A Mother's Delight

Title: A Mother's Delight
Time Period: February 1, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: A friendly visit +1.

In a home, the kitchen is the most common gathering place, even when there are more "proper" places to sit like parlors and sitting rooms. But in an inn, the residents generally stay to the common room and tavern, and the kitchen is a place for the owners and the staff. Before and just after meals, there is a hustle an bustle that makes it the least restful place in the building, but in the off times, there's a cozy sort of quiet, a normalcy that inn-living generally doesn't provide.

It's here that Isibeal and Beisdean sit, each with their hands curled around cups of tea. Darklight is not one to give up the chance for a sweet treat, and he has his own little bit of tea in a saucer on the ground, along with a piece of bread spread with jam.

"I'll be running into the market later this afternoon if you need anything," Beisdean says to his landlady, lifting the tea cup to his lips. "Let me know if you need any errands run for you."

Isibeal sits with her ankles loosely crossed. Even here in this relative private, her attention is not wholly focused on her conversation partner. With an ear and eye spared to the prospect of potential custom, though, she still sits, drumming a thumb repeatedly in an idle tattoo against the curve of her teacup. Her eyes returning to her table partner, she favors him with a slight inclination of her head and a smile whose warmth is reserved, but not remote.

"Off to market, are you?" she says, with a note in her low voice that suggests an idle humor. "Thank you kindly for the offer." Rather than refuse or accept it, she asks with a slight tilt of her head and the appearance of wholly idle curiosity, "What are you needing for yourself?"

The door to the kitchen opens, allowing the wind to gust in a spray of cold snow. The culprit backs in, bundled up so far that she is barely recognizable except for the lace trim around her cuffs and dress hem. Too many bags and baskets are ferried inside and placed on various counters and blocks before she begins to unwrap the heavy scarf from around her face.

She's covered in snow, shivering, and when Luna finally dumps the wet snakey thing on the floor and turns to find her mother… she stiffens and pastes a false smile on her face. "Ma'," she greets first, then her eyes flit to the marten, "Darklight, how are you?" Then she turns back around to fiddle with some of the bags. "Mister Skye."

"Nothing much for me. Just an errand for Mrs. Fairbairn and some dried fruits and nuts for the pest," Beisdean says with a nod toward the marten. When Luna enters, he rises in his chair, on his best manners in front of Isibeal.

The marten makes his usual tch sound in greeting, moseying over to the scarf to sniff at it. His master moves out of his seat to bend and pick it up, then brings it to the hang it on the back of his chair, which he doesn't take.

"Luna," he says with a nod, and a gesture to the seat. "I was just about to head to the market if you needed any thing, but it looks like you've been."

Abandoning her tea when her daughter enters, it is not any courtesy owed to maidenly airs that brings Isibeal to her feet, but an instinct to matronly fuss that years of absence cannot eradicate. Tucking behind her ears a few loose strands of pale blonde escaped the knot at the nape of her neck, Isibeal smiles. "Look at this one, all laden down like a mule," she says. The slight elevation of one eyebrow is all the answer she gives, return expression for expression for the stiffened aspect no longer obscured behind the sodden scarf. "Is that my Luna?"

A mother's delight at a child returned to the hearth? Perhaps! It is followed by, "Of course it is," as Isibeal swoops down to collect the wet snake of fabric from the floor with quick fingers. "Leaving little gifts in her wake. How could I doubt."

"No thank you," Luna answers in a low but prim tone, her eyes darting around the kitchen and carefully avoiding the man sitting (now standing) with her mother. Turning her head, she smiles at Isibeal and extends her arms for a chilly and snow filled embrace. Being of smaller stature, she's able to bury her head against the other woman's shoulder with no effort to mask her eyes from Beisdean.

"Did you get my package?" She pulls back and utters the words excitedly, not hiding the conversation, just the subject. "I was buying fur and saw it, is it the one you're looking for?"

While the two women embrace, Beisdean takes the initiative, despite being a guest, to get a teacup for Luna and pour her a cup of the hot brew.

Returning to the table, he picks up Darklight's saucer, leaving him the crust of bread that remains, and then his own cup to bring to the basin. Then he scoops up the marten and tosses the creature onto his shoulder.

