(1310-08-10) The Importance of Being Fabulous
Summary: Ortolette de Mereliot summons the city's preeminent fashion designer, Isabelle de Valais, to request a commission for a very important day.
RL Date: August 10, 2018
Related: None
isabelle ortolette 

Solar - Dome of the Lady

Spacious enough to provide a meeting place of more familiar atmosphere to the residents of the Ducal Palace, the solar is of rectangular shape and generously lit during the day through a number of arched windows in the south wall. The opposite side is governed by a huge stone hearth, a fire crackling there during colder weather conditions. Above the hearth hangs a shield with the coat of arms of House Mereliot, flanked by a pair of exquisitely woven tapestries depicting naval scenes of ships on the sea, one in calm and tranquil weather conditions, the other one in a storm with heavy rain.

All furniture is made of oak, be it the long table in the middle of the room, or the number of high backed chairs arranged about it, flat cushions of blue brocade adding to the comfort of seating. The ceiling is a sophisticated rib vault, constructed of wood, the ribs painted in yellow. Depictions of a variety of sea animals have been added onto the light blue ceiling as well by an unknown artist. Several kinds of mediterranean fish adorn the spaces in between ribs, such as combers, groupers and flounders but also starfish and octopusses.

A door leads out onto a rooftop garden, and an archway opens into the upper hallway.

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


Ortolette sits up in a chair — an actual chair, not her wheeled wicker chaise — before a desk set right next to a window in the solar. From here she can watch the stars in their sluggish creep around the pole, the desk lit up with a mirrored lantern by which she can write without straining her eyes. She seems but minimally engaged with her correspondence, her cheek resting on curled fingers, her quill making a small but ever spreading blot in the middle of a sentiment, her eyed distracted by something outside of the window, far in the distance, or else by nothing at all but the thoughts which keep her company. Her eyes close and then open again in a gesture that would qualify as a blink if it weren't quite so languorous. "Girard?" she pipes up, straightening her back and shoulders and putting her quill back in its well, pinching a flick of wood shavings to coat the half-finished letter and stop the ink from spreading any further, the remaining spot-puddles instead being wicked up into the wood. "Might they bring another tea? And if the Lady de Valais should arrive, have her directed hither?" It's a strange way for the daughter of a Duchesse to address someone who ostensibly serves her, but she has a real respect and admiration for Girard, and has always treated him with dutiful politeness edging, at times, on deference. He doess have to make a good number of decisions when they're out and about, him being the one in charge of moving her chair, and so she's used to yielding some level of control to him in her day to day life. It's a good way for anyone to begin to develop a ccomplex. Plucking the paper from the desk, she blows the shavings off of the letter's surface and rolls it up, tying it with a ribbon to continue later.

—-

Hours spent in Augustin de Trevalion's company would render any hotblooded woman boneless and languid after, but Isabelle de Valais sleeps extremely late in the evening, and rises early in the morning. The day thereafter has been spent rolling through her usual routine - riding and practice in the countryside, followed by a bath and breakfast, and then the hours necessary to keep the gears of her current investments going. Business is an endlessly churning machine, and most of her day is spent in art, negotiations, and refining the art of negotiations. With how she spends her time, one couldn't be helped but get the impression that the woman is absolutely inexhaustible. But fortune doesn't grow on trees, and these are trees that she keeps thriving - if nothing else, it enables her to enjoy an affluent lifestyle beyond an unlanded lady's, having so much wealth independent of House Valais, but it does require a considerable amount of work.

Then again, people do say that if one does what one loves, she never has to work a day in her life, and Isabelle loves fashion.

She arrives at the solar of the Dome with that confident stride, more reminiscent of a stalking cat than the sylphlike grace imbued in most D'angeline women, always with someplace to be. Today she eschews her usual sharp and elegant style and opts for something softer and more feminine; a high-collared dress that leaves her shoulders and back bare, in deference to the ridiculous heat, dyed in a myriad of pale blue tones with a cream underlay which wraps and drapes over svelte curves and her elegant, statuesque figure - she is tall for a woman, hair swept up in a jeweled net with small crystals shaped like the petals of morning glories. Heeled sandals boost her height, and make clicking sounds on the marble as she approaches her hostess, and drops her a sweeping curtsey - even her mannerisms change, depending on what she wears. Were she wearing her riding breeches and a coat, she would be bowing from the waist, instead.

