(1312-05-22) Embarrassing Enough
Summary: Even distraught young men have to eat.
RL Date: 17/05/2020
Related: Wallowing in Grief, slightly.
hugo symon 

Jardins d’Eisheth — Marsilikos

Tranquility and beauty of nature is what those coming to the gardens of Eisheth usually seek. There is a playfulness in the arrangement of paths through the greenery, and the way four of them wind to the center, where there is a pond surrounded by a few elm trees, beside an area with wooden benches and tables beneath an arbor, where ivy winds about wooden posts, and a roof of colorfully glazed tiles offers shelter from the sun but also moderate rain.

Bushes are trimmed, and the green is kept short, so that people coming here can enjoy the dramatic view over the coast all the way to the sea, with the harbor and the citadel slightly to the north. Slightly towards the south and close by is the infirmary with the herb garden beside, where a variety of plants used for healing and treating certain illness are grown under the immaculate care of the healers. Towards the east, a path leads towards the temple district, where the dominant structure of the Temple of Eisheth looms, the white marble shimmering almost otherworldly on late afternoons, when it catches the warm, orange light of the setting sun.


To Symon's mind, it is a shame to put something so lovely as a garden next to something so unpleasant as an infirmary, but religion seems to dictate so many things sub-optimally. So he's come to at least enjoy the view of the now-blooming flower and the coast beyond them. His eye is perfectly unschooled in botanical discernment, and just washes indiscriminately over pretty blossoms.

Accompanied by a well dressed servant of advancing years and house colours as well as a pair of lower order staff, the littlest Trevalion makes his way to the gardens, insisting as he does, "Really, I can carry it." Apparently this refers to a basket held by one of said flunkies, and by the looks of the diminutive young man he most certainly could carry that and a whole lot more besides, but the word of the valet appears to be law. Thus Hugo's usual good nature is marred today, and there's a crease in his forehead that owes its cause more to this sudden curtailment of his freedom than to the traditional black crepe band adorning the sleeve of his elegant uniform. "Look, this is fine," he insists, putting his foot down on at least one small thing he's allowed to control. "Set the blanket down here, and let's eat some lunch where we can look out over the sea. I'm allowed to do that at least, right?"

Symon turns to see who is approaching. He notes a picnic basket, which is encouraging, but a black band of mourning, which is not. Now he doesn't know how he ought to greet the Trevalion. But it seems rude to say nothing at all. So after a moment's dithering, he lifts a hand. "Afternoon," he offers, tone hopeful that it's not completely the wrong thing to do.

Company! Actual human company! Mourning or not, Hugo's face breaks into its natural smile, dimples showing. "Afternoon! Not interrupting, are we?" The older valet gives a little sniff. He may not speak much, but he has a way of making his Opinions known when his lordling charge doesn't follow the strict protocols expected. Not that Hugo takes a great deal of notice. "If we're in the way of your flowers, just tell us to move."

Symon is certainly buoyed by the smile. "Certainly not!" he says eagerly. "I w…wanted to see how the flowers w-were getting on today, b-but it does get a b-bit b…boring by oneself. I like flowers w-well enough, m…mind you," he clarifies, "B-but in most cases I p…prefer p-people."

"I've recently been told," Hugo notes, happy to chat away to anyone who'll listen, "that you can use flowers to send a particular message. Neat, huh? Here, look, we've got plenty of cheese and ham and wine. You want some?" Again the valet sniffs pointedly, giving Hugo a glare which is ignored as happily as the noise.

"Oh," Symon says, nodding a little. "I think I heard some w…women talking about that at a p-party once. Only how could you ever keep it all straight? Anyone trying to send m-me a m-message w…with flowers is b-bound to be disappointed." He comes to join Hugo, sitting down without hesitation. "How kind," he says. "I'm Symon de P…Perigeux, b-by the way." He ignores the sniffy valet.

