(1311-09-21) Curtain Dance
Summary: A battle of innocence at the Salon of Rose Sauvage.
RL Date: 21-25/09/2019
Related: None
aimeric inesse 

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 seats, depicting a pair of man and woman caught in obvious amorous entanglement, she faintly resisting and averting her gaze.


Inesse would have been led upstairs, once she had voiced her intention. A Red Rose novice from downstairs takes her by the hand and takes her all the way from the more somber and sinister darkness from downstairs to the apparent lighter hues of the area set aside for the White Roses. The young lady will be led into the Solar, she will be pointed to a flagon of white wine on a table to the side, with a few fresh glasses beside. Also, the promise of, “I’ll get some of the White Roses for you,” lingers in the room, as the Red Rose vanishes and leaves Inesse on her own.

It will take a moment or two, enough time to allow Inesse to get familiar with her surroundings. There is an air of innocence in the chamber, and it is echoed in the young adept that enters finally, after a few minutes.

Aimeric is clad in a white shirt and white trousers. His dark hair falls across his forehead and some of his face, as if it were a natural veil. He looks young, but probably a touch older than Inesse, about eighteen or so. Spotting Inesse, he lowers his gaze instantly, and a rosiness touches his cheeks as he mutters, “Pardon me, my lady. But… I was told that there is someone wishing to see a White Rose…” His voice sounds melodious but subdued and apologetic. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Lady Inesse de Baphinol has been peeking through the window when the young adept came into the room. His voice startled this visitor of White Roses indeed.

So, Inesse immediately turns to look at him but her fingers clench on the fabric of those light curtains. She tugs it a bit to hide half of her visage behind a light shade of the curtain. The young lady herself blushes brightly when her dark eye scans the boy in front of her. She does not answer him immediately. Instead, takes a step closer to the window, turns to look through it and hides fully behind the curtain so that Aimeric could only see her silhouette.

But before tha,t one could easily notice the graceful and elegant white satin skirt she is wearing. It has a slim fit enchanting Inesse's figure, offers a smooth, silky look. Her dress has a full mermaid volume but a simple top and light scarf on her shoulders bring in a touch of innocent elegance.

"It's fine," she whispers after a longer pause of silence.

—-

“My lady? Are you alright?”

Aimeric lifts his gaze far enough to realize that Inesse has hidden behind a curtain. It is an arrangement that makes him feel more at ease and perhaps a little bolder, as he now allows himself to admire the silhouette.

“I mean… this is not a misunderstanding of sorts?”, he asks, with a certain shy tinge to his tone. “You… requested company of a White Rose. Is it not so?” A pause. “My name is Aimeric, my lady. Aimeric nó Rose Sauvage. I am… an adept of this salon, my lady.” Perhaps not on purpose, his feet have brought him a bit closer to that curtain and what hides behind of it. “Is it… that I displease you, and that you’d rather have another of my White Rose brothers called, my lady?” His voice is lowered to a whisper as well now, standing where he is, about an arm’s length away from the curtain. His hand had been about to reach out to touch, and it seems only through sheer force of will and discipline, that Aimeric pulls it back before he can complete the task. Keeping his hands clasped at the small of his back, he lowers his gaze, and dark hair falls instantly more stubbornly over his features, hiding almost half of his face.

"No. No no no…" Inesse lets out a quiet objection. She turns around as if to face the adept. However, the curtain remains between them. The girl raises her hand and presses the palm to the fabric. She holds it there for a few seconds but then slowly withdraws away just to hide it behind her back.

"I do not know you. They said that you might be nice," the Baphinol lady shrugs lightly. "I am not sure what I am doing! I am so silly!" She rolls her eyes even if Aimeric can not see it. Her head is lowered down a bit. "I am lost. Have you ever been lost, Aimeric?" Her right hand starts to play with a curl of her dark hair. A little bit nervously.

Aimeric watches the delicate outline of palm and fingers press against the curtain, and his hands unclasp instantly. Bringing the right one up a bit hesitantly perhaps, as if he were shocked at his own boldness. The delay, however, causes his fingers to touch the curtain just in that moment, when Inesse withdraws her own, and he leans in, bringing his face closer to the fabric as if that would grant him a better view of what hides behind it. She voices her doubts, and he exhales and lowers his gaze.

“People have a reason for seeking out White Roses,” the adept voices softly. “They feel… lonely, and find our presence…” He pauses, seeking for the right words, “comforting and inspiring. No, I have never felt lost.”

<FS3> Aimeric rolls Subterfuge+2: Good Success. (7 4 6 8 5 1 6 1 2 5 2 1 1 4 3 2)

His voice does not even tremble, as he states this. “This is a safe place, my lady. And perhaps… perhaps this is the reason that brought you here, of all places?”

“Perhaps…” Inesse’s words trail off when she starts moving a bit to the right from that edge of the curtain. As if making sure that one would have a harder time finding her. Hiding her burning cheeks and hiding the sadness in her eyes but at the same time having a possibility to talk to someone is exactly what this young lady has been looking for. The white silk of the skirt of her gown sweeps the floor when she moves and peeks through the bottom of the curtains.

