(1310-09-13) The Ladies' Anti-Jousting League
Summary: The ladies in Matthieu de Rocaille's life pool their worries.
RL Date: 15/09/2018 to 17/09/2018
Related: Continues immediately in The Reason From His Heart.
oriane olivia 

Maison de la Porte Bleue — Salon

Two square chambers are united by broad sliding doors of black-painted wood, creating a double cube lined with simple white boiseries and floored by squares of dark and light parquet in an echo of the marble downstairs.

The resulting combined salon is sparsely furnished with a few small chairs and tables light enough to be rearranged at will, their styles mismatched but harmonious, all of them painted white. In the rear chamber a single large sofa covered in deep sapphire-blue velvet is placed against the wall to the left as one enters it, across from the fireplace to the right.

The small balcony overlooking the Rue du Port, is echoed by a much larger one on the opposite side of the double cube, between the sofa and the hearth. Sliding doors, similar to those in the middle of the salon but set with diamond-shaped panes of leaded glass to let the light in, give onto a fragrant bower suspended amidst a magnificent view of the harbour. Small orange trees grow in pots, scenting the air with their sweetness; the blue wrought-iron railings are festooned with windowboxes planted with such useful household staples as rosemary, thyme, basil, sage, and lavender. And, for pleasure's sake, every white flower that might hope to thrive in the climate of Marsilikos has a place here, whether in a hanging basket or a pot moved inside at night. Overhead stretches a black and white striped canvas awning, the angle of which can be adjusted by lever to provide shade to plants and persons resting beneath it as the southern sun moves in its course.

Someone has been looking out for the litter carrying Olivia d'Albert nó Rose Sauvage; and the Maison de la Porte Bleue has its eponymous portals open to receive her before her bearers can even consider setting her down in the street. No. There's room in the entrance hall, next to the empty black and white litter belonging to the lady of the house, and this way a shy Alyssum can continue her blossoming into a social butterfly without exposing so much as a slippered foot or a shimmering veil to the dust of the Rue du Port, or to its curious denizens.

Two maids are present to superintend matters. Arrangements are made for the bearers to call in an hour, and they're shown out; a bowl of lavender-scented water is offered for Olivia to wash her hands; by the time she's making her way up the pale stone staircase to the first floor, someone is already mopping the bearers' footprints from the black and white marble behind her.

Her hostess is dressed in white silk today, a simple gown in a style vaguely Hellenic, bound about her torso and belted with a narrow black velvet ribbon. Despite the lingering warmth of the season she has a fluffy white blanket draped over her lap, an arrangement which becomes more sensical when, smiling, she beckons Olivia nearer to the blue velvet sofa where she sits by the open doors of her balcony. "Forgive me for not getting up to greet you, my dear,"she says softly. "They're asleep."She glances down into her lap, where her hand is tucked in amongst two very small, very exhausted white kittens. Then she looks up to meet the blue eyes just visible between the Alyssum's veils, with a proprietary sort of twinkle in her own.

"Won't you sit? There'll be tea in a moment, or would you prefer lemonade?"

"Thank you, my lady." A curtsey is swept, before at Oriane's invitation. But there's kittens afoot, (or alap), and whom can truly deny the lure of such things. It'd be noted that Olivia cannot — for instead of choosing a seat other than the one upon which her host herself sits, she chooses instead to perch herself at the end of Oriane's feet. "You have kittens." She'd win a prize this week so many times has she stated the obvious to others, though there's a smile beneath her veils, the evidence of which can be found in her eyes. "I believe that you must have only just got them, since they're still so terribly small. I envy you. There's no place for pets at La Rose Sauvage."

She tucks her hands into her lap, restraining herself with an enforcement of will to deny the primitive urge to reach out and touch Oriane's new babies. "I'd love a lemonade, if not inconvenient. Thank you. Have they names?" Her eyes drop back to the kittens, though one would have to question whether they'd actually ever left them, and the smallest of sighs filters lightly against her veils. It's lucky that the pair are both exhausted and sleeping, for the billowing of the silk beneath her breath would make for a deliciously tempting toy to pounce indeed.

The maid who showed Olivia to the salon and lingered to eavesdrop departs in quest of lemonade, leaving her mistress unruffled by any mere concern for arrangements. It's a good thing, too, for urges are being suppressed from one end of the sofa to the other. Resisting one's natural desire to caress such delicate white fur when it's literally at one's fingertips… Oriane has kept her hand still, curved around the back of one sleeping baby, with the other's head pillowed on her wrist, for several heroic minutes now. She'll break eventually. No question of it.

