Words Exchanged Amongst Roses

The Grounds of the Giovanni House.
Formally grown mela di Decio trees flank the wide path from the tall iron-wrought gates barring entrance into the grounds of the Villa d’Giovanni, their overhanging branches forming a lush, verdant shelter over the walkway. The gates are manganese-blue, scrolling iron artistry hinged upon two terra-cotta brick pedestals decorated with a bas-relief patera, the round decorative plates carved with a stylized rose. The front grounds are sculpted into a flowing garden of trees, lawns and flowers, encircling the Villa to merge with an inner courtyard behind. The gravel path trails onwards to a long, rectangular marble pool with scalloped edges, the bladed leaves and royal purple blooms of water irises rising from its clear, pale-green depths. The path splits to encompass the pool’s perimeter before merging once more towards the four-Corinthian columnar portico of the Villa, ending at a semi-circular pediment of hand-cut white flagstones furthering upwards into a flight of steps onto an ivory terrazzo porch. Pearly ceramic pots of bougainvillea decorate the outer edge of the porch, their arching branches heavy with milky blooms, some of the petals scattered across the smooth tiles. The Villa spreads out left and right, two whitewashed and stucco buildings with sloping red-bricked roofs are attached to each side, a balcony with a twisted iron balustrade visible on the second floor. Double doors of oiled oak open the way into the Villa, old-fashioned iron knockers attached to each. Lights illuminate all aspects of the surroundings, be it tall iron lamps or amber-glass sconces set into walls. A large silver wind-chime dangles from the lintel of the portico, gracing the entire landscape with a quaint glissando each time the breeze blows.

He did not even want to pay her that much attention, but Leon di Giovanni could not help and not suffocate his innate thoughtful and caring nature; and Isadora's luggage was promptly brought into the foyer of the house by the butler. In fact, he wanted her to /carry/ her own bags in herself. It is not so much of a dislike he has for his cousin, rather more he bore a grudge on the agenda she carries, and her own personal blacklist as well. [Leon]

He stands at the doorway, keeping one of the doors open as the butler walks in and out, putting the bags in a neat row on the floor of the foyer. He seriously wonders how many bags the girl actually had; the flow of luggage seems neverending. The dark haired young man takes a glance above his bent hand that holds the door open, wondering where his cousin has decided to invade her curiosity with, judging the fact that he'd left her in the carriage and got off himself first, totally unwilling at that time to bother with taking care of her. [Leon]

Leon sighs inwardly just barely. This is a hell that is going to be worse than the hell he went through back home. [Leon]

After being so rudely removed from the inn and then left unescorted in the carriage, at the end of the laneway at that! Did Leon truly think that she would just escort herself? Isadora sat for a full, solid minute watching as Leon walked himself towards the regal estate. Realizing that calling after him would only degrade herself, and quite frankly, sitting there would only make her look childish, Isadora decided that it would be most prudent for her to take a lovely, long, stroll through the inner courtyard, admiring every intricate detail of the pergola, garden, and landscaping. [Isadora]

She took her time, and then she took even more time. If Leon had wanted her to rush, he simply should have escorted her, he rushed her out of the inn fast enough. Besides, the butler would be busy with her bags for quite a while. [Isadora]

"Did you see Miss Isadora around?" Leon finally drags the question out of his mouth and he does looks a tad shamefaced as the query is directed to his butler - a tall fellow with a head of common brown in his early thirties. Ashamed of course, that he has lost his cousin somewhere in his home; and his butler does not look too pleased after taking in the last of the luggage which looked like a pile of very expensive hat bags. [Leon]

"No, Sir." Came the sharp reply though an attempt is made by Lucio to be polite. The butler gave a shake of his head, moreoft disapproving the huge number of bags laid out now on the foyer floor; then a negative reaction to his master's question. "Maybe she went to look at the gardens." The butler offers, suggesting, possibly understanding Leon's plight. Girls are never good news, always trouble. [Leon]

