Cherry Wine

  • katahdin

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    Cornelius was content to walk through the crowd with her, happy to have someone to talk to that wasn't trying to use him for his connections to the crown or in the army. He smiled down at her, nodding a little when she mentioned the impact of the seasons.

    "Yes, it's always a bit tough around this time of year, but at the front it's a bit better, since we're further North." He explained, glancing down at her when she mentioned fire. "Yes, Fire is always prominent all year around. It's what makes Fire Magic so powerful." He smiled. "Promise not to burn me?"

    Hollis was glad for the extra support from Tobias, doing her best not to seem too unwell, not wanting her health to reflect poorly on him. She nodded a little as he spoke, returning his smile easily and genuinely, happy that he was happy.

    She murmured a soft thank you when he handed her the glass of wine, taking a long sip. She had never been a big drinker, having always found that half a glass of wine was enough to make her tipsy, but she hoped that it would give her the extra bit of pep she needed to get through the next few hours before dinner. A faint blush appeared on her cheeks as he leaned down to speak with her, looking up at him as she bit her lip, shaking her head a little. "Oh, no... I'm fine, I promise.." She murmured softly, giving his arm a little squeeze in reassurance, although she was sure she wouldn't convince him.

    "I don't want to disrupt your special day, I know that you look forward to this every year. Besides, I always love watching everyone dance.." She smiled, recalling the first time they had danced, it being one of her favorite memories.
    November 8th, 2018 at 06:26am
  • oldbook;

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    Fina felt a flutter in her stomach as she stood near the fireplace with Cornelius. She leaned against the ornately carved wood and smiled. It had been a long time since she was so close to a man like this or felt that thrilling sensation in her stomach. She had to look down, afraid that there may be a flush on her cheeks.

    “I can make no promise, my Lord,” she said, with a smirk. “Though I wouldn’t want to do anything to the Queen’s favorite cousin.”

    Queen Hollis and Duchess Fina were not exactly friends, but it was always good practice to be cordial with the Queen. Fina had very little contact with anyone at court over the last few years and so, it was even more important to at least keep their relationship as it always been: polite and friendly (if even that).

    Tobias smiled down at Hollis once more. “Yes, well, the dancing is the best part isn’t it. Come let us find Cornelius and then we will part ways for a bit so I can do some business,” he said, leading her once more.

    With his hand on top of hers, he walked over to where Duchess Fina and Cornelius were standing in the corner. “Sir Cornelius, I believe my wife has been looking forward to seeing you,” he said, with a smile.
    November 21st, 2018 at 02:58pm
  • katahdin

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    Cornelius laughed, something that he didn't do often enough, smiling down at her as he finished his wine, setting the empty cup on the mantle of the fireplace. "While I'm sure Hollis wouldn't want me burned beyond recognition, I believe that she would agree that I probably deserve a small burn." He teased, feeling flutters in his own stomach as he spoke to the dutchess, although he was trying to pass it off as having had too much wine.

    Hollis nodded, allowing her husband to lead her through the crowd, a little disappointed that he just wanted to pass her off to someone, wishing he wanted to spend time with her. She especially hoped that he would ask her to dance this year, having always loved dancing, but they hadn't danced since their wedding, and she doubted that would change this year.

    Hollis smiled when they made their way to Cornelius, turning her cheek a little as he leaned down to press a kiss to it, giggling a little at something he whispered in her ear. "Oh, you're awful, Cornelius."

    Cornelius only grinned innocently, bowing to Tobias politely. "I have no idea what you're talking about, your majesty." He teased, nodding a little at Tobias as he spoke.

    "Yes, I've been looking forward to seeing her as well. But you're leaving her with me so soon? It's the Season, shouldn't you be spending this time with your wife?" He asked, his voice playful and light as he took another glass of wine, but it was an obvious dig at how he treated her and the state of their marriage.
    November 21st, 2018 at 03:51pm
  • oldbook;

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    Fina cast a look up at Cornelius, enjoying their playful banter. She wondered how their paths had barely crossed before this and now, it seemed that this friendship was going to be her greatest solace here. She smiled at him, unable to stifle it. “Well, then maybe we can arrange a little bit of fun,” she said, with a smirk. For a moment, if she had let herself, she could have gotten lost in the image of kissing Cornelius.