“It’s so impolite of me. I am Inesse. I would say I am so young. I’ve turned sixteen not that long ago. And yet I already know what does it mean when you are ill…” Baphinol lady lets out a sigh and she pauses. This time she leans against the window. Her fingers run across the curtain. Perhaps the same way a lady would like to be running right now. “Have you ever been in love or you are not allowed to love only one person?”

Aimeric stays close to the curtain, and when her fingers start running along the fabric from the other side, his own begin a dance of their own, playfully chasing after those fingers of hers. It may be an innocent game, and a smile blossoms on his handsome features — that is, on what is visible to the young lady, should she peek forth from between the curtains.

“Lady Inesse…”, he repeats. “You sound lovely, by the tone of your voice.” A soft sigh follows. “No, I have never been in love, my lady. It is not common, for a servant of Naamah. Only those of Heliotrope canon are said to fall in love with their patrons.” His fingers touch against hers through the fabric, should she allow. “I’m eighteen. Even so… May I ask what you mean by ‘ill’? Are you speaking of a broken heart?”

Immediately when his fingers touch hers, Inesse withdraws her hand. A quiet chuckle escapes her lips. Perhaps, she does enjoy this game. “A heart broken by the Heliotrope… It’s so unfair that they can love and they share that love with everyone…” Inesse sighs one more time. “Have you ever wanted to live on an island? I would love to live on an Island. You know, just me and Adrien. Nobody else!”

Then a young lady starts laughing. She twirls around and reappears from behind the curtains. “I am so silly! Crying over a man. I am very very very very very very that much…” She extends her arms to the sides and looks up at Aimeric. “…that much selfish! I have my Prince now. I should enjoy my time with the Prince. My little ball of white furs!” The Baphinol lady wanders off to take a seat on a comfortable armchair which has another next to it. She gestures for the courtesan to join her. “Do you love cats? I love rabbits and cats!”

“An island?” Aimeric echoes, taking a step backwards when Inesse emerges from behind the curtains. He looks a little startled at first, but there is a shy smile that curves his lips. “My Lady Inesse… some claim this solar is an island. This solar, and the patron rooms that are located here, upstairs in the salon.” He lowers his gaze and a faint blush touches his cheeks. “You’ve decided to visit the upper floor, which means, you want to enjoy seclusion from the outside world, for a moment. If this were an island, you’d be stuck here, with me.” It is a statement, uttered in a murmur. “Is Prince your cat?”, he asks, in a more confident tone.

“Aye aye! Prince is my kitten. He is still very young. I think he is like 4 months old. He is playful but polite. He is also very clean. So, my mother is not displeased that he leaves dirty paws on the ground like a dog. No no. He likes to go out but spends his time in a basket. He is cheering me up! Also, he does not escape my talks, you know. My little sister says that my silly talks annoy her. She said that nobody would survive on an island with me!” Inesse laughs and pets an armchair beside her. “Come, take a seat. You are very nice. They were right. So, do you have any pets?”

Inesse gives about 30 seconds for the adept to answer before she continues. “I am not sure if I want to. I mean, to spend my time with you on an island. You are definitely great but you are not Adrien. I think I need friends. That is what I need. There is no need to love! If someone else can not love you and only you the way you love them, there is no need to love, right? I need friends, a bunch of them! And my mother will arrange some proper marriage for me when the time comes. Perhaps, with someone who has a lot of money and a great title that I could buy anything I desire! What about you? Will you marry? Are you noble? Where are you coming from? How long you have been here? Do you have many patrons? Do you love them all? What do you do about patrons you don’t like but they like you?” She starts staring at the boy curiously.

The reply to her first question comes promptly, when Aimeric lowers his gaze and gives a light shake of his head. “I don’t have any pets,” he confirms softly. “I have no belongings apart from the clothes the salon provides me with.” He remains standing for a moment, eyeing the armchair she offers to him. “This is your first visit to our solar?”, the adept inquires then. “I am not expected to sit down beside you, my lady.” Before he explains any further, he bends and shoves the white kneeling cushion in front of her seat and then sinks to his knees before her. “So it is friends that you seek?”, he smiles keeping his gaze still lowered or at least evading those dark eyes of hers. “And you are afraid of love? You won’t find love here, but… proximity.” Again, blood rushes into his cheeks and he blushes. It seems to be a safer road to reply to her questions than to get more into the nature of assignations, and so he raises his voice again.

“I am a courtesan of this salon, I am not meant to marry, my lady. I was born in Elua, and given to Mont Nuit there. Monsieur Jacques decided that he’d wish for me to join his salon, and this is where I have been for over a year now, my lady.” Not a word about his patrons, or of the nature of assignations. But there he is, lifting his gaze as far as to Inesse’s chin, with a shy smile.

