Cherry Wine

  • oldbook;

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    Queen Hollis Rosaline Avington
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    King Tobias Edward Avington

    The way she tells me I'm hers and she is mine
    Open hand or closed fist would be fine
    The blood is rare and sweet as cherry wine.

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    Sir Cornelius Titus Moren
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    Duchess Serafina 'Fina' Maganti Wright

    October 8th, 2018 at 01:02am
  • oldbook;

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    Serafina sat at her desk and she could not rip her eyes away from the letter in her hands. She had forgotten, like the foolish girl that she was, that she would be expected to return to court. She could feel her chest heaving up and down, pressing against her bustier. The letter, addressed to her by the King, requested her presence at court once more. She never thought of returning to court, let alone trying to find another match. It had been almost 3 years now since she last went to court as a young maiden. She remembered it fondly, although now her stomach turned with grief. She felt the wave of grief wash over her as if she were a stone on the beach; she was smooth and yet, she was still stuck in the waves.

    It had been over a year now since her husband, Levi, died in battle in service of the King. Levi was a worthy match. He was a Duke that was appointed by the King himself due to his previous services in war and his quick success in rising through the ranks of the army. They have been at war for a long time now, as long as she can remember. There was a small faction of Death witches that opposed the marriage of the King and Queen. Unlike her parents, the leaders of the covens that practice Death magic did not all succumb to the King and continue to put up a large resistance to this day. When King Avington came to her land, her parents recognized the strength in joining with him rather than fighting to the death. She bit her lip, wondering how her parents, Grand Duke and Duchess Maganti, may have had a hand in pushing her back into court.

    "Fina, love," her mother's voice called, with a soft knock at the door. She opened the door, her deep hooded eyes mirroring Serafina's own. "I see you got the letter. I have prepared many of your things already and bought you new dresses. I just," her voice shook, "wasn't sure how to tell you."

    "To be told at all would have sufficed," Fina spat back, resting her shaking fingers on the table. "I am Lady Duchess Wright, am I not? I know my duchy falls underneath our family, but it is still mine. I am capable of making decisions for myself and my people." She smoothed her hands over the letter, trying to hold herself together.

    "I'm sorry love, but we don't have a choice. King Avington requested you. It is time. You cannot be a widow forever," her mother said, having crossed the room and began running her fingers through her hair. "It is the only way lest you lose your power forever. You can petition the king to continue to keep your duchy if you find a match. It is the only way," she stated once more. Fina nodded though she could not stop herself from smoothing her fingers over the words of the letter over and over again so she would not set it on fire.
    King Avington often awaited The Season with a sort of zeal that he could not place. He enjoyed the feeling of life and happiness as it gave him more power. Plus, courtship began in the Spring which was also the very peak of his magic. It was a time of year that meant only success for him and his people and he loved watching over it. He enjoyed the games, the parties, the dancing, and the courting; even if he could not take place in it all, he still felt joy. The invitations and letters had been sent and the people would be returning to court and new Ladys would be presented. Of course, this was also a time for business and for new laws and regulations to be made. At least, the business and pleasure were balanced out for all included. It was time for everyone to thrive.

    He sat in his office, his feet resting upon his desk. His glass of wine was full and he savored the silence. Soon, it would be time for dinner and it was often better for him to be drunk by the time he saw his wife. He did not hate Queen Hollis, no. They simply did not match for love and he certainly felt that in every avenue of their relationship. As Winter became Spring, the shifts from her peak to his wore down their relationship as well. Where he felt joy, he assumed she must feel tired. Where he feels excitement and power, she must only feel weakness. Though, in truth, he does not always ask her how she feels.

    After finishing the glass, he closed the letters he was reading in his desk and the locked the drawer with a wave of his hand. He walked to the dining room, candles flickering as he went. "Good evening, my Lady," he said, kissing Hollis on the top of her head. "How are you feeling today?" He asked, taking his seat across from her. He glanced down at their meal and smiled for it was his favorite meal, roasted lamb. "Everyone will be here tomorrow morning," he said with a smile. "I hope you are a ready for another season."
    October 8th, 2018 at 01:50am
  • katahdin

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    Cornelius sat comfortably on his horse, a beautiful icy grey mare, while she nibbled on some grass at the top of a hill overlooking the King's palace in the distance. He had been on the front lines when he had received the letter from the King, requesting his presence in court, and had delayed coming for as long as he could, but once his general had found out, he was ordered to leave at once. He'd spent a few days on one of his estates, making the transition from the battlefield to court life a little bit smoother, although he still wished to be back at the front.