    Before she could speak again, she noticed the King and the Queen headed straight towards them. She felt her shoulders pull back and she put her best smile forward. Of course, you always had to make your best impression. They both looked so regal and powerful as they crossed the floor; Serafina felt jealousy settle into her stomach. Jealousy for love and jealousy for power. Duchess Fina curtsied as they arrived to the King and Queen. The King leaned and grabbed her hand, offering it a kiss. “Duchess Wright, lovely to have another moment with you,” Tobias said with a smile.

    Tobias, distracted with Fina’s smile and sultry eyes, almost didn’t hear Cornelius’ comment. He looked over at him, tensing his shoulders and jaws. Tobias, having spent all his life working with powerful people, knew very well what Cornelius’ intentions were. Serafina was surprised by the interaction and looked to Hollis, wondering how to deal with this tense interaction. He smiled, turning his head just a bit. “It’s a funny game telling the King how to spend his time,” he said, mirroring Cornelius’ hollow laugh.
    November 28th, 2018 at 03:23pm
  • katahdin

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    Cornelius smirked a little, opening his mouth as if to reply to the King, but Hollis quickly interjected. "Cornelius has obviously lost his sense of humor since going off to war, and has been away from court too long." She excused him, giving him a look that told him to keep quiet, which he reluctantly did.

    Hollis could feel the jealousy fill her stomach as she watched Tobias and the Dutchess, knowing easily that Tobias was interested in her, and wishing desperately that he would look at her the same way. She forced a small smile, but her eyes couldn't hide her sadness as she turned to Serafina. "I hope my cousin is treating you well, Dutchess. He's a good man, but his manners aren't always there." She turned back to Tobias, resting a hand on his arm lightly.

    "We should let them enjoy the festivities, there will be time later for me to see Cornelius." Hollis wanted to separate the two men, knowing that if Cornelius had his way, he'd attempt to chastise Tobias again, and it would only lead to trouble. Plus, the looks he was giving Dutchess Wright nauseated her, not only because of what it meant for her marriage to Tobias, but also what it could mean for Cornelius, who she could tell had interest in the young woman.
    November 28th, 2018 at 04:10pm
  • oldbook;

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    Tobias never considered himself to be a man with a fragile ego. He was usually quite confident and yet, Cornelius made him feel insecure, as if he needed to stand taller and talk louder. Yet, he also needed respect or risk his own death and loss of power. It was a surprisingly careful balance between being strong and be insecure. He measured his next words, trying to find the balance. Yet, before he could speak, Hollis swooped in, rescuing them both.

    Or at least, he thought she did. It seemed she too was trying to find the balance between strength and insecurity. Hollis never outwardly showed her jealousy and yet, her hand not rested on his arm. He tried to relax into an easy smile, resting his hand over Hollis’ as if to reassure her; that would be a folly. One that they would both hold onto for just a bit longer, as if that would salvage anything.

    The constraints of power and proper procedure constricted them all. They were all dancing, carefully choosing their words to hide their true intentions. Serafina already felt exhausted by it all. If only she could be honest with her words. If only she could mention the clear sadness in the Queen’s eyes, the poison-laced words from Cornelius, and the longing in Tobias’ expression.

    Serafina smiled back at the Queen, dropping her head in a bow of sorts. “Oh, I am used to the manners of military men. A bit rough around the edges, a diamond in the rough,” she said with a airy laugh and sugar-coated words. “I know you all are busy. Besides, the party will end soon enough and we have all Season to talk more,” she added. “Actually,” she added, “If you’ll excuse me, I see an old friend.” She turned to grab her wine and offered everyone a smile. She locked eyes with Tobias as she left, wondering if he too wished to say something he could not.
    February 2nd, 2019 at 01:40am
  • katahdin

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    Hollis forced a smile as her husband placed his hand over hers, nodding politely at Serafina as she politely dismissed herself from the conversation. "It was lovely to see you, Duchess." She said politely, watching her go before turning back to Cornelius and her husband.

