Frances had spent nearly a month preparing for this day. It was Christmas Eve and the day that all of the family and friends of the de Rocheforts would descend upon the Château de Rochefort and stay over the season’s festivities. There would be Hsu and Daniel as well as Cody Jean and their entourage. Also invited were countless others. Even Caroline would bring Stelios to celebrate.
Now that the day had arrived, she was making herself busy all around the Château and in town with Amarante and the other staff to make sure all was ready. In spite of the incident involving the baked goods that had been made, everything was at the ready for the arrival of the guests.
8 responses to “Yuletide Festivities in France (open RP)”
Newly clean, still smelling of the citris and spice soap he enjoyed so much, the Comte strode from room to room, a last minute inspection, if you will. His hair still damp from the wash, it was tied back in a deep green velvet bow. His pants were pleated, starched. His boots shone with a gloss, many layers of polish making them gleam. And his shirt? For this, family and friend occasion he chose not the formal vest and jacket, but only a single, simple shirt of pale cream linen. It was open at the collar, just enough to show the skin at his throat. Nothing lower, nothing more, for that would have been unseemly. Just enough to show that he was – relaxing.
As he walked he hummed a song not heard in this century, one that was not even so popular at the French court so many hundreds of years ago. But he’d been reminiscing, and thought of the song, and as such it had been stuck in his brain for some hours now. It was a simple enough ditty that spoke of wild flowers and young maids with red ribbons in their dark hair, a pleasant enough tune. Hearing noises in the great hall, he hastened his steps. Hopefully he would be able to capture his wife their, perhaps under the kissing ball? Before they were interrupted by guests, that is.
There were several different decorated trees throughout the interior of the Chataeu. There was the one in the dining hall, and the ones in the Library, as well as another three in another sitting room. There was greenery everywhere, to the point where it almost seemed as if an entire Saturnalia or Yule Forest had been planted inside the Chateau de Rochefort itself.
Faelyn was busying herself with last minute preparations before the guests arrived and did not see Sebastien when he came up to her. He wrapped his arms around her nuzzling her ear. as she was putting a few more gifts under the tree in the dining hall. He smelled exotically rich, and good enough to eat. She glanced over her shoulder at him and her breath almost cought. Her husband looked absolutely stunning, even if he was relaxing.
“There you are,” she said turning in his arms, “I was just about to send Jocelyn to find you,” she stroked the soft fabric of his shirt, “fully recovered from this afternoons and this morning’s adventures I see.” She glanced up to catch sight of the ball of mistletoe, holly and ivy that had been suspended above them. If she had had her druthers, she would have taken him by the hand and locked the library door once again. She leaned toward him and gave him a gentle kiss, but her eyes held promise for whatever the evening’s festivities might bring should they be able to steal away once more. “Blessed Yule, mon amour,” she smiled against his lips.
This was an anniversary of a sort. This was the very day those hundreds of years ago that Sebastien had tied his mother’s ring with a sprig of mistletoe and green ribbon around two chess pieces laid beside her bed signifying his proposal of marriage to her.
Though he had arrived at the de Rocheforts a few days earlier, Hsu had also taken the opportunity to travel down to his racing stud in Toulouse to check on how things were going there. So that by the time he returned, he was just in time to meet Cody and Daniel, and the contingent of bodyguards which included Andy, off of the plane. Lars was driving and would arrive in a few hours as the policy of his two senior lieutenants not travelling together was now more rigourously enforced as he couldn’t risk potentially losing both of them in an attack.
As they arrived at the chateau, Daniel was looking around in wide-eyed wonder at what seemed to him a real fairytale castle, and seated in the car between his father and Cody, he gripped Cody’s hand tightly as he smiled. This would be the first time he had met the Count and Countess de Rochefort, though he had been told much about them and how they were old and dear friends of his father and that they had both been two of Cody’s teachers. That made him a little nervous, that his father should think so much and respect these two people must mean that they were very important, especially as he had been told that not only was Lady Frances a Countess, but also a Queen. He hoped that he wouldn’t do or say anything that would embarrass his father in front of such high ranking and old friends.
