Page 530: The Consolation
The Consolation
Summary: Rebecca assures Samphire that all will be well and all manner of things will be well.
Date: 04/01/2013
Related Logs: Dogs That Don't Bark
Rebecca Samphire 
Rebecca's Chambers
Lady Rebecca Nayland's apartment within Braeburn House is a deliberate excrescence, festooned with faded, dusty hangings of Nayland green-and-orange, on principle. The chamber is not particularly large, which makes the four-poster bed of heavy, dark oak seem even more looming and oppressive. The room's atmosphere is stiflingly perfumed; Rebecca burns incense there rarely, but very lavishly. Two generously ledged, arched windows appear at first glance to relieve the chamber's stuffiness, but closer examination proves one to be but a tall looking-glass of smoky crystal, the other - a suspiciously permanent view on dark woodland, capped with wan stars - undoubtedly a painting of Lady Rebecca's own design.
4th January, 290

In this secluded and darkened corner of Braeburn House, Lady Rebecca Nayland appears, nonetheless, by now to be thriving. Though she still pleads illness on the rather rare occasions she is called upon by any member of House Groves - including her mother Lady Sylvainne, still distinctly out of her favour - her pale cheeks now begin to bloom, her long limbs to flex as she strides and lounges about her tiny domain. Most of this energy, it's true, goes into the select library compiled on the hither side of her enormous, enrobed pallet bed, and so she gives a vague, startled look upwards, when even her ever more trusted handmaid enters…

The tinny sound of a trembling cup at a silvery tablet. Samphire takes a deep breath before she attempts to enter the dusk-filled chambers of her lady. Then another to actually perform her task. The rattle gets thinner but didn't stop, as much as the maid tries to keep her small hands calm, her small steps firm and her words finely prepared in her mouth.
The startled look of the airy lady is answered with a not less startled one, though the maid's mien speaks a quite different accent of hat expression. Where Rebecca's cheeks have blossomed, hers are still blanched. Nonetheless the already familiar curtsy to greet the noblewoman is dipped.
"M'lady.", she pronounces and stares.

"Why, my dear," Lady Rebecca interposes with some stern brand of sympathy, as she rises alike from her bed and Maester Pelarion's School of Eloquence, "you look positively distinguished with pallor. Have you come across the shade of Lord Chandos Groves, perhaps? The Wifeslayer, slain long hence? I've never," she admits with wilting disappointment, "encountered him myself, but he sounds one of the wittier of my relatives, so if you do see him in the corridors, you simply mustn't take fright."

These words of comfort administered, the noblewoman returns her sparkling emerald eyes to her book, while stretching out her long, pale arm in the expectation of a generous and wholesome drink.

Samphire swallows drily, blinks thrice and prepares a cup of apple wine for her lady as carefully as possible.
"No. No, m'lady, I haven't had the luck to encounter this… dainty kinsman of yours yet.", she pauses and hands the silvery cup to Rebecca, waiting for her to take at least the first sip, before continuing in a bit of a hysterically cheery tone. "I might have met young Kerrigan again and thrown a handful of dung at him.". Meeting the emerald eyes of the lady, her own eyes already show the first hint of a salty veil again, as she speaks from her last encounter at the gardens. Movelessly she waits for a reaction.

"What a shame," Rebecca explains in a vague tone, "he was supposed to have been a very gallant lover, indeed, to his first three wives…and you are looking so well, my dear Samphire; I'm sure he'd have quite taken to you…"

Her encouragement, however, is derailed, first by the proffer of the drink (none too soon!), then by the fuller confession. Rebecca's gaze gleams…with casual interest, and certainly not exceptional anger. And last, with breathy enthusiasm, she exclaims, "Ah! You hit him, then, my dear, but did not conquer him? The trouble, sweetling, with men, is that they know not when they must cringe to us. Yet."

The maid furrows her brows, as she sinks down to sit at the edge of the lady's huge bed. "Well, yes m'lady?", she answers vaguely, eyeing the noblewoman closely. With the smallest touch of despair, she feels the urge to add a few explanations. "In both of your kinsmen imaginations it must be the imagination of my nice little head on a spike then, what teases them most. Lord Kerrigan threatened me, after I …hit… him. If you ask for the reasons… well, are they of any interest, m'lady?"

