Thedor 14, 229: Dancing Lessons

Dancing Lessons
Summary: The Princess Roslin Kilgour is giving dancing lessons to some young ladies of court, when Duke Ronan Crawford shows up with a surprise.
OOC Date: 14 January 2014
Related: None
Ronan Roslin 
Huge pillars of golden marble ring this room, silent guardians of the ballroom. Golden light spills over the pillars and onto the floor, shed by the huge chandelier which is suspended from the high ceiling. The floor is cool, pale golden marble, save for the large rose set in the center. Formed of a mosaic of rose marble and crystal, it shimmers gently. On the balconies above, huge arcs of rose silks have been draped expertly, bows tied at their crests. The same sort of drapery hangs above the wall of glass that forms the northern edge of the ballroom. Looking out, you notice that the ballroom is set flush with the ocean, the glass wall giving you an unparalleled view of the landscape across the sea.
Thedor 14, 229

It's a painfully intricate thing, courtly behavior. Both for women and for men, but for men it is more of a responsibility while for women it is more of an art. A career, if you will - the one most able to attract a Lord or Knight of good breeding and wealth will live the better life, so it goes. Most have endless parades of tutors, governesses, and the like. But even so, there's nothing to bring a lesson home other than practical advice from one's idol. And a Princess is every little girl's idol, even the rich, landed ones that are spread out here. The girls are between the ages of 5 and 10, and there's about a dozen of them. Tutors, guards, ladies-in-waiting sit along the far side of the wall while Roslin stands before the young ladies.
"To dance, Ladies, all that is required is the hands." She lifts her own delicate hands. Today she wears a familiar gown of brown velvet with gold pressed patterns of leaves and vines. Her underskirt and bodice, both embroidered with freshwater pearls, are a burnt ochre color, and the tiarra and eight pointed star are gold. "Your partner shall touch naught but your hands. With these delicate touches he shall guide your feet where they are to go. Of course, he chooses the direction, but the steps are your own. But so long as you have your hands - and only your hands - upon his, then all will be well." It's half-dancing lesson and half-modesty lesson. "Perhaps, Master Pilner, you will indulge me?" An old instructor stands and shuffles his way over to the Princess. The pair begin to dance while Roslin hums a popular party tune. The man knows his steps, but is old and tired. But the Princess doesn't fight that, instead using the gentle steps to her advantage, making her own movements appear slight and weightless. It is another mark of a good dancer, after all - putting up with one's partner.

That is the image that Ronan walks in upon, hearing the rustling of skirts and the subdued voices of women and children, gilded over by a more familiar sound of Princess Roslin's tone. Curiousity is what draws him to step to the door and look in. He is alone, as he rarely is, with no man servant, no squire, no guard to walk with him within these walls. Dressed in deep blues with touches of silver, the Duke keeps to the doorway as he observes. Ronan is only there for a moment before he steps away and is gone.
Minutes go by as the lesson continues. After a time, someone else arrives at the door. Kierne, carrying a guitarra, and a young woman carrying a flute. Another who resembles Rosley enough to likely be his son, brings a lira, or bow played string that predates what would eventually become the violin. As the three carefully slip into the room and ease along the wall to take up a position in the corner, Ronan returns on their heels. He makes a gesture for them to get settled and ..
After a moment, watching Roslin conducting her lesson, the three of them begin to play softly, a lilting dancing tune to match the steps and pattern she is discussing. They are attentive and keep the volume low, and also if she pauses to speak, they will cease to wait. The Rioga stands to one side to watch quietly.

The noise of the Lord and Knight peeking in does not distract Roslin. Nor does the band, slipping in, although a few of the children do notice. It isn't until they start playing that she turns, and seeing the three - and the betrothed himself - she can't help but laugh. It's an open and honest laugh, full and gay and nothing held back for courtly appearances. The laugh of a young woman who is thoroughly amused. She even sets a hand on her middle as she lets out the chiming sounds. "Ladies, ladies. Straight backs please. His Grace comes with a far better lesson than my poor humming." And the girls all begin to practice, pairing off in what appears to be pre-determined matches. One plays the girl, the other the boy. A woman, after all, must know everyone's place on the dance floor. Roslin, in the meantime, lowers herself into a respectful bob for Ronan across the room. It lasts only a moment. "Lady Matilda, use a hand to hold your dress if you need to, but stop ruining the hem." Bad Lady Matilda.

