A conversation over brandy...
A conversation over brandy…
Location: Veronica's Suite in Chantris Manor in Amber
Date: August 5th, 14 (OOC Year 2017)
Summary: Iolion comes to Chantris Manor bearing brandy and wishing to talk to Veronica.
Characters: Iolion and Veronica
NPCs: Bethany, a young house maid assisting Veronica who soon departs

As twilight begins to fade to night there are some people about Amber who may still be eating or even acquiring dinner, but in the manor house occupied by House Chantris Veronica and most of her family have had their evening repast and the young (relative to the view of those native to the city) Mon woman has retired to her suite. She has not yet changed into night robes and so is dressed in an antique ivory ensemble consisting of a matching skirt and bodice which has a subtle floral pattern in faint pastel blues and pinks. She is knitting idly while dictating a list of materials she wants ordered and sent to her shop to a maid… Writing may be an unusual task for a house maid perhaps in most settings but perhaps not so strange in a House full of librarians, and the young woman of perhaps a few more than fifteen years is performing this duty without a complaint.


From just outside the suite there's a quiet conversation. The voices are hard to make out, but it seems to be a late visitor speaking with a guard, followed shortly thereafter by a rapping on the chamber door. "Veronica," comes a familiar voice. "Veronica, I don't know whether to hope you're decent or to hope you're…" The handmaid opens the door at this moment, revealing Iolion on the other side. He stops in midsentence when he sees the age of the handmaiden. "… legal? Hello. Is Veronica in?"

A moment later and Iolion is ushered in, and on his way he dismisses the young woman — politely, it should be said. He's holding a pair of snifters in one hand, and from his satchel the neck of a bottle of brandy peeks out. "Veronica. A pleasure, as always."


After setting aside the doily she was knitting, Veronica stands and approaches her great uncle with a smile. To the maid she says, "Thank you Bethany, I believe that will be sufficient for my needs. Please have them delivered as soon as the goods are available," and then more in attitude than in her words, she politely dismisses the girl who promptly departs leaving the door standing open. Returning her attention to Iolion, Veronica says, "I haven't heard from you since you went off to your party in The Souk. You must tell me how it went," as she directs him to a chair near the one she had so recently vacated.


He takes a seat near her, smiling pleasantly as he sets out the snifters. There's the soft noise of a cork being removed, and the burble of amber elixir flowing down into glasses. "The entire day was a wash. What I was looking forward to in that day was spending a couple of hours drinking wine and dancing with a pretty woman in a slinky black dress. Instead, the wedding ceremony went so long I had to bail on her to run off to an event I didn't especially want to throw and which my mother barely even cared about. I wish I'd been able to stay at the reception with the woman who asked me to be her escort. Always an auspicious thing, when a beautiful woman asks you to accompany her somewhere."


"To be totally honest I didn't stay any longer either," Veronica replies as she takes one of the glasses and holds it up so she can sniff its bouquet. "I am basically a stranger in Amber for all intents and purposes after all," she explains as her expression becomes one of inquiry, the subject of that clearly being the brandy as she tries to place the scent she detects.


The brandy is a potent one: decadent notes of caramel with a hint of smoke, some sort of fruit then coming out ahead of the bouquet of fire, ultimately merging into the exotic profile of a fine distilled spirit. "Still, I … regretted ending our night when I did. I wished to apologize, so. I've come to say I'm sorry. Which is to say —"

He has the good grace to appear a little flummoxed by his own reaction here. "I've been in Amber too long; it's impossible to just apologize directly. I'm sorry, Veronica. I wanted to show you the evening you deserved, and I did not."


Veronica laughs. Not a cruel laugh meant to belittle her friend and relative but a warm, inclusive one meant to express a kind dismissive feeling regarding this apology. With a smile she says, "You don't need to apologize, Iolion, you had a commitment and had informed me of it well in advance." She sips at the brandy and mmms before saying, "That's nice. A bit of a bite, but still nice."