    As a distant cousin of the Queen's, although they had been close since childhood, he had done quite well for himself after her marriage to King Avington, gaining a prominent position in the military and working his way up, now a respected Colonel, and one of the most eligible bachelors to be heading to court this Season.

    Once he felt his horse had rested long enough he spurred her on, galloping off along the road toward the palace, expecting everything he had asked to be sent ahead of him to be there when he arrived.
    Queen Hollis sat at the dinner table, having arrived five minutes earlier when dinner was supposed to be served, but had waited patiently for her husband to arrive, like always. She always dreaded the Season, not only because it meant the ending of Winter, which left her in a weak and almost sickly state at times, but it meant watching her husband be filled with joy in the company of the Court Ladies, wishing that she could bring the same happiness to him.

    Hollis had loved her husband the moment she'd met him, and even if it had been an arranged marriage, a political alliance, she wouldn't have wanted to marry anyone else. However, because of their differences in magics, and the ongoing war against parts of her family and people, their relationship was constantly strained, but she did her best to not let on how much she suffered, especially during the Season, when her Tobias was at his happiest.

    Hollis smiled faintly when he entered, relishing the kiss to her head as a faint blush appeared on her cheeks, the young woman often quite emotional despite her facade of being cold and distant. "I'm well, glad that the moon is almost full." She murmured quietly, picking off a piece of her lamb to pass to her companion Io, the beautiful cat meowing happily at the treat. "It seems like only yesterday the last Season ended... It always comes so quickly." She looked over at him, offering him a small smile. "I'm glad you're excited, though. I'm sure it'll be fun."
    October 8th, 2018 at 02:33am
  • oldbook;

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    King Tobias drank his wine quickly, savoring gulps as he ate. He nodded at his wife. “Oh yes, I do think it came rather quickly this year. We’ve been distracted with our expectations and with the war. I am relieved,” he said, finishing a glass of wine. He felt a pang of guilt. It wasn’t that he had to be drunk to be around her, but rather he could meet her expectations for affection if he was drunk. He looked across at Hollis and he almost wanted to sigh. It wasn’t her fault. She was beautiful with her soft chocolate locks, luminous skin, and bright eyes. She was also brilliant and strong and he knew she was a good choice to be Queen. It just always felt like something was strained and missing; it was no wonder than that had no heir.

    He wasn’t surprised that Hollis wasn’t excited for season, aside from feeling tired. Though he appreciated the tinge of pink in her cheeks, her face still fell flat to him. At least, this Season, she had a few close family and family friends that would be joining them. He needed them to come both for Hollis and as a showcase of solidarity. He finished his food quickly, trying to fill the bit of silence that always seemed to find them.

    “You are not excited, butI think it will be fun. Are you planning anything then? Perhaps we need to have matching outfits,” he said, with a laugh.

    He was finished before her, but that was not a surprise either. King Tobias smiled, a sloppy drunk smile across the table. This was the first night of many drunk nights and he was excited. “Will you be sleeping in your chambers or mine tonight?” He said, not sure what he was expecting.
    Serafina had a fitful sleep, one full of dreams and memories dancing in her mind. She woke with a start, noticing the moon peaking through her curtains. She rest her hands on her chest, trying to calm her ragged breathing. If she could, she would go back to sleep, but it almost felt pointless. The trek from her parents the Duchy of Furoso was a long one and she would need to leave within a few hours anyway. She rose slowly from bed and pad across the floor of her room.

    She spent time going through her trunks that her mother packed and reorganizing them. There were clearly some new dresses and gloves in her pack and a new fan. She smiled, though it still felt wrong to be going to court. As she packed, she eventually heard the people in her castle begin to pack for her journey as well. Before long, they were taking her trunks from her.

    She changed into her traveling gear, pulling the black hood tight around her face. She muttered her goodbye to her parents, ignoring both their advice and well-wishes for her Season. The sky above her was gloomy and dark and that felt more fitting to this Season than her last. She climbed into the carriage and leaned her head against the side. Before long, it would be morning and she would be in the Capital of Esmenia.
    October 8th, 2018 at 03:17am
  • katahdin

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    Hollis wished that she were a better liar, that she could fool her husband into thinking that she was happy, but she couldn't, and only felt more guilty every time she saw him guzzling wine, knowing he couldn't stand to be around her without it. She frowned a bit as he pointed out that she wasn't excited, giving a little shrug as she pushed away her plate, almost never finishing her full meal, always seeming to lose her appetite once the conversation began to turn toward their strained marriage. "Cornelius is arriving tonight, and I asked him to come for lunch tomorrow.. I don't think we would need matching outfits for that, but if you want me to wear something special for the opening of Court, just let my dresser know, and she'll have everything prepared."

