(1312-06-12) Attunement
Summary: Alienor visits Sido for an evening of tea and fortune-telling and friendship. (Warning: Some mature themes, including discussion of consent.)
RL Date: 08/06/2020 - 12/06/2020
Related: Clams, and other Alienor scenes.
alienor sido 

Sido's Chamber — Le Coquelicot

Sido-Zinnifre's room is somewhat narrow, but makes up for it in length. The door opens on one short wall, close to its center, and has mounted on the wall to its left a bank of silver hooks, tipped in crystal knobs for the hanging of outerwear, and, below, a dark wooden bench inlaid with silver floral designs, below which are a few ranks of slanted shelving for shoes.

Just past the entry, one finds a lovely stone-lain hearth to the left and a tall, broad double-window opposite it on the wall to the right, offering options for heat in the winter and fresh air in the summer. In the hearth, which is almost tall enough for the petite Sido-Zinnifre to stand, sits a brass rack on which a kettle rests, and beside the hearth is some dark brown wooden shelving, a cozy collection of books, teacups, boxes and charming miscellany. On top of the hearth proper have been placed some larger crystals for decoration, as well as a model head and two hands standing erect on metal stakes on blocks of marble, each marked for the study of phrenology and palmistry. Before the hearth there is a low, oval table, and there are a collection of pillows strewn about on a plush midnight-blue rug beneath. Below the window opposite is a pale cream velveteen chaise, big enough for two, draped with fluffy blankets of dappled grey which match the draperies which rest parted at the window.

Past these, a gauzy blue veil of sheer fabric hangs drawn aside with a silver ring afixed to one wall, giving a romantic, hazy glimpse back beyond the seating area. There, a tall wooden wardrobe stands opposite a washstand and vanity, a lit candle reflecting in the triple mirror and making the area dance with light. Beyond that yet, past another gauzy blue veil drawn in the opposite direction of the first, and sideways against the short wall opposite the door, is her bed, tucked back into the darkness away from both hearth and window, done up in dark blues and raspberry hues and backed with a tapestry of the heavens, with silver and gold thread and diamonds fixed into the fabric to catch what little light makes its way back here and make it sparkle.

It's getting a little late in the spring for Siz to have her fire going. For all she is given to a passion for blankets and pillows, she tends to prefer things on the cooler side. So, with the darker curtains parted, a wipsy, pellucid fabric frombeneath will float on the breezes as she gets some air circulating in her little room, and the late throes of sunset are casting an orange glow. Without her fire, Siz is reliant upon the kitchens downstairs and the servants of the salon to bring her evening tea— tonight, for two— and she's got a nice cloth spread at her low table for them to set with saucers, cups, and little plates of delicately candied orange slivers. Before they go, they'll also light some of her candles— they'll take over the load as the setting sun begins to flag in light-bearing.

Alienor has been allowed to visit under the watchful eye of her chaperone and her guard. The guard will stay in the hall, but the chaperone will come and sit in the corner and watch the two young women and make sure nothing happens except cards. Not that Alienor could get up to much mischief, given how her back is aching and itching from how much work she's had done to her marque lately. "Hello, Siz," she greets as she comes closer, wearing an airy summery white dress and a veil. The latter she flips up so that they can look at one another face-to-face. They are in private, after all, and just having tea.

"Alie!" Siz is puttering. She's a putterer. But when Alie arrives she hops to, fretting over the young lady. If Alie is sick of sympathy, yey, she'll have more of it here— sorry. She draws back and takes in the whole of her comrade. "How are you feeling?" she asks quietly, while the Chaperone an get settled in — at her leisure — there's a nice padded bench near the door under which shoes can be laid (Siz herself is barefooted), or else the chaise under the window. "There's tea, and candies," she speaks up, offering both hands to press, but then leading her along to her little low table witht he cushions all about it.

Taking off her shoes near the door, Alienor manages a smile. "My back is so itchy! This is a terrible rate at which to acquire a marque," she admits with a little shake of her head, but she lets herself be led along to where Siz will have her sit. "Tea and candies sounds delightful. I love tea. Especially when it's sweet. I like sweet things in general. And tart things, too."

Sido lets Alie use the leverage of an offered hand to lower herself down onto a seating cushion on the floor in front of the tea already laid out for her, with the candied orange slices arranged like a pinwheel on the plate next to it. "You can eat the candies separate or put them in the tea; either way, it's tremendous," she tries to keep upbeat, though she has to wince in empathy with the marquing-pains. "I was forever and a day in finishing mine, ir felt like. So I can only imagine. But even only imagining is hardly comfortable."

