(1310-12-15) Thou And No Other
Summary: Adrien and Inesse deepen their acquaintance outside. Beware of hopelessly romantic conversations about love.
RL Date: 27/12/2018 - 01/01/2019
Related: Happens right after A Rare Gem
adrien inesse 

Gardens — Heliotrope House — City of Elua

As they step out into the gardens, they are greeted with the fresh chilly air of winter. It has snowed on the day before, and so the trees and bushes are covered in crystal snow white, that glitters in the light of torches. It is late evening still, after all. The drop in temperature prompts Adrien to step closer to Inesse and put his arm around her shoulders. “Isn’t it too cold for you out here?”, he asks her, lowering his chin so that he can look down and meet those dark eyes of hers. It is concern there, the unobtrusive friendly sort of concern. He is after all here to entertain the young lady, and the Heliotrope courtesan is aware that she has her own head, and certainly he will grant her that.

His blue eyes are lifted then, as Adrien looks up to the sky, dark night up there, sprinkled with the glitter of so many stars. “And then again,” he continues in a low voice, as if he were speaking to himself, “the sky looks so beautiful tonight.” His arm slips from Inesse’s shoulder to her side as he pulls her gently closer. “Do you like the light of the stars, on nights as these?”

“Oooooh…” The young lady exhales a gulp of warmth followed by a shy shiver when the man wraps his arm around her shoulders. While the tip of her nose is colored in a light red tone of cold, her cheeks bloom in flames of heat. She looks up at the man and shakes her head. “Thank you, but the weather is quite pleasant and…” She pauses for a moment. Her thoughts carry Inesse somewhere away from the gardens and she looks down to her feet.

“Ah, oh?!” She flinches and immediately looks up when Adrian pulls her closer and his hand gently touches her side. “I do like the starry sky. I know very little about it but it is very beautiful. No doubt! Do you think it’s other places where others live?” Her hand raises as if the girl would want to wrap it around the courtesan but it freezes in the air and later lands on top of her other hand resting in front of her. She awkwardly has no idea where to set her hands being so close to another person.

Does he notice her awkwardness? If so, Adrien doesn’t show it at all. His arm rests around Inesse as if it were the most natural thing in the world, and when Inesse lifts her hand only to lower it again, as if she were unsure of what to do, his other hand reaches for hers, fingers lacing lightly, if she allows. “The starry sky always reminds me that there are greater matters out there, and our own concerns so little compared to them…” His arm shifts, and slips off her side, as the Heliotrope moves to face her, the now vacant hand reaching for her other one, as if he were about to start a dance with the young lady, outside in the winter chill of the Heliotrope gardens.

“Perhaps, people live up there. Tiny people, because the stars are so small. What would they think of us, down here, in the gardens?”, he wonders lightly, his blue eyes alight as they lock their gaze with hers. “Lady Inesse Baphinol… You mentioned that your mother sent you here. She probably had in mind for you to take an assignation. Would it be your wish, to spend the night in my company?” The tone of his voice is soft and gentle, and his fingers feel warm in their hold upon her hands. “I enjoy our conversations… and we can continue to talk until we fall asleep beside each other. Would this be something you’d like to explore?”, Adrien asks, stepping forward, his hands pulling at hers, which will bring Inesse closer to him. “You are such a lovely little thing, I can already feel how you are beginning to move my heart…”

She not only allows their fingers to lace but she squeezes gently his hand in hers as if trying to steal a bit of bravery from his grasp. Inesse does not interrupt and listens for the courtesan’s words with a glimpse of admiration in her gaze as if Adrien would be the greatest philosopher of all times. Though, when the man turns to face her, the young lady looks down at their hands joined together. A chuckle escapes her lips at the idea of tiny people but once again, she remains quiet. Even the mention of her mother doesn’t draw her attention away from their fingers. Inesse drums the tips of her soft fingers over the man’s hands if he allows, while her feet nervously rubs the ground.

Just after a few awkward moments a young lady mumbles something quietly. Realizing that maybe only ants on the pavement could have heard her, she, finally, looks up into Adrian’s eyes. “I would like that very much. You are very clever, and kind. I like being with you. More fun than alone. I also like falling asleep beside someone! While you would tell me more about stars!” Inesse beams.