"My lady," she greets, lifting those dark-and-gold eyes to fix on Ortolette. "How do you fare today?"

—-

Ortolette is clad in her usual sort of gown, the band around her chest and the loose flowing gauze sent down thence, rendering her shapeless and childlike. It's an effect somewhat moderated when she actully sits up, keeping the bottom of the gauzy shirts pinned beneath her such that the cascade of fabrics falls straight down her like a column. Usually, when she reclines in her wickerwork lounge, it all sort of poofs around her to give the general impression of a baby doll, a woman unfinished from the collarbones downward. The footfalls make her back twist, revealing her form further by drawing the fabric in a spiral around her. There's not much shape there, of course, but at least from behind, with her neck and shoulders slightly craned, it's something. Something more. "I'm faring well, my Lady de Valais. The gravity that has been weighing on my lung is all but gone. I even walked across the Solar today, only holding Girard's hand," and she seems rather proud of the achievement, even if it's something most people can manage without thinking about it. "I hope I have not inconvenienced you in asking you over so late in the evening. I only am unable to sleep." Which might have something to do with the tea being poured for her anew. "Would you care for a cup?" she asks. "Girard, clear that tea-table by the southern window. We will sit there," she decides. Which is going to be another small hike for her, but she draws her feet, primly crossed at the ankles, out to her side and makes as though to stand, though first steeling herself against the act, uncrossing her ankles and leaning forward to rise, one hand on the desktop, the other on the back of her seat. Look, she stands— with all the elegance of a newborn fawn who looks for all the world like she might topple, but somehow yet remains erect. She removes her hand from the desk and holds it out toward Isabelle while continuing to use the chair back as a crutch. She really is in fine feather, to-day.

—-

"I am relieved that your affliction is on its last legs," Isabelle says, sympathy in her eyes. "It seems to be going around, my mother, the Lady Melisande, is abed with something similar. But yes, a cup of tea would be lovely. I hear that my lady is quite the connoisseur when it comes to the leaf." The faint shimmer of that lovely blue fabric catches the light in the solar as she moves towards the delicate girl, though she does not impose herself on her. Instead, as smooth as any courtier, she offers her hand, palm up, in a gallant fashion, to take the pale limb outstretched towards her. "Allow me to escort you to the southern window?"

She tucks that small, beautiful hand into her elbow after, and she only moves when the other woman does. She acts as if she hasn't noticed her coltish way of standing, a foal experiencing grass for the first time. And only when they are finally situated comfortably in their destination that she addresses the rest of the young lady's remarks:

"The late hours are the times in which I claim my best ideas, I found. I, too, am restless when it is dark. So much so that I am a regular patron of Salon Coquelicot - the flowers there are talented in putting me to sleep," the dark-haired woman admits. Long legs cross under her skirt by the knee, a soft, but indulgent smile turned the fragile girl's way. "Now, my dear. What shall we talk about, today?"

—-

"Oh, no," Ortolette mewls slightly at the news of Isabelle's mother's weakness of chest. "I will have my physicians give me a flask of this unguest they use to anoint my throat when I am affliced in the lung," which is… as often as not, really. "It's always a tremendous relief to me. You will send it on to your mother with my regards, will you not?" And, of course, she takes that arm, letting go of the chair back just long enough to wrap both her arms around Isabelle's in a hug both eager and also needful to stall her against a stumble when her dress sneaks underfoot. The long dresses are optimal when making certain not to flash any undue ankle from her wheelhair, but they're hardly meant for a stroll. "I have a lovely parcel of mountain black just imported from Annennes, which I will probably brew to the last pinch before the week is out, it's a very fine harvest," she enthuses about the tea on offer, then uses the arm from which she dangles to lower herself into a seat by the southern window, where the sea breezes are most prominent, bearing the bracing scent of salt to the eyes nd nostrils. When Ortolette sits, it's only on the very edge of her least, leaning forward and nodding to the servant who pours the tea with a gracious nod and a manner of biding her time which nigh successfully masks the vibrations emanating from her spirit due to the day's excitement and the frequent re-application of the strong east Eisandean tea. She's going to bubble forth with aught, is fairly clear.

—-

"She would be delighted to receive such a token of regard from you, my lady. She has always so admired the ladies of House Mereliot." The faint, elusive note on Isabelle's smile warms considerably when the delicate thing before her offers what she does. "You are so very kind."

