In Silver: Home at Last

His official obligations to Brisbane may now be considered discharged, as the Ambassador had finally arrived safely in Chanicut territory. Yet Kendall still sees to his Elder's comfort and desires as he is able, whether Brisbane decides to stay in Silver for a time or continue immediately through the ways to the main Chanicut holdings. Arrangements for the Countess Anira and her sister must be made, and Kendall must play host for a time. The Rhercyn must be unloaded and the crew attended to, and word sent to his father of their arrival. Even though the fine details of all these chores might fall to others, he must be on hand to make sure all is completed with the required exactitude.

So he and the princess part ways for a time, with she and her small retinue led away to her chambers by trusted Chanicut servants of the manor. He remained on hand to oversee the unexpected arrangements necessitated by a ship, a sick Countess, and numerous other details. He manages the bustle of activity and responsibility with a quiet aplomb, not at all aware of how changed he appeared to those of his House. Gone was the flippant, flighty, sometimes rogueish boy of yore. Instead, a quiet and grounded young master saw to his duty without complaint, cutting corners, or giving thought to his own relaxation.

When all that could be accomplished right away had been handled, though, he takes the opportunity to check on his young guest. Kendall felt the need to make sure the staff was treating her with all appropriate respect, and not like just any unranked floozy that he might have brought in from one of the Black Zone territories. Leaving word with the Seneschal of the Manor, he makes his way to the guest wing.

The door to the princess' suite opens to reveal one of the closemate servants who immediately curtsies to her Lord. "I am here to see the Lady Margot, if she is awake and disposed to receive me," he tells the servant.

"Of course, m'lord," she answers, her eyes downcast as proper. "Please come in and I will convey your request to her." She steps aside so that he could enter, closing the door behind him.

Leaving the Lord in the reception area, Sulwyn returns through the bedroom to the bathing room door. Her words are muffled by distance, but he can still hear her say, "M'lady, Lord Kendallarithan requests to see you."

The princess' response is inaudible, but the servant reappears within 10 heartbeats to say simply, "M'Lady will receive you here. Please make yourself at ease."

"Very well," he acknowledges. He chooses an overstuffed chair, only to discover the qur he had given to Margot sleeping on a cushion. The tiny creature wakes up, yawning and blinking at him sleepily, then perks up as it recognizes its former Lord. It quickly begs for a treat after he sits down with it in his lap.

He is teasing the tiny beast with a piece of fruit, holding it just out of reach, when Margot appears some heartbeats later trailed by her two servants. Freshly bathed, the princess is dressed only in a diaphanous black gown with her wet hair hanging loose over her shoulders and back. He looks up and smiles, and the tiny rabbit cat creature takes advantage of the Chaosian's distraction to snatch the treat and gobble it down. Kendall hardly notices the end to the game, however.

"Margot. You're not yet asleep? I would think you exhausted from our travels." He pats the qur on the head as he stands, then walks over to meet the princess.

"Unfortunately, tension and excitement have my body filled with energy. Sulwyn, Aelwyn and Dilys have been very generous with their attentions and in their attempts to see me relaxed enough to rest." If there was any ambiguity to how she felt regarding the Lord before, it was dispelled by the warmth in her voice and the glow she took on at the sight of him as she continued in a straight path to greet him.

He gives an amused snort, not at all surprised at the answer. "Very good," he says approvingly with a glance over at the servants at her praise. He looks down at her again when she reaches him, studying a tired face that is nonetheless wreathed in a radiant smile. One hand comes up to cup her cheek, caressing the skin of her jaw.

"Welcome to Chaos, my sweet," he says, and leans down to kiss her lips. His welcome is returned with gentle ardor, her body melding against his as welcome each other.

"It is breathtaking," she finally musters after enjoying the taste of him for several long moments. "Has Lord Brisbane settled? Have you had a chance to relax?" she asks, her hands stroking his chest affectionately.

"Brisbane is well, and my relaxation will come later," Kendall answers as he wraps an arm around her waist. "I suspect he will rest here a time before returning to the main ways. There are still some matters I will need to attend to later, but I am unfettered by duty for the nonce. Would you care to sit with me?"

