(1866-08-30) Walking Off Cliffs
Walking Off Cliffs
Summary: Eduard decides that he and Lasair need lessons. As per usual, things end awkwardly.
Date: 1866-08-30
Related: None
Lasair  Eduard  

Gerrell Manse
The Gerrell Manse in Sunsreach.
Aout 30, 1866

Eduard was rather focused today, in the clearing out of the day's business. He had asked Lasair to set aside some time in the afternoon for the both of them, when she was planning out the day's schedule. He would not say why, nor has he been very forthcoming in the last few days. Just last evening, he forwent dinner at the manse and left by himself, returning some hours later with a pleased look on his face and no answers. It is probably rather infuriating.

The answer, if it is answer at all, comes this afternoon. Eduard is to be found in the Manse's gathering room, which has been cleared in the middle, allowing a great deal of space. And Eduard is not alone. With him is an older gentleman, and a young lad in his teens. Resting by the lad's feet is a black case. The older man and Eduard are talking softly, Eduard's face intent, serious. His clothes, as they often are, are simple if well made, black trousers, and a white tunic, which has been rolled up at the sleeves with the top lace slightly undone. Unsurprising, given how the heat effects the lord, though certainly not helping his roguish appearance.

Infuriating is something of an understatement, really. How is she supposed to assist him if she knows not where he goes? Or who he speaks with? Or if he has eaten? Still.. he is his own man and has every right to come and go as he pleases…

And round and round goes the conflict within Lasair's mind, throughout the morning. As much as being close to him often results in moments of awkward tension, being kept at a distance is worse, in a way. Oh, she's kept herself busy, as usual.. but out of necessity rather than choice. Seeing as she's no need to depart the comfort of the manse today, the young woman is attired casually also - though 'Lasair casual' remains a step or two up the propriety ladder from 'Eduard casual'. Dark brown skirts of a light fabric match pleasantly enough with the pretty, embroidered corset she has chosen; perhaps a reflection of the balmy weather and sunlit surroundings. It's mostly a dark gold hue that complements her complexion and hair beautifully, with threads of tawny, ochre and subtle blue depicting birds and pretty patterns across the sturdy fabric. Following the summons, she doesn't bother to change - it's too hot for additional layers anyway. She sets aside her needlework, leaving it on the windowseat where she had been perched, and starts for the chamber where her Lord is rumored to be, offering a gentle nod of thanks to the servant girl who brought word.

"What's all this..?" Drifting into the hall, she eyes the strangers curiously, before raising her gaze to Eduard as she approaches. Damnit, she'd meant to be cool and aloof, to let him know she was at least a little displeased at being left out of things. But it's rare she can maintain such a facade when she's actually in his presence.

There it is again, that easy smile of Eduard's that proclaims he is mightily pleased. Though part of that is, in fact, directly related to Lasair's presence. "Ah, excellent. Master Gorgio, may I present Mother Lasair, my dear friend and chief advisor." His only advisor, really, but it helps highlight her importance to him. "Lasair, may I present Master Gorgio Baldini. Master Gorgio has agreed, for the time we remain in Sunsreach at least, to give us dance instructions." Turning back to the man, he inclines his head. "Whenever you and your lad are ready."

Gorgio bows deeply to Lasair, his expression mild yet pleasant. Clasping long, thin fingers before his breast, he offers a murmured pleasantry to her, an equally pleasant assent to Eduard, and then turns to his assistant, who begins undoing the straps of the black case, readying it's contents, which proves to be a violin.

Lasair's dark eyes widen, lending her an expression of almost comical horror as she looks from Ned, to the instructor. And back. And again. "But.." Hesitating, grasping for the words - quite unlike her - she belatedly remembers her manners, looking to Gorgio and inclining her head with a harried smile. "Good day to you. Pardon my ah.. response. I am certain you are a fine tutor, Master Gorgio. It's just.."

A sidelong glance is cast over Ned, her lips twisting just a little in a fleeting hint of displeasure. "..I am not sure my Lord thought to mention my utter lack of talent, in this area." It grates her, having to admit it. There's a flush of rosy warmth along her cheekbones in the wake of her words, and she folds her bare arms across her midsection, shifting from one foot to the other uneasily. So this is what he's been up to. Devious bastard.

