(1310-04-20) Open Hands and Open Hearts
Summary: Imogen receives a visit from her cousin, leading to a tickle war, a failed bridal carry, and a surprisingly therapeutic hair brushing session before the two retire to discuss world domination.
RL Date: Fri Apr 20, 1310
Related: none
imogen ortolette 

Ducal Palace-Comte de Florac Suite

By all standards this room is rather simple compared to those that surround it, as befitting the Comte heir who resides within, for elegant does not mean elaborate. Polished marble floors make up the entirety of the three room suite, with exotic fur carpets interspersed tastefully in the sitting area, the bedroom, and the washroom, with the whole area being generally well lit, even if the place looks rather untouched, suggesting it often goes unused all the same. The first area is the sitting room filled with oaken wood tables and velvet red furnishings that contrast slightly and ease the overly white feel the marble can sometimes provide. Pillowed couches and chairs surround a table where meals and discussions alike can be held in comfort and a little further away sits a private desk for those needing to compose something away from prying eyes. Filling the other side of the room is a partition, behind which sits a wardrobe, vanity set stocked with essentials, and a floor length mirror allowing guest and host alike to insure their outfit and makeup is perfection itself.

A door on the left wall leads to the bedroom which is mostly dark and entirely dominated by the canopy bed in the center and the dressing area that hugs the right side of the room. The bed itself is simple, an oaken frame with quilted covers and fluffy pillows, the usual fine appointment of items giving way to comfort and function, while the silken curtain offers the rester a modicum of privacy from servants that tend to bustle in and out, especially during the evening and early morning. The vanity, wardrobe, and mirror along the opposite wall is much like it's sitting room counterpart, if a bit more expensively stocked on all counts, the finer dresses, shoes, and makeup being found only in the hosts private collection, as it should.

Returning to the main room and on the right wall lies the washroom. Simple and functional with a marble bath and all the bathing and skincare supplies one might desire. That is it's only notable quality though, as otherwise it looks much like any other washroom one might find.

It's been raining a lot lately, which has done a great deal to keep everyone in their homes and from going out. Even those in good health. Which is why Imogen is curled up on her couch with a book in her lap, looking like she would honestly rather be anywhere else right now. Given the increasing pile of books on her coffee table, it's likely she's been 'borrowing' from the duchesses library just to keep herself from dying of boredom.

Ortolette does rather like it when it rains; it keeps everyone sort of on her playing field, as it were. Everyone staying in unless it's absolutely needful, and even then going out causes such a fuss. But as it stands, it pours without, and a little whisper of maiden slippers whisks catlike down the corridors. Ortolette is up, not even in her rolling chair, but walking, a delicate set of fingers lifted to trail along the wall as she moves, just in case she must catch herself. When her hand comes to the door of her cousin's suite, her palm rests there for a moment as though feeling what might be occurring on the other side— then her fingers curl into a little fist and two knuckles tap-tap gently on the wooden surface.

Imogen looks up when she hears the knock on her door. It's not servants, because servants don't knock. They barge in and do their business. Whether it's changing her sheets, summoning her to dinner, or any of the long list of duties she's sure a servant must have to do. So instead of waiting she sets her book down on the table, separate from the 'finished' mountain she already had, and goes to open the door, blinking at the sight she's met with. "Cousin? Please, do come in," she offers with a small, if confused, smile and steps aside to let the girl enter.

"Hallo, sweet cous," Ortolette's voice is slightly reedy, still high pitched in the throes of feeble girlhood, "Would you have company on a rainy forenoon?" is offered up brightly, no less, and she lifts out her elbow to one side, displaying a little white wicker basket festooned with a pink ribbon which is resting in its crook. "I've brought my basket with me. We can sew and have tea brought and have a fine time."

Imogen blinks at the offering and smiles softly as she nods, gesturing the girl inside. "I admit, i've never had the opportunity to do needlework, but if you're willing to instruct me i'd be happy to!" she declares as she brings the girl in and attempts to clear the books off the table and put them away so that the table will have room for ewing materials and tea. "Sorry, i'm afraid i've been raiding your mothers library, so my room is shamefully messy today," she explains with a grin.