Her reply seems to please him. Adrien’s smile deepens as his nostrils flare lightly from a soft exhale of relief. “You honor me,” he murmurs, pulling her closer against him, arms wrapping about the petite figure in a gesture that is both protective and adoring. “And I am glad that you would like to stay with me, for tonight. I have felt very lonely these past days. And apparently. You don’t lack humor. Let us make up little stories about the tiny people living on the stars…” His chin comes to rest atop of her head, even so, from the intense embrace she might assume that Adrien closes his eyes. Especially, when he murmurs into her hair, “Let us make this a memorable night, for both of us. A warm and pleasant memory to share for times when we are apart.” His arms loosen a little, as the Heliotrope leans away, to look once again up to the stars. “The stars look so beautiful tonight. But perhaps, we can look at them, where it is not this cold. I have a large window in my chamber. I don’t want you to catch a cold, Inesse.” In speaking her first name, Adrien lowers his gaze, to look at her, to meet her eyes, and the smile that washes over his features looks so natural and elated. As if his heart were singing with joy just to see her this close to him.

When Adrien pulls her close, Inesse wraps her arms around the man. Her embrace is light and cautious but also warm and honest. She nuzzles her head to his chest and stops close to where she can hear his heartbeat. “I want to spend every night in here with you. I am not cold. You make my heart flutter and I feel warm and welcomed. I rarely feel welcomed. You are very special, Adrian. Almost like you are not human at all but an angel himself!” She explains excitedly but quite slowly. “But we can go to your chambers and talk there. I would love to see how you live. You are very interesting!”

When her eyes meet his one more time, Inesse smiles. “I do not know how could you feel lonely. You should have a very long line of patrons full of desire to rest in your embrace!”

“Oh, Inesse…” Adrien smiles, but it seems that her confession makes his eyes widen. “I make your heart flutter? You are doing the same to me. Your voice, your words, so bittersweet, they make my heart ache and jump at the same time. Please…”, his fingers lace once again with hers as he backs away from her, while keeping the contact of their hands, “come along. I will show you my chamber. It is upstairs.”

Leading the way back inside to the receiving hall of Heliotrope House, Adrien assists Inesse with removing her cloak, and then hands it along with his own to a novice to take away. There is a slight tremble to his hand as it takes hers, and the courtesan begins to leads her towards the stairway, and from there, to the upper floor. “I have few patrons,” he tells Inesse as they enter a hallway, “and each of them I have chosen with care. Who wishes to contract me must have that certain quality,” he pauses, and following an impulse, turns towards Inesse, touching his hand to her cheek, leaning in, so that his face is close to hers, and she can feel his breath against her lips. “You are special. So very special. Frail. Innocent. And eager to learn so many things…”

Lady Inesse follows Adrian with a joyful bounce in her footsteps. Her arm sways slowly making their joined hands flutter in the air as well. She is quick to get out of her coat and wrap her fingers around his again. She gets upstairs with the same lightness but her feet fails her when they make a pause and Adrian’s breath is felt on her lips. The young woman’s legs shiver and it may appear for a moment that Inesse will faint. But she wraps her arm around courtesan’s neck as if to hold herself up. She chuckles. “Oh, Adrian, are you sure you can’t go back to Marsilikos with me? If this is not love from the first sight, I do not know what that is! You make me feel so weak. I feel butterflies playing in my belly, my cheeks burn in flames, my feet no longer hold me, my eyes want to stare into yours for forever and…” She leans her palm into Adrian’s chest. “Your heartbeat was the most beautiful melody I have ever heard… Is this love or wine?” She laughs and shyly looks down.

“It is the song of Elua,” Adrien whispers, his hand reaching for hers that touches against his chest. “Thou and no other,” he inhales through his nose, as if taking in her scent, “it is the canon of Heliotrope. It makes our assignations so meaningful… as they affect us on a higher level.” His hand trembles a little as he pulls it away from her fingers to reach for her and place it on her stomach. “Butterflies? Here? I can feel them flutter, the soft flapping of wings within your belly, beloved Inesse…” A smile then, audible from the exhale through his nose. “Love can be intoxicating. It can feel like that sometimes. As of you had too much wine, it makes the senses dance…”

Leaning away then, the Heliotrope has mercy and grants Inesse a pause from his proximity, fingers lacing with hers again, though, as he leads her further along the hallway, until they arrive at the door that leads to his room.

