(1311-11-03) I Trust You Completely
Summary: To buy an heiress, sometimes one must sell her. Or so Fabrice de Trevalion, vicomte de Beauvais, is about to discover…
RL Date: 11/03/2019
Related: Turning Sentimental and Rough Diamond.

Boudoir — Ducal Suite — Rousse Residence

This small lozenge-shaped chamber boasts as many facets as a cut gemstone, each exquisitely paneled in ivory and gilt boiseries with repeating motifs of dolphins, peacocks, and swans. Four of its smaller facets appear to be taken up chiefly with glass panels, lined on the outside with ruched powder-blue silk: they are all secretly doors, two for the use of servants, the others leading respectively into the main salon and the bedchamber of the lady who owns this boudoir. Another facet is consecrated to a modest fireplace of gilded porphyry with a gilt-framed looking-glass above, and another to a porphyry-topped console table beneath a matching looking-glass. These are placed in mirrored positions to the left and the right of the chamber's outside wall and its alcove containing a double window overlooking the gardens. The latter may be shuttered and screened by a curtain of powder-blue silk embroidered with gold, to create a more perfect cosiness.

On the chamber's other longest side, directly opposite the window alcove and between two of the doors, is a luxurious sofa covered likewise in powder-blue silk and set into a mirrored recess. Its frame of gold-tasseled powder-blue draperies transforms it into a petite stage for the theatre of a lady's life.

A quartet of fauteuils upholstered either in ivory and gold, or the inevitable powder-blue, stand here and there upon the crosshatched parquet floor. Light from the small crystal and gilt chandelier overhead is supplemented by mirrored candle-stands. Occasional tables may be presumed within reach when needful.

Two days after the jam explosion the vicomte de Beauvais is summoned again into the company of Chimène Rousse de la Courcel— that is, the invitation he receives is elegantly inscribed phrased with perfect courtesy, but a man in the midst of negotiating such a colossal favour must know better than to irk the lady in any way…

The bel étage is quiet today but for the patter of freezing rain upon acres of costly, crystal-clear windowpanes. Fabrice is shown through Chimène’s deserted grey and white salon, in which all those embroidered spring flowers seem curiously forlorn in the autumn drear, and then via an enclosed and candlelit antechamber into a pocket paradise he has never before seen: the lady’s own boudoir, secured snugly against the elements, warmed by a fire to which a lackey is just adding another log, and decorated for the princess she very nearly is.

Darling,” is her trailing murmur from the alcove where she knows herself to be arranged in an attitude of exquisite languor. She draws out the vowel to the same tremendous length as the white marble hand and arm she extends toward him. “Do sit down. What a day,” she pronounces, with the briefest furrowing of her alabaster brow. She is in white today, her legs curled up beneath the froth of her skirts. Waves of sleek dark brown hair spill over the small mountain of embroidered and tasseled pillows propping her half-upright.

It’s teatime, but there’s wine already poured. Writing things are laid out next to the decanter and the goblets, on an occasional table between her sofa and a chair drawn up close.

Fabrice is dressed up splendidly as becomes the Vicomte de Beauvais. He brings with him a small parcel which she would recognize as coming from the best patisserie in town. "Lady Chimène, my dear.", he greets her, taking the hand for a perfectly elegant kiss. "You're a sight for sore eyes." He sets the parcel down on the table between them before taking the chair. "Are you well?"

Hazel eyes flicker toward the parcel as Fabrice bends over Chimène’s hand; when he straightens she’s favouring him with a triangular little smile, betokening pleasure. “Perhaps a little delicate this morning,” she confesses, though it’s nearly dusk already, “but we know the cure for that, don’t we?” And she takes up her silver goblet enameled in Rousse blue and green, and lifts it to him in a mischievous salute before she drinks.

Fabrice follows her look to the parcel and smiles. "Indeed. This -", he picks up his own goblet, then looks at the parcel. "And a little sugar. Your favourite, if I recall correctly." It's a small box of freshly made macarons in an assortment of flavours, in the hope that some of them might please. He also takes a sip but he's clearly a little nervous, waiting for her to broach the topic.

But that isn’t the game. The game is to make him say it.

Chimène smiles at him over the rim of her goblet, and drinks with profligate thirst before setting it down again almost empty next to the folded sheets of parchment, the gilded inkwell, the quill and the candle and the Courcel-blue wax. “Rather sweet of you, darling,” she purrs. “I think I might become accustomed to having you here with us in Eisande.”

"Well, enjoy it while it lasts.", Fabrice smiles sweetly, "You know duty calls me back to Azzalle before the Longest Night." He takes another sip and fidgets. Clearly she isn't going to start. They've played the game before.

After another long pause, he looks directly at her. "So. What do you think?"

