(1311-05-23) But Think Of The Children
Summary: Symon and Étienne consider a likely outcome of the matrimonial plans neither of them ever quite seems to finish making.
RL Date: Thu May 23, 1311
Related: A Legible Hand, Day of Camael: Duel Contest, Day of Elua: Closing Feast.
etienne symon 

Symon and Étienne's Chambers

This small sitting room is wood paneled and cozy. It has a small fireplace with a shared flue, with two comfortable chairs in front of it, with a small table on a green and black rug between them. There is a small writing desk and an X shaped oak foldable chair in front of it.

The floor of the bedroom is made of blackened wood that has aged to be hard as stone. It bears a shallow dip at the door, worn shiny by the passage of feet. There is an oval rag rug made of old clothes in all the shades of the sea in all its moods at the center of the open space. The room is lit by an irregular window, with a deep, padded sill. It has heavy asymmetrical shutters than can be closed completely, or secured on one side, with thick green curtains that can be drawn to hide the window seats. There is simple stained wood paneling. The ceiling is timber frame and plaster. Someone has re-plastered it, embedding a wide assortment of shells from the north coast of Azzalle and the southern coasts of Eisande. In between are smaller bits of mica and iridescent shell fragments that make the ceiling sparkle when a candle is moved.

The furnishings are in the same heavy, sturdy, but simple style as the sitting room. A canopy bed with faded green and black hangings is pushed against one wall, with a heavy chest at the foot. A table and two chairs is set by the windows. The table holds a large brass bowl for washing and an ewer of mildly lavender scented water, assorted cloths, a shaving kit, strops, and some other rather nice male grooming items of clearly local manufacture. A bookshelf mostly holds particularly nice shells and books on astronomy, navigation, and travel, along with a few other items. The bedside table holds a lamp, spare candles, assorted small jars and tools for care of weapons. A few swords and practice blades are propped in a corner.

Étienne is in his practice togs and has pushed all the furniture out of the way. he is sweating hard and having an elaborate and vigorous duel with a practice dummy. He is still a little stiff around the torso, but otherwise he moves like himself.

Symon has been out, but he is now back, and carrying a basket with him on one arm. He lets himself in and shuts the door behind, leaning against the frame to watch Étienne at his practice for a little while, saying nothing to disturb him.

Étienne really is starting to grow into his face. There is still a boyish roundness to it, but when he's concentrating like this one can really see the man he's starting to become. The dancer and swordsmen meet in his footwork and for all his easy going way with Symon, one can see that he really might strike with a swift deadly hand if he were fighting in earnest. He finishes the form with a deadly strike to the neck, and then he turns to Symon, all dimples and blue eyes, "I'm feeling much better, sweet. My grip is holding up fine."

Symon sets the basket down on the table after Étienne slays the dummy and comes over to put his arms round the swordsman. "Lovely form," he says, kissing Étienne on the cheek. "Are you really b-better?"

Étienne returns the cheek kiss, “‘Ware your clothes; I'm dripping with sweat. I really am much better. The rib's still a little twingy, but it's mending." He has the three stones on a thong around his neck, bright against the undyed linen of the practice shirt, "What's in the basket? I hope it's food; I could murder a horse." He pulls off his shirt displaying the pale yellow of the deepest of the bruises nearly faded to nothing, and heads to the other room for a quick wash in the basin. His black curls are tied back in a blue ribbon, the colour of his eyes. "So what have you been up to? You're such a social butterfly lately."

Symon smiles and pats a hand on Étienne's upper chest. Lightly. "P-pies," he responds. "B-but chicken, not horse." He flashes teeth in a smile and watches Étienne come and go. "I w…was always a social b-butterfly," he rejoins. "B…but I have b-been here and there. Elua's feast of course. And to see friends here and there. Have you b…been lonely?"

Étienne returns glistening with liberally applied water, to kiss him properly, "Chicken's even better." He fondly tugs a curl, "I've been learning Tiberian and making good progress, I think…. Oh! It occurs to be we should talk about poor Roberts, and I never did hear you tale of the feast, or what happened with you dinner with Laurène. Bring out your pies and tell me everything!"

"Talk about w…what?" Symon asks, somewhat bewildered. But he pulls the napkin-wrapped pastries out of the basket: two hand-raised chicken pies with vegetables inside, still warm. And he sits on top of the table instead of in a seat as a young nobleman ought.

Étienne grins and positions his chir so they are facing and he can rest his sword arm on his friend's thigh while he eats with his left, "It occurs to me he's had a lot more work while I was injured and we really should double his pay and give him a bonus for looking after me between the poisoning and my injuries. He's been doing a lot more work and it's not really fair to him."

Symon puts his left hand on Étienne's arm and picks up a pie with the other. "Double?" he asks. "That seems like rather a lot. He's doing m…mostly the same, isn't he? I m…mean, I do feel b-badly about all the upheaval, b-but we did give him that day off…"

Étienne's expression is serious, "Symon, he had to handle bed pans. I'm not that much extra work generally, but this last month or so I've been dramatically more. He's been very patient with us. He had to feed a possibly deadly frog. There is no guarantee one or both of us might not get sick or injured. He deserves proper pay for everything he's been put through."

