(1310-12-15) A Rare Gem
Summary: In Elua, a young lady encounters a Heliotrope courtesan.
RL Date: 16-17/12/2018
Related: None yet
adrien inesse 

Heliotrope House — City of Elua

Whereas other Houses prefer to emanate a certain refined elegance, the style here at Heliotrope is that of appealing simplicity, touched with a hint of playful baroque. Tiles of light rosé marble cover the floor in the receiving hall, high walls are painted a slightly deeper shade of the same color, and interspersed with white columns sporting painted colorful floral ornaments. Curtains of white and lavender gauze flutter faintly before the high windows that bathe the room in light during the day. On evenings and nights, the predominant source of lighting is a multitude of burning candles in various bronze candelabras and the pair of chandeliers suspended from the ceiling. Yet there are also occasions, such as debuts, when additional light is provided by a number of oil lamps at the walls.

The receiving hall is furnished with chairs and couches of light maple wood carved with flowery designs, upholstered in white and red velvet, with several smaller cushions added for comfort. It also has a medium sized S-shaped loveseat in the center, where two people can lounge, facing each other. A faint scent of roses is ever present, as is the overall romantic mood that is often enhanced with the occasional recital of a love poem over the rippling tones of a lute or harp. While Heliotrope adepts and courtesans attend to the visitors with the pleasant lightness and easy warmth, their House is known for.

Late evenings tend to be quiet at Heliotrope House. Quiet, as in pertaining to numbers of visitors. Of course, there are a few Heliotropes scattered about the receiving hall, and some of them even engaged in low conversations with potential patrons. There is an adept with a lute, sitting on a chair in a corner, that plays dreamy tunes on his instrument. Not far from that adept, sits Adrien, a courtesan of the House, as one can see from the marque on his back, where the sign of Heliotrope has been inked into his skin. The dark-haired courtesan wears a slightly thoughtful expression tonight, and he is on his own. Sitting on a couch, his legs lightly crossed, arms spread upon the backrest, head slightly tilted, his blue eyes have a distant look to them. As if he were caught in his own thoughts, memories conjured by the music of the lute.

The lady Inesse de Baphinol took her newest and best attires along for the festivities in the capital. Thanks to her cousin Jehan-Pascal who left a decently generous purse at Courtly Couture in honor of her coming-of-age. So, whenever she goes exploring the city of Elua, the young woman looks as if she is coming to or going after an important and quite fancy event. The pure white silk of her current choice gives not only the alluring contrast to her almost black curls but also enhances her innocent nature. When she steps into Heliotrope House, Inesse removes her coat decently adorned by white furs and folds it over her crooked arm. Her two piece strapless A-line gown seems to be inspired by a romantic fields of flowers. It has a clean crepe bodice and a soft tulle skirt with lightly placed floral appliques scattered throughout. Featuring a jewel neck with lightly placed appliques and a keyhole back, the bodice of the dress clings tightly to Inesse's slim form and only the skirt then flows down and shuffles with every step of hers, sweeping the floor when she dares to move deeper into the unfamiliar room. Her dark eyes land on the man who plays the lute and the music seems to wrap her up and slowly drags her closer. One step, then a stop. A long consideration, and a second hesitant step. Excited gaze and shy movement surrounds the young lady with a touch of awkwardness. She nervously pushes a black curl aside which fell over her forehead and tucks it behind silvery jewels which adorn her hair. "Aaah…." She sighs.

That sigh. It makes Adrien's gaze lift and pulls him out of his current contemplations. His blue gaze finds the new arrival, and for a moment he looks at Inesse, eyes widening for a fraction of a moment. Before the look can be mistaken for a stare, the courtesan rises to his feet and executes a bow towards her. "Good evening, my lady," the young man greets in a melodious voice, "My name is Adrien, and this here is Gaspard…" He raises his hand in a vague gesture towards the lute player. "I don't think you have been to House Heliotrope before, or I would surely remember?" He smiles, and yet he looks a bit curious as he offers to Inesse, "Perhaps you would like to sit down with us, and perhaps you'd like some wine?"

