Cascabel, Divale


Another chance meeting and pretending they don't truly know each other beyond casual acquaintance…


It is midmorning of the thirteenth day of the third month of the thirteenth turn of the 12th pass.


The Tea Room, Igen Weyr

OOC Date 11 Feb 2018 05:00


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The Tea Room

This shop is easy to miss from the street. It bears the same striped awning that most shops have, this one in shades of lilac and sand, but it has no sign save for a plaque of sandstone hung beside the door, on which a teacup has been carved. When open, the heavy curtain that covers the doorway is pulled aside to allow entry. After stepping through, one will find themselves in a tiny space decorated with classic desert touches.

The walls are whitewashed to increase the sense of light within but the floor is tiled in hues of blue and green, with each tile bearing in its center a brilliant red lotus. There are only five small tables, all of them of dark, heavily carved wood set low to the ground. To sit at one requires reclining on the plethora of pillows and cushions and layered rugs provided for that purpose; each seat is provided with a carved wooden back-prop to rest the pillows against, for those who want spinal support. Tea is served from the service at the rear of the room, where a tiny smokeless hearth keeps water heated, and a row of trays are kept loaded with teapots, tiny cups, and containers for sweetener. There is a small selection of fruits, breads and cheeses also available for those looking for a snack but this is not a place for heavy meals.

Midmorning finds Igen enjoying another mild, but clear sky spring day. Far in the distance, some storm clouds loom but they shouldn’t be a concern until much later. Finding herself unable to sleep, Divale’s day started much earlier than she’d prefer but the Wingsecond did not spend it idle. Now with some time to spare still, the brownrider quietly makes her way to the Tea Room, where she finds it sparsely populated. Perfect! After setting an order for her usual black spiced tea and a small tray of fruit and cheese, she’ll chose her resting spot in the farthest nook and corner where she is guaranteed some form of privacy (and faces out into the room with no one behind her). Just as she plucks a small piece of fruit Mercy, her gold firelizard, arrives and churrs smugly as she settles behind Divale. No doubt returning from a successful errand (or summon!), as Divale looks equally as subtly pleased.

As a — nice? — surprise, Cascabel was already present in the Tea Room when the Parhelion 'second and then her firelizard arrived. Some days her household doesn't need her right away, and when she isn't feeling needed she ventures out — out, but not far, making the allied family of Steen's snacking establishment a good place to land. She's been sampling teas on and off, being treated like a respected bazaar woman with a wealthy husband by the waitstaff, getting to try new things, and definitely snacking. It's almost annoyed the staff how many little fruit salads she's had. Unveiled, it's easier to see around her, and she notices Divale's entrance but waits a good five to ten minutes before standing to walk over to where the brownrider sits. She doesn't help herself to a seat, but hovers nearby with a fruit bowl in one hand, awaiting invitation or the kind of expression that tells her to go away.

That she did not pick up on Cascabel’s presence is going to bug Divale for sometime after this meeting! As it is, the only look the young woman receives at first is a startled one — a rare feat, really. That soon gets smoothed to her usual shadowed neutrality and there is a polite gesture of her hand in invitation for her to sit. “Make yourself comfortable,” she muses, in the same manner as she would most. It’s equally as galling that she has to ‘pretend’ out here that she and Cascabel do not share a very lengthy and convoluted past. She’s only just begun to come to terms with this change in her life. Having this moment between them is almost too surreal and unsettling and Divale has to resist the urge to let anxiety and past ghosts chase her away.

Presumably, either they'll learn or they will get to the point where the pretence isn't important. Either way, Cascabel shrugs one shoulder up and smiles — a brighter smile than she was giving when stuck outside in the cold — before taking that seat across from Divale. Not next to, and not trying to find a hint of physical contact even if that's something she finds comfort in; she certainly got more affection from Divale in five minutes than she's otherwise had in at least a turn. "If you don't mind," she says, though she's already sitting down. "I can go back to what I was doing if it's …" 'Easier' falls off her lips, lost in uncertainty. Maybe she also feels guilty for being hard to spot when playing tea-taster for an entire house.

“No, this is fine.” Divale amends and while her smile is anything but bright, it does at least meet her eyes and give some warmth for someone as sharp as Cass to pick up on. Her tea remains held between her hands, almost largely forgotten for the moment. “I didn’t think you frequented the Tea Room but I should have known better.” It sounds like it was meant to be slightly teasing but falls a bit flat. Darting a look about the room, some tension bleeds from her posture when she realizes that it truly is only them in this corner and the waitstaff have given them considerable berth of “privacy”. Not that Divale is about to cuddle up to Cascabel, as THAT will no doubt draw immediate attention. “You have been well?” she asks, as neutrally as possible. Just idle chit-chat, folks! Even if it sets Divale on edge that they cannot talk the way she desires to.

