(1310-09-26) Cocoa-Nuts To You
Summary: Quintavius has transgressed, again, and risks exile.
RL Date: 26/09/2018
Related: {$related}
oriane quintavius 

Salon — Maison de la Porte Bleue

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.

It isn't yet too cool for a scion of Anael to want to sit in the fresh air, surrounded by greenery. (This desire will probably only yield to its close cousin, the desire to go for a nice brisk ride in the snow.) Ensconced upon her balcony in a warmer dress than usual, beneath a long sleeveless vest trimmed with white fur, Oriane is punctilious with her papers: nothing leaves her hands without being pinned down beneath the corner of her lapdesk, an inkpot, a ledger, a box of fine sand for blotting, or, in emergency, a small flower-pot.

Quintavius has had a busy afternoon already, going up and down between his mistress's table on the balcony and the chests and trunks stored in his chamber, bringing her what she wants to look at and taking away what she knows by heart. And now he has brought the tea, that silver tray shining mirror-bright in his large and frigid paws: and Oriane looks up and smiles upon him as a hero.

"I was just beginning to think of tea," she confides.

“I had a feeling you might,” Quintavius agrees amiably, setting down the tray, moving a cup and saucer and turning the sand timer he's helpfully brought with it. “It'll be a minute to brew.” He moves to claim her entire lap desk outright to move it away, insisting, “It is almost five, my lady. A break.” It's not a question. More of a politely implied order.

He steps away far enough to still be able to offer his arm as needed, but without actually hovering over her, casting a glance across the view of the port. “Is the port still used in the winter here?” he wonders idly, “Or does the weather prevent it? We must consider winter stores soon.”

Slightly narrowed blue eyes follow the progress of the lap desk from Oriane's immediate vicinity, to an empty chair just inside the salon. "I understand that winter snows are not a matter of course here," she explains obligingly enough as her silver teapot and its accoutrements are set out before her; she even shuts a ledger and lays it aside to show willing. "They come in some years but not others, and never with sufficient ice to close the harbour. Marsilikos receives cargoes all year round from Menekhet and other lands that enjoy yet more temperate winters: I think we need not fret too much about our diets here, Quinquin. Still, you and Germaine know best what you will wish to have on hand; I'm sure you could make a list, and then the appropriate inquiries."

"I have heard," Quintavius admits, "of some truly exotic ingredients available here. My lady, have you ever tried a 'cocoa nut'? I'm told it's possible to obtain them here, with the right contacts." There is a beat. "Naturally, I am cultivating those contacts as well as I can. Dates I see at the market as often as if they were grown here themselves. I've a mind to see if there's some sort of sponge pudding once might make with them."

The last grains of sand fall through into the lower chamber; Oriane sits up even straighter and commences to pour. "A cocoa-nut?" she murmurs after Quintavius. "Yes, it does sound familiar, somehow; though the taste is not one I can place…" She relinquishes the pot and draws her cup and saucer nearer to the edge of the table, to treat her nose to its warm and fragrant vapours after these hours spent breathing in cool air just touched with salt.

"… Quinquin," she sighs suddenly, looking up at him with her hands clasped together to signify her earnestness. "I worry that I'm being selfish."

Quintavius claims the timer, tucking it away who even knows where, eyes keenly fixed on Oriane. "My lady? Selfish in what way?"

"Keeping you here under my thumb," the lady says simply, and gives a self-deprecatory shake of her elegant white head, "where I can offer you so little occupation, such scant scope for all your gifts."

"My lady, without your kindness I would be nothing and nobody," Quintavius points out gently, carefully folding his hands behind his back. "It was always an option to remain in Bordeaux, but it was my choice to join you here and continue to offer my support. It should only have been selfish if that offer were not made. What would you have me do instead?"

Oriane receiving praise in that familiar voice, can't suppress a slight smile, doting verging upon the grandmotherly. "You give me too much credit," she insists, shaking her head again and looking away to pick up her tea. And then, sitting poised with cup in one hand and saucer in the other, the very portrait of a great lady testing the temperature of her tea, she looks up at him again and confesses: "… Well, I worry that perhaps you might be more comfortable in lodgings." She takes a delicate sip, watching him over the rim of her cup.

Quintavius shifts his stance very slightly, weight moving to the balls of his feet for those paying close attention. If he was coiled and ready to spring before, now he's wound up with a hair-trigger ready to release him. "My lady?" There's a hint of shock in his tone. "If you want me to go, I shall of course do so. I had no idea I had been so lax in my duties to you, and can only apologise. I assure you I shall redouble my efforts in future!"

His mistress is quick to soothe him, hurriedly putting down her tea and reaching out to rest a hand upon his arm. "Oh, Quinquin! Nobody could be more assiduous than you; you must know I've never had a complaint to make of you on that score," she promises him, eyes wide open with sincerity, hand gently patting. (Of other scores, she has nothing to add at present. Perhaps she could write him a very valuable letter, if only she could get at her lap desk.) "But I do think it must be tedious for you to be so often in attendance upon an old woman… You ought to go out more," she maintains, "and see more of the city, and make friends… And of course if you took lodgings," she says delicately, "you might find it more convenient to— entertain your new friends."

Quintavius takes his time to straighten his cuffs, this being a task that's clearly more important than anything else right now. That completed, he double checks his belt is likewise seated correctly, then glances to his shoes to ensure they're well shined and not scuffed. They are, of course, well shined. Naturally. It's only once these things are done and he's had time to compose a response that he looks back to her, the very slightest trace of guilt in his eyes. "I apologise, my lady, if I have disturbed your rest. I had assumed you to have been soundly asleep."

Oriane's hand tightens on her poor retainer's arm in what is intended to be an encouraging squeeze and has, actually, the effect of trapping him there in his agony. "Oh, Quinquin," she chides in quite another tone, fond with just a hint of a tease, "you mustn't think I'm criticising you for something so natural and understandable. I'm sure with those marvelous Toluard eyes, and those marvelous Toluard shoulders, you've drawn a great deal of notice in the city already… But, you know, this house is quite small, and I don't sleep soundly anymore. I can never quite predict when my eyes will close, or for how long. You might feel more comfortable in lodgings; the lady might, too," she suggests gently.

"Very well, my lady," Quintavius allows, glancing down to his arm in her grip. "I shall ensure that any entertaining takes place outwith your home." The words are quiet, in case the Courcels are once again hovering within earshot, presumably. "In my defence, the young lady in question has been an immeasurably useful source of local information in the city, and has no qualms about telling me all about her various employers. Information I felt might be useful to you."

"Oh, is that her chief attraction—?" Oriane chuckles softly, letting go of her pastry chef and turning again to her tea. "It's curious, isn't it," she muses, "how widely it is supposed that a willingness to discuss the affairs of one's present employers is a quality likely to recommend one for future employment…? Perhaps if you've no more pressing business you might relate one or two of these useful remarks made by your friend, while I finish my cup of tea. Though of course I shall need my lapdesk," and she favours Quintavius with a delicate smile, "in case there is any thought I might wish to note."

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