eiattu_pride: (hmmm)
[personal profile] eiattu_pride
He's been back - really back, Rogues gone, re-involved with the court back - for just over a week now. Already he's been spending too much time by the window, thinking about the stars and the people he's grown up with, too much time wondering if he's made the right decision. So you'll forgive him if he's up early this morning, face set in a slight frown that's pretty much second nature to him now, drinking from a mug of mostly caf.

The not-quite-caf bit may or may not be good whiskey, but no one needs to know that. He's got a state dinner tonight. He's allowed.

Date: 2007-08-22 05:16 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (any - defeated)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
The rap at the door ought to be familiar, by now; firm, but respectful, and quiet at this hour of the morning.

Date: 2007-08-22 05:27 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - quiet)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
Countess Isplourrdacartha Estillo stands in the doorway, wearing a simple, fitted jumpsuit in browns and cream, long red braid flipped over her shoulder and a datapad in her hand.

She opens her mo--

He isn't wearing a tunic.

He isn't wearing a tunic and his chest and stomach and arms are rock-hard and heavily muscled, and she can see old scars dotted here and there--

Isplourrdacartha swallows. "My prince," she says, with the slightest of bows, her eyes firmly on his face. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to wake you."

Date: 2007-08-22 05:36 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (any - young)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
She determinedly does not flinch at the initial sharpness of his tone. "Certainly," she says, ignoring the subtle stares of the two guards as she steps through the door. It hisses closed on them, leaving her and Rial--the prince, she reminds herself, call him the prince--together in the short hallway.

Isplourrdacartha clears her throat. "You don't have to hurry," she says. "There isn't anything on your docket for the next few hours."

Date: 2007-08-22 05:58 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - listening)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
"I thought I would see if you wanted to take a ride," she calls, watching a wall studiously. "It's supposed to be cooler on the plains today."

She knows that he enjoys the thrill, the ride, the escape, at least as much as she does.

And it affords her the rare chance to speak with him outside of the crushing confines of the palace.

Date: 2007-08-22 06:10 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - smile)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
Her smile flashes, quick and self-assured and warm, before she brings it back under control. "I'd hoped you might, my prince. They will be ready for us in the stables."

Date: 2007-08-22 06:35 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (long - grin)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
"Then I would have gone alone," she says. "But I know how you like to ride, so--" She smiles up at him. "I took a gamble."

Date: 2007-08-22 06:49 pm (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - quiet)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
It is a compliment, if not a return smile. Of course, she wasn't expecting the latter.

Isplourrdacartha ducks her head, a little, as she passes him, though by the time he joins her in the corridor, her chin is held high again.

"Your first obligation is at 11:40," she says, to fill the silence. "The governor of Nental has an audience and is going to ask for a higher transportation budget. It's the sort of thing that ought to go through lower channels, but he has connections high within the Priamsta." Her lower lip curls.

Date: 2007-08-23 01:15 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (long - melancholy)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
They're walking down the empty, silent corridor now, Isplourrdacartha gracefully winding her scarf more securely around her neck. "Report on the damage to the Citadel at 1230, audience with a group of local merchants at 0100, and a meeting with the royal treasury committee, that is sure to take hours, at 0215."

She glances at him. "They're trying to discern how much of the treasury Tavira made off with."

Date: 2007-08-23 02:42 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - plourr does not giggle)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
One side of her mouth lifts, and she points out, "You are in charge, my prince." She glances over, sweeping red bangs out of her eyes. "I think your absence would be noticed."

Date: 2007-08-23 03:19 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - smug)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
Isplourrdacartha shoots a sidelong look at him, through the corner of her eye -- and then her lips turn upward again.

"You're growing your hair," she says, as they start down the stairs.

Date: 2007-08-23 03:38 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - plourr does not giggle)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
"I know," she says, and she's smiling to herself, remembering -- 'Y'r hair's too short.'

It's impossible to say what he's thinking or whether or not he even hears her, most of the time.

But maybe, just maybe, he does listen.

Date: 2007-08-23 04:38 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - smile)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
She stops on the landing, turning back toward him, and--unusually forward--she reaches up and runs her fingers through his short hair.

It's one stroke, relatively quick, but it is nowhere near as innocent as it was when she would ruffle his hair, years ago.

"It looks nice on you," she tells him, and there's a smile in her voice.

Date: 2007-08-23 05:22 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (long - totally excited!)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
Her smile comes immediate, bright and pleased and surprised.

He made a joke.

"Only a little," she says, still beaming up at him in approval. "A millimeter or two at most."

