(1310-09-30) Breaking Barriers
Summary: Frustrations that have been building, find their own outlet.
RL Date: September 30, 2018
Related: Inadvisable Need
matthieu olivia 

Alyssum Second's Office

Situated on the ground floor, the room has tall casement windows that open out onto the south-westerly facing grounds of La Rose Sauvage. Soft white muslin drapes filter out the heat of the sun in the summer, and during the cooler months the heavier drapes of cream that hang at the sides add a layer of warmth to the room. The floor is of burnished golden oak, laid over with an Akkadian wool rug in muted shades of creams and golds. A desk of pale ash wood stands in the center of the room, its surface kept clear save for whatever contracts and paperwork relating to the running of the Salon might need to be dealt with at any one time. A small fireplace is on the eastern wall, and warms the office with a cheery brightness during long winter evenings, and a wider than average mantel above is the perfect spot for the numerous flower displays that are to be found there.

A tall bookcase filled with books on a variety of subjects stands on the wall opposite to the fireplace, and alongside it is a white-painted door that leads through to the Second's private chambers.-


It is well into the evening hours when a quiet knock raps upon the door of Olivia's office.

She may be surprised to find whoever it is that is behind it. Swathed in a black cloak dappled with scattered raindrops from the drizzle outside, and dressed in nondescript clothing, the shadow that falls across her threshold is tall and broad of shoulder, the features beyond the overlarge cowl shrouded save for an angled shaft of light that spills over the cut of a sturdy jaw and lips set in a taciturn line. There is another behind him, similarly dressed, but before the woman might sound any alarms, the voice that emanates from deep within the fabric obscuring his features is familiar enough, pitched quietly for her ears only:

"Not too busy, I hope?"

The leaner figure on the other side of him lifts his head and he, too, would be familiar - dark eyes set on a sharp-featured face, the light from within her office gleaming over a slanted trickster's smile. "Evening, Livvy," Gabriel de Montreve murmurs, pushing Matthieu's form further into the space whenever the courtesan has opened the door sufficiently for her unexpected guests. "If you don't mind, I'm going to relinquish this idiot to your care for a short while." He winks underneath his cowl. "We were never here."

"I think she understands, Gabe," Matthieu de Rocaille mutters, cuffing the other man lightly on the shoulder, but the ducal heir does shoot him a grateful look before the Cassiline departs, undoubtedly practice his much touted impression of a potted plant - out of sight, but never far.

Heavy, booted feet will patiently wait until the Alyssum lets him inside, and once the door is fully closed, a broad, gloved hand lifts to withdraw the hood from his head, hair just slightly dampened and darkened by precipitation plastered over his forehead. Pale, ice-blue eyes threaded with those glinting silver filaments find her own; he hasn't seen her since the tournament, and being in her presence again adds a fresh wave of heated images spilling inside his cranium, reminding him unerringly, immediately, what transpired between the two of them last. To his credit, however, there is no hesitation or awkwardness on his features and for a few long heartbeats, he does nothing but quietly look at her.

Olivia's office is an oasis of calm, though that serenity is threatened somewhat by the arrival of Matthieu and Gabriel. Olivia is generally forewarned when visitors or patrons wish to see her, with either an adept or a novice sent ahead with a note or a message. But not so today. Certainly she'd not expected to see the darkly-cloaked figures when she'd opened the door to her sanctum, and though the moment of alarm that shows in her eyes is brief, it's quickly dispelled when Matthieu speaks.

"Matthieu! Gabriel!" Their names are bourne on an elevated breath, and it's one that's spiced with a satisfying hint of adrenaline as recognition arrives. Clearly more than a little unsettled by her unexpected visitors, her eyes flit past Matthieu and alight on Gabe. "One of the novices will find you refreshments if you give them one of your smiles." The door opens wider to admit the ducal heir, and she closes it swiftly behind him. If Matthieu is flustered, she's doubly so. If thoughts of their last meeting churn in his head, then they churn in her's too. "You're never an intrusion Matthieu." The fib trips lightly from her tongue, because he is. He so very much is. It shows in the colour that already rises in her cheeks, an in the dark-blown quality of her eyes when they touch upon his.