"Ah, the gardens. I should have thought of it. You would get those bags to her room? The one I have pointed out to you to have Gisella get them ready." The instructions come in a stretch of breath and he steps out of the foyer into the rose gardens. Sure enough he ensured that his gardens are promptly lit so he may enjoy them at night too — but that does not serve as a good reason for her to go gallivanting around when she is supposed to be sitting in the hall, on a chair and instructed on the rules of this household. [Leon]

It didn't take long for Isadora to grow bored of 'admiring the gardens' even though they were stunning. She lacked the patience for such a task, unless of course there was someone to impress, or annoy. That brightened her mood! Leon would surely be sore for leaving her to her own devices. On the other hand, the fresh night air was soothing after being in a carriage traveling to Irae. She continued her stroll, gradually working her way closer and closer to the house, knowing that she can't delay all night. Every now and then she does reach out, however, to admire the contrast of a perfect cardinal bloom against her transluently fair skin, or to enjoy the silky smooth texture of a petal, idly wondering if she could get some rose oils made from flowers exactly like these. [Isadora]

"And there you are." His voice seem snappish as her cousin walks out right into where the rows of rose bushes are, and where she's, seemingly to him, attempting to properly destroy his precious blooms. Leon found a spot to stand right under one of the lamps that lit his gardens, the yellowish glow of gas forced into the lamp ballons giving his face a dusky, bronzed glow. "You should be in the house right now, no?" It does not seem so much a question or invitation to her, and his tone grows vaguely impatient, the question becoming more oft a command to a naughty child. He wraps his arms and places them on his chest, a signal again of his growing irritation. [Leon]

Isadora calmly turns her head to glance over at Leon, raising one slender and pale eyebrow, gratified that her stroll resulted in Leon chasing her and not the other way around, while also highly amused by Leon's tone of voice. "Why yes, dear cousin, here I am." She leans over to the bloom she had just been holding and inhales, thinking that the fragrance would compliment her luxuriously. "Your gardens are magnificent." She doesn't bother to acknowledge his order, for his plan for the evening simply wasn't hers. [Isadora]

If she is attempting to be nice, that is perhaps the nicest she would be, Isadora. His fingers curl inwardly as his hands lay stil by his side. Leon is not used to ordering people around, and this is probably very different from his formerly pacifist nature. But this Isadora, he could not see her as someone he would shower care upon; no, she is an enemy, like the rest of them who watch him from far. [Leon]

He relaxes the tightness of his hands just a little, and forces himself to speak, drawing his tone down. "Isadora. Could you just go into the house?" He looks straight at her, not leaving the little circle of light he is standing in. "Please?" He adds, drawing his tone even softer. [Leon]

Isadora immediately breaks into a smile, her entire face lighting up with its triumph and glee, "Oh cousin, I would love to. I wouldn't want to catch a chill." She turns towards the house, entrusting that Leon would join her. [Isadora]

"Tell me, dearest cousin, why has the Family heard rumours that you are 'dangerous' and 'staking claims' on some Elven woman? You do know how unbecoming this rumour is. And really, threats against your life over this strumpet?" While she didn't roll her eyes, for they were trained on watching her cousin's reaction, her tone of voice clearly showed her disdain, as though this whole thing was beneath a Giovanni. [Isadora]

He waits till she moves past him, and follows a step behind the blonde girl, his hands poised behind his back now. Oh, he does feel like grabbing her wrist again and giving her a good shaking, but that would not get Isadora back into the house. And he did not like her out in the night, in the gardens especially. [Leon]

Not at this hour. Snickering softly into his own voice, Leon thins his lips again, chewing back a retort as she uses that same, boring (and irritating) source of his failure on him again. "Mother, your Aunt Sophia, came here, with Therese. I told her myself about it." He shrugs listlessly, glancing aside as he speaks, and shoves his hands into his pockets. "I can't do anything if some
people keep on speaking about this rumor, can I, Isadora?" He pauses, asking her as he stands behind the girl now. [Leon]