    She blushed brightly when he asked whether or not she would be spending the night in his chambers, pushing in her chair as she stood, looking down at the table in thought. She remembered the last time they had visited each other's rooms, she could count the visits on one hand, it was so few. But she didn't blame him, she always found fault in herself, as in her eyes he could do no wrong.

    She smiled weakly, walking over to press a tender kiss to his forehead, gently smoothing his hair back from his forehead. There was no doubt she would make an excellent mother, as she was an extremely loving and caring woman, but the few times they had managed to conceive she'd lost the child early on, straining their already strained marriage further.

    "You're drunk, Tobias... I think it's best I stay in my bed tonight. It's a big day tomorrow, and I wouldn't want you to be tired in the morning because of me." She smiled weakly with a small sigh, gently stroking his cheek, feeling the light stubble under her fingertips. "You'll want to be your best tomorrow, and I find that I'm only good at making you unhappy.."
    Cornelius, having arrived at his house in Esmenia the evening before, had woken early as he always did, used to inspecting the soldier's camps and the battlefields early in the morning. He was glad to have the time to re-familiarize himself with the city, having not been here since Hollis' wedding to the King nearly five years ago, and most of that visit he had been drunk and celebrating his favorite cousin's marriage, although he considered her to be like a sister to him.

    He wandered through the streets, hoping the shopkeepers would be opening their stores soon, wanting to get something for Hollis as a present before their lunch later that afternoon, knowing from the letters that she sent that her marriage wasn't what she had hoped it would be. If he got a chance to speak with Tobias alone, he'd probably strangle the man for not taking better care of her, leaving her alone to get drunk, not defending her from the gossip of the court, and not acting like what he considered a good husband to be.
    October 8th, 2018 at 03:48am
  • oldbook;

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    Tobias wished for that feeling of longing that he often got whenever the Season started to happen whenever Hollis approached him. If he thought about it deeply, he could almost feel it within himself. It was a deep ache in his stomach, a weight on his chest, an itch in his fingers, and his heart raced. The few times he took Hollis to bed, it had been almost practical. It wasn’t warm nor was it passionate. He sighed when she walked near him. What was wrong with him? Monarchs for centuries could find a way to love their wives and yet, he only managed to pleasantly tolerate Hollis’ presence in his life. Perhaps it was his fault their marriage from within was such a failure, even though politically is has been a continued success.

    He felt the warmth of her fingers and he smiled, “Yes. I suppose it is a big day tomorrow. Perhaps another night,” he said, placing his glass down with a thump. Ironically, he felt the sting of rejection in his chest. He wondered if the women that were steadily approaching his castle would reject him so, drunk or not. Many women would feel lucky to be invited into his bed. Hollis were too responsible for her own good. “Good night, then,” he said, standing as they parted ways.

    Images of other women and Hollis herself filled his head as he got ready for bed. Even more so, in his dreams. If anyone could read his mind, he’d be embarrassed for the amount of longing he felt to be touched and appreciated. He was King, after all. Couldn’t he find that anywhere he wanted? Or would that be doing a disservice to Hollis? Both dreams and memories of longing and those filled with pain flitted through his mind until it was finally morning.

    While he would usually head straight to his office in the morning, he knew that it would be far better to get ready for the presentation of the families, his speech, and then he’d have to time to attend to other matters. He spoke with his dresser about his attire for this evening and suggested that he and Hollis wear both silver and navy blue to represent both of their homes and covens. Everything about their life together was in the spirit of unity, whatever that might look like.

    Before long, he was waiting outside her quarters in a deep navy suit with embellished silver stars, suns, and moons. He knocked lightly and called within, “Ready to welcome and meet the families?”
    Fina slept for her entire trip, finding the bumps of the road to be soothing rather than disrupting. She was already so tired and she would need to be well-rested if she were to represent both her parents her late husband well. Luckily, this sleep was dreamless. It wasn’t until her driver opened the door and sunlight flood her face that she finally awoke. She arrived at her parent’s estate in Esmenia with just enough time to bath, fix her hair, and dress before heading to the palace.

