Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Neely and Elaine (bodyswap), July 21 2008
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 20 2008, 10:51 PM
Marcello was starting to look worried. He'd returned to the cabin, and didn't find Niabheara there. So he'd tried Knocks' old cabin, and no Niabheara there. The galley, the hold...all were proving fruitless, and now he was on his way back from his second trip to their own cabin, a concerned frown etched on his face.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 20 2008, 10:55 PM
Niabheara caught the edges of the ropes and carefully turned herself off the foretop loft, crab-crawling along barefoot as the redhead passed underneath her. A tactical disadvantage to being red-haired was that your head became a target. She reached into her pocket and rained a handful dried peas down on Marcello.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 20 2008, 11:01 PM
For a moment, Marcello thought he was being hailed on. "Hey!" he shouted, as the little pellets pelted his hair, and he put a hand up, looking into the air.
And then breathed a sigh of relief. "What are you doing up there?!" he called, grinning as he waved both hands up.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 20 2008, 11:06 PM
"I am hiding from the crazy!" she shouted down, waving--then hastily snatching her hand back to its grip on the rope. She braced both heels against a knot and made herself a comfortable perch from which to look down on him. "Can you prove you're not mad? I'll let you come up. Otherwise--"
Another shower of peas.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 20 2008, 11:11 PM
"What are you--?"
Marcello looked rather helpless. "What are you talking about? I'm coming up," he informed her, reaching for the nearest line as he boosted himself up onto the mast. "I'm not craz--is everything all right? Here, look. Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments, love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove."
He hoisted himself up a few feet as he recited.
"O no, it is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken; it is the star to every wand'ring bark, whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle's compass come, Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom: If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 20 2008, 11:18 PM
"Wha-at?" Laughing, she scampered down--cautiously--to his level, and extended the wrist with the chain. "Touch. If you're Puck I can push you. If you're my father I might just push you as well. But if you are soothly Marcello, you may stay."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 20 2008, 11:22 PM
Marcello wrinkled his nose and touched the chain, then showed her the burn. "And your father can't recite sonnets, from what I've seen," he informed her graciously, and pulled himself up to where she was now balanced. "May I really stay?" he asked her sweetly.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 20 2008, 11:28 PM
"Maybe," she conceded. "I should put you to the riddle to make you earn your place. But no. Where have you been?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 20 2008, 11:32 PM
"Talking to your father," Marcello answered. "It is incredibly bizarre to talk to someone who looks like you ought to. What's the riddle?" he asked her. "Put it to me anyway."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 20 2008, 11:35 PM
"Hm." She rubbed a toe thoughtfully against the line of the rope. "He who made it left it lying; he who bought it did not want it; he who used it did not know it. What is it?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 20 2008, 11:44 PM
Marcello frowned. "I'm terrible at riddles," he told her plaintively. "What is it?"
Then he flicked at her arm. "Where have you been, anyway? Why are you all the way hidden up here? What's so crazy that you have to climb this far off the deck?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 20 2008, 11:47 PM
She flicked back at him. "I can't just tell you," she teased, "that's the worst kind of bad luck. You must pay me a forfeit, or else die of curiosity."
Her mood sobered. "I spoke to your sister," she said.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 20 2008, 11:50 PM
Marcello began leaning forward before he remembered that he still couldn't kiss her, and sat back, reaching for a line for balance. "What kind of forfeit?" he asked nicely.
