(1311-11-10) Alienor's Tale
Summary: The Thorn Second has some things to say to the White Rose novice who seems to be at the eye of a hurricane of trouble. Also, he wins her over with lemon pastries.
RL Date: 2019-11-10
Related: Innocent Curiosity, Inappropriate Intoxications, The Thorn in Autumn, Aimeric's Tale.
alienor raphael 

Thorn Second's Office — La Rose Sauvage

This is certainly a nice office with a vivid description.

A message has been passed up to the solar that Raphael, Second of Thorns, would like to see Alienor as promptly as possible in his office. The message, being relayed between novices, is neutral and impossible to read for tone, but Raphael is waiting for the novice. On a plate on the far side of his desk, three lemon pastries are arranged, pale and dusted with sugar that would precisely match the snow-white veil of a White Rose.

Promptly, Alienor appears, dressed in a snow-white dress that is very conservatively cut, with a voluminously full skirt that further conceals her body. Her veil is properly pinned in place, and there's a lovely little white rose pinned in her dark locks. When she is shown into the office, she drops a perfect curtsey to the Second and keeps her eyes downcast. "Monsieur," she greets softly, as if speaking too boisterously might be inappropriate.

"Alienor," Raphael presumes, glancing up. He would know her by name much more than face, since he tries not to interfere much with the young White Roses in particular. "Please close the door and take a seat in front of my desk. You may help yourself to the pastries if they are to your taste." There is the faint suggestion of a smile at the edges of a largely neutral expression, should the novice ever venture a glance to see it. "As you know, I am called Raphael and I am the Second of Thorns." His voice is soft, and rather gentle in tone, but precise all the same.

"Yes, Monsieur," Alienor replies, turning to close the door behind her as instructed, the picture of an obedient girl. Then she moves to sit in a chair, daintily placing herself where indicated, and she considers the pastries with great interest. Momentarily, she reaches for one, just a little too tempted by the idea of lemon pastries. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Monsieur Raphael," she says before venturing to nibble on the sweet, careful to keep her veil over her face even when she tastes the pastry.

Raphael has a goblet at hand, but no goblet has been prepared for Alienor. "As you may know," Raphael says, "It is my duty in this salon to oversee my fellow Thorns and to ensure that the salon is operating smoothly, fairly, and according to its rules. It has been brought to my attention, and confirmed, that recently a Thorn came into the solar and encountered you there. I would like to hear about this experience from your perspective."

Alienor has lemon pastries; she's not concerned about goblets. She is particularly careful not to get lemon on her veil or her dress or her face, a very meticulous girl. For a moment, she is thoughtful, then she volunteers, "He was not unpleasant once he decided to be a gentleman. Then we had a very pleasant and friendly encounter, and I hope that he continues to behave charmingly in any future encounters we may have." Afterwards, she takes another bite of pastry, again very carefully.

"And what happened," Raphael asks in a voice of velvet, "Before he decided to be a gentleman?" The question is left hanging lightly there, a lobbed ball so easy to catch it cannot but be tempting. The Thorn's gaze, meanwhile, travels the surface of the White Rose's veil.

"Oh, before," Alienor sighs, sounding a bit regretful about the thought, glancing to regard the Thorn Second curiously a moment and then dropping her gaze. She might be studying her own shoes if she could see them under the fullness of her white dress. "Before, he thought it would be funny to torment the White Roses and try to make us blush, and he said some uncomfortable things. It was rather upsetting and a bit shocking, but then he decided to be a gentleman, and everything turned out much better." That said, she takes another bite of lemon pastry, and not even a crumb is spilled. Then, in a somewhat childlike manner, she licks the slight stickiness from her fingers and lips artlessly.

"You felt upset," Raphael picks up, a thread to be further unraveled. "And do you know that Thorns are typically not permitted in the solar, especially when novice White Roses may be present?" he wishes to know. Presumably she does know, given that it is among the key house rules.

"Yes, Monsieur, but I didn't ask a chaperone to remove him because I thought he might be on his best behavior," Alienor replies, sounding guilty about it. "And really, when he remembered to be on his best behavior, then everything was copacetic." She looks up, chin tilted down, to gaze at him a wide-eyed puppy for a moment. She looks down again. "But then, Mademoiselle Severine said that Mademoiselle Evangeline would make for an inappropriate chaperone, even though she is always on her best behavior when I encounter her, because it would be like entrusting a lamb to a wolf."

"I would recommend to you," Raphael says, "That you draw close for a while to Mademoiselle Marielle." He drinks from his goblet, then folds his hands before him on the desk. "Did I also hear a rumor on the wind that you were recently in the salon parlor, with patrons present?" He asks, eyebrows lofted just a little.

