(1311-06-08) The Pleasure of His Conversation
Summary: Iphigénie and Aurore strike up an acquaintance after Nicolette’s debut. They have one pleasure, at least, in common…
RL Date: 06/08/2019
Related: Follows on directly from The Blooming of a White Rose.
aurore iphigenie marielle 

Solar — La Rose Sauvage

Compared to the darker, heavy interior of downstairs, the solar feels like a pleasant contrast, where the use of light pastel tones and white provide a light air that is almost convincing. Floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city are guarded by curtains in light shades of pastel greens and blues. A few thick carpets cover the polished oak floor, where a few high backed armchairs are arranged about a kneeling cushion in the center. Beverages offered here will usually be white sparkling wines, to lighten the mood and keep up a certain innocent air. The tapestries on the white walls are kept to lighter hues as well, picturesque depictions of alyssum flower arrangements along with those of modest maidens in innocent situations, while the darker side to Alyssum canon reveals itself only to the attentive eye, in the details of the woodwork in dark mahogany side tables and the seats, depicting a pair of man and woman caught in obvious amorous entanglement, she faintly resisting and averting her gaze.

Nicolette's strange idea is met with a deepening of Iphigénie's smile, and a slow nod of her regal white head. "Soon," she states again, as Nicolette hurries away to her fate— nobody has reclaimed the lost veils and so, unobtrusively, she folds that face-veil once more and slips it away into a pocket of her sober and simple dark gown. She smiles up again at her new acquaintance. "My lady Aurore, might I trouble you to pass me my cane— I left it in the corner, out of the way," she explains apologetically, nodding to the silver-topped ebony walking stick propped just beyond the Chalasse lady's skirts. "And are you a frequent patron of the house? Or am I too indiscreet in asking you that so soon?"

Aurore collects the cane, with an unconsciously graceful handling of skirts and movement. She has long been trained to make the most of her silhouette and statuesque figure as she never quite could compete with more conventional beauties. She presents the cane, "It is not. I enjoy Raphael's company and so am a patron of the house, though I do not partake of its specific pleasures. His conversation is more than entertaining enough. May I ask the same of you, or is that indiscreet?"

The elderly Kusheline bows graciously over her stick as she receives it. "Thank you… Ah, I see. I may have lingered a little, too, for the pleasure of his conversation. I shan't say you are not at all indiscreet — but you are not unbecomingly so," she remarks to Aurore, drawing the distinction with a smile. "I have been in Marsilikos only a handful of days," is her answer, "and I am no one's patron here, yet." She inclines her head confidentially nearer to the other woman. "Though on that note…" And with her stick planted firmly before her she rises stately and slow from the chair she has occupied all evening, her long wasp-waisted torso unyielding in its cage of steel-boned corsetry. The silver icicles suspended from her collar gleam mirror-bright against the night-black cloth of her plain gown. "Shall we?" she suggests to Aurore, gathering her up with a sideways feint of green eyes. "… My late sister-in-law was a Claudine Bonnel," she remarks, "though I imagine you are too young ever to have known her well."

Aurore offers her arm in case the other woman wishes an extra support on her rising or for their walk. Something flickers in her face at the mention of the connection, a calculation as she works out family trees in her head. "I fear I did not. All my dealings were with a different generation. I do owe House Bonnel a great deal of gratitude for kindnesses past."

The White Rose Second has just been quietly finishing up sorting out the last bit of details surrounding the Debut. She is mindful of the guests that are present still in case they have need of her.

Having found a stray Bonnel in Marsilikos Iphigénie is indeed disposed to hold on to her; she slips her left hand through that offered arm but rests it there only lightly, and indeed though her steps are slow they seem not unduly laboured, nor does she have great recourse to the cane held firmly in her right hand. Her silhouette is a narrow one but in walking her gown reveals the true richness of its cut, bell-shaped skirts swaying about her and brushing the walking stick's ebony shaft. Subtly, she directs their progress toward Marielle. "Claudine was a dear friend to me when I returned to Kusheth," she confides to Aurore, "and so one might say I owe a similar debt…" If, that is, one is a courteous elderly lady, prolonging a conversation out of curiosity for a stranger.

Her green eyes, wide and intelligent and framed by the creases of many years, seek out those of the White Rose Second: she catches her without any trouble. Her voice flows toward her Kusheline but mellowly so, like spiced honey; the subtle scent she carries about her is of honey and blood oranges, a sweetness just touched by the bitter. "Mademoiselle Marielle. Might I trouble you for a moment, to arrange your debutante's second assignation—?" Her eyebrows lift in question.