And then he, too, grew more serious. "How is she?" he asked. "What did she have to say?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 20 2008, 11:56 PM
"She's turned into one of them," the girl said darkly. "She's taken up your lady in black's duties. She's been everywhere. She tried to explain why everything that she--her--why what they've been doing makes sense. All of it. But all I could understand was that it's nothing but a game to them. They turn up whene'er we're not being interesting enough to suit them. She said so much . . . I didn't understand most of it. That the only reason the Duke is as he is, is because my father was brought back to life when he shouldn't have been." She had to pause long enough to keep her voice from rising up the register to an indignant squeak. "When Jochy's father . . . oh, I don't know how this works! He exchanged my father's life for the Duke's, and the Duke went mad."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 12:01 AM
Marcello watched her with increasing weariness. "What?" he asked. "Wait, he did what? I don't-- is that what she told you? How did he-- Did she..." he gave Niabheara a worried look. "Did she ask you how you were doing, and all that?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 12:09 AM
The girl shook her head, almost laughing. "No, no, I asked her how she was doing. I think she was trying to explain, now that she knew how it all worked, to reassure me. Because they might make her forget it all again, once she got her own form back. But she's spoken to the Duke, and to Jochy's father, and that's how she found out about it. And now Jochy's father's planning to bring Lady Bride back to life again, so that his wife can go into her instead of me, and I told Miranda she mustn't let it happen, and I know I'm talking too much too quickly because I don't understand this either," she ended miserably.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 12:14 AM
"It's all right, I'm sure it sounds exactly like Mira told it," Marcello replied. He was quiet for another moment. "So she...she's seen the Duke?" he asked. "I-- God, Niabheara, someone needs to stop that man. Is it...is it a choice between her or you?" His voice went quiet, he swallowed. "What does he want now? What reason did he have to bring back your father?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 12:20 AM
"To hear her tell it, not e'en he can stop this now," she said. "He has no power. He can't make any more plans, but he can't stop the ones he's already put into play. I don't e'en know why he would bring back my father." She swallowed. "But Miranda thinks it would be a good thing to let the Lady Bride be brought back as well. As this other woman, the one with the cards. She thinks it would help the cause in Oireachteigh." Her voice caught. "She told me I was to leave you alone."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 12:25 AM
"That's not what--" Marcello looked pained. "She told you that?" he asked. "Why? It-- this is because she still wants me to go home?" His tone was cautious, careful. He plucked at the knee of his trousers. "Your father says he thinks we need more distance."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 12:28 AM
"My father is an arse," Niabheara shot back. "What does he know of love? He ne'er felt it. She . . . I feel like I'm bearing girls' tales, but I hoped you might be able to make something of this. She thinks that you'd heed the girl in black before you would heed me. Tell me truly, I won't be angry: have you kissed her?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 12:36 AM
Marcello blinked. "What?" he asked Niabheara, and frowned, thinking back. "I kissed her once, yes," he answered, shaking his head. "On the cheeks, because she was dressed up as Columbina and I thought she was Italian."
He gave her a sidelong glance. "And because I was frustrated that I couldn't touch you," he added. "And I needed to show affection to someone. I was...just starting to realize that you were important to me as more than a stay of execution. What the hell did Miranda tell you?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 12:40 AM
"That she's been talking to everyone. Mostly Jochy's father, to talk him into leaving me alone, but she's angry with me because of you." Niabheara herself was practically shaking with rage on this point. "She's trying to settle things for me so that you don't need to be here anymore."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 12:46 AM
Marcello put his head in his hands for a moment. "Do you...would you be uncomfortable if I put an arm around you right now?" he asked her, looking up tentatively, a crease in his brow. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I-- I'm sorry she upset you. She didn't...I would stay even if things were settled here. I want to stay once things are settled here."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 12:51 AM
"Yes I would," she said curtly, then softened it with, "Not you. I'm too angry. She thinks I'm horrible for you. And she's taking after them now. She acts as if it all makes perfect sense."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 12:57 AM
Marcello swallowed, dropped his hands into his lap. "Well, she can...it's a different perspective she's seeing. She thinks you're horrible for me because she knows I'm not coming home, love," he said quietly. "You'd think she'd be pleased I've finally found someone who's not trying to rip my heart into a million pieces. I-- what can I do?" he asked her. "Is there something I can do to help? To reassure you? You know--nothing the girl in black ever says to me is the sort of thing that would require me to choose to heed her or you. If it were...I would handle her very differently."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 01:02 AM
"I told her that," she said. "You've told me whene'er she's spoken to you before. And now I'm worried for your sister. She's already said that they might decide to be rid of everything she's done since she took this form. Just . . . take it, make it so that it didn't happen. You know more about them than I--they wouldn't take it into their minds to get rid of her?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 01:07 AM
And his eyes flicked up to hers, and he went cold, his black irids showing nearly no reflection. He rubbed lightly at his wrists, the lack of hair on his arms troubling him for the first time now that he felt chill. "I don't know them that well," he answered quietly. "I don't know. I-- should I speak to her about it?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 11:42 AM
"Would she tell you the truth?" She laid her hand on the back of his arm, lightly, careful about both keeping her balance and about touching him without asking. "This was complicated enough before," she said in a dull, angry tone. "I wish they could keep out of it. It only makes it worse."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 11:54 AM
Marcello shut his eyes and slipped a hand back over hers, pressing it to his arm warmly for a moment before moving it away. "I don't know that she'd tell me the direct truth, but she wouldn't-- I don't think she would lie outright to me," he answered. "I don't know, Niabheara. Do we know they ever haven't been involved? They may have been there from the start; it just may be that we're only now realizing it."
