(1311-03-30) Springtime Spirits
Summary: Ortolette demonstrates playing a particular instrument. Aimeric plays his Alyssum card. Raphael watches. (OOC warning: partial nudity, faintly disturbing games of making an Alyssum blush).
RL Date: March 30/31, 2019
Related: Previous Aimeric/Ortolette logs, Garden Celebration Masque.
raphael aimeric ortolette 

Music Room — Ducal Palace

While Ortolette's absolute devotion to music and performance may well be of note to the city of Marsilikos at large, less publicized, for obvious reasons, is her general lack of competence with making music on her own. Of course, she has tutors, not that she retains any of them for long, finding their direction tedious and their manner even more so. But now she has discovered a newfound interest in her zither, poised as it is upon the lap of a beautiful White Rose on a long, golden-threaded chaise. She has conspired to tuck up between him and the arcing back of the same chaise, and to rest with one arm laid up over his shoulder, her head lolling upon his chest, and her other hand straying down to his lap, strumming more cordially than she is used to doing, if only for the scurrilous invocation of stroking what lies beneath, bringing her hazel eyes flashing up to his in a wicked glimpse behind her pale lashes. Of course, the box of the zither does vibrate slightly when the strings are provoked— more palpably the lower the note— and Ortolette does ply that largest and most resonating string an awful lot. All in public, too. Well, notionally in public, since anyone could enter at any moment. They have, so far, been alone, aside from Girard's occasional check-in from the hallway.

It is the fate of a White Rose to become an instrument of sorts, to resonate to a patron's teases, when each strum evokes another nuance of blushing from the young lad's features. He is, of course, all properly clad, in a white flowing shirt and white trousers. One arm rests about Ortolette's frame as if to support her. But why does his hand tremble so subtly, as the frail maiden continues to play on her zither? Aimeric reacts of course, now with a slightly startled blinking of his hazel eyes, and in the next moment with the soft ripple of his throat as he swallows, as if he were the shy youth that has been successfully cornered by Ortolette Mereliot, now to become a toy for her whim. Just now, when Girard comes back in to check on things, does his gaze stray towards the Cassiline, and his eyes widen, before they sweep back to Ortolette in quiet accusation. "Why does he peek back in here?", Aimeric wonders, a bit nervously perhaps. "What could happen to you here, honestly, when it is just you and me…?" And the occasional interloper, perhaps?

Is it the music that summons Raphael? Well, certainly not to the palace. There are surely other reasons for him to be here. Rumor has it at least two individual reasons-in-residence, but rumor can of course never be trusted on these matters. To the room, however, he may have been pulled by the vibrations of those notes which carry so much more softly through the air than through the body. As he crosses the threshold of the room, he carries with him a light walking stick. He is not known to need any aid when walking, or to typically affect the accessory, so perhaps it is someone else who needed it. He pauses to take in the charming picture of Invalid and White Rose with Zither, hoping it may be undisturbed a moment, but then does speak, once Aimeric himself has spoken: "I hope I am not interrupting," he says. Did he pass Girard in the hall, or did he come from the other direction? "The door was not closed." It seems that to his mind, an open door is an invitation.

"He wants to see if you are bold enough to kiss me," Ortolette answers Aimeric below her breath— a lie, of course, but one intended to pinch and to provoke, not deceive. In faith of same, she continues, "If I were to grow unwell, he would come and help me. I don't know but that he wouldn't do the same for you, Monsieur," she reverts to her tickling language, "You seem ill at ease— you shiver. What could be the matter?" she asks him, fingers continuing their wicked work all the while, creating less of a tune than an ambiance of stern mischief. Monsieur Raphael's approach is no reason for her to halt her afternoon's playtime, either, but she does regard him with a quiet smile of greeting. "Only my lesson, Monsieur. Which you are welcome to stay and hear, if it does please you."

The door had been left open on purpose? It only adds to Aimeric's awkwardness, the poor lad being played now suddenly exposed to an intruder. When the voice of Raphael cuts crisply through the music laden idyll of their refugium — and suddenly reminds the White Rose of the fact that they are in the music room, one of the public chambers of the palace. At least it is not Girard again, but the vaguely familiar face of the old returned Thorn, but even so, in this situation, Raphael will receive only a vague flicker of a smile from Aimeric, and a murmured, "Monsieur Raphael." His attention returns to Ortolette, as she makes sure to maintain most of his focus, teasing and then increasing the discomfort by enhancing the vibrations of the resounding zither. "It may be the chill in the air, my lady," he replies to her, almost convincing. His hand relaxes, as if willed to do so, before the next valiant strum causes his fingers to twitch. "Not too long ago, we had winter, and… it might take a while for spring to take fully over." A faint line appears between his brows, his voice outwardly steady, but below with that subtle shiver of a cornered White Rose.