Bastard, certainly. Devious, well, that is debatable. Regardless, Eduard's smile does slip a touch at the look Lasair gives him, but with a straightening of his shoulders, he stands firm upon his ground and seems about to speak. Master Gorgio acts first, however, turning as the teen sees to the treating of his horsehair bow with a small block of resin, and offers Lasair another bow. "Lord Eduard mentioned that both of you are novices, yes. That is certainly not something to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it means I shall not have to break you of bad habits, and instead can teach you properly. That is all to the good, I assure you." He offers a hint of a smile, but it is stiff and formal, as the man seems to be himself.

Clearing his throat as Gorgio turns back to the lad, giving the pair of nobles the hint of privacy, Eduard approaches Lasair. "I am sorry if you are displeased. This is something we both needed, however, and I was foolish to think you might enjoy yourself. All I can ask is that you will, instead, bear this task with me, so that we might both benefit." He is almost as formal as the dance instructor, though he wears it much more awkwardly.

"I'm not displeased, Eduard." The reply is soft-spoken enough to be uttered just for the Lord as he steps closer, and yet the tone contrasts with the words entirely; rather more curt than she'd intended. Realizing it, she sighs, slowly pivoting on a heel to better face the taller man, her expression gentling when she meets his awkward gaze. "..really. I'm not. It is a thoughtful idea and it behooves you to be skilled in these things, should the need arise for them." A hand rises, coming to settle upon his forearm where her fingers offer a reassuring squeeze. Still aware of the presence of the others, despite the impression of privacy lent by their turned backs, she withdraws the touch a moment later. "It's just.."

Glancing toward the tutor and his lad, she captures her lower lip in her teeth. And that look perhaps lends him some clarity. She's not upset.. she's nervous. "..I don't like you to see me being useless at things. It's bad enough I can barely keep my seat on a horse. What if I add 'stepping on your toes' to that woeful repertoire?" The Priestess eyes Eduard with worry. She's not kidding. And that might be all the more endearing.

Endearing is an understatement. Eduard's eyes are wide as he looks down into Lasair's, showing the full depths of the blue-grey storm that is his gaze. "Lasair, I…" He closes his mouth for a moment, perhaps all too aware of the presence of others as well. Drawing a step closer, he murmurs for her ears alone. "You are never useless. If anything, you are skilled at so much that it is I who feel superflous. I am well aware that you could do my job much better then I, and yet you patiently advise and follow me regardless. For that I am in your debt. So if I seek to instruct in the few areas where you are not as comfortable, or find those who can do so where I can not, know that it is only so I can try, however futilely, to pay back this priceless debt I owe you for your own instruction and aid." His gaze and face are so open, so earnest right now.

The brief moment that follows, though it may well seem to go on for an eternity, is broken by the strumming sound of the violin strings as the violinist prepares his instrument. Gorgio, clearing his throat politely, says over his shoulder, "We shall be ready in just a moment, my lord, my lady."

Relaxing a little, visibly, the blonde smiles faintly up at the tall Lord, shaking her head. "Nobody is better suited for the role you have been placed in. I just do what I can to shoulder those tasks that are of less import." There's no false modesty about it - that is her place as she sees it: to stand quietly by his shoulder and offer a guiding hand along treacherous paths. Not to step before him and lead. Still.. she permits herself a moment to linger in her regard of him, of his open expression and the genuine warmth and approval within it. It goes some way to steeling her resolve. Well, when it comes to the prospect of dancing, anyway. The rest? She firmly pushes to the back of her mind, as has become her habit in moments such as these. Don't dare to think of it.

By the time the instructor speaks again, Lasair seems better prepared. Nodding once in understanding toward Gorgio, she straightens her shoulders and smoothes her skirts with a sweep of her palms. "Very well. Whenever you are ready, Master Gorgio, let us see what can be done to safeguard my Lord's dainty toes."

Eduard's laughter follows Lasair's last words, a musical counterpoint to the tones coming from the strings of the violinist's instrument. It is her earlier words, however, that have that open and warm smile lingering on his face, and the silently mouthed words 'Thank you.' Then he too turns towards the dancing master, schooling his features as the old man turns to them, tapping a cane that seems to have materialized out of nowhere. But then, a moment ago, the lord and priestess only had eyes for eachother, so perhaps it is unsurprising.