The brine drifting from the sea brushes her nose with its familiar hint of salt, whispering of far away lands that she already misses the longer she remains in Terre D'Ange. For a moment, the dark-haired lady watches the view from the Solar's window, that quick, restless energy abating slightly. It must be something about Ortolette's air that relaxes her without even trying, when she is wound up and raring to go almost every minute of every day. But she turns her attention back to her lovely companion. "It sounds absolutely lovely, and I cannot wait to try it." Mischief gleams from her eyes. "Liquor is my beverage of vice, but I cannot imbibe every day. Perhaps my lady would be able to recommend a leaf that is best suited in the mornings?"

She observes her, brimming with excitement. Over the wisping steam of freshly poured cups, she can't help but laugh softly, elegant fingers hooking into the handle of her cup. "Something excites you, I can tell," she begins. "May I inquire about my lady's good fortune?"

—-

Ortolette inclines her head with a gracious and benevolent nod which she must have learned from her mother, accepting the thanks for the gift not even yet sent with a regularly ducal grace. "Oh, the mountain black is very good for the mornings, it's so invigorating! We really shoudn't be drinking it this late into the evening, but I'm smitten by it and am not sleeping, at any rate," she goes on. It's getting to chicken and the egg status. She'll have some tea because she's already awake, but the tea keep her awake. When Isabelle asks after her news, she plants all eight of her fingers on the edge of the table and leans forward as though playing a particularly dramatic chord on the piano. "Yes, you may," she whispers. "I have had a visit this morning from the Second of the White Roses in the House of the Wild Roses. I may in only days from now contract my first assignation, at last," she smiles that big, sort of weird and gawkish smile she has. "I tried to organize it the last time I was well, some month or so ago, but I fell ill again before I could manage. Now just as I'm convalescent she arrives like a messenger from Naamah, and if I am blessed, I will part with my maidenhood at last, while I can still take the air and have some strength in my limbs."

—-

"I will think of the leaf, and ensure that my office is stocked with it."

Whatever she was expecting, it certainly wasn't that. Isabelle's delicate, lightly sunkissed face reflects outward and genuine surprise, before that indulgent smile grows even moreso. She doesn't touch her tea, yet, when there is something clearly so important on the table. "A milestone, indeed!" she says with a laugh. "Congratulations truly are in order then, my lady. While I do not frequent their Salon very often, one of the first fetes I managed to attend upon my arrival back to your wonderful city was one held by the White Roses and it is there that I met their latest recruit. What was his name…" A lacquered fingertip taps absently on her teacup, before her befuddlement clears. "Aimeric, I believe. Aimeric no Rose Sauvage, from Elua. An eloquent youth, with golden hair and eyes like emerald glades and simply ethereal in appearance. He tends to blush rather easily, I find, but that is the mark of a skilled Alyssum, I believe - they do so at will, and always so beautifully."

She finally picks up her cup, mischief dancing in her eyes as she regards the duchesse's daughter. "I wonder, my lady, if this is why you have asked me to speak with you? Would you like me to design something special for you for the big day?" Lips lift higher in the corners, smile half-hidden by her cup. "…perhaps also lingerie?"

—-

It is rather a surprising thing. Ortolette has long been left unaware of what sort of an angel Naamah truly is, and with the whims of fickle fortune playing fast and loose with her health as so often they do, it was truy anyone's guess as to when her ignorance would at last be shed. If the circumstances line up well, however, this cound be the moment, and the frail little Mereliot seems keen to grab it. "I received an invitation to the self-same fete," she goes on, letting her tea fume a moment longer before she lifts it to her lips, "The Lady Olivia sent it to me, especially, but I was finding it too taxing to take myself without the palace gates. Now she comes and tells me she has saved this fresh-blossoming White Rose for my choosing, if I should choose him. I meet him tomorrow and if he is as pleasant as I have been told, I will choose him for my first," she glows, faintly, a subtle sheen of sweat from her exertion in walking across the room mingled with the wamrth brought to her nose and cheeks by the tea. Her own blush comes— rather uncomely, at that, the red blotchiness coming up under her skin unevenly along her throat and jaw. "It is, yes, though I amn't sure whether there would still be time for a piece to be made to order. I will seek the assignation, if I do, I think… tomorrow night, or the night after. If I become feverish again and lose this chance I will long hate myself. But— yes, my gowns are all so very… old, from when I was a child," and they mostly still fit her, her growth stunted by long ailment. "I should like to have something to wear which would make him think he is assigned to a young woman."