Adrien takes a burning candle from a side table and then opens the door, slipping inside before Inesse, so that he can light the oil lamps in his room. It takes a moment for the chamber to be illuminated enough for Inesse to take in the interior. It is a medium-sized room, and as he had mentioned earlier, there is indeed a large window, curtains drawn aside to grant a view of the starry night sky. There is a wardrobe at the wall, and a table with a chair in front of it. Upon the table, there are various parchments scattered, verses scribbled upon them. The center of the room is taken up by a four poster bed, with drapes in lavender color. The blanket is arranged orderly, below a line of neatly placed pillows. Everything is tidy, and there is a clean flowery scent that mingles with another, faintly masculine note.

“Come in,” Adrien urges the petite Baphinol, and with a happy grin adorning his handsome features, he pulls the door shut, to grant them the privacy both must be seeking.

Lady Inesse lays her hand down on top of Adrien’s when he touches her belly. When he calls her beloved, the young woman’s smile grows so bright as if threatening to turn night into a day. She stops breathing, she stops blinking and takes every word into account. It seems that she is scared even to blink as if her actions could break the moment and turn it into remnants of crystal on the dark floor. And thanks to the angels that a courtesan gives her a bit of space just before the situation escalates to the moment where a young Baphinol lady suddenly is in a lack of air.

And so she rushes after him, holding his hand tightly before they reach his room. Then she freezes like a statue. It seems that her heart grows with fear and some doubts. Entering the castle of a man who makes you swoon is quite dangerous. But when she is encouraged, she takes a step inside. And then she suddenly runs. Inesse runs toward the table, “Oooooooh!!! What is this?!!!!” Her hands run over papers.

Her reaction takes Adrien a little by surprise. The impulsive quality of it, the rush, the easily impressed enthusiasm of a very young lady. The courtesan sets down the candle in its holder, placing it onto a side table, before he turns to join Inesse where she stands before what appears to be a writing desk of sorts. “Some of my poems,” he admits with a soft smile, a glint of something there in his eyes. “Please… If you like to have a look at them, feel free.” He places his hand on her back, letting it rest there for a moment, before he steps away again. “Are you still thirsty? Do you wish for another sip of wine, my Inesse?” Apparently, Adrien is in need of wine, but then, why is there that flush on his cheeks and that warm expression as he glances over his shoulder to admire the raw innocence of Inesse de Baphinol. “You are beautiful,” he cannot help but observe. “More beautiful than any of those stars above…”

“Your poems? Can I? Can I really glance at them? I heard some artists say that it is a very bad luck to allow someone else to take a look at an unfinished work. I was told that you steal the soul of a poem or a painting if you do so! I do not want to steal from you. No no no!” She protest and closes her eyes. The young lady turns around and leans against the table that all writings would be behind her back.

“I could take a sip of wine, yes. You are very kind.” She smiles and watches Adrien move before she remembers. She remembers that she came here to look at the stars. Her eyes find the window and she stares at the nightly sky. She almost released a dreamy sigh but then she chokes on that sigh and coughs instead. The sudden compliment makes a young and shy lady choke on a simple thin air. And so Inesse immediately turns around hiding her blushing cheeks. “You are so charming…” She mumbles under her breath. “And you are the most handsome man I have ever seen! You are even more handsome than lord Eneas and I did not think that someone can be more handsome than him. But you are.”

“I entrust my poems to you, as I would entrust to you my heart and my soul,” the Heliotrope courtesan responds, and yet, seeing her turn her back onto his work brings forth a glitter in his deep blue eyes. “Wine then…”, he agrees, and after pouring her a glass, he hands it to Inesse. Not faltering, even as she turns away from him when he pays her that compliment. Lifting his own glass to his lips, his gaze is turned towards the window as well, and Adrien stares out at the night sky, admiring the glinting stars with a certain sort of awe. “The stars are beautiful, but so are you. Why should I deny this truth?” A low chuckle then. “I am a member of the Court of Night Blooming Flowers - We are supposed to be beautiful, or we wouldn’t draw anyone in, would we? This Lord Eneas… is he the one that holds your heart?” Casually almost, his vacant arm snakes about her waist, holding her, steadying Inesse, with himself merely a reassuring presence behind her.