He seems so calm talking about this matter as if he is no longer concerned about it anymore; a thing of the past, perhaps the most shameful deed he has ever done. "And yes there were threats on my life. Yet does it matter, Isadora? It's not the reason why you are here. You probably heard this story over tenfolds, and twenty variations, haven't you?" His voice urges up a notch of annoyance. And it falters as he just shakes his head and starts to walk, brushing past her shoulder to go ahead. [Leon]

Not one to take step behind someone, Isadora quickens her stride to match pace with Leon. Brush past her, would he? Not likely! "Of course I've heard it a hundred different times in a hundred different ways. It still amuses me. And people keep talking of it because you have done nothing about it." She shrugs one shoulder slightly, nonchalantly, deciding to change the subject. "You truly are melancholic, dearest cousin. I would almost think you are unhappy at seeing me!" [Isadora]

He pauses to let the blonde girl catch up to him; not exactly knowing why he stops walking to wait for her. "I have done nothing about it?" He glances over a shoulder, letting a dark lock of hair whip across one very indignant green eye. "It's obvious that you forget to keep yourself in the loop back home regarding /what/ I had done about that situation, Cousin." Leon raises his voice just lightly, making his ire distinct. His mouth stills, lips parting but he does not continue nor care to elaborate. [Leon]

Something this delicate should not be discussed in such openness like the gardens; although perhaps the whole household here knows of his un-mortal nature after his return. "Perhaps you should think about heading back home next week and ask my mother, your /darling/ Aunt Sophia about what I had done." [Leon]

The dark haired young man gives his cousin a long look, his sights narrowing and then he turns to take a step to move forth again towards the lighted foyer of his house. [Leon]

Isadora remains uncharacteristically quiet while he goes on about how out-of-the-loop she was. It definitely wasn't something she was overly accustomed to. Instead, she places one hand lightly on the crook of Leon's elbow as he begins to move towards the lighted foyer. She remains silent, her head held high, as though she didn't want to admit that she was at a complete loss of words, instead she merely observed her surroundings. [Isadora]

The physical contact right at his elbow made Leon startles faintly; unused to touch for after such a long time. The ordeal back home, the pain of the Embrace, and that period of loneliness flashes back through his mind for a few bright, sharp moments. He halts his motions and his head droops, a sigh once more drifting from his lips. [Leon]

Leon is not even sure what kind of feelings he harbor on having Isadora here with him. Is it fear, or irritation, or even some notion of painful delight that there's someone else here /close/ to him apart from just servants and workers. [Leon]

He lets her hand stay as where they are, and proceeds to walk up the stairs towards the open door of the foyer, while beginning to remark again flatly. "The butler had moved all your bags to the second floor, your maid will show you the room once you have your supper." [Leon]

He crosses through the door, and into the main hall of his house, stopping there and waiting for her hand to retract from his elbow. "I will not be joining you." Leon adds, emphasizing on the last few words as he tilts his head askew, glancing over a shoulder to look at the blonde girl. [Leon]

Leon's brief emotional interlude didn't go unnoticed by Isadora, but at the moment, teasing him about it wouldn't further anything, so she refrained from commenting on it. "Well thank you, dearest cousin, for your thoughtfulness. I am sure that my late arrival has disrupted your normal schedule and that you have dined already. So, instead, I am sure that I will see you for breakfast tomorrow morning, at your convenience, of course." She removes her hand from his elbow and turns to face her cousin, "Until then, cousin dearest, I bid you a good night." She leans forward and gives Leon a brief kiss goodnight on the cheek, her face aglow with a smile. [Isadora]

