(1310-08-10) Reminiscence
Summary: Olivia d'Albert no Rose Sauvage returns to the Rocaille residence on her own to visit her recently returned childhood friends, Matthieu de Rocaille and Gabriel de Montreve, spurring the warmer ghosts of childhood memories to mingle, briefly, with the shades of more recent troubles.
RL Date: August 10, 2018
Related: Resurrection and the Light
matthieu olivia 

Rocaille Townhouse

Lavish and refined in its design this townhouse seems to spare no expense while still maintaining a cozy atmosphere. The floors are polished ebony marble, gleaming under the light of many high windows and wrought iron candle filled fixtures. The walls are painted a deep forest green and adorned with various works of art depicting the companion Shemhazai and the lands of Siovale. The main rooms of the townhouse are for entertaining guests, the sitting room and dinning room respectively. Other rooms branch off these and a staircase and well lit hallway leads upwards and deeper into the house where the private rooms are. The building seems to have been constructed around a large garden in which various herbs and flowers are planted. The garden also boasts a small well kept pond with exotic fish at its center. Both the dinning room and the sitting room have large windows and doors that look out onto this garden.

When looking out of the windows, you see: It is a summer night. The weather is hot and raining.


Whenever Olivia is admitted inside by one of House Rocaille's valets, the first thing she will hear is the sound of metal clanging against metal, distantly ringing across the foyer. With deferential silence, the man leads her towards the gardens where the sounds get progressively louder, as well as a conversation in its midst, overheard the moment she steps onto the patio:

"Do you remember the days when you fought me seriously?" The voice is low and breathless. It sounds like Matthieu.

"These days I can't," cracks Gabriel's cheerful tenor, followed by another loud clang of metal. "You'd die."

The pale light of the early day winks over microscopic motes of dust, slipping through the lush greenery of the Rocaille property's well-kept yards; colorful blooms are abundant and the occasional flit of a dragonfly could be spotted weaving through brush and foilage. Two pairs of boots are moving on the grass at the heart of it all where two young men aren't necessarily sparring, but are going through the motions of one to account for grievous injury. It is not a problem for Gabriel de Montreve; Cassilines can fight vigorously even while half-eviscerated, but his opponent has a broken arm and an injured leg. By all rights he shouldn't be doing this, but there is some twisted sense to it, if not just because of Matthieu's diligence in being prepared for all things, fueled by his stubborn sense of self-reliance.

They are both stripped at the waist, bodies tangled in bandages circling one another. Their exercise has gone on long enough to leave their faces and shoulders damp with humidity, taking advantage of the cooler daylight hours before Summer becomes unforgiving once again and bakes Marsilikos in its seasonal oven. Gabriel's twin daggers spin expertly in deft fingers and despite his state, he's grinning - an open smile that cuts across his sharp-featured face.

"Not bad," he allows. "For a cripple."

"Your face is crippled," the ducal heir deadpans.

Past word has it that Matthieu is no swordsman - he is capable of wielding a blade, just as he is capable of most things, but his preference has always been the spear; it suited his canny creativity, and with his height, its greater reach gave him even more of an advantage. With his right hand, he carves a circle in the air with its dangerous point, fingers curled securely on the middle of the shaft, before his wrist twists it upwards in a figure-eight to the other side of him before it levels towards Gabriel. His injured left arm, in a sling when Olivia last saw him, is out of it - there is a brace wrapped securely around his forelimb instead, that hand positioned carefully at the lower end of the handle. Sunlight glints from the corners of those intense, focused eyes - he always looks this way, in endeavors worth undertaking, no matter how high the odds are stacked against him and no matter how insurmountable the obstacle. In the real world, outside of the practice ring, to tangle this way with a Cassiline is to court certain death and every deliberate step he makes is comprehending of the fact.

And when he turns around, that is when she sees it.

Even the number of bandages wrapped around him cannot hide the horrific mess his back has become, with its gouges, slashes and strips of skin torn off from between his shoulderblades and spine - tokens left behind by the savage kisses of leather whips tipped with barbs and broken glass. Bruising has rendered most of what is visible black and blue, additional checkpoints upon the rough map of his suffering, etched indelibly on the tanned, muscled expanse like spilled iron ink. Stitches and staples keep the worst of them closed, metal brackets spiraling over other hurts. Burns, entry points where knives have been inserted. Even with Eisandine healing, one of the best in the world that they know, he would be left with these scars for the rest of his life, the flawlessness so prized in D'angeline society now well beyond him.

