(((OOC: Like Atropa said, I wouldn't mind moving along asap. cause I'm not really doing anything right now. ME is just emoing around eating dinner, so I will say she's gone back to her rooms and gone to bed)))
(((ooc: Yey, I made it! It's short and rushed, but at least it's something.
Oh, and Ghanima/Alissa, everything sounded just fine to me.
Alissa - Aww, thanks. When I get home tomorrow morning, I have the rest of the day off, as well as Thursday. Man am I going to sleeeeeeep. *lol* )))
Much like the two ladies of the quartet, when the music started and the curtains rose, Octavien found himself completely captivated by the story that unfolded before his eyes. It had been a while since last he had attended the opera, despite it being one of his favorite ways to spend an evening. Life at court had simply been too hectic lately, and back when he had still been a new addition to life at the Palace, he hadn't yet befriended anyone with whom he felt comfortable enough to go.
Hopefully, César and Joséphine would make their visit a long one, and the Baroness would turn out to be just as pleasant and good-natured as she had seemed so far, ensuring many more evenings of good company and enjoyment, perhaps even several more visits to the Opera. For judging by the looks on the ladies faces, they had both enjoyed 'Isis' just as much as Octavien himself. In Joséphine's case, he'd had a good inclination that she would, avid fan of the opera that she was. But Bella... Things had been a bit more uncertain where she was concerned. She had expressed a passion for music similar to Octavien's own, back in the Grand Ballroom, but because of his ever present suspicion, he had been unsure of whether or not she was being truthful, or had known who he was despite acting otherwise, and just trying, for some reason, to befriend him. Therefor, he had glanced over at her every now and then during the course of the performance, and had been delighted to see the spellbound look on her face, as it alone showed a genuine appreciation for what she was just witnessing for the first time. And when she stood up along with the rest, once the last act was over, and applauded as fervently as the most ardent opera enthusiast, all doubts regarding her passion for music were laid to rest. Such zeal simply could not be feigned.
César, on the other hand, appeared to be only relieved that it was all over. Always the restless one, he had spent the majority of the performance fidgeting in his seat, picking at the ruffles of his shirt, and studying just about everything but the performance itself; the decor, the seat, the rest of the crowd, Joséphine...
In many ways, he reminded Octavien of a small, bored child.
With the performance having ended, and the four of them making their way back down to the foyer, however, his usually charming side reappeared, along with his enthusiasm when the subject of eating was brought up. He declared himself to be 'simply starving'.
"Perhaps we can arrange something together?" Joséphine said; a suggestion that clearly won the approval of the others, as it seemed that even though to most the evening would have been drawing to a close, the four of them didn't wish it to end just yet.
"That is a splendid idea," Bella agreed, and they all came to a halt in the lavish foyer, in order to decide on an arragement, right in the middle of the crowd of people streaming past them on their way outside. "Any ideas? It is getting quite late."
The question was quite clearly directed at César and Octavien, as both of the young women seemed to be looking expectantly to the two of them; something that in turn caused the two of them to look at one another.
"Why don't we all go back to my suite," Octavien suggested after a few moments, "and we can dine there?"
Questioning looks were briefly exchanged once again, to see if anyone had objections or other suggestions, before three heads nodded in agreement. A late supper in the Prince's suite sounded to them like a marvellous idea, not to mention a privilege.
When the carriage rolled to a slow stop, delivering the young party of four safely to the very same spot where it had picked them up hours ago, it was nearly midnight, and it seemed most of the Palace inhabitants had retired to their suites quite a while ago. The Prince and his friends did their best to be quiet, but in a large, deserted Palace entrance, even the tiniest sound seemed to amplify tenfold, and faint echoes of their voices and their laughter bounced between the walls, following them up the stairs and through the upper and equally large hallway, until it was all abruptly cut off when the doors to Octaviens suite closed behind them.
"Gilles", Octavien greeted his aging but still very much awake manservant. "Would you please have some food brought up for the four of us? Neither of us have eaten all evening, and we are simply famished."
"Of course, Your Highness", Gilles gave a bow. "Right away."
Then, after greeting Octavien's guest with another bow, he swiftly made his exit, to see to his young master's request.
"Please", Octavien said, making a sweeping motion towards the various furniture of the room. "Make yourselves comfortable."
(((ooc: I think this could possibly serve as a wrap-up post, if we are to move on? Though should Ghanima and/or Alissa want to/have the chance to get something in before we progress, that would of course do the trick as well.
Alissa - I would say the question is rather 'where is Furry at the moment'? Not a peep in days. And the same goes for Elektra... )))
Mercy was now holding her breath, waiting for something to go wrong, to mess it all up but he opened her umbrella and walked to catch her up, there was silence but through the rain she just about made out some grumble coming from Dimitri she smiled, men always had something to say... But unlike with her ex-husband he was actually rather attractive when he grumbled incoherently. He move slightly, she watched his out of the corner of her eye, he had removed his coloured cloak single handedly and had managed to cover her from the shoulders down in navy fabric, she was actually tempted to keep the cloak, she felt like a young girl dressed in a slim red dress with a cloak, it was almost like a fairy tale... for a woman of fourty-something...
They reached they orangery, she had said nothing and he had been pushed into silence by that fact and her apparent confidence in silence, I was a ploy, Mercy knew her best chance was not to explain but just to let him find out and was too polite to challenge her in that matter, as they entered the orangery the mood changed, her confidence once again ebbed, he had yet another chance to change his way of acting or take the risk. She knew the room had looked near perfect when she had left earlier put now she was picking out the minutiea of the room in true Obsessive fashion.
She didn't look at him but waited for a response, the air was heavy and humid her breath felt even more so, he did not speak but lead her to table gently, and pulled her chair out, and in true gentlemanly fashion seated her, removed and removed his wet cloak he paused for the briefest of moments before moving aroung the table to look in her direction, not at her, but in her direction, he sat. And spoke oh so gently. “This is… very kind of you, Baroness. It must have taken quite a while to prepare.” The eyes continued to look beyond her, Dimitri was different, the change was slight but it was there...
She spoke hesitantly at first "if it did..." but soon managed to return her voice to almost her normal level of confidence "then it was worth it." the atmosphere in the room was still heavy she could hardly bear it herself, so she followed it up with a laugh, not a girlish titter but a proper laugh, it was nice to feel slightly less false, this was not a severe problem for Mercy who had ways of giving herself freedom from some class rules but it was still nice to let it slip even just a little. Mercy shifted slightly, the gold chain on her left wrist glinted in the candle light, the solid gold band had been excellently polished and the four small red stones and four small white pearls glistened also, it was cool on her wrist, the only part of her that was cool, the only part of her that reminded she was in France and not in some distant tropical land, however perhaps that distant land would be easier to deal with than this...
