Orion looked up at the six storied monstrosity of a mansion. Three wings, six stories each, made for eighteen floors to navigate. This was, of course, ignoring the two basement levels under the south wing. Father used that area for storage, mostly. The whole conglomeration was a horseshoe shaped building that surrounded a lovely courtyard, opened towards the greenhouses and gardens. The footpaths alone stretched nearly three miles of winding way.
Orion was slightly nervous at having to give Gemma a tour. He himself, as she had pointed out, had not lived here very long. And, when the Burgesses were home from their trip, they all stayed in the south wing.
"Yes...but no matter. Should we get lost, I'm sure that we can summon a cheerful little house elf to help us. Then again...if we get lost, who says we'd want to be found immediately?"
Gemma giggled, grabbing Orion's hand playfully. "I can agree with that last statement," she replied, smiling at him, "But only if we can mange to avoid being too... erm... mussed. I get the impression your mother has eagle eyes for such things..."
She looked around the room they had entered, her eyes drinking in the fine decorations and lofty ceilings. "Have you been here in the winter? It looks as though it would get rather cold, with such high ceilings... I know our houses do..." She released Orion just long enough to bend down and remove her high-heeled shoes. "Since we'll have to walk so far," she explained with a smirk, taking his right hand again with her left and holding her shoes in her right, "Otherwise I'll be limping by the end of this..."
He smirked at her. "Should I take mine off too? I wouldn't know if it gets cold in here, honestly...This is the east wing...we've always stayed in the south wing. So, I guess I should apologize if there is dust. Knowing Neri though, there won't be so much as the word 'dust' on any of the books...She's Coobi and Saabi's mother. Awesome old elf....really quiet after Reebin died..." Orion led her over the lush green carpet, pointing out various painting and ancestors. The rooms were extremely large, but sparsely populated on this floor.
"The entire east wing, come to think of it, only has five bed rooms...the other twenty five are either workspace or libraries or storage rooms for....what ever you could want. And before you ask, each bedroom has an attatched bathroom. And they're all up on the sixth floor. The master bedroom for this wing has three walls that are nothing but windows overlooking the entire grounds. The view is magnificent." He ran a hand over the green and gold wallpaper. It was silk and shimmered softly in the candlelight that brightened the corridor. During the day, plenty of windows would have performed the same function.
Gemma allowed Orion to lead her through the room; in fact, she was rather glad he was doing so, since her eyes were occupied with trying to drink everything in. She laughed at his comment about the shoes, and poked him in the side teasingly.
"If you wish, darling," she told him, "But you have no good excuse to do so, you're not the one wearing three-inch heels..." She looked around her again, marveling at the house. "This place is so lovely... Can we go up and see the room? I'd love to see the view before the sun sets all the way..."
She tugged him in what she hoped was the correct direction before going on. "And has your family always had house elves? We've never had one.... just a handful of regular servants at the chateau, and even fewer at the Winston manor... The rest we just take care of ourselves..."
Orion steered Gemma to the stairwell. At every floor, the carpet lightened a shade of green. What started off as forest green on the bottom floor eventually became a seafoam color at the sixth. Likewise, the wallpaper adapted to match the carpeting. The resulting color scheme on the top floor was airy and bright, even though all the windows were looking out to the setting sun. Cream and gold decorations populated the hallway. In the master bedroom, the style was repeated. White marble with gold veins, white linen on the bed, and dark green ivy made the room seem almost ethereal.
"Yes, on both sides of the family, actually. The Strauss and Burgess families have had elves for...goodness, as long as the family record goes back, so at least since the seventeen hundreds. We do try not to spoil the family though...mother prefers doing a lot of cleaning in the south wing, and father and I are the micromanaging lords of our workrooms...With a manor this large, we'd need an army of cleaning people, but only three elves. Well, two actually...Saabi stays with Andrew in the states."
Gemma was panting slightly by the time they reached the top of the stairs. It wasn't that she was out of shape, she just didn't have enough muscle to support such a long climb uninterrupted. When they reached the bedroom, she sighed in delight at its appearance and in relief that they could finally stop. She practically trotted over to a vast chaise lounge before one of the windows and collapsed on it gratefully, flopping down on her right side and dropping her shoes over the edge.