(Her fingers flutter at her sides, but she refuses to allow them to rise to run through his hair again.)

Date: 2007-08-23 05:52 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - quiet)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
Her smile fades slowly. "Of course. " She ducks her head and slips past him.

'My prince' has become something of a term of affection (and something possessive, too), but she hears nothing but polite deferral in 'my lady.'

She doesn't wait for him, like she ordinarily does so that she can fall into step beside him, give him whatever information that he needs.

She just keeps going down the next flight of stairs, and out through the door at the bottom.

Date: 2007-08-23 07:50 pm (UTC)
fighting_mad: (p - small smile)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
She has her game face on again by the time he reaches the bottom of the stairs, and as he ducks outside, she looks up, ready with a comment about how beautiful the sky is so early (and it is, with just the slightest hint of a morning chill).

But he surprises her.

He's hurrying after her; he's apologizing. And--

"You didn't call me Countess," she says wonderingly, and her smile is soft enough that it's safe to guess that he has been forgiven. Not only that, but he didn't call her Isplourrdacartha, either. "You could do that more often, you know. I'd like it."

Date: 2007-08-25 02:04 am (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - listening)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
Something settles in her face.

Isplourrdacartha's expression is implacable as she clasps her hands in the small of her back. "It is, Your Highness."

Date: 2007-08-25 06:49 pm (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - listening)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
She's at his shoulder, walking just behind, keeping up easily and appearing perfectly comfortable with the situation.

Date: 2007-08-25 07:02 pm (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - regret)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
She inclines her head graciously and steps past him, through the door.

Once she's through, though, she's turning, biting her lower lip, and she says, "Rial--"

Date: 2007-08-25 07:10 pm (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - concerned)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
"Would you-- a moment of your time?" She gestures to a pair of hay bales, tucked off to one side of the barn.

Date: 2007-08-25 07:21 pm (UTC)
fighting_mad: (any - dismay)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
"Sit with me?" she asks, taking a seat on a bale and looking up at him.

Date: 2007-08-25 07:37 pm (UTC)
fighting_mad: (any - young)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
"I do not know where we stand, Prince," she says quietly, turning a piece of straw between her fingers. "I believe that I have made it clear how I feel about you. I do know that you do not reciprocate those feelings."

That doesn't stop her from a split second's pause, though, hoping against all hope that he'll tell her she's wrong. She hates herself for it.

"What I am trying to say is that you are free to do as you will, Highness," she says, finally glancing up at him. "I want to make it clear: I will not hold you to some agreement that our parents made when we were children. You are not tied to me."

Date: 2007-08-25 08:01 pm (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - teary-eyed)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
Her eyes widen and a sharp thrill runs through her as she sees him lean in, as he touches her cheeks, and then his lips brush hers and her eyes flutter closed and she kisses him back, soft and sweet and a little clumsy. She hadn't allowed herself to imagine that he would kiss her, that he would want her-- There's love, in her kiss, and the astonished joy beginning to fill her chest and make it feel as though her heart may burst --

She doesn't register that he has pulled away, for a moment, and she leans after him an inch or two. But he doesn't kiss her waiting lips again, and his callused hands are no longer cupping her face, and her eyes snap open.

Isplourrdacartha stares at him for a long moment, stricken, the color high in her cheeks swiftly fading. Then she sits up straight and shoots a determined look--determined not to cry, not to show anything unbecoming--at her left boot.

"Yes, Your Highness." She rises, brushing hay from herself. "This will not affect anything, Your Highness. You will still have my counsel, if you wish it."

Date: 2007-08-25 08:14 pm (UTC)
fighting_mad: (any - young)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
She inclines her head, the picture of gracious dignity.

Even if the split second's pause before the nod gave her away.

"Of course," she says, and she curtseys, low and deferential, without a skirt. "Your Highness."

Date: 2007-08-25 08:26 pm (UTC)
fighting_mad: (medium - upset)
From: [personal profile] fighting_mad
Isplourrdacartha looks over her shoulder, once, to be sure he's gone, and then she walks through the stables, steps slow and measured. Her thak waits eagerly in his stall, straining his neck over the door, and the countess smiles at him and feeds him the bits of bluefruit she'd saved from breakfast. Treats shared, she slips into the stall with a saddle, and she sets it atop the thak's broad back.

Halfway through tightening the cinch, her hands begin to shake. She tucks her forehead against the thak's shoulder and silently sobs, her arms around the beast's neck.

The thak worriedly noses her hair.


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