(1310-11-07) Road to Recovery
Summary: After dinner with her childhood friends, Olivia d'Albert no Rose Sauvage receives yet another unexpected invitation from Matthieu Rocaille.
RL Date: 111/07/2018
Related: None
matthieu olivia 

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.

This time, Olivia d'Albert no Rose Sauvage would have a perfect excuse to visit the Rocaille residence - she was formally invited to dinner.

The meal is simple in the way that defies expectations in the place of a future duc, but set with distinct d'Angeline flavors. The plates served are small, but providing multiple tastes; duck roasted on the bone served on top of mashed and creamed potatoes, a fresh salad made out of parsley, fresh tomatoes, and cucumbers, dressed with olive oil, a particularly decadent meat pie made of savory pork, and an assortment of fruits, nuts and pastries. Wine from Bordeaux is present, of course.

The deep colors of the evening have settled once their dinner is over, left with small glasses filled with a very strong Caerdicci digestif made of lemons. Her companions, childhood friends Matthieu Rocaille and Gabriel de Montreve, had peppered their dinner with light conversation. There had been plenty of teasing from the latter in particular, ever privy to his ward and best friend's secrets, at Olivia's expense. He had set out that entire evening to make sure that she hadn't stopped blushing from the moment she sat down at the table. His friend sits at the head of the table, as etiquette demands, broad-shouldered and athletic form in an easy drape upon it, one arm extended on the rest - the banded scar on his left wrist is hidden, now, by a solid silver cuff with elegant, but masculine engraving, to obfuscate the length of white ribbon he wears underneath it.

Matthieu, at last, comes to her rescue - he seems unaffected by all of his Cassiline's teasing, but she would sense that he is in an excellent mood, his austere and recalcitrant manner softened at the presence of friends and agreeable company. Once the digestif has been consumed, offers Olivia his hand and extends her a quiet invitation to take a walk in the mansion's gardens and let their dinner settle. Upon stepping out, there is a chill in the air, stirrings of an early winter felt upon their skin. If she needs it, ever the gentleman, the ducal heir will fit his tailored coat over her shoulders, before offering his arm.

"Are things in the Salon going well?" he wonders. Without fail, he always asks how she has been, shortening his steps so his gentler and more petite companion can stroll at her leisure. Friendly, yes, when viewed from the outside, but signs of their newfound intimacy reassert themselves in small and seemingly insignificant bursts. He keeps her close, and his other hand is gently folded upon her own resting against the crook of his elbow, her dainty knuckles treated with the absent brush of his thumb.

"Things are quiet at the Salon," Olivia responds easily to Matthieu's question, "… but then they generally are. We seem to be a world away from affairs of the Mandrakes and the Valerians, and I believe that there are changes to come which can only be to our benefit." Her fingers tighten fractionally where they're curled within the crook of his arm, and he'll be aware of that fact beneath the possessive touch of his own upon them. The weight of his coat on her shoulders tames the silks of the lightweight gown that she's worn for their dinner, though a confection of layers are allowed to slip free beneath the hem of it; an ethereal billowing of gossamer white that drifts about her slippered feet as she walks at his side.

The lean into Matthieu's side is a gentle one, the woman the epitome of an artless grace and elegance. "I thought I might die on the spot when Gabriel recounted that story at dinner, and pointed at me with his fork. How does he even remember these things, and then bring them up again so casually? I'm seldom left fishing for words, but tonight I truly was speechless." The veils that had earlier concealed both her face and her hair from stray eyes have been unfastened from the filigree headpiece that's threaded through pale blond curls, and they trail across her shoulder and over the darkness of his coat, allowing her smile to be seen when she lifts her chin and fixes her eyes on his profile. Colour warms the pale opalescence of those cheeks, and enhances and bestows upon her an even rarer beauty that's reflected in the fine slant of feline eyes. A nudge of her shoulder to his. "There must be a book that he's found somewhere; a whole tome of essays and memoirs that have been written specifically on the subject of how to make a d'Angeline blush."

"What manner of changes?" Matthieu asks, genuine interest in his tone as they continue to walk, glacial-blue irises falling down to her profile as they continue to move across the yard in an easy pace. "It has been some years since I've taken assignations, I barely remember the protocol or the nuances between canons." An exaggeration, to be sure, he tends to retain information in a matter befitting a scion of Shemhazai, but he can't claim to be an expert in the actual operation that keeps a Salon running, especially one as popular as Rose Sauvage. His thumb traces an absent circle over her knuckles, his tall, athletic frame a solid wall in which to lean against.

