(1311-07-14) Wearing Green
Summary: Iphigénie partakes of Raphael’s advice upon the selection of gifts for gentlemen of discerning taste. (Warning: Mature, Mandragian themes.)
RL Date: 12/07/2019
Related: Not Too Sweet, When One Loves An Artist.
iphigenie raphael 

Gardens — La Rose Sauvage

The gardens of La Rose Sauvage offer a different ambience and atmosphere than that of the more oppressive and richly ornate salon. Tall casement windows spill out onto a paved area which gives way to neatly arranged flowerbeds, where a predominance of roses pay homage to the canons encompassed by this salon. The paths are of a dark granite grey which have softened over the years by the encroachment of mosses and lichens, with smaller paths winding off through the beds. It's here along these secluded paths that arboreal areas and private nooks might be found, and where privacy is granted to those that seek it through flowering hedges and curtained awnings.

A fountain plays at the centre of the garden, the copper figures of two nude women, long since mellowed to a soft verdigris, spill water from shells into a pool at its base. The main pathway through the garden leads to a terracotta tiled courtyard that sits towards the farthest end, the walls here flanked by creeping ivy which cloak the walls in scarlet and orange during the autumn months. An oiled silk awning hangs over the courtyard to give shelter from both sun and rain, and oil lamps light the area when evening falls.

Preparations have been made to receive Iphigénie nó Valerian de Maignard in the gardens of the Rose Sauvage, where the afternoon sun may scorch the ache from her bones whilst contributing deliciously to the discomfort of the submissive roses summoned thence for her consideration. A low table, set just in the shade of a red rose arbour; the customary goblet of chilled milk; a comfortable sofa upon which two arbiters of taste might sit side by side and exchange confidences; a footstool covered in black velvet to ease any possible strain upon her knees. And for some lucky girl, later on, a kneeling cushion in the sofa’s shadow.

The lady arrives in another plain dark gown, its hue not the red she often favours but a green that might be the colour of a pine forest by moonlight. Her green eyes are turned greener by the contrast; they glitter with amusement as she entrusts her parasol to the usual boy novice, so thoughtfully assigned by Raphael to await her and it. Her hair is more dressed than usual, in the elegant and sculptural white curves she affected for her first visit to the salon, some weeks past; being so high up keeps it from tangling in the long, bright, chiming silver earrings that frame her face and reflect light gently upon her fine powdered skin. To familiar eyes she looks well enough but she makes, in her progress into the garden, some slight but genuine use of her walking stick. Her parasol follows, en procession, upheld upon the novice’s palms.

The boy novice, is being given the opportunity to demonstrate his knowledge of a return patron. Or some might call it a test. Raphael is already present, having organized this little private garden party for the delight of a good patron. He is seated already on the sofa that has been moved out, heels apart with the right leg very subtly pressed against the inside of its arm. He has his own goblet in his right hand and, held coiled loosely in his left and draped against his left thigh, a short stockwhip. The odds are that it is a prop for show — or possibly for sound — and not for use on flesh, but it is hard to rule such things out. "How good to have you join us," he says as the expected patroness arrives, without getting up.

In her slow approach along a mossy path Iphigénie's gaze wanders at leisure over the arrangements, details crystallising as they come within her eyesight's best range. All are pleasing to her taste and none more so than the Thorn as loosely-coiled as his whip, at rest now, yet so replete with possibility— no, she wouldn't have him rise from that pose even for courtesy's sake… "Monsieur. May I?" she inquires lightly, pausing to offer a nod of greeting before she takes those last few steps toward the sofa, and at his word sits down by his side in a rustle of dark cloth and a gentle waft of blood orange and honey.

The novice relieves her of her stick and props it against the sofa's arm, and with a bow bestows her parasol in its stead: and then he kneels to offer the stool for her feet. He just barely dares to straighten her hem, too, with reverent and trembling young hands.

Raphael nods to welcome Iphigénie to the sofa. "But of course," he says. "And if you have want of anything, you need only say so." His eye, meanwhile, falls on the boy's hands that touch her skirt, and from there lift to Iphigénie's, one eyebrow slightly lifting. Perhaps a silent inquiry as to whether this should be regarded as initiative or effrontery on the boy's part.

If she has want of anything—? "How generous you are to me," murmurs Iphigénie; and as Raphael's gaze rises from the boy at her feet so does hers lift from the whip that is almost touching her skirt as well, where she sits so companionably near to him with folds of midnight-green cloth draped across dark red upholstery. As their eyes meet she lifts a brow at him, plainly contemplating mischief. She looks down a moment later at the novice. "That's enough of that, Blaise," she instructs him, with that stern note that often enters her voice when speaking with menials of one stripe or another. "But you may fetch me another cushion for my back."

"I've not seen this gown of yours before," Raphael says, only sparing the novice the briefest glance to make sure he goes off at once and in the right direction. "It is a becoming color." He lifts his goblet to drink; it smells like red wine. "I trust your journey to us was uneventful?"

Iphigénie's hands in their white silk gloves seem to caress the length of her parasol as she turns it the other way round in her lap and pushes the runner slowly up along the pole of it to open its canopy of black oiled silk. She lifts it to shield her face and her head; such is the angle of the sun at this hour that its pool of shade touches Raphael as well. "Ideally so, monsieur," she assures him, "and the more pleasant for journeying in hope. But you surprise me. I hadn't known you were composing a list of my garments," she teases.

"In fact I was not," Raphael returns with a smile. "But it is a color I do not see on everyone. I think I would have remembered it." Though he says nothing about it, he is probably grateful to share the shade. "Blaise is learning, isn't he."

The parasol and the white head beneath it incline nearer. "I spoke with Séverine in the garden here not long ago," Iphigénie murmurs, "and that day she wore a marvelous dark green gown— though of silk, and with no back to it." As opposed to the formidable modesty of her own tailoring, and its even more stringent underpinnings. "She reminded me of how much I used to like to wear green…" She glances then in the direction whence Blaise retreated. "Yes; he has been helpful to me during my visits, and perhaps I to him by affording a certain kind of practice. We can certainly be of no other possible use to one another," she drawls.

Raphael must smile at that description, and he nods. "Do you know, it did put me in mind of her favored color," he admits. "I wondered whether you had met her. I am glad if she was inspiring to you." He glances over his shoulder at the house. "He cannot help but appreciate it," he says, implying subtly in his tone that should he fail to do so, there might be pressure in store.

Iphigénie chuckles softly at that. Lucky, lucky Blaise: even when the lad loses, he may yet win… "Do you know, I rarely ever wore backless gowns—?" she muses aloud. "I came so young to the habit of corsetry, and though a marque glimpsed through lacing has perhaps a certain appeal, it's in a different style from the pleasant looseness of the garb girls seem more usually to favour now. I found Séverine a charming young woman," she admits; "but of course there are many calls upon her time, and such assignations as hers require periods of rest in between… And so here I am, monsieur, wondering what you may have in store for me today."

"It is a habit of Séverine's," Raphael agrees, nodding, "And whether she wills it or no, it can communicate certain things silently. When she does not bare her back, for instance…" But he leaves it to his guest to fill in his meaning.

"Yes, I should not delay your pleasure any longer," he says. "I have picked out three girls for you to meet, each a little different, but each of whom may have a bit more to recommend her to your needs than the last you tried." He sets down his goblet and lifts his hand in a gesture to signal a novice to open the door and admit the first contestant.

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