"Sorry to be such a spoilsport, Ri," she apologized, still gasping a little, "But that was a lot of stairs... more than I'm used to, at any rate...." She rolled partway onto her back, not caring that she was in a fancy dress that showed her off splendidly at the worst of times and was surely doing much better than that right now. She just wanted to stay still for at least a few minutes before having to tackle more stairs.
Orion tilted his head and indulged himself in a good, long stare. He'd not had a good oggle like that since the bookstore when they first met.
"No worries. Pardon me for taking advantage of the situation and staring at you like an idiot. Can't help it. Don't want to." He moved to another chair and sat there, staring. An idiotic grin broke over his face and he dropped his eyes, laughing silently.
His eyes flicked up to meet hers with a perfectly devilish expression.
"If you like this bedroom, you'll absolutely LOVE the north wing one...the way the east wing is based on greens and ivy...the north is based off of reds, pnks, and roses...the bedroom opens to a balcony that doubles as a rose garden...imagine in the spring time a veritable tunnel of roses leading out to the garden...its magnificent."
Gemma groaned, covering her face and laughing. "Ri, stop it! You are such a tease!" she cried, even as she herself shifted her pose still more so that his eyes would be even more forced to rove over her. She knew she was contradicting her own words, but she loved to tease him: it was a practically irresistible urge for her to do so. And she knew he would like it, since he was currently in a good mood.
She turned her head toward him, twisting and arching her spine to do so, giving him a still-better view. "The other room sounds lovely, but, to be quite honest, the only reason I'd choose it is because it's on a lower floor. Pink is not my thing, darling, in case you haven't figured out... My own room is in mostly blue, so this," she waved her hand languidly to indicate the room they were currently in, "is more to my taste... Though I do like roses..."
She beckoned for him to approach her. "Why are you all the way over there, Ri? I can barely see you... Come here..."
"Hm...we could always transfigure the colors differently if you want...But blue and green are already taken...It was a subtle nod to the family history, you see...blue, green, red...You'll not find any yellow in the main decorations for a reason." A small smirk played on his mouth as he stood and sauntered closer to Gemma.
Gently, he grabbed her hand and lifted her so she was sitting up. He then sat where her upper body was and leaned back. She had unspoken permission to lay back if she wished, but he wasn't going to force the issue.
"Oh, just remembered something...Got you a present. Would you like to open it now, or later?"
"Well, red would be alright, I suppose, just... no pink," Gemma murmured, her eyes sparkling as she watched Orion approach her. She allowed him to move her into an upright position, but as soon as he had sat down and leaned back she sprawled back down, sighing in delight as she wound up across his lap, her head on his knee.
"And yes, I figured out the reason behind the color scheme," she went on, just as if she hadn't just assumed such an intimate position, "I'm not in Ravenclaw for nothing, you know... and apparently, neither were your relatives who chose those particular colors to grace this fine home." She smirked, reaching up to stroke Orion's cheek. "Not that I have anything against Hufflepuff, though; my best friend is in that house. My best female friend, that is.... my best male friend is somewhat closer...."
She sat up then and kissed him, with no preamble. It was incredibly wonderful to be back with Orion after nearly a month without his company, and Gemma had been looking forward to this particular moment with extreme eagerness. All her dreams had been about this boy, though moments like this sprung up more often than any other sort. As she broke the kiss and wrapped her arms around his neck, she wondered if he had thought of her, too. The fact that he had gotten her a present suggested that he had, but she still stored the thought in her mind, planning to ask him at the soonest possible moment.
"I'd love a present, Ri, though I can't think what in the world you could've gotten me," she whispered into his throat, "Being with you again is the best present I could've asked for... and just think, darling, after this we can see each other whenever we want... Now that we've been formally introduced, our parents can't stop us..."
"Well, the pink is part of the fade as it goes to white...its only one floor and its not that bad...like sunrise more than the traditional girlly color..."
