A Votary To Fond Desire

Title: A Votary to Fond Desire
Time Period: February 7, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: There are worse things to write poetry about…

It's in the middle of the night, but that's fairly young for the night at such a place of the Dovetail. Outside, a light snow drifts down, and a raven has found shelter under the eaves. It cranes its head to peek into the nearest window, its beady black eye blinking — just in time to watch a man steal one more kiss from the lips of the resident before the door closes behind him.

The raven waits a few seconds before hopping toward the center of the window, then tapping upon the glass with its beak.

A tiny roll of parchment is tied to the raven's foot, and it reaches down to nibble at the paper while it waits to be let in.

From the way Mariah lets out a relieved sigh once the door is closed behind him, it wasn't a favorite of hers. Which may also contribute to the fact that he's leaving before sunrise. Once she steps back over toward the bed, she takes a moment to light a lamp before that tapping gets her attention.

She picks up her robe to slide it on over her light nightgown, which may not help much against the cold outside the window, but it's something. When she opens the window, she leans out a little to eye the raven, but she does reach for the parchment. There's a glance down to the grounds under her window, as expecting to see the responsible party lingering about.

No one stands below, nor are there any new footsteps in the newly fallen snow. The raven caws once in greeting, and lifts its foot to let the woman take the tiny parchment, almost as if begging her to take it off.

Once it's off, leaving her to unravel it, the black creature hops in without waiting to be invited, and in an instant, the black feathers become dark and gold fur as the marten scampers to curl himself up at the hearth.

That answers one question.

The little parchment unrolls to reveal what looks like a poem in an handwriting that's half scrawl, half flourish, long loops for y's and g's, jagged slashes for t's and pointed peaks on M's and W's.

When the bird lets itself in, Mariah lifts an eyebrow, but that expression turns more amused when he shifts to a more familiar form. She closes the window behind him and saunters herself over to her bed, to sit at the foot. She'll just take her sweet time, thank you.

But eventually, she stops savoring the anticipation and actually opens the parchment. "You'd warn me if I was about to be horribly disappointed, wouldn't you?" is asked somewhat rhetorically of the familiar, but by her smile, she doesn't really expect to be.

"Tch" is all that Darklight has to say about that, daintily licking his paws and cleaning his face in the warmth of the fire.

When Mariah reads the scrawl, she may think that Beisdean has plagiarized at first. But it's much worse than that.

"As Promised," is the seeming title of the piece.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
I love thee for thy depth and breadth and height
and even though thou keepest out of sight,
for the way you sit beneath corset stays.
I love thee for waking my every day's
most urgent need, by sun and candle light.
I love thy Left side, as equally as Right.
I'd love thee deeply, and give you this praise:
I love thee with a passion put to use
in my own perhaps wickedest of ways.
I love thee with a love I'll only lose
when Youth is lost. I love thee in my head
in dreams, alas, alone — but if you choose
I shall but love thee better in thy bed.

By the arch of her eyebrow when she begins, Mariah may very well be preparing herself to be disappointed after all. But the moment when what he's done becomes clear, she has to pause, eyes closing while her hand covers what is most certainly a stifled laugh. And she sort of braces herself before going on, because she's determined not to give Darklight something to report back . At least, not anything she hasn't carefully crafted.

But, whatever her determination, by the time she gets to the end, she can't hide the amusement. Or the laughter, frankly. Folding the paper, she stands to slide it into a drawer she tends to keep locked, but before she comes over to the familiar, she pulls out a bag of dried meat. Likely, that's kept around for Masque, but tonight, there's some bribery to be done.

So she crouches next to Darklight, pulling out a single piece to hold between her fingers. "You can't tell him a laughed, alright? We have to tell him I was unimpressed, not at all amused and tell him… Tell him he's not getting so much as a kiss blown with wordsmithing of that caliber." She sets down the piece of meat before pulling out a few more, although those she keeps in her hand for the moment.

"Deal?"

Black eyes blink twice, and the marten goes to nibble at the meat before stretching little hand-like paws to tug her hand down, though Darklight doesn't take until it's offered, watching her intently instead to wait for her to give up the other scraps of meat.

Apparently it's a deal. It's always hard to tell with animals.

Whether it's a deal or not, Mariah's not cruel enough to tease an animal. Not the way she's completely fine with teasing its mage. She sets the other pieces down with the first and reaches over to pet the marten before she stands up to put the bag away.