He was looking forward, however, to meeting Jocelyn, their daughter. She was just a couple of years younger than himself, and for a child who had never spent much time around other children, even moreso now at the Ranch where he was surrounded by adults, and most of them men all the time, he was excited about meeting her and having, hopefully, a playmate. He was also excited about the festivities, his first Yule. Already the decorations everywhere had him amazed and entranced.
“Cody?” He leaned up to whisper in her ear, knowing that Hsu would probably not approve of his question. “Santa will know where to find us, won’t he?” It was about the twentieth time he had asked her on the trip over.
Cody couldn’t contain her joy at the holiday season, and the wonderful fact that the child once lost was now found. Looking over Daniel’s head to her lover, she gave him a smile so filled with happiness, he had to know what she was thinking. Cody loved Hsu, but not in a romantic sense. She was committed to him, body and soul, and seeing him have his son for their first holiday together gave her the greatest happiness that she had ever known, even though it wasn’t her own triumph. The loyalty and affection she had to him now rested in the small boy between them. It might not be the kind of family she had always imagined having, but it was her family, and she treasured every member.
Daniel’s whisper made her grin, and she wasn’t at all annoyed by it. In fact, she was touched by his excitement. No, Hsu didn’t believe in Christmas, but when it came down to it, he would allow his son to be indulged in the festivity of the occasion, since he knew that Cody, and the de Rocheforts, were going to celebrate all of the wonderful traditions. Cody had bought many gifts for everyone, and filled Daniel’s head with all kinds of stories of Santa, and the baby Jesus. They watched videos of all her favorite Christmas movies, from Scrooged to A Christmas Story. She read Dickens, and baked up a storm.
Cody leaned down, and whispered in his ear, “Santa knows just where you are, Daniel. I promise. I sent him a special letter and I even sent an email to Rudolph, just to be on the safe side.” Snuggling him close, Cody kissed the top of his dark head.
As they approached the chateau, Cody sighed with happiness. It was good to see her teachers, again. Her painting of Jocelyn was wrapped and in the back of the vehicle, along with other gifts. But just seeing them, two people she loved and treasured so much, and to play with Jocelyn, and hear Caroline’s lovely singing? So much more joy than any one heart could hold. Caroline was bringing her beau, and they were all going to have a holiday of peace and celebration. Hsu was home. Daniel was by his father’s side. Save the loss of Marcus, this year ended on a very high note. As they pulled up and stopped, Cody leaned over to gently kiss Hsu’s cheek. “Thank you.”
Hsu didn’t return her smile, but there was a contentment in the gaze he returned that spoke volumes. This time last year, at least in his timeline, he was still grieving the loss of his children, sinking down into that dark depression fueled by drugs. Now, he had his son. It was still dangerous, moreso even, but he was secure and successful, his son alive and well, and his cause right. True, he didn’t usually go overboard in indulging in the Yule festivities, but this year there really was something to celebrate and what better way than with family and old friends.
He had overheard Daniel’s whispered comment about Santa, and really he had no time for such stories, nor indulging his son in such fantasies, but if Cody was willing to play along, he would let it go for now.
Daniel just grinned up at Cody, pleased…and relieved…that Santa would be able to find them as they weren’t at the Ranch. Everything that Cody had told him about Christmas and Yule, he had soaked up like a sponge. “Good.” And he watched eagerly as the chateau grew larger the nearer they got.
At her kiss, Hsu gave her a slightly puzzled look, wondering what she was exactly thanking him for. “Now why have I earned this gratitude?” He was very much looking forward to seeing Frances and Sebastien again, even if it had only been a few days since he had, and enjoying seeing how Daniel would get along with them all. Since he had brought him home, he had been quite shy, and meeting others…people Hsu considered all but equals, would do him good. He was also looking forward to getting to know his new goddaughter better, having missed out on the first few years of her life, and of seeing his other goddaughter again. He was, admittedly rather amused by the fact that Caroline was seeing one of his kind, and a client of his at that, and how that little dynamic with her father as well might work out. Although he had been her father figure for many, many years, he had graciously stepped back when Sebastien returned, not that it meant he still didn’t take an interest…as he had in dealing with her former manager.