"I'll let you two visit. Thank you for the tea, Mrs. Owens," Beisdean says, warmth in his voice, before looking back to Luna, and giving a little bow. "Miss Owens. Enjoy your tea, though it may need to steep more for your liking." A playful jab in front of her mother, but he takes a step toward the door.

Their hug is a close press of warmth, unashamed and free in the absence of the stormcloud influence of Luna's father. Isibeal squeezes her daughter tight, and as she pulls back, she smiles a sad little smile. "Alas, my dear." Isibeal exhales the words on the low breath of a sigh, her aspect wistful and tragic for a stolen moment's drama as her sea-green eyes turn off into the middle distance. "No," she says. "But I am sure it is out there somewhere in the world." She leans in to brush a kiss to the apple of her daughter's cheek, patting her shoulder as she turns to draw away.

"Leaving us so soon?" she asks, and if she does not quite pout with her lips, the fussing in her voice has certainly kicked up a notch or two on the fussbudget scale. "Are you sure you have finished your tea? I could fetch you some of the little cakes, they should be done resting from the oven by now."

"You don't have to leave on my account, Mister Skye, I'm sure you're quite able to ignore my presence to please my ma in staying." Despite the affection in her voice toward Isibeal, it turns cold when speaking to Beisdean. Then, she pulls away from Isibeal completely in order to get herself a hot cup of water.

The tea that Beisdean prepared for her is pushed to the side as she pulls a small pouch with her own tea inside. The dried flowers and leaves are sprinkled into the water and left to sit as she turns to each of them and lifts her eyebrows. "Shall we to tea then? I would love one of the cakes, I haven't had anything in ages and I'm simply famished."

Beisdean pauses in his flight, and there's the very slight rise and fall of his shoulders in a sigh as Luna ensures he stays. "Just one, then I'll be going," he says, eyes sliding past Luna and her tea and then resting on Isibeal. "Only because you're the best cook in Dornie, of course."

A few strides bring him to the basin to retrieve his teacup, though he leaves Darklight's saucer, getting an exasperated tch and flick of tail from the marten. The tall man returns to his seat, lowering himself into it once more. "I suppose that'll work better than just steeping it longer, aye," he says to Luna.

Isibeal's smile addresses her mild "Of course" to each without showing any sign to which of them she intends it directed. She paces across the kitchen toward the cooling tray of seeded cakes. It is with practiced ease that she transfers a single cake to one small plate, and then another, and then another.

"Get yourself a napkin, sweetling," Isibeal directs her daughter as she balances the three small plates over toward the table, bustling. Clearing her throat with a delicate cough, she folds herself back down into her seat, and rests her forearms lightly against the table, behind her small plate. The cakes are still warm, smelling of honey and seeds and warm pastry. "It is an old recipe, but a good one."

"I am quite sober Mister Skye," Luna informs the man with a small stick of her tongue and a grimace. "I have been since I decided to take on a new client." The drug use and alcohol abuse is nothing new to gossip about or hide from Isibeal, being part of the reason the younger Owens left her home in the first place. In front of her mother, the young woman doesn't seem ashamed to admit that at least she's making an effort.

A whistful smile is directed down at her teacup as she picks up a spoon of honey and mixes it in with the bitter leaves and flowers. "He's absolutely wonderful, ma', I'm sure you'd love him." Same assurance, different man, every time she's in the room with the matron of the family. "In fact," she says with a secretive smile and a wink toward the marten, "I'm sure you do already."

A piece of the cake is broken off and brought to his mouth as Beisdean arches a brow at Luna's reply. He'd probably quote Hamlet if he wasn't already pushing the confines of politeness in front of Mrs. Owens.

He glances at Darklight with a brow raise and then to Isibeal for her reaction, not offering anything else to Luna. He takes a sip of tea, then breaks off a small piece of cake to give to the marten when Darklight flicks his tail again in irritation that Beisdean has tea, and he does not. "Manners, Darklight." If he has to behave, so does the weasel.

Pursing her lips into a mostly tolerant moue of fond exasperation, Isibeal lifts her tea to take a long sip and, possibly, to stall for time as she contemplates a number of suspects. "Do I indeed?" she asks archly as she lowers the teacup again. Leaving her hands to frame the china, she lets them warm against its sides as she watches her daughter with a slight narrowing of her vivid eyes. "Just how may you measure this wonderfulness, my dear?"

