Welcome to the Seas of Erin
28 Riuros, Early Morning
Erins: Very cold indeed, snow on the ground.
Mainland: Chilly and cloudy
||It is currently Tue May 21, 2013 1:41 pm
View unanswered posts | View active topics
All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]
|| Page 1 of 1
|| [ 2 posts ]
Neely and Elaine (bodyswap), July 12 2008
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Neely and Elaine (bodyswap), July 12 2008
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 9 2008, 09:59 PM
Marcello strolled back to the cabin, warily checking the room before he stepped inside, then silently chastising himself for being so on edge. Gioia had been reasonable, if absurdly optimistic and rather overly forgiving of Neely, in his esteem. But not someone he was worried about having to count as an enemy, and someone he felt he could speak freely with.
He sat on the bed, frowned at Niabheara's absence and hoped that neither father nor daughter had killed each other, and took off his boots, and then, deciding that it was silly to sleep on the floor when the girl wasn't yet there, curled up on the bed and fell into a doze, Niabheara's pillow tucked under his arm.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 9 2008, 10:10 PM
Niabheara did not creep in until nearly another quarter hour had passed. She closed the door behind her as quietly as she could--and was now in a bind. If it was Marcello, she didn't want to wake him. If it wasn't, this would be the perfect time to catch the little monster unawares. The only way to prove him one way or another was to touch him with iron . . . which would amount to tossing a live coal into bed with him.
Very quietly, she padded across the room and took up the borrowed manacles from her mother's desk, stretching the chain taut so that it did not clank. She slipped across the room with them, to the side of the bed, and, looming over the sleeping man, whispered, "Marcello. Sweetness, I'm sorry. Do wake up."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 9 2008, 10:16 PM
"Mm..." Marcello murmured, reaching for the girl before he fully opened his eyes.
And yelped, and nearly jerked himself upright-- which would have been disastrous, except that he put his hands out-- and a moment later, there was a hissing sound and a vivid, shining burn across both his palms. "Santa Maria!" he sputtered.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 9 2008, 10:24 PM
"Did not work as planned; did not work as planned!" Niabheara threw down the chains, hissing herself in sympathy. "I'm sorry! Your poor hands! Don't move!"
She went for the fire-leech, only to step barefoot on the open maw of the manacle's cuff. When she kicked at it to stop herself from tripping, she lost her balance. The trousers ripped against the floor and the manacles lashed up and cut her across the shin.
The girl took a single glance at the dribble of blood and burst out with a short, sharp shriek of laughter, even as her eyes began to water at the smart.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 9 2008, 10:34 PM
Now Marcello jerked up. "Oh, god, are you all right?!" he exclaimed, forgetting his hands as he reached for her-- until he touched her shoulders, and the contact sent sharp pains into his wrists.
"Ow-- oh, hel..lllllll....' He winced, when he tried to pull his hands away from her sleeves, and the burned flesh stuck to the fabric of her shirt. "Ow. God. Ah."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 9 2008, 10:38 PM
"Don't move," she told him again. This time she managed to scramble off the floor without doing herself or him any further damage. Snatching the little jar from the desk, she scooped out a thick glop of the yellowy stuff before she was even halfway back again. "We're going to have to bandage up your hands . . . darling, darling, I'm so sorry, this is all my fault--" Her fingers shook as she reached for him.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 9 2008, 10:46 PM
"Shh, shh," Marcello answered, holding his hands out to her. "Ow. Ah...Your knee?" he asked her, as he tried...very gingerly...to flex his fingers out toward her. "It's all right; it's all right..." He shot her a rather forced smile. "They're not even my hands."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 9 2008, 10:50 PM
"It's not my leg," she replied wryly. The muck felt cool and tingling against her own skin; she hoped fervently that it had the same effect as she spread it thickly over his palms.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 9 2008, 10:58 PM
He whimpered a little as she spread the good onto his hands. "Better," he assured her. "Ah."
He looked down at his hands. "Good morning-evening-night?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 9 2008, 11:03 PM
"The moon is up," she replied. She could barely bring herself to look at his hands until the burnt skin was almost concealed by the salve, and she tried very hard not to even think about her shirt. She worked very slowly in both an effort to be careful and as an excuse to hold his hands for a little longer. "Stay," she instructed again. "Don't touch anything. I'll find . . . bandage, something."
She winced and wiped off the excess gunk on her shirt front, then stood up and began to poke about, half-heartedly, although she was nearly certain there wasn't anything like linens in the cabin.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 9 2008, 11:12 PM
"Love, don't worry about it," he said. "It's all right. I don't want to put bandages on it, anyway; they might stick, or...My stepmother always said it was better to let burns get air, anyway," he assured her.
He sat back down on the bed, holding his hands open-palmed on his lap, blowing gingerly at the hands and the salve. "Is everything all right?" he asked her. "Was there...ah. A reason for that?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 9 2008, 11:18 PM
"If you turned out to be the Puck, I thought I might be able to throw the chain around you before you could get away." She wiped her hands again, transferring most of the salve from her fingers to her shirt, then looked down at the mess and gave up in disgust. With another kick to the chains in passing, she sat down tailor-style on the floor near his feet. "And if not I could wake you enough to have to tap, then let you go back to sleep. It made sense when I was plotting it out."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 9 2008, 11:21 PM
"I thought you were the Puck," Marcello said unhappily. "I don't usually get woken up with irons looming...Come here," he said softly, before he remembered what he was saying, and shut his eyes in remorse. "Sorry. Did...was your father bearable?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 9 2008, 11:34 PM
"As much as he e'er is." The girl snorted in bitter amusement and drew her knees against her chest. "This time he scarcely e'en shouted at me until right at the very end." It wouldn't have mattered what form Marcello wore: she felt cold, bound up with wire, and not at all of a mood to be petted. "But he spoke to me. For a long time. He told me some things."
She dabbed at the cut with the torn edge of her trousers. "Jochy spoke true. He admitted about Auberon."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 9 2008, 11:40 PM
"Can I say I'm not tremendously surprised about the facts of the statement but rather surprised at the admission?" Marcello asked her quietly. "I don't know if...at least it sets my mind at ease that they both must be stopped. It doesn't absolve your father, but it vindicates him, a little."
He moved to put his head in his hand, remembered as the first greasy finger touched his forehead, and dropped it. "What else?" he asked, then moved to get up from the bed. "Here, at least let me trade with you," he offered. "Bed'll be warm. Are you all right?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 9 2008, 11:53 PM
"Keep the bed. I'm not tired." It was only a white lie: she was exhausted, but not at all sleepy. "I'm all right. I don't understand him, is all. He said it didn't matter. He all but told me to stop talking about it. Not to go looking for more trouble on top of what I've already made for myself."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 9 2008, 11:55 PM
Marcello blinked. "On top of what you've made? My dearest lady, love of my life, you are the only one of the lot of them who hasn't made any trouble, and you're the one beleaguered with it all."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 12:15 AM
"I am quoting for sake of brevity," she said, a bit testily. "He acted as if . . . as if I were making too much of it. And he wasn't e'en doing a very good job--I could see exactly what he was doing. He was . . . I think he was trying to talk me out of it." She spoke very slowly, building out thoughts to herself before speaking them aloud. "He doesn't want it to matter, so he tried to convince me it didn't. Does that make sense?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 12:31 AM
Marcello nodded. "It makes perfect sense. It's easier, with something like that, to act like it doesn't affect you, because when other people make a big fuss about it, you have to think about it. It conjures up all sorts of bad memories. It makes you relive it. It makes you admit that it might have hurt you, and god forbid that man admit he's even the slightest bit vulnerable to anything."
He sighed. "I'd...keep it to yourself, I suppose?" he said quietly. "Not...not to absolve Auberon. If it must come up, if it must be dealt with, then use it, and you have another weapon in your arsenal. But those people have such a sea of horrors to their names that one child being abused is only going to be a great weapon if it becomes necessary to publicly vindicate your father. And it would be more potent for that if it's not being cried from the ramparts from the first."
