(1311-02-12) Un Diner pour Deux
Summary: The dinner which Balian had invited Desarae to, commences.
RL Date: Tue Feb 12, 1311
Related: Diamonds for Dinner
desarae balian 

Solar - Ducal Palace - Marsilikos

Spacious enough to provide a meeting place of more familiar atmosphere to the residents of the Ducal Palace, the solar is of rectangular shape and generously lit during the day through a number of arched windows in the south wall. The opposite side is governed by a huge stone hearth, a fire crackling there during colder weather conditions. Above the hearth hangs a shield with the coat of arms of House Mereliot, flanked by a pair of exquisitely woven tapestries depicting naval scenes of ships on the sea, one in calm and tranquil weather conditions, the other one in a storm with heavy rain.

All furniture is made of oak, be it the long table in the middle of the room, or the number of high backed chairs arranged about it, flat cushions of blue brocade adding to the comfort of seating. The ceiling is a sophisticated rib vault, constructed of wood, the ribs painted in yellow. Depictions of a variety of sea animals have been added onto the light blue ceiling as well by an unknown artist. Several kinds of mediterranean fish adorn the spaces in between ribs, such as combers, groupers and flounders but also starfish and octopusses.%r%rA door leads out onto a rooftop garden, and an archway opens into the upper hallway.

The dinner was planned with members of the Estate and held in the Solar. He had to bribe his way into the palace, of course; that's how most of these things go. But Balian will be greeting Desarae with a full course dinner, certainly worth of a small feast for two. He's standing while he waits for her arrival, straight as an arrow and with squared shoulders. Unlike the past appearance, he wears no armor today; merely garb meant for the high courts of somewhere — but it has that strangely foreign cast to the tailoring.

Desarae is neither too late nor too early to the dinner, appearing in the solar at the time that had been agreed upon in correspondence between herself and the Ferraut lord. She wears for their dinner a deep mulberry silk brocade gown, the bodice of which is exquisitely defined with gleaming gold and onyx beads, whilst the long-sleeved cuffs drip with finely-worked Aragonian black lace. The colours of her ensemble are a nod towards her Morhban blood, as is the manner in which she's chosen to wear her hair this evening; it being caught sleekly back from her face with polished ebony combs so it hangs down to her waist without a hint of kink or a curl to detract from its sheen. The look might be severe upon someone other than herself, but she wears it well as she moves across the floor of the solar to greet and welcome Balian to what is, after all, her own place of residence. Her Cassiline, Nicolas, follows close behind, a looming over her shoulder that only steps aside once his ward extends her right hand for Balian to take. "I'll admit," she says in subdued tones that fit well with her look, "you did stir my curiosity by inviting me to dinner here, of all places."

"A little bit of liberties taken here, some bribery there. There's no finer place in Marsilikos to dine at," Balian states, pulling a chair back for Desarae as he studies the Mereliot with a slow once-over, drinking in the sight of her and then bowing his head when he takes her hand with his own, bringing his lips to her knuckles; then biting softly at one and looking up at her reaction to this. "My Lady," he greets in a lower tone, straightening as the servants start to serve the first course of the evening. "Have a seat." His chair is very conveniently set beside hers.

Desarae's intake of breath at Balian's bite is sharp. She pulls her hand quickly away and there's a tightness to her voice when next she speaks. Her chin lifts, and the green of her eyes burns bright when they meet with his. "It's not only terribly forward, my lord, but extremely presumptuous, some might say, to bite someone when you're barely acquainted." She might well be a full foot shorter than he, but her presence and bearing is that of someone who's unafraid to take her place amongst her peers, and she gathers her skirts deftly as she turns to find her place at the table. Fortunate it is indeed that Balian has already drawn a chair for her, and she settles herself upon it whilst eyeing the one that's set alongside. It's a little too close. A meaningful glance is given a servant, and she addresses him quietly. "I'd like that chair moved opposite to mine, if you would." She indicates the chair in question, then turns to Balian, any apology absent in her voice. "I find it so much easier to converse across a table, don't you? It's infinitely preferable to waking with a crick in the neck after hours of conversing across one's shoulder."

