(1312-02-20) What Crawled Into My Mouth And Died There
Summary: The down side of getting drunk is hangovers.
RL Date: Date of RP
Related: None
andrei philomene 

Maison aux Herbes

In contrast to the gaily painted yellow door with its fragrant pots of vibrant green herbs which guard either side, the interior of this house is austere to the point of severe. The whitewashed walls bear little to no decoration, if one precludes the single, almost full length mirror in the main room, and the tiny, framed pencil sketch of a pair of horses beside the door. The front door enters directly into a spartan salon, equipped with a single dark leather sofa and a comfortable chair in front of the fire, where a square section of the rugged brown carpet has been stripped away to facilitate drying out firewood or cleaning out the grate with minimal upkeep.

To one side of the room, an opening leads through to an equally minimalist dining room, containing no more than half a dozen stiff backed wooden chairs and a table that could comfortably fit only four of them, and from there a door leads to the small kitchen and on to simple quarters for a single servant. On the other, a plain staircase leads upwards, the carpet laid in a strip down the centre, with bare, unpolished floorboards visible to either side, to a pair of small bedrooms and a cramped privy. Where furniture has been placed, it is mismatched and looks more as though it's been bought and dumped in the closest available spot than that any sort of thought to interior design has been paid.

When looking out of the windows, you see: It is a winter night. The weather is cold and fair.

There are a great many thoughts that can go through a man's head when he wakes up with a resounding hangover. Thoughts along the lines of,

What the hell did I drink last night?
Why did I drink it?
Why does this bed smell like — who the hell is it, I know this smell.
Why am I waking up in someone else's bed?
… Did I at least enjoy getting into this bed?

Very slowly, Andrei Anghelescu pries one eye open in the attempt to slyly find out where the hell he is, and whose breathing it is he's listening to — because it sounds entirely too healthy to be his own, and this too, could turn out to be a problem. Although maybe not in this city.

It's probably perfectly normal to wake up in a stranger's bed here, coming to think of it.

Philomene has partially disconnected.

Said steady breathing is coming from the direction of a mess of short blonde hair. Even with her face turned away from him and, it might be noted rather unkindly, what a mercy that is given the gathering puddle of drool on her pillow and the effects of heavy drinking on any woman's breath in the morning, it's a familiar mess of short blonde hair. Curled up with her back to him, there are still one or two scars on closer inspection which creep up from beyond the line of the collar of her shirt, still thankfully worn, which peg her as a fighting woman, even if some of those scars these days are more gained from a bruiser in a pub than a glorious battlefield. Philomene doesn't snore so much as snuffle, like an adorable little hedgehog. It may not be the wisest course of action for anyone to inform her of this.

Did I… did we…

Andrei very quietly resolves that we did indeed not. He's pretty sure he'd remember that. Also, there are certain smells and stains associated with that which are currently lacking. Also, he's still wearing his breeches and shirt.

I may not be the most romantically inclined soul in Marsilikos but even I would at least take my socks off, too.

He sighs softly and contemplates — not for the first time in his thirty years of life — just how much headache can fit into one head. He needs something to drink that isn't wine. And it's definitely daylight outside.

Brave the hedgehog. Or dragon. Whichever.

He reaches over to nudge Philomène's shoulder slightly with one hand — still gloved too, definitely not a romantic night.

Either that or these d'Angelines are more perverse than even he had imagined?

The moment his glove touches Philomene's shoulder, however, the snuffling stops, an icy hand shoots up to grip the wrist and twist painfully, and the woman snaps from sleep to awake and snarling back over her shoulder in less than half a second. It is then again no more than half a second before the grip is at least relaxed, if not released, and the snarl becomes an indignant glare. "What the fuck?" she hisses at her unexpected bedmate, as though he's likely to have a better answer.

"No, pretty sure there was no fuck involved," Andrei murmurs, realising just how much sound hurts. "Please don't break my bloody wrist."

Philomène gives what is far too loud a grunt of acknowledgement, releasing the hand and lifting her chin. "Don't put it where it'll be broken, then," she reasons, then exhales and reaches back, while her hand is there, over her shoulder, inside her collar, to see how her shoulder is healing up. It's while she's examining her fingertips for any traces of blood or infection (fortunately none) that the door is softly nudged open, and the efficient if somewhat eccentric maid, Caroline, backs her way in with a tray in hand. Tea. Of course. And two cups this morning.

"I wasn't planning to," the Carpathian murmurs and face plants the pillow again. "What the hell did we drink last night? And more importantly — can I have something to drink that isn't of an alcoholic nature, preferably before I start picking flowers out of vases." The latter whine is directed, presumably, at Caroline.

Philomène rolls over and shifts to attempt at least to sit up. Caroline initially pours for her mistress, spilling a drop to the worn carpet but who's going to complain, but Philomene graciously twists a little to offer this cup to Andrei, as though perhaps this is some normal d'Angeline custom. "If you're going to throw up, use the pot," she suggests helpfully.

