Interview Preparations

By the time Desrianne had reached the bath, Margot had stripped of the robe, placed it on the brazier and had climbed into the soothing waters. The delicate scent of wild honeysuckle infused with notes of lilac and lavender filled the chamber as steam rose to the ceiling.

The matron shuts the door firmly behind her, and stands at the dressing area with her face still set in a scowl for several seconds while Margot settled comfortably in the water. She breathes slowly, deeply, trying to find calm. Surely, a small voice told her, Margot's indiscretions were no different than her mother's had been. Surely?

Teeth grit in resistence. Morgana had never bedded a Chaosian. And though the matron could concede (privately!) the attraction, still the creature clearly had only one thing on his mind. Her Poppy's radiant glow only confirmed all that could be suspected, but she was determined to continue with her duty. If that meant biting her tongue off so as not to embarass Margot in front of her Lordling, so be it. Obviously the only way to ensure that Margot would drink the tea to prevent pregnancy was if Desrianne was there to insist. She would therefore make sure she was there to do so.

She straightened her shoulders and released a breath in a sound of determination. Climbing the steps to the bath, she knelt on the tile near the princess, choosing loofa and soap. "How are you feeling this morning, Poppy?" she asks. The benign inquiry turns to tender concern as she adds, "Better than last night, I do hope."

"Oh yes, Caresse," she glowed, "Because of you, and Master Rory and Kendall," she sighed contented, her eyes dreamy. "When I was disquieted, you comforted me; when I was fevered, you cooled me; when I was restless, you calmed me; when I would not eat, you coaxed me; and when I needed sleep, you protected me from monsters real and imagined."

Margot's beautiful words and voice glowing with appreciation and love coax a smile from the older woman. Her Poppy had a good heart, one that should be cherished and protected like a fragile bloom.

Margot leaned forward, exposing her back to Desrianne. "And it was so peaceful to my heart to wake up this morning to find myself securely wrapped in Kendall's arms. I don't remember when he came to bed beyond him asking me if it was alright if he joined me…" she swooned at the memory. "You were right, Caresse, about so many things about him and me and our relationship and misunderstandings. Thank you for your wonderful advice! Because of you… we talked about things that I don't think we would have ever spoke of… matters of the heart."

Loofa gently scrapes skin, bringing a healthy glow while soap and warm water soothe. The matron's jaw works for several seconds before she manages to reply. She swallows, grateful for Margot's closed eyes to not see expression reflected in mirrors, then speaks with great care to keep tone light. Though good intentions can only go so far, and the question comes out with neutrality. "Matters of the heart, Poppy?" An encouragement to the young woman to elaborate, as she clearly desired.

"Yes," she confirmed. "We spoke of our fight yesterday and where the miscommunication came to be and how his ire was not with me but himself. We talked about why and how to manage in the future should times of distress or duress be upon us, as they will surely be. We agreed to ask questions rather than make assumptions… on both sides. He expects certain things because of his rearing and experiences… things that I wouldn't know how to even begin to manipulate, so he sees those phantasms. I read more into words and behaviors than are there. We both agreed to work on our first instinct…" she could hear the smile of victory, warm and filled with elation. "He will attempt to be less suspicious of my motives or at least quit trying to categorize every little thing that I do, and I will try not to look for secret meanings in words that have none."

Another contented sigh. "Caresse, he spoke freely. Freely." She emphasized the word in a hushed whisper. "He's never done that. That he trusted me enough to lay down his defenses and put himself out like that… for me…" Margot's voice cracked, "He spoke of how he feels and what matters to him as a person… of how I matter to him. Is it the same as love?" she shrugged, "I don't know… but, I know that his world is very different than here and even more strange than where I was raised… and I'm not certain love is even a concept taught or encouraged. But its more than lust in his heart… its desire. He enjoys ME, Caresse. My companionship. We talk, we play, we learn from one another and we grow as individuals. Not all of our time is spent in bed."