"They are quite new. I came across them just a few days ago when I was walking along the harbour — of course," she hastens to add, "they've had baths since then! They don't have names yet, no… I haven't thought of anything I was sure I liked. I was the same when it came to naming my other two girls," she admits, inclining nearer from her nest of cushions in the corner to deliver a wry and confidential smile; "in the end my husband was the one who decided. Perhaps you might help me think of names?" she wonders. "Something one can call out without seeming entirely absurd—? The Tsingano boy who was tending them told me that the one on the left," she nods to one particular pale morsel of perfection, "was called Winter, but I don't think I could call the other one after another season, for in no time they'd be chasing one another in the wrong order." She quirks her eyebrows and just then a pitcher of lemonade arrives, on a gleaming silver tray, in association with a pair of finely-wrought silver goblets that will keep the liquid wonderfully cool however long the ladies may take to sip it.

"… I hope you don't find it too sour," Oriane apologises in the same low murmur. "They make it to my taste, but it could easily be sweetened if you prefer it, no?" She glances up from Olivia to the maid engaged in the act of pouring, who answers with a well-trained murmur of her own.

There's a shy downflit of Olivia's eyes when Oriane speaks, as if for a moment she's entirely overwhelmed by being in her presence. Her plans for the day had most likely not included sitting on a couch with a woman of such legendary tales as Oriane, nor to be exchanging small-talk on the best names for kittens and her preference in lemonade.

"I, too, prefer it a little sour," she eventually admits, accepting the drink that's handed to her with only the slightest of blushes visible beneath those veils. "I start to crave something further to quench the thirst it leaves behind if sweetened too much." The tips of her fingers curl about her goblet of lemonade, where condensation is already forming. At least such things keep her hands occupied and away from the kittens, the urge to touch them quelled, at least for the time being.

"Winter is an apt and lovely name, but I see the problem. Perhaps…" and she hesitates, uncertain of putting forward her thoughts despite the fact that her help has been sought. "…something floral. There are a great many exquisitely-named flowers that would lend themselves well to such beauties as these."

Oriane's fingertips curl unconsciously, nestling deeper into white fur; she smiles along her well-tenanted lap at Olivia, her interest plainly piqued. "What a charming thought," she murmurs. "I'm fond of white flowers," as her own fresh and delicate scent might already have suggested to the perceptive Alyssum, "and they do have such sweet faces, don't they? Wait till their eyes open again," she suggests with very quiet merriment. Nobody seems yet to have been disturbed by their talk, however, kitten naptime being every bit as intense as kitten playtime.

"… I really am very glad you could come to me today, you know," she goes on. Some slightly more sombre thought seems to have edged out the babies, for now at least. "My dear, I…" She pauses, regarding Olivia with an air of apologetic concern. "I heard," she admits, "that some incident occurred yesterday at the mêlée, involving my nephew Matthieu…?" She tilts her head, blue eyes alert and curious, but full of kindliness and goodwill. "I thought perhaps you might give me the truth of it, and spare an old woman one of her worries."

"Matthieu?" Olivia's caught out by the sudden mention of the Rocaille's name, and her response to Oriane's question lies both within the weight of his name, and the silence that follows. Ever the Alyssum, she draws a veil across her own personal feelings regarding the nature of her attachment to the man, and her eyes lid as they claim a spot somewhere to the left of Oriane's shoulder.

"Men can be so terribly stubborn."

She twists the goblet within the circumference of her fingers, allowing her words to speak for themselves. "He risked crippling himself forever with his decision to enter the mêlee." There's a quietness to the manner in which the Second of the Alyssum's comports herself, her voice modulated with all the training that she possesses in order that her affection for the man is kept severely under wraps. "It seems that your nephew simply cannot allow himself the time to recover, but he was always that way. Now he tells me that he has entered his name to compete in the joust. He will not listen."

Her eyes draw back to Oriane, and though shielded by the shadows cast by her lashes, for the briefest of moments, worry shows naked. "Perhaps you could dissuade him…"

"Men can be so terribly stubborn."

Oriane's gaze is all sympathy; a little shake of her head asks, but what can one do with them—? She waits, perfectly receptive, covered in kittens, as Olivia unfolds the bare bones of her tale: she's silent, but her face grows paler word by word, till she's white as her hair. She closes her eyes, curls her fingertips deeper into the warmth of the tiny creature into her hand, lets out a studiously even breath… But to no avail; the scent of oranges emanating from her balcony is adulterated by a creeping aroma of apples. The sure sign that a Somerville scion is working herself into a passion over something, even against her own will.

"I'm not at all sure," she declares, "that I've ever succeeded in convincing Matthieu de Rocaille not to take an extra pastry from the plate, let alone not to— " She presses her lips together. "But he mustn't joust. Not so soon after…" After what, she doesn't say; she folds her arms across her white silk bodice, kittens forgotten, hands tucked now under her arms. "Are you quite certain he was deaf to your advice? A young woman is so often more successful in these matters than an old one… It may be that he's thinking on what you said, that he'll see reason."