Before she closes the drawer, though, she unfolds that bit of parchment to glance over the words again, smile returning, even if it does get a shake of her head. But it's put back in the drawer and the drawer is closed and locked with a playful huff.

"Is he close by, Darklight?" It's just an idle curiosity, is all.

The marten takes the other pieces, eating with an odd combination of dexterous daitniness and primal carnivore. He tips his head and then moves from floor to bed to window sill to nose at the window.

She is asking for you, the marten calls mentally, and watches the dark outside the window before Beisdean emerges and looks up at the window, brows raised and corner of his mouth quirked. He's bundled against the cold, coat buttoned to the neck and hat and scarf all leaving only his amused face visible.

When he emerges, the marten turns to Tch at Mariah once more.

Mariah watches the familiar cross the room, but before she comes over to the window herself, she takes a moment to slide her robe open a bit, as well as letting her nightgown fall off a shoulder. It just does that sometimes, she can't help it!

But while he steps out, she comes over to push her window open again, looking down with a crooked smile. Her arms fold on the sill, and she leans out a bit. "Expecting to get asked upstairs?" she asks with her own amusement.

Darklight scampers out onto the sill then across a rain gutter and finally leaps into a tree where he disappears to eat the rest of the meat still in his mouth.

Below, Beisdean reaches up to tip his hat, and takes a few steps closer. "Only if it's free," he says lightly, as softly as he can though still allowing his voice to carry to her window.

"How are you this evening? Don't let me keep you from any guests you might have inside." He knows that she has none; he gave the familiar directions to knock only when she was alone, after all.

"There's very little that comes free in this house," Mariah says, her smile easing some, "A warm meal, maybe. Outside the house, I believe late night walks are complimentary." It's an offer, of sorts.

"I'm doing remarkably well, as it turns out," she notes, but there's a wider smile as she adds, "Don't worry yourself on that score, very little can keep me from paying customers, you know."

"Just them from you, eh?" he teases, but he nods, with a tip of his head toward the ground to indicate she should come down for the walk.

"Put some clothes on first, or you'll freeze. Not that I mind what you're in, but my lechery can be sacrificed for your wellness," Beisdean says, reaching into his coat pocket for his ever-present flask, tipping it to his lips while he waits.

"I'm moved by your selflessness, Beisdean," Mariah says dryly before she disappears from the window, pulling it closed behind her.

She does make him wait a little while. It's only proper. But when the back door eventually opens, she comes out in a formfitting, still low cut jacket over a regrettably long skirt and boots more suited for the weather. Her hair's been left down and free of any adornments, which is somewhat unusual, but she didn't want to leave him waiting too long. She did bring a scarf, at least, which she is just looping around her neck as she pulls the door closed behind her.

"Larkie." He doffs his hat once again, then offers the crook of his arm, though he keeps that hand in his pocket. The other hands her the flask as he begins to walk.

His eyes look up to the sky as it sprinkles down snow, a couple of flakes catching in his lash and beard before he turns to glance down at her again. "Lovely evening," he murmurs, then chuckles with a shake of his head. "Darklight is being uncharacteristically taciturn, and his mind seems to be much more interested in his second dinner."

Mariah slides her arm through him, tucking herself close against his side as they start off. The flask is also taken without protest, and a drink as well.

"It is, isn't it?" She says, even if she's looking at him more than at their backdrop. It's almost an afterthought, that she gives the scenery a look over, as if making sure she's not lying. But the note about Darklight gets her attention back his way, and she smiles crookedly. "Usually a talker, is he? Well, I do make a habit of keeping only the best on hand, for when messengers tap on my window. Perhaps he'll be more chatty later."

His chuckle is low, the breath lifting in a silvery cloud into the air like the ghosts he carries with him most of the time. "Do do you like Barrett Browning? I feel bad for her that so many people misattribute her work to other sonneteers. If you'd prefer a Petrarch or Shakespeare, I'm sure I can oblige," he says, deadpan in mock solemnity. "Or, perhaps you'd prefer something more modern. Eliot's a bit dreary but…"

A mischievous grin threatens to ruin that feigned seriousness, "… there is something about Old Possum and a Book of Practical Cats that might lend inspiration."

