Can’t You See Me?

It’s bitter. Tastes a lot like winter. And will it release me?

Darid 14, 1513

Lianne closed her eyes, breathing in the intoxicating smell of roses in bloom, even though the pavilion overhead kept the worst of the sun off, the warm light was a palpable pressure, like the soft hand of a lover, not the cruel task master that it would be in just a few weeks most likely. It was so rare anymore, with the children grown or very nearly, that she had time to sit in her own garden and host a tea party. It seemed to happen so fast.


Surely just a few days ago her little Vivi, now a bright vivacious young woman, one who would make a wonderful bride for Prince Nathaniel if she would just stop being so stubborn, had been a little girl in a violet and white sprigged dress, begging her to stop her research to play teaparty with her dolls. Or to not go to court so they could pick flowers in the wildflower gardens. If only Lynnette didn’t need her so often! Maybe they could have done that more often.


Still, she’d grown up so well. All of their children had avoided the traps that preyed upon so many of the young nobles she saw at court. And even if there hadn’t been nearly as many tea parties, Vivi still seemed so regal, so grown up, sitting with her little friends holding their own little court of girl-stuff.

“Isn’t that right, Lianne?” Katherine asked leaving Lianne to stumble after the thread of conversation.

“Oh, I am terribly sorry, Katherine, my mind wandered. What were you asking?” Lianne colored slightly under her freckles, a useful trick for added sincerity even if it was rarely genuine any more. She really should be paying attention, it was just that her companions–well. To her right, reorganizing her thoughts like a lecturer reorganizing her notes for another round of pontification, was Katherine Fitz-Chivalry.


How many times had she seen girls just like Katherine at court? So earnestly striving to be liked, to be included. So desperate to prove that they were as good, that they lived up to the titles and the surroundings. Except Katherine lacked that innocence, she was obviously skilled at shilling, at proving that she, too, was the right sort.

To her left with an air of icy indifference to anything and everything, sat Marisol. The baroness of River Sulis, their home away from home at least until Hector sent Squeak somewhere else to attend to some other problem or issue for the kingdom, Marisol was as icily regal as any queen born. Some would think that she thought she was above such silly things as tea parties in the garden, but that just didn’t seem quite right.

Personally, it seemed more to Lianne as if Marisol knew that these were things that she had to do, and so she would to do them. What she was really like, Lianne had no idea, she had never so much as glimpsed behind the icy visor to see the sim looking out from inside.

Behind her, seated in lone solitude was Lord Henry, Katherine’s husband. If Lianne had realized that neither Squeak nor the Baron were going to attend she’d have had Juliana center the table under the pavilion and only put out two tables rather than three. Or at least insisted that the twins go riding after the tea part was over with. It surely made Lianne seem a poor hostess.

It was just that only pregnancy, serious illness, or death ever made one miss one of the parties that she usually co-hosted with Lynnette in the Queen’s gardens. She forgot that here in River Sulis, she was not the Queen’s companion, she was just the baroness of some tiny little holding two shires over.

Also, she should have gotten hold of a second pavilion or at least a sunshade for the girls’ table. Sloppy, Lianne, she chided herself. There was a staff to arrange tables and bespeak sunshades and pavilions at the palace, certainly, but that didn’t excuse her not taking care of such things herself with this party.


Just when she thought of asking Vivi if she might go ask the housemaid to come make the necessary arrangements to the table, the point became moot. Through the front gate marched Squeak, such a silly childhood nickname for such a tall, handsome, quite obviously fully grown man possessing as deep and manly a baritone as surely anyone ever had.

The effect, of course was spoilt just slightly by those hideous robes that he wore. Her Squeak had far better taste than that, but as he was so fond of reminding her, the wardrobe made the man. And the man he was here in River Sulis was silly, a little pompous, and not to be taken at all seriously. Besides, he would also remind her, they were historical, a faithful recreation of the robes famously worn by the first Earl of Sarras.

It was hard to believe that the blood of a man who would commission such a terrible outfit could be running through Marisol, probably the single most tasteful woman that Lianne had ever met, even with all of her years at court.

“Squeak, darling,” Lianne called.

“Don’t worry, my love, I shan’t wear these “awful” clothes in your house or to your party,” He called back with a stunning smile, framed to perfection by his mustache and goatee.

“Merci!” She was rewarded with his rich chuckle at the Gaulish. A few moments later, she heard a groan from near the door. Her eyes flew wide and concern rushed to fill her.

“Severus!” Squeak bellowed, surely it was his voice that shook the leaves above and not an errant breeze.