Eyebrows twitched slightly together, Isibeal turns her head to focus briefly on Darklight, lifting her gaze from the marten to the man with a faint quirk of her mouth. "Though if you are shy of our ladies' gossip," she says, tone light and inviting, "I suppose you might have a tale of your own to share instead."

"How does anyone really," Luna sighs as she stirs her tea a little. The tink tink of her spoon against the porcelain cup sounds off like a small bell. Then she lifts it with one dainty hand, blowing at the rim to cool the hot liquid inside. "He's quite strong, brave, but silent… everything I'm not." Especially the silent part.

She follows Isibeal's stare to Beisdean but doesn't look him in the eye as much as focuses at the wall just over one of his shoulders. The smile while talking about her new interest has faded to boredom, of course if Beisdean has something to talk about. "Perhaps you and Mister Skye have more to chat about than when I interrupted. You could carry on from that."

"Hardly shy of gossip, though business talk bores me, as I've none of my own," Beisdean says lightly. "I think I must be off; Henry sometimes sells out of the best cuts by noon, and I promises Mrs. Fairbairn I'd bring her her parcels by late afternoon."

He pops the rest of the cake into his mouth, then brushes the crumbs into his hand to save for Darklight. Once again, his cup is picked and brought to the basin. "Also, I'm sure you'll get his more honest measurements in all things if I'm not around," he says to Isibeal with a wink. "Thank you for the tea and kindness, Mrs. Owens. Enjoy your visit, Luna."

Eyebrows swept high above her eyes, Isibeal gives Beisdean a long look, and tips her head in a slight inclination. "You're welcome, of course," she says. Her lips thin a little in a line not quite a frown, a hint of disapproval, but it is difficult to discern in what direction it is aimed. Nostrils flaring as she glances back toward her daughter, she says, "Luck to you at market."

Lifting her tea again, Isibeal settles back in her chair and lingers over her next sip, gaze faintly narrowed. "I never thought you lacking in courage, my girl, nor strength of your very own special kind," she says, "but you have me at the last."

"Oh he's only trying to spare you, he's doing his fair share of business. One of the girls is making regular house calls now." Luna's snide remark is sung nearly as sweetly as the tune of a canary. The flit of her stormy blue eyes is accompanied by a tight smile in Beisdean's direction. "I shall, Mister Skye, I wouldn't wish your noble sacrifice to be in vain."

And he is summarily dismissed with a turn of her head.

"Ma'," the younger blonde chides as she pinches a first bite off her cake and pops it into her mouth. It's swallowed with a mouthful of tea and then Luna leans back in her chair with a hand over her stomach. "I'm nearly stuffed, that was so delicious. How is it that I can never make the cakes the same that you do?" It could be that she's busy smoking the poppies instead of drying their seeds.

The man looks somewhat apologetic when he sees Isibeal's expression. His brows rise at Luna's remarks, and he chuckles with a shake of his head. "Not business, lass. I've nothing to barter for such transactions, and you know better."

He doffs an imaginary hat to Isibeal. "Good day, Mrs and Miss Owens. May your gossip be as warm and sweet as the cakes."

This time he sees himself out of the door.

"Oh, we each have our arts," Isibeal says, with a very slight, private smile. She breaks off a small piece of her own cake and slips it into her mouth, although she does not appear to be paying much heed to her own bite. She watches Luna with a thoughtful slant to her expression. "Though I suspect if you had any real interest in cookery, you might learn yourself a few cakes."

"Perhaps if I ever become a wife or mother— " not both "— I'll find myself learning things in the kitchen. For now, I have other people to do things like that for me." And when she's in dire need of something to eat, Luna can just sneak in through the kitchen door. Which she does when she's practically starving to death.

"Do you still have it then? The fur?" With Beisdean's departure, the subject is switched back to the original reason for her visit. "I was going to use it as a trim for one of my hoods. A good piece of fur keeps the wool from flying much better than lace."

"Yes," Isibeal says on the long breath of a low sigh, "yes, I suppose that you do." She taps a fingertip against her cheek, glancing down at her seed cake and near-empty teacup. "Why, I'll cook and serve ale to many a mother's son and daughter, if it comes to that."

