Days of Past Present

Days of Past Present
Summary: Lady Coriaria's parents open up and tell her about the courtship request from Prince Tomas
Date: 19 June 2013
Related: A Minor Disagreement
Paule Katarina Coriaria Castor 

Common Room — The Golden Sword
To the immediate right of the door, a wooden half wall divides the common room in two. Small, four-person tables covered with white linen tablecloths are assembled at discreet intervals around a large stone fireplace. The single point of decoration in the common room hangs above the fireplace: a large gold-plated sword with a bejeweled hilt is mounted on a wooden plate and kept polished to a high shine. To the left of the dividing wall, the tables increase in size, and many include benches and mismatched chairs and stools. The wooden bar counter stretches along the rear wall, allowing those of all classes to mingle together over their repast.

A swinging door to the left of the bar leads into the kitchen. The only other exit is the open doorway heading back into the foyer.

19 June 1329

Having claimed a table for the Westmarks, Paule has ordered a full meal and booze. They rarely get the chance to bond, so this is a good chance for it as he chews on some roasted pig and has a goblet of wine as he and Katarina await Coriaria's arrival.

Katarina is all in favor of a full meal and booze, even roast something - which is where she gets a half of a small game hen, a generous slice of fresh baked bread that is quite liberally slathered with butter and drizzled over with honey. She has a goblet of a crisp cider, some roasted vegetables of some sort that she has nudged to the side of her plate, one hand wielding the fork while her other hand is - beneath the table - linked with Paule's.

And the family get-togethers do have a certain appeal… as long as they don't involve reproaches or insinuations. Cricket makes her way over to the table, a genuine smile on her features. The stay at the Keep has been enjoyable, with quite a few experiments (and mishaps!) making short work of her waking hours. There's much to do once she gets back home — ideas to test, results to reproduce — but for now she tries to simply enjoy the company of her parents. "My lord," she nods to her father, "My lady." An especially pleased glance is given her mother, for Katarina is the person to whom Cricket generally relates her advances in knowledge. "Are we celebrating something?" the girl asks as she seats herself, noting the particularly fine spread, "Or simply giving thanks for being in good health?"

Rising up to grace his daughter with a kiss, Paule chuckles. "I have been told of some of your misadventures, and that you have had a benefactor to cover for any.. damages.. there may have been." the Baron offers as he kisses his daughter's cheek and squeezes her upper arms with his hands for a moment longer than he usually does before he takes his seat again to allow Katarina to greet their first born.

"Your father is one fork away from having the cook slice off a hunk of roast pig and having the rest of it sent to our room so that he can gnaw on it later," Katarina remarks, rising as well and waiting her turn before giving her eldest one of those quick hugs that are all about affection and not crowding personal space before she leans back and lifts one hand to brush a bit of hair away from Cricket's face. "You look like your father when you're hip deep in some project and sinking fast," she reminds in a soft voice before she steps back. "Yes, we're celebrating having a healthy family. And in addition to that we have a bit of data for you that we think you will appreciate having, if not welcoming the data, it's still information and… Knowledge is power, my love."

She laughs, enjoying the easy and congenial atmosphere, and returns the gestures of affection. "There may have been a small fire in one of the rooms," Cricket chuckles, "Or… perhaps not so small. I did offer to make restitution, but was told it wouldn't be necessary. Tried my hand at cleaning some of the mess, at least, to show I /was/ sorry about the accident. Alas — greasy soot does not scrub easily from cloth." A pause, before looking again to her mother. "Cas says I often resemble Father when I've got an idea into my head and am determined to see it through. But what's this about data?"

"No love, I want to make sure to save my strength for later and not have a food coma." Paule says with a grin as he turns his attention back to his daughter and draws in a breath. "I am sure by now you have noticed the attention that Prince Tomas has given you?" he asks rhetorically as he sets aside his plate for now, his hand squeezing Katarina's for a moment. "He summoned me to his office today. I did not know his reasoning at first, but as I realized his words, it came to me." With that, he glances towards his daughter and studies her for a moment. A father's concern is reflected in his eyes before he speaks. "He requested twice from me permission to court you." he finally says, allowing that to settle on the table as he takes his wine to drink from it.