"It's probably good that we've not spoken. I was upset with you, and…" A shake of her head. "I expect that you needed the time to clear your head. I know that I did."

"Never?" Even he is skeptical about that, even without seeing the rise of color on her cheekbones, though he most certainly does. And like everything about her whenever they fall in a position that even so much as touches past intimacy, it doesn't make anything easy. "…and you call me stubborn?" There's even a note of incredulity there for the taller man, though the rare hint of bemusement glints from his eyes when he regards her. Still, after pulling his gloves off his hands, one of them lifts to scrub at the side of his face.

It's probably good that we've not spoken…

"I thought you'd have forgiven me by now, if not then," Matthieu returns mildly and while he delivers the words in deadpan, that sense of good humor only intensifies, felt in the air. He teases her very rarely and hopefully she's not forgotten how it feels. Her following words, however, give him pause - it isn't an inaccurate assumption to make, though now he can't help but wonder what she means. Clear her head of what? Did she regret it? But she told him not to regret because she didn't….and now, come to think of it, why had that been her default assumption in the first place? Why would she think he would regret it?

You're starting to sound like a boy half your age.

He takes a breath. "Then I'll endeavor to be brief," he tells her. "Two things. I'll start with the more urgent one." His expression shifts to a more serious mien. "A member of my father's household has informed me that an agent was sent from Siovale to Marsilikos to assess my well-being. I have it in mind that she will want to speak with those I've interacted with since my return. Considering our history, you'll probably be somewhere at the top of the list, along with Gabe." His features darken. "While this person will be acting under the Duc and Duchesse de Siovale's name, I have it on good authority that she is a cousin of my stepmother's."

After a heartbeat or two of silence, he continues, quietly: "I wanted to warn you. It…I hope you'll forebear the inconvenience, Liv. But I wanted you to be prepared."

Olivia's eyes shut tight, Matthieu's words washing over her. "Of course I've forgiven you, Matthieu. How could I not. I forgave you the moment you took me in your arms, and I expect that I'll have to continue forgiving you things, over and over, because you're you and I'm me. I just…" Her eyes open again, searching for something in Matthieu's. "… I care." A shake of her head is given with her admission. "You've filled my thoughts more than you ought, but then you always have."

She stands close to him since her office is small, though it seems that it's a gulf that separates them as they tiptoe around the manner in which they'd last parted. But he's talking now of visits and visitors, of intrigue and safety, and so she listens without saying anything further, her shoulders hunching slightly as she wraps her arms about her middle; an armor for herself if not for him. "Thank you for the warning, though I'm sure I'll have nothing to say of interest to them. I do have the advantage of being able to navigate conversations without giving too much away, and I hope you know that I would never allow yourself to be compromised by anything I might say." She hints at the roots of her canon with that statement, her eyes dipping from his as something's considered.

"I don't regret that day in the tent. I told you then that I didn't, and with the clarity of time, I still don't." Her eyes return to his, dark as pansies within the pale frame of her veils. Do you?"

You've filled my thoughts more than you ought, but then you always have.

A few months ago, he had been relieved to realize that Olivia regularly dispenses with her veils and the arts of her canon to simply be herself around him - the girl he knew in the woman before him, a rarity in his tumultuous life. To even have this, to have not just a person but several who knew him as a dutiful boy who gave his all for the seat he was to inherit from the start, to the man shaped by the burdens and troubles all of that entails. Her presence has always been soothing to him. But now…

…now…

She meets his eyes and says these things so earnestly that Matthieu can't help but feel something constrict deep within him, wondering whether it had been safer for the two of them, after all, if she had hid more behind an Alyssum's veins. Her proximity, the expression she wears, the unflinching way she meets his eyes…most would claim that she was shy, that she was some kind of wilting flower, to be shielded and protected. But here she is, baring her softest underbelly, exposing herself to rejection without so much as flinching. In this moment, he can't help but marvel over her beguiling contradictions. In this moment, he can't help…

He tells himself he was simply inspired by affection, sparked and lit under the restless dragons of his innermost self when she assures him that she is skilled in discretion. He tells himself it was simply because it has been years for him, and he is far from blind. He is still a man and his childhood friend has grown impossibly beautiful, and she has been nothing but kind and considerate of her care.