It is Gabriel who notices her first. It can't be helped with the senses he has developed through punishing training. Dark eyes widen with surprise and his face brightens considerably. "Little Livvy!" he calls. "Back so soon?"

—-

Back so soon indeed. Olivia's life is a busy one, and her days are generally filled with the duties of her position at Rose Sauvage. It's been at the insistence of her aunt, but also out of a childhood affection for both Matthieu and Gabriel, that she's found the time today to come once more to the Rocaille residence. She wears the silks of her canon as ever, the ones selected for this visit being exquisitely fine and beautiful, and showing the hand of a skilled designer and seamstress. Panels of sheerest silks are set amongst those of a more opaque nature where her skirts fall from hip to ground, and finely spun threads of silver trail tendrils of vines around the extremities of her hems, neckline and cuffs. They're echoed discretely in the veils that sweep her face, with the sparkle of the embroidery adding a luminous glow to her face. She holds a linen-wrapped parcel within her hands when she's shown to the terrace, though having walked in on the sparring pair, she's made no move to intrude. How long might the Rose have been hovering there at the extremities of where they practice before she's noticed? She's still upon the terrace when Gabriel's voice rings out in greeting, standing as quiet if she'd been carved from alabaster, though there's movement in her silks as they mould subtley to her figure with the breeze that filters through the gardens. A hand unclasps from the package she carries and she lifts it in shy greeting, her response back a silent one since her voice is naturally quiet and unlikely to carry that far. It's lucky that there's that distance between them, for they won't notice the blush upon her cheeks at sight of their stripped down torsos, but far more importantly than that, they won't see the rush of sadness that wells in her eyes at the ruination of Matthieu's back.

—-

The fact that Gabriel calls attention to their visitor causes ripples of profound, but subtle effect; Matthieu's broad shoulders stiffen, head whipping around to regard the resplendent white figure standing several feet away from them - there is surprise in those silver-chased blue eyes and the turn of his waist is sharper than he intends. Not because he is just that startled by Olivia's appearance, but rather the mess that his body has become is one that he has tried to spare her. But it is too late, and all he gets for his trouble is a lance of pain up his side, spilling over his ribs and aggravating more stitches hidden underneath. Bright crimson spreads from underneath the white linens wrapped over his narrow waist and his jaw clenches at the sting of it, one hand dropping from the spear's shaft to close over it.

The Cassiline continues as if he hasn't noticed, capable as he is in rescuing others no matter what situation. Olivia's shy wave earns her a shameless pose, gesturing to his jaw. "Can't say I blame you," he teases her. "Who wants to stay away from this beautiful face?"

"Crippled," Matthieu reminds, flashing the man a look, before stabbing the spearpoint on the ground and taking quick strides over to a chair where towels and his shirt are waiting, pulling the sight of his back away from his visitor. "Crippled face." Biceps curl tight, elbows bend as he scrubs his sweaty mien with the cloth he's picked up.

"Yes, yes. My beautiful and crippled face. Better that than crippled everywhere."

His pale-haired friend tosses him a towel. "At least I'm not crippled where it counts."

The gasp from the Cassiline is pure, exaggerated outrage, pressing a hand over his heart, the other snatching the wad of cloth lobbed in his direction. "There are ladies present." Surreptitiously, he slips Olivia a wink. "You pervert."

"I meant my mind, you reprobate."

It leaves Gabriel laughing and Matthieu resigned, though there is a sense of subtle amusement emanating from him. It is a scene that Olivia has seen many times before when they were all younger; cheerful camaraderie that binds both young men inexorably for the rest of their lives.

