~ Siwenday, 30th of Maius, 11831 ~
In the weeks since Cordelia and Síofra had gone out into the woods together Delia was flourishing. She smiled, was closer with Síofra and Elizabeth, and got up to eat meals and ate heartily. She finally glowed with happiness. But when Perdy asked her what had happened Delia only said that they had walked about the forests and tried to find a way into Faery, but it had not been possible. Yet the experience had changed her.
Perdita walked between Cordelia and Síofra, holding her dear friend by the arm, and not touching the fay girl (though not excluding her). She had no hatred or dislike of her, or her bestia, but knew to be wary with what they could do. And she did not quite trust her and what had happened to her master and now her mistress.
“I think I will be going back to Folia,” Cordelia was saying. “Renaud, forgive me Síofra for bringing him up, has written to me that he is well at home, but I want to keep an eye on him. And with the plague being here, though I am glad His Grace has it under control, I would feel safer for Arielle and myself if we went away for a time. I will return in a few weeks, of course, when things have settled some.”
“When shall we pack?”
“Oh, Perdy, dear, I want this to be a vacation for you as well! Stay, flirt with the duc-to-be, have him ask for your hand soon!”
“You know I cannot bring it up,” Perdita replied, scandalized.
“Then I will do it for you! Síofra, let us come up with a way to make Charlot propose.”
Cordelia laughed at her predicament and Perdita could not help but find joy at her friend’s mirth, even if it was at her expense.
“Tell him it is unlucky to court a woman for more than a turn of seasons without making his intentions clear.”
“Is that true, Síofra?”
“No, but he does not know that!”
At this they all laughed.
They continued down to one of the open patios, wishing to have tea together on this sunny day, and on the way they found His Grace and Elizabeth.
“Lady Cordelia,” Pierre said, offering his hand to her and giving her his full attention. “Elizabeth was just telling me that you are doing much better, and I am truly grateful for it. May I help you in any way?”
“You already have so much,” she said. “Forgive me, I have been absent often as of late, and it is not polite as one of the ladies of your court. You and the staff have been so patient—”
“My dear after everything that has happened—”
“Still, I cannot forget my duties,” she finished for him. “I am going to retreat to Folia soon, and I will keep an eye on my brother-in-law. I will write you should anything seem odd or out of characters, or, frankly, in character but still unsettling.”
“Then I thank you for your assistance, Lady Cordelia,” he said. “Please, before you go, allow me to examine you and see that you are in good health to travel. I would not wish for your humors to fall out of alignment even through such a short trip.”
“After tea? Or, better yet, come join us!”
~ Iunday, 8th of Juvenis, 11831 ~
Things settled for the summer. Bastien had his eleventh birthday on the 2nd of Juvenis, and his mother Maiolaine her 30th four days after. Cordelia traveled to Folia, promising to keep in touch with Perdita, Lizzy, and Síofra, and too with Pierre, as a means to keep an eye on Renaud and Frederick. Aimé decided he had had enough time away from his wife and son, and left the duchy in Pierre’s hands, promising to return if he was needed. The clinic kept busy, but the hospital was at full capacity again and welcoming anyone who needed aid. There were even small pitchers of chilled milk and honey at the reception for the fay, or any child who wished something sweet while waiting and felt unwell.
Tonight would be Valentin’s party for the socialites, a way to gauge how the city has been taking in the changes of the past few weeks, and if their mood towards Pierre, the fay, and his new rule had sweetened. The clinic was closed for the evening, in part for this event, with Wolfram staying on watch with Salome on the off-chance that someone came to the château in need of aid.
Perdita, missing her dear friend, but free of her responsibilities as a lady-in-waiting, had convinced Charlot to take her with him to the event. She tried to ignore when Síofra made unsubtle references to marriage near them, though noted that Charlot seemed to blush.
Most of the advisors were actually attending as well, Vivien with his wife, and Tibault escorting Síofra. The missing presence of either son of Feuilles was not mentioned.
They made their way into town in two carriages, dressed in finery. Pedita wore a gown that Cordelia had left behind that fit her just right, and Síofra a dress that had to come from Faery as it was centuries out of date for the fashion of the time. Pierre wore his top hat with the inlaid crown, and had found a tiara in the treasury that matched it, which adorned Lizzy’s brow. Tonight they would not only be the future duc and duchesse, but the princeling and his intended.
