The day has dawned in brilliance, the sky still darkish in the west, whence comes a cool breeze to sweep away the dark clouds of the night. It swirls through the open windows of Reyna Tyrell’s rooms, where two small boys are at their breakfast, and two small dogs are being packed into a basket by a Tyrell retainer.
“...sent to Highgarden,” Reyna is saying to little Tywell, who is watching mutinously as his dogs are packed away. “They wouldn’t be happy confined here. We’ll find you something small, pet, to keep here.” She is clad still in bed robes, her feet bare and her hair unbound, but she has wrapped a rose-colored veil around the right side of her face, and over her mouth, giving her an odd, lopsided appearance.
In the lightness of dawn that still holds the faint cool of night, there comes a dark clad maid, lean and serious in her mien. A footman in the heraldry of Tyrell announces the presence of Elanna Penrose at the front door, and did the Lady of Highgarden wish her attendance. There was a note of apprehension in the voice of the man even so. Apparantly many had borne witness to the last days, and even the servants were wary.
Reyna waves the retainer on his way with the dogs, and sighs heavily. She turns to the boys, but Tywell is already speeding toward the door. “Show her in,” she says to the guard, then lays her hand on the back of a chair and waits, as if she were clad in the most formal court dress and not her bedclothes.
A soft whisper of silk heralds the entrance of the Penrose widow, though she is not so clad in widow’s weeds. The dark blue is jewel shaded and heightens the pallor of her complexion. The posture of Reyna Tyrell is not unnoticed. Elanna stands at the doorway, stepping not far beyond it.
“I have news, Reyna,” her voice is calm and soft, her features cautious.
“Tywell,” Reyna says in a voice so calm it stops the lad in his tracks and brings him sulking back to the table. “C’mon, Andwys,” he says, grabbing his little brother by the hand. “We gotta go find Gysa.” And the two of them wander off into the kitchens in search of cakes.
“Do come in, Ella, and tell me,” Reyna says, a smile curving her hidden lips. “Is it of Ser Harold? Am I to wish you joy?”
Elanna’s eyes flicker over the veil, “Your face is hidden from friend and family, Reyna.” She steps within.
“My news is indeed of Ser Harold. As to joy? That remains to be seen,” a pause and a slow blink, “How have you been?” A loaded query.
Reyna sighs, and it stiffens her spine back into formality as she raises a hand to the veil. “I was advised to do so,” she says slowly, then pulls it reluctantly away.
The reason behind it is immediately clear. The right side of her face is a ruin of black bruising, and her lip is broken and swollen. Her loose hair reveals the line of stitching just at her temple as well. “I’ve been better,” she says.”
Does the damage to her friend’s face cause a shock? Perhaps. Does she react? Not so much. Elanna’s eyes trail to the door where Tywell and Andrys had gone. A soft smile lights her features.
“They are darling boys,” she utters quietly, “I envy you them, Reyna.” A pause.
“I used to envy you so much. So much.”
Reyna’s face falls, and she covers it with the veil once more. Pulling out the chair she’s holding, she sits heavily, then folds her hands in her lap. “You too, lady?” she asks, her voice falling back into formality and meek acceptance.
Elanna sighs, “So it is true, Ren?” She turns to regard Reyna.
“There is no lie to the rumors, to what I have heard?” her expressive features are truly troubled. She raises a hand to her neck and rubs there, a gesture most unladylike and betraying her discomposure.
“It only depends on what you have heard,” Reyna replies, her voice flat. “Much of it is true, yes.”
A heavy sigh.
“I confess my disappointment,” Elanna utters flatly, and she looks toward the windows, “Is there any regret? Is there any part of you that wishes you had not?”
“Every part of me, Ella,” Reyna says softly, eyes downcast. “Every part of me regrets it, and will always regret it. I have done what I swore never to do.” She circles her hand around a bulky-looking bandage on her left wrist, and squeezes until she winces, then lets it go.
“So you could not help yourself?” Elanna’s voice is rich with disbelief, “You were drawn in by his…charms?” A cynical rise of her brow.