"Mm." Balian considers her response, meeting the brightness of her gaze but there's no apology in his for the bite or its presumptuousness thereof. Instead, he nods as he watches a servant move his chair so that it is opposite hers, rather than beside. "Bring the box," the noble declares to the serving staff, who put down a small jewelry box in front of Desarae, before all else. The Ferraut settles down, afterwards, reaching for the silverware to signal that they might commence their dinner; the entry is a light soup. Hearty, certainly. But he eats slowly, observing the Mereliot for a longer moment, instead. "I think you'll like the gift," he says, mildly enough, as he reaches for the first spoonful.

"More gifts?" Desarae looks at the box that's set before her, her eyes shadowed by lashes that lower. There's a moment of silence that follows, and her chest rises and falls with a breath that's drawn. "My lord seems intent upon spoiling me, but there's a question that I have to ask myself, and that is: why?" She reaches for her own expensively wrought spoon of silver and dips it idly into her soup, Balian's gift is left untouched for a moment as she carefully considers the man. The ghost of a smile. "You only think I might like it, my lord? Do you not know? Alas, perhaps it isn't diamonds, for I have already told you that I adore those. Now I have to wonder what it might possibly contain." Her chin dips towards her chest, enough that she can blow a cooling breath across the bowl of soup now laid before her, and she teases a curl of steam upwards from its surface and allows it to dissipate before she brings a taste of it towards her lips within her spoon.

"Why don't you open it?" Balian asks, keeping his counsel on the second question for the time being. He tastes the soup, himself, before nodding in thanks as they are poured some Eisandine wine. He has a sip from his, and has another spoonful of his soup while observing Desarae, smiling faintly. "I think I did tell you I want only the best. There's no reason not to show the very best my esteem, is there? And I think you will find the gift thoughtful. There's a… hm, catch to its craftsmanship. But you'll have to put it on to find out." He drinks in the sight of her, the form of her body, her face, the pretty green eyes… and falls silent. Waiting for her to fulfill his request.

Desarae sets down her spoon and picks up her napkin. Slim fingers are meticulously wiped before she reaches for the jewellery box. Ribbons are pulled — if ribbons there are — and her face gives nothing away as she lifts the lid and looks upon the now revealed contents.

Ribbons, sure. And when the box opens, she can see it's a white gold and diamond ring; if she puts it on, she'll find something scraping lightly on the inside of the band against the underside of her finger. He'll reach out, in that case, and squeeze her hand, pushing a diamond that's been embedded on the inside against her digit, with just a little sharp pressure applied there, hardening until it is just shy of breaking skin. Balian meets her gaze once again as he squeezes just a little harder, and then lets go of her hand, eating his soup.

There's an absence of flinches when Balian squeezes Desarae's fingers, the girl having been trained ten years in the Valerian canon, though if he's watching her closely he'll see a hint of something dark and dangerous that shifts beneath the surface of her expression. "It's lovely," she says of the ring on reclaiming her hand from his, "But then diamonds do so tend to be, don't you think? A little impractical for everyday wear, however, since it'd be difficult to use my hand with any degree of comfort." She lifts her hand and quickly licks across the back of her knuckle, a gentle wetting of that digit given to enable her to slide the ring free of the digit. She puts it back in the box and picks her spoon back up, stirring it through her soup before conveying further of it to her mouth. "You are enjoying Marsilikos, my lord? You're not tempted to venture further north and onwards to Elua?"

Balian is about as attracted to something dark and dangerous as moths are to flames, and it's probably against better counsel, or perhaps /because/ of better counsel. He watches as she lifts her hand to her mouth and licks across the knuckle, wetting the digit in that way. Canting his head to the side at that, he brings another spoonful to his mouth before replying to her question, "No, I like it here best. It is where I intend to reside, I do think. I would like to be direct on something. Forthright, even, though you already know: I wish to know you better. More closely, even. You are the very image of Naamah to me."