Back thoroughly scrubbed, the maid begins work on arms and hands. She is a silent sounding board for the princess' thoughts and feelings, which bubble forth like a spring gushing from the ground. Here in the quiet sanctuary of the bath, buttery tiles bringing warmth and light to the room, it was almost possible to pretend the princess spoke softly with ardent whispers of a youth she met at her academy, or a Lord of her father's Court.

"That is well to hear," she replies, hoping the strain in her voice would be lost in the lapping and splashing of the waters as she bathed the princess. Certainly this time the young woman bore no marks on fair skin as she had after her first night with the Lordling. None that Desrianne had seen, at least. "If indeed the joy is in companionship of the spirit, Poppy, then perhaps one could suggest a… a restraint on the companionship of the body? So that you would not be forced to continue to drink the tea you so dislike, of course."

She knew she shouldn't go there, should just let it be. She knew this, but her tongue would not heed the instructions of her mind.

"Oh, but Caresse… I can cease to drink the tea at any time," Margot explained, her excitement vibrating in her soft voice, "Kendall is being very conscientious. Because of his unique physiology, he has the ability to manage his seed and his level of fertility. We have talked at length about this."

Eyes widen in consternation at first, but then lips firm in determination. Her answer is a muted hiss, sound barely breaking beyond the tub. "Speak that to the Lady Knight in your mother's service!"

"That had magicks involved beyond anyone's control. Who knows what control is available to an individual in the Veil?" she defended.

"You would be wise to heed the warning granted by another's misfortune," Desrianne replies, tone dark, losing the battle at least temporarily against resignation and restraint. "You are still in Amber, Poppy, and while you're here and I'm here, we are both still bound by the Queen's orders. Beyond Amber, you would do well to remember your mother's wisdom, but until we depart Amber, you will still take the medicine as directed. Who knows if his… abilities… were hindered by the Veil or by effect of Amber's clean air in his body? Certainly not I, and you should be more cautious!"

"Be at peace, Caresse," Margot dismissed, "I loathe the tea, and though I said I could cease drinking it at any time, I didn't say I would cease drinking it." The princess turned, eyes wide at the exasperated woman. "I know it may be hard for you to believe, but I am aware of some things and I am not so blinded by love to not want to take precautions. I do not wish to make my first introductions to Chaos with child."

She shook her head at the woman, disappointment kissing her eyes, "The tea makes me ill. It's counter intuitive to yours and Kendall's wishes for me to eat more because it makes everything taste foul, rotting. EVERYTHING. I am on the constant verge of vomiting for hours afterwards. But, I have not stopped drinking it because regardless of what you, or my mother may believe, I am still a responsible person."

Desrianne tries, but she cannot hold fast to her outrage in the face of her Poppy's calm assertion. Body tensed to weather a storm of emotion now slumps in defeat, and a hand comes up to cup the young woman's cheek, patting the tender skin there. "You're right, Margot," she says, sighing. She manages a smile. "I overstepped myself. I should…. I need to trust you more and scold you less. You are no longer a child."

"I do not claim to have all the answers… I don't even pretend to know half of them," Margot explained, "And I value your guidance and your counsel and your wisdom. I do understand that you are just trying to protect me and look out for my best interest, truly I do." She sighed, "But I need to have the opportunity to experience things, love and even heartache and heartbreak should it come, first hand. I cannot be shielded from these things and still claim to have lived. I just wish you could find it in your heart to be happy for me because I'm happy. It's not nearly as fun to be filled with joy and to not have someone to share it with." She smiled affectionately at the crone.

"But, I know you do not care for my Kendall; nor do you approve of my affair with him. So, as such, if it will ease your heart and mind, I will refrain from blathering on about such things to you if that is your wish." She canted her head to the side.

The matron sighs and shakes her head, her hand moving now to forehead to soothe the beginning of a headache. "No, Poppy," she says. "I said last night that I you should feel free to me anything, and I would prefer to hear from you than to be left in the dark with my own suppositions. But remember, I also asked you to have patience with me, since habits are hard to break." The smile that finds its way to her face is wry.

She looks at Margot, who had been glowingly happy all morning but who now was serious and sad. The girl would no doubt need her more and more the farther they went from Amber. "I will do better," she decides with a firm tone of determination. "For you, dearling. And I do very much appreciate that you will continue taking the medicine."

