(1311-04-19) A Fair Chance
Summary: Symon renders unto Laurène her due.
RL Date: Fri Apr 19, 1311
Related: Husband Shopping, It's Not As Bad As All That.
symon laurene 

Wine Cellar

Stairs lead down to the heavy oak door, above which the sign of the place, the likeness of a Hellene amphora spilling over with wine painted upon wood, swings lazily in the occasional breeze. Beyond that door the entrance hall comes into view, where various kegs and casks of differing sizes are arranged in oenological allure before the roughly hewn walls of ancient stone. There is a chill down here on hot summer days, that will be efficiently battled in the colder months through the heating of a giant hearth to the back. The place has a decidedly cavernous character, alcoves to the left and right offering seating at small tables for two or three. Lamps are dangling by chains from the ceiling, shades of milky glass work from La Serenissima offering sufficient lighting. There are no visible windows, which means lamps will be in use even during the day.

Further to the back there is a small hallway branching off from the main area, leading to a medium sized chamber where the bigger barrels are stored. Here, a larger group of up to eight people can sit about a round table of heavy oak, while they are being served the rarer vintages or even the heavier spirits that are stored in a wooden cabinet to the back. Staff is mostly male, clad in black breeches and white shirts with dark red vests, knowledgable sommeliers of superior training that will be glad to wait on guests in person and offer insight into the variety of wines, red and white, from Terre d'Ange and a variety of specialties from abroad, that are available here.


The hour is early, a safe bright late morning which noon and lunch just approaching. A table by the window is set for three, but only one seat is presently occupied. Laurene has adapted to spring by wearing a dress made of light-green silks, embroidered with silver and pink little flowers. She's taken care with her appearance and a little box is on the table before her. She's staring into space, lost in thought.

Symon is late, as usual. But what is more, he is alone, unaccompanied by the friend who'd arranged a meeting for three today. It is only two, now, it appears. Symon has been abandoned to the extremely awkward task of confronting the shame of having rejected a living and thinking person. He is more tentative than usual as he enters, and immediately spots Laurene. Whom he was probably quite tempted to stand up. But here he is and here she is. So he approaches the table and smiles. "Ah," he says. "Hello. I'm afraid I'm a b-bit late. Étienne w…wasn't able to come in the end, you see. Too b-bad. You'd like him. He knows about things."

"Yea, I met him.", Laurene confirms, a little confused, "He suggested this. Anyway, I'm glad you came. Please sit down.", she gestures to the seat opposite his. "I actually got something for you. To, um, kinda say, I'm sorry." She pushes the box his way.

"Oh, I see," Symon says, and he sits down to join Laurene. "Have you ordered? They have some fine v…v…vintages here, as I'm sure you know." He seems brought up short by her talk of apology, however, blinking. "Oh, b-but…you've done nothing wrong," he says. "If anything, I should apologize…"

"Well, I upset you, so…" She shrugs and looks a little awkward, too. The box contains little cakes. Juicy delightful lemon cakes. "I made them myself. Cooking's one of the few things I'm good at. And I'm sorry if I made such a bad impression. I am totally not used to this whole courting nonsense." She shakes her head to the question of having ordered and starts looking around for someone to serve them.

"I w…wish you w-wouldn't apologize," Symon says. "It is not that…" He pauses, flagging down an attendant, from whom he orders a red wine. Then back to Laurene. "It's only…I didn't think w…we'd b-be so well m…matched. That's all. B-but I think you are a nice person." He opens the box. "Oh, cakes," he says, looking up with a grin. "How lovely! Let's eat them together."

Laurene chuckles a little, pleased the gift is well-received. "I don't think they'd like it here. Maybe later. For dessert outside?", she suggests and orders a wine for herself, before looking at him. "You were pretty quick to decide. What made you think that?", she ask bluntly. Then blushes a bit. "Erm, okay, I know I'm kinda direct, but honestly all that pussyfooting around is just such a waste of time."

"All right, you're p-probably w…wise," Symon says, and closes the box, setting it aside. These direct demands to know why he did not choose Laurene for his wife, however, obviously make him uncomfortable. He smiles foolishly. "I… W-well. I think… Just… You are sensible and direct. I am…I am the opposite!" He says this in a cheery tone as though to mask the awkwardness. "I w…want to go to p-parties and the theater and dance and never think about farmers, you see. And if b-being too…formal is a w…waste of time, then…then so w-would be p…pretending we are a good m…match if we are not, w-wouldn't it?"