"I was heading up the stairs to the Solar when I was stopped to answer a couple of questions, and the patrons came in while I answered them," Alienor replies, tilting her head to one side slightly as she considers. "I just wanted to read my book."

"Mm," Raphael says softly in response to that. "And tell me also how well you are acquainted with Mademoiselle Evangeline?" Is he saving up scoldings for later, or are they never to come?

"We have met just in passing, a couple of times. She is always very much on her best behavior, careful and protective of the sort of things I should not hear and see. Out in the gardens and the like," Alienor replies sincerely to Raphael with a little nod. If she is nervous, it is the sort of nervous one gets when questioned by someone with an enormous power advantage over one, however kind.

"Very well," Raphael replies, nodding his head once. "Now, I will not overstep in guiding or instructing you in Mademoiselle Marielle's purview," he says. "But I wish to tell you two things. One is that I am sorry that you were made uncomfortable by a Thorn in the solar. I will be taking steps to remind the Thorns of our boundaries when it comes to the White Roses. The other is that I advise you to protect yourself in such situations and seek your Second, or turn to me if you wish to. I would not like to see the idea of your purity come into question so close to your debut. On that note," he says, moving the goblet outside, "I also recommend that you try to settle such matters within the salon first before you talk of them to anyone outside the salon, however friendly. Rumor travels like wildfire and changes shape as it goes. Within these walls it is much easier to address matters such as this than if news spreads too far. I would like to see your debut go as brilliantly as it possibly can, you understand."

"I'm so very sorry about that," Alienor says swiftly, looking quite guilty now, closing her eyes for a moment. "I was a bit worked up in the temple, and the Dowager Vicomtesse was so very kind to me. It's very stressful — surprisingly so — to be so close to one's debut. The questions of what to expect. The anticipation of the whole event. Will I really manage to perform as well as I have been trained all this time?"

Raphael shakes his head. "I do not mean to blame you," Raphael says softly. "I understand your fears. But I am teaching you this now to protect your future, which is important to all of us. I understand also that you may feel that it is not an easy thing to complain against a Thorn who is a full courtesan." He nods once, gravely. "It is difficult to do so, I am sure. But. I wish you to know that the behavior of Thorns in this salon is my greatest concern, and I will always hear you should you have something to say. Can you place your trust in me should the need arise in the future?" he asks.

"Yes, of course, Monsieur Raphael," Alienor replies with a flicker of a smile, a hopeful and innocent obedient young girl. "I hope to have the best debut possible for the sake of the salon, of course, and I will be happy to come to you should I have issues."

"And for your own sake, too," Raphael says. "We shall all work to make it so. Now. Is there anything else that I should know before I return you to your duties?" he asks, fixing her with a look that emphasizes the importance of the question.

"Ah, no, I don't think so, Monsieur," Alienor replies, shaking her head slightly. "May I have the other pastries before you return me to my duties? Lemon is my favorite."

Raphael pauses to consider the question, then nods once. "You may," he says, "Since I got them for you in the first place. But I recommend that you either share them or eat them someplace inconspicuous so as not to arouse envy among the others. Remember to conduct your relationships wisely with the young kin of your canon."

"I will see if Raimbaut is around. I suppose he would like one, too," Alienor replies with a small smile, carefully rising to her feet to collect the pastries carefully on their plate. "He is very shy, but we get along together well, I think, what with both being White Roses."

"Very well, that is your decision," Raphael replies, nodding once and then gesturing with an open hand to the door. "You are free to return to your duties. Please do not hesitate in the future to leave situations which make you feel uncomfortable, and seek counsel with any of the Seconds. Rules are in place with good reason."

"Monsieur, I have discovered that I most often get into situations which are uncomfortable very suddenly, as things are moving along smoothly and then, you know, some patron thinks it would be funny to take the top off a courtesan in a very public area of the gardens," Alienor explains with a bit of a sigh, shaking her head slightly. "But I have already spoken to Mademoiselle Severine about that one. She was quite upset. Everyone was upset." She moves to head to the door, then.

Raphael receives this news of an unruly patron in the gardens with calm, but anger is evident under the surface. "We will discuss what is to be done with patrons who disrespect our rules and conventions," he says. "That is not your fault, I want you to know. I have been…less available than usual for a few weeks, but I will be making the effort to be a greater presence in the gardens and the salon. Should a patron behave poorly in my view, that person will not be happy with the result, I assure you. Now please go in health and stick closely to Mademoiselle Marielle for a little while if you can," he advises in parting.

"Thank you again, Monsieur," Alienor replies with a little half curtsey, and then she escapes out into the rest of the salon.

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