(1311-03-08) Collecting Offenses
Summary: Raphael and Séverine have a talk.
RL Date: Sat Mar 09, 2019
Related: Marielle's Fête, Wild Rose Reunion and something that occured right after the Rose Sauvage Masque.
severine raphael 

La Rose Sauvage — Night Court

A huge hearth of black marble, with gargoyles of stone adorning the mantlepiece, governs the foyer of the Salon de la Rose Sauvage, which emanates a certain dark air, the interior design of the more heavy sort, that could easily be encountered in a gentleman's club, especially with the dark cherry wood wainscoting used on the walls. Dark leather upholstery is predominant in the furniture of chaise longues, couches and long-backed chairs that are arranged in a half-circle, leaving space in the center for courtesans (or patrons) to kneel for an inspection. Three tall windows with circular stained-glass insets are framed by dark red curtains of heavy brocade, a few golden threads worked into the fabric catching occasionally the light of flickering oil lamps at the walls. The lamps light a pair of portrait paintings, of the two founders of the salon, Edouard Shahrizai and his cousin Annabelle no Mandrake, resplendent in their dark Kusheline appeal; and a cabinet in a corner, holding a number of quality wines and a flagon of uisghe.

The foyer has a high ceiling, and a gallery beyond a balustrade of dark teak wood, carved in the shapes of gargoyles. Sometimes a few veiled creatures can be spotted up there, stealing glances at what is going on below; from the gallery, which can be reached by ascending some winding stairs at the back of the foyer. Beside the stairs leading up is a hallway on ground level, leading further into the building to where the offices of the leader of the salon and his two Seconds can be found, along with the two wings of private quarters for roses of Mandrake and Valerian canon.

A very late night it is. The hour, when activity already has been winding down. So late in fact, that Séverine is making a last round about the salon. The Red Rose Second is wearing a flowing gown of dark red silk, cut out at the back to show off her finished marque of the salon's more submissive canon. Honey blonde hair with a faintly reddish tinge has been gathered into a knot, thereby drawing attention to her slender neck, pale and unblemished as it is at the moment. A few moments she spares to dismiss a young girl, a Red Rose novice, for the night, before she lets her gaze drift across the room, scanning for any others that might still linger.

Has Raphael been on an assignation, or has he merely been at the practice that has taken up so many of his hours since he has returned to the salon? It is so difficult to keep track of each person's comings and goings when the salon is lively with patrons seeking the thrills of the thorny rose and courtesans circulating to satisfy. Whatever he has been at, he is returning now at this late hour, from the hallway. "Ah," he says softly on seeing Séverine there. "It's been a busy night. People in the city are reawakening to the pleasures of Naamah after the lull that follows the Longest Night." While he stands still and upright, feet firmly rooted on the ground, the movements of his gaze suggest he is taking in details about Séverine: her carriage, her clothing, the way she moves her hands. Then the gaze snaps back to her face. "I'm afraid I have not introduced myself to you directly. I am called Raphael, as you may know."

There is that almost imperceptible shift in expression of grey eyes, as they come to linger on the new Thorn. The way her frame straightens and her chin lifts, senses attentive to take in his presence in a similar manner to the way he assesses her. "Monsieur Raphael," Séverine greets, dipping her head in a nod of greeting. "You are right. Busy, at least in some extent. I've had a few contracts to sign, for some of my Red Roses." The Second moves over, crossing the distance to where Raphael stands, as if he were a rock and she a seagull circling about him, her path not a straight one, but more of a trail that takes her near him more by coincidence. "I'm pleased to meet you. Of course, I have heard about you. I heard you were one of the first Thorn novices of this salon. I've joined Rose Sauvage ten years ago, but when I arrived you had already left… I am Séverine, Red Rose Second." And there she stands before him, her chin lifted slightly so that her gaze can meet his, curious and confident.

"Very good," Raphael replies, and indeed he stays where he is as she moves toward him. He nods once, faintly. "I think not everyone has heard that," he says with the hint of a smile. "But I am glad you have." Rather than the surface of flat stone his gaze presents to some, there is warmth in his eyes as he looks at Séverine. Perhaps he approves of her confidence, or perhaps he is flattered that she knows of his history. Perhaps, yet again, it is merely the natural chemistry between Thorn and Red Rose. "Of course I am aware of your position," he says, in a tone that is gentle rather than disagreeable. "But it is a pleasure to speak with you directly. You seem to attend your duties with the seriousness we should expect in our salon. I'm curious about how matters have been conducted in my absence. Perhaps you would be the perfect person to tell me." The smile solidifies somewhat.