The hand-raised pies have a slightly thick crust so as not to fall apart with all the fillings. So Symon gnaws a bit on the top of his while he listens to Étienne. "W-well… All right, if you think his p…pay is not p-proper," he relents. "He's all right, Roberts."

Étienne eats with real pleasure, "Mmmmm…. this is a very good pie, Sweet." he looks up, transparently pleased, "He's been very good to us and we are rather wayward. Thank you. So tell me about the feast and any new marriage prospects."

Symon finally breaks through the crust, smiling a simple happiness at having resolved Étienne's concern and won his approval so quickly. "Oh, hum. The feast. W…well, Garance w-was there, so of course I w…went to sit with her and she got up a game w…with those new cards you cleverly thought up—it w…was you, wasn't it? I w…was afraid of losing again b-but as it was Elua's day we p-played for kisses instead of coin."

Étienne nods, "I thought it would cheer her up to have her pastimes back at least. Was she terribly cross at me for being laid up and not around the way I'd hoped to keep her company? Did she look well? Did the cards work for her?" He gives him a wicked grin, "How were the kisses? It sounds like a game with no losers. She's lovely, isn't she?"

"Oh, no," Symon replies. "Everyone understood you w…were injured." He chuckles. "I certainly approve of her. She w…won a kiss off me and m…many others from the rest. She's dreadfully clever, you know."

Étienne nods, "Far cleverer than us, certainly. It's a shame she's not a lady. She'd be perfect for you if she were."

"Certainly," Symon agrees, nodding. "Oh, yes, b-but I don't think she'd w…want m-me. She has all those b-books." He eats a few bites of the pie, tilting it so the juices won't drip out. "If she had a b…baby, would it be b-blind?"

Étienne gently squeezes the convenient pie, "She lost her sight to an illness, so it shouldn't affect any child's chance of being born blind. Sometimes a blind baby is born to sighted parents, but I don't think something she got from a fever she recovered from would pass like that." He studies Symon with a mischievous grin, "Are you thinking of taking her for a consort?"

Symon shakes his head quickly. "Oh, no," he says. "I w…was only thinking. Since you b-brought it up." Another bite, another thought. "Do you think m…my children will stutter?"

Étienne looks up at him, "Did your parents or grandparents stutter, do you know?"

"Certainly not m…my p-parents," Symon says, nodding slowly. "None of the grandparents I knew." He tilts his head slightly for a moment, but then goes back to eating the pie.

Étienne says, "We could ask Leda about your grandparents, or Lady Oriane. I know my eyes and my father's are my grandfather's, but not all my siblings have them. It could be your stutter is a… chance thing, like my younger sister being different. It's not like a fever though. I don't know if it's in your blood or not, sweet, but if it is, it might be like Agnès not having my father's eyes even though I do." He eats, thinking, taking Symon's question seriously while not making a big deal about it. “Do you know if… your mother had a fall or a fever when she was heavy with you? I know there is a fever that doesn't blind the mother, but can blind her child if she's carrying."

"I'd rather not ask Leda about m…my grandparents," Symon says, pulling a bit of a face. "It is strange to think of it as b-being in the blood. And yet I always had it. I think. B-but no, I don't know if she did. I don't think she w…would like to admit it if she had."

Étienne laughs, "Oh! Sorry, I didn't think." He reaches up to stroke his cheek, sobering, "If it is like my father's eyes and not something that happened like a fever or an accident, then you'll do better than your parents did. You're kind instead of proud, and you'll have me to advise you. Instead of making things worse with cruelty, it'll be like Garance's special cards and the kottabos bell and the way we do lessons for my sister. Instead of being angry or just… throwing away a child, you and I, we'd love that child just the same and get creative about lessons. You know better than anyone what to do with your type of stutter. Yours is hardly noticeable most of the time. Who better to help a child learn to talk? It'll be like I said back in Elua with the reading and figures. We'll get a tutor who'll go slow and gentle and who's willing to let lessons be read to the child when the headaches come. Love and creativity and patience make all the difference.”

Symon draws his eyebrows at the explanation Étienne offers. He smiles. "P-people notice," he says gently, touching Étienne's arm. "You m…make it sound almost nice, p-parents and children."

Étienne strokes his cheek and hair, smiling a little sadly, "It can be very nice, sweet, if the parents make it so. I believe in you. I just wish you had the parents you deserved instead of the ones you had. I want you to have the marriage you deserve even if I couldn't save you from what came before. I want you to be really happy, Sweet Symon."

"I don't know if I shall b-be so good w…with them," Symon says, meaning children. "I understand w…why some p-people get so tired of their children. They are always there, aren't they."

Étienne hugs his middle, now he's done eating, "You'll do fine, sweet, and you'll have a nurse and a governess and tutors. That's what nursery staff is for. you get all the best parts of having children. You get to watch them crawl about being cute and to play with them on the grounds and teach them hunting and the like, but the diapers and the tantrums and the really hard bits are all something you pay someone else to do." He adds, "Once you have enough of them they start looking after each other.”

Symon nods quickly, cheered by this reminder that there will be staff to take care of the difficult parts. "I suppose I am getting ahead of m…myself, anyway," he says with good humor.

Étienne looks up at him, loving and serious, "It's not a thing I'd have thought of, and I'm glad we discussed it. Just remember, you don't have to do any of this alone."

Symon nudges Étienne's leg with his, nodding. "That helps," he says. "You are terribly sensible, after all."

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