Ah, they are caught and tried to slip in and augment without interrupting. Kierne actually blushes, trying to smile and then bows with the others. Ronan himself looks amused and pleased perhaps to see Roslin laugh. Has he ever seen and heard her laugh before? He lays fist to heart and bows rather more formally than he often does, but the young ladies are watching.
"You have my apology. I mean no interruption, Your Highness. I saw you dancing, giving your lessons, and thought you might care for some music to accompany." Ronan stays near to the doorway and clasps his hands lightly behind his back, content to observe Roslin working with the children to teach them the art.

Roslin steps forward to him. She's a happy girl today - whatever thoughts of the realm, of politics, of the war that may weigh on her constantly seem to be gone for the moment. "Nonsense, your Grace, you have made my lesson better than it was before with your presence." And the musicians. Them too, they're helpful. She motions for him. "But I think perhaps it might be useful for the girls to see a true and proper dance. Just the simple turn will be fine - this turn will work well for that. Did I not say, sometime, that I did wish for such an opportunity as this again, if the chance came?"
Of course, most of the girls aren't dancing too hard anymore. They're shuffling a little, holding hands, but everyone - the adults included - are watching Roslin and Ronan. Some of the maids whisper, and the girls too. Alas, girls have not yet learned the art of whispering quietly enough, so some words are overheard. "…to be married…" "…look like a fairytale…" "…most handsome man in the realm…" For her own part, Roslin flushes just a little.

Ronan can overhear some of those whispers himself. He clears his throat by coughing once into his hand, "I do believe I remember your saying that, Your Highness. And my expectation you would infact, refuse me. Sometimes I can be very pleased to be proven wrong." He has kept his baritone low but not a whisper.
Well, they are being watched, so he takes his cue to bow to Roslin and put out his hand to her, "If you would do me the honor to accept, I ask you to dance with me, Your Highness. If only for the purpose of your lesson." It is after all the man's place to request the dance of the lady, so Ronan plays the part. He smiles, watching Roslin. The musicians begin to play and if she'll lay her hand over his, the Rioga will wait only a moment longer before he'll begin to lead.

Roslin chuckles softly. "If I may be so bold to say, Your Grace, you have been wrong a few times of late." She lowers herself respectfully at the offer of his dance, rising and speaking more loudly, for the girls. "You are too kind, Duke Crawford." As she sets her hand over Ronan's and begins to move, she turns her head to speak to the girls. "Remember your etiquette always, ladies - it is unacceptable to refuse a man's request for a dance if you are not spoken for on that particular dance. If you refuse one, you must refuse all dances for the evening, lest you offend." Ah, the subtle rules of courtship.
As Roslin moves easily with Ronan, she looks up again, speaking more softly toward him. "You don't think I am too hard on them, Your Grace, do you? I cannot help but feel that solid instruction will give them more confidence in the whole business."
Of course, most of the girls have stopped dancing entirely to watch.

His gaze is sometimes on Roslin, but more often on the girls and ladies gathered around. Ronan's eyes light upon Kierne and the others playing until the turn of the dance takes him past. His attention comes back around to Roslin at mention that he's been wrong a few times lately. A faint nod of agreement, aware he's made some mistakes. Quiet, he goes through the pattern of the dance with her and only when the come close together again he says low, "Not at all, you are teaching them to dance. As it is my duty to teach Kierne, if he did not already know how. It is good to pass on what one knows to others."
Their hands parting once more, Ronan adds no flouishes, keeps the movements simple and stately as the simple tune continues. He turns to touch opposite hands flat with Roslin, then passes to repeat the pattern in the opposite direction, leaving the instruction to her to continue.