"Oooh!" Inesse's smile curls up and she immediately casts her gaze down to the floor. The young woman's cheeks light up with a rosy tones and her fingers nervously wrap around the fabric of her skirt. "I am so sorry. I didn't mean to stare at you, nor at your friend. He is busy and you were in the contemplation. I should have not disturbed. I was merely curious. Exploring, you know." She peeks at the man but then turns her eyes to the curtains which make her heart flutter less wildly in her chest. "I am from Marsilikos. I won't be here for long. I came with my mother. She is amazing. Very beautiful and kind. She offered that I would visit the Heliotrope House. So, I am kinda here. It's nice, you know." She turns her head to the other side meeting Adrien's gaze briefly and escaping it in a moment. "The city is marvellous." Inesse seems to miss the offer of a seat and wine since she does not provide an answer to that. Instead, she starts nibbling on the inside of her cheek and then a bottom lip while her eyes explore the interior details.

"From Marsilikos, hmm?", Adrien repeats. His manner is gentle and forthcoming, probably consequence of his training, but there is warmth in his smile when he notes a certain nervousness in the young lady. "You came here for the Longest Night, I assume?" As Inesse doesn't reply nor accept his offer, the courtesan leans over to the side, to gather a flagon of wine from there, and a fresh glass that sits beside it, unused as of yet. In no way of a hurry, he begins to pour that glass for her. It is red wine of good quality, no doubt. "So… you are here because your mother suggested it? What are your own thoughts about our House, my lady?" The question is offered with a smile, as Adrien holds out the glass for Inesse to take. "My lady of mystery," is added in a soft murmur, perhaps aimed more to himself.

"Oh, I am so sorry again! I am lady Inesse de Baphinol. How could I forget to introduce myself?!" She bursts in laugh and rolls her eyes. She rubs the back of her neck and then looks at the glass in Adrien's hand. "Well… If I remember correctly, you are…" She quickly glances at Gaspard and a thoughtful smile beams brighter, "Musicians! Artists! I can see that in how beautiful you friend plays the lute." She explains. "I must admit that I did not have much of a chance to explore more. I just recently turned sixteen. At the beginning of November. My mother has arranged me a night with Monsieur Laurentin. By my request of course! He reads dreams. He was amazing. We spoke the whole night about life and he told me stories about dreams. Then we went to sleep and he kept me safe from nightmares. He is my friend." Inesse straightens up in a bit more self confidence now that she speaks of home.

Adrien smiles, when the young lady finally introduces herself. "Be welcome to Heliotrope House, Lady Inesse," he greets her, inclining his head towards her. "This is the House of love and devotion. Some of us dabble in music and poetry, but we are no match to the skill that is to be found at Eglantine House." His hand holds the glass, and the courtesan realizes that she is not taking that offer. It is his other hand that reaches out then, fingers curling about her hand — should she allow. "Please, allow me to offer belated congratulations on your natality. I believe, it must have been a great day for you. And now… you are here in the Capital. You must be quite excited to see the Royal Court, my lady?"

While Inesse does not take the offered glass, she doesn't mind if the man takes her hand. However, her cheeks bloom in a crimson color at that. She chuckles and looks up at Adrien with a bit more bravery. "Thank you so much. To you and the city. Everybody is quite welcoming here. I also have to apologize for a third time. I get confused with all those houses and sometimes they mix up in my head. My sister says that I am dumb because she already remembers everything and she is even younger than me. But… It's just hard, you know. We have so many things to remember and then I feel like my head is spinning around!" She laughs and gently squeezes the man's hand. "You are very handsome. I mean…" She panics and looks away. "You look nice. I like your hair. Your clothes as well. Everyone is very beautiful in the capital. You are also. Like a lot!" And then she immediately changes the subject. "How long you have been here?"