((Atropa I understand but I think Mercy is also pretty confident it wont happen!
Allissa Mercy has made herself immune by keeping secrets which is why she can be an integral character so a little of both!
And as I'm going out now (sorry) 17 hours until Morning will be finally called, I shall check in with FurryPanda shortly.))
((OK, can I press my point about OCC comments again, I make it 6 hours 'til morning now, I'd do it now if I had the time....
But whilst Mercy SHOULD be scared for Isabella, Octavien can't exactly tell anyone why she was threatening him without implictacting himself and Isabella also, so whilst Mercy, would indeed never say anything because she cared for Isabella (if she thought it through which I must say she still hasn't...) there is no way Octavien would either, unless he was feeling rather suicidal... hense Mercy is not fearful. Believe me I am not trying to stop Mercy getting hurt/threatened along the way... as you may soon see... Hehe I shall say no more BUT in fact you may find she'll regret what she did to Octavien then...
Finally I hardly think Edouard is going to kill the woman who brought his wifes infidelity to light... that just wouldn't be good business would it?
*EDIT* I have checked it over and can find no source to suggest you can commit treason against a Prince only the sovereign, or in the case of petit treason murdering your social superior, but that only applies to murder... however I shall admit I have only searched for 5 minutes and shall check again when doing my morning post later today))
((Yes Atropa it would have been but sadly, it can't some to fruition as Mercy, I and you see it from very different angles, :banana: plus with a man as weak minded as Edouard I'm sure that if Dimitri were to as Edouard to hear Mercy out he would, after all that is the whole premise of his character, i.e. beinging in need of direction, and of course as I brought to light in our PMs Mercy herself does not recognise Octavien as having a claim to the throne and so through her own train of thought, again would have no reason to call it treason! (Yay that rhymes :D)
Anyway off the point of Mercy being totally oblivious to the minds of everyone else (including myself) I am now going to launch into the business of the post for morning!
Feel free to wrap up your evenings in your early posts!
I would also like to add that a weather report will be given during my morning posts outlining how the day will shape up, this is to stop any confussion on the matter if anyone has a problem with the days weather for a reason feel free to PM me and ask for a change!))
It was a bright morning as a lazy sun rose slowly on the new day, spring was in the air, daffodils and other seasonal blooms were showing their heads, Edouard rose and dressed earlier than usual, he was dressed even finer than usual in bright whites and rich golds. This morning he would take the platform in front of his courtiers alone, the Prince would not be joining him today on Edouards insturction, delievered by his manservant, Alfred, the note suggested that he had some changes to make and wanted to give them a more personal touch.
He stood there looking out at his nobles, the new and the old, friends of his wife, aquaintances of his daughter, and the ones he himself trusted.
"Good morning Loyal Courtiers." His tone was clear, important and intelligent, much like Edouard himself.
"I have many things to discuss with you, first of all Monsieur Benedetti informs me that refurbishments have finally finished and the new suite of offices have opened here at the Baroque court, and anyone wishing to obtain use of one of these offices should speak to him," Edouard sighed gently good news was always a good way to begin the day.
"Next I would like to make you aware of the presense of my wifes paternal uncle at our court. He shall be her representative here until further notice," he indicated to Larkin with one hand.
"I would also like to bequeath two honours to two Baronesses," he indicated for the two women to walk on stage.
"Please greet Comtesse Isabella Devine and Comtesse Mercy Venn both of these women have been promoted due to excelelnt services to their Country, Court, and King." Polite applause was recieved for the two women, who stood beaming upon the platform until Edouard nodded to convey they should step down.
"In other news two more social rooms have been added to the court on the upper floor, these however are limited access, Access to the Rotherham rooms is a sign of my trust and access to the de Mollier offices is a sign of my highest esteem." He paused and inhaled deeply. "I would therefore like to grant access to these rooms to the following courtiers."
"Duc d'Lorraine please make use of the Rotherham rooms and the de Mollier offices as you so wish, your loyalty is much appreciated."
"Family is important at this time even more so than usual and so the Prince and Baron Larkin d'Marius are both to be granted access to the Rotherham rooms as will our new Comtesse Mercy Venn for her loyalty and friendship to the Queen."
"With that my business is finished, I shall only make you aware of the iminent arrival of an esteemed guest from Spain, Elena Sánchez de Suárez y Torre treat her well and show her the true colours of the Baroque court. And so I bid you good day and ask that you seek to enjoy whatever endeavours you take part in."
((As I did not ask for suggestions before making this post I ask each of you Seiza and FurryPanda to invite one person to join you in the room to which you have the power to grant access (I would request it is a person whom has not had any access already granted today, but it IS your choice) after a person has been admitted to each then it will have to be done via suggestions to the King.))
The previous night had proved to be one of the most boring and depressing Marie-Elisabeth had had in a long time. She had been seated at dinner between a man that had to be even older than Charles would have been if he were still alive and another who was easily four times her weight and appeared to be allergic to soap. The only time she could remember a more boring dinner was when Charles’ family had come over and she was forced to be seated between his two ridiculously boring brothers Chadwick and Chauncey.
She had escaped from the dining room as soon as politeness had allowed and hurried back to her suite to go to bed. She couldn’t stand another minute of the awful company and going to sleep was better than sitting around and feeling suffocated.
The next day dawn had come and gone hours beforehand, and Marie-Elisabeth had yet to leave her rooms. And she didn’t have plans to anytime soon. She had missed the morning announcements but she just didn’t feel up to getting out of bed. She felt completely miserable and was still curled up inside the covers, with the drapes pulled shut tightly around her to prevent the sun from coming inside. Her depressive state of mind hadn’t abated with the dismissal of the rainy weather, which reminded her of so many unfortunate things. She had spent most of the night having dreams about her father’s death, which had the obvious effect on her.
Marie-Elisabeth had been so young when he passed away, and she had been so attached to him it had devastated her perhaps more than any of her other siblings when he died. As the youngest, and arguably prettiest, girl she had been her father’s well acknowledged favourite.
Francis de Normandie wasn’t one for the running of the household and preferred to leave such duties to his formidable wife who was more than happy to take the reigns. So he would often be found being lead around somewhere by his tiniest daughter, or out horseback riding with her sitting in his lap. There hadn’t been anything Marie-Elisabeth had ever asked him for that he hadn’t granted her and she had genuinely adored him in return. It got to the point that if anyone ever came to the family’s residence looking for him, that whoever they asked would just say “Just look for little Lisabeth and you’ll find him”. After he died she had refused to speak to anyone for weeks and just sat silently holding onto the small lapdog he had given her.
