But What They’re Sayin’

Love you so much. Can’t count all the ways, I’d die for you girl. And all they can say is “He’s not your kind.”

Seryl 10th, 1513 – Carico Estate, River Sulis, Lothianshire, Albion

“Vivi?” The only response to his inquiry was his sister slamming the library door. Severus sighed. He was beginning to think there was something seriously wrong with Vivi. Most of the time she was her usual smart, funny self–until their brother sent a letter, then she turned into this raging ball of angst and moped and pouted for days on end. No door was ever safe when she was in this mood. And being around the FitzChivalrys, or rather around Caroline, exacerbated it to almost dangerous levels.

He glanced at the library door then sighed. His twin had a theory about what was happening and Severus didn’t like it. He and Leo weren’t that close, but there was something dangerously wrong with his sister and his eldest brother. But short of dragging Leo out into the gardens and beating him senseless, which he didn’t want to explain to his mother, he didn’t any way to solve that. Vivi wouldn’t talk about. Doubly so if Charlie were right. Unfortunately, the only person she’d probably talk about it with was the one that might have been the root of the problem.


So he moved in the opposite direction, onto the balcony. Maybe there was some other problem that he could solve. At least one that involved him personally.

Leo and Caroline were looking at each other as if they were both biting their tongues wanting–but not wanting–to blame each other for Vivi’s leaving. In Severus’ estimation they probably both were.

“So, Vivi cleared out of here pretty fast.” Severus commented to the person he was actually on the balcony to find. Marianne turned so fast that her plait swung almost around to strike her in the shoulder.

“Y-yeah.” She dropped her eyes and stared at her hands before shooting a look at Leo and an almost glare at Caroline. But her eyes came back to his face after a short moment and an almost smile hovered at the corner of her lips.


“Need to warn the baroness of the approaching Reman army?” He joked. She shook her head.

“Said that the air had turned rancid.” Marianne murmured.

“Oh, please. You don’t need to dredge up–muck, Marianne.” Caroline huffed and stood up from the bench.


“I asked, Miss FitzChivalry.” Severus remind her. Lord Wright Almighty, what did she do with her brain? She could store three months worth of scandals and gossip in there, but conveniently forgot when she caused anything worth gossiping about. She also forgot other things when forgetting served her purpose. Like the fact that the lady she was emulating in her costume was best remembered for being the member of the nobility who got there by getting knocked up before her wedding.

“I should probably go talk to Vivi.” Leo muttered toward his boots as Caroline huffed.

“…If she’s still here.” Severus told him. Leo looked at him sharply. “Given the look on her face when she walked past me in the library, she very well may be half-way home by now. Maybe you should let her cool down first.”

“If she’s that annoyed that she’d leave early, it’s all the more reason for me to go talk to her.” Leo bowed to Caroline and nodded at Marianne.

“We should probably get back to the party, I’m sure that Mother won’t like it if we come back soaked in perspiration.” Caroline linked her arm with her sister’s and half dragged her off toward the door. Severus shook his head and trailed after. Along the way, as she apparently had forgotten that Severus was right behind them, Caroline murmured a litany of things that Marianne had done wrong as a chaperone. If she had just suggested that Vivianne go with Elizabet back to the dancing then Leo wouldn’t have spent so much time paying attention to his sister.

If Marianne had just come up with a topic of conversation that didn’t have controversy attached to it, then Caroline never would have had to point out that Benoit had all the brains of a stone statue or that their father didn’t have the best costume at the party.

Or you could just bit your tongue for once. Severus thought sharply at the back of her head as the litany tapered off sharply off. As Caroline explained, it wouldn’t do to give a litany of flaws that Marianne possessed in front of all of the young men in the card room. After all, their father did still need to find a her a husband. That was proving difficult enough even without them knowing all of Marianne’s flaws.

I’d imagine so, he thought. When you have a shrew with the all the faults of a cow demon and none of the virtues of ‘em for a mother and a catty bitch-in-training for a sister, it probably would scare off a few of the fainter-hearted. Oh well, if they’re that stupid, not my fault. Less competition.


“Oh, Leo felt that he needed to check up on his sister, I gather she was in a bit of ill-humor.” Caroline said taking  her seat on the end of the settee, having dropped her sister’s arm and hurried a few steps ahead to proceed Marianne into the card room.

“I hope it’s not serious.” Nadine murmured, looking concerned. “She did seem a bit pale and out of sorts when she left the card room.”

“Well, ill-humor if you consider temper a humor.” Caroline huffed and raised her shoulder in a shrug. “So what did I miss?”