"Very well. We shall begin with the basics. The most important dance is that of the slow waltz. The faster ones, though they can be more complicated, are much more forgiving. Here, every nuance is important. Eyes will be not on the group as a whole, but on the individual pairings. Thus, you must move as one, complimenting eachother." As he speaks, he approaches them, gesturing for the pair of them to approach one another. "Now, my lady, you will want to place your hands here and here, and my lord, here and here." He gestures with that cane each time, though comes short of touching them, as it would not do to assault nobility.

Settling to the lesson with the diligent air of a dutiful student, Lasair listens intently to the words of the elder gentleman, though not without a fleeting glance to that cane, particularly when it's raised to lightly jab in the directions he implies. There's a secret, shared glance of nervous amusement up toward her partner when she draws a slow breath and steps closer. And, perhaps he's just being fanciful, but does he sense the faintest of trembles within her graceful hands? One comes to settle lightly at the curve of Eduard's shoulder, the other held aloft, uncertainly awaiting the grasp of his own to guide the placement. She's watched dances often enough to have some idea of the basic posture, apparently.. but she's still out of her depth when it comes to actually doing it. Hardly helped, in fairness, by the fact that it's Ned she's learning with. Talk about coping amid distraction.

To look at Eduard, you would not know that this was his idea. His throat flexes as he swallows, and suddenly he seems just as nervous as Lasair did. He pushes it away, but there is no hiding the steady increase in his pulse when their hands meet. It fairly thrums through him to her. And yet, when they touch, he seems to calm, the beat of his heart steadying even as he lays his other hand behind her, coming to rest on her waist. That space between them, so close and yet politely distant, fairly thrums with tension. And yet it also filled with their compatibility.

"Good, good. Now, when the music begins, you must listen to it, and yet also listen to me. For now my lord, you must lead, and my lady must follow. Yet always remember that neither part is more important then the other. Without one there is not the other, and you must both come to the point when neither is leading, neither following, and move instinctively as one." Gorgio starts tapping out a basic rythem on his cane. One two three. One two three. "And in the future, remember that the man is there only at the behest of the lady, and only with her good favor. That is why the next time you do this, and every time after, you should always ask for the dance my lord, and it is my lady's prerogative to refuse or accept as she wills." There is mild rebuke in the tone of the dance instructor's voice for Eduard, though it is a patient sort. As he said earlier, he does understand that they are both novices.

And then the music is beginning, and the pair begin to move. Slowly for now, carefully, under the watchful eye and the tapping cane of Master Gorgio.

Suddenly realizing the glaring flaw in his oh-so-brilliant plan, is he? Lasair, fortunately, seems mostly concerned with keeping her own focus, so it's reasonable to assume she might overlook the Lord's sudden attack of nerves. Or whatever it is that has his heart thudding in his chest, at first. Clearing her throat very softly when his large hand settles at the contrastingly slender small of her back, she absently shakes her loose tresses out of her face and looks up at him; affording him a hopefully reassuring smile. Quite the admirable effort, given the tension that assails her own body. Oh, let's face it - this sort of contact with anyone would have the Priestess ill at ease..

..it's just that much worse because it's him.

Music is a great unifier, isn't it? Yes, music she can cope with. The steady rhythm soothes her instinctively and she has a natural ear for it.. at least when she's required to sing. Gorgio will know soon enough whether that translates to movement. Come to think of it… something in the instructor's choice of words has her lowering her gaze abruptly, the better to conceal a sudden blush. She levels her dark eyes on Eduard's chest instead and offers a silent thanks to the One that she has no need to speak, for the moment. She'd be quite tongue-tied. Tentatively, when Ned leads her into the first few steps, she follows.. and manages to do so with some semblance of grace, too.

It is not the dance intructor's fault, really. He is an artist, and clearly likes to turn a phrase in support of his art. For him this is natural. For Eduard however, he very much wishes the man would go walk off a very tall cliff. He stares straight ahead at first, over Lasair's head at the back of the room. It is a wonder that he doesn't step on Lasair's toes in the process. And yet, inevitably, his gaze is drawn downwards. At Lasair's downward-turned head, at their feet… at least until Gorgio's cane makes a loud 'tap' against the floor. "Never look at the feet, my lord. It will confuse them, and look undignified to those watching as well." Allowing himself a slight flush, though only partially for the older man's politely scathing words, Eduard turns his gaze up, focusing once more past Lasair. Over time, however, the music seems to take hold, and he forgets about the others present, even with the steady tapping of the cane or the occasional correction. Soon, all he hears is the music, and all he feels is where he and Lasair meet, and where they do not. It is a give and take, not unlike the majority of their relationship, and much as that, it soon becomes clear that unskilled or not, they move well together.