    “My lady,” her favorite maid said to her, with a soft curtsy. “I’ve already drawn a bath for you. It is in your chambers.”

    Fina thanked her, welcoming even more alone time and peace. She soaked away her grief or, at least, she tried to. If she could not appear jovial and energetic like every young maiden that was hear, she could at least look calm, happy, and dignified. She passed on assistance doing her hair and make-up. Instead, she braided her charcoal-colored hair just the way that Levi liked it and pinned it up so you could see her cheekbones even better. She slipped into her dress made of her house colors, red and gold, with a knotted pin to pay homage to her husband. Finally, she was ready to head to the palace.
    October 8th, 2018 at 04:04pm
  • katahdin

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    Hollis frowned a bit as she watched him leave, as if frozen on the spot. Once he was out of sight she turned away, scooping Io into her arms, pressing a gentle kiss to the feline's head as she made her way to her chambers for the night. Much like her husband, her dreams were filled with longing, only of Tobias, of course, although, her dreams turned to nightmares very quickly. The images of Tobias caressing and loving her melted away to images of him with other women, the strange women receiving all of the care and love and affection that Hollis wanted.

    She woke with a start a few hours before sunrise, a bit feverish and a terrible dread in her stomach. Instead of going back to sleep she spent her time reading or working on a beautiful embroidered jacket that she was planning on giving to Tobias for their anniversary, not that she expected anything so elegant or thoughtful in return.

    She bathed and began to prepare for the morning ceremony a bit later than she should have, her hair still hanging loosely around her shoulders when Tobias knocked on the door. "Just a minute..." She called back, asking one of the maids to open the door to let him in. She was standing in front of her mirror as her dresser finished tying her corset, the dress that had been picked out for her in the arms of another maid, ready to put it on once the corset was tied. She stared at her reflection, picking out every little detail about her appearance and personality that she thought were defects, reasons why her husband, or any man for that matter, couldn't love her.

    She glanced over to Tobias' reflection when he entered, offering him an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry.. I overslept.." She murmured, turning to step into her dress as the maids instructed, the beautiful navy gown matching Tobias perfectly. Looking at him only made the dread in her stomach and the ache in her heart worse, fearing that this Season would finally be the time when her nightmares would come true: that he would fall in love with someone else.
    Cornelius returned to his home after he'd managed to find a suitable gift for Hollis, bathing before dressing in his full dress military uniform, a white uniform with silvery embellishments and embroidering, making sure everything was neat and orderly before he set out for the palace. He rode his grey mare as usual, preferring that to riding in a carriage like the rest of the nobility who made their way to the palace for the start of Court.

    Once he arrived he dismounted and passed the reins off to one of the servants waiting outside, giving the horse a pat on the neck before he made his way up the front steps and into the palace with the rest of the crowd, smiling politely and greeting those who said hello to him.
    October 8th, 2018 at 07:38pm
  • oldbook;

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    Tobias walked in the room, sliding past her maids and smiling at her. While there wasn’t love there, Tobias was not blind. Hollis was a beautiful woman and he was lucky to have someone like her on his arm. In fact, he was surprised that she let him into her chambers when she was barely dressed. He felt almost embarrassed, as if he should not be seeing her like this. Though he was her husband, it seemed that it would be better to respect her boundaries. Her face seemed disgruntled with her eyes scanning her reflection. Nervously, he fixed his cufflinks and looked back up at her once she was dressed.

    “I thought you told me we needed to be well-rested,” he said, with a smirk and chuckle. “This color suits you,” he added. It seemed she may be a moment and so, he sat down. While he knew that this Season was going to be a success, he also always felt worried that he would fail or his people would not be happy. It was a big deal to invite everyone into the palace. He wanted to make a good impression and he needed the people to believe in him and Hollis both.

    “I don’t want us to be late. We have just a few more moments before everyone is here and we are to be expected.” This much was true. Tobias hated being late for major appearances. He felt it important to be timely, well-mannered, and dignified. “Although, I suppose, as royalty, we can decide the true time for the event to start,” he said, throwing her a wink.
    Find arrived at the palace much faster than she expected. It had been a long time since she’d be in the palace. In fact, she hadn’t been since her husband’s funeral was held her. It looked far cheerier now than it was for her funeral. The steps to the palace were adorned with flowers and gold streamers. People were wearing their brightest colors and best dresses. Although she knew she fit the part, she still felt a bit out of place. She wasn’t here with her friends all looking for mates like they once were. Instead, this time she was completely alone.

