The Barges traveling along the Mander River: Upper Deck.
It is a chilly evening, with a light wind blowing in from the east. Most people have taken refuge in the lower deck and the upper deck is nearly empty.
Melissa strolls across the deck of the ship of a very late evening. This seems to be the very best time of night to go wandering, when the air is cool and clear, free of the smell and very presence of people. She holds a large cup in her hands, one that requires little refilling. She sets it to the deck, lets her hair fall from her pile and just takes in the chill of the wind, almost to land. Soon this will all be over.
Standing by himself on the deck of the barge, Anton has his greatsword unsheathed and next to him, the point of the blade pointing at the deck. A whetstone is nearby, but by the state of it, it is obvious he has already finished with the sharpening. Anton seems content to just gaze at his greatsword, an unreadable expression on his face. He hears footsteps not far away, turning his head, he notices Melissa. “My lady.” Anton speaks very quietly, the wind carrying his voice over to the Lannister lioness.
Melissa blinks and shivers, feeling the words rather than hearing them on the breeze. She looks around and spies Anton, whom she stares at for a moment and then smiles, “If the only way we are to meet is on the deck of a crowded barge late in the evenings, we’ll need to keep up with your dance training.” She smirks a little, “How are you this evening, Ser Anton?”
“The same, my lady. Enduring this trip as best I can. And yourself?” Anton asks with a light smile on his face that quickly disappears. He leans back on the railing, letting his sword rest beside him.
Melissa nods and says, with a heavy sigh. “I understand and sympathize with you completely.” She gestures, “I only wish you drank wine, Ser Anton. I would offer you some. It may be the most numbing against boredom, if also the most inspiring towards it.” She looks over at his sword a moment. “Do you sharpen that blade each night?”
Anton shakes his head at her question. “I am afraid if I did, there would not remain much of it.” He looks at his sword fondly for a moment before continuing. “This blade saved my life countless times in Dorne. It got to the point that I never un-strapped it from my back. The Dornish, they are very good at the sudden ambushes, especially at night when most of an army sleeps.” He stares at her glass with quiet contemplation for a moment before adding “I do not like wine.” There is an icy coldness to the tone of his statement that appears disproportionate to the expression on his face.
Melissa frowns a little, “Ser, I do not mean to offend, yet I do see it is not my words, but the very presence of the liquid that seems to be doing so…” She tilts her head and studies Anton a moment more. After, she picks up the cup and drinks, a long fast gulp. She has to put it down, and blink a bit. “One moment, but tell me? What offense has wine done you?” She goes back to drinking the wine.
Looking deep into her amber eyes for a moment, Anton slowly shakes his head. “Nothing, my lady. It is nothing. It is not you or the wine. I just do not enjoy such drinks.” His hand gently taps the hilt of his sword for a bit as he continues. “Tell me, how is your brother doing? I seem to recall he was pursuing a number of the unwed noble ladies on this trip?”
Melissa finishes off the wine and ahhs with a shake of her head, and a shiver. “Gone.” She sets the cup back down. Lifting her head she smiles softly and takes a breath. Then says, “My brother is probably doing…just that. Pursuing some unwed noble lady, as is his wont. As far as I can tell, he’s probably doing very well for himself.” She smirks and shrugs, “Good for him. He’ll do all he can before Father is told to marry him off for some reason.”
Anton notices Melissa’s shiver and immediately takes off his blue-white cloak, offering to put it around the lady. Underneath it, he wears a sleeveless tunic which accentuates his strong, powerful upper arms. His biceps seem to glimmer and shine under the moonlight, appearing like marble. While one hand offers a cloak to Melissa, his other hand beckons to a dark corner nearby, where his squire, Edwyn Rosby, has been waiting. “More wine for the lady, and some hot tea for myself.” Anton pauses to consider something before adding “also, bring us some of that blueberry cake they served for dessert.” With a quick nod, Edwyn is gone. Turning back to Melissa, Anton quietly says “it is cold this night, my lady. I would not want you to catch a chill.”