“Mmm….” Inesse listens for the man’s response but she does shift a few times in her seat. Her eyes wander to the ceiling and then back to the man a few times. “Please,” she finally asks. “I am not feeling comfortable when you are on your knees. I am not like a lady of Marsilikos or a Princess. I am just like you. A random person!” She chuckles and leans forward a bit. She gently touches the arm of Aimeric and tries to tug it if allowed. “Stand up and sit on an armchair that we could talk as friends. I am paying for my time with you after all!” She rolls her eyes and then leans back in her seat.

“Do you think they would let you to have a pet if that would be a gift from a patron? I know that the Prince has a sister. I could get her for you and so we could meet more often with our pets!” She suggests and smiles broadly. “Or you could come to me! I could introduce you to my mom and my brother. Oh, my brother is so cool! You would love his company! My mother is also very lovely. Just please, raise and sit here. And then tell me more about what you enjoy doing when you are not attending patrons.”

“Are you intending to?”, Aimeric replies with a vague smile touching his features. “I was sent in here to present myself to you, to see if you will find me… adequate to spend your time with. If a contract will set up, we can withdraw to a room, where I can sit beside you. It seems you have many questions,” for a brief moment, his eyes lift further to dare a contact with her gaze. “And I suppose it will take time to answer all of them. I am not allowed to keep any gifts, unless those that go into my marque, my lady. But perhaps… perhaps you’d enjoy to add to my marque, and… soon I may be allowed to have a pet. After all, not much is missing.”

Her enthusiasm is met with another of his shy smiles. “If you consider paying for my time… you should set up a contract with the salon, and we can turn to… conversation, my lady.”

“Oh! How much I would have to pay to finish your marque? I would like to do it! Perhaps even now… I could do it. I think. I am sure that my mother would let me! You think that then we could be friends?!” Inesse claps and raises to her feet. “Where shall I go to do this? How? I am not that familiar with how this is arranged. I haven’t visited such a place at all before. My Adrien and I were on a different occasion, I would say!” She chuckles and blushes a bit. She leans down again to tug the man to raise to his feet since she is standing as well. “Show me the way!”

A Second of the salon had already been lurking behind the door. An acting Second, to be precise, as Marielle has been unavailable so far today. It is a woman in white veils and clothes and she steps into the solar, now that she has overheard the evident wish to settle the deal in a contract. “My lady,” the White Rose courtesan greets and presents Inesse with a standard contract, for the duration stated as until the following morning, the location, the patron room set aside for White Roses in the salon. Food and drink will be provided as needed.

Aimeric remains kneeling as he is, with his gaze lowered, as Inesse deals with the paperwork. Only a faint rosiness is visible on his cheeks now, his breath flowing slowly through his slightly parted lips and his nose.

“Excuse me, miss…” Inesse asks before signing the papers. “How much I would need to pay for Aimeric to finish his marque? Would that be enough?” She offers her pouch for the woman. Then the young lady places her signature in all necessary spots. “I would like to give him a gift. A little kitty. But he can not have one so far. It’s really unfortunate!” She stares with her widely opened dark eyes at the woman and smiles. “I think you very well know what I mean, right?”

The White Rose courtesan gives Aimeric a glance at the question Inesse poses. “You’d have to speak with Mademoiselle Marielle, my lady. I don’t know how much more Aimeric needs to complete the marque.” She names the standard amount expected for patron gifts, and then mentions also the tithe for the salon. The tithe that Inesse is expected to pay now, whereas the patron gift would be left to deal with after the assignation. The White Rose courtesan removes the tithe from the pouch and hands it back to Inesse. “I’d say, you could think about gifting the kitty on top of your patron gift. That is, if you still intend to do so, come the morning.” Her finger touches upon the contract. “We need your signature, my lady.”

“Right right, here!” Inesse makes the last signature. “Thank you for the advice!” She smiles broadly, offers a light curtsy for no actual reason and then turns around to go back to Aimeric. “Done! I did it! I think that soon we will be able to get you out of here. Like, I mean, be more free. Like, have your own things. That is what I mean!” She chuckles. “And now we can talk. Now you can tell me things and you can sit on the armchair since I want it!” She goes back to flop down on the armchair she has been sitting on before.

“Now you shall tell me everything about yourself. What have you been doing prior to this!”

Aimeric gets to his feet, in a slow elegant flowing motion. His gaze meets that of Inesse only briefly, and he smiles.

“A patron room has been prepared for you,” the White Rose courtesan informs the two of them, gathering the paperwork in one hand as she points to the door. “There are armchairs in that room as well. And the hearth has been lit. It has been become a bit chilly in the evenings of late. You should be at ease there.”

“My lady.” Aimeric reaches out for Inesse’s hand, fingers warm as they gather hers and try to pull her to her feet. “If you would follow me to the room? I believe you will find it pleasant.”


White Chamber — La Rose Sauvage

There is a charming air of oblivious innocence within this room, about the white drapes at the sides of the four poster bed with playful details chiselled into the light maple wood, flowers, animals twining about the posters, ribbons of pale rose color wrapped about the gathered white fabric. The windows sit higher up at the walls, leaving room for oil lamps and chandeliers below. The layout of the room is quite unusual, tetrangular, but narrowing towards the side where the bed is to be found. Here, three curtains of light rose colored fabric are draped over hidden details at the walls. Once drawn aside, they will reveal two large mirrors flanking the bed and a third, slightly smaller one above the headboard.