—-

A challenge, is it? Isabelle leans back on her seat, her fingers still loosely curled around her cup, but with the intent gleam in the depths of her dark-and-gold eyes, it is easy to determine that the woman is already turning her thoughts over to the problem of both artistry and timing. She takes a contemplative sip of her tea, taking a moment to indulge herself in the scents wafting from it, thoughts put to the steam, before sampling it upon her lips. "I may have a solution - I have a set of experimental designs I keep off the floor in my gallery." Strange, how she calls Courtly Couture as one, and not a mere shop - but it has since grown into a gleaming white temple dedicated to high fashion in the midst of Marsilikos' commercial heart. "My colorful muses, so to speak, I visit them whenever I need some much needed inspiration - save for my manager, Collette, who brings my creations to life, no one has ever seen them. One of them, I can customize to fit you, if you would provide me with your measurements and I can adjust details to suit your tastes. You just need to tell me what you prefer - for instance, if you would like to wear white, or some other color. I can offer to provide you with a new wardrobe at a later date, to refresh your look, especially in the coming season…it is almost Autumn, after all, and colors, cloth, and silhouettes will have to change. But since the assignation will be very quick, I will have to prioritize the creations for your big day." There is a faint smile. "Nobody will know that the ensemble is not made to order."

After a moment of quietly observing the delicate thing before her, she continues. "Your strength is internal, and your beauty is a fragile thing - like a blossom in spring, aching for its first taste of dawn. I can transform something I have already made to reflect these qualities…and make it clear that you aren't a doll so easily broken. You are to become a woman, my lady. I intend to have what you wear mirror the fact, if you will allow me." Her smile broadens. "And with a set of beautiful underthings to match, of course."

—-

The tea-jitters all migrate to the back of Ortolette's necx, her wide eyes settling almost motionless upon the Lady of Valais across from her. The blotches along her neck change patterns, slightly, as though she may be a squid attempting to communicae with another of her kind. "You would sacrifice one of your muses for me? I had only thought if, perhaps, you had some gown already made upon your storefront, or if you might adjust the fit and cut of something I already have. I know it is not your business to sell dresses from a pile, my Lady de Valais, like a common shopkeep," she smiles beatifically to her tea-companion, ears reddening hastily at the poetry which is laid at her feet on the cusp of such a moment. "Oh— yes— please," she clutches her hands about her teacup, eager to be anywhere near as alluring at Isabelle's descriptors. "I had thought, yes, to wear the white of my purity. But if you think something else would suit… a fine pale blue, perhaps, or something creme glimmering with gilt accent?" she's spitballing, rather than demanding; Isabelle's eye is so much finer in respect to these things than hers, for whom having to dress up for public events has been only a minimal part of her life.

—-

"It is my patriotic duty to sacrifice one of my muses for a daughter of House Mereliot," Isabelle replies, and despite her smiles and the mischievous glimmer in night-and-gold eyes, there is something more serious that underscores the words. It isn't just sincerity, but something akin to a vow, reminiscent of a knight swearing by the sword. The audible notes of one dragging a dagger across her palm and spilling blood into the earth, to bind herself to the words that she utters and to be held by the self-inflicted geas until the day she dies. She takes another sip of her tea, and at the soft, but bright eagerness demonstrated before her, her smile becomes indulgent once more. "The tricky thing about white is that while it emphasizes the purity of the wearer, without care, it can appear too bridal, and without the right cut or contrast, it might wash out your finer details….like the glowing pink undertones of your skin and your mouth. There are unique challenges in working with a monochromatic scheme and the last thing I want to happen is for you to appear like a featureless marble column topped with hazel stones."

After another long pause as she drinks in the sight of Ortolette further, she nods. "White, yes, but I intend to give it some blue-green accents - more blue than green, but I would like to leave a hint of the latter color because of your eyes, and very fine gold detailing, just enough to leave a shimmer under the right light, without it being ostentatious. If you feel just a little daring, I would like to opt an off-shoulders design for you, with swan-feather hemming on the loops around your arms and attaching small amber clusters closer to the bodice. A blue ribbon or a lace collar around your throat, holding a brooch, to make your blushes there stand out further…" Something more irrepressibly feline slips over her expression. "And draw a man's eye to it. To tease, my lady, without revealing all of your secrets at once."

