(1310-08-14) A Modest Prize
Summary: A shy White Rose is paraded around in the courtyard, before the frail medium daughter of the Duchesse of Eisande decides it is time to withdraw.
RL Date: 18/08/2018
Related: Signed, Sealed, Delivered - He's Yours
ortolette aimeric armandine 

Courtyard — Ducal Palace


In the hours after supper the courtyard below the Dome of the Lady has filled beyond its usual measure with courtiers and ladies of various stripes and interests. Some have heard of the evening's import. Others only know that others are accumulating here and have come to augment the trend, all unknowing of what is happening— on their arrival, of course, though thereafter they no doubt learn. For all it may seem an organic response of citizenry of Marsilikos, there were pebbles dropped, dropped oh so carefully, into the stream of backstairs discourse to create just the correctly ambient sort of ripple that girds the courtyard now with its streamlike murmur of anticipation to see whatever it is they have come to see.

Here she comes.

Ortolette Tyran de Mereliot, having shed her dollbaby garb, looks like a young woman on the eve of her first assignation, dressed in a design — it is reported to the ear of anyone who will ask a neighbor in the milling group of courtly observers, by the Lady Isabelle de Valais. Vision of sweeping swan-feathers and amber clusters and mottled layers of white gossamer stained with blues and greens to create a shifting seafoam effect. And the collar that cradles her virginal cheek with wire-propped organza, as though she were resting on a cloud. She looks like an angel as she steps — yes, walks — from the palace gates to appear on the threshold of the courtyard, holding her mother's hand in one hand, holding her Cassiline's hand in the other, for moral and also, perhaps, physical support. But she kisses her mother, the last kiss of her childhood, and the Duchesse retreats to speak kindly with a few courtiers nearby. She squeezes Girard's hand, too, and he, likewise, steps back, not quite as far, remaining by the side of the palace gate to keep watch while Ortolette straightens her back, rising to her full height of somewhere an inch or two below the five foot mark, and folds her hands before her, watching with an attempt at stoic serenity the arrival of that carriage from the house of the Wild Roses.

That carriage arrives. It is black, the one carriage the salon of Rose Sauvage owns, it would truly be odd if it were odd if it were white. Even if the one person that steps out of that carriage now, that it has come to a halt in the courtyard, is clad all in white. His garb plain and modest, such a contrast to the fine attire Ortolette Mereliot has been outfitted with. At least it seems so at first glance. To the more keen eye they will become more apparent, the threads of silver that have been worked into the fabric of the shirt, the fact that he wears in fact a white doublet style jacket above that same shirt, and a fine pair of white trousers to match it. That dark hair of his though, seems to be the same mess as when they met earlier in the day, covering most of his forehead, shielding his eyes from too impertinent stares. Stares he will be able to feel, as that awkward expression on his features betrays, that lowered gaze of his, as he approaches the daughter of the Duchesse, even if that will mean to make his way through a throng of courtiers.

A detail that might be easily overlooked, is the Rose Sauvage guard that steps out of the carriage as well, keeping an eye on his charge, even if keeping an unobtrusive distance.

Arriving before Ortolette, Aimeric is forced to raise his gaze, and be it just to take in the beautiful attire and the care with which she has dressed for the occasion. "My lady," he intones in a low voice, meant for her eyes alone. "You look like Naamah herself." It is a confession that poses a discernible challenge to his composure. It takes him another moment to lift his arm for her to take. "You said you wished to go for a stroll?"

Curious eyes will linger on them, for sure. One pair especially, of the mother, the Lady of Marsilikos. Armandine exchanges a few more words with one of the ladies, as she lifts her gaze, glancing her daughter's way, as if to make sure Ortolette is comfortable, in this situation with its obvious implications of what is to happen later in the evening.

Ortolette maintains that air of graceful serenity as well as she is able, her own eyes slightly downcast, but noting how much the courtesan's form and beauty are revealed even by the tailored fit of the doublet as opposed to the loose sling of his earlier tunic. It brings a certain vividness of reality as to his virility and power, and Girard will take a half-step forward as she seems to nearly falter before composing herself with a rush of air from her lips upon Aimeric's approach. "Monsieur," she whispers, and her faltering stance can be loosely interpreted as a curtsey, before she rises and lifts a gloved hand to press two fingers, perhaps impetuously, to his lips in the wake of his compliment. "Shh," she whispers, "Say you a prayer, Monsieur. I wish the Bright Lady's blessing, to-night, not her wrath," she wards herself from any suspicion of hubris, with a voice neat and girlish, earnest and yet not totally serious in her fear of blasphemy, a little smile playing games with her lips, despite her warning. Her gloved fingers drop from his lips and slide down his bicep and below his elbow, where her hand snakes around to the inside of his forearm and she uses him to support a portion of her meagre weight as she steps in closer to him. "Oui, Monsieur Aimeric. Come and walk with me. I hope you will not mind. I so rarely have the wherewithal to take a stroll about the courtyard, and I think that it is Naamah's will that I may enjoy a promenade tonight, with you," she converses with him, eyes downcast, a rather perfect companion to the White Rose mate the Lady Olivia no Rose Sauvage has arranged for her. And yes, of course, she means, as well, to present herself and the one she has chosen as her first to the important personages of court, if not formally, at least in essence. It has all the solemnity of a court procession, for something as simple as a walk about the courtyard.