Should Inesse allow him to, Aimeric will lead her out of the solar and then towards a door at the far end of the corridor. They enter into the chamber beyond, and Inesse will note the fire crackling in the hearth, and the pair of armchairs before the fireplace. A flagon of white wine has been provided as well as glasses on the table beside. Pulling her along, Aimeric will make sure she takes a seat in one of the armchairs, while he sits down on the other one beside hers. “Now, my lady, I can sit beside you and share conversation as you like.” His hand lifts and he undoes the uppermost button of the white linen shirt.

“Oh… A fireplace!” Inesse beams broadly and is more than happy to settle down on one of the armchairs. Her gaze focuses on the flames. “I always loved watching it. It’s lovely, isn’t it?” The question which requires no answer. When Aimeric speaks again, she looks back at him. Though, she can not concentrate her gaze on the man’s eyes and so she ends up staring at that button he undoes. A blush creeps up her cheeks. The lady immediately turns her head to focus attention on the fire one more time. “It’s so strange that you are not allowed to sit like this in the public. Why?”

Aimeric seems to be a bit timid himself, to keep eye contact. His gaze flicks to one of the high windows. “It depends,” he replies after a moment, his voice soft and gentle. “Sometimes, our patrons prefer that we sit with them. But in the solar of this salon, it is custom that we kneel. It is part of what is expected of a White Rose, and it gives a potential patron the opportunity to assess the White Rose in question before deciding about an assignation.” His eyes flick back to Inesse and he notes her blush, a fact that seems to fluster him in turn. And so he directs his attention towards the fireplace, following her example. “Autumn is upon is,” he remarks. “The time of the year when nights grow longer and the air outside feels so much colder… Would you like something to drink? There is wine…”

“Aye aye, a glass of wine would be nice!” Inesse admits. Her fingers are playing with the edges of the scarf which keeps her shoulders warm. “There was a time when I was thinking if my mother would have sent me somewhere, where would I have ended up. I mean, if any of the houses would have found me fitting, you know. My little sister is saying that I am not fitting anywhere. My mother loves me but I get the feeling that I am not fitting anywhere, indeed. They tried to tutor me, you know. Language and some number things. But this is so boring! I like talking to people or walking. Looking around and buying fancy things.” She explains in depth before going back to the topic of autumn. “Indeed, the days are getting colder. I will need new slippers. Perhaps a new coat. I am sorry I couldn’t pay off the full marque of yours. I was told to speak to someone else about it…” She briefly glances at Aimeric but then focuses back on the flames. “How did they pick you? I mean, the White Roses?”

Those fingers that play with her scarf draw the attention of Aimeric’s hazel-brown eyes, and maybe Inesse catches him staring, before he — belatedly — reacts to her response. Rising to his feet he gives her another shy smile, before he walks over to the table and pours them both, one glass each, of white wine. Listening to Inesse, as she continues to talk, babbling like a brook.

“You were meant for a different life,” he remarks softly. “Not everyone is born to enter Service to Naamah. I… was born on Mont Nuit, my lady. My parents were courtesans. So… it was natural for me to become a fosterling at Alyssum House.” One corner of his mouth lifts in a wry smile. “They found I qualified, through my… shy manner.” He hands Inesse her glass, his fingers accidentally brushing over hers.

Inesse reaches for the glass. She lets out a quiet giggle when their fingers touch. Quickly, the glass is lowered down to her lap. Both hands firmly hold onto the goblet. “I used to be very shy myself,” she admits. “I think I am still shy but less often. My sister is a true whirlwind, you know. She can be found everywhere at the same time. I prefered hiding behind my mother or holding onto her hand. The world often scares me. These new things, you know. Also, people. They are always looking. They look at me and then they judge. Often, they are mean.” The lady pouts and then takes a small sip of wine.

“Anyway, how it happened that you were born to courtesans? I thought you are not allowed to have families here. You serve to patrons, don’t you? So, how your both parents are courtesans? Were they nobles before? Are you noble? Are they still alive? How often do you see them? Do you have any siblings?” She pours the questions out as if she would be pouring some pebbles from the glass. Quickly and many in a short time.

The chair makes hardly a sound, when Aimeric pulls it a bit closer to where Inesse sits. There must be some sort of felt attached below the legs of the furniture, so that it can glide smoothly over the surface of the floor. With his own glass held in one hand, the adept sits down, with the seat angled slightly so that he half-faces Inesse. “The world outside…”, he repeats softly. “I hardly venture there, safe for special assignations. Here… I feel quite sheltered and at ease.” A slight movement of his head makes some of his dark hair shift more to the side, revealing more of his face. The questions about his parents, however, cause Aimeric to lower his gaze once again.