The car door was opened and taking Daniel’s hand, and waiting for Cody, he escorted them both up towards the doors.
“You deserve gratitude every day, just for being all you are.” She said it softly, over Daniel’s head, but it came from the heart. She knew he disliked people flattering him, and it wasn’t that. It was just her simple way of giving him the affection, respect and thanks he deserved. Reaching up, she gently rubbed away the trace of lipstick she had left, with a smile. Things were good between them, right now, with the return of both Hsu and Daniel, and her recovery from her time with the Guild.
As they mounted the steps up, she took Daniel’s other hand, and brushed a bit of lint off his jacket, fussing over him a bit, which always made him squirm like little boys do. She knew that Frances and Sebastien would take to Daniel, as he was so very bright and charming, and very well mannered. Cody Jean couldn’t wait to see him and Jocelyn play together, as Daniel needed playmates his own age to run and shout with. Jocelyn was so pretty and smart, such a bright little girl. They would be like cousins, really, which was wonderful for both.
When the doors opened, she smiled in greeting, and warmly said, “Merry Christmas!”
This was certainly going to be an interesting get-together, Stelios thought as he and Caroline arrived at her parents home. It was the first time that he had visited their home and spend any considerable time with her family. He knew there was little to be concerned about from her mother, as they seemed to have her full blessing, and even encouragement. Her father might prove to be another matter. Although he had accepted, graciously, the fact that he was courting his daughter, Stelios was well aware that Sebastien still tended to refer to him as ‘that Spartan’ and although it was understandable that he should be concerned about his daughter’s welfare as any man should, Stelios also believed that Caroline was her own woman and her father should understand that.
His banker would also be there, seeing how he was also Caroline’s godfather. That was a piece of coincidence. Not that that fact, nor how the de Rocheforts might receive him bothered him in the slightest, it just…amused him something terrible. And perhaps, one night, during his stay he would do as he and Caroline had once joked and steal into the chateau and her room without being caught, just as Spartans used to abscond from their messes. But really, this was her home, just as it had been his in Greece, and he he would treat it with the same respect that she had done and be mindful of that fact mostly.
As they climbed up the steps, he had his arm around Caroline’s and gave her a soft kiss before they crossed the threshold.
Things had definitely changed since Caroline and Stelios had begun seeing each other. They both had very careful to take their time with the relationship and in spite of the small bits of interference from either her mother, or her former business manager, Ian, or even her father’s referring to Stelios constanty as ‘That Spartan’, they had done very well. Caroline for her part felt very safe and secure with Stelios and she was sure that she had made the right decision. Besides, it was as Stelios had said, ‘meant to be’. She could not argue the point for she agreed with him wholeheartedly.
She looked at Stelios with contentment and returned his kiss, giving his hand a squeeze. As they entered into the Chateau, she was greeted by her mother and her sister Jocelyn who seemed to view Stelios with a bit of suspicion and just the general impression that she did not know what to think of him. Stelios was always very patient and kind to her and Jocelyn lost no time in using that to her advantage – being as mischievous as she could possibly be and appearing completely innocent in the process. Caroline kissed each on the cheek in turn and let the servants take their bags up to their rooms. Of course, Caroline made certain that hers and Stelios’ rooms were relatively close – but she still wanted to have him undertake the challenge of evading her father’s security system and make it into her room. That in itself would be well worth the price of admission.
When the arrived at the Chateau de Rochefort, she felt a bit self conscious. Surely he must think that such an outward display of wealth was hardly necessary, and Caroline really didn’t like to flaunt that part of her life, either. It was only the last few years that she had opted to move home. It would be easier especially for when she was touring and her father had generously let her convert a small group of rooms into rehearsal and studio space. To be honest, however, after her time in Greece, she much preferred the simplicity of life there.