The westering breeze holds steady, and it is a pleasant night both within and without rooms. In the yard below the Guest Tower, minstrals strum lutes and finger pipes, crooning to giggling maidens and fawning dandies courting one another from coy distances.
In the Tyrell rooms, it is all cozy domesticity. The music is a distant counterpoint to the chatter of young Tywell Rowan, who plays with wooden soldiers on the hearthrug. His mother, shoes on the floor beneath her chair, leans over the arm of said chair to race a wooden courser up his arm, her hair swinging loose in girlish braids. Andrys Rowan, all of 2 years old, snoozes in Reyna’s lap, one chubby hand holding tightly to one of her braids.
The door to the Tyrell chambers creaks slowly open for a moment, before being pushed aside more purposefully. And there, in the mouth of the doorway, stands Ser Falon Tyrell. He hasn’t been seen by most people, including Reyna, since he rode off to fight in Dorne with his father and cousin. But here he is, in the flesh, home early. It seems to take him a moment to gain his self assurance before he steps fully into the chamber, allowing the door to slip shut at his back. “My lady,” he greets Reyna from across the room, bowing his head. “They’ve grown.” He seems a far cry from the young man who rode off to war, and not just because of the pretty scar he’s sporting.
The opening door—with no announcement—brings Reyna to her feet in complete surprise, Andrys clasped to her bosom and Tywell shoved behind her. It only takes a moment for her to shake it off, however, and poor Andrys is deposited without ceremony back in the chair.
“By the GODS, Falon, could you not have sent word and prevented frightening me half to death?” she asks, made peevish by surprise. Still, she crosses the room with haste, and stands looking with fond pique up at her cousin. “Bring your face down here so I can kiss it, then tell me how you come to be here so far behind Almer’s company.”
The formal, quiet air that Falon seems to have tried on for size suddenly shatters, replaced by the grinning boy who seems to like nothing but trouble. “And miss the look on your face?” he asks, leaning in over Reyna and planting a first kiss of his own on her forehead. “Why, it would hardly have been worth the journey from Dorne.” On the subject of his late - or early, depending on how you look at it - return from the south, however, he makes no comment.
Reyna scowls, but it lacks heat as she kisses his unscarred cheek and throws her arms around his neck. “No matter, no matter. You’re home safe, and I’m grateful. But what’s happened to your poor face? Weren’t you ugly enough before?” She says it mockingly, but it is clear that her heart is not in the jape.
Behind her, the little boys watch in silence until finally Tywell pipes up with “Nuncle?” He cocks his head to study Falon, brow creased in a frown. “No, not nuncle,’ he says finally to Andrys, who pops a thumb into his mouth. Hardly a breath passes then before their nurse comes to carry them away.
“A farewell gift from a Qorgyle blade,” Falon explains, allowing himself a quick shudder - perhaps a silent chuckle - as he returns the embrace by leaning down to arch his arms around her waist. “It’s not the only one, though, and I count myself lucky that they didn’t take my eye.” He rests his head atop of Reyna’s as he looks over at his second cousins, and then releases her. “That one could barely talk the last time I saw him,” he remarks, taking her by the hand and leading her towards the two children. “I think some introductions are in order.”
“Now he talks entirely too much,” Reyna replies tartly, fixing Tywell with a gimlet eye. “He’s already challenged Damon Lannister to a duel, if you please. But here, ser,” she says to Tywell, detaching herself from Falon and coming to take Andrys in her arms, “greet your cousin Falon.”
Tywell looks mutinous for a moment, but he bows at the waist and looks up at Falon. “He ‘sulted Mama,” he explains.
“He did, did he?” Falon says, winking at Reyna before turning to look at his cousin with a look of utter shock on his face as he returns the bow. He softens his features slowly until he’s smiling widely at his little cousin. “Well, cousin, we can’t have that. But remember that Damon Lannister is just a boy, and you’re almost a man grown. You should give the whelp a few years to mature before you go giving him a taste of your steel.”