Margot smiled, "Thank you, Caresse."

She tried to relax as the woman scrubbed at her arms and back before massaging her scalp. Margot was always fond of having her hair washed, it was one of those little indulgences she could not help but enjoy. "I know you don't like him, but… can't you find any small joy in my own happiness?"

Sometimes all it took was a little work to see things from a slightly different perspective. Margot was happy and content, and though the future was grim from where Desrianne sat, that didn't always mean the current moment couldn't be enjoyed. Would she have enjoyed being with Pietre more or less had she known his fate?

"Yes, I suppose I can, dearling," she replies, rubbing the suds into the princess' hair with gentle care. "You are a vision of radiance in your happiness. It's hard not to feel an answering joy when you smile."

Once all bathing is complete, Margot rises from the steaming pool. Desrianne also rises, opening a warmed towel to wrap the princess' shoulders. "I know your feelings of Kendall, but what of Rory? Have you spoken with him?"

The matron looks surprised at the question, eye round, but then she shrugs. "He appears to be competent and well-suited to his Lord," she says, rather diplomatic. "But we have spoken very little apart from attending to your care."

A second towel is produced for wringing the princess' hair of excess water, squeezing gently without vigorous rubbing that would make for undue tangles and knots. Once the princess' body is dried, robe warmed by the tiny brazier is laid again over her shoulders. Desrianne makes mental note to retrieve Margot's warmer robe from her luggage, as supplement to the silken one that had been abandoned.

"He is quite knowledgeable and kind. I just thought that… perhaps…" Margot hesitated. "Well, maybe he could help increase your awareness of what is to be expected in Chaos. Not duties, I don't mean that, just you know… too much information cannot be a bad thing, can it? He has always treated me with kindness every time our paths have crossed. I'm sure he would treat you with the same civility."

"Yes, of course, Poppy. You're right," she answers after some thought.

With robe tightly secured, Margot moved to the vanity long enough to select a nice tub of perfumed cream, one with the same delicate fragrance as her bath oils, before making her way back to the room. She would need to hydrate her skin and it would be nice to have some of the lingering tension worked out of her shoulders and back. Idly, she wondered if she would have beaten Kendall back to the room; she hadn't dawdled after all …

< Left behind in the sleeping chamber, the Chaos Lord follows his servant through the empty and silent halls of the tower to the other bathing room. Much larger, less inviting, it nonetheless would serve its purpose.

Shedding his robe, Kendall lowers himself into the water and rests for a time in the relaxing heat. The room was soothingly silent and free of tension, with only Rory there to see to his needs with his reassuring equanimity. The Lord ducks his head under the water to wet himself completely, and then allows the red-haired servant to do his work while musing on recent events.

"The princess' maid…" he begins eventually while soap is worked into skin of his back.

"Siorys and I will see to her adjustment, m'lord," comes the reassuring reply.

"She must not dismay Brisbane."

"Of course not, m'lord."

Kendall nods and relaxes again, leaving it to his servant's capable hands.

It does not take long for body to be thoroughly washed, but he lingers in the bath for some heartbeats after, attending to the calming of mind and spirit. One thing regarding himself of which he was keenly aware was a periodic need for solitude, a space in which to balance his thoughts and bring order to his mind. Much had occurred that morning which warranted thought and consideration, and he takes time now to let things settle in his mind.


"Yes, m'lord?"

"What think you of the princess?"

A startled silence, and Kendall smiles a little at his servant's surprise. It came very seldom after the many Cycles of service he had given the Lord.

"She is… sweet, m'lord."

Kendall nods. "And?"


Kendall lifts an arm from the water, watching as water beads and trails in rivulets across his skin. "Anything else?"

"Should there be, m'lord?"

"Not necessarily. She will also need assistance to adjust, and I will not always be available to assist her," Kendall says. "Consider yourself at her disposal as well."

"Of course, m'lord. Is there anything else?"

"No, you may leave me for now. I will require 2000 more heartbeats at the least."

