(123-09-16) The Truth About... What?
The Truth About… What?
Summary: It's pie time again! And that's the truth.
Date: 28/09/2016
Related: Related Logs (Say None if there aren't any; don't leave blank. You have to use full URLs, like http://gobmush.wikidot.com/logtitle)

The facade of the red and yellow grocery shop on the corner where Oldtown Square meets the Shambles has been enlivened (you'd hardly have thought it possible) by a pair of striking striped windowboxes on the second floor. The wider stripes are blue and orange. The narrower stripes have undertaken to fill in most of the rest of the rainbow, except pink and purple. The plants growing therein are mostly green, such kitchen herbs as sage and rosemary and basil; but one corner is reserved for lavender, which has household uses of its own.

The windows are open and Esme, standing just inside one of them and watering judiciously from a cup, espies Camillo whilst he's crossing the square. She gives him a cheerful wave, and waits till he's near enough to speak to.

"Mornin', dearie," she calls down, resting the empty cup on the windowsill.

Camillo isn't one to cast his gaze upward too often, but he's more observant than the man on the street might realize. So the wave has his attention right away, and he returns it in his own manner, a little lift of a hand as he approaches closer to the shop. "Mistress Esme," he says. "Is all well?" He doesn't seem to expect that it shouldn't be. Quite the contrary: he smiles a bit. "You're growing herbs."

"… Very well," chuckles Esme, who has been regarding Camillo and the plants alike with a small, contented, permanent sort of smile. When he points out the obvious her gaze shifts from him to the herbs and then back again. "Oh, well," she disclaims modestly, "just a bit o' this and that for the kitchen. My—" Her smile broadens; she lifts an eyebrow. "Husband's idea," she mentions. "He sorted out the boxes," she gives the edge of the one before her a quick pat, "and what not. D'you want to come up and have a look, dearie?"

Camillo smiles that much more broadly. "Your husband," he repeats softly. And he bobs his head at the offer. "If I'm not intruding," he says. "Though I know you might like to keep it more…family for a little while."

"Even if I were thinkin' that way, you ain't far off bein' family, now, are you?" asks Esme reasonably. "Come up," she repeats; "just tell 'em I said you should." She gives him a firm smile and a beckoning sort of wave, and disappears cup in hand from the window, to begin setting the table.

When Camillo appears she's just depositing a generous slice of steak and kidney pie on a plate, in anticipation of the appetite he always remembers to bring.

Camillo knits his brow a little, but he does as he's told without further argument, proceeding inside and then up the stairs to the apartments. Despite being fully expected, he does knock. Then he comes in. "Thanks for inviting me up. It must feel different here, now."

"Oh," and Esme glances about and sniffs, but looks quietly pleased, "a wee bit different, I daresay. Here's your pie, dearie. But come and have a look," and she puts the knife in the tin and flicks the cloth over it again, "and tell me if I'm over-watering 'em. You'd know better than I. Flox told me what to do for 'em when he's not here, but I don't know…" She gives a quick shrug and leads the way into the other room, overlooking the square.

As Camillo has never set foot in Esme's bedroom during any of his visits to the flat, he can't know what's different and what's the same, but that the desk which used to be in the corner below the window looking up to Beacon Boulevard (and was thus easily glimpsed through the opening in the interior wall) has been moved to a place in between the two windows which have windowboxes.

The bedframe is new, though, a large and solid piece of furniture hewn from pale hardwood and polished till it seems to glow from within. Its headboard is carved with what look like garlands of brambles, growing and twining together, bursting into flower above the middle of the bed where lovers might meet. Three carved butterflies of different sizes and shapes hover over the flowers, as though to sample their nectar. There's a shelf above, home to a glass jar of cornflowers, with a battered brass candlestick at either side and a book at either end; the sheets are of good linen, bleached white, sewn lately by Esme's own hands, with a patchwork quilt arranged on top. The latter is too small, being leftover from the narrow single bed in which Esme used to sleep alone.

The washstand on the nearer side of the hearth patently came from the same workshop. It's the same wood, the same style, broad enough to hold two sets of china, one accompanied by shaving things and the other by a dish of hairpins. Esme's striped dresses and her richly embroidered wedding cloak hang from hooks on the walls at either side of the far corner, with an assortment of Flox's tunics among them. Most things, in here, seem divisible by two.

Esme pauses at the same window from which she greeted Camillo a couple of minutes ago, and turns to him, and takes a step sideways and back to let him get a good look at her crop of kitchen herbs. "It's convenient to have 'em so close at hand, there's that," she points out complacently.

Camillo cautiously follows on this mission of herb-minding, but he cannot help but take in the details of the bedroom as he passes through. "Your bed is so beautiful," he says softly. "I'm glad." And surely he has noticed the matching washstand and his and hers accessories and accoutrements. But he doesn't comment on those for the moment, just sticking his head out of the window to look at the herbs. "I think they look well," he says. "Of course, most herbs are weeds to begin with and should grow without trouble unless something unusual happens." He puts a finger in the soil. "They've water enough."