"I did once have a brush with Sonnets from the Portuguese," Mariah says, as she passes his flask back his way, "Sentimental, don't you think?" Leave it to the prostitute to dismiss it in such a fashion.

As he goes on, though, she rolls her eyes overdramatically, "Oh ha ha." Her now free hand moves to her hip, and she smirks up at him. "I must say, I'm a little afraid of what you would do to poor Shakespeare, with humor along this vein. He might rise from the dust to throw something at you." There's just a pause before she adds, "However, I think Browning might be a better sport about it."

"How d'you know I don't chat with Will now? I could, you know," he teases. "And really, do you think he took his own work that seriously? With quotes like 'tongue in your tail' and 'cut off their maidenhoods'? 'Blind bow boy's butt shaft?'"

He takes a swig of the flask while laughing, which of course makes him cough, then laugh some more. "My favorite sonnet of his is the one about loving his lass because she's real, and better than all the overwrought imagery of the time, even if he was as guilty of that himself. 'My mistress's eyes are nothing like the sun…' Do you know that one?"

He looks down at her, reaching to brush a bit of snow from her hair.

"You could, but you'd've mentioned it by now," Mariah says with a quiet laugh. "He wrote a lot of lines, you know, they can't all be glorious." As defenses go, it's not the most serious, what with her grinning.

That smile softens to a mere curl at the corner of her lips as he touches her hair, and there's a lingering pause a moment before she actually responds to him. "Why don't you recite it for me?" Whether she knows it or not, she's leaving unanswered.

His brow lifts and he looks around for a moment, then steps off their path to where a low fence separates the nearest building from the road; he steers her by the shoulders to sit upon the fence. Taking off his hat, despite the cold, he bows deep with a flourish of his hand behind his back. Straightening, he begins the poem; he is a good reciter, his voice low but precise, the words rhythmic without being singsong, the rhymes not overly accentuated at the ends of the lines; instead he speaks the poem for meaning, almost conversationally so that the inherent rhyme and rhythm are more subtle and the content more clear.

Mariah manages not to chuckle as he sits her down and puts on a bit of a performance, but amusement is there all the same. And as he goes on, she even seems appreciative. As much as it, too, might be sentimental. She forgives the Bard.

When he finishes, she even claps, although with a crooked smile, lest his ego get entirely inflated. "Sort of a man after your own heart in that one, isn't he? The man who'd rather someone real in his bed, aye?" It's delivered as a bit of a tease.

"Aye, I think he was that," Beisdean says, moving to lean against the gate beside her, close enough that shoulders and hips touch. "And as much as I like the plays and poetry and books with all their romantic fancies, it's all just that… fancy. My imagination is a wide and vast enough place when I'm alone. I'd rather focus on what's real when I've a mistress in my bed."

He hands her the flask, then puts his hat back on. "So what else is complimentary on our little pedestrian adventure?"

"I'm afraid I'd be of a similar mind," Mariah says as she takes that flask, "But because I'm neck deep in fantasy at the Dovetail. It might be nice, something real." There's a pause before she adds, "At least until it gets boring, aye?" And then she drinks.

She keeps it in hand this time, as she considers his question with an arched brow. "Depends on how good your company is." She leans back a little, as if to take more of him in her vision. "It would be cruel to ask you to get out of your shirt again in this weather, wouldn't it?"

The scarf around his neck is adjusted, tighter, as the wind gets a bit stronger, and he laughs. "Just a wee bit cruel. But as far as too much fantasy at the Dovetail, well, we can solve that easily enough and make sure you come to my room instead."

There's a lack of an if in his words, though the persistent dimpling of his cheeks suggests he's not totally serious, either. "Just let me know when you plan to come by so I can make sure not to wear a sweater, aye?" he quips, reaching up to straighten her scarf, gloves hand brushing her skin.

Mariah gives him a wry look as he goes on, even through him fixing her scarf for her. However unnecessary it is. "I thought you were supposed to be proving that besweatered men could be just as dangerous as black clad rogues," she points out, lips growing into a smile there.

"Aye, that's right," Beisdean says, then dips his head toward hers, lips stopping just short of hers. "Saving the repute of all us poor knit wearers in cold climates, and typecast as gentle and sedate cuckolds or some such."