"As you wish," comes the reply. Bowing, the servant departs, leaving nothing but silence and solitude. >

The door to the chamber is open when the princess and her maid arrive, though the Lord himself is not there. The room had been tidied, however—bed now neatly made up, breakfast dishes cleared, other areas arranged and neat. Clothes are lying out on the bed in preparation for Kendall's use, brushed and ready. Margot recognizes the silky green robe as the one Kendall had worn for their second meeting, the walk through some of the gardens.

Margot's gown and other things had also been laid out and organized in preparation. Desrianne looks around the room when she enters behind Margot, clearly relieved that it was empty. She closes the door behind them.

A smile curls her lips at the sight of her items ready. "This is what I mean." Margot swept to the dressing table, noting the elegant combs and intricately carved jade earrings and pendant. Moving to the bed, Margot started to removed her robe to let it fall to the ground.

Her maid catches the fabric before it can fall completely, only then realizing that there was no dressing screen set up. All fine if the room was Margot's, but clearly the Lordling would be returning and it was impossible to say exactly when.

Firming her lips into a thin line again, she picks up the cream that the princess had selected. "Sit, dearling, and let me do your back." She scoops a goodly portion onto her fingertips and moves mane of hair out of the way so that she can soothe cream into the delicate skin.

Obediently, Margo sat close to the corner of the bed, resting on one hip while her legs dangled down the side. Dipping her fingers into the vessel, she began smoothing the sumptuous salve into her arms, chest and legs; all the while humming an enchanting melody. Dressing would of course require the requisite number of layers from undergarments and silk stockings with garters to corset and chemise and finally the gown itself. So much rigidity… but, she refused to let her parents or Kendall down. No, she would present the best image she was capable of… a soft chortle followed at her silent musings as reminded herself that such things didn't amount to much.

Desrianne works cream into the princess' shoulders, neck, and back with deft, gentle movements. The princess was fairly well by the time a knock heralds someone else's arrival. The maid immediately plucks the robe up from where she had set it on a chair, draping it over Margot's shoulders. With her mistress' nod of permission, the maid goes to the door and opens it a crack.

"Ah, Master Rory."

"M'lord will soon be returning," the servant's soft voice comes from the other side of the door.

Desrianne looks at Margot with apprehension apparent. Though the princess was currently covered with some modesty, it would take several minutes at least for her to be properly dressed.

"Can the lord not wait for several minutes while m'lady dresses?" she asks.

"There is no need to make Kendall wait. After all, these are his chambers." Margot did not need to see Desrianne's face to know she was not happy with what Margot had said. "If there is perhaps a screen available? If something could be arranged, then there would be a place for me to dress and then Kendall would not have to wait to get dressed."

Desrianne turns to look through the small opening in the door, then steps back to allow Rory within. The red-haired servant walks over to the far side of the tall wardrobe and pulls from behind it a screen with two folds. The metal frame is elaborately fashioned to look like a climbing vine covered with flowers, and the screening fabric is a buttery yellow silk. He angles the screen so that Margot could stand behind it in modest privacy, yet with enough space to move around it as needed, since her maid might have need to walk back and forth several times.

He looks to Desrianne and Margot once he has placed it thus, to gain their approval. Desrianne nods her acceptance of the arrangement, and looks to the princess.

Margot nodded, "Thank you, Rory. Please inform Kendall that his room is his to return to at his convenience." Rising, Margot gathered up the dress and took her place behind the screen.

Desrianne picks up several undergarments and takes them behind the screen while Rory bows with a nod. The servant takes himself back out, but the door remains open to admit the Chaos Lord moments later, wrapped in his robe and with damp black hair. His eyes flick about the room, settling on the screen. He stares at the new addition to his room for the space of two heartbeats before turning to look at his servant inquiringly, receiving a nod in the affirmative. "I hope your bath was satisfactory, Margot?" Kendall says then.

