(1311-05-01) Wild Rose Considerations
Summary: Raphael approaches Séverine, seeking answers for two concerns.
RL Date: Wed May 01, 2019
Related: Cultivation and To Light a Candle. Maybe some others.
raphael severine 

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 knock at the door at a time that Raphael expects will not be dreadfully busy, perhaps the early afternoon. Once he's gathered that it is all right, Raphael pushes open the door and admits himself, shutting the door behind him. "Good morning," he says. "I know that you have much to do, but I wondered if you might have a moment to discuss a small matter."

He must have known that Séverine would be in her office at this hour. At least, the softly spoken "Come in," will be indication enough that his assumption is true. Grey eyes lift their gaze from the pile of parchments lined up before her on the desk, and the Red Rose Second smiles, as she, leaning back in her seat, takes a moment to assess the appearance of the seasoned Thorn. "Ah. It's you.", she remarks, and in gesturing towards the other chair across the table from her, she adds, "I am not too terribly busy at the moment." She glances down at the paperwork. "Contracts. I need to run down the tithes we received on Red Roses, to present the numbers to Jacques later today. But I can certainly spare some time for you, Raphael." Her smile shifts from the curve of her lips to a glitter in her eyes. "You know, I would always spare time for you." With that said, she pushes the contracts aside, and in leaning forward, has her lower arms rest on the table. Her gown is a sleeveless dark green contrast to the pallor of her skin, only marred faintly by the spray of freckles. Her red-blonde hair has been gathered into a practical do that doesn't get in the way. "Can I offer you anything to drink, Raphael?", Séverine asks with another curving of her lips.

Raphael stands beside the chair for a moment to look down on Séverine with a hard smile, but then he does take the seat. "How kind of you," he says. "I appreciate the time. There's nothing I need at the moment, thank you. The matter I have to raise is small, but it may be worthwhile to raise with Jacques. Or he may not need to bother himself with it. That I will leave up to you. I hope you don't mind me raising it with you; I could not find Baptiste in his office this morning. But also I think it may be as relevant to your canon as to ours." He pauses to regard the Red Rose, the glittering eyes and curving lips, before he continues. "The Vicomtesse de Gueret, as you probably know, is a friend to our salon though not a patron. But as I have afforded her the privilege of walking in our garden sometimes in the morning before most of the house awakes, she has expressed to me the wish to make our salon a small gift. She can provide cuttings, she says, of a medicinal herb that, when smoked, can provide relief from pain. Since I have not the standing to make a determination on this offer, I thought I should raise it with a Second. It could potentially be offered to patrons at the end of an assignation, or be used by Red Roses when necessary. Perhaps only by those of a certain standing, since we would not wish to undermine the endurance training of the younger ones."

There may be that moment, of Séverine holding her breath until Raphael finally accepts her inviting gesture. Or was it that particular smile he gave her? Séverine listens in silence when Raphael speaks his piece. When he references Red Roses, her brows lift, and one corner of her mouth comes up in a wry twist of a smile. "When it comes to Red Roses, Raphael, you and I know that we are made to endure. To be unable to bear the pain is a thing no Red Rose will admit. Nor will we resort to taking herbs to negate what we are.", the Second replies softly and not without a certain pride. The endurance training, now that you mention it… is not something that ever ends. So where would we draw the line, and would be not insulting to grant fully marqued courtesans relief that we deny our Red Rose adepts?" There is an edge to her tone, a hint of authority that comes with the position she holds. Sharp is the smile she gives him before the Red Rose Second lowers her gaze.

"In regards of patrons though…", Séverine ponders, "I can very well see a good use for this herb. Patrons that have gone through the treatment of Thorns." Her features soften, as she looks up to meet Raphael's gaze. "Jacques should be easily convinced of accepting that herb. But… let me inquire… why does the Vicomtesse de Gueret not approach Jacques directly about this? I trust, some details would need to be specified more clearly."

Raphael inclines his head at Séverine's rejection of the utility of pain reduction for Red Roses. "I apologize if you find the suggestion insulting," he replies in an even tone, face showing little emotion in reaction to the Second's criticism. "Your wisdom on the matter is of course why I have come to you to ask. And why I ask in private. Understand that no offense is intended." He sits back, propping his arms on the arms of the chair he occupies. "She did not know if the offer would be one that we would accept. And she does not know Jacques, she knows me. Besides, the Vicomtesse is a woman of great pride and fiery temper. She would not, for instance, have liked to hear what you just said, though I understand why you say it. It is my opinion that, for our salon in particular — which is sometimes misunderstood by those who do not patronize it — it is wise to cultivate noble friends who are /not// patrons. Who may stand up for us should any trouble arise regarding our reputation. As has occasionally happened due to misleading rumors and the like."

