousin.”
“I know you have more worries than one silly little girl can understand or realize,” Jasmylla adds, softly, gently. “But find your own memories. I think they will lend you comfort. Lend you happiness when there doesn’t seem to be any available.” Fearing having rambled too much, Jasmylla nervously brushes her hair away from her face.
Hell, yes. She has an interest on him. Lanei takes a mental note to inquire about the man. Surely Liane, being his sister, would provide her of some good information. Needless to mention the servants which, besides, will drop interesting gossips, if Serion gave them a cause to whisper about him. Also Damarya uses to be a good source.
However, these thoughts are soon taken away from her mind. Listening to Jasmylla’s words, she closes briefly her eyes, and regrets to be not so much optimistic as her cousin is. Will they watch, again, the children playing in Skyreach’s courtyard, enjoy the sunset from their battlements, walk them? See the falcons fly high, the men returning from their hunting parties? Will they celebrate more banquets and festival? More tourneys? For, they all are dead. They all… or, at lest, those she loved. “At the moment, to find back my happiness, I should attend a lot of funerals, I deem. And I don’t think that those I wish death will pass away very soon. Alas. Anyway, I cannot help but to thank you for your words. You tried to cheer me up, and that was really nice, cousin.”
This said, the lady turns on her heels and, in silence, walks back to her bedroom, only stopping by her cousin’s side to mutter a faint “I will see you later.”
Jasmylla gives her cousin a quick nod—understanding, unopposed—as the older Fowler makes her way back to her personal chambers. The girl does not have to see Lanei’s face, or even listen to her words, to see that the raw nerves are still there, so close to the surface. Not everyone can bury them underneath books and bad memory and bright smiles like Jasmylla Fowler. The red-haired Dornishwoman takes in a deep breath, alone, again, and lets it out in a long exhalation of air, mouth an ‘O’ to blow it out with light dramatic effect. She retakes her seat at the window—even opens it, despite Lanei’s earlier warnings about her cold—and picks up her book, opening it up to where she had left off. ‘A History of Westeros: 20-60.’ Flipping pages, she finds the starting chapter on Dorne, but then closes the book again, setting her elbows on the windowsill and gazing out the window, out to the Blackwater. She smiles, then. “I haven’t sneezed!” she declares to herself, happy. Taking a finger, she, once more, traces an outline of a ship, so close, yet so far away in the ocean below. “Now, if I only had a ship.”