MUsings

Keeping up Appearances
IC Date: 19th of Adar, 996 NE.
RL Date: March 13, 1998.
Participants: Diar Moderal and Maeve Sherazad.
Locations: Common Room: Silver Star Inn, Cairhien.

Summary: Having just arrived in Cairhien, Maeve and Diar discuss the ... domestic arrangements for the house they have rented in the city, given that the idea -- much to Maeve's annoyance -- is to keep the true nature of their relationship a secret.

Shaking droplets of rain from her hair, Maeve winds her way through the inn, finding a quiet table in a corner for the two of you. Calling upon the attention of a barmaid with a casual wave, she seats herself, a slight frown on her face. “Light, it just _had_ to rain after we stopped to change clothes. And I’d rather be… not so obvious, not here in Cairhien.” Obvious to you at least, what she is talking about. “Now, what next Diar? A nice bed wouldn’t be unwelcome you know.” For once, it seems, she means to sleep in it and nothing else.

Diar shakes out his cloak, as he settles himself down in his seat, drawing back the hood from over his face, still glowering darkly. Going on about a subject that’s troubled him for the last half hour since the arrival at Cairhien’s Foregate he says, “Blood and ashes, taking away my swords—damnation. Not even in Shienar do they strip a man of his swords! And even the daggers—Light blinded foolery. Bloody Cairhienin ...” He goes on like this awhile, even as the barmaid arrives for the orders, which he growls out ... finally he says, “I don’t know. Suppose I should ask after the hostler. Get the key and papers that the merchants left. We’ll stand a drink here though… Damned Cairhienin, at least I managed to get a couple blades through…”

“You just have to keep reminding me, right?” That particular subject just happens to be one Maeve’s tried her best to forget for the last half hour, with little help from you. “Just a few weeks ago I got those knives back, and finally could feel properly dressed again.” She snorts, rather loudly, and flings the light cape she wears back over her shoulders. “if they keep those foolish rules up, I very much doubt our stay here shall be a lengthy one. Cursed fools, as if they think an assassin would wear his weapons openly anyhow.” A dry smirk, and she adds, “And a hidden one they’ll never find, seeing how one of those prudes would never get the idea of checking under a woman’s skirts.”

A snort, and Diar’s mood lightens slightly, as he eyes you across the table. “Yes, no doubt; though be careful, with the license .. you might get your skirts lifted for you in the streets, and then there’ll be some trouble to pay for it.” He glances back to see if the woman is returning with the drinks (she isn’t) and then goes on, “Well, blood and ashes, I say. At least I’ll win that damned blade for best swordsman. I’ll break the bloody thing in half, show them what I think of Cairhienin steel and Cairhienin rules.”

Maeve snorts again at that, flicking a damp curl of auburn hair out of her eyes. “Any man who lifts my skirts without my permission is likely to find himself in very close contact with that knife. Now, if he has permission on the other hand…” From the look in her eyes, no longer just annoyed, it seems as if she might be changing her mind about what to use the bed for. “I trust we need not… keep up the charade inside of the house, yes?” Tilting her head faintly, she regards you in a manner which strongly suggest you ought to agree.

“Ahem ... heh. Well, mrmmm ... I had thought to find a tasty morsel on the streets, someone whose taken in the wine flowing in the streets and whatever else that’ll make her willing. I fear there are times when a man just needs to moun—Well, anyhow. I had thought you had intended the same,” Diar says and asks, an amused expression on his face. And then a brief gesture to silence you as the wine and the cider arrives, and he asks the woman to look about for any packages addressed to himself. She goes off to look as he takes his glass and goes on, “The house does have two bedrooms, just as I asked. To keep up appearances. A sitting room for each and suchlike. You can entertain however many guests you desire.”

“Why, of course Diar. I didn’t say anything about today, did I?” There is, for a moment, a sharp gleam of silvery steel in Maeve’s eyes, but it is gone as quickly as it appeared, her lips curving into a wry smile as she idly hooks one arm over the back of her chair, reaching out for her glass with the other. “We will remain here for a time, yes? So naturally I would be curious about the… ground rules for the house, during our stay. Tonight…” and here she shrugs, smiling quite brilliantly at you, “Pick up as many half-drunk and drunk noblewomen as you please.”

Diar blinks, an instant of surprise and hesitation .. quickly covered up by his usual vague smile as he quickly sips at his wine. “Well, the ground rules of course are to maintain the charade so long as no one else is about—which, my dear, I fear means that after the Feast is ended, there’ll be no more time for it. It’ll be necessary to hire a few servants to prepare meals, clean, run errands, and so on; impossible to hire them while the Feast takes place. And once they’re hired, they’ll be seeking any information to sell in their bloody Game—so, must be wary and conservative. Of course, you can bring in young men, still; they’ll expect that.”

