(1311-05-19) To Quiver and Fidget
Summary: Raphael gives counsel to a Red Rose novice who with her debut approaching is yet uncertain of her way.
RL Date: 19/05/2019
Related: Assorted Pigs.
raphael lillian 

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.

Now that spring is thoroughly established, birdsong greets every morning in Marsilikos - but few courtesans are up to hear the majority of it. Novices tend to get the least mercy in this regard, however. Morning duties are rotated, but there are few days when a novice can truly sleep in. For there is always work to be done kindling the fires, changing and laundering an endless supply of linens, preparing breakfasts, and keeping the public areas immaculately clean. Adepts and full courtesans are typically less likely to be present at this hour, though there are a few who emerge early at least on certain days. It is not unusual to see Raphael within an hour or two of dawn. Sometimes he is assigning tasks to Thorn novices to allow Baptiste, the Second, a moment to catch up on sleep after long nights reviewing contracts. But just now, he appears more at liberty. He sits in one of the large leather armchairs with a basket between his feet, and appears to be working on a bit of small-scale wood carving, dropping shavings into that basket. Though he sits forward a bit, his spine is straight, a courtesan's upbringing evident in his posture. On a table to one side sits a steaming mug of barley mint tisane.

Mercifully, today is not a day where Lillian has morning duties. With her debut not long off, even if the exact date's yet to be pinned, the older novice has had her usual chores reduced in order to keep her well and truly rested when the day comes. No use for anyone running a girl ragged before such a big night. Still, she's up and about, the excitement of her upcoming debut making it hard to sleep in, expecting it within a week or so. After helping a few of the younger novices with their own duties, warmly pointing out to one the little nooks and crannies to clean that she might not think to tend to, Lillian makes her way over to Raphael, all hint of trembling shyness banished as they're only around their own kind, now. "Good morning, Raphael. I trust you've been well?" smiling sweetly at the far older courtesan, looking down at his tisane to check for any need of refills, then closing her eyes, taking a deep breath that raises her shoulders and floats her onto her tiptoes, enjoying the refreshing scent with a happy sigh, eyes filled with energy and joy as they open.

Raphael looks up from his task. His tisane is still well-filled and hot. "Good morning, Lillian," he says. If he truly hadn't known her name yesterday, he knows it today. "Have you slept well? I hope you were not too distressed by Lord Maurice yesterday." His eyes, bright but not precisely warm, suggest that he may have more to say on the matter, but he does not forge ahead with it, instead leaving the space for the novice to reply. He holds the gaze on her a long moment, taking in the changes in her demeanor between an afternoon on the floor and a morning when the doors are closed, but eventually returns them to his work.

Lillian giggles warmly at the comment of yesterday, shaking her head with a geniune little smile. "I slept like a babe. Admitedly, I can get into my role a bit too much sometimes-" another little giggle as she asides "-those red rimmed, teary eyes were geniune, by the way!" shaking her head and continuing "So by the time night fell, I was well spent enough to get right to dreaming. As much as I'm sure it'd pain Lord Maurice to know, my thoughts were less on him, and more on my debut. If that night was enough to get me to melt so blissfully into the sheets, can you imagine what I'll be like after my first..?" Gesturing to a kneeling cushion nearby, she asks "May I, please? I was hoping I might be able to bother you for some advice. But if you'd prefer some quiet solitude to work on your carving, I completely understand."

"You're welcome to," Raphael replies, glancing at the cushion. "As far as I am concerned, you need not kneel at this hour, but I know that the conditioning of Red Roses is a constant application of will and bodily training, so you may if you prefer, or if those are your instructions from your Second." He sets his knife aside and drinks from the tisane. "Admittedly, I allowed things to proceed as they did because I thought it would benefit your reputation in advance of your debut. People will have talked of it." He sets the mug down and takes up the knife again, using it to gesture before he applies it to the wood. "But if you are coming more to the floor, shall we arrange a signal between ourselves, in case patrons take liberties and you would like someone to intervene? I would suggest that if you find yourself in distress, you make a circle with your left forefinger and thumb. Then, if I suspect you may be in trouble, I can look to your left hand to see whether an outside interruption from a Thorn would be useful to you. There are some patrons, alas, who are hardest on our youngest." He glances up to see how this is striking Lillian, knife stilling momentarily. "But don't let me discourage you from asking what you wished to ask." He appears to be carving a single block into interlocking open rectangles.