He took a breath. "I want things to be simpler, too," he told her. "That was the majority of my discussion with your father. He's convinced they'll never be simple again."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 12:01 PM
Niabheara laughed. "Is that where you've been? We're both turning into professional spies. I crept off and spoke to the princess. What did he say?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 12:06 PM
"I told you I'd been speaking to him," Marcello answered. "And it's hardly spying when it's done out in the open with no pretense, I would think. He wants to know if you really mean it when you say you don't wish to be Queen. He says he doesn't know what you want, he gets almost maudlin over the fact that he doesn't know you, and then insists he doesn't want to and it's too late to change anything. And I think he's written me off as some airy-brained romantic who hasn't got an ounce of sense in his head."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 12:18 PM
"Not only do I not want to be Queen, I must wonder why anyone would volunteer herself for the title." The ropes creaked and bowed as she shifted to find a spot that didn't dig into her tailbone. Riggings weren't half as comfortable as trees. "The only reason the princess wants it is because she knows nothing, Marcello--literally, nothing. Not of being Queen or of being a woman. She's far from stupid, but more foolish and sentimental, like a very little girl. And--" Her mouth quirked downward. She added, hesitantly, "Have you e'er known someone who is so terribly nice that you realise at once that they're going to be tiresome?"
She stretched out one leg and used the brace to push herself up higher. "Father has ne'er given much impression that he wants to know anyone. Of course he'll brush you off."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 12:24 PM
"Well, she was raised as a chicken," Marcello pointed out. "I-- don't particularly think of chickens as nice creatures, but I wouldn't expect them to have very complicated characters, if you know what I mean. A chicken. And I realize she's not one really, but who raises you has far too much influence on what you become."
He nudged her a little, with his elbow. "Your father thinks you're too sentimental," he said with a slight smile. "He blames Meg."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 12:30 PM
"So does Mother," Niabheara replied dryly. "They may just have something there. I would rather be what they call 'sentimental' than . . . whate'er he is." She sighed and nudged him back. "You are very sensible," she assured him. "Much more so than I, most of the time. I half-believe your sister's right. I lean on you too much."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 12:42 PM
He smiled softly at her. "I wish you would lean on me more," he informed her. "You don't, I promise. Is that what she said? She thinks you depend on me too much? How? I don't-- I've never felt that way. If anything, I know I try to protect you too much, stand in front of you...when you don't need it. Your father didn't like that I worried on not being able to accompany you into Oireachteigh if we hadn't gotten our bodies back. And you'll-- anything I have over you in sensibility is only from being a few years older, I promise. You're much more sensible than a lot of young women. And some sentiment is good. I think your father only criticizes it because it's an emotion he doesn't know how to handle."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 12:51 PM
"No, she said I was horrible for you." The girl's eyes cast downward to the deck. The accusation had been so exactly like what she suspected herself that it felt like the truth. "And I told you: Father criticises it because he's not once felt it. An I didn't know better I'd think he was born full-grown, just as he is."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 12:57 PM
"You think he hasn't felt it?" Marcello asked. "Or that he denies it because he doesn't want to feel it? Because it complicates things, because every time he has felt it, people he loved were hurt or hurt him?"
He reached up, putting his other hand firmly on the beam beneath them to make sure he didn't fall, and touched her hair. Elaine's hair was thick and hard to comb his fingers through, but the sentiment was there. "She doesn't know what's good for me or what's bad. What makes you so horrible?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 01:10 PM
"I think . . . " The girl went silent, eyes closed, feeling the wind on her face and his hand in her hair. "I think that's e'en worse. Not so much that something happened to make him feel he could trust no one, but that in all these years, nothing's come along to correct it."
Like a weary kitten, she pressed her head under his hand. "She misses you. Of course I'm horrible. I'm one more reason you don't come home."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 01:23 PM
"No, you're not," Marcello stroked his hand over her scalp affectionately. "I was never planning on going home. You don't factor into that. If anything, I'd be more likely to go back now than I was before I met you, even if only for a visit. I still want to bring you there," he told her quietly. "I want you to know my family."
He nodded, even if she couldn't see it, grim and a little breathless. "I agree it's worse. But it's not because he doesn't feel things. It's not. I just don't know what to do with him. There's parts of him I think are very likable, I want to have enormous respect for him. But I don't...parts of him frighten me; they're too dangerous, and he likes too much to assert his superiority to really listen to what people say."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 01:38 PM
"I don't know what I want of him anymore," she admitted. "I wanted him to accept me, at first. E'en if he didn't approve of me. But he doesn't approve of anything. And he's lonely, but he doesn't let anyone near enough to do anything about it. He's like sticking your hand in a thornbush. If you do it just right, you may not get scratched, but why take the chance?"
