Do You Like To Tickle?

Title: Do You Like To Tickle
Time Period: June 11, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Niall eavesdrops on an education in auditory encouragement, as Aislinn covers Ariel's ears.

It's pretty clear that the ladies of Pins and Needles aren't paying much attention to the front room of the store. At least not at the moment. There are sounds coming from the back that are usually reserved for the bedroom. A very… spirited bedroom.

But then, that's just what you get when you employ a prostitute.

A curtain lips aside as Mariah makes her way from the back to the front, her attention on the woman behind her. "It's as easy as that. I can't believe you've been married this long and you never learned the art of audible encouragement," she says, a laugh on her words and a complete lack of shame that has a number of Sorcha's customers stuck in disapproval.

"Their egos won't survive without it, frankly." She'll notice the customers there in a minute. Maybe.

It was a very harry met sally moment. Sorcha disbelieving that Mariah could fake something. Something like that.

As everyone could hear, Mariah could.

"Well three quarters of the year I am a sailors widow" Sorcha points out, an armload of fabric that is in fact a dress bound for the dressmaking dummy so that they can start working on the hem and getting it even. "And I hardly need to audibly encourage him when he is here" Sorcha points out. The dress grasped and with a flick of wrists, a crisp snap of fabric and it's being inspected. "I suppose that… okay well yes. Bloody hell, do they teach you how to do it when you go to work there?"

She sets about to getting it slid over the form now, she too oblivious to customers and the birds chirping in their cage.

Aislinn imagines that it would be polite to take an intense interest in one of the dresses Sorcha has on display in the shop's front window and occupy her hands by exploring the texture of the fabric, but her hands are currently occupied with covering her son's ears - for what little good it does. Ariel stands in front of his mother at the counter, his head tipped back and looking up at her with a mildly bewildered expression on his small, pale face. Even with her palms crushing his head like a vice, the noises coming from the back room are too loud not to penetrate the white-knuckled barrier Aislinn hurried to erect.

She says nothing to either Mariah or Sorcha when they emerge, not because she's upset with the other women, but because she's— not entirely sure what to say or even if she should say anything at all. Her mouth makes a thin line.

Doing his level best to browse innocently in the front room, Niall is found idly and distractedly thumbing through some old yards of fabric that don't fit his style at all - not, that is, without questioning the smith's normally drab style. Then again, he wasn't paying attention to leafy green and flowered patterns but to potentially much more interesting going-ons in the back room. And no one is holding hands to his ears. A bemused smile touches the man's features as the pair of Pins and Needles emerge. "Their egos survive all the same, just unknowing," quips the blacksmith.

"You pick up things along the way," Mariah says with a crooked smile. "Like a lot of professions, I gather. If different on the specifics." A bit different. She turns toward the front, then, stepping up behind the counter with a glance around. It would probably do better to look sheepish, but she doesn't seem to be able to, especially as Niall picks up the conversation.

"I'll grant that only some need the help," she says to him, tone playful. "Your tastes turning, Niall?" swapping the subject, probably for the others' comfort. "Summer seems to be getting into your brain." Florals, indeed.

Sorcha manages to startle as Niall makes his presence known and when the seamstress turns to face the front, she can see him. And then she see's Aislinn with Ariel and while Mariah may not look sheepish, there's red flooding her own cheeks and she's limping over to the counter, almost ready to leap over it seems. "Mrs Rowentree. Oh my giddy aunt, I am so sorry" Because obviously if she's holding her hands over Ariel's ears, they've been there long enough.

Mariah gets an elbow to the ribs. "I apologize, the bells didn't go off" Which is because there are none above the door, it seems. She looks down to Ariel before ducking behind the counter to get a small jar of caramels in brown paper and limp around the counter in an offer of apology to both mother and son.

"Is Da here?" Ariel asks Aislinn in a voice that's bolder, louder than he intends thanks to his mother's muffling hands. She looks down at him, both her fair brows arched, and when she doesn't reply Ariel makes an attempt to explain: "Is he playing the tickle game with Mrs. Ferrier? You scream like that when—"

And he doesn't get any further than that because Aislinn's hands have flown from his ears to his mouth to smother the reasoning behind the question.

"It's all right," she assures Sorcha, a little shrilly. "Truly."