"I find my star is rising within the Court. Soon, Deirdre will be choosing a Master of Revelries — or a Mistress. I … may be under consideration for it. If so, your desire to join it may be under reconsideration." A hint of sparkle appears in the corner of his eyes as he lifts his own snifter and delivers a witticism just before consuming a sip. "Especially if you call me 'Master'."


An eyebrow is raised in question as the corners of Veronica's mouth curl up in sarcastic way even before she speaks. "And in how many of our interactions, dear Iolion, have I shown you signs of being submissive in that way?" she asks with a playfully biting tone of voice.


"Ought I answer honestly, or ought I say I look forward to finding out?" he answers, just as good-humoredly, albeit a very faint note of caution is present: they're dancing the edge of a part of their history they don't often speak about — although, judging from his good-humored mien, he isn't averse to such a conversation: he just wishes to ensure it doesn't happen by accident.


Veronica shakes her head as she quietly laughs and then says, "I think that I'll find out what your official term of address would be and use that… as much as it'll irk you." She then adds, "But seriously, congratulations on your rise in standing," before taking another sip of the brandy.


"Do I treat you honorably, Veronica?" The question is a bit of a jolt, but it's delivered in a tone of quiet seriousness. Iolion doesn't seem to fear the answer, however. "It's not as if we're a couple. Much as we'd … if things were different they'd be different; but they're not different, they're what they are. But recognizing that is no reason to …"

He stops, then abruptly shakes his head. "Perhaps it makes sense only to me; but even though we are not something, I want to show you respect and courtesy such that if we were you'd feel I was … I was treating you right."


"I would say that you do not treat me dishonorably, Iolion," Veronica replies unmockingly. She continues by saying, "I consider you a friend more than a relative and despite your mother's concerns a separation of four generations is actually very distant," in such a way that it is clear she isn't suggesting anything, simply stating a genealogical fact.


"I concur that we are at a fairly deep consanguineal remove. Mordred and I share a quarter of our blood; his child, your parent, shares an eighth with me; you, a sixteenth — the same as if we were half-first cousins. Which, ironically, places our consanguinity at the same I hold with, say, Giselle or Carmichael — not that I have aims on them, either. Giselle made a bon mot the other day, where she declared she refused to date cousins not because of consanguinity but because she knows how deranged we are. A quite possibly wise policy."

He studies her for several moments, not sharing his thoughts. Instead, he takes another sip of brandy to focus his thoughts. "I'd likewise be lying if I said I had any avuncular feelings towards you. It is the role Deirdre insists I take, and I aim to not do a terrible job of it. But, in truth … my sentiments are quite different from that."


"I concur that we are at a fairly deep consanguineal remove. Mordred and I share a quarter of our blood; his child, your parent, shares an eighth with me; you, a sixteenth — the same as if we were half-first cousins. Which, ironically, places our consanguinity at the same I hold with, say, Giselle or Carmichael — not that I have aims on them, either. Giselle made a bon mot the other day, where she declared she refused to date cousins not because of consanguinity but because she knows how deranged we are. A quite possibly wise policy."

He studies her for several moments, not sharing his thoughts. Instead, he takes another sip of brandy to focus his thoughts. "I'd likewise be lying if I said I had any avuncular feelings towards you. It is the role Deirdre insists I take, and I aim to not do a terrible job of it. But, in truth … my sentiments are quite different from that."


At the mention of her grandfather, Veronica frowns slightly. She then tilts her head to the left and studies Iolion for a few moments. She then says "I know she is your mother and all," before asking, "Why does her opinion on this rule your life?"


"'Rule' is a strong word. The fact is this: for possibly thousands of years to come, she will be with us. I'm as long-lived as her: with luck, I have a few millennia ahead of me. This … changes the incentives for many things. If I undertake a course of action that will damage our relationship for centuries, I need to make sure the act is worth the price I'll be paying. It is not that I refuse to consider the possibilities of … us. I do. It's that there will be a steep price to pay. I want to make sure I do not pay it lightly. And this … this works out well for you, I think. In that I find myself thinking about you, and realizing I do not want to take you lightly, either."

