Bella, ME and an assassin. I do love the two of them, they’ve ticked each other off so much! Oh, and I got them two walking, I hope that's okay?)))
“Lively’s certainly a good word for my childhood,” Marie-Elisabeth said before quickly proceeding to offer further explanation for her quest to find a hiding place as if she expected Bella to be suspicious. “Though when you’re practically the baby, it’s much more fun. You’re all but spoiled to death.”
Bella simply smiled and nodded at that, unable to relate and unwilling to give Marie-Elisabeth the satisfaction in thinking that she’d managed to cover her tracks. While any thing that may or may not be happening between César and Marie-Elisabeth was mildly entertaining to Bella, it was far from what she was actually interested in; Octavien.
“No one’s certain about who attacked him, though I’m sure every effort is being made to track the vile culprit down,” Marie-Elisabeth responded to Bella’s inquiries about the attempt oh the Prince’s life if somewhat too much of a controlled manner, making her wonder what exactly was going on in that pretty blonde head of hers. “And as to his highness’ engagement, it’s not very much of a surprise to me to be honest. He’s an eligible young man, and a member of the royal family. Men like that, even in such tragic circumstances, don’t stay unwed for very long.”
Fair enough and besides, if that wasn’t the case, she’d have little to do here anyway. Surely, there must be someone else in the entire palace who knew who tried to kill Octavien? The matter of this being so very hushed up intrigued Bella more than it had done this morning.
“But enough about that,” Marie-Elisabeth dismissed decisively, gesturing down the hallway to prompt them both to set off on their exploration. “Let’s be off. I’ve been thinking about brining my little Charles here for a visit you see, since I’ve missed him so, and I was hoping to find some places where we can spend time alone together. You know, without the general population interrupting us.”
Little Charles? She had a son? And the secret hidey holes were for him? Oh dear, César will be disappointed.
“Oh, I did not know you had children, Comtesse,” Bella turned to Marie-Elisabeth as they walked. “How old is your son?”
Adele found herself bumping into a man much older than herself. Slightly startled, she looked up at the man, giving him a confused look. Surely he hadn't done it purposely; she didn't believe that someone would go great lengths to do so. He quickly apologized for running into her, seeming to be in a bit of a daze. Smiling politely she looked towards the man once again and nodded her head, accepting his apology. "It's quite alright," Adele replied. "It's partly my fault, no one's perfect." Gazing down the hallway, Adele realized she was only a few feet from her room. A few minutes of rest and she would be good as new. But she couldn't just simply take off without a proper introduction. Not only would it be incredibly stupid, but quite impolite as well.
"Baroness Adele Rousseau," she said, giving another smile to the man. "I do wish to know your name." Adele looked down upon herself for not getting to know everyone in the palace. It certainly would help a lot in situations such as this one. She sighed, wishing that she wasn't so quiet and distant. But there was nothing more she could do about it now, and crying over spilled milk isn't going to do anything either. Instead her thoughts trailed over to Elena, whom she was in fact, dying to meet. Who knows what that could do to her status? It would certainly make her noticeable, and quite well known to everyone at the palace. Yet she would have to do it another time, for Adele she had forgotten about the man she had run into. She had become so absorbed in her thoughts that she seemed to have forgotten his presence. Leaving her thoughts for a moment she turned her attention to him, letting him know that she knew he was there.
"I'm so sorry, really I truly am." She looked at him apologetically, hoping he wouldn't think any less of her. So many thoughts are traveling through her mind at this point, that it's become exceedingly hard to concentrate. "Please, do except my apology. I'm just a bit overwhelmed, with everything going on and what not." Oh I haven't had a decent conversation in so long, who says I won't make a fool of myself? It was entirely true. Adele has hardly spoken to anyone ever since she arrived at the Palace. She wouldn't be surprised if no one even knew of her exsistance.
But as it always did, mention of her son distracted her from any other topic of conversation. She did feel slightly guilty using him as a decoy for her true intentions, but it was better that then tell the truth about what she was up to. “I just have the one, my darling Charles. He’s 6 years old and just the most wonderful son any mother could ask for” she said, a genuine smile lighting up her face “He looks quite a bit like me actually, except that he has his late father’s dark eyes”.
She continued smiling and tapped her locket. “This has a portrait of him in it” she explained, looking at Bella as they walked “I wear it all the time.” She paused for a moment and added, almost as an afterthought, “I’ve got a pair of stepdaughters too, Sophie and Helene. But they’re practically my age, and they live off in the country. Delicate health like their mother had, the air out there is goo for them”.
(((OOC: It’s just fine! They needed to move their bums anyway! And yes, frenemies are so much fun to play with Oh crap, I didn’t realize that Atropa. I guess I didn’t read that far back into the thread, sorry I gues we’ll have to pretend they haven’t heard yet
And of course there’s an assassin, he’s probably a family one or something. The Valois family WERE the Kings of France before the Bourbons, they’ve got connections )))
‘Tis okay, Atropa and Ghanima, I’ll just have her find out from someone else and thanks for clearing that one up!
Lol, despite the Devine Italian royalty thing, Bella would probably just do the assassination herself. Just to add the personal touch Or get Ashton to do it seeing as he did get his title stripped down from Duc to Baron for shooting someone in the heart. Men. )))
It seemed that the mention of her son had distracted Marie-Elisabeth from another array of thoughts. Whether this array was centred around César or Octavien, Bella wasn’t sure. The latter, fair enough, she had possibly probed the matter sufficiently with Marie-Elisabeth, who seemed rather poorly informed. The former, however, was a different story; Bella had no agenda where César was concerned and in any case, during her two days here so far, she had only managed to more-or-less befriend and perhaps even gain the Prince’s trust. That was good work enough, now it was time for fun.
“I just have the one, my darling Charles. He’s 6 years old and just the most wonderful son any mother could ask for,” it was undeniable that Marie-Elisabeth lit up in pure affection for the boy. Well, who would have thought, Marie-Elisabeth the doting mother. Hidden depths indeed. “He looks quite a bit like me actually, except that he has his late father’s dark eyes.”