Aimeric clearly is not used to being paraded around before a crowd of courtiers. It shows in the slight unease with which he avoids their glances, as if not seeing them would ward off them observing each and every subtle reaction on his features, in the change of his posture, as Ortolette almost stumbles towards him, and his arm lifts, ahead of time, to offer support she eventually does not need. The curtsey of hers, it is received with a shy smile curving his lips, lips that find themselves suddenly exposed to a first touch of her finger to silence words he had meant as praise. "Forgive me," he murmurs, lowering his gaze, as lashes lower in a slow blink. "It was not my intention to provoke Her of all. I was just giving voice to the thought that first crossed my mind upon seeing you. Here. Now." She already continues though, so he offers his arm in earnest now. "A promenade sounds delightful, my lady." At which he assumes his place beside her, and the rosiness creeping up his cheeks gives very much away how awkward he must feel, to become part of her statement. There is the faintest tremble to be perceived in his arm, her hand so obligingly snakes about, but for now, Aimeric seems to distract himself by lifting his gaze once again to Ortelette's face. "Where would you like to go? Just a stroll in the courtyard?" His voice is still kept low to give their exchange a certain sort of privacy, or the intention of one, at least.

Ortolette bobbles her head a few times to his proposal of a course, "Yes, just to the outer gates and back," she answers, not making an sort of effort to go too near to the sides of the courtyard where people are clustered in their own conversations. Her voice is as slight as she— it will not reach the others. "I will forgive you if you forgive me," she tells him, cheek leaning into the structured organza that veils the underside of her face from her collar, angling her head just slightly to the side so that it's obvious, from a distance, that she is speaking with him, even if the content of her speech is hidden by that organza, even to those who would read lips. "You are a fine just-flowering rose, Monsieur, and I could not help but wish the court to see me on your arm," she defines her request for forgiveness, unable to help but sense that delicate trepidation in being put on display. Unable to help but enjoy his little tremble, in fact. But she would not be harsh to the delicate flower, and even if she would make him blush that beautiful pink for her, she would still beg his forgiveness of it.

"I? Forgive you?" Aimeric pauses in his steps, and from the way he turns to face Ortolette it must be clear for the onlookers that he is speaking to her. But yet. It seems he likes to join her in that cruelty of keeping the contents of their conversation as much a secret as possible. Lips barely move as he forms his words, and the volume of his voice, hovering somewhere between a murmur and a whisper. "I am but an adept, my lady, and you honor me - and the salon where I serve - for singling me out for this…" His voice trails off as he seems for a moment unsure how to put it. "Meeting in the courtyard." Indeed, his back straightens just a little bit more, as the White Rose adept leads her in the direction of the outer gates, a lean young man of modesty and beauty, the perfect specimen to follow Alyssum canon. "If this put you more at ease," he offers in murmured addition, gaze directed onwards where their steps lead them. "I shall forgive you. For each word you say, and each act you might feel might offend me."

Oh, look at this pair, from a distance, walking arm in arm, speaking in close quarters, billing and cooing like two little doves ought to do. It really is a perfectly manicured portrait, and, perhaps somewhere among those milling at the edges of the courtyard there is a young woman with a sketchbook taking down the notions of the scene, the pair in whites and seafoams and silvers; the sunset over the Dome of the Lady, the softly reverent berth which the courtiers make to allow such a pure and chaste pair to make their way to the gate, where Ortolette pauses to catch her breath. It's a lot of walking, for her, and, besides, she must turn to her contracted assignant when he pledges her his forgiveness, a fine gesture on his part, one which draws up her hazel gaze from below the curtain of her eyelashes to regard the fashionably tousled hair that hides his own eyes from her. "Yes," she whispers breathily. "It does. My thanks, Monsieur Aimeric."