Seated upon a cushioned bench, Margot had begun pulling up her stockings when she heard her beloved's question. A smile formed as clips stockings firmly in place. "Indeed. The water was of perfect temperature… it seems that Fortune smiles upon you… this time," she teased. Sliding into the corset, she stood as still as she could muster while Desrianne cinched it tightly about her form, drawing the eye to her slender waist while accentuating the supple swell of her bosom and slender curve of her hip. "And yours… it was peaceful? It was at least without distraction…?" It took everything in her power to not peek around the screen to spy Kendall all fresh and clean.

Kendall continues into the room to stand near the bed, allowing Rory to take his robe from his shoulders and begin to assist him into his own clothing. Trousers, shirt, stockings, low boots. His ensemble is a simple enough matter to assemble. "It was, yes," he answers. There is a short pause, and then he comments, "There are times when I prefer to be alone." His tone observes this as an ordinary fact.

Chemise pulled over head and smoothed along the lithe body before the arduous task of getting into the green and cream dress begins. Laces are drawn, sleeves are adjusted, hemlines are checked, seam lines aligned, and her globes are adjusted to sit just right in the front of her gown to fit that delicate balance between comfort, provocative and modest. All of this was more challenging than anticipated, given the space behind the screen and Desrianne's insistence that they remain behind it at all times.

"Are you in a state of dress where we may join you?" Margot asked, feeling foolish doing so but trying to be conscious of Desrianne's sensibilities. They slept naked, they enjoyed being awake together naked, they bathed together; it seemed foolish for Margot to have to dress hidden behind the screen. But, her shoes were by the bed and her hair needed tending to. And, of course, the mirror was out there.

He chuckles. "I have no modesty to mind," he remarks, his voice droll now. "But to answer your question, yes. I am duly covered. Please. Join me whenever you are ready."

Indeed, as she discovers quickly, he is dressed in his normal unrelieved black, dark hair combed and tended neatly. He's sitting again at the table, feet up on a second chair, paging through a large book. Green robe still lies on the bed.

Margot steps from behind the screen, padding along in her silk stockings in a gown of green and cream. It had a flattering neckline that seemed to celebrate everything delicate and feminine about the princess. Long wet hair hung in damp tendrils, curling loosely down her back. She held a smile for him as she observed his studies. Approaching slowly, she rested a hand lightly upon his shoulder. "What are you reading?"

For her part, Desrianne puttered behind, moving impatiently toward the dressing table in preparation for primping the princess' hair.

Kendall looks up as she appears, smiling as his eyes travel over her admiringly, ending up at her eyes. Upon closer examination, Margot can see that it is a sketchbook. The picture on display when she approaches is a study of a dark city upon a desolate plain. An arm comes about her waist, pulling her close and inviting her to sit. "Merely idling over some drawings," he answers her question. "I am never certain when they are complete."

Accepting the invitation, Margot rests upon his lap, her eyes falling upon the picture. "It is … stunning. Where is this place?" One arm came around his shoulder, her fingers weaving through his hair. A kiss is pressed to his temple before she returned her attention to the sketch. "May I see other pieces of your work?"

"I do not know for certain where this place is," he answers her question. His free hand comes up to smooth his hair back into place in unconscious habit after she musses it. "It is a vision I once had. A dream, perhaps." He pauses, head coming close to her neck, inhaling her delicate scent while he turns the page to reveal the next sketch. In it, a young woman sits in shade on a terrace overlooking garden — Margot, as she appeared to him before the walk in the gardens. There is a sense of anticipation about her pose, and not all the details have been filled in. He had taken some time to capture the center of the piece, though the surroundings are still hazy. "This one I know is not yet complete."

Fingers gingerly graced the lines of the picture, a small emotional smile forming. "I remember this day. I was frightfully nervous. And you were so … dashing and handsome and charming, which only made me feel more nervous and inept and awkward." The memory was so strong, so powerful; Margot closed her eyes and breathed in Kendall's spicy scent. Her arm leaves his shoulders, pulling her wet locks over the opposite shoulder so that her head could rest against his, both of her hands resting in her lap. "I was terribly disappointed when that stroll ended."

Kendall's head moves, lips hovering just barely above the skin of her cheek. "We will have more strolls in the future," he murmurs. "And soon, I believe, you will come to feel at home within yourself. Then you will recognize your own charm and gifts."