"What, never?" Ortolette is good-natured in her surprise, "Well, we will have to catch you up," she half-teases, slipping in over the threshold with a little bob of her wide pink skirts. "Or not, if you'd prefer elsewise," she breaks her teasing in a warm, companionable fashion. "What are you reading?" she wonders, gliding along and eyeing the collection as it's cleared away.

"Never, you half to understand, I was raised in House Dhalia, We learn things like poetry, history, dancing, politics. Things that allow us to have conversations and move about the world of our higher class patrons. Needlework is more of a highborn ladies past time, not a conversation tool, and until recently, I was not a highborn lady," she explains with a grin. "But I am most eager to learn, I assure you cousin, it's just never been part of my regular curriculum," she continues before her eyes drift to the books. "Books on language mostly, it's my dream to one day be able to speak every major language,"

"What a lofty aim!" Ortolette is fairly impressed, but it doesn't stop her from sweeping her way to a red velvet chaise nearby and settling in upon it, pushing the air out of her billowing gown with her basket and curling her legs up in beside her. "What language are you learning now? Say something to me in it!" she pleads with a girlishly demanding tone while she begins to pull out her sewing and arrange it on her lap.

Imogen giggles softly as she settles onto her couch once more and listens to her cousin talk about languages. Still to someone not raised Dahlia it's likely alot more fascinating, to her it's just a duty she needs to perform, so that no matter who she comes across, they may speak. "Well i'm going to be at least a comtesse one day, perhaps even more if fate favours me, I need to be able to speak to whoever I come across, and at least for now, I have the whole leading people and doing politics under wraps," she points out before sighing patiently and nodding as she comes up with a sentence. "ek pareekshan teen pareekshan?"

Ortolette takes to her sewing almost without looking at it at all. Her hands work on sheer muscle memory, and know her kit well enough to find what they need to prepare her work. Soon enough she's working along on some bit of embroidery, a quick glance to make sure she's correctly oriented, and then she just follows the pattern with her little finger. "Oh, that's so pretty. What is it, Hellene?" she wonders.

Imogen watches her as she goes to work on the sewing so admirably. No doubt she's got that part of 'lady training', as Imogen has dubbed it, down. Distracted in her staring it takes her a moment to respond to the question. "Not yet, that was Bhodistani, Hellene will come eventually too though," she admits with a grin. "I mostly focused on the languages of the major countries at court. Aragonian, Cruithne, Ephesian, Caerdicci, and Skaldi,"

Ortolette is entirely wrapped up in what Imogen is saying, and, losing track of her place, she stabs her needle straight into her finger, eliciting a short yelp from the maiden on the chaise, who lifts her pierced digit to directly before her face, watching the blood well into a red bead on her fingertip. "Oh, heavens," she mourns. "Do you have a bit of batting, dear cous? And do you mean to say you can converse in each one of those languages?"

Imogen blinks a bit when she notices the poor girl literally stab herself, and before she even asks she's off into the bathroom, returning shortly with some bandages, soap, and cloth to clean the minor wound. "Yes, I'm most expert in my native tongue, but i have a long range of conversations i can engage in with the others, i'm not entirely fluent, but pretty darn close!" she says with a grin. "It's not impressive as it sounds, adepts here begin at the age of ten, but on mont nuit we begin at the age of five or six, i spent eleven years in strict education," she explains with a grin. "But when i was born, I had no fortune, only my families name to recommend me, and I had to do /something/, the court was a good a place as any,"

Ortolette has set her needlework aside where it will not be bled upon, and, while Imogen is out of the room, in order that her bead not drip onto her pale gown, she moves her finger to her lips, pensively dipping her head to meet it to her lips and suckle the droplet safely into her mouth, her pale lashes resting against the apples of her cheeks as she closes her eyes in a moment of silent reflection. When Imogen returns, she opens her eyes again and holds out her finger for her cousin to help tend, leaning forward as she does so. "I know a little Caerdicci. I can read it better than I can converse in it, though."