The Baron, Baroness and Baronet are all set at one of the corner tables, enjoying a meall probably a bit more than the direction the conversation is going.

"A request," Katarina says into the lull after Paule's words, "that your father quite reasonably declined. Not out of objection to the concept or the suit itself, but due to the timing and to the lack of adequate time spent in your company to actually know you well enough to request you hand out of mutual interest or the possibility of affection." She has claimed one of Paule's hands again, as much perhaps for her sense of calm as his. "My kinsman finds you to be a uncanny resemblance to his wife, may the guardians protect her soul, and this resemblance is unnerving him a bit. And contributing to his interest focused in such short order, which is not to say," she fixes a measured look upon Coriaria, "that he would not reasonably be interested in you for your own merits. But. Your father said no, and at this time, I agree to his assessment of the reasoning and answer. He has advised Prince Tomas to being correspondence with you, and you have the right - as always - to accept said correspondence or not. We, to further the point, are not inclined to accept offers for your hand at this time. However, having a prince courting you does bring you into more light than you were already. Which, by the data to date, will bring more suitors into the pool, so to speak. More well bred men that you can decide you're not interested in."

Castor once again looks a little more like a noble's son, for now. Gone are the travelling clothes, and he is once again wearing Westmark colors: cloak, tunic and dirk. He stops in the entrance of the Inn, and scans the room briefly before walking toward his family at their table. Cerberus appears behind him, faithfully tailing his master.

He stops near the table to greet his parents and sister. "I hope I find you all well…" he says mildly.

That she waits until /both/ of her parents have said their piece is rather uncharacteristic of the young woman. Perhaps it speaks to her sense of puzzlement — or her sense of amusement — or even the little thrill of slightly vain self-satisfaction (she's not repulsive after all! Guardians be praised!) that rises unbidden in her youthful heart. "Hmmm…" she manages, moving to scratch at her chin, "Actually, no. I hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary. He is always perfectly correct in my presence, never any untoward glances or remarks." Fair's fair; Tomas /has/ been unfailingly polite at all times and not given her any reason to feel uncomfortable or even suspect him of harboring feelings for her. He must be an even cleverer fellow than she already believes him to be. "I /am/ surprised. We only ever spoke of mathematics and the pursuit of knowledge. And…" Cricket frowns for a moment, "It was I who suggested we take up a correspondence, so that we might compare notes on our experiments. I hope you do not think I have been running about gawking at men, making eyes at anyone polite enough to give me the time of day." This last part causes her to color a little, though the flush fades quickly enough. "In truth, I like his quiet manner and his love of learning. He is… different. But… I do not know him yet, and as I believe in gathering data to test a theory prior to drawing any conclusions, I would need to know much more of his character before I could form any decided opinion."

"Hello, Castor." Paule says, with a smile spared for his son as he looks between the two siblings for a moment before he takes his attention back to Coriaria. "I understand that, Cricket. And he seemed to think that just corresponding with you was not enough. There are several reasons that Katarina and I feel that do not make this a good match. For one, he would have to leave his position as Steward if he did decide to pursue your hand in marriage. And.. you remind him of his wife, who he married at the same age you are now, and I do not think you deserve to live in such a shadow, and worry what would happen the first time you acted out of line of what he sees his wife to have been." he says as he shakes his head. "As I told your mother, I am in no rush to marry or betroth, or even court any of my children at this moment. Not with talk of wars and the current state of the royal family."

"That's very refreshing to hear, Father," Castor replies with a dry smile on his face. "Because Mother would surely send you across the continent in little burlap bags if you tried to marry any of your children. Besides I think it is against the law in any kingdom…"

He shrugs, and smirks at his sister.

"And here I thought we'd be talking about something interesting." He motions toward the door with his chin. "I've just come from the stables. Someone left a bucket in Cassiopeia's stall. She's fine now."