—-

The bantering boys. It does pull Olivia back to the days of her childhood when she'd visit her Aunt Lucienne, and an unseen smile melts on her lips. She waits a few moments, allowing them that time to stop at the chairs and make reparations to the state that they're in, before she descends the steps and moves towards them. There's an indefinable something about the young woman, a quietness that she brings with her presence, her silks a whisper about her as she holds up the package she carries and greets them both properly now. "Look at you both. Matthieu. Gabriel. I think you must have been little more than ten when I last saw you this way." And their weapons had been of bright-painted wood. She's managed on her way over to banish all trace of sadness from her countenance, though that blush does still linger, made darker now at the unavoidable overhearing of some comments she'd caught. Bright blue eyes linger for a moment on Gabriel's face, and her head tilts a little as she scrutinizes it for all of five seconds. "Do not listen to Matthieu. I think your face is as lovely as ever, Gabe." She switches to the more familiar form of his name, though a shyness shows itself in the tone of her voice as she does. Her eyes cut from him and fall next upon Matthieu. "You look to be recovering well. I did not expect to come here today and find you up and on your feet. Are you sure that the healers have given you permission for such. After my last visit with auntie, I visited the bakers and had them make me something special, though I wonder if I should have done so now, for you hardly seem to be the invalid now." She mentions nothing about the damage she'd observed to his back, and astutely avoids allowing her eyes to slip to his wounds.

—-

"Did you hear that, Matt?" Gabriel replies, smugly. "Livvy says my crippled visage is apparently lovely."

"Yes," Matthieu observes, his tone carrying that same wryness. Blue eyes and their silver storms regard Olivia askance as she draws up closer to them. "But she has always been kind. She clearly can't be trusted." His baritone is laden with unmistakable gravitas, but her keen eyes miss nothing and there is clearly a glint of something there that suggests that he, too, is teasing her.

"Olivia, is that true? Alas, betrayal!" The Cassiline exclaims.

The delicate woman's reminiscence has the dark-haired man grinning faintly, raking his towel through his hair while the ducal heir slowly slips his broken arm through the sleeve of his shirt, before drawing it across his shoulders to work his other arm carefully through. There is no such move to reclaim his modesty from the Cassiline and his easy swagger.

"I was ten," Gabriel recalls. "You were six. Matt was eleven." There is a pause, and he suddenly bursts out laughing again. "You nearly took a tumble in your skirts and I don't know how he managed it, but Matt caught you before the two of you took a header down the steps at the back of the Vicomtesse's villa. But I suppose the fright was a little too much and you started sniffling, and he didn't know what to do, and I could see him panicking from where I was— "

The ducal heir stares at Gabriel disbelievingly, knowing full well where this story was going. "Gabe— "

"— so he kissed your forehead, then realized he kissed a girl…oh, Elua, I've never seen anyone run away so fast!"

"Oh, angels," Matthieu groans, a hand bracketing his hip, his spare set of fingers pinching at the bridge of his nose.

With Gabriel's persistent laughter in the background, he sighs, treating Olivia, this time, with that same fairly resigned expression. "I don't know how he turned out this way," he grumbles. "But this definitely is not my doing."

Are you sure the healers have given you permission for such.

"No," he tells her unabashedly, the slightest of smiles curling on the corners of his mouth and utterly unapologetic in this small bit of rebellion, and with his shirt in place, he finally moves to gently take Olivia's boxed burden, if she lets him, if only to relieve a lady of her load. He sets it down on the waiting table. "Whatever it is, it's much appreciated, however. I've a long way to go just yet, according to the healers, but I never liked to be idle." His eyes find hers. "With all the excitement, I haven't had an opportunity to ask you how you've been."

—-

Olivia melts with sudden laughter. She's the possessor of a wonderful laugh; it's as rich and as warm as the Siovalese orchards where as children they'd played. "Oh Companions, I remember that too." she giggles. "I wrote about it in my journal that evening and pressed a flower between the pages. I had all but forgotten, and it was so important to me at the time." Her voice trails off, her eyes flitting down to the grass between her feet at the memories now evoked. "I remember how you teased Matthieu about it for days after Gabe, and I was so terribly sad that you did, for it meant that I had to do without his helping hand for the rest of my stay, and to take more care when tackling those steps." Despite her confessed sorrow, there's more humour than rancour in her voice as she dwells on her memories of that summer, and she does dare a glance back to Matthieu on the conclusion of her words. "I thought you quite my hero, you know, and would speak of you often to the Novices that I shared a dormitory with, but only when the lights were turned out." Confessions apparently done, she gives the smallest of nudges with her shoulder to Gabe's arm, then slips between him and Matthieu to pull the strings on the package where it lies on the table. "Another memory for you both. Remember how we would pester Aunt's kitchen's to bake these for us? And when we were granted them, we'd steal away to the gardens with them and eat far too many than was good for us." Careful fingers pull back the wrappings, to reveal freshly tarts of the palest custards, the tops dusted with nutmeg and the pastry crusts golden.