Aurore sets her pace to her companion's without it being obvious. "I've been in the city since just before the Longest Night celebrations. It's truly a lovely city, but it can take a while for a new place to feel like home." She smiles at Iphigénie, "I do take an interest in the progress of talented young people."

A discreet, appreciative smile from Iphigénie to Aurore; and then for a moment or two she is absorbed in her conversation with Marielle about the whens and the wherefores, quietly but unshakably insisting that: "Only the second assignation is of value to me, mademoiselle. I seek the initial impressions of so interesting an imagination as I know Nicolette possesses… When you have spoken with her tomorrow I beg you will write to me to make the arrangements. The Maignard Residence in the Avenue de Kusheth." And they take their leave.

"Forgive me," is Iphigénie's forthright remark to Aurore, and her gloved fingertips gently press the younger woman's arm as they move away, still together, "but I suspected it might be a case of the right word at the right moment… My dear, thank you for your courtesy toward me; you are both patient and kind."

Aurore adds to Marielle, "I may call later in the week to see how she is doing. Timing matters not at all to me." As they leave she tells Iphigénie, “We were all young once and a debut can be a difficult thing. More so in a salon requiring… specialised skills and disciplines. I admire the particular sort of dedication those called to serve here must have and the extra skills required even if they are not… my personal ones. Perhaps more so because it is not a thing I could do myself." She bobs her head, "I am hoping to build a larger local acquaintance."

As they move out of the solar and along the dark green damask corridor with its luxurious carpet calculated to muffle their steps and the soft strikes of Iphigénie's stick, the Kusheline woman muses aloud: "You speak as one who has gained more than a passing familiarity with debuts…"

Aurore says, "Oh, I was an independent adept, before I married the vicomte. I was trained as a Bryony originally."

"I see," murmurs Iphigénie, who then draws the obvious conclusion: "And then Bryony House sold your marque to… one of my Bonnel kinsmen?" she suggests, with an interrogatory lift of an eyebrow and her smooth Kusheline voice. "You must tell me that story one day, Lady Aurore, when we are better acquainted."

Aurore nods agreement, "He was very kind to me and I was… skillful in my way. It was a good arrangement for both of us in the end." She flashes her a dazzling grin, "When we are better acquainted. I imagine your own history is a fascinating one. I would love to hear it. Perhaps over wine or a cup of chocolate."

"Oh," and Iphigénie flicks a glance ceilingward and chuckles softly, a sound as mellow and flowing as her talk; "a few years of service, a marriage, there's very little to that… Nothing so unusual as your own tale. Forgive me," and with another slight pressure of her fingertips she releases Aurore's arm, and transfers her cane from her right hand to her left, where she holds it absently, as though it's just something she happens to be carrying. They've come through the gallery to the head of the stairs, and to go down them she takes firm hold of the bannister in her right hand, her steps cautious but unhesitating as she descends.

Aurore trusts her to know how safely to manage a staircase. In her experience, inexperienced help is a bigger danger than no help. She follows along, "Somehow I doubt that anything about you could be uninteresting… Did you know Raphael in Elua?"

Was Raphael in Elua—? The tidbit finds a place amongst Iphigénie's own observations of the man, marked for later investigation. "No, no," she murmurs, her head held high but her eyes subtly downcast to watch her steps as one follows the next in a feat of endurance somewhat lesser than the other day's. Her black hem just brushes her sensible flat black leather slippers; her skirts drape behind her, half a dozen steps higher up, falling gradually lower in a caress over the velvet runner. "… Did you?" she wonders then, pausing to glance at Aurore.

Aurore shakes her head, "I've never been to the capital. It's just you had the air of old acquaintances."

"… Did we?" And Iphigénie takes another step and another and then shakes her head, white hair gently wafting about her. "Perhaps there are some things a Mandrake and a Valerian understand without speaking them aloud," she suggests, "or perhaps we shall become old acquaintances ere long. I don't know. The air is marvelously full of potential in a new place, don't you find—?"

Aurore nods, "It is very likely so about Mandrake and Valerian. He really is a fine conversationalist. Would you do me the favour of not mentioning Elua unless he does? I mistook your relationship and was thus indiscreet in a way I would not have been otherwise." She smiles, "It is a beautiful city, with many interesting opportunities for my house.”

"I will not mention it," agrees Iphigénie, and as they step down into the salon proper she adds with a wry little smile: "After all, I hardly know the man."

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