She smiled, leaning against his lips. "I look forward to those moments." she sighed contented, nuzzling against him, waiting for another masterpiece to be revealed.

"Princess," Desrianne called from the dressing table. "We really need to get a comb through your hair before the knots become set. Perhaps you could enjoy the Lord's drawings another time?" Steel colored eyes flicker over the couple before moving to the red-headed servant, seeking some form of support at getting the pair separated.

Her glance shows that Rory is already looking at her, attention drawn by her words. There is a minute pause, before the red-haired servant comments, "The Lady Dara awaits, m'lord."

Irritation flickers in the Chaos Lord's eyes at the interruption and he leans back in his chair. Gaze remains locked with Margot's as he says, "The Lady Dara must wait on her lady's pleasure, Margot. What say you?"

Where Irritation flickered in Kendall's eyes, Margot released a weary sigh as hers were revealed from behind long lashes. A hand caresses his cheek, tipping his chin so that she may taste his lips, hers lingering for several tender kisses. Withdrawing only far enough to meet his gaze, she smiled apologetically. "I say… that as much as I'd love to delay this meeting… that is not the solution. Besides, the sooner we deal with this," the emphasis was on the 'we', "the sooner we can move on to more pleasant experiences." Stealing one last kiss, she slipped from his lap and moved to sit at the dressing table.

He lets her go without objection, turning his attention back to the sketchbook. He turns pages slowly while work is done for Margot's preparation, waiting patiently without comment

Desrianne picked up the comb and began working through her hair, especially those snarls that had started to dry into clumps. Once that had been complete, a task that was less daunting than the night before - thankfully - Desrianne began creating an elaborate plait. "Desrianne," Margot spoke up, "Please, if it is possible, will you leave the back loose and just sweep up the sides?" She recalled that Kendall liked her hair swept up on the sides, but still loose, so that it wasn't too severe.

"Of course, Princess." While Desrianne worked, Margot donned earrings and placed a pendant around her neck. In the end, the top and sides of her hair were woven into an intricate basket weave with all the ends coming together in rosettes at the back of her head, held in place with the decorative combs. The soft curls down her back were still slightly damp, but more dry than not by now. All that she required were her silk bejeweled slippers of a matched green and a little tinted balm for her lips, which she applied while Desrianne collected the shoes. Slipping her toes into the shoes, she rose and stepped in front of the mirror to give herself a final look, smoothing her gown and examining each detail with a critical eye.

"What do you think?" she finally asked, turning to face Kendall when all was complete. "Good enough to meet the Lady Dara?" Her tone hinted to the nerves she was trying so hard to keep tightly reined in.

He looks up at last when she stands for evaluation, closing his book and rising to join her. Absent fingers twitch his sleeves into place as he looks her up and down. No longer warm and admiring, his gaze is now critical and evaluating as he takes her in, walking all around her to inspect her on all sides.

Desrianne steps back as the Lord moves around the Princess, moving unobtrusively out of the way. She stays quiet throughout the inspection, but her expression says that the Lordling had missed his cue to compliment Margot's beauty.

Even though she knew this was Kendall's way, even though she asked him to evaluate and correct any final touches that may be out of place because he would know better than either she or Desrianne, it still did not diminish the anxiety she was feeling as he walked around her with a critical eye. It took all that she could muster to not fidget, cast her eyes down, or portray anything but calm serenity on her face. Her heart raced and her stomach churned, the stress doing little to soothe the side effects of the tea she drank earlier. Margot wasn't even certain she was breathing while Kendall was evaluating.

He found very little to adjust, though. A fold of her skirt had not unfurled properly when she stood, and one hairpin had need of straightening. He attends to these things without comment before moving back around to face her.

Coming around to stand in front of her, he places hands on her shoulders, looking into her face before leaning close to press a kiss to her forehead. "Very good, Margot," he says, stepping back again. He smiles down at her. "You will do quite well, in particular if you do not forget to breathe. Though you may be certain the Lady Dara will not fail to find some fault."