—-

Beautiful laughter fills the gardens, and if Gabriel could yoke the momentum in his grip and keep it going, he would do it, watching Matthieu's profile from where he stands in an effort to gauge the measure of his expression. Between the two of them, he was always the more expressive one - quick to laugh, to play, to cause mischief and get in trouble; facts that Lucienne probably remembers very well. Even in those days, his best friend and boyhood companion has been the more serious one and while he wasn't shy, he was focused and always brimming with an undefinable intensity that was different from his own. Expected, is it not, when his very first set of memories have been colored by the necessity to live with another family to prevent the snare of ambition from consuming him?

Olivia's presence is proof, however, that there were warm days to be remembered during his time away from the people who share his blood. As the courtesan recounts how she reacted afterwards, the look on Matthieu's face becomes more and more inscrutable, though the faintly embarrassed air remains - dwindling over time, considering how fast he recovers from every attempt to knock him off balance. But he's emphatically still not looking at her as he pokes at the box, his curiosity getting the better of him, especially when it promises to be something edible.

"It shouldn't be too surprising," he muses, finally, the ghosts of good humor returning as he glances at Olivia and Gabe. "He does tend to ruin everything."

"Only because you're so good at fixing everything," Gabriel replies easily. He stoops from the waist, murmuring sideways towards Olivia's veils. "Remind me to tell you about what he did the night before I got sent off to the Brotherhood. He may look like the upstanding sort, but don't be fooled, Livvy. There's a demon under there."

"Are you sure you're not talking about yourself?" Matthieu wonders, exasperatedly. "Stop projecting."

Gabriel turns to Olivia instead, waggling his eyebrows, mouthing 'ask me later' silently.

Her hero, she says. "Oh, Elua, that's so sweet," the Cassiline mutters, and when Olivia nudges him, he nudges her back, all ease and playfulness. "You sure it's not too late to switch places with you, Matt? I can be the ducal heir, and you can be the Cassiline. And Livvy here can be my future duchesse."

"Lucienne would never allow it in a million years," the Rocaille replies, his tone somewhat absent, but filled with his typical dry wit. "And I would hate to have to justify a murder."

The treats are revealed, and the Cassiline does not bother to disguise his joy. "Livvy, you're the best!" he exclaims, brazenly throwing an arm around her shoulders and pecking the air close to the veils against her cheek. "Oh, angels, I haven't had these in years!" He's already letting go, his enthusiasm for the gift blazing from every pore as he snags one of the custard tarts.

Matthieu reaches out, taking one of them and looking at it between his fingers, and while there is no smile, there is a subtle softening of that stormy, cutting stare as he examines it. The delicate scent fills his senses, reminding him of the days Olivia effortlessly calls up and he regards her quietly from where he stands; that unique, intent way of his, as if excising the rest of the world and everything else within it, and leaving the person he is looking at in its center - as if the only thing worth pinning his attention to for a span of heartbeats.

