(1310-02-26) Tea for Two
Summary: Clémentine arrives for a tea-tasting session at Pierre's offices.
RL Date: March 3rd, 2018
Related: Related Logs: A Suitable Gift
pierre clementine 

Pierre's Office, Marsilikos

Pierre worked efficiently when needed. There was not much time to get the tea ready before the Opera invitation, and the old Duc's birthday was not far away. But one can work well under pressure, if motivated. A note was delivered to Clémentine, inviting her to his office, situated in a nice area not too far from the docks. Far enough away from the hustle and the bustle, but close enough to be by the docks and any warehouse in not too long a time.

It is a relatively small building, two storeys only. The first floor is actually a nice little restaurant. The entire second floor, though, is rented out to Pierre and his Merchant business. From the looks of things, he has gone for style but sparsely so. Saving money? Or just not wanting to flaunt it overly much? Upon her arrival, a servant would meet her down by the street, leading her up to the second floor and in to the man's office, a corner room with windows to the docks and a busy street.

Pierre's offices are not a place that Clémentine has visited before, though she may well have wondered more than once at what was situated above the popular restaurant she'd been known to frequent. Having changed her earlier gown of grey for one of a dark and decadent aubergine velvet, and with an hooded sable fur framing her face and draping her shoulders, she presents a fetching figure when she's finally shown into his office. "Quite the trip that was through the city, my lord," she says, her words exhaled on a breath as fingers fold back her hood from her head to expose the fire of newly braided hair. Her cheeks are pinked from the wintery chill of the outside world, and she adjusts the lie of her hood so that it falls 'just so', with the fine filaments of the guard hairs whisping against the underside of her jaw and the lobes of her ears. "It never fails to amaze me how many forget the neck-snapping slipperiness of cobblestones after a night of hard frost. My coachman had thrice to rein in the horses so severely that I was near bounced from my seat!". A laugh. "But you do not want to hear about that, it is tea we are here to discuss."

The Delaunay Lord, in this instance, is seated behind a desk marked by hard work and plenty of papers. Parchments and rolls are stacked meticulously at each end of the desk, keeping the middle free for him to write new ones if needed. Right now, though, the middle is occupied by a single wooden box, about one hand a half palm high and four hands long. The lid is partially open, some straw sticking out at the small crack.

The Lord himself seems to like the warmth, for he has made sure this office is sufficiently heated, or as heated as one can make it without burning the building down. He is not wearing his doublet, as it is currently hanging off the back of his chair. This leaves him in his white shirt only. When she enters the office, the man rises slowly, "Ah, My Lady Clémentine." he inclines his head to her, "It is a pleasure to see you again. I am so glad you could come." he lets a light smile form on his lips, "Mh, yes. Summer can not come soon enough, no?" he puts his hand upon the lid of the box, "Tea. Yes, that is what we are here to discuss." he replies to her, "Rare, expensive tea for the birthday of a very important man."

Clémentine laughs again, her fingers briefly pressing to her lips to stifle the sound. "I thought we had established, my lord, that I lay no claim to the title of Lady. I am but Mademoiselle at best." She hitches her skirts clear of the floor and executes a deep and graceful curtsey, eyes firmly — if amusedly — remaining on Pierre's through the fall and rise of it. "I do however think," she further goes on to say, "… that having danced around the convention of whether or not to use titles when we last met a mere handful of hours ago, that we had settled upon a simple useage of Clémentine for myself, and Pierre for you. Unless, that is, you have misgivings on that?" Hands smooth her skirts back down, and given the warmth that the room's been stoked to, she takes another moment of her time to unfasten her furs and drape them across the back of the chair that she stands closest to. Her eyes cut to the window and the easy view of the dock and port it affords. "How beautifully situated your offices are. Do you keep quarters here too?"

