Liane, it seems, has returned to the stableyard, though she has a different purpose this time. “Serion?” she calls, walking around the bustle of people coming in for the evening, looking concerned. “Serion? Are you here?” She moves towards the stable, trying to look in past the movement of people.
Carmella has returned as well. Her striding off in an angry huff makes for a dramatic exit, but she was halfway back to the Holdfast before she realized she was missing her cloak. So rather than slink back in so quickly, she waited long enough for those who had witnessed her departure to be gone. She’s almost to the stables when she hears the Dornish woman’s familiar voice. Turning, she looks around until she spots Liane - which doesn’t take long - and then lifts a hand in greeting. “I haven’t seen your brother,” she says, forgetting her cloak again and heading to towards Liane. “Were you to meet him here this evening?”
“No, I-” Liane turns, sighing worriedly before she manages a faint smile. “I’m sorry, I’m just a little worried,” she explains. “I left him here earlier when- Well, the man who held the garrison at Hellholt was here, and I just left so I wouldn’t do something stupid, but I left Serion here alone.”
“I can’t imagine he could have gotten into too much trouble, not with the Gold Cloaks always keeping an eye on you and yours.” Carmella has the same problem, though her protection wears back and purple instead of gold. And, as always Ser Amond is there and looking none too pleased to see Carmella in Dornish company yet again. “I’m sure he’s here somewhere. Or perhaps he’s gone back to the tower, for a game of dice perhaps?”
“No, you don’t- It’s not-” Liane paces a few steps in front of the stable, still peering inside before she looks around the yard again. “Serion can’t see,” she tries to explain. “Or- or he can, but- But it’s just- You know, it’s complicated, and I probably shouldn’t have told you that, because he won’t appreciate it being mentioned, so don’t mention it to him if you find him, it’s just…” She sighs again. “I’m afraid someone might lead him astray.”
Well, that is unexpected. Carmella looks obviously surprised when Liane mentions her brother’s disability, completely with her mouth dropping open slightly. “I didn’t ...” She lifts her hand, palm towards Liane. “Don’t worry, I won’t say a word to him of it, not mention it to anyone else.” The gods only know what some cruel-hearted Westerosi might do to learn that of one of the hostages. “I can help you look for him if you’d like? Are there places he favors, that he might have gone to if given the chance?”
“Probably just back to the tower,” Liane says, dragging a hand through her hair. “Maybe I just missed him there and I’m just making too much of things, and he made it back safely on his own. He’s used to it, it’s not as though this is-” She stops herself again, pausing to take a deep breath. “I’m sure he’s fine,” she says again, though more for herself than anything else. “You’re right, I didn’t even think about the Gold Cloaks. I’m sure one of them could have helped him.”
Carmella offers a comforting smile to the Uller woman. “No doubt any member of the Gold Cloaks who allowed harm to come to his charge or worse, lose him, would certainly have the Hand to answer to and I doubt that would be a pleasant summons. I am sure your brother is fine, but I don’t blame you for worrying over him.” The last part comes a little less enthusiastic than her other comments, her own troubles with her brother have shown themselves time and again in public.
“Well, if I’d kept a better eye on him to begin with…” Liane trails off with a sigh, rolling her eyes and looking away. “Sorry. I just came back here to pick him up and panicked a little, I guess. Speaking of brothers, though.” She turns a cautious look on the other woman, concerned. “Are things all right with you and yours?”
The young groom, the boy Carmella had spoken kindly to earlier in the day, comes hurrying out of the stables looking panicked as she carries a bundle in his arms. His young eyes dart around the darkening stableyard and there’s a great look of relief when he finally spots Carmella.
“Lady Carmella,” he shouts, rushing over to her, nearly tripping over what now looks like to be her cloak. “You forgot this. I was gonna bring it to you, all the way to the Holdfast, honest!” His thin arms hold up the cloak to her and save for a few pieces of straw caught in the folds it appears fine. Carmella takes the cloak, shakes it out and throws it around her shoulder.
“Thank you Simon,” Carmella says with a grin, a grin which falls quickly as she realizes she is without her purse. “I shall reward you on the morrow, I promise,” she says to the boy, ruffling his hair and sending him off. It is then that she turns her eyes back to Liane. “Things are as well as can be expected,” she says quietly, her glance sliding down towards the ground momentarily. “We take our arguments out of the public eye now, so I suppose that’s something.”