“Vivi, could you be my best friend and go tell your father that the twins are off riding?” She’d also see that a maid was called to bring Squeak something appropriate to wear. I don’t need his sense of humor getting the better of him and him coming to the teaparty in his hosen–or worse–his braises. Lianne thought to herself.


“Of course, mother.” Vivianne stood up, smoothing her lavender skirts, her curls falling over her shoulders as she pushed her chair up to the table. Lianne was too far away to hear what Caroline said to her, but it would take a far less observant woman not to notice the way Vivianne’s spine stiffened. However hard on the heels of Caroline’s comment, Elizabet turned to Caroline and said something. Caroline gasped, eyes wide.


“Lady Marisol, could you please restrain your daughter? The last time that she took tea with Marianne and Caroline, Caroline cried for twenty minutes over whatever cruel thing that your child said.”

“When your Caroline gains the wits to not insult my daughter and her friends, I am certain my Bet will stop making her cry.” Marisol said, swirling her wine around her glass.

“I am quite certain that Caroline said nothing of insult.” Katherine reared up at the challenge.

“Truly?” Marisol quirked a perfect blonde eyebrow. “The last time that Caroline took tea at our estate, she told Marianne that if she insisted upon gorging herself on sweets at every tea, her girth would increase to the point where no chair would hold her and then your husband would never be able to find Marianne a husband.”

“Well, you must admit, Lady Marisol, that hunting for a spouse is a battleground and that a young lady must use every bit of advantage in battle. It’s just bad policy to gorge oneself on anything, especially sweets.” Katherine pressed her hand to her bosom in affront.

I took more pastries at tea than the two that Marianne did.” Marisol said cuttingly. “And certainly my own arse has not grown to the proportions that would require it it’s own shire!” Katherine gasped and gaped.

“Ladies, please. There’s no need for profanity or arguments.” Lianne interjected.


“Oh, did I miss profanity. I always miss the fun parties. I only ever show up at the boring ones.” Oh, thank the Lord Wright. Lianne thought to herself as she glanced over her shoulder to see Squeak, now properly attired in an Aubergine suit. He grinned at her and winked.

“It was just a small spat, my lord.” Katherine said, glancing at Marisol and then Lianne.

“And no wonder it’s turning into a romp, those are not tea glasses.” He gesture to the golden goblets on the table.

“We were just having a little Gaulish, as a finisher for the tea.” Lianne offered. Squeak gathered a plate of fruit from the refreshments table and walked over to the pavilion, he dropped a kiss on the top of her head before dropping into the chair next to Henry.

“I do hope you saved me some.” He said. “And I hope that you will forgive my manners as I eat, I worked straight through luncheon, my lord.”

“Oh, not at all, I understand, my lord.” Henry said with his usual easy-going tone.

“Does that fill our requisite my lords for the afternoon, can we just call each other by our Wrightian names rather than being so cursedly proper?” Squeak asked.

“But properness makes the world go round, father.” Charlie said appearing as if conjured out of the hedgemaze. She hadn’t known that the twins were home.

“At least that’s what Brother Dustin is always telling us.” Severus followed. “And you know what they say about broken clocks, after all.”

“Severus!” Lianne scolded, getting to her feet to plant her hands on her hips. “I am quite sure that Brother Dustin is not a broken clock.” Before Severus could come up with whatever his clever retort was, and Lianne was certain he had one, Squeak turned to her.

“While you’re scolding our son, my love, please remind him again why it is not okay to hide my clothing?” Squeak asked with another disarming grin.

“Severus!” Lianne sighed.

“I didn’t!” He protested looking up from the fruit trays, injured look on his face. “I just switched the pots in front of the door.”

“It’s the same thing.” Squeak sniffed.


“Sorry, father.” He said walking around the table, Lianne turned around to see him sliding into her chair. “Severus.”

“You tell me not stand and eat, Mum. It was the only open chair.” He paused for a second and looked toward where his sister sat. His Adam’s apple bobbed for a moment as if he were swallowing heavily.

“Mother, may Elizabet, Marianne, and I be excused? Master Chalmers is going to be giving us a test tomorrow on the story of St. Romeo and St. Juliette and I want to be certain I know everything.” Vivianne asked.

“Of course, Vivi, study hard.” Squeak said turning in his chair.

“Thanks, daddy.” She blew him a kiss as she headed for the mouth of hedge maze. Lianne stifled a sigh, she couldn’t remember the last time that Vivianne had been that affectionate toward her. She reserved much more of her regard for her father and her brothers, especially Leo.


