Achtus 3, 2718 ● Evening
Jeanette wasn't quite as enthused as her twin; brushing her own hair as she sat at her little, wooden vanity, as if she didn't have the ability to call for a servant to do it for her. She had always been the more introverted of the two, quiet and reserved even if she held the same love for life as Alouette; she preferred her head turned downwards to her books rather than the sky. Alouette had never understood her sister's calm disposition; they were here to have fun and enjoy themselves, weren't they? A year from today and they'd be taking their initiation tests, and once they started their schooling they'd have little time to spend playing and frolicking in the fields. Alouette was determined to make the best of her time.
She sat atop their shared bed, large enough to be comfortably occupied by three grown men, debating which dress she wished to wear as she watched her sister prepare at the vanity. The twins had a rather extensive wardrobe, even for galdori, and oftentimes Alouette stumbled upon hoards of dresses in the massive walk-in closet that she'd never laid eyes on before. Thankfully their mother had pilfered through said closet earlier and had picked out a few dresses for her daughters to choose from, so she didn't have to deal with potentially being buried beneath a suffocating pile of dresses in the closet.
"Jen, what do you think? The blue or the pink?"
"The pink, of course," answered Jeanette without turning to look at the dresses in question. Her eyes were focused firmly on the mirror, little hands carefully fixing her blonde hair into two braids.
Nodding in agreement, Alouette pushed herself off of the bed, grabbing the pink dress and calling through the closed wooden door for the twins' personal servant, "Maisie! Come help me get ready!"
It was strange to be home again. Donatien visited with every chance he was provided, the thought of staying in Brunnhold over the breaks was one that had never even crossed his mind, but it still took a while to adjust to being at home again. It was almost bittersweet--he loved his university and loved the friends he had made of fellow students and professors alike, but nothing compared to being home with his family; nothing quite fixed the pain of leaving them again after every break's end, nothing brought him comfort like the familiar walls of the manor in Dorhaven.
"It'll all be yours, someday," the deep voice of his father dragged Donatien from his thoughts, the student turning around where he stood in the main living room. A fire danced behind him in the stone hearth, crackling and comforting in the sound, warming the room and making him feel truly at home once more. Donatien offered a smile to his father, hands in his pockets and eyes looking to the floor as if the teen was trying to appear humble.
"And I'll make you proud when it is," he gave as he approached the older galdor, pulling his hands from his pockets in order to reach out and wrap his father in a hug, "it's great to see you again, father."
"You too, Donatien," agreed Lionel, returning his son's smile as they dropped the embrace, "your mother will be delighted to know you've arrived. I'll send Noel to fetch her, but first--how are you, my son? It's been too long."
"I've been well. Really well, actually. Things at school are going great, and I think I'm really starting to... fit in, you know? I have friends, for once, and it's nice."
"Of course. I'd expect nothing less; you're a smart young man with a bright future ahead, your peers are bound to notice. Noel!" called the man, turning away from his son to watch as the young galdori servant descended the stairs at his request, "fetch Fleur for me, would you? Tell her Donatien's arrived."
"Shhh," cooed Fleur, "all's well, my son, no tears."
Perhaps she should've handed off her baby son to one of the elderly female servants to handle--it was what all of her friends would do, what they had done with their children, but Fleur had never been one to take the easy way out. Although she and her husband had countless galdori servants in their employ, the mere thought of tossing off her child to one of them sickened her. She hadn't devoted her life to these children just for someone else to raise them; she would be the present mother in all of their lives that she had never been given.
Not to say that it wasn't difficult. Even a strong Hessean such as Fleur found difficulties in the raising and care of her children, but her patience had only grown over the years. Each of them had graced her with a new gift: Donatien taught her hope, and the joys that could be found in the pursuit and upkeep of it. Alouette taught her the playful, dreamy whims of a child, the aspirations and imaginations she had neglected in her own childhood. Jeanette taught her quiet responsibility; that maturity could be found even in the youngest of faces and that they weren't to be ignored. Antonin, his cries barely a whimper now as she rocked him gently in her arms, taught her the meaning of love. Not the passionate, fiery kind that she had once held for her husband, but the ocean of undying devotion that she imagined a believer might have in the gods, though she knew hers to be more extreme. It was only with Antonin's birth that she started to develop this same love for her other children; his light showing her the mistakes she'd made in early motherhood.
Antonin was everything. He was the world, he was the sun, he was the moons and the stars and all the space in between. If the gods were real, she imagined this was what it felt like to believe.
Delicate fingers gently brushed the little patch of hair from Antonin's forehead, the baby's eyes closed now that he had been lulled so quickly to sleep. Fleur smiled at the sight, whispering to the child words she knew he wouldn't understand, "Uncle Netheneale and Aunt Anatala are here," she explained, "they can't wait to meet you."
"Madame Savatier?" she heard from beyond the closed door, and Fleur couldn't help but sigh now that her son had awoken and his whimpering had resumed, "Mister Savatier sent for you, madame, your eldest has arrived home."
"I'll be right down."
"Uncle Neth! Uncle Neth, brother's home!" called Alouette from outside of the guest room door, the child adorned in an expensive pink gown but clearly not ready for the evening just yet. Her hair was halfway done but one side was a wavy mess; evidence of the child's quick escape from her servant's preparations in favor of fetching her uncle and seeing her brother. Jeanette, as well, had taken off from their room, slipping through the halls to go find Anatala and tell her to come down and greet Donatien as well as meet their baby brother for the first time.
Their mother was quite protective of Antonin; she hadn't allowed anyone to meet her youngest until now.
Reaching out, Alouette knocked against the door again, "moma said you can meet baby Toni too!"