With thoughts like that swirling around in her mind, Marie-Elisabeth was perfectly content to stay in bed and be miserable as long as was possible. But her solitude was soon broken by the timid voice of her maid. “Madame, are you awake”.
“No” she muttered, pulling the blankets up over her disorganized mess of long blonde hair “Please leave me be”. “But you have a note Madame, and there’s a rather fancy seal on it, so it looks rather important”. Marie-Elisabeth sighed and pulled the blankets off of her head, shifting on the bed to stick a night gowned arm out from the curtains. “Give it here then” she said, as the letter was placed in her hand which darted back inside the curtains.
She pushed herself up into a sitting position and cracked open the seal on the note, seeing that it did indeed look important.
Dear Comtesse de Valois
If this morning does not find you otherwise engaged, would you do me the honor of granting me a moment of your company? Perhaps over morning tea in your suite? We never did get to finish our theological discussion the other day...
Cordialement à vous,
César de la Valliére
If it had been yesterday morning that she had gotten the note, she probably would have been more thrilled and excited about it. But given her current state of mind all she could think was. “Wonderful, his wife’s probably managed to convince him not to talk to me ever again and he’s trying to find a polite way to tell me to leave him alone”. She sighed and figured it probably was time for her to get out of bed; she’d just have to ignore feeling miserable and hope her headache went away.
“Fetch me my writing materials, I need to write something back” she called, folding the note back up “And get my things ready, it’s about time I got up”.
She sighed and yanked the bed curtains back before sliding out of bed. Her nightgown pooled around her feet as she stretched and her maid Jeanne approached her with a curtsey. “What dress would you like me to fetch for you Madame” she asked “Perhaps the pink one with that pretty trim? It always looks lovely”.
“No, I don’t want that one” Marie-Elisabeth replied, lowering her arms and walking over to her vanity, placing the note down on it “I’ll have the white gown , with the fur”. “The higher necked one, with the lace round the throat Madame?” questioned Jeanne. “Yes, I don’t have to be in the mood for fancy things all the time” she snapped and the maid curtseyed and hurried out.
While she was gone, Marie-Elisabeth pulled her necklace out and fastened it around her neck, saying a silent good morning to her son. The maid came back quickly and it managed not to take very long for Marie-Elisabeth to get dressed. This was mostly due to the simplicity of the gown she had chosen. For her hair she decided to do something just as simple. She had no desire to sit there for another hour and have her hair curled, and so it was simply pulled back off her face with a black silk ribbon .
Thus finished with her toilette and dressing, she asked the maid to arrange for morning tea to be sent to her rooms. After slipping her feet into a pair of shoes, she sat back down to write a quick note in response. “May as well get this over with now” she thought, as she began to write.
Dear Marquis de Mont-de-Marsan,
I am not otherwise engaged this morning, so I would love to see you for tea. I have felt rather under the weather this morning, so it would be nice to have someone inform me of what has happened in my absence. I shall await you here.
Cordialement à vous,
Marie-Elisabeth de Valois
Finished with her note, she sealed it up and handed it to another maid to have it sent off. She could hear the rattling of china in the other room that told her that the tea she requested had arrived. She stood up and walked into the other room, settling herself down on one of the chairs to pour herself a cup of tea and wait.
(((OOC: I’m going to sort of go by the type of rooms show in Marie-Antoinette. There’s the bedroom part where ME actually sleeps, gets dressed etc, and then there’s the other more public room, like where Marie-Antoinette was always meeting with Count Mercy. That’s the one I mean Marie-Elisabeth in right now)))
((You know what, I don't think I can handle this anymore either. I have exams to revise for and a funeral to deal with and I made a mistake accepting this position, so i shall leave it to you, the remaining courtiers to decide whether you want this rolplay to continue or not and shall do whatever i can to aid a transition to yet another roleplay host, or to give this thread a fitting good bye. I hate to say it but i think I was right in what i said to shenan weeks ago, I do need to leave S2C.))
Okay, I just wanted to say that, everyhing else notwithstanding, I think that people have invested a lot of time and creativity into what is one of the best written RPs on this board and to make sure it doesn't perish I am willing to offer my help in keeping it alive.
Okay, let's all just take a moment to breathe. I agree with Ghanima, this is probably one of the best written RPs - if not the best - on S2C, I don't want to see it perish over this.
Fay, it really isn't fair to keep Mercy so protected. She's a courtier, she's a step down from Octavien and she really should take that into account. I mean, fair enough, she has tabs on him, but when it comes down to it, she does have to act like a courtier (she doesn't know she's protected). I think that was the main problem here, right?
When it comes down to it, guys, this is an awesome RP, I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to see it live. Let's just sort it out, we can do this.
"Life is just a chance to grow a soul" - A. Powell Davies
((This RP does not have to close, but Mercy has finished her time, I am not capable of this position and leading my life is a litle to complex, i have exams, my grandfather has offcially announced he is "waiting to die" and I have a funeral friday so what ever you need to do as a collective to keep this thread alive I will paly along with but Mercy will be returning with her sister to England and that will be her, and my end.))
I'm glad your staying, i have a feeling your presense will keep this roleplay ticking over.
But yes I am leaving, I feel the people in my life need and deserve my attention, so if you would like to agree on a new host and provide me with a message detailing anything I can do to help transtition I will comply whole-heartedly.
((ooc: I PMed Seiza about the whole thing, since she as the remaining host needs to have her own say in the whole thing...but pending her reply, Atropa and I agreed that the best way to keep this RP afloat is by posting. So, that's what I'm here for :D))
Joséphine - Sneaking into the Palace Gardens (not approachable at this time)
The previous evening....
An invitation into one of the royal apartments was a sign of recognition and respect few courtiers could boast. Indeed, even Joséphine, who had known Octavien for years, received his proposal for supper in his suite with a twinge of surprise: after all, he was no longer “just”Octavien, but Prince Octavien Lahance, and his actions were reflected in everyone's minds. Equally, it felt reassuring to be able to spend an evening together as they all had in the old days, with the one difference that Octavien now outranked her and César, instead of the other way around. Joséphine gleefully discovered the rest to be unchanged.
The group found the Palace immersed in silence, which only served to amplify their movements around its many rooms and corridors which had to be crossed until the gilded doors which lead to Octavien's suite emerged into view.
"Please",Octavien invited after having instructed his manservant to bring them dinner "Make yourselves comfortable."
Luxury had been lavished upon most of the Palace's interior, and the Prince's suite constituted a perfect mix of extravagance and comfort that went a step beyond anything Joséphine had witnessed thus far. She gazed around it with open admiration, gazing pointedly at their new acquaintance, Bella, wanting to see if the other woman found it just as impressive. As for César, who had presumably been there before, just made himself comfortable by slumping in one of the many armchairs.