Imogen smiles softly and nods up at her. "This may be a bit strange of a question but….what do you plan to do with your life cous? You're the daughter of the grand duchess so you have plenty of opportunity. But like, is there a goal you have?" she asks curiously as she cleans and wraps up the wound as gently as possible.

Ortolette finds a smile touching gently onto her own features, where it sits and solidifies into something more mask-like when Imogen questions her about her plans for her future. "Some days it is enough for me to have made it to the setting of the sun," is a surprisingly dark sentiment from such a sweet little voice— but from one who has had afternoon tea with death more frequently than most, maybe it doesn't come as a surprise. "I do what I can from day to day; such that if tomorrow I am called from this place I will be content to have left it better than I found it."

Imogen smiles weakly and nods at her words. She's a dahlia, and she knows the court smile when she sees one, so she's not fooled by the smile and she moves to sit up on the couch with the girl, laying her hand on her lap palm up, in invitation for the girl to hold if she wishes. "I was born sickly too love, it's okay to admit you're scared," she murmurs softly. "It's scary i know, but i hope you at least have joy in your life?"

Ortolette lays a set of delicate fingers across Imogen's when she's invited to do so, then crooks them slightly to hold her cousin's hand in her chilly, blue-veined hand. "I do so love the opera," she enthuses gently. "I would live in a box there and watch performances all day if I could. And I enjoy my needlepoint, when my needle isn't being heartless to my finger." See? She has a sense of humor.

Imogen thinks for a moment and chuckles softly. "Has your mom ever like bought out a box for you at the local opera?" she asks as her thumb runs gently across the girls blue veined hand. There's loving concern in her eyes. She doesn't know her cousin well, but she clearly worries. "If she hasn't I will, and as for your needlepoint, no one who touches needles comes away unscathed i'm afraid, wear your wounds as a badge of honour, they make you a true master," she explains with a grin.

"I sit in mother's box, for the most part; but I will have my own box, one day," Ortolette announces, betraying, perhaps, a glimmer of ambition. "I have thought I might invest some of my own pocket - coin into a production of a show; to become a real patron of the arts and be in the thick of the action. Then they will have a box just for me and those I hold dear. I prophesy," she adds with a winsome little titter.

Imogen chuckles softly and grins when she speaks, and betrays the fact that dispite her words, the girl has ambition and dreams. "I don't know how much you fancy ducal children get for an allowance, but you may need to invest into a buisiness or find some other way to generate coin to make money work for you. I know a man who might be able to help you with that if you're interested?" she asks curiously.

"Which man is this?" Ortolette wonders, "I don't suppose that there would be harm to come in hearing what he has to say," she goes on. "I have on occasion made investment in mercantile endeavors which I have considered sound, and mother has allowed me my own coffers to keep my earnings and invest from them over again."

"Pierre Delauny. He is noble born but he took up the life of a merchant to raise funds with which he can make a name for himself. Many shun him for this path, but i support his path, and he is quite sucessful, i'm sure if you offered to invest in him he could help you to increase your money?" Imogen points out happily before kissing the girls hands with a wink. "I won't even require a finders fee," she remarks playfully.

"Oh, yes, I know the man you mean," Ortolette chimes sweetly. "I was introduced to him on the finale eve of La Femme Ecarlote. Now that you have reminded me of him, I shall compose for him a letter in which I will propose a meeting to discuss potential investments," she decides. "But away with such grave affairs. Let us have tea we can speak to one another as they do in Caerdicca Unitas. And I will tickle you, for my hand are unencumbered by sewing!" she appends, and proceeds to do so.

Imogen pauses for a moment as the girl speaks, the look on her face questioning if she really means what she's saying. But when the girl dives for her she squeals and giggles, squirming around like one might expect. But there is a strangeness to her eyes and one has to almost wonder if the girl is simply a stranger to affection like this.

"Arrendere," sing-songs Ortolette in a Caerdicci possibly a little more fluent than she was letting on earlier. She doesn't attack with any force, only playfully laying on hands while Imogen squirms, easy enough to get away from her, since she's not really doing much lunging. she does end up sort of draped over her cousin with a goofy, kiddish grin.