"How odd to hear you say that." Desarae muses on the matter of Naamah. "In my own head, She's not like me at all." She abandons her half-eaten soup, indicating with a nod to one of the servants attending them that it should be removed.

Upright and composed, she folds her hands upon her lap. "To me, Naamah is a creature of infinite gentleness and patience; both traits that I wish I were possessed of, but ultimately am not. Fortunate it is for me that we all have our own decidedly different interpretations of Her." Her hand lifts from her lap and reaches for her glass of wine, slim fingers (one reddened where marked by the ring) splaying across the foot of the glass to draw it closer. "Where in the city do you think you might stay? The Ferrauts keep a townhouse, I believe. Or there's inns with rooms if that's more to your liking."

"I might opt for an inn." Balian agrees, "Or to buy my own townhouse, though smaller and with slightly less resplendor than that of my kinsmen. Depends on who's living in said townhouse, one supposes." He's not too keen to see his cousins, considering his history. Not that he's told much of it to Desarae, yet. "I see Naamah as someone who indulges in pleasure, wherever it might be. Less so with patience, but more with determination. Drawing it out as much as she can, because there is nothing wrong with the pursuit of it."

"You might find something to your liking along the Rue du Port," Desarae suggests, brows knitting in her brow. "There's some lovely villas situated there, and if you're fortunate enough to secure one on the coastal side of the road, the view across the bay is unmatched. Not that they're as grand as property that's to be had in the noble district of the city, since they're merchant houses and the like with brightly painted woodwork and balconies that are filled with orange trees and flowers…" Her voice tails off, and a smile is offered to the servant that silently whisks their first course away to prepare for the next. Fresh silverware and napkins. Wine in their glasses. "And you're right. There's nothing wrong with the pursuit of pleasure and the honoring of Naamah. I was a novice myself in one of the salons here, though never achieved my debut."

Meat slices, of course. Pheasant, for starters. Something heavier, like boar or venison, afterward. Up to the eater's choice, really. Balian nods, allowing Desarae to make her pick, as he considers her words. "I'll look into that." He says, on the Rue du Port. He doesn't seem to have too much of a problem with such things,in the end. "I bet it would have been the event of the year, had you debuted, my Lady. But I understand that circumstances made it not possible."

The ducal servants appear to be well acquainted with the future Marquise's tastes, for several thin slices of pheasant so rare that it leaks blood on her plate are served to her, along with some oven-crisped dauphinoise potatoes layered with cream and onions, vegetables and a drizzle of alcohol infused gravy. "I'm sure it would have been," she agrees out of hand on the matter of her debut. "There's a school of thought that believes that everything in our lives is pre-planned and pre-ordained, and that nothing that you, I, or anyone can do that can alter the course of it." She sections a piece of her meat, and spears it with some of the potato on the tines of her fork as he speaks. "And yet, I can't quite completely subscribe to that way of thinking myself. Too much has happened for me to think it so. What are your own thoughts on it, my lord?"

"I believe we make our own fate, and it is only in hindsight do we believe that Destiny is a pre-ordained series of events. Some things we cannot help, like our birth," and perhaps Balian is to be the future Marquis. He certainly would not oppose such a thing. More than that, he'd welcome it, certainly. "But some people ascribe too much importance to the burdens of life and pay no heed to the fact that we can choose to ignore, or overcome them, should we wish to do so. One could say life is both a mixture of things we cannot help and things that we can. I believe we fight against all that is 'inevitable' to others' eyes, if only to prove the lie in their words."