"I think it does," Raphael responds to Ortolette, his mouth a courteous smile while his eyes glitter too much for courtesy. "If only until I guess whether it is a lesson you give or a lesson you take." He steps further into the room and, unhurried, his gaze shifts to Aimeric. "Ah," he says. "Our White Rose expanding his petals. Is there anything more appropriate to the springtime?"

"I am taking my lesson to-day, Monsieur Raphael," Ortolette speaks in perfect innocence of tone, as a child might, comporting well with her White Rose companion, at least outwardly. Heaven forbid she had any notion what she was doing to the poor fellow's lap. "But I have sent away my tutor, and have Monsieur Aimeric here with me, instead, for moral support. He is an excellent companion, even when he quivers," she sets her hand firmly upon the strings to mute their sound to nil. "Monsieur Raphael, would you be so good as to adjust the window? Monsieur Aimeric feels the cold too keenly, and I would not have him… wither," she issues in something closer to a whisper, a scandalous glance shared with her blushing companion. "Now, my scales, once more," she dictates herself her own practice, and begins the work that seems much less tedious when she can dwell over that lowest note and be pleased with Aimeric's efforts to hide his squirming.

<FS3> Aimeric rolls Composure: Good Success. (1 1 7 2 1 2 8 8)

Raphael addressed his words to Ortolette, and so Aimeric does not respond to him. Even if that remark about a White Rose expanding petals causes an almost imperceptible glint in the young lad's eyes. The dark hair that falls across his vision acts similar to a veil, even if Aimeric does not avert his gaze but holds that of Ortolette. And there the next blush comes, of blood rushing into his comely features, a squirm there, for once successfully subdued, when Ortolette's fingers begin to work the instrument again. Ah, that low note. It makes his brows lift as if in silent plea for her to stop.

"How good of Monsieur Aimeric," Raphael says. "Surely quivering is at the heart of music. At least when we speak of strings." He crosses the room to pull the window closed. "Treacherous," he says, looking over his shoulder as the low note is struck, "…these spring breezes." Holding that gaze at them three beats, he then abruptly turns away to fetch himself a chair — without asking — that he can set in counterpoint to the couple on the chaise, the better to watch them. He sits down and places that walking stick crossways on his knees.

"How wise of him, too, to recognize the threat, insidious as it is when the weather promises fair and issues otherwise," Ortolette speaks with artful precision of syllables, one set directly after the other as though strands of her own sort of song, out of time with the notes of her scale, though 'otherwise' falls in harmony with that lowest note once more, in time with her meeting his pleading gaze with an innocent lofting of her brows, as if to ask him to speak out loud his complaint. But, until he will, she will only have to continue playing, all too unaware of the problem she is causing him. Meanwhile, "I hope your visit to the palace has been satisfactory, Monsieur Raphael," she issues conversation, drawing the third into a more integrated position in their tableau yet.

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

A quick sideways flick of his gaze lands on Raphael, now seated to observe, and Aimeric's nostrils flare just so, in subtle acknowledgement of the audience. Shifting a bit uncomfortably in his seat, with the zither still resting in his lap and resounding with the music of Ortolette's exercises, the White Rose dares to opine, "It is a tricky season, Monsieur. Tempting to be careless, only to… punish such carelessness afterwards." He picks his words carefully, but not without a certain ease. "Neither of us would wish to catch a cold," this Aimeric addresses towards Ortolette. "Least of all you, my lady." A shy smile blossoms on his features. As if his sweet words could alleviate the tease, and Ortolette's no doubt cruel intentions. There is a soft groan when she strikes the next chord, and the deep note has his eyes widen for a moment, cheeks flushing instantly.

"Tremendously," Raphael answers without hesitation. "I always seem to find such warm reception here." He grants Aimeric little reprieve from his gaze. "Dangerous indeed," he agrees, looking hard at them both. "But there are pleasures in the season. Things bloom, do they not?"

Ortolette's eyebrows fly toward her hairline at the sound of the groan from Aimeric, and her hand retreats from her zither, drawing across its edge and letting it shift slightly in position. "Heavens, Monsieur Aimeric. I thought somehow I felt my instrument to move," she speaks with a sense of innocent alarm, as though perhaps a ghost had touched the thing. "Monsieur Aimeric, have YOU felt the instrument move?" she asks, in a catlike double entendre.