Some twenty minutes later, four servants laden with trays of food and drink walked in and deposited them on the largest table available, before retreating with a bow. The aromas stirred Joséphine's hunger almost painfully, reminding her how many hours had passed since her last meal, not without a grain of guilt – if a tiny life was indeed developing inside her, she would have to be more responsible, miscarriage was a very real danger especially at that stage of a pregnancy.
At last, seated face-to-face around the finely polished table, the two couples could begin a long awaited and delicious meal.
César and Joséphine reached the privacy of their own suite three hours later, comfortably satiated and sluggish under the weight of sleep and the few glasses of wine they had drank. Not wanting anything more than curl up between the sheets and close her eyes, Joséphine found herself interrupted by César, who appeared to have had a nightly brainstorm and insisted on sharing his idea with her. Joséphine reluctantly positioned herself into a half-seated, half lying position against a pillow and awaited: much like the Red Salon recital, César's plan aimed to place Octavien in a favourable light and ensure as many courtiers as possible saw it. Listening to his more than unorthodox suggestions, Joséphine's eyes lit up at first apprehensively, growing increasingly focused with approval, and finally agreement, sleep momentarily banished from her mind. They spent the next half an hour or so refining their strategy, before finally succumbing to exhaustion in the early hours of morning.
The following morning...
When Joséphine opened her eyes, she was unsurprised to find the room flooded with sunlight. Following such a busy day and late night, she had anticipated sleeping through most of the morning. What she had not anticipated however was finding César already gone. Fearing she might have missed their agreed meeting time, Joséphine glanced at the ornate table clock at her side, but there was more than one hour left. Odd, very odd indeed. Perhaps he had gone out early to intercept Octavien before he had a chance to leave his chambers, she mused, although such early morning dedication was unusual for César, plan or no plan.
Nearly an hour later, Joséphine was fully dressed and coiffed, ready to leave the suite. A small, fashionable hat sat perched on top of her curls, a delicate thing adorned with lace and ribbons. The accessory wasn't coincidental, and in fact it was destined to play a part in the future developments. With hurried steps, the Marquise descended the staircase into the main Palace hall, determined to reach her agreed post before César and Octavien had a chance to bypass her. Quickly and as casually as possibly, she emerged into the gardens, pleased to find the weather much more pleasant than the previous days. Indeed, many courtiers were already out and about, taking advantage of spring's first warm morning – that would only prove beneficial for them.
Joséphine paused between a cluster of trees and bushes that hid her from view and waited, eyes focused on the Palace entrance.
((ooc;; I'm definately here to help too, if anybody needs it. I'll definately try and get a post up tonight aswell, as it sounds like the best way to try and keep everything going .. but so much drama that could've been solved ))
The Marquis de Mont-de-Marsan, most of his friends and acquaintances had learned, was in many ways unlike most others. Sleeping peacefully when most were hurrying off to mass, encouraging his daughters' adventurous streaks when most would have reprimanded their own that little girls should not be running about and dirtying their pretty dresses, and subtly leering when most were trying their darndest to keep their dislike carefully hidden. He spoke his mind, sometimes with the kind of finespun edge that would leave many wondering if they had just been complimented or insulted, and sometimes he would be downright blunt, almost cruelly so.
So then, to most that knew him it would come as no surprise that instead of feeling comfortably exhausted by an eventful day, or even tired, César could be no further from wanting to go to bed, once he and Joséphine returned to their suite during the early, early morning hours. The evening of good company, tolerable music, good food, and, not to be forgotten, good wine, had delivered him into a creative flow, a rush of energy that refused to let the thought of unwinding even enter his mind. And much like the past night, who was once again made to suffer the consequences of his inability to fall asleep, if not poor Joséphine. César bombarded her with this one idea, one out of quite a few, that had presented itself to him during the course of the evening, but had had to remain unspoken until he was alone with his wife, as it had been for her ears only. She had seemed rather unimpressed at first, but eventually, as he explained himself further and better than he had apparently managed to the previous night, she seemed to warm up to the idea, and the two ended up spending a little while discussing and planning.
Before long, however, Joséphine could no longer fend off her exhaustion, and she drifted off to sleep, guided into a blissfull state by her husband's absent-minded stroking of her hair. César himself, on the other, had still been wide awake, and even moved on to another plan that had formed in his head the other day, and even been partly put into motion. His thoughts now, concerned the other part of that plan, for which he had just been awaiting the right moment. Now, it would seem that moment would occur the next morning.
Which left preparations to be made.
Leaving the bed as carefully as possible in order to not wake up Joséphine, for more reasons than just being considerate, he had quietly made his way over to the desk, and sat down to compose a little note. A little note that, as soon as he heard footsteps in the hallway outside the suite, signalling that the servants were now up and about, he had snuck out of the room to hand to one of them, instructing them to deliver it to a certain young Comtesse, once it was no longer offensively early in the morning for such a delivery to be made. He had then halted another servant, a middleaged man that seemed like the fairly trustworthy type, and set him on another mission with another set of instructions; those of not returning to the de la Valliére suite to deliver what he had been sent to fetch, until Joséphine had left to go outside.
With that done, most pieces of the chessboard had been moved into position. Only one remained; Octavien.
Knowing his friend had a tendency to rise with the sun - or, during winter, long before - César set out to track him down, and soon found him, much to his satisfaction, in his suite, just about to have breakfast. Ah, such perfect timing it was, for just like any good friend, he invited César, who at this point was starving once again, to join him.
It wasn't until about an hour later, that the two young men felt they were properly sated, and César suggested that they'd go for a stroll in the Palace gardens. He had only seen a glimpse of them when arriving, for even though he had partly ventured through them during his first encounter with Comtesse de Valois, he had been too... preoccupied to pay much attention to the surroundings. And besides, the weather was warming up, and there was spring in the air; the perfect time for admiring the beauty of such a magnificent garden.
Though no sooner had they exited the Palace, and started on their walk along one of the paths, than Octavien noticed his friend slowing down, his attention caught by something up ahead. Curious to see what it was, Octavien himself turned his head to look, and found that what had caused César's slowing pace, and eventual halt, appeared to be... Joséphine.
At first, he found it incredibly odd, that César would slow down his stride rather than to speed it up, in order to catch up with his wife.
But, one look at César's face would prove enough to turn initial puzzlement into sudden realization, helped along nicely by the words that were soon to follow;
"Octavien", César said, and turned his gaze from the beautiful brunette to the Prince instead. "I need a favor."
Having heard the same words a few times before, accompanied by that very same look in the Marquis' eyes, as well as knowing there was another young lady in court that had managed to spark his interest, Octavien instantly knew what he was going to say next, and started protesting even before César had the chance to utter the first syllable.