Bella could not deny that the display of parental love did not tug at the corners of her mouth, bringing a distant smile at the thought of her father and deceased mother. Her father, Ashton. Was he out there somewhere telling people of his ‘feisty Izzy’, the darling daughter in substitute for the son he never had? Well, if he was alive and well out there, deliberately putting her through this farce, she had a good mind to kill him herself.
”This has a portrait of him in it,” Marie-Elisabeth’s fingers returned to the locket upon which she had lavished attentions all through the morning. “I wear it all the time.”
As Bella thought she was finished, Marie-Elisabeth quickly added another annex to her words. “I’ve got a pair of stepdaughters too, Sophie and Helene. But they’re practically my age, and they live off in the country. Delicate health like their mother had, the air out there is good for them.”
This Bella almost laughed at, how the step-daughters were a postscript while the main body was the son. Fair enough, which mother did not love her own flesh and blood over others’? Still, the thought of the girls saddled with Marie-Elisabeth for a ‘mother’, well… entertaining, to say the least.
“He sounds absolutely adorable,” she smiled at Marie-Elisabeth with a genuine smile at understanding how it felt for the child or doting parent to separate from the other. Of course, Bella, being the child in that scenario, could empathise with the boy, as she added softly: “He must miss you very much too, Comtesse.”
Damn you and your ridiculous need for atonement, Daddy, she thought angrily to herself, careful not to let anything show over her features. Her thoughts were her own. And damn your self-imposed exile, too.
“I am sure he’ll enjoy his time here,” she assured with a warm smile at Marie-Elisabeth as they walked. Now that Bella was being nice, she could not resist one more childish indulgence at Marie-Elisabeth’s expense. So, making her face to be a picture of unadulterated innocence, she added: “I expect he would make firm friends with les enfants de la Valliere.”
“Have you been at court very long, Comtesse?” Bella attempted to move on the conversation before she gave in to her urges to burst out laughing and so straightened her face to carry that pleasant smile once more. "You seem so very at ease here."
However she was soon hard pressed to keep the pleasant smile on her face with Bella’s next comment. “Firm friends with the Valliere girls indeed” she thought, silencing the urge to say some most unpleasant words “That little twit must know something. She must have seen us leaving yesterday, there’s just no other explanation. Oh well, it’s not as though it matters. As I thought, just because two people go off riding together doesn’t mean anything inappropriate happened….well except for the fact that it did but she doesn’t need to know that”.
Marie-Elisabeth tried not to smirk as she looked over at Bella. “Oh I’d have to disagree with you on that Comtesse” she said, laughing slightly “No matter how lovely said girls are, he’s at that stage where all girls are just the most horrible things to exist in his mind. Except for me of course, but to him I’m his mother, not a girl”.
Marie-Elisabeth was definitely pleased with the final comment Bella had chosen to make though. Her mother would be proud. “And I’ve only been here for about a week” she finished “I suppose it’s a credit to all the lessons mother had us given as children. We were taught how to deal with everything and anything”.
(((OOC: Oh it’s very entertaining, the girls would have been….7 and 9 when their father married 13 year old Marie-Elisabeth Mother indeed XD
And I was talking about the French Bourbons, not the Italian ones)))
“He certainly is adorable,” Marie-Elisabeth responded as the attentions bestowed upon the locket seemed to bring her more memories of her son somehow. “And yes, he does miss me. I’ve already had a letter from him telling me so. Of course I sent the first one even before he had the chance to so I probably miss him even more. But it’s important that he stay where he is and continue learning, so he can take over for his father someday. I can’t keep running everything forever”.
Well, to be fair, Marie-Elisabeth obviously wasn’t running very much herself while she was here at court. However, it was none of her concern and Bella made sure to hold her tongue over it.
“Oh I’d have to disagree with you on that, Comtesse,” Marie-Elisabeth seemed to out rightly refute Bella’s suggestion that the children might find good company with each other as if Marie-Elisabeth herself would see to it. “No matter how lovely said girls are, he’s at that stage where all girls are just the most horrible things to exist in his mind. Except for me of course, but to him I’m his mother, not a girl.”
If Bella was allowed to do everything that jumped into her mind, the opportune face she would have picked for now would have been an incredulous stare at Marie-Elisabeth. Alight, boys will be boys and consider all girls contagious somewhat, but if he really wanted to simply hang to his mother’s skirts when there was really no other children his age to interact with, then anti-socialism was really the way for him. A bright future with the ladies, young Comte. Perhaps she was indeed scrutinising everything Marie-Elisabeth decided to say, Bella decided. Being so closed minded was never the way forward.
“And I’ve only been here for about a week,” Marie-Elisabeth’s contentment at Bella’s final question shone through in both her words and countenance. “I suppose it’s a credit to all the lessons mother had us given as children. We were taught how to deal with everything and anything.”
Well, now, did that actually include the courtiers that Marie-Elisabeth apparently found incessantly annoying, such as Bella, and the wives of men whose attentions she courted, such as Joséphine, Bella asked silently. No, probably not. Actually, wait, quite possibly yes. Without doubt, Marie-Elisabeth was just one of those women who were destined to be at a social hub, entirely capable of the pretentiousness that the social class both of them belonged to. Except of course, the difference between Bella and Marie-Elisabeth almost definitely lay in the fact that Bella knew it wasn’t real, it was just a façade, while Marie-Elisabeth made a ritual out of it and lived it.
Again, however, she found it wise to hold her tongue. It was fast becoming a habit – nonetheless a most beneficial one – to hide her thoughts behind the placid mask of reserved pleasantness.
“Only a week, Comtesse?” she asked nonchalantly with small surprise mixed with a slight smile etched over her features. “My, your mother must be a very effective teacher and you an avid pupil, indeed.”