He's silent there for a few seconds, not shying away from eye contact. Clearly he doesn't like cutting himself to the emotional bone and placing the white on display; just as clearly he's not complaining in this case, either. "And until I … until we … decide. It does me no harm to play the diligent son respecting his mother's wishes."


She smiles, nodding to indicate her understanding of this sentiment towards one's mother. Veronica sips at her brandy again, finishing the glass. "The possibilities are likely just that… and not because of Deirdre, because to me she is just a Princess of Amber who happens to be the mother of my grandfather and a good friend. So… I can understand respecting your mother's wishes however."


"Then what are they because of?" he inquires gently. "Assuming that your reasons are … are something a gentleman might inquire about. If you wish to keep them private, I will respect that."


Veronica laughs. "A part of it is to respecting your wishes and comfort… so in that way Deirdre's wishes affect it…," she says before reaching for the bottle and pours some more brandy into her glass, filling it only about half way. She then, after setting the bottle down, swirls the fluid around the glass and ponders for a moment and then says, "The other reasons I thank you for respecting my desire to keep them to myself."


"And there's also the … temptation … to make a relationship between us a covert thing, a secret thing, something to be hidden, lest we incur Deirdre's wrath. I assure you, she does feel like she has the authority to forbid such things, and her reaction would not be positive. To say the least. So we'd each go into it saying, well, it's all right: we'll just keep it quiet. But that would do us a wrong, I think, by … by treating us as if we'd be a wrong. We deserve better than that. So … no. I could not even entertain the idea unless we were both committed to doing so openly, and bearing the consequences that come with it, whatever they might be."

He gives a slight sigh, then looks over towards her with a … a look of wry amusement, really. "In light of all the obstacles, I hope you feel flattered by how close I am to saying 'to hell with all that'."


"I am flattered, Iolion," Veronica says, inclining her head as she speaks. She taps the side of her glass for a moment and says, "You should be aware that your comments about your mother are not doing much to encourage me to increase the amount of association I have with her."


"Were it possible for me to diminish my association with her, I would. But the mother-and-child thing is hard to walk away from." He gives a slight shrug, then drains the last of his brandy. "She has virtues. At times she can be loving. But she can also be capricious, manipulative, and scheming. To say nothing whatsoever of controlling. For all these reasons, I do not seek to encourage you to affiliate more closely with her. If that is your wish, I'll do my best. But .. I do not encourage you in this."


Veronica's normal smile melts into a confused frown for a moment as she has a mishear occur and then she nods. "I honestly cannot say," she says. "It doesn't hurt that she has made a mountain out of a molehill with the fact that I took a job seven years ago from her sister." She then sighs and shakes her head and then finally shrugs.


Iolion grimaces at this. "Petty. I forgot to add petty. I'm sorry, Veronica." He's quiet for a few more moments, then gives himself a shake and rises from his seat. "I ought be leaving. The hour grows late."


Veronica nods and stifles a yaw behind a raised hand. She indicates the bottle of brandy with a slight nod and says, "Don't forget your brandy," before also adding, with a smile, "Thanks for the visit, Iolion."


On his way past her, he places his hand on her shoulder; then, lightly tracing a line over her bare collarbone with a fingertip, the hand comes up to caress her jaw and tilt her head upwards to look at him. He stands six feet and some; she's sitting. The height difference is significant, and after just a moment he realizes this is not what he ought be doing. So he crouches, the better to look at her on her own level, to show the respect of not peering down at her.

His hand on her jaw slips around to sink into her hair, drawing her in for a chaste set of kisses: to her forehead, her cheek, the corner of her mouth, all the while careful to neither linger nor permit them to become what they mustn't. "There are so many things in life worse than meeting someone you mustn't fall in love with," he says after a moment. "Like not meeting you at all, for instance. We are not a couple. We likely won't be. But don't for a moment think I'm …"

He stops, smiles slightly. "We do not have a romance. But don't for a moment think you're unloved, or that this doesn't confuse me mightily. Good night, Veronica. Enjoy your bottle of brandy."

And with that — he departs.

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