There's a lot of privacy in the odd publicness of the Tea Room, almost as if it were designed that way. Cascabel smiles softly, relaxing and putting another piece of fruit in her mouth. It's only when she's finished nibbling that she says, "I taste, sometimes. Eryem's spices are used," she says thoughtfully, "sometimes, and I also purchase bags for home, so it's best if I get to try them made by masters. Also an easy place to get out of the house." They don't live far away at all, and Cas avoids her own married-in family's shop most of the time. "Yes, I'm — fine, at least as much as I have been. Probably a little better than the norm." While this might be faint praise for the situation she's been in, having a ghost of a friend around does make it a little easier. And she has new secrets to cling to, somewhere in there.

Divale grimaces in obvious distaste at the name of Cascabel’s husband and doesn’t bother to mask it, except for when she lifts the rim of her mug up to her lips. By the time she has finished, her features have fallen back to schooled control. “I am surprised he allows you to dabble in some of his business,” she mutters low and not without some hardened edge. There is zero respect for this man, who is supposedly wed to the young woman before her. She doesn’t need to meet him either to know that she will outright hate the man. “It’s good that you are well and in good health.” There is that, at least! Oh, but what Divale doesn’t know!

"He knows nothing about tea," Cascabel, who knows lots about tea and was even known to make her own blends as one of Hellebore's eagerest non-related shadows, says hesitantly but proudly, and then she drops her voice lower to add in a more conspiratory-but-amused tone, "He is also very bad at math." Which she also is far from being, even if Divale had to teach her how to read. "Good enough. I am — I have been sick to my stomach a little, but I think it's all right now." She may not look amused anymore, but she doesn't at all look unhappy, either. Blandly content, maybe. She's making up her mind about this one.

Now there is a wry smirk that follows that statement by Cascabel — Divale remembers both the girl’s talent for tea making and math. “Has your reading improved, then or am I to be ashamed of my earlier attempts to teach you?” She’s teasing her now, in careful hushed tones and unable to resist making a reference to their shared past. “Knows spices, but not his herbs and cannot count or do his sums worth a damn? You poor thing.” Sarcasm, at its finest! Cascabel’s honesty in her ‘upset stomach’ has Divale looking up sharply from where she’d been eying some of the cheeses and instantly her gaze narrows suspiciously. “Any other symptoms?” Not as blunt or forward, but she may as well have just blurted it out.

Cascabel has to think about it for a second, but when she does, she answers the second question first: "Not yet, but I'm — paying attention. It won't be as bad as the first time," confirms that there was a first time, that it apparently wasn't good, and that she isn't displeased about the idea of a second time … quite. "So I couldn't use the same solution, and might have to come up with another plan, but — anyway, that is for — later, it's too soon. Now …" The bright eyes are back, even if they look a little shamed. "My reading is probably about the same. You did fine, I just don't read much besides tea names and numbers. Some spices. My father-in-law doesn't really let me touch the books, even if I think Eryem wishes he would so we had more control." 'We,' but really 'him,' because she's his property. She's used to it and doesn't apparently have fondness or distaste at present.

Not an answer Divale wanted to hear; there is a lot more information there than the simple ‘yes or no’ she’d expected. “What happened?” The first time. Soft spoken, but cautiously so. While they’re in the illusion of privacy, she’s no fool. Solution? That earns Cascabel a hard look; not in disapproval, but more of concerned alarm. “Many of those come with high risks.” she mutters but leaves the topic to drift there. Too much of this is personal and not fit for public spaces! That she uses ‘we’ and not ‘him’ isn’t lost on the brownrider and as much as it pains her, she doesn’t correct her. Save, except, to inquire: “Does he treat you well?” In a tone that suggests that Cass can be as honest as she wishes.

"It just … wasn't a good time. Too much unsettled, economic instability, Thread destroying everything we had to eat, you know," Bazaar life can suck sometimes, and Cascabel was no stranger to it, even if she was kept sheltered. "I was fine. Careful and fine. Clearly all in working order," and maybe that's why she's pleased with her suspicion, more than anything. "He will treat me better now," she adds, almost proudly. "Not that he treats me … poorly, most of the time, but I think usually he forgets me." She doesn't like to be forgotten; it isn't as if she thrives on attention or has much of an ego, but she's always wanted to matter in a way of her own choosing, and being set aside easily so often isn't satisfying that. "Not for other women, because then he would be dead," Is that a joke? It sounds like a joke, it sounds teasing, really, "but for work and drinking and betting. Men being men."

“Will it ever be?” A good time. A question that has so many different meanings and so many different answers. All of which that Divale leaves completely open for Cascabel to answer as she pleases. She frowns, “It shouldn’t matter if you are or not, for him to treat you with kindness.” Though coming from her, that comment is laughable. Is it a joke? Divale’s not laughing, though some humour shows in the quirk of her mouth to a vague smirk. “Men do not need to drink and bet but fall to such vices from weakness.” She’s no better, really but that’s not what is up for debate! Silence falls as she nurses her tea for a few long seconds and picks at some of the food. Her focus, however, is clearly divided and she has no shame or hesitation in asking her next prompt. “You love him?”

It's a good thing that, if anyone is looking, Cascabel has control over her expressions even with her guard relatively down, because she doesn't laugh. "No," she says instead, without hesitation. "Love comes from someone who wants to be by your side always, accepts when he can't be, and isn't so forceful about getting what he wants only when he wants it." And yet that, too, seems like a topic that unphases her. "But I could certainly have ended up with a lot worse. I've seen a lot worse here, and his friends — their wives always look beaten down and scarcely seem to eat or drink, and they'll slap them in public." In public. Eryem would never lay a hand on her in public. "The fact that I do not love him doesn't mean I want to be neglected, though."

Again, all the answers and more than necessary or bargained for! Divale’s expression does not shift much, but there is a hardness to her eyes now and a deepening darkness that lingers there. “You’re concerned on being neglected?” She doesn’t mean to sound harsh, but the abrupt realization of Cascabel’s situation has her being far more blunt. Her emptied mug is set aside, while her gaze remains fixed on the other woman. “I did not think you’d love a man not of your choosing.” But neither would she have expected her to submit — an unfair judgement given that not all are like Divale who would have fought such a match to a very bitter end.

"… yes?" Cascabel values her own life, and could be said to be selfish only in that she actually wants to be alive. She wouldn't choose death over the situation she got, and that might have been where she ended up. But this is the life she's used to, and this is what she expects of it. Being handled roughly, being slapped? This is the way of life. "I would prefer to actually be wanted rather than tolerated, even if it weren't where I'd be if I had the choice to be wherever I wanted." Which, she has long since realized, she doesn't even know. If she could be wherever she wanted, where would she be? A mystery.

Divale would choose death, if it came to that. That option is barred to her now, but she has a reason (a very BIG one) not to even approach that thought. But there came a time, not long ago, where she briefly considered it when she’d faced life outside of the Underground again and found herself adrift in a strange, strange world and not too thrilled with the options waiting on her. “Cass…” Her name is but a whispered breath. “You’ve bigger concerns than just being forgotten. I would not forget.” Her. She never has, even if circumstance made it impossible for her to find her in time. Mercy stirs behind her and, without sound, takes wing and pops Between, leaving Divale to sigh. “… I cannot linger here much longer. I’ve duties to attend.” With great reluctance, now that she is angrily seething over Cascabel’s situation but finds herself bound and incapable of helping.

"I don't expect you did," Cascabel says, and she's very certain in the way she says it: she doesn't doubt that Divale remembered her, and remembered everyone else, too. The names she doesn't speak because she doesn't like to look weak enough to cry (even if, of the two of them, the one who is more likely to cry is always going to be her). "Nor do I ever think you will. That you have no cause to worry about. Don't worry about having to do your job, either," she offers more softly, compassionately, "Just take one of these before you do." It's a fresh slice of nectarine. It's good. It's not poisoned or anything.

Eventually they’ll have to have that talk, which will be hellishly unpleasant and not even Divale wishes to go through it all. Now is not the time, however. Better to build a foundation here, so that when she does meet Cascabel in private it’s not so suspiciously unusual as to why a random Bazaar wife of a spice merchant would be of interest to a Parhelion Wingsecond. Never before has she been so utterly frustrated and anxious over her dual life. If there is anyone who should worry of poison, here? It’s Cass. Thus the nectarine is taken with a faint smile that holds a sliver of warmth to it. “Thank you. You’re welcome to the rest.” Her hand flicks to the remainder of the cheese and fruit on her tray, as she stands. “Clear skies.” And, to complete the ruse: “Your company is always welcomed. Perhaps we’ll cross paths again.” Of course they will! With that said, Divale dips her head and, before her will escapes her, takes her leave.

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