“Oh my mother is a formidable woman indeed” she replied, nodding her head “She’s always been the boss of the family, no questions asked. It’s thanks to her I’ve been able to run the estates so well since Charles passed away. You wouldn’t believe how much work it is. And I thought it was bad at home, now I get piles and piles of letters and reports every day. I’m tempted to use some of these hiding places to hide from the messengers”.
She paused for a moment to glance out the window, seeing the Orangery in the distance. “If you don’t have any particular idea about where to go Comtesse” she said, turning back to Bella “How about the Orangery? I’d like to see all the rare flowers they have in there. And I’m sure I’ll be able to find some places for Charles and I to spend time together while we’re out there. I just hope he doesn’t want to bring some of his cousins with him. Half the time I could swear my sister Marie-Caroline’s boys live at our home and not their own”.
(((OOC: HAHA oh lord, this is getting way to fun. And Orangery is like a big fancy Greenhouse type thing right? That's my understanding anyway. I just couldnt think of anywhere else for them to go!
And it's not that I was making little Charles out to be an antisocial skirt clinger or anything, he's just a 6 year old boy so he doesn't like girls much He'd probably tell Adele and Angelique they had cooties and throw dirt at them or something! He's got a few dozen male cousins he prefers to play with instead, with a family as big as his they're around a lot )))
And you’re right, this is awesomely amusing!
Imagine Cesar's face if he actually did that!)))
“Oh my mother is a formidable woman indeed,” Marie-Elisabeth affirmed the idea strongly. This, Bella could certainly agree with. Anything that gave rise to Marie-Elisabeth and 15 derivatives would be a force to be reckoned with indeed. Then again, what gave rise to Bella, being her parents, the abbey and the entire English court, was certain to be far worse.
“She’s always been the boss of the family, no questions asked. It’s thanks to her I’ve been able to run the estates so well since Charles passed away. You wouldn’t believe how much work it is. And I thought it was bad at home, now I get piles and piles of letters and reports every day. I’m tempted to use some of these hiding places to hide from the messengers."
Now, what kind of example would that be for Comte Charles, jnr? Bella asked silently. And worse yet, you're actually showing him what a good hiding place would be. What would mother dearest say to that?
Added to that, Bella could easily imagine how much work it was managing a man's estates when said man vanished off the face of the Earth for whatever reason. In fact, that was pretty much what she was doing. It was probably much worse for her, given that when Duc Devine lost his title, he lost only that, keeping his vast lands and riches intact and now leaving his daughter to manage it, despite the little power that the title Baroness armed her with. Thanks for that, Daddy.
“If you don’t have any particular idea about where to go Comtesse,” she proposed after a small pause, prompting Bella’s vision to trace the path that Marie-Elisabeth’s had travelled. “How about the Orangery? I’d like to see all the rare flowers they have in there. And I’m sure I’ll be able to find some places for Charles and I to spend time together while we’re out there. I just hope he doesn’t want to bring some of his cousins with him. Half the time I could swear my sister Marie-Caroline’s boys live at our home and not their own.”
Oh, not so anti-social after all? Bella thought to herself as she exuded a contemplative smile at Marie-Elisabeth. She looked down at the Orangery and the only image that sprung to mind involved countless insects, worms and God only knows what else. Oh, yes, the company kept getting better this morning.
“I would love to, Comtesse,” she agreed with a small nod. Well, if she was going to have to make do with slimy creatures, then so would Marie-Elisabeth, and that thought was satisfying enough. “I cannot wait to guess the botany they have there. I hear it’s a beautiful sight this time of year.”
Most people, when setting foot in the gardens surrounding the Palace of Light and Air for the first time, would inevitably have their gaze drawn to the magnificent displays nature and human skills combined had to offer, whether it was the artfully cropped hedges, the strategically placed flowerbeds alternating in colour and pattern, or the centrepiece, a three story fountain disgorging an endless waterfall of crystal clear water. Even at that time of the year when nature stirred to live and the gardens had yet to attain the lushness of summer, the view was picturesque.
Elena Sánchez was unlike most people, and remained unmoved by the beauty surrounding her. She noted it briefly, from the viewpoint of someone who was inspected a new and valuable acquisition, before turning her attention to the somewhat more interesting, though predictable display of human behaviour.
It hadn't taken long for those courtiers who were out and about wasting time and money to notice the approaching convoy and gather near the gates, drawn by the novelty and their own curiosity. Elena liked to refer to it as herd instinct: as soon as one sheep took the lead, the rest followed suit.
The Spaniard, unimpressed by their presence, surveyed the thickening crowd listlessly, her sharp gaze playing along the rows of bewigged and bejewelled men and women, knowing all too well that regardless of what mask they had chosen to wear that morning, they remained the same envious, petty parade of sycophants who fluttered around the palace with their meaningless lives and empty ambitions.
Of course, they had their place in the world, just like the unwashed masses of commoners who provided manual labour. Someone had to administer the lands and turn resources into profit, and while most failed miserably in principle, they had the needed wealth and advisers to mend their mistakes and ensure the system worked. Elena was satisfied with that arrangement, particularly because it placed her at the very pinnacle.
Speaking of which, a man dressed in white and gold finery, flanked by two watchful guards was making his way through the crowd which parted respectfully to allow them through. For the first time since her arrival, Elena granted one person her attention, positioning herself firmly on the path and waiting, still as a statue and unflinchingly regal. From that distance, she could make out the ageing features of a man whose receding hairline was hidden underneath a lush wig – so, she mused, that could only be His Majesty King Edouard Rotherham himself, considering her future husband was supposedly half his age, and conspicuous by his absence. Elena's aloof smile faltered at the thought, pursing her lips together in a thin, flat line: what manner of courtesy did the French subscribe to, if they did not even deem it necessary for a Prince to be present at the arrival of his betrothed?
Undoubtedly an explanation existed, and Elena suspected the King would provide it.
When Edouard and his retinue approached and greeted her, Elena dropped a polite curtsy not an instant longer or more lavish than absolutely necessary: after all, she was no Comtesse or Baronesse, and was not required to prostrate herself before anyone, even a King, particularly when he was her future father-in-law, of sorts.