“He struck you?” a flat query, and the dark Baratheon gaze falls upon the woman she had ever called friend and all-but-sister.
“What would you have me say, lady?” Reyna hasn’t moved, just sat there with her hand circled about her wrist. “That I am a wanton? A harlot? A whore? All of those things and worse. I have destroyed a family, and likely caused a man’s death.”
Elanna regards Reyna flatly, her voice devoid of emotion, “You would think so little of me?” And finally her voice sharpens.
“Because I am your friend, I would deny the charges you bring yourself, Reyna,” there is a withdrawl to the voice though, “Because I am your friend I tell you true. You have done all these things. You have jeaopardised your friendships with every woman in this place for the sake of a moment of human contact that means not a good fucking thing.” The voice of the Penrose is uncharacteristically harsh.
“And I am sure you insist that it is all true, that it is all you deserve, but I think you do not understand the import. You have tumbled over the precipice, Reyna,” the tone is softened, sympathetic, “You have alienated those very women that would have smoothed your way after…” a vague gesture, “..after recent events.” Tears spring suddenly to blue eyes, “...to every woman.”
Reyna bends over herself as if in pain, spots of blood appearing on the bandage she holds so tightly. “I know,” is all she says, in a voice choked and full of pain.
“I am to be married to Harold Kenning,” Elanna utters then, her hands hanging limply, “And all I can remember is the note that accompanied your sons asking me to care for them whilst you were ill.” Her breath quickens.
“It was about that time you were with Jonn…” Elanna’s eyes were blank for a moment, “Tell me this Reyna…was I used? Were you fucking Jonn Lannister whilst I made sure your house was empty?”
“I was truly ill,” Reyna replies dully, head still down, her hand crushed now about her wrist. “You can ask Gysa if you do not believe me. You can ask the maesters; two of them came to see me when the fever was worst. Jonn was here, but that is not why the children came to you.”
She is quiet for a moment, then: “I do wish you joy, lady. I wish you the greatest joy imaginable, and many children.”
Elanna draws harsh breath then, and her voice is tight with hurt, “Yes, I am sure you would wish me children,” Her sapphirine gaze slides sideways and she walks swiftly toward the door.
“We were so close, Ren,” her hand rests upon the door knob, “You hide all this from me, and more. You betray a woman you proclaim friend. I offered my unwavering support as only a friend aught, and here I find you all but a stranger.” A pause.
“What will your children think of you?” a simple query as the door opens.
“How would you have helped me, lady?” Reyna asks, her voice filled with an almost unbearable pain. “When you take even my most heartfelt wish for you as an insult? I -am- happy for you. I -do- wish your deepest pain assuaged with the gift of a child.”
She sighs then, her face hidden. “No doubt, once they are old enough to understand, they will think the same as all of you do.”
“And you know that I cannot have children,” Elanna snaps, her eyes flashing as her hands tighten upon the door handle, “You use me, you use my house to further your own ends. I wish you well with…whoever you will have happiness with. If Almer Connington brings you happiness, then the Seven grant you comfort, because the Crone only knows, you will get no comfort from anyone else in this damned city.”
“Comfort?” Reyna laughs as one coming unhinged. “Get out, Elanna. Clearly you do not wish to be here. I thought you, of all people, might at least try to understand. If you believe the things you have said about me, then I never did know you.”
“For so long, I did not believe them, Ren,” Elanna replies with tears in her eyes, “For so long, I protested that it could not be so. It could not be true of the girl that saved me.” Her eyes squeeze shut. And when they open again they are blank.
“You cannot guilt me, Reyna. You have no leverage,” she opens the door, “I am as I have ever been. It is you who have changed.” And thus she goes through it, bid gone by her once friend, tears streaking her pale features.
In a strange calm, Reyna watches her beloved Elanna leaving her. Then she unpicks the bandage on her wrist, revealing the bloody skin beneath, and a bracelet of thorns. This she loosens, and raises to her elbow, only to drag it back down to her hand with a wail of utter despair.
No one ever said that the penance of the Seven was kind. Gysa rushes out of the kitchen to tend her mistress with fresh bandages, then guides the sobbing young woman back to her bed.