“Thank you, Lady Finessa. The tea was wonderful.” Marianne said with a curtsy.

“You’re quite welcome, Marianne.” Lianne said with a nod.

“Yes, thank you, Lady Finessa.” Elizabet said, her blue-gray eyes sparkling. “I especially enjoyed the pastries.” Marisol actually chuckled, it was a rich sound that was all too infrequent.

Vivianne’s leaving had left Caroline in lone splendor at the girls’ table and that wouldn’t do, she’d spent too much of this tea lost in thought, not attending to her guests’ needs. She slipped into the chair that Marianne had vacated. “I’m not keeping you from studying, I hope?”


“No,” Caroline said. Well, that was one conversation starter that had lead nowhere fast.

“Your sister is such a lovely girl.” Lianne tried again. Caroline glanced at the tree with a slightly sour look on her face.


“I think Julia will be prettier when she grows up.” Caroline told her. This was going to be like extracting water from a stone. “Have you heard from Leo? Is he enjoying Camford?” There that was something that they could talk about.

“What are those two girls doing?” Lianne could hear the scowl in Katherine’s voice from where she sat.

“Playin’ it looks like, Lady Henry.” Severus told her. “That’s what they were doing when we came in, playing solider it looked like.”

“Soldier!” Katherine gasped. “I knew nothing good would come from letting Julia spend time with that girl.”


“Pray recall, Lady Henry,” Marisol interjected with what Lianne imagined was the cold certainty of a hunting knife being plunged into flesh. “That that girl is my kin. My cousin’s daughter.”

“Second cousin.” Katherine corrected. Lianne saw Henry cringe.

“Aye. Second cousin, still puts us at closer relation than you have to those Reman families you like to remind us you’re related to.” Marisol’s tone was growing icier by the moment. Lianne wracked her brain to think of some way to defuse the situation, she certainly had never intended for this party to stop the two ladies from talking to each other, which had happened before. Especially because it made Vivi so miserable.

“Henry, I’ll tell you, I don’t like the look of that cloud, d’you?” Squeak interjected loudly enough that they could all hear him.

“It could be nothing, but it could mean rain.” Henry agreed. “Perhaps I should gather my daughters and head on back home before we find out.”


“Aye.” Squeak said, standing up from his chair and offering the other man a firm handshake. “Charlie, could you please go find Marianne for us.” Severus turned in his chair as if he was going to say something then turned back toward the table and popped a grape in his mouth without a word. Charlie stood up and ran off in the direction of the house.

“Well, if we’re going to use inclement weather as a reason to break up the party, perhaps Lyssa, Bet and I should take our leave of you as well.” Marisol smiled tightly. Goodbyes were said without incident and finally, when all of the the guests had disappeared through the wrought iron gate.

“Those two.” Squeak expelled his breath in a sigh.

“Aye.” Lianne agreed.

“You two are braver than I am. I’d be afraid to have dinner with Lady Henry and the baroness in the baron’s dining hall.” Severus said.

“Why so?” Squeak asked, sounding honestly puzzled.

“The baron has all those weapons and suits of armor in there. I’d be too afraid that they’d pull something off the wall, suit up and use them on each other.” Lianne offered a polite twitter of laughter that paled next to Squeaks heartier guffaw.

“Well, it’s probably a good thing that Caroline is intended for Leo then.” Squeak said. “And  that I don’t see the baron or baroness pursuing the idea of the Fitz-Chivalry’s Edmund for Elizabet.”


“Yeah, that’d be a bad idea.” Severus seconded as Vivianne sat down at the table next to him, her face as blank as a just washed slate. “I don’t think that Edmund could handle a girl like Elizabet. I’m not sure there is a man who can handle a girl like Elizabet.”

“What, you’re not up to the task?” Charlie asked, sitting down himself to finish the rest of his plate. Something, again, passed over Severus’ face. It was so peculiar how she could read almost any courtier with consummate ease, but her own children were often completely incomprehensible to her.


“Nope. After all, our mama only raised one fool, and that’s you.”

6 thoughts on “Can’t You See Me?

  1. “Nope. After all, our mama only raised one fool, and that’s you.” *snickers* Gotta love brothers.