"At least someone pulled my boots off," Andrei observes and does indeed find them standing next to the bed. "Small mercies?" He accepts the cup gratefully and attempts to wash down the frog that clearly crawled into his mouth and died. "I hope we at least enjoyed ourselves."

"I can't imagine that for one moment we did," Philomene insists as she accepts her own cup of tea from the maid. The maid who is rather openly eyeing Andrei as some sort of odd curiosity. "Caroline, would you stop gawping and see what the man wants for breakfast?" she prompts, apparently quite happy to continue to train her maid with company there.

"… Not a lot, to be honest." Maybe there's a reason that Andrei is rather on the thin side. "But thank you for offering. I almost never eat breakfast, nothing much agrees with me in the morning." He rootles around the pocket of his waistcoat, and eventually produces a tiny bottle containing something brown. A few drops go in the cup before he caps it and returns it to its pocket.

"Well, I usually have an orange this time of year, so if you want one, shout," Philomene states flatly, taking a sip from her tea perhaps to fortify herself, before shifting to slide her legs out from the blankets and moving to actually shift to something resembling upright. "Companions above, what the fuck did we drink?" she grumbles, screwing up her eyes and poking out her tongue for a moment as she begins her rather painful limp over towards her dresser.

While Andrei was left in his crumpled clothing overnight, no doubt because Caroline wasn't entirely sure what to do with the snoozing man collapsed with her mistress over the sofa last night, Philomene is apparently in only her shirt. Removal of her clothing is a much more regular occurrence for the maid, after all. It's not that the shirt isn't long enough to cover everything that might otherwise shock a Carpathian with a religious upbringing, but it is clearly not long enough to cover what appears to be the remains of something fibrous, awkwardly placed, oddly shiny and in hues of reds, purples and whites that seems to have been stuck at some point to the woman's left thigh like some sort of anatomically challenged facehugger. Only it's not something stuck to it at all, on a second glance, but a mass of horrifically twisted, pitted and scarred flesh that really looks as though it shouldn't be any part of any human being whatsoever, that not only is the leg, but has significantly shortened and twisted it. Without her tall, cunningly built up boots on, the anomaly is made even more clear.

<FS3> Andrei rolls Composure: Failure. (4 4 6 4 4 6 6 1 5)

It's not polite to stare.

Andrei reminds himself of this — eventually. An 'eventually' that does however make it obvious that he was staring before he remembered to look away. Is it possible that he was looking at a nice amount of feminine skin? Absolutely. That he was distracted by the outline of a backside kept in good shape by regular equestrian exercise? Technically, yes. That he was staring openly at a scar that, for all of his limited medicinal knowledge, should have lead to gangrene and death? Very high probability.

"Drink your tea," Philomene suggests, assuming not unreasonably that the silence is rather more hangover related than staring-at-her-leg related. This we can infer by the way she doesn't immediately try to stab him. "There was definitely something… herbal," she decides, running her tongue over her teeth distastefully as certain flavours start to come back to her. Fortunately for all only mentally and not, at least at present, physically. "I seem to recall a challenge… fuck. Did I win?"

Down the hatch goes the tea, and whatever it was Andrei added to it. "I think we both lost," he groans. "At least I don't particularly feel like a winner at the moment. Although, last time I woke up with a hangover like this one, I was half naked in a hay stack and my drinking companions had made off with my boots and my money, so on the whole, this is an improvement."

Philomène shakes her head as though that'll be enough to clear it, leaning on her dresser for a moment or two to squint at her own reflection in the mirror and by extension the reflection of the room and Andrei behind her. "Your boots wouldn't fit me," she points out, wincing as she moves to sit down. In the moments before her scars are completely and thankfully hidden from view, the tensing of twisted and out of place muscles and something suddenly shifting beneath the red and purple skin from one position to another makes it suddenly all rather clearer exactly why there's always that breath, that carefully practiced blank look and the flash of pain in her eyes every time she goes to sit. "I will gladly take your money, though, and I've a fondness for your fur coat."

"I'll make a note in my last will to have my coat sent to you when I finally manage to cough my lungs up," the Carpathian murmurs drily and scratches a chin that definitely is no longer clean shaved; sandy blond as he may be, there's a faint ginger hue to his stubble — like in so many other fair men, his beard grows out red. It goes poorly with the pale, greenish shade of his face; somebody is very obviously not a morning person. Maybe that pot shouldn't be put too far away, just in case.