He stops at the gazebo, which she would find familiar - its array of colorful blossoms can be glimpsed through the clear glass panes of the intricate bird cage, safe from the chilly turn of the weather. He opens the door for her, and as she steps inside, he gently relieves her of his coat from her shoulders. Greenhouses are what they are, they tend to trap heat within their confines to keep the greenery within vibrant and alive no matter the season. He folds his coat over one forearm, before slipping that into the pocket of his breeches, letting the midnight-black fabric and its sparse, golden embellishments hang.

"You'll have to forgive him. It isn't every day that he gets to act like an older brother. I trust that he misses his sisters, it has been a while since he's seen them." A hand lifts, palm up, for her to take, to help her ascend over the small flight of steps leading to the main floor of the gazebo, though upon arrival, he doesn't retract his hand. Instead, should she oblige him, he lifts her knuckles to his mouth, eyes meeting her sapphirine stare, the warm press of it between the tender space between her knuckles.

"I have a confession to make," he says at last, lowering her hand after a few moments, his thumb securing over the first knuckle of her index. "I had ulterior motives when I asked you to dine with us. Do you intend to join your family at the capital for the Longest Night?"

"There is some thought being given," Olivia replies, her eyes caught in Matthieu's, "… to providing a separate entrance which would allow direct access to the upper levels of the salon. It would enable patrons that prefer the company of our White Roses to join them directly, without having to run the gauntlet of the lower floors." She's as tactful as ever in her presentation of a problem that's been simmering for a while now, and she gives a small roll of her shoulders as the weight of Matthieu's coat is removed.

A blush accompanies the kiss to her knuckles, and though it's just a simple display of courtly manners, it's also something so much more. It's a reminder of the line that they've crossed in bounds of their relationship, and a reminder of the nights that they've lain tangled and lost in the company of one another. A soft, slow pull of her breath filters across lips that curve in the most wonderful of smiles. "I have a confession too, Matthieu, though it's perhaps not something that should be made in the middle of a gazebo." With her hand still captured in his, the touch of her other hand is light when she lifts it to brush the delicacy of her fingers across his cheek. A lock of his hair is turned back behind his ear, tucked there with the pad of her thumb and the curl of her fingers before the smallest shake of her head is given in response to the question he asks.

"I had not thought to join them, no." Her reply is as honest as ever when a direct question is asked of her by him, and it's accompanied by a wrinkling of her nose and a smile that grows a little more wry. "The Longest Night celebrations aren't generally an occasion that someone thinks of when thinking of me. You will, I imagine, be going yourself?" Her question is rhetorical in its asking, and her hand pulls from his face, though her other is quite warm where it remains still captured by his.

The improvement, Olivia d'Albert no Rose Sauvage says while meeting his eyes, is additional discretion. To which he responds, after a long and considering pause:


Perhaps disappointingly he shows no overt reaction to that, but in the end, it's only polite. Matthieu was never one to reflect much of the life inside of his head, but the rare mote of amusement glimmers in his ice-and-silver eyes, pressing his mouth, once more, against those pale knuckles. She would be reassured, at least, that her childhood friend is taking that new information closely to heart. It would certainly help.

She is all gentleness and affection, and at the brush of her fingers against his hair - so pale it is almost white, especially with his sun-bronzed exterior - something about his air palpably softens. It is nothing visible on his expression, the handsome, but hard and unyielding lines of him would sooner break than bend. But it's the way he looks at her after that tender gesture that lends to the truth that he is not as unaffected as he seems. Though the mention of her own confession has him lifting his brows upwards towards his hairline. "Oh? What about the gazebo makes it impossible for you to tell me?"

They arrive at the sitting area set up within the bird cage greenhouse, just by the marble fountain that trickles fresh, cold water from an underground pump. He assists her to sit, and he soon follows. His jacket is tossed casually on the back of it, and he takes up the space next to her. There's no hesitation, no boyish embarrassment, when he drapes an arm across the bench somewhere behind her, his body turned slightly towards her own - the better to meet her eyes.

"I'll be meeting Father there," he says. "As well as Her Grace. Most of my immediate family makes the trip and it would be my first time seeing them in years." A flicker of something passes through his eyes at that. "It'll be a busy holiday season for myself, most of the funds I can spare has gone to the Siovalese project in revitalizing our ports, and I heard that Helene has returned from Poumarous. I ought to have her update me on the status of it, but I am doing my part. I am also attempting to arrange a marriage - my younger brother, Elliot." He lowers his voice. "Keep this to yourself, but I've written to the Duc d'Azzalle about his heiress, the Lady Regina."