Lady Inesse takes a sip of offered wine and then bursts in laugh. “Oh, by the angels, no no no!” She shakes her head and focuses amused gaze at Adrien. “He definitely does not hold me heart. He was the most handsome man I have ever seen before I met you. But then he also was super old. I think he has seen about forty summers!” She chases down another laugh with a sweet sip of wine. “He could almost be me father! If I would be older, maybe he could hold me heart. Now I wish to give my heart to you because you are just perfect!!! I guess…” Her smile starts to fade slowly and Inesse looks down to the goblet in her hands. “You have been trained well to complement your patrons and tell them exactly what they want to hear…”

“Oh… that…” Adrien smiles, and he lowers his gaze, maybe following Inesse’s glance down to her goblet. “It is not my training, that makes me say these things to you. Perhaps, there has been training to… gauge whether I can develop feelings for someone after only such a short time spent together. My words to you, are the way I feel… the way I am, Inesse. Were I forty years old, would that fact keep you from loving me?” His hand brushes lightly over her midriff, “Would it keep you from staying here, just to revel a bit longer in my company? And to allow me to indulge in yours?” His face turns, chin lowering, to bury his features in her dark hair. “Were it Longest Night, I would wear a mask, and you would as well. And yet, the masks wouldn’t change a thing about how we feel about each other. Of course…” His tone becomes less muffled now that he lifts his face from her dark tresses. “It would add a tingle of excitement — of adventure to it all. It is why I feel tempted to give you the one token that the Dowayne has handed to me… to pass it on to whoever I feel is fully deserving of it — in truest Heliotrope sense.”

And there, his arm loosens its hold about her, as if Adrien nó Heliotrope suddenly feared to overwhelm her with his thoughts. “The token would grant you access to the Ball at Cereus House. You would find me there, of course. But you wouldn’t be bound to me. You could go and explore on your own… or allow me to show you the splendour of the House of frailty. And we could explore together and get drunk on joie and each other…”

“I would. I would. I would. I would fall in love with you even if you would be old,” Lady Inesse whispers almost simultaneously. “I would love you with a mask or without it. I would fall in love with you even if you say no words… When… when I entered the room and still did not know you, I felt a slight tremble in my feet just because my presence felt yours. I still didn’t know but now I realize! It was you! It’s almost like…” She sighs. “I talk too sweet.”

The young lady’s eyes grow wide when Adrien speaks of his decision. While he withdraws from her, Baphinol lady gathers her bravery up and leans in, embracing the courtesan if he allows. “I want to be bound to you. I do! You honor me!”

“Oh… my sweet Inesse…”, Adrien chuckles softly as he hears her whispered confessions. Even so, her words do not fail to move him. “So you have felt it as well,” he adds then, smiling down at her, once she sighs. “You are good at sweet talk! Did you know? It is what happens when you allow a thought to slip from your lips in the moment it passes your mind. Let your heart speak. Your sweet talk…” And now it is he that sighs, accepting the embrace she so readily offers, “it moves me, touches me deep within.” His smile grows into a slightly more pronounced curve. “It makes those butterflies fly even faster.” His arms wrap around the petite Baphinol lady, and he holds her close. “So it shall be then. I will give you my token, so that you can show it at the entrance of Cereus House. I will find you there, I will certainly recognize you among all those flowers of Mont Nuit.”

Straightening will grant a bit more space between them, and Adrien reaches towards the collar of his shirt, fingers dipping into it to retrieve a silver chain he wears around his neck. The piece of jewelry is made of silver, and it glints faintly in the light of the oil lamps. Clasping one end of it between his fingers, the other dangles from his hand, revealing a filigree pendant of silver, finest goldsmith work that is shaped to resemble a Heliotrope flower. Holding it out to Inesse, Adrien seeks her gaze with his own. “Here. Accept this token from my hand, sweet Inesse. You may take it along, come the morning.”