"If I'm in your will, I'll be sure to find you a suitable set of dangerous steps and a slippery carpet sooner rather than later," Philomene threatens amiably, leaning back as Caroline reappears with a bowl of warm water and a flannel, with which she begins to wash her face, and then with brusque efficiency, other areas still otherwise covered by her shirt. "I don't have a bath in the house. I think it's a waste of Caroline's time to fill it when there are public baths at the temple, but you're welcome to use this water if you want it. By the way, you snore like my late husband did, only louder. I have no idea how you don't wake yourself up."

"Another good reason to not consider marrying me for my wealth," Andrei says brightly. "Also, I do, pretty regularly, although usually it's by coughing. I'd like to wash up a little, sure, when you're done." He half-turns on the bed's edge, granting Philomène some semblance of privacy, studying the rest of the room with his back turned towards her.

"Perhaps getting drunk and passing out in strange women's beds is the answer, then," Philomene suggests drily as she dips the flannel into the water and goes back to freshening up from top to toe. "If it eases your breathing it sounds like a fine solution to not being able to sleep." Because using booze to help one sleep is something about which Philo does know.

"You're not 'a strange woman'," her bed partner points out. "You're someone who drinks as hard as I do, swears harder, fights more and better, and looks at women more as well. Out of you and I, odds are that if someone has to wear a dress, it'll be me." He doesn't seem particularly bothered by the idea; it's pretty clear that by the standards he's used to living by, Philomène could not exist. Ergo, she's a man — problem solved.

"Well, you don't look like a Baphinol, but sure, I think you probably have the figure for it," Philomene allows, squinting back at him in the mirror. "I find dresses make it difficult to ride, but if you're not a great horseman, you carry right on."

"I can ride," Andrei murmurs, and pulls his shirt off, inadvertedly getting the whole process a little wrong; most men take it off before going to bed, not after getting out of it. He is indeed very much on the lean side, and sports a good number of old battle scars of his own — a few of them on the back, too, where it isn't likely some enemy combattant would get at him (but someone with a sharp blade and poor aim certainly might). "I'm just not very good at it. Probably because unlike you, I don't particularly love the animals involved."

"Horses," Philomene proclaims with the air of a professor imparting wisdom, "are far, far more lovable than humans." She pauses, adding as an afterthought, "On the whole, anyway. I'm really rather smitten with my current normal bed partner, but if I had the option to save her or Hirondelle from a burning building, you can bet you'd hear hoofbeats first. Second drawer," she adds casually, "should have a spare flannel or two for you to use, and a razor, if you'd rather sort yourself out rather than wait for your man."

"As long as your normal bed partner doesn't misunderstand this situation I'm perfectly content to borrow a flannel and a razor." Andrei wanders over to rootle through the second drawer as instructed. "Although if your normal bed partner is indeed Hirondelle, I am sneaking in here some time with a sketch pad, because that needs to be preserved for posterity."

Philomène takes a deep breath to steel herself, then rises with a slight wobble back up to her feet. She steadies herself on the dresser before limping back over to find some clean clothes. Apparently Caroline doesn't even bother with laying out for her. It's pretty clear what she's going to wear. "I'm sure she'll understand," Philomene responds with a half smile. "But I shall tell her you compared her with a horse. She ought to be flattered, of course, but if you find five foot nine of angry blonde Mereliot rage coming at you with a mace, you'll know why."

"You're assuming that I am able to put a name to the notion of five foot nine of blonde Mereliot. I'm dimly aware that they're the ruling house around here, but that about sums it up for me. Either way, good on her for not being a horse." Andrei in turn heads for the water bowl. Water in his face. A cat wash. And indeed, scraping off at least the worst of his morning beard. Dl Szimfonia would be anything but impressed but as he is not here, his opinion matters less at the moment.

"I don't trust you with names," Philomene retorts, leaning back against the bed for support as she pulls on a set of dark breeches which look exactly the same as almost every other of dark breeches she owns. It keeps it simple. "You named your country after a sneeze, after all."

"Not my fault you can't pronounce Podgrabczyna — and nor did I name it. It means the place under the hornbeams, by the way. As in, a place where people laid to rest. The country takes its name after the main town, and I'm thinking there was probably some battle or other at some point in history that resulted in a lot of corpses. Heaven knows we've got enough ghosts to go around." Andrei shrugs and draws the razor down over his chin. "Good job on not trusting me with names, though. I am inherently untrustworthy."

Philomène eyes him as she laces herself into the breeches. "I trust you with a damn razor in my own bedroom, which proves the sort of fool I am. Not fool enough to mess with ghosts, though. Rosemary," she notes, pursing her lips. "Keeps them away."

"I am not trustworthy but I am not a crazy knife murderer," Andrei cedes and pulls his shirt back on as well after having — well, cleaned up may be taking it a little too far, but at least he feels fresher. "For what it's worth, though, I trust you're not going to be in trouble with your lover. It'd be a rather idiotic thing to argue about, all things considered."