The melody of the lute comes to a halt, when Gaspard sets his instrument aside to accept the glass of wine from Adrien, as Inesse apparently doesn't want it. The other hand holds Inesse's though, and Adrien decides for them to walk over to the loveseat in the middle of the room, an interesting piece of furniture where they can sit down and face each other. "Don't apologize," Adrien tells Inesse with a smile. "Be yourself. Don't try to fulfill anyone's expectations here. We are at Heliotrope House. We look beyond the facade, to find the hidden treasures there." Her blush and awkwardness doesn't seem to trouble the courtesan, nor does he appear to pay much attention to these things. They arrive by the seat and Adrien urges her gently to sit down. "How long have I been here?" He chuckles lightly. "I was given to the Night Court at the age of six, my lady. So… yes, I think, I've been here for 17 years."

"So, it's longer than I was around!" Inesse gasps in surprise before settling down on the love seat. She folds her hands on a lap then after shuffling her skirt a bit, pushing nonexistent wrinkles of a fabric aside. "Were you excited when you came to the Night Court for the first time? Were you afraid of what is coming, of your lessons and the path you will take? Or were you curious? I always feel so afraid of what a future might bring. I can not imagine a life where you are taken away from your mother at the age of six and you have to come and live with all those strangers. It's an honor, of course, but still. I was not able to walk anywhere when I was six without holding my mother's hand." Inesse chuckles. "I am a tad scared of the strangers. Though, when my mother is around, I can feel quite assured of myself. So, how was it for you? Have you made friends easily around here?"

<FS3> Adrien rolls Composure: Failure. (6 5 4 6 1 1 3)

"Oh… you are right," Adrien says, with a surprised smile. "Does that make me sound old?" Says a courtesan who has just turned 23 about a month ago. When Inesse settles herself on the seat, Adrien sits down opposite of her, one elbow coming to settle on the rest between them. His demeanor, friendly and polite at first, slips a little. A crack in the facade, even if brief, lets that smile vanish almost, as if Inesse's casual remark had managed to hit deep — not something she intended. There is a moment of silence, before the Heliotrope replies. "I cannot recall holding my mother's hand. She is… more of a distant memory. A face. She moved on before I did." A soft sigh escapes him, and the smile returns, even if slightly dimmed. "I have found a new family in this House. I made new friends, indeed."

<FS3> Inesse rolls Empathy: Great Success. (7 7 6 5 7 1 3 7 7 1 4)
<FS3> Inesse rolls Singing: Failure. (5 4 3 4 2 5)

Inesse's smile fades when she sees that her new acquaintance's mood changes. She looks down at her feet upset for opening old wounds. "I need to learn not to bring sensitive topics up." She stares down for a few moments before sliding a bit closer to Adrien that he could hear her whisper. "Sometimes when I feel absolutely lost, scared and sad, and my mother is not close enough to offer me a hug, I sing a song. Quietly. Only for myself. I do get really sad sometimes. Like, I feel lonely even if I am surrounded by people. Listen…" She comes even closer, to sit just beside him and get her lips close to the man's ear. The young lady then sings into his ear. It comes more as a whisper, hummed words than an actual song, though. It's obvious that the girl does not have an ear for the music. The song has no rhythm. She is also quite nervous and her words tremble, blur together.

"Did you find it hard to breathe?
Did you cry so much that you could barely see?
You're in the darkness all alone
And no one cares, there's no one there
But did you see the flares in the sky?
Were you blinded by the light?
Did you feel the smoke in your eyes?
Did you, did you?
Did you see the sparks filled with hope?
You are not alone
'Cause someone's out there, sending out flares…"

Once she is done, Inesse immediately draws away and looks to the opposite direction. "Maybe it can help you as well. When you feel lonely or you miss a family, a real family you did not have a chance to hold…"

<FS3> Adrien rolls Poetry: Great Success. (5 5 2 2 7 7 2 1 7 2 8 7)
<FS3> Adrien rolls Singing: Good Success. (8 1 6 4 2 5 4 8 2 3)

"There is a light in the darkness,
A warmth there, in the cold,
I am never alone,
When there are others out there,
That same light we call love."

The words leave Adrien's lips, not too far from Inesse's ear, as he picks up her tune and continues it, albeit a bit more skillfully. His voice, a warm baritone, kept to a pleasant low volume, as he continues the song in his own vein, making up words as he goes to provide the message. When Inesse pulls away, Adrien straightens a little, seeking her gaze with a genuine smile. "What a rare gem you are, Lady Inesse Baphinol…", he murmurs, relishing in this shared poetic moment.