Melissa looks at Anton a moment more before taking the cloak and puts it over her shoulders with his help and a smile, “Why, thank you Ser Anton.” She peers a moment and looks over to the corner. “Wait, if you do not like it, you have no need to give me more wine. I was drinking it to keep you from it, but still terribly kind of you. But I can take tea with you, but oh yes, that cake would be delicious.” She smiles up at Anton and nods, “Again my thanks,” brushing hair behind her ear, “You are most kind.”
Melissa’s smile gets a smile in return, this one actually lasting longer than the blink of an eye. Raising his voice a tad, Anton calls out to the departing Edwyn, “tea for lady Melissa as well, Edwyn.” Turning his gaze back to her, Anton returns to the original topic. “Ahhh, I wish your brother the best of luck then.” A slight frown appears on his forehead just then. “I do have a piece of advice, likely unwarranted, but that I’d like to offer nonetheless. With your indulgence, my lady, since I realize it really is none of my business.”
Melissa looks at Anton, now with a more curious smile on her lips. She looks up at him and says, “By all means, Ser Anton. If your advice is sound, then I have no reason to fear it.” Grinning she waits a moment, almost posing in her stance.
“From everything I have heard, Ser Galan is a very gracious and gallant knight.” Anton pauses to consider his next words. “If a knight were interested in a lady, then the only honourable course of action is to woo her and convince both her and her father that it is a proper match. It is slightly unbecoming however, to be doing this with different ladies at the same time. I hope you understand my point, lady Melissa. Pursuing a lady is proper, pursuing multiple ladies is not the most chivalrous route to take.” Turning from her briefly to look out over the river, his gaze soon returns to her amber eyes.
Melissa hmms a moment and nods, “Of course, what you say is true. Yet, there is always the question of what a man wants. Now, believe me, I understand your position, but it seems odd for me. Men are always meant to be seeking the one, yet we ladies have often found multiple suitors come to call. When I lived at Casterly Rock, there were many a man who vied for my hand. It seems almost odd to find a standard where men are almost at the disadvantage in comparison to women.” She shrugs a little, but asks, “Have you ever attempted to woo a lady, Ser Anton?”
“You are right, my lady, perhaps it is a double standard, but such is the way of the world.” Anton seems content with this explanation. He then gently taps his greatsword again. “This is my lady. I am a soldier and an officer first and foremost. When the time comes and my father chooses a suitable match, I will marry and I will have children, as it is my duty and what is to be expected.” He shakes his head sadly at this point. “I fear I will not be a good husband or a good father. My thoughts are always on my work.” Another frown, this one deeper. “As for wooing, I would have no idea of where to even begin.”
Melissa chuckles a little and says, “Well…perhaps I can assist you with this.” She laughs a bit, “I’ve already begun a bit. Ladies love dancing, at least I did. The chance to get close to someone you might fancy.” She grins, and says, “As sad as it is that we must do what our families ask, a love match is rare.” She pauses a moment and says, “You fear a great deal, and you speak a great deal of duty…but what exactly do you /want/?”
A word, barely a whisper, but it still manages to carry thanks to the wind. “Serenity.” Then for what appears to be a long moment, that is exactly what happens. Anton’s face seems calm, serene even, his usual coldness and icy demeanour gone. His eyes lose their sense of hardened steel, replaced by the joy that is more common for someone only 23 years old. Then in an instant, it is all gone. At the same time, footsteps are heard nearby and Edwyn returns, a servant girl trailing behind him. He carries a plate containing half of a blueberry cake with two smaller plates and forks on a tray. She also carries a tray, this one holding a large tea kettle and two cups. Not far away, two other servants appear, who quickly walk to a nearby table and carry it over to Anton and Melissa. They then return for two chairs.
