After the meal Nieneve did not meet the Prince face to face for a few days. She was thrown in to a whirl of planning; since the engagement had already been announced to the court and rumours had spread like wildfire across the entire city, everyone was clambering to be part of the preparations. Her brother had begun to 'gain support' as he called it, but Nieneve knew that his frequent visits in to the city were not to gain access to the people's hearts, it was to gain access to their beds. His new found freedom inside the city; a welcome guest of the court, meant he finally had the freedom to spend his money in brothels and whore houses, which he thought she knew little about. But her handmaids were useful in giving her information, and were so far loyal to her; they were impressed at her lack of 'rich girl disease', what they called it when one of the ladies they served treated them like dogs and had more clothes and jewels than she could ever possibly need.
"My brother tells me I need to buy a new dress." Nieneve told Lania, one of the maids. "I don't know where to go. Do you know of any places I should visit?"
"A dress maker would come to you m'lady." She replied as she twisted some of Nieneve's hair in to a silver clasp at the back of her head. The rest of it flowed down her back in waves, covering the sky blue dress embroidered with silver, including a decorative metal belt piece around her waist.
"I would rather leave the castle Lania. I think it is only fair that since the dress maker will probably be making my dresses when I am married that the dress makers of the city profit before the event."
"You are not like most noble ladies."
"So you've said." Nieneve smiled at Lania and thanked her for her hair. "Now, do you know of anywhere I should go?"
"The Prince's mother used to go to a dress makers in the city, before and after she became queen. That dress maker is reputable."
"Would you take me?"
"If you command it lady."
"Is there anything you would rather be doing?" Nieneve asked, turning to face Lania. Lania's face showed once more the disbelief that Nieneve was becoming used to seeing whenever she said something such as this.
"Well m'lady, if I stay here I will be cleaning."
"So you would rather accompany me?"
"Yes my lady." She smiled.
"Good. Well then we shall go this morning. I could do with getting away from Madam Farris."
Madame Farris had been spending each day following Nieneve around, attempting to teach her about all the things that she should know as a Princess and future Queen. Nieneve had been trained this way since she was little; her brother certain of his victory in the fight for the throne. She was too polite and too cautious to tell Madame this, and simply made it her mission to keep as far away from the harassing little woman as possible.
Nieneve and Lania left the castle accompanied by two servants and four guards that had been assigned to her by Apophis the previous evening when she had mentioned that she might want to venture outside of the walls.
"So much for getting away from palace life." Nieneve whispered to Lania who laughed quietly. They rode through the streets on horses; she had been forbidden to walk through the streets with such a small guard. It did not take long before Lania halted the horses and pointed to a dress makers shop on a busy street.
"This is where the Queen used to get her dresses made."
"Excellent." Nieneve smiled and dismounted, waiting for Lania before they made their way to the shop. People around them stopped to stare at her and the guards surrounded them wordlessly in protection. Nieneve smiled at passers by and hoped fervently that they liked her. If not, her brother's plan would have some difficulty sticking.
A bell chimed as they walked in to the shop and a little man appeared from behind a dress doll.
"May I help you?" He asked, eyeing her.
"This is Lady Nieneve of House Dracarys," Lania announced, "She wishes to have some new dresses made."
"There is a royal dress maker who can suit your needs." He replied, sniffing and turning away from her.
"Lady Nieneve is to be the Princess!" Lania replied, looking outraged at the dress maker's response.
"Then the royal dress maker should be more suitable." He replied simply, shrugging. Lania looked as though she would reply but Nieneve stopped her.
"Sir I hope I have not offended you in some way. I was told by Lania here that you used to supply the Queen with dresses and I thought that would make you an appropriate choice. You see I am not knowledgeable in choosing dresses suitable for court and although there is a royal dress maker I think it unfair for one person to have all of the rich trade while other dress makers are left to serve those who may not wish for garments that truly attest to the maker's skill."
The dress maker, an elderly man with wispy white hair and large spectacles that made his green eyes seem three times their size, paused in his shuffling and considered her. When she had entered and had her maid speak for her, he had known who she was. He was aware of her background, and through love of the Queen had immediately been intent on hating the Dracarys girl, but her speech had caught him off guard.
"You are aware that I was a strong supporter of the current King in the battle against your father?" He tested, watching her face for any reaction. Nieneve did not even blink.
"I am not my father, although I do wish I could have known him." She said, bowing her head. "I know he had his faults, and I cannot blame anyone for following their beliefs. I have no quarrel with you, or you with me. Will you create dresses for me?"
"I will." He replied. "On the understanding that should anyone ask you where you gotyour dress you should mention my name. I suppose that after your marriage the dress maker shall be in charge of all of your dresses?"
"I suppose, although the idea does not please me. The royal dress maker takes in to account the opinion of my brother which I find does not suit me."
A small smile appeared on his face.
"You remind me of her. I think she and you would have gotten on, had things been different."
"I would hope so, considering that I am to marry her son."
"Very well, I shall make dresses for you. Should you wish to continue to visit me once you are the Princess, you shall always be welcome."
Nieneve spent several hours in the dress shop and came away with one dress which Artorus Vadichi, the dress maker, had made while she had sat, laughing and talking with Lania and him over tea. He had found her, after a while, enchanting and not at all what he had expected. She had a certain innocence in her that he had always admired, but he knew that she was no fool. He had met the Prince on occasion, or rather had seen him, and thought that this woman would be good for him. He hoped she would bring out his mother in him, which in Artorus' opinion, was something the Prince was missing.
"Goodbye Artorus, and thank you once again."
"Thank you Lady Nieneve, for giving me the opportunity to make beautiful clothes once more. I shall send your dresses to the castle as soon as they are finished."
"I look forward to their arrival." She smiled and turned her horse to ride back to the castle. "Thank you once more."
On their return to the castle a servant ran over to them.
"My lady! You are expected at dinner this evening. His highness the King is to attend."
Nieneve glanced nervously at Lania and then turned to reply to the servant.
"What time will dinner be?"
"At seven lady. The King eats early. I believe he has ordered entertainment."
"Thank you. I shall be there." The servant bowed and hurried off.
"He does not usually eat with the main party Lady Nieneve. He must have decided it was time to meet you. Why else the entertainment?"
"Then I am very glad I have a suitable dress for the meal." Nieneve replied and spurred her horse on to the stables where a lad came to collect him.
"I shall run you a bath." Lania said, curtseying and hurrying in to the castle.
Nieneve followed slowly, accompanied by the two servants that had been in to town with her. As she reached the stairs that led to the bedrooms she stopped and turned to them.
"You may go now. Thank you for accompanying me, and for waiting while I was inside the dress makers. I apologise if that caused you discomfort. Here, take a coin each for your troubles." She placed a silver coin in each of their hands and then began to climb the stairs once more, followed by their thanks.