The young Baphinol lady takes the offered pendant into her palm and wraps her fingers around it quite tightly. Looking up at the man she whispers, “It’s my honor. Really.” Then she puts that pendant on her neck and once it is dangling over her chest, Inesse gently touches the flower. “It’s magnificent!” She admits.

Then she grabs Adrien by the hands and tucks him gently toward the bed. “Come, come! Let's sit down and talk. Let me to get to know you better!” She beams broadly at Adrien and tucks him once more. “I want to learn everything about your past, present and future!”

“Will you stay with me?”, Adrien asks the young lady, watching with warm amusement how she accepts his gift. “It looks lovely on you.” He is pulled over towards the bed, and he follows along obediently. “Wait, not so fast… We have all of the night ahead of us. Have you ever signed a contract before?” The question comes in the moment it crosses his mind. “My Marque is finished,” the courtesan explains. “I am doing my own contracts, but… as we are already honoring Naamah according to the canon of this House… let us do this, to please the Dowayne.”

His hands let go of hers, should Inesse elect to sit down on the bed. Adrien, meanwhile will walk over towards the table where his poems lie scattered about. “A contract for company of the courtesan Adrien nó Heliotrope for an evening and the night.”, he begins to drawl, putting the words down on a piece of paper. “The assignation is to last until noon of the following day.” Looking up, he seeks her gaze for approval. “The tithe has been paid.” Again, he looks towards her with a faint smirk. “Any special conditions, that you wish me to lay down here in the contract?”, he wonders lightly.

Lady Inesse does take a seat on the end of the bed. She lets go of Adrien and simply sits there swaying her legs and twirling the pendant between her fingers. Though when she is asked if she ever made a contract, Inesse chuckles and looks down to her lap. “I did, yes. Once. Mister lord Laurentin was very nice. He spoke to me half of a night about dreams and he kept my dreams safe for the other half of the night.”

She sighs and then finds Adrien again. She nods twice agreeing with both statements. The young lady shrugs on the last part. “I do not know. What kind of special conditions should be mentioned?”

“Ah. Yes. I see.” Adrien nods when Inesse mentions Laurentin, “You already spoke of him. It must have felt good to have someone look after you in your dreams. Reassuring. Do you dream much? Not that I would know much about dreams, in general…” The Heliotrope finalizes the contract, when Inesse seems to be unsure about special conditions to add in there. “Anything you’d like to have in there. For instance, you could have a clause in there about good conversations to be had. Not that such is needed. I shall leave this part out then, and go with the standard.” He moves to stand and then shows the contract to the young Baphinol lady. “A night of company shared with Adrien nó Heliotrope,” he sums it up, allowing her then some time to read through the parchment, before he points out a spot where a signature is expected.

“I trust you. You can leave a signature here before you leave, you don’t have to do it right now. You don’t need to.”, Adrien tells her in a tone in his voice, a faint urgency. “We can turn to speak of other things.”

“I do not dream much. Most of my dreams are quite joyful. Usually I see myself in a blooming field and I ran around, and sing, and play with animals!” Inesse laughs while the man is finishing up the contract. But her expression is quick to get serious. “But sometimes I have very dark dreams where I see people I care about being torn to pieces by wild animals. Sometimes I see myself with broken arms or how I become blind!” The young lady hugs herself protectively and shivers. “Terrible. So, I often ask angels for good dreams before I fall asleep!”

But she is very quick to cheer up again when the contract ends up in her hands. “I trust you, Adrien. Let me sign it!” If he gives her a pencil, Inesse will sign without reading it. “Let's finish with it and talk more about you, as I asked!”

“Very well.” Adrien seems to be pleased that she wishes to get done with the formalities, and despite what he had said earlier, it is good to have it out of the way. He dips the quill into the inkwell and hands it to her, so that she can add her signature, and then takes both quill and parchments from her hands to put them down onto the sidetable. Only when he returns to her side, settling comfortably beside her on the bed, does he comment on the things she said about her dreams.