Laurene just eyes him for a bit, then arches one brow. "You never heard that opposites attract?", she asks, "And what's stopping you from parties and theatres? I certainly won't. I don't even care if you keep going on with Étienne. You should give me that much credit.", she grins.

"I've heard—" He pauses, hearing the last of what she said, and smiles. "I've heard that," he says softly. "B-but I don't know if it is true for m…me. I had m…my fortune told, you know, and it said I w…will have a b-bit of a tough road finding my m…match. And that is understandable. I… I am secretly difficult to m…manage. For instance, I am currently keeping a strange foreign frog under m…my b-bed."

Laurene chuckles. "And what kind of roadside gypsy fortune-teller was that?", she asks and shakes her a little. "I might ask you to put your frog somewhere else since I'm just sure I could sleep with that noise, but that's beside the point." She pauses and sighs a little. "Look, maybe you're right. Maybe we're terrible for each other. But I think you gave up way too quick." She looks a bit sheepish now. "And I ain't really at my best when my Mom's around."

"It w…wasn't," Symon says. "Not even Tsingani b-but a noblewoman I m…met throwing axes, and she had special cards." This is why Laurene wants to marry? Symon smiles a smile that is at once friendly and uncomfortable. "The two of you had some…friction. W…why is that?"

"Well, I wouldn't trust a woman throwing axes.", Laurene points out. She's glad when their drinks arrive and she has a longer moment to rearrange her thoughts. "How'd you feel if you were only ever told you're shit and useless? Or when your own mother tries to get a marriage arrangement all bagged and wrapped because she's scared suitors would run off when they see me?"

"W…well, she'd stopped throwing axes w…when she read the cards," Symon explains. He picks up his glass of wine, but pauses before he drinks, listening to Laurene. "Oh," he says. "B-but don't you understand that I w…was? I…look. I w-was trying to p-put m…my b-best face on at your m…mother's house. And you…you noticed m-my stutter immediately, of course. B-but this is…it is much improved, you see. W…when I was a child, it was so b-bad that—" Partway through his story he seems to suddenly lose the desire to tell it. "W…what I mean is, I can understand that," he says, nodding. "I like your m…mother, though. I suppose the two of you share directness and determination."

"Yea and I was trying to piss my mother off and in the process pissed -you- off and I'm sorry for that.", Laurene replies and smirks a little sadly. "It's weird, hearing from people that they like my mother, but I guess they don't know what it was like, growing up with her. So you see… we -do- have something in common, a shitty childhood."

"I w…wasn't angry," Symon says. "Just… W-well." He drinks from the cup. "I never m…much w-wanted to be married, only one has to. I am not a type for falling in love, I don't think I w…will b-be a good father or a good steward to m…my lands or…any of it. I w-wish I could just go on being as I am. Only I can't, of course." He smiles unhappily. "B-but yes, I suppose w…we do."

"See? We have another thing in common.", Laurene grins, "I also don't wanna get married and I don't believe in some sappy swoony falling in love thing like the troubadours sing about. I honestly just want a man who'll be… eh… sort of a partner maybe? Leaving us both to carry on with our own lives as well."

Symon squints at Laurene, as though trying to evaluate what she is saying. "W…what is your own life like?" he settles on asking. "I m…mean, if everybody left you alone to do as you p-pleased, w-what would you do?"

"I'd do your books and stuff, because I LIKE doing books. And I like to cook and bake. If you think that's all I got, you got another thing coming.", she smiles, nodding towards the box of lemon cakes. "I also like puzzles. Mathematical stuff, you know… and I like singing. THAT's what I do when people leave me alone. They think just because I'm fat and ugly, I can't sing? Only them pretty little things at the salons can sing? Bah."

"I don't think you're ugly," Symon says. He doesn't say she's not fat. "You sang a good song w…when I m-met you. B-but I didn't think you p…probably liked me v…v…very much when we m-met. Don't you think you could find someone you liked b-better? Someone clever and good at p-puzzles and numbers and things?"

