(1312-04-21) You're Old
Summary: Athénaïs and Philomène wake up. In stages. (Warning: Definitely some language.)
RL Date: 22/04/2020 - 10/05/2020
Related: Follows on from Grumpy Old Women and Ham.
athenais philomene 

Oriel Chamber — Valais Townhouse

Tucked away up several flights of stairs, out of the way of visitors and interlopers, this square and spartan chamber commands from its rounded oriel window a vista of Marsilikos's most elegant rooftops and the sunset sky.

The wall on the right as one enters is anchored by a hearth but otherwise covered in watercolours of the l'Agnacite and Eisandine countryside, in different sizes and frames. They all come from the hand of the same loving artist.

Opposite the fireplace stands a sturdy uncanopied double bed constructed of pale golden hardwood and made up with plain white linen sheets. At one side of it, nearer the window, is a washstand equipped with the usual accoutrements and a small rectangular looking-glass above. On the other side, against the corridor wall, is a square table surrounded by three chairs. These additional furnishings are simple in style, but hewn from the same wood and made to match; likewise the pair of pale golden bureaux flanking the oriel window. The seat built into the window is fitted with a thick cushion covered in worn blue-grey linen, concealing cupboards with hinged lids. There's a scattering of coloured pillows upon it.

Hooks on the back of the door hold several coats and cloaks; next to it is a weapons rack, home to an assortment of swords, knives, and bows.

The oriel chamber faces the sunset; the morning light is thus not too harsh, though it’s been nudging Philomène out of her awkward windowseat slumber for some while before Athénaïs finally rolls over and slams her stockinged feet down upon the bare floor as though it has done her numerous personal injuries. It’s the absence of her boots, more than anything else, that draws forth that first short-tempered, “Shit,” before she gets herself up.

She stalks right past Philomène where she’s curled up miserably in the window, unbolts the door with a brisk hand, and spends a few blessed moments in the privy across the way.

When she comes back her next thought is to splash some water on her face at the washstand and run her wet hands through her hair, renewing her usual tousled style. With hands clasped at the back of her neck she draws another breath; and then she sighs, and lowers them and wriggles her shoulders, and pours some water into her cupped palm to drink down thirstily. And then some more. Shameless guzzling to try to get out in front of the ache buzzing in her head. She’d drink from her usual cup but for some fucking reason it’s not in its usual place.

Philomène has always been one of those most annoying of people who switch from happily asleep to wide awake and upright like the flick of a switch, with no groggy mumbling period in between like normal human beings. Thus what is, in one moment, a brown and shapeless form in the window seat, in the very next moment stretches out and elongates into something more closely resembling the Dowager Vicomtesse de Gueret. Two pale legs appear, one sliding seamlessly to the floor and the other creaking with a selection of hisses of pain until it, too, is what passes for straight, although with the boots still discarded to one side, the awkward angle and strange shortening of the left side is quite apparent.

Even that might not be enough to draw the attention, as Athénaïs is clearly rather preoccupied with rehydrating, but when the shape rises upwards, hissing, “Fuck,” and begins — arms outstretched for balance until her legs are prepared to start forgiving their overnight treatment — to hobble towards the door, there’s only so far anyone can really ignore her.

Any normal, tolerant, compassionate hostess would extend a helping hand and guide Philomène to the door— Athénaïs just glances her way between gulps, mutters, “Fucking hell,” and pours more water into her hand and drinks it. That is, she attends to the immediate problem, which is at her very fingertips. If Philomène falls down she’ll pick her up. Otherwise the consequences of her own choices are her own, fucking, hellish issue to deal with.

One must presume that Philomène does not fall down — and neither does she suffer an ignominious death by falling into the lavatory, as after a few choice noises, some more swearing, and a slightly worrying clatter of something being knocked over, she returns with a very slightly smoother limp to the bedroom. The door is once again bolted behind her.

“You look like shit,” she informs Athénaïs without preamble, returning to her makeshift window nest where she can ease herself back down with a hiss and a wince, and lean to begin tugging on her boots.

Athénaïs has meanwhile cleaned her teeth and drunk down the rest of the tepid water in her pitcher. One way or another. She’s sitting on the edge of her bed, next to the rumpled place where she slept. She looks up as Philomène crashes back into the room; as the bolt slides home she reaches for her own boots. “Like you don’t,” she grouses out of habit, as she shoves her stockinged feet into one and then the other. She doesn’t even look.

“Temple baths?” she asks, lacing them up. “Or wait for my breakfast. They’ll bring it up.”

It’s probably a good thing she doesn’t look. Nobody has any right to look as alert and fresh faced as Philomène in the morning, even given the way her hair is still sticking up at the back on one side where she’s been propped against wall and cushion all night, and notwithstanding the fight currently being put up by one recalcitrant leg.