Katarina reaches up her free hand to draw Castor to the seat nearest her, "Cas," says she, giving her son a warm smile as she draws him to take a seat at the table. "And Cerberus I see," she leans to the side to make a quiet whistle of sound to get the hound to swish his tail - which he does, as expected. "We are all well, though you may need to help your father with some of that roast pig he seems determined to gnaw his way through all on his own," she teases both father and son gently before turning back to Paule and Coriaria with a laugh, "indeed. Little burlap bags and cut into so many tiny pieces that it would require a master puzzle maker to even begin to reassemble all the important pieces," she agrees with another laugh. "however," and she sobers again, eyes still sparkling, "it's important to note what your father is saying, however, in all light at this point. I would ask that you consider this with all due care, which I know you are very adept at, before you engage in correspondence with him. He may view it as invitation to do more at some point. We will not allow nor entertain any formal negotiations or talk at present."

"Impeccable timing as always," Cricket smiles at her brother, though the gesture is thin from the weight of a thousand different emotions wishing to express themselves on her face. The relief from only a few moments ago — that she's /not/ repulsive, that there's /hope/ men might one day find her attractive — has vanished, transmuted now into a pointed self-loathing. So she /isn't/ attractive after all… it's just that she sort of looks like /someone else./

She picks at the table with her fingernail, the old furrow between her brows becoming more pronounced as the loathing deepens. Screaming very loudly seems like an incredibly tempting option. Maybe she'll even try it outside once the others have gone to bed.

"I see," the girl replies stiffly, "Well, you needn't worry I will secretly scribble words of endearment into my letters. I do intend to correspond with him. It is very rare to find someone so likeminded where my interests in mathematics and mechanics lie. But that is the extent of it. You are free to read anything I write before it is sent, and free to read anything I receive before I read it myself."

Katarina waits until Coriaria is done speaking before replying, "Ahh. So. You've transitioned from flattered and a trifle embarrassed to exasperated and now to offended and affronted," she observes, watching one expression after another flicker across her daughters face. She keeps the humor out of her tone, sheer willpower allowing her to do this, as no amount of praying to the gods or biting her tongue was going to keep the humor from leaking free. "So, this is why we decided to tell you what is afoot instead of simply deciding that you didn't need to know. You, my daughter, have one of the keenest minds of your generation, if not THE. Which means that once you sort through your emotions, and all the myriad and complex ties that connect each one, you'll find a common thread of logic here that you'll sort through to when everything is said and done."

Katarina holds up one finger at a time, "One: We trust that you are as logical as we know you to be, as intelligent and mature as any young woman has any right to be, and we logically observed that you would not wish to have this kept from you. Secondly: we are aware that Tomas sees in you the memory of his dead wife, and while it is flattering and a touch nostalgic of him to do so, you are not she, and while you physically resemble her - and you do - you are not she, and living in the shadow of the love that he bears for her still is no way to live, and it is unfair to you as it is unfair to him. You deserve, Cricket, a man who will be breathless when you walk into a room, who will be tongue tied when you are angry with him the first time, who argues with you at the top of his lungs when you are arguing with him at the top of yours. You deserve a man who will respect you, always, because you damn well should expect nothing more, and accept nothing less, than the respect due to you as equal to any man smart enough to ask you to be his wife. And third," she likes lists, it's a thing, "we aren't going to read your letters, not his to you nor yours to him. Why ever would we want to, or need to?" she makes this a calmly voiced question, even waits for a moment before continuing.

"We are you parents. Not your jailer, nor warden, nor members of some elite company of spies with some dastardly plan to keep you cooped up in a tower until you end up having to create some crafty new machine - built entirely out of spare parts, the table, cutlery, candle sticks, some glue and a ball of twine - to concoct some elaborate escape plan. We are your parents, and as such, we are treating you as .. the adult that you are. You are our child, our heir. You asked to be treated as the adult you are, to acknowledge that you will make your own strides in your own time, that you will be your own person as you determine who and what that really is. So, we told you the truth. We trusted you to realize how deeply affected Tomas is in your presence and to remember that, and be kind, even if you are flustered, frustrated, annoyed, embarrassed, or what ever emotion is the first one to rise to the surface. Your father and I will not allow him to court you at this juncture, because he is the kings Steward and would need to set aside that title in order to be your husband, the husband to the Baroness that you will be when the time comes. This is not a decision that he can make lightly, nor can he make it in a matter of days let alone months. Now," she rests one hand on Paule's, "if you're still angry, please," she waves her other hand in a light gesture, "feel free to give it voice so that you don't throw things later that you'll need to glue back together."

