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luc nursed his recent injuries (though the insults weighed greater than the injuries, as he would earnestly assure his friends when the conversation turned concerned and serious) about as much as one would expect; in other words, no paltry amount, though not so much so that his dramatics could be seen as insult by those who had the war bring to them true loss. truly, it was in his nature to make greater fuss over papercuts than over a sheared limb - a theory as of yet not truly tested, for which luc was immensely grateful despite his false bravado. he was lucky, lucian montfaucon, taken captive with his arm broken and released almost as easily, a life for a life for the end of the war.
he supposed he ought to feel lucky, that his being taken captive had started a chain of events that had led to the end of the war, but in truth he only felt - uncomfortable. out of place and ill at ease, to have taken part in a war that had resulted in the sacrifice of a child, while his knightly ass was rested first under volubisian watch, then the same but under the purveyance of eldurian healers. it grieved him, when he allowed himself to feel any grief at all - it was far easier to moan about over his physical ills than to allow his mind to dwell on unfinished storylines, on shadows that spoke of threats to come. it was understandable, even reasonable, that he feel so suspicious of the world still, and yet he could not allow his fears to overtake all else.
and so he moaned, he allowed his arm to rest in a splint for longer than he truly wanted it to be, he got underfoot at every opportunity and dictated letters to be sent out to their foreign allies on the king's behalf. and he escaped it all, whenever the air in the keep felt as though it were clawing at the insides of his throat, to clumsily ride his horse and visit the nearby villages, to see if any help could be given there, or else to walk among the roses in the keeps gardens where he truly could not give either help nor hindrance to anyone. which gave him a strange sense of relief, for some unstudied reason.
he was in such a mood - a mood to neither disturb nor be disturbed - when the sound of a child's giggles greeted his ears, sunshine given sound and powerful enough to wipe - if not his soul clean, than at least the thunderclouds above his head away. and so rather than turning away, luc turned around the bush to give the child - and her mother, and her mother's maid - a winning grin, rather out of practice, as he pressed a hand against his chest and bowed shortly before her. "my lady, i had heard you before i had seen you, and your words had nigh stopped my heart."
a playful look, then, to the child he had correctly recognised from giggles alone as the little-but-growing florianne rainier, "seeing the true recipient of your gentle words now, i can't help but feel my envy full-gone. how are you both?"
he could catalog with unnerving ease the stiffness that - so briefly - took over her; in her shoulders one moment, her elbows and the base of her spine the next, his appearance so clearly unwelcomed - and he should turn away, then, but had instead made the mistake of lowering his gaze to the toddler around her knees, and how could he do so after that? truly, he had become over-accustomed to - and far too fond of - the child in their brief acquaintance, finding reasons (that did not really exist, if he were to really be honest with himself) to swing by the royal nursery whenever he, too, happened to be in the castle. that was one unexpected way in which the famous words came true - war truly made strange bedfellows of men.
and luc could not keep track of the number of times he'd fallen asleep on the floors of the royal nursery, ostensibly there to keep an eye on the spoiled brats, an arm cushioning his head as he griped to them - making funny stories in odd voices of the strife beyond their walls. sometimes telling them - florianne, but also the younger prince eadric - of the strife being made over them - or the strife that soon would be, if things held their course. and he couldn't tell if things had, in his time away, though he rather hoped that the lady advisor had found other things to steal her attention (and scheming) in that same time. he supposed the young lady's own mother might wish to hear of such stories, but given her reaction to him and his own to her daughter, luc was rather hesitant to worsen matters any further.
instead of re-meeting her gaze, of finding honeyed words to win her ease, luc dedicated himself to showing to the lady her own daughter's ease with him - showing his bared neck, in a way, showing his lack of hesitance in kneeling in the snow to be of a more similar height with the young lady florianne. and the little girl rewarded him with a happy little shriek, launching with a hand fisted in snow to pat clumsily at his face, the other curling in a strand of his hair. and luc only grinned in reply, only raised a hand around the more dangerous - though still so small - of hers to ensure she would not cut herself for tugging too hard.
"lady rainier," he greeted, turning his smile to elodie as much as he was able, inclining his head to her in more formal greeting - or as formal as he could manage, with he on his knees. florianne gave another tug, grinning at him as though to claim the proper greeting that was her own due, and indeed the bow of his head to her was exaggeratedly courteous. her giggles were all the reward he could wish for, though her releasing his hair and cheek - and almost falling on her back, as though the action had cost her dearly - were an unexpected bonus. "that pleases me greatly to hear, my lady," refraining from scooping little florianne into his arms as he stood again, with he still a mostly unknown quantity to her mother. never mind that she looked a little more at ease - he knew ladies well enough to know that might simply be her armor already snapped into place, no loose chinks or stiffness to be seen.
a warm laugh, then, easy and unaffected, luc this time unable to refrain from reaching out to gently tussle florianne's hair as she joined him. "if you'll forgive my saying so, my lady, you might wish to keep her in one of ravenreach's nicer towers in about a dozen years or so." though considering how even ravenreach's burian grounds looked, florianne might never wish to leave. still - "she is a treasure. the young men of court should at least have to fight a dragon or two, for the chance to flatter her."
so easy was he with his own flattery, one could almost miss the way he'd avoided answering her question.
the sound luc emitted as florianne escaped her mother's loving clutches should warrant shame were he capable of it; admiration and delight acting as one to produce a wavelength utterly unholy. the cooing that followed, at least, were identifiably human, soft and sweet and harmonizing with florianne's own happy giggles. his grin, framed by florianne's dry, cold hands, was considerably warmer than the one elodie wore when he looked up at her; the former, at least, he could heat up with his hands over hers, fingers curling over her little palms to maximise the contact surface area.
elodie would take considerably more effort, and in truth, lucian wasn't yet sure he had in him to expand the energy. certainly, to sidestep her and ignore aine's quiet plotting would be by far the easier and smarter course of action, but there was florianne - and her little palms - to think of. he raised his brows at elodie, then, voice normal-pitched and human once more - hoping, briefly, that the damage hasn't already been done where elodie's view of him was concerned.
"oh, no, she takes two caretakers to ensure she stays in the nursery," lucian agreed amiably enough, keeping his gaze steady even as he took in the tightness in the corners of her lips, as he wondered how much she already knew - and how much she would appreciate learning more. "i strongly doubt that's going to decrease with age," he added, not that he would claim to wish for things to be any other way.
"are you taking this little darling back home soon, then?" that, punctuated by florianne's tugging at his nose, as though dismayed by the turn her two caretakers' thoughts had taken - though it might just be that, like lucian himself, she was dismayed to find herself not the center of attention. it had to be a new feeling for her.
not that her mama didn't do her best to keep the status quo - lucian's eyes over the curve of florianne's fist were wide with concern, a moment later, and he took the chance to recompose himself - cooing florianne into releasing him - before swinging the child into his arms and getting to his feet. this, if nothing else, was not a conversation he wished to have while on his knees. gently, then, "not all would think so." another pause, pained, before he added, "she's lovely, and dear to our hearts. just as importantly, to some - she's the daughter to the last lord of ravensreach, and cousin to the current."