Inesse coughs out a chuckle and immediately starts playing with the fabric of her skirt, nipping on it with her fingers. "Well… I wouldn't say I am a gem. There are so many beautiful gems all around Marsilikos and here in the Elua. I am just… me. Inesse de Baphinol, Saviour of ducklings!" She laughs remembering her last conversation with a specific lord. But then she shakes her head and looks at Adrien. "Your poetry is very nice and you have a very pleasant voice. Are you sure you are not from Eglantine House?" She holds her gaze on Adrien's a bit longer this time.

"You are," the Heliotrope courtesan insists gently. "Saviour of ducklings?" This seems to amuse him. "Thank you, and I am certain I am no Eglantine. I remember though that House Eglantine showed interest in me as well. But in the end, the Dowayne of Heliotrope, the former Dowayne, that is, decided Heliotrope would be the better fit for me." He endures her gaze, meeting it with his own. "Be yourself, Lady Inesse. It is what I told you when you entered. Are you certain you don't wish for anything while you are here?"

"Your friendship is more than enough for me!" The young woman explains, smiling back at the man broadly. Her eyes glimmer with an excitement. "Though, I think that my mother has sent me here because she spoke to Monsieur Laurentin, the courtesan who has spent time with me during my celebration. I think… I know that I did not have a usual natality celebration. I was seeking a friend and he was a very interesting one. Though, it was not what everybody expected. I just… It seems that I always try to live up to people's expectations and fail them. It is very nice of you to repeat that I should be myself, but I do not think that I know who I am?.. How one can know such a thing? We are what others tell us to be. You have been told and grow up learning to be a courtesan. I have grew up being told to be a lady who is supposed to marry someone of importance. Since the day we are born, someone starts guiding us, showing us direction, telling us who we are. And so, we just do what we were told. But… Am I a lady? Are you a courtesan? Who are we, truly?" She sighs and chuckles. "I make no sense."

"Friendship?", Adrien repeats the word, looking at Inesse with those thoughtful eyes of his. "Oh. Friendship is just another word. Another form of love. And after all, is it not love that drives us all?" He reaches out, touching his hand to the young lady's cheek. "What do you mean when you say that your natality went different from what everybody expected? Is it… that you didn't seek to be close, in that physical way?" He smiles. "Forgive me. Perhaps it is impertinent of me to ask you this. But then again. I would think us to be human beings first and foremost, rather than being cast in roles. A woman, a man. Children of Naamah and the Companions. They give us a foundation for our beliefs, our morals and our way to live…"

Inesse leans her head to the man's touch, when his hand touches her cheek and she smiles. Her eyes close. "I am afraid. To get close to someone. Physically. I feel as if that would be the last drop in an already full glass. I would become absolutely attached to that person in my body and soul." She sighs. "I am afraid of what is coming afterwards. We pay and you love us, but the moment someone will pay more, you will love someone else more. People come and go, and I might be too weak to let someone leave, to live without a person whom I opened up, whom I let into my heart…" She opens her eyes and locks them with Adrien's. "I know what you are going to say. That this is our tradition, that we can love more than once, that we can love many people at the same time, that the payment means nothing but… I read once in a book that love has to have no conditions. The true love."

"This is such a Heliotrope thing to say," Adrien replies to Inesse. His voice is hardly above a murmur, their conversation kept to a low confidential volume. "And you already show a much better understanding of our canon, than many that enter those doors." He glances towards the entrance, but only briefly. "Love is grand and overwhelming. It can cause pain… But it does not have to, Inesse." His fingers leave her cheek, but even so, Adrien's face is not far, his blue eyes locked with those of Inesse. "I know it can be scary to open up like that… But then again… wouldn't you miss out on that experience, if you shied away from it?" A soft chuckle comes from him then, when he hears her comment about payment and loving more than one. But instead of commenting on that, he smiles, as he echoes her final words, "The true love… So it is that you are afraid that you would fall so deeply in love, that you would never let go of that one true love? You came here, and yet I sense… A reluctance. What if I were that true love, and you'd deny us to find out, because I am sworn to Naamah's Service? What if… I told you that there can be ways to be together outside of assignations. Without 'payment', which, by the way, is needed for adepts to complete their marques, and for fully marqued courtesans like me, to express appreciation…" Mirth fades from his expression, as he keeps his gaze locked with hers. "Would you… consider it even? Or is it the reason for you, stressing you'd prefer friendship over companionship?"