<FS3> Aimeric rolls Composure: Success. (2 8 1 5 5 5 1 4)

"It is what is said to happen in spring," Aimeric manages to reply to Raphael, his voice slightly hoarse, his tone still clinging to innocence. His eyes are on Ortolette however, fixing their gaze on this frail looking doll of a Mereliot, as if he were a hare, and she the fox, ready to devour him. "The instrument…", he begins, after a subtle shudder to that deliberate move of her shifting the zither. His hands dart forward, holding onto it, as if to keep it in place. "It moved because you willed it so.", the White Rose murmurs. There is a pause, and stretches on for a while, before he finally elects to reply to her last question. "And yes. I did feel it.", comes his admission, and Aimeric lowers his gaze, flustered and also looking that tiny bit guilty — for reasons that may not be as evident.

Raphael is the one person whose eyebrows haven't lofted dramatically. But he of course has not experienced the phenomenon the two are sharing. He observes from his seat. "If it moves at her will, and you feel it move, then it must be said that you feel at her will," he concludes philosophically. "A powerful spirit." Ortolette's, or the ghost that might be haunting the zither?

Ortolette's eyes match so well the hue of Aimeric's, and she looks straight up into them from below those shy boy bangs he wears, at rest and at the same time unrelenting. When he seizes the zither so protectively in place, she, too, wraps a hand around the edge furthest out from him, sweeping her tender little fingers just beneath while her thumb plays, blessedly, at the highest string. "And what if I willed my lesson over, and my zither put down, Monsieur Aimeric? Would you set it upon the floor for me?"

<FS3> Aimeric rolls Composure: Success. (6 5 1 3 5 8 2 4)

Whatever little shreds remain of the White Rose's composure, his hand holds onto the zither as if losing grip would mean losing his life. Of course, there is much less at stake here, but from the blush that taints his pale cheeks, it seems Aimeric is anxious that a particular detail might be revealed. "Do you will it so?", he asks softly, lifting his gaze to Ortolette. "It was no ghost," is added towards Raphael, "but the intentions of the Lady Ortolette. I am not certain I should oblige her whim in this."

"No," Raphael agrees in the gentlest voice, "I did not say 'ghost.'" He smiles, letting his weight lean against the chair back. "Uncertainty against will," he replies. "Are the forces evenly matched, I wonder?"

Ortolette's coy playing at the White Rose's expense is stung in something a mite further hell-bent when Aimeric debates whether or not to oblige her. "Are you not certain, in earnest, Monsieur Aimeric?" she asks, voice keened to a cutting edge. One bare set of toes shifts where it is settled along Aimeric's pant-clad legs, and, with a mild pressure, she issues a serpentine contraction up along her form, nudging herself a few scant inches higher up against him, to better match her eyeline to his. "Then I must strive to make you more certain of your obligation to me," she whispers, very near to his lips.

<FS3> Aimeric rolls Subterfuge+2: Great Success. (3 5 3 1 2 8 8 4 7 6 2 4 4 6 5 8)

"A spirit… Forgive me, I mistook your words," Aimeric murmurs apologetically in Raphael's direction, lowering his gaze for a moment. Before Ortolette decides to adopt a slightly firmer tone towards him, and then adds the suggestive press of her body to his frame to have him submit to her whim. That blue eyed gaze of hers, it demands to be met with his hazel eyes, and Aimeric obliges her, holding her stare for a long moment. A flutter of eyelids then, and he lowers his gaze once again, this time to signal defeat. "My lady. If you insist, and so I shall obey," her murmurs, words spoken at low volume but all the more heard now that there isn't any music to drown them in. Almost apologetically, he edges away from her, and, in keeping the zither in his lap and a certain part of him appropriately covered, he sinks to his knees before her, facing her. Lifting his gaze to hers, as he reluctantly finally lifts the instrument off his lap and sets it carefully down to the floor at his feet. White Rose trousers looking like they should - without a scandalous bulge that could cause offense visible.

Raphael lets the walking-stick rest across his knees without being held there, crossing his arms over his chest as he watches this next volley play out. The fluttering eyelashes are to be expected, as is the ultimate obedience in response to pressure, but this magic trick of Aimeric's, now that is a play of great interest in the game. At least from Raphael's perspective. His eyes flick immediately to Ortolette to see what she will respond with. The jousts at the tourney ground could not be more absorbing.