—-

Ortolette's chin rises aloft— she keeps the tea in both hands, but is letting the sea breeze brush her cheeks and move a hair or two which have frayed from her braids that were immaculate this morning, but now a little tired. Leaving the teacup in one hand, she lifts the other hand to trail over her shoulder, imagining the gown as described. "Oh, yes… the gold sheen on the sea-blue, like… a ghost of sunset on the ocean floor," she tries her hand at that imaginitive turn of phrase, with… possibly but minimal success. The mention of her blushes makes her blush the further, blotches rising up her cheeks, uneven, patchy. "Oh, heavens, don't you mean to cover them up?" she asks, a little self-conscious, "Once one of the priests at Eisheth's temple saw me blush, and thought I had developed a pox." It would be a jest if she were not so serious in its delivery, and somewhat downtrodden, similarly. Obviously it's something she dislikes about her appearance, but not much something she can help. "Maybe you might include a hood… or a veil? Alyssum boys don't wear veils, do they? That would be awkward if we were both to wear one, would it not?" That one was, in truth, a jest, Ortolette's spirits bright on what might be the final eve of her over-long girlhood.

—-

She has noticed, and Isabelle grins - her ridiculous eye for detail misses nothing. "A collar," she tells her. "I have a fabric in mind - sheer enough for heightened color to show through, but given the hue I have in mind, it will look like a blush there and nothing more. The point, my lady, is to let the viewer know that your blush travels. He doesn't need to completely see the actual shade. If a veil, however, would make you feel more confident, I have ideas there, too. A small pillbox hat to pin in your hair to hold it and fall down enough to cover your cheeks but leave your mouth visible, sheer enough that he would be able to glimpse the features of your face." She aims to make Ortolette look like a woman - innocent but alluring at once, without having her look like a bride.

But her small jest earns her a laugh, and the dark-haired woman nods. "Indeed. If your target is Aimeric no Rose Sauvage, he will not have a veil. You are safe from that small embarrassment. But if you are amenable to my ideas, I will get started on the process at once. It does leave me to inquire about your undergarments, however. What are you accustomed to wearing?" Said without shame, ever the professional. "They hold a power on its own - I don't mean just to seduce the person who sees you in them, but how they make you feel. The more beautiful you feel, the more confident you become and that will definitely show."

—-

"Oh— yes, a collar— " Ortolette is taken with the notion, "But not both a collar and veil, perhaps— " in her mind's eye it all seems so cluttered, put together. "Perhaps," she begins again, "Some seafoam organza, tucked into the collar, to billow out and frame the side of my face, thus," she brings her hand to emulate a shape rising in such a way from from her neck. "It would render some cover, and be an item of interest. Then the organza can extend from the front of the collar and join the top of the dress, making a sheer frontpiece." Her chest, presumably, colors similarly when astounded. For all she has been blushing, this evening, to discuss her underthings is relatively uncomplicated to her. Someone who spends so much time is used to her littles being seen and changed by all manner of nurse and maid. "In bed, only a pant," she answers. She has no real need for a bra, after all, "When I go out, my gowns serve well enough for a chestband, and then I wear my belt to hold up my stockings and my frilly skirts besides," to hold out the shape of her gowns.

—-

Ortolette's suggestion earns her an approving look. "You have a talent, my lady. If I'm not careful, you may overtake me in my own game," Isabelle laughs, taking another sip of that luscious tea. "I will incorporate this in the design and make it absolutely stunning. As for the undergarments…I have an idea, if not just to enhance the aspects about you that are alluring. It's of a different kind than the more voluptuous women I've designed for in the past - their curves bring them no shame, so they tend to want to bare all, or mostly all. Not what I personally prefer, but sometimes the desires of a patron outweigh everything else. Your appeal, my lady, I think, is rooted on the tease. It's similar to a skilled Alyssum's, but not quite. You have the blood of a ducal house in your veins, I will eat my own slipper if that doesn't show in the moments when you need it to surface."