Before ere she answers, Lady Rebecca has tipped her blazing head back, and dripped a sizable quantity of cyder, with immaculate slowness, down her palette. But at last she seems to regain concentration and poise, at which point she straightens and swings herself about to face Samphire directly.

"Reasons, dear girl? As far as I am concerned, such things, in the case of …Ser…Kerrigan, are both manifest and obvious. I am prepared," she admits with delighted censoriousness, "to accept that that hothead churl's conception of knighthood tarnishes all House Groves. I hope, too, that I shall not have to abide it."

"Well, yes m'lady." Samphire responds, this time without the peak of a raised voice at the end of her sentence. "He is indeed not the most courteous knight of them all, especially since his rhetorics shine in a certain squalor. He defamed your name, called you spoilt and twisted. But for his gentle birth, he might have the power to make me, make us, m'lady, regret this encounter. I… my apologies.", she lowers her gaze to study her fingernails closely for a quiet moment. "And I must admit I fear a dog's bite."
Again a big question lingers about the maids face, a hint of hope and a healthy amount of confusion.

Lady Rebecca's face seems to harden, perhaps even to straighten, at the account of this far-flung cousin's continued, grudging persecution. "Let him try," she says at last, curt, higher pitched than her usual whispered husk of a voice, and entirely determined. "My cousin the Young Lord may indeed be wrapped up to exclusion in the mistletoed embrace of his betrothed, but I can defend myself…and you. We are not without friends, Mistress Rivers," she now reminds her servant with chilly, martial formality. "Your Undyl half-brother is a fine fellow with his sword, I recall you remarking…and I believe that half-Whent sworn sword would be prepared to defend us, too, for all House Frey's treason. Besides," she presses on in a slightly less confident tone, "my uncle, and my eldest cousin the Young Lord, would assuredly take our side. Provoke the vulgarian no more, Samphire…unless he threatens you again. For if he does, I swear I shall see him undone."

Rebecca's right hand holds the silver cup in a touch of deceptive lightness, as her left now surges forth and seizes the handmaid's right forearm with a passionate enthusiasm that pinches hard.

Since it isn't for the first time a noble grabs her arm firmly in the matter of that memorable little incident, Samphire's enthusiasm seems to be somehow battered. Surpressing the vowel-less little noise that would have answered the touch naturally, she tries unsuccessfully to keep her mien straight. But a smile follows soon, as feeble and crooked (especially as she mentions the kinship of her brother) as it may be.
"Seven, I will stay the hell away from him. And for my dear brother and all the other men at arms… any drop of blood shed in this cause would be of great pain to me. I just hope… Well, at least I don't have to learn to ride properly now, for I won't need to flee to the vast lands of Essos, will I?", she suggests a bit tiredly.

Lady Rebecca is closer to thrice than twice her maidservant's age…and it seems that rarely has she felt it quite so much as in this moment. Far from relinquishing her hold, she deigns to rise to enknot Samphire tightly in the grip of both her lengthy, muscular, taloned arms, breathing as she does so into the girl's ear, "Little Samphire, the only way you'll see Essos soon is if they force us to go out searching for our true king…and I do not believe that time is yet at hand."

Easing herself free, Rebecca finishes off the argent cup in a swig, before muttering, in a tone laden and sweetened by the drink, "I shall sleep imminently, young creature…and I would have you bear me company tonight, as at Terrick's Roost. You are safe with me, child, and I would not have you pass a sleepless night anywhere where you think yourself less than perfectly secure. I need you well-rested."

Samphire's gaze wanders over to the heavy door at one end of the room, then to the place where the twisted memory of windows allows no eye to watch what's inside the protective walls of the small room. For a glimpse she hesitates, but then she yields to the offer of secureness for at least the next few hours and nods without any further words. A few heartbeats she rests in her position at the edge of the bed, a few heartbeats she takes to let the lively impressions of the day spread through the warm cloak of the scented air, before she rises with a small. "Thank you m'lady."
And as she gets herself ready to prepare the noblewoman for sleep the hint of a salty veil disappears in her eyes.