"Indeed." Her smile brightens, an effect that shows more in her eyes than in the curving of her lips. "If I can be of service, in answering your questions, I will be happy to. I have held this position for four years now, after Jacques entrusted it to me. So I can say I am aware of all major matters pertaining to the salon, and especially everything that concerns the Red Roses in particular. What exactly are you do you wish to know?" Another fleeting glance is given the chamber, and Séverine adds, "Depending on how many questions you have… we could withdraw to my office. Because, to be honest, I do have a few questions of my own." As well informed as she might be — perhaps she isn't as well informed as she'd like to be.

"Let us do that," Raphael agrees to the suggestion to withdraw. "After such a long night, it might be…cruel…of me, to keep you still on your feet." True to his canon, his tone admits a certain pleasure that could theoretically be extracted from cruelty, but no intention to look for those pleasures in such a pedestrian way. A mild note of humor shared between two courtesans of the same house. He makes a gesture toward the hallway. "If you are good enough to satisfy my curiosity, perhaps I can satisfy yours."

Valerian Second's Office — La Rose Sauvage

Only a little light from the window higher up the wall barely manages to penetrate through the thick curtains of heavy dark red brocade, which means that contracts and other paperwork will be dealt with in the flickering light of an oil lamp at the wall, at the heavy table of dark mahogany, across which the Second in charge may face a potential patron of the salon sitting opposite of her in a heavy high-backed chair with dark red upholstery. Quill and inkwell sit all orderly somewhere to the side of the table, beside a contract that only needs some details to be filled in before it can be signed.

"A Red Rose should be appreciative of cruelty," Séverine counters softly, and her eyes glitter just with a hint of mischief. "But thank you," she lowers her gaze in a brief downward-flick to express her gratitude for his considerate remark, "it has been a long say, I would prefer to spend the remainder of the eve properly seated. And you perhaps as well." She gestures for courtesan of the Red Roses to come over, murmuring to the lad the request to take over the late night vigil over the salon and then nods to Raphael, before she turns to lead the way. Into the hallway at the back they go, heading towards the office, where the hallway ends and branches off to the left and right. "Please, have a seat," she tells Raphael as she uses a candle she had taken along to light the oil lamps in the room granted to her in her function as Red Rose Second. "Would you like a bit of wine? Or uisghe, perhaps?" The question comes as she heads towards the cabinet at the back, to get glasses and flagon of the desired beverage, whichever Raphael will request.

Raphael seats himself, with his spine straight against the chair's back. "How good of you. I admit I would savor a drop of uisghe just now, with the night's work complete." He has not been inside the office of the Valerian Second — or at least not lately — since his own contracts are signed elsewhere, so he takes in details one by one as he speaks: the table, the quill, the paper, the contracts, the wine the uisghe. "To move straight to my most pressing question, I wonder how the conduct of this salon may or may not have changed since I have been away. There is something I overheard at the fete for Marielle that I would like to ask about. A guest mentioned being repulsed by the canon of Thorn. When I inquired further, she said that on her /very/ first visit, she had been witness to some sort of demonstration that, in its extremity of cruelty, frightened her so that she hardly wished to return and dismissed all possibility of the pleasures of Thorn. I wondered…might you know about this demonstration?" He turns both wrists on the arms of the chair so that his palms open up. "Now, naturally I understand that patrons sometimes exaggerate or misunderstand us, or their own desires. But I thought perhaps you would have some insight."