Tywell grins broadly, then squares his shoulders. “Mama says I mus’ be a knight, too,” he says, in a man-to-man sort of tone that brings a groan to his mother’s lips. “Off with you, young cur,” she says affectionately, nodding to the nurse who takes the sleepy Andrys from Reyna and herds Tywell out. She watches them go, then sighs. “Are you here long, coz? They’ve been too long without some male influence, I fear. Dear Merry dotes on them, you know, but he’s no… well, you know.”
Falon watches the children leave, and then nods at Reyna as he fiddles with his swordbelt and takes a seat in one of the chairs. He seems glad to be back on his arse, letting out a long sigh before replying to his cousin’s question. “I’ll be here for as long as Garvys decides I’ll be here for, I suppose.” He seems to tire at all once, rolling his shoulders and cracking his neck. “At least until the war is truly over. Perhaps longer. We shall have to see. I was saddened by, well. Colyn.” He doesn’t look at her as he speaks.
“Almer brought him home,” Reyna says, moving to the side table and pouring two goblets of wine. “My lord Rowan took him back to Goldengrove after the vigil here, and he’s at rest. We heard about Garvys’s triumph at Skyreach, but no details; were you there?” And she holds out the goblet to Falon, meeting his eyes again with a distant smile.
Falon returns Reyna’s look as he takes the goblet from her. “At Skyreach?” He shakes his head. “Briefly,” he says, taking a rather hefty sip from the goblet. “After the parley failed and it was looking like an assault on the castle, Garvys and my father asked me to return here. I’m as in the dark as you are. I heard there were hostages here. From Dorne.” He looks at her rather more pointedly, at that.
“Quite.” Reyna curls herself back in her chair, tucking her bare feet under her skirts. “One tries to avoid them, but there they are. Almer at least keeps his out in the city. You know he brought her back? Colyn’s…” the word she would say is writ in the bitter light in her eyes, but she presses her lips tight against it. “The hostages mostly keep to themselves.”
Falon looks slightly uncomfortable for a moment, as if he’d rather be doing anything but having that conversation. “I… I didn’t know if you knew. About her, I mean. Truth be told, I had no idea she was /here/.” He looks down, and then takes another generous gulp of the wine before proceeding. “Has there been any trouble with them?”
“Not since he gave me the truth and removed her from the Keep,” Reyna says, managing an even tone and a blank expression. “He’s genuinely fond of her, so I don’t speak of it too much. It’s his business.” She waves a dismissive hand—it fools no one, but moves the conversation along. “Have you been to see Lanette?”
“Lanette? Gods,” Falon shakes his head, allowing just enough humour into his tone to allow some room for doubt in his sincerity. “She bored me before the war, I can’t even imagine how interesting she’ll seem to me now. If I’m here for a long while I suppose I’ll have to send for her. Poor thing’s probably worried sick - she dotes on me, you know.” He looks around at that, appraising the rooms. “We shall have to arrange for larger living space.”
“Oh, seven hells, the boys are in the largest room. Gysa!” Reyna calls this last over her shoulder. “I’m so sorry, Falon, but the last room’s hardly more than a Highgarden closet; do you mind awfully? It’s just for the night, until we can shift the boys.”
A portly woman of about forty years bustles in, bits of grey-threaded blond hair escaping a stern bun on the back of her head. “Ser FALON?” she exclaims, then throws up her hands. “Linens and hot water, of course. Just you leave it to me, m’lady.” And she’s gone again, muttering.
Reyna laughs weakly. “You remember Gysa? The steward’s daughter at Highgarden, never married. She looks after me here, makes sure I go out with everything buttoned and laced, and cooks too.”