Her mouth hooks in a peculiar little smile, and for a long moment she is silent, watching her daughter with a queer look in her sea green eyes. She says with an almost deceptive lightness, "You would use seal fur to line your hood?"

Luna's eyebrows furrow at the question and she curves her lips downard at the outer edges, giving herself a pitiable expression. She's worn it all too often while growing up, mostly to garner sympathy while being scolded for wrongdoing. "I wouldn't want it to be thrown into the fire or wasted on someone that wouldn't appreciate the sacrifice." At least she's honest in that.

Her countenance brightens when she jumps up for one of the bags, diving into it with both hands and pulling out a dark green cloak. "Besides, wouldn't it look simply lovely on this? I'm hoping to wear it to the next celebration, if we have one. The last was a disaster for me but I'm sure you heard all the gossip."

"Luna, you bear the blood of a seal woman!" Isibeal does not rise to the level of rage, but there is distinct incredulity in her face. "What do you think people would say?" It is possible that her mother places far too great an importance on the value and weight of that seal woman's blood, in terms of how likely it is to feature in reaction, but then…

"I shouldn't think to see the sacrifice wasted," Isibeal allows after a moment's pause. She eyes the dark green fabric for a moment, and skepticism infiltrates the slant of her gaze again as she adds, on a snort's reproof, "But really."

"What'll you do with it then? What do you do with all of them that Da' finds?" In her imagination there's a room dedicated to piles of seal furs that lay in wait for someone of her ingenuity and fashion genius to put to use. But she hasn't found it yet. The wool cloak is folded away and tucked back into the bag. It'll come out again later when there's someone else to drool over it.

For now, Luna sits back with her tea and takes another sip. She seems much more relaxed than when Beisdean was here, smiling more often and much more genuinely. "I'm sorry, I don't think sometimes. I just think of how wonderful I would look in it…"

Her smile faint, Isibeal does not answer the question as to what she does with the seal furs. Perhaps she is attempting to cultivate an air of elusive mystery, or maybe she just does not want to be caught out in a hypocrisy. Either way, she avoids the question, but instead, inclines her head in an acknowledging nod that shades regal even as it forgives. "You are lovely, my girl," she assures Luna after a beat's silence, her smile curving wider across her face. "You do me proud."

"You think?" It's Luna's usual answer when she's told such things, when she hasn't asked first. "I'm never sure, you know, I look in the mirror sometimes and I see ugliness. My nose is too large or the marks on my cheek too dark."

Looking down into her cupp, she presses her lips together before leaning a little closer to her mother. "Mister Fogg has told me that I am pretty," a light tinge of blush on her cheeks is telltale that the newest interest just might be Isibeal's border. Also a man close to Isibeal's age. "But I had to ask, he doesn't say anything straight off."

"They do say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder," Isibeal tells her daughter with a light fondness in her voice. "To me, my darling girl, you are the sunrise. And to many men as well, you must know that, whatever you may think of your nose." Her mother leans onto the brace of her elbow on the table, reaching across to give the offending nose a tweak of her fingers; she aborts at the last second, though, to instead pat Luna on the cheek.

"So, Mister Fogg has told you that you are pretty, has he?" she demands. The barest hint of irony seeping into her voice, she gestures with her off hand and says, "Say on of Mister Fogg."

"Of course he has, why wouldn't he find me pretty?" A hand goes to her flaxen head and she brushes at a few curling strands framing her face. They're tucked behind her ear as she tilts her head a little to eye the ceiling dreamily. "He is quite brave, did you know he faced a wild bear to protect the town?" Embellished from the few words he gave her, the story's been spread already that he was alone when the other soldier went down and wrestled with it before besting it.

Holding her teacup between both hands, Luna looks into its amber colored depths before lifting it for another sip. "He also saved me from burning to death at the Dovetail," Another blush comes across her cheeks. "Rushed into my room and beat out the fire before I died… It's as though he's watching over me, my own personal guardian."

"A champion, even," Isibeal murmurs. Her eyebrows arched high over her vivid eyes, she lifts her tea to drain her cup, and then says firmly, "Why, it sounds as though I owe him the thanks of a grateful mother. I should like to hear all your details, my girl. Every last one."

Which conversation seems likely to last through several more cups of tea and possibly even another cake. With such an encouraging ear demanding tales of him, Algernon Fogg's nose must be itching like anything before the close of the afternoon.