(1312-05-16) The Language of Friendship
Summary: Raphael and Philomène share news of their young ladies, and discuss the only good thing ever to have come out of the Flatlands.
RL Date: 16/05/2020
Related: Spring Tournament: Closing Feast, Where You Lead, and other scenes involving this constellation of characters.
raphael philomene 

La Rose Sauvage — Night Court

A huge hearth of black marble, with gargoyles of stone adorning the mantlepiece, governs the foyer of the Salon de la Rose Sauvage, which emanates a certain dark air, the interior design of the more heavy sort, that could easily be encountered in a gentleman's club, especially with the dark cherry wood wainscoting used on the walls. Dark leather upholstery is predominant in the furniture of chaise longues, couches and long-backed chairs that are arranged in a half-circle, leaving space in the center for courtesans (or patrons) to kneel for an inspection. Three tall windows with circular stained-glass insets are framed by dark red curtains of heavy brocade, a few golden threads worked into the fabric catching occasionally the light of flickering oil lamps at the walls. The lamps light a pair of portrait paintings, of the two founders of the salon, Edouard Shahrizai and his cousin Annabelle no Mandrake, resplendent in their dark Kusheline appeal; and a cabinet in a corner, holding a number of quality wines and a flagon of uisghe.

The foyer has a high ceiling, and a gallery beyond a balustrade of dark teak wood, carved in the shapes of gargoyles. Sometimes a few veiled creatures can be spotted up there, stealing glances at what is going on below; from the gallery, which can be reached by ascending some winding stairs at the back of the foyer. Beside the stairs leading up is a hallway on ground level, leading further into the building to where the offices of the leader of the salon and his two Seconds can be found, along with the two wings of private quarters for roses of Mandrake and Valerian canon.


A cool, late spring morning with pink flowers blooming and songbirds cheerfully chirping is just about the opposite aesthetic of the Rose Sauvage salon, but that's probably why just about no one is here this morning. Except Raphael, settled in one of the large leather chairs, book in one hand and page kept with a finger as he is finishing a remark to a novice. A posture correction, it seems. The novice takes the correction and delivers the steaming tisane to the table by the chair. Raphael returns to his book.

One has to entertain the idea, of course, that there was a lookout on duty, and on the slow, deliberate, limping approach of a certain Dowager Vicomtesse, the bat signal went up and all but the least fortunate have fled the area. Thus by the time the door opens and the woman lets herself in, her general demeanour, tall riding boots and air of quiet entitlement rather helping with the general aesthetic, it takes her little time to spot him and hobble over towards the leather chair in question, lean over the back of it, and greet the man. "Morning, Raphael. Still alive, then?"

Raphael looks up from the book, turning his head to regard Philomène in her unusual angle of approach. But he smiles. "I appear to be," he agrees. "And so do you. Unless we've both somehow arrived at some strange afterlife fit for Camaelines and Thorns alike." He sets his book aside on the table. "It's good to see you."

"If this is the afterlife, I'm not afraid to die now," Philomène confesses cheerfully. "Although I'm sure we were promised to be freed from our earthly bodies, which would be a bloody good prize. Am I interrupting you?"

"If you've ever been afraid to die, you've had a funny way of showing it," Raphael opines. "Of course you aren't interrupting me. I have barely begun to exist for the day. Will you have a seat and a cup of tea, or shall we take a walk? Things are blooming in the garden by now."

Philomène gives the man a fond grin, straightening up and settling her hand on the back of the chair. Not for support. She'd never admit that. Just… because she feels like it, is all. "I've been for my walk already this morning," she admits, "so not too much further, if you don't object? Tea, though, I'm all in favour. How've you been? I hear you've not managed to scare off your young lady yet."

"Tea, then," Raphael says, signalling to the novice, who hurries off. "A short walk if we get bored. Please, sit if you like." He takes up his own tisane and drinks from it. "I'll thank you not to insult us by calling either one of us 'young,'" he replies with mock gravity. "We are still very pleasantly involved. And yours?"

"Ah, well, no, not so much," Philomène admits, bracing herself before limping round to find herself a second chair, pausing to set her jaw, and slowly lowering herself into it. "And if you'd rather I called you elderly I can do that too. But you both seem happy, and that counts to take about thirty years off anyone. Well, she seems happy. You seem… yourself, which we'll call happy. Can't have you smiling and enjoying yourself here. You've a reputation to maintain."

Raphael seems amused rather than insulted. He nods once. "I do feel myself, and I do feel happy, I can tell you that much while the novice is out of the room." He lifts his eyebrows slightly. "Do you want to tell your story, or be distracted from it?"

"Not much to tell," Philomène admits. "I mean, what do you want to hear? My usual mistake of expecting more than was actually on offer. I need to stop throwing myself head first at these things. It never ends well."

