(1310-10-25) Speechless
Summary: A chance meeting between two very social ladies, each for her own reasons seeking solitude in the midst of a disappointing evening party.
RL Date: 25/10/2018 - 03/12/2018
Related: None.
chimene delphine 

A Completely Made-Up Place

The winter season at Marsilikos is a variable creature. Each year it waxes and wanes and waxes again as the high nobility of Eisande cuts devil’s bargains with itself: how long can we really bear to forsake our mild climate and sea air for the parties and the prestige of the snow-covered capital? When will the weather be most salubrious for travel? And how soon can we come home again without the risk of missing anything? (Do you think we had better not go after all, in case we miss something here? No: not a chance.)

In late October talk has already begun to tend that way; Chimène Rousse de la Courcel, whose plans are of a perfect regularity year by year, whose name brings her invitations beyond the reach of most of the mortals gossiping about her like buzzing bees, turns away from the execrable tedium of other people’s winter holidays with a goblet in one hand and an unopened bottle in the other. These trophies she holds low, at the farthest extremity of her long white arms, half-hidden amongst her voluminous skirts of mazarine-blue silk. The servant from whom she obtained the bottle in exchange for a smile, has an idea what where she’s going and what she’s doing: he’s wrong. Chimène is not sneaking away with some of her hostess’s better wine to form a party within a party with a man met here tonight. She’s sick to death of all of them, and looking for a corner in which to drink alone until the wine renders the company… tolerable? Of course she could just go home — the crowd is of such a size that nobody would notice her absence immediately — but that prospect likewise revolts her delicate sensibilities. Wine is the answer. And the wine here, has the quality of being so much nearer than the wine at home.

She tries a door and then another: locked. What way is that to treat one’s guests?

The third yields to her touch and she finds a small sitting-room neglected by the throng, with deep cushioned furniture and the embers of a fire not quite burned down in the hearth. But she’s not alone! There’s a glimmer of red silk in the book-scented gloom. In her surprise Chimène half-recoils, her white shoulders above her blue gown leaning away toward the door at her back. Her hands lift by instinct, almost as though she’s presenting the bottle and the goblet for the other party’s consideration. “Oh,” she she murmurs in a distant and airy little soprano voice. She supposes she ought to have known. There are no truly original thoughts under the sun. “Occupied, I see. Darling, don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll be along soon.”

How could Chimène have guessed that it was someone Delphine was expecting? Someone of male gender, even? Perhaps it was the way, this delightful woman had elected to sit on the couch there in elegant allure and obvious invitation, draped upon the furniture in a sideways sprawl that caused a pleasant view in the shift of the red dress upon her frame. Perhaps it was the expectant smile, the mischievous glimmer in those hazel eyes that gave Delphine’s wicked intentions for tonight’s party away?

Reaction comes belatedly, perhaps delayed by a few glasses of Coeur Noir that are already affecting the dark-haired lady. As she sits up into a more upright, proper manner, and feet in elegant shoes are set down on the floor. Her hand reaches for a glass on the small table, and in lifting her gaze to the unexpected intruder, she smiles.

“One cannot be sure of that.”, Delphine offers in reply before enjoying another sip of wine, “but if he doesn't, he can be certain that he missed out on a delightful diversion. And I doubt he will get another chance…”

The eyes, the gown, the bold jawline and the lovely low voice all combine to provide Chimène with more entertainment than she has been able to find elsewhere, tonight. And perhaps there’s even a story here? She lets out a sighing little ‘mm’ and her tall and lithe body straightens away from the door, blue silk rustling as she approaches Delphine’s couch.

“It is best to be strict,” she says, mock-solemnly, “but since he must surely,” a complimentary flick of her gaze over the spectacle Delphine still presents, regardless of whether she’s got her feet on the floor, “come to you soon — will you mind very much if I sit down meanwhile?” And her blue skirts and the voluminous white petticoats beneath pouf out about her as she sits down conveniently, conversationally close, her goblet lifted in one hand and— oh. That’s right. It’s an unopened bottle. She puts down the glass and applies her large and surprisingly capable white hands to the neck of that promising vessel. The cork soon pops out and she pours liberally for herself, her impromptu companion being already well-provided for.

