(1310-08-15) Serious Business
Summary: Helene de Verreuil visits the convalescing Matthieu de Rocaille, an old friend, and discusses some important updates regarding an economic project in Siovale.
RL Date: August 15, 2018
Related: None
matthieu helene 

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 day. The weather is hot and fair.


With the uproar his return had caused, it would be impossible for Helene not to hear about it. Somehow, despite all the odds, Matthieu de Rocaille has managed to claw his way back from the dead.

Once she presents herself at the threshold of the residence, the valet would bring her not at the study where he spends most of his time of late, but at the patio overlooking the Rocaille manse's gardens, broad-shouldered form seated on a chair and watching the city's pedestrian traffic pass him by beyond the gates. He has been relatively quiet since he was dragged injured through the door by his Cassiline protector, Gabriel de Montreve, glimpsed just a little bit aways, boots on the grass - his boyhood companion, he and the ducal heir of House Rocaille are even more inseparable now that he has officially joined the Brotherhood.

Matthieu has always been imposing; nothing about him reflects the D'angeline androgyny commonly found upon the features of men carrying angelic blood, with hard, handsome features as if carved from marble, and with the wiry athleticism of a young man who enjoyed a good run and spar. His platinum-blond hair remains in its usual careless disarray, kept short at the back, but long on the top, and ice-blue eyes wreathed with thin argent fissures keep a keen, sharp stock on his environs. Helene would be spared, at the very least, of the sight of his numerous injuries - he wears a high collared shirt with the first two clasps undone, sleeves rolled up just under his elbows, trousers and boots. The only indicators of the toils he has suffered are the look in his eyes, the bands of ugly, mottled bruising around his wrists where shackles have chafed, bit and bled him, and the walking stick leaning on the side of his chair that suggests that he has difficulty walking.

As if sensing her presence, he turns his head. Those stormy eyes slice the distance between them like lightning, cleaving into the face of his visitor. There is no smile - from him, they are rare, and his laughter rarer still.

But it isn't long until recognition suffuses his expression. There's a blink. It is one that the Cassiline mirrors, those dark eyes scrutinizing her from where he leans.

"…Helene?" Gabriel wonders, animating from the pillar, movements as long and sleek as a cat's. "What a surprise! What are you doing here in Marsilikos?"

As the Cassiline asks his question, the future duke of Siovale rises from his seat, ever the gentleman despite his injuries.

—-

"Running into old friends apparently, Gabriel, for I cannot take responsibility for resurrecting the long dead," Helene answers cheerfully as she sees him, her green eyes looking upon the familiar face with warmth. She is slender, as many d'Angelines are, but with a softness about her, rather than the sharper, more striking features of many. Her green eyes, always warm, are also clever, taking in the scene before her with a swift move across the room before resettling on the one she is speaking with.

Even when she was young, she was never one for the more restricting garments of nobility, often opting instead for gowns made of fine linen rather than silk, and cuts that allowed slightly more freedom of movement rather than being designed solely to show off her figure, and certainly, it is what she is wearing today, the dress a soft blue, accented by the wicker basket on her arm, and simple jewelry. Her family had always expected her to spend as much time with those they ruled, as they did they peers, and there is a comfortableness in her demeanor that moves easily from the valet, to the Cassiline, and then to Matthieu himself. She sighs gently as she approaches, "I certainly never anticipated you would be the one to cause all this fuss. Whatever have you gotten yourself into?" There is a gentleness there, along with a hint of a laugh and the warmth of their older friendship.

—-

"Three years isn't that long!" Gabriel quips with a laugh, his hand extending in offerance for Helene to place hers upon it, before the Cassiline plants a kiss in her knuckles if she allows him. "But long enough, I suppose." He has been part of the Brotherhood for well over a decade, now, but he has yet to forget his old courtesies as a middle son of House Montreve. This is brief, however, before he releases his grip and takes a few steps back to make room for Helene to move over to his friend.

At Helene's approach, Matthieu wordlessly lifts his hand, palm up - a platform upon which she could rest those gentle fingers before bowing his own head over her knuckles. Unlike Gabriel, however, there is no kiss save for the facsimile of one pressed in the ether above her skin, but like him, this is brief. "Whatever it is," he tells her with his low, but straightforward baritone. "It wasn't of my choosing. Have a seat." He regards her for a moment with that silent, intense study, that way characteristic to him that appears to exclude the rest of the world momentarily to put her in the middle of his unyielding focus, the weight of it as tangible as brick and as precise as a deftly-wielded stylus. But something about his demeanor softens; the barest hint of a smile ghosts over the line of his mouth. "It's good to see you."