Lillian moves the cushion a little closer towards Raphael's chair, in front of it on the left side now, and kneels down. "Comfort, to be honest. Sitting down here when there's a cushion instead would just feel..discomforting?" she tilts her head, unsure of the word, but it's clear the submissive training of Valerian canon runs deep in her veins. "And you've my gratitude for what you did, Raphael. It can be so difficult to keep that shy balance, but you made it so much easier." incredibly happy to have a had a Thorn of his caliber to play off of. "Thumb and forefinger" she repeats, looking down at her left hand to make the gesture for a moment. "It's a weird thing, that. I'm not.." she gestures with the back of her hand to the seat where Lord Maurice was, yesterday "..that, not really. But when I'm in the moment, I..am? It's so hard to describe. It's not me, but it is me. His words did truly hurt, and offend my innocence, even if I've giggled at such much worse from other novices at othertimes."

Looking down into her lap, lost in thought, it takes Lillian a moment to find her words. "I was just wondering how exactly I should present myself for the debut. Do you think for that sort of thing, men might want that reserved, blushing side of me? Or would they respond better to the bubbly, happy, ignorant-of-evil kind of innocence? A quivering, fearful girl to break? Or a sheltered but optimistic one to introduce to the darker side of the world she has no notion of?"

A moment's silence while Raphael shaves the corner off one of the rectangles and considers his answer. "I think it may be a mistake to think of men as a single category," he says. "Even among devotees of a particular canon, you will find many variations. What I think you should consider is what type of patron you most wish to attract." He looks up from his work to meet her eyes. "When you present as a person who is afraid, you will naturally attract those patrons who take pleasure in instilling fear. There may be profit in that. But you should consider that there may also be risk in it. Further, you may wish to consider which is the easier for you to maintain over time. As the White Roses will tell you, there is great labor in convincing a patron that you are innocent and unknowing time after time. If a patron wants your fear, will he feel he has to do more and more on each encounter to elicit it?"

When Raphael looks over to meet her eyes, he'd find Lillian staring with rapt attention at everything he says, lips parted just barely from how much she's hanging off every word, nodding slowly every so often, though her eyes always focus on Raphael's no matter how her face movies. When he's done, she murmurs softly "I'm not..really certain." Another pause, hands clasped in her lap in that polite abeyante pose, eyes down into it as she thinks. She's doing it less to try being demure, more to just have a bit of submission to comfort her as she thinks through hard things. "Is it dangerous to be one thing for some patrons, and another for others? I'm terrified that people will chat, and find their illusion shattered. But I want it, so badly. The.." she looks around, making sure no patron has entered, or anyone else who might make this private conversation less so "..fear especially. It makes me quiver and fidget to think about.. But you're right, about what they say. I can be the bubbly, wide-eye innocent with ease, but the shyness takes effort. Even yesterday was difficult. I believe the difficulty may be worth it, though. Especially for my first, when the fear of having a stranger take my firsts is more geniune than it will be, further on?" It's intoned as a question, still seeking his approval and advice.

"I would not call it dangerous, precisely, but I would acknowledge that it requires more management. People who chat too much risk shattering their own illusions, and that is their mistake. However, it is a mistake that they do occasionally make and that may slow your marque. The greater difficulty is presenting yourself in the parlor when patrons are present. If you meet two men there with whom you have had very different assignations, how will you play the part?" Raphael sets his knife aside to drink from his mug. "But mark: your canon is not Camellia. Though your commitment to the art of your canon is essential, you need not necessarily be a single perfect bloom. You may be a multi-faceted gem. If your patrons do not on some level understand that you are an adept who must suit the tastes of many, then they are being childish." He drinks again, then sets the mug aside, looking at the novice. "And you intend to serve men exclusively?"

A wide smile comes to Lillian's lips at the reassuring phrase that she need not be perfect, lifting something of a burden from her shoulders that any novice would feel on the eve of their first debut, where the pressure to be perfect is at its greatest. "I'll take that to heart, then. If more than one is present, than I will do my best to tread the line between my extremes. Blushing optimism with a joyful heart, tempered by shyness? I need to practice that. And if they bring themselves to accept I am more than just a singular girl, then perhaps they are not worthy of further patronage with me." It's a rare bit of pride that she allows to show through, feeling a swell of it as she thinks of what she is. A Red Rose adept, soon, beginning to shed the meekness of novicehood.

"I intend to take all kinds. I'd love a woman as much as a man to be my patron, or even one of those.." she drops to a whisper, leaning closer like this is some secret. "..blessed women who are in between." still a novice full of gossip and tales, in so many ways. "I'll just have to talk with the Second about limiting the kind of person who might come to my debut. I truly, desperatly want someone who's a true patron of the Red Roses. Do you think that would be too much to ask? I know my debut is as much about the salon as it is about me, to begin to repay them for taking me in. But..would she even consider it? Only inviting to the auction men and women who embody the harshness I've been dreaming off for the past years? I'm more terrified of someone with weaker inclinations paying my virgin price, than the extreme opposite."