He stopped. "But then, he's also dead."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 12:48 AM
The girl nodded. "And then there is that." She let out a sigh and gave up on the cut. If it wanted to bleed, let it. "It isn't fair. It strikes me that I say that a great deal. I do understand what Father means by it. It will only get lost amid everything else the two of them stand accused of. It muddies the waters. But it isn't fair."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 12:58 AM
"No," Marcello agreed. "It isn't. It's going to be lost. It's possible the most personal bruise you have between you, and it's the one blow that isn't going to be dealt back in return. It's like having a favorite plate break when the entire china cabinet spills out and gets shattered. That's a poor analogy," he added, frowning. "I think my hands hurt too much for metaphor." He shot her a weary smile.
And then took a deep breath. "But we can say nothing to your father, and make them pay for it," he pointed out. "We can make them pay through the nose, we can pay them know that that is what they are paying for."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 01:09 AM
She bit her lip. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I didn't think you'd sit straight up like that."
Niabheara touched her throat again, thereby getting grease and gunk and whatever-it-was on her neck. "Gah." Wiping it off, she gave Marcello a pleading look. "I know it needs to be spoken of . . . but can we let it go a while? It's a war; it'll be there when we wake up tomorrow. I felt sorry for him. And aye, I know, it's probably what he wanted and I set myself up for it and he'll only look down on me for it and like as not turn it 'round on me later . . . He's still my father, for all of that."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 01:16 AM
"Love, I know, you..." He clucked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. "I know you wouldn't ever hurt me on purpose, cara. And your father will have something to remember you by," he offered cheerfully enough. "I'm just not certain about sleeping like this?" he added with a laugh.
Then he nodded. "Of course we can let it go," he promised. "Just that, or all he said to you? I talked to Gioia while you were gone, I...I honestly thinks she believes everything she said. I think she's trying to...I don't know. Rehabilitate him?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 01:26 AM
"I asked him about my grandparents. It amused him, I think. He didn't seem to understand quite why I'd be interested to know about them. There's something . . . terribly wrong about him, Marcello. He's not mad. He doesn't seem to feel things all the way down. As if they stop at the skin and go no further. It's eerie." She rubbed her hands slowly on her knees. "I don't know if there can be any changing that, despite what Gioia might think."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 01:32 AM
"I know," Marcello agreed. "I...she means well, but I don't think...I think he will always be a dangerous man." He frowned at her, reaching for his ear before remembering his hand with a wince as he folded it and creased his palm painfully. "He's broken," he said sadly. "But think about everything he's seen, or...he'd almost have to, have to not let himself feel things, to survive that. I told her I didn't like it, that I thought it was dangerous, that I want his respect for you, but...whatever affection could come from that man would almost frighten me."
He swallowed, looking deeply into the brown eyes that weren't her own. "There are ways you're like him. In that, you're nothing alike. And never will be. You know that, yes?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 01:42 AM
"I know," she said softly. "There was a time when I was afraid I might be, but that was mostly because of the business when I first came. It was the first thing anyone said, how much I favoured him." She gave a small laugh. "He says I favour his mother. I am glad of that much. Not that I'm like her, but that he told me something about her. He made her sound a bit like Judith."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 01:45 AM
"That puts the entire concept that men choose women who are like their mothers in an entirely different light," Marcello said with a smile.
He looked pleased. "Your grandmother had to have been the most beautiful woman alive, then," he decided.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 01:49 AM
She brushed the remark away, smiling. "I had a look at Elaine, too, earlier," she admitted shyly. "I dug out a mirror. She's lovely. For a human."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 01:56 AM
Marcello considered, uncomfortably, looking at the girl's face. "She's a little too young for me to feel entirely comfortable giving my opinion on that subject," he admitted sheepishly. "But if you were somehow stuck as her for the rest of your life, and I got back a body that you could stand snuggling up against once in a while, I don't think I'd particularly complain. She has pretty eyes," he admitted. "Lighter than yours."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 02:00 AM
The girl's head shot up. "Oh. So you already noticed. Hm."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 02:06 AM
Marcello gave her a helpless look. "You're the one who-- I've been looking into them constantly for a week, how am I not supposed to notice. I realize that I effectively look like you would if you were male and emotionally constipated, but it's rather strange to have one's sweetheart suddenly have a face you've never looked at before, too! Would you rather me not look at you?" he asked, sounding hurt.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 02:27 AM
"Emotionally . . . what?" She giggled helplessly and stamped her foot at his expression. "I'm teasing! Lugh'us Dannan, look at me. Look at me, please." She held out her hands to put herself on display, smeared bloodied shirt and all. "Of all the things we've learned about each other, I should hope that one of them might be that shapings scarcely matter."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 09:36 AM
Marcello grinned then, laughing at both her and himself in the same go, and shook his head, a bit sheepishly. "Would you like me to stare at her breasts instead?" he asked her nicely.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 12:45 PM
Smiling, Niabheara recrossed her arms over her chest. "Not so much that."
She scooted a little nearer and wished she was comfortable enough to move up to the bed beside him. Even leaning back against his legs would be enough. Nothing in particular, save that she missed closeness. "Does everyone think their own family is . . . strange?" she asked him. "Or is it more that my family really is strange?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 12:49 PM
"Everyone thinks so," Marcello assured her. He toed at her shoe with his stocking-foot. "But yours? yours really is. Even starting with having a sea witch for a mother. Being a Countess. Having your family lie to you about your parentage. Your father coming back from the dead. Any of those on their own would be strange. I thought mine was strange. Mine is stranger than most people's, and it doesn't hold a candle to yours. It's a miracle you're as well-adjusted as you are. I blame Meg."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 01:01 PM
She prodded back at his foot. "Those are incidentals. If Mother were not the Sea-Witch, she would still be herself; we would still be so different in nature that we would carp and scowl and disapprove of one another. Plenty of people are fostered to their elder sisters or relatives, there's nothing odd in that. And the only thing separating Father from a common criminal is his bloodline, and the gods know there are too many criminals in this world."
Her head dipped down again. "I love you." She hated that she had to shut her eyes now to say it. "This might've been so much simpler."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 01:09 PM
He sighed, reached out, pressed a hand to her curls while her head was still down, then removed it. "I love you, too," he assured her. "What might be simpler? I-- I know, I know probably everything."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 01:58 PM
"I've considered instructing Elaine to go and kiss my father a few times, so that I can watch and remember what it was like." She smiled. "Elaine might do it at her whim, but Father would certainly object."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 02:06 PM
"Oh, god, you should have seen her the day she was teasing him," Marcello replied. "I thought he'd kill her right there."
He smiled wistfully. "You mean us?" he asked. "I thought you were talking about the war."
He looked her over for a long moment, pressing his lips together. "It gets harder," he told her. "Not easier. The longer I know you're you, the less there's a novelty, the more there's a familiarity, I don't...it's come to the point where it's going to be strange to see Elaine, when we do get back."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 02:17 PM
"I told you. The war will be here in the morning. I don't want to talk about it now." She looked up at him, fondly, if a little sad, then glanced away out of habit. "It hasn't been like that for me," she admitted. "Perhaps because Father and I look so much alike that I can't quite divorce you from his shaping. Or that he is my father and part of me feels on instinct that there are things I can't bring myself to do or say before him." Her voice was tight, uncomfortable. "Has he . . . did he e'er do that trick with you, where he steps in so closely that you feel you must back away?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 02:21 PM
Marcello frowned. "What, he threatened you?" he asked her quietly. "Not to me, but then...I'm usually rather bigger than he is. That's like...did he really do that? That's like what cats do to each other?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 02:35 PM
"He didn't threaten me," she said at once, almost too quickly. "He was testing to see if I would give up a point. But it was you, and it was . . . " The girl groped for a suitable term. "Unnerving to have him that close. I think he felt it as well. He gave up as soon as he'd begun, and he apologised for it. But whether he meant it to or no, it coloured the whole conversation thereafter."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 02:38 PM
Marcello's shoulders dropped, he looked away from her. "I'm sorry," he said. "I don't-- I don't want you to have that sort of memory of me. Even if it's not me. At least he...he knew it was wrong? That's something, coming from him."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 02:53 PM
"Don't apologise for something he did." Had this been a normal situation, she would have given him a little swat to the knee to drive the lesson home. Instead she picked up her hand and examined the little bruise on her inner wrist. "Marcello, I don't want an explanation or an apology or comforting or anything so like. I'm trying to sort out everything he said. It makes me feel better to have someone to listen. From what you spoke to Gioia, do you think she might be able to understand this?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 02:58 PM
"No," he answered tersely, rigid at her response. "She wouldn't. She thinks he's wonderful. Really wonderful. She thinks he's like a hurt puppy who can be retrained. She wants the two of you to have a wonderful, affectionate perfect little family. She is full of so much hope and optimism it's saccharine. She doesn't seem to care that he might betray you. Acknowledge it, yes. But she thinks it's worth the risk, because apparently his inner peace is worth more than your life."