“Temple baths,” she agrees. “Before they fill up with gawkers. Breakfast can wait.” She pauses, looking Athénaïs over. “Breakfast can wait, right? You’re not about to chuck up everywhere, are you?”

The expression of distaste Athénaïs turns toward Philomène as she knots that second set of boot-laces, only deepens the more she takes in the other woman’s restored state.

“I want a cup of kahve,” she grumbles. “Get it downstairs before we go,” she decides, levering herself up and taking a deep breath. Given she had a lot more, last night, than her visitor did, she’s not doing too badly. She stalks straight-backed past Philo and grabs her sword-belt off the rack, and buckles it about her slim hips and tests the draw before reaching for her coat.

“Cup of tea and an orange,” Philomène insists stubbornly. Well, it’s the breakfast she’s had for this many years and she’s not about to stop now, just for the approval of some blonde floozy she’s trying to impress.

Her own sword belt buckles into place mere seconds after her hostess’s, like some sort of synchronised pas de deux, before her jacket is once again slung over her shoulder.

“Don’t you dare go running off, either,” she insists, eyeing Athénaïs. “I need the warmth of the baths to get my joints moving. I’m pretty fucking useless until then.”

“You’re old,” drawls Athénaïs, as she unhooks a battered leather satchel from the back of the door and puts it over her arm and her head, so that the strap crosses her body and the bag itself hangs opposite her sword, Toledo steel in a deceptively plain scabbard.

She flings a sudden blinding grin in Philomène’s direction, and turns away to unbolt the door. “I’ve got Yves Valliers’s word for it,” she explains as they depart from her lofty chamber.

“Fuck. Yves. Valliers,” Philomène insists in precise, clipped tones as she limps out to follow, bracing herself for the epic trip back down all these stairs again. “I’m not past it yet.”

“I’d rather not,” drawls Athénaïs.

And then, being unyoked to the niceties and Azzallese into the bargain, she takes the steps three or four at a time all the way to ground level, pelting down into the foyer; as she vanishes from view the fall of her boots remains rhythmical, but almost too fast to be true.

By the time Philomène attains the white and black marble floor — fresh-scrubbed, in the sense that some poor menial is still on his knees in the far corner — Athénaïs is returning through an open doorway, holding a large plain pottery mug giving off steam. She freezes a couple of times, to drink from it, as she crosses that expanse of marble toward the other woman. In her other hand she’s got an orange, which she tosses ahead of her for Philo to catch.

Whatever pithy epithet Philomène was about to bestow on the woman is cut off at the sight of the orange, and the scowl turns to a bemused smile as her hand shoots up to catch it. “I take it back,” she notes, even if thus far she’d only been cursing Athénaïs internally. “You’re not actually as bad as all that.”

She holds the orange up between thumb and middle finger, gives a nod, tosses it in the air and catches it, then stoops to pull a thin, sharp knife from a hitherto well disguised scabbard on her right boot. “Is that tea?”

“No tea on this early,” Athénaïs answers shortly; but then she holds out her capacious mug, to give Philomène a glimpse and a whiff of the dark liquid inside. Bitter, sweet, bitter again, a hint of cinnamon— the vapours float seductively upward, upon tendrils of steam. It’s barely dawn and still chilly out, and chilly in here too without the fires lit yet. What would you do?

What Philo would do is slice the orange in half for a start, then offer one half back to her gracious hostess. “I’ll get a pot on in a bit when I’m done bathing, then,” she decides, wrinkling her nose at the dubious foreign liquid. Because tea is clearly not foreign. We shall gloss over that.

“For the record,” she notes, apparently quite chatty this morning, “that’s probably the worst night’s sleep I’ve had in twenty years or more. You should be very proud.”

But Athénaïs is neither proud nor, crucially, impressed. She ignores the orange. “This’d fix you,” she drawls, standing in the entryway taking repeated sips of her strong, dark, steaming-hot kahve. It’s all the rage in Marsilikos the last year, hadn’t you heard—? Oh. You hadn’t.

“Bath, cup of tea, then a mile around the garden will sort me out,” Philomène insists, even if her nostrils do twitch a little as the aroma wafts over. “Then drills, then see to Hirondelle, then a quick ride out this afternoon. You got plans?”

Athénaïs just shrugs at that, and sips more swiftly from her mug as the kahve grows cooler and becomes less of an endurance test for her morning-after tongue. It does its job, anyway. She looks wider awake and much more herself as she lodges the almost-empty mug upon a backless occasional chair not intended for the purpose, and shoves open the courtyard door with a bang and steps out into the cool, brisk, bright Marsilikos morning.

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