—-

Olivia flushes with pleasure at the reaction the custard tarts bring. "Most seem to like them cold, but I remember how we used to prefer them fresh from the oven, with their insides still runny and warm." Steam curls on that initial opening of the linen, and Gabe will find that the custard filling will ooze upon his fingers and lips with the first of his bites. "They are made to the exact same recipe as the one used back then." Olivia continues to explain, "For I made sure to tease it from the pastry chef a number of years ago." Once the boys have helped themselves to a tart she takes one for herself, cradling its warmth within the palm of one hand. For a moment, it is indeed as they're transported back to more innocent times, the rich vanilla scent that's laced with nutmeg teasing the air the air and their senses. "But as to how I've been…" A shake of her head. The laughter that threads her words fades around the edges. "I am well, Matthieu. Life has been kind to me, and the Companions have held me well in their grace. I am one of the Seconds of the Salon de la Rose Sauvage, and am proud of what I've achieved. It is a position which I had never thought would be mine." And it's true, pride does reveal itself in her tone when she speaks of the Salon, though she's quick to blush at Gabriel's jest. "Oh Gabriel. I…" She catches the manner in which Matthieu's eyes fall on her, and in her embarrassment her words fail her entirely. Eyes deflect to the tart in her hands, and she picks at one edge of it, allowing the custard to paint her fingers before it's slipped beneath her veils and into her mouth.

—-

"Blasphemy, is what that is," Gabriel says, already on his third one - did he even chew the first two? "They're always best fresh, like you said." He seems impressed with the crafty way the woman arranged for the treats to be made from the exact recipe they so loved as children. "I don't know how you both do that," he says, waving a hand. "Thinking so far ahead, of every detail. I barely remember my own name when I get up in the morning." An exaggeration to be sure, the Cassiline was sharp in his own, dangerous way that has nothing to do with his daggers and sword.

Olivia simply keeps blushing, and he clasps his hand over his heart in a dramatic fashion. "Ugh, adorable," he says. "You know what this is missing, though? What was it that we used to drink with these…? Didn't we steal a bottle of those light white fruit wines at some point? I'll have one of the stewards get one." He eases away, if not just to let Olivia recover from her embarrassment and give her a break from all of his teasing - but now that he has returned, she's guaranteed to more of it.

With Gabriel on the far end of the patio, hailing for a steward, Matthieu samples the tart - male appetites are what they are, especially after rigorous exercise, it disappears quickly in a couple of bites, and he's wiping his fingers with the towel on the chair. As a companionable silence falls, when he speaks, his baritone takes on a quieter pitch - lower, but confident, and while increasingly jealous of the life he leads inside of his head, within gates that never fully lower, he has always been self-assured.

"I'm pleased to hear it, that you're flourishing in Naamah's service," he tells her. "No doubt you'll guide the others under your care with the same grace as you have always done all things." His eyes fall back on the box.

"I'm reminded of every scrape you've tended in our childhood," he continues after a pause. "No matter how small, you had to dab it away, soothe it somehow. Every cut, every bruise." There's no hesitation, at least, when he finally reaches out, rough fingers slipping under her hand if he lets her, his touch warm and secure, but light, treating that delicate appendage like blown glass. A callused thumb passes gently over the fragile ridges of her knuckles, tender friction bringing dormant nerve endings to life under the pale, silken surface. "You're no longer six. I'm no longer eleven." Something rueful slips over the line of his mouth, his eyes meeting hers above her veils. "But in your own way, you're mending me, still, with how you're taking the pains to remind Gabe and I that we really have returned. That this is real."

And this is so typical of him, isn't it? Incapable of being distracted or lured in by artifice of any sort, moving past, cutting through, or even dismissing layers of even the softest consideration to home into the very heart of the matter. Thumb and index apply the lightest pressure. He doesn't kiss her hand, but he leaves these small imprints of his presence on her skin.

"It means more to me than I can eloquently articulate. I'd be grateful for your forbearance of it. I was…never the best in expressing such things."

—-

Olivia's fingers curl delicately about Matthieu's when he takes her hand. There's a fragility to the contact that's made, as if with that touch there's a drawing and a knitting together of the threads that span the time between when they were children and now. Some of those threads are bright and wonderful, but there's pain there too. It's as if Olivia feels every inch of what Matthieu's endured in that moment, and at the press of his thumb to her flesh, she lifts her eyes to his. "I think it would be fair to say that all three of you endured my attempts at playing the healer. Poor Raoul, he tried to hide it, but I knew I was the duty he longed to escape, the sister he had to drag around with him. He bore it well." The breeze from the gardens catches her veils as she speaks, one edge lifted so that for quite a full second her face is revealed. It's as pale as the rarest of opals, her expression both sad and lovely though with bright things in it. The hand not in his lifts to her face, capturing those silks to pin them back down.