"Little would bring me greater pleasure," she replies. "I am glad to hear that he is well and that he will be remaining for a time. I find his presence a comfort," she explains. "And I hope to share many a conversation with him while he remains. But I suspect your time here is far more …. limited?" She glances up at him, her arm snaking around the small of his back.

Kendall heads to an overstuffed couch-like object that looks like nothing so much as a pile of colorful cushions contained by a net-like frame. He helps her to a seat first and then invites her to snuggle against him after he also sinks into the cushions.

Sulwyn approaches the pair and curtsies. "May I bring some refreshment for you and your guest?" she inquires of the Lady.

"Please. Some … wine, I think. And some of those…" she looks at Kendall and gestures to him. "Those pitted fruits that fit in the palm of your hand? And the tray you had just delivered with the krinth leaves and blossoms. Thank you, Sulwyn." Oh, how she hated not knowing the names of things.

"Sel'acha and g'en," Kendall comments. Sulwyn nods to the Lord and curtsies to the Lady before departing to discuss with her cohort.

After she had made her desires clear, Margot accepts his generous offer and curls against his side. "How are you faring?" she asked, her concern reflected in twin pools of her eyes.

"Weary, but well," he admits. He leans over to pull a cushion out of an awkward spot and then settles back so that they are cradled in an upright position rather like lying in a motionless hammock. Fingers comb through her drying hair and she sees the Rhercyn's viney mark still attached to the back of his hand.

"The ship has been secured and a healer summoned to evaluate the Countess. Once a few more details are dealt with I will be at my leisure for a time. However, I have need to be available for questions and the like until then. A short time yet, I hope."

A frown tugs her lips and brow at the mention of the Countess. "Will she recover?" she asked, genuine concern in her voice.

He shakes his head. "I do not care to speculate, since I am no healer," he answers. "There are many dangers for those whose bodies are malleable, like mine."

"I cannot help but feel dreadful about her condition," Margot says with a sigh.

Several moments pass in silence, which she breaks with a sudden question. "What dangers are there to you?" Worry makes her voice heavy and tense.

"One's body can forget stability, as what happened to the Countess," he answers. He stares at the flowing ceiling as they talk, mesmerized by its morphing swirls and shapes of lava. The fingers tangled in her hair caress her shoulder. "One can lose the ability to hold one's shape, shifting uncontrollably until all semblance of reason is gone. While much shifting can be done without conscious thought, one must always have the ability to exert control over one's shape. That ability can be lost."

"There are also traps and tricks to cause a person to shift a certain way in a reflexive or intuitive response," he adds. "Then the shifter can be injured or killed while vulnerable, either mid-shift or once the new form is taken. The trap is designed for the form, and the trigger is to cause that form to happen. There is also a form of… disease, for lack of better term, where the body begins to, ah… to break down. Lose cohesion. The individual cells lose the memory of stability, almost becoming individual bits of Chaos. They go wild and begin to infect or consume all the normal cells, in essence spreading the disease throughout the body until the body dissolves."

He pauses as Aelwyn and Sulwyn approach with refreshments. The door to the hall opens to admit Dilys once more, as well.

"Thank you, ladies. That will be all," Margot dismisses with a smile. The two women both curtsy to the Lady and Lord, their salutes rather more deferential than when it had been Margot alone, then move off beyond earshot. Dilys stays on hand to respond to any need, while the other two depart through different doors on whatever mysterious errands they had waiting.

The princess sits up to pour a goblet for Kendall before returning to the comforts of his side. Her hand also carries a few morsels for him to eat; tastes of home freshly made rather than the rations that had to be so carefully guarded and doled out during the long journey. Kendall accepts the wine, and one of the treats she offers, a large hard nut.

"It sounds… dreadful," she says after a time thinking about his answer. It was the only word that could come to mind. "Like a cancer that consumes until there is nothing left."