His eyes went dark at the mark on her arm. "He hurt you?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 03:09 PM
"I grabbed at his arm, he grabbed at mine." She put her hand back across her lap. "I feel sorry for him. For his own sake. That doesn't mean I think he's trustworthy. The worst thing about it is that e'en if there were a way to get near to him, it would take too much time and risk to bother with. Had I peace and safety and all the time in the world to understand him as she believes she does . . . perhaps. Now though?" She shook her head.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 03:14 PM
"That's what I tried to explain to her," Marcello agreed. "The amount...the effort he would have to show for me to have faith in him would be far too much. I don't believe it impossible, but unlikely. He hasn't shown it yet. I appreciate his help, but trust it, no. I think he's truthful in his reasons for being here, but I don't expect him to stick around if it looks like we'd all be slaughtered."
He shook his head. "I feel sorry for the boy he might have been. Not what he is. People suffer all the time and turn out better for it. He turned it into bitterness."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 03:24 PM
"Mother often says that the worst part of being the age she is is realising that she can't save everyone. She told me that when she explained why she sometimes seems so arbitrary about the assignments she picks, about the things she chooses to involve herself in. I thought she was justifying being so fickle." She gave up, let her backbone slack, and leaned her head against his knee, with a weary look at him for permission. "Does it bother you? Is this all right?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 03:27 PM
He swallowed. "More than all right," he assured her. "It doesn't-- I know it's you. It's like a cloudy day, when you finally get a tiny taste of the sun through the clouds, and it warms you for an instant, but you know it's going to be gone."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 03:37 PM
"My poet." She squeezed the top of his stockinged foot. "I dream about you. I thought this morning that I should either give back that little packet of cloves, or else hide it and say nothing to you. I woke up smelling you and had one short moment where I thought that perhaps it had all been undone in the night. Then I opened my eyes and saw my hand on the pillow. I wanted to scream and fling the damn thing for tricking me. The only thing stopping me was if I had, you and Elaine might have thought it was the Puck." She smiled. "There's a shortage of pillows. I can't permit one to be murdered."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 03:44 PM
He wiggled his toes at her. "I dream about you, too," he answered softly. "Just before you got in. We..."
Then her frowned. "Before," he said, looking down at her warily. "You said you were having nightmares. We never finished."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 05:50 PM
Niabheara took this as permission to huddle in closer to him, her shoulder pressed against the side of his leg, as she drew her knees up under her chin. As she spoke, she toyed with the rip in her trousers, smoothing up neat and letting it fall open. "I'm sure there's no meaning to it. I've ne'er been given to visions. It's much as it was in Cecilia. I know she's somewhere near, watching, waiting to get me alone. She moves past windows. I hear her walking about behind me. But if I warn anyone aloud, she will know I've spotted her and strike. So I try to persuade everyone to turn around, to see her, without letting on what I know, and no one understands what I'm on about. One by one they all leave. I can't stop them. But I still don't dare turn around to face her. I keep thinking, perhaps if she thinks I don't know, there's still a chance--I can catch her unawares when she shows herself." The girl shrugged. "It is ne'er finished. I look down to see her shadow fall o'er me, but I wake before I turn round. In the dream, I know what she wants. It's not so much she'll harm me; she wants to disgrace me first, to make sure that no one will e'er believe me. She wants to make me confess first, then rip me to pieces. There are others. But that's the one that's been following me since we left Roisin."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 08:10 PM
Marcello almost clutched her shoulder before he remembered his hand. Instead, he nudged her with his knee. "There's nothing she can do to disgrace you, love. You've done nothing disgraceful. Would it ease your mind to have a code?" he asked. "Something you could say to me if we really did find ourselves in such a situation?"
He wanted to stroke her hair, but his hands were burned, and her hair was short curls and not long silk. "My own dreams are much more mundane," he admitted. "I dreamed we were living in a little cottage, with two rooms, a front room and a back, and we were raising a child, but whether the child was ours, or belonged to one of us, or both of us, I'm not sure. A boy, with black hair and light eyes. And there was a long wooden table, and he fell asleep at his supper and we put him to bed."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 10:15 PM
Frowning and a little hurt, she scooted away from his knee when he nudged her. "My mundane dreams . . . do not bear repeating," she said a bit loftily, eyes sparkling. "None of my dreams much do. I dream of being lost a great deal." She pressed her hands between her knees. "Which is odd, because in the dreams I'm always lost somewhere I could ne'er be lost in my waking. Or I dream that I lose things, which is worse."
As if a thought had struck her, she tilted her head to the side to catch his eye.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 10:22 PM
And Marcello blinked, frowning at her, certain there was something he expected her to say. "What?" he asked. "What is it?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 10:30 PM
"You surprised me," she said quietly. "You have very domestic sorts of dreams."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 10:37 PM
"Is there something wrong with that?" he asked. "Doesn't everyone? I...it's not the only thing I dream about, but most of the time...they're just...normal life. Just not quite the way it actually is when I wake up."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 10:45 PM
She gave him a small smile. "Sometimes I wonder if if you wouldn't do better to love someone like Meg," she said, sounding timid. "An ordinary life. Not quite ordinary, but quiet. Happy." She laughed at herself. "For all my talk of running away to be a hermit in the forest, I'm spoiled for castle life. I like being able to stay in all winter, if I please, and letting other people chop the wood."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 10:56 PM
"I'll chop your wood for you," he answered softly, smiling down at her. "That's what you have me for."
Then he laughed. "I don't think I can manage wood-chopping, either," he admitted, holding up an arm before he remembered it wasn't his arm. "I'm no woodcutter. I'm not built for that kind of life, either, you know, or haven't you noticed? Scholars can't manage simplicity, they only pretend to it. You've got enough of Meg in you," he pointed out affectionately. "Meg would intimidate me; she'd be better than I am at everything I like to pretend I'm good at. I love you," he said, as if it might not be certain. "But I have you with me, and dreaming of fantasies and plots and intrigue when we're in the middle of something like this seems superfluous. I've got to fantasize about quiet moments; those are the only things we're missing."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 10 2008, 11:10 PM
"I would just dream to be home." She sighed. "And in time for Midsummer's, with everyone safe in their own seeming, and no more intrigue than is wont for a Midsummer's. To be wholly outside of caring about war and Titania and who I can trust and who I can't, from one dawn to the next with perhaps just enough time left over linger late in bed. Think you your lady in black could arrange that, if you put it to her sweetly?" She was only partially joking.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 10 2008, 11:50 PM
"Mmm..." Marcello smiled dreamily. "I can ask her. You know, since my sister is currently the lady in black, I wonder if she's above a little nepotism. Either way, I'll make sure you have your Midsummer."
He toed at her foot again, hopeful this time. "You're still you in my dreams. I've even dreamed you're in Elaine's body, but you still look like you, and I look like me, and we're talking about how to get back into our own bodies, only, well, to steal a phrase from you, then they usually don't bear repeating. Do you remember the day we fought in the mud? And I licked it off your nose? I dreamed that, only flowers started popping up everywhere, out of all the mud."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 12:04 AM
She squeezed his toes through the sock and felt her face warm. "Aye," she breathed, "I remember. I still dream about the inn on Roisin. On the floor. Only this time I get to be a woman." She wrinkled her nose at him. "Or sometimes you. Or sometimes the both of us."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 12:21 AM
Now Marcello's ears were warm. They flicked involuntarily. "When we return to ourselves," he said in a growl that wasn't quite his own, "I am taking you down on this floor and not letting you up until we've both had our fill. And when we win this war, the moment we have a week we can escape, we'll go back to that inn."