He remains standing until she is seated, before he retakes his own with a sigh that he barely manages to suppress. A look is directed to the waiting valet's way. "Bring a tea cart, with a few tins of our black leaf." The silent man bows deeply from the waist, before he vacates the patio.

"I take it your father sent you here as his agent for his dealings?" he inquires. "How are his plans in fortifying our ports in Siovale?"

—-

Helene accepts the courtesies with an incline of her head before taking the seat suggested, setting the basket down beside her for the moment. Her eyes study his features with a similar intensity, taking in each new mark, and bruise before moving to the next, adding them to her mental inventory of his features. "Thank you, and yes, he has. With the lands flourishing once more he wishes to ensure that another drought like that one does not set the lands back ten or twenty years again, so I am here to establish more trading partners, as he leads the construction in Siovale. I see you are already up on recent events here," she answers plainly. "The inwards docks are fully complete and already seeing greater traffic up and down the river, and the barge system appears to be bringing in greater traffic, but the ocean wards docks are taking a bit longer than we had expected. The timber we were receiving was not high enough quality to withstand the waters, but that has since been rectified." She pauses there, chuckling softly, "And there I go, entirely off on our business. I did bring you something for your recovery." She only looks away from him to reach down and raise the basket, reaching inside to pull the items out in turn, "Fresh cheese, strawberries, and.." she takes out the final item and offers it to him, "nectarines, freshly picked this morning."

—-

"Oh, lovely. Business in the morning," Gabriel groans, hearing the both of them. "I'm just going to be over here, sleeping."

"You never sleep. Whatever you do, that isn't sleeping," Matthieu retorts, watching the Cassiline stride back to his pillar, a glimpse of the boy Helene once knew surfacing with the way he interacts with his best friend, which earns him a flinty grin for his trouble.

His attention returns to Helene and at her words, his expression barely changes, save for a glimmer of genuine interest in the storm-laden glaciers of his stare. A thoughtful tap of his forefinger finds the armrest of his seat, and at the tail end of the woman's description, he is silent for a long moment - never the sort to hurry when it comes to the important aspects that affect the province he is to inherit from his father. In many ways, this is precisely why he and the young Siovalese heiress have always gotten along - Helene had a brain for business, and a keen eye for it that rivaled his own.

It's only when he presents her gift that he moves, reaching out to take her burden from her hands; the shadow of the slim valet seeing to their needs returns with the cart, and the basket is handed to him in turn to prepare a small repast for them on the table. "You remembered," he says, of the nectarines, because of course she did. He takes the one she has offered and examines it for a moment. "I don't even remember the last time I've tasted one," he murmurs, the look of him a mask as he says it. But he moves soon after, to toss it to Gabriel, who catches it with a grin, his knife spun as if out of nowhere to start cutting into the treat.

"Thanks, Helene!" the Cassiline says.

Tea steeps in short order, leaving the delicate scent of black leaf and the citrusy notes of bergamot in the air. With cheese, some fresh bread sent for from the kitchens, cut tableside, their breakfast is assembled with all the ruthless efficiency Matthieu has come to expect from his personal staff. His own sun-bronzed hand reaches out to take a knife, to start cutting into one of the nectarines, though he deprives himself further of a taste of his favorite fruit when he sets these slices on a plate and offers them to Helene, first, before taking care of his own.

"It's not so surprising, is it, that I've already caught up?" he wonders. "How are we dealing with the heavier traffic? Any burgeoning problems with congestion and crime?"

—-

"Not really surprising," she answers with a touch of a smirk, well aware that their interests have aligned. She takes cheese and a piece of the nectarine, setting them beside her tea on the saucer. "And of course I remembered. When we were at the Alberts I used to peer out my window hoping to catch you stealing them in the wee hours of the morning. I was determined to find you disobeying just one rule." Of course, she was just as straight laced when it came to the rules. "As for the congestion, it's being managed fairly well. There was some trouble when the project first began with a few of the local fishermen who were concerned that there would be too much competition in the area with the higher traffic, but fortunately, while that wasn't entirely avoided, it was more than made up for by the higher traffic to purchase their fish. Industry begets profits, and Papa has been careful to ensure that more of it is seen by our workers, rather than just piling it into our own coffers."