Her head nodded; she reminded herself that if she fell asleep up here, she would fall off, or else be impossible to move down. "I've been wanting to meet your family e'er since you started speaking of them. But Marcello . . . you can't just leave them. A letter would be better than this. They don't know if you're alive or dead."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 01:49 PM
"And yet he still seems to care. He...wants to care. Enough that he wants to know what you want, but not enough to...then he just scoffs at it, or insists it's impossible. I think he's afraid to promise you anything. I don't know."
He gave Niabheara a pained look. "I offered to give Mira letters to take back," he told her. "She said she didn't want them."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 01:54 PM
"I said letters would be better, not ideal," Niabheara chided gently. She overcame herself to rub his arm through his sleeve. "Sweetness, one of these days you'll have been gone so long, they won't want you to come back. They'll have gotten used to having you gone. That's not a day you should look forward to."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 02:13 PM
Marcello shut his eyes again, swallowed. "Don't do this, please?" he asked her, a bit hoarsely. "I can't cry. It makes my eyes feel all wrong. Just...I don't. I'd rather be able to be like a friendly stranger to them; I don't want to be family anymore. I want them to be used to having me gone. I am looking forward to it. If I write them a letter, they'll think I might come back."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 02:29 PM
"I'm sorry," she said, quiet but implacable, "but you know you won't; I've seen the way your whole life shines out of your face when you speak of them. It isn't worth it to let one bad time spoil everything that comes after."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 02:38 PM
Marcello hunched up a bit, nearly losing his balance before he caught and steadied himself with his hands, a rough scraping against the bandages on his burned palm. "I asked you not to talk about it," he answered weakly. "All right? Please let it rest? Dealing with Mira is enough for now."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 02:50 PM
Her hand shot out, as if she could have stopped him from falling. After a moment's uncertainty, she let the hand remain where it was against his shoulder. "I will," she agreed, "if you promise me you'll speak to me on it later. Will you?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 02:56 PM
He peeked out at her from one eye. "What, so I've got the choice of being made to feel like a cad now or later?" he asked her. "What if I just write the letter?" he asked her. "I'll write a letter to my father, and you can even read it, and we'll send it back with Mira when she goes. I'll make paper flowers for the girls. Something."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 03:07 PM
Niabheara bit her lip. "I'm not e'en the one with whom you should discuss this," she said, frustrated. "I love you, dear. But I don't pretend to be your family."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 03:18 PM
"Niabheara, I don't want to discuss it with anyone," Marcello said, equally frustrated, and he gave her a slow, sidelong look. "I have discussed it with Mira. Because you asked me to. I don't know...I know what you want me to do about it, but I...it needs to wait until things are settled here. I don't want to promise them a homecoming when we're about to risk our lives. If you want me to write them a letter to be delivered in case I die...something like that, I'll do that."
He looked her over questioningly. "I thought after last night...I thought you did want to be family?" he asked her, cautiously hopeful.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 03:35 PM
"We are different to each other," Niabheara said. "You will ne'er be a father to me, or a brother, or anything of the kind, and I need those things as much as I need you. Lovers are more intimate than family. And less." She took his arm, just above the bandages, and squeezed gently.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 03:45 PM
He lowered his head to her, deferentially. "Those things change, when you have a child together," he said quietly. "It's not the same relationship, none of them are, but being lovers changes when you become parents. I wouldn't know firsthand, but I..."
He bit the inside of his cheek. "The first time I left was because of Alessia. My stepmother. Nothing happened. But I was certain it could have, and when I went back, it was harder. I was older. So was my father. I was still the one the girls came to, not him. It was like we were their parents, and he was some distant boarder who lived with us."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 04:01 PM
"But you still came back." She swallowed. "You've given the impression--and Miranda has as well--that you . . . left because you didn't want to always be the one to handle things. And it wasn't fair to expect it of you. The girls might've been too young to understand it, but Miranda seems to have done. And your father should have done," she added, a little testily. "I don't want to say it's anything the same as it is with me and Cnoch-na-Niall, but it's the only comparison I know how to make. It's all I know."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 04:09 PM
"Things went badly," Marcello pointed out. "There was a romance that ended badly, I didn't want to be alone, but there was nowhere else for me to go, so I went back. It wasn't a bad life, but that's precisely it. It wasn't my life. I was seventeen when I left, and having to act as father to a girl nine years younger, and husband to a woman ten years older, and none of it was my choice. It was like being dropped into someone else's life, and I loved them all, but it wasn't my life. It-- it's a little like you with Cnoch-na-Niall, I think, if only in the sense that no one asked you, and suddenly you've got no decisions of your own in front of you to make, you're making them all for other people and you never asked for that responsibility."
