(1311-01-05) I Was Just Thinking
Summary: The thoughtful, careful, responsible laying of plans for the future, by the doyennes of Orchis House.
RL Date: 23/01/2019
Related: I Know Those Eyes.
leda genevieve 

Orchis House — Mont Nuit

Giggles and merry chatter can often be heard in the halls of Orchis House, and this impression is certainly enhanced by the interior of its salon. Colorful cushions with expressive patterns add to the comfort of seating, chairs and couches, the armrests of which have been carved with masks and laughing faces. High windows give the room a brightness during the day, while on evenings and nights there are lamps at the walls, each lampshade painted a different color, that add to a certain wild and festive atmosphere.

The floor sports parquetry of polished oak timber, but in fact, most of it is hidden beneath a variety of plush carpets that are scattered all through the salon. At the far sides of the hall, facing each other are two generously cushioned swings suspended from the ceiling, each offering space enough for three. It is not a rare thing for visitors to try them out, in the merry company of an Orchis or two.

There are several utensils lined up in shelves at the walls - some are even stowed away in bright colored chests - to provide diversion and amusement, such as animal masks, odd looking garments, small puppets and children's games. It all adds to a lightness and agility of mind, where harmless fun can easily shift into wry humor, and bawdy ambiguities can swiftly become part of intellectually challenging satire.

Late afternoon, a winter’s dusk: and in Mont Nuit's house of good clean fun (or perfectly filthy fun, if that’s your pleasure, no judgment here), whilst squeals of laughter and boisterous music ring out below (somebody has just started a conga line through the downstairs chambers), Leda Lavecq is sitting cross-legged upon an erstwhile colleague's bed, lacquering her toenails.

Considering it's the same red as her fingernails this will no doubt have dire consequences for Geneviève's sheets, but surely no worse than they have endured before. The servants at Orchis House are as adroit in dealing with new and bewildering stains on the bedding, as those at Valerian House are accustomed to soothing and healing broken spirits and bodies alike. That's what the servants of the Thirteen Houses are for, isn't it—? They have their own dynasties, their own trade secrets. Anyway the pads of cotton (borrowed) separating her toes may aid in mitigating the danger. Oh, but wait! She's also got a glass of red wine. Something, somewhere in this room, is going to end up as red as her satin dress or redder. It's only a question of waiting to see what.

"… I was just thinking," she ventures to her hostess, deep in thought and earnest with it, colouring the nail of her littlest toe with that tiny brush which is yet almost too big to address it, "what a funny sort of thing cheese really is. I mean, where do you think it came from, to begin with? Did somebody an awfully long time ago just leave some milk in a box or something," you know, whatever milk lives in, "and then— just forget about it?"

She looks up at Geneviève and wrinkles her nose, and then gives a little nod as though, yes, she can imagine how it might slip a person's mind.

For all the world like the stereotypical adolescent girl, Geneviève has draped herself across the doomed bed, face-up. "You were just thinking?" she drawls sardonically, half-smirking.

She flips herself onto her stomach, allowing her bare (and matchingly lacquered) feet to dangle, while she considers the question. "I think," she says at length, resting her head on her arm to better regard Leda, "that you're precisely right. Though I don't imagine how! How, now, that cow… the fruit of her labours so disdained." The coquettish grin that's kept her in business well past the typically agreed upon prime of her life pulls at the corners of her lips. "You certainly can't disagree with the product, though."

She stretches her arms in front of her in feline fashion, fingers (also painted red, and slightly smudged) splayed. "And what cheese did you partake of, in this ghastly weather, that's inspired such musing?" she ventures, resting her ankles on her derrière.

“Oh, just the goat cheeses they’ve got at the Plume at the moment,” says Leda airily — everybody who knows her knows that La Plume de Paon is her home away from home, most especially when she’s between cooks; “I ran into a boy I know when I was there the other day and he was very sweet, he’d ordered them to try but even though they were quite small already because there were so many on the plate he cut them all in half so I could try them too and tell him about them and, do you know, there were one or two varieties I hadn’t had in ages.”

She takes a healthy gulp from the glass of wine in her off hand and puts it down on Geneviève’s bedside table, just for the moment: it’s never quite out of her sight, bless it. In lieu of it she picks up the open pot of red lacquer. Then she stretches out her finished foot till it hangs just over the edge of the bed and fishes out her untouched foot from beneath herself, hitching up handfuls of skirts and petticoats out of the way of the limb in question. She’s not shy, is Leda Lavecq: as the trail of shoes and stockings and gloves she left across Geneviève’s floor, mutely testify.

“Anyway I think it a most fortuitous accident,” she goes on, dipping the brush again into the pot and bending studiously over her toes; “really, think of all the pleasures that would be lost to civilisation if everybody went about recollecting every little detail.”

And, as anyone who knows Leda knows, she's more often than not between maids. "A good way of reducing your tab," Geneviève observes with a hearty laugh. "Ever since the Aiglemorts… do you ever tire of fleecing the gentlemen? Truly, Leda, Bryony doesn't know what they missed." In all likelihood they do, and thank Elua for selling her marque while they could.

She slithers from the bed, somehow landing on her feet, and requisitions the wine glass from the nightstand for her own usage. "Ages… You mean last week?" she inquires sweetly as swirls the drink between sips, leaning her hip against the bed.

Wide green eyes dart swiftly up to Geneviève’s face. “I never fleeced anybody in my life!” exclaims Leda: injured, indignant, lifting her hand likewise so fast that a couple of droplets of lacquer flick from brush to sheets, redder than blood. She makes a moue at her old friend and sometimes-protégée. “But can I help it if people do sometimes like to give me nice things? I didn’t ask for any cheese, you know,” she insists, “he offered it me.” Cheeses, gowns, rubies, a smart townhouse in the fashionable quarter, their own ardent bodies… Oh, yes, something about Leda does bring out the philanthropist in many gentlemen.

She’s generous herself, too, with her forgiveness as well as (notoriously) her company. “Anyway I suppose I know what you meant,” she concedes in less plangent tones, unruffling her own feathers; “darling, how long does this stuff take to harden? It’s not the same kind of bottle as mine so I shouldn’t think it’s the same mixture either.”

She hasn’t finished her second foot and already she’s impatient to be up and about — or perhaps she just believes, according to some deep-seated principle of her own, that anything inclined to grow hard ought to do so expeditiously.

“When it is dry,” she adds, wiggling her toes to see whether that might help them along, “shall we go to Marsilikos—?”

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