"César...", he said, his voice leaving little doubt that he did not approve of what his friends had in mind.
Still, César pretended not to hear. As always, when someone tried to talk him out of something he had every intention of going through with.
"Keep her occupied, just for a while? Please?"
Then, without giving Octavien the chance to answer and object any further, he continued, while giving his shoulder a quick, friendly pat.
And with that, he quickly turned and headed back towards the Palace entrance, leaving Octavien to softly call out another protest, in a vain attempt to stop him, and at the same time, keep Joséphine from hearing it. Only one of those things succeeded. César just kept going, and when turning back with a deep, frustrated sigh at being left to serve as a diversion while César went off to do something Octavien really didn't condone, the Prince found that Joséphine too had disappeared from his sight.
Splendid. And ironic. He was made to chase after César's wife, while César himself was chasing after another woman.
"Great", he muttered to himself, as he started following the path once again, walking slightly faster than earlier, so that when he reached the spot where he had last seen Joséphine, she wouldn't have had time to disappear behind another corner or a hedge.
In the meantime, César quickly made his way back to the de la Valliére suite and was pleased to find that both servants from earlier this morning, had completed their tasks. On the desk, a small white box was waiting, and next to it sat a response note from Marie-Elisabeth, declaring that the Marquis was indeed welcome to stop by her suite for tea; words that drew a rather satisfied smile from the young man's lips. He simply loved when things were going his way.
The small, flat box tucked safely into one of the inner pockets of his flatteringly snug frock coat, he wasted no time returning to the hallways. Destination; la suite de Comtesse de Valois. Though once there, he retrieved the small box once again before giving a firm knock on the door, after which he placed his hands gingerly and casually behind his back while waiting, intentionally keeping the small box from being spotted.
(((ooc: Sorry, kind of sped through those last parts, but I felt it was getting rather long. )))
Tea was, according to the English, the solution for everything and anything that ailed you. Not that Marie-Elisabeth would ever admit to knowing any English sayings or putting any stock in anything that came out on an English mouth for that matter. But she would admit that tea had a remarkable tendency to get rid of headaches. Hers had all but disappeared, but had unfortunately left the less than pleasant mood behind.
When Marie-Elisabeth was in a mood it was difficult to pull her out of it. Sitting around while waiting for César to arrive and contemplating the, at least in her frame of mind, awkward conversation that was about to follow didn’t do much to improve it. In fact it had quite the opposite effect of making it worse.
She sighed and reached across the table to add another small spoonful of sugar to her teacup when her locket swung out from under the lace at her throat. She put the spoon back down and sat back up in the chair with the locket in her hand. “Oh chou d’amour” she thought, smiling and biting her lip to prevent any tears from falling “I don’t know why I ever left you sometimes. If I didn’t know better I’d just send for you and get you right here beside me”.
A knock at the door startled her slightly, and she quickly tucked the locket back under the lacy neckline of her gown. “Here we go” she thought, taking a deep breath as the murmured sound of voices could be heard coming from the door Jeanne had gone to answer. Said maid came into view a few moments later, curtseying in front of her. “The Marquis de Mont-de-Marsan to see you Madame” she said, rising from her curtsey and moving aside to allow César room to pass through.
(((OOC: HAHAHAHA, I can just picture Cesar grinning like he does and Octavien shaking his head at him. *resists urge to contemplate him shaking a finger at him or I might spit my drink all over my keyboard* I’m getting a strong feeling it’s not the first time the poor guy’s had to cover for Cesar and be on Josephine detail :P)))
While waiting in the hallway for one of the Comtesse's servants to open the door, César was casually looking around, observing the paintings on the wall, the statue in one of the corners as well as the armor in another, and also the names on the plaques next to the other nearby doors. Much like the Palace Gardens, he had been there before, but with his attention on more important and interesting things to notice such details.
Now, however, he was free to notice that one of Marie-Elisabeth's neighbours was none other than Octavien's new 'friend', the charming Isabella Devine; formerly Baroness, now Comtesse, according to the one of Octavien's servants that had filled them in on this morning's announcement, which neither of them had attended.
Now wasn't that interesting? A new arrival at court, gone from Baroness to Comtesse in the blink of an eye, after befriending the Prince... César smirked slightly to himself. Perhaps octavien had learned a thing or two from him after all.
Though it was a smirk that was short-lived, as when his gaze fell on the plaque next to the door of Marie-Elisabeth's other neighbour, it slowly faded away. Mercy Venn. Another Baroness just made Comtesse. But unlike Comtesse Devine, there was not even the slightest possibility that this was the work of Octavien. César could tell just by the frown that stole across the young Prince's face when her name had been mentioned, that he was no great admirerer of hers. Which could only mean she had actually managed to anger him somehow. Not an easy task, considering Octavien's rather amiable nature, always with a smile for everyone. Though it would seem that was a quality that had undergone some changes lately, as those bright smiles were somewhat more of a rarity here at court than they had been at home. But, César had yet to find out just what it was Comtesse Venn had done, as Octavien had merely dismissed it with a comment along the lines of "There will always be people that when offered honey, are capable of offering only vinegar in return". What he had told César though, was to watch himself around 'that woman', for she was known to run her mouth and put her nose where it certainly did not belong.
And she lived right next to Marie-Elisabeth. Wonderful...
Then again, César had never lacked imagination when it came to pursuing his interests, away from prying eyes. Comtesse Venn was a problem that could be easily solved.
With that, the faint smirk returned to his lips, just as the doors finally opened. Judging by the way the maid stepped aside without asking his business but instead merely greeting him, he was expected. Yet he still lingered just inside the doors, just long enough for the maid to return to the salon and properly announce his arrival. Only then did he follow.
Finding Marie-Elisabeth seated by a small table, looking surprisingly demure compared to how he was used to seeing her - wearing a white and rather modest creation instead of one similar to the more lavish ones he had seen before, and a somewhat serious expression, instead of that mischievous smirk of hers - he greeted her with a faint smile, and a bow.
"Comtesse de Valois", he said, and then straightened his back. "Thank you for recieving me, and on such short notice. It is very kind of you to indulge a man of such impetuous behaviour."
Marie-Elisabeth was exceedingly good at being pleasant to everyone and anyone regardless of the situation. That is if she chose to be. The only exception would be anyone English but she had thankfully not yet had the misfortune of having to be in any English person’s company. She even managed to be polite to her husband’s brothers when they came to visit, and their idea of good conversation was talking about the makes and models of various guns or discussing how sick they had been last week.
So it certainly was not difficult at all to be pleasant to a person whom she at least knew was interesting and capable of decent conversation. No it certainly wouldn’t be hard, which she supposed would help her get it over with faster. “It’s perfectly alright, I don’t mind in the slightest” she said, smiling and putting her teacup down, turning over to where César now stood “I would have had to go out and look for someone to tell me what has happened this morning anyway, due to being somewhat under the weather earlier”.