“My lords and ladies, Your Graces, and dear friends!” Valentin and Nina greeted the group at the door, exchanging hugs and gossip before urging them in. Perdita was a little unsure about the immediate comradery, keeping herself close to Charlot, but Síofra and Nina began to chat as if they had been friends for years. Lizzy joined them, and Perdy, with a nudge and a smile from her beloved, did as well.
“Things are going wonderfully,” Valentin whispered to Pierre. “Most of what is being said of you is positive, and the cure you found has started talk of a trend to give blood. Perhaps we will be able to set up something with the hospital.”
“That is a wonderful idea, I will ask Adam,” Pierre replied. “And how are you, and Nina?”
“She is well, though feels a bit ill in the morning. She may murder me for revealing this so soon, but we will be naming him Sauveur in your honor.”
Pierre blinked, expecting many odd things from his friend, but not this. “My, well, merci, Valentin.”
Elwin and Rhianu then found them and the ladies went off to have refreshments before the ball officially began, the men following and debating whether there was time for a drink as well. Valentin and Nina returned to their post to greet more of their guests.
“I am finding inconsistencies,” Elwin told Pierre as they walked near the back of the group. “Among the hospital and its finances. Those who I ask seem not to know much, or be unable to tell me, but I will look deeper.”
“Thank you. Please keep me informed.”
The night was splendid, and both Pierre and Elizabeth danced with each other, and a numerous number of the other guests, several ignoring their dance-cards if they could even for a moment have a few steps with the duc or his duchesse-to-be. Síofra was flirting with Tibault and enjoying him blush, and Perdita slipped off with Charlot long enough to make others worry. But they returned just as guards would have been called for and announced their engagement. A toast was given to the future Duc and Duchesse of Carreaux.
“Does this mean that Cordelia will now be your lady-in-waiting?” Síofra asked.
“Of course not! Though, oh dear, she will need to find another if I’m to go all the way to Carreaux.”
At one point in the evening Pierre was dancing with Lady Veriette. Up close and without the mystique of her store she seemed much more approachable, and he was eager to ask her about her magics.
“And how are you, my princeling?” she asked first. The music changed and they began to waltz. Pierre, making sure Lizzy was safe and dancing with Vivien, turned to his partner.
“Well, thank you, madame,” he said. “Shall you be performing tonight?”
“Perhaps after dinner, I do not know yet if I wish to. I was invited as a guest and not the entertainment.”
“Of course. It is always a welcome change to be invited as yourself and not your profession. And I would like to get to know you more than just as the one who predicts the future.”
“I can do more than just predict what will happen,” she said. “I am privy to secrets and things hidden.”
Was she implying she knew of his secrets? His magic, or his murders?
“And will you be willing to tell me some of these secrets?”
“It would not do to be known as someone who cannot keep a secret.”
They danced, and Pierre held her hands in his. He felt no scars on her palm, though she did wear long gloves for the occasion. If she was a confidant of Mora’s, it was a newly established relationship.
“Then how shall I become privy to what you know?”
“Whyever would you become privy to it?”
“Because you brought it up and I do not think you say such things just to continue the conversation.”
“You must learn how to be told the secrets yourself.”
She was silent a moment, the hand he held in his twitching as if she was not certain if she wanted to rip it away, or hold on tighter.
“You will be a good duc,” she said. “A great one, in fact, if things go as they should. But your life will be filled with conflict. You are on the right path, this party is a very good way to gather information and I approve of Valentin as your informant. Yet you will lose something soon, and therefore must gain something else in return. Be open to new paths.”
“What will I lose?”
She ignored his question, and the pressure on her hand when he squeezed. They did not speak again that night, and neither did she perform. But when passing by him as he was helping Elizabeth into the carriage on their return home, she slipped a piece of paper into his pocket. Drawn on it was a stalk of rhubarb.
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I write dark things that involve magic and romance. I love books and stories, and anime and gaming. I'm trying to Catch 'em All, I collect geeky pins, and listen to a lot of true crime podcasts.
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