    She removed her cloak, truly exposing who she was to everyone that passed once she made inside the large oak doors. She smiled at those who bowed to her and those who said hello. She followed the golden sparklers that lead the way up the stairs and through the halls towards the throne room. The ornate carved doors were still shut, awaiting the King and Queen to arrive first. She cursed under her breath for now she would be forced to socialize far before she expected to.

    She turned to her right and noted the Queen’s close friend. “Lord Moren,” she said confidently. Even she was surprised by the tone in her voice and yet, she knew she would be just fine here. This was business after all and the business was more important than the courting. “I am surprised to see you. Won’t they miss you on the battlefield?” She asked, offering him a gentle smile.
    October 8th, 2018 at 09:18pm
  • katahdin

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    Hollis had been trying for years to be open and welcoming to him, hoping that maybe one day something would be different, and he'd look at her the way she'd always wanted him to, but it seemed as if that would never happen. She smoothed out her dress once it was on, sighing slightly as she gave herself once last look in the mirror, her maids quickly styling her hair in a beautiful braided bun, one of the braids circling her head like a crown. She felt inadequate, ugly, even, and wished she didn't have to go downstairs and pretend that she was happy, but she'd do anything for Tobias, and it was what he needed from her.

    She blushed at his teasing, turning to face him as she fidgeted with the lace sleeves of her gown. "I'm sorry for delaying you.. You can always go on ahead of me, I'm sure I won't be missed.." She knew that while their marriage was a political success, the members of court loved to gossip about her, especially because a number of her relatives were the ones fighting against her husband in the war. Besides her parents and Cornelius, whom she rarely saw, she only had one other friend in the Court who she saw regularly, but even then it wasn't a true friendship.

    She e lifted her dress to slip on her shoes, smiling a little as Io jumped onto the seat next to Tobias, curling up in his lap as if to take a nap. She moved over and sat for a moment next to him, reaching a hand over to scratch behind the cat's ears as she meowed happily. "...I'm sorry I'm not a better wife to you, Tobias.. You deserve better.." She murmured softly, sighing a little as she glanced up at him, chest feeling heavy from the terrible ache in her heart. She knew that she shouldn't be bringing it up right before such an important event, at the beginning of the Season when her husband was at his happiest, but she couldn't help it.
    Cornelius turned from an old Count he was talking to when he heard his name, excusing himself quietly from the conversation before turning to Serafina, bowing slightly when he recognized her, politely taking her hand and pressing a brief kiss to the back of her hand.

    "Duchess, it's a pleasure to be seeing you again. I'm sure the General will regret his decision to send me here in the coming weeks, but until my service is requested once again, I'm planning on enjoying my time here, as much as I can." He smiled politely. "I'm surprised to see you here. Once again, my condolences for your husband. He was a good man."
    October 8th, 2018 at 09:43pm
  • oldbook;

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    Tobias, whose mind wandered to the events that were coming, came back into focus when Hollis sat down next to him. He looked over to her and frowned. He reached and grabbed her hand and sighed. “Hollis, no. You are exactly what I need. What this country needs. We are what everyone needs. Stability, hope, growth. You give that to our people. Please don’t say this,” he said. He felt a pain in his heart for causing her such pain. He lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed it.

    He wanted desperately to reassure her and himself. The disappointment that he felt was not because of who she was or what she brought to the monarchy. She was educated, brilliant, and able to keep up with negotiations. He needed her advice and her reason. The disappointment that he felt was his own. He could not court her as he should have. He stood, shaking his shoulders and smiling.

    “Come. Let us greet our people. They are waiting for both of us,” he said with a reassuring smile. Though, he wasn’t sure who needed the reassurance.
    Serafina smiled at Cornelius as he turned to her. She was relieved to see a familiar and kind face. Cornelius was the kind of man that reminded her of Levi. He was honorable and driven. She appreciated his spirit. Although, it had been awhile since she last saw him. Though, he seemed to be the same.

    “Thank you,” she said, dropping her head for a moment.

    Serafina did her best to ignore the comments and thoughts about Levi. She could not live in the past, not here in front of all of these people. She could think on the past when she was alone once again. Now was a time to put her best face forward. She was just unsure whether or not she remembered exactly how to do it.

