The Nettle & The Needle

Description:

Heidi Ranum

    Tiger Eye to Rose
  • Healer
  • Played By: dergon

    Court Healer
    Raej Terreille
    3 Posts    361 marks
The Nettle & The Needle
« on: September 26, 2020, 07:14:23 AM »

"I'll take that." Heidi slid a smile onto her face just as she slid the tray from the witch's hands. She cast a wink in the startled face that greeted her theft. "Healer's orders and all that." She teased, settling the tray against her stomach and wondering how these women managed to flounce about the place with such things all day. It was heavy.

"Thank you!" She tossed over her shoulder as she hurried down the hall. Mother Night, this had to be what pregnancy felt like. Weight biting into your ribs. Hauling at your arms. Heidi's lips pursed as she puffed. She knew she'd helped draw up the schedule that kept Nikki properly fueled, but she didn't remember suggesting the snacks be quite so dense. "Oh well," she breathed to herself. Not quite panting.

He probably needed it. Especially if Fritter was around to sneak bites for himself.

"Knock, knock!" A quick warning before her craft was rattling the door knob until it opened. Hands to full of an ever growing snack to be of any use. A bump of her hip swing it wide enough for her to maneuver inside, desperately searching for a table to drop her burden onto. "Good afternoon, prince." Heidi smirked. Such formal words, when she tumbled into the room in layers of multicolored skirts. The rainbow pattern shifting as she walked, the bodice of white lace to tight she might as well have painted it onto her skin.

"Heard something about headache, my friend." Weird how that had come to be. Heidi all but spilled the tray onto a side table, pulling the top off and vanishing it. Her parent's had angled to make them companions. Heidi had known her duty. But her affection for Nikodemus was real. Probably one of the most honest things in her life. Dusting her hands off, she surveyed the spread the kitchen had sent and then turned her attention to her friend. Arms crossing over what some might argue were breasts, she plastered a fierce scowl onto her face.

All furrowed brows and twitching lips as she tried very hard to frown and not laugh.

Nikodemus Vee

    Red to Gray
  • Blackwidow Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Kayndred

    Territory Ruler of Raej
    Raej Terreille
    5 Posts    843 marks
Re: The Nettle & The Needle
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2020, 10:01:30 PM »
Every day of the week - barring the set Mandatory rest day and the rotating Negotiable rest day - were scheduled as smoothly as possible to be as stress free as possible. He had his days detailed down within the five minute mark. He had the calling cards for his appointments filed by order of appearance on a sleek rotating index, decorated in color coded notes and symbols pertaining to all manners of nuance - a favored tea, a political rumor, a recent trip - that might prove relevant to the meeting. After, he'd summarize the experience, make additional notes, potentially issue some inquiries, and put the card away with all of the rest of the file belonging to that specific individual.

Nik was very thorough.

Which was why, when he looked up at exactly twelve past midday in anticipation of the door opening to Berit's expressive eyebrows, he was suspicious of the delay that kept it closed. Berit was punctual in the extreme after years in his service, and capable of haranguing the kitchen staff in an emergency. The few times she'd been late she'd had a cart sent up in advance, for his records. He had three.

Weighing curiosity and suspicion in equal measure, Nik sent a probe down the hall just in time to glance off Heidi before drawing back into himself.

Now there was a meeting he knew was scheduled for later in the week, and at a well-to-do eatery in the garden district, no less, as a show of proof of his own adherence to good personal maintenance. Perhaps Frit had sent her his way to secure approval for something. They were not above using their long standing friendship to poke and prod him in the directions they wanted, after all.

Then the door was swinging open to admit her and Berit's lunch tray, and the delay clarified itself. He marked down the adjusted time and reached out to Isak at the primary reception desk, instructing him to issue out calling cards to the days appoints regarding the schedule change, and to request rescheduled meetings for four of his longer winded visitors. There was always a healthy buffer calculated into each of those sessions, of course, but he knew Heidi would leave when she was ready or when he physically ejected her from the office, and not before. There were too many original copies of important documents on his desk to risk trying to wrangle her.