    Behind his polite facade, Cornelius was ready to respond to whatever Tobias said, although he was surprised when first Hollis interjected, and then Serafina. When he met the Duchess' eyes, it was obvious that he wanted to say something, but for both her and Hollis' sake he remained silent, and only offered her a polite smile. He was sure he would see her later, and so he wasn't worried about it, and decided to dismiss himself too.

    "I should be leaving too, Hollis. I'm sure I'll see you later." He smiled politely, taking her free hand to press a gentle kiss to the back of it before he too turned to disappear into the crowd, heading off to talk to some general or another.

    Hollis released a small sigh once they had both gone, shoulders visibly relaxing as she removed her hand from his arm. She was visibly upset, but doing her best to hide it, tears threatening to spill over her cheeks. She felt awful, dread filling her stomach, and she was about ready to excuse herself from Tobias' side when some old noble woman came up to them, saying how happy she was to see them together.

    "You two are just so happy together, I just can't wait until there are little ones running around the palace. What's taken you so long, anyway? I know everyone would love to know that you had an heir." The noblewoman went on and on, smiling at them both, absolutely clueless about what had been happening.

    Hollis tensed once more when the woman began to as them about children, the feeling of dread worsening, to the point where it felt like she couldn't breathe, and that she couldn't find the words she needed to politely to tell the woman to leave them alone.
    February 2nd, 2019 at 02:15am
  • oldbook;

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    Fina needed almost any excuse to escape that confrontation. She was relieved to see an old friend in the crowd, Lady Parsons. Miss Parsons family was wealthy beyond compare and have been trying to wed Miss Parsons for almost 6 years and yet, she always held her own. Fina walked over and Miss Parsons gasped, audibly, and pushed past the two men she was speaking with.

    “Duchess Wright,” Miss Parsons said, “You are a vision as always. I am so pleased you are here.”

    Fina turned her head, “Awfully formal for us, don’t you think, Monika?” With that, Miss Parsons smiled and flung her arms around Fina’s shoulders, pulling into a deep embrace. Their words were fast as they shared endearments. Miss Parson let her hands fall to grab Fina’s and she smiled. Completely absorbed with each other, the two men that were vying for Monika's attention stepped back without notice by the two friends.

    “There is so much to discuss. I am happy to see you here even if it also brings me sadness,” Monika said. “You are here to find a husband once more?”

    “It is my duty,” Fina answered, a pang in her stomach.

    Monika blew air quickly from her mouth and rolled her eyes, “Screw our duty. I have been running my house just fine without a husband and so have you. If anything, I say we’re here for a good ole fashioned fling,” she said, flicking her tongue on her final word.

    Fina smirked, memories of their times together flashing quickly in her mind, “Yes, we did love a good fling, didn’t we? Duty be damned. A woman has got to look out for her own needs.” They laughed in unison. “I suppose I have a few flings in mind,” she muttered. Miss Parsons squealed, leaning in to hear of her infatuation and need for exploration with both the King and Cornelius.
    “Grand Duchess Hawick,” Tobias said, grabbing her hand to give it a polite kiss. “I am pleased to see you are back in court, gracing us with your presence and excited words,” he said with a chuckle. “If you will excuse us,” he said, pulling Hollis with him before the old woman could pry any longer, "I need to borrow the Queen for a moment."

    He and Hollis had only moments to speak before someone else would find them again. His words were hushed, painful, and fast. “I wish I could offer you something to make you feel better and I need you to pull yourself together. Take a few moments, I will find you later,” he said, letting her hand go as he walked away. He wasn’t really sure where he was going, just that he could not watch Hollis cry.
    February 2nd, 2019 at 02:39am
  • katahdin

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    Cornelius found himself chatting with an old, prominent retired general and a few other officers, chatting with them about the state of the war and with their expectations for the upcoming Season. The general and a few of the officers even introduced their daughters to Cornelius, knowing that he was a good marriageable match, who also had a promising military future.

    Cornelius chatted with the young ladies politely, although when he spotted Serafina across the room, giggling and chatting with one of her friends, he politely dismissed himself after promising each of the girl's a dance later, before heading over to Serafina and her friend. "Hello, Duchess, lovely to see you so cheerful. How have you not introduced me to your lovely friend?"
    Hollis was relieved when Tobias quickly led her away from the Duchess, although when Tobias simply deposited her in the corridor just outside of the ballroom, telling her to pull herself together before disappearing, she felt even worse. She wanted to say something but couldn't find the words, and instead promptly took off down the hall, finding a small private room where she could sit and collect herself away from the bustle from the party.