He knows, despite everything he tells himself, that he is a liar as his hand lifts to frame her cheek through her veils, his thumb finding the shape of her lower lip, dragging gently over the lush, delectable curve. His head lowers, their foreheads almost touching.

"Didn't I already tell you," he begins, his voice barely above a murmur, the warmth of his breath stirring gossamer fabric, filtering through to caress her mouth. "That you leave yourself too vulnerable to me?"

After a moment, his hand drops from face, to dip into the pocket of his jacket, to withdraw a single length of white satin ribbon. Rolling it between his fingers, he lifts it up in the small distance between them. "I heard the convention, these days, was to return this to the lady if the wearer failed to carry her favor to victory." Matthieu pauses - but after a few long, and surprisingly hesitant moments, he continues: "If you would allow it, however, I would like to keep it."

Matthieu finds the warmth of her blush through the silk of her veil, and she leans the weight of her head to his palm. "There is nobody to whom I would rather be vulnerable, Matthieu." There's an achingly honest simplicity to the manner of her reply, and the muscles of her cheek contract as a smile tugs at her lips. So close their heads now, that he'll feel the first tickle of her hair against his forehead where fine wisps of it escape the edges of her veils, her breath withheld from his where it catches in the mesh that still covers her mouth. "And you cannot return my favor to me, because my favor is something that you will always have."

Her arms pull from about her waist, banishing the barrier that parts her from him, and her hands meet in a loop at the small of his back. She's dangerously close, though seems not to care. She speaks without pulling her head from his, her eyes lidded with the proximity of her's to his, his gaze unmet. "I will let you know if this envoy of your stepmother's finds their way to my door before you're aware of their arrival. You have my word on that."

He can't help but wonder, also, whether that's true. That there was no one else to whom she would allow herself to be vulnerable.

Matthieu's pupils shrink at her words, eyes like frozen lightning meeting her own, forever reminding him of the Eastern Sea, and downright luminescent with everything he can't bring himself to say. There is nothing more daunting that the battlefields of emotion and here she is, rushing through the trenches and brambles, uncaring as to how she's made to bleed, how often she's scratched or tripped, in an effort to reach the parts of him that remain recalcitrant to be just as courageous, just as open. He remains silent and still when she pulls closer, her arms around him - but that is deceptive, too, when magma threatens to bleed through the cracks she has delivered against the thick, stony plates of his manner, threatening to consume bone and blood until it's made ashes of them both.

He'd only meant to embrace her - he can do that still, can't he? To be the protective, supportive friend that she has always known. But a glint of silver flashes from her wrist before it disappears from around his back and he's suddenly reminded of the ghost that haunts her, still. But instead of the questions that he has long expected - is she using him to forget Felipe? Is he using her to forget Lorelei? - what galvanizes him instead is the fact that the Hellenic ambassador's presence remains, somehow, in this room. Hovering over them.

Between them.

It is absolutely irrational, startling for a man who tries to live by reason, but the thought of it ignites the remains of his control; it combusts within him and before he knows it, he's detaching the veil from her face with fingers tangled within her ribbon, pulling her closer to him with an arm that's suddenly around her waist. Several steps take him back, followed by a twist of his bigger, stronger frame to turn them both around to push her up against the wall. Between cold stone and the heat of his body, he strips away the distance - as if the very act could rip away Felipe's spectre - and his mouth finds hers, slanting hungrily over its softness, his hands framing her face.

