(1311-11-13) Wearing White
Summary: Alienor meets unexpectedly with the woman whose husband is the White Roses’ most treasured patron. She tries her usual game, and finds that two can play it.
RL Date: 11/12/2019 - 11/13/2019
Related: None.
chimene alienor 

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

There enters the solar of the White Roses an ambulatory mountain of luscious golden-brown sables, with a tallish lady at its core. She is trailed by a pair of bewigged lackeys, matched to a nicety in their height and their build and so similar in their facial features too that they may well be brothers. They are clad in the blue and green seahorse-emblazoned livery of House Rousse. One of them catches the sables as, her destination achieved, the lady shrugs them off. The other clasps a dark leather folio of documents in both his white-gloved hands.

Beneath her fur cloak’s enveloping richness she wears a full-skirted gown of Courcel-blue silk, so plain and yet so perfectly cut that it breathes wealth with each step she takes. She’s long-limbed and lean, queenly in her carriage, with an ivory complexion and large, cool hazel eyes. Her dark brown hair is parted in the middle and gathered sleekly into a knot at the back of her swanlike neck. She addresses herself to the nearest courtesan. “… My dear,” she breathes, in an airy and elegant and confidential soprano — her Mont Nuit accent is flawless even after years of listening to the Eisandine lilt, “I’ve come for my husband on a family matter that simply can’t wait. Do please go and get him out of Amélie, or Aurélie, or—” Her large white hand, several fingers of which bear a heavy burden of jewels, flutters vaguely as she attempts to recall. “Whatever this one’s name is.” She seems untouched by such trifling details.

Having issued her first and most important instruction she glances back to her lackeys; “Yes, put that down there,” she directs, and the folio arrives upon the table she indicates before the men recede into the corridor to wait for their master, their mistress, or perhaps both.

“… And whilst he’s putting his breeches on,” she turns again and her gaze lands upon the novice Alienor, “you may make me a cup of tea. Chi’in black. I don’t take honey.”

“Yes, my lady,” the novice replies, dropping a cursory curtsey and rushing over for a tea service at a rate that can easily be considered a brisk walk, her errand considered an important one clearly. She checks the tea that is being served and rejects one service for another so as to be certain as to have the correct leaf of black tea. It takes her a moment, but she’s quite meticulous about it, careful not to spill a drop on anything, even to the point that the saucer is quite dry. Then she brings the teacup, on its saucer, to the noblewoman, then waits for her to take it at her leisure.

Meanwhile Chimène floats over to the windows — those flat silk slippers dyed to match her gown hardly graze the solar’s carpets, hardly whisper over its oaken floorboards. She twitches the curtains aside and gives the view a glance as cursory as Alienor’s curtsey. She turns back, looks about the solar with an eye immediately wearied by what it sees, and sits down close by the table where her leather folio rests. It’s embossed on the cover with a seahorse.

She watches the novice approach with cup and saucer as if this sight is rather a tedious one, too. “Thank you,” she sighs tranquilly, lifting her hands to accept that dark and fragrant libation, though what she really wants is a glass of wine and the rest of the bottle to follow. Holding the saucer steady before her in her left hand, she employs her right hand to carry her cup the rest of the way to her lips. The Rousse wealth displayed upon those hands alone would buy houses, ships, marques. She sniffs the tea, then sips it. Her gaze lingers upon the small veiled personage who poured and delivered it. She seems to be lost in thought.

“Of course, my lady,” the novice replies politely, and she sweeps out another curtsey, this one much more proper and graceful, without the hurry of fetching the teacup of precisely the right tea to complicate the matter. And then she falls silent, for she is not in a position to make small talk with this particular woman unless this particular woman decides that she would like to make small talk with her specifically.

As Alienor watches the woman with her tea, hands folded before her against her dress in a neat and demure manner, waiting to see if there will be any further requests, it occurs to her that practically every young woman in this room is trying to figure out how to become the next Amélie. Or whatever her name is. The one Athanasius Rousse prefers. How to be his next favorite White Rose. It’s certainly a very lucrative position, though Alienor wonders what his requirements are for his favorites.

Yes, at any moment the duc de Roussillion could be run over by a carriage, or drown, or eat a particularly bad oyster, and transform Athanasius Rousse into the second most powerful noble in Eisande — and Chimène, idly sipping her tea, into a duchesse like her mother.