He flexed his toes, tilting his head at her. "I would have made love to you while we were both women," he said softly. "I offered to. More than once."
He smiled slightly.
"I still would."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 12:37 AM
Niabheara laughed softly, more embarrassed than amused, and covered her face with both hands. "You know I couldn't." Her whole skin felt flushed and tight, tingling, as if it were a gown a fraction too heavy for the weather. If Marcello held out a hand to her, he might feel the glow. "Deirdre and I . . . gods, this is so ridiculous." She dropped her hands briefly, only to cover her face again when she realised she couldn't go on otherwise. "Nothing really . . . I . . . We didn't know what we were doing." There. It was out. "Really. Nothing. We kissed. And then we, er, ran out of things to do."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 12:48 AM
Now Marcello laughed, but it was soft, affectionate.
"Plenty of couples who are men-and-women aren't certain how to go on from there," he pointed out. "It is funny, because when I'm from? It is done, albeit quietly, between ladies and their maids, and while it is considered objectionable, it is hardly considered a crime. But if two men love each other? It's considered disgusting. It's as if the two have been switched."
He gave her a considering look. "Would people still think it so wrong if it were merely a question of you glamouring me into a novel shape?" he asked her.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 01:00 AM
"Yes," she said. "They would. It's--" It was like trying to explain why some things floated in water and others didn't. It was just the way things were. "It's a deviancy, Marcello. Normal people don't e'en consider such things."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 01:11 AM
"Yes, they do," Marcello answered, looking her over thoughtfully. "But they all think like you do, and wonder why they would think that, when they know it's wrong, and try to blot it out of their minds and secretly scold themselves for even entertaining the thought."
"There are places in the world I come from where people would say the same thing about a man who loved a woman who looked like Elaine. These are all things people decide, they're not part of our nature to love where we see love."
He frowned then, looking concerned. "I don't mean to make you uncomfortable. I'll stop speaking on it if it does. But if it sets your mind at rest, I've dreamed of you as a man. I would love you no matter what shape you took."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 01:25 AM
"There are also amongst my own folk those who feel that it's likewise a perversion to mate with a tallfolk," Niabheara said primly. "But it's not quite the same matter." As much as she would dearly love to let this go and move on to almost any other subject, she felt the need to try again: "It's more that there's a different set of expectations for women in the Erins, Marcello."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 01:45 AM
"I know that," he reminded her. "And things are different for men where I come from."
He was quiet for a long moment. "I slept with a man once," he told her. "It was just after I left home for the last time. I-- it was complicated. And convenient. And I felt about it the way you feel about women."
"But he wasn't bundled up with all the issues that come along with tallfolk women. Which is very much the way you are, there's no pretense of helplessness, none of the feeling that I might be taking advantage or overpowering you. And there was some freedom in that, and it's...it occurs to me that the things that made me comfortable then are some of the same things that make me comfortable with you. There's...for all my falling back on old habits, trying to protect you and act like the man I was taught to be, we're equals. I never feel as if you're weaker than I am. Women back home...the ones who aren't weak, all have a chip on their shoulder from spending their whole lives trying to prove it."
"But it's nothing," he said. "It's nothing but flesh. And I imagine for you, being here, where there is a different set of expectations for women and men, a woman might be more comfortable."
He shot her a warm smile then. "Or a tallfolk man who might be enough like a Tuatha woman to be able to keep up with you, I hope."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 02:09 AM
"It wasn't . . . I didn't think so much about that," she admitted. "It was more . . . Deirdre had come for Imbolc, but the festival was o'er and almost everyone had ridden on a week before. She was the only one left. She'd been expecting her first child, but she lost the baby quite late on and she was so disappointed. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to take care of her. And it . . . it felt like love, when it happened. But neither of us knew what to do. I don't mean--" She went hot again, leaning back her head, eyes shut. "Not . . . what to do in bed together, that we ne'er mentioned, it didn't e'en occur to me. What to do about how we felt. And then Deirdre decided that it might . . . that it would be best if we did not speak to each other again. Not alone. We still speak when we see each other, but we don't talk anymore."
She went quiet for so long that she began to suspect she had imagined saying all that. "It's complicated. We're all in such competition, we women; we ne'er quite trust one another. There's always the off-chance that someone might . . . oh, I don't know, might try to cheat you on a tribute next winter, and then you have to act against her. We're all so terribly polite to one another for fear of offence."
She looked up at him. "You . . . you are not complicated. You don't expect anything of me. There's nothing that . . . what did Father call them? Pure motives."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 02:20 AM
He smiled at that. "Love and adoration and genuine hope that you'll let me stay by you if I behave myself," he answered. "I imagine that's pure enough. It's not quite the same, then, no, but...it's sad, to lose a friend like that. You can't-- there are so many people in this world who are worthy of love, I think, but so many situations that don't allow it to be."
He sounded saddened by this. "But I see the trouble. Apart from any question of deviance. And I know men who've come to trouble over just such things, too, at home, where men are the ones who own the estates."
"Maybe she needed affection. She was hurt, she had a hole in her heart. You were there and could stop it up," he pointed out quietly. "And I know you; I know the way you wash people in love," he said affectionately. "You did a good thing for a hurting woman, whatever it was. Maybe someday you'll have her back as a friend."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 11:12 AM
"You have ne'er given me a reason to do aught but adore you. Sometimes, I grant you, it's hard to live up to." She rested her cheek against his knee again, shut her eyes and sighed in contentment. "Your place in my heart is secure. I can see times where this is going to be . . . difficult for both of us, in the future, but my feelings will not change from mere circumstance."
|Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:51 pm
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Re: Neely and Elaine (bodyswap), July 12 2008
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 11:18 AM
Marcello reached out with just a single finger, stroking her hairline with his fingertip, softly. "I'm not afraid of losing it," he assured her. "Maybe for the first time in my life; I'm not uncertain of someone. Of you. I'm not afraid of the difficulty. I think that after what we've dealt with so far, we'll be able to face anything the world throws at us. Although I'd strongly prefer no more mating goblins."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 11:35 AM
"Careful," she said softly. "Your hands." She moved her face out of reach of temptation.
"There's going to be more to it than that. I have been thinking about you, about what would be best for you if anything should happen." She swallowed. "If it should come that there is no stopping you from becoming as the Puck has become, what would you do?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 11:40 AM
"That I've spoken to my lady in black about," Marcello replied. He gave her a soft look. "You have a gate in Cnoch na Niall, do you not?" he asked her quietly. "I was thinking, if it...if it does begin to happen, I can go live somewhere close to the other side of the gate, love. If you're-- if you're not queen, it will be easy enough for you to come to me, for me to come to you, for short visits. We could see each other a few days a week; it would be enough. If you are Queen, if you can't leave? We have time to think of a plan," he pointed out. "By the time this all happens, by the time it's a problem, we'll know our circumstances, and they may well have changed."
He shot her a weak smile. "Or maybe I'll simply make a very handsome, polite hobgoblin and we'll not have to worry."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 11:51 AM
That time she did swat his knee. "You will not be a hob, handsome, polite, or otherwise. Moreover, one day I imagine you will want a live beyond waiting on the other side of a gate for your lady-love. That's too much like the stories of my gean-connah, his mortal lovers pining away while they waited for him to return."
As much as she would like to sound teasing, the similarities were too eerie. It crossed her mind to wonder how much of this might be love and how much Marcello might be caught up in her family's enchantment.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 12:09 PM
"It's not waiting," Marcello pointed out. "I know plenty of families in Italy where a husband might go to court for half the year while his wife stays home and manages the house; it's having separate lives and separate responsibilities and it doesn't mean not loving each other or pining away in the midst. We can do better than that, if you were able to deal with the affairs of your tenants and such during the week, and we'd see each other every week's end. We could still have supper together some nights. And it's not as if I'm incapable of finding myself ways to occupy myself when I'm not sitting adoringly at your feet and staring up into your beautiful eyes and reciting two-hundred-year-old poetry at you," he teased. "I am good for quite a lot of practical things. I can manage your accounts, or your correspondence..."