    However, instead of calming down, she ended up crying, burying her face in her hands as she wept softly. She hated this; hated her awful marriage, hated being Queen, hated not being loved. She wished that she could change everything, but she couldn't, and she felt so helpless.
    February 2nd, 2019 at 03:03am
  • oldbook;

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    Fina felt a happiness she had not felt in such a long time with her hand holding Monika’s as they chattered excitedly. She felt like a young woman again. It was almost as if this was her first night at Court ever. She was just a young girl from a rich family, not a Duchess. She had been free of grief with only a few rules to follow. She sighed, wishing she could be that girl now.

    “Oh,” she said, her cheeks flushing as Cornelius approached, Monika's elbow nudging her ribs. “Yes, this is Lady Monika Parsons of Fallholt, in the River Valley.”

    Miss Parsons flashed her dazzling smile that made most men go a little weak in the knees. “Charmed, she said, offering her hand. “You must have friends in high places to be excused from the War to attend Season. Lucky us,” she said, practically purring.
    Tobias made his way through the crowd, finding a group of businessmen in the back. He laughed with them, drank with them, and made polite business arrangements with them. Before long, he felt the weight of his marriage lift from his shoulders. With the distance between them, it almost felt like he was a bachelor once more.

    Sometimes it felt like he was not trying very hard in his marriage and yet, he remembered when he tried very hard. When he first met Hollis, they were young and lively. Though it was a political marriage, he hoped they could find joy in it. It only took a few months for him to realize they didn’t have the chemistry he needed so desperately.

    Chemistry like what he felt instantly when he looked at Fina’s hooded eyes and playful smirk. Quickly, he sought her out amongst the crowd. Once again, she was talking to Cornelius. He felt his muscles tighten. He didn’t want to be constantly at arms with Cornelius and yet, it seemed it was the future of the Season. It was looking like this Season would be far more difficult than any in the past.
    February 2nd, 2019 at 04:39pm
  • katahdin

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    Cornelius returned Lady Parson's smile with a charming one of his own, taking her hand as he bowed to kiss it. "It's a pleasure, Lady Parson." He said as he straightened, chuckling a bit at her eagerness.

    "Yes, well, being the Queen's cousin has it's perks, I suppose." He grinned, motioning one of the servants over, taking a glass of wine for himself and taking a big sip. "I'm not sure how I like being back at Court compared to the battlefield, because of all of the politics, but I do have to say, the women here are much lovelier than the ones you see there." He smiled charmingly at the two of them, offering Serafina a subtle wink.
    Hollis had known that their marriage would be tough, that because it was a political marriage, it might take a while for them to find happiness. But she had loved him from the moment he first asked her to dance almost five Seasons ago. He'd picked her, out of all the other prettier and more eligible matches, he had picked her, and she had thought that maybe it was because he liked her too. But within a month or two after the wedding, any hope she had had of him loving her went out the window, and she'd felt alien and alone ever since.

    She was fondly remembering their first dance when the Grand Duke of Bothia, Caspian Musgrave found her sitting on the floor of a small anteroom, her eyes red from crying and her cheeks stained with tears. When she saw him she quickly wiped her eyes, apologizing quickly, although the Grand Duke hushed her and offered her his handkerchief to wipe her tears before helping her to stand. The Grand Duke was a few years older than her, and was one of the few people who were ever truly kind to her. Before she had married Tobias, she had gone to three Seasons, and each time he was the only one who had ever asked her to dance each time.