"Uisghe then," Séverine murmurs in echoing his wish, and her slender fingers close about the neck of a flask, as she takes it out of the cabinet. Pouring two glasses, she glances down and makes sure not to spill a single drop. When Raphael addresses his question, she is already handing him his glass, her demeanor a bit thoughtful as she tries to recall and determine, which demonstration he might be referring to. "A guest?", she echoes, lifting her gaze to meet that of Raphael. "Who was it? A foreigner perhaps? Unused to d'Angeline ways? We have been very selective at Rose Sauvage in who we invite to our Showings. But there was once particular event last year… It was actually at a masque we held in honor of the Night of Love in June…" She sits down upon her seat across from the table. "Jacques had entrusted Marielle and me to arrange a very particular Showing, to be attended only by a few. It was to include traits of all three of our canons. It was a delicate task, to plan a Showing that would include a Thorn, a Red Rose and a White Rose. I believe there have been more extreme demonstrations in the past, for a far more select audience. There were no cuts and not even a whipping…"

Raphael accepts a glass while keeping his eyes on Séverine. "I believe it was a foreigner," Raphael allows, still in his seat and holding the glass without yet drinking. "And perhaps that explains it. But I wonder, if there was no blood, what it might have been that disturbed her so. I was concerned to hear her speak poorly of her experience in our own salon. I wondered further if it might not have been wise to draw her back to pleasures she might yet enjoy under this roof, or at least to help her understand. There was a nobleman in the garden who, from what they said, sounded as if /he/ noticed her distress during that event and tried to comfort and protect. But did our own thorns and roses not see it?" He drinks from the glass to allow for a silence, "Or has the salon become so comfortable that bad word of mouth, at least from foreigners, does not concern us?" He smiles then, and says in a richer, warmer voice, "I was not there. Perhaps my understanding of reports from nearly a year ago is off the mark. What is your impression?"

"The Sharper Pleasures are not for everyone.", Séverine counters, shifting only slightly in her seat. "You and I know, that it does not require spilled blood to convey the more intense nature of our assignations. Flechettes were involved in removing the dress of the Red Rose Adept, never touching her skin. A riding crop was utilized for administering 'punishment'. As it was a Showing, there were of course several constellations of pleasure played out. Marielle and I were particularly proud of how we included the Alyssum aspect into it all, as the White Rose was drawn in and made to punish the Red Rose, shedding innocence in more than the usual way. It was, as I said, a comparatively tame Showing. If there was any distress, it was not apparent to me, or I would of course have offered counsel. The salon wasn't approached on any level after this event took place. Let me see… if it was a foreigner, it might have been that young Alban ambassador. But who was it who said he comforted her?" A faint line appears between her brows, as Séverine considers. "If the Showing did distress her, it may have indeed served its purpose, in a way that had her find certainty that canons of Thorns and Red Roses are obviousöy not for her to pursue any further." The glass is lifted in moved in a slow turning motion, that makes the amber-colored liquid swirl a little within. "To appear appalled, Monsieur, can serve many purposes, one of which may have aimed to find comfort in the nobleman. None of us was addressed openly in complaint, nor was there any true distress observed by any members of our salon…", she counters his hardly veiled criticism, lifting a brow. "No one was forced to attend the Showing, Monsieur. And anyone would have been allowed to leave at any point. I understand that you are concerned, however." The Red Rose Second lowers her gaze, her expression softening.

Raphael makes a quiet sound, a "Hm," of indistinct meaning. "I see," he replies, and keeps his eyes on Séverine's face: the cast of her lashes and the line of her mouth. "I hope you do not think I aim to insult, or undermine. I wish to understand, only. He sips from his uisghe again, watching over the rim of the glass. "I think it might have been who you say. The one who comforted her was, I believe, the Baphinol lord. He has been here since." Now at last he lets his gaze move from her face, drifting across the room. "However, I disagree that the salon is not for her. I would suggest for her perhaps an avoidance of Thorn, but an exploration, first, of the White Roses. This is based only on a brief observation at the garden party, so perhaps I am vastly mistaken. At any rate, it is not my place or intention to give advice to you. It sounds to me as though you take your duties seriously, and you have been selected carefully for your elevated position." He sets his glass down and spreads his hands out. "I would not pose such delicate questions to you if I did not trust your skill and sensitivity."

