(1310-12-23) The Same Boat
Summary: Chimène offers congratulations to Drake upon his many happy events — and more to come…
RL Date: 03/02/2019
Related: A New Duty, Elua: Midwinter Ball, Evening Plans and Stinky Cheese.
chimene drake 

Rousse Residence — City of Elua

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

The midwinter ball at the royal palace finds Chimène Rousse de la Courcel glittering as ever, in blue and green and golden silks and a peacock mask unconsciously echoing those worn by her former Dahlia brethren across the city at the Night Court's own fête; she hardly dances, no matter who might plead for such a favour, but spends that evening and much of the next morning renewing ties with her royal kin and all the most intriguingly influential of their visitors. She hears all the news, assuredly: all that she didn't already know, all that she hadn't already gathered an inkling of. She knows everybody who's anybody, she listens with ears trained on Mont Nuit and further perfected during her years as a duchesse-in-waiting — she speaks gently here and wittily there, she leaves every interlocutor wishing she'd lingered longer — she furthers Rousse interests far more ably than her gruff father-in-law or her shy husband, neither of whom like parties or show to half such advantage therein.

With the dawn light in the sky she permits the palace servants to wrap her up in layers of sables and tuck her into her elegantly emblazoned carriage.

At home, at the Rousse house in Elua, that cavernous and old-fashioned dwelling capable of housing umpteen relations without obliging them to rub up against one another too gratingly, she dives between the fresh hemstitched linen sheets put on the great canopied ducal bed in her absence; and she's neither seen nor heard from, by the household in general, until late in the afternoon on the 23rd when, having picked at her breakfast and pushed it away, she sends a lackey in search of Drake Rousse. It will simply have to be faced, that's all.

The ducal suite is to be found at the end of a long suite of formal reception rooms, in the old style. They are not all well-lit. Drake finds her in the farthest salon, dressed in plain dark blue wool the exquisiteness of which could only be apparent to a tutored eye. Her hair is running loose down her back in loose brown waves; her forehead is very high and very white, as his footsteps come near enough to make recognition convenient and she turns from a half-curtained window to regard him. The fingers of one long-fingered white hand remain twined in velvet draperies. She smiles, softly.

"Why, it's the luckiest young man in Terre d'Ange," she teases, in her usual airy soprano; "Drake, might I offer you my most sincere congratulations?" And her large hazel eyes do indeed seem sincere in their tranquility.

Drake hasn't done all that much since the ball - mostly just trying to digest all that happened with the help of some good wine. He left the fluttering to his sister Jelene, now preparing for a long journey to Bodisthan as a future princess. He hasn't seen anything of his new fiancee either. She's presumably busy writing letters home. When the call from Chimene comes, not quite unexpectedly, he makes an effort to wash, shave and dress properly before making his way to her apartments. Noting the finer state of them compared to the digs the siblings from Draguignan were assigned to. He steps in and offers a bow to the lady he considers an aunty of sort. "Lady Chimene, you called for me?", he notes and smiles faintly at her words. "Thank you, I consider myself a very lucky young man indeed."

… Well, yes, the state apartments of the ducs de Roussillion are rather fine — even if, criminally, they haven't been redecorated in two generations.

(Upon her marriage Chimène was full of ideas, germinating since her first visit to the house; her father-in-law put a swift stop to any such extravagant nonsense. What was good enough for his grandpapa is good enough for him. Thus she is biding her time till he topples off his perch. Not that she's going to alter everything: the boiseries in the green drawing-room are, as she is wont to say to visitors, particularly fine.)

The future duchesse releases the draperies (a subtle unclenching) and comes forward with a soft sigh of plain woolen skirts. "One hardly knows," she breathes, "where to begin. Your lovely fiancée, perhaps? You must bring her to see me," she says, very solemnly, extending her lavishly bejeweled paw toward her newly-elevated young relation at the end of an arm so long it scarcely seems plausible or real.