"Of course she will," she replied softly before returning his affection with a soft kiss to the corner of his mouth. "Thank you." She smiled, her appreciation shining in her eyes. "Now, to see to your final touches and then to meet our guest? My new charge?" Margot shook her head. "Whatever Lady Dara is to me. To us."

Margot wanted his arms around her, holding her as he did on the balcony, whispering in her ear that all was well and promising her that he would be there. She was feeling very insecure, very nervous. The trick, unfortunately, was not to appear as such; but she hadn't a great deal of experience with such things. This was to be her first true test of her ability to mask her feelings. She also doubted, much to her chagrin, that touching Kendall at any point would be acceptable. No holding his hand, no arm about her waist. He would be a presence, but she would be alone.

Kendall looks to Rory with a nod, and the red-haired servant steps forward with green robe in hand to assist his lord with final preparations. Chiming silk is laid over the Lord's shoulders, and he moves over to the mirror to evaluate himself for several heartbeats before he gestures with his hand.

"I think you look radiant, Princess," Desrianne piped up, pride in her voice at the vision of loveliness. "Trust in yourself, Dear. And…" her teeth were clenched so tight, the matron was certain they would shatter, but she still managed to finish the rest of her advice. "Take heed to the Lord's advisement. Listen to ALL that is presented to you before any final decisions are made."

Margot crossed the room, pressing a peck to the other woman's cheek. "Of course, Caresse." Affection warmed the younger woman's voice. "I trust Kendall to advise me in what is best for me, short term and long. He knows things that I simply cannot fathom and he can suss out deceptions that I would not know exist."

"No, I would prefer the ch'theron," Kendall says to his own servant, paying no heed to the byplay between the two women.

"Yes, m'Lord," his servant says, removing the first garment from the Lord's shoulders and taking it back to the wardrobe. He hangs the first item up with quick care before pulling another robe from within and bringing it forward to present for his lord's approval. This one is much darker in color, close to black, made of some heavy fabric that seemed to absorb the light around it.

Soft eyes harden as they turn to regard the Lordling. She wasn't convinced that any advice he might share with her Poppy would be in HER best interest; but perhaps if it served HIM and by proxy happened to serve Margot's best interest simultaneously… The matron drew a cleansing breath and released it slowly. "Follow your heart, Poppy. But do not lose your head in that quest."

Another peck was bestowed before Margot stepped back, making sure to keep out of Rory's way so that he may assist Kendall. She contemplated assisting her lover herself, but that was Rory's role and she did not wish to overstep any boundaries. If they were alone, she may help him dress, but this was different… very different.

"She will test you, Margot," Kendall comments as Rory works. His gaze in the mirror moves to look at Margot's reflection now that the princess was done talking with her maid. "I know you will be on your guard, but you must also beware her knowledge of your feelings for me. We know not what transpired between she and your mother, and so we are at a disadvantage. As to be expected, she knows more of my history than you. She will use that against you."

As he speaks, the second robe is laid over his shoulders and his servant steps back to await the minute nod that signals this one is acceptable. Blue eyes go back to his own reflection. "Qun'dar thayleff sol'enwei chwil, Rory." The servant nods as he makes adjustments to the hang of the heavy, dark robe, then produces a brush to make sure the nap of the fabric lays properly. Kendall tugs black sleeves into place, and moves the wider sleeves of the robe to their proper hang.

Her eyes fell for a moment, a warm smile curling her lips. She was dying to know what he had just said, which made wanting to learn his tongue all the more desirable. It was beautiful and exotic and she was ever-curious. But, if Kendall wanted her to know what was shared between he and Rory, he would have said it in a language that all present understood.

Her gaze rises again to meet his reflected image, head canting to the side. "How would you suggest I combat that?" she inquired with curiosity. "Are there things that I should expect that could be listed in categories so I may be prepared and leave her hungry and craving the taste of my surprise and dismay?" She approached Kendall, but still left a few paces of space between them; her words still addressing the man in the mirror. "Not events proper, these are things of your past and it is for you to decide if or when you deem me trustworthy enough to share your history with, but… are there types of deeds that I should be aware of before this introduction?"

