|Layers of Moments|
|Summary:||Hardwicke asks Lucienne for a favor.|
|Date:||January 18, 2012|
|Related Logs:||Until Morale Improves, I guess.|
|Lady Lucienne's Chambers — Four Eagles Tower|
|Replete with tea.|
|January 19, 289|
It is most definitely not early in the morning. Even if Hardwicke wanted to get out of bed the day after his wedding, certainly his bride would not let him go so easily. Thus it is late morning — maybe even afternoon? — when the Captain finally gets about trying to track down the youngest Terrick offspring. Back in livery at her door, looking more at ease than he is wont to, he purses his lips and then knocks.
She's within, and conveniently with her handmaiden - it is the latter who rises to open Lucienne's door. Celine dips a silent curtsy to Hardwicke, attributing him no title and giving no other greeting, but presuming her lady's wishes by taking a step back to allow him to enter. Luci's hair is still damp, her gown freshly donned, and a soft scent of rose drifts about her rooms.
Hopefully Celine has been about long enough to accept a certain familiarity between Hardwicke and her lady on occasion, because the Captain nods to Celine and then promptly moves to gather Lucienne up in a tight, warm hug that lifts her right up off her feet. "Oh, Lulu," he says on the slightest of laughs. "How I missed you."
Unlike her predecessor, Celine isn't one to neglect her post, but she certainly knows when a bend in the rules of propriety is allowed, and when such is not. Though she might raise a careful eyebrow at Hardwicke's embrace of her lady, she keeps quiet, and steps to the hearth to tend a pot of tea. Lucienne can't help but to grin as she's gathered up in the Ser's arms, wrapping her own about his shoulders and giggling freely, much like a child. "I'm getting too big for these hugs," she teases, "But I've missed them, all the same."
"When Rivers brought with him news that you were safe—" But Hardwicke shakes his head and sets Lucienne back down, tucking affectionately at her chin. "You'll never be too big for me to pick up, Lulu." He takes in her face a moment, smiling faintly, and says in a quieter voice, "Thank you. For coming."
"Of course I was safe," she all but scoffs, shaking her own head lightly. "They wouldn't let me out of the Tower for days. I barely even saw a wound, Hardwicke." That's a complaint, right there, however good-natured. Her smile softens, and her head tilts as Luci looks up at the knight, eyes all asparkle for her most admired. "As if I'd miss it. There's nothing in this world could have kept me away, you know that."
"As it should be," Hardwicke says, her complaint dashing against firm resolution. Yes, Luci probably should stay locked up for her own protection. He hesitates on his next thought, watching her, before finally asking, "How did you like her?"
Where he hesitates, Lucienne does not - she's swift to reply, and as honest as her eyes are wide: "She's beautiful. And equally lovely. Hardwicke, she's perfect." Two hands curl around her brush, and Luci brings it up to rest under her chin as she amends wryly, "Well. As close to perfect as there is, after me."
Despite his usual reticence, there is no mistaking the pleasure her words bring him. "Well," he says of her estimation. "I certainly think so, at least, and she seems to put up with me well enough."
"Despite what you seem to think, Ser," says Lucienne, all light and airy mocking to match her smirk, "You're absolutely delightful. The nicest, I do believe. Of course she's smitten, we all are."
"As kind as it is for you to say so, my lady," Hardwicke says, his hands folding behind him, his voice touched with dry humor, "I don't think most people share your — affection."
"Nonsense," says Lucienne firmly, waving her brush around to emphasize it. "Don't think after all these years I don't see what you're doing, fishing for compliments, Ser. I'm a lady grown now, I'll have you know. Come, will you take some tea, or will that keep you too long from your poor bride?"
"I had noticed," Hardwicke says, not without a certain fondness. "I think she can spare me long enough for tea, my lady."
That seems to please the not-so-little lady, who gestures with her brush over to the chairs by the hearth. She leads the way, taking up a spot in her well-worn, favourite chair, whilst Celine is already working on pouring into teacups. "So tell me then, you will march to Seagard. And what of your new wife?"
Hardwicke takes up a seat nearby, settling in slowly and with a certain hint of liquified exhaustion to his muscles. You know. Wedding night. His smile fades at the question. "She will remain here, my lady," he says quietly. "Naturally. I had hoped—" He hesitates again. "It is—a request, really, my lady. That perhaps you might—look after her? If you took her into your service—"
Lucienne takes some care to arrange her skirts just so, and lays her hairbrush in her lap gently. "I see. I… I could do that, certainly," she allows, voice soft, "But I might be between here and Stonebridge, in the meantime. You would commit her to that much travel? Have you spoken to Miss Belle about it? If she'd rather, I'm sure we could see her settled here, perhaps in service to my lady mother?"
"Your mother—" Hardwicke turns his gaze away to Celine futzing with teacups. "She does not — care for Belle, Luci." His words come slow and careful.
