|Scandal In The Making|
|Summary:||Lord Ser Anton returns to the Roost. Lady Lucienne leads him astray.|
|Related Logs:||A few old ones tagged Lucienne and Anton.|
|Stables and Kennels, Terrick's Roost|
|Horses. Puppies. People who need to keep a better eye on Lady Lucienne. O snap!|
|September 21, 288|
The morning grows late at Terrick's Roost, and as midday rolls around the stables are for the most part empty. Lucienne is finishing up with the grooming of her horse, a task her handmaiden has no interest in. The plump young Hattie lingers at the entrance to the barn, chatting with the guards there instead of hovering by her lady.
Whether he intends to follow in the footsteps of Ryker Nayland or not, Lord Anton Valentin arrives without having sent ahead word of his coming. The arrival of the gigantic black destrier in the stables announces him here, at least, led in by a stable boy, the lord following after. He's clad as usual in a blue so dark it's nearly black, and he brushes dust from his shoulders as he strides in. The guards at the door get a nod, and then he watches for a moment as Lucienne grooms her horse before greeting her, "Lady Lucienne. Good morning."
Lucienne is paying more attention to her deep brown gelding than to the comings and goings in the stables, working a handcomb through his mane and crooning sweet nothings to him. Thus, it's only at the sound of Anton addressing her that she turns her head - first the wrong way, and then the right - to spot him. She blinks her eyes wide with surprise, freezing in her spot. Should she smile? She does, and softly exclaims, "My Lord!"
Anton smiles faintly at Lucienne's rapid turn and surprised expression. "I startled you," he says, "I apologize. I hope the day finds you well, lady?"
"No," she replies, waving the handcomb dismissively. "It's - don't apologize. I hadn't heard word that you'd be returning? What a pleasant surprise." Gulping down a nervous breath, Lucienne's tongue peeks out between her lips to wet them slightly, and she blushes. "Did you… I hope you weren't offended by my letter."
"I'm sure the guard had some word, I didn't exactly sneak through the grass," Anton says, again with that faint, and faintly feline sort of smile, "But no, I had not sent word otherwise. Which was rude of me, I apologize. But I intend to stay in town, and not trespass upon your hospitality on such short notice." At the flicker of tongue and hint of blush, he smiles a bit once again, and then tilts his head and shakes it, replying, "I was not offended, no. It was a very polite letter."
Ticker, the horse, shifts one of his back legs and dips his head a little, perhaps sensing his grooming session come to an end. Lucienne 'ah's and gives a short nod for the apology, faintly disappointed. As for her letter - "It's rather difficult to compose a letter to someone I've never written before, nor given any inkling I would. I…" She falters, eyes darting around nervously, landing anywhere but the knight. The guards, at the door. Her handmaiden, animatedly engaging them in her retelling of a story. Her horse. And then… Anton. She gestures only with her eyes, and the smallest jerk of her head: follow?
Anton watches Lucienne, Ticker's movement not drawing his gaze aside. He waits patiently as she ahs and again as she falters, apparently inclined to wait until she finds words once more, without interjecting. That subtle gesture, however, draws the faintest tilt of his head, and, looking somewhat intrigued, he follows.
She leads her horse back to his stall, first, settling him in there with a few murmured praises, then surreptitiously glances about to place where the other stablehands are at. The next stall down is empty, and that's where her steps carry her, light as a feather. Within, she presses her back up to one of the sidewalls and heaves a quick breath. "We can't tarry here," she whispers, shaking her head, her smile gone. "So just tell me - why did you come back?"
Anton still looks intrigued as Lucienne picks out an empty stall, trailing quietly behind her as she does, watching as she clings to the wall and whispers. His lips quirk, and he replies in an equally low tone. "To speak with your father, lady," he says, "Though that is no secret. Nor, I think, is it a secret what I hope he and I might agree on, nor still the fact that he seems unlikely to do so." He glances about and adds, "So why are we hiding? You will get me into trouble." He does not sound concerned, however, so much as amused.
Lucienne blushes again, a brighter shade of red this time, picking up on that amusement. "Maybe I'm trying to," she retorts, her brown eyes set upon Anton's. "Jaremy was stupid, and they'll give you money for your castle, or trade for your goods, or whatever else it is you want. Why did you pick me?"
Anton smiles wider at the blush, and that retort, a flash of teeth as he moves closer. He's tall enough he doesn't really have to loom, the height difference giving that impression already, even while he's still safely feet away. "Why do you think?" he asks, watching her closely.
"I don't know," says Lucienne, tilting her head up that she might keep hold of eye contact as Anton moves closer. She frowns, her hands clenching fists against the wall at either side of her. "That's why I'm asking."
"You can't see why you would be of value to me?" Anton inquires, a dark brow arched and lifted, "Mmm. You are a lady of good name and good breeding, with experience directing a household. You are well mannered, well educated, and beautiful. Why should any man not wish to marry you?"
Lucienne's cheeks are still red, and she blinks a few times, longer than necessary. "But," she points out, pushing off the wall to take a step forward, "The Mire is closer, and they've already begun cementing a relationship with Oldstones. I am not the only lady of good name and good breeding in the Riverlands, Lord Anton. Why me?"
"Because," Anton replies, eyes never leaving Lucienne as she steps closer, "I chose you. There are not so many ladies in the Riverlands of good name and good breeding who are also lovely, and pleasant, and active, and quick-minded. And not timid, either," he adds, smirking faintly, "Apparently."
There's an echo of that smirk to be found upon Lucienne's features, just briefly - her next question is of the serious kind. "What will you do if they deny you?"