"Hugo Trevalion," the young man in the naval uniform offers, automatically adding, "Not that Hugo Trevalion." He offers his hand, then pauses. "Or maybe I am that Hugo Trevalion now. The younger one, anyway. Frederic, I can hear you, you know," he adds towards the valet. "We're just having some bread and ham. Even distraught young men have to eat. Either sit down and join us or… I don't know, whatever it is you do. Lurk in the shadows. Look disapproving at everyone. Just let me have my lunch in peace? Please?"

Symon smiles in a vacant way that communicates that he doesn't remember who any Hugo Trevalion is, and clasps the man's hand. "Oh, yes, of course," he says. He's quiet during the disagreement with the valet, but then he does nod at the arm band and say, "Do you w…want to talk about it, or b-be distracted?"

Hugo cracks open the hamper, producing a long baton of fresh bread, a small parcel of butter, one of cheese, and several pieces of ham, already sliced for the occasion. "I loved my sister very much, let's get that straight," he points out, brandishing the baguette to make his point, "but I can't keep up the sustained misery. Nor," he adds as he breaks the bread and offers a piece over, "would she want or expect it. I'm more for celebrating the lives of people we've lost than moping about for weeks."

"I understand," Symon says in a quite straightforward tone, looking with interest at the food emerging from the hamper. "M…my b-brother died a few years ago and it w…was all terribly strange. The m…mourning and everything."

Hugo breaks off a piece for himself and launches into the butter. "Well, you know exactly how it is, then," he agrees with relief. "How long did it all go on for?"

Symon tilts his head. "Oh," he says, "It's hard to p…put a time p-period on it now. Some p-people are still strange about it. Or I am strange, p-perhaps. B-but mostly p…people have forgotten about it and don't m…mention it unless I do."

"Well, that's not very reassuring," Hugo admits, nudging the butter over for the other man before claiming a slice of ham and some cheese for his sandwich. "I was sort of hoping that the funeral would be a hard stop. Obviously I'm going to miss her, but I don't think spending months with a face like a skelped bum is really treasuring her memory, you know?"

"Oh, no," Symon says. "It's m…more of a taper." He reaches for the butter and starts building his sandwich as well. "B-but they're just saying w…what they think is right, or w-what they think m…might b-be nice for you. They don't know. No one knows w…what to say when someone dies, or how to act. I don't. Except to ask the p-person if they want to talk about it or if that's the last thing they w…want to do."

"I think that might be the nicest thing anyone's done since we heard," Hugo admits, aiming his dimpled smile to the man again. He takes a bite from his lunch, then settles back comfortably to lean on one hand. "Mostly it's been people I've never met before coming up to offer their heartfelt condolences and ask if they can do anything, knowing full well they can't. And Frederic keeping me away from anything I might actually enjoy, as it's 'not appropriate, my lord'. And the thing is, none of these people know me. Or knew Reina. They're just making the right noises because it's politics." He tears off another bite of sandwich, chews and swallows, before adding, "Sorry. But you know what it's like, at least. Nothing but platitudes and assurances that this house or that house are absolutely there to support me in this trying time, and by the way look, we have this daughter, or this trade deal, or this favour we want."

Symon shrugs, but he smiles, too. "It's all natural," he says. "They're doing w…what p-people do in our w…world and you're feeling the only w-way I think a p-person can feel. You p-probably w…wish most of them w-would leave you alone," he says, pausing to eat some of his own sandwich, "B-but is there anything they're not saying that you w…wish they would?"

Hugo considers for a moment, then half grins. "How about 'here's a ship, take her out to sea and away from us all'?" he suggests. "I miss being at sea anyway, but even more right now. At least I can see the sea from here. But no, you've got the right of it. Perigeux, you said? You're a long way from home yourself, aren't you?"

"A b-bit of risky advice: they m…might send you to sea if you're embarrassing enough. I suspect that's w…why I get to stay in sunny M…Marsilikos." He lifts the food in a bit of a salute.