Melissa nods and rests her hand on Anton’s arm as she nods to him, noticing how extremely worked up the man must be. She ponders a moment for his look. After the table is set up, she takes her arm, puts it around his to walk him over. “That, indeed, is a very lofty goal, and one that people have always sought.” She stops at the table and gestures. “Instead we have cake. And in there, you can find a moment of serenity.” She looks at him, “The most you can ever expect from life are these moments.”
Anton makes sure to pull the chair out for Melissa, letting her take the seat first. He then walks over to his chair and bows to Melissa before sitting down. Reaching out his arms, he pours a cup of tea for her, placing it before her, then does the same for himself. He next divides the cake evenly in half, putting the two pieces on separate plates and passing one over to Melissa. He carefully sniffs the cup of tea before looking up at Melissa. Nodding his head, Anton explains “a touch of honey and lemon in the tea, the slight sourness mixes well with the sweetness of the cake.” His eyes now holds hers for a moment, and then he quietly asks “and what exactly is it that you want, my lady?” Anton will wait for Melissa to sip the tea and eat the cake first, before doing so himself, since such is proper etiquette.
Melissa smirks a little as she sits and nods, sipping the tea and sighing, “On a cool night, this is just perfect.” She considers Anton’s question, “In all honesty, what I want is to be cared for, taken care of and not be alone the rest of my life. I serve at the Lannister Manse as I should, I am family and want for little there. But that home isn’t just MY home. And I cannot have that without someone to marry me.” She shrugs and sips her tea. Then to Anton she says, “So. How can I assist you?” She doesn’t have the cake just yet, enjoying the tea.
One of Anton’s eyebrows shoot up at her question. He looks at her curiously and asks “assist me how, my lady? With what I want?” He also sips the tea, slowly, savouring it’s tangy taste. There is something in his eyes as he gazes at her, something that almost appears to be warmth. The servants have by now disappeared, while Edwyn is following them out. As the boy is about to head down the stairs, he turns his head to see if his master needs him for anything else. His eyes spy something and they grow very wide. He turns around and quickly walks down the stairs.
Melissa takes up a fork and has a bite of the blueberry cake, which is perfect with the tea, as she looks to Anton and gives him a small smile in return. She sips her drink, sets the cup down. She looks to Anton now, but does not elaborate. Instead she just waits in a quiet look, a smile on her lips.
Anton also takes a bite of the cake now, though his eyes are soon back on Melissa’s. It is tranquil for a few minutes between them, the moonlight shining down, its reflection clear on the Mander River. Anton soon sighs and continues, quietly. “I do not know, my lady. The serenity I seek is from within. I focus on my duty and my work as a means of channeling my inner quest. I strive to bring law and order because they are expressions of what I struggle for in myself.” He frowns slightly again, though his eyes remain quasi-warm. Gazing deeply into her eyes, Anton asks, half-seriously “ever consider putting on a goldcloak and helping me capture criminals?”
Melissa’s eyes widen a bit, and says, “Me? I…cannot say I ever would have thought of that.” She is very confused by the suggestion, and must ask, “Why would you consider this, or think that I might? Understand, I don’t find this very offensive in the least. In fact, I’m almost kind of flattered at the idea, thinking I am brave and tough enough for such a manly task.” She grins a little before pausing, and tilting her head, “Was that a proposal of a sort?” she asks both amused and curious.
Anton now leans back in his chair, shaking his head a bit, a smile coming and actually staying on his lips now. “You are excellent at ferreting out the secrets of others, my lady.” He looks into her eyes again, a twinkle in his blue eyes. “I surround myself both with an armour of steel in the physical sense, and an armour of icy aloofness in the spiritual one.” He pauses to take another bite of the cake and a sip of the tea. “Yet, here you are. Without my even realizing it, you have begun to pierce my spiritual armour.” Anton chuckles lightly before continuing “with you at my side, I would discover the secrets of a dozen of King’s Landing’s most notorious criminals in one sitting.” This look he gives her now is one of respect and reverence.
