(1311-10-18) Larks' Tongues
Summary: To what lengths will Chimène not go, to enliven a dreary party… Cedoric finds himself in the way of finding out.
RL Date: 10/18/2019 - 10/22/2019
Related: None
chimene cedoric 

A Completely Made-Up Place

Given the eye for beauty cultivated by the highest levels of d'Angeline society, its lower echelons remain puzzled by the social prominence in Marsilikos of a certain lady hostess who with her unending succession of dangling earrings is thought to resemble a basset hound— at least, by the idea that she has any prominence at all. The truth, which no such peasant or parvenu will ever be in a position to discover personally, is that with several baby bassets to mate credibly, their mama has had the wisdom to engage a truly first-class cook. Thus, the cream of the Eisandine nobility puts in token appearances at her snooze-making card-parties (such piddling low stakes) and tableaux evenings (baby bassets on show for the judges) simply in order to feed its collective face.

Even Chimène Rousse de la Courcel, whose own star knows only how to rise, looks in occasionally and very late. Though usually she comes soon to wish she hadn't, and to send an admirer or so away on errands whilst she herself retreats to a favoured upstairs bolt-hole… If the men spend the rest of the night hunting for her in vain, well, that'll be a useful lesson for them, won't it?

Thus it is that Cedoric Dodier d'Eresse — who has himself bolted in possession of a laden plateful of delicious tidbits, but (this is the key) before he could be saddled with a basset pup as well — hears the door of the library click open and slam shut, and an ecstatic sigh escape feminine lips.

Silk rustles. Some heady foreign scent teases at his nose. The sofa opposite his own is suddenly occupied by the full length of an unusually long-limbed woman, who arrives in a tumble of Courcel-blue silk and foaming white petticoats. One leg curls up, the other stretches out over the sofa's farther arm with a blue silk slipper (dyed to match) dangling from the toes of a largeish silk-stockinged foot. In the low light of paired oil lamps she sprawls at ease there — with no notion of his presence until she twists languorously onto her side…

It truly deserves a sport of its own. Daughter-dodging. And, as at most sport, Cedo is well fit for it; even at the noise at the library door he sits up at alarm, drawing a foot under him and then, at the first sound of petticoats indicating a threat from the door, he simply pushes himself up into a hop over the back of the couch where he can crouch below, managing, in the interim, not to disturb the remnants of his scavenging from downstairs, which he holds aloft on a plate which he then settles into his knee. Oh, she's sitting, is she? Well, damn, he had better make himself known, bettern't he? But now it's been far too long to announce himself— what possible reason could he give for not having done so before? A glimpse to the left, then to the right provides an able alibi: a book! One of, say, dozens in arm's reach, which he slips from a lower shelf without discernment and then endeavors to stand as though quite casually, certainly not noticing that anyone else had entered at all or — ffff - gghhh -.

Pardon him while his brain malfunctions. "Aa book, I was just… looking for a book…" he glances at the object in his hand for possibly the first time, "About…" he does an actual double take on noticing, "Carthaginian topographical tables, 1245-1275," he reads from the stem, then looks back to Chimene. And blinks.

Hazel eyes meet Cedoric’s: Chimène’s gaze is cool, clear, fractionally taken aback by her discovery that she is not alone. "Oh," is her greeting, voiced in an airy soprano.

But by the time that syllable has left her naturally coral-pink lips (she doesn’t paint; why should she?) her first discovery has been succeeded by a second: that her unwitting companion is an athletic young lordling she has seen before, during the course of similar social purgatories. Yet they have never been introduced, have they? She can’t quite place him. A new young man… how curious. “I didn’t know anyone was here,” she says silkily, her accent native not to Eisande but to the City of Elua and the empyrean reaches of Mont Nuit.

Her gaze narrows at the plate still (somehow) in his custody, then flicks upward again. “… Oh,” she says again, “are those larks’ tongues on toast?”

"Oh, I wasn't — I mean, I was, but I was—" Hiding? No. "Not — oh!" She's interested in his plate, and he will hold it down to the back of the couch before him, grateful for a focus neither on femme nor livre… "Is that what that is? I wasn't sure, but it's terribly scrummy, whatever is hiding in it. They put on a good spread — ah…” Oh, die he make the mistake of looking up again, just on that word — spread — as she's spread over the couch opposite, threatening to baffle him once more, as comely females are wont to do, but, at least, he manages to sort of finish a sentence: "No?"

One preposterously long white arm, like a sculptor’s fantasy of the Ideal Limb, shifts to drape over Chimène’s lean blue-silken hip. Otherwise she doesn’t move. Predators needn’t, as long as their prey retains the freedom to draw nearer… “Why don’t you come over here,” she suggests, favouring Cedoric with a triangular little smile, “where I can see better, and I’ll tell you what everything is—? I’ve endured far too many parties in this house,” she confides, “and the knowledge I’ve gleaned might as well be useful to //someone/.”

Cedoric extends his plate-arm — slowly — it's not the length of hers — or — maybe it is, but on his frame it's maybe less — tender-goddess-like — more — adonic? Can one say that? Well, I don't know. But if, perhaps, between their twin lengths of arm, the distance between them is still prohibitive (it is — but Cedo doesn't want to yield his fortifications), he finally, as if only having considered it, sidles out from behind said fort and tries holding out the offerings for his safe passage. "An old hat at these things, hum?" he tries. "I had an egg that turned out to be not made of egg. That was exciting."