Hugo laughs. This prompts another glare from Frederic, the valet and apparent fun police. "Pretty sure I won't get a ship that way, but I appreciate the advice. So, what, Marsilikos is some sort of punishment for you? What did you do to deserve it?"

Symon shakes his head. "Not a p-punishment," he says. "I love it here. I just sort of…came down here, and they haven't forced me to come b-back yet. I'm supposed to b-be looking for a w…wife, b-but I got a bit sidetracked." He eats a bit more.

"I've had that lined up since I was knee high," Hugo admits, licking a crumb from his finger. "Finally met her last year, and I'm in no hurry to get married, I can tell you. Even if Lady Chimène is quite terrifyingly insistent."

"Oh, that's p-probably…" He lifts his eyebrows. "Lady Chimène?" he asks. "Is that…your intended? Or a m…member of her family?"

Hugo should probably not have taken a bite from his sandwich. Bread, cheese and ham sprays everywhere. "What? No! Oh, no no no! If it was her I'd run away to sea right now, change my name, disguise myself as one of those colourful little fellows from the New World, and claim I'd never even heard of Terre d'Ange!" He wipes his mouth, grinning. "No, no, it's one of her daughters or nieces or cousins or something. Lady Simone, do you know her?"

Symon lets out a laugh. "No, not really," he says. "B-but I know Chimène. Old friend of m…mine. She may or m-may not currently b-be cross with me. I'll have to p-pay her a call soon just to m…make sure, either w-way."

Hugo has the good grace to look contrite, lifting a hand. "Sorry, sorry. I didn't realise she was a friend. You've got to agree, though, she is terrifying."

Symon grins, not looking the least bit concerned. "Oh, yes," he says. "I like her v…v…very m-much, b-but I hate to upset her." He finishes off his sandwich, chewing thoughtfully. "B-but it m…must b-be a good m-match, anything in her family."

"We'll see," Hugo replies cautiously. "You ever feel you're just being traded around like a commodity? I mean, I'm a human being! I'm a gentleman and a naval officer. I'm a half decent officer, too, but all that seems to matter is my last name."

Symon shrugs at Hugo. "I don't know," he says. "I'm not half decent at anything, so…I suppose it's really m-my only duty. I can hardly complain. There's a p-price to b-being noble, I suppose." Not that he looks delighted about it.

Hugo finishes his sandwich and wipes his hands on a napkin. "Ah, well. I know there are people who'd give their eye teeth to have what we've got. So maybe I'm just being selfish to complain. Look, I'm going to have to go before Frederic gives himself apoplexy over there. I need to sit in a sombre room and receive a string of morbid wellwishers who've been waiting their turn. Thanks for keeping me company, though. I really do appreciate it, even if he," a nod to the valet, "doesn't."

"I'm not disapproving," Symon says, smiling. "I complain all the time. That's just w…what other p-people usually say to me." He gets up and bobs his head in a nod. He's still completely ignoring the valet. "Oh, my p-pleasure," he says. "And I am sorry for the difficulty you have to go through just now. It w…will p-pass, in its way."

"I appreciate it," Hugo repeats himself, pulling himself to his feet, which is apparently the cue for the pair of servants, under Frederic's watchful eye, to begin packing down the impromptu picnic with admirable efficiency. "Maybe I'll catch you for lunch tomorrow, Lord Symon? If I'm not swallowed up in a tidal wave of black clad mourners before then."

"Oh yes," Symon says. "You m…might send me a note in Les Tanières, or w-we could m…meet here," Symon suggests. "I'm rarely b-busy." He sounds cheerful about that.

"I'll send word with a secret location," Hugo insists with an easy smile, dimples showing. "In case I'm intercepted on my way here, because 'it's not suitable, my lord'." He does a passable impersonation of the older valet, who, to his credit, merely looks unimpressed rather than incensed. "If you don't hear from me, assume I'm drowning in well wishes."

Symon nods with a warm smile. "I understand p-perfectly," he replies. "B-but I'll look forward to it." He glances off toward the ocean, then back at Hugo. "B-be well."

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