Tastes don't turn, but Niall's attention does, down to the more elegant florals he's fingered. Though not repulsed, he seems definitely surprised at where he's wound up in those minutes of thoughtless distraction. Ahem.

The hand that touched fabric then moves up to touch - cover, rather - mouth as Ariel's words are interrupted. Niall stifles his laughter in the face of the mother, albeit there's a shine in the man's eye as he shares a look to Mariah and Sorcha. Throat clearing a moment later, the blacksmith adds, "Where are those bells, anyway? Don't tell me you've traded them away."

Mariah looks over toward Ariel, too, managing not to laugh by sheer willpower. "Have a caramel, little darling," she says, with a nod toward Sorcha and her jar. Chewing. Makes talking difficult. When she look up to Aislinn, there is an apologetic look, but apparently she thinks it wiser not to continue that thread of conversation.

"If we did trade them away," Mariah says to Niall, "It's only to have an excuse to visit your forge." Her smile widens there, her arms folding on the counter.

"I don't know where they are. I thought they were there this morning, maybe not." The jar lid popped open for Ariel to take one and thus, not be asking about tickling that makes Sorcha's face go even more red. "I suppose I shall need to trade something with you to have some more made. So that.. this doesn't happen… again, Lady Rowentree, you came for something?" Divert her attention back to the woman and her son.

Ariel's skinny fingers dig under Aislinn's hands and stubbornly pry them from his mouth. He can unwrap the caramel with it covered, but he can't very well eat it. "Thank you," he tells the seamstress, crinkling paper, "I like sweets."

"They're bad for your teeth," Aislinn is quick to remind him, but she doesn't protest when he pushes the candy into his mouth in defiance and stuffs the wrapper in his trouser pocket for safekeeping.

"Were you playing the tickle game with Miss Larke then?" he asks. "I want to learn but Mama says I'm not big enough."

"Dia ar sábháil! Ariel, please stop talking."

Aislinn's exasperated pleas go ignored for the time being, the boy oblivious to all discomfort and embarrassment in the room (and he doesn't get that from his mother's side of the family). He smooths the front of his wool coat. "I'm plenty big, Mrs. Ferrier. Will you and Miss Larke teach me?"

Niall's mouth opens to send his reply to Mariah only lightly on matters of business, but the exchange between mother and son, the son to seamtress sweep all that away. The man just laughs aferwards. "He's certainly got a gift of gab, doesn't he?" notes Niall once he regains his words. The incorrigible encourager, he is.

"But anyway, bells. Or, maybe a whistle." A residual chuckle sneaks out of the man.

Mariah looks from Aislinn to Sorcha, her lips pressing together now, because it's really hard not to laugh. Especially with Niall encouraging. She's never been terribly good with kids, though. Way too amused by their awkward observations.

"I hate to admit this, Ariel, but I was teaching Mrs. Ferrier how to cheat. And you're not gonna like this, either, but your mother's right. Mothers usually are, you know. Very smart. It's a good idea to listen."

She looks over at Niall then, a crooked smile settling as a reply, more to his chuckle than the business arrangements, of course.

'You need to be this tall before your father can teach you how" Sorcha holds her hand up to as tall as Aislinn. And that, is as much as she is going to discuss the topic, the jar put down on the counter and smoothing her skirts out. "What, young man, are you and your mother here for? Because right now, The both of you can have one thing, from the shop, and the caramels don't count"

Even standing on the tips of his toes — and he does try — Ariel doesn't come close enough to the top of Aislinn's head to insist that he's almost there worthwhile. Her arms loop around his middle, hugging him close, and she presses a kiss to his crown. "We're here to have his measurements taken," she says. "He's quite the little weed."

Niall slips his way over to the more fitting fabrics that normally make up his wardrobe, conveniently relocating closer to Mariah's proximity. "And I was just here to put in an order for some mending," he adds to the now shop assistant. "Which should do for bells, if that'll even out."

Mariah looks over at Sorcha, apparently letting her handle the measurements in this particular case. Perhaps she thinks Aislinn will find it more appropriate, all things considered.

But luckily, Niall gives her something to do, and she steps closer his way when he mentions mending. "That should even out well enough. You have it with you? We can get it started today, even." Mending, she can do that much reliably, at least!