"I will not.. be… Nevermind that." Leon is just about to again explain most likely she will not see him around either in the morning; and only the maid and butler would keep her company, but he just snaps his mouth shut, his pale lips pressing into a grim line. "Is there anything you wish to do tomorrow?" He licks the bottom of his lip lightly with the tip of his tongue, a nervous gesture perhaps and at least maybe if she suggests something, Isadora will be kept occupied and not pry
too much into the business of the hospice or what he is tasked to do. [Leon]

Nosy as she is, esteemed as she is, or hailed as a princess in the Family, Isadora is mortal. Mortals are not privy to the business that goes on under their feet. "I can let Lucio know and he can arrange some activities for you. I would be busy with the hospice, as you know." [Leon]

Completely ignoring Leon's actual words, Isadora lights up with excitement, "Oh cousin, I would love to spend the day with you at the hospice!" She really had no idea what she was getting herself into, but she was here to visit Leon, not to spend time with his butler! [Isadora]

The young man turns around, facing her fully, with raised eyebrows indeed, at her fervor of wanting to /spend/ time in the hospice. He does not look surprised, nor shocked, maybe slightly irritated. [Leon]

"I have absolutely no idea what you want to do there, Isadora." He takes a brief step back, pulling his arms to curl against his chest, his white shirt crumpling. "There are sick people in there, and it is not a place for an excursion. If you want to, I can have Lucio bring you on a tour of the
city, perhaps visit the vineyards or go on a river cruise." [Leon]

He appears to eye her stonily for another one of those very long moments; as if willing to drive his intention right into that pretty head of hers. Then, Leon's sights half-lid and he rubs the bridge of his nose with his fingers. [Leon]

Isadora meets Leon's stoney gaze with her own determined one, while idly playing with her blond locks with one hand, "If you would like to tour the city with me, then I would be delighted! But Mother has convinced me that spending time with my dear cousin Leon would be good for me, and I would hate to disappoint her." She clasps her hands in front of her, maintaining her determined gaze as Leon rubs his nose, clearly she was trying on his patience. [Isadora]

Most likely he has to come to a compromise with his cousin; it does appear that she is not letting him get away with his usual schedule of things; and in fact, hell bent on ruining his private life. [Leon]

"We can have an evening tour tomorrow eve then, after I have finished with the hospice." Leon appears to relent into that compromise though he does not seem too happy about it — yet he tries to push a smile onto his face. He straightens his shirt, pulling at that crumpled lapel and his green sights do faintly roll as she mentions the very important instruction her mother had given her. [Leon]

"There's a library here in the house if you do not want to go out; and if you wish for anything, just ask Lucio." He stops fixing his shirt and pulls his hands behind his back, keeping them still. [Leon]

"I have some work to prepare for tomorrow." Her cousin says, deciding it is time to end this whole stretch of conversation which seemed to be such a waste of time. "Good night, Isadora." He leans forth, pressing the usual requirement of a kiss on her left cheek only, just that; and not even a proper kiss — more than a duty fulfiled than anything else, and turns to depart. [Leon]

She truly didn't think Leon would go on a tour of the city with her, her smile, instead of faltering, widens with her surprise, seemingly with glee. "Wonderful, dearest cousin! We shall have such fun tomorrow!" While she wasn't entirely happy with the compromise, it was a start. She was certain that her cousin would warm up to her eventually, especially since her 'visit' wasn't on a timeframe. "Good night, again, dearest Leon." With that, she turns towards the wing which showed glimpses of a dinner table, expecting a maid or butler to ensure she got where she needed to be. [Isadora]

After she has bid him farewell and good night, Leon walks the other way from her, towards the wing, supposedly privy to his, and his use only, his hands shoved back into his pockets. Suddenly, he seems more afraid than annoyed — in fact, Isadora does not appear to have anything hidden about her agenda here, and not even God would know what his family has set her up to by sending her to him. A promotion? To raise her ranks? And ghoul her? He seems practically unsure and his knees felt weak at that thought. [Leon]

It is not something he is ready for. Not now. [Leon]

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