There's a grin, her mischief in full blossom. "It'll be a surprise. You do not have to wear them if you do not like them. Consider them gifts for your big day, if you will allow me the indulgence. I'm in the business, after all, to make others happy. I would like very much a chance to deliver in your case. It is an honor as it is, that you would think of me on an occasion so special."

—-

Ortolette glistens just a little further, something different from a blush in the excited heat that rises to her pale skin and makes her glow with a subtle sheen of sweat that the sea breeze does its best to cool away. "I have no notion what you might have in mind for under-things, my Lady de Valais— but I must admit before you that I am excited to discover them. I suppose that my maid will… know well enough how to arrange me in them? Or will you likewise send instruction?" Erotic underclothes being somewhat out of her purview, so far, she can only imagine there are a lot of laces and clips associated with them. "I am sure that I would not despise a gift from your hand, my Lady, by letting it sit unworn. And I hope to make the circuit of the courtyard with my intended assignant, as well, to let us be seen before we retire. I will have my ladies' maids put it about— the name of she who has clothed me." A pause. A rather gawpish pause, where all her red splotches pale and reappear in a slightly differing configuration. "Though I will not be flashing knicker during the pre-assignation promenade, and neither will I allow discussion of my little clothes to be the court gossip, so they will have to be apprecited much by myself and by the White Rose Blossom alone," she offers by way of apology over the edge of her teacup, and punctuates the sentiment with a sip. "I don't see how I could. From all I hear you are without parallel, my Lady de Valais." This, in tardy answer to her jestful fear.

—-

"I will provide instructions," Isabelle says. "And I promise it will not be so complicated that your maid will have to twist or hammer you into them." She has already taken Ortolette's fragility into account; her detailed eye is a formidable thing, as sharp as an eagle's - perfect for artistry, perfect for hunting. "My aim is to make you feel both comfortable and beautiful….though you may blush a little, seeing yourself in them." She winks at the fae creature sitting across from her, taking another sip of that delicious tea, cup lifted to her lips, her grip deceptively loose but secure.

The idea of flashing her underthings to the public draws another rich note of laughter from the designer, shaking her head. "It'll be our secret, my lady, I certainly don't need for you to advertise the look of your lingerie for my benefit. Such things are made for intimate settings and meant to be enjoyed by two people only - yourself, and the person you decide to grace the honor of seeing you so beautiful."

The compliment - honest, there, and she knows it; as fragile as Ortolette is, she is not known to mince her words, either, leaves her expression absolutely aglow, pride simmering from underneath all of her mischief. "Your words humble and honor me, my lady, for an artist's greatest desire is to hear that her creations are so highly regarded. If nothing else, it will only inspire me to enhance the beauty you already possess in spades. My aim, in the end, is to make the very angels weep at the sight of you."

A pause, and she grins, her following words a clear jest: "Though hopefully not your White Rose. We can't have him so tearful that he won't be able to perform now, can we?"

—-

Ortolette slips just a little closer to the edge of her seat — a literal statement that well supports the metaphor which it also serves to substantiate. "Will they be, such— oh— I don't know how to say it," or, perhaps she does, but she places value on being discreet, "Such that I may keep them in place for the duration? I will probably have to rest after getting dressed, as is. I fear exhaustion if I must entirely disrobe again to become prepared," she confides, looking across to the door to check whether Girard is listening in. He doesn't seem to be. But, then. It's sort of his job not to seem to be. "Oh, but imagine it," she smiles along with Isabelle's jest, "He weeping, I in need of a nap. We will be a helpless couple, won't we?" Behind every jest, of course, there's a grain of truth, and she sinks through to that grain after a moment's tittering, expression turning pensive. "I'm still nervous on that score, in earnest. I have but seldom felt so well as I do now, and yet for all that— what if I can't? It might hurt too much, or make me lose my breath and faint away. I am trusting in the tender nature of his canon, to approach me but shyly and with reserve." The blotching has spread all the way up to her ears, which are glowing red at the tips like little candles. "But these are concerns I should bring to my mother, or a priestess, and not bother you further over," she admits, "My gravest apologies, my Lady de Valais," she keeps her eyes lowered, ashamed.

—-

For the duration?

"Absolutely," Isabelle says with a smile. "I've already accounted for it, so please, be at ease." Another laugh is shared when Ortolette spins the tale further with her imagination. It is funny, isn't it? An angelic youth, weeping and fumbling over a young woman draped limp over the covers, snoozing away.