<FS3> Severine rolls Politics: Good Success. (4 6 8 3 3 2 7 6 1 3)

"Ah… Lord Jehan-Pascal…?", Séverine wonders, her grey eyes alighting. "He has been a constant visitor of our salon, even if his own inclinations are more towards the White Rose. His younger brother, Dior, is one of our Red Rose Adepts, and he is — from his mother's side — half-Kusheline." A brief eye contact having been made, she lowers her gaze again, to the glass she now lifts to her lips, for a moderate sip. Enduring that gaze of Raphael with a faint smile, savoring it perhaps. "And forgive me, I didn't mean to say that Rose Sauvage overall is not for her. I was referring to the more extreme canons of Valerian and Mandrake." Her throat ripples as she swallows the uisghe, tilting her head a little to the side, as Séverine meets Raphael's gaze with her own. "I do take my duties seriously," she assures softly. "And I serve Naamah in full awareness of what that service means, Monsieur. And I see you are taking your duties likewise serious, and our responsibilities towards our patrons… Pray, tell me… What made you leave our salon? And to what coincidence do we owe your return?", Séverine inquires with a curiosity flashing in her expression.

"Yes," Raphael confirms of her identification of the lord in question, though his head tilts just slightly off of center at her description of her visits and tastes. He notes the movement in her throat, then looks back to her face. "I hope that all of our Thorns likewise understand their positions as servants of Naamah, a position which takes as much humility as it does strength and boldness." He picks his glass up again and drinks from it, then retains it in his hand. "The truth is that I left the salon to be married," he says softly and evenly. "My wife is now dead, and I have therefore returned." His gaze is steady, though perhaps not as warm as it was a while ago. "I explained this to Jacques as well upon my return. But I do not necessarily mention it to everyone."

"Edouard Shahrizai trusts Jacques to pick his Thorns well," Séverine replies with a soft chuckle. "And I can say, that I'm certain that the salon won't fail to capitalize on your return." A fleeting glance from stormy grey eyes gauges him, even as she lifts one hand to brush a stray curl of red-blonde hair back from her view. "I am said to be curious now and then. And if I overstepped in inquiring… you are welcome to take it out on me, Monsieur.", she adds softly, the wording and counter perhaps not entirely coincidental. "I shall keep this piece of information to myself, and treasure it, that you do not consider me 'everyone'." A pause, as she hesitates, then reaching out as she leans forward, fingers brushing lightly over his hand that holds the glass. "I am sorry for your loss." It is a genuine statement of empathy, allowing Raphael a momentary glimpse through the Second's composed facade. "As much as it must please Jacques to have you back."

Raphael cannot help but smile knowingly, sharply, at Séverine's implied invitation. His gaze lands on her hand on his first, then he turns his hand over to grasp her wrist, not rough, but firm. "It is good," he says, looking up into her face, "To have a home to return to. If I am to punish you one day, let us collect a few more offenses first to make it worth our while."

The play of words and looks finds an enhancement, when the touch of fingers provokes a firmer grasp of Raphael's hand closing about Séverine's wrist. The strains of which are only faint and might even appear slightly playful. There is that slight shift in expression when her eyes widen just slightly. the curve of her lips suddenly more pronounced, from Raphael's vague promise. "You are right," comes the reply, uttered in a smooth tone. Eyelashes move in a slow blink. "I didn't mean to insult you, Monsieur, by assuming that you are prone to resorting to rash punishment."

"Shall we number that among the offenses?" Raphael proposes. Judging by his amused expression, he is not in fact offended, but playfully following the rules of a game they are both trained to play, without imposing his will inappropriately on one who, by the hierarchy of the salon, outranks him. "You must suffer the most skillfully of any in the house."

Her smile deepens. "Please," Séverine replies softly. "And yes. You are right. I will hardly accept an unskilled hand. In that, you may call me impertinent and overbearing." She may outrank him, that does not seem to bother the Red Rose Second. "I am aware that it may take more offenses. And it only seems fair to grant you more time for settling in properly, so that you can feel at home in this salon and with your skills again." Moving to stand, Séverine downs her glass of uisghe, pale cheeks turning a touch pink from the strong alcoholic beverage. "I believe, that is all, Monsieur Raphael. You may take your leave." The curt dismissal maybe another prick added on purpose.

Raphael lowers his chin a fraction at this dismissal. He sets his glass on the desk with his left hand and stands up without releasing Séverine's hand from his right, pressing his thumb still more firmly against the pulse point as he stands so close to her that their bodies /almost/ touch. He is warm-blooded and radiates heat at such close quarters. "I see you are eager," he says, voice descending into a dangerous purr as his eyes turn to glittering stone, "To earn the taste of those skills. But." He releases her suddenly. "Not tonight." And that said, he takes his leave through the office door.

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