Her almost empty cup clinks at length into her saucer, and she unfurls her preposterously long left arm to deposit them upon the occasional table with the leather seahorse folio. She clasps both hands in her lap, jewels glittering upon well-kept ivory flesh. She raises a meticulously plucked eyebrow at Alienor. “… And what of you, little one?” she wonders, in the same airy and unconcerned tones as before. “Are you another of my lord and master’s favourite toys—?” She blinks twice, her long dark lashes fluttering in punctuation of her inquiry.

“No, my lady,” Alienor replies promptly, lifting her face. “I’m afraid that I am but a novice and thus ineligible for that sort of status. Though my debut is within the week. Perhaps you or your lord might enjoy attending?” She smiles a secretive little smile, an impish twinkle in her green eyes. “I imagine, though, that your husband might be most temperamental if you had the occasion to outbid him.”

Chimène is on the verge of remarking that she supposes Lord Rousse will attend if it pleases him— when the child actually says something interesting//. Her hazel gaze narrows as if seeking already to penetrate the gauzy drape of Alienor’s veil.

“And whyever would I wish to do that?” she drawls silkily.

“What? Deny your husband the pleasure of winning a White Rose’s true innocence? Just so that you could have tea with her, have her make much of you, have her treat you with the sort of attention to detail you so richly deserve as she sees to your ultimate comfort and relaxation… Why, it’d be positively cruel to the poor man,” the girl replies with wide eyes and a most innocent smile. Alienor shakes her head slightly as if trying to banish the very idea of it.

<FS3> Chimene rolls Composure: Good Success. (2 5 8 5 2 3 2 3 8 2 5 2 5)

The spark of interest behind Chimène’s cool eyes is confined, by dint of old Dahlia training, for her own consideration only. It doesn’t warm her. She merely regards Alienor with regal indifference and murmurs, “I didn’t know they kept such naughty girls up here.”

And then with the grace of a willow-branch gently bending, she inclines toward the girl standing before her and whispers through Alienor’s white veil, so near that her breath stirs its flimsy silken folds: “I receive what I deserve wherever I go, you may be certain of that.”

She straightens into her previous erect yet easy posture.

“I would not dare to imply otherwise, my lady,” Alienor assures her with an utterly copacetic smile and a little flutter of eyelashes that is not meant to be flirtatious but girlish. “Should you contract one of the White Roses, you would experience the excellence in quality that you are so accustomed to, naturally. La Rose Sauvage would not have it any other way, I assure you.”

She lets her gaze fall so that she is demurely studying the future duchesse’s shoes as if they interest her, and she makes no reply to the accusation of naughtiness. The ghost of a smile lingers on her rosy lips, and though she is a petite girl, her posture is very good. No teenaged slouch here. At least, not at the moment.

Well, they’re nice shoes. Dyed, as previously mentioned, to match her gown: not the same silk but a fractionally hardier weave, a silk faille, more suitable to their task. The feet contained therein are large, in natural consequence of the lady’s height, but slender. She sits with her knees together beneath her voluminous skirts — how many layers of petticoats must it take, to create so luxurious a rustle? — and her feet in their slippers neatly aligned side by side.

With the resumption of Alienor’s façade of correct and courteous behaviour, however many cracks there may be in it beneath the discreet blurring of her veil, Chimène’s attention is beginning to wander. “And if I prefer excellence in quantity—?” she drawls, lifting her eyes past the novice to the door when she fancies she hears a sound beyond it.

“If that is what you prefer, my lady, I am quite certain that all can be arranged to your satisfaction. You may have the luxury of many Servants of Naamah rushing to do your bidding, and you need only ask. I am certain the Seconds would provide courtesans and adepts as needed to your enjoyment, so that you might have the absolute best, in whatever quantity your heart desires,” Alienor replies, folding her hands before her neatly. Her skirts are full with petticoats aplenty, but they do not rustle nearly as luxuriously as the future duchesse’s. She silently sets a goal for herself.

The sound fades, or perhaps it was never a sound to begin with: only a hope.