She looked from side to side, noticing that Jeanne had politely made herself scarce, and continued. “And to be honest, one of my neighbours has rather a tendency to be in the business of others and the other is an annoyingly pretentious little thing I’d prefer not to engage in conversation again any time soon if I can help it. I'd much prefer the current company”.
She laughed slightly and indicated the other chair next to her. “Please do sit down Marquis” she said, picking up the teapot. She poured a second cup and topped up her own half full one, all the while thinking to herself "So far, so good".
(((OOC: Seriously, my ancestors are beating me with sticks for all this English bashing! Well my English ones. The French ones and probably just nodding their heads and agreeing with me LOL And as to Charles’ brothers, they’re like the kind of guys that live in their mom’s basement till they’re 40 :P)))
Joséphine (and soon Octavien) in the gardens - The de la Vallière masterplan xD
Much to Joséphine's relief, she did not need to remain crouching between sharp branches and rough tree bark very long: not five minutes later, she was able to spot her husband and Octavien stepping through the imposing Palace doors and halting there. Their lips told her some sort of conversation was going on though her uncomfortable hiding place was positioned too far away for her to be able to hear the words spoken.
Not that she would have had the time to sit and listen; the two men's arrival constituted her cue to leave. With as much care as the situation permitted, Joséphine extracted herself, gown and all, from the bushes' midst, muttering some rather un-ladylike words under her breath: thorns and branches clung to her garments almost stubbornly, slowing down the entire process down and making it increasingly likely that someone might catch a glimpse of her embarrassing efforts. That would have made her feel like a fool indeed, but not nearly as much of a one as she would undoubtedly be made to feel very soon, the Marquise mused wryly. The more she thought about it, the less she liked César's plan. There was simply so much that could go astray, not to mention the fact that she considered the division of tasks to be rather unfair: all César had to do was invite Octavien for a stroll.
Mentally chastising herself for ever having agreed to go along with that foolish idea, Joséphine nonetheless hurried along the agreed path that took her towards the garden maze while allowing Octavien a clear view as she crossed his way and disappeared behind a tall hedge. She knew haste was needed if she were to accomplish her task before the Prince had a chance to catch up with her – and he could move quickly.
Once out of sight, Joséphine broke into a full run, keeping her hems firmly off the ground and her head lowered, until she at last reached her destination: a tall tree with a magnificent crown of branches where the first budding leaves were just visible. The place was sufficiently isolated to provide the Marquise with temporary cover from the prying eyes of strolling courtiers, but close enough to the front of the gardens for her voice to be carried on the breeze.
It was time. Taking a moment to survey her surroundings and ensure no soul was in sight, Joséphine unpinned the delicate hat she wore perched on the top of her head. In her chest and temples, blood pulsed audibly, and a tiny voice kept whispering “this is foolish, this is foolish”. But she couldn't back out then: even though César had no right to demand her to fulfil her end of the deal, it was pride, pure and simple, that kept her committed: if she admitted to being too frightened, she would never hear the end of it.
Gripping the hat by between her thumb and index finger, Joséphine moved underneath the great tree and looked up at the branches tangling above. The Marquise was no stranger to nature: as a child, riding in the fields with the local boys hadn't been the only habit that drove her parents and nannies insane with worry and frustration that such a pretty little girl could behave so...boyishly. Swimming in lakes, digging in the dirt, and climbing trees were all things she had enjoyed immensely as a child, before the duties and constraints of society eventually forced her to fall into the ranks of well behaved young ladies.
Inhaling deeply, Joséphine aimed for what she believed to be a good spot and, with all her might, tossed the hat in its direction, hoping that it would remain lodged there between the branches as gravity brought it down. Once that was done, the Marquise tossed aside all percepts of polite society and embraced the tree trunk, using any leverage she could to keep herself from sliding down, thus beginning a problematic ascent. Thinking how much easier it had seemed as a child, it took all of Joséphine's efforts and concentration to be able to reach the first of the tree's branches, not without plenty of sweating, heaving and scratches. Once that was achieved, the rest of the climb became somewhat easier, not to mention faster and, at last, the Marquise wriggled into a seating position atop a larger branch, not far from where her hat fluttered in the wind.
Joséphine did not stop there however: crawling into an awkward position along the branch, she let one of her legs dangle helplessly beneath while both hands clung on to the bark as if for dear life, a convincingly distressed posture. From her vantage point, Joséphine could discern the silhouettes of various courtiers several rows of hedges away, and Octavien's blond tresses carried upon the wind as he surveyed the gardens, obviously searching for someone. Hoping that César had done his duty and that someone was herself, Joséphine did her best to ignore the sickening lurch in the pit of her stomach, pitched her voice high and called out plaintively:
While the look claiming the pretty and currently beautifully framed features of Marie-Elisabeh's face upon César's entrance into the room, had been rather serious and sombre, the smile he shot her during his greeting seemed to have the desired effect; it thawed them from their somewhat rigid state, and granted him a soft one in return. Not her usual one, with the hint of a devil's grin tugging at those invitingly plush lips, the one that made him feel that the two of them connected on a level much more profound than what appeared on the surface. But it was still pleasant nonetheless. Although by the looks of it, it would indeed seem that she wasn't really up to par, quite possibly because she had been feeling a bit under the weather, like her response note had suggested, as well as the reply she offered him now, along with yet another hint that she desired to know what she had missed.
And César was only too happy to accomodate such a pretty, young thing as her. Especielly when she, by her own admission, seemed to enjoy his company as much as he enjoyed hers.
"Please do sit down Marquis", she said, indicating one of the nearby chairs, and then went on to actually pour him a cup of tea.
Now, while she may or may not be perfectly aware that tea and the interrupted 'theological discussion' had only been excuses on César's part, they did serve as a good place to start, and so with a slight bow of his neck, César accepted the offered seat, though not without first bestowing a gentle but proper kiss upon her delicate knuckles.
"Thank you", he said as he sat down.
In doing so, he had no other choice than to place the little box on the table, next to his cup, as her comment required an answer before he could change the subject to the contents of the box, and he could no longer keep it hidden behind his back without coming across as acting rather strange.
"I regret to say that I do not believe I am the one to ask, as yesterday my presence among the other courtiers was rather limited. Certain circumstances prevented me from leaving my room until around noon, and then me and my wife spent most of the afternoon in one of the Salons. I can't recall anything of much importance happening there, except for a recital of one of the Prince's compositions. Turned out to be quite the success, it did."
There he paused for a moment, deciding that while he was very proud of Joséphine's performance, this was hardly the right time to emphasize his wife's talents, or even her existance.