Roslin smiles across their joined hands to the man, but as he makes no comment, she doesn't make one either. Perhaps he did not catch her meaning, but she shall have to explain later. "Notice, ladies," Roslin says as the pair turn. "His Grace is kind and dutiful enough to lead me, but the steps are my own. You must know the steps, even if he shall show you the way." Metaphor perhaps?
"If it please your highness," One little girl begins, dropping into a curtsy. "I should like to know what to do if one man continuously asks for dances - he never gives another a chance."
Roslin turns her head over her shoulder to face the girl and reply. "You ask a good question, Lady Matilda, but one that in practice does not occur terribly much. Most men you shall meet in your life have recieved the proper instruction to know that monopolizing a woman's time in this way is exceptionally rude. But should the occasion arise where one man refuses to allow you any freedoms, you should comply so as not to offend. Your governess or handmaiden, however, should be diligent enough to see what is occuring, and find reason to bring you off the dance floor and to the company of other ladies, where you may then continue your evening. However," Roslin grins a little, just a touch mischeviously. "Dances are often engagements where guard can be lax, or a governess may lose sight of you. I recommend always having a friend to keep close by your side throughout the evening just for such occasions, and that you may also be sure of each other's conduct." The tune draws to an end, and Roslin moves away from Ronan long enough to curtsy to the ladies. All the girls, and their keepers, applaud.

No, he missed her meaning if it was more than it seemed on the surface. Ronan is somewhat distracted by their having an audience and less inclined to speak. He likewise stops once their hands have parted and he offers a half bow to Roslin first, then to the rest.
"If a gentleman monopolizes a young woman's time upon the dance floor, he is likely to also draw the attention of other men. It is appropriate for a man to tap the shoulder of another to 'request' to cut in on a dance, preferably before it begins. It is then polite for him who was tapped to give up his dance." No need to go into what the other men will likely do if the fellow is rude, for that would come after the dancing. "If you have an elder brother presant, it is also his duty to keep an eye out for his young lady siblings."

Roslin looks over at Ronan with a smile, and then back to the girls. "His grace is correct, ladies. Absolutely and entirely." She nods her head again. "That will be all for today. I do expect, however, when next I have occassion to visit your instructors, that they indicate that each of you has shown marked improvement. As I know you shall." The girls all give little curtsies to the pair, and then there is the shuffling as the instructors, governesses, maids and the like collect their respective charges and begin to move off out of the ballroom. Of course, Roslin's maids remain behind, and there are guards at each door dressed in Kilgour purple.
At last, Roslin turns to Ronan. "You were too kind, your Grace. It was a lovely display - I think doing it this way showed them more than I am able to do when I show them myself." She nods her head to him. "In truth, I had heard you had left the city. I was most surprised to have heard it. Is everything well?"

Kierne and Rosley's son with the girl pick up their instruments to depart as well. The young Kincaid approaches Roslin, "Your Highness, for as long as we are in Darfield, we are availble to play for any of your lessons. We are required to practice our instruments daily if our other duties allow anyway. It would be no trouble." He smiles and gives a bow, about to go.
Ronan gives his squire a nod, "Thank you, Kierne, Dextor, and lady Aeffillia." As they head for the door, the Duke lifts a brow at Roslin, "Heard that I had left the city from whom? I said I would await your brother's meeting with the Temple this evening. Then we will know if we must depart for Sutherland at once or if things here might be resolved. It may be advisable to pack some of your things tonight for a ship will sail early in the morning with the out going tide, Your Highness."

Roslin bows her head to Kierne, smiling. "That is a lovely idea - I shall surely call upon you in the next few days." She might say more, but Ronan nearly knocks her socks off.
"The morning?" Roslin says, stopping for a moment just to take in the sight of the man. This isn't one of those brief glances, where she enjoys his jawline, his rugged looks, his strong arms. No, now she's just surprised. "Your Grace, with all due respect, I cannot just leave in the morning. Certainly not without someone from my family. My mother, or brothers, or perhaps even my father." To take a ship? She swallows a little. "Forgive me, Your Grace. I know you have been infinately patient with the whole matter. I have no wish to drag it out further. Please do not think that is my intention. But until we are … wed …." the word even tastes strange. "…I am still the property of my family, and cannot pack and leave without their permission."

Ronan has lightly clasped his hands behind his back as they converse, "I do not mean precisely /tomorrow/ morning but a morning soon. Of course we would not depart without your family. The Queen and I have already been discussing the relocation of the King's court, at least in part, to Sutherland for the wedding and she thinks it an excellant idea. Time however is not on our side, Your Highness, so it will have to be done quickly."
He takes a step or two idly and lifts his gaze back from looking over the now vacant ballroom to Roslin herself, "If it will take some while for the court to do so, I will have to go ahead to make arrangements, unless the ceremony will be held here. I … do not wish to be uncouth in the matter, and I am aware that a betrothal is usually several months. But we do not have months to spare."