He gave her a look then. "Judith told me about the gean-connah," he told her curiously.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 12:40 PM
Niabheara started a bit, as if he had managed to read her thoughts. "Sometimes he comes to meet me when I am in the woods. He thinks I am his daughter, so he does me no harm." She smiled to herself. "He's a wildling, you see, and does not reckon time passing the same way we do." She shrugged. "I do not see the appeal, honestly, but perhaps that's only because he's ne'er tried to seduce me. I would not advise you seek him out, though. He is not quite so vicious as the demon, or e'en as the Puck, but he cannot help his nature. I . . . it has crossed my mind, quite a lot, if any of what you feel for me is simply because of that nature."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 12:50 PM
Marcello laughed. "Mine, too," he admitted. "But as much as I would never complain about your appearance, or your charm, or any of the things that might draw a man to a woman, I don't think you need to have worried that you seduced me through anything but most mundane little details. I far more adore the way you bite your lip when you're uncertain than the way you glide elegantly when you mean to impress."
He gave her a shy smile. "I was more afraid that if you...if we ever choose to go our separate ways, that I'll be miserably in love with you an unable to find anyone else to replace you, but that might be true gean-connah or no. Believe me, I've no interest in seeking him out."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 01:03 PM
"I've worried that as well," she admitted in a lower tone. "I think it's been long enough that the . . . the attraction is not so strong. People really did starve themselves to death o'er my great-great-great grandmother; she became a recluse because of it. Poor woman." She leaned against him again. "I would want you to find another, you know, if it came that we should be parted. There are things we cannot be to one another. And--" She took a deep breath, already finding the very idea distasteful. "It's going to be necessary for me to try for a child, especially this season, to secure my title."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 01:08 PM
"I knew that," Marcello replied. "I wasn't expecting to bring it up quite yet, but it was something...I expect it can't be part-human," he said, as if it were a foregone conclusion. "And I expect you're going to have to marry, as well."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 01:24 PM
"I will," she said gently. "I'm still so young myself, though . . . I don't know how I'd feel about a child. I want one, though." Her head lifted, her eyes bright and thoughtful. "That's ne'er been an issue. Meg would help me, and it would want for nothing. It would have all the world and love besides, with me." Another Niall, she thought, another link in a chain that went back to the sister-queens. Another Dowd, as well, one of Judith's far-scattered grandchildren. "Part-human would not matter so much to me. There are so few children these days. I know it would matter to you."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 01:29 PM
Marcello glanced up at her, surprised. "We've never spoken on it before," he said, his statement more questioning that a statement of fact.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 01:31 PM
She, too, looked surprised. "Wouldn't it?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 01:41 PM
Marcello paused. "In some ways?" he answered, uncertainly. "I would love a child. I love children. You know that," he said, smiling hesitantly. "But I also understand the delicacy of the situation. If a half-breed child wouldn't secure your place, or if you were to take the throne, and a half-breed child might be contested and have to sit through this nonsense again when the time came to worry about such things...I would understand," he assured her.
He looked at his hands, unsure what to do with them. "If you would have my child," he said, his tone careful. "I would be the happiest man in the world. I would be at your side for everything. Between you and me, there would no child who would be more loved. But if you felt you couldn't? Or if you felt this child couldn't be mine, I would still love it, I would still help you raise it. I would still want to be a father to it. And then perhaps we could have one between us, later."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 02:06 PM
"I am not much looking forward to taking another lover," she admitted. "Morgana always says a woman should have at least a dozen lovers ere she weds, but . . . " She swallowed. "I hadn't quite considered the implications." She pressed his foot again. "It's you that I love. I don't want anyone else."
Even as she said it, the thought of Jochy rose to mind, but she dismissed it as another matter altogether. She loved Jochy. It would be easier to share her bed than her heart.
"Either way it came about, it would require a compromise, on both our parts. It wouldn't be your child, nor any man's. It would be mine. I would not exclude you, if you wanted to be the father to it, but beyond that . . . " Her jaw clenched in frustration. "I don't want to think about this, I'm not e'en pregnant yet, I don't e'en know if it's a possibility! I didn't mean to talk about this. We might be discussing something twenty years in the future, or a hundred, or not at all."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 02:15 PM
Marcello nodded. "It's all right. We don't need to discuss it this instant. I meant to bring it up myself, really, before we got to Samhain, because we will need to know what we want to do before then, but until then, we don't need to worry about it."
He wiggled her toe at her, smiling. "I just like babies," he admitted. "We could always pick one up from the market along with a sack of potatoes. And a dozen is too many," he informed her. "I could have done without the vast majority of the ones that came before you."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 02:25 PM
"As did I. Samhain is always difficult. For now I am quite content with the lover I have." She pressed his toes to the floor and shot him a mischievous grin. "When I have him. When he is not a brindled pup, or another woman, or my own father, or a filthy hob in disguise. And I like children too." She released his foot. "Save that I think at my age, the best sort of children are other people's. You can give them back."
She laid her head on her bent knees, looking up at him in soft curiosity. "You ne'er had children of your own," she said. "I always assumed you would tell me if you did."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 02:41 PM
Marcello shook his head, and then gave her an uncomfortable look. "If I've fathered any children, I've never been told as much, but it's not impossible, I suppose. Although I'm probably the only rake in the world who would be disappointed if he weren't sought after with demands of an allowance and a school fund. I took in a little girl off the streets in Italy who stayed with me for a while, but she found a family with an older man I knew, who was married and had children of his own. Which was probably better for her than living with a bachelor who didn't have the best reputation with women."
His eyes went bright. "I want one, though," he told her. "I sort of feel the way you do about it, that I'm still...not quite yet. I'm still...oh, god, before I came here, I would have laughed at the prospect. I've never spoken to a woman about children before, not in any serious way, not about having them. I like taking care of babies. I'm good with them. But it was always ever something I did for play. I still think...right now, things are so unsure, I would still want to see where we are when the dust settles. But then I really do think I would, if everything else were in order."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 02:58 PM
"I don't mean to make you talk about it now. But people will talk about it. It's expected. There's going to be enough talk as soon as word gets about that I've finally taken a lover. You might find yourself in for some awkward questions." She let out a tired groan, her hand on her face. "I wonder if everyone else finds it as painful that what goes on in their bedrooms is a matter of public conjecture. If it really doesn't bother them or if they pretend it doesn't in order to be seen as good sports. I've been in those sort of conversations before now. I swear, it's as if some of these women don't bother to get their breath back before they must throw on a robe and rush downstairs so that they can share all the sweaty details."
It wasn't until she lowered the hand that she realised that her face felt as if it were freezing from the fire-leech. She wiped at it with her sleeve. "I'm almost glad we talked of it now, though, while there's no chance of. Er. Distraction."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 03:06 PM
Marcello grinned. "I was planning on getting to it before then," he informed her. "What do you take me for?"
Then he sighed. "I'll simply tell them that I'm naught but your humble servant, and that extends to the bedroom," he informed her. "I understand the sensation of it all, but I'm not about to talk to anyone about what we do together, behind closed doors. Jochy already asked me," he admitted. "More than once. But you being who you are, I'm not surprised they ask. You don't have to be comfortable with it. Tell them it's none of their damned business and you're sorry they're so disappointed with their own love lives that they're attempting to get a vicarious thrill from yours. You've got a reputation as an ice maiden," he reminded her happily. "Just because you're no longer a maiden doesn't mean you've got to stop being icy."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 03:21 PM
"At present I don't take you for nearly as much as I'd like." She snorted quietly. "Oh, Jochy. Next time tell me something shocking." Although she felt a pleasant little butterfly in her stomach. She wondered if Jochy had asked from jealousy or through simply being Jochy. She rested her head back on his knee. "This is miserable. What's worse is that I can't stop myself from feeling that I'm violating Elaine, e'en from doing just this."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 03:31 PM
Marcello shook his head. "She seemed well enough with my lying in bed with you that one night," he pointed out. "I don't think she'd be upset by simple affection, not something like this." He nudged her with his knee. "It is miserable," he agreed sadly. "I miss you. I want you. And all this talk about making babies and being lovers isn't particularly easing that."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 07:56 PM
"It's not so much that she would mind. I mind. In case you hadn't noticed, when it comes to anyone who isn't you, I'm a prude." She grinned up at him. "But I'm your prude."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 08:23 PM
He gave her a mischievous look. "As far as I'm concerned, once that door is shut, you're hardly a prude," he answered softly. "But you're still mine."