"And then for the evening I simply was not here at all, as the Prince decided to drag us off to the Opera", he concluded his report of yesterday's events, before moving on to this morning's announcements, as he assumed by Marie-Eisabeth's choice of words that just like him and Octavien, she had not attended. "I am better informed regarding the events of this morning, however. You'll be interested to know that both of the ladies of whom you spoke, have, for some reason or other, moved up in the world, as they have both been granted the title of Comtesse."
While he spoke, he had been slowly stirring his tea to allow the small pinch of sugar to dissolve, following the motions of the spoon with his eyes, but now let them return to her face, as he added;
"Though while they might now be your equals in name, I dare say they will never be your equals in beauty and charm."
He didn't give her much of a chance to reply, however, but instead continued once more, having decided that he did not wish to delay part of the reason for his visit any longer.
"Now", he said while putting the cup of tea down, untouched, and then pushed the small white box across the table surface, placing it right next to hers instead. "As you have not been feeling well recently, I feel that it is only my duty... nay, privilege, as a gentleman, to do what I can in order to make you feel better. Perhaps this will be a good start?"
(((ooc: funheart? FurryPanda? Elektra? We're missing you guys. RP posts as well as feedback on our current situation. )))
Continuing down the path towards where he had last seen Joséphine, Octavien was still grumbling to himself, wondering how exactly it was that César managed so easily to get Octavien to cover for him, time after time. While Joséphine had only been the target of such diversions on one other occasion, when one of César's mistresses had defied his rule that she was not to attend any social gatherings at the Mont-de-Marsan estate, Octavien had several times been made to distract one mistress, while César courted another. Not that he had that many of them, and was rarely juggling several at a time, but women tended to resent seeing past lovers with new flames, and César's conquests did move in the same circles, so it was bound to happen. And when it did, who was left to try and keep everyone out of trouble? Octavien. César's good-natured sap of a friend.
That's how he felt, at least, whenever these things happened, and he somehow ended up being the one expected to provide César with enough time and room to take care of whatever it was he set out to do. And, no matter how much he disliked César's various affairs, he couldn't help but to resign, and do what César asked (or didn't) of him. The two of them were like brothers, perhaps even more so than Octavien and Nicholas, his real brother, and he knew that there really wasn't anything malevolent in what César did. No ill will towards Joséphine, or anyone else. No bad intentions, or spiteful purposes. He simply figured that as a man, it was his privilege to seek a bit of extramarital fun, when the mood hit him. A notion handed down to him from his father, and frankly, not an uncommon one these days. Even among women.
Though it appeared that Joséphine was not one of them, and to be perfectly honest, Octavien thought it would kill César if she was to seek the arms of another. Hypocritical as it may be.
Finally reaching the small crossroad of paths where he had seen Joséphine stroll by, Octavien stopped and looked along the one she had been following, and then, as it was now completely empty, scanned the surrounding area, thinking maybe she had ventured away from the rugged and noisy gravel and onto the increasingly green grass.
But no. She was nowhere in sight.
Where had she gone off to? And how on earth had she managed to disappear so quickly? Between Octavien seeing her and reaching this spot, not that much time had actually passed. Far from as much as it would take for her to disappear behind one of the other hedges or cluster of bushes.
With a furrow of confusion forming between his eyebrows, Octavien started hesitantly down the path he had seen her following, turning his head in constant lookout for that set of chocolate curls bouncing around slender shoulders clad in purple. Surely she had to be around here somewhere? Skilled and elusive though they may be, women did not just vanish into thin air.
Though if there was ever a time to start wondering if perhaps it really was a well kept secret of theirs, Octavien figured this would have to be it. Either that, or he and César must have simply imagined seeing her in the first place. An absurd idea, yes, but then again, so was Joséphine simply disappearing like this.
The further he went down the narrow but well maintained path, the louder a voice in his head grew, protesting that there was no way Joséphine could have gone this far in that short period of time, and finally, he gave up and stopped, taking the famous one last look around that all humans seemed programmed to do, before slowly turning to start back the way he came.
But, as ever frolicsome fate would have, it was in that exact moment he heard a faint cry for help being carried over one of the nearby hedges, and he stopped again, unsure of whether it had been real, or if it had simply been his senses playing tricks on him. Again.
It had been a female voice, and... He'd be darned if it hadn't sounded just like her.
He ventured a soft call, while once again moving along the path, in the direction from which the distressed cry for help had come. Rounding a cluster of high and closely placed bushes, what he saw made him stop dead in his tracks, and stare. First in confusion, and then in complete disbelief. Not too far from where he was standing, there was indeed Joséphine. Dangling precariously. In a tree.
"What in God's name...? Joséphine?"
That's when it suddenly dawned on him. She really was in trouble. No matter what the reason, she was clinging to a branch that didn't seem all too sturdy, about thirteen or fourteen feet from the ground, and looking as though she might slip and fall any moment. A fall in which, considering the height, she would risk getting seriously injured.
Unlike a few other courtiers that had been drawn towards the scene by her call for help, to Octavien, that left no time to stand around and simply gawk at her. Within seconds, he reached the tree, having freed himself of his frock coat in the process so that he would be able to move his arms freely, unrestrained by the inflexible fabric.
"Hang on", he said as he started his own ascent up the trunk, mostly as a way of trying to comfort her, as he was well aware that if she let go, it would hardly be by choice.
As a man, with the superior strength that came with the gender, and no layers upon layers of skirts to weigh him down, get in his way, or otherwise restrict his climb, it wasn't long until he could heave himself onto the same branch as Joséphine was clinging to, and then onto the next one only a couple of feet above it. Due to the uncertain state of the one she was on, he didn't want to add to the weight and possibly have it break, but instead decided to position himself just above her, in order to help her into a safe, seated position from there with one hand, while holding on to yet another sturdy branch with the other.
"Jo", he said calmly. "Give me your hand. Just reach back, and I've got you. Okay?"
(((ooc: *lol* Don't know if this makes any sense. I have a clear image of it in my head, but MAN it's hard to describe! I swear I will draw you all a picture if I have to. )))
Marie-Elisabeth had simply nodded her head at the mention of the events in the salon; having been there to witness it herself she was quite aware of what transpired there. “It was a lovely piece” she said while Cesar stirred his tea “I had no idea the Prince was so talented. Aside from robbing those others blind at cards, that was probably the highlight of the day for me”. She had shuddered slightly at the memory of her less than desirable dinner companions, making a mental note to simply have her meal in her suite were anything like that to happen again.
She was also starting to wonder why, as she had expected in her current frame of mind, he hadn’t just said he wasn’t going to be speaking to her much anymore. If fact she was starting to think it was quite possible that such an idea had just been the product of her unpleasant mood. That thought made her smile, but she was soon very hard pressed not to make a highly unpleasant face and groan upon receiving the news that her neighbours had moved up in the world.