Roslin glances down as his eyes fall upon her, as she is sometimes want to do when the conversation turns to such things as she is not accostomed to speaking. "No one faults you for your desires to move quickly, Your Grace. You are not the first, nor the last I daresay, to be wed before the armies march. But I wonder … not to complicate matters more … but if we are much more delayed, it would take roughly a week longer for news to reach Sutherland from the front than it would from here, would it not?" Of course, a road cutting across Sutherland to the Truborn Keep would cut that time in half, but that goes unsaid for the moment. "I don't wish to … cause problems, Sir. Indeed, it is my desire to be some small solution for some of the difficulties that you face. But I could not help but wonder." She looks up at him, searching his face, curious for an answer.

The Duke shakes his head, "Only a day or so for a messenger bird to be sent from Darfield to Trueborn, Your Highness." There is something more he would say but he hesitates. A thinning of his mouth, his gaze to slip from her to roam over the ballroom, "I already am concerned it is too late. When it is time to ride, either you and I will have barely been married but weeks, or else my men will have to proceed north to the front without me." Ronan glances back to Roslin, then turns to start walking through the ballroom (pacing), "I have no mind to be neglecting my duty to fight for the Kingdom and lead Sutherland men, nor to neglect the duties of the survival of my House. Yet I will have to do one or the other. It has been in my mind that my duties to my liege outweight my duties to my House. I can not refuse the order when I am called, Your Highness."
Now partway across the chamber, Ronan stops to look back to Roslin.

Timing. Of course. Roslin will need to become pregnant rather quickly, and they will not be able to tell if the deed has been accomplished until he is long gone. Roslin watches him pace, having become used to the sight from previous meetings. Her own hands fold lightly in front of her. "There may be some ways this might be … managed," Roslin says, though the mere thought of it all (or what she knows to think) brightens her cheeks. In truth her mind keeps going back to that cavern…
"It is not entirely uncommon for some wives to travel with thier husbands, is that so? I need not remain in Truborn, nor even here, when you finally depart. If it please Your Grace, I may accompany you for some of the way, perhaps to the last safe keep along the road, before I return. It may not solve all the difficulties but … perhaps it shall help even a little."

He turns at her suggestion, frowning all the more, "No. I do not value an heir more than I … value you, Princess. I would not have you put to risk. I'm quite certain your family would also object, very reasonably." Ronan scrapes a hand through his dark hair, "It would also distract me, when I would need to focus." It's a problem and a risk he doesn't have an answer to. What is the best course? He turns to walk back slowly, "I push to try to get what weeks I might but after that, untimately it is in the hands of the Gods to decide."
Once he's walked back and comes to stand near her, he stops. "I imagine your brother is meeting with the temple clergy even now. I should let you get back to your own duties, Your Highness."

Roslin smiles, soft but warm, to the man as he indicates he is worried for you. "Perhaps there is some comproise to be had, Your Grace. The border of Weston, perhaps. We will discuss it further." Another indication of what a marriage may be like - even now, she is willing to push him on such things. But she doesn't push far, and rather lowers herself into a respectful nod for the man as he announces his desire to leave.
"When I have word from my brother," she says, rising to look up into the man's eyes. "I will be sure to let you know directly. Thank you for helping with the lesson - I think it was a richer experience for it." She smiles at him once more.

Trying to find solutions to these problems makes him moody, wanting to pace and mull over the issues time and again to see if he can't find some new angle to come at the problems, some answer he had not yet thought of. Ronan gives her an absent nod, "Perhaps, but it would be easier on my mind if you were safe in Sutherland, or here, when I am gone." A nod about Tyrel, "Aye, he'll let me know."
A faint smile then for her, "It was my pleasure. Also, I don't remember having heard you laugh before. That was nice. Your smiles aren't quite so elusive as they used to be, and for that I am grateful." Nice also that she /can/ distract him from grimer, darker troubles. "My own education was somewhat neglectful of singing and playing of instruments. Sometimes I regret it, but Kierne will not be so lacking."