"I can do measurements" The measuring tape draped over her neck as it is, she's quick in unfurling it where it lay like a stethoscope. "Pants and tops?" She questions, a look to Niall and Mariah, letting her defacto assistant handle the blacksmith. "Anything for yourself Aislinn?" venturing to use Aislinn's first name. There's a gesture for mother and son to come around the counter and to the sewing area proper.

"Aye, pants and tops," Aislinn says, following Sorcha behind the counter, and although Ariel is old enough to climb onto the stool by himself, she hooks her arms under his and hefts him up - much to the boy's chagrin. "He needs riding clothes," she adds, and grabs Ariel by the wrist when he makes an attempt to communicate his displeasure at being babied by swatting at her like an overgrown kitten. "Now you hold still or I'll tell your father you didn't behave for Mrs. Ferrier."

"I said thank you for the caramel," Ariel insists, jutting out his chin, disgruntled but more or less deflated by the threat. Edmund's opinion of him means more to him than his mother's.

As for herself— "I've had more clothes than I know what to do with since I married Eamonn," she says, or starts to. If there's more to that thought, Ariel interrupts her before she can finish.

"I asked for a little brother for my birthday," he slyly confides in Sorcha. "She needs new clothes because babies make you fat."

Niall quirks a wide grin at Mariah at her offer. "Today'd be well to do it, especially with the status of things." And by status, he means the long hole most likely from fabric catching on pointy metal things that has the shirt he's currently wearing in disrepair. Made worse by the man's own attempts to mend the piece, of course, it looks like he got about half way through poking it about with a thin wire before he conceded defeat.

"Oh, for goodness sakes, Niall," Mariah says with a laugh a she looks over the damage. "Someday, you'll learn to come to us first, aye?" She nods him toward the back, stepping over to hold open the curtain. "Just be a sec, Sorcha," she says to her boss before following the man to get to stitching.

'Take your time" Over her shoulder to Mariah and Niall, waving them off before starting in on taking number,s mentally recording them to write them down. This is one of the few shops that works with clothing, and Sorcha at least makes enough to live on for herself and her mother when Patrick doesn't come back with his own 'income' from sailing.

"You liked my dress enough to come back then. Riding clothes for you young sir. I shall have to make them with a bit of room to grow in the legs yes?" Wide lips parted in a smile. "As for babies, well, I wouldn't know. I've never had the pleasure of having one, but even if your mother gets a bit thick around the waist, you'll still love her right?"

"I guess so," says Ariel. "Da loved her when she was fat with me, and Gran says she looked like a whale."

Aislinn is quiet again, no reprimand on the tip of her tongue. Colm was much more docile at Ariel's age, and since she doesn't know how to deal with her brother-in-law's bullying, it may be fair for Sorcha to assume that she doesn't know how to handle her son's, whether he intends to be hurtful or not.

He at least holds still per her request. "You should have a baby," he tells Sorcha. "Then you won't be so lonely."

"A whale?" Sorcha shakes her head. "No. Not a whale, or a house. Shame on your gran for saying such. It takes room for wee babies to grow in you. If her stomach didn't get so big, you'd not have been the healthy boy that you are. If she didn't get that big, she couldn't perhaps give you a sister at some point. SO perhaps you better ignore your Gran on such a thing, and instead listen to your father hmm? A woman with a belly round with a baby is a beautiful thing, to be cherished" She reaches up, pinching his cheek.

And her face turns a little wistful at his recommendation and a glance to Aislinn before looking back up to Ariel. "How astute you are and wise beyond your years. I do wish I had a little baby. Watch him grow up strong like you. But maybe I'm not meant to have one. Maybe I'm meant to make pants for growing men like you instead hmmm?"

One needs a husband at home, to actually pop out a kid and even with 8 years of marriage under her belt, that hasn't happened even when he has been home. One last measurement and she offers a hand to help him down off the stool."But if I ever do have a babe and my stomach grows big with him or her, you can have your mom bring you, and you can hold him or her. But only if you are ever so respectful to your mother yes? Because above all, we should respect our elders?"