Liane is quiet for a long moment, weighing her words, watching the other woman. “You heard something about your brother that tarnished your sterling impressions of him,” she guesses, quiet. “And now you’re not entirely certain how you’re supposed to feel about it, or what you’re supposed to do about it, but you’re pretty damn sure what he did was wrong. Am I close?” she asks in a low voice.
Carmella lowers her voice as well, though it isn’t really any secret what she’s said. The Seven know Doran’s proclaimed it in front of the entire court already. “He’s a kinslayer,” she says quietly, only meeting Liane’s eyes once that cursed word is past her lips. “I know war is ugly and frightening and bloody but ...” She sighs. “My mother’s family are just as much our cousins as our Dondarrion kin,” she says. “They simply were on the other side of this ... conflict. Mother won’t even speak to him, no doubt she’s quite distraught over what has happened. It was our uncle, husband to my mother’s sister, Ser Ormond.”
“Technically, husband of your mother’s sister isn’t a blood relation,” Liane says, though there isn’t much conviction behind it. “And he’s still your brother,” she adds with more conviction. “You have to know it’s tearing him up inside, don’t you? Mother bless, Carmella, Berec died in Carrion Woods, I’m here a hostage, and I can find it in myself not to be too unkind to your brother. I’m sure he could use the support of his family right now.”
You say, “But he is, he was their cousin, so he still was…” Carmella starts off quickly and then sighs, her shoulders slumping. “He didn’t have to do it himself,” she says, using the same argument she used against Doran earlier. “He wasn’t the only knight in his company but now he’s forever cursed for what he’s done. I just ...” Carmella shakes her head, not understanding it. “I’ve always been closer to my mother than to my father,” she starts to explain, looking back at Liane. “Her pains are mine even if I wasn’t raised in the same household she was.” There’s silence as Carmella shakes her head and looks away. “How do you do it, Lady Liane? How are you not angry and hateful after all that’s been done to you?”“
“I can’t afford to be,” Liane answers without a pause, crossing her arms loosely over her chest as she looks away. “I don’t have the power to do anything about it, either. Frankly, I need to Targaryens as much as they may need me, much as I may want to rage against it. I have an uncle, Carmella,” she explains, brushing her bangs away from her eyes in an impatient motion. “He’s estranged from the family, but he’s a legitimate male relative. If they decided my aunt or I weren’t sufficiently trustworthy, they could hand Hellholt to him, and we can’t allow that.”
“Might they still though,” Carmella asks, curious now, but still sounding as if she’s got a weight on her shoulders. “What I mean is, if the King controls Dorne as well as the rest of Westeros couldn’t he decide to hand Hellholt over to him, simply for the fact that he’s a male?” The words come slowly, as if the thought had just come to her. “Could they do that? Hand Dornish houses to male descendants, regardless of your own traditions? I might think that in some cases it could provide them with loyalty from more difficult houses. Not..” Again Carmella holds her hands up. “Not that I’m advocating that, but is it not possible?”
“That’s exactly the point,” Liane agrees. “We’re conquered territory. If the King wished to hand Hellholt over to Mavros, he could. Which is why I need to be…exemplary. I need to be in a position where it’s in his better interest to allow me to inherit Hellholt than to hand it over to Mavros. And that means marrying someone from Westeros and making a prize of myself and Hellholt, then- Then it’s what has to be done. But I can’t afford to be hateful. There’s Hellholt to think of, and survival.”
Carmella considers that for a moment and then she looks at Liane, frowning a little. “So, this is something you’ve decided must be done, to marry a Westerosi man? Would you find one that would consent to not being the head of the household?” Carmella shakes her head, frowning ever so slightly. “I do wish you luck in your search, many men would see the opportunity to claim Hellholt for themselves and try and make you a wife in the manner to which they have been raised.” Carmella gives a quick tight smile. “I admire you, Lady Liane. I don’t know if I could do the same in your position, but then I’ve never been in a position where controlling my temper meant the fate of my house and family in such a drastic manner. I do hope I can call you friend in a way that is beyond your need to be ... exemplary.”
