Just a short one. No sex, but that's OK because sex is bad and wrong!!!
Rated PG-13, no warnings. P.S. The cake featured is not a make-believe cake, and the photo is the one I took of it at the Florian in 2008. WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.
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Clio had finished a shift at the Florian when she noticed him on the way out. Malvolio sat at a table by the window, nursing a pot of tea and a plate of chocolate mousse, decorated with slices of solid chocolate and sugar-dusted fruit. He glanced up, catching her eye just as she was about to leave. He waved her over.
Clio looked around. The café was still busy, filled with tourists who had arrived early for Carnevale. He must have had a fifteen-minute wait for a table by the window. She made her way towards him and took the seat opposite. “Is there something wrong?” She asked in a hushed tone.
He shook his head. “No. I just thought I’d stop by for tea. Though I did want to see you before I left.”
Clio blinked. “How did you know I was here?”
“I asked you last night. Don’t you remember?” He knew she didn’t, and seemed vaguely pleased with himself.
“…I think so.” Last night had been Wednesday. Her visit to Malvolio to iron out the details of her Carnevale costume had quickly disintegrated, thanks to his provision of wine. Though, the colour of her dress had been decided upon, and it was being sewn as they spoke by Madam Canvas.
“Would you like some cake?” He offered, gesturing towards the half-eaten mousse and nudging his spoon towards her. For someone who worked at the café, Clio rarely indulged in the extravagant desserts – but she hadn’t eaten much today. Malvolio could see her bite her lip, and it seemed to him a uniquely female crisis of conscience.
She took up the spoon, scooping at the soft edges of the cake and sliding a mouthful between her lips. The chocolate melted on her tongue and she swallowed, replacing the spoon on the tray.
“Bene?” he asked, rather rhetorically.
“Si,” she nodded.
“How are your friends?” Malvolio questioned, sipping delicately. “Your motley,” he clarified.
“I’m… not sure,” Clio replied. She had only seen the group perhaps once since the incident on the Lido. “I think they’ve been attending to their own things…”
“Like you,” he smirked. “You know, I hope you don’t find this intrusive, but I’ve always found you to be a strange fit with them.”
“Oh?” Of course, she had never felt as though she fit anywhere, and she just seemed so apart from the others.
“I mean, look at your friend, Freki, for example… and Stitches. You’re clearly of a different league. And the Autumn Court as a whole, well… let’s not get into that now, I could go on for hours.”
The disdain in his voice was not a shock to Clio – Malvolio was scornful of the other Houses in general. “I have to wonder if there is any person you don’t dislike… openly or otherwise.”
“I like you, don’t I?” He chuckled. “Though, you are too diplomatic for your own good.” He drained the last of his tea, and then seemed to recall something. “I almost forgot.” He drew a small lidded box from his suit jacket, and pushed it across the table.
The box was secured shut with a small pink ribbon. “What is it?” Clio ventured.
“Opening it might help,” he winked. “Think of it as a thank you for the party.”
Clio untied the ribbon, lifting the lid from the box to reveal a silver filigree necklace, set with a green gemstone that looked like emerald. It seemed expensive.
“I know, not your colour,” Malvolio quipped.
“I…” Her gut reaction, was to fuss and protest and decline. But she stopped herself – she knew he’d just foist the trinket on her anyway. And she had never owned such a nice piece of jewellery before; she felt a faint twinge in her heart as she stared at it. It was stunning, and caught the light in a way that paste gemstones never could. “Molto grazie,” she said finally.
He grinned at her answer – obviously he’d been expecting her to resist. “You’ve been quite the topic of discussion since last weekend.” Quickly, he added, “Only positive things, of course.”
Clio eyed the necklace once more before placing the lid safely back on the box. “Really.”
“Well, Tybalt was disappointed that he didn’t get his ‘dance,’ as he so charmingly put it. And I seem to remember Mercutio saying you refused him?”
She blushed a little. “He invited me to see Madam Roseblood. I assumed she wouldn’t be overjoyed with my presence, to say the least…”
“Ah,” Malvolio nodded, understanding.
“If we could have been alone, then I would have said yes.”
Malvolio’s expression changed, and his eyes lit up. “Oh, well, that’s actually just perfect - I was supposed to meet with Mercutio this evening. But I have last minute business to deal with, so I had to cancel. I’m sure he’d much prefer to see you, in any case.”
Clio had felt a little impolite for saying no to Mercutio, and she did not dislike the idea of another night in his company. Additionally, it was hardly correct to accept a gift from someone and then not allow them a favour. “I’ll go.”
Malvolio smiled softly after swallowing the remains of the chocolate mousse. “8 o’clock, then.” He pushed back his sleeve to check his watch, confirming the current time. Clio followed suit, pushing her chair neatly back into place.
Malvolio continued, "Meet me for dinner at Fortuny tomorrow night. You can tell me all about it."
"Fortuny... at the Cipriani? They'll be full..."
"I can get a table," he said, heedlessly. "I'll call you. Have fun later."