Kendall's gaze moves to regard her in the mirror for several heartbeats while he adjusts his collar, then he turns his attention back to make final evaluation of himself in the glass. "Rory, see to it that the Lady Dara is alerted to the Princess' readiness to see her."

The red-haired servant bows first to Kendall, then to Margot, then takes himself out. Desrianne remains to the side, forgotten by the Chaosian and superfluous in this situation. She takes opportunity to simply observe the two standing together without drawing attention to herself.

Every detail finally to his satisfaction, he picks a piece of lint from the arm of his robe as he turns to regard Margot. Not surprisingly, she can immediately see the change in his body language and carriage, a broadening of his personal space as he turns and unconsciously puts an additional step between them. Hands tuck themselves into the sleeves of the heavy robe, which is an unintentional reminder. Removing his hands, he walks over to the wardrobe and retrieves the sheathed knife that had been placed carefully away. Pulling up the sleeve of his robe, he attaches it to his right forearm.

"I am the son of the Duke," he says as he buckles the straps around his arm, his voice dismissive. "I have enemies and I have killed some of them, I have vices, and most of all, I have very few secrets. The Lady Dara knows of Telairen of House Carlack, whom I loved and lost. As do you. I have not had reason to be overly conservative in my personal pleasures, but ultimately my relations with other women have no bearing on my relationship with you."

Both hands find home pressed flat against her abdomen with one atop the other, elbows drawn in and shoulders pulled back; bringing her posture both rigidly straight and delicately graceful. It was a soothing motion as her fingers rubbed her stomach. Margot was silent for several moments; there was nothing that he revealed that was truly shocking, or even new information for that matter.

The only thing that pained her heart was his last statement and knowing that, while he desired her and even had true, deep-rooted feelings for her in his heart which had been confessed that very morning, the possibility still existed that he may lie with other women once they returned to his home. She supposed she should take comfort in the statement, both in his honesty and openness, and that he stated that if he bedded another it did not tarnish his affections for her. Only now she would have to decide how she would accept the realization that he shared the bed with another while their bed was half-cold.

"I have not heard anything here that I was not already aware of by your own admission or did not already suspect based on things you have shared. If this is the worst that the Lady Dara can offer to see me discomfited, then I am afraid that she will be sorely disappointed." Margot's eyes drifted away from Kendall quickly so as not to reveal how much his last statement stung. She would have to do better to hide the emotions that seemed to shine so brightly in her dark eyes while meeting the Lady Dara.

Now was not the time to fret over something that may not even come to pass. The immediate issue was dealing with the Hendrake. She had to focus her attentions there. She loved him more than anything; but, she was also doing this to preserve the family line and she could not allow her love to make her forget her duty. She wanted to be his companion, his alone. She wanted him to be hers alone. She did not want to be a pawn of Dara's or anyone else's. And yes, she wanted that happily ever after that her parents had… even as far-fetched and unachievable as it may seem.

She was not yet willing to lose hope, abandon faith, give up on love.

Fingers continued to massage her stomach, trying to soothe the churning before she had to leave the safety of their chambers. Their chambers. Those two little words gave her cause to glance around the room, taking in every detail as if she was seeing it for the first time.

A smile of wonderment curled her lips as she was reminded that she stood up to Fiona and she stood up to the Unicorn. She held her ground against her mother and her father. The Red Queen who frightened many, she sat before as a child and never quaked or squalled with fear. She was not weak, fragile, timid, or delicate. She was a princess of Amber, princess to the Fae. Her heart was pure and strong and would guide her to her destiny, and she would not be denied by her mother or some Hellmaiden or her machinations.

"I am ready when you are, Lord Kendallarithan."

He finishes his final re-adjustments as she centers herself. Each person likely had their own ritual for this. For him, the obsessive attention to his appearance gave him the time and space to ground and prepare himself for whatever might come next. He pauses at her words, looking into the near distance for the space of five heartbeats while taking a breath. Turning his gaze back to her, he releases the breath and with it all tension. Veiled and distant once more, he offers her his hand. "Very well, Princess. It is time for you to meet the Lady Dara of Hendrake."

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