"I have to finish my marque so that they can properly dismiss me," Alienor explains with a soft sigh as she settles comfortably onto the cushion and promptly does as Sido suggests and puts the candy into the tea without further ado. "And then I have to figure out if I want to go take an apprenticeship or… something. You know. Or continue to be a courtesan."

Sido nods along to the reasoning behind the mass marquage, settling down a quarter way around the table from Alie, no doubt far enough for the gratification of her chaperone, who will really have an easy job of it with the two of their bodies thus estranged. "I figured as much," she agrees, taking one of the candied wedges and swirling it around in the tea until it gets warm and gooey, then lifting it to her mouth to suckle on it and draw the heated, sugared fruitflesh away and down her throat without hardly an effort. She closes her eyes briefly at the mingling flavors of orange and black tea, and she drops the rest of the candy in there for good measure. "So it's a little of a crossroads… or at least a way where three roads meet," she scales down the situation a little bit, even if bringing some rather chthonic figures into it at the same time.

"I don't think I'm very good at being a White Rose," Alienor admits with a wry smile as she reaches for her tea and sips it carefully. "The whole innocence game… it makes me feel altogether too vulnerable. Did you know that there's a lot of implied lack of consent in the art in the White Rose Solar?" She arches her brows for a moment and sips her tea again. "They will teach all of the current White Roses to use a signale. That will hopefully make things safer and more secure."

"I kind of thought it extended past the artwork," Siz answers rather frankly. "That that was a part of the flavor, as it were. The blushing virgins pushing away and all. But the signale will be well to establish. To remind people that it is a fantasy, in the end. I am so sorry for your pains, dearling," she mourns, dove-like, over tea.

"I can't. I have to know beforehand that someone is going to… You know. I have to know. I can't… I just can't," Alienor says with a little shake of her head. "I have to be able to stop it when it gets too uncomfortable. But there was no safety net." She sets down her teacup a bit awkwardly. "It is one thing to agree that part of an encounter will be played as nonconsensual. But a lot of that seems to be considered the realm of the Red Roses, that being forced to be bound or whatnot. I feel so confused."

"It's a confusing situation, and one you should never have been put in," Siz answers in a level, calm tone, trying to lend Alie some of her peace of mind along wih it. She doesn't particularly blame the house, so much as the gentleman in question, whoever he might be. But she wasn't there; she livs across in the house of the Poppies. Things are hazy from over here, so she casts blame largely wih blind eyes into the dark, which is also why she doens't cast it out loud. "We'll look at the cards together, after tea. We'll see what they say, and whether any of it helps you see things more clearly.

"Yes, perhaps the cards will have some insight about what the future should bring," Alienor replies with a nod. "I don't want to badmouth the House, honestly. I think I got some bad advice from people who are no longer there. And so I wasn't prepared when things went wrong. Although I don't know that I could have stopped him either." She wrinkles her nose and looks pale for a moment. "Anyway. Tea. Cards."

Sido takes a long sip of tea and lets it sit in th eback of her throat for a moment, breathing past it out her nose and feeling the notes of citrus from the candy there. The candles are brightening against the darkening interior, and all eyes are adjusting. "Of course not," she agrees that far (as not speaking ill of the house). "Cards and tea," she agrees, breathing in another long scent of the tea and then leaning forward to settle it upon its sauer. She stands, and to her shelf beside the quieted hearth. A box— she opens it— and a few objects drawn out, with which she turns, and which she sets on the table. "I have a few different decks, now… the same, in essence, but by different artists, with different palettes and different moods. See if one of them speaks to you more loudly than the others to-night."

Alienor pops a candy in her mouth and looks thoughtfully at the decks presented to her. "This one, I think," she says, pointing to the one furthest on the left after studying the art for a moment thoughtfully. "Though they're all beautiful. The artwork is so fine. It must be quite a job to illustrate one of these decks."

Sido takes up the rightmost two decks, then, and cherishes them away back into their box on the shelf by the hearth. "They are. Such precious bundles," she murmurs. "A labor of love, you can tell just by feeling them," she smiles, looking over her shoulder. "Take the deck in your hands. Move the cards around. You can spread them on the table and then sift them back together if the mood strikes. In sum, find the card that wishes to be on the top, and then be sure it is at the top."

Doing as Sido suggests, Alienor flips through the cards, first looking at the art then placing them face-down so that she can shuffle them against the table, sliding them around until she feels satisfied. Eventually, she neatens them up and makes the cards into a nice stack.