There's a hint of excitement in her voice when she speaks again, a singing compulsion, a whispered 'Listen' as if something fabulous is about to be confided. "I cannot wait to write and tell Raoul how you have returned. He is in the Hellenic Isles right now, and he writes to me often, painting pictures for me with his words, and teasing me with the places I may never see. There is so much for you to look forward to now, Matthieu. And you must look forward. Not back. Make your memories now, because moments, when lost, can't be found again. They're just gone."

—-

The frown he gives her regarding Raoul's treatment is a disapproving one - but mild, considering Matthieu's manner to have some of the most severe expressions when he dislikes something. "I don't comprehend what he has to complain about, to care for you for just six years before you were sent to Mont Nuit." There is a contemplative pause. "Though I suppose if you decided to leave the Night Court, you'd be his responsibility again until you get married, but considering you have just made Second in your Salon, I anticipate that you have no desire to leave it just yet. But children have the luxury of such whims." Whims he never shared, but he would never begrudge anyone else of them - his situation was unique. "I'm certain his outlook has changed now. What is he doing in the Hellenic Isles?" His aura is suffused with a subtle, inquisitive air, eyes gleaming with curiosity - the future duke of Siovale looks like a fighter, but he is still Siovalese. His mind is still his preferred instrument.

He is about to speak again when the veil blows sideways; his response is immediate - while those attentive eyes catch a glimpse of her face, his fingers are already moving in an attempt to catch the very corner with a thumb and forefinger before he sees any more, and assist her in drawing it back down. Most men would forget themselves and peek, indulge at the sight of a jewel so hidden and so lovely. But Matthieu is infamously immune to the effects of teasing layers and beautiful facades, with his tendency to drive into the heart of the matter no matter what is in his way, or how difficult the traverse. She is already a recipient of degrees of affection that he bestows so rarely, the fact that she is incredibly beautiful is just a plus.

What she gives him is sound advice, but at the moment, his expression is impenetrable. His gaze is a weighty thing, almost tangible - the touch of an invisible stylus tracing her features and rendering them in sharp relief through the veils obscuring them. When he speaks, his baritone is pitched low and almost intimate with how close they're standing together; the only way to hear her quiet voice, and rendered quieter still by her whisper. "I am not well," he tells her simply - four words that could scarcely scratch the surface of what he is enduring in the privacy of his own company. "I will fix that first, before I can."

—-

"Raoul is traveling. He is writing, exploring, learning." Doing all the things that Olivia cannot. "His last letter to me was penned from the warmth of an apricot orchard. I could smell the freshness of that fruit within the parchment, as if he'd been enjoying one of those apricots whilst he wrote, hoping that the fragrance would find its way to me." A laugh. "I live my life vicariously through the eyes and the quill of my brother. He tells me of how beautiful the evenings are when the sun sets on the isles. Of a light that is unspeakably beautiful, the purest liquid gold that pours across the tops of the mountains before melting across the sea." Her breath is a slowly released thing, the lightness of her fingers dispelled as with the smallest curl they tighten on his. "He promises that he will show it to me one day, but we shall see. I expect that duties, and perhaps even your return to us, will draw him home."

Over on the terrace, Gabriel is still locating that bottle of wine for them to share with the tarts, and Olivia's allows herself the respite of falling quiet as Matthieu addresses things that she's said; about looking forward, and memory-making. "You have three years of suffering and pain to overcome, Matthieu. What I can physically see on you, is perhaps nothing to what is here." The hand not held in his is lifted, and she traces across his temple with the backs of curled fingers. "The healers can deal with the physical, but not this." Her hand falls away. "When you feel stronger, a Gentian perhaps might be able to help? You've not spoken of it, but three years of what you've endured must surely chase you in your dreams."

—-

The remembrance of his old friend has Matthieu diving deep internally; within irises like glaciers wreathed with argent fragments he is remembering Raoul, fair-haired and as pale as Olivia, wielding wooden swords against the much quicker Gabriel. It feels like an eternity past but he has never forgotten a face in his life - how he has managed to keep his mind razor sharp after what has happened is a miracle in itself, but that was always his way. The more difficult something is, the more determined he becomes. In many ways it could be attributed to the little affection his father had given him, which hammered in the determination that, if he can't earn his father's love he will at least make sure that he is worthy to bear his title.