Ariel scrunches up his face at the pinch and with his eyes squinted shut he misses the look of gratitude that passes over his head. Aislinn offers Sorcha a wan smile. "You should speak with Fletcher Cruikshank," she says. "He's a talent for charms. I know how you feel about magic, but if you and Patrick decide that you want a child, a fertility spell might be your best chance with how often he's away."

"What's a fertility spell?"




using magic to make a baby.

Inconceivable. Well, not if you used the charm. "I don't… know if I'd want to raise a baby Aislinn, without him here. And I know that I can't tie him down and keep him from the ocean. I couldn't ask him to do that. He'd go crazy. Some men are born with the sea in their blood. Maybe, this is how I'm meant to be. Maybe Mariah's meant to inherit the shop when it's my turn to pass"

Sorcha reaches over to ruffle Ariel's hair and limp over to the counter for the jar of caramels. Grab a few and return to pass them to the kid. 'Share, with your brother hmm? Maybe your father?" She looks back up to the healer. "When does he need the riding clothes by?"

"Thank you," Ariel reiterates dutifully, counting the caramels, and he wouldn't be counting if he didn't plan on following Sorcha's advice as strange as it is to hear someone acknowledge that Colm is his brother in public. There is a joke, here, about the state of Edmund Rowntree's teeth and how caramels might worsen it, but Ariel doesn't make it and Aislinn doesn't think it, because neither of them are capable of being that malicious.

"I'd like for him to be in the saddle with Eamonn every day by mid-summer," Aislinn says. "Is two weeks enough time?"

"Come back in a weeks time and we can make sure there's enough room to grow in" She'll put some things to the side and focus on this first. There is a hierarchy in the town and while Sorcha has no allegiance shown to one family over the other, there is still a hierarchy. Her next words are spoken quieter, some hesitation in them. "Does.. does mr. Cruikshanks use his magic for… unkind reasons?"

Sorcha's question gives Aislinn pause. Rather than immediately answer the other woman, she places a hand on Ariel's back between his shoulder blades. "Will you wait outside for me?" she asks him, and when Ariel hesitates her mouth curves into a wider smile. "I don't want Hush to think that we've forgotten about him."

Ariel glances over his shoulder at the smoky-coloured cat perched on the outer sill of the shop's window, its long, fluffy tail fanning back and forth while it lounges in the sun. He tucks his chin into a nod and begins unwrapping one of the caramels on his way out, not for Colm or his father, but for his mother's familiar on the other side of the glass.

Only when the door has swung shut behind him does Aislinn address Sorcha's concern. "If he did," she says, "Donagh would make more use of him."

Which is food for though, looking outside the small window to familiar and child, fingers toying with the measuring tape. She trusts the woman in front of her. As much as Mariah? Maybe not. Not enough to have gone to the woman when her leg was broken. But she trusts her enough. As much as she trusts Beisdean. "If, if I were able to provide the payment would you maybe perhaps… have him make one? Of the things you mentioned"

If Aislinn was as smart as her heart is kind, she might have some qualms about agreeing to Sorcha's request, but the possibility of generating gossip should word about this purchase get out either does not occur to her, or she gives the townspeople of Dornie more credit than most of them probably deserve.

"Aye," she says. "Of course."

Cheeks color and she ducks her head in thanks. "I know you, to a degree, far better than He" And more comfortable with the devil she knows as opposed to the devil she doesn't. "Just let me know the cost and I'll see to it that you get it" She looks away from the woman and towards the child. "And really. I'm terribly sorry about earlier. Mariah and I were just passing time. I am so terribly embarrassed that he heard all that" Her hand thumps the counter. "I should get you going, you have things to do, places to be. Him to get home" And she's striding off, to the door without it's bells, favoring still the leg that had been fractured months before. "In a weeks time, they'll be ready and if they don't fit proper, time enough to alter them"

"Thank you, Sorcha," for the apology, the promise of new clothes for her youngest son - both. Aislinn steers toward the door where Ariel waits with Hush cradled in his arms, the feline straining to open his jaws around a mouthful of sticky caramel. "You're a good friend."

"I try to be. Give my regards to your husband. And you" This to Ariel, though she keeps her distance due to the woe-begotten familiar's presence. "No more big as whales. And share the caramels. Now, off with you. Before I sew pink riding pants for you hmmm?" Not that she really would.