<FS3> Ortolette rolls Composure: Great Success. (8 1 7 4 5 3 7 2 7 3 6)

Oh, Ortolette is going to get back at Aimeric for that little trick of his, sneaking away from her like that and stealing away her moment of triumph. But she hides the barest flicker of disappointment or anger from her features, only reminding him, "I asked you to set my zither down, not yourself alongside. You ought to listen better, Monsieur Aimeric. But since you are so rude as to show Monsieur Raphael your back, why don't you remove your shirt and show him your progress on your marque? And you can tell him under whose assignment you had the firstmost of your marque applied."

Aimeric's gaze is lifted, forced as he is to look up to her from his position of kneeling abeyante. Some of his dark hair falls stubbornly across his forehead and beyond, veiling his eyes. But there they are, holding her gaze as she gives him her words of rebuke. "Please forgive me. I had thought… to see me as this would please you.", the White Rose murmurs. Looking down then, he adds, "It was not my intention to misread your intention." Soft-spoken words of regret, offered with those faint traces of mortification at his misstep. Raphael might observe a faint squaring of the White Rose's shoulders, in the moment Ortolette points out to him that he is turning his back towards the Thorn. Aimeric could refuse the request, the command of the frail young lady. But then again, he is merely following the steps laid out for him in this delicate dance of a White Rose assignation. "Very well," he lowers his head, as his hands reach to undo buttons that had been fastened all the way up to his collar. And Aimeric goes about the task unhurriedly, on the contrary, hesitating now and then as if abhorring the notion to put so much skin on display. When finally he shrugs his shoulders out of the garment, it falls, in a slow fluttering descent, like a white feather being blown down a cliff. And it bares a back, lean and with musculature of moderate training. And there they are, climbing from beneath the waistline of the trousers, white roses of the unique marque of Rose Sauvage for the innocent roses, all the way to right below the shoulder blades — two thirds of the marque already inked into pale unblemished skin.

Raphael offers no sympathy, naturally, nor objection or indeed encouragement of Ortolette's command. He continues to sit as he is, relaxed against the back of the chair with arms comfortably crossed, patiently waiting for the unveiling of the mark. Once it is revealed, he unfolds his arms to take hold of the walking stick in his right hand. "I see you've been diligent," he says. "Where will the next petal go, I wonder? There?" He touches a patch of unmarked skin with the walking stick, using the head of the stick rather than its point, the metal handle cool from being out of hand for some time. "And where did the marquist begin? There?" The metal touches what he takes to have been the starting point, much lower on the spine.

"Tell him," Ortolette prompts once more, voice soft and low, not angry, only probing, pushing the poor shy boy slowly out of his comfort zone, where he lingers, unwilling to say the name of she who saw his back when it was bare, keeping her eyes matched to his, should they look up through that fringe. "And show him that first piece of marque. I doubt that he can see it well through your trousers."

The Thorn chooses to bring himself back to the other two's attention, and Aimeric reacts with a faint twitch in his frame, to the cool touch of metal against his bare skin. The White Rose turns his head, glancing back at Raphael over a shoulder while he — for now — has not risen from his kneeling position. "Diligence can only be measured in relation to when the debut took place," he opines softly. "I turned eighteen a little less than two weeks ago. Some have their marque already complete at that age. In regards to that… I might be called lazy." Again, the cool handle of the cane, so much more clinical than the touch of a hand, causes a faint shiver in the White Rose, this perhaps less an act than natural reaction to the chill. "As you will know, the marquist usually always starts at the lower end and works upwards, to the finial that will complete the marque at the nape of the neck." Is there a faintly stubborn undertone in his voice, as the adept tells this to the Thorn?

Either way, the lady insists on a more complete view, and also on the reply, Aimeric either refused or forgot to give. Aimeric obliges in meeting her gaze at least, in that first moment that follows her request. But there, the adept's cheeks blush again as he breaks eye contact and instead decides to study her perfectly slippered feet. "The name of… my first patron, after joining the salon of Wild Roses, is Lady Ortolette Mereliot," the young adept confesses, looking a bit flustered perhaps at memories of that first assignation. "I entertained her, and she in turn gave me a generous patron gift, to start off my marque." Again, he seems to hesitate. But with a soft exhale, the adept then moves to stand. With his gaze still lowered, he undoes some of the laces and then pulls his white trousers far enough down to reveal where the marque starts, slightly above the coccyx, but no further.

Raphael is smiling when Aimeric turns to look at him, though the expression only touches the corners of his mouth. The eyes remain hard. And then the adept turns away for his confession. "Ah, I see," the Thorn replies, as if Aimeric had revealed a history that he had not already suspected. "Then it must have started here." He plants the metal handle just on the lowest part of the marque, then glances up. "By the generous benevolence of this fair lady."

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