A newly wakeful kitten prowls along Oriane's legs, stretching languorously with each tiny white step, lured onward by the shining silken promise of Olivia's veils.

"No. He mustn't," Olivia returns, watching the progress of the kitten along Oriane's legs. She plays the devil's advocate, and lifts the edge of her veil to bestow life upon it, and add to its lure. "But," she adds, flicking the silk this way and that as the kitten prepares to pounce, "… I have said my piece, and he's aware of my feelings. I doubt he'll be swayed, since his mind seems set. He has his reasons for doing as he does, and he has set them before me. I suppose I should have faith in his decisions, but it's hard…"

Olivia falters as she lifts her attention from the kitten and back to Oriane, "I care for Matthieu." Her complexion warms beneath her veils, and she's quiet for a moment with that admission. "I can understand why he feels as he does, but he risks so much."

Only a hint of pink is visible to Oriane's eyes; but that hesitation in the young woman's voice serves to pledge her to a still rosier hue, and she reaches out impulsively to offer her hand.

"My dear, I thought you might," she says simply. Her fingertips offer a gentle pressure, plus a few stray white kitten hairs. "I must confess to a certain fondness for him myself. I saw enough of him growing up, I think, to have a good idea of his character — he will be a fine man, and a fine duc, when he has brought himself back into balance after all his ordeals… For that, you know, he'll need the care of a woman he trusts. Is it to be you?"

Then she presses Olivia's fingertips again and, with an apologetic half-laugh, releases her and retires her hand to caress the other kitten. "I've become one of those old women who ask impertinent questions from morning till night. Do forgive me," she says seriously. That apple scent was ebbing away; but a fresh waft of it emanates from her as she admits, "I'm finding it difficult, today, to set aside my worries and speak in frivolities as a good hostess ought. You are quite right that Matthieu proposes to risk a great deal. Perhaps more than he knows."

Oriane's fingers captures Olivia's own as easily as she ensnares her with the question that follows. Their eyes meet, and there's a wealth of emotions to be read within Olivia's as the subterfuge of her canon is put to one side. "Oh. I…" But words are an unnecessary addition since her thoughts can be plainly read.

The kitten pounces, its tiny claws snagging in the threads of silk. She scoops it up with her now reclaimed hand and hugs it into her lap, oblivious to the damage it wreaks.

"I think that it would be impossible for anyone that cares for Matthieu to not be concerned with how things presently are." she quietly confides. "He is terrified of being perceived as weakened, and throws caution to the wind at every opportunity to prove otherwise. I think that if there were to be anyone in the city to whom he'd listen, then it would be you. You have experience and the wisdom of your years in the arsenal of weapons which you wield. Please. Speak with him…"

Kittens are so nice to hold in fraught moments.

With her own soft purring bundle of fur held close (and digging delicate new-formed claws unnoticed into the velvet ribbon wrapped about her bodice) Oriane looks away, in thought.

"I wonder,"she suggests tentatively, "if…?" And she re-composes herself to address Olivia frankly again and face-to-face. "I did look forward to our time together today, and to hearing more of your life in the years since I lost sight of you — but I think if we sit here as we are we shall only feed one another's uncertainties," she predicts. Then, studying the Alyssum's veiled face with a gentle intensity: "Would you pardon me if I went to seek Matthieu, now? The sooner I look the better my luck in finding him, perhaps, and in securing some words with him quite alone — and the sooner I might send you a hopeful message, if I have one. You and I might meet again on another day, when we haven't that proverbial sword hanging over our heads."

Oliva lifts her own tiny terror and presses her cheek to the bundle of softness. There's a particular smell that kittens impart, especially when they bat at your nose with their feet, and the veiled young Alyssum is apparently enamoured of it now, for she takes a moment to reply to Oriane's question.

"I have to admit that I am very much in agreement with all that you're saying," she decides, the tip of her nose making an appearance as her veils get pulled awry. "We could sit and worry and fret over Matthieu's decisions, but unless we intervene, nothing will change. I fear that I am already in danger of appearing a harridan in his eyes in this matter." How strange that she'd refer to herself in that way, for she's rarely been known to raise her voice, let alone a finger, even under duress.

"I can see myself back home, you've no need to concern yourself on that matter.”

"A harridan? Surely not," Oriane protests kindly. "Though if you worry you have said too much — surely that makes it all the more imperative that someone else continue where you left off, no?"

She eyes the growing sympathy between the young creatures at the end of her sofa, and deposits the second baby beast in Olivia's lap too as she unfolds her own legs slowly from beneath the fuzzy white blanket which seems so natural a habitat for fuzzy white kittens.

"Perhaps you'd watch mes enfants for me," she suggests, "whilst I send for your bearers…? Mine, too, I should think. No, I won't hear of it, my dear — the only way you may leave my house is as safely and as comfortably as you arrived. To delay that long will not, I think, make any difference to our cause.”

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