“Fully marqued courtesans can elect to stay with their salon or House,” the young adept explains after a moment. “They can choose to have children, but these children will be property of the House or salon, unless there are other arrangements. Only few courtesans are of noble birth. It has to do with the fact that Service to Naamah is a commitment, and that those of noble birth may be required for other duties. Both my parents are of common origin, if you will. Even if my father has come far in his path. A Dahlia, now in service of a comte, as his advisor.” He takes a sip from the glass, his demeanor slightly pensive.

“I haven’t seen him, since I was twelve. My mother still serves at Alyssum House. I still write her letters now and then.” He pauses again. “I have no siblings, that is, none that I know of.”

Inesse takes a few sips of her drink while the man is telling his story. She nods now and then to let him know that she is listening. When Aimeric is over, the lady remains quiet for a bit. Perhaps she is thoughtful. Perhaps, her attention was simply stolen by the flames again. The smile leaves her fair features and Inesse grows more serious, more upset. “It sounds that you are very lonely. I know that you have many patrons visiting you. I bet they enjoy your services but that is all what that is, isn’t it? You serve. It may look real since this is a noble work but still… It’s like you lost your childhood for all the studies and now you are locked inside, and you can not go and explore the world, and meet people!” The world she just named scary and people she called rude. “Sometimes I even think if we are real. What if this is just a dream? A dream of someone very creative. Someone clever. Someone who writes books. I am just a character in a story and you are…”

The girl sighs and leans back in her seat. She stares at the wine inside the glass. “This does sounds like a none-sense, but there is a small possibility in there, don’t you think? I bet you will agree to this since you are supposed to agree with things I say. But I seek for a friend not a lover. So, you can be honest with me. Are you happy? Like, honestly?”

“I am not lonely,” Aimeric contradicts with a wry smile, turning his gaze now to meet that of Inesse. “Not at the moment. I am with you. At other times… well, I have my White Rose brothers and sisters. They are my family now, and before that, I had friends among the other adepts and novices at House Alyssum. If I am locked inside, I am so because of my own choosing.” He smiles, slightly amused, now that she brings up the point of characters in a story. “I wonder… if you and I were a characters in a story you’d write… what would you have me do?”

Shifting his glass into the other hand, he reaches out, fingers touching her lower arm, if she allows. “I am happy. This is what I was born to do. Another week or two, and I can visit the marquist for a last time, and once Mademoiselle Marielle will acknowledge my marque, I will be free to choose my path for the future.”

Inesse does not show any obvious displeasure when the man touches her arm. However, she sits frozen as if afraid to move. What if she will break like a porcelain doll if she will move? The silence which follows Aimeric’s question is so deep that one could hear how wildly and nervously Inesse’s heart is beating.

“I… I…” she starts hesitantly. “I might write a story where we would go on an adventure, you know! Perhaps we would sail to the north, where Caerdica Unitas may be found. Or we would go to the east. Yes, to the East! I heard that Skaldi lives there and their women are very short and grow beards like men. We would be disguised, of course, because of the war. But that does sound a bit too dangerous. Perhaps, we could go to the Flatlands in the South? I believe I heard that they build castles inside the caves. It’s very beautiful and their furniture is decorated by those diamonds found in their caves…” She smiles and her tense muscles relax a bit. She peeks at Aimeric before focusing on a sweet wine in her glass. She takes a few long gulps.

“You would fall in love, of course. During our journey. To some sort of a very pretty young woman. She would have bright red hair and beautiful freckles on her cheeks. Her laugh would be soft and when she smiles, we could see a lovely dimple on her right cheek. She would be noble, of course. She would be very kind. She would love horses and would marry you at the end of the story. You would be free and happy, and have many children. Perhaps, five of them. I would also fall in love with someone. A great man of high status. He would be just to his people and my mother would be very proud for I would bring a lot of benefits to her. My sister would be so jealous and she would never call me stupid again. I think that would be our story. Our children would be very good friends, aye aye.”

Inesse laughs and finishes off the wine. “I am so silly… You know, could you better tell me about your plans? You must have thought of what you desire once your marque will be finished?”

“You have quite the imagination, it seems,” Aimeric observes softly, upon hearing the tale that comes to Inesse’s mind. His brows lift just so, but he does not correct her misconception of geography, instead meeting that smile of hers with one of his own. “Would we hide in a cave?”, the adept wonders lightly, before Inesse’s idea of how the story would continue causes a mild frown on his young handsome features. “Why would you have to invent others to add to the story? What would… make you think that I… would choose another over someone so charming and beautiful, such as you.” Bold words they are, but they are uttered in a voice that is low and gentle, and his eyes look curious, studying Inesse, watching the subtleties in her reactions, the way she laughs and the way she keeps trying to pull his focus elsewhere.

“I would write a different story. Of a shy young man who finds the courage to… speak his mind… and confess his attraction to the woman he admires.” No longer does his hand rest on Inesse’s arm, he has lifted it as far that his palm can touch her cheek, a hesitant gesture granting her enough time to pull away, if she wishes to.