Melissa laughs a little in amusement, as she eats a little more cake, and washes it down with some tea. “Your proposal is quite interesting indeed. My process of interrogation might be considered tame by some, though I cannot believe the hardened criminal would take my interest in them as anything less than suspicious.” She looks at Anton, “Have I reached this deeply to you? Then I will say what little chink I have made in your armor is only for the best. I’ve not seen you smile this much since we got on the road.” She bows her head and says, “You honor me with your belief. But how frightening a Goldcloak would I be?”
Anton chuckes at her jest and responds “you are too hard on yourself, my lady. I think you would look very fine in a goldcloak.” His smile soon fades however and the next gaze he gives Melissa is different. Not the cold hard look he usually has in his eyes, but one of concern and worry. His voice grows quiet and he speaks, just loud enough for her to hear. “My armour is not for my own protection…” A long pause follows in which he finishes his cup of tea in one gulp. “It is for everyone else’s…” His face looks troubled once again.
Melissa smiles at the very idea, but then tilts her head a moment, confused by the turn of mood. She sets her cup down, her fork, and puts her hands on the table a moment. A beat, then she slides herself closer to Anton’s side, and says, “What are you afraid of keeping inside, Anton? Do you truly believe yourself so wicked, that you cannot let yourself be free?”
Anton is about to answer when the sound of footsteps are heard. Arriving back on deck is Edwyn Rosby, Anton’s squire. The boy walks rapidly towards Anton and Melissa, carrying a very fine velvet cloak of dark green. Bowing to the lady, he is soon at his master’s side, whispering something into Anton’s ear. Anton had a slight frown on his face when Edwyn first approached them, but this frown soon disappears and is replaced by a look of sheer panic. The next look he throws Melissa is a combination of distress and embarrassment. Anton stands with the help of a shaking hand, and even his legs are a bit wobbly. He opens his mouth to speak. “My lady. . . I. . . did. . . not. . . know. . .” His mouth closes and opens. “I. . . did. . . not. . . realize. . .” His mouth closes again, this time, a rosy blush appears on his cheeks before his mouth opens. “I. . . did. . . not. . . mean. . .” Once more, his mouth closes. Looking with absolute panic into her eyes, Anton suddenly and in one smooth motion, drops to one knee before Melissa. His head is bowed low, so low that his forehead nearly touches her knee. His eyes are shut; his left hand holding tightly to the table, his right hand placed on his right knee, both are shaking wildly. In a trembling voice, Anton asks “my lady Melissa Lannister, I humbly beg for your forgiveness.”
Melissa looks at the display and for a moment now she is genuinely worried. “Ser Anton, rise. What forgiveness do you need?” She reaches over to touch his shoulder, “What is it? Is there something wrong?” She looks for a moment to Edwyn, then back to Anton. “Please, rise. You have done nothing that requires my forgiveness. If you still want it you shall have it, but with an explanation as to why.”
His voice quavering, Anton looks into Melissa’s eyes and attempts to speak. “It was. . . I . . . you were cold . . . I forgot . . .” Anton swallows hard and closes his mouth. His eyes, his face, his body language, all exude a high degree of panic. He opens his mouth to speak again, but nothing comes out and in sheer desperation, Anton looks to his squire Edwyn. The boy quietly approaches Melissa and whispers “my lady, your cloak, the one you wear around your shoulders now.”
The cloak that Anton helped put around Melissa’s shoulders is of fine velvet, dark blue in colour with a neat white trim along the sides. On the back, is emblazoned a beautiful maiden and the words “Brave and Beautiful” are stitched right underneath. *A cloak bearing the colours, coat-of-arms and motto of House Piper, placed around the shoulders of Lady Melissa Lannister by Ser Anton Piper himself.*
Melissa peers a moment and looks at the cloak, a moment, but didn’t even think about the social faux pas of the act…now how the man would react. “I…” She seems a touch confused. “The cloak, it means…” She peers at Anton. “I have not placed a cloak over your shoulders, Ser Anton. This is…this cannot be what you think it is.” In fact this could be easily resolved…save the fact Edwyn is witness to it. She thinks a moment.