"You may, as you say, lay no claim to the title of Lady. But if I may be so bold, you certainly give off the air and presence of one." Pierre replies to this. He drums his fingers a bit on the lid of the box, the Delaunay ring on his finger glinting a bit as the light hits it. "I suppose it came natural to me." he adds, "Now, please. Make yourself at home. Sit.." he motions, giving her the option to sit anywhere in the room. While the chairs are comfortable, there are only two options though. A chair opposite him by the desk, or a chair near a wall, by a window, "Can I offer you any refreshments?" he asks, "And yes, the place does rack up quite the rent." he admits, "But it has a very strategic location to make it worth it." he pauses, "Quarters? Well, I do have a small bed in one of the rooms for when I work late, but other than that I keep lodgings in my family's holdings in town."

"Not so far from l'Opera then. I have often walked past the Delaunay mansion and wondered what treasures it might hold within. I need wonder no more." Clémentine's voice tails away with that deliberate and amused reference to Pierre himself as he directs her attention to the chairs. She subsides into the one opposite his desk, and leans forward eagerly to inspect the box that's placed upon it. "Oh. But are we not to taste the different teas you wish to tempt me with? I would dearly love to sample a few and not merely rely upon the scent or fragrance of what you're offering. I am afraid that my palate is not as refined as many, and my senses require not only what is seen and smelt, but also tasted?" Her voice lilts upwards with the question that's posed, more in hope and expectation of what she's asking of him, rather than anything else.

"I would never presume to know what moves within the mind of one such as you. Better to be on the safe side and try to be a cordial host, no?" Pierre moves his hands to the lid of the box, "But as it is said, then samples there will be." he then lifts the lid off from the box, "Now, you will notice that I have not brought a single sample, from just one tea. I have, in fact, brought several. And there is a reason." He moves his hand to let his fingers slowly drag over the small pouches laying within, "This one.." he says, stopping his hand to let his fingers rest upon it in a manner that makes the Delaunay signet ring once more a prominent visual component, "..is the tea meant as your gift to the Duc. It will be the first tea for you to sample and, I dare say, you will find it difficult to dislike it." he then lets his hand move over the other bags, "The rest, however.. ah, yes. The rest. I will offer a sample of each, and the one which you like the most will be a gift to you." He lets his eyes go from the tea to her, "A token of my appreciation, for your business and for your invitation to watch the play."

"Truth be told, it will be a pleasure to have your company tonight," Clémentine says, her hands folding together in her lap as she lifts her eyes to Pierre's face. It coincides exactly with the moment that his lift to her's, and there's a locking of them there for a second or two. "So often I must play hostess to those that have the ability to make me wilt, the sort that making conversation with becomes a trial, rather than a pleasure." The smallest moué of a pout is given, but it's a self-deprecating one that invites him to laugh with her as she pokes a little fun at herself and the part she must play. "But has has oft been pointed out," she goes on to say, "…I talk too much. Thank you for your indulgence of me in my endeavour to find a gift for the Duc, and also for your offer to gift me further some tea of mine own." A sudden smile. "Had I known invitations might bring such rewards before now, I most likely would have extended such sooner!" A twist of her hands in her lap, and the smallest tilting of her head to one side that causes the gems that adorn her ears to glitter and shine. A sudden smile. "I promise you that I shall try not to like them all."

Pierre moves his ringed hand to the side, down by the edge of the desk to open a drawer. He takes from it a small bell which he rings after which the servant appears in the door way, "Ah, Claude. Take this.." he puts the lid back on to the box and drums his fingers on it, "Prepare tea samples for us."

The servant nods once, stepping from the doorway to walk over to the desk. He picks up the box and then turns to leave, "As you wish, My Lord." is offered as well in a sort of droning voice, the voice of a many that has done his job for so long its become a boring life, but life nevertheless.

Pierre smiles then to Clémentine, a deeper smile this time, "One only talks too much when one talks about nothing at all. I have not found this to be so with you at all." he tells her as he slowly begins to sit down; he has been standing all this time after all. "As for the tea.. were you to like them all, I would simply have to gift them all to you."