Olivia gasps, but denies Matthieu nothing. The carefully constructed mask that's worn as the armor of her canon has long since been dismantled between herself and her childhood friend as she's crushed, boneless, against him. There's satisfacation to be found in the warmth of a mouth that's no longer hidden away beneath the artifice of the veils that she wears, and as strong hands frame her cheeks, her jaw, and her chin, it yields to the pressure of his. His fingers will feel the groan that trembles deep in her throat, and her own hand splays across the tightened muscles of his back beneath his cloak.

"Matt…"

His name breaks in her mouth, the opalescence of her complexion darkening with the warmth that rises in her cheeks. She's as the most delicate of butterflies, a treasured piece within anyone's collection, and the pushing aside of her veils reveals the spun gold of hair that's so aptly reminiscent of the wheat fields of their youth.

He asks. She gives.

Veils. Ribbons. Fingers. Hands. Hair. They come together and meet in the glorious tangle of a kiss, her breath shortening as it mingles with his.

That is the rub - tonight, he doesn't ask. He takes, and despite the liberties he is exacting upon her person, she gives her permission freely anyway. The realization tightens lengths of corded musculature down his chest, the flat of his stomach, and tension strings over those impressive shoulders as white heat carves javelins of need into his synapses. Electricity coruscates so violently down his spine that it nearly takes his breath away, and all because of the sound she makes at the back of her throat, muffled there by the desirous lash of a tongue and the seal a hard, questing mouth makes - to drink deeply from her until he's rendered her breathless.

Thumbs span over her cheeks, memorizing their contours as his mouth breaks away from hers. He means to end it - he remembers the last time this has happened, where passions almost had him taking her in a tent, uncaring as to who hears them. But it is yet another fiery mistake, for it gives her the room to not just say his name, but to do so while she's blushing. While she's attempting to catch her breath. While she's…

His head tilts and drives in an angle, his onslaught leaving her open and vulnerable, tasting her all over again. Shivers tickle the back of his neck when her hands find his hair, nails pulling gently over his scalp and it only makes his kiss all the more demanding. His hands manage to stay cupping her face, but they leave her now, to raze blind pathways down the elegant, willowy shapes of her, on the narrow taper of her waist, the flare of her hips, mapping his explorations through layers of silk. Reason and sense utterly lost, fingers tug in an effort to find more of her skin, to draw up her skirt just enough to encourage a knee to bend and wrap one leg around him.

That is when his mouth detaches from hers again, to bury against her throat's silken hollow. "I don't regret it," he breathes, ragged exhalations spilling against her, open-mouthed presses interspersed with every syllable of the damning confession that follows. "Not a single, fiery, god damned second. And it wasn't as if I didn't try. I tried, Liv. I tried not to think about it, for your sake. But…"

He sucks in a labored breath, his head tilts, the gentle graze of teeth catching the curve of her ear. "Yeshua, you drive me crazy."

There are perhaps not words enough to describe the feeling of Olivia's skin beneath Matthieu's mouth. That tenderness of flesh that's so rarely revealed. Seldom has it known the warmth of the sun's touch, and is virginally soft and pure where his kisses are pressed. Another groan is birthed in her throat, and this time it's his lips that will feel it's presence before it's voiced in her mouth. Fingers tangle deeper in the pale lengths of his hair as she holds his head close to her throat, that elegant curve where neck meets with shoulder extending as with a lift of her chin, she arches her back. She encourages without artifice, and his admittal that she drives him crazy earns him the hitch of that leg which he's sought. His fingers catch in diaphonous silks as one foot slides from its slipper. Pale as milk and as slender as a gazelle's, her leg needs little encouragement to wrap around the back of his thigh, and toes that have been gilded with the tiniest application of gold paint, curl where they press to his leg.

"I…"

Her words are lost in the release of another breath, as a knot of warmth that's birthed in her belly starts its slow ingress through blood and through flesh. She pulls his head up, a darkness in her eyes as her mouth finds his, and she kisses him in a manner which a mother hopes never to witness her daughter being kissed.

Hopefully the Comtesse doesn't. Perhaps it would be different had he been a patron and this was a proper assignation, but Olivia's lady mother would probably have a few scathing words if she even so much as suspected the heir to the ducal seat of Siovale to be irresponsibly expending his lusts upon her youngest daughter's willing body while the environment around him is so unstable.

