(1311-10-24) The Baby and the Bathwater
Summary: An ambitious boy climbs into Philomène’s bath. Bizarrely, though, he doesn't get thrown out…
RL Date: 10/25/2019
Related: None.
arterre philomene 

Temple Baths — Temple of Naamah

A large circular window of colorful stained-glass depicting Naamah is framed by two crescent shaped ones, sitting further up the wall as to allow for generous lighting during the day, with the shades of the glass used in the center painting the interior of the Temple Baths in colorful hues. The light beige tiles of the stone floor are arranged in a pattern, spaces between filled with darker shade mosaic stones. The changing area is divided into two spaces, hidden away behind semi-opaque drapes. Here, visitors can leave their clothing and move over towards the pools that are filled with the warm waters of a hot well, a faint layer of steam lingering occasionally in the air directly above the waterline. A larger pool of white marble is in the center, between two smaller pools that offer room enough for two or three people each. At the edge of the pools, trays are provided at regular intervals, some holding various flagons of bathing oils while others hold bars of flowery soap and other bath implements.

Acolytes of Naamah, clad in the red flowing robes of the temple stand at the ready, to provide towels or robes when needed and make sure a peaceful atmosphere is maintained within the baths.


With the weather outside an icy, miserable kind of rain that first drenches you then freezes you through with a biting north wind, there has been rather heavier than usual footfall through the baths today. The chilled have been unchilled, reclothed and sent on their way, and appropriate praises offered to the companions, for at least some sort of thankfulness for warm baths if nothing else. In one of the smaller pools, content to relax in the warm waters while she waits for the next break in the weather, is the blonde haired and exquisitely sculpted figure of the Vicomtesse de Gueret, arms outstretched along the edges of the bath to reveal muscles that have never been permitted to go to fat, along with the occasional discoloration of ancient scars here and there.

Arterre is one of the many folk who have decided that warm water is better than frigid air. When he arrives, he's looking simultaneously pallid and flushed, that particular effect the cold can have on especially pale people. At least he's not chattering. The sight of Philomène, however, arrests his progress. It wouldn't be exactly accurate to say he's pleased to see her. It's perhaps more correct to say he is uncertain whether or not he has the wherewithal to deal with her, at the moment. There is a different sort of attraction, though: her statuesque physique. An opportunity to spend more time looking at that, it seems, wins out over his desire to bathe in peace and quiet. "My lady," he offers to her. "Would you mind terribly if I joined you?"

Philomène extends one arm languidly in front of her, brushing eddying spirals into the warm water. "Please," she responds simply, lifting her chin to consider the man. "I would imagine your family would be most cross to lose their baby Vicomte through freezing to death. Do they not send you out with a cosy blanket and a bottle of warm milk?"

Arterre is nowhere near as athletic as Philomène, but he has the trim athleticism of an active man his age—visible moreso through the legs and abdomen than the arms and shoulder. He spends a moment selecting a suitable retort, or perhaps choking down an unsuitable one, as he lowers himself into the water. "I am afraid they were not so considerate as to provide the service," he tells her, upon immersing himself fully. "Would you like to go fetch one?"

The challenge apparently tickles Philomène, and she allows herself a small laugh and a faintly amused smile. "While the honour of serving so august a figure as you, my lord Barrême, is obviously the greatest thrill of my entire life, I think in this case perhaps the option to remain safe and warm in the water wins out." She lifts her hand, summoning over one of the acolytes. "Might we please have some uisghe to keep out the chill, my dear? And perhaps a hot chocolate for the young man, as we don't want him to get too tired and emotional."

Arterre has a certain deadpan delivery as he speaks to the attending acolyte. "The Lady is concerned that she might need a sober companion to properly lead her home, you see." He does't contradict her order, though, his smile wholly (perhaps too) good-natured as he looks back at her. "If it is an honor to serve me, I'm sure we could find any number of ways you might be able to provide the service." Only when the acolyte is gone does he add: "You do look amazing, you know."

"I hadn't realised you were going to take me home," Philomène admits, letting her elbow rest again on the edge of the pool. She appears absolutely comfortable here in the warm water, with none of the strain that tends to fix her expression into a carefully schooled, neutral position that she affects when out of it. There's an animation in her features, and the warmth of the temple baths has encouraged a spot of pink, high on her strikingly sculpted cheekbones. "Should I inform my maid to seek out a cuddly bear for you, to comfort you?" There's a very slight pause, then the smile widens a fraction and she inclines her head. "People are often amazed, yes. Stunned. Disconcerted and terrified, also. Perhaps one of those descriptions might be more apt?"

Arterre shakes his head firmly, not rising to the bait on the continued reminders of his youth. Instead, his eyes dip a bit lower, peering more closely at Philomène's form. "Terrified is the wrong word," he decides. "Deeply impressed, perhaps. A little jealous, also. And most of all wanting to run my hands all over it." He shifts a bit, causing the water to shift just slightly in answer. "Would you believe I /still/ feel a touch cold?"