"You are either a terribly good at being a merchant in your indulgence of me, or terribly bad," Clémentine says, another laugh finding its way to her lips as she pushes herself back in her chair, finding comfort in its embrace. "For you invite me to take advantage now. But I somehow doubt that you are bad, which means that you must be terribly good. Perhaps your thoughts are that I will so love your teas that a request to supply l'Opera permanently will follow in a week or two." For teas are popular amongst its patrons.

"Oh, that might very well be one reason." Pierre replies to her, "Repeat custom is what makes a business after all, is it not?" he wonders, "And what better way to gain such a valuable customer then to tempt with a gift or two? Oh, but there is more to it than that." he admits, "Your generosity in inviting me, for one." he begins, "And perhaps the hope that there will be one more occasion after that, and one more after that.."

There is a moment, of course, in which the servant has to prepare the tea. Water has to be heated, leaves soaked and such. But he does arrive eventually with the tray, having several small cups on it with samples. One for each person. He puts it down, offers a "My Lord." He then turns to leave.

Clémentine observes Claude, and the stoic front he presents. "He's very dry…" she says, her voice lowering to a conspiratorial sotto voce as Pierre's man-servant retreats and leaves them alone. "And there is a saying in Elua," she further adds, "…that warns that a person should be wary of pulling a face, for if the wind changes, you stay that way until you pass to the arms of the Companions. Perhaps that is what happened to your Claude. Have you been to Elua yourself? It is certainly the most beautiful of cities, and the one of my birth. I confess, however, to finding myself more in favour of Marsilikos of late. Its air is clearer, its colours sharper. It is, hm, brighter…" Her voice tails away as the drifting scents of the teas rise to permeate the air between them, and her eyes settle upon the first of the cups with the brew it contains. "But now, you will have to offer me guidance, Pierre, as to which is which of the teas we have here. Should we start with the one for my Duc?"

"Dry? My, where I to put him into the harbour, he would cause the entire bay to empty out of its water." Pierre replies to this, "Yes, he is quite dry, but good Claude keeps some of the more tedious tasks out of my hair. He is most efficient." he motions then to the tray, "If Claude did what I suspect he did, he will have arranged the cups in the order in which the bags were placed within the box. So this first one would be for your Duc. Then we can go over the rest in order." he says, "Have I ever been to Elua City? No, I have not yet made that journey. There has been no need so far. But perhaps, one day, I will find my steps leading me in that direction."

Clémentine bestows the loveliest of smiles upon Pierre, the corners of her lips tip-tilting to press dimples to her cheeks at his remark upon Claude. "Then let us hope that he never stumbles off the dockside and into the waters, for Terre d'Ange would be lost without the trade which the waters of Marsilikos draws." A gentle laugh falls easily from her as her hand hovers near his, fingers then closing about the delicate bowl of the bone china cup containing the first of the brews. "So. Could you describe and explain this tea to me as I taste it?"

"Mh, I do not think that will ever be an issue. Come to think of it, I am not sure I have ever seen Claude outside of these premises. I am not quite sure where he sleeps." Pierre replies to this, although from the light smile at the corner of his mouth, it might be suggested that he is not entirely serious. He makes sweep with his hand over the teas, to cause the vapours from them to stir and fill the air a bit faster, "Well, the first one needs no introduction." he says, "Well, other than that it is for your Duc. Incredibly rare. I imported it from a trader in Menekhet. I am .. almost certain that it stems from distant Ch'in, but he refuses to tell me. I think he believes I will undercut his trade were I to find out."

"Refuses to tell you? How decidedly droll of him," Clémentine murmurs, allowing the warmth from the rising steam to bathe both her face and her senses. She inhales deeply, eyes lidding, though not so much that she can't keep the dark-haired merchant firmly in line of sight. "It could be quite awkard should he enjoy it so vastly that he requires more, but that bridge could be crossed well… when we get to it. Ch'in, you say?" She allows herself the smallest of draughts from the lip of her cup, sucking it through her teeth as one would taste a wine. It could look inelegant amongst the unpracticed, but the red-headed woman has a way of gilding everything that she does with a great deal of poise. There's a pause as seconds tick, as she allows the tones and flavours to mix and mingle on her palatte before she swallows it down.