    Which is what he did once the Queen had calmed down. Hollis considered his offer for a moment, worried that her husband would be mad at her, but she'd always loved to dance, and hadn't in years, and so she agreed, linking her arm with the Grand Duke's as he led her back to the ballroom, waiting for the next song to start, leaning down to chat with Hollis quietly, his little comments and jokes causing her to laugh, cheering her up quite a bit. There was no doubt that the two had chemistry, and there had been rumors before the Season where Hollis had been engaged to Tobias that the Grand Duke had wanted to marry her, but they were quickly dismissed as idle gossip, and nothing serious. But still, looking at how the two of them talked to one another, it would be easy to assume that they were more than just friends.
    February 2nd, 2019 at 05:04pm
  • oldbook;

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    Fina chuckled as Cornelius remained proper and polite while Monika pushed the limits of procedure; she loved how daring Monika was. Court never extinguished Monika’ passion and fire like it had to Fina. Monika’s dress was cut lower than anyone else’s and her eyes were smoldering with lust. She was a force of nature. Fina was, admittedly, jealous at how Cornelius seemed to be charmed by her.

    “Yes, well, I am sure the women closer to the border are a bit more wild,” Monika said, “Though, you can’t really be sure.” She added, with a wink, sipping her wine to bring attention to her lips. Fina almost laughed because it was a trick they always used to use; it always worked.

    “Well, politics be damned. Let’s talk about something else. I am exhausted by it all,” Fina said, heaving a heavy sigh. “What are you all looking forward to the most? Personally, I’m excited for the Harvest Festival.”
    Tobias felt an urge within him to cross the floor and take Fina’s hand and dance. Yet, with Cornelius so close to her, he felt it would be wrong to do so. He couldn’t take anymore snarky comments about how he treated Hollis, as if he was the only one responsible for their marriage and their problems. As if he didn’t have more important problems, like a war on their Southern border. Besides, shouldn’t Cornelius be worried about the war too and not how Tobias spends his time?

    The music had picked up and if Tobias didn’t have such a one-track mind, he probably would have noticed Hollis’ laugh filling the room. Instead, he crossed the floor, confidently, and offered a smile to trio as they spoke, catching just the beginning of Fina’s words: politics be damned.. He smirked and said, “Excuse me, Duchess."
    February 2nd, 2019 at 05:55pm
  • katahdin

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    Cornelius was about to answer when Tobias approached them, deciding to remain silent instead of starting something in front of Serafina and Monika. He had plenty of time to fight with Tobias later on. Plus, remaining silent and listening to whatever Tobias said would only give him more to fight with him about later. So, he simply stood with them sipping his wine as he watched Serafina closely, hoping that she wouldn't pay Tobias any attention. As much as he liked Fina, he wasn't fond of the idea of her making his cousin's marriage worse.
    Hollis had almost completely forgotten about how she had felt earlier before the Grand Duke had found her, and was glad for the familiar company. As the next song began, the Duke pulled her close, hand resting comfortably on her waist and Hollis' hand resting on his shoulder as they began to dance.

    She smiled and laughed as he continued to joke around with her, feeling truly happy for the first time in what felt like ages, and when she closed her eyes, she could pretend that it wasn't Caspian she was dancing, but with Tobias instead.
    February 2nd, 2019 at 06:32pm
  • oldbook;

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    The music grew louder, beckoning for people to dance and enjoy themselves. The wine had been flowing long enough now that most people were drunk or at least on their way. Fina, feeling a bit tipsy, was surprised when Tobias walked up, alone. Fina looked him up and down, trying to process why he was without the Queen and why he so boldly walked over to her. She sipped her wine slowly causing Monika to smirk at her.

    “King Avington,” she said, curtsying, locking eyes with him; a silent conversation. She was surprised, confused, and a bit embarrassed. Everyone was going to look at them and she could already hear the whispers. 3 years ago that kind of attention would be exactly what she wanted. Maybe it was time to channel her young self.

    “Dance with me,” Tobias said, a command more than a question. He held out his hand, confident he would not be rejected. Fina took his hand, casting a nervous glance to Monika who smiled and quirked a brow.

    “Cornelius,” Monika said, hoping to grab his attention, “Are you going to ask me to dance or leave me on sidelines like a wallflower?”

    Tobias’ was a natural dancer, moving with the energy of springtime, and Fina glided along after him as he pulled her in close to him. He smelled like rain and his hands were as warm as the sun as they fell onto her waist. She wondered if he could tell she was nervous or if her facade was good enough. She let her hands rest delicately on his shoulders and she looked up at him and smiled.

    “What is this for?” She asked, curiously.

    “I just wanted to be able to talk to you without anyone overhearing,” he said, dropping his voice. “I was excited to see you return to court. When you accepted the invitation, I knew this Season would be one to remember. You brighten a room.”