“You can’t have any idea of how long I have been already waiting; here; in this room.” Delphine lifts her hand in a gesture to indicate the entirety of the chamber, those book-laden shelves that emanate an educated, bibliophile air. Nevermind her fingers are still curled about the stem of her glass. The dark-haired lady chuckles, shifting a little to the side on the couch to make room for Chimène. “Well — I am glad you are here. Because, if he would dare to arrive now, I am already in pleasant company.”, Delphine continues as she turns her head a little to shoot the other lady an amused glance. The look lingers a moment longer on Chimène, as realization belatedly begins to sink in, and Delphine straightens just so in her seat. “Companions. It’s you. The lovely gem Lord Athanasius managed to snatch. I believe, you must have had many many admirers who were very unhappy on the day you were wed to our future Duc de Roussillion.” The remark may come across a little odd, lacking in tact, perhaps, but the warm smile, and the gesture of Delphine’s hand touching Chimène’s, should she allow, has an almost empathic quality. “Here we are, stranded in Eisande,” she adds, “exiles from our homes in Namarre…”

<FS3> Chimene rolls Politics: Success. (5 5 2 1 6 3 4 8 6 3 1)

The future duchesse de Roussillion is piqued and attracted at the same time by Delphine’s manner; she leans forward to set down her bottle of wine and then, clasping the stem of her glass in her off hand, inclines toward her and takes firm hold of that hand she finds reaching toward her own. A degree more, perhaps, than the other bargained for, to be held so securely by those long white fingers bedecked with ancestral gems of House Rousse.

“Oh,” she disclaims in an airy, apologetic soprano, “but I’m afraid I hardly know Namarre… If you know my life so well already,” she suggests as she regards Delphine with hazel eyes half-lidded, her courtesies belied by a cultivated aloofness in her gaze, “you ought to know I was hardly snatched up — I am House Courcel’s gift to Eisande,” and she laughs softly, “promised in my cradle… And you?” She regards Delphine inquiringly. “I know I’ve seen you,” she confesses, as though that lady’s intermittent presence in Marsilikos were a great secret, “but we haven’t been introduced, have we? … I feel so sure,” she adds, leaning nearer with her head of smooth dark hair ideally balanced upon her elongated white throat, “I should remember.”

That hand is granted, and Delphine does not mind the annexation of her fingers that stretch merely in a playful wiggle in Chimène’s grasp. Her touch is warm, as is her smile as the Vicomtesse receives the other woman’s counter with a silvery giggle. “Oh yes you are, a gift of Namarre, and one can argue I have been as well.”, Delphine admits. Before her head dips in a nod in a faint sign of deference towards Chimène. “I know of course of your illustrious past. And I am certain that your dear husband must be likewise glad to have secured such a gem as you, to add sparkle and brilliance to his future position.” A soft sigh then. “It is all about politics, as always, is it not?”

Fingers curl against those of the Rousse by marriage, a soft squeeze administered there as the hand shifts ever so slightly in Chimène’s grasp. “We have met before,” Delphine allows, dark eyes narrowing slightly even as they retain that warm glimmer, “but I know how it is… so many faces, so many names. And everyone expects us to remember. I am Delphine Le Blanc de Baphinol. Widow of the Vicomte d’Orange. I have a son and two daughters,” and here her expression flickers just so, “and while Boniface is currently suffering back home the necessary tutelage of our steward that will hopefully prepare him to fulfill some of his upcoming duties…” She blinks, astonished that she managed such a long and complicated sentence, and glances towards the flagon of wine on the sidetable. “I have elected to travel to Marsilikos with my dear Inesse and Vivianne.”, Delphine finishes the sentence, gaze sweeping back to Chimène.

“Might I get my hand back?”

<FS3> Chimene rolls Composure+1: Good Success. (4 3 6 3 3 7 6 5 7 6 7 1 4)

”And I am certain that your dear husband must be likewise glad to have secured such a gem as you …”

“Oh, yes,” confides Chimène in a silken purr, “my lord and master finds me invaluable.”

True words, as far as they go — but which she immediately belies with a flick of her gaze heavenwards and a luxurious roll of her shoulders, as though to dismiss such serious ideas, and such unaccountable creatures as husbands, from their conversation.

Then Delphine is lodging that courteous request for the return of her hand. Chimène blinks at her, twice, eyelashes fluttering in an affectation of incomprehension. “Why, did you want it for something in particular—?” she wonders. But she obliges by letting go, with a featherlight caress of her fingertips over the other woman’s palm as she draws her own hand away.