—-

Inesse does not pull away but she leans her head closer to the man’s hand instead. This time her dark large orbs raise and dare to take a longer look into Aimeric’s beautiful eyes. “I wish your story would have some truth in it. I appreciate the compliments you have given to me. However, I paid for my time beside you. It would be improper of you to ignore me! Unless you would be one of those Valerians. They can be rude and people pay them to be rude. But now… you are way too kind! White roses are different. You learn to say things patrons want to hear, don’t you?” She chuckles and nuzzles her cheek into the man’s hand.

“Would you still want to talk to me if you would be a different man? Someone who is noble and possibly with a title which lets you rule some land? You are so handsome, and charming. I think that you would look at other women instead. Someone clever, and prettier. You know, with more colors! Also, of a higher status. No?”

Aimeric’s eyes widen when Inesse meets his gaze, but this time, he does not try to break eye contact. “I am free to decline an assignation with someone, if I don’t feel a certain… connection,” he clarifies. “It is no lie, when I state you are lovely. You have… a rare quality to you, that I can very well imagine will gain you admirers, in the outside world.” His fingers remain at her cheek, brushing lightly over her skin, and he smiles when Inesse leans her head into his touch. “Anyone,” he murmurs, “anyone in their right minds would lay the world at your feet. If I were a duc, I would choose you, and be it just to see the envy in the looks of my friends as well as my enemies…”

At which the White Rose adept does a rare thing. Leaning in, just to drink in the look of her dark eyes with his own, to relish in the sensation of her scent, the feel of her breath against his face, Aimeric becomes bold as to chase her lips for a kiss — chaste and modest, if she will grant it to him.

Every word which leaves the charming adept’s lips makes Inesse smile broader and broader. At the end, she smiles so widely that her perfectly white teeth are shimmering in the lights of the room. Her eyes start to shine with a touch of boldness and a full spoon of excitement. She parts her lips to say something but then Aimeric is so close. So close that the lady closes her eyes and her heart starts beating even faster.

She holds her breath when his lips touch hers for that brief lovely second. The warmth fills her cheeks and then Inesse slowly opens her eyes. She lets out a sigh followed by a whisper, “You are so perfect. Every woman should find herself standing at your door with a hope to feel your touch on their skin and hear your sweet sweet words…”

And here, the shy lad who had uttered such bold words seems to be likewise startled and affected by the kiss shared. His cheeks are flushed and his breathing has picked up notably as he pulls just a little back from her, to break that brief intimate contact of lips. “You must be exaggerating,” Aimeric breathes, “as it has been quite a while… My Lady Inesse. It is you that is sweet, so sweet that it almost takes my breath away…” His fingers slide further, to the back of her head, as he leans his forehead against hers. “It is rare to find a patron as innocent as you.” He smiles at the irony, of praise uttered by a White Rose adept towards a patron in these halls, where it would usually be more adequate the other way around.

“So your interest goes a little beyond mere friendship?”, the adept asks, meeting her eyes with his gaze.

Inesse bites her bottom lip when their foreheads touch each other. The side of her nose gently press to Aimeric’s and he can feel how her warm breath tickles his cheek, his lips and his chin. The lady inhales that light scent of sweet soap from his skin slowly and then holds her breath for a few seconds before exhaling in the same manner.

Her arm raises and she tries to place her hand on the man’s shoulder. Though, the moment she feels a soft fabric of his shirt, her hand withdraws a bit. It’s shaking. But then she hesitantly brings that hand closer again. Her fingertips brush over the collar of Aimeric’s shirt and finally they carefully touch his neck. Her touch is so light that it looks more like a fluttering wings of a butterfly and not her fingers.

“Would…” She whispers. “Would you like that?..” Inesse closes her eyes. “You make me feel the same as Adrien did. When it was my first time. I can feel the goosebumps and I don’t think I could stand on my feet right now. You are such a sweet boy. You are so handsome and you are young. I am afraid to get obsessed with you like I did before with Adrien. What if I want to have you? Place you on my bed beside pillows, and toys, and the Prince, and never let you go?..”

There is the subtlest of shivers beneath her fleeting touch, and rosiness touches his cheeks in the moment he replies to her whispered query a murmured, “Very much so.” She closes her eyes, and he leans in, pressing his lips to her soft cheek in gentle caress. “I’m at your disposal, today, tonight,” Aimeric assures her, words drifting against her neck as he angles his head. “I could be your toy, if you like, your obsession.” His eyes meet hers, shining with a faintly feverish intensity. “I don’t know who it is who made you feel as you say, but he must be the luckiest man in all Terre d’Ange.” He administers a kiss to her neck, and dipping lower, then to her collarbone.

The Baphinol lady leans her head to the side when the man places a kiss to her neck. She shivers and her shoulder twitches a bit but only because of the excitement. Even her hair on the arm slightly raises up. “Then that is you. You are the luckiest man in all Terre d’Ange and I will be very happy if you will feel so for sure. I want you to be happy…” She breathes it out and places her other hand on the man’s shoulder if he allows. “Not only tonight. Perhaps, for many days and nights to come? Especially, if soon you will be free to leave this place now and then… You could go with me… and be with me… meet the Prince…” She chuckles and then slides her hand to find Aimeric’s chin. She would guide him so that his eyes could meet hers again. “I am not joking. We are so similar. I feel the connection. The real one. As if we are meant to spend the rest of our nights together.”