    “I think it is time that my people deserve a strong ruler and I think that I cannot always provide that alone. An army is nothing with just a General. We all need people,” she said. “So, I am back in court."
    October 15th, 2018 at 03:37am
  • katahdin

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    Hollis squeezed his hand slightly when he took it, her hand cold in his warm one, as it always was. She knew he was right, that she was the perfect match for him politically, but she wished deeply for him to want and need her because he loved her, not just because he needed her for the sake of the country. She forced a small smile when he kissed her hand, giving a little nod.

    "I know you're right... Just ignore me, I'm only causing you trouble.." She murmured as she stood with him, smoothing out the skirt of her dress before following him out of her room.

    She walked a step behind him through the halls, fiddling with her fingers anxiously. She was always nervous at the beginning of the Season, always worried she'd do or say something wrong, or that she would do something that would reflect poorly on Tobias.
    Cornelius gave a little nod, realizing that it might have been a bad decision to bring up her husband, knowing that it must still be tough for her, but he also understood her desire to move on and do good for her people.

    "It's very honorable. I'm sure that you'll enjoy your time here. Do you know anyone else here?" He asked, glancing around the crowd, wondering when Hollis and her husband would arrive.
    October 15th, 2018 at 06:15am
  • oldbook;

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    [I hope you don’t mind that I moved it along a bit!]

    It seemed like hours have passed awaiting for the King and Queen to arrive. Tobias led Hollis to their thrones and sat down. He smiled at her and nodded, to give her some reassurance. He looked out at the doors, hearing the rumbles of people just outside of them. He felt butterflies in his stomach, though he would never admit it. He wanted everything to be perfect. He wanted for people to truly believe that he and Hollis were just as happy as they were all hoping to be.

    “Let us open the doors then,” Tobias said, standing with a smile.
    Fina looked to Cornelius and shrugged. She felt ashamed, but it had been some time since she came to court. She knew only those that she did business with for trading, but even still. She was unsure whose daughters were whose and what families were looking for suitors. She bit her lip, wondering if perhaps she should have studied a bit more.

    “Unfortunately, no,” she said. “I think it will be a new year for me -,” she stopped. Just as she spoke, the doors finally opened. She turned. “I suppose I will learn their names now.”
    After everyone was presented, Fina sat by herself, amongst other royals at her rank. She was surprised to see more Dukes and Duchesses than she expected. Surprisingly, it felt comforting to see so many faces. It made her feel more at peace, as if she did in fact belong here.

    She looked up at Tobias and was surprised. As a young girl, she never truly looked at him. She felt the King was out of her grasp and his relationship with Hollis was set in stone when she arrived. Now, she noticed how striking he was. His golden hair rippled and his smile was one that was dazzling. She was, again, taken by surprise. What was about it Tobias that made her sit a little taller today?

    “Good morning,” Tobias said, “I am so grateful and excited to have you all back at Court. Hollis and I are excited for another Season to start where we strengthen the ties that we have made, build new bridges with each other, and find love, hope, and solace within each other. Hollis and I are excited to receive you all and allow you all to mingle. Let us bring out the wine and start the day,” he said, clapping his hands together.

    Upon his que, the servants appeared with champagne and other wines. He glanced to Hollis, awaiting for her to stand as the crowd of people began to form a line to meet them and present their daughters, if they were to be presented this Season. Fina, pushed back by the crowd, ended at the side of the room, but was lucky enough to pluck a glass of champagne as she waited.
    October 17th, 2018 at 07:09pm
  • katahdin

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    [of course no worries!]

    Hollis gave her husband a reassuring smile as she stood with him, reaching over to take his hand and give it a gentle squeeze. She'd never liked crowds that much, but with Tobias at her side it was much more manageable.

    She smiled as she watched everyone crowd in, her smile becoming more genuine as she spotted Cornelius in the crowd, almost not recognizing him after so many years, although she knew she'd always be able to recognize the man who was like a brother to her. Once everyone began to line up, she carefully took two glasses from a nearby servant, turning to offer one to her husband.

    "You always know what to say at these sorts of things.. It's very impressive." She murmured with a small smile, pressing a small kiss to his cheek, hoping to fool the crowd into thinking that they were as happy as they were supposed to be.
    Cornelius stood still as the crowd moved and shifted to line up before the monarchs, casting an intimidating glare at those who dared to bump into him, plucking a glass of wine from the tray of a servant as he made his way to the side of the room, near Fina. He smiled politely when he spotted her, holding his glass out to her to toast.