“Your Excellency,” Edouard began at length “it gives us great pleasure to welcome you to our Court. We hope your journey has been a pleasant one, and that our good friend Duque Carlos fares well?”
The usual pointless chatter approach, then, Elena mused dryly. Not that she had expected anything different, it was the way of protocol. Donning a convincingly pleasant smile, she answered:
“Your Majesty does me great honour, it is a privilege to be here, and my pleasure. The journey has been most comfortable, as for my father, he sends his warmest regards and heartfelt apologies for not having been able to be here and deliver them in person. Sadly his health has grown fragile, but he remains the resilient man he has always been.”
“As those of us who know him would have expected him to,” King Edouard continued, waving his hand briefly. “Before we retreat, we would also like to ask your forgiveness in the name of Prince Octavien, who is unable to stand by my side and welcome you to our Kingdom. Unfortunately, he has awoken with an irksome indisposition and our physician is currently attending to him; however a meeting shall be arranged as soon as possible.”
Elena tilted her head low in acceptance as she expressed her hopes for Octavien's improving health, thus masking an incipient smirk: so, that was going to be the official tale. A young, healthy man as far as she had been told, confined to his chambers due to a mysterious "indisposition", coincidentally on the very day of her arrival? A person less suspicious by nature than Elena would have smelled a convenient pretext – as for her, she was convinced of it. The question, of course, remained: why? Perhaps the Princeling had gotten cold feet, or maybe he was on a tighter leash than she had been able to guess, and wasn't trusted as far as meeting her before the entire Court. Whichever the case, it did not bide well, and Elena was sure to uncover the real reason...eventually.
Accompanied by the King and his retinue, Elena soon departed the gardens, parting the crowd like Moses of old and without a single glance backwards: she was, after all, much more intent on what the future awaited. Once inside the Palace, the King excused himself and retreated, leaving his guest in the attendance two impeccably dressed servants who bowed low and offered to show her the way to her suite. Nodding impatiently, she followed them up the many steps that lead towards the heart of the Palace, looking forward to a moment's rest in privacy.
((not approachable at this time))
Larkin was somewhat discombobulated to have the girl accept his apology very calmly and with a polite smile, and then glance longingly down the hallway. Larkin obligingly stepped aside to let her continue on her way, but she had stopped dead in the hall upon his bumping into her and she continued speaking after a moment of distracted silence, saying with another pleasant smile, "Baroness Adele Rousseau, I do wish to know your name."
Larkin would be the first to admit that he was not always familiar with social customs, and that he was all too easily engrossed in thoughts usually having nothing to do with a situation. Even so, the girl, Adele's sudden and inexplicable change of subject was impressive. And Larkin found himself doing little more than blinking owlishly for a second before his usual expression of polite disinterest could scramble back onto his features. Not that she seemed to be paying any mind, the smile having melted off her features and left her staring down the hallway a bit vacantly.
"Larkin d'Marius, Baron d'Aurvilies" he answered. For good measure, and for politeness sake he added, "Pleasure to meet you Baroness"
She did not answer, and Larkin knew full well that that was rude. It had been a convention to answer pleasantries politely or make excuses when he had last been in court, and even the natives in Zimbabwe had that as a custom. So Adele was making a calculated insult- it was not impossible- even though he had never met the girl- that Aurvilies's trade policies could have hurt her and his name was enough to make her flinch back to examine her next course of action. Or maybe some other thought before hand was more engrossing than his company, and Larkin made a careful point to not think about that, he preferred his acknowledged delusions of grandeur to the somewhat iffy truth that no one so far had ever stated clearly.
Larkin, in a fit of generosity decided to assume the latter, and offered her a conversational escape- "So, have you been in the palace long?" A forced- but sufficiently pleasant- smile graced Larkin's lips. And slowly melted off as the girl continued to ignore him.
Just as Larkin was about to say something rather cold and harsh to Adele she blinked and looked up apologetically saying quickly and with a breathless quality that could only be sincere, "I'm so sorry, really I truly am. Please, do accept my apology. I'm just a bit overwhelmed, with everything going on and what not."
For some reason her words triggered some sort of fiercely paternal response- or at least not a sharp lecture on decorum, or anything romantic- and he calmly repeated his name and asked slowly, making an effort to have his words sound kindly, "So Baroness, what could be overwhelming a noblewoman in the palace? Surely there is some elusively obvious way to deal with whatever it is?"
The humor of a story on the internet is in direct inverse proportion to how accurate the reporting is.
To buy their titles back would be a little wasteful when they could just earn it back, therefore it was never done. Also explains her dislike of the whole title ranking.
Hope that helps )))
Adele couldn't seem to repond to his question. There were many things overwhelming her; some of them involving her personal life. But instead of giving the full truth, she looked at him and replied with a simple answer.
"It's complicated," she replied quietly.
She smiled, hoping that he wouldn't take offense to her response. It was in fact, complicated indeed; there were many things going on in her mind. Sighing quietly, Adele realized that she was being impolite. She quickly tried to cover her tracks, in fear of upsetting him even further. She had already messed up once, by letting her thoughts get the best of her. She would not allow herself to become carried away for a second time.
"I wouldn't want to bother you with my petty problems, Baron."
She gave a genuine smile, wanting him to know that she was trying to fix her mistake. She made a bad impression, but she didn't want it to seem like she could carry a simple conversation. Resting one hand over the other, Adele thought it would be best to change the subject. She didn't want the Baron to pry about it any further. "Have you heard about Prince Octavien's engagement?" She paused for a second, and a giggle seemed to escape her lips. "Quite wonderful isn't it? I only wish him the best, of course." Her eyes danced wildly with excitement at the thought of the engagement.
Her expression went back to neutral eventually, before Larkin had finished speaking, and she said quietly with a blunt simplicity bordering on rudeness, "It's complicated." Larkin waited expectantly for her to continue, and much to his surprise was not disappointed. Insofar as that she actually spoke, not in that she said anything useful. "I wouldn't want to bother you with my petty problems, Baron."