Leisure lunch it would be.

He'd finished his dictations by the time she relieved herself of the tray, a brow already arched at the formality neither of them leaned too heavily into.

"Good afternoon to you, Lady." Papers shushed through his hands as he neatened the stack. His attention drifted, placing several more pertinent pages on top - only to slide back to her with such absolute incredulity that he felt his own lips twitch before he strangled the smile down.

"Since Fritjof isn't present and you've only just arrived, I can safely report that this morning was headache free." He rejoined, tilting his head that he might look down his nose at her while sitting. Flat, almost derisive, and he knew she'd see through it, understand that he teased as much as she did with her ridiculous statement. As though she had to manufacture a reason to drop in unannounced. They'd been together too long for that.

Standing, he bridged the gap between them to take her hands and drop a kiss on either cheek, chinning her crown in passing as he straightened. Never one to miss an opportunity to lord his height over.

Smile beatific, he continued, "But since you're here, I suppose I must recall those hazy memories of etiquette training mother attempted to have beaten into me." a light, exasperated sigh, full of drama as he pretends not to see her twitching lips "Might I avail myself of you on the couch? You know how I hate to stand." And then, with none of the genteel manners of his position, he released her and focused his entire self on the food, taking great care to arrange small meat pies and fruit tarts on his plate and not look at her face or offer her anything.

A snacks and juice in hand, he seated himself primly in a wingback catty-corner to the end of the couch, with Heidi between him and the food. He knew how this game was played, and it would involve a lot less mess if he didn't try to take the whole tray with him. "I don't suppose you would reveal the name of the kind soul who pointed you in my direction?" He doubted there was one, but if one of his staff was worried for him it meant he'd have more to discuss Heidi at their scheduled lunch.

Heidi Ranum

    Tiger Eye to Rose
  • Healer
  • Played By: dergon

    Court Healer
    Raej Terreille
    3 Posts    361 marks
Re: The Nettle & The Needle
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2020, 07:08:47 AM »

He never stopped her work at her entrance. Heidi considered playing at being offended, but it was a ploy she would have carried on forever and always. Nikky never stopped working. She was certain he dreamed schemes and solutions in his sleep. There was always this sliver of him he held apart; in reserve for work and always working.

But much like herself, he had been bred and groomed for a specific sort of life. More so, she imagined, considering the differences in their stations. And the spiral hidden at his brow.

Heidi's mouth parted on a little puff of breath. A scoffing bit of laughter at his absolute rudeness. "Are you quite sure Fritter isn't here using you as a mouth piece?" She accused haughtily, half threatening to cover the tray again before vanishing the lid. But it was all a game. Feet sliding through the steps of a dance. Teasing, exposed by little smiles that might be missed if they weren't looking.

Joining hands with him, Heidi tipped one cheek and then the other to his administrations. As always, she imagined being skewered, or even skimmed, but his horn. But it never touched her. It didn't even ruffle her hair in passing, though his chin did. Ever the warlord prince, he had to saturate her in his scent to be happy with the world. "She should have beat you harder." Heidi quipped, squeezing his hands before they separated.

A nod before she acted out her agreement, skirts smoothed and fluffed as she sat. The couch edge perched on so she could slid her toes back and her elbows forward. Leaning in to watch with a healer's interest. "And get them in trouble for flagrant gossip?" Her fingers fluttered below her throat in dismay and faux fear. "It was Fritter, of course." Heidi announced after a pause, waving the name between them with the same hand that had fretted.

Without asking, she poured juice for herself, glass summoned from her cabinet. Usually it was used to force concoctions on patients, but it so often came in handy for moments such as these; spent with greedy men. "You've jam on your chin." She taunted, sipping the tangy fruit drink and grimacing. "Have you though?" Heidi pressed, eyes slanting with suspicion.