Her admitted nervousness has her pausing, however, before glancing out to the seascape she can glimpse from a distance. She sets aside her cup, now empty, every drop of that lovely tea savored by a woman who is notoriously independent of the whims of D'angeline society, and is utterly unapologetic in the ways she finds pleasure, no matter how strange so long as her entire being is invested completely. She rises from her seat, but not for long - it is simply to take up the chair next to Ortolette. A long-fingered hand lifts, in quiet invitation for the duchesse's daughter to place her digits upon it - and if she allows her, she will close her fingers around her knuckles. Gently, gently.

"My travels in pursuit of the refinement of my artistic expression has exposed me to many things, my lady," she tells her, with a tone that hopefully encourages the shy young woman to look up and meet her eyes. "But they are all consistent with one lesson - a person can do anything, if she puts her mind to it, if the determination is there, and from what I know of you, your mind is your greatest strength. I've seen emaciated practictioners in Bhodistan, so long and thin strong winds can break them in half, walk through hot coals and lie on beds of sharp needles, and not so much as blink an eyelash. These are not feats of physical strength, I've been told, however they may look. They say it is the will, and the spirit, that enables them to endure and succeed."

She smiles faintly. "I am an ardent believer in going after what you want. My life is testament to the fact. If this is something you truly desire, the will is already there to seize it. If you can convince your mind that your body can handle what awaits you, you might be surprised."

—-

Ortolette's eyes rise again at the notion of movement in their periphery. She looks to the Lady de Valais' chair— and it's empty. Then, turning her head to the side, there she is, settling in at her side, and the offered hand has her setting her own hand on top of it, not even gloved, as her delicate fingers usually are. Skin to skin contact is a rare thing between the Mereliot maiden and someone outside of her caretakers and family. The eye contact sought is easily gained, and she sends her languorous eyebeams down into Isabelle's eyes, looking comforted even simply by the proximity and company, and all the more so by the oratory accompanying, which she internalizes in silence for a long moment. "I am stronger than this thing," she finally declares, as if by way of an affirmation to herself as much as to anyone else. "And I will have it for my own." When her attention emerges once more from within, she smiles at Isabelle, a long, lean smile, eyes keened to match. "And it will be as beautiful as a painting, in the garb you will have set for me."

—-

She is different, when she decides to be determined, Isabelle observes internally. It is the look in her eyes when it happens, as bright as gemstones under the light of the moon, hidden fires stoked in her spirit to render her suddenly incandescent as she sits next to her. "You are," she begins. "A star's cradle, about to be imbued with the heat and luminescence you are due. It is as inevitable as the sun's ascent and descent over the horizon, and as sure as the moon's pull over the waves." If allowed, she dips her head, to press a kiss not over the young woman's knuckles, but the air lingering above them. And with a final, encouraging squeeze, handling her with all due care, she releases her hold.

"With that said, I should make arrangements. I will be putting the might of my entire staff at your disposal on your special day, my lady. But if there is anything you require, anything else at all, please do not hesitate to send for me."

—-

Ortolette is different, yes. Or just allowing what lurks below her frail exterior to come briefly to the surface to be glimpsed— like the fin of a shark that sends the beach-goers inland to their picnic blankets. The further poetry from the Lady de Valais comes welcome to her chest, augmenting her assurance and rendering her posture positively ducal in stature, bowing her head graciously to accept the kiss to even her knuckles, would Isabelle dare— but she does not, and the forebearance is noted with appreciation. "Yes, I have put you under a terrible time constraint. I will send along my measurements once my maid has taken them afresh. And I will send a parcel of tea to see you through the night. It may well be that I shall not find sleep. I will have a page keep watch for correspondence and he will have my maid deliver it to me straight away rather than to wait until morning." With open lines of communication thus kept, "I think I will go to the family chapel and spend the evening in prayer and contemplation," she decides, a fine way to preface what will be a momentous occasion for her.

—-

"Of course. I will wait it personally. Meanwhile, I will have my page rouse my staff." Isabelle rises at that, taking a few steps away from the table, before she curtseys. "By your leave, my lady. I hope you find the ease you require in your prayers." Her smile lifts her lips again. "And look forward to my parcels." If there is nothing else, she will then take her leave, with her ever present shadow, Guillermo, slipping to her side once she reaches the perimeters of the Dome, who helps her into her carriage.

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