Anton’s eyes bulge even wider and in that instant, he appears to have regained the ability to put together a coherent sentence. “No, of course not, my lady. It was just. . . ” He searches for a word, “not proper.” He remains on his knees while he speaks. “You are a lady and I am a knight. What I did was. . .” Again, he seems to be searching for the right word. “I did not mean to dishonour you in the slightest, my lady. I hold you in the highest regard, I just wanted you warm because the night is chilly. What I did, was purely for reasons of the weather, and the night, and the chilly. . . of the night.” Anton’s head cocks to the side and he looks very confused now. “I mean to say. . .” And the Piper knight begins speaking again, though it would be more appropriate to call it babbling now.
Under the moonlight, on the top deck of the barge, a light wind blowing, three people stand around, in a bit of stunned silence. Off to the side, Edwyn Rosby, squire to Ser Anton Piper, stands holding a velvet green cloak in his arms. Not far away, sitting in a chair, is Melissa Lannister, wearing a fine cloak of blue and white, the colours of House Piper. The cloak also bears the Piper coat-of-arms, a beautiful maiden, and the Piper motto, “Brave and Beautiful.” On his knees before Melissa, is Ser Anton Piper himself.
Melissa shakes her head, “Ser Anton, you have done me no wrong in this, and there is nothing dishonorable. I am certain that this is a very unique situation for you, the night being as it is, the air and the voyage all making ourselves not think as much about things as we normally would. But what, what do you mean to say? Do not be afraid to tell me.” She offers her hand again to help him rise.
Doryssa was taking the air, such as it was, hoping to get above the mass of people before she has to go wait on the princess she serves. She begins to stammer an apology for interrupting, but everyone seems most absorbed, so she quiets and just watches for a bit.
“You were sure it was lost below decks before. And now you say it’s here. Are you quite sure this time?” Branna wonders of her maid, her voice quiet if slightly exasperated, as the two northerners ascend to the top deck. Both pairs of dark eyes have been anxiously scanning their surroundings for whatever lost item it was that brought them, and it isn’t long before both girls spot the Lannister, the Piper, and the Rosby squire. “Oh, my, are they—” begins the maid rather too loudly before she’s waved into silence by her lady, who adds an adamant shake of her head for good measure.
Anton takes Melissa’s hand, but does not rise. He takes a deep breath that appears to steady him somewhat, though his eyes remain on her and do not notice the arrival of anyone else. As such, when he speaks, it is in a loud voice and easily carries over to anyone nearby. “I mean that, it’s just the cloak, it was the only thing I had available, and you were shivering and cold and I did not want you to catch a chill, so I put it around your shoulders to keep you warm. I did not realize, *exactly what type of cloak* I was placing around you at the time.” His emphasis on the type of cloak is obvious and apparent. “Please my lady, I would never dare to presume anything, especially not with you, someone I hold in such high esteem. I want to. . . ” Before he can continue however, Edwyn, who has noticed the arrival of others, speaks in a loud voice “good evening, ladies!” Anton’s eyes flicker to see Doryssa, Branna and the maid standing nearby. His eyes go very wide and the rosy blush which had previously been only on his cheeks, now spread to his entire face.
Melissa blinks at Anton and turns her head to spy the ladies and she blushes as well, giving a little nervous chuckle a moment, “Ahh yes, hello, Lady Doryssa, Lady Branna. A pleasure as always.” She looks to Anton and then Edwyn, before turning back, “Umm. Yes, well, I know what…this is not what you think it is…” she says as she realizes she’s still holding onto Anton’s hand. She clears her throat again and says, “This was…this was an accident, not…” She doesn’t say it, just to keep the acknowledgement away.