With her hands on her orange and green striped hips, Esme studies Camillo studying the plants: "I'm glad to hear you say it," she chuckles; "I'd not like him to come home again and find I've killed 'em all." She sniffs, and glances the other way, at her bed. "It was a piece of good fortune," she mentions, speaking of practicalities even whilst her eyes feast upon the beauty of it, "gettin' the deal I did on the new furniture. Commissioned for someone else to begin with, someone who didn't pay up on time… Still got to make a new quilt, but there'll be plenty of time for that before the nights get too cold."

"It's very nice," Camillo says, looking back over his shoulder at Esme. He seems quite sincere. "The quilt will make it nicer still." He smiles and straightens up, pushing some slightly shaggy hair back with the hand he didn't stick in the dirt. "You really have made a life together, so quickly."

"Well," says Esme mildly, "we knew what we wanted, and we're both pretty determined people… D'you want to wash your hands?" she suggests, having caught that gesture, as well as the soil test before it. "There's water in here," she informs him, and pats the pitcher on the right-hand side of the washstand as she passes it. Not everything matches exactly: the china on the left with the shaving things is blue and white, and obviously new, whilst that on the right next to the hairpins hails from several different sets.

"Thank you," Camillo says, for once not putting off an offer. He goes to the basin to wash up a bit. "I'm still very pleased," he says softly. "That you…decided to do what could make you happy."

Esme waits for him between one room and the other, leaning a hand against the wall where the doorframe would be if she had a door rather than an old curtain, striped blue and orange, tied back. "Bless you," she says softly. "There ain't no 'could' about it, though, it does make us happy." At the end of which shockingly personal remark she ducks her head and pauses before adding, "And I wanted to thank you again, dearie, for comin' along with us to the sept t'other day, and for takin' charge of the rings too. It was very nice to have you there," she insists, managing to look at him again, "and after a thing like that, well, that's why I say you ain't so far off bein' family."

"It was kind of you to have me," Camillo says softly, nodding once. "I was…too happy to join the two of you on that day. I have been lucky to see two very happy weddings this year."

"… Too happy," echoes Esme, with a lift of her grey eyebrows. She tsk-tsks and maintains, "There ain't no such thing, and don't let nobody tell you there is. I'm happier'n I've ever been," she says flatly, as though she were confirming the colour of the sky, or the presence of steak and kidney on her table, "but I'd not call it too much, even so." She taps the edge of the washstand with a fingertip. "Come and have your pie, dearie."

Camillo dries his hands on a nearby cloth, or his breeches failing that, and he goes toward this promise of pie. "I suppose I must believe you," he says. "So will Flox live here all the time, now?"

Each end of the washstand has a delicately carved rail for a drying cloth. More specimens of Esme's own handiwork, rather older than the sheets.

"Oh! No, no," she chuckles as she fetches the jug of cider from the bottom shelf of one of her kitchen cupboards. She sounds amused, though perhaps a man acquainted with the many variations of her cheerful moods would sense a wistful note in the midst of this one. "Couldn't do that. But they've been very generous — he's here three nights a week. Tuesdays always, and the other two dependin' upon what His Grace is up to and what he needs, see?"

Camillo sits down in his usual seat. "That is very good," Camillo says. "I'm sorry that I…couldn't take his place at the tower, at least by night. But Flox is very dear to the prince, and that is a good thing in the end."

Pouring cider into their two cups (which match the one with which she was watering the plants — it's a good bet that the one on her side of the table is the very same, because it only had a drop of water in it, didn't it?) Esme shakes her head to dismiss the necessity for any apologies. "No, dearie," she says firmly; "it's kind of you to think, but this is how it is, isn't it? And we're grateful for what we do have, and we're not goin' to let what we don't have keep us from enjoyin' the rest, see?" She sets the stone jug cautiously down, and replaces its stopper. "You know I understand better'n anyone," she adds drily, glancing at the half of the room inhabited by her son, "how Prince Dhraegon might not be able to spare him, nights."

"Yes," Camillo admits softly. "Many servants don't marry at all," he says, though surely she knows as much about service as he does. "Maybe…having only certain days together will make them sweeter when they come."

That there's something in that, is confirmed by the narrowing of Esme's eyes and the twitching of her lips into a broader, more significant smile as she settles into her own chair. She looks away as she reaches for her knitting bag, and when she looks back her expression is completely ordinary. "… I don't know that I'd want him under my feet all the time," she concedes candidly, "but a few nights a week, regular like, that's very nice. Suits us both." She pauses. "Don't know what night you'n Master Tybalt have settled on definitely for your party, but, ah." She clears her throat, a touch embarrassed. "Whether I can come, well, that might depend on my husband, see. I don't necessarily know his plans in advance, because that depends on His Grace."

Camillo shakes his head a little, lifting a hand to scratch at his beard. Which is well-trimmed in contrast with his hair. "That's all right, I understand. It's…Tybalt's idea."

"Aye," says Esme, as her small and practiced hands discipline a tangle of needles and yarn and pick up where they left off, near the toe of a Flox-sized grey sock; "and I reckon it would be too awkward now to tell him the truth." She sounds sympathetic. Not to mention eerily well-informed.

Camillo picks up his fork in turn to get at that pie. "The truth about what?" Camillo asks cautiously. Because open-ended statements like that can easily get one into trouble.

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