"Oh, there is more of it. The trader I am dealing with brings in a set number of crates each year, provided his ships and caravans make it through. They do fetch a high price and not many seem keen to buy them, seeing as how quickly one would go through it." he takes a taste of it as well from his own sample cup, "Mh, but it does have some rather unique aftertastes. Very .. soothing." he notes, his voice dropping a bit, as if speaking in reverence to the tea itself. He lets his eyes lid for just a few seconds before opening them again, letting them land on the woman opposite him, "I believe your Duc will be most pleased." he notes, putting the small sample cup down now that it is emptied.

"I believe you are right, he will adore this blend," Clémentine concurs, setting her own small cup back upon the tray. She takes the next in the line of succession, fingers curling neatly to embrace the circumference of the bowl. "I will take two pounds in weight of it when you are able to arrange for its delivery, and I would like to reserve a further five. I will need to find a suitable caddy for it to be presented in, unless you are also a trader in those?" Her hands lift the next to her face, allowing for the second to be tasted and savoured in a similar manner as she had with the first. "This seems much richer. Smokier. Not Ch'in, I am guessing?"

"Well, unfortunately not. Atleast not in any capacity that would be fit for a Duc." Pierre replies to this accompanied by a small shake of his head. His hand goes to the next little cup as well, "This next one is from Bodhistan. Quite expensive, but not quite as rare as the one from, again, what I suspect to be Ch'in." he lifts the cup up slowly, "It is a black tea, as you can see. Meant to stimulate you, much like a cup of the roasted java bean would. Not as potent, to be sure, but still far more pleasant to drink. Not as much an acquired taste as the other."

Clémentine gives the smallest of coughs. "Stimulating. I see. Well let us hopethat it is not too stimulating, since it is not always stimulation that's required, but more often than not the opposite. At least from my own point of view." There's the hint of a smile to be found in the line of her mouth as she presses the cup to her lips, and with another quick inhale of both air and the tea that's been brewed, she takes her first taste of it. It is perhaps the warmth of the steam that curls from the tea which causes the lift of colour in her cheeks, the delicate flare of her nose and the slight rise and fall of her chest coordinated to perfection with the slight tilt of her head to one side as she ponders her decision on how well the taste suits.

Pierre, however, drinks down the tea in single gulp to then let out a breathy sound, "Ah, it has been a while since I last tasted this blend. It brings back memories, to be sure." he puts the little cup down slowly, "I have another tea from Bodhistan. It is the one following the next. It is supposed to be some sort of aphrodisiac, however, I have not found it to be so. It is a pleasant one, however. But before that, we come to this.." he moves his hand to the next one, the one before the last, "It is a tea meant for .. medidative moments. It is a relaxant, opposed to a stimulant. A green tea that stems from somewhere east. I am not sure where, but I got the notion it grows in several places. It is somewhat rare, but not to the point where the price is laughably steep."

"I imagine that you are well travelled," Clémentine says, once more replacing her cup in order to claim the next. "I have never been beyond Caerdicci Unitas and Aragonia myself. Perhaps, some day, my travelling will extend further than that. Alas, until then, I must rely on books and the tales of such as yourself to broaden my knowledge of all things foreign." Her eyes naturally go to the tea which is described as an aphrodisiac, and there's a glint in her eyes when they meet with his. "Now that could be interesting in more ways than one, and despite your claiming that you have not found it so yourself, I am eager to put it to the test. But first this." This being the third which she now indulges herself with, and there's a moment of contemplation before she speaks again. "Mm. I find myself favouring this less than the others."

"Yes. I do agree." Pierre replies to this, having finished the tea himself. He puts the cup down, "It is.. an acquired taste, to be sure. These .. pale, green teas have their uses, I suppose, but the taste leaves something to be desired." he notes. His eyes then goes to the last cup before returning to her, "As for the last tea. Well, wether it works or not as an aphrodisiac, it certainly has a very pleasant taste and aroma." he notes, "It has a .. strange fruity taste, one I am not familiar with in any tea so far. Makes me wonder if they dry the tea leaves with a bunch of fruits. If it really is as simple as that."

