(1311-06-13) Monkey Business
Summary: Chiméne calls Drake to account for some recent developments.
RL Date: 13/06/2019
Related: The Same Boat, Stripey Horses and In-Laws.
chimene drake 

Ducal Suite — Rousse Residence

This expansive salon is paneled in soft grey boiseries with dainty and understated details picked out in fresh white, and many mirrors embedded in simple gilded surrounds. Crosshatched parquet underfoot is executed in rare amber and golden hardwoods, and polished to a glorious beeswaxed sheen; overhead, there hangs a large crystal and gilt chandelier surrounded by four smaller satellites, capable of providing a ferocious blaze of light on evenings when the mirrored and gilded candle-stands placed here and there are considered insufficient.

Opposite one another, set in the walls to the left and the right as one enters from the landing, are two sizable fireplaces in blue-veined marble, and above each a painting by a master of two centuries ago: views of Namarre as it was then, of old Courcel castles long since abandoned and gone to seed. Gilded chairs and chaises, covered in white silk embroidered with garlands of spring flowers in pale pinks and blues and greens, and honeybees in sparkling thread-of-gold, form strictly symmetrical arrangements in association with occasional tables. In cool weather these center upon the fireplaces. When it's warmer they migrate toward four pairs of tall casement windows which open upon a broad white marble terrace leading down into the gardens. Drawing closed the white silk drapes reveals an indoor garden as well: flowering vines pick up motifs from the upholstery, in their ascent of a crosshatched trellis picked out in thread-of-gold.

Doors likewise to the left and the right of the salon open into two sets of palatial private chambers, for the use of each half of a married couple.

Word has reached Drake in his lair that the lady of the house, on one of her flying visits to Marsilikos betwixt filial duties in Nice and urgent business in Grasse, desires speech with him: when he presents himself the doors of her private salon are opened crisply in unison by the usual bewigged lackeys, and Chimène herself may be discovered curled up on a chaise-longue with a silver goblet of wine in one paw and a letter in the other, long-limbed and bare-shouldered in a gown of layered white silk gauze. Looking up, sighting him, she lays down the letter and regards him coolly, her ivory features impassive. Several seconds tick past, whilst he comes further into the chamber. "… Drake," she remarks, in a distant and slightly wearied soprano. "What is this I am told of a monkey—?" Which she pronounces as though it were an outlandish word she'd only just learnt.

Drake entered the lion's den (or lioness's den) with a certain amount of trepidation. She caught him on the hop, white shirt hanging from his breeches, his feet bare on the cold stone floor. "Lady Chimene -", he manages to greet before she speaks and he winces. Oh dear. "The monkey is Lady Rajiya's… pet. It arrived with her parents from Bhodistan.", he explains ever so very politely.

Chimène regards him impassively for a long moment: feet, tails, youth, and all. "… I see," she murmurs. The silver goblet rises to her unpainted but uncannily pink lips; she takes a deep draught, lowers it to the table at her elbow, and then clasps her long-fingered, richly-jeweled hands in her soft white lap. "Of course you will let me know," she suggests gently, "if you require any assistance in transporting the lady Rajiya's pet to her new home at Draguignan."

"Of course.", Drake assures her, a little coolly, as is their way these days. It seems the safe thing to say. But after a moment he unwisely decides to continue: "Of course we don't know yet when we will relocate to Draguignan. I suppose it will be necessary sooner or later, but for now we'll continue to live here in Marsilikos.", he explains.

Oh, yes, there have been moments, in foyers and corridors and salons, in this house and even in others, in which a distant but courteous nod one way and something similar in riposte, have sufficed them for the nonce— but now, Chimène fixes Drake with cool hazel eyes and explains to him in delicate terms how things shall be. "Of course you and your lady will always be welcome here as my guests," she assures him, "but for everyone's sake — I am considering," she confides, lowering her chin whilst those wide eyes bore harder into his, "all of us who live in this house — you'll no doubt wish to send your lady's unusual pets ahead to Draguignan." The veriest hint of a pause. "And— do remind me," she pleads, smiling, "how many stalls in the stables are presently occupied by your animals?"

Drake stiffens somewhat when he is reminded that he is not actually Master of the House, even if he feels like it most of the time, what with Chimene being elsewhere most of the time. He gulps and juts his chin forward just a little bit. "We will move to Draguignan, when we're ready.", is all the reassurance he gives. "And right now, I have three horses stabled and there will be another one for Rajiya's horse. Then there are the new stri— the zebras, but they will not thrive in a stable. We will have to find another solution for them." Note, he totally doesn't mention the monkey.

Chimène gives him a slight smile. "No doubt you've made the necessary arrangements to have all of your new animals," she murmurs, "received in comfort at Draguignan… How much you must have to do," she suggests, "with your wedding so close. Tell me, when shall you introduce me to your bride—?" Her eyes widen and her brows rise, in a fairly solid imitation of innocent curiosity.

Drake decides to loftily ignore the issue of the animals. Or the needling tone. "You have not met Rajiya yet?", he asks, the surprise genuine for a moment, "Well… she is of course very busy as well now that her family has arrived. But next time she comes over, I will be happy to introduce you.", he assures her with a tone that sounds brighter than he feels.