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Aimeric=Subterfuge+2 Vs Inesse=Empathy
< Aimeric: Amazing Success (3 5 7 6 7 8 2 5 5 7 7 6 8 8 2 3) Inesse: Good Success (3 7 3 3 5 5 5 7 4 2 5 8)
< Net Result: Aimeric wins - Crushing Victory

“We are. Similar.”, Aimeric agrees, lifting his gaze to her face and those dark eyes of hers. He smiles, not objecting to the delicate female hand taking command of his chin. “And maybe… maybe if you don’t tire of me… If you want to see me again…” He lifts his chin further, bringing his lips close to hers, but there is that flush on his cheeks, clearly showing that he is affected in some way, be it through her mere presence, or the awareness of himself already crossing the line of modesty, or at least wishing to do so.

“Would that make you happy?”

"It would…" Inesse nods lightly. Now that she seems to be encouraged, she wraps both of her arms around Aimeric, resting them on his broad shoulders. One of the hands immerses its fingers into the boy's hair and ruffles them gently, a bit playfully. As if trying to reduce the warmth of her cheeks and the passion which fills her heart, Inesse chuckles and adds, "I like your hair. You are truly pretty. Lovely."

“You are beautiful,” Aimeric returns the compliment in a soft murmur, locking his gaze for a moment with hers. His fingers touch lightly against one of her cheeks, and a somewhat boyish grin blossoms on his features. “I was chosen for a reason, I suppose.” And he straightens before he leans in to place a kiss on her forehead. His eyes glint faintly when he pulls back again, to get a better view of Inesse’s face. “Would you like to see?”, he wonders. “The marque, I mean?”

Inesse chuckles when the adept places a peck on her forehead. She lets go of him, though. The girl nods, "I would love to see it! Is it colorful? Was it painful to receive it? How do they make something like this? Do they use paint? But then… do you have to redo it after every time you wash yourself?" She leans her head to the side and leans herself a bit forward as if already trying to take a glance at the man's back.

His smile shifts a little, and the lashes of his eyes move in a slightly nervous flutter. “I will show you,” Aimeric decides even so, taking a deep inhale of breath as his hands move to unbutton his shirt. The adept keeps his gaze lowered, as if watching his fingers might help finish the task more swiftly. And slowly, one button by one, the garment drifts open at his front, revealing a torso of lean and yet slightly muscular built, pale skin devoid of any blemish. Only when he begins to shrug his shoulders out of the shirt does Aimeric look up and meet Inesse’s gaze, even as his dark hair decides to drape over half of his face again.

The blush is to be expected, perhaps, in a White Rose that reveals itself, and yet, it gives Aimeric’s features a comely rosy hue. Depositing his white shirt over one arm of the chair, he turns, slowly with the piece of furniture that slides beneath him, until Inesse will be able to get a full view of his back, and the art that adorns it.

There, from beneath the waistband of his white trousers, green tendrils emerge and creep up over the small of his back, leaves extended as if in subtle embrace. Slightly below the shoulder blades starts the depiction of the blossom, a white rose of pale beauty, rising all the way till five inches below where the neck starts. The marque is unfinished, Inesse will be able to confirm this, as the upper part of the bloom still needs to be added to.

“This… this simply is a divine work of art!” Inesse exclaims when Aimeric shows his back to her. Her gaze runs over the edges of the blossoms and leaves at first. “Oooh… This looks so perfect even if it’s not finished…” She drawls and then the lady dares to touch one of the tendrils. Her fingers are soft but cold. She traces it up until it reaches the white blossoms. Then she presses her full palm to it. Still gently. But her hand is quite cold. Then she makes her fingers come together as she brushes across the petals. “Magnificent…”

The way he sits there, slightly bent forward, lower arms resting on the siderest of the chair, may look inviting, and yet, when female fingers trace along the tendrils, there is a faint shiver rippling through the adept, and his head half-turns. When the flat of her palm comes to rest fully on his back, she can sense a deep inhale and exhale. Aimeric’s skin feels warm, but there are goosebumps rising on his arms, maybe from sensation of cold hands. “I have heard it looks beautiful,” he manages, his voice low and with a slight tremble. “And I have tried to admire it myself, in two mirrors, but we don’t have that many mirrors, and none of them in the dormitory…” His head turns and he looks pointedly towards the two covered frames that are facing the bed in the chamber.

“My mother has more mirrors in her room,” Inesse quickly offers, “If you will visit me someday, then you will be able to admire yourself. Now you need to believe in my words!” The girl chuckles and withdraws her hand. Then she raises to her feet. Inesse ventures to the mirror which can be found in this room. She looks at her own image there. She removes a scarf which was keeping her warm and sets it aside. The fingers of her right hand slowly run across the skin of a left arm. “I would love to have something so beautiful and colorful on my arm, here…” Her eyes finds Aimeric’s reflection in the mirror. “Was it painful?” She asks again.