    Fina blushed, “Your Majesty,” she said, feigning embarrassment. “Where is Queen Hollis?”

    Tobias, in a moment of lust, had forgotten all about the Queen. He looked up, finding her in the arms of the Grand Duke. The corner of his mouth twitched seeing her laugh in a way she never did with him. “Occupied,” he said, dropping his gaze to Fina once more. “Why do you ask?”

    “Aren’t you worried she’ll see you dancing with me?” Fina said, turning in his arms gracefully.

    Tobias shook his head and smirked, “I am not worried to be near you at all.” Before Fina could answer, a solider broke through the crowd and leaned into the King’s ear. They stopped dancing then, surrounding by swirling dresses. He frowned, already unsettled by Hollis’ easy smile, and now even more unsettled by the news. He nodded, dismissing the solider. “Come with me,” he said, raising his eyes to find Hollis. "I think I would like your unique perspective on this matter,” he said, still holding onto her hand.

    “Of course, my Lord,” she said, easily ignoring the voice in her head telling her no.
    February 2nd, 2019 at 07:08pm
  • katahdin

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    Cornelius' attention was pulled away from Serafina and Tobias when Monika spoke, and he offered her a charming smile as he nodded, setting his glass of wine down. "Of course, Lady Parsons. Would you like to dance?" He asked, taking her hand as he followed Tobias and Serafina to the dance floor.

    Despite Monika being a lovely woman, he couldn't help but find himself distracted by the way Serafina and Tobias talked and acted around one another, feeling angry on behalf of his cousin, but also jealous that Tobias was receiving the attention from Fina that he wanted. When the pair finally left he turned his attention back to Monika, continuing their small talk.

    "So, how have you been enjoying the Season so far? They must all feel the same after a while."
    Hollis truly was beautiful, especially when she danced. She was incredibly graceful, light on her feet, appearing as if she was simply hovering as she spun around the room with the Grand Duke leading her.

    When she opened her eyes again she spotted Tobias dancing with Serafina, her smile disappeared, and the all too familiar feeling of dread filled her stomach as she watched him lead her away from the dance floor. When she accidentally stepped on the Grand Duke's foot she decided it would be best to stop dancing, politely excusing herself from the dance floor. It had been wonderful to feel happy, even for a short while, but now she had been brought back to reality, where she wasn't happy, and her husband had found someone else to fall in love with.

    With a small sigh, she decided to excuse herself for the night, wishing the Grand Duke well before heading upstairs to her chambers for the night.
    February 2nd, 2019 at 07:28pm
  • oldbook;

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    Monika was not a foolish woman. She knew that Cornelius had no interest in her, but what kind of friend would she be if she let Fina ignore her options. Monika wanted her friend to be brave and be bold, like she used to be. Monika would distract Cornelius to the best of her ability and let Fina have her few moments of intimacy with the King. She’d be lucky to get more than that. Monika was never really one for monogamy. When they left the room, she smirked.

    “Seasons always change. The people change and thus, it is different every time, if you give it the chance to be,” Monika replied. “What brought you back? Did you want to come or did your cousin summon you?”
    Tobias led Fina through the dark corridors of the palace until the sound of the party was just a dull roar. He knew people had watched them leave, but what did he care? There was something far more distracting that would break tomorrow. They would all forget about the King and the Duchess by then.

    “King Avington,” Fina said, breaking the silence as they stood too close to be proper. Her body pressed against a wall, his hands on her waist. She felt her heart racing,“What is it?”

    He sighed, running his hand over his face. “It has been a long night. Can’t a King take a break with a beautiful woman?” He asked, trying to lighten the mood and tension. He lifted one hand to her chin with a crooked smile on his face. “Or do you want to go back?” She shook her head.

    “A King can. A married King shouldn’t,” she whispered.

    “Duty be damned,” he whispered back, pressing a kiss to her lips. She leaned into this kiss, surprised and exhilarated. He pressed her more deeply into the wall, his hand reaching up her neck and into the ringlets of her hair. Breathless, he pulled away from her.