Imogen aqueals and grins, though she's being more clever than it initially appears because by the time she admits defeat, she's got her arms wrapped about her cousins waist and a victorious smile on her face. "Though surrender is debatable, because you may have me down, but i've got you trapped," she points out with a grin as blue-grey eyes shine with mirth.

Ortolette's ribs are heaving against Imogen's arms, her pale face is mottled with blotchy red in the aftermath of the exertion, but she's smiling, and no doubt the exercise was good for her. Too late for Imogen; she has an Ortolette on her now, and she's snuggling in like a sister might snuggle a sister. "Then we have a detente," she proclaims breathily. "And perhaps cause for a nap."

Imogen laughs softly and all too happily holds the girl against her. Slender fingers absently play with the blonde locks, and the blonde in question looks rather….thoughtful. "you know, this is the first time someone has wanted to touch me like this…it's strange, not a bad strange, just different," she muses before attempting to lift them both up and carry them to bed, but she doesn't anticipate how heay the girl is and the two wind up back on the couch. "Well that was a fail, but i do have a bed you know, i can tell the servants to bring dinner there and we can gossip and plan world domination?" she offers good naturedly.

Ortolette emits a little noise between a squeak and a chirp at the brief rise and fall of Imogen's effort. But the tumble back onto the chaise is harmless enough, and the toying with her hair utterly delightful. "Oh, yes— let's have supper in bed. I am very curious how we will come to rule the world," she enthuses in her sweet little schoolchild tone of voice, with a laugh not outwardly expressed but hidden woven between the words like a thread of silver in a tapestry, making the work glisten. "Also I will take out my braids and we can brush each other's hair," she whispers as though it were a little conspiracy. "I do so love to have my hair brushed— and you will enjoy it, too."

Imogen giggles softly and smiles as she gently sits them both up and scoots the girl off her lap, she's definately not going to try and pick her up again after /that/ failure. She moves to the door and flags down a servant easily enough. "Apologise to auntie for me and tell her that her youngest daughter and I will be eating in my room alone tonight," she explains before stepping back inside with a mischevious grin. "Well that handles that, i'm sure your mother will consent so we have the evening to ourselves and dinner to look forward to," she explains before helping her up and listening to her suggestion. "If that's what you wish, you'll simply have to introduce me to all these 'typical family experiences' i'm not very familliar with them'. Or with having much of a loving family, but she opts not to mention that part, lest it darken the girls sunshine once more.

Ortolette scoots herself inch by inch until sliding free of her cousin's lap, then takes the time Inogen spends at the door to compose herself and prepare to rise from the chaise, holding out both hands to her cousin to accept her aid in being pulled up. "Not only will I braid your hair for you, I will tickle your very ankles, as well," she declares, as though a judge passing sentence — imperious, yet jestful. "I think mother will be pleased we are spending time together. I think it is very fine to have you in the palace. How has Marsilikos presented itself to you so far? Are you in love yet?"

Imogen smiles gently and is perfectly patient in waiting for her cousin to get her bearings and stand with aid. She's never been near as sick, but when she was born, for the first several years they thought she might die. Perhaps if she had the countess might like her better. She doesn't rush the young girl as they make their way back to the bedroom, the bed isn't going anywhere after all. But her expression returns to mirthful when she is 'threatened'. "I shall accept my punishment with submission to make a Valerian envy me," she jests before looking at her as she mentions her aunt. "I'm glad she won't mind. I admit, i never got to know her, or the rest of my family like i might have liked, the countess ensured i was shipped off to the night court young and kept away from any family of note, that goes /double/ for my aunt," she explained with a jest, trying not to let on just how dark that story gets. "As far as marsiliko's i am very in love, unless you were asking after suitors which i hope you are not, it's bad enough my father's getting on my case," she replies playfully.

"Heavens, no, the city! We live in a thrice blessed space," Ortolette seems smitten enough with the city, herself, "I doubt you have yet been to the Opera. I will take you! Mother hardly uses her box as it stands, so it will suit for mine until I have my own," she prattles on, holding onto Imogen's elbow but walking fairly well on her own, using it more to keep close than anything else. Her ears go a little bit red at the notion of Imogen outsubmitting a Valerian — but, then, they have another cousin who IS presently of Valerian training in La Rose Sauvage. "I can count my meagre constitution as a blessing in this aspect, at least: neither mother nor father wish to see me wed."