"Friendship, companionship, love, passion… True love is everything in one person. I want to find that person. Though, I do not want to be broken when we find each other. I am afraid that I will fail to recognize the true feelings from the first time, then my heart will be shattered. I will be so sad that I won't even notice someone who has been born for me and I was born for him. And so… I will stay alone even if surrounded by people. I will get married, I will have lovers but all of that will be just a performance because I will always lack that one drop for it to be a true love we all seek for. I am just really really scared but if you know how to make the right choice and how to find a second part of me with whom I could share every bit of myself till the end, please, tell me…" Inesse whispers leaning forward a bit more. Her almost black eyes wander from one of Adrien to another seeking for answers in his own gaze.

"You would have lovers, without allowing any of those to come close to the true Inesse?", Adrien responds, his earnest expression shifting only after a moment into a warmer cast. "How cruel, my lady. To deny others. To deny yourself. You will never know true love, unless you are willing to find it. To make attempts. To take risks." His hand reaches for hers, a finger tracing the back of that hand. "How to perform and pretend something you don't know?" Another pause occurs, before the Heliotrope considers Inesse's question. "I can't give you an answer to that question. You'll just… know. Listen to your heart. It will tell you when that right person comes along. It is not that easy, however. Sometimes it takes time, spent with another, to get to know them. To learn of their true soul. To find that hidden treasure that will make them so dear to you." Around them, only few conversations are ongoing in the reception hall. All at hushed tones. It is the nature of Heliotrope, it is not a loud, extroverted canon.

"You are so clever…" Inesse softly speaks out and a smile returns to her features. "It's like you have answers to all questions in this world. Like, my questions about the world. You are very clever. Yes, that is what I mean." She chuckles and leans back in her seat withdrawing a bit from a man and changing the direction of her gaze. Her voice grows a bit louder and more cheerful. "Pity I do not have enough time in getting to know you. I have a feeling that you could teach me of thousands of things, including poetry and music!"

"Oh…! You are mistaken. I'm not clever at all, my lady. There are certainly brighter minds out there, I mean…" Adrien clears his throat and rolls his eyes a little. "To follow one's heart… to give it freely… is that a clever thing to do? Maybe… you could say that I try to grasp and understand things with the heart. It is not always wise. And I have been called simple now and then, because of that." As she withdraws a little from him, he leans away a little as well. "You are beautiful, you know? I sense a kinship there. Perhaps we two are not as different as you think we are." Ignoring the latter part, he gives her a look of genuine warmth, and maybe it is because of Naamah's blood running in his veins, that smile that curves his lips does appear a bit persuasive.

<FS3> Adrien rolls Persuasion: Great Success. (5 5 6 7 8 3 8 2 5 7 2)

"Thank you so much!" She chuckles and glances back at Adrien. "You are very kind to find me beautiful. As I said, you are absolutely handsome. I mean, I have seen many handsome men out there back in Marsilikos but you are like different. You are handsome, and kind, and still kinda wise. You are sad, though. But maybe because you are sad, you actually know more than the majority about feelings. And if you are sad, that means you have been broken. But you are still here and you are smiling, and you call me a kinship. So, maybe it is not that terrifying to be hurt. I mean… I wish I could… Have you ever been to Marsilikos?" Her thoughts become a bit jumpy when she suddenly grows nervous. "It's not like I am inviting you. But we are similar. And I am not saying I am not inviting you. I am saying we are similar. And we have not that much of a time. And have you offered wine to me before? I think I need wine. I am thirsty. Suddenly."