Sido settles back with her heels on her bum and has her tea to keep her company while she watches the cards move in Alienor's hands, bustle about, slide against one another, the room filled with nothing but the intermittent gutter of a candle and the soft shush of the cards not quite being shuffled, just jostled. There's really hardly a more relaxing combination of sounds, and if it weren't for the bright tang of candied orange in her tea she might feel her eyelids drooping further than they do in the quiet laxness of the moment, watching Alienor commune with the deck.

Once the deck is back in the form of a stack, a further sip, and Sido is setting down her teacup onto its saucer. "Good," she issues, not quite a whisper, but keeping her voice muted, not to break the tone of the evening. "Put your hand on the top of the deck. Is the right card at the top? If you can't feel it there, try cutting the deck and seeing if you can find it. Once it feels quite correct, push the deck to me, and we'll begin."

Alienor neatens the stack further, as if she cannot stand for it to be out of place in any way, but she does as Sido asks, very carefully setting her hand palm down on the top of the deck. She is uncertain for a moment, but she says, "Yes. I think the right card is at the top." And then she very carefully slides the deck towards the other young woman.

Sido lowers her chin in an almost religious nod, confirming that Alienor has somehow divined a connection to the cards and that they are in proper alignment for reading. Sitting up from her heels, she leans across and takes the deck to herself, drawing her thumb fondly over that top card and cherishing them in toward herself where she crosses her ankles behind her and becomes something of the Sibyl's Tripod, knee, knee and feet, poised at just the right height over the tabletop and the cloth spread over it.

"We're going to do a Sator reading," she explains, "It's based on a very old Tiberian magical spell," she goes on, voice low and soothing. "We'll go through it once, and then, if needed, we can run it in reverse for clarification. The first card is the Sator card, the card of state and circumstance, both in and ouside of your control."

Sido clears the cards from the tarot cloth.

Sido draws the Page of Wands - upright.

"The page of wands," Sido names the card she lays down on the cloth. "Wands are the suit of inspiration, spiritualism, understanding, doctrine, personal tenets," she rambles off some of the suit's identifying features. "And the page of a suit can indicate novelty or inexperience. The page of wands in particular shows a gentleman beautifully outfitted but uncertain of his direction. He has everything he needs but for the inspiration to strike. I think you were certainly right about the top card— you, too, have been prepared with a great many gifts, and now you stand girded with them but without clear direction as to how to use them, or where."

"I certainly do feel inexperienced, and I am certainly uncertain of my direction," Alienor replies, and she sounds impressed as she studies the card and how it seems to fit perfectly into her own situation. "I need to be inspired. I need to know which way to go. I am prepared, but adrift." She laughs softly. "This is a very magical game."

"It can be, yes," Siz answers, keeping her tone low and level. "It all depends on the person being read, and their connection to the cards," she gives a quiet smile. "The next card is named Arepo, it is the name card, or the signifier. It shows you, yourself, as opposed to your situation."

Sido draws the Four of Cups - upright.

"The four of cups," Sido names the card again. "Cups are a suit of emotions and feelings. The four of cups signifies a loss, an emotional hurt, which blinds us to the influence of the good things in our lives. And that can be OK," Sido is quick to add. "It is better to sit with pain and allow ourselves to heal from it than to ignore it and move on. But look… for every cup that breaks, there are three more in the set waiting to console us. Will the set ever be complete again? No. But there are beautiful things waiting for you when you are ready to see them… it can just be hard for you to see them, right now."

"That is also true. I feel a little broken. I feel like nothing will ever be right again. But I have been going to the Temple of Naamah for healing and talking through my fears. I have been working on the pain. I have been working on the hurt. I am trying to understand my feelings," Alienor replies, studying the card seriously, considering the art. She presses her hands together against her breastbone, listening closely.

Sido adjusts her knees just a little bit further apart, lowering her hind end down onto her topmost calf as she attends to Alienor's reply, touching the top of the next card with her thumb but not drawing it, just yet. "It can take a long time. The card isn't a criticism, just a picture. You are allowed to be as broken as you need to be," she assures. "The next card is probably the most important of the spread. The Tenet card. It's the card of action. If you are looking for something to put on your to-do list, this is the suggestion the cards have for you." And she turns it.

Sido draws the Seven of Pentacles - reversed.

"The seven of pentacles," Sido seems a little unsure as she adds the term, "Reversed," to her description. But she'll talk through it. "Pentacles are for resources, usually financial, but also to include family and friend support groups and your own personal resources of time and energy. The seven of pentacles is a card of long-term planning, planting your seeds so that in the future you will enjoy their fruits. But the card is reversed. Maybe it's just a little bit of… cast your seed to the wind? You have time and energy to spare; you are young. You don't have to decide right now. Not every thing that you do in this moment will be an edict for the rest of your life, or give you the only fruits you will bear further down. So cast your seed widely and with abandon, in whtever directions give you joy, and don't take yourself too hard to task for not having focus or working particularly hard to get your life on track. Look," she gestures back to the Arepo card, "You're having a hard enough time as it is… and you're the one putting the most pressure on yourself. Be easy with yourself," she concludes.