And with Katarina tagging out, Paule tags in on her heels. "Next, you are nineteen years old, and I know you are tired of the stories of what I and your mother did when we were your age, so I'm not going to even use that. What I will say is that we are presenting you with the opprotunities that we did not get to have. We want you to make your own connections and contacts, not to have us force any upon you, though I recommend things to you, such as making friends with Lady Guinevere as she is the betrothed of the Crown Prince." the Baron says calmly as he takes his wife's hand in his own and squeezes it.

"We want someone to that has their breath stolen away because you are you, not because you remind him of someone that they used to know." Paule further clarifies. "We want to give you the chance to go out and find your own match and contacts. We want you to live. We want you to have all of the freedoms afforded to you as Heir of Westmark. As your mother said, we are not going to lock you away. Quite the opposite - just as Castor has decided to join the Temple, we want you to make your own decisions, throw your own parties, find your way as you see fit."

As Castor decides that this is all too much and retreats, Paule continues. "Your mother and I may have been forced together, but I do love her very much, and every last one of those emotions that she just mentioned, I still carry for her." he says with a fond glance to his wife. "And it is with that it mind that I have decided to follow her advice in this case. As I said before, the Nest is yours to use as your home. I want you to help with the defense of the coast of Westmark as well. The smell of war is thick in the air - and with a child speaking on behalf of the Taniford Queen, I see dark days ahead." he says with a breath. "It is the reason that your mother and I have not returned home yet - we have request an audience with the King in case this does turn to war." he lets out a slow breath and then shakes his head as he drains back his wine.

"And, in the interest of full disclosure, we should tell you, as our oldest child.. that… I am very proud of you, and I always have been. If I'm tough on you, it's because I know someday, that I will no longer be around to guide you, and I hope that somehow.. what I.. what we have gone through, will help you."

But something cold is wending its way through Coriaria's veins, icing over her regard as she listens to the sage advice imparted by the Baron and Baroness.

She has no intention of being /kind/ to the Steward should their paths cross again. Polite? Unfailingly. Logical? Unquestionably.

Kind? Unlikely.

When she finally speaks, it is after a long silence and the action feels to her as if she's swimming a good portion upstream against a mighty current. "I thank you for being frank with me," Cricket replies levelly, "You know I always value your judgment and insight. You have invested much into my upbringing, and are entrusting me with more responsibilities now… and for this I am very grateful. I intend to turn the Nest into a war-laboratory of sorts. I shall perform my experiments there, and test my creations in the field. The garrison commander will provide invaluable advice, I am sure."

Always easiest to talk of science instead of wounded pride.

She straightens herself in her seat, and looks at her parents with a clear-eyed gaze. "As for making the acquaintance of the Lady Guinevere, I'd be delighted. I believe she is my age, is she not? Do you think we have any similar interests? I should like to have her as my friend, and the connection can only help us."

Katarina makes a quiet sound, more of a hum than anything else, once more using her years of raising Westmark's to her advantage: which is to say, reading and deciphering the deeply intricate and multilayered emotions that swim through all.

"We will trust your judgment on how you handle the Steward," she says in a calm tone of voice, "after all, it was a very brave move on his behalf to speak to your father on this topic. I would imagine that it was akin to ripping a bandage off and bearing this old wound once again to the clear and glaring light of the current day. A old wound that has never, and will never, really heal. That he came to your father, more or less with hat in hand, still bleary around the edges from the sheer quantity of wine he'd tried to drown the memories in, only to have that effort fail, knowing that your father would see and smell the wine on him and he came, still, to ask for his permission to court you."