Doryssa covers her mouth with a hand to cover a gasp as she takes in the scene. Then she smiles. “Oh, congratulations! I promise not to tell though, truly. Sometimes the gods bless us with matches that no one would ever consider, but they are blessings indeed.”
“Good evening,” Branna tells the squire with a composed, pleasant smile, never mind that pink tinge that’s creeping into her own cheeks. “Greetings, milady, ser.” Just a little ill at ease, her hands rub together in what can pass for an attempt for warmth. “It /is/ rather chilly on these upper decks, isn’t it?” Doryssa’s words, for whatever reason, makes the girl ease a little. Nodding to her maid, who still stands wide-eyed, the Stark prompts in a lower voice, “Tyra, do go and look for the earring, please.” And the maid does, if not without stealing the occasional backward glance at Lannister and Piper.
Anton is shaking his head vigorously as Doryssa speaks, though he seems to have forgotten he’s still holding Melissa’s hand. “My ladies, this is not what it seems. Lady Melissa was cold, and I only had this cloak available, and. . . and. . .” Again, his voice fails him. Taking a deep breath, Anton tries again. “I just, I mean. . . Lady Melissa is wonderful, to be sure, and she is very beautiful, to be sure. And this, is not like that. Not that she’s not beautiful or wonderful.” Anton looks confused again, and his eyes look to Melissa for help.
Melissa pats Anton’s hand and says, “Hush now,” she looks to the other ladies. “As you see, this was simply a misunderstanding. No septon is present, and…while yes, there was a witness,” she looks at Edwyn, “I am certain there is nothing here that would be seen as untoward. Merely a misunderstanding, despite the social ramifications. We shall speak with a maester to make certain but…I believe we will be fine.”
Doryssa beams brightly. “Oh, there’s no need to be embarrassed or… no, this is wonderful! If you wish to keep it a secret, I shall wait until the arrangements are made. I shouldn’t want to spoil anything. Oh, it is still so long until we are off these cursed things! So much easier to keep a secret like this when there are not people so close all the time.” She nods to Melissa. “No, not untoward at all. Of course not.”
“No denials necessary, Ser Anton,” Branna puts in with a bright smile to match Doryssa’s. “Lady Melissa’s words are quite apt. It is merely a misunderstanding, with absolutely nothing untoward.” Entirely cooperative, she is. When she catches her maid glancing over yet again, the young lady gives a stern look.
Anton, still on his knees, takes a number of deep breaths while the conversation between the ladies take place. Finally, he has steadied himself to speak again. “My ladies, Lady Melissa speaks the truth. The night is chilly and I offered the lady my cloak to keep her warm. It was my own lack of judgment in considering that the cloak I brought with me this evening, happened to be one bearing the House Piper colours, sigil and motto. There is no one to blame for this except myself and my ineptitude in social situations.” He turns back to Melissa and says “please, my lady, forgive this knight his grave misjudgment?” His hands remain on hers and seem to give hers a gentle squeeze, unconsciously.
Melissa nods and looks at Anton with a smile, and says, “Ser Anton, all is forgiven. This was merely a lapse in timing.” She gestures, “Please, rise, you are too noble a man.” To Branna and Doryssa though she looks and worries a moment, “No, no, ladies, you must believe us…this really is NOT what it looks like.” She sighs, “Ser Anton, perhaps if you would?” She gestures to the cloak itself. Best avoid more confusion.
Doryssa looks suddenly disappointed. “No? Truly? Well, I hope you will forgive my interruption of whatever it is that was transpiring.” She looks about ready to flee, then. “If you will excuse me, then. A good evening…”
“I believe you,” Branna asserts to Melissa, though her gaze is quick to return to Anton. “Ser, I agree you had best get up off your knees, before anyone else misunderstands.” And back to the Lannister. “Lady Melissa, perhaps you could send someone down to retrieve a thicker cloak.” She offers a shy sort of farewell nod to Doryssa, echoing, “Good evening.” In the distance, unseen by the Stark girl, Tyra perks up and gives Melissa a most hopeful look. The maid may or may not be thinking of such an errand as an opportunity to go below deck and share the news.
Anton looks relieved, finally. With a grunt, he gets back up to his feet and smiles at all three ladies. Motioning for Edwyn to follow him, he walks behind Melissa and begins to unclasp the Piper cloak from her shoulders. “A misunderstanding, this was all just a misunderstanding.” Anton mutters to the ladies as he places his hands on Melissa’s shoulders to take the cloak off. Edwyn is nearby, ready to offer the dark green cloak that he brought along.
The Green Lion enters at this, the worst possible of moments. His eyes first settle on Doryssa and he begins “Ah good evening, mila-” He freezes as he catches in his eye at the tableau in front of him, with Ser Anton seemingly placing a piper cloak around his sister. The silence turns into a pregnant one as he watches, before he yells loudly, “Great Father, ser Anton, do you marry every woman you dance with?!” He looks to Melissa in confusion, then quickly at the other women, trying to discern what is going on.
Melissa blinks and gasps, “Galan! No, brother, this…this is not…” She looks back to Anton and frowns, “No, you see, I was just simply cold and Ser Anton and I were simply having tea and…” She shakes her head, and gives Galan a look, as if pleading for him not to be a knight just right now. She goes to him, just before Anton can actually remove the cloak from her shoulders. It’s still there.
Doryssa steps over to the Green Lion, to mutter something to him. She tries to put her hand on his arm as she does.
Doryssa whispers to Galan, “I ... have ... that ... ... ... to ... ... was ... ... her ... ... ... ... ... ...”
Branna can’t help but flinch as the Green Lion gives his roar. Once Galan’s words click into place, she casts a thoughtful look over at Doryssa, clearly hopeful that the other lady will calm him down. She herself bides her silence.
Anton’s eyes grow wide and his mouth falls open when Galan appears on the scene. “My lord, no this is not. . .” His words are cut off as Melissa walks forward, taking the cloak with her. His hands almost follow her to try and get his cloak back, but he remains where he is, putting his hands down. Then in one smooth motion, Anton is back down to one knee, his head bowed low.
Galan listens to Doryssa, but stares between the two of them as they speak. He chides in a mocking tone, “My sister was cold, so you decided you’d warm her with a Piper cloak. Perhaps you were thinking you’d keep her warm tonight, too?” he says rather pointedly. He stays silent a moment, noticing how humiliated Anton is and his face cracks, just a slight. “I think you best take that cloak off, dear sister. Lest someone confuse you for a Lady of Piper.”
Melissa nods and winces at Galan’s words. She never had been so chided before like this, and really it’s a dreadful embarrassment now. She looks back to Anton. “Please, Ser Anton.” She sighs a moment, looking to the other ladies a moment for some support. “All, just a misunderstanding. Really,” she tries to tell her brother.
Doryssa pats Galan’s arm again as she notes Melissa’s distress. Despite what she said to the Green Lion earlier, she adds quickly “Yes, surely he was just trying to see to a a lady’s need. He just didn’t think. See? There’s her cloak now.” She indicates the Rosby squire. “Please don’t throw him in the river or anything worse…”
“As you say, Melissa. Return the cloak and we’ll have no more of it, yes? No one will go spreading jests about my sister and dancing maids, I hope.” Galan pats Doryssa’s hand, “No need for anything like that. Ser Anton is a man of impeccable honor, I know. The sooner this matter is resolved, the sooner all involved can walk out with their heads high.”
Branna’s expression remains guarded throughout, though grey eyes widen briefly at Galan’s rather pointed question. Melissa’s look does not go unanswered. The young northerner offers, “Ser Anton is used to the gold cloak of duty. Small wonder that he did not remember that he was wearing his Piper cloak when he offered it out of chivalry.” Throw him into the river, hmm? An uneasy look slides sidelong toward the river, but she smiles in relief as it all resolves without a man overboard.
Anton once again gets up off his knee, takes a deep breath and walks forward to stand behind Melissa. Peeking at Galan with downcast eyes, Anton quietly says “it is completely my fault, Ser Galan. Please, your sister is innocent of the whole affair. I really, truly, forgot I had a Piper cloak this night.” Again, his hands unclasp the cloak and this time he quickly takes it off her shoulders. His squire, Edwyn offers the green velvet cloak he’d been holding in his hands, which Anton takes and places around Melissa’s shoulders. Giving the Piper cloak to Edwyn, Anton gives a deep sigh of relief. “Thank you, Ser Galan, for your understanding. This really, truly was a simple misunderstanding.”
Galan smiles to Branna. “I’m sure that’s it. After months of wearing the gold, he simply forgot his cloak along with his manners. In any case, there has been no harm done, so long as my sister and Ser Anton’s reputation is not damaged, and I truly believe all company here will see to it that it’s /not/.” His smile is not so much friendly as it is carnivorous, “Now then. I simply came to bid a good eve to my Lady of Massey. Is there anything else you’d require assistance with Melissa?”
Melissa nods her thanks to Edwyn and then looks to Anton and nods, “Yes, yes most indeed.” She feels a little more herself, and grins to Anton saying softly, “What, was I so awful a wife for the last…5 minutes or so?” She looks to Branna though and nods, “Truly, that must be it then.” She looks back to Galan and sighs, “No, brother, you’ve been of excellent help.
Doryssa smiles again, since no violence seems to be forthcoming. “I think we all see the truth of what has happened. No harm done, no harm to come.” She nods to the Green Lion. “I hope you will escort me back, once you are certain your sister is well taken care of.”
Branna meets Galan’s carnivorous smile with a determined nod. “Of course.” She smiles a little as Melissa seems to recover, and then she bows her head in farewell. “Please excuse me, ladies, sers, and have a good rest of the evening.” And off she goes to continue her earlier search for the missing item. Her curious maid is quick to rejoin her, all questions, but she looks rather disappointed by the concise answer she gets.
Letting out a long breath through his mouth, Anton looks back to Galan and Melissa. Speaking as he backs away from them, Anton adds “please, let me excuse myself. I have made a fool of myself enough I believe this evening. I humbly apologize again for what my actions may have caused.” He is about to answer Melissa’s jest when his hand flies to his mouth, forcefully shutting them. He continues to walk backwards as he says to Doryssa and Branna, “I am also sorry you ladies had to be here for my humiliation. I am usually much more professional than this.” Finally, he looks to Edwyn and says “get my sword and whetstone and bring them down later. I need to hide my face for awhile.” Shaking his head glumly, Anton turns to walk down the stairs, but it turns out his backing away confused his sense of direction and he’s on the edge of the railing. As he turns and takes a step, he hits the railing with some speed and promptly falls over straight into the river. A loud *SPLASH* is heard.
There is some commotion down below as people notice that someone has fallen into the river. Soon a number of bargemen have jumped in as well, though luckily, Anton is a Riverlander and quite adept at swimming. It is not long after that he’s back on the barge, and unsurprisingly, he does not come back up. Edwyn bows to the assembled nobles and quietly mutters “apologies” before grabbing Anton’s greatsword and whetstone, and running down the stairs, clutching the Piper cloak that caused all this trouble, to help his master.
Galan bursts out laughing, “You seem to have gotten him all wet, sweet sister.” Despite his previous stoic ness, he’s all smiles as he takes the Lady Doryssa’s arm. “Good night Melissa.” he says simply and does chance a look into the Mander as he walks past.