"I am having a hard time. It is hard to find oneself dismissed from the only life that one has ever known," Alienor admits with a soft sigh, but she considers. "People keep telling me that I am young. And it is true. I am young. This is the oldest I've ever been, and it's just not that old. I suppose I should be easier on myself. I suppose I should not be so very stressed about the whole process. There is time to grow and change and do something different. I shall not be homeless; that is arranged. I have options. This is becoming more and more apparent to me."

"Exactly— you're under a lot of stress right now. But every last thing you do won't paint your way forever," Siz reaches with two fingers to adjust the cards on the cloth, giving her a little more working room for the rest of the spread and just gazing over them to see whether anything else strikes her. "Try to just have some fun," she sums up with a sunny smile. "The next card may help, too. It's the Opera card… if the Tenet card is what to do, the Opera card is how to do it," she explains, then slides the next card from the deck and lays it out.

Sido draws the Six of Wands - reversed.

"The six of wands," Sido announces. "Remember that wands are about inspiration and personal spirutual being— who you are and who you were meant to be. The six of wands is all about being recognized for that, being acclaimed for it, earning praise for your accomplishments. But here the six of wands is reversed, which, I think, works very well for a 'how.' People see you, now, and they think of all your training and all your preparation to become a White Rose. You should let go of that recognition… strike out, you know? Try something new. Remember that it doesn't matter if you get it right, it doesn't need to be forever," she gestures again to the reversal of the seven of pentacles, "But follow a whim. Maybe get your hair cut or find a new fashion of clothing to wear. Break out of the role you were trained to play, even if that's what feels safe to you, that you feel praised for. Present a new self."

"I want to dye my dresses. At least some of them. I had to pick a favorite color. I never thought about it really, before. That I could wear things other than white. That I could be something other than white. I decided green was my favorite color," Alienor says, as if this is extremely important. "I want a green dress and a yellow dress. A really bright lemon yellow dress. I don't care if it complements my skin properly either. I just want to be bright and cheerful." She takes a deep breath, like this is what all she wanted to hear, and she smiles. "I want to wear dresses that are more body-conscious. Less innocent. Although I am demure and innocent, of course. And I will have to wait until my back requires less salve."

Sido listens to the plans with an avid attention, dark eyes warm with a sisterly affection. "I think the right shade of yellow would be smashing with your hair. But I'm not an expert, to whom you should, naturally, turn in these affairs," she defers to those who know more of fashion than she does. "You're demure and innocent now… but, then, that's all you've learned. Maybe you're not, or, at least, won't be. That's fine, too," she reminds her. "Alright, last card…. is the Rotas card. It shows a final outcome, or a goal you could aim for with this course of action," she explains, before turning the last card in the primary spread.

Sido draws the King of Cups - upright.

Sido actually draws her hand back and just touches her heart as the King of Cups turns up, making a smile wibble over her lips and a moistening come to her eye. "Aww… the King of Cups," she coos. "No better card to end this spread with. Cups, you remember, are emotions and feelings. The King of Cups is the master of his emotions. He feels them, doesn't shy from them, but they don't master him, either. Emotional balance and contentment, even in the wake of tragedy. The cards have great faith in you, Alienor. I hope you do, too."

"Emotional balance and contentment, even in the wake of tragedy," Alienor murmurs, echoing Siz's words, taking an appreciative deep breath and smiling. "The master of emotions. I could do that. That is definitely a good way to find the future. To feel deeply but to not be mastered by such feelings. I have hope, yes. I do have hope."

Sido lets Alienor sit with the cards as long as she needs, repeating their lessons and exhortatons to herself without further interverence from Siz, just for the moment. Nor does she pick up her tea again, but she sits quietly with her hands on her thighs, gazing over the spread and looking contented, quite, with the draw. This is a good deck, sensitive and comforting. Once Alienor has had a while to feel hopeful, "Do you want me to run the draw backward for clarifiation? Or would you like a top-off on your tea? Maybe a back-rub?" she offers the sorts of comforts her house is known best for. "We can do one sitting up so you can have tea during," and so the chaperone will certainly have nothing to complain over.