She would probably have seen Drake and Rajiya together, but not really spoken to the lady. So Drake nods easily and smiles. "Oh of course. It's all rather fresh still, but once we are returned to Marsilikos, we shall have a large party to celebrate both my elevation and my engagement. But perhaps there'll be time for her to meet you before we depart. She's rather busy at the moment, writing letters home to Bodhistan and to her D'Angeline relatives.", he explains eagerly and smiles. The paw is extended and taken for a half-hearted air-kiss. "Did you enjoy the ball, Mylady?", he then asks, "It was all rather amazing, wasn't it?"

It's a big house, yes, and Chimène has spent her time in Elua either occupied with intimate friends or fast asleep or downright hungover: indeed, she has glimpsed Rajiya, avoided her consciously till court gossip suggested the Bhodistani envoy had finally prevented her credentials and, thereafter, just happened not to meet her, as the winter social season grew more and more frenetic in the days leading up to the Longest Night… Chimène's manicured fingertips barely touch Drake's, and his lips never quite come near; and then the formal touch is withdrawn and the lady ushers her visitor to the circle of chairs and sofas radiating from the great pale marble fireplace.

"Oh, it was no worse than usual," she murmurs as they sit, "except perhaps for Quintien de Morhban: he must have had the fright of his life… Do help yourself, my dear; let's not stand on ceremony," she suggests winsomely, indicating with a delicate gesture the wine, the cognac, the small savoury bits and pieces, all laid out with casual elegance upon a low table in between Chimène's usual chaise, where she curls up, and the choice of chairs to which she has pointed Drake. She leans an arm upon the back of the chaise, and looks into her young cousin's eyes and sighs, "In fact my papa-in-law asked me specially to lend my advice and my ear to your intended: but if she's so busy I should hardly like to intrude. I'm sure by now she has many friends of her own — and your support, of course." And Chimène smiles dazzlingly, former courtesan that she is.

"Oh she's very eager to meet my family.", Drake assures her, once he's sat down and helped himself to a cup of wine, "She didn't know until two days ago of course, that our dreams would come true… in fact neither of us had dared to hope until Jelene formally announced her engagement and wish to pass the title on to me. And even then we still needed the official approval of the king and queen, both for me to gain the title and for Rajiya to be allowed to marry me. It's all rather overwhelming still.", he admits with the happy smile of the truly besotted. "She is amazing, isn't she?"

"… Well, I hardly know, do I?" Chimène murmurs charmingly, lowering her eyes. "I know of course that she is very beautiful, and that she must be very brave." She lifts her own glass toward Drake, in salute to his absent love; then, changing tack: "Tell me, how is it you were able to arrange it all so quickly? Even with Jelene stepping down as she did? My papa," she has casually dropped the 'in-law', "is so impatient with details, you know, save for the nautical. How to rig out a sloop — that, now, he'll discuss for hours, but how to rig out a betrothal—?" She giggles airily, as though the sound of such seamanlike terms upon her own lips amuses her no end. Her seasickness is legendary amongst even the cadet branches of House Rousse. "It seemed to me that it must surely take such a time for letters to get back and forth to Bhodistan — how can your young lady be betrothed so soon?" she inquires ingenuously.

Drake shrugs rather elaborately. "Love can make anything happen.", he declares then, "She loves me, I love her… strike while the iron's hot, as the expression goes, right? I'd never find someone like her again - a princess! And well, of course letters are still making their way to Bhodistan, but when she had been sent here as an ambassador, clearly it was with an eye to finding a titled husband as well. She -is- half D'Angeline after all, her mother was a Somerville. And her family trusted the king and queen to find her a husband that met their approval and luckily I did. So…" He shrugs again and grins brightly. "It all worked out?!" He lifts his wine cup in response to her toast and takes a big sip.

Another, fainter murmur from Chimène: "Extraordinary…"

She raises her glass, this time only to sip from it. Then, "I shall never understand these foreign customs — but, my dear, you have secured to House Rousse a valuable trade connexion, and that must surely delight us all, mustn't it?" A quick bat of her eyelashes. "That is, I suppose— your young lady did have authority to negotiate her own marriage settlement? Oh," she sighs, leaning forward distractedly and restoring her glass to the table, "you'll pardon me, I do hope, for speaking so bluntly — but as a mother, you know, I'm passionately concerned with the fortunes of every branch of House Rousse."