    “The border has fallen. I believe your duchy may be in danger. I am sending reinforcements. I wanted to tell you,” he said, his chest pressing against hers. Her eyes searched his face for more information, for more reassurance though he offered her none. “Everything will be okay. We can discuss it more in the morning,” he said.

    They walked back to her carriage in silence. The joy of the evening melted away like the snow in the Spring. Once they reached the doors, she turned back to him. She wanted to say more or to yell at him for leaving her like this, excited and terrified at the same time. “Goodnight then,” she whispered. He smiled, lifting a finger to her chin and returning her remarks.

    They both had a restlessness night of sleep.
    February 2nd, 2019 at 07:55pm
  • katahdin

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    "My cousin wanted me here. So I came." Cornelius explained simply as they danced, smiling politely down at her. "I've never been fond of Court, too political." He said with a simple shrug, leading her off the dance floor once the song ended.

    "It's getting late, should I walk you back to your carriage?" He asked politely, his eyes raking over her figure. He'd be a fool to think that she wasn't beautiful, and after spending such a long time at the battlefront, it had been a long time since he had been around such a beautiful and alluring woman like Monkia, someone who didn't care about Court procedures.
    After undressing and putting on her nightgown, Hollis briefly went back downstairs to ask someone for a glass of water, all of the palace servants preoccupied with the party to be upstairs offering help to her. Of course, in doing so, she ended up seeing Tobias and Serafina kiss before she went off to her carriage, and she felt as if her heart broke in two. She was still frozen in her spot when he turned around, and it was only after they locked eyes did she finally turn and hurry off back upstairs.

    She barely slept that night, and when she finally did sleep, it was only after a maid had brought her some sort of potion to help with her restlessness. She was finally sound asleep as the sun rose, and if she had been awake, she would have seen the fires on the horizon outside of the city, the ones that the rebels had started as they made their way toward the palace from the border regions.
    February 2nd, 2019 at 08:10pm
  • oldbook;

    oldbook; (100)

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    @ katahdin
    Monika fluttered her eyelashes and smiled, “Of course, sir,” she said, allowing Cornelius to escort her to her carriage. She silently wondered if she could somehow convince him into her bed if Fina wouldn’t mind. They used to share men all the time, so she didn’t think she’d mind too much. As her carriage pulled around, Monika let her hand find Cornelius’ chest. “Thanks for the dance, Sir,” she said, giving him a subtle wink and stepping into her carriage.
    Fina slept terribly, tossing and turning. Her dreams were flashes of red, of her late husband’s face, of Tobias’ hands on her waist, of blood and fire. She woke with a start and sweat dripped on her chest. The sun peaking out behind the clouds and she almost rolled back over when she realized it wasn’t sun at all.

    Off in the distance, she saw billows of smoke: the rebels. She frowned. Wasn’t Tobias’ marriage to Hollis suppose to placate the Death mages? A frown twisted her features and she wondered if they knew what it sham it all was. Perhaps it was time for a new Queen after all. It didn’t seem this marriage was successful at quelling the rebel forces; it fueled them. In just a few days, the capital would no longer be safe for anyone.

    Fina dressed quickly. She was not a general, but she was not stupid. Wars were won by smart women in the wings. Besides, she heard enough of her husband's travels and plans that she picked up enough strategy. She wrapped her hair tightly on top of her head and wore her most conservative dress; today was business, not pleasure. She took her own horse to the palace. She didn’t need an escort. She was not someone who needed to be protected. She was far more powerful than anyone gave her credit for.

    Her steps rang through the halls of the palace, heels clicking on the stone floor. She found the palace clambering with servants. She was stopped a few, directing her towards the Queen’s chambers. “No,” she said, voice cold, “I need to see the King.”
    Tobias was awake early in the morning, far before the rest of the palace awoke; long before Fina stirred or Hollis rolled over and went back to sleep. He sat in his study, reading the letter from the Generals at the border. He was surprised at their words and their stories of defeat. The Death mages’ magic should be weakened and his people should be strong. Yet, they were losing. Words of death, fires, villages being crushed, and suffering littered the pages. He put them down for he couldn’t read them any longer.