Alienor glances over at her chaperone for a moment, and then back to Siz. "If you're very careful. My back is still pretty sore from the marquist's work," she explains wryly. "But yes. Sitting up with tea would be lovely. And I shall think about what the cards have had to say. They are comforting. They are hopeful. I'm sure some of that is the interpretation, but it feels good to know that perhaps the universe is looking out for me somehow. That perhaps tragedy will turn into opportunity."

Sido unhooks her ankle from where it rests over the other ankle, stretches her toes down the back of her seating pillow in order to introduce them to the floor, then stands, the satin-lined drape of her gown pooling down her legs and skirting the floor as she goes to the door and leaves word for more tea to be brought. "It can happen after a really good reading… people think I'm just making up the meanings to suit the occasion," she notes with a smile. "But the cards speak, I just tell. It is… really amazing, how attuned they can be to a person. But part of that is in the person, too," she drops to her knees behind Alienor. She knows where a marque lives on a back, and how to avoid it, but, for the sake of avoiding it the better, she decides to simply begin with the back of Alienor's neck, deploying her fingertips against its sides and using her thumbs to draw downward repeatedly to both sides of her cervical vertebrae at once, a soothing, rolling motion to encourage the muscles to leech their tension. Meanwhile in pops a tender novice to fill Alienor's teacup and deliver some more candied oranges.

"Mmm, candied oranges," Alienor says approvingly as she pops another one in her mouth, then sighs appreciatively as Sido starts her massage at her neck. "Ah, yes. This is very relaxing. And with tea and everything. I like it, very much. You've been so kind to me and I have no good way to pay you back." She smiles as she closes her eyes, her muscles relaxing as she enjoys the touch of the other girl in the most simple and platonic of ways. The chaperone continues to ascertain that nothing inappropriate goes on.

Sido moves to alternating thumbs, working from a slow rub to a brisk flick and then pressing both thumbs tenderly but firmly to the base of her neck, kneading at the musculature there. "Oh, kitten, it's really the least I can do. It makes me sick to see a sister in Naamah so lost," she sighs, looking up and over Alienor's head to the curtains behind the chaperone's head, working those kneading thumbs in alternating steps up from the base of her neck to the back of her skull, coaxing her to bow herhead a little way and extend the muscles there so that she can get in at them.

"I don't know how to trust a patron again," Alienor admits quietly, sighing wistfully as Sido works to relax the muscles of her neck. "So I don't entirely know how to be a courtesan again. I suppose it's different, for you. What they want from you."

Sido stops the kneading, proper, only applying a constant, steady pressure to those extended muscles until they give up and release that euphoric warmth. "And you don't have to be— shouldn't be, really, until you re-gain the sense of safety you lost. For me? Well, every patron is different, really. But I suppose in some ways it's… a lot more straightforward than the cana of any of the Roses," she admits. And she slides the forefinger of each hand up under Alienor's hair to stimulate a matched set of pressure points at the back sides of her scalp.

"A massage is so nice, though," Alienor points out with a dreamy little smile, sipping her candy-doctored tea and just relaxing into the pressure. "I have to pretend to be innocent. And sometimes, I'm a little too innocent. And sometimes… sometimes I say no, and they decide that I'm just playing innocent. And that's when trouble happens." Her shoulders hunch a bit at this, and she droops. An orange candy to the rescue, though, and she manages not to cry.

"Well, you don't have to do that anymore," Siz reminds in a low murmur, letting go of Alienor's neck with her thumbs and reaching with her pinky fingers, instead, to press just behind Alie's temples, instead. Look at her, moving up from the neck instead of down. Miss out that poor back entirely. "Can you smile for me?" she murmurs, looking for those temporo-mandibular muscles that move from her jaw up the back of her head.

"Right. I don't have to do that anymore. I can do new things. I can do new things," Alienor repeats, as if she is reminding herself, and when Sido asks her to smile, she does. At first, it is a bit of a forced smile, and then she relaxes into it a bit, taking a deep breath and really smiling.

"You," Siz echoes back, mellow-voiced and even, "Can do new things." She only needs a hint of that musculature to begin working, and soon she's parting Alie's hair at the scalp to draw her thumbs up along to them and coax the jaw-tension from them, as well, aiding, perhaps, in the translation of that smile from imaginary to real. An idea. "Do you want me to play with your hair?" Since she's all up in it anyhow. And hair-playing is one of those sweet girlish things that put a person in mind of the safety of girlhood, in general. Plus, some people find it thoroughly relaxing.

"Yes, you can play with my hair, yes," Alienor replies with a delighted giggle, nodding to Siz slightly. "Do something pretty with it. I haven't really bothered to do anything special with it of late. Just to tie it back or pin it up. A bun to stab the hairpin that holds on my veil through."

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