And this future duchesse, whose daughter shall hold that title in her own right, beams angelically at the new-minted vicomte. "I'm certain the arrangements must be all that can be desired," she says firmly, "and that the two of you shall continue to surmount every obstacle and to redeem our trust."

"She did, pending final approval by the king and queen, which she received.", Drake replies, a little stiffly, picking up on the tone. "I don't think there are any obstacles left in our path…" A pointed arch of one eyebrow. "Or are there, Mylady?" He pauses for a moment to look at her thoughtfully, "Please tell me you're not among those who deem a foreign princess, foreign blood, unworthy of our bloodline?"

"… Why, how could a Somerville be unworthy to wed a Rousse?" Chimène suggests guilelessly, and with another graceful gesture of a hand bedecked with some of the finest Rousse sapphires and diamonds she reclaims her glass and raises it to her lips. She takes a deep mouthful, studying Drake across the vessel's rim, then puts it down and folds her hands placidly in her lap once more.

"Of course I'm sure Their Majesties acted with everyone's best interests at heart," she goes on, Courcel to her very backbone — though it be languidly inclined at present, rather than ramrod-straight, "and that the people of Draguignan will come to appreciate their wisdom in time. I can only think these changes will come as a surprise to them," she smiles faintly, pawning off the distrust and the suspicion upon the helpless peasants, "but I think all our people in Eisande know that a Rousse hand on the tiller will always be a steady hand: responsible, far-seeing, balanced and kind."

Drake narrows his eyes slightly at the woman's speech - detecting the not so subtle hint of passive-aggressiveness. "You think the people will not like her?", he asks bluntly, "Do YOU have a problem with her ancestry? Perhaps you should meet her first. You will see - as will the people of Draguignan, that there couldn't have been a finer woman to choose in all of Terre d'Ange!"

<FS3> Chimene rolls Composure: Great Success. (8 7 2 8 8 1 4 6 1 6 2 1)

Chimène lowers her Dahlia-dignified gaze from this onslaught of honest passion, as though with the thought of sparing Drake's blushes when he regains his senses and recalls what he has said to her and how frankly. With her eyes upon those long-fingered white hands clasped dormant in her lap, her voice grows airier, more distant, but also gentler. "My dear Drake, I am hardly your opponent," she insists. "I do worry for your marriage, for all the challenges that can't be imagined just yet — every marriage faces a few of those, you know, and yours perhaps one or two more than most." She looks up again with cool and unabashed hazel eyes, and essays a faint, encouraging smile. "But in matrimonial matters we must all trust in the wisdom of our elders, don't you think…? Bring your young lady to see me," she urges, "and I'm sure I shall worry no more."

It takes all of Drake's willpower to not roll his eyes. "I put my trust in the power of love.", he declares firmly and juts his chin out for a bit. "But of course, once you will meet her, you will understand why there couldn't have been a better choice. If people disapprove of her foreign blood, why, it will only serve to form a stronger bond between us." He sets the empty wine cup down with a rather firm clang and straightens as if indicating that he wishes to leave, unless she keeps him longer.

"… Well," breathes Chimène from her position of studied placidity upon the chaise, "love and marriage are two different quantities, my dear, though how heavenly it is when they coincide. In your case I'm sure they'll go on as they've begun," she pronounces, more bracingly.

"You have my congratulations, truly," and, complicit in the end of their interview, she offers him her hand once more, slowly enough that she has plenty of time in which to add: "I know you have a fine steward at Draguignan; but if you require any aid, any advice, as you settle into your duties, my husband and I do hope you'll rely upon us. We are all," a demure smile, "rowing in the same boat, especially now, aren't we—?"

"My sister is still passing on all the information needed to be a proper lord of Draguignan.", Drake points out stiffly, "But given that she lived in Marsilikos, I trust there -are- capable stewards back home. Thank you for your offer all the same, Mylady." He takes the hand for another half-hearted air kiss, then gets to his feet to offer a bow. "I shall make sure you will meet the Lady Rajiya soon enough. Good day, Mylady." Another bow and he's off.

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