<FS3> Severine rolls Composure: Great Success. (3 4 8 8 8 3 7 3 5 3)

Séverine's manner retains the same polite soft spoken courtesy. Even if Raphael's assurance that he did not mean any insult has her lift both her hands. "I am not offended. I merely wished to point out why this particular thought — considerate as it is — does not quite fit the way I have been trained in, at Valerian House in Elua.", she explains, leaning back in her chair, drawing her palms over the smooth surface of the desk in front of her, as natural consequence of the motion. "The offer of the Vicomtesse de Gueret is kind enough, and I would be ill-advised to anger her with my rejection. But… luckily, for the both of us, there is use for the herb, even if perhaps not in that all-encompassing manner you envisioned." Her smile returns, more genuine and relaxed than before, and she tilts her head a little to the side.

"But I fear, you've lost me. When did any trouble arise in regards to our reputation? Did I miss anything? Have there been any new rumors, beside the one I have rectified towards you? La Rose Sauvage stands strong, and we have the backing and support of House Mereliot." Her smile tightens a little. "That is not to dismiss your opinion, that allies are of use."

"Not of which I am aware," Raphael replies to these questions. "Our house is strong. Our contracts are many. We have patrons from some of the finest families. That is all good, and it is not my intention to be dismissive of it. But you must forgive me. I first came to this house forty years ago. The wind does not always blow in the same direction. Perhaps at my age I think too much of the longer future. I believe that every dependable friend made is a stone in the foundation of our house." He shakes his head a little. "That is all." He leans forward a little, eyes sharpening as he regards Séverine. "Have I overstepped? I made the Vicomtesse no promises."

There are many facets to a Red Rose. Especially, when this Red Rose holds a position like Second or even Dowayne. And it is this particular side to her personality, that Séverine currently puts on display, as she considers Raphael's reply. So much younger than he is she, and yet of higher rank. To his admission, she inclines her head, obviously appeased. "There is no need to forgive, when there was no offense in the first place," comes her reply, along with a faint smile. "Your concern may be valid. For who can tell what will be, in a few decades from now?" Her stormy grey eyes hold his gaze even as Raphael leans forward. "You have not overstepped, Raphael. I see merit and sense in the proposition. I shall pass this on to Jacques. And maybe, if the Vicomtesse prefers it that way, all the arrangements could be made through messengers. In case, Jacques approves of the idea, I expect that he will write to her. Or… would you suggest a different course of action, Raphael?" There. She asked him for his opinion.

It is indeed a delicate balance between Rose and Thorn of differing ranks and ages. Raphael simply nods at Séverine's response. "I think writing will be wisest. The Vicomtesse has offered to help in the early cultivation of these plants as well. Further, she assures me that there is no concern with dosing in this herb, which makes it safe to offer to patrons in my opinion. Although she is hot-headed, she is also precise in her knowledge." Now his eyes move over the Second's face, as though in some way evaluating her or trying to guess at her thoughts. "Tell me," he says. "Do /you/ think much on the future?"

Just that her rank is higher than his does not mean that Séverine does not show Raphael the respect he deserves. When he replies, she quickly seems to agree to his proposed route of action. "Jacques may think it wise to confer with the Balm Second of Le Coquelicot, about the herb, just to make sure," she remarks, almost a bit apologetically. "But I trust your word, as you seem to trust hers." It is his question though, that makes a smile of surprise blossom on her features. "Of course, I do think of the future, Raphael. In what concerns this salon at least. Even if a more immediate future, than what will happen in the long term, compared to your considerations. As for mine own… Well, that is another matter. I might leave the salon at some point, but I think, that point is still many many years away from now." A soft sigh leaves her lips, even if the smile remains. "That is not to say that other options may occur. But whether and when that will be, I can hardly tell, for now."

"I think that is wise," Raphael agrees. "I am no herbalist, myself. And anyone could be mistaken." He looks interested when his question prompts a smile, and such a reply. "Naturally anything may happen," he allows, nodding once. "But I wonder, what is it that you want for yourself? Do you wish to marry or consort out one day? Or to become independent? Or retire solo? Among my own contemporaries I believe it was not uncommon for Red Roses to make splendid matches by marriage or consortship. They were historically less likely than Thorns to seek solitude in retirement." He lets out a faint chuckle as if only now taking account of the many questions he has asked. "You may tell me if I am being too probing," he says, smiling. "It is merely my curiosity. I have been back for some months now, yet I feel my understanding of so many here remains at the surface level."