He gave her a bit of a guilty look. "I think I scolded your father a bit for things my father did."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 04:33 PM
Niabheara gave him a disconcertingly blank look. "My father needs to be much more than scolded."
She bundled up next to him, wrapping an arm against herself to keep off the wind. "I have always felt selfish for resenting Cnoch-na-Niall. Much as I love it. It's work, and it doesn't end. It's only a place, in the end; it give me nothing back, no love or gratitude. The Countess can be unselfish with them; I cannot, not always."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 04:43 PM
"No single person can be completely unselfish, cara," Marcello replied, and he smiled down at her affectionately. "That's what it was like, taking care of the girls. There were too many times that I had to give things up to take care of them, and as much as I loved them all, I couldn't-- but they did love me back. I don't think any of them were old enough to feel gratitude. I know Alessia did, but not...things were always a little strange between us. And I so rarely chose anything for myself, and when I did?" He shrugged. "Happened to be the night of the fire."
He took a deep breath. "But as much as you must be unselfish with Cnoch-na-Niall, I hope sincerely that you will always be entirely selfish with me," he said, giving her a slight smile.
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 04:58 PM
"They must love you," she said quietly. "I have no doubts that anyone would love you, once they knew you. There must be some way between the two extremes, having them miss you and having them rely on you. They're older now."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 05:03 PM
"And Mira stills acts like it's my fault if the sun doesn't rise and set on time," Marcello said bitterly. "I would much rather put this off, deal with it once we've made some kind of headway here."
But he glanced over at her, smiling appreciatively. "That's one of the kindest things anyone's ever said about me."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 05:14 PM
"Miranda is angry," she said, the back of her neck prickling as she spoke. Knowing that Miranda might be somewhere, wherever she went when she was gone, listening, made Niabheara suddenly want to force nice thoughts into her mind. "Don't put it off too long. I don't want to consider it, but this might be a time when we don't have second chances to say what needs to be said."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 05:22 PM
"That's exactly why I'm putting it off," Marcello admitted uncomfortably. "I don't want to...it's easier on them to just find out that I've died than it is to finally hear from me again and then lose me. I don't want to come back into their lives just to hurt them."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 05:32 PM
"It's going to hurt them either way, love." She pressed her lips together tightly in an effort toward patience. "And this does not," she added wryly, with a small grin in his direction, "preclude the terrible circumstance that you might, in fact, live, and so have to come up with another reason to put it off."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 05:38 PM
He gave her a mock-pained look. "I feel I must be frank with you and inform you that if we weren't both balance-impaired and in the wrong bodies, I would take this opportunity to pounce on you and make passionate love to you in order to change the subject, and I highly suspect that it would work. This is rather unfair, I think."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 05:41 PM
"It would work right until I caught my breath back. Then I'd badger you again. And then you would see how horribly your planned distraction turned against you, as I fear you would be much more inclined to agree with me afterwards." She gave him a sunny little smile of triumph.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 05:52 PM
Marcello grinned back at her. "Oh, really?" he asked nicely. "Why would that be?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 06:01 PM
"Because I plan to leave you too exhausted to deny me? Because you are notoriously quick to lay aside dispute on the cusp of orgasm, and I have no trouble turning that to my advantage?" She wrinkled her nose at him and poked him with a toe.
Then she shook her head, looking ruefully down from the platform. "Nay, I'd not turn it against you," she assured him. "But I do miss you. Just you. I'm a woman in hell."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 06:13 PM
"I would say I'm the same, minus one choice syllable," Marcello answered, toeing back at her with a wistful smile. "I'd very much like to be too exhausted to deny you, cara mia. I think your father is...we spoke. If we keep these bodies in Oireachteigh, I need to stay on the ship. He suggested you go along with Elaine, and pretend you're the Countess' maidservant, and he'd take my part."