Oh, she doesn’t miss such a reaction, its too unusual not to be noticed. But even so, what you proceed to say makes Maeve forget all about it, for the moment anyhow. “Ridiculous. I will not go along with that.” Much more hotly said this time, proving without a doubt that she isn’t nonchalant about the matter, no matter what she pretends at. “These Cairhienins… the women might do well enough for you, but ...” She snorts, drinking deeply from her cider, then sharply sets it back down. “Have the last weeks been so dreadful for you then, sharing a room… and a bed with me? Was this travel to Cairhien simply an excuse to get rid of me?” Lowering her voice a notch, though no more and it still carries well throughout the room, she adds: “The fault isn’t mine if you’ve felt… unsatisfied.”

“Shhhh!,” Diar says rather loudly, glancing around—for a few eyes to quickly divert themselves. “Damn. Now we’ve fed a fodder to them I’ve no idea how to deal with—” And then the barmaid arrives, carrying a small wrapped box. He quickly takes it, glances about again ... and sighs, conspicuously giving her a gold crown as he tells her, “Make sure someone knows about this package, will you? That it’s been delivered to Diar of House Moderal. Thank you ..” Eyeing him for a moment, she subtly inclines her head before curtsying, “Aye, m’lord.” With that, she moves off, leaving more eyes pondering and considering, for the Game is always in play… “Be quieter, or I’ll leave you in that house alone and spend my time upon the other side of the city, Maeve.”

A dark scowl is the only response to your threats, at first anyhow, as Maeve sullenly retrieves and in one sweep drains her glass of the sweet cider. Grey eyes stare coldly your way, uncaring of who might be watching,, though when she does speak again it is in a more muted, careful tone of voice. “What would the difference be, Diar? You in the house with whatever woman you might have picked up, or you somewhere else? I would have your answer to my question at least, and then I might consider watching my words.” The softness in her voice is deceptive, hiding a steely firmness.

“Then no, it wasn’t dreadful,” Diar says quietly ... amazingly putting on a bright smile and a expression that is decidedly cheerful-seeming as he does so. “And try and look like you’re having a fine time; or sulk, maybe that fits more. As it is, no, not dreadful at all. Rather pleasurable. But. We’ve come here under certain pretenses, and we must, alas, maintain them. For the time being, at least. Perhaps in two or three months…” He shrugs, and takes a long sip of his wine before chuckling again, rather loudly. “Hopefully none of these watchful bastards know how to read lips,” he says with that same false smile.

“We can manage well enough without servants, hire them for when you wish to invite someone.” She does keep her voice down, though her expression remains rather on the dark and stormy side. “I can cook and manage a household, m—father insisted.” Maeve sounds almost… ashamed to admit this, and her sullen look grows no brighter, on the contrary. “And with no one in the house, we can do as we please.” Her mouth sets in a tight line, which moments later mold into a faint smile as she produces a delicate fan of painted lace from inside her bodice. “I know something they’re unlikely to read well… but perhaps you’re a too slow student?”

Another laugh, even if Diar’s eyes seem rater curious, or perhaps more surprised. “Well, no, I think not; I hadn’t thought of that. The language of the fans? Well, that’d be somewhat useful for messages and suchlike… Not very much time to learn now.” And then he falls silent, taking another sip of the wine before setting the glass down and tackling the ribbon holding the box shut. Once it’s opened, he rummages about, naming the contents. “Keys, good. Lease statement ... mrm, yes, all in order… Ahh, directions, perfect. And directions to the factor of the Domani merchant house which so kindly provided the funds. I’ll have to visit them later. Well, good, good.” He shuts it all in the box again, save for the keys which he slips into his pocket before he takes up his glass and takes another drink.

A light, unconcerned shrug as Maeve with a flick of her wrist opens the fan up, starting to slowly fan herself. “Depends on the student. Are you a slow student then… Diar?” A slight pause before she speaks your name, and the silence seems to fill it in with something else, and isn’t ‘brother’, that much is for sure. “I would have thought it ran in the family to be quick learners, or?” A devilish twinkle of silver in her eyes as she regards you, the storms gone but only to be replaced with a far more mercurial, unsettling mood. “I do seem to recall you praising… Well, you know what I mean.”

“Uhm. Yes. We’ll discuss it afterwards. You did say you wanted to sleep,” Diar asks a little hesitantly, or perhaps vaguely nervous as his eyes again look to search out who might be listening or watching too keenly, “Did you not? I think it best if we go seek out the house and have ourselves settled in. Tomorrow, after a good sleep, we’ll see about spending a pair of hours teaching me the language of the fans…” he takes a last, long drink form his glass, emptying it, even before knowing your reply for certain. He fingers the box a moment, before remembering to get hold of the directions from within once more, perusing them.

A soft chuckle, that momentary hesitation not having passed unnoticed by Maeve, and with a playful smile she replies; “Did I? Oh, but I do believe all thoughts of sleep have quite fled my mind. Its early still, and a feastday.” Leaning back in her chair, she idly starts to finger the lacing of her bodice, undoing the top ones and some more. “Should we… find us some company? I mean, unless you want to spend a quiet evening in my company?” From the sly look on her face, and the gleam in her eyes, she’s got a very interesting definition of ‘quiet’ in mind.

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