He can't help but wonder how much he's grown and changed in the last three years. Worldier now, perhaps. Smarter. A more accomplished writer.

Good humor, just a bit of it, flares in the depths of his eyes. "If I'm to be the cause of your brother's return, does that mean you'd owe me a favor?" he wonders. It's by and large an innocent query, but Gabriel did warn her, did he not? There's a demon in him, somewhere.

Still, it's largely rhetorical, and he sets it aside. The additional pressure of her fingers slowly inspires him to solidify his grip, his skin so rough and battle-worn compared to her softness that there is a real and momentary concern that touching her any further than this would somehow scratch her. The press of dainty knuckles against his temple has his head turning a bit to follow her warmth, lashes lowering partially in the unconscious search for something familiar…

…a Gentian perhaps might be able to help?

His head lifts, lips pressing in a line. Something more volatile stirs underneath the sturdy tectonic plates of his manner, the only things that prevent everything and everyone around him from being consumed by tempers and passions that run as hot as the core of a star. "No." The single syllable is raw, almost harsh. But he stops and closes his eyes, lowering his head enough that the shadows of that handsome face eclipse hers over her veils.

After a pause, he speaks again. "I know they're experts. They're trained. I'm sure there are few other individuals outside of them who could handle dreams delicately, no matter how disturbing." The hinge of his jaw works in search as to the right way to articulate his thoughts without ensnaring Olivia in the wake of his usual intensity. "But I can't stomach the idea of subjecting an innocent to that kind of hell."

—-

Matthieu's response falls like a stone in Olivia's heart. Should he look in her eyes, he'll see that his pain is reflected there. They fragment into their thousand composite shades of blue; from palest turquoise to the darkest of sapphires. "I understand." She doesn't. How can she. Protected and sheltered she's no real conception of what he's been through, and though the evidence of some of it is reflected in the broken bones and ragged flesh, his injuries tell only half the tale. Or perhaps she does understand, at least a little — enough to know not to poke at this hive of pain with a stick. She closes her eyes and, chin dipped, she presses her forehead into his shoulder, breathing in the scent of man, sweat and salves. "You will be well again, no matter the time that it takes. The Companions did not see you through all that has happened, only to abandon you now." Her breath is warm where it's filters through her veils and into his shirt and bandages, and there's that drawing about herself of an aura; of peace, serenity and calmness. It's unconsciously done, and in the constant whirlwind of noise and pain and sharp edges, she's the calm at the eye of the storm. "We should probably have another of the tarts before Gabe returns. I doubt they'll last long when he does." She brings a touch of lightness back to their conversation, steering it from the darker paths it'd briefly touched. "And as to Raoul, I'm not sure. Is a favor fair trade when I'd then be denied his letters?"

—-

The pain in her eyes is as sharp and visible as a drawn dagger; any feeling person would capitulate to it, regret it in some way. Perhaps Matthieu feels all of these things - Olivia occupies the rare space of someone who knew him before, during, and after his multiple struggles after all, and he has, thankfully, not become a worse monster than he could have evolved into had he been a weaker and less principled man. But there would be no sign of it, as always a decisive creature, sure and certain of what he wants and doesn't want.

But her sudden closeness is both a surprise and not. Like most D'angeline men, he has experienced the pleasures of the Night Court and knows the principles behind all of its canons, though he has ceased patroning the salons altogether after his heart was stolen away, and then was brutally crushed. Back in those days, however, he was a bona fide ladies man, though he kept his numerous affairs discreet. He is familiar with the Alyssum artifice, stitched around the familiar concepts of the bait and the lure. Had Olivia been acting in accordance with her canon, she would be reeling him in, instead of doing the approaching.

She doesn't, however, and the fact that she is setting aside her discipline - wasted here and would probably only trigger a spark of his impatience - to simply be the Olivia he knew, does plenty to soften his typical wariness. Her head on his shoulder is a welcome weight and the parts of him that barely remember what affection feels like unwinds those inner knots, loosening in a breath that leaves him in a slow exhale - it would have to do for an apology. This close, she smells like the flowers she loves, whatever she uses to bathe and it curls around chafed and exhausted nerves like a balm on its own.