After a moment, he reaches out, to gently take her hand again, his thumb smoothing over her knuckles. His eyes lower to examine her pallour, how her perfect skin feels so soft, so impossibly fragile compared to his coarser own, roughened by the toils of the last three years. "Not all of my funds have gone to the project, however. I…understand perhaps that the Longest Night might be the least on your list of priorities. And certainly things are keeping you busy here as Second of your Salon. But I'd hoped…"

His brows stitch together further, drawing down. Deep down, he feels awkwardly inept - his mind, leaning towards reason and logic always, tells him that he is ridiculous for feeling like a boy half his age. He was in his thirtieth year. How hard really was it to ask a woman to…

"I'm…going to be busy in Elua," he continues, still watching her hand. "I hope to meet the Duc d'Azzalle there, if everything goes well, as well as a few other economic experts. There's also the matter of my great-aunt's legal troubles with Bordeaux, I received a rather lengthy opinion from Monsieur Depardieu…" Oh, Yeshua, Gabriel might be right. I'm terrible at this. "…but I'll be required to attend the masquerade ball at the royal palace. The funds I set aside…they're for you."

He pauses for a moment, and clears his throat, looking up at her at last. "For something to wear…if you'd grant me the pleasure of your company."

"Oh…" Olivia's complexion darkens with a renewal of that wash of colour which seems destined to remain firmly in her cheeks. The response she'd been framing to the question he'd asked her regarding what it was that couldn't be voiced within the seclusion of the gazebo is chased from her thoughts, replaced as it is by a request of such momentous importance.

"As a girl, my childish head was filled with thoughts of what it might be like to attend the palace ball on the Longest Night. The tales my parents told me of the grandeur, the opulence, the dresses and the music. It's not something that's easily put aside." A draw of her brows. "But then, once I became a novice on Mont Nuit, I knew that I couldn't." She tucks herself comfortably into the frame that's been made for her by the placement of Matthieu's arm along the back of the seat, and the diaphanous nature of the silks that she wears lends artistry to her every movement, making her seem more ethereal and lovely. "And of course, once my marque was bought by Rose Sauvage and I came to Marsilikos, that dream grew more distant. But to go now?" He'll see the delight that starts to dawn in her expression as childhood dreams are renewed at the extension of his invitation.

"I would be honoured to accompany you to Elua, and to be your companion at the ball." She doesn't ask him to confirm his intent in his invitation towards her, or whether he's sure that it's her that he would like to be at his side, and nor does she shower him with a thousand questions. Her affection for him, and the importance of his asking her to accompany him, shows in the warmth of her expression and the manner in which she's suddenly unable to hold his gaze. There's too much to be found in her eyes, too much that might be read, and so the dip away, her lashes sweeping heavily down to shadow her cheeks. "I will have to make arrangements with the Salon, of course, but I see no problem there." A pause. "I have worn nothing but the simplest and most modest of gowns and robes since entering the Bright Lady's service. But a gown of fashion, fit for a ball at the palace…"

The fact that he could make her so happy by simply asking has Matthieu blinking at her, somewhat surprised that such an invitation would be taken straight to heart. She gives context for her joy, of course, and as always he listens intently - but it remains on his features. His pale stare fixes upon her effervescent expression, how it lights up at the idea of experiencing something she has longed to ever since she was a child. And for a moment, he finds all doubt banishing in an instant - not that she would say no to him, but after a life of constant political adversity, he had often wondered whether he was capable of making anyone personally happy.

His taciturn expression softens slightly, and he gives her hand a squeeze. "I'm not unmindful of the risks," he tells her. "Even my great-aunt cautions me not to show any outward favor towards any specific lady. Hence why I thought I would set a purse aside for you, and you'll find that it is not insignificant. It can be as modest or as flamboyant as you desire…but considering how elegant you are every day, I've no doubts that whatever you decide upon will suit you very well. I look forward to seeing you in it." After a pause, his look takes on a more contemplative bent. "People in Marsilikos are accustomed to seeing you in veils and modest gowns - beautiful and well-made, but modest. I'm hoping something so completely different from what you usually wear would be able to camouflage your identity." He pauses. "I hope you don't think it untoward, or interpret it incorrectly." As in, taking it as a sign that he is ashamed to be seen with her. "But I'm still not certain as to the circumstances of what led me captured in the first place and ever since…when we…"

He clears his throat again. "Your safety is of utmost importance to me," he says, instead. "You'd be incognito, but you'll be by my side. Gabe will be holding the vigil along with the other Cassilines, so you can already imagine how happy he is about that, when he spent years sinking in the efforts to bring me back. He thought about asking for a special dispensation from the Prefect to allow him to stay with me…us. But he ought to be with his brothers, and I'll double the ducal guards."

Matthieu falls silent after that, releasing her fingers gently so he could reach for the side of her face, capturing her chin between thumb and index and tilting it towards him so he could find her eyes. It probably will do no wonders for her blush, but he has grown attached to her heightened color, especially now that he sees it so often. "I anticipate that business will keep me plenty occupied," he remarks. "Nothing so different as what has been my life since my return, but I would loath to have to spend all of the Longest Night without some enjoyment and you've been…a sanctuary for me, from all of it. So I'm…happy…" So he is capable of saying the word after all! "…that I'm helping you in obtaining a dream, and that you're willing to go."

"It will please me to be incognito," Olivia is quick to reassure Matthieu. "…though you would think it would not. Since the age of ten I've been exactly that, hidden beneath the layers of veils and of robes. This though, will be a different means of being anonymous" If he's worried that she'd take offence at all in being told that she'll necessarily need to remain so, then he'll find that his fears remain unfounded, and there's a quiet surety in her voice when she goes on to add, "And you need have no fear that I'll be a weight around your neck whilst you deal with the political side of the trip, for I don't expect you to entertain me every waking moment. There will be plenty for me to do when you don't require me at your side."

Her fingers when released by his, tighten in her lap, and he'll note again the fine and delicate structure of her face when he frames her chin with finger and thumb. She possesses that unique fragility of looks that suggests the smallest application of pressure could shatter, and her lashes lift to allow him the vulnerability of her eyes when they're lifted back to join with his.

"I know that you worry for my safety, and I understand why. I can only imagine how Gabe will chafe at the bit at having to spend the night away from you, but at least he can take comfort in the fact that you'll be safely within the palace." One slippered foot lifts, and her toes are touched to the edge of his shin with just enough pressure applied that he'll feel it through the thickness of his boot. "It won't always be this way for you, Matthieu. Things will be unravelled and pulled into the light, and you yourself will feel safe again. I have faith that all will be well eventually, and Elua will be the start of that. As for me…"

… As for her…

"I'm glad you said I make you happy, for you make me happy too, and I will treasure every second spent there together. Not just the gloriousness of attending the ball, but being in your bed when business is done and doors are closed."

She is quick to reassure him, knowing him so well that she can anticipate his own mind. Once again, Matthieu can't help but marvel at it - he can't decide whether it is due to their years of long acquaintanceship, her training as a courtesan, and one of the best ones that the Night Court in Marsilikos has to offer, or both. But in the end, does it matter? This is precisely one of the many reasons why he calls her a sanctuary - a safe haven where he could forget business and all the horrors that still plague him for just a short while.

For a while, he says nothing else, drinking in her expression. It might seem that he would have something else to say, but his expression clears. Ever a decisive creature, whatever it is that lies behind his teeth do not manage to venture out into the ether. Instead, he leans in, the shadow of his face eclipsing her beauteous mien, his mouth finding her own.

The token is solid and warm, but brief, mindful of the guards patrolling the grounds, and the fact that the gazebo is largely glass. The roughness of his palm transfers to her cheek when he cups it, unable to help himself. A thumb sweeps over the high arch of the bone that leaves her face lovely and structured in its rendering, and his lips part over her own, stealing her breath with the quick and possessive raid of a persuasive tongue. And when he finally parts from her, he allows himself the indulgence of resting his forehead against her own.

"I'll endeavor to be a good escort," he promises her, the slightest hint of a smile making itself known on his unforgiving mouth. With visible reluctance, his hand slides from her cheek as he leans back against his seat. "And with luck, this trip to Elua will be quite fruitful. I intend to see to it that the tides turn in my great-aunt's favor." His voice grows absent, wandering past her head. "It's only one piece in a larger picture."

At that, he shakes his head, and turns a more curious expression towards her. "I hadn't meant to take up our evening with my…inelegant way of asking you to accompany me to the fetes at the royal capital. What did you want to confess to me?" he wonders.

Olivia is as soft, warm, and as receptive as ever to the kiss that Mattieu bestows upon her, and though he may well wonder whether it's her years of training that allows her to perfectly interpret his wants and needs, the return touch of her hand to his cheek in a mirroring of his own should reassure him that it's not. Tenderness and affection shows in the brilliance of her eyes, and he lives as deeply in her thoughts as does his image does where caught in the dark dilation of her pupils. The curve of her smile can be felt in the muscles of her cheek, and her words hold the gentility of a tease when his question on her confession brings her response. "It can wait. For now."

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