Some small flight of curiosity stopped Larkin from expressing that he wouldn't mind listening. For one, it would sound like he was gossip mongering, and when he needed to do so Ambrose was far less noticeable than him. And of course, as she had demonstrated a moment ago, silence was a fine way to get another person talking.
Once more he was half right- she did indeed speak, and within a perfectly reasonable time frame, but she was changing the subject. Glaringly obviously changing the subject. She had let out another smile, this one much more sincere in character than the ones preceding it, and said, "Have you heard about Prince Octavien's engagement?" She paused for a second, and Larkin had to fight not to roll his eyes. She continued, "Quite wonderful isn't it? I only wish him the best, of course."
Larkin made a conscious decision to not get offended- the girl really had done nothing wrong in inquiring about his opinion on Octavien's marriage- and very few people knew of Larkin's revulsion to arranged marriages. Not from any effort to keep to secret, but the fact it rarely came up outside of the occasional exchange of letters with his brother. Therefore there was no reason to let an icy tone slide into his voice- the girl was very young, probably only in her twenties, and undoubtedly the topic of marriage was far more romantic and fascinating to her than to a jaded old bachelor like Larkin.
"I have indeed heard about it, and I do hope it works out well for them." Larkin could not help but notice that a touch of bitterness was creeping into his voice. It was tiny and he squelched it quickly, but it was there. "I can't really bring myself to say its wonderful though, arranged marraiges don't tend to work out that well, especially when one of them has been widowed recently, regardless of whether that was an arranged marriage. The entire custom simply strikes me as barbaric."
Larkin had kept his face mostly expressionless and his tone even save for that initial bitter twinge in intonation. Still the words themselves were such as would be picked by a deeply emotional issue, and anyone with ears and half a brain would pick up on that. And that was not a good thing- some things Larkin did not choose to share, and he had no idea how the Baroness Adele had managed to coax even that much out of him. Heck, not even Ambrose had any suspicions regarding just why Larkin so bitterly hated arranged marriage.
Larkin did not continue speaking, lest he reveal anything more untoward. What he had said had not been nearly specific enough to tell the girl anything, but still.
The humor of a story on the internet is in direct inverse proportion to how accurate the reporting is.
Joséphine and her daughters - Their suite --> The corridors
Their first night spent apart since arriving at the Court.
As Joséphine's lashes fluttered lazily, a hint of jade barely visible in their midst, that thought was the first to seep into her mind. She could feel Angélique's weight on her shoulder, and the corner of her eye offered a glimpse of unruly brown curls atop a tiny head nestled safely in her mother's embrace. Adèle slept just as blissfully on the other side of Joséphine, curled up under the blankets.
The Marquise slowly opened both eyes, blinking repeatedly as her vision swam into focus, revealing a large canvas depicting a summertime landscape that hung on the wall opposite the bed. The curtains were drawn close together, permitting only a tiny beam of light through, which darted like a spear of shimmering gold across the suite where it pooled on the floor. Taking great care not to awaken either girl, Joséphine withdrew her arm from around Angélique, snaking her way to the edge of the bed, where she paused, chin in hands, to think.
The previous night's events returned to her, one by one, in the form of memories: following Bella and Octavien's departure, Joséphine had bid the nanny to leave, finding herself alone with two slumbering children and her thoughts. There was a strange loneliness in that thought, as though by some twisted hand of fate the entire suite had become isolated from the rest of the Palace, locked away from any source of mirth, much like Joséphine herself could not help but feel cut away from everyone else. She carried a burden of knowledge which she was unable to share with anyone: not César, who would have denied everything, not Octavien who would not place himself between them, not Bella whom she would not make the unwitting confidant to a problem that was not her own.
Tears leaked from the corners of her eyes, which Joséphine wiped away almost defiantly: she was determined not to sob herself to sleep, not again. Six years worth of tears for a man whose deeds would never change were enough: he did not deserve more, not to mention puffy, red eyes would raise uncomfortable questions the following morning. Despite the tight knot lodged in her throat, Joséphine valiantly kept to her vow, snuggled up between Adèle and Angélique, drawing strength from their proximity and allowing their angelic faces to gradually replace those of César and Marie-Elisabeth speaking closely together in her mind and finally fall asleep.
Despite her efforts, Joséphine's movements managed to awaken Adèle, who whimpered and yawned at length, stirring her sister from her sleep as well. Well, the Marquise mused as she watched them rub their eyes and sit up, it was late, after all.
An hour having elapsed, all three of them were dressed and ready to begin a new day, which in the case of Adèle and Angélique it meant another round of playing with their toys. They pranced around their nanny, begging to be taken out into the gardens, peering innocently at their mother who surveyed the scene with amusement.
“Breakfast first, playtime in the garden after” she chided gently, feeling her heart swell with joy at the sight of both girls squealing excitedly and dashing for the door, while Bess trotted behind them, urging them to behave “as young ladies should.” Before the family made their exit however, little Adèle tugged Joséphine's sleeve, gazing innocently up at her:
“Is Papa going to see us now?”
Suppressing a sigh, the Marquise smiled thinly down at her and reached down to clasp her outstretched palm:
“Soon, angel. Soon.”
And, indeed, sooner than anyone had expected, for as soon as the young family turned around the first corner, they were able to distinguish a familiar figure in the distance.
She had already made up her mind that she was definately going to send for her son to come for a visit. Mostly, of course, because she missed him and wanted to see him. She knew that he couldn't stay of course, he had to many things to learn and do to remain at the palace. But with the wedding of the Prince coming up, it seemed like a perfect time, and excuse, for him to come. It was only proper that a nobleman like the Comte de Valois come to the wedding of the Prince of the realm, and it was better for Charles to start meeting all the other nobles sooner rather than later.
So instead of taking off like a shot, Marie-Elisabeth just smiled over at Bella and returned the nod, gesturing down the hallway to where the palace entrance was. “I’ve heard the same. I’m very interested to see it actually” she said, starting to walk down the hallway, with Bella following along beside her “We had a small one back home as a child, but I can only imagine how lovely the one here will seem in comparison.