The cotton growing in his skull renders it difficult to think, every twist of her gentler frame against his making it near impossible to breathe. And all Matthieu wants in all the world is to push closer, and with her leg hooked around him, that is what he does, seeking more of her warmth, her touch….just more. The conflict that should be there is nonexistent, but the sounds she makes renders it so impossible to give a damn about anything else. Mad, wild thoughts streak across his mind, unable to keep himself from entertaining them; what do her moans sound like? Her cries?

Questions that he is in a very real danger of circling back to when she pulls his head up and he doesn't make her wait. His mouth crushes into her own again, his hands moving, if not just because he finds himself unable to stop, fingers molding over the curve of her backside before hitching her up and stepping into the cradle of her hips, letting her use him as a brace to wrap her legs around as he kisses her, and kisses her, and kisses her…

"The things you do to me," he whispers against her mouth, pressing tight, illustrating just what those things entail when a quiet knock on the door raps from the wooden appendage next to them. But he doesn't seem to notice - maybe he didn't hear.

Maybe he's ignoring it, but the hungry press of his mouth finds her own again.

Time suspends itself. It hangs within the span of a second, that moment when someone knocks on the door.

Tick…

Does Olivia hear it? Does she want to?

Her hips press to his in a mockery of her canon, and her leg tightens where it's wrapped about his as if she sought to sink into his very skin. To melt into him, like butter on toast. There is nothingness that exists outside of her and of him, and her fingers pull from his hair as her hands resettle themselves once more in the small of his back. To tug. To pull. To part fabric from where is tucked at the waist beneath the leather of a belt and the fabric of his pants. Muscles are founds with the tips of her fingers, her nails branding flesh with half-moons of desire.

Tick…

The clock moves on. Another knock to follow the first, as if whomever it is that stands outside, isn't aware of the spell that they're breaking.

He nearly breaks.

It's not just one thing she does, but everything; the scent of her wrapping his immediate senses like a cloud, the way she tugs at his shirt to find skin taut and straining, stretched over muscles tense from the way he is still, somehow, holding himself back by the tattered remains of his self-control. The bite of her fingernails and the liquid, wanton way the core of her presses in which has him lifting his hips and grinding into her against the wall, in defiance of the boundaries of their clothes. It his turn to groan, a low, wanting guttural sound smothered by her mouth and filling its silken confines with heat and blatant, passionate promises that he doesn't have the mind to voice in any coherent way.

There's another knock, and he ignores that, too - almost insistently, frustration spicing the character of his kiss. A hand tracks up, spanning the breadth of her ribcage, utterly lost in the experience of her. At the moment, nothing matters but more. More of her skin, her mouth, her heat, the bite of her nails. His palm molds over the curve of her right breast through her clothes, the pad of his thumb sweeping over silk and the sensation that brings him nearly annihilates whatever pretensions he may be harboring about leaving her office with Olivia unscathed. His mouth tears away from hers, then. The effort leaves him breathless, as if he had run a mile - and he may have, in his mind, the willpower to unavail himself of the softness of her lips was downright herculean.

But Matthieu's face lowers, gravitating to her again, a heated press delivered against her clavicle through her clothes. His free arm bands around her to tilt her backwards.

"Liv…" His voice is low and hoarse with desire, almost pained, as if she had driven a sword through him. "Tell me let go of you. Tell me to stop. Otherwise, I'll…" His other hand finds the bared, impossibly soft expanse of her leg, pushing upwards, silently marveling at how perfect her skin is and how it feels against his own, embarking on a precipitous climb up her thigh.

The moon lives in the lining of her skin and courses like quicksilver in her veins. She's more alive than she's been for years, and the tips of her fingers sink beneath the band of his pants as his thumb grazes the curve of her breast. Desire flares in the base of her skull.

"I can't," she admits beneath the cover of another groan. "Because I never want to tell you that."

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