And Chimène's hazel eyes only grow wider. "Why, no," she murmurs silkily, and lets out a sigh and snuggles into her well-cushioned chaise. Her flat white silk slippers are sitting next to it, side by side. "Not your lady, nor any of her kin." A pause. "Occasionally I hear that she has visited the house— but when we were all in Elua she was so busy writing letters," she reminds him gently, "and each time I've come to Marsilikos since, I do seem to have missed her. No doubt the preparations for your wedding have wholly occupied her time. And no doubt," she says again, "that is why she has not yet traveled to Nice to present herself to my mama-in-law, either," she suggests. "She has simply been busy."

"Well, if you remain here for longer than a day or three, I will be happy to arrange a meeting.", Drake replies, shuffling his feet a little as the stone floor begins to feel cold under his bare feet. "Tell me, Mylady, why would she be going to Nice to present herself to anyone? Do you know how FAR Nice is?"

"… But of course I do," murmurs Chimène, with that same silken touch in her Mont Nuit soprano voice, only now she sounds a wee bit surprised. "With good horses Nice is two and a half days' journey from here — a mere bagatelle, surely, for a young woman who has crossed the earth from Bodhistan to find you." She smiles. "I imagined that given your lady's reputed political acumen, and the fact that she was entrusted with so solemn a mission to us, as her country's ambassador, she would earnestly desire to enter into her marriage on friendly terms with the heads of her new family. But perhaps she is shy, and would prefer to wait until the vows have been exchanged and the documents signed, before presenting herself."

"The marriage has been approved of by the King and Queen themselves in Elua.", Drake replies, while not as silkily, then at least somewhat smoothly. "Surely that is all that matters? That said, I had of course expected more Rousses to attend the wedding. As you say, it's only two and half days' journey, so surely it could be done? Or perhaps they are already preparing to leave? One can hope.", he says rather flippantly, clearly hoping not.

"Yes, of course," agrees Chimène, smiling openly, indeed warmly; "my Courcel cousins have given their blessing…" As if anyone could forget her heritage, with that absurd long white swan-neck in plain sight above her off-the-shoulder white gown. "But we must all deal together, must we not?" she suggests sweetly, leaning nearer. "For the next forty or fifty years—?" And there, is the rub.

"Fifty years? Do you think you have that long left in you?", Drake asks ever so sweetly. He can be mean, too. "Besides, I'd rather not consider it 'dealing with' but 'enjoying', wouldn't you say?", he adds, "Once you meet her, you will of course understand. She is a lovely person as well as a valuable addition to the family, bringing exclusive trade with Bhodistan along with her.", he points out.

Chimène's smile hardens. Her profile might as well be carved from alabaster, for all the warmth it gives in these moments. "Why don't you wait and see—?" she suggests gently.

Her smile broadens. "Of course, I'm sure your lady is as lovely as you say…" Because he couldn't possibly be biased. "I do look forward to making her acquaintance, whenever she has the time for such social calls."

"I shall.", Drake assures her and as his feet get ever colder, he starts getting impatient. "Was there anything else, Mylady?", he asks, "I'm sure the animals will be no problem, if that's your concern. A groom was brought along. I will find a solution for the zebras. And the monkey is quite tame, so I'm sure there is no need to worry."

"… Certainly, the zebras," and Chimène gives vent to a delicate giggle, and one bejeweled white hand rises to cover her mouth and then flicks downward to gather up her goblet of wine. "But," she states, smiling confidentially at Drake and yet sounding rather firm, "I don't think we can have a monkey in this house, can we? You had better send it to Draguignan with your zebras," she advises.

"Some time.", Drake replies. Firmly. "I have not just received the best gift of my life to send it away again. I shall enjoy it for a while. And speaking of the zebras, I should go and check how they are settling in.", he adds. Anything to get off the cold floor. "So I beg to be excused, Mylady. And I'll tell Rajiya that you are looking for her." So she can run fast and far.

"No," Chimène says gently, and sips her wine. Her gaze flicks up to his face, as chilly as her perfect ivory features. A second later her goblet clinks again upon the elaborate marble inlay of that occasional table at her elbow. "No, Drake. You are the vicomte de Draguignan now," she reminds him, "and my husband's vassal. When I give you so strong a recommendation, you must learn to take it so. You may keep as many monkeys as you like in your own house— but not in mine."

"You are rarely here. I have been living here for more than a year and now my bride will move in. If she wants her monkey with her, she will have her monkey with her.", he says stubbornly, "Surely it's not too much to ask for a little patience and understanding?!" And, going into a strop, he turns to head out.

Chimène doesn't stir from her chaise-longue — there isn't so much as a rustle of expensive cloth. But her voice pursues Drake toward those double doors presently shut and guarded on the farther side by her lackeys. "For eleven years this has been my house, Drake," she asserts coolly, "whether or not I am present in it at the time. It will be my house for many years to come. Bring your bride here, if you will, as my welcome guest," she assures him, with a sudden lift in her voice, quite as though the prospect pleases her. "But your menagerie is your own business, and I will thank you to house it upon your own lands. If you bring a monkey under my own roof I will see it removed, promptly. Your lady would not wish that."

"Meet the monkey first, it's a decent chap!", Drake calls back and flees before the argument can spin any further. The ladies can have it out between them.

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