This said she shares a sidelong glance with Paule, her lips curving softly upward, "He speaks for both of us, with regard to how proud we are of you," her gaze shifts back, "all of you, in fact. And with that, we won't meddle any further in how you decide to handle the Steward."

For a moment, Paule looks like he wants to disagree with Katarina. Tomas was trying to use his daughter to plug the hole in his heart. Those closest to the shadow Baron know that it wasn't that such a suggestion would have caused someone to go on a hunting trip - and not return. "I do not think it was a brave move at all, and more one born of desperation. He said as much, as he realized that your mother and I were planning on bringing you back with us to Westmark and wanted to convince me to leave you behind." he says simply, and then backs down.

"I think that he should seek out a mate that is closer to his own age, instead of trying to live in the past that he should be letting go and then embarassing us with me having to decline him his request born of desperation and alcohol." the Baron says as he finally nods. "But as your mother said - we must allow you to handle such things on your own, and I must apologize, I had originally considered not telling you what Tomas had requested in the hopes to keep your friendship with him intact, but your mother thought you should know all the facts, and in that, she was right." he sighs.

"Lady Guinevere is more.. high-borne in her status, Cricket." Paule finally comments. "She has been groomed since birth to be the bride of the Crown Prince. I think she feels alone, especially with Jerric not having been present in quite some time, and I think she could use someone that has the weight of nobility to be her friend, as it seems that the Princess Amira has.. other pursuits on her mind."

"Aye, that too," Katarina says quietly, "all of that, in fact. I agree with your father, on all fronts, with the addition that the King's Steward is both a Prince and a man of influence. We need to speak with the king on several key issues and Tomas could make that very notably difficult, should he chose to. Were you to decide to bash him over the head with a chair and step all over him while explaining why you're displeased.." her lips curve again, ".. might make things a tad more challenging."

"My lord, do not forget that I have been trained in the gentle arts as well as the more… messy ones," the girl begins, enough in control of her emotions to conceal a certain savageness — she is, after all, her father's daughter, with all of the headstrong will and stubborn passion this implies — even as she thinks darkly to what she'd like to do to Tomas by way of retribution for causing her such humiliation, "Lady Guinevere and I can practice our needlework, or go riding, or perhaps read poetry to one another. I do like a good poem." Especially ones about revenge. Yes, those /especially/.

Leave it to her mother to /again/ bring up a salient point. It's enough to pull Cricket out of her self-loathing anger spiral for a moment, drawing a snort from her and a quirk of the brow. "Aye… you are right, my lady. I would not want my sense of indignation to harm our family's chances of securing the King's ear. No matter how much I should like to wring his neck and —" she trails off, quickly composing herself again, "No, I shall be perfectly polite. You may depend upon it."

"Just remember, you have a perfectly good protector you can beat on with a stick until you have worked out your frustrations." Paule points out. Somewhere, Alek can probably have a nightmare of being thrown under a caravan of wagons. Poor Alek.

Katarina laughs quietly as she sets her napkin aside and rises, drawing Paule with her as she does so. "We always depend on it, my dear," said as she moves around the table to brush a kiss against Cricket's forehead. "As much as you may be inclined to use the chair and squishy method while speaking quite firmly, I trust that your sense of logic and reason will intervene somewhere along the way. Hopefully before you've taken the chair apart and formed it into a passable wedge with sufficient ventilation points made in the wood to cut down on wind resistance to make it a better weapon," she adds, eyes sparkling with mirth before she kisses Cricket's forehead again, she's her mother - she's allowed. "Now, your father and I have some unfinished business to attend to. We'll see you on the morrow," she promises with a smile.

Paule brushes his hand through his daughter's hair as he walks by her and leans down to kiss the crown of her head and leaves coin to more than pay for the meal and any drinks that Coriaria may want to buy. "Or you can just tell him to go out into the grove and find you a good switch." he winks to Cori as he and Katarina walk out. "Oh, yes, some unfinished business indeed." he says, his smile turning wicked at the thoughts of what he will be doing to Katarina's.. business.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License