And he sighed again, frustratedly, tired. "I don't know what to do with this anymore," he told her. "If this is another month, like all the time I spent as a woman..."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 08:34 PM
"If Puck wants so badly to be rid of Titania, it will have to change us back before we reach shore." She let out a frustrated huff. "Not that this is much consolation now . . ."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 08:47 PM
He gave her a long, hard look. "We--"
Then he pulled his leg away, nearly jerking it back from her. "Should go to bed," he finished, roughly.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 08:51 PM
The girl, mildly shocked, snapped herself back to her feet in a flash. From her expression, she was trying to decide between being hurt and being offended. "I've kept you up," she said shortly.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 08:59 PM
And Marcello looked startled, and then his face fell. "No," he answered, shaking his head. "No, no, I-- that's the problem, I can't--"
He looked a bit lost for a moment. "This is bad," he said, holding his salve-covered hands out, open to her. "Do you understand?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 09:13 PM
"I understand," she said, firm but still quiet. "I'm getting very tired of being toyed with."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 09:16 PM
Now he looked hurt. "I'm not toying with you," he answered softly, and he stood up after her.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 09:19 PM
"I ne'er said you were," she replied in the same tone, not even raising her eyes as he approached. "I meant in general. This whole situation."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 09:38 PM
He nodded, his chest rising and falling slowly but heavily as he watched her, keeping a safe distance between them. "Yes," he agreed harshly, and then took a deep breath. "I can't keep doing this," he said. "I feel like I can't be alone with you. I can't keep talking about these things and not doing anything about it."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 10:03 PM
"I know," she growled back. "This isn't any easier on my end, love. I don't want to be near you and yet I can't keep away, I can't stop, and part of me wonders if this isn't exactly what was meant to happen from the beginning and the idea of it makes me ill."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 10:08 PM
"I want to tear my skin off," Marcello admitted, scratching at his forearms. "It's like if I only took it off, there'd be another one underneath it, and it wouldn't be this one anymore, I wouldn't be your goddamn father. It knew," he told her, pained. "It knew. It came up to Neely while I was with him; it knew then what would happen. And it's waiting. It's waiting for something."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 10:15 PM
"Yes!" she said, a little too eagerly, "gods, yes, that's exactly how it feels! Like wanting to tear it open. When I was speaking to him I just wanted to grab him and shake him until he came out of your body and gave you back." Her teeth ground together, her breath coming quicker. "Damn it!"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 10:28 PM
Marcello growled,, flinging his hands out to his sides as he shut his eyes and ground his feet against the floor. "I am going to go mad," he informed her quietly, squeezing his eyes tight. "I feel like I'm going to be eaten alive by desire, or else hurt you; I don't want to do either."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 10:37 PM
Niabheara swallowed hard. "Sweetness," she said, almost in a whisper. "It's the gean-connah. It's part of this body. I get the same. It flares down. Just . . . step away a moment. Or I'll leave."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 10:46 PM
Marcello sat back down on the bed, almost knocking himself backward, taking in a deep breath. "Don't leave," he answered. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Is that--"
He looked up at her. "You feel that? Often?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 10:57 PM
"Yes," she breathed, shaking, "always. Not always." She shook her head. "It comes and it goes. With you, all the time. It's almost like having a headache, only there's no pain. But the same sort of feeling of being not quite with myself, disconnected from my body, as if it's thinking for itself with no input from me. I should have warned you," she said, head bowing in apology. "Especially with Father's reputation . . . but gods, it's my father, some things don't bear thinking on."
She went on in an uglier, hateful tone. "That's why I went so long pushing people aside. Snubbing them. I didn't want to turn out like him. Using people. The man's left a trail of broken bodies. Not all of them are dead."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 11:07 PM
Marcello rested his head on the back of his hand, where it was safely unburned, took a few deep breaths. "I know what it feels like. I've been...feeling it on and off all week, only I didn't know...that's what it--oh god, you...since when?" he asked her. "For how long? I mean, have you felt that, with me? God. No. I understand completely. And you'd never know if it was your own heart, or that."
He gave her a long look. "I understand why it took you so long to say you loved me."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 11:22 PM
A guilty flinch contorted her features. "Since I had about thirteen winters?" she tried. "At least that was the time when I started waking up at dawn to follow the poor stable-master's boy around . . . With you? It . . . I don't really remember, exactly. The first time it came about really strongly was on Roisin. The first time was just before Imbolc. Except that then I couldn't--I couldn't stand having anyone near me. After the demon." Her voice lowered. "That was the worst of it. It doesn't care. I felt it for him too. I hated him, he wouldn't leave me alone, but there were these moments . . . "
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 11:28 PM
Marcello swallowed, nodded. "I didn't know," he said softly. "Well, you know that, but...no. I understand. That must be terrifying. And you..."
He bit his lip, looked her over. "This isn't fair. I want to-- I should be able to hold you at moments like this," he said softly. "We should be able to hang on to each other. And this isn't that, this is just affection. I...humor me, will you?" he asked, showing a little smile. "Was it before or after our little kissing argument?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 11:33 PM
"The one where I had the hiccoughs?" she said wistfully. "Or the one where I tried to tell you that the Imbolc kiss didn't mean anything? It was both." She laughed. "This is ridiculously complicated, I know, but it's not usually all too terrible. Only very, very irritating."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 11:39 PM
"Especially when there's no way to quell it," Marcello agreed dismally. He smiled sheepishly at her. "I meant the Imbolc kiss," he answered. "That little, tiny, halfhearted little kiss you put right here."
He touched his finger to the side of his mouth. "I can still feel that," he informed her seriously. "If I think about it. You can be honest with me now, did you truly not know how taken I was with you?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 11 2008, 11:45 PM
"I knew," she said, equally serious. "I've had lots of men taken with me, Marcello. Usually they stopped being interested when I refuse to favour them with any sort of attention. I'm probably quite fortunate that the stable-master's boy was four times my age and terrified of Morgana." She chuckled to herself. "I couldn't tell if you weren't the same."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 11 2008, 11:52 PM
"I might have been, if we weren't friends first," he answered honestly, relaxing a bit as he smiled up at her, and he gave her a curious look. "So you did know," he said, challenging more than accusing, and looking a bit impressed. "You knew how unfair you were being, too. What were you up to, then? Was it some kind of test?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 12:03 AM
"The kiss? No. I meant that. It would have been poor manners not to give you an Imbloc kiss when you asked for one." She smiled at him. "The only test I had was to see how long it took for you to give up as well. Believe it or not, you are not the most insistent, nor e'en near to it. But you are the only one my heart favoured, which was all that mattered in the end."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 12:11 AM
He smiled more brightly at that. "I'm glad," he said softly. "But I don't-- I would never have been insistent. Maybe the most persistent?" he asked hopefully. "Who was the most insistent? You do know I know nothing of any of your suitors apart from Gearoid."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 12:19 AM
"Gearoid is not my suitor," Niabheara said stubbornly. "He's an idiot who thinks that because he happens to be good-looking, he is irresistible. I don't have suitors."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 12:23 AM
"Irritants, maybe?" Marcello answered, smiling at her. "You have me," he pointed out.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 12:30 AM
"Oh." She cocked a hand on her hip. "And do you think you're irresistible because you're good-looking?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 12:34 AM
"No," Marcello answered cheekily, tipping his head to one side. "Especially not in this body. I think I'm irresistible because I'm charming and intelligent and an excellent cook and a fine conversationalist and exceedingly humble. And also completely in love with you."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 12:39 AM
"Admirable qualities all," she agreed, delighted. "It's the confidence. I can't stand men who grovel. E'en when you were driving me mad for the first few weeks and I racked my brain to find a way to unload you back on your admiral, you amused me. I can put up with a lot for amusement's sake," she teased.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 12:44 AM
Marcello laughed. "Look at us. How many temperatures have we had tonight?" he asked her happily. "I'm glad to hear I amused you, but not so glad to hear I drove you mad. Even if may have been trying my best to do such a thing," he added innocently. "The worst part of being this intimate? I can't make up ridiculously complicated lies and expect you to believe them any more. Or simply watch the look on your face. It's rather distressing," he added.