She finally pauses to take a sip of the tea, smiling afterwards and turning to Gabriel, "It is excellent. I am glad to see you did not make it yourself."

—-

"It couldn't be helped. They say rebellion is a necessary component for a growing lad's education," Matthieu says with his signature deadpan, so serious that anyone who didn't have the requisite insight into his character would easily misconstrue it as a truthful statement. "Even if it is just attempting to steal them from the Vicomtesse's orchards." Eyebrows lift in an inquiring fashion. "I assume that you did manage to catch me, otherwise you wouldn't have identified the exact time in which I performed my daring capers. Did you tell anyone?"

"Hah! If she didn't, I would be surprised," Gabriel replies from the pillar, grinning broadly as he brings a slice of nectarine to his mouth. "She was sneaky even back then and I only assume she's gotten worse. You may fool others with those big green eyes, Helene, but not me!"

Subtle amusement leaves the barest stamp on Matthieu's features as he starts on his breakfast, consuming one of the nectarine slices while he listens attentively to what Helene tells him about the port. "Your father has always been a capable administrator," he allows. "And worker strikes and rebellions have started for less." And another reason why he has always gotten along with her father, if not just because his views on noblesse oblige are similar to his own, though one wouldn't easily make that conclusion - he tends to be brusque to servants.

Then again, he tends to be brusque with nearly everyone.

"Still, the project couldn't have fallen on more capable hands. Would you keep me regularly appraised on developments there? If you come across any difficulties regarding funds, do inform me."

Helene's last quip earns a laugh from the Cassiline. "I serve and protect now, Helene," Gabriel says with exaggerated seriousness. "I think it's stated somewhere in the Brotherhood's materials that I shouldn't be poisoning the guests of my charge if I can help it."

—-

"Do you honestly think anyone would have believed me Gabriel?" she answers with her very best doe-eyed innocence. "Though I never did find out who told on me for taking books out of the house and into the grounds." Apparently she too had a rebellious streak, albeit for a very specific definition of rebellious. She has to hide a soft snort at the mention of the 'to serve and protect.'

Helene turns back to Matthieu, watching him as he answers, and as he considers, noting the starkness of his expression, but not forcing the matter. "Growing pains, but overall people are happy with the change. Father has always been clear with his goals, and that he seeks to serve them best, and it has eaned us a great deal of trust from our tenants. I am happy to keep you up to date on developments though. I have been working here to build trade partners, and have secured a partnership with Thaddeus Trevalion who was also looking at expanding his network. His is the first major contract for the port, and hopefully will inspire others as well."

—-

It is here that Helene would be subjected to Matthieu's perfect poker face when he betrays absolutely nothing as to who may have told on her, as they take their own trip down memory lane, peppered by the instances in which their strange childhood rivalry had developed. But it fits the both of them, never set with the disposition not to compete, in some fashion, with someone who was also clever. In the end, it has paid dividends, kept sharp over their tender years with the games they've played. It is different from academic contests, which often rely on memory and comprehension and not anticipation and the knowledge of one's opponent's strengths and foibles.

Mention of Thaddeus Trevalion has his brows lifting. "I'm more acquainted with his cousin, the Vicomte de Rouen." Augustin, famed hero and Chevalier du Cygne Blanc. "Still, it's crafty. The Trevalions are notoriously beholden to the sea, even if word has it that the Marquis d'Evreux's sons haven't tied themselves for life to the navy, they still paid their dues to the water." He inclines his head at her, curiosity in his eyes. "Have you made any overtures towards the Kusheline lords? We share a coastline with the province. Our ports are more accessible with respect to trade from Aragonia, the Caerdicci states, Tiberium and Menekhet, but Kusheth's are more accessible with respect to trade from Alba. There might be an opportunity there."

He samples a bite of cheese and bread, before settling further into his seat. "I'm also curious as to how you have been doing, trade negotiations aside."

—-

"I have been well enough," Helene answers with a bit of a shrug. "Things continue as they always have, and that suits me just fine. I feel old here in the city though, more so than I did at home. It seems many families have taken to sending their youths here to make marriages and seal alliances, dabble in the Night Court, and the like. I feel a bit out of place, to be truthful, but then again, I was not sent here for the same reasons. So perhaps it was inevitable."

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