Perhaps this had been another part of the ploy, that, besides presenting this fortunate young man to the public of the Ducal Court, this magical moment would be captured in a drawing, and who knows, perhaps a painting later on? Aimeric certainly looks evenly matched, at least in the delicacy of his reactions towards Ortolette. When he senses that soft catching of breath, he regards her with a hint of concern, hazel eyes penetrating that convenient curtain of his hair with their gaze. His own lips part to draw a breath at her whispered response, that faint bewildered smile playing upon his features telling perhaps in that he considered the full extent of what he may have granted her with his previous statement. His gaze flicks towards the gates and then back towards the blonde frail creature at his side. "Shall we continue further, my lady? Or will this be far enough, for now?" His arm shifts, hand reaching up to take hers that had been curled slightly above his elbow. His fingers bare, touching hers that are hidden away in a glove. And with a slight sideways flick of his head, the adept tosses the dark hair that falls over his forehead aside, to allow Ortolette the view of his eyes. Dark and faintly nervous eyes. "Or would you…", and here he pauses, lips pressed together for a moment, "prefer to withdraw soon? The day may have been long and tiring."

Indeed, the sketches are an integral step in the commission of a painting of the scene which, again, Ortolette has orchestrated. This brief pause, face to face, just short of the courtyard gates, their virginal gazes mingling— it would be another perfect scenario, for example. At these close quarters he may see the glow of sweat upon her brow as her hand slides into his hand, and she lifts her other hand to offer it up likewise to its opposite twin. From there it will be a simple matter of reversing their promenade to return to the palace gates. "I think that this is rather far enough, indeed. Only let me have the air for a moment, and let me look upon you in this light," and she does so, her eyes watering slightly in a joyous expression when she's allowed to see his eyes. "Then, yes, we will turn back. It has been a long day… and an exciting one. I would return to my chamber," she lets it hang a moment, "I would have it as a great kindness for you to attend me thither," she adds, even though, of course, that is rather the point. She will let him take the lead in turning them back toward the palace, but only after she indicates with a nod and the fading of that heat from her forehead in a low sea-breeze her readiness to resume the walk.

<FS3> Aimeric rolls Perception: Good Success. (5 7 8 5 2 2 5 2 5 4)

Two hands join those of the other, and Aimeric grants her this moment, very much true to the spirit in which he had given her his hand upon their earlier meeting, his fingers oddly still as they return her grasp, as if he were holding his breath. And this too will elongate the moment created for their onlookers, and the assiduous visual protocolist of them standing there together in this ominous manner. The adept lets his gaze stray away from her captivating eyes to let it wander and take in the whole of her complexion, that faint ghost of rosiness still present on his own. "Do I look any different, in this light?", he asks in that faintly bewildered tone. "If it pleases you, we shall remain and linger for a moment." Another flush then, of his cheeks, as she names the elephant in the room, or rather makes subtle reference to it. "I shall gladly accompany you there," Aimeric replies, lowering his gaze, his tone friendly and forthcoming, yet also once again showing that little grain of nervousness. That nod of hers indicates for him to place her hand back on his arm, so that Aimeric can lead her back towards the rise of stairs that would lead them into the Palace. It is a walk absolved with his eyes downcast, faint perspiration even visible on his own cheeks, dark hair having resumed their usual tumble to conceal, very much like a veil he doesn't have. It makes him endure them re-entering the line of focus and proximity of courtiers, the fact that he can sense their gazes, the close whispers of fabric as they move aside to give them room. A sideways glance towards Ortolette perhaps given by him to draw confidence from her — but in fact it will reveal to her his increasing unease amidst so many people, and his wish to slip away from their attention.

Neither is Ortolette accustomed much to being in the public eye. But it is very likely that she will never marry, whether she is laid low before the time is right or simply… never considered for a match, due to her ill health and the unlikeliness of her ever being of sound constitution enough to bring a child. It may well be that this is as close to a wedding as she will ever have, as the courtesan in silvered white leads her in her own blue-glowing white past those who have come to watch the procession, her mother looking on and her loyal Cassiline. So despite her tendency toward demure shyness when placed in the unusual position of being in the spotlight, she smiles, a dewy tear in her maidenly eye, and makes the most of her little moment, even with her gaze lowered. When, in a spontaneous show of support for the Duchesse's daughter's appearance, a small group of young Ladies behind them take up a little cheer, it surprises her into a startle, but then she only laughs, looking back over her shoulder to them with a friendly smile, and, when Ortolette doesn't seem put out by the expression, it catches on, and more of the courtiers (who have as likely as anything only ever seen Ortolette in public in her wheelchair, or, even more, never seen her in person, only been told of her being kept to her sick-bed) begin to take up the applause, seeing her walk under her own power and finally take her long delayed first assignation. It can only be a sign of good health and fine things for the maiden and the family, after all. And so it is that by the time they reach the palace gates, once more, where Girard is waiting to see whether Ortolette will need her chair again after that long stroll, the whole of the courtyard behind them is cheering them off to their assignation, with shouts of well-wishes and good-health and good-luck. Ortolette's strange blotchy blushes are hidden well below the structured organza, but she otherwise only seems cheered by the cheering, and, with a smile, she shakes her head to Girard as he offers her the chair, instead simply passing within with Aimeric at a slightly briskened pace.

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