    "I hope you have a fruitful Season, Duchess." He smiled before taking a sip of his wine, glancing around the crowd to see who else he recognized, as well as looking for an opening in the line.
    October 17th, 2018 at 07:37pm
  • oldbook;

    oldbook; (100)

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    Tobias closed his eyes and smiled when she kissed him, trying to put on the appropriate show. He looked down at Hollis, smiling to let her know that he heard her. He murmured a thanks, but did his best to re-focus on the crowd of people coming towards them. He felt a pang of guilt for he could see the love in her eyes and he wondered why it was not reflected in his own. He took the champagne and sipped it, grateful for something to drown the butterflies in his stomach. He shook hands and made polite jokes until there was only those in court, champagne, and happiness within him.

    Fina smiled at Cornelius, grateful for someone to reach out to her. “Thank you, sir. And I wish you the same, if that’s what you’re looking for,” she said, gazing down the line. She finished her glass of champagne and grabbed another with a quick smile.

    The Vandlers, a family that practiced Life Magic and that were somehow related to Tobias were talking amongst themselves. They were often a closed group of people and seemed to believe they were better due to their limited association with the King. They were so often obsessed with themselves and as a result, they left quite a sizable gap in the procession. Without thinking, she grabbed Cornelius’s arm and pulled him forward with her.

    “They won’t notice,” she said, pulling him in line with her and let a laugh slip through her teeth. “I’m sure they were just discussing who looked the most like Tobias with golden curls and how wonderfully brilliant they all are,” she whispered. “Besides, I am a Duchess too and I don’t like waiting.”
    October 17th, 2018 at 08:51pm
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    Hollis smiled, politely greeting their guests and sipping her champagne, listening to her husband's small talk happily. She was glad he was so happy, hoping that he'd be able to enjoy himself and have a good Season, knowing that winters were always rough for him.

    Every Season, like all the young girls who came to find matches, she hoped that she would finally be able to get him to love her the way she loved him, that they wouldn't have to pretend to be happily married anymore, and would be genuinely happy. Her mother liked to nag her in her letters about her silly fantasies, but her grandmother had always told her when she was young that an unhappy marriage never led to children being conceived, and while she wanted to dismiss it as an old superstition, with the way things had gone for her, she had started to think that her grandmother might have been right.

    Cornelius chuckled as she pulled him into line, glancing back at the Vandlers for a moment before turning his attention back to her. "Finely put." He waited patiently until it was their turn to be introduced, grinning as he stepped forward to bow politely. "Your majesty." He addressed Tobias before turning to Hollis, beaming as he stepped forward to take her hands, giving them a squeeze as he kissed her cheeks, Hollis doing the same as she smiled at him.

    "Cornelius, I'm so happy you could make it." She smiled as he kissed her cheeks. "I'm looking forward to catching up with you. You'll have to tell me everything." She beamed giving his hands a squeeze, having missed him in the time he'd been off to war.
    October 17th, 2018 at 10:20pm
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    Tobias felt his cheeks beginning to hurt both from fake smiles and genuine ones. He glanced down fondly at Hollis as she chattered with guests and was proud of how happily everything seemed to be going. He felt hope, a feeling that he truly needed after a long Winter basically alone. Before he could think too long on this, two familiar faces approached him.

    Tobias watched as Cornelius walked towards them with Duchess Serafina by his side. For a moment, he was surprised. He didn’t expect them to be close in anyway, but perhaps Fina is different than she once was to find friendship in Cornelius.

    “Cornelius,” Tobias said with a nod. “A true honor for you to join us in court.” He turned then to Fina and offered her a gentle smile. “An honor for you to join us as well, Lady Fina. It has been many moons since you have joined as a court.”

    Fina felt a flutter of nerves as she curtsied to her King and he took her hands. What a change. The last time she was here, she cared very little for King Tobias. He was important, of course, but he didn’t give her butterflies as she had now. “King Tobias. I am pleased you invited me. I am sure it will be a lovely evening. I will see you later this evening perhaps. Good luck with Vandlers,” she said with a chuckle.

    King Tobias chuckled as Fina turned to Queen Hollis. He scanned her over once, looking down at the curves of her body. Somehow, her loss had made her more beautiful and regal with her quick wit that Tobias remembered. His eyes lingered for a moment, wondering, before he was pulled away by the next quest in line.