“I’m not unprepared to deal with men,” Liane murmurs vaguely, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear as she looks away. “It isn’t my preference, but it’s the only way I can see right now where the King would be inclined to leave Hellholt in our hands. And I can’t- I can’t let my aunt down. Not after all she’s lost now.” She looks back then, managing a faint smile. “I need friends in ways that are beyond simply exemplary,” she says quietly. “Much,” she continues, “As I expect your brother could use his sister’s support.”
Once again Carmella drops her gaze at the mention of her brother. “It isn’t going to be easy,” she says quietly, but there’s a hopeful hint in her voice, suggesting that she will try. When she lifts her head again she’s smiling for once and without the hesitations of earlier. “You have all be so kind and I admit, much more than I had expected. To be honest I had expected more hostility, but I am pleased to see that is not the case. Though I do believe your brother was less than pleased to meet me or my brother.” She smiles a little more at that, not amused exactly, but making attempts to lighten the mood.
Liane sighs at that, looking away again for a moment. “Serion can afford to be. He’s young. He has plenty to be bitter about. He practically worshipped Utheryn, and…And he’s young. He doesn’t see anything beyond the moment and beyond his feelings. I just…Well, I figure I don’t have the power to change how things are right now, so it’s best I just survive it.”
“I don’t resent him for it. It seems you all have much to be bitter about,” Carmella remarks, the brief moment of levity is quickly fading. “In fact I am surprised that he’s really the first I’ve met that has been openly hostile, and even so his behavior wasn’t totally unexpected. Ser Aidan has been ever the generous knight, Lady Linae has offered me books of her own library to read so that I might educate myself and your cousin, Ser Jossart, was extraordinary pleasant last evening. I dare say that were the roles reversed that many of our knights might not behave in the same manner.”
“No, I suspect they would not, judging by the behavior of some of them as victors,” Liane drawls, reaching up to tug at one earlobe, her hand hiding her mouth and a grimace. “Joss…” She trails off, smile quirking despite herself with a low laugh. “Careful, Lady Carmella. Joss is quite the charmer,” she teases, winking.
“Really?” The question is posed but Carmella doesn’t sound entirely shocked. “He was very polite and he seemed to lack the sweet words you have heard my brother use on a regular basis. But I will use caution, as you say.” She can’t help the growing smile on her lips and she looks away as a group of squires lead mounts towards the stables. “Is there anything in particular that I should know, should I encounter him again?”
“Ah, but the knights of Dorne are a more subtle breed,” Liane winks, brushing her bangs from her eyes. “They aren’t so much the sort for overblown, sweet words, as for just the right touch. No, you’re perfectly safe with Joss,” she chuckles. “He’s unlikely to take advantage of you.”
Carmella pauses a moment at that last and her forehead wrinkles visibly. “I’m not sure whether to take that as a compliment or an insult, Lady Liane,” though if it is an insult she doesn’t seem too upset by it. “Besides, I almost always have the company of Ser Amond with me, it makes it more difficult to be taken advantage of, with him as my shadow.” She quirks a smile. “Unless ... Unless Ser Amond is more your cousin’s type?”
Liane laughs honestly at that, shaking her head. “No, no, I don’t think so,” she replies. “All I meant is that Joss knows exactly how far it’s proper to go, and he’s /usually/ cautious enough not to overstep himself. Though I could always be mistaken,” she chuckles, smile wry. “If he does and he doesn’t get the message from you or Ser Amond, just let me know.”
Carmella laughs along with Liane and tugs her cloak around her. “Well, I have heard tales of the relations some Dornishmen enjoy and thought perhaps…” She laughs again and glances around, finding Ser Amond not too far away. “That’s for the best, though. I don’t think Ser Amond is too comfortable around you and your kin. It must be terribly disturbing for him, having to trail after me in such a fashion, keeping company with those of who he does not approve.” That seems to make Carmella smile all the more. “But if your cousin should overstep himself I’ll be sure to let you know it. I tend not to keep it to myself if I feel I’ve been treated poorly,” she adds with a sneaky little smile. “It is, however, getting quite late. I should be getting back to my room lest my Septa worry too much. I do hope your brother is safe and well back at your apartments, Lady Liane.”
“As do I, Lady Carmella,” Liane nods, brushing her hands together and straightening a bit. “I should go check on him, speaking of that,” she says with a faint smile. “Thank you, Lady Carmella. I hope you enjoy your evening, despite Ser Amond and your septa,” she adds, winking.