His smile softened. "I was never confident where you were involved. Not until Roisin."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 12:52 AM
The girl held up her hands and burst out laughing herself. "We are always too serious! It's my fault, mostly. I go in terror of the day when things are calm again and you find yourself attached to the most boring woman in all the Erins. I like listening to you. E'en when you were telling me stories about your imaginary relatives. I still like listening to you. I feel I go on and on. You should tell me more stories."
There was a brief, cold twinge at that, before she quite realised what she was saying. Everyone has stories.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 12:59 AM
"You weren't boring before when things were calm," Marcello pointed out. "You were lovely. And besides, it will be months before I'm bored of just lying in bed all day, grateful that nothing's happening."
Now he laughed, and shook his head. "You don't go on and on. Compared to me? Never. We can trade stories," he offered. "I want to hear about growing up with Meg, and Tuatha folktales, and in return, I'll trade them for Italian ones. And pretend they're absolutely true, and happened to me. Would you like to hear about the time I was almost drowned in a magic spaghetti pot?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 01:16 AM
"A magical what sort of pot?" Niabheara asked, mystified. "And I've told you a dozen times: I had bar-none the most boring childhood. I can tell you all about the times Jochy dragged me out in the middle of the night when I was hardly higher than his knees."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 01:35 AM
"You could," Marcello answered. "How is that boring? And I've heard them mentioned, but never heard the stories. Stories aren't...they don't need to be exciting," he pointed out.
Then he grinned. "Spaghetti. It's...noodles?" Marcello said. "Please tell me you have noodles. If not, we'll have to...well. Pot. Like a porridge pot? Big, round, cast iron? And it belonged to a witch. And one day, my mother was ill, and the town witch, she told me, Marc-- well, no, it would have been Donnie, they all called me Donnie. She said, Donnie, here, you take this pot, and you say 'magic cauldron, help me please, you will know just what I need,' and the pot will give you all the spaghetti you want until your mama is well. And then, then you say, 'magic cauldron stop and stay,' and the pot will stop, until it's time to make the pasta again. And then she did it. She said, 'magic cauldron, help me please, you will know just what I need,' and suddenly, a whole pot of pasta was boiling away, perfectly cooked. And then she said, 'magic cauldron, stop and stay,' and the magic cauldron stopped. And it was delicious. So I took the pot home."
"But," he explained. "I hadn't listened very well. I remembered 'magic cauldron, help me please, you will know just what I need,' and soon enough, I had all the spaghetti I needed. But it kept coming. From the pot. Coming in mountains and mountains of noodles, and soon, they were up to my knees. And I yelled 'Stop!' but it just didn't work."
"But fortunately," he said, "the old witch knew this. She had heard my mother complain that I never listened. So she came to the house, and she waited outside just until the spaghetti was up to my neck, and then she said the magic words. And it stopped. Just like that. And from then on, I listened to everything, and that," he said, with a grin, "is why I am so careful to remember everything I hear."
He grinned more broadly. "And if you want to know how I got out, they made me eat all the pasta. It took me six days."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 01:51 AM
At the end Niabheara burst out laughing again. "We have that story!" she cried. "Only it's porridge, but it's the same story! It's like . . . " She snapped her fingers, looking impatient. "I've forgotten the word. The one you said was like the Imbolc act. Do you have the one about the two sisters in the woods, and the bear and the wolf?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 01:56 AM
"Biancaneva," Marcello supplied. "And yes, that one, too, where the bear turns into a prince? Is that the one you mean?" he asked. "Snow White and Rose Red?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 02:06 AM
"Well, they turned into their husbands, not so much princes," she replied, "but aye. I used to tell that story to Tristan, because of Omauduan. Then of course I had to stop him trying to kiss the damn wolf and turn him back into a person. And then I had to kiss the damn wolf to prove that it wasn't not working just because Tristan wasn't a girl." She laughed again, although her face went a little distant, a little sad.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 02:14 AM
"Well, it's got to be his one true love; that's the problem. Maybe you ought to have let me kiss the wolf and we could see what happens." Marcello took a deep breath, and smiled at her, a sad smile that matched hers. "I miss him, too," he said quietly. "I can't imagine what it's like for you."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 10:58 AM
"The problem was that the wolf was known to snap if people meddled with its face when it wasn't in the mood," Niabheara replied slowly. "And the last thing I needed was to explain to Lady Bride why her son was short a nose or . . . "
The words fell aside. "I miss him," she agreed simply. "It's another matter that simply isn't fair. Titania comes back, Auberon comes back; my horrible father comes back. But a little boy? One who ne'er had a chance to live? Dead forever. And it's all Titania's fault and nothing, nothing can happen to her that will make up for . . . for anything. What is the use of it? I wish I could force her hand, make her bring him back. If there was any way of it--"
She was starting to get that stinging feeling in the corners of her eyes again, the one that meant she was about to cry. It was infuriating. The corners of her mouth pulled sharply down. "And then there's Father. It's exactly like what happened to Tristan, do you . . . " She swallowed and shook her head. "Not exactly. Titania killed both their mothers, Auberon took them both away. And then they let them both be killed. Father's not dead, of course, but he might as well be. It would have been kinder. It would have been better than letting him become what he is now."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 02:15 PM
"And then I might have at least a palatable body," Marcello agreed ruefully, and then looked up at her. "I don't think...Them coming back isn't normal, it's not natural. I don't know if Tristan would be right if we did find some way to do that."
He gave her a questioning look. "Do we know that anyone's even told Aengus?" he asked. "That poor man. His own brother, destroying his entire family. I know, I know he's your great-uncle, but that's at least...removed, a little? Some people might not know their great-uncles on the streets."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 02:40 PM
"Told him about Tristan, d'you mean?" She gave a little sigh. "I don't know. I imagine someone must've done--I sent him word myself--but . . . I was so afraid to tell him. When last I spoke to him, he thought his lady was still alive. He spoke of her as if she was alive, but ill. The house bard said that he wouldn't give o'er her body to be buried, not for days; they had to trick him into it, had to force him, almost. I don't know that knowing his son is dead as well will be any good for him, but he must know. I didn't know what else to do."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 02:57 PM
"I don't understand who would do this!" Marcello said helplessly. "Kill off their own family, one by one! She-- she must know, mustn't she? If she succeeds, if she destroys Aengus, destroys you...god knows what she'll do to that poor chicken-girl-princess if she meets her...and then what? We all know what happens if there's no Queen," he said quietly, worriedly. "What she'll do to this country is worse than anything Neely did."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 02:59 PM
"I've wondered if that isn't perhaps what she wants," Niabheara replied softly. "If it's true there's no way she can e'er leave the Erins . . . perhaps she wants to take it down with her."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 03:01 PM
"But why?" Marcello asked helplessly. "What did the Erins ever do to her?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 03:05 PM
"I don't know. For our causes, it would hardly matter." It was new territory, feeling anything akin to sympathy for Titania, and she eased herself into it with hesitation lest the ground be full of pits and traps. "If she can't leave, if she is trapped there with all terrible things she'd done to people, with that husband of hers, with no one left to trust . . . I do not know what I would do in her stead. I'd probably long to be done with it. But there is no way to know that."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 03:13 PM
"But if she wanted to leave, couldn't she...abdicate?" Marcello asked. "She's only...the horrible things she's done to people, the lack of trust, those are her own doing. Her husband..."
He frowned. It was new territory for him, too. "Do you think your father wold know things?" he asked her quietly. "About the two of them, together. She has a child," he pointed out. "Whether she abandoned it or not, she was not barren. And yet her only child is by another man. We had said once, a long time ago, we had thought perhaps the cause of all this was a quarrel between them. You thought it might be...that Auberon was beholden to Titania because she knew that he abused your father, maybe other boys...What if it's the other way around? Titania's been lashing out at his family."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 03:30 PM
"Also true," she said. "My lady grandmother was her cousin, though, not Auberon's. But then again, most people in the Erins have made me my father's daughter, with no ties at all to my mother. It might be the mere idea, rather than the bloodline." And again she felt strangled by the frustration of being held guilty for things over which she had not even the illusion of control. "I think he would know. It would be a matter of getting him to say. He made it plain that he was not interested in speaking of his time in the palace."