Laurene tilts her head slightly. "You say you don't think you could fall in love and yet you think of that sappy perfect match, that soul mate, your lost half?", she muses with a little smile and sips some wine. "What would I need someone -else- for to be good at puzzles? What would be nice, though, is an instrument, someone to play while I sing. How are you on the lyre?"

Symon smiles at Laurene. "Liking is different from love, maybe," he posits. Then shrugs, a gesture accented by a loft of his eyebrows. "Oh, I've never really touched a lyre. I told you I p-played the recorder and I think you w…winced." He grins and drinks down more wine.

Laurene smiles wryly. Point taken. "Well, yea, the recorder isn't exactly killing it at musical soirees. But I don't mind. I mean, just as I said, you can go on partying and hanging with Étienne and you don't mind if I got a pretty boy with a lyre at home accompanying my singing, right?", she wonders.

Symon looks up, considering, and shrugs. "No, I don't m…mind," he says. "Although I don't w…want you getting the idea I don't like girls. I do. Just, I've b-been accustomed not to hanging around each other for terribly long." He sits back with his wine, looking at Laurene. "W…we would b-be a laughable couple, though," he says. "P-people w…would make fun of us together in a w…way I don't think they w-would if we were apart."

"And that's bothering you why?", Laurene asks, bluntly once more. "They make fun of us solo, too. Me because I'm fat, you because you stutter. See, another thing in common!", she can't resist adding with a grin, before continueing. "Isn't it better to let the idiots say 'man, look at them, they're made for each other' than 'what does that handsome guy want with the fatty' or 'why couldn't that pretty lass get anyone better than the guy with the stutter'?", she challenges him.

"I like to p-pretend that they don't," Symon says, tone somewhere between glum and false cheer. "I don't know," he says. "It's all such a b-big and terrible decision. W…why do we do things this way? Couldn't we just set up our alliances and land holdings through contracts nothing to do with m…marriage?"

"Well, I dunno, I didn't make the rules.", Laurene shrugs, "And anyway, I ain't trying to persuade you. If you don't want me, that's okay. I just wanted… I dunno, a fair chance. Get us to talk to each other properly without my mother hovering like a bad-tempered hawk."

"It is b-better just the two of us, I think," Symon allows, nodding. "B-but I need to think on it, I suppose. I do think you know w…what you are about. And that is good. And m-maybe you understand how I am."

Laurene chuckles a little. "Oh, well, I'd definitely want to get to know you better, too. I'm not just throwing myself at you like that. But as I said, fair chance. So yea, why don't you think about it? Have a cake while you do.", she winks, "And leave one for Étienne, too."

"All right," Symon allows, cautiously acknowledging a change in his thinking being wrought by Laurene today. "W…when you m-met Étienne, did you talk much?"

"Not really… I kinda took him by surprise, coming unannounced. I was scared I'd find nobody at home otherwise. Well, actually I had gone to see YOU, but you weren't in.", she tries to clarify, muddling the issue further, "He was nice, but I didn't wanna bug him too long and he just agreed to arrange this lunch, so you and I could talk again."

This makes Symon question for the first time whether Étienne really did have business today. "Ah, I see." He is quiet a moment drinking wine and considering this. But at last his attention is back on Laurene. "M…maybe it's b-better if we don't say anything to your m…mother either way until we've thought more."

"Oh hell yea.", Laurene agrees quickly, "Let her think what she wants. She already got annoyed that I had the audacity to want to meet whoever she picked for me. I really don't need her to start meddling."

"I like her," Symon says for the second time, "But she's rather…intense. And I think I could not think for m…myself so well thinking that she is w-waiting. M…my own m-mother is far away which makes my life easier."

"Yea, luckily Mom's now busy with the flour and the smugglers and all of that, so I got her off my back.", Laurene says with no small relief, then smiles. "Well, I should go. But thanks for seeing me. And if you wanna meet up again, you know where to find me, right?"

"I think so," Symon says, bobbing his head. "You w…were terribly nice today," he says. "At least I think I know you b-better, now. Thank you for the cakes, too. They smell heavenly. Can't w…wait to eat them."

"Sometimes I'm terribly nice. Sometimes nicely terrible.", Laurene quips, looking rather relieved and pleased herself. "Take care, Symon.", she says casually and gets to her feet to leave.

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