Philomène gestures at him with one hand, raising a brow. "Without meaning to be rude, Monsieur Anghelescu… look at you. If there were a queue of people I'd like to make love to, not only would you be at the back of the queue, there would be at least two pit traps and an armed guard between you and the front. If she'd dropped in last night I'd have just booted you to the spare room."

"Good, good." Masculine pride may be frail but in this case, it seems quite undented; perhaps Philomène is not quite managing to live up to the no doubt strict requirements for the woman of Andrei's dreams either, assuming that one exists. "Even so, I think I'd prefer to perhaps claim that spare room if we decide to repeat this experience. I am not the only person present who snores."

Philomène leans forward to tug off her shirt over her head, pausing once half way done and with the majority of the shirt bunched in front of her. "It's not an awful idee, though. If you'll excuse me asking, what do you pay those thieves at the Inn to stay there?"

"The price is not unreasonable," Andrei replies. "I never did intend to stay for long — but considering that I might just happen to live to see spring anyhow, I have actually considered something more permanent. You don't want to put me up, though — once I do get around to doing that dying thing, I'll be a terribly inconvenient guest."

"You'd hardly be the first dying man I've had under my roof," Philomene points out shortly, "and as you so rightly gathered, I'd rather have your money. I dislike having to ask my daughter for an allowance." She shrugs, pulling the shirt off and shaking it out to lay down on the bed while she picks another from the cupboard, "It's an option."

Andrei tilts his head and studies the woman for a moment; he had clearly not considered that angle. "I dislike being a burden," he says at length. "It is … not easy for a man who's always been fiercely independent, to depend on others like I have to now. How's your business talent? You have experience running an estate, I believe?"

Philomène buttons her shirt as she's watched, raising a brow. "There's a reason I'm here, monsieur, and why I've been here, off and on, for a couple of years now. This is where deals are brokered and trade is done. They didn't send me to l'Agnace because I can handle a sword, either. With not a single attempt to be humble, yes. I'm bloody good. Why? What are you offering?"

<FS3> Philomene rolls Economics: Great Success. (4 2 5 7 8 4 4 1 8 3 7 6 7)

"I am thinking that if I do in fact manage to stay alive for a while yet, then people who aren't you will eventually start to realise that just because I don't introduce myself title first and name second. I might end up in a position where I actually have to act the part that life shoved on me. In that case, I will need somewhere suitable to keep your peacocks entertained. I for one have no intention of spending my remaining months familiarising myself with the Marsilikan housing market. I might have an opening for someone who does know how to handle an estate." Andrei shrugs lightly. "It's not something I considered in advance of coming here, but then, I never expected to survive a full month here, either."

"There are still a steep set of stairs to contend with on the way to breakfast," Philomene points out in the interest of fairness. "I might yet be the new owner of a lovely fox fur coat."

"Why settle for one slightly used fox fur coat if you might end up with access to the national fox fur export? Buy yourself five living ones, skin them with your teeth and wear their guts as a ballroom dress for all I care." Andrei ties on his cravat, finally having some sort of resemblance of a decently clad gentleman of the upper middle class. "If I do settle here, I want someone I can trust. Finding people who will kiss my boots is easy. Advisors who aren't afraid to call me an idiot are — harder."

"I'd be pleased to advise you as a shareholder," Philomene allows after a moment, echoing his own movements with her own somewhat messily tied cravat. It probably doesn't help him think of her as anything other than another man, no. "But I won't take a wage and work for you. I am still a lady, even if my daughter now holds the Vicomté."

"You do not need to be in a position of servitude to be in a position to take advantage of inside knowledge," Andrei points out. "If you're as good as you say you are, you recognise the value of knowing what your suppliers are up to before they know it themselves. I can open a market for you to the east. You can take advantage — I will consider that a quite reasonable trade-off for having an honest voice at my table when I need one."

"If you can convince your fellow Chowatti to trade through here, I'll show you how to get the best deals for your goods. If you can convince your fellow Chowatti to add a bull brand to every crate, I'll even go in and make those deals on your behalf," Philomene suggests as she eases into a long waistcoat which, like most of her outerwear, is delicately embroidered with many tiny leaves, vines and stems. "First choice on anything coming in would put the family in good stead."

"Sounds like we have an arrangement in the making," Andrei agrees. "I'm not in any rush to have to deal with your peacocks but I will have to, sooner or later. Help me find the best solution in terms of living quarters that accomodate both noble guests if I must have them, and my own desire for privacy and a back door to a quiet river or road?"

"That isn't my spare room," Philomene adds with a slight smile, grabbing her riding jacket from the hook but rather than putting it on, just slinging it over her shoulder. "I'm going for breakfast. Try not to slit your wrists on the razor before joining me, it'll make a terrible mess of the furniture."

"I'll try," Andrei murmurs wryly. At least he's accustomed to shaving himself rather than letting his manservant do it for him.

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