There's a touch of wickedness in Clémentine's eyes as she claims the final cup from the tray. "Well. Let us see whether it has an effect upon me!" She falls quiet, the drama of one splayed hand pressing to her bosom in a feint of modesty as she takes a mouthful, and then another of the fragrant tea. She does pause to allow it to warm her palatte, to set her tongue tingling with the subtle flavours and… yes… the hint of fruit of which she'd been warned, and having done that, she drains it the rest in a similar manner to how Pierre himself had previously done. "Ohhh…" Eyes sparkle and cheeks suffuse with colour once more when her gaze meets with his. "Companions be blessed. I feel… " She feels what? Her sentence isn't finished, for laughter spills instead.

Pierre drains the contents of his own cup in the same manner as he has done the rest so far, in one swift go; letting the tea remain within his mouth for a few moments before he swallows the liquid. Putting the cup down, his eyes goes to Clementine, watching her a few moments. He does smile though at her antics, her little play acting in regards to the teas supposed properties, "I would assume that you feel.. renewed from all the teas we have been tasting and, perhaps, even a little bit of desire for fruit?" he offers, letting his lips quirk into a deeper smile, "Well, there you have them. My finest selections of dried tea leaves." he says, "And as promised, the one or ones you found the most pleaseing.. yours, as a gift."

Clémentine leans forward in her seat, replacing the cup before tap-tap-tapping the rim of it with one slender, manicured finger. The digit rests there briefly before the second cup receives a similar treatment. "I know that really I should be restrained and tell you just the one, but I find I cannot. It is rude and impolite of me to claim more than the one, but in truth both speak to me. I adore them both, and find myself eager to discover what another cup or three of the final sample might inflict on my senses. Perhaps we might serve it tonight…" She does well to hold her mirth in check, though it certainly shows in the glint of her eyes where they hold with his, and in the smile she so knowing bestows upon him.

"Rude? Why, not at all Clémentine." Pierre replies to this, seeming to find her desire for two sorts of his teas to be a good thing, "The two it is then. I shall have them delivered as soon as possible." he pauses, "As for what you wish to serve tonight? Mh, well, I shall lay myself totally at the mercy of the hostess." he inclines his head to her, "I look forward to it." And from the way he looks at her, he certainly is not lying. There is a sort of spark in his eyes as he regards her in this moment, a spark of life and hope, perhaps?

Clémentine rises languidly to her feet. "Then I thank you, Pierre, and shall wait to receive not only the tea which I am purchasing for my Duc, but also the two you are gifting. Thanks seem hardly adequate, so I simply hope that you find the enjoyment in the company I offer tonight, part-way a recompense to the debt I am in. Not…" she quickly goes on to say, "…that I keep account of such things." Her furs are retrieved from where she'd lain them, and smoothly she fastens them backaround her shoulders. A hand is extended, and the way in which she holds it with her fingers curled just so makes no secret of what she expects from him. "Seven-thirty the curtain rises tonight, though I like to be settled a while before that."

Pierre, likewise, rises from his chair to which he lifts the doublet from the back of it. He puts it on as she speaks, "I shall have Claude see to it." he says, adjusting the cloth a bit before his eyes lands once more upon her, "I think that finding enjoyment in your company is not a very difficult thing at all." he moves around the table to this, his own hand rising up to warmly claim hers. He lifts it up slowly, fingertips caressing over the smoothness of her skin before he brings it to his lips to kiss the top of it, "It has been a pleasure to have you here this day. I hope, after tonight, I shall be awarded with more chances to spend time with you."

Clémentine dips a curtsey with the kiss to her hand, chin dipping so that her eyes break contact with his before she rises again. "I believe that that might not be unthinkable, Pierre. I find I quite enjoy your company." Should he so offer, then Clémentine will allow him to escort her back through the offices and down the stairs to the door where a rather beautifully appointed coach waits for her, and after climbing into it and having the door closed behind her, she'll sink deep into the button-backed upholstery and consider what words will later be written her mother.

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