His partner, likewise, eventually seems to relent; that suffocating tension departing in the lull of music and rhythm. At the command of their tutor, she relaxes herself still further; a yielding flexibility to her arms here, a more dainty balance on her toes there. It's a lot to think about but, to be quite honest, the distraction of concentrating helps. A lot.

And they do seem to have found an odd sort of ease with one another, even in only a brief time. Lasair follows his steps unthinkingly, getting used to a comfortable measure of stride for the both of them. Even the 'proper' distance maintained between them, though, is far more daring than she would normally be able to tolerate; her skirts lightly swish against his legs now and then and she occasionally feels the warmth of his Eduard's breath stirring her flaxen tresses. So until told otherwise, she will keep her eyes resolutely forward, idly studying the lacing of his tunic and firmly seeking to ignore the glimpse of his skin beneath.

She must be doing well enough, despite her protests.. after several rounds, Gorgio explains, never ceasing with that steady tap-tap-tap, how she might execute a simple turn on the culmination of the next. Biting gently on her lower lip, the young lady does as she is bid, using the momentum to twirl once beneath her partner's arm and hand, then returning to the former posture without missing a beat, resettling her hand at his broad shoulder. Well, that pleases her, it seems. As she flashes a brief glance and grin up to Ned, one might even think she were beginning to enjoy herself.

It does not surprise Eduard that for all that he had some slight bit of training prior to this, it is Lasair who proves the more graceful, the more talented. Nor is he envious, instead his smile is one of pride and shared camaraderie and joy as he meets her brief gaze up at him. He could not help but look down when he brought her back from that turn, back into his grasp. The smile fades a touch when Gorgio corrects Eduard sharply on a slightly sloppy move, and a second later on his posture, but even so the lord bears through it with the smallest of curls to his lips. He, too, is enjoying himself.

All too soon, it seems, the lesson comes to an end, though judging by the sheen of sweat on the violinist it may have been a little longer then it seemed. Gorgio, promises to return the following day, and offers compliments on the nobles' progress - particularly for Lasair's. He then turns to oversee usher his assistant out, who has already put away his violin. And just like that, the pair are alone once more.

Well, not only is the woman not a Knight nor soldier nor Paladin.. she's tiny. Graceful movement comes more naturally to her, regardless and it stands her in good stead for this manner of thing, much to her own surprise. There's even a very quiet chuckle when Eduard is reprimanded, which betrays her contentment now that they have settled together in the steps. Star pupil.

When the lesson comes to and end, and they complete a last, almost deliberately slow step before coming to a halt.. well, for a split-second at least she simply remains within the loop of his arm, that quiet smile still playing about her lips. It takes Gorgio's voice to break the spell and it does so abruptly, cutting through the calm tension like a blade through silk.

Shaking herself out of the reverie, Lasair steps back from the stormy-eyed Lord, turning her attention to the instructor now and inclining her head graciously for his compliments, thanking him and bidding them bith a good journey. They seem nice enough people. And.. she undoubtedly finds herself strangely missing their company, when she finds herself standing alone with Eduard in the now almost unbearably quiet hall.

Bidding the instructor and his assistant good day, Eduard stands there for a moment, looking after them, his thoughts are very similiar to Lasair's. As he stands there, looking at her back as she looks to the door, he knows that he should just thank her and make an excuse to depart the room. He knows her reaction to anything else, and knows the pain. Yet he cannot help himself. Cannot stop his hand from moving to lightly touch her arm, cannot stop his foot from closing the distance just a bit. Cannot stop his lips from moving. "You were magnificent, Lasair." Nor can he help the tone of blatant admiration and regard from spilling out into the small distance that lays between them.

There's a soft laugh from the young woman, her attention still on the closed door. "Hardly. But thank you." She doesn't seem to immediately notice Eduard closing the distance and she starts just a little with the touch to her arm, turning to sharply meet his gaze. It's only surprise, though. She blinks, a flit of ebon lashes, then smiles somewhat ruefully up at him. "Perhaps I shan't fall on my face in attending a ball.. but I hardly consider that measure of skill as 'magnificent'. Besides.."