“… Yes,” Chimène sighs, addressing Alienor whilst glancing again about the almost-empty solar, “you’ll tell me whatever you think I want to hear, as surely as if I wrote out a script for you in my own hand. Have you no notion how tedious that is, my dear?” And then her gaze does flick back to Alienor’s scantily-veiled face, an eyebrow arched in idle query.

“I have been recently scolded on the topic of my manners, my lady, and as such, I am making an effort not to misstep, which leads to dull conversation, because I’m trying very hard to be bland in an effort not to be naughty,” Alienor replies, then smiles wryly. “And obviously succeeding, to your complete boredom. I might venture that I rather appreciate your taste in fashion; the beautiful color, the incredible design work, your stylish jewelry, and the absolute impeccability of everything about you from head to toe. I’m certain that you receive many compliments, but I am particularly jealous because I have worn nothing but unaugmented white for so very long, and even after my debut, I shall be expected to wear whites, or at least pastels, to suggest my innocence and girlishness, even long after that is a boldfaced lie.” She shakes her head slightly, pursing her lips together a moment. There’s a split second wherein her shoulders shift into a teenaged slouch and her breath huffs out her veil quietly, but then she straightens and is once again the picture of bland innocence.

Another sound from without; and skating over all those drearily usual and so likewise tedious compliments Chimène impatiently declares that, “There’s nothing wrong with white, you know, I wear white all the time in the spring and the summer… Provided it’s clean.”

The door opens upon Athanasius Rousse, a figure familiar to any White Rose. Tall, beauteous, barely one-and-thirty, a Scion of Eisheth with the dark colouring of the Aragonian royal house. He usually presents himself before the delicate creatures of his favoured canon attired— well, as impeccably as his wife, but in the uniform of an officer of the d’Angeline Royal Navy. Now, obedient to her unusual summons, he appears in breeches and boots and shirtsleeves: decently covered, his hair brushed and tied back, but letting slip a few of the niceties.

“Chimène? What is it?” he asks, coming straight to her, with a tension about his warm dark eyes which suggests he’s steeling himself against the news of a true emergency.

The lady rises as if drawn upward by a string attached to the very top of her sleek dark head. “No— no,” she says first of all, that firmer denial intended to quiet the fears she knows him intimately enough to intuit. “It’s all written down for you,” she explains, without troubling about greetings, and a gracious turn of her hand directs him toward the seahorse folio.

The Rousse heir relaxes visibly. He opens the folio and begins to read.

“The cleanliness. That goes without saying, my lady,” murmurs Alienor from the position she finds herself in behind and to the side of the noblewoman. After all, her white dress is meticulously clean. She pitches her voice more softly so that only Chimène is likely to overhear her, and whispers, “Does your husband enjoy it more when you wear white?”

Without turning round Chimène chides Alienor: “You’ll have to speak up, my dear.”

To her husband, as he peruses the contents of that urgent folio, she helpfully explains, “The novice standing behind me would like to know whether you prefer me to wear white as well when you’re fucking me. I hardly see what that has to do with anything. You’ll find what you want on the third page, I think,” both of which opinions she delivers in the same rather distant, rather wearied soprano tones, as she takes a step nearer the table and into casual proximity with Athanasius, to join him in his present study. The man she calls her lord and master looks up, once, at Alienor, and unmistakably frowns at her before turning to page three.

“It was a simple question,” Alienor mutters with a little shake of her head, looking aside for a moment with frustration and perhaps overwhelming boredom. She shakes out her skirts slightly as if standing near Chimène has possibly made her dusty somehow, and she watches the couple with mild discontent.

If Alienor is suddenly having a frustrating afternoon, neither of the Rousse heirs hurry to console her— indeed, it doesn’t seem to register with them. Chimène lifts her hand once in an elegant gesture which accompanies the abstracted command, “Tea for my lord husband,” and though the cup arrives — here of all places in Marsilikos, his wishes are known and catered to — and though he drinks it to the dregs as he reads through the folio and asks questions in an undertone of his wife, he doesn’t look round again, and nor does she.

Their dark heads bend together and their murmured voices blend, offering to an eavesdropper only fragments of fragments — only a half-perceived shadow of the understanding grown up between two people whose marriage means they work together far more than they sleep together. They leave together too, very soon, after the current favourite brings Athanasius’s uniform coat and Chimène’s glorious sable cloak draped one over each arm.

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