“… If you say we’ve been introduced I’m sure we must have been,” she goes on, speaking of their previous acquaintance. She’s vexed to be corrected, and so ostentatiously sympathised with and understood, by someone who ought to have accepted the higher ranking party’s version of events, been glad of the implicit compliment therein, and introduced herself as though for the first time — but her early Dahlia training holds. “I blush for my unaccountably poor memory,” though in fact her ivory complexion retains its colour and its coolness, “for I’m somehow certain, my lady Delphine, you leave an impression wherever you go.”

<FS3> Delphine rolls Composure: Success. (3 2 2 3 5 7 3 1 5 3)

“I had no idea you’d like to keep it. How cruel of me to demand it back.”, Delphine counters, not without a slightly inebriated kind of humor. Her hand is not withdrawn hastily, on the contrary, it seems to savour the touch in that generous prolonging of contact. “Companions, such a lovely blush.” Oblivious to her misstep, the dark-haired Namarrese leans closer. “But please. Don’t apologize. It was some years ago, in Nice. The natality of the Duc de Roussillion. Many people were there." And while she stresses that very word, the faint roll of her eyes infers some reflection about just how overwhelming a crowd had attended the feast back then. A chuckle then, silvery and light and yet with some grounding, age and experience lend to a voice, to Chimène’s next remark. “Such a kind compliment, from a woman of your standing and elaborate upbringing.” The chuckle dims into a smile, warm and somewhat radiant, as Delphine meets the gaze of the future Duchesse de Rousse with an air of Namarrese confidence. Her lips curve even further. “A kindness that makes me bless the negligence of the one I had been waiting for, here in this room. Pray tell me… How do you find Marsilikos, Lady Chimène?”

<FS3> Chimene rolls Composure: Failure. (1 6 6 6 6 1 5 5 6 5 4 6)

And that’s it; that’s the utter limit. This Dahlia’s reserved and immaculate petals fall away and an Eglantine blossoms forth instead, madcap and bent upon beauty. “Why must you talk so?” Chimène demands of her unexpected, unplanned, unsought, unbearable companion of the evening. “You’re so lovely; but every time you open your mouth to speak—”

Taking advantage suddenly of the lithe length of her arms and their correspondingly greater reach, she seizes Delphine's other hand this time and the goblet clasped therein, and holds them both off to one side as she leans across the other woman's lap to pin her into the corner of the sofa with a kiss. Pique is a cousin of passion; Chimène with all her Mont Nuit training and all the irritated fire of the moment demonstrates very ably the benefits of silence.

<FS3> Delphine rolls Composure: Good Success. (1 5 7 2 8 5 8 1 1 5)
<FS3> Delphine rolls Persuasion: Good Success. (8 2 5 5 1 1 5 4 3 7 2 5 6)

To say that this unexpected development throws Delphine off balance would not do her justice. There may be that instinctive upwards twitch of shapely brows, and yet, when a kiss comes in such reassuring offering, along with hands held and a goblet of wine secured so as not to spill, the Vicomtesse d’Orange would be the last person in all of Terre d’Ange to refuse it. Besides, how could she? It is after all a woman of Naamah’s blood, of exquisite Mont training that presses her lips to hers, and Delphine’s delight does not show in the smile alone that lightens up her face, but also in that soft low register purr that sounds so much like a sigh - of contentment but also utter inebriated appreciation.

This may break the silence, even if there may be a lack of words.

Where Delphine is pinned, her own hands pull Chimène closer towards her, the kiss prolonged and savoured. It is a rare moment, shared in spirit of not Naamah alone, but Elua as well, an all-transcending love for other beings and a celebration of life in itself. That, together with some glasses of wine and joie — and a certain tête-a-tête not having come to pass — can become quite the heady concoction.

Well, Delphine may be celebrating life’s richness — Chimène is celebrating her certain knowledge of his to get this maddening woman out of her head, to banish her ripe Namarrese beauty and the graceless tenor of her talk once and for all… Having claimed that glass from Delphine’s grasp Chimène sits back a moment and makes herself free of its savour as well, and the next time she leans in she reaches beyond Delphine to push it onto the edge of the occasional table beyond that farther arm of the sofa. Her next kiss tastes of the very wine the other prefers, and chose for herself this night. Silk rustles between them, in their overlapping tangle of skirts, the blue pushed aside and the red cunningly infiltrated by the long white fingers of a dancer and a future duchesse. Not for a moment in their brief time together does Chimène afford her willing captive the opportunity — let alone the breath — to speak.

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