"They won't deny me outright," Anton replies with a shake of his head, "If they were going to do that, they'd have done it. They'll put me off. And I'll ask again." His head tilts, and he watches her for a brief moment, though in the little time they are alloted it seems proportionally a much longer pause. "And if I were to ask you instead of them, lady? I've said a great deal, and you very little."
Lucienne's chest puffs up with a deep breath in, which she holds under Anton's gaze. She speaks before she sighs, her brows lifting in curiosity. "Didn't you read my letter?"
Anton lowers a hand into a pocket, and plucks out her favor, holding the slender braid between his fingers as he replies, "I did. In it you say you hope for my regard and return, but that any effort to gain your hand would be a difficult road and a long wait, with no guarantee of success. I find myself wondering, then, Lady Lucienne. What will you do if they deny me?"
The appearance of her favor from his pocket draws another smile from Lucienne, this time without giving bloom to a blush within her cheeks. Emboldened, she bridges another step toward Anton, and answers, "I will marry whomever else is chosen for me, of course. I am an obedient daughter, the very treasure of my House - and as such, I have more say in the matter than other ladies might. I have given you my favor, but I have yet to convince my father and brothers that I would delight in being your wife, my lord. Would I? Would you see to that?"
"Of course," Anton echoes. His lips curve and shakes his head, "Likely not at first. We both know your family is informed as to the state of Oldstones currently," he says, faintly dry, before going on, "I cannot pretend it would not be a significant change. But it is not as bad as, I suspect, it has been made out to be, either. And it will not always be as it is. I think that together, we could do a great deal. And it is my hope that you might enjoy achieving that with me. Whether you would delight in being my wife in other regards is a question I believe only you can answer."
Lucienne's eyes shift downward, seeming to consider what else there is of the man in front of her as he speaks. She wets her lips again, with just the very tip of her tongue, before lifting just her eyes to his. "I should," she begins, cutting the sentence with a bite down on her lower lip, hinting at the forbidden. Her lashes flutter closed, and she takes a deep breath in before forcing them open again to finish: "I should like to find out?"
Anton watches Lucienne's gaze wander, and his own takes in that lip wetting and biting and the lash fluttering and the deep breath. He licks his own lip, briefly, and swallows as he leans forward, and down. And forward, and down, and further still, until his face is level with hers. He veers off at the last second, turning just ever so slightly off to the side. His cheek almost grazes hers, and his breath is warm against her ear as he says quietly, words soft and teasing, "Is that why you've lured me here? Away from your watchers, so you can test my virtue?"
All that leaning forward and down, and forward, and down… Lucienne tips her chin up invitingly, and lets go of a sharp breath as she's cheated of a kiss. "Y-" She starts to quiver, stuttering back her answer in just an uncertain whisper, "Yes?"
Anton chuckles at that response, and lifts his head. He straightens up to look down at her, clearly amused still, and makes her wait for a moment as if asking and laughing at the answer was all he planned to do. Then, abruptly, he leans back down once again, thumb and bent forefinger holding her chin up and still for the kiss.
Lucienne frowns up at Anton, much like a petulant child might, for all his amusement at her actions. Her hands, still fists by her sides, tighten. She might even have been about to tell him off, when suddenly he bends to her again to kiss her, the return of her smile unmistakable.
If the entire purpose of this exercise was to get Anton to kiss her, then Lucienne has now achieved her objective. It is not an overly long kiss nor an especially deep one, but neither is it a shy peck or a chaste press. When he draws back his hold on her chin lingers, and he tips it up to look at him when he's upright. "Well?"
The young girl before Anton, having secured her kiss from the knight, continues to smile as he holds her face up to his. "I can hardly tell from just one kiss," says Lucienne, taking a deep breath that she might avoid yet another flush of pink in her cheeks.
Anton laughs at that, a hand lifted, the side of his fist pressed to his mouth to stifle it lest the sound of his laughter draw eyes their way. "Can't you?" he replies, "I must have done it wrong." Plainly amused, still, he kisses her again. It is deeper than the last, and involves a hand on the small of her back pressing her close against him, but is still brief, and then he steps back. "And that is as much as you will get from me without a proposal, lady," he says, wagging a finger at her, "I am an honorable man, after all."
Lucienne's eyes widen as Anton laughs into his hand, and she darts a worried glance over to the door of their stall. Her fists unball as he bends to her again, though they're unsure of what else to do - and by the time she decides one might be well-placed at the Knight of Oldstones' hip or arm, he's stepping back from her. She places one over her mouth instead, to hide her grin, and contain a giggle of her own. "Go," she urges him, "Before we're caught. I'll hold you to that horseride now that you're back, you know."
"You drive a hard bargain, Lady Lucienne," Anton says, shaking his head, amused still, "You have had everything you asked of me, today, and you will have that ride as well, and in return I still have not heard whether you will speak to your father or not."
"You have been most obliging, my Lord Anton," she agrees, dropping her hand to press it to her chest atop the other one. Lucienne is still smiling, and she twists a little, darting her eyes up to the roof as though considering. "I think," she draws out the syllable, her gaze shifting back down as she concludes, "I might be able to do that."
"Then I think," Anton draws out the word in the same fashion, "That I might be able to take you up on that ride. Perhaps sometime tomorrow morning. In the meanwhile, I should allow myself to be announced officially, lest people think I slipped in in secrecy. I look forward to speaking with you later, Lady Lucienne."
Ah, so a deal is struck! Lucienne nods, just the once, a deep gesture with her head. "Tomorrow morning, perhaps," she agrees. "I'll look forward to it as well, my lord." The lady curtsies, as is proper, and waits for Anton to retreat first.