“I believe, everyone has dark dreams like those you mention, now and then. It is perhaps natural to worry about the future, and during the day, we often care little to think about it overly much.”, Adrien tells her, his hand instinctively reaching for hers, to have their fingers lace once again. “As for… me. What do you wish to know?”

She wraps her fingers around his and looks up at him smiling. “Well… I was hoping to learn more about your past. Like, what child you were? What are your happiest memories, what are the craziest things you have done and etc. To be honest, anything what you would like to share will be fun for me to hear!”

Adrien’s mien turns a bit pensive at the request, and yet, his fingers maintain contact with those of Inesse. “I can’t tell really, what sort of child I was. I think I was happy. Intensely happy. I remember… the gardens of the estate in Namarre. They had nice flower beds, and I… loved to play there, hiding behind the bushes. Playing hide-and-seek with… a boy called Philippe. A son of the Baron de Corancy. That is…” His brows furrow slightly, “The only memory I have. The only happy memory. I was presented to the Dowaynes of the Night Court when I was six. House Heliotrope is where I found my new family. I doubt I ever did anything crazy, however. But maybe…”

<FS3> Adrien rolls Reaction: Success. (4 5 3 8)
<FS3> Adrien rolls Composure: Success. (4 3 8 6 6 1 1)

“Maybe I committed a folly at some point.” His smile dims. “But this is not an entertaining story, I fear.”

Lady Inesse tightens her grasp around Adrien’s hand and then raises it up to her lips. Her soft plush red lips gently brush against the man’s hand when she places a chaste peck on top of it. “I am so sorry to hear it.” She whispers and then guide’s courtesan’s hand to press it to her own chest where her heartbeat can be felt. She places her other hand on top of his as well. Her dark eyes look up at the man. “I am sorry that you have so many neutral memories or sad ones and only one memory which can be called entertaining… but I promise if you will stay with me from right this moment till the end… we will make thousands of entertaining and happy memories for you that you could tell to your future children!” She beams broadly and then lowers Adrien’s hand to her lap, where she gently pets it.

“It is not something to feel sorry about,” Adrien replies to her gently. “You asked about my childhood, and there it is. After that, I have found fulfillment here on Mont Nuit.” His hand moves willingly where she guides it, and for a moment, the Heliotrope closes his eyes. “I can feel your heart beating in there,” he murmurs. “Such a kind heart,” his eyes open again, meeting her gaze, “and you are with me right now.” Eyelids move in a slow blink as he leans in to her, hesitating perhaps for a brief second. Before that last distance is breached and Adrien presses his lips lightly to those of Inesse, silencing her optimistic musings in the most romantic way there is.

Inesse freezes. Freezes even her heart in her chest. She holds her breath. Her fingers stop drumming on the man’s hands. A moment of absolute stillness is quickly replaced by a tremble and then the young woman finds herself wrapping her arms around Adrien. She breaks the kiss quite quickly but nuzzles her nose to his and leans her forehead against his whispering. “This. Is. Magical.” Her arms rest on his shoulders. Her breathing now quick and quite excited. “You. Are. Magical.”

As if time stood still for a moment. That brief brush of lips creates a faintly electrical tingle, causes Adrien to wrap his arms around Inesse and pull her closer against him, leaving enough space there for her to break the kiss and to rest their foreheads against the other. “I am merely reacting to your magic,” he murmurs. “You are the key that needs to be turned to unlock my heart.” There is no move from his side to reclaim her lips, not yet. When Adrien seems content to revel in holding her close, to sense her breathing through the minimal motions of her frame.

Lady Inesse shifts slightly withdrawing her forehead away and pressing her cheek to Adrien’s instead. “I… Could you kiss me again?..” She whispers a quiet and trembling request to his ear. “It’s something… You are my first kiss.” She chuckles and shyly lowers her look down. Her hand brushes across the man’s arm until her fingers reach his and she entangles them.

“If that is your wish…?” Adrien smiles as he leans in, his voice a likewise whisper that drifts against Inesse’s lips. “Did you enjoy that kiss?” The question remains rhetorical, when the Heliotrope, offers his own admission. “I did.” Eyelids flutter, and then close in the moment he claims that second kiss she requested, gentle and chaste, a soft touching of his lips against hers.

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