    He wondered what kind of magic they must be possessing to be so powerful or maybe they had more than just Death mages. His anger towards Hollis, one he didn’t know he was harboring until now, creeped into his stomach. He felt the danger looming over his shoulder, whispering in his ear, and kissing his neck. He shivered, standing at the window and staring at the clouds of smoke in the distance, wondering how long he had to secure the castle and prepare for a battle he never expected to fight.

    “Someone wake the Queen,” he said, “Bring her to me."
    February 3rd, 2019 at 12:16am
  • katahdin

    katahdin (100)

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    @ oldbook;

    Cornelius, being rather intoxicated, both by the many glasses of wine he had had and Monika's beauty, had managed to forget about Serafina and Tobias. His lustful eyes took her in as he led her out to the carriage, smirking when she placed her hand on his chest. "It was my pleasure, Lady Parsons." He murmured, rather boldly pulling her in by the waist to press a kiss to her lips, figuring that he may as well have some fun while he was here. "Is there enough room in your carriage for one more?" He asked with a smirk, looking down at her as his hands rested on her waist.
    Hollis woke to a loud knock on her door, and one of her husband's servants entering, followed by two guards. "The King wishes to speak to you." The servant stated, not giving her a chance to respond before the guards were hurrying her out of bed, allowing her to put on a robe and slippers before she left, before escorting her to Tobias' study as if she were a prisoner. However, the news that members of her family were leading Death mages to the palace wasn't particularly pleasing to the guards, and so they didn't feel as if treating the Queen with respect in that moment mattered.

    Once at Tobias' study, the door was opened by one of the guards, and when Hollis hesitated outside before entering, the other simply shoved her in, the poor woman stumbling in and falling to her knees on the floor in front of his desk, turning to frown deeply back at the guards, who had already shut the door and left. She turned back to Tobias, looking up at him with a frown. She hadn't done anything to deserve this kind of treatment, and she couldn't understand why he was doing all of this, but she knew that she didn't have to put up with it. Even if Tobias and everyone else in this kingdom hated her, she was the Queen, after all.
    February 3rd, 2019 at 12:49am
  • oldbook;

    oldbook; (100)

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    @ katahdin
    Monika smirked and holding the door open. “There’s always room for you,” she said, scooting over to allow him to have room. Once he was inside, her found his thigh. She looked down at him, already imaging what the military has done to his body. The carriage lurched forward, into the darkness of the night, and Monika pressed closer. “How can I help you tonight, General?”

    The ride to her country home was short and she felt the anticipation building as they got closer and closer. She wondered, of course, if Fina would mind. Yet, she wondered how she could possibly be upset considering she waltzed off with the King in front of everyone; at least Monika remembered to keep a little classy.
    Tobias sat, drumming his fingers on the table, wondering what Hollis knew and what she didn’t. He needed more information and he needed it quickly. He already summoned the counsel and hoped they’d be awake before long. He wanted to either be able to protect his wife or at least come with something of value from her if anything at all. He knew the criticism of her would start or rather would get louder now that they were all in danger.

    Hollis was escorted inside and his expression was cold. “I know you were woken up, so you probably didn’t get a chance to look out the window. The borders have fallen. Your people, your uncle, is coming. How? How do they have power? Have you heard from your uncle lately?” He asked, sitting up, crossing his hands on his desk.
    Fina was ignored, not directed towards the King, or sent back to her own villa. She was left in the middle of the hustle. Until, eventually, she saw the leader of the King’s Guard. She walked quickly behind him. “Excuse me, Major General,” she said, her dress swishing around her heels. “Where are you headed?”

    The General, eyes dark and cold, looked down at her. He smirked, “Duchess Wright, the King has convened a counsel, if you must know. Perhaps you can wait to see him in his chambers later tonight. Wouldn’t want anyone to assume something,” he said, eyeing her up and down.

    “Excuse me?” She said, taken back. She continued to follow behind him until they reach large wooden doors.

    “Yes, excuse you,” he said, slipping inside and shutting the door in front of her. The sound of the door slamming shook her and she stepped back. Her hand hovered over the brass knob, but she couldn’t bring herself to actually open the door. She stepped back, wondering if Tobias would be here soon. Maybe she could find a way into the room and at the table. After all, he had asked for her perspective. She hoped that wasn’t just something he said to get her into his bed.
    February 3rd, 2019 at 01:18am