She sighs, offering one of the g'en to his lips. "Are you safe here? In your own House?" It was an innocent question, as most of hers were; all trying to suss out how to protect him from afar without making a fool of herself and he and his House by extension.

Kendall holds the goblet in one hand with the other circling her shoulders again as she snuggled close. "Safety is not guaranteed anywhere," he admits. "Certainly within a manor within the holdings of my House, surrounded by those loyal to Chanicut, danger is lessened. But it is never wholly to be taken for granted."

She digests this answer, finding it unsavory indeed, but could think of nothing else to say on the matter. So she changes the subject instead. "When you are rested, there are some … issues … I would like to clarify with you," she begins slowly in a thoughtful tone. "Nothing of grave importance; but I would be loathe to disrupt the tranquility of this place out of ignorance."

Eyebrows go up as he drinks from the goblet. "Such as what?" he asks after he had swallowed. "And have YOU eaten?"

"I've had one of the variegated blossoms. The tray had only arrived moments before you had arrived," she confesses, her lips tugging to the side like a child caught in mischief. He knew how little she ate or cared for herself in such manners, but she seemed to entreat that he believe her. To prove she would eat, she claims a piece of krinth.

"Nothing to raise concerns," she adds dismissively. "Just perhaps a discussion as to what is appropriate to speak of freely and what is not. I do not wish to be standoffish, and I need to learn a great deal… but, for example-"

She hesitates, using the pause to eat the piece of krinth she held and then choose a fat, purple berry. He waits patiently for her to eat before continuing with her questions, appearing completely relaxed as she had rarely seen him before.

"If I am to be asked to what degree is our acquaintance… what would be the appropriate answer?" she finally asks.

Kendall's lips curve upward in a distant smile as he thinks on her question. "At the first, whether you answer a question - any question - is your choice and at your own discretion. Particularly in relation to those who serve you, whys and wherefores are not required at any time, nor should they be expected." His tone is relaxed, not at all authoritarian or berating, but the tone of one simply giving an explanation.

"As to the relations between us specifically—" He pauses, and his mouth quirks in an expression equal parts amused and wry as he turns his head to look down into her face. "I assure you, assumptions will be made based on my reputation, Margot. But I have said before, I see no need to hide the fact that we are lovers. This information is of no consequence to anyone here. The staff will see to your needs in either circumstance."

He moves to raise the goblet to lips to take another sip, but pauses as another thought occurs. "In any case," he adds. "This suite is your domain to oversee as you see fit. Even I am a guest here, no matter that this suite resides in a manor belonging to my House."

"I…" she casts her eyes to his chest, her fingers dancing upon the fabric as they were wont to do. "I just do not wish to misrepresent anything or give another any information that may be used against you or your House." It was clear her concerns were to make a good impression upon those around, even at this hideaway cottage that belonged to Kendall's House.

She bites her lip, weighing her question. "I was asked if I was part of your House…" she finally confesses after several moments of silence. "I did not indicate such a thing; only saying that you have been kind enough to grant hospitality."

Kendall's wry smile wrinkles into a frown. "Who asked you that?"

"Why is that important?" she returns, her expression turning puzzled. "What's important is that I know how to answer such a thing… or if I did so correctly."

"Mmm," he hums, seemingly a sound of acknowledgment. But though he still looks displeased, he thinks about her question for a time while sipping the wine, pondering how to reply.

"You are not Chanicut, as you well know. You are my guest," he answers at last. "I had thought that made clear when you were introduced. Other details are of no relevance, and if it pleases you to say we are lovers, that is your prerogative."

A relieved look replaces the worried one on her face. "Then I did not say anything untoward. That was exactly how I answered the question. Though, the question was posed slightly more vague, it could just be as simple as a cultural difference in communication."

She smiles up at him in reassurance. "I assure you, I did not and will not claim more than what is granted. On the contrary, I was trying to… to answer as if it was of little concern. That was the correct thing to do, was it not?"

"For those whose task is to serve you and see to your comforts, yes," he agrees slowly. "Others may require a different approach. Is it… Do you desire that I introduce you explicitly as my lover whenever you meet someone new?" he asks, frowning again at this new, puzzling idea.

"What sort of approach? Is that what you mean by introducing me as your lover?" she asked, brow furrowed. Of course she would love to be known as his and he hers; but this was all so alien to her she simply did not know what was acceptable to acknowledge.

"I see it is getting complicated," Kendall notes. He holds his goblet up to refill and Dilys immediately approaches to see to that, since the Lord and Lady were comfortably reclined on the pillows and couldn't reach the carafe easily.

"There are two things at work here, Margot," he continues as the servant tends to her duties. "First, the question of your status here. Simply put, you are my guest. Nothing else need be explained." He seems to be addressing these remarks to Dilys as much as to Margot, staring at the servant as she pours the wine with her eyes firmly on the task before her.

Margot watched the exchange, trying not to reveal Dilys' identity as the inquisitor. Though it seemed Kendall knew which of the sisters would be bold enough to ask questions, that did not mean that Margot would confirm any assumptions. "I understand," she replies softly, but not so weakly as to let the servants see a cowed, longing and desperate woman.

The wine having been topped off, Dilys gives a curtsy while holding the carafe. Only then does her gaze rise just enough to bestow a sharp-toothed smile on the Lord. The smile is not returned, and at Margot's nod of dismissal the servant backs away. She remains on hand for any future need, standing just a little closer than before.

"But others, those not of Chanicut, and possibly even some within Chanicut of a certain… status… They will not be constrained by courtesy or duty," he continues. "They will ask questions, and those are the ones that may need a different approach. But to answer your question basically, yes, answering that you are my guest enjoying the hospitality of Chanicut will suffice most often. Does that answer?"

"Yes, it does…" Margot's tone drifts off as she turns her attention to Dilys with a look that suggests the servant should join her sisters several paces away from the lover's nest. The princess meets Dilys' eye, and after a moment or two of contact, the servant's gaze drops and she steps backward several more paces, leaving the two on the cushions to their privacy.

"This will even suffice prior to you gaining formal approval?" Margot asked, a look of consternation creasing her brow.

"I do not anticipate gaining approval to have you as our guest will be problematic," he answers, his head tipping back against the pillow once more as he ponders the ceiling. "Anything more than that… sponsorship, support, assistance— Those will come later, if I have any influence on the matter."

Margot chuckles wistfully as she snuggles in closer. "So either I do not give it a second thought, or I fret until I fall ill with distress and despair in hopes of avoiding a misstep that would negatively influence our arrangement, yes?"

"The Lady Dara and I will endeavor to assist you with navigating the unknowns with which you will be faced," he says reassuringly. "I assure you, fretting yourself into illness will not be helpful to you or anyone else. Least of all me." He turns his head to give her a teasing smile. "I would be quite inconvenienced by a great deal of pent up energy if my lover continued to be, shall we say, unavailable for my pleasures."

Margot laughs, reaching for his lips with hers. He returns the affection with interest, pulling her close against him and inviting her deeply into the kiss. She lingers, enjoying how the wine tastes upon him before withdrawing.

"Then I will endeavor to keep myself well. I refuse to hear of pent up energy in my presence," she answers. "This is something that I will ensure is never a concern of yours."

He smiles. "We must address such concerns soon, then," he remarks. "As soon as you have rested from your exertions."

Margot pouted, but her eyes twinkled at the prospect. "Perhaps I will drift off in your arms while watching the ceiling swirl and churn." She takes his goblet and sets it down so that she could selfishly pull his other arm around her. "It is quite magnificent, you know? Though I suppose this is so common that it is hardly worth the notice…"

"Not at all," he disagrees. "There is no particular reason to create a manor out of lava except as a curiosity to observe and enjoy." He adjust their positions so that she can cuddle close with arms around her. Lips grace her forehead with a kiss. "Have you tested your bed for its comfort yet?"

"Not as of yet," she replies, eyelids heavy but refusing to remain closed. She was quiet for some time. "It is not necessary for you to introduce me as your lover if you do not believe it so, or… if you have no desire to do so. I know what is in my heart and that is enough."

He ponders that, having forgotten about that portion of the conversation. "Announcing to all and sundry that we are lovers…" he begins slowly. "There is a difference between lying, misdirection, and omitting facts. It is not the way of Chaos to give information away freely. It must be gained by effort and with cost. Also, I hesitate to freely identify you as someone closely attached to me while you have little in the way of status and protection. Certainly, as a guest of Chanicut, we will extend our hospitality to you. Yet there is always risk someone might chance the ire of my House for the opportunity to indirectly harm someone of rank, like myself, since you are an outsider and more vulnerable."

It is her turn to ponder. It was logical and logistical; like everything that Kendall explained. Delaying discussion for nuzzling against his neck, she breathed him in deeply. "I understand…" she finally answers, her voice neutral. "I did not want you to feel that announcing me as such would please me and do it for that reason alone. That is not what I want… to be placated in such a fashion."

Margot presses herself up so that she could stare into his eyes. "I want it to come from here," she rests a hand on his chest. "Because you are proud or possessive or fearless of what others may whisper behind their hands. Only then will it make my spirit soar. But, to simply stamp a label upon me like this couch or that bed…."

She shakes her head. "You know my feelings and I know yours. That is enough. For now."

"That is well," he agrees. There is a pause as he stares at her for a moment, thinking, while fingers play in the curls of her hair. "I have had more than 100 lovers," he says at last. "Some of them, I was quite fond of. One, I was deeply in love with. Yet none were ever introduced as my lover. It is not my way."

"And I would not ask you to betray your way… that is my way," she answers with melting tenderness. "And I do not wish to act in such a manner that forces your hand. We are in Chaos, and it is your realm and your ways I must learn to appreciate."

She pauses to take a breath, putting space and emphasis on her next words. "I don't wish to burden you with shame because of me… but, I don't know that I will be able to behave in a completely… sterile manner toward you no matter how reserved I am. But, if that is what is required publicly, I will promise to try my best."

He shakes his head, smiling at her. "I think you do not do yourself credit. Let us suppose that I had been your escort to your ball in Amber. Assuming, of course, there had been an event that was not interrupted by mayhem and terror." He winks at her and she smiles hesitantly back.

"How would you have behaved having me on your arm then?" he queries. "Would you have clung to me and peppered me with kisses as we sat at dinner together, and attempted other amorous embraces whilst we danced?"

"Of course not!" she answers, horrified. But then her expression turns sheepish. "Well, perhaps while we danced…. But there would have been no denying to anyone my feelings for you. I would have been aglow. I cannot guarantee that I will be able to tether radiant smiles or shield emotive eyes."

Suddenly, Margot growled with a small amount of frustration. "I do not know how to say what I want to say!" she declares, slumping down into his embrace to stare up at the ceiling once more.

He sighs but his smile remains. "Margot, I think… we are having two different conversations, though I am not certain. I believe, and please correct me if I am incorrect, but you are wrestling with being IN love with me, rather than the physical aspect of our relationship?"

She is silent for a long time, eyes fixated above. "Perhaps. I don't know… does it matter? Is it relevant?" she asks barely above a whisper. "At times… I question whether it is… Relevant, I mean." She sighs. "My feelings are what they are; yours are what they are. I will behave with the utmost decorum, dignity and grace, but… if as you say is true, I fear I'll never leave this room lest someone discover that my heart burns hotter than this volcano for you."

Kendall shares a chuckle with her, but then falls quiet for a time. "As I said before, shayna, our hearts are our own to guard or give away. Whether you wish everyone to know of your feelings for me, is entirely up to you. I can only suggest and advise. Clearly identifying something, or someone, for whom you have deep feelings for and attachment to, can be a vulnerability. It can bring strength, too, in alliance."

He draws in and releases a deep breath before continuing. "In any event, we can discuss this more later, since it is unlikely to become an issue of importance for a little while. Here in this manor, we are lovers and if it pleases you to say so, you should feel free to do so. And for as long as is feasible, I will remain true to you and have no other lovers apart from you. But what that means is that you must care for yourself and remain hale and healthy so that you can satisfy my sexual appetites." Though he delivers this last with a tone of great seriousness, a light of amusement twinkles in his eyes.

"Then…" Margot begins slowly, staring up at him as her fingers twined in the buttons of his shirt. "Is it to be taken as a compliment to be considered your companion rather than merely your lover? Your personal guest of special regard to be granted the same considerations as would be a confidante?"

"Yes, that would be so," Kendall agrees. "Introducing you as my companion certainly implies a number of things about our relationship and you, your status, which we discussed previously. But truly, I wonder if such subterfuge serves any purpose at this point. The Lady Dara's presence complicates matters," he finishes, looking back upwards at the meandering ceiling.

"The Cat out of the Bag?" she inquired with a heavy sigh. Her expression remains introspective as she watches the ceiling swirl and flicker with brilliant reds and orange against a charcoal backdrop.

"Ah… yes," he says, sussing at least part of the meaning of the phrase just by context and vocabulary. He knew what a cat was, and a bag. The rest was a mystery.

"Meaning that it is silly to pretend to be something I am not with my Lady's presence, which I suspect will soon be known throughout all the Houses and Ways," she explains further. "What are we to do?" Her eyes drift to his profile, watching how his expression changes.

He idly combs fingers through her hair as he ponders her question, not pleased with most of the potential answers. "I will speak to my father sooner, rather than later," he says at last. "It may be that you will also meet him sooner, rather than later. To discuss terms."

"Terms?" That the word frightened her is evident in her voice.

"Yes," he answers, matter of fact. "I've mentioned this before. You will need to decide what support you desire from Chanicut. You are my guest, but if you want more than that, you will have to discuss terms at some point. But my goal is to put that conversation as far into the future as possible, to give you time to settle, orient, and learn."

Margot nods and her eyes close for the moment. "That would be my preference. My desires are both simple and complex and I seem unable to sort them as masterfully as you do. The last thing I wish to do is insult your father by wasting his time."

He simply nods in agreement, not having much else to say. The conversation had gotten much more serious than he had planned.

Margot remains silent, her hands stroking his warm form. Her body molded perfectly against his, something she couldn't help but marvel at. From hip to shoulder her hand caresses him with affection and contentment as she inhales deeply of his scent and warmth. Oh, how she could spend the day lazing in his arms, or making love until the moons shone above. She would fight for him, stand by his side, die for him. The thought of losing him was worse than losing all that she knew from the lands of Amber - a place so confining and static for her lover. And still, she would have to have something other than her existence to barter with. What? She did not know.

The silence lingers far longer than anticipated, but he is loath to break the peace for a time. If you sat quietly long enough, it could seem as though you could hear the lava flowing across the ceiling and down the walls. A silly fancy, of course, but the sound of Margot's breathing and the thrumming of her heartbeat against his side more than made up for it. At length, he moves just enough to press lips against her forehead once more.

"Perhaps it is time for you to seek your bed, my sweet," he murmurs, attempting to break the peace of the moment as little as possible.

"Mmmm?" she questions as her eyes turn toward his. "I suppose it would be too much to ask the Lord to stay for a time? To perhaps…. see if the glorious view of the ceiling is different from that vantage?"

He nods with a smile. "I will stay for a time," he agrees. He wiggles his arm out from under her so that he can sit and then stand up. He smiles down at her. "Shall I carry you yonder?"

"If it pleases you to do so," she returns, extending a hand for assistance to her feet.

Instead of taking her hand, he leans over to scoop her into his arms and lift her up, cradling her against his chest again. Margot giggles gleefully as he sweeps her up, her cheeks flushing red despite the fact that she shouldn't be embarrassed that the Lord of the Manor is cradling her in front of his servants. An arm wraps his shoulders with her hands linking on the opposite side. A delicate press of her lips warms the place where his pulse thumped against his neck. "You will never cease to surprise me…" she breathes against his skin.