"One gets chosen to serve on Mont Nuit for a reason," Adrien replies to the compliment with a gentle smile. "And I wouldn't call myself sad. Perhaps… a bit wiser, in some regard. Looking back now, I wouldn't take back any decisions I made. Well… most of them." His gaze goes distant for a moment as if he were lingering on one particular memory. "I am not broken.", the courtesan clarifies then, with a glance towards Inesse. "Just… feeling perhaps a bit more alive than others, which comes with pleasure and pain." He chuckles, when the young lady suddenly seems to change her mind about wine. "Indeed, I did offer you some. But that does not mean that I would tire of offering you more." With a fluid motion, Adrien moves to stand and returns to the side table, to pour Inesse a fresh glass of red wine. Returning then to her side, he holds it out for her to take. "Why would I wish to go to Marsilikos?", he asks lightly, giving her a curious glance.

Lady Inesse reaches for the glass and takes quite a generous sip before managing to provide some sort of a quietly mumbled answer. "Don’t you like travelling and…" A second sip quickly washes of some other thoughts, allowing for a young lady to focus, pushing aside the shyness, or anything what she might have said. A pause and then she continues. "I mean, can you travel? What does it mean to have a full…" Inesse points at the beautiful marque on his skin. "It's very beautiful."

<FS3> Adrien rolls Politics: Good Success. (6 2 4 7 6 8 6)

Again, Adrien’s lips curve in a smile, far enough to make his lips part and reveal a glimpse of his white teeth. "Oh… I enjoy travelling now and then. I’ve been to Caerdicca Unitas once. It is just that… lately I’ve felt quite comfortable here in Elua. Besides…" He turns just so to allow her a better look at the art on his back, "I don't know anyone in Marsilikos… and even your home would be in… the area of Avignon?"

"Oooh… Caerdicca Unitas? How was it? I have never been anywhere outside of my home. Well, I mean, I came to Marsilikos and now here. I guess I am too young to be one who has seen many countries! Did you want to come back or did you enjoy Caerdicca Unitas?" Inesse smiles back at the man with equally wide happiness. She takes a sip and then mumbles out, "You could visit me. I stay there. Marsilikos. Could show you around." She chases down her fright of being so blunt with a second sip.

"It was… different. Overwhelming. Beautiful. But also… foreign.", Adrien tells Inesse, meeting her gaze. "Foreigners do not share some of our beliefs and traditions, they frown upon them. So in that regard, it was good to return to Terre d'Ange." He steps around the love seat to resume his place from before, facing the young dark-haired lady. "Could you?", he counters then, holding that eye contact. "Would you have time to show me around? I mean… such a young lady as you must have things to see to. Taking lessons, in music and courtly things. Is that not so?"

Lady Inesse rolls her eyes when Adrien reminds her of the lessons she is supposed to take. "Well… Yes. I do have some lessons now and then, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have time to show you around. You could even replace my music and dancing, and poetry tutor… She… doesn't understand me and I think she is losing her patience!" The young lady chuckles and finishes off her wine. Though, she keeps the goblet in her hands that those nervously dancing fingers would have what to do. "But if you do not want to come, that is fine. I do not want to force you into anything. I was merely offering. Visits like this help us find new friends, right?"

"It is an intriguing thought," Adrien admits, tipping his chin down a little, even as his blue eyes remain locked on Inesse. "To visit Marsilikos. Let me ponder this, after all, you have just arrived, and perhaps… perhaps there will be more time for us, here, to find out whether you'd appreciate me visiting you after all. We have just met," he smiles, in that warm irresistible fashion, "and you have just stressed how afraid you are to open up to someone. Perhaps it is dangerous, for the both of us. But, truth be told… I am feeling myself very tempted to deepen the acquaintance."

"I would like to have more guests arriving to Marsilikos. The city is very beautiful but sometimes I find myself really bored. I agree that we should see if you would enjoy the tour I would offer. You see, I might not have many interesting stories to tell about various establishments but I could just show you around. So, yes. You might not even want to visit me. There will be many other young ladies from Marsilikos in Elua. You might want to visit them." She beams and then sets the glass aside. "But I would love to get to know you as well. You are very wise and intelligent, and really kind. I said that many times already… Heh…" She looks around and then lets out a sigh. "I think I am suppose to go back home."