Nikodemus Vee

    Red to Gray
  • Blackwidow Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Kayndred

    Territory Ruler of Raej
    Raej Terreille
    5 Posts    843 marks
Re: The Nettle & The Needle
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2020, 12:53:38 AM »
"You would know if he were using my mouth," Nik allowed lasciviously, one brow ticked up. There was enough rumor about where he lay between his two closest confedants that he didn't feel bad bandying it about a little. It wasn't like there was anyone else who wouldn't take it seriously, barring the man in question.

Her declaration brought a croak of laughter out of him, almost enough to jostle his plate. "Oh, then all her good spoons and hairbrushes would have been broken. She learned after five, I think," said with an air of pride at ones own stubbornness that, he imagined, fairly smothered his guest. Nikodemus was quite good at smug, if he said so himself.

His mother, of course, had never had to raise a hand to him, let alone one wielding an object intent to hurt. She was too well bred. Her disappointment and censure had been weapons enough, something he knew he hadn't yet pinned down and that Heidi was just as likely to use against him. Surely there was nothing good to be had about having childhood friends in ones court - they didn't need retellings of the stories of youth, they'd been there for it and could offer their own color commentary.

Of which there was no end in regards to Nik's staff. "They gossip flagrantly either way," he scoffed, attention catching on the hand at her throat. Maybe he should take her jewelry shopping instead of out to lunch. Getting her something shiny to wear would be settling. "You'd think I don't punish anyone, ever, they way they go on." Perhaps he should go out and fire a few of the worst offenders, but the idea immediately rankled. He'd hate to have to train up replacements. Caught, he thought, scowling delicately at his plate. Curses. Heidi and Frit would end up laughing at him the whole time, either way.

Of course. He was probably laughing now, too. "Of course." He hadn't even seen the man yet, but he wasn't surprised at his meddling. He rubbed the base of his horn with a fingertip, smoothing his expression into something calmer before his hand dropped, napkin appearing between fingers to dab at his chin, only to squint in consternation when it came away clean.

"Only this morning, from reading late I'd guess." He admitted, aware of how late 'late' was and how he couldn't give that information up without a fight. "But I drank plenty of water and rested with a cold towel over my eyes between meetings, and its about gone now." That, at least he'd divulge, because to say it was gone completely would be to invite even more suspicion. Nosy woman.

Heidi Ranum

    Tiger Eye to Rose
  • Healer
  • Played By: dergon

    Court Healer
    Raej Terreille
    3 Posts    361 marks
Re: The Nettle & The Needle
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2020, 05:45:37 AM »

"I don't think I'd want to." Heidi felt heat rise with laughter along her cheeks. She knew people whispered. Her married status protected her to an extent, but not even national pride could keep the people from guessing and gawking when it came to Nik and Fritjof. Heidi couldn't blame them, or she shouldn't, because truly she did. There should have been more reverence and less fascination. Especially with Nik's dick and where he might be sticking it.

Head shaking in mock dismay, Heidi allowed him a few bites before she continued her own teasing. Nikki's was truly worse. It was his nature, all that Black Widow tension and Warlord Prince protectiveness. It made him terribly contrary. "I pity that poor woman." What must it be like to race such a creature? Heidi could not imagine, and she spent much of the year living with one. But she rarely had to share especially close quarters with Nik. And friendship was much different than parenthood.

"Maybe you need to break a few hairbrushes." Heidi challenged, eyebrows bobbing querulously above the rim of her glass as she drank. The idea was preposterous. Fritty she could see pulling a maid over his knee to spank, but with Nik... violence seemed a much sharper idea, and less tangible. From him she would not want to suffer punishment. Fritty could take whatever Nikki dished out, however, since she doubted it would ever come to blood between those two.

Heidi licked juice from her lip and watched Nik dab primly at his chin. She had to tuck the corners of her lips in to keep from smirking. Which made her face look only more pinched by the tartness of the drink. "I don't know how you stand that stuff." She complained, taking yet enough mouthful and setting her cup away. She scrutinized him. The glare of a friend as much as a healer, though there was no craft to back the glance.