He laughs his quiet laugh, hardly more sound than a stuttering exhalation of breath. "This is good; surprises keep relationships interesting," he says as he carries her with careful steps around the various pieces of furniture (some recognizable, and some rather odd) to the door of her bedroom. Dilys, surmising their destination quickly, hurries over to make sure the door is open wide so they can pass easily through without even turning sideways.

Inside the bedchamber, the large canopied bed is hung with dark curtains tied back with wide sashes. It was set at the spot which afforded the best view outside, though the heavy drapes had already been drawn against the outside light. The bed covers are already pulled back and awaiting her, but Kendall does not go directly to the bed. Instead, he carries her over to a door on the opposite side of the chamber and nods to Dilys, who had stayed close.

The servant opens the door, which reveals another closed door that she opens at his signal. On the other side, Margot can see another bedchamber. Rory stands within, speaking to another servant; both turn when the door opens to offer twin bows.

Speechless and utterly confounded, Margot didn't know where to begin first. Rory's presence meant this was Kendall's suite; a fact to give her innumerable comforts. Still, the Lord cradling her before others in such an intimate gesture… Rather than catch flies with her mouth agape, she turns her eyes in question to her lover in anticipation of introductions or commands, and if she was lucky, an explanation.

Kendall is watching her as he pauses briefly at the thresh hold of the other suite, still smiling a little. He walks through after she has a moment to take things in, a nod to the two servants allowing them to return to their business. The bedchamber is very similar to hers, with just a difference in decoration scheme to tell them apart. Her own chambers were done in a highly ornate style, lush and layered with reds, golds, whites, and patterns in harmony with the lava walls and ceilings. The decor in these chambers, however, was monochromatic, and the furnishings had simpler lines. Only the occasional accent piece shared one of the fiery tones of the lava, tying decor with walls and ceiling.

Like Margot's suite, there was nothing yet in place that would identify the occupant or reveal a personality. As in Amber, these were chambers where they were staying temporarily, rather than anything that felt like a home.

"As you might surmise, these will be my chambers during my stay in Silver with you," he says as he walks through to the sitting room, and Margot quickly surmises the suite layout was a mirror image of hers.

"Rory suggested using these two suites because of the door joining them at the bedchambers," he continues to explain, turning back to return to her own suite and her own bed. His expression becomes serious.

"As I have said, your suite is your own domain, to rule as you deem fit during your stay. I am a guest in your chambers, as you are a guest in mine, and we will both have to respect each other's space. You may opt to give me free access to your chambers, of course, but I will caution you to consider carefully before deciding such a thing for me or anyone. The signal used most often is to simply close the adjoining door on your side when you do not wish to be disturbed, and I would do the same. If the door is open, we would be free to enter at will."

He pauses at the side of her bed, looking into her eye. "Does that sound agreeable to you for now?"

"Of course. It is … more than acceptable. Thank you for the consideration, thoughtfulness and your candid nature. It is something that I've always—" Her eyes fall for a moment before returning to his. "It is something that I have come to admire. You are the only one that has been forthright with me when I have asked questions… and your ability to anticipate my desires is astonishing."

Margot's hands cup his face, thumbs stroking his skin as her eyes search his. "I will take your words under careful advisement, as I always have. Your counsel is important to me; something I've come to trust like a sixth sense."

Her hands slide to his chest, her eyes following their journey. "None have treated me with respect and affection as you. I feel…." A small smile tugs at the corners of her eyes. "Cared for. Thank you for rescuing me. For saving me."

Kendall smiles again as he leans over to lay Margot on the bed, his expression losing some of its solemnity. "You are welcome," he answers simply.

He helps her under the covers and then speaks to her of inconsequential things until her eyes drift closed and she finally fades into sleep. Her deep, even breathing barely breaks the silence of the manor, and he stays for a time to enjoy the peace and quiet so different from the constant sounds and noises of the Rhercyn. But in due time, Rory clears his throat from the doorway to bring the young Lord's attention back to things still pending. With a last light kiss to her lips, he departs.

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Dealing with Dara

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