    Fina smiled, curtsying next to Cornelius, “Your majesty, an honor to see you and to see you with such a brilliant smile on your face.
    November 1st, 2018 at 02:41pm
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    Hollis was putting on her best show, as she always did every Season, knowing how important it was to Tobias for them to appear happy and unified, even if it wasn't the truth. The coming of summer always made her feel worse, but lately even the winters weren't bringing her as much joy as they used to.

    Hollis smiled politely at Lady Fina, glad to see that Cornelius had made a friend or acquaintance while here at court. She blushed faintly at her compliment, glancing over to Tobias to see how he was getting along with the other guests, although when she saw the look he was giving Fina her smile faltered a little. "Thank you, Lady Fina. I hope you enjoy your time at court, and I hope Cornelius doesn't bore you too much." She smiled a little, elbowing Cornelius with a small laugh.

    Cornelius laughed a little, pressing a gentle kiss to Hollis' cheek before stepping out of the way as the other guests continued to come up, not wanting to hold up the long line. "Thank you both, I hope to see you both later." He said, turning to look at Fina as they stepped away. "Care to try to find some more wine?"
    November 1st, 2018 at 04:53pm
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    Fina smile as they parted ways from the King and Queen. She was finally feeling more confident and comfortable at court. She felt in her steady steps and the pressure that finally left her chest. Thoughts of Levi left her mind and instead, she focused on Cornelius in front of her. His eyes were bright and kind, though there seemed to be a shadow dancing behind him. She clasped her hands in front of her and smiled. “Sir Cornelius, I believe you may have used magic to read my mind. Nothing would make this better than a nice glass of wine or two,” she said, smirking at him.

    “You know Her Majesty well then? Are you also of Death magic?” She asked, raising a brow as she grabbed a glass of red wine from the tray.

    They weaved their ways through the crowd, muttering polite hellos and greetings as they went. Tobias’ eyes followed Serafina as she crossed the room. Watching her gentle laugh and excited conversation with Cornelius. It seemed like years passed as they were greeting people. The train of people that came to them were all excitedly gibbering about business, pleasure, and, of course, the lovely new ladies that are joining court this year.

    Before long, Tobias mouth hurt from smiling. At long last, the party had begun and the welcoming ended. Those who met him first were already quite merry after a few glasses of wine. He turned to look at Hollis. “It seems to take longer every year, doesn’t it?” He said, with a chuckle. He offered her his arm, “Shall we get ourselves a glass of wine and then I need to speak to Duke Chamberson."
    November 2nd, 2018 at 04:08pm
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    Cornelius grinned at her insinuation, pretending to look offended. "Lady Serafina, I would never use magic to read minds. I've tried and I'm terrible at it." He laughed, plucking two glasses from a waiter's tray, passing one to her. "I just think that wine is the solution to everything at these kind of events." He said with a smirk, offering a quick greeting to some old general as they moved through the crowd.

    "Hollis and I grew up together. My parents died when I was young, and hers were kind enough to take me in, despite me being only a very distant relative." He explained as he sipped his glass. "I practice Ice Magic, which makes this time of year my least favorite. Although I appreciate the wine." He chuckled, looking over her features.

    "And what about you? What sort of magic do you practice?"

    Hollis was soon feeling a bit faint after all of the greeting and hellos, having never been one for long conversations or big parties. When Tobias offered her his arm she gladly took it, offering him a weak smile. "That sounds nice.. Do you think it will be a good year? Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. I'm glad Cornelius seems happy."
    November 2nd, 2018 at 04:39pm
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    Fina walked amongst the crowd next to Cornelius, listening to the gentle way he formed his words. The chatter of others filled her ears for the excitement in the room was bubbling over, like a cauldron left on the fire. The electricity of so many powerful people in one place was almost palpable. Fina felt herself immersed in it once more and her fears quickly washed away because she belonged here. Of course, she did.

    “I see, so you are both feeling the impact of the Seasons,” Fina said with a sympathetic look flitting across her features. “I feel fortunate to not be bounded to the seasons. Fire is powerful all year round,” she said with a smile.

    Tobias walked with Hollis, feeling her fingers pressing deeply into his arm. He glanced over at her, concern surging through him. He never thought that the Seasons were this powerful and yet, she was struggling; it was clear. “I do think people will enjoy this year. I can feel everyone here and there is not a spark of Darkness in the room. We are lucky today,” he said, smiling down at her.

    He walked with her, providing the most support he could as people bowed along the way until he was able to give her a glass of wine. “Is there anything I can do to help you? I feel you are waning,” he said, leaning closer to her so he could lower his voice.
    November 8th, 2018 at 04:18am