He took a deep breath. "We're in agreement that you're going to need to use Tristan's death as your rallying cry there. And that we need to assert now that you are not claiming thr throne for yourself."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 06:28 PM
Niabheara rubbed her throat. "I assumed it would be as much, if we were supporting Her Highness's claim. There's another difficulty: she will have to be in her true form to make the claim; otherwise she'll be laughed out of Court. And from what she's spoken of her true seeming, she does not look much like us."
Her head bowed. "He makes a point. There is no way for you to go safely in Oireachteigh."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 06:58 PM
He put a hand to her arm. "I don't want to be far from you for long," he said quietly. "If it's days you go out, and come back to the ship, I would not mind, but...it's like you said before, love. I don't want to be sitting here waiting for you and unable to help. I don't want to-- god forbid something happens. I'd have no way of knowing. We need the Puck," he said grimly. "We need to get the thing to change us back, and change the princess to her proper form."
He nodded. "She's a half-breed. Your father and I wagered on it. He father's tallfolk. We're still-- we talked for a while about why Titania must have done what she did; your father thinks she might have hoped to pass the child as Auberon's, not realizing the father was tallfolk. But she is the Princess, and she has a right. And as your father said, as long as she's the one making the claim, and you deny all interest in the crown, it will help you no matter whether people accept her or no."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 07:07 PM
"I promised her I'd try to help her become accustomed to court manner--though I fear she'll do best to make herself seem aloof for the first little while. Every word she speaks betrays her. She's a complete innocent." The girl growled. "And if I weren't already slated to kill the Puck for other reasons, I'd kill it for that much alone. She's going to need so much work. Not only to be Queen, but to adjust."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 07:13 PM
"It's still better than the alternative," Marcello pointed out. "She's still alive." He rubbed his forehead. "Look, would it help for me to talk to her? See if she'll do better with it if she thinks of it all as play-acting? It works for me; we might actually be better equipped to get her prepared if she's treating it like a game."
Then he gave Niabheara a look. "Do you think the Puck is trying to take power?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 07:17 PM
"The thought occurred to me a few times. Especially after speaking to her. There's very few reasons why it would go to this sort of trouble to keep her dependent on it. She loves the Puck." Niabheara pulled a sour face. "E'en a prank would pale, after so long."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 07:21 PM
"And she's incapable of ruling on her own. She needs someone who understands the ins and outs of court life," Marcello agreed. "She'd need someone to advise her. And as much as it seems she's taken a liking to you, the hobgoblin..." He shrugged. "Is like a father-figure to her. And the Puck's using her to seal its own safety. Harming it would turn her favor against you for certain."
He grimaced at the thought. "He's set her up as his own shield."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 07:26 PM
"It would have to," Niabheara said. "There's no safety with Auberon now, and it knows it. Auberon himself has no security."
She directed her gaze outward, across the maze of lines and masts, to the edge of the sea ahead. "How close do you think we are?"
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 07:44 PM
Marcello slipped a hand onto her shoulder. "A few days, at most? Your father's...he doesn't much like spontaneity, I've discovered. He was saying he doesn't like planning extemporaneously. He wants to know what we're doing when we hit Oireachteigh, but so much of that is going to depend on the Duke, whether he's in any state to do anything."
He sighed. "If he doesn't know about Tristan, this is going to be hellish, isn't it?"
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 07:58 PM
"Your sister makes a point," Niabheara said quietly. "If there was some way to bring him back to himself, he would make a good ally. But not the way she is suggesting. There's no good can come of bringing that poor woman back from under the hills. We'll . . . we'll see what condition His Grace is in. There might yet be something the baird can do for him. We hope. There's nothing else left to plan."
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 08:03 PM
"I agree," Marcello answered. "Contrary to your father's opinion, I've got the feeling that if we plan too much, we'll get there, land, and be taken by surprise by whatever is waiting for us. If you've already got one plan too firm in your head, it's harder to improvise for the unexpected."
He touched her elbow lightly. "Can the princess call on the Puck, maybe?" he asked quietly. "I want to be over and done with this before we get to land. Not only because this may be the last time we can safely take for ourselves for a while."
Posted by: Elaine Romain Jul 21 2008, 08:10 PM
"She says she's seen nothing of the Puck, by which I assumed she may have tried to call on it already. I can ask her to try again."
She gave the man a peck on the cheek. It still gave her a strange, nearly sick reverberation behind her breastbone to do such a thing. "I'm going down again, love. Elaine's arse is going numb." She laughed.
Posted by: Neely O'Niall Jul 21 2008, 08:14 PM
"Right," Marcello agreed, touching a thumb back to her cheek with a wistful expression. "I'll be right behind you. Love you, darling."