Turning more fully, she clasps her hands loosely behind herself, skirts swaying a little with the gentle motion. "You have the harder task. I only follow." She is still talking about dancing, right? "And for what it's worth, you do so very well." That smile turns mischievous for a moment, lessening the oppression of quiet surrounding them. "I have little choice but to obey the whim of my Lord, when he takes such a firm hand." Hmm. Maybe the unwittingly stirring manner of speech displayed by Gorgio has rubbed off on her.

There is a vibrating sound in his throat, part growl of frustration, part laughter. Eduard gives in to the latter side after a second, letting out a low, throaty chuckle. "The harder task. You may be right at that." Offering his head a rueful shake, he runs his hand through his hair, for once managing to tame it slightly, if largely by accident. Then, surprising himself as much as her, he flourishes a courtly bow that would befit a knight before his queen, one hand behind, one hand at his breast. "I thank you for the honor of the dance, my lady, and beg pardon for your sufference. If I may be so bold, I would also entreat you to save me your partnership for a dance tomorrow." Well, Gorgio did say he should ask, right? Besides, this is much better then his first impulse.

Laughing softly again, the warmth in her manner permeating the timbre of the sound, Lasair shakes her head in amusement as she takes a half-step closer and, with a light touch of fingertips to his shoulder, silently bids him rise from the courtly bow. "..I rather think he meant for you to begin the next lesson that way, Ned. Not to send a written request by messenger a week in advance." Well, that's exaggerating a little, if only for humor's sake. "Stand up, you loon. Though you are very welcome for the dance.. I actually enjoyed myself." Which is a great improvement of the mood she arrived in, having been kept from his presence all day, and most of the previous evening. Still grinning slightly at his antics - for she surely takes them as jest - the young lady remains where she is, not yet affronted or plagued by some unknown guilt. "I shall look forward to the morrow, then.. particularly if I am not to see you again before then?" There's only a little petulance in the tone, accompanied by the arch of a brow. Well, she couldn't let him off that easily, could she.

The ease with which she approaches him, and addresses him, slowly infects Eduard. He is, after all, usually the one to be more at home around her. Straightening from the bow, he inclines his head to her, acknowledging the point and admitting his fault in the same movement, before he shakes his head slightly. "Though I would not wish to rob you of any anticipation for tomorrow's practice, I had hoped that we might dine together tonight, if you find yourself amenable." There is still some formality left, a slight defense wrapped in a jest.

The tilt of Lasair's head does imply curiosity. Why is he so awkward today? Well, you know.. moreso than usual? She tells herself he's merely adjusting to his new role as Lord Farrant but her heart's not entirely in it. He's never usually this strange with her. "I think I can say with the utmost confidence that I shall certainly find myself 'amenable', my Lord.." Well, if he's going to assume such formality, in the wake of such a delightful lesson, then damnit, she'll do exactly the same. The warmth begins to gradually depart from her countenance, as the evening greys might cast their hues over a landscape vibrant when the sun is at its height. "..I shall see you then." The mask of advisor is fully returned, maddeningly impenetrable, as she withdraws him, both physically and otherwise. There's no real reason for her to be so suddenly uncertain but.. it's a combination of factors, really. The way her fingers shook when taking his. The weight of his hand at her waist. That half-smile of his. And now this awkward, stilted conversation.

She unsettles him without meaning to, or understanding how, exactly. And this is the result. Not that she'd think to discuss such things with him. Eduard knows his own mind but he is sensible, too. He wouldn't cast aside a useful advisor for the sake of not really enjoying her company. Easier just to dangle the occasional carrot, right? Somewhere in the back of her mind, a little voice suggests, barely above a whisper.. that she may be a fool. Resettling her skirts with a fluff of both hands, she dips her head respectfully toward the taller man and begins to turn to take her leave, holding her head high.

Lasair's reaction strikes Eduard as a whip to a bared back, but he bears it stoically, without comment. The traces of humor that linger fade, and all he can do is murmur an acceptance and watch her start to walk away…

In his mind, Eduard cuts a manly figure. Cursing the One, he strides forward, spins her around, and pulls her to him. He shuns the known consequences and makes his choice, and he brings her lips to his. She tastes exactly as he remembers.

When he comes back to himself, he is alone, standing in a darkening room, with nothing but the summer heat and a beating chest for company.

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