"Consortship…", Séverine muses with a vague smile. "Now, that would require a strong attachment to someone. I have had lovers, beside of my assignations. But none of them so far would have qualified for such an arrangement." She does not seem to mind his questions at all, on the contrary, it is as if they are now conversing as equals, as talk turns to more personal considerations. "I would never open a salon of my own though, as I feel too much at home here, at Rose Sauvage. They have become my family. And I still have hopes that Edouard will request me to visit, once he is returned to Marsilikos…" There is a pause, before she looks towards Raphael inquiringly. "What of you, Raphael? What are your plans? For how long do you think you will stay here? Are you already considering when to retire?"

"Edouard has never in the past failed to appreciate the beautiful experts of your canon," Raphael says, suggesting that such a request will assuredly happen. Since she returns the question to him, he nods. "In faith, I am not," he says. "There will surely come a day when, for one reason or another, contracts with me are no longer sought, or when I may be truly unable to fulfill them. Until that day I expect to remain here in service to Naamah. I have no plans to leave the salon again. It is the time of my life to seek to repay Naamah for the many blessings in my life that I enjoyed through her grace."

"You are very sought after, currently," Séverine remarks. "So it wouldn't surprise me, if you will continue to be in demand for the years to come." Even so, she has to acknowledge a certain beauty to his latter statement, as becomes clear when she lowers her gaze, and her demeanor turns a bit pensive. "Debts need to be paid, in whatever form," there is approval in her tone. "In our case, we are lucky that you feel thus indebted." It is a simple statement, but no less genuine.

"For some years," Raphael agrees. "I hope. But not eternally. On this subject, it occurs to me now…" He laces his hands together, brows pulling down as he considers a new possibility. "I had planned on making a significant donation of my earnings of the last months to the temple for Naamah's day. But now that we discuss it, I wonder whether it might not be a better idea for me to contribute those funds toward enlarging our salon's contribution. That is, I assume some contribution might be made on this special day that approaches. I would find it as good or better to enhance our salon's gesture of gratitude to Naamah than to glorify my own name. Though perhaps compared to what the salon intends to give, it would be inconsequential to contribute but half my takings from a mere couple of months. What do you think?" Though his gaze has wandered in his considerations, it now comes back to Séverine with unwavering focus.

"For some years," Séverine repeats with a light nod, even if her smile dims a little into a more thoughtful cast as Raphael continues. "Now that… that would be a very significant donation, Raphael. Half your earnings of the last two months?" She considers this. "It would appear quite a generous sum. And it would enhance the donation of our Salon quite considerably. Are you truly willing to give the money so that it would be donated in the name of Rose Sauvage rather than your own?" This causes a smile to blossom on her features. "Raphael, this is a generous gesture, and I insist that you speak to Jacques about this. It is not on me to accept it. Nor is it on me to speak on Jacques' behalf. Either way, the Temple of Naamah will appreciate the money and will use it in a manner that befits the Bright Lady."

"I am willing, yes," Raphael replies, and he does sound sure on the matter. "I have no children. My wife has died. Therefore, as this salon has given so much to my training and upkeep, and as it may one day again support me, I see little distinction between my own future and the future of the salon, except that the latter will carry longer. And as you say, either way it supports the temple and honors our lady." Judging by his expression, he considers this all quite a serious matter. But in return for Séverine's smile, he does at length warm to one of his own. "Then I must do as you say," he concludes. And the smile broadens once more. "You are good to have given me so much of your time on a day when there are pressing accounts to settle. I find you offer some of the clearest counsel in the house. You have my gratitude."

"Then I must do as you say." It is not often, a Red Rose will hear this from a Thorn, and perhaps Séverine relishes in the vague triumph of that moment — except that both Raphael and her seem to be of a mind, this time, in regards to his proposition. "It helps sometimes to take a break in between, from the numbers," the Second admits with a soft chuckle. "But in this case, I have to add that I do enjoy our conversations, Raphael. If my comments are helpful, I am glad." At which she leans forward, and in catching that broadening of his smile, considers him with a flicker of fresh curiosity. "I believe there must be sides to you that I have no idea about." It is a remark that just leaves her lips in the moment the thought crosses her mind. "I shall let you know about Jacques' reply. So that you may tell the Vicomtesse that she will most probably receive a letter on the matter soon."

Raphael gets to his feet. Judging from the lingering smile, perhaps that irony of role reversal was intentional. But there is no conclusive proof of that. "Many angles are carved in a long and varied life," he replies, then inclines his head. "Very good. You have my thanks." That said, he lets himself out, shutting the door behind him.

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