“Oh, you know, Caroline, the light goes out of the room when you leave it.” Audrina smirked. “What could possibly happen without you around to witness it.”

“Other than Lord Joshua was in here for a while playing billiards with that handsome friend of his.” Babette told her.

“Which friend?”

“The scholarship boy. As I was telling Babette while you were gone. I don’t care how nice his rear looks in that leather tunic, he’s still a scholarship boy. You can scrub them up, but you can’t clean them up.” Audrina said. …And Charlie sorta likes her. If I didn’t know my twin better, I would swear it has more to do with the size of the dowry Earl Ravenway is offering for his daughter. It’s like “liking” a shark. Aye, they look impressive from across the way, but I wouldn’t want to marry one.


“What?” Speaking of Severus’ twin, Charlie looked up from his cards when Severus dropped into the empty seat at one of the card tables where Charlie had been fleecing people most of the evening.

“There is no crime in looking.” Babette huffed from across the room.

“You know all those bizarre theories that our baby sister has for–certain people?” Severus asked. Charlie nodded. ” I know where she gets them.”

“You’ll have to explain that one to me–later. So you wanna contribute to my fund here? I think I might be able to buy a new horse before the night is out.” Charlie ran his fingers over the stack of chips.

“Only if you want to cover my drinks at the pub.” Severus batted his lashes at his brother.

“Oh, but where’s the fun in that?” Charlie sighed. “Besides, how shall I afford it and the new horse?”

“Fleece more idiots like us?” Severus asked tossing a stack of coins onto the table and gesturing for some chips.

When Edouard was too drunk to hold his cards steady and Constantin had excused himself to go find Jeremie so they could pour Edouard into a carriage to get him back home, Severus also excused himself as well. He figured he should probably check on when they were expected home. Not that he thought he and Charlie would stay any past the end of the party or that they would go out after it. But he didn’t know if his mother expected them to escort their parents home or if whenever they got there was good enough.


But apparently the ball room had emptied entirely, as he should have known. His father–and all the other fathers–were probably outside smoking and talking. The ladies–well, by this point those still mostly sober were probably helping to pour their less sober friends into carriages just like Dell was helping Jeremie do for his brother.

Well, not quite entirely. Standing at the far end of the room, blonde plait with the caul slipping just slightly to the side contrasting against the teal and gold silk dress.

He’d been standing not far from this spot earlier in the evening, when the ballroom was more full than not, when his father had called him over. The musicians above in the gallery had just struck up a slow song and around him, couples drawn to each other to ask for a dance.


She’d been sitting in the chair not far from where she was standing now, hands folded in her lap, eyes more on them than anywhere in the room.

“Severus, go ask Miss Marianne to dance.” For a man whose whole career was focused around beating around the bush, he didn’t have any patience for it when dealing with his kids.

“Why?” Severus had asked, though there was a puppy dog eager twitch in his feet that had wanted to immediately trot over there, even without looking for where Lord and Lady Henry were. He knew that with Leo’s and Caroline being promised to each other, there really wasn’t any reason for him to look at Marianne. That and she was his sister’s friend. But there was something about the way she had looked, the very first time that he had met her–at one of his mother’s garden parties–the year that they’d first moved to River Sulis.

She’d been–oh–ten or eleven, wearing a soft rose and white striped dress, twisting her hands just like she was doing now, standing shyly at the edge of the hedgemaze. And something in him had decided right then, without any consultation, that he wanted to marry her. He hadn’t–at the time–even known her name. A lot of things had changed in those four years–but the way he always found himself looking at her–that hadn’t changed at all.

But he couldn’t tell his father that, not even when his father started talking about a marriage between Leo and Caroline. How do you say that. No, dad, you can’t marry Leo off to Caroline. I decided at a garden party I was going to marry her sister. Yeah, that’d have gone well.

“Because she keeps looking at the dance floor with a wistful expression that says clearer than words that she’d like to dance–and obviously no one has asked her.” That twitched at something inside of  Severus, that was both good and bad. If she had a suitor–then he’d have some reason to move on–but he would admit to being very glad that he had no competition. If Leo and Caroline would just implode like they were threatening to…

… Maybe?

“But why me?” Severus had asked as his heart declared him a traitor.

“Because you’re a gentleman and a Ferreira–and the only time we leave a lady in distress is when attempting to rescue her will cause her more distress–and besides, you’re the only one in the room that I can order to go do it. Now go.”

He’d sidled past the couples between him and Marianne and slipped into one of the chairs to her side.