He doesn't dare cradle her, doesn't dare touch any more of her skin. But the empty fingers of his broken arm lift to draw the corner of her veil upwards - not enough to view her face, but just enough to press it against his mouth. The moment is brief, and as always, he says nothing, keeping his thoughts to himself as he follows the release of such serious topics in favor of lighter ones.

Is a favor fair trade when I'd then be denied his letters?

Ice-and-silver eyes stare at her disbelievingly, before his expression unexpectedly cracks. Like dark glass encasing sunlight, his laughter suddenly shatters his imposing mien, catching him with such surprise that he can't help but lean into it. His hands plant into his hips, head lowered that the longer strands of his hair fall over his forehead in the throes of it. There's a wince, because laughing hurts at the moment, but he can't help it.

"Here I am, exploring the possibility of luring your brother here by my very presence, meaning that there'd be plenty of opportunities to actually look him in the face and speak to him….and you wonder whether it'd be worth the loss of his letters?" He looks up in search of Gabriel. "I'll have to tell Gabe that whatever kisses he deigns to give you will have to be stuffed in an envelope."

—-

And that does make Olivia blush, a step back taken as Matthieu folds into laughter and talks of Gabriel. Her eyes cut shyly to Gabriel, though the look is brief and quickly curtailed. "Do you ever wonder what it must be like to never honor Naamah?" She's asking a serious question, though the blush that's lifted in her complexion persists as she helps herself to another of the tarts. "I was teasing with what I said of Raoul, though I do love receiving his letters. I cannot wait to see him again, and to hear first-hand his tales of his travels." She breaks the tart in half, and offers one piece of it over to Matthieu. "I shall just have to find someone else with whom to share letters. A traveller to Bhodistan perhaps. Or even Chi'in. Imagine the stories that they could tell, despite the fact that it would take many months between the exchange of theirs and mine." There's a smile somewhere beneath those veils, though her tone grows a more sober as she picks at her half of the tart. "I shall have to return to the Salon now, but I have so enjoyed my visit. Would you mind if I come again soon? If only that Gabe might hand me a letter with his kisses within."

—-

"In Gabe's case?" Matthieu wonders. "Believe me, he's honored Naamah, it all just occurred before his time with the Brotherhood." But he doesn't go into further detail than that, and most especially his part in it. It's most definitely a story that he certainly wouldn't tell Olivia. "As for wondering myself?" He lifts his brows to the veiled woman, smirking faintly. "No. I've never wondered." A hand reaches to take the half of the tart from her, and pushes it inside his mouth.

And when she asks for permission to visit again, he angles a look her way once he's consumed the treat. "You're always welcome here, Olivia," he replies, the throes of his laughter fading away to return to his characteristic, almost stoic seriousness. "Truthfully, it would be a relief. Gabe is struggling also and he's always happiest to see familiar faces. I don't know if you know much about the Brotherhood's own canon, but he hasn't seen his family since he was sent off at twelve, and he's particularly close to his sisters. Seeing you and Lucienne has been a homecoming for him as well, in a way. I offered to send him back to Siovale so he could, but he would never do so, unless I came with him."

—-

Olivia uses the linen that the tarts are wrapped in to wipe traces of custard and crumbs from her fingers. "Then I would love to. Thank you. The gardens here are beautiful, and I may steal a few cuttings from your flowers to nurture back at Rose Sauvage." Her arms wind about her middle, and there's a moment of awkwardness between them as she mulls something over. "But as to favours, you know you need only ask. If it's within my powers to grant it, then happily I will. Be well, Matthieu, and listen to your healers. Listen to Gabe." Her smile for him is reflected in her eyes. "I'll see myself out." The lightest touch of her hand is made to his arm, and as she heads towards the terrace, she encounters the Cassiline returning. They pause for a second in their passing, and some words are exchanged that brings laughter to them both. Then she's gone, her white silks starkly marking her progress as she's greeted by a servant and led through the darkened rooms beyond the doors.

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