(((OOC: sorry I took so long. My muse abandoned me so I had to drag him back kicking and screamng by his hair. Tempremental buggers muses. Feel free to have them end up outside if you want Alissa )))
And Ghamina, poor Jo!)))
It seemed to Bella that Marie-Elisabeth was somewhat regretting extending the invitation to join her expedition, for Bella herself was beginning to somewhat regret it in light of the impending encounter with insects and their lovely habits of feeding on human flesh. While Bella was not one of the fragile aristocratic ladies who shied away from the slightest hint of nature, actually anything that didn’t involve absolute luxury, she was not ‘green’ enough to allow miniscule things to feed on her. One being draining her energy at a time, please and the role was apparently filled by a reluctant Marie-Elisabeth.
No, Bella loved nature, riding in the forest, the lakes and vast gardens, but they all had something that the Orangery lacked; open space. She was not looking forward to spending what was left of the morning locked up in a hot greenhouse with bugs, worms and Marie-Elisabeth. But, despite Marie-Elisabeth obviously sharing the same feelings, she had not backed down and neither would Bella. Oh, the lost fruits of cowardice.
“I’ve heard the same. I’m very interested to see it actually,” Marie-Elisabeth nodded towards the entrance of the palace as Bella matched her stride in approaching it. “We had a small one back home as a child, but I can only imagine how lovely the one here will seem in comparison.”
Bella almost stared for a moment, resisting the urge to say That’s the spirit, Comtesse. I’m sure they have far more exciting diseases hiding away in this one.
But instead, as they ventured outside, she simply smiled courteously at the other woman and said: “It is most exciting,” with a nod in agreement. Then, she breathed in the air in the anticipation of what was to come; bugs and more Marie-Elisabeth. “Especially when one loves the beauty of nature.”
“I would love to hear more of your experience here at court, Comtesse,” she smiled encouragingly at Marie-Elisabeth to move on conversation.
And yet, she was the reason which kept him from setting off to try and find something to do elsewhere for very long, such as going riding or hunting, or even seeking out any of the other courtiers to get further acquainted with them. Granted, he did spend a little while talking to one or two of them while ingesting his breakfast in the Grand Diningroom, and he did join the crowd watching the arrival of their future princess - a remarkably mysterious and enticing beauty if ever César had seen one, so what on earth Octavien had to complain about, the Marquis simply could not understand - but found himself too impatient to hold a longer conversation. He kept being drawn back towards the hallway where both de la Valliére suites were located, in the hopes that Joséphine would soon emerge from the girls' one, and thus allow him the opportunity to do some damage control. He hated being in the doghouse, or even feeling as though he was, and would itch to try and make things right first chance he got. If he knew he was the one at fault, that is. In the case of an argument where neither stubborn spouse had been willing to back down, and were convinced they were right, he could be far more tenacious.
But not this time. This time, he knew she had reason to be upset with him, even though he was unknowingly mistaken regarding what that reason was. Not having been otherwise informed, he still thought it had to do with him failing to show his concern for her well being yesterday, or even the outcome of their plan to improve Octavien's standing among the other courtiers. Thus, when he tried to think of a way to make it up to her, he focused on her torn dress, and not her torn heart. For when inquiring about the Mistress' health the previous night, he had learned from the maids that while she had escaped fairly unscathed, her dress had suffered greatly, and would need extensive repairs if she would ever be able to use it again. And so, César decided, a new dress would be a good way to compensate his darling wife for the one that got torn, and that an additional one just might help compensate his lack of attention.
Therefore, when returning to the suite for the second time, he did so not only in order to once again ask about Joséphine and whether she had returned while he was away, but also to send one of the maids to forward an order for two quite costly dresses to the Palace head seamster, and to return with a selection of fabrics and patterns, so that Joséphine could choose the colors and designs herself. But first she'd have to decide to acknowledge the fact that she had a husband, so that she would know he was trying to apologize, and that it wasn't just a decision he had made on her behalf. It seemed unlikely that she would thik it was, but one could always trust a woman to take things the wrong way.
Once the maid had been sent off, César lingered in the suite only briefly. His intention was to wait there until Joséphine showed up, and so he had sat down in one of the comfortable sofas with a book to pass the time. But in just a matter of minutes, he'd grown too impatient to just sit around and wait, and so with a sigh, he'd set the book aside again, and left the suite for the fourth time this morning.
Back in the hallways, he shot one more in a long line of glances towards the door behind which his wife and daughters were still supposedly keeping themselves occupied, and gave yet another sigh, slightly more exasperated this time. Patience really wasn't a virtue of the Marquis de Mont-de-Marsan, and it was starting to grown quite thin. He would not stand for this much longer. One more hour, and he would just have to go there himself, no matter if Joséphine was ready for him, or still desired to be left alone.
However, as fate would have it, he'd done little more than turn away from the door and started towards the main entrance once more, when a sudden delighted squeal shattered the silence, it's echo bouncing between the walls, and causing César to stop and turn again, as he immediately recognized the sound.
And sure enough. Careening happily towards him from the other end of the hallway was indeed Adèle, curls bouncing wildly about her shoulders, and arms outstretched in anticipation of being scooped up into her father's strong ones on arrival. Trotting behind her came little Angélique, as fast as her tiny legs would carry her, and even further back, trailing gracefully behind the two children were their mother, and their nanny Bess.
Not that César was given much of an opportunity to acknowledge the two of them, as Adèle and Angélique immediately demanded his full attention. At the mere sight of them, his lips had parted in a wide smile, and he couldn't help but laugh as Adéle threw herself around his neck when he bent down to greet her and her sister. With two sets of arms around his neck, and his own gripping their bodies tightly, he then straightened his back, while finding himself being showered with questions, most of them various and repeated forms of where he had been, as apparently, he had not been around in 'forever and ever'.