“Perhaps at a first meeting, yes,” muses Chimène in a distant and silvery soprano. “But when the egg that isn’t an egg, fails to be an egg in just the same way, every time—?” Her gaze lifts heavenwards from Cedoric’s face and then long dark lashes flutter closed over her hazel eyes and her voice trails away, strongly implying that it’s really too much for a lady of her sensibilities to bear. She gives a light sigh and opens her eyes and begins to sit up, embodying in her lean form all the grace of a willow-branch gently lifted by the wind. Somehow her slippers are scattered on the floor as Hazards to Navigation. She curls her feet beneath herself, sleek and pale in their stockings. Her jeweled hand grows imperious as she beckons. “Do sit,” she purrs, wide-eyed now. “You’ll give me an ache in my neck gazing up at you so…”

Cedoric's own eyes fidget upward at that first glance, briskly scanning the ceilings above for vestiges of an arachnid vel sim. "Well, quite," he sort of puts together an expression of sympathy for her ennui, though he's seldom disappointed, himself, with the contents of a faux-egg, be it a candied concoction or a peppered fig-pecker in yolk. "Oh, here? W—" ords fail, don't they, and lips purse in that labiovelar, then twist shyly sidewise and he obliges, lowering his hind end to the very fore edge of a cushion and planting his feet, one tucked back under him, the other struck forward in the posture of an actor in declamation or a fellow really keen on following a horse in its race. "Did you — were these — the — what you might have called them a bit ago, you were wondering?" he sets the plate out between them, his topography tome, so carefully sought after, set to rest on his further knee.

It’s not spiders the poor chap ought to be looking out for, but swans. Particularly the specimen now retracting her long white neck as he lowers himself into the danger zone. Ah, that’s better. Chimène smiles at him luminously across the plate set so coyly betwixt them as chaperone. “… Ye-es,” she breathes, “those are larks’ tongues on toast, unmistakably.”

And with a pale manicured fingertip as pointer she takes him on a tour of his own spoils, dismissing some of the canapés and purring over others, doing the lioness’s share of the talking with this handsome tongue-tied boy who makes, she finds, better company when he isn’t just blithering at her, but hanging as such boys ought upon her every pronouncement. One treat, however, only he is as yet qualified to name. Thus the next time her voice evanesces, she leaves a question suspended between her lips and his ear: “And you are…?”

Cedoric is, on the whole, one of those boys 'best seen and not heard,' yes, and as she goes on, he might be soaking in the sound of her voice, but the contents of her lessons may well be drifting into one ear and out the other and finding very little in the way of resistance in the intervening space, or else being drowned out by the sound of his heart beating in his ears as her fingers travel the plate and come close to him in the doing. Her lips, close by his ear and cheek as he happens to lean in to cast his eye down to a morsel on offer, lend him some of their warmth, or else inspire him to produce it all on his own. And they're asking for his input, and for a moment he's still lointering in that comfortable dumb silence into which she'd kindly let him lapse; when his brain catches up to him again, he can at least produce his name, in more or less the following manner: "Oh, Cedoric. Of Eresse." Once, and not too long ago, a noted jouster, now a waste of noble blood with a colf and a jeu de paume ball.

Oh, thank Elua, that’ll do — more or less. Chimène had already come to the conclusion that he couldn’t be simply some stray courtesan from a salon she herself doesn’t frequent: not even a disciple of the Alyssum canon could be quite so gauche in conversation, surely—? “How do you do, Cedoric of Eresse?” she purrs, and her hovering paw extends itself nearer as she inclines toward him, once more the willow-branch, though fragrant of chypre. She doesn’t introduce herself; she assumes he, like everybody else, already knows.

Cedoric probably should know. Or at least has clearly missed his opportunity to have claimed ignorance. Oh, well, it will have to be fudged, merely. One hand plants in the couch cushions, giving himself a prop on which to rest closer to her than away. His other hand lifts from his knee, letting his tome slide perilously between the cushion and the arm of the seat in favor of taking the hand offered thus to him — his forefinger glides up along the length of her pinky, guiding it softly in against her ring finger and then gathering them all together with a subtle joining pressure of his middle and ring finger into the bargain, rendering her hand into the perfect posture to apply to his lips in greeting, a fleeting glance of a touch, but followed with something of a goofy, loping smile. "I don't— know, precisely, but I suppose I'm about to find out," has the lilt of a joke about it.

Her large white hand yields with grace to Cedoric’s tender manipulations; her unpainted smile reverts to that triangular shape which, in her, signifies some degree of satisfaction. Chimène with ducal confidence threads her fingers through his and brings his hand to her knee, to secure him against the possibility of retreat — and then she returns a kiss for a kiss. Her mouth is softer than silk, and carries a taste of wine as well as the inexpressible savour of Mont Nuit.

The canapés? Well, she’s found something she’d rather have, and that with any luck will last longer, so her other hand seeks out the edge of the plate and with a fastidious fingertip she nudges it off the sofa and onto one of the basset’s best carpets. C’est la guerre.

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