“My father seems to be under the impression you’d like to dance.” He had placed his elbow on the arm of the chair and batted his lashes at her when she looked at him.

“Your father is asking me to dance?” She’d looked at him bewildered before peering past him to where his father was dancing with his mother.


“No! No. He–he wanted me to ask you to dance. I mean if you wanted to.”

“Oh–I–well.” Her eyes flickered down to her hands. “The floor is pretty crowded–except over there.”


“Aye, but if we go over there, we’ll have to see Captain Cox’s tunic up close, I see your dilemma.” Severus had joked to keep his shoulders from drooping dejectedly.

“Oh, don’t–don’t think that I don’t want to dance with you, Severus. Please. May–maybe at another dance–one not so–you know–crowded.” Her eyes, always a brilliant unclouded teal pleaded with him to understand.

So later he had agreed, then retreated after a long moment, to the card room where he hadn’t had to worry about the next dance and if there were to be one. But the musicians had already packed it in for the night apparently as the gallery was empty. Still his heart was pounding a beat of its own.


“You know, Miss Marianne.” He almost swallowed his own tongue when she turned to look at him. “You still owe me a dance.”

“I-I do–don’t I? But–” She glanced up at the empty gallery.

“It’s always going to be something then, isn’t it?” Severus sighed, hoping to keep the tone jocular. Maybe it was all for the better, the way his palms were sweating.


“No. If–if you don’t mind the lack of music, I–I don’t mind it.” She admitted toward her hands. He extended one cold clammy hand to her and she took it. The other he settled at her waist before beginning the first steps. But even with only the sounds of their dance steps echoing off the dark marble and up through the empty ballroom for accompaniment, it was better than he could have imagined any professional musician could have played it.


It was allowed to just be, a spin here…


…faster here, slower there…


… until reality reasserted itself and he brought her with one final twirl to a stop.

“Thank you, Mr. Severus.” Marianne giggled as he brought her hand to his lips as the stepped apart.

“Wait, one last thing.” Severus said, the words out of his mouth before he even could think about them. She turned back toward him from where they had started to drift apart. He caught her hand, turning her around in one last twirl.


6 thoughts on “But What They’re Sayin’

  1. YAAAAY!!! Oh, that was perfect! Even better than when Kay and Dilys did it!

    And since you left it here, I’m hoping that this doesn’t end with Marianne in tears because Severus freaks out at the last second, convinced he’s too old for her. But you wouldn’t have left it here if that was case, would you? *sad puppy face*

    Yes, I hope this ends very well for them. :D And I hope that Marianne gets to rub it in Caroline’s face at the earliest opportunity. Yeah, Caroline might have an almost-betrothed, but Marianne has a guy who likes her. Who decided he wanted to marry her years and years ago!

    Beat THAT, Caroline!

    1. Yay! I’m glad. I was a trifle concerned that you guys would think I was doing a poor impression of the “original”.

      Well, logistically speaking, Severus is about a year and a half older than Marianne. (He’s a little more than sixteen and a half, she’s been fifteen for a couple of weeks.) Even in our modern society that is not a very big age gap at all. (I know you were saying it cause that’s why Kay freaked out. But it doesn’t work quite as well as a reason to freak out for Severus.)

      But no, if Severus has any regrets or issues with having kissed Marianne, it would be more that he’s let the cat out of the bag, and the way to deal with that is to beat himself up in his head, not in making her cry.

      I think that Van might be right, I don’t know that Marianne has the right personality to gloat, but I think that it will be something that Marianne will probably use as a mental shield when Caroline is at her worst. Severus likes her, for herself, not because their parents see advantage in their marrying. Caroline might have a semi-betrothed but she doesn’t have that.

      Beat THAT, Caroline, indeed! Thanks, Morgaine!

  2. Ooooh, yay! :D

    A kiss like that, and I don’t think Marianne will be so convinced that no one likes her any more. ;) And somehow I doubt that Leo has kissed Caroline in any way that wasn’t semi-obligatory, so maybe Marianne can treasure that as a secret triumph, even if I struggle to see her gloating about it (though I kinda sorta hope she gloats a little).

    And methinks that Squeak has an inkling about at least this son’s feelings! Somehow, I don’t see him saying no to Severus and Marianne, if they get to that point, even if Leo marries Caroline. And if Leo doesn’t marry Caroline? Hey, the Finessas get the FitzChivalry alliance anyway! Everybody wins!