Raphael nods at this intelligence. "I think that is the most advantageous attitude for a courtesan to take," he says, and although no one is ever asked to serve who they do not please, approval is hinted in his tone. He picks up his knife again. "I think you would be very wise in discussing any of your worries and desires with your Second. She can be trusted to seek the most successful possible debut for you." He goes on shaving the outer edge of the wooden rectangle in his hand, softening up the angle. "I cannot say whether or not she will find it wise to grant your request, but I can say that she will treat you fairly and thoughtfully. Keep in mind that your first experience will not necessarily be the most beautiful or most special that you will enjoy throughout your career, though it may be the most costly to your first patron."

Lillian becomes more at ease now than before, having allowed herself to open up to the experienced Thorn, and been rewarded for it with acceptance. Still kneeling, she leans to the side so her head rests against the front of one of the leather chair's arms. "Thank you for that, too. I was worried that asking a Second to limit anything about the debut that might, even slightly, dampen the profit could elicit an unkind reaction. So I'm glad to hear that. Love as Thou Wilt.." she murmurs to herself, shaking her head with a warm smile. It's a balance, that. Between the needs of the salon who owns her marque, and her own desires. There's few among the patrons here she'd dislike to be with, but she has preferences. Especially for her first. "Mhmm. I understand that, I think. But you cannot stop a novice for trying to make the honeyed dreams about her first patron real, can you?" giggling at that.

"If she thinks it would be too limiting, she will refuse your request," Raphael says, making sure he meets Lillian's eye. "I am not promising that you will receive what you ask. But the Second will hear you, and I think she will understand the delicacy of the moment you are in." Here his expression acknowledges a certain sympathy for being on the cusp of one's debut. "I doubt I can stop anything going on in the head of a girl your age," he replies. "And perhaps you will be lucky enough to realize what you imagine. But I think it is best not to invest the event with momentous significance. You will have many, many opportunities to achieve the glories you are imagining."

"That's all I could ever ask from her. I know I'm still a novice, even if for only a week longer, so the thought of actually making requests to the Second was a little.." Lillian's shoulders scrunch up, smiling weakly "..daunting. I'm just lucky she's sympathetic enough to listen." having yet to have really interacted with the Second outside the half-terried, overly respectful role that every novice is expected to quite rightfully play around her. A brightness beams in those blue eyes as they peer up into Raphael's. "I cannot wait for it. My debut. Those many, many chances to find the perfect patrons. The ability to see the city, in earnest, with only a guard that follows and not a chaperone that leads." She tilts her head "I'm curious, though. Is it..odd that I look forward to the recovery near as much as the night itself? Laying in bed, sleeping in late for some well earned rest. Balms and ointments for the worst wounds. Maybe even a massage.." she exhales gently, dreaming of the aftercare.

Raphael lifts an eyebrow, but he looks faintly amused. "I should not let the Second of Red Roses hear you do," he cautious warmly. "But I will tell you a confidence: when I was a lad of your age, what I looked forward to most in my future was to sleep in a feather bed." He imparts this with a twinkle of good humor in his eye. "Tell me, are you noble born or common?"

Lillian quickly bends over laughing from her kneeling position, brushing a few stray locks behind an ear that the movement dishevled. A twinkle in her eyes, a wide smile, and she replies "I'm glad I'm not the only one then. Our little secret." she kids. "Common born, from a family of tailors in the city. We lived in our shop like most do, and I've hardly had a day to sleep in in my life." She doesn't state the obvious, but a common child would obviously be up in the early hours working in her family's shop. "And no beds like we do, here." giggling again.

Raphael nods his head at this. "I thought so," he replies. "There can be equal artistry between noble-born and common-born courtesans, but we see our positions differently, no doubt. And our futures."

Lillian nods once at that. "I see my future as here, I think. I've not a noble family to return to after I finish my marque, and even if I returned to what I do have, I think.." she looks around at the splendor of the parlor. "..It'll not quite compare to the home I've made here. Especially once I've a small nook of it to call me own, as a courtesan." She gracefully rises to her feet, and replaces the cushion where she got it from. "But that's far off, and I've many a wonderful night between me and it. And equally wonderful mornings-after." flashing a humour smile at Raphael. "Thank you for all the advice." she curtsies in gratitude. "I loved our chat, but I think it's time I attend to what few chores they have me do, so close to adepthood. Do you need anything before I take my leave?" gesturing to the tea, or the bucket of shavings she might need to toss.

Raphael does not look as though he quite agrees with a plan of being a lifetime Red Rose, but if he has misgivings, he does not voice them now. Instead he smiles and nods his head. "I hope you shall have as many wonderful nights as you desire. But no, thank you, I'm quite satisfied. Attend carefully to your chores: do not be overly distracted with what comes next."

Lillian takes the well-placed, well-meaning chastisement with grace, and promises a simply "I will." before bowing and taking her leave.

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