Falon laughs, properly this time, his fatigue forgotten as an old acquaintance is remembered. “She hasn’t changed a bit, no wonder she’s yet to find a husband,” he says, watching her back as she leaves. The boyish tone takes some of the cruelty from his words, but that has always been his way. “Still, I’ll be buggered if she’s a maid.” He reaches up to brush some hair out of his eyes, and then drains the rest of the goblet in one long action. “I’m sure she’ll look after my needs just fine, coz. The comforts of home can wait - I dare say I’ll be asleep before I even know it myself, once I turn in. It’s been a long ride.”
“Whether she’s a maid or not is hardly our affair,” Reyna replies, blushing. “She doesn’t lack for attention, and I swear, I count her fortunate to be able to do just as she pleases. -She- needn’t worry how she’s thought of. I suppose you’ve left a trail of broken hearts from here to Sunspear?”
“I’m a married man,” Falon is quick to point out, raising an eyebrow thats effect is diminished somewhat by the cocky smile that spreads across his chops. “I’ve been faithful,” he reiterates, this time in a slightly more serious tone. “Truth be told, I didn’t even look at another woman, nevermind break any hearts.” He can’t even be bothered shifting the hair in his eyes this time, he just blows at it from the corner of his mouth. “But enough about me, and Gysa for that matter. What of you? There are rumours…” he trails off, obviously prefering that Reyna fills in the blanks.
“Rumors serve to keep unwanted suitors away,” Reyna replies, rubbing her temples. “If the whole court thinks I’m sleeping with Jaesin Lannister, they’ll leave me alone. That’s the theory, anyway. But rest assured, cousin, I’m a chaste as a maid.”
Those clearly aren’t the rumours Falon’s referencing - he may not even have /heard/ that one, judging by the way he cocks his head in surprise, his mouth hanging half open for a moment. He doesn’t push, though, instead he lifts his arm and lets it flop back onto the arm rest of his chair. “You’re my cousin, that’s all I need to know. What you choose to do - or not to do - is none of my business, so long as you allow me the odd jape in private.”
Reyna blinks, then gives her head a shake to clear it. “I can’t even keep up with them, can I?” she asks, smiling crookedly. “Which rumors did YOU mean? And of course you can jape; I’m not likely to stop you, at any rate.”
“Ser Almer, of course,” Falon replies, still smiling but less sure of himself with these words. “I overheard some of the chambermaids at Highgarden discussing it when I… well, the last time I was there.” He studies Reyna’s face for a moment, and then purses his lips. “Forgive me if I’m speaking out of turn.”
“Ah.” Reyna looks at her hands, then sighs. “Yes, well, we have Colyn to thank for that. Andrys had the misfortune to be born looking very much like our grandsire; you know he had grey eyes. Well, Almer takes after our grandsire as well, and Colyn thought… he let all of Highgarden know what he thought, I believe, before you all left with Garvys.”
“I’m always the last to hear these things,” Falon says, sounding mildly put out. “Still, if there’s no truth to it…” he doesn’t finish, but the question is still there, unsaid. And then, just like that, it’s forgotten. “No matter. Coz,” he says, rising up and placing the goblet back on the table. He’s a little wobbly, likely thanks to the wine itself. “I’m going to go for a stroll, get my bearings a little, and then get some sleep.”
“A moment,” Reyna says, eyes narrowed as she rises too. “It -is- a matter, if you do not believe that Almer is as you are to me: a brother, a protector, a dear friend, but NOT a bedmate.” Her expression is calm, but there is a flutter of urgency in her eyes. “You -do- believe me, don’t you?”
“I do,” Falon replies, giving his cousin a genuine smile. “But… stranger things have happened. Still, I do believe you. I really should know better than to listen to chambermaids, but sometimes the things they say… well, it makes our lives sound so exciting. Doesn’t it?”
“Oh, yes, very exciting.” Reyna makes a face, then gives her cousin a push on the arm toward the door. “Go for your walk, Falon. Your bed will be ready when you return.” Impulsively, she hugs him around the middle, smiling up at him like a girl. “I’m awfully glad you’re home, and well.”