First her brows lift, and then Lucienne… she frowns. "Oh," she says, quiet, but blunt. "Ah. Well." A moment is taken to consider this dilemma, whilst Celine brings over a tray with tea and honey, offering it to the knight first.
"Her announcement was quite purposefully timed," Hardwicke says, his quiet holding a hint of rankle. "Trust me." He takes the tea and passes on the honey.
"I'm not sure I take your meaning, Ser," says Lucienne carefully, but she leaves that open for glossing over as she continues, "If Miss Belle would be happier in my service, I'd be delighted to take her." She helps herself to a cup of tea without honey, too, with a smile for the girl offering it.
"She — traveled often," Hardwicke says a bit belatedly, not pursuing the subject of Lucienne's mother. "In Lady Rebekkah Nayland's service. It's how I came to know her. She — seemed to like it." He looks down at his tea a bit awkwardly. "I haven't — asked her about it, no."
"You would prefer I was the one asking, with no hint that you'd ever had a hand in it?" Lucienne presumes, smiling behind her teacup as she lifts it to her lips.
"Well — no, my lady," Hardwicke admits. "That hadn't been my intent. I don't see why it would upset her, me talking to you about it. It's—" He shifts the set of his shoulders and straightens in his seat. "It's my responsibility, to see that she's taken care of."
"Well," says Lucienne, pausing mid-sentence to sip from her cup, then lowering it down closer to her lap. "You make her a fine husband, Ser. If you would ask her, would she like a position in my employ, I would be delighted to look after her. We could look after each other." Which is probably rather the point of all this, isn't it?
Hardwicke belatedly sips from his own cup, less gracefully than Lucienne. "I'm sure she must know her way around the work, coming from Lady Nayland's employ. She does seem to behave herself when — anyone other than me is in the room." One corner of his mouth pulls in the hint of a smirk. "But — thank you, my lady."
"I'm most certain we'll get along famously," Lucienne assures, her hands curled around her teacup, unphased by the heat of the sides. "But won't you want her back, once you're home? That might be a little difficult, if we're in Stonebridge."
"Well—" The skew of Hardwicke's expression suggests that — yes, maybe he will. "I'm sure that once she starts in your service, she won't take kindly to me suggesting she should quit it whenever I'm at home."
"Unfortunately, it isn't quite within my reach to request the Captain of the Guard for my detail," Lucienne murmurs apologetically. "Though I'd dearly like to. Never the mind. I shall do as I can to allow for us to be home and away at the right times, and the rest we will leave up to the Seven."
"Alas," Hardwicke says with a hint of a smile. His dark eyes are warm with affectionate gratitude as he watches her. "Thank you, my lady," he says. "I am — in your debt."
Hasn't she grown, Hardwicke? From the tiniest of screaming babes, through to that reedy slip of a girl, and now a young lady, hiring her own help and sipping tea with newlywed knights. Luci smiles warmly, one thing that's been constant over the last eighteen years they've kept company. "No," she corrects, ever gentle. "I think we might be a little closer to even, now, but the scales are certainly still in your favour, Ser."
"Well." Hardwicke takes another gulp of tea before setting the cup back down. "If you say so, my lady. I am in your service."
"I do say so," Luci insists, lifting her teacup to gesture with it toward the knight - you'd better believe it, buddy. "But tell me now, what of the march to Seagard? You'll be moving out shortly, am I to understand?"
"There will be a meeting today," Hardwicke says, his mouth twisting downwards. "The various captains will — discuss our options and move on from there. I'm certain we'll march as soon as we can."
That all prompts a frown from Lucienne, too, though she nods her understanding. "And are you… truthfully, honestly, Ser, are you optimistic about our chances in combat? Are the numbers in our favour?"
"We have a strong host," is what Hardwicke admits. "And the King is marching."
"Mmmm." Lucienne doesn't sound terribly reassured as she hums, and sips from her tea again. Try harder, Ser.
"We know the land, my lady," Hardwicke tries again. "It is easier to defend than to conquer. They will fall."
Almost. Lucienne's dark eyes are fixed upon Hardwicke, so it might look an odd gesture as she shifts her teacup out and over the arm of her chair - but Celine knows, and comes to retrieve the finished beverage. The little lady measures out a quiet sigh. "Yes," she says. "But will you?"
Hardwicke's gaze is steady on Lucienne's, even as her teacup is spirited away. For a while he is silent in contemplation. Finally, he says, "I will do my utmost to avoid such a fate, my lady."
Uh, uh, uh, says the little twitch in Lucienne's brow. Try again, Hardwicke.
A long, low sigh exhales through his nose. Hardwicke amends. "I will come home safe, my lady. I can't imagine how many people would kill me were I to do otherwise."
There! The smile is mostly in her eyes, this time, Luci's lips pressing a thin line as befits the nature of the conversation. "I will pray everyday that it will be just so," she vows solemnly, adding a decisive nod. Nods are comforting. Nods will help make it just so.