With a wry upturn of his lips, Aimeric follows in Inesse’s wake, rising and sauntering after her. It would be his swift hand that removes the cover of the first mirror, just in time as the young Baphinol lady arrives there to admire her own reflection. She can watch the adept take his spot behind her. “Something colorful on your arm, my lady? It is…a bit painful. The marquist uses a needle to apply color to the skin. Were it only painted, it would be washed off by sweat or by rain.” His hand reaches around to touch her left arm. “Such a delicate arm you have. It would hurt but I can imagine it would look lovely.”

He had been merely a presence behind her, felt perhaps through the warmth his body emanated, but even that notion fades, as Aimeric nó Rose Sauvage leaves Inesse standing where she is, to circle the bed and remove another cover from the frame opposite of her mirror, only to reveal yet another of its kind. “Two mirrors,” he echoes his own words from before. And Inesse can see how he gives her a look, from his reflection to her reflection, and then considers the art on his back.

Still looking at the man’s reflection in her own mirror, Inesse asks quietly, almost in a whisper, as if afraid someone might hear. “Do you think they could do it? Draw something similar to your own image on the back?” She sighs and lowers her head. “I am not good at handling the pain. But perhaps something small… I could handle it. Perhaps, they could write down your name with some of those white petals right here!” She raises her hand and gently taps her wrist. She makes sure that the man could see in the mirror the exact spot she has in mind. “I would pay, of course. But… You see… This meeting. You. It’s important for me. I want to have a memory of it. Could you introduce me to the people who make it? I am sure they could do it and that would be our secret. I would always wear a bracelet on my wrist so that only you and I, and the artist would know! Nobody else has to know.”

Aimeric turns and rejoins Inesse before her mirror. His hand brushes over her arm, lifting her wrist. “You mean like… a bracelet tattoo?”, he wonders, “petals of a white rose that twines about your wrist, my lady?” The thought appears to intrigue him. “Perhaps… I could take you along to the marquist, she has her shop at the Grand Plaza. Maybe tomorrow, if your time permits. Perhaps…” His gaze clouds a little, “you should rethink your idea, and sleep on it. If you still want to do this in the morning, I can introduce you to the marquist.”

“Really?!” Inesse suddenly turns around and jumps up to wrap her arms around Aimeric. She is equally happy like that last time when her mother permitted a short venture outside the Marsilikos. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” She pecks Aimeric’s cheek if he allows and then quickly withdraws to look back at her own wrist on the mirror. “It will be similar tendrils and petals as yours. However, I want that your name would be incorporated in the design. Aimeric. It must say somewhere! This way my memory of you will always be with me even if you will be away. Even if you will no longer talk to me… We will go tomorrow then. Early in the morning.”

“The design of the tattoo will be entirely up to you,” Aimeric confirms with a grin, amused but also a little gratified at her enthusiasm. His arms wrap around her, pulling Inesse closer, and again, his eyes hold her gaze, expression shifting just so. “Inesse,” he
breathes, gaze half-lidded as he leans in, suddenly so very timid, hesitating again, before he presses his lips to hers.

Inesse closes her eyes when Aimeric leans forward to place that sweet kiss on her lips. She shivers just a little bit in his embrace. Though, the girl is quick to break that moment. She presses her palm to the adept’s chest to push him just a little bit away. Almost like a cat when it presses its paws to you to push itself away and glance at your face. Inesse chuckles, “What? You mentioned my name as if wanting to tell me something. What is it?”

Perhaps her fingers do feel a bit warmer now, that they push against his chest? Aimeric looks a little surprised, for his part, and maybe a touch startled as well, at his own forwardness. “I… I mean… Oh…”, he stammers, cheeks blooming with a rosy hue, as his gaze dips. There is a soft ripple in his throat, a faint flaring of nostrils, before Aimeric has mustered enough courage to address her again. “I want you close to me.” The confession comes with a soft exhale, almost a sigh, as his arms stay wrapped around her, pulling her gently against him. “Is that wrong?”

Inesse's blush grows much stronger one more time. She wraps her arms around Aimeric and cuddles her head to his chest. She is much warmer now that she has spent a few moments in his embrace. She sighs. Now this is good. Now he can not see her rosy cheeks and shy hesitant look which wanders all around her avoiding the man's gaze. Her soft voice whispers: "It's alright. I love… I mean, I like being beside you. You are so good and so similar to me."

His hands shift lower, from her waist to the curve of her rear, and Aimeric lifts Inesse if she allows, intending to twirl her around him. Not really caring about whether they get dizzy or not. Or perhaps… intending to. Holding her in his arms, the White Rose chuckles with innocent glee, staggering closer towards the bed, which may be a wise decision, given that the world starts turning about them. He starts to sway, and Inesse with him, and it ends as it must, the both of them toppling over, landing on the fine linen sheets of the bed.

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