Desarae nods, remaining a composed study of quietness whilst Balian speaks. "I'm glad you agree," she eventually says, pushing another selection of her food through the gravy. "I returned to Chavaise a mere two months ago, and were it not for Nicolas, then I know I'd have died." Her head twists towards her Cassiline where he stands, and there's a warmth to the smile that she gives him which, up until now, has been absent from her face. He's adopted a casual lean against the solar's fireplace whilst watching his ward, his hands working a small length of wood with a knife. Violet eyes meet with hers, and her smile is answered by one of equal warmth. "He," her attention returns to Balian, "… tackled my would-be assassin and carried him with himself over the ramparts of the walls of Chavaise. Fate intervened, you see."

"So it seems." Balian nods, watching the exchange between the two without a lot of hints to his emotional reaction to it. "A good Cassiline knows how to protect their charges, and that he took advantage of the right moment to do so speaks in his favor. I haven't dealt with too many assassins, or at least, if they were meant to be assassins, they didn't get to do much skulking before the fighting." He meets her gaze, then. "And what does Lady Desarae Mereliot of Chavaise want from the world? What do you want to enjoy?"

"I have been buried too much beneath a mantle of mourning," Desarae notes to Balian. To her credit, there's barely any rancour to be detected in her tone. "There's been very little time to enjoy things, and even if there were, my guilt at being allowed to continue living whilst the rest of my family died would weigh too heavily on me to do so. And," she continues on, "… even were that not the case, my aunt is very set upon providing me with the education I missed whilst in training for service to Naamah. I do however confess to liking a good book with which to curl up with. Late nights and lazy mornings too, or looking up to the brightness of the stars in cloudless skies. Those things which, perhaps, I once took for granted, but now take on another meaning since coming so close to losing them." Her eyes land on the box on the table. "And receiving letters and gifts, of course. For who doesn't enjoy those?"

"I'm not much for writing," Balian admits, "But I could try my hand at writing you something." No promises on that front, consummate fighter that he is. "Eventually, you have to shed that mantle, you know," he suggests, glancing outward and through a window. "I could tell you which stars sailors use to find their way back home. And I could tell you about the only star in the sky that always appears, regardless of where in the world you happen to be sailing from. But that's a subject for other times. If you will allow me, though, I'd like to fill your days with mirth."

"I'm not much of one for writing either," Desarae admits. "Though I have, of course, been keeping up a stream of correspondence with my cousin back in Chavaise. He's been appointed Regent for the Marquisate, so he keeps me informed with what's happening there." It's another insight she gives into her life, a confirmation that she's not yet old enough to hold her future title in her own right, and she eats a little more of her bloodied and rare pheasant. "Perhaps after dinner we could climb to the roof garden here and you could point out some of these stars for me. The one that sailors navigate by I know of already, along with a number of the constellations. Do you know the story of the Eagle and the Lyre, for instance? It's the story of a princess and a humble shepherd…"

"I'll be happy to hear it. I know of a man named Heracles and his Great Deeds, though; I can point which stars represent the stories," Balian affirms, eating some pheasant, enough to get his fill. He pours gravy and adds other garnishments to the dish as he eats, taking his sweet time. "I'd like to climb to the roof garden, of course. I'll make sure to bring a bottle of wine along, so we're not parched as we exchange tales." With a smile to the Mereliot, his gaze searches and tries to hold hers for a prolonged moment as he considers things.

"Then when we are done with dinner, we can go there," Desarae decides for them both, pushing the remains of her food to the side of her plate, before lining up her knife and fork across the centre and leaving them there. "I hope that you've brought a cloak with you, otherwise I could have one of my maids fetch something from my own chambers. There's still quite a lot of my father's belongings in one of the closets." Shades of sadness edge the words that she speaks, and it's then that Balian might be able to catch her eyes with his as he's wont to, her guard dropped in that moment, if only for a second.

Reaching for her hand, Balian squeezes her fingers in a comforting motion as he signals that they are done with dinner with a nod to the servant. He rises to his feet. "A cloak would do good. A blanket as well." Having said this, he'll step around to offer his hands to help Desarae up, meeting her gaze once again, if she allows. "Shall we?" There's another smile, warm and brief, almost serene.

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