"I already told you, I find you very intriguing…", the Heliotrope courtesan contradicts. "I wouldn't come to Marsilikos in pursuit of new patrons. Only as part of an arrangement of sorts. There are local salons in that city, you already mentioned as much. And I am bound to my House of Heliotrope." His gaze flickers a little, when Inesse admits to be interested in getting to know him better. Even if her conclusion seems to surprise him. "Wait. Why would you go? Why not stay a little? Is it that you are expected to return soon? We could… spend some time together. Let me show you our House, and we can speak further on topics that are of interest to us." Slowly, he allows his eyes to lower, to grant her a break from the warm intensity of his gaze. "Your mother sent you here, as you say, so she must have had something in mind." There, Adrien lifts his eyes again to meet hers. "Inesse. There is the option of setting up a contract, for company. And we can see where it will lead us. Either way, our conversation so far has been very promising."

"No no no no no…" Inesse quickly shakes her head and smiles apologetically. "I am not expected anywhere anytime soon. I was just… didn’t want to… Well, show me around!" She slides to the edge of the seat and then pushes herself up. "Do you have gardens? I would like to take a fresh breath of air." The young lady extends her hand to Adrien if he wishes to take it. "Do you think I could have a long term contract with you? Like… while I am here at the capital, you keep company only to me. Is that possible? And if we enjoy each others company, then we could prolong the contract and you would go back to Marsilikos with me!" Her cheeks blush and she giggles, "All ladies out there will be so jealous when they see me with you!"

Her enthusiasm makes his features soften, and there is that warm glint of how this affects him. Curling his fingers about her hand, twining then with hers, the dark-haired courtesan cannot help but smile, as he rises with her. "Oh, Lady Inesse…" As if he suddenly remembered to address her properly. "A long term contract…? This is not asked often of me, in fact, I had one… longer arrangement in the past. It is Longest Night though. There are the upcoming fêtes in the city. Have you heard of the fabulous fete at Cereus House? Only courtesans of Mont Nuit will be there. And a very few exceptions. It is something, every member of the Court of Night Blooming Flowers looks forward to." Circling the seat, he approaches Inesse, assisted by the gentle pull he administers to her hand.

"I have a suggestion, for you. Spend a day in my company, and you can decide if you would like to contract me for a longer period of time. For Longest Night though… I would ask of you, to allow me to attend the fête here, on Mont Nuit. I don't know whether you are expected to be elsewhere on Longest Night. But perhaps… Perhaps I could make arrangements that you could go there with me. If that is your wish. On that night… it wouldn’t be a contract that binds me. The only night in all of the year."

The lady Inesse keeps her eyes focused on her new companion and she seems to broaden her smile with every word of his. Her fingers slowly dance on the man's hand and her thumb gently brushes the side of the man's palm. Her skin is soft even if her fingers are a bit cool. "Oh, I have heard about the fete at Cereus House! People go there in costumes, and you have a King and a Queen. It's a grand event and everybody hopes to join the event. It’s glamorous, it's quite posh and impressive. But I only heard about it…" she drawls as her imagination carries Inesse to a little small world of her dreams.

"Agreed. I would very much like to spend as much time as we can together. I am sure you have many interesting stories to tell. Maybe even some parts of your poetry? I really would like to hear it…" She nuzzles her head a bit into the man’s arm asking for his poetry to be revealed to her. But then she immediately tugs his hand in a surprise and joy. "Could I? Could I go to the event with you? That would be the best day of my life! Really!"

"The Winter Queen and the Summer Prince," Adrien nods. His hand is warm, and his touch is gentle. "It is the highlight of the evening, when they appear and dance together, to bid the ending year farewell and greet the year that will soon begin." He begins to lead her towards the door that leads out to the gardens, gathering her cloak from where she had deposited it to drape it about her shoulders. "I might recite you a poem or two…" This said as he opens the door for her, and in slipping into a cloak of his own, waits until she has walked past him before he follows her out into the gardens.

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