Raphael shrugs his shoulders. "I only want to hear what you want to tell," he says. The novice comes back with tea on a tray, which is set out, the table moved slightly for Philomène's convenience. Raphael dismisses the novice with another gesture and looks back to Philomène. "I'm sorry to hear if it didn't go as you wanted it to."

Philomène murmurs a quiet thanks to the novice, touching a hand to the back of the pot to get an idea for how long it's brewed. Apparently not long enough as she settles back in her seat. "Well, I'm trying to follow your example now, as that seems to be working out well for you. A note of caution. And you can imagine how uncharacteristic that is for a d'Aiglemort." She flashes a quick grin, shrugging one shoulder. "Patience and caution and foresight? They don't come naturally to us."

Raphael shares a smile with Philomène at this self-characterization. "Discretion and valor must go hand in hand, I think they say," he replies. "But I do believe that there is more for you out there in the world. You will find things you want."

"Finding things I want has rarely been an issue," Philomène admits drily. "I could look out of the door and name a dozen things off the bat. I'm still occasionally blindsided, though. I thought I couldn't be happier with my Hirondelle, but you need to meet Hercule at some point, Raphael. He's an absolute stunner."

Somehow that last news seems to stun Raphael more than any romantic news. "Hercule?" he repeats. First he'd heard of it. "Well, you must describe him to me. How did he come into your life?"

Philomène lifts a hand somewhere over her head, flattening it off. "He's a big lad, somewhere about here, and an absolutely gorgeous colour. Pure black, not a hint of brown or chestnut in him. Been taking him out for a run down to the Cascade most days, just to stretch his legs, and he's not shown a hint of getting tired yet. But then he does have an appetite to match," she adds with a genuine smile. "You'll have to come and meet him some time. I think you'll get on."

"I'd like to, the way you describe him," Raphael replies, sipping on the tisane again. "But how is Hirondelle taking the competition?" Raphael looks as curious as though he were discussing gossip of the highest order.

"Oh, it's hardly competition," Philomène argues, touching the teapot again to gauge its temperature. "She knows she'll always be my first love. But even so, Hercule has found a little place in my heart. He's a big softy, really. I can't believe anyone would give him away as a prize, but I couldn't be more glad that the Duchesse did." She grins broadly. "I do wonder if it's a pointed commentary, though, as he's proof that some good can come from the Flatlands after all."

"Well, congratulations," Raphael says, nodding at that. "Perhaps worth a compliment to the Flatlands if it does your heart good. I'll have to meet your boy one of these days."

Philomène eyes him. "Well, I don't know if I'd go that far. I've still not forgiven the Flatlander for defending that savage who stabbed me," she notes, finally deciding the tea is done and pouring out a cup. She holds the pot up, a brow raised. "But you should. You should come out riding with us one afternoon. Aurore comes out most days when she can, but I don't think she'd mind a third wheel if it's you."

"Delighted," Raphael replies, nodding once. "Only I am absolutely not a horseman. You must remember, I was born a commoner. My family would be more likely to break down a horse than to sit on top of one."

Philomène pours out a second cup and nudges it his way before putting down the pot and settling back with her tea. "Pft, anyone can learn to ride," she dismisses. "We'll just maybe not take some of the jumps if you're joining us. For once maybe not decide to challenge death for the thrill of it."

"If you get my neck broken," Raphael points out, "I'm afraid you'll owe a tremendous debt to the Rose Sauvage salon. But I'm sure there can be no better riding instructor than you."

Philomène laughs. "As though I'd be a good instructor of anything. That takes patience and skill I lack. Perhaps you and I should stick to walking. Never mind the debt to the Rose Sauvage, I imagine a certain lady of our acquaintance would probably murder me if I got you killed."

Raphael laughs. "I can't imagine the reckoning that might be unleashed upon you from that quarter," he says. "And you must keep in mind that, love match or no, there are a few others in this city with an interest in me as well. So I'll trust you to keep me on top of the beast."

"If I'm going to get you killed, Raphael, it'll be in a bar fight by my side," Philomène promises, grinning over her tea at him. "Speaking of which, we really ought to do that again some time."

"We certainly can," Raphael agrees, nodding. "Though I like to be compensated when bar brawls are on the table." He sips his tisane again. "As a young man, you know, I never would have dared to get up to the nonsense I do now."

"And this is why you're a healthy, well adjusted old man now, and I'm a grumpy old cripple with a pathological need to prove myself on every occasion," Philomène notes cheerfully. She briefly touches the side of her face, leaning in and tilting it away from Raphael. "How do I look, by the way? I took a bit of a hit the other day, but I think I've got away with it. I'm getting old and slow."

Raphael takes a bit of time to evaluate Philomène's appearance. "I don't make it out from this distance," he says. "You must be healed by now. Getting old and slow is a great privilege, however. I hope you embrace it."

"A privilege?" Philomène queries, taking a sip from her tea and eyeing him. "How do you figure that?"