    Well, except for Caroline, and whatever hopefully-just-as-unlikeable so-and-so she ends up marrying instead (or maybe not; she could always end up as the Laralita to somebody’s Roderick and live a happy life of causing other people misery).

    1. Nope. I pretty much think that kiss probably blew the theory that no one did and would like her out of the water. And you’re right. I don’t think that Caroline and Leo have kissed much at all. And if they have, it probably is because he felt obligated to do it. (They’re certainly not joined at the lips.) I half think that Caroline thinks they need a chaperone not so much to keep them from doing things that they shouldn’t but as an excuse as to why they’re not doing anything at all.

      You’re probably right. I don’t see Marianne gloating. She doesn’t seem like a gloating sort of person. But as I said to Morgaine, there’s at least something she can do with that knowledge besides rub Caroline’s face in it. (And besides, I think she might want to keep this quiet at this juncture because it’s something of her own. If Caroline doesn’t know, she can’t ruin it.)

      He probably does have an inkling. He is a pretty observant sort of guy.

      Even if he had a problem (which I don’t know that I really see. There are advantages to the marriage even if Leo did marry Caroline and he’s not blind to the fact that all is not well for the FitzChivalry alliance he’s been trying to build.) Lianne would more than likely overrule him… She is a pretty hopeless romantic. She might want her kids to have advantageous marriages, but she also wants them to be as in love with their spouses as she is with Squeak.

      Lol! That could be one way to go about it… I mean finding a Roderick-type for Caroline. If there are that many catty bitches in Albion, there ought to be a few Rodericks with more title than brains and less than pleasant personalities to match.

      Thanks, Van.

  3. Someone ought to hand Caroline a dictionary. Chaperone is not synonymous with matchmaker. If Leo finds his sister more interesting than Caroline, it’s not Marianne’s business to fix things up. It’s also not synonymous with PR agent. If she can’t control her tongue, she could always have it cut out. Vivi would probably do it for free.

    I’m stuck trying to decide whether Caroline is subconsciously jealous of something about Marianne (and Julia) or if her sister is a safe target for her fear of her own lack of consequence, with their status on the edge. Their mother is a champion at over-compensating, as was/is Caroline’s costume idol. Maybe it’s that she hasn’t been able to break Marianne, even if she doesn’t fight back. That she needs everyone else to be broken so she can been the little queen everywhere she goes?

    Oh, forget Caroline. Severus and Marianne as Kay and Dilys was perfect. My fingers are all crossed for that kiss to have ended better than the original! The picture of Severus asking her to dance with the statue between them was really well done – I loved the divide and also how Marianne was boxed into that corner. Even at this early juncture, I want this to work so much!

    1. But dictionaries are books! She can’t be seen with a book that would relegate her to a bluestocking! However very good points. It’s not Marianne’s job as chaperone to fix all of Caroline’s personality flaws.

      …And Vivi probably would cut her tongue out for free… I sorta want to myself on occasion (I commented to Morgaine on IM that I think every time I write Caroline I lose brain cells to doing it…) But I lose so much potential mayhem by rendering her unable to talk.

      I think it’s a little of both. Caroline sees the fact that she’s got friends like Audrina and her cousin Babette–both of whom would throw her under a bus (or carriage in this case) in a heartbeat if it was to their advantage–but Marianne’s got real friends who wouldn’t. Her mother favors Caroline, but Brandon (and Henry to some degree, he tries very hard to be fair, his daughters are different people and he loves them both. But his personality meshes much better with Marianne’s than Caroline’s.) favors Marianne and the younger two are showing signs of preferring Marianne to Caroline.

      But there is a lot more than just that. Marianne is a safe target for Caroline because she’s not likely to strike back. When she’s worried or concerned, dragging Marianne down builds her back up without a lot of fear of reprisals. (Marianne internalizes because Katherine is so obviously in Caroline’s corner.) But Marianne, I think, has more strength than Caroline gives her credit for and there are things that Marianne can draw strength from that Caroline doesn’t know about or knows of, but doesn’t care about.

      If she can’t be the queen bee by everyone else lifting her up, she can certainly try for being the queen bee by pushing everyone else into the mud.

      But yeah, we can definitely forget Caroline. ;-) I can say that neither of them fled the room in tears. They got their moment and it ended well. Not to say that it shall always end well, but it did here.

      Thank you. The columns are in between all of the chairs, it’s just the design of the room, but I did choose that particular corner because of the small boxed in nature of it, I’m glad someone noticed!

      We’ll see more of the two as summer progresses. But the cat is out of the bag and it will hopefully lead to something… interesting… ;-)

      Thanks, Winter!

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