"I'm sorry, mes chéris", he said with a smile, while planting a soft kiss on each girl's forehead. "Daddy had a promise to keep, and it took a little longer than expected."
Knowing that many had seen him and Marie-Elisabeth together, César thought it useless to lie or be too evasive. Not that the girls would be any the wiser anyway, but Joséphine, whose presence he was now very much aware of as she was crossing the last remaining distance between them, might have heard about it. If she had, it would be most suspicious of him not to mention Marie-Elisabeth in some way. And besides, there was no harm in being truthful, was there? It wasn't as though anything had actually happened, and so there was nothing to hide. Well, except maybe a few details, such as the giving of a certain bracelet, and the topic of a certain conversation. But other than that, there was nothing to suggest anything illicit had been going on.
"Good morning", he said as Joséphine finally reached the three of them and came to a halt, and despite his cheerful tone, the smile on his lips had faded a little bit and the look in his eyes turned slightly apprahensive, as though he was trying to determine her state of mind. "I've missed you."
(((ooc: Ghanima - Hope it works?))))
She never quite understood why he wished to get married once again, to be tied to one person until the day you die. She always believed that mother was father's one true love, but she couldn't fathom the thought of anyone loving her father. Who could possibly love such a horrid man? Adele frowned at the thought. Fortunately, she never let her father's horrible marriage taint her desire for love. But not just any love: she believed in true love, the type of love that never burns out. Yet it is quite hard to find that type of love, for many others are corrupted by the benefits that come from marriage.
Looking towards him, Adele listened intently as Larkin spoke about Prince Octavien's marriage. "I have indeed heard about it, and I do hope it works out well for them. I can't really bring myself to say its wonderful though, arranged marriages don't tend to work out that well, especially when one of them has been widowed recently, regardless of whether that was an arranged marriage. The entire custom simply strikes me as barbaric."
He remained expressionless as her spoke, and Adele could sense the fact that the Baron was not particularly fond of arranged marriages. A curious expression emerged on the young girl's face, and an assortment of thoughts began to creep into her mind.
There aren't many out there who are fond of arranged marriages, she thought. I'm sure the Baron has a good explanation for his disliking of them. As she looked at him, there was still that question in the back of her mind: could it possibly be something much more?
"Would you like to take a walk Baron?" Adele asked curiously. She did indeed want to know him better. He appeared to be kind enough, and she saw nothing wrong with him. If she was able to know those around the palace, it would help her greatly in her quest for power. Giving him a quick smile, she gazed down the hallway, her dark brown eyes glistening. "It would only be for a while." Adele quickly saw her suite near the end of the hallway, knowing that her rest would have to wait. She had more important matters to attend to.
The young Prince was a noble man, who took pride in serving King and country to the best of his ability, without having to be ordered to do so. In fact, to men like him, having their heartfelt loyalty completely disregarded in favour of depersonalizing commands when not even in actual battle, was nothing short of an insult. A virtual slap in the face.
So then, when after in the early morning having been sent a note telling (not asking) him that he was to be 'indisposed' and thus unable to greet his betrothed on her arrival to the Palace of Light and Air, things were hardly made better when shortly after said arrival, he was sent another note, this time telling him he was now expected to properly introduce himself to Her Exellency, as soon as possible.
Had he not known any better, Octavien would have thought the King to be as fickle as a teenage girl, if not more, with apparent mood swings every five minutes, first saying one thing, and then turning around and saying something completely different.
But, he did know better - alot better - and so could see through it all with the greatest of ease; they (meaning the King and his advisors) had been afraid that Octavien would cause a scene, a minor or even major disaster, if being there to greet their new Princess alongside the King himself. They still were. But, while they could prevent a possible disaster in public, they couldn't keep Octavien and his bride from meeting forever, and so since it did have to happen sooner or later, it was better if it happened in private, where no one would be shamed infront of an audience. Her Exellency wouldn't be shamed by some possible snide remark, or loud rejection on Octavien's part, and neither would the royal family. As though a private first meeting would somehow eliminate all chances Octavien would have in the future, should he really desire to cause trouble?
Preposterous indeed. So many useless precautions, when all they really had to do was to actually talk to him, instead of treating him like some kind of mindless yet unpredictable puppet. He was not a fool, nor was he unreasonable, much like he had stated to Duc d'Lorraine only a few days ago. The Duc had even seemed to agree, although perhaps not in so many words. And had Octavien not shown there that he would indeed submit to His Majesty's decisions? Even if he wasn't particularly thrilled about them?
Well then, he would just have to keep signalling his dissatisfaction with being treated as a mute pawn, while still carrying out his duties. And this was a perfect opportunity.
He was to present himself to Her Exellency 'as soon as possible', the note had said. Well, didn't that leave things open to interpretation? It was really a matter of prioritizing, wasn't it? There could be a dozen things that took priority over introducing himself to his future bride. Lunch, for one. After all, wouldn't it be a shame if he was to go ahead and meet with her, and end up saying something stupid simply because he wasn't thinking straight, due to being so very hungry?
Another thing that might be far too important to not be dealt with first, was the matter of choosing the right clothing. He wouldn't want to look too dark and gloomy, even though he'd just been widowed, but then again, he wouldn't want to look like a darned peacock either, would he? Men that dressed too flashy would often seem like they were trying to make up for some lack of their, or to draw attention away from some serious flaw.
The list could be made very long indeed, and therein lay the method of Octavien's silent rebellion to being ordered around; he procrastinated the meeting, when he knew he was expected to instigate it immediately.
Only once a few hours had passed did he dictate a small note for Her Exellency, scribbled down by Gilles' steady hand, telling her to expect him within the hour; a time frame wide enough for him to keep her waiting, thus showing her, and everyone else for that matter, the 'proper' arrogance of royalty - that things only happened when the Prince, in this case, decided that it would, and that others were expected to wait for as long as the royal in question chose to keep them waiting - yet not wide enough to insult her by keeping her waiting too long.