He was secretly flattered that she considered him her best male friend. And as far as Sofia went, she was an approved female friend for Gemma to have. A smile danced on Orion's face as he teased Gemma.
"Remember how much you hated me that first day? And now, here we are, practically begging for the wedding day to be closer. Odd. And curious. But perfectly acceptable." His grin was almost malicious in his teasing, as he insinuated that their current happiness was merely acceptable. Then again, she should know by now that his art of the understatement was nearly perfected.
"And this IS true, that we can see each other when ever we wish. I am very gladdened by this. Here, before our conversation wanders too much more...The first of many presents that I would bestow on you..."
He pulled out a black jade pendant. It was carved into the Maori symbol for eternity and love. It hung on a silver chain that pooled the light gracefully. The whole piece seemed a fusion of light and dark. Orion thought it simple and elegant, and perfectly fitting for his own Gemma.
"Light and dark, two halves of a whole...It is more than just the necklace, but the definition of us..." He moved to put it around her neck.
"That might be alright, then," Gemma commented musingly at Orion's description of the color, "Sunrises are always lovely..." A few seconds later, her own face took on the color of a sunrise as she blushed. "What do you mean, 'practically begging'?" she asked, but her face was decorated with a wicked grin as well as the blush, "I've already begged you to elope, as I recall... And the offer still stands, we could get out of the rest of the party, then..." She sighed, preparing to lean her head against his shoulder, but then he brought out her gift and she gasped.
The necklace was perfect. She couldn't have picked better herself, and than was saying a lot, because she never let anyone else pick things like clothes or jewelry for her. "Oh, Ri..." she breathed, catching his hands before he could put the necklace on, "Oh, please, let me look..." She examined the necklace, her hands trembling slightly as she slid her fingertips over it. "It's.... it's perfect," she told him, hoping he would be pleased with her praise, "I love it... though I am confused which one of us is the light and which the dark..." She managed to smirk at him, but her expression swiftly shifted back to that of pure wonder.
"How.... however did you find this?" She unclasped the necklace and guided his hands around her neck, inviting him to put it on. "And... however am I going to come up with a suitable return gift?"
The smile quirking Orion's face softened slightly. He saw her as the paragon of light and the softness of snow. He, however, was the darkness and cold of a winter night. Her pleasure at the spiral, the symbol of eternity, yin and yang, and togetherness was reward enough for him.
His sarcastic reply to her question was teasing and loving despite the dry humor.
"Well, I found it in a jewelry store...albiet a specialized one that took a happy view to custom requests. Its based off of a Maori design symbolizing love and eternity. As to a return gift...your continued adoration will suffice for now." He loved teasing her. Nobody else recieved this attitude from him, only Gemma.
Gemma laughed, tugging Orion's hands around the back of her neck. "Put it on," she begged, "I want to wear it, so the others--" She stopped abruptly, lowering her eyes. "So everyone at the party will know that I am not to be trifled with," she went on in a murmur, "That's why I hate parties: because I've never been to one where I wasn't continuously bothered by those around me..." She raised her eyes again, meeting Orion's squarely. "But now, I have you... and you will protect me, will you not?"
She sighed, lowering her head to rest against his shoulder. She felt so peaceful, an odd sensation never-before felt by her in the presence of a male other than her brother. This boy, despite all her protestations, was beginning to win her over. She still resisted it to some extent, but in moments like this... it was difficult to remember why she was fighting so very hard.
Reaching around her head, he fixed the clasp of the necklace. Delicately, he arranged the pendant just so. He scrutinized it for a second longer and looked up to Gemma's eyes with a hard glance.
"You are mine. Nobody else's. And should anyone dare trifle with that claim, woe to them and their house." A tight lipped smile completed what sounded like a curse, but was really a declaration of love.
"And speaking of the party, we should most likely be getting back. The sunset was supposed to herald the beginning of the firework show, and they won't start THAT wihtout our presence. Trust me, you'll want to see it." He scooped Gemma up and placed her on her feet. Holding her arm gently and possesively, he headed for the door.
No advertising. Be polite.
Trevor Williams: And here's a shout box to use in the meantime, too!
Sept 4, 2014 20:16:38 GMT -8
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