The night that Renly met young Jon Flowers was only weeks after he and Loras had first consummated their love for one another. Renly had accompanied Loras to Highgarden for a visit. They had barely time to bathe and rest briefly before they were expected participate as the guests of honor at festivities welcoming Loras home.
The Lord of Highgarden and Warden of the South definitely knew how to entertain company. Renly observed with appreciation that when Highgarden feasted, neither the wealth of the Lannisters nor the regality of the King’s Landing could equal it. Hundreds of candles and dozens of wall scones blazed throughout the long hall. Garlands of fat roses rich with the fragrance of the seemingly eternal summer had been wound about every visible support beam and pillar in the hall and draped artfully over the all of the dining tables. The aroma of hens stuffed with dressing and roasted to perfection, honey-crusted ducklings, baked hams and grilled sausages threatened to overwhelm the scent of the flowers. Melons, peaches, fireplums, purple and green grapes, and flaming red strawberries, each as big as a baby’s fist, were piled in a carefully crafted imitation of careless profusion upon golden platters arranged upon tables covered in the finest white linen. The recent harvest’s bounty of fruits rivaled the famous Tyrell roses in the intensity of their colors.
In addition to the perfect ambience of relaxed plenty and comfort, the Tyrells were legendary for acquiring and keeping the best musicians, singers and composers. Mace Tyrell and most of the elders of the company had drifted off to their bedchambers long hence, leaving the hall less crowded, but no less festive. Willas Tyrell had stayed longer than his father, but at last had departed with courteous good-nights to all and the admonishment to Renly and Loras that by no means should they cut short their evening, but must stay and enjoy the music and drink. Garlan and Lady Margaery had been left with the responsibility of hosting the remaining guests.
“I think we need more dance music, Garlan,” said Margaery. “May I ask the musicians?”
“Lord Renly, would you like music for dancing?” Garlan asked. "You are the favored guest tonight."
“I’d very much enjoy dancing. Especially if I am able persuade the Lady Margaery to take a turn with me.”
Margaery smiled knowingly at him, poking his shoulder as she slid past him to engage in a discussion with the master musician. Loras had not needed to explain his intimacy with Renly to his precocious younger sister, merely to confirm her guess. She liked Lord Renly and adored her brother Loras. The two young nobles felt blessed that they could always feel at ease with her. Garlan also knew of their relationship. Highgarden offered the relief of unspoken acceptance and the freedom from prying eyes that Renly in particular appreciated after the intrigue of King's Landing.
“Loras,” he said, leaning in so close that the warm breath of his whisper forced his companion to shiver. “Who is the handsome boy with the curly black hair? The one who is dressed like a highborn knight, but sitting below us, near the front?”
“You can look but don’t thinking of touching him. That’s my younger brother Jon.”
“Really? I have never heard a thing about him. You can’t possibly be serious can you?”
“Of course, I am not making it up. Why would I conceivably invent such a story?”
“Silly.” Renly caressed Loras’s thigh with intent beneath the table cloth. “I don’t doubt that your father is capable of producing a bastard son. The opportunity is nearly irresistible even to the truest husband and most dedicated of family men in his position. I simply noticed an undeniably attractive lad, noble in bearing and dressed as richly as any of your siblings, whom I have not met. What I object to is that you could for moment believe I would touch anyone but you, dearest love. Why would I ever look anywhere else now that I have finally won your love.”
“Sweet words, Renly. They would be an effective distraction were it not that I must remind you that you left me pining after you for long and lonely years.”
“By all the gods old and new, you do like your drama don’t you? First, I had to wait until you were of age and then until you were knighted. All the while wanting you. Loving you. Your delectable presence a constant torment.”
“You win!” Loras crowed, dazzling him with a boyish grin. “Would you like to meet my brother now? I had intended to present him to you tomorrow when we go hunting. I've been instructed since I first traveled there never to speak of him in King’s Landing. Both for his own protection and the privacy owed my parents. There is speculation enough about the mystery of our dear Jon here at Highgarden. For some reason that we do not know, my father has refused to reveal the identity of his mother.”
Renly watched Jon’s well-formed lips form the smallest of smiles as he raised one eyebrow, shifting his glance from Loras to Renly and back again. Of course, he had observed their focus on him.
“There now! See! We have no choice,” announced Loras, with an emphatic sigh. “He knows that we are talking about him. I do not doubt that you will like him. He has already heard all about you. The only person besides Margaery in whom I have confided my good fortune. Margaery told Garlan. I didn't. But you will find Jon as loyal and discreet a friend as one might ever encounter.”