"Because otherwise you're dead," Raphael replies bluntly. "And anyway, I'd prefer you in the world as old and slow as you like."

"If I get to the point I can't even have a good old fashioned scrap any more, I'd hope you'd have the compassion to see me off," Philomène replies after a moment. "I never want to end up like Louis-Claude. Never. And you wouldn't want me in the world like that either."

Raphael is quiet a while, and in the end will neither confirm nor deny exactly that. Instead he says, "Getting hit at a tourney is not at all the same thing. I think you know that."

"I don't fight at tourneys," Philomène points out, taking another sip from her tea. "I don't fight for the entertainment of the masses. I'm not a fucking circus trick. More to the point, I don't need to compare myself with eighteen year olds who do nothing but train every day to win a competition, rather than training to win a war. I don't like the damn things. Fighting shouldn't be an exhibition. Fight for your country, or fight for fun, but don't fight just to show off."

"Oh, I see," Raphael replies. "So who were you fighting for your country when they clocked you in the face, then?"

Philomène pulls a face at him. "Fighting for fun was an option, Rafe. Besides, it's all fair as long as you buy them a beer afterwards."

Raphael smiles and nods once. "If you say so," he replies. "Anyway, just because someone's able to connect with your face, I wouldn't take it as the end of everything."

"Well, no, we've both got too much to live for," Philomène allows, flicking a half smile. "You've got your work, your woman, and you've got me as a friend. Lucky you. And I've got my horses, my booze and my unfailing optimism that you'll continue to put up with me. And, if I don't screw it up completely, I've a certain amount of hope for a woman of my own. But patience, hm? Try, for once in my life, not to go all in and scare the poor girl off."

"Patience," Raphael agrees warmly. "And appreciation for our existing blessings." He lifts an eyebrow. "But are you telling me there's another girl you've got your eye on?"

Philomène holds up a hand. "Don't say it. I know what you're thinking. I leap from one obsession to the next without taking a moment to even breathe. I know."

Raphael shakes his head and turns up two empty palms. "I am hardly a man to judge anyone's love affairs," he says. "I've seen everything, and love has a way of being surprising."

"Patience," Philomène decides, shaking her head. "Just for once I'd like to get it right. Maybe I should have a good argument with her. Let her see the worst parts of me, and then she can decide if it's worth the time and effort."

Raphael tilts his head. "Not sure if I necessarily recommend that, but it could work, depending on the person. You like a good fight, so you might want to find someone who can give you that."

"Or," Philomène counters wryly, "Maybe I should make the most of it while I can, before I show off what an ornery old cow I am at heart?"

Raphael shrugs. "Perhaps showing your warm side and your feisty side in combination will be your truest way of showing who you are," Raphael suggests. "Neither hiding things nor deliberately exaggerating them."

Philomène thumbs her chest. "I don't much like who I truly am, Raphael. I'm not convinced I ought to show it off. Fuck. Look, I didn't come here to weep on your shoulder, anyway. I just thought I'd come and catch up, and then once again I've done nothing but talk about myself. Didn't even bring you a ham to make up for it. I'll buy the beers next time we're out, how's that? You, me, Aurore, and we'll go find some trouble to stir."

"Do you think…" Raphael says, picking up his mug, "That that might be a certain portion of your problem?" But he doesn't lecture further than that. He smiles. "We are catching up. But I'll take a beer off you even so."

Philomène half grins. "Proof that there's nothing that can't be solved with the liberal application of alcohol. Never mind flowers, booze is, if not the language of love exactly, definitely the language of friendship."

"Agreed," Raphael says. "And then when we have that beer, you can tell us more about how far you've got by then."

"Or at least how much I've screwed up and give you a laugh," Philomène allows, grin widening. "I might not fight for entertainment, but at least the sheer horror of my love life should give you plenty to enjoy."

Raphael shrugs as if to say that he'd certainly accept that as well. "Very few love smoothly," he says. "But love gossip is nevertheless endlessly entertaining."

Philomène drains her cup and sets it down. "Drop round, won't you, though?" she suggests, bracing herself for a moment, setting her expression to that forced neutrality and hauling herself to her feet. "If I'm home, you're always welcome. It's good to see a friendly face."

"I will," Raphael agrees, nodding once. "I'm sorry if I've rather neglected you lately."

"You've better people to spend time with now they're out of hibernation," Philomène points out, giving him a friendly punch to the shoulder. "I can't argue with your priorities. And if that's not your priority, then you're nuts."

"A servant of Naamah can hardly find any better devotion than love," he agrees. "It is in my nature, my training, and experience, I'm afraid. But I certainly value your friendship as well."

"Maybe one day I'll learn from you," Philomène allows. "Just… probably not any time soon. I'll catch you around, Rafe." With which she offers another quick smile, then turns, sets her jaw, and limps for the door.

Raphael sees Philomène to the door, and then closes it behind her rather than wait for the novice.

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