"The latter you read, the more you plot," she accused, folding her hands on her knees and leaning forward slightly. "Is there anything I can help with?" She was an excellent spy, if she did say so herself. And a few territories farther from her husband wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Nikodemus Vee

    Red to Gray
  • Blackwidow Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Kayndred

    Territory Ruler of Raej
    Raej Terreille
    5 Posts    843 marks
Re: The Nettle & The Needle
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2020, 05:35:12 PM »
Her statement made him laugh. The rumor mill trundled on, endlessly, about everything, tossing Heidi, Frit, and himself in at intervals, in intermittent combinations, for all sorts of reasons. Trials, drama, fights, tension - if there was one thing the court and the staff and the people all seemed to agree on, it was gossip. Even if they could never keep what the gossip was about straight.

His next allowance was a scoff, however. "Lady Lovise deserves none of it. She has retired delightfully into the country to rule over her estate as she deems fit. Apprentice Blackwidows flock to her, the town council sits at attention to her every word, and my father visits on occasion enough that they can pretend he is busy with work and she's been having numerous torrid affairs for him to disrupt with his arrival." Nik was glad his parents had parted amicably, enough that they could keep up their friendship, an undisturbed type of love that he wasn't experienced enough to understand. He could do without the updates to their little manufactured dramas, however. "She is exactly where she wants to be, with time enough to send me letters about my own maintenance."

It was definitely a combination of effects that had him attempting to simultaneously inhale and snort his drink, pressing his handkerchief to his mouth to stymie the little coughing fit that did, in fact, disrupt his plate. Damn, he thought, looking at the one meat pie that had been disturbed enough to land face down on the carpet. Such was luck. He set his dish on the table and knelt to vanish it and make sure it hadn't left a stain that needed addressing immediately.

"The response to that type of outburst couldn't be borne," he said, dabbing at the carpet. Not too much of a mess, at least, and it kept him from having to look Heidi in the eye when his next thought became words. "They'd either shrink in fear of me, or deem it some kind of extension of whatever I do in the bedroom." Any real anger Nik could bring to bare would be. Well, difficult to mitigate the after shocks of, if it were genuine. Perhaps he should delegate the task to someone from whom the rebuke would be better received, although the implications of that would have to be considered in full too.

People were so terribly difficult sometimes.

Another advantage of his decreased angle - the smirk that pulled his mouth up at her tone, and her look when he chanced a glance up, was able to bloom in full. Not that he had any fear of her being ignorant of it. Sometimes it was worth it to pretend he was good at keeping secrets from one of his best friends. "It was one of the blends suggested to better boost one through the transition from fall to winter," he said, looking up fully at last. He'd inform a maid of the little mishap later, but his own ministrations seemed to have lifted some of the juices from the weave. He demurred, blinking coquettishly, "It has health benefits." Supposedly. He'd gotten used to it with a bit of sugar to take the edge off.

He sighed as he stood, and settled back into his seat. "Plotting runs this territory, dearest." So, so much plotting. And only the very, very best at out-plotting other people's plots got to have the job of guiding all the other plots toward a common goal. Nik was, at least, good at plotting. Weather or not that was a good thing would be proven in time.

In fact... He propped his hand on his fist, snacks briefly forgotten, to give Heidi a look that he hoped communicated the exact level consideration that had gone into his statement. "Actually, yes." Because if anyone were to have words about his relationships with literally any person, Heidi would be fighting for the top of the list beside Fritt. His mother would be a close second, and only due to the distance between them physically. "I've plans to extend a neighborly hand to our... friends in Askavi," he said, as calm and bland as he could make himself. "The situation at the border must be investigated, and I refuse to make any declarations that may launch us into another conflict. With the state of our webs, we couldn't take it." The state of their webs, of course, being no one knows fuckall about what's happened, but something clearly has, which was not a point to be bringing up to anyone beyond their borders. Or outside the walls of some very thoroughly shielded rooms.

"Were it to come to be that a diplomatic party was to be sent up, who would you send?" With me, he tacked on at the end, although that was another little bit that he hoped she wouldn't divine. There were... few options that he truly, genuinely trusted to be as politic and Raej-serving as he needed, and. Well. He would not send a citizen to do a job he would not do himself.
 

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