His hand moves from her scarf to the back of her neck, fingers curling around her loose hair as he raises a brow at her. "Such prejudiced stereotypes shouldn't be perpetuated, Larkie."

With that, he doesn't bend to kiss her but instead tugs her that half inch towards him with a hand suddenly at her waist.

"Saving or darkening," Mariah says dryly, but through an amused smile. Even with him as close as he is, she seems perfectly able to keep her head about her. Poor sweaters have a long way to go with this one.

So much so that there's just a touch of surprise when he tugs her closer, just a touch because it barely has time to form before her lips press against his. Her hands wrap around the ends of his scarf as if that could get him any closer.

When he's sure he's not (totally) forcing the kiss, he lengthens it, deepens it, leans into it; the hand tangled in her hair loosens and tightens and loosens again, the hand at her waist slides just a little under that snug jacket's hem.

"We're walking in the direction of the Albatross, you know," he says, breaking the kiss long enough to murmur the words. Not that they're walking anywhere at the moment, but they were headed that general direction. "Lady, will you walk a bout with your friend?" In the context of the play he quotes, it's a dance — it's certain he doesn't mean just a walk nor just a dance in the context of their banter.

Mariah doesn't protest it drawing out, and even when he breaks it, her forehead leans against his and he can feel her warm breath against his cheek. But his question is what gets her eyes to open and her smile takes on a sultry tint. "If Will is coaching you on what to say, tell him he's cheating."

She slides her arms up around his neck, that smile tilting crooked before she notes, "Albatrosses are supposed to be bad luck, you know."

"Only at sea, and I've one foot on shore, so we should be all right, aye?" he teases, tilting his head to nose her neck, breathing in there; his nose is a cold shock against the warmer skin.

He stands, slowly with his hands now at her waist so that she keeps hers around him as well, and he takes a step backward — one step more in the direction of the inn, and away from the Dovetail. His lips curve as he bends them to hers again, and it's clear he's smiling though she can't see it, close as she is.

Mariah jumps a bit when his nose touches her, but it follows with a gentle laugh and she stands as well, not seeming to mind renewing the kiss, at least for a few moments. But when she notices the direction he's leading them, she pulls back to shake her head at him with a chuckle.

"Ah ah, my heart and mind aren't sway by your roguishness quite yet, Beisdean," she notes with a crooked smile, her hands sliding around to take hold of his jacket while she brings them to a halt. "You need a girl far easier than me for a little poetry and kissing in the woods to draw me freely into your bed."

The impasse comes up, and Beisdean laughs, low, bending to rest his head on top of hers for a moment, as if defeated. "You're right. You're not very easy at all when you make everything harder than it needs to be."

The pun isn't intended, but he smirks all the same.

Still, he raises his hands as if in surrender, then turns, offering his elbow once more in the oldfashioned gesture. "C'mon, it's getting cold. You should be warm in your bed, if you won't be warm in mine."

"It's a specialty," Mariah says, the pun turning that crooked smile more playful. She tugs on his jacket a little and even as his hands go up, she presses closer to him, but only long enough for her to reach up and pluck his hat off. When she steps back from him, she drops it on her own head, tilting it jauntily before she takes his arm again.

"You could be warm in mine, too, you know. Or on my couch. The fireplace has a nice rug in front of it…" she says, her teasing coming with a playful wink as she steps them back toward the Dovetail.

"I could, though I've a bed I'm paying for elsewhere, and I've not the means to be paying for two places to rest my head, even if one is warmer and softer by far," Beisdean says. As if money were the only issue, but it's the simpler one.

They hadn't made it very far before his impromptu recitation, so it takes just a few moments before they're back in front of the Dovetail. Beisdean reaches up to pull the hat a little lower over her eyes. "I'll not torture you with any more doggerel, I promise. It probably just feeds into your image of the besweatered men." Beisean winks, then turns to the road once more, this time to take himself home, so his long legged stride is much swifter now.

"You've a decent point. Of course, if you ever have a change of heart, I promise it'll be worth it." Mariah pauses when the Dovetail comes into view, and she turns to him again.

"Please. You're welcome to torture me anytime," she says, and lifts up on her toes just long enough to press a kiss to his cheek. "Goodnight, Beisdean," is whispered warmly against his cheek before she turns to take a few steps toward the door. When she gets there, though, she lingers just long enough to watch him walking away before she slips back inside.