|Page 026: Tea for Two|
|Summary:||Anton joins Lucienne for a cuppa. Yes, a cup of tea.|
|The Entrance Hall is more than two dozen feet high with ornate columns hefting the fresco ceiling above all. Plush seating is arranged around one side for visiting nobility while the other has less comfortable slab stone or wood benches for the peasantry. Alcoves dot the walls for more private discussions and sworn Guards patrol this hall at all times and especially during court. Several hallways and doorways lead off to different areas of the castle with a spiral staircase carved neatly into one corner that winds its way up.|
|Aug 07, 288|
The hawkers have hawked, the Lady Lucienne preferring a long ride about the countryside herself during the outing, and now the morning has worn on into afternoon. Freshly washed and changed, her hair rebraided veiled, she seeks the relative privacy of one of the alcoves in the entrance hall of the tower. Whilst sworn guards patrol here anyway, an extra hovers not far from the lady, standing relatively at ease for all his alertness. A tray of small pastries and tea is set before her, untouched - she attends a page with a quill dipped regularly in the ink bottle also there, writing a list.
Anton missed the hawking, busy with other business and not, in the end, invited, anyway. Not that he seems put off, as he strides into the entrance hall and, after a moment, makes his way towards Lucienne. "Lady," he greets her with a polite bow as he stops before her table, glancing at the pastries and the pen in turn, "I hope the afternoon finds you well?"
The guard standing by clears his throat as Anton approaches, mostly to alert the lady. Thus, she lifts her head before she's greeted, and makes a smile ready. "My Lord," she returns as it blossoms, setting her pen to rest and readying to rise. "It does, indeed. And yourself? I trust our hospitality is fitting, or do you seek to inform me otherwise?"
"Indeed Lady Lucienne, I am sorry to say the hospitality here has been rather lacking in one regard," Anton informs her gravely, "For I had thought I might be graced with more of your company, should I visit, and thus far I have seen you but little, and only very grave. I have hopes, that this matter might be easily rectified."
Brought to her feet, Lucienne's smile fades apologetically as Anton begins his answer. Rather lacking. That is grave indeed… the rest gives rise to a fierce heat in her cheeks, though. She lifts a hand to smile behind it girlishly, and motions to her table with the other. An invite. "My most sincere apologies, Lord Ser," she says, hand floating down to her heart and revealing that smile still intact. "There has been much for me to see to. None so important as the company of our guests, however. Do sit with me?"
Anton smiles in return and nods, "I would be honored, Lady Lucienne, thank you." He waits until she has seated herself before lowering himself to sit as well, saying, "Of course, there has been a great deal for everyone to attend to, it seems, and I am pleased that you are able to spare any time at all to see to matters so much less pressing as these. I heard there was a hawking party this morning?" he says, by way of conversation, "I am sorry I was unable to attend. I am told the countryside around the castle here is quite pretty."
Lucienne takes her seat once more, looking pleased to have been taken up on her invitation. She ignores her list in favour of the knight seated with her. The mention of the hawking party earns a slow nod. "There was, at the Lady Banefort's request. I rode with them for a time, but hawking… is not a passion of mine, I'm afraid." Her smile wanes a little, so she continues speaking. "Some tea, Lord Valentin? If you'd prefer, we can send for some wine," she offers, almost expectantly. "Our countryside is beautiful, I would agree, but then… perhaps I am biased."
"Is it not?" Anton lifts an eyebrow and replies, "I must confess it is not mine, either. In truth, I've never learned. Though you mustn't tell anyone that," he says, lips crooking, "It hardly becomes a lord to lack such elemental training in the noble arts. But come, Lady," he says, leaning back a bit, "What can be numbered among your passions, if there is no place for hawking? And I will take tea, thank you."
Lucienne's eyes widen. No hawking, yes tea? Her smile brightens once more, and she sets about pouring. "I play the harp," she names the first and most ladylike of her pursuits, distracted slightly in her task. She turns the tray to offer the first full cup to Anton, before pouring for herself. "And," she pauses with the teapot to look up, "To some extent, I enjoy dancing. Needlework." The peek of her tongue might suggest an untruth there, as might the duck of her head to finish serving tea. "Walking the markets, riding about our lands. Hearing tales of mysterious knights, when they oblige me?" She trades pot for cup, eyes shifting imploring up at the last.
"The harp," Anton echoes, nodding. He waits until she has poured tea for herself as well before he finally lifts the cup in a little toast, and then sips. "You enjoy dancing only to a certain extent?" he noticed and questions now, "Is that an extent greater or less than that to which you enjoy needlework?" His expression is very faintly teasing, before it is hidden once more behind his teacup.
Amused, Lucienne sees fit to clear her throat. "Yes, only to a certain extent. I rather think my talent for dancing is greater than that for needlework. It's easier to enjoy something you're good at, I suppose." She sips silently at her tea, and presses again, "And you? Not hawking, then. Taking tea with ladies, is that one of your passions?" There's nothing faint about her teasing tone.
"Why that depends entirely upon the lady," Anton replies, deadpan serious as he eyes Lucienne back across the table. After a beat he adds, "And upon the tea." He does not quite wink, but there is a definite glimmer in dark blue eyes, and quirk of his lips before he sips again, and then replies, "It is most certainly easier to enjoy things that you're good at," he agrees. "I imagine you must enjoy a great deal in life, then, Lady Lucienne. You strike me as one of those accomplished young women that I'm told each family strives to produce."
There's the barest hint of a laugh on Lucienne's exhale, the lady clearly charmed. She sets her teacup down on it's saucer, and then the both upon the table, folding her hands gently next to the pair. "I thank you for the generous compliment, my Lord." The flush of pink is back in her cheeks. "You make for most pleasant company. You intend to stay on whilst the business with Ser Gedeon is attended to, then?"
Anton smiles, and bows his head, his cup lifted to her again as he says, "Thank you, lady Lucienne. I am pleased that you think so. Would you like me to stay? I believe your father has been kind enough to extend his welcome, though I understand it is upon you and your mother that most of the burden of guests falls, in truth."
"Guests are no burden," says the lady with a prim dip of her head. "Be assured of that much, Lord Ser. If it would please you, we'd be honored by your continued presence." Rather like a line trotted out regularly, there's no personal commitment in it. Lucienne takes up her teacup and saucer again, and adds in a far sweeter sentiment, "Perhaps in exchange for a tale or two of your Oldstones, I could show you around our lands - the fields, and the seaside."
Anton inclines his head politely. "It is your family that honors me with the invitation," he says in equally-formulaic reply, though his expression shifts faintly as she goes on, and when he nods again it is with another elusive slip of a smile. "That sounds a fair deal, lady. I will take you up on it."
Sip. Lucienne's eyes are bright over the top of her teacup for both replies. Setting her teacup aside again, her smile is warm. "I look forward to it, Lord Valentin. Out there, it's a world away from the stuffiness between these walls. I do hope you'll be as enchanted as I am by our countryside."
Anton glances down at his own teacup, the delicate vessel held carefully in large hands roughened by swordhilts and scars. He looks back up to smile and nod, "I am sure I will find it singularly lovely and charming," he says.
"And if you don't," warns Lucienne good-naturedly, "You should lie through your teeth." There's another breath of a laugh from her, one of a few that come and go as the conversation stretches on over their taking of tea together. A rather stately way the spend the afternoon until necessity bids otherwise.