Sitting serenely there with her hands clasped in her lap, Chimène is magnanimous in her victory. “Rather a gamble, darling, isn’t it—?” she muses. “I’ve been considering what might make a suitable stake for us — well,” she allows, lifting one hand and wafting it about in a languid glitter of jewels, “and the other arrangements, of course. I’ve found a young woman with good Dahlia training willing to consider, as a favour to me, a long-term contract as tutor to Lady Zalika — and tomorrow or the next day I might begin to interview lady’s maids, if I can bear it. The grapevine has suggested three candidates so far, all with excellent antecedents,” she confides, “or so they claim.” She arches a sceptical dark eyebrow.

Fabrice nods along, quite satisfied with her response. "You know I trust you completely.", he assures her with a smile, "And I'll be happy to leave it in your capable hands. I trust Zalika told you that we think it's too early for her to join us in Beauvais… for obvious reasons."

The completely trusted one blossoms into a luminous, ladylike smile. “You do flatter me, darling,” she suggests, though not in a tone which implies he oughtn’t. “It is a rough diamond, but I don’t find the case absolutely hopeless— I suppose the only questions left are whether you’re sure you want to go ahead, and to risk so much upon her,” she says softly, “and whether you’ll consider my price a fair one for what you ask of me.”

Fabrice smiles at the verdict he had hoped to hear. "She is uneducated and rough, but she is -smart-", he insists, "And she has a strong personality. I'm sure she is a risk worth taking. She has the leadership abilities one would expect of a Vicomtesse. But of course you haven't named your price yet.", he adds softly and with a slight frown.

“A strong personality, yes,” murmurs Chimène in tranquil agreement, “and she knows that she knows nothing, and isn’t an admission of ignorance necessary to the beginning of wisdom—?” she muses, on an uncharacteristically philosophical note. She sits up straighter, her hair flowing silkily about her pale shoulders, and pours a little more wine for her guest and then for herself, in a display of the courtly grace Fabrice has come seeking for his daughter.

“As to my price,” she goes on, raising her goblet to him once more, “I ask only — why, that you trust me completely,” and she returns to him his own phrase, with an ingenuous smile. “Why don’t you dip the quill, darling,” she suggests, “and I’ll dictate—?”

Fabrice quirks one eyebrow very pointedly at her suggestion to trust her completely. He first takes the goblet for another fortifying mouthful of wine before he takes the quill in hand. "So…?"

And Chimène begins, speaking slowly enough for his quill to follow her words, yet with an easy fluency which suggests she arranged them in advance — like a bouquet of roses, with hidden thorns enough to leave a gentleman unexpectedly bleeding.

“I, Fabrice de Trevalion, vicomte de Beauvais,” she begins, “do freely and gladly attest, et cetera, et cetera,” and she quotes certain legal phrases familiar to them both from the business of their lands, “that should my newfound only daughter, the Lady Zalika de Trevalion, be instated as heiress to Beauvais with the approval of House Trevalion and the duc d’Azzalle, I will in gratitude delegate to my dear friend the Lady Chimène Rousse de la Courcel, vicomtesse regent de Grasse, the sole authority to arrange and negotiate her marriage contract.”

Do admit, it was gracious of her to see him suitably lubricated first.

Fabrice begins writing the legal waffle so familiar to them both, but when she comes to the juicy bit of the dictation, he lowers the quill and looks up at her. "I have faith in you making a wise choice and negotiate well.", he says calmly, but there's undertone of steel. "However, I am not going to force a marriage upon her she doesn't want. If you want me to write this down, it will require a disclaimer that the Lady Zalika has a right to say no to suggestions made to her."

“… Really, darling,” chides Chimène in a silken drawl, “one isn’t proposing to drag a bride unwilling to the altar, this isn’t Aragonia.” What it is, is a casual and coincidental reminder of her close personal connexions with the royal houses of two great lands. “Why don’t you leave the question of her consent to me? Such a sensible choice as I’d make for her would have its own obvious merits — and you know how persuasive I can be when I wish it. At least, you might recall,” she teases, and a smile curves her lips, fleetingly. But then she sighs lightly. “Of course, if you aren’t willing to trust in me, if your trust must be hedged about by so many terms and conditions, I don’t see what I can do for you and your lady daughter,” she admits, lowering her eyelashes and looking down from Fabrice’s face into the goblet in her hand.

Fabrice considers this for a while, then nods. "Very well. No dragging an unwilling bride to the altar. And while I know you will think first and foremost of yourself and your own advantages, I do trust that you will consider those of House Beauvais almost as much.", he adds with a little smile and picks up the quill again to finish the parchment. "Anything else?"

As ever, getting what she wants makes Chimène bloom with pleasure.

“Oh, we’ll all benefit, darling,” she assures her friend soothingly as she settles against her cushions, with her wine and her satisfaction; “you’ll have your heiress and I my heir. Such pretty grandchildren, too, I shouldn’t wonder,” she teases. Then, “Just your signature and your seal, my dear. I thought the blue wax would do for Trevalion as well.”

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