“Wonderful” she thought, taking a sip of tea to hide the grimace she wanted to make "Now that insufferable little Baroness is only going to be even worse. I can’t believe she’s my equal now. Though is she could advance so quickly there’s no reason I couldn’t too. I can just imagine it now, my little Charles could be a Duc”.
Marie-Elisabeth smiled again but that quickly turned into her seemingly ever present smirk at the compliment. She had been expecting a completely different sort of visit from him and was really quite pleased to see that it wasn’t the case. She could already sense the mood she had been in dissipating, if not disappearing all together.
But the smirk turned into a quizzical look when the small white box was placed near her cup. She put her teacup down and picked the box up, shooting him another confused look before carefully opening it. Once she saw what was inside it, she couldn’t help her eyes widening in surprise. It was a beautiful bracelet made of pearls and gold. “My goodness, it’s so beautiful” she said finally, torn between looking up at him and staring back at the box “Thank you, I don’t quite know what to say”.
She held the box out and smiled up at Cesar, holding her other hand out. “Would you put it on for me?”
(((OOC: *snickers* Jo and the poor prince in the tree is a pretty dang amusing mental image I must admit Poor guy always having to run interference!
And DANG this took a long time to type up. But I wanted it done before I go off to work so I got it done )))
Don't worry I'm not announcing my return, I said I'm leaving and I shall go through with that, but I'd first of all like to say that this is not actually because of certain negative feelings you have towards me or Mercy, that may have added to it, but my life has severly changed as of recent, and I owe the people in it my time and attention and I know that means I would neglect you all.
My final word on Mercy is that she hasn't changed, she was always a self important so-in-so she was when Eternal started the Roleplay she was under Shenan and she was right up until the end, Octavien she felt was no more dangerous than the Duchesse Marie, and if Mercy wanted to believe that then it was technically my descision. I shall have a leaving post for her and Charmaine to tie up her character more neatly than her vanishing without a trace, which really wouldn't suit such a loud character... unless Octavien did do away with her... but that would still leave Charmaine, trust me I did concider having her hung for treason, which I felt in a way would be the fitting end.
Ayway the main point of this post is like I said if there is anything you need from me I am willing to do it to make your transition easier, I only ask that you PM me in the next 3 to 4 days with that stuff, because after that I can't even promise that I will be able to check (not me being difficult just circumstances changing meaning I physically may not be able to access the internet for a little while.)
Anywho, some much lamented thank you's will be in Mercy's leaving post.
(((ooc: Fayreview - I take it that means you've re-enabled PMs?
At this point, we're mostly waiting to hear from Seiza, FurryPanda and funheart, which is why not much has happened in this department as of yet.
Also, for the record, Mercy's attitude towards Octavien wasn't the problem. It was what lay behind it. And I'm not trying to start up an argument again, but as you said your piece, I feel I have the right to say mine.
Last but not least, good luck in life and be well.)))
((ooc;; Sorry I haven't got up a morning post yet guys - had some last minute cramming for exams to do Anyways, I'll work on it today so I'll have it up later this afternoon. I still haven't managed to read through this whole thread though so thats coming soon too
Sorry to see you go Fayre - but I was just wondering (to everyone else) whether we will be starting up a new thread for it? Or just keep going on this one..?))
(((ooc: We're still not sure, but I think we may have to start a new one, as a GM does need control of the initial posts, what with keeping character lists and vital info etc up to date. But, as we have still to determine who'll take over, it's too early to say anything at all for sure at this point.
Glad to know you're still with us, btw.)))
Always having had a certain luck with women, whether it be in pursuing them with the intention of eventually bedding them, or simply flirting for the sake of flirting itself, César tended to think rather highly of himself and his talent for courting the fairer sex. He had, over the years, come to notice how a minor change in women's behaviour would often occur when he was around, robbing their eyes of their usual boredom and detachement, and sprinkling them with life and interest instead; sometimes cool, sometimes not, depending on how experienced they were, and in what manner they had been brought up. Like the confident young man he was, he accredited such reactions to none other than himself, and more often than not, he was probably right.
And, it just might be that this was one such time, where a young lady's demeanor changed from somewhat rigid to pleasantly relaxed and amiable, all because of him. At least, that's how he chose to interpret things when that initial and somewhat glum look slowly faded away from Marie-Elisabeth's face, and that smirk he enjoyed to much returned to her lips. Add to that her reaction upon finding a beautiful (and rather expensive) bracelet of gold and pearls - wide-eyed and speechless awe - and there was nothing to suggest the lightening of her mood had been the work of anyone or anything other than César.
"My goodness, it’s so beautiful", she breathed, seeming as though she had a hard time tearing her eyes from the delicate piece of jewelry, which only went on to deepen César's sense of satisfaction, and assure him that placing such an order with the court jeweller, while it might've have been a rather rash thing to do, had been a good move.
During every single one of their encounters, Marie-Elisabeth had reached for the gold locket around her neck, and for that reason, as well as the location of said locket, his attention had kept being drawn towards it. And he had decided that such a necklace, which was obviously very dear to the Comtesse, required something to match, and thus bring out it's beauty. As well as her own beauty, for that matter. He couldn't help but to have noticed how the metal of the necklace had brought out the golden tinge of her hair, and how the pearls complimented the glow of her pale skin. It was for women like her that the combination of gold and pearls as jewelry had been created in the first place.
"Thank you, I don’t quite know what to say", Marie-Elisabeth added, as most do when they find themselves at a sudden lack of words, and then held out both the box and her arm. "Would you put it on for me?"
The bright smile on her lips drew an amused one from César, still laced with satisfaction of his good judgement, and he inclined his head ever so slightly, as if to indicate that he would be most honored to help.
"Of course", he said, and picked up the bracelet before putting the small box away to the side.
With nimble fingers, he then carefully fastened the bracelet around her delicate wrist, making sure to brush his fingertips gently against that area of sensitive skin whenever given the chance. Once he was done, he took his time withdrawing, and instead allowed his hand to remain resting on the cool table surface, with hers in a grip so gentle that she could easily slide it away from him, should she want to, without having to actually free herself.
It was time to find out just how much she enjoyed his company, and how ready she was for things to progress. And, if so, what part she herself intended to play in order for them to do so.
"I noticed your necklace", he said, with only a faint but undeniably sly undercurrent in his voice, hinting at how he was very well aware of her efforts to guide his gaze during their very first encounter, and when he continued, it took on an increasingly ambiguous tone; "And I couldn't help but feel that such a beautiful thing deserves a match. A partner, if you will, to further bring out it's beauty."