Imogen giggles softly and grins shyly at her cousin when she confesses neither parent wishes to see her wed. "My dear, fathers NEVER wish to see their daughters wed, constitution or no. The only reason my father is giving in is because i'm his heir now, and i need an heir of my own eventually," she points ou with a grin. "From what I heard at the opera though it is not that men don't desire you silly," she points out gently before helping her sit down onto the bed and crawling up on the other side. "But yeah, when you feel up to it we should definately go to the opera, that sounds like a fun time," she agrees.

Ortolette settles down on the edge of the bed, and her fingers fiddle with the lacing at the fore of her overgown. It's not much for her to unlace, and she shimmies it down over her hips, leaving it on the side of the bed while she crawls closer to Imogen, now dressed in a chemise and her frilly underthings which leave her really hardly the less covered, but which facilitate easier movement in bed, where she settles down with her legs crossed beneath her, back slightly hunched, hands on her knees. "I don't know what I would ever do with a gentleman if I had one," she confesses. "And my minders from Eisheth's temple have told me I would be unlikely to survive trying to produce a child, and that it would be better for me not to try." So a political marriage is more or less off the table, barring a miracle.

Imogen chuckles softly and smiles. She's discarded her overdress as well, in private she dresses in simple yet elegant clothing in private, so it's not so big a deal for her. "So then marry for love and not politics, or take a consort," she points out gently. "you are a sweet thing, politics are a dangerous and ugly world, a world i would never wish you to enter. Stay in the arts and in what you love, your family will love you all the same, women have more to them than the ability to bear children," she points out as she settles down next to her with an arm over her shoulders.

"I have other things to fill my time besides," Ortolette shrugs off the notion of finding a husband. "It may be that I will take a consort, when I am ready for one. I haven't even yet visited our little court de nuit — not in any official capacity. It all seems a little much; I had almost rather stay home and sew, if it were all the same," she smiles, quite mischievously. "Turn about and let me see to your hair. Where is your brush?"

Imogen grins softly at her notion of shunning a consort entirely. There's no judgment in her eyes, envy maybe, but no judgment, she likely doesn't wanna get married herself. Still she quickly rises and gets a brush from her, very elaborate, dresser and returns to the bed, letting her back face the girl. "Then stay home and sew, become a famous seamstress, there's no need for you to get married or take a consort, your life is yours, and if your parents won't let you live it, something i doubt, then i'll smuggle you away and build you a castle where you CAN live life as you choose," she declares with a grin.

"I have no terrible yen to be famed for my sewing," Ortolette palms the brush and wiggles to and fro to scootch her crossed legs close up against her cousin's backside, and there begins to gingerly divide out palmfuls of hair which she can grip and work from her fist to the tip, de-tangling the ends without pulling at the scalp. "I like to sew for those who are closest to me. For my sisters. For mommy and daddy." She must be getting comfy, to use such babyish language instead of the more proper mother and father. "I will sew something for you, too," she decides.

Imogen blinks a bit, but remains perfectly still as her hair is brushed. Still when Orto suggests making something for her it gives her ause. "You consider me that important?" she asks quietly, barely keeping the hint of disbelief out of her voice.

"You're family; you're living here in the palace with me; if we're not close yet, we will be soon. I prophesy," Ortolette no doubt hears the waver of conviction in her cousin's voice; she tracks toward the casual, the effortless pledge with the certainty of blood behind it, while continuing in that most ancient of bonding activities— grooming. And her little prophecies— always announced with a sly little smile that's thoroughly audible in her voice even when Imogen isn't looking.

Imogen is doing her best, but from the little passing mentions of family she's brought up, how she's never been held by someone who did not pay her, how she was sent away young. It's not difficult to assume that life in the comte was not easy, that perhaps, this might be the very first kindness she's ever really recieved, and she's clearly not really sure how to process it or handle the emotions it's bringing up. "I'd like that," she murmurs quietly, her small hand ballin into a fist on the mattress as she tries to keep control of herself.