"Must be all the hot air you're expelling from your mouth," Philomène insists easily. "A man could freeze to death if he expends every inch of his own body heat that way. And frozen fingers do so very easily snap, don't they?"

Arterre doesn't seem too worried. He's used to the constant torrent of verbal abuse from Philomène. "I understand you'd like to show off just how very strong you are, but I could suggest some marginally less violent methods." Briefly, he immerses his head completely under the water, hair growing darker and heavier with the weight of it all. He drips copiously when he has his head above water again. "One might almost believe you did not enjoy my company."

Philomène laughs again, shaking her head. "I will admit that I do find you diverting," she allows, absently touching a hand to her chin and cracking her neck with a loud pop. "And that I have been known, on occasion, to enjoy a little verbal sparring as much as the physical. There are few enough people who'll bite without offence, for which I really ought to thank you."

Arterre inclines his damp head towards Philomène gratefully. "Ought to, but /will/ you, I wonder?" He doesn't press for her to do so in a way so very explicit. "I suppose I will settle for being a diversion. It's better than being boring, certainly."

"I so very rarely ever do what I ought to do," Philomène notes, taking a long breath in through her nose before exhaling, sending some of the clouds of steam from the water scurrying upwards. "If we all spent our lives doing what we ought to do, we'd never have time to live. Do you ride?"

Arterre perks up a bit, at the mention of riding. "I certainly do. Not as often as I'd like. And not quite as well as some. But I enjoy it." He tilts his head to one side. "Were you considering some sort of joint excursion?"

Philomène gives a small, satisfied nod at that, pursing her lips before suggesting, "I ride every afternoon. If you're at the stables by noon, feel free to join me. If you can't keep up, follow the hoof marks in the turf."

Arterre exhales lengthily, slumping back in a state of utter relaxation. He almost looks like he might start floating just sitting there. "Quite the regimen you put yourself through. I wouldn't have the discipline for it all. I enjoy lounging about entirely too much. Once or twice a week, but all seven days might be a bit much for me."

"I'd hardly consider riding to be a hardship," Philomène counters, tilting her head a little to look him over. "On the contrary I think one of the finest ways to feel alive is to thunder across the countryside from horseback, at a speed faster than anyone could ever run, jumping higher and further and faster… you'd give that up for lounging about, slothful? That I'll never understand. I suppose your idea of fun is to accost older women in baths, is it?"

Arterre ticks his eyebrows up slightly. "It was an idea of fun, but just how fun it actually is remains open to debate. Didn't I just say I rather enjoy riding? I have a diverse and varied set of interests. Laying in a satisfied, horizontal position is just one of them."

Arterre adds, "I'll note I did /ask/ to join you."

Philomène half-smiles. "Well, if you deeply wish to lay in a horizontal position just now, I could arrange it, my lord. How long can you hold your breath?"

Arterre eyes Philomène a touch dubiously. "Rather a long time," he drawls at her, folding his arms in a gesture that looks perhaps more petulant than he intends. "I find beds and divans and sofas and even the wild earth all significantly more condusive to the activity than the bottom of a pool."

Philomène shakes her head, lifting one hand, dripping, from the water to hold up. "I'm being unnecessarily cruel, for which I apologise. Diverting you might be, but even my husband took three years to take me to his bed. Try harder."

Arterre laughs, at that, quite suddenly. "Ah, but you're inviting me to try! Which is a rather dangerous proposition, all things considered." He at least seems perfectly warm, by this point. "How have you been keeping on, anyhow? When you're not riding horses or running around gardens at night or lifting heavy objects and all the other sundry things you block into your every day."

"I have, for some unknown reason," Philomène note drily, "a distinct dearth of companionship in this city. You southerners tend to be rather too thin skinned for me, and what I'd consider to be an enjoyable and heated debate with a little banter and spice, you Eisandines seem to think hostile and spiteful argument." She laughs, shrugging one well sculpted shoulder from the water. "I'll gladly take the company of a babe who hasn't yet learned to know any better. And to be pursued by a young man is always gratifying." She accepts the uisghe from the acolyte who brings it with a small nod of thanks but little else. "I walk. I ride. I see to the business of my family, but rarely lift heavy objects. Did you have something in mind?"

Arterre does not appear to have been brought anything. It seems that chocolate is not on the menu in the Temple tonight. He flashes the acolyte a bright, sweet, dimpled smile. Rather unlike the more measured looks he gives Philomène. "I have met other northerners, my Lady, and you will forgive my saying that you are in a class of your own even in their number. As for what I have in mind? Only an idea of an idea. I'll spring something on you later. But for now, I fear I should go dry my newly warmed bones off and be about my business."

"It has been, as ever, an experience, my lord Barrême," Philomène insists, a small, fond smile flickering about her features. "I hope I might see you and your horse at the stables soon."

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