When Sol’ange thanked him and told him that he couldn’t have brought a better gift, Tristan smiled, a sincere, happy smile before he told her in a light-hearted, but nonetheless very polite tone of voice, “I don’t mind at all! Feel free to open it any time! I love gardening as well, by the way! If you want to, I can show you my garden sometime. I grow a few things there that you might find interesting”, he offered. Just like Sol’ange, Tristan was being truthful. He didn’t just tell her that she could visit his garden in order to be polite and make a good impression on her because he wanted to marry her daughter (at least not only); he was honestly looking forward to her stopping by for a visit sometime.
He’d have to temporarily relocate the snails and slugs though. On the other hand, even Padraig had not minded the snail slime binder, but actually thought that it had been a good idea, and Padraig and he had used to hate each other (mainly because of Faith; Faith Augustin, the most famous woman in the world, had been his slave once, and he had loved her, but she had married her tutor – which he didn’t mind anymore nowadays; he would never have met Ashling otherwise). If Padraig had been okay with the snails, maybe there was hope for Sol’ange?
She seemed quite likeable so far, much more likeable than Padraig …
He’d have to ponder the matter further later on, he decided. For the time being, he focused on Sol’ange and Ashling and their current meeting though. He was quite relieved that the first couple of bits had gone so well (in spite of his deciding to firmly believe that it could only be a success), and he was rather relaxed as consequence (which was why Ashling’s forced tone of voice seemed a little strange to him – was she worried about something?).
“Of course”, he replied as Ashling told him to be very polite to the historians. “I’m actually quite looking forward to listening to them”, he admitted before he leaned a little closer to her and whispered, so that only she would be able to hear him, “Your mother seems nice!” He’d been worried that Sol’ange would be some sort of dragon in human (or was that Sev’ryn?) form, but he could see himself getting along well with her.
Having said that, he returned Ashling’s affectionate smile and entered the House of History, walking very close to her, but resisting the urge to embrace her again even though he really wanted to, because of her mother. The House of History was … weird, he decided. It was rather dark and a bit stuffy (the employees probably rarely opened the windows, judging by the look, or rather smell, of it). And even though the sun was shining outside, they had the curtains closed as well, and there were lanterns everywhere. The wood carvings distracted him from the aforementioned weirdness soon enough though. Sol’ange and Ashling would notice that the young noble inspected them with a soft smile on his face (being a sculptor, he was especially interested in the local art).
He didn’t touch them though. That would be inappropriate. He treated the local art with respect.
He didn’t react negatively at all when Sol’ange folded the paper, as if she wanted to keep it. Once upon a time, he might have found her behaviour weird. He had grown up rather sheltered – and privileged and spoiled, and his playmates had been other spoiled nobles. He hadn’t had any real contact with normal people until he had moved out of Sabaissant. Over the course of the past couple of arcs, he had met a lot of people from all walks of life and made a lot of different experiences though. Besides, that paper was too beautiful to just rip it to shreds and throw it into a trashcan! He approved of Sol’ange’s decision!
When Sol’ange started to browse the book, the smile on his face grew a little wider. He was quite happy about the fact that she was so curious about it that she wanted to take a look at it right away. “I don’t mind, Ashling”, he told his lovely fiancée when she interrupted her mother (Was she worried about Sol’ange’s behaviour? He didn’t see anything wrong with it. On the contrary, he appreciated her being so curious – he was curious about a lot of things as well!). “I love talking about such things. Unless …?” he continued and raised an eyebrow again. He realized that she might not be interested in a conversation on gardening, but want to do something about the ruin garden soon.
(Which would put him into a bit of a dilemma. He didn’t want to offend Sol’ange, but he definitely didn’t want to keep Ashling from the ruin garden. Besides, he was interested in it as well. It all sounded quite mysterious, and he had to admit that he loved a good mystery!).
When Ashling went to look for a historian, he turned to Sol’ange, quite an enthusiastic look on his face, and informed her, “I’ve added a couple of packets of seeds, each of them labelled. The first packet contains a few rose seeds – for pink roses, the flowers of my family, the Venoras of Sabaissant. The roses should be planted in spring, after the last frost, and they need well-drained soil in order to thrive. They are a bit sensitive to be honest”, he remarked, smirking slightly for a moment, before he informed Sol’ange in a calm and confident tone of voice, “An elixir made from them has anti-inflammatory and cooling properties and even helps against bug bites.” He was not nearly as familiar with other plants; when you grew up in Sabaissant, it was impossible to not know anything (or everything?) about roses though.
Normally, Tristan had a tendency to talk very quickly (and a lot!) when there was something that he was passionate about; he tried to speak in a measured tone of voice now though (a bit of his excitement shone through regardless though). He remembered how he had scared the poor woman that had tested his cat-speech potion back in Vhalar with his overwhelming enthusiasm. He didn’t want the same to happen with Sol’ange.
“Rose water?” Sol’ange interjected at that point. Ashling’s mother wanted to test her future son-in-law a bit and find out more about how much he knew; she was also genuinely interested though. She was not the kind of person that feigned interest in order to be polite.
“And rose vinegar”, Tristan said and grinned slightly. Rose vinegar was quite useful, and he liked it so much better than apple cider vinegar or the kind of vinegar that was made from grapes. As for rose water, it wasn’t just useful, it also smelled really nice in his opinion.
Sometimes, he used a bit of rose-scented perfume!
“There are also seeds for the Gamble Flower that grows along the Burning Mountains, below snow-level. Gamble Flowers prefer shade and being protected from cold winds. The people of Warrick make an oil from them that strengthens your hair and nails and softens rough skin. In my opinion, it could also be used to make an elixir to treat certain skin conditions”, he continued. His knowledge of medicine was limited, especially compared to Ashling’s and Sol’anges’s; alchemy could be used to strengthen the effects of certain substances though, and thus modifying an elixir like that made sense to him.
“I also have lavender here. As far as I know, it’s not a particularly demanding plant”, he told Sol’ange. At least the lavender bush in his garden hadn’t died yet, even though he’d forgotten to water it a couple of times. That meant that it was a rather hardy plant, right? Or had he just been lucky? For a moment, he doubted himself. Maybe, he should have conducted a bit more research beforehand. He’d always fancied himself a masterful gardener, but now he was not so sure anymore. Sometimes, he had too much self-esteem!
“Oh, and a special kind of chamomile”, he told Sol’ange who listened to him with unmistakable interest “Chamomile likes sunlight and should be planted a little later, at the end of the Rebirth Cycle as it doesn’t like cold very much, same as lavender, from what I know”, he added, furrowing his brow almost imperceptibly as he wondered if he did indeed remember things correctly. Maybe it should already be planted at the beginning of the Rebirth Cycle and preferred darkness! Oh Fates, what if he had been wrong, and Sol’ange found out? What would she think of him? Maybe he could just claim that plants grew differently in Sabaissant!
For now, he decided to be optimistic once more because doubting himself was out of character for him, anyway.
“And how should I store the seeds?” Sol’ange wanted to know.
“In a dry, cool and dark place, just like other seeds”, Tristan replied (that had been an easy question!). “The book has a chapter on each of the plants, including instructions on how to take care of them. What kind of plants do you grow in your own garden, by the way, Sol’ange?” he asked, his blue eyes shimmering brightly, as he was quite looking forward to her telling him.
“And where are Ashling and that historian?” he asked a moment later and turned around in order to see what his fiancée was up to before he faced Sol’ange once more, an expectant and enthusiastic expression on his face.