"Of course, Your Grace," Roslin says, properly, in regards to his concerns. "But sometimes we must make arrangements that are necessary." She lowers her gaze once more before him.
The mention of her laugh, though, does have her smiling once again. "Have you not?" She asks, a little surprised. "I do not avoid it conciously, if you have not had the occasion. Perhaps it is simply that it is a dark winter. But turning to see that you had snuck in with musicians? Well … it made me happy." She's smiling again. "I hope, Sir, that you shall not think me mean or cruel if I do not know to smile so much. Tyrel has mentioned to me that I should more often. But if I may be frank …" She glances to the guards and the maid, then back to the man. "I have never been betrothed before, Sir. And it all has happened quite so very quickly. I am not unhappy for this, but … well I am sometimes not quite sure what to do or say from one betrothed to another. How such things might be expected to differ from the conversations we had merely as friends. I hope you do not think too poorly of me for admitting this fault, to you, Your Grace. But I wish to be honest in the whole matter."

Ronan huffs a breath softly and smiles all the more at mention of his sneaking back with the musicians, "It seemed the appropriate thing to do to try and help. And you should /see/ their faces when they have to practice. You would think they were reciting for a funeral rite until I suggested they come and play for you and the children. Their faces lit up like children themselves, with delight."
A brow lifted, a breath huffed lightly. The Rioga eyes Roslin and lowers his voice, "I have a confession to make myself, Your Highness." Ronan pauses to likewise glance to her handmaidens and guards, then back to Roslin, "To be honest, I have never breen betrothed before either." He manages to pass it off deadpan with a serious enough expression upon his face, yet his eyes give him away, trying not to laugh. "Of course I do not think poorly of you and it is no fault. We'll find our way." A slow, deep breath, "The past five… six months have been filled with endless new challenges I never thought I would have to face. One must learn to relax and ride the strange horse, to let him have his head a little to run." Easier said than done of course, when it's all uncertain, as if one had never before ridden.

"Then it is settled - I shall have them come for every lesson. If it pleases them, and the young Ladies, there is no reason it should not be done."
When he lowers his voice, Roslin too can't help but take a quick glance around as the conversation becomes conspiratorial. She watches him for a moment, her visible expression not changing much. But he's closer - he'll see it. A light of amusement in the eyes. A slight uptick of the corner of her lips. A gentle lift of her head in admiration. "You're teasing me," she finally decides, half-accusing and half in amazement, but entirely enjoying the small moment when he does just that. "Then let is be thus, Your Grace: The day is almost faded into night. We shall both be retiring soon. The hours have passed and we have made young ladies of the court happy - with a handsome man in their daydreams now I'm sure - and we have pleased young squires and pages who otherwise had dull practice. And we have taken pleasure in each other's company at least a little while, as two intended nobles who both, I do hope, are fairly pleased in their arrangements. Let us call this, then, a good day, and worry not for the timing of weddings nor the soundings of war until we wake in the sun again. Today has been a good day - perhaps that is enough." She meets his gaze by the end, comfortable in the conversation. But even as she does so, a mischevious smirk creeps across her lips and she leans forward to whisper, conspiratorially, back. "That I would never have said were we just friends, Sir. So do direct me if my tone is misplaced given our current situation."

His hand he lays over his heart, "I speak the truth, before Gods and men alike, my fair lady Princess Roslin." She is making him smile and Ronan is pleased to see her smiling back, however subtly. A deep breath, "Aye, a good enough day." He glances towards the doors and tries not to think about the temple meeting and how that may or may not go so well, casting good or ill upon the close of the day yet to be determined. His smile is lost for the moment, Roslin's last words drawing him back. "Far as I know, your tone is in no way misplaced. As mentioned, I /am/ as new at all of this as you are yourself. I thank you for the dance, even if it was for your class lessons. It was an unexpected and most pleasant surprise."

Of course, the trick would not work on Roslin either - she too has too many thoughts, too many plans and peices of business to find true relaxation. But she tries. He speaks with the intention to leave once more, and Roslin once more nods her head respectfully. "The pleasure was mine, Your Grace. I thank you for being kind enough to visit and participate." She nods once more, and then turns her head to her guards, turning to go. She glances at him once more, though what that glance could mean, slightly curious in nature, is anyone's guess. She turns, then, to make her way out with her maids and guards.

Ronan stands at his ease and watches her go. He doesn't try to interpret her glances back and only enjoys the moment a bit longer that they shared together. It was a nice addition to his day. He watches her go and then he returns to his walking of the castle, by himeslf to think and await news about the temple meeting.

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