Still he did wait until there remained only ten minutes of the announced hour, before he left his own suite, and headed for the one right across the royal floor; the Princess' suite, which Her Excellency now occupied. Having chosen a deep sapphire frock coat of lustrous brocade that brought out the intensity of his blue eyes and the golden shimmer of his hair, along with matching breeches, he knew that while he would not out-do the lady as far as radiating with wealth and luxury went - which, in all honesty, was as difficult for a gentleman to do as it was impolite - he would at least match her. In garb as well as in poise. He carried himself with his usual dignity and pride, and his stride was purposeful yet unhurried as he crossed the floor with a small entourage of servants trailing behind him, with the exception of one that darted ahead to announce his pending arrival to the Princess' suite, so that when he approached, Her Excellency would be prepared, and the doors immediately pushed open for him. God forbid he should be made to wait outside.
"His Royal Highness, Prince Octavien", the footman officially announced for all nearby to hear as Octavien passed through the gilded doors, and came to a halt, his eyes landing on the woman whom he had watched arrive a few hours ago, from the window in his suite.
This was it. It was his first encounter with the woman who was to be his wife: A complete stranger.
"Buenas tardes, su Excelencia", he greeted her with a slight, polite inclination of his neck, in response to her graceful curtsy. "And welcome. We are most honored to have you with us. Though I must apologize for not greeting you on arrival. I'm afraid this morning found me a bit under the weather."
(((ooc: I hope it's okay I had her curtsy, Ghanima? If I'm not completely mistaken, as royalty, he shouldn't acknowledge her/greet her until she did, yet she would not have the right to actually address him until he addressed her first. Or something.)))
He gloomily realized that there simply wasn't another rational reason for her to bother showing curiosity. Unless of course she thought marriage to truly be something that was only a symbol of love and devotion. In which case she was either very very daft or mind numbingly naive.
She did not speculate when she answered- for which Larkin was duly grateful- but instead asked, "Would you like to take a walk Baron?"
Now there was a non sequiter if ever there was one! Larkin did not have anything significant demanding his attention- even with Ambrose having gotten the fastest courier money could buy there was no chance that the courier would have even gotten to Aurvilies yet, let alone given the steward a chance to reply. In the absence of current information about his barony there truly was nothing he had to do. And besides which, Baroness Adele was a fascinating quandry- too young to be as cynical as Larkin, old enough to not unintentionally be an idiot, and not difficult on his eyes either. Not that Larkin would think about such things, especially when the awkward topic of arranged marriage was on his mind.
He gave a small warm smile and answered just as simplistically as she had been, "I'd be delighted to."
The humor of a story on the internet is in direct inverse proportion to how accurate the reporting is.
Oh and I will try to have posts in tomorrow, when, hopefully, my muse decides to cooperate *kicks*))
“Oh I’ve hardly got anything interesting to tell” she said, pausing to admire the pretty swirled pattern the grass had been cut into “Obviously recent events haven’t permitted anything of a noteworthy nature to occur. But I suppose with her Excellency’s arrival that’s going to change. All the events and festivities to celebrate the Royal marriage will be most exciting; I do hope I’ll be able to get my little chou d’amour here in time to witness everything”.
She smiled and fiddled with her necklace as they continued down along the pathways lined with trees. “You know what’s more amusing than my less than remarkable experiences here at court so far” she said, laughing slightly at the memory “ When she first came to live with us after their wedding, my eldest brother Joesph’s wife, Isabelle wouldn’t go near the Orangery. She was somehow convinced it was full of deadly tropical diseases and all sorts of horrendous insects. They didn’t have them where she was born you see, so it was really quite funny to see the look on her face when Joseph would talk about picnics in the Orangery. We were all rather hard pressed not to laugh at her, have you ever heard such a silly notion?”
(((OOC: Sorry again for taking a while. I’m in the same boat as Ghanima, my muse will not cooperate. But I’ve got him by the braid and I’m threatening it and his wardrobe with scissors so he should behave himself for a while.
And I’m using the Orangery of Versailles as my mental picture for this one, I hope that works. I figured it was a good one to use
Picture Two )))
“Oh I’ve hardly got anything interesting to tell,” Marie-Elisabeth replied, her vision turning to the greenery before them as Bella’s thoughts wandered to the ample greenery that was to come.
“Obviously recent events haven’t permitted anything of a noteworthy nature to occur. But I suppose with her Excellency’s arrival that’s going to change. All the events and festivities to celebrate the Royal marriage will be most exciting; I do hope I’ll be able to get my little chou d’amour here in time to witness everything.”
Oh, yes, do show him the wonderful fleurs de mort, too. He can add those to the list of things he doesn’t like.
“You know what’s more amusing than my less than remarkable experiences here at court so far,” she continued as Bella watched her attention’s return to the locket that held her son’s portrait. “When she first came to live with us after their wedding, my eldest brother Joesph’s wife, Isabelle wouldn’t go near the Orangery. She was somehow convinced it was full of deadly tropical diseases and all sorts of horrendous insects.”
What?! Bella thought sardonically to herself. Scared of insects and she admitted it?! How dare she?
“They didn’t have them where she was born you see, so it was really quite funny to see the look on her face when Joseph would talk about picnics in the Orangery. We were all rather hard pressed not to laugh at her, have you ever heard such a silly notion?”
Of course insects don’t live in plants, Comtesse, Bella thought silently as she laughed along with Marie-Elisabeth. And insects don't carry odd diseases.
“Preposterous,” she uttered as the laugh came to an end. Isabelle, indeed, not a far cry from Isabella. Or was Isabelle a pseudonym for Marie-Elisabeth herself? Terrified of the Orangery and still reluctant to admit it? Oh, Bella simply had to see this through now.
“Yes, the wedding certainly should be a wonderful event,” she remarked, refusing to let her mind wander to how exactly Octavien was going to deal with Elena and how exactly Bella was going to deal with her part in it. “I do have one confusion that has been playing upon my mind, Comtesse. I had heard that the Prince's name was Duc Silvius, while it is now Octavien Lahance?”