Ortolette spots the slow curl of a fist from the corner of her eye, and, "Am I pulling too hard?" she asks, the question woven delicately between the literal (is the hair brushing hurting her scalp) and the figurative (is she drawing Imogen too quickly into a lifestyle with which she's uncomfortable)? "I don't want to hurt you," she adds, which works fine on both levels, as well. She's paused brushing, but is still holding a plait of halr and the brush half-drawn through it. Seeing whether she will get word to continue.

Imogen smiles softly at the question, she may be struggling to control herself, but her training is strong, and she's keen on social cues and double entendre. "No, you can even brush harder if you like. I've never had this done before and….i like it, it feels nice," she murmurs. The mask is not back in place, but the feeling of being near tears has passed, her first uncurls. But it seems like, though she could hole herself up in her cocoon of composed indifference, she's choosing to stay open to her cousin. "I've been hurt before….this isn't pain, this is gentler than i deserve fro someone who only just met me," she replies softly, keeping the double wording going.

Ortolette draws the brush through to the ends of the hair once more, then, having worked out the bottommost tangles, she cranes her back to one side, reaching across to Imogen's temple and helping draw any and all hair back behind her ear in a gentle sweep, her little fingers sneaking up between plaits of hair to move decisively against Imogen's scalp, keeping the hair hefted from the back of her neck. "I'm glad that I can render you a proper welcome to the household," she answers back, so sweetly, so demurely, with such studeous precision of speech. Then, a twist toward the cheeky: "And it's your turn next, so pay close mind," she titters. "Would you like for me to braid it for you? Like mine is braided?"

Imogen giggles and grins as her cousin speaks, and she is paying attention, as much as she can between all the double entendre and the near tears, but it doesn't /seem/ that difficult at least. "I'm glad you can as well," she admits quietly, she's smiling now and she seems at ease, it was a weird way for the truth to get out and yet, it's there, and as far as she's concerned, she doesn't need to go home for a long time now. "If that's not too much trouble?" she asks gently.

"Of course it isn't, Imogen," Ortolette chirps tenderly. "I just might have to— one second—" she sets the brush down on the bed beside them and struggles to her knees, whence she might have a better vantage point for braiding. "There we are," she announces in a murmur, then takes up the brush and begins to use one edge of the bristles to separate out plaits of hair and draw them into differing directions, gripping this one between those two fingers, that one between these two.

Imogen giggles softly and smiles as she lets her do her thing, paying attention for reference even as she seems lost in thought. "What's it like having sisters? I have, well had, two half brothers and it was always so rowdy and energetic, they always wanted to run about outside, and it was nice. Helped me build up my strength after my sickly babyhood. But is it the same with sisters, or are things….less insane?" she asks good naturedly.

Ortolette continues her ginger-touched work on Imogen's hair. "I don't think even a score of brothers would have gotten me out of my sickbed. But— no— they were always very good to me when they visited, on their best behavior, you know? And when I was well they would stay over nights in my bed with me, and we would cozy together until morning. It was all very peaceable, except for the odd squabble," she reminisces, while drawing the lengths of hair she's separated out into a sweep of a braid at the back of Imogen's head, incorportating more of the hair as she goes.

Imogen giggles softly and smiles. "That sounds nice, though don't underestimate a score of young boys, they can accomplish near impossible feats, i swear," she points out with a grin. "Still i'm glad you had company, no one should have to be alone, and if you ever do get lonely, just tell one of the servants to drag me here, as much as i try and seem busy to impress your mother, i'm really not busy at all," she replies gently.

"If you give me leave to call upon you, you will find yourself thus called upon," Orto dangles a little bell of warning in the air in case Imogen wants to revoke her pledge. "I get terribly bored when my minders set me to stay abed. But now I'll call you over and we can practice in other languages together.

Imogen smiles softly and nods. "Anytime you wish, I would far rather be with you than outside pretending i actually have a life," she teases before a knock sounds at the door and she gently pulls her cousins hand away. "That sounds like dinner, i'll go get it and then we can sit here all night and plot our world domination," she offers gently, kissing her cousin on the forehead before scampering off to retrieve the food.

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