Again she felt like crying. Crying seemed to be the most useless of all human activities: it started without warning, solved nothing, and when it was done it left you drained, limp, unable to act on anything. It made one wonder why they'd ever been built to weep. "It doesn't matter why she did it, Marcello, no more than it matters why my father is the way he is. It ends the same. At most it would explain why Auberon favours me, why he's sheltered me from her. But not why he did not extend the same protection to his brother, or to his brother's child."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 03:39 PM
"No, it does matter," Marcello answered. "You don't see? It's not a question of knowing why, knowing why, having answers and explanations and excuses never settles the problem at hand, you can dig in the past forever and it does nothing for the future. But if we knew what was at stake for her, for Auberon, that might determine a far more powerful course of action. Your father might know better what, and why. What we can use against them, how to divide and conquer."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 03:41 PM
A glimmer of hope, of relief, came into the girl's face. "But do you think he would say? If he knew we were using it to dismantle the both of them. That's what he claims to want himself."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 03:46 PM
"I know," Marcello answered. "Maybe that would be a test for him. He must understand. I was thinking...this can't be new. And Titania's daughter is what, two hundred years old? Younger than your father. All the rumors that she's barren...those are clearly not true. Maybe she is now, but she clearly wasn't, and it makes me wonder about Auberon's part. If she was fertile, was the problem that he wasn't, or was the problem that he preferred his little boys to his wife?" One or the other, and there must-- it couldn't only have been your father, could it have, love? There must have been other boys before."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 03:56 PM
Niabheara spoke slowly, looking sick and unhappy. "My brother. They were only alone together just the once, when Bram swore his fealty to the Duke, but Brammie came to me afterwards and he was . . . furious. Nothing like himself. Out of nowhere, shouting at me that he hated Auberon and that I wasn't to take him anywhere that Auberon would be. And I had to shush him. You can't just go about shouting that you hate the King, not when there's that many people around, e'en if you are only ten."
She had no time to get a hand to her face before a tear slid down from one eye, then the other. She wiped at them. "He was ten! I was fifteen! I didn't know what was going on and he wouldn't say why. They were ne'er out of anyone's sight for longer than it took to cross a room. Nothing could have happened!"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 04:00 PM
"Suggestions might have been made," Marcello said quietly. "There might have been an attempt at a detour. Bram is older now. Do you think he might tell us? Do you...did I tell you about the bit in Shakespeare, where Titania is given charge of a little boy, and Auberon keeps demanding the child, until he so shames and misuses her that she gives the boy up to him?"
He took a deep breath. "Which means they cannot be the only ones. There must have been boys before your father, too. Some that we might be able to find. Where does Auberon stand in age among his brothers?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 04:24 PM
Niabheara's shoulders--or Elaine's, and in this case it hardly mattered--hitched. She patted at her face to be sure those two trickles were not harbingers of a full gusher, and hiccoughed once before she brought herself under control enough to think that if Marcello tried to kiss that hiccough away, as kindly meant as the gesture might be, she would shove him across the room.
Finally she cleared her throat. "Auberon is the eldest, my grandfather next, and then Duke Aengus. And no, I don't think I've heard this story yet--or not all of it. This is the one where I asked if your Shakespeare had written anything about Clann Niall?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 04:38 PM
"Yes. There's...I don't think there's anything specifically about the Nialls, but there's the play about Auberon and Titania that I've told you about. That takes place at Midsummer. It's about how the two are warring because Titania won't let Auberon take this little tallfolk boy she has in her care. And the whole thing-- there's a Duke and a Queen who are marrying-- tallfolk, that is, and the Duke was a lover to Titania, and the Queen to Auberon, and they're both angry about it. So Auberon sneaks up on Titania while she sleeps, and sends Puck to poison Titania's eyes, so she'll love the first person she sees when she wakes. Who is a tallfolk that Puck's glamoured to look as if he's got the head of an ass. And she makes love to him, and the spell wears off, and she's deeply ashamed. And he taunts her until she begins to cry, and then demands she give him the child, and she gives the child over so that he'll undo her misery. We need to talk to Aengus," Marcello said softly. "If he's right in his mind. Are...are you all right to go on?" he asked her, giving her a concerned look.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 04:57 PM
"I am if you are." She touched her face again, running her fingers beneath her eyes. "I'm not sure how we could possibly find out what they're fighting o'er this time, if this is not some long-running private battle that bursts out in flares, like lupus." She smiled tersely. "I doubt somehow that this is lupus, though."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 05:12 PM
"It's never lupus," Marcello agreed, wondering what the hell lupus was.
"I don't know that we need to know what they're fighting about," Marcello replied. "I don't even know if they are fighting. People repeat their mistakes. If there's something that's come between them before, we can exploit it. If Titania's goal is something different from keeping her hold on the throne-- if she's trying to destroy Auberon's family, or all the Erins...that's a different battle, isn't it?"
He frowned, looking cautiously at the girl. "The Puck would know."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 05:37 PM
"It would," she agreed. "But I don't think I'm the one to ask the creature. That might be better done by you or by my father. Somehow, it comes to me that the Puck would speak truly to my father if he put it to the question, I don't know why. And that he would not harm you for fear of doing injury to my father." She considered, then added, "Or Mother. Mother could handle it. If we could find it." And if Judith did not take the matter in hand and break the creature's neck, which would solve a whole set of problems on its own but leave the original ones behind.
"And I want to speak with Gioia myself. I hate to suggest it, since it's plain he already suspects me . . . and I don't want to break their confidence." She frowned. "He's told her things, he must've done. If he won't speak to any of us, he might speak to her."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 05:41 PM
"Do you want me to try it first?" Marcello asked. "Try your father, I mean," he offered. "I can make it impersonal, about the war, about winning, see if he's willing to say anything for the sake of planning our strategy. And see if he might talk to the Puck himself for us. I think it's..."
He put a finger to his mouth.
"You said Puck was originally a human boy."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 05:49 PM
"I know as much as anyone else about the Puck, and that's what I've always heard: that the Puck started a changeling child and became as it is." The girl looked ill again. "Which only serves to make this all worse. It's been going on and on and no one's bothered to put their hand out to halt it! What is wrong with these people?" And now she was crying again. This was dead embarrassing, akin to pissing herself as far as Niabheara was concerned. "And I'm sorry, don't . . . "
She inhaled deeply and felt a bit more sturdy afterwards. "I'm all right. Talk to him. I'll speak to Mistress Gioia--and have someone find out about Brammie, as well, e'en though I honestly don't know anymore who holds the mirror or to whom they've been speaking."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 06:05 PM
"Love, it's all right," Marcello reminded her. "I'm used to crying, remember?" He sighed. "Jochy had it; I'm sure whoever has it will call in again soon. I've a whole list of things I want to ask them; I meant to ask Jochy to speak to Meg as well."
He swallowed, hard. "We're putting our hands out, aren't we?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 06:08 PM
Niabheara wiped her face again and looked up at him. "We can't do otherwise."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 06:12 PM
He reached out with a thumb, careful of his burns, and ran it just under her eyes. "All right now?" he asked. "It's late, love. You get tired, crying comes easier. We'll deal with this all in the morning, all right?"
He got up from the bed, nodding her to it.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 12 2008, 06:19 PM
"Careful," she said, shying back from his hands, but pinching a fold of his sleeve before he could slip away. "I love you, darling. I'm so sorry about this." Even she couldn't tell whether or not she was apologising for the hands.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 12 2008, 06:25 PM
He smiled sadly at her. "So am I," he said, shutting his eyes for a moment. "I love you, too. Cara mia, mia amore, ti amo, mia bellissima."
|Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:51 pm
|| Page 1 of 1
|| [ 2 posts ]
All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]
Who is online
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest
||You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum