In which an uncle wishes to catch up with his niece
Perrault ran a gloved hand over his hair to smooth it, restraining his grooming instinct just enough to keep it within the bounds of polite human society. The twitching tip of his tail was the only outward sign of his nervousness as they approached the sitting room. It was not a world in which traveling strangers, even ones of standing, accompany princesses with pure motives. His best hope of survival would come from claiming that, at the very least, he intended to make an honest woman out of her and protect her from less noble ruffians on their travels.
Not too much of an issue. Psychological manipulation was his forte, after all. It would simply be an exercise in discretion. He flicked a hair off of his jacket, then smartly stepped in, arm around November in an appropriate position. Not being accustomed to walking with someone else as such, there was an abrupt stop as his grip on November had to be tightened to prevent her from stumbling.
Once they managed to get themselves straightened out, Perrault had to pause and admire the room. It was every bit as splendid as the rest of the castle, and the magnificent fireplace was grand even by the standards of one who had become accustomed to finery. The marble edifice was beautifully carved, the stone seeming to flow like water around the hearth. Graceful mermaids and water nymphs appeared to swim through it, so lifelike was the carving. On the outer edge of the fireplace, a seashore was carved entirely from driftwood; everything from gulls to individual grains of sand could be discerned. The pieces of wood had been chosen carefully; no stain or paint was needed to render the different shades of each aspect. This in turn lead to the forest of hardwood paneling that took up the greater part of the study. More than once, Perrault felt the need to check to ensure a resting animal was, in fact, carved.
Above it all, the ceiling was a great glass dome - the tallest point in the castle, and the highest point for miles around. During the daytime, it was kept covered, but at night - ah, the view was unmatched.
Feeling November shift in mild discomfort, Perrault belatedly realized that he was still standing in the center of the room, gaping. He quickly ushered November to a soft-looking couch and hoped that he had not made a fool of himself.
On the contrary, Alistair looked more amused than anything. "Impressive, isn't it? I just love seeing the reactions of visitors. The funniest come from the stuffier nobles who spend half their visit boasting of how they wasted half the kingdom's treasury to build some grand knick-knack entirely from gems and gold. Make your shows of wealth tasteful but overwhelming, that's the ticket."
"Very wise, sir. You --"
Alistair held up his hand and cut Perrault off. "Now, now - there's no need for all of that. You don't need to overflatter me and try to butter me up. If November has decided you're right for her, that's good enough for me. Care for some brandy, or tea?"
November flushed again at this. "Really, Uncle. You've been far too kind to us. A cup of tea, please."
"The same for myself, with cream." His own preference aside, showing an excessive taste for alcohol would be a poor choice. Perrault was feeling somewhat flummoxed at being forced to take a new approach. Some fine cream would help him think.
Alistair poured the tea himself, unlike some nobles that came to mind who would rely on a servant to attend to every tiny detail. Perrault accepted the cup and took a sip, finding it to be cooler than most serve tea - as the King was used to November's sensitivity, it was only to be expected. November, in the meantime, beamed to see the familiar cup of her childhood visits. She still wasn't certain what materials Alistair had used to have it made, but the sleek design had always brought her comfort. Even the time that it had been chipped, the broken area hadn't been rough in the slightest. The tea was sweet with a slight tang to make it interesting, and the smooth flavour told of only the finest leaves being picked for its brewing.
"Now where were we - ah, yes. You were just about to tell me about your quest . . ."
November smiled and nestled against Perrault's shoulder, pausing a moment to dive into her memory for all the details her uncle would certainly want to hear. "It started when the moon dissapeared. You know better than anyone how sensitive I can be, and ever since that time it's gotten worse. . ."
Perrault adjusted his jacket to ensure he looked caring and cautious enough to keep the hard buttons away from her. Discretion, always discretion.