    And I have to say, I was … quite impressed by Marisol. She defended Marianne, she defended Lyssandra, she gave Katherine what was coming to her … I was expecting a lot worse out of Marisol. This woman has potential, mark my words. Even if it’s only potential to skewer Katherine … which isn’t a bad potential to have, I’m just sayin’ …

    However, Lianne … she needs to wake up and smell the family dynamics, ’cause where I’m sitting, they ain’t pretty. It’s not a good thing that she finds her kids so incomprehensible. I wonder, might it be a good idea for her to take Vivianne along the next time she goes to the capital? I can see why she’d want the twins to stay in school, since the school is so prestigious, but if Vivianne is being taught by private tutors (which seems to be the case), there’s no reason why she can’t be taught by private tutors in the capital. Besides, she’s a teen in game terms. That seems to me to be old enough to start going to court and getting a feel for things. More importantly, it might force the two of them to have some conversations, which they seem to need.

    And while, yes, Vivianne would hate to be separated from her friends … if Lianne starts with a short visit, and sort of works her way up as the years go on, this wouldn’t necessarily be painful. It might even be fun!

    (Although I wonder — how long have the Finessas been in River Sulis? Vivianne and the girls seem to have known each other for a while. Are the Finessas moving around the kingdom all the time?)

    At least Lianne and Squeak are cute together. We’ve got TWO happy couples here, folks — Lianne and Squeak and Eric and Raven. That’s pretty darn good in my book! :D

    1. Marisol is complex. This is seeing her kinda at her best, where the Claire side of the de Ganises would be coming through. (Even if it’s more Angelique in manifest.) She does have potential for the positive. I didn’t ever intend her to be a Morgause. In both cases (Marianne and Lyssandra) she’s got two things going on, she’s squared up against Katherine who irritates her, plus she can and does, to a degree, empathize with both girls.

      She’s heard the kind of crap Caroline was laying on Marianne from her own mother and sister and she hated it. Plus she understands all too well what it’s like to be a de Ganis girl, and to be looked down upon for things you can’t control. (In Lyssa’s case it’s her bloodline, in Marisol’s case it’s the lack of dangly bits in key areas.) And let’s face it, she doesn’t have a very high tolerance for bullshit after years of it being shoved in her face constantly.

      Lianne does need to see that while her kids might’ve missed some of the easier to spot self-destructive traits, they’ve still got some self-destructive traits and these might actually be worse.

      It might be a good idea, but I’m not sure that she would think of it. In a lot of ways she doesn’t really realize that her daughter is growing up and she does think that court is a dangerous place for a kid. Plus, I think she’s worried about Vivianne getting lost in the shuffle, her time really isn’t a lot her own when she’s in Camelot. To Lianne, Vivi is better off at home with Squeak and her brothers still. (Which is my author’s way of justifying her continued blindness for a while because plot.)

      Besides, considering how she feels about her mother right now, I’m not sure Vivianne really wants to be stuck with her at court. She’d still be lost in the shuffle, plus she’d be without her friends and her brothers, who, they’re brothers but they’re decent to her.

      As far as how long the Finessas have been in River Sulis, the kids moved there when the twins started at the Academy (so about four years.) Squeak moves around a lot and Lianne spends a lot of time at court, but the kids have been all together there.

      Yes, they are cute together and there can never be too many happy couples. Well, so to speak, happy couples don’t make for a lot of interesting storylines…

      Thanks, Morgaine!

  2. Okay, let me see if I’ve got this. Lianne and Squeak are the parents of Vivianne, Severus, and Charlie, and the boys are twins… Marisol (I remember her name being mentioned in a not-favourable context, though like Morgaine, I was actually rather impressed by her here; secret badass side?) is the mother of Elizabet, Lyssandra is Annette’s daughter, and Katherine is the mother of Marianne and Caroline?

    (And Henry is… Katherine’s husband?)

    Whatever the case may be, there sure are some interesting dynamics here! I’m glad to see that while Squeak may have commissioned Bors’s clothing, he certainly hasn’t taken any inspiration from that corner in regards to his character (or at least how he treats his wife and children).

    Interesting that the Finessas keep moving around…

    1. Correct! Lianne and Squeak are the parents of Leo, Severus, Charlie, and Vivianne. And Marisol is the mother of Josh (from Darin’s post) and Elizabet, we haven’t met her husband Jayson yet. He’ll come up in the next few posts, um, four posts, I think. Katherine and Henry (who, yes, is Katherine’s husband.) are the parents of Caroline and Marianne, as well as Brandon, Edmund, and Julia who who haven’t met yet either.

      Sorry to drop a whole lot of character introductions into one post, but we’re starting the meat of a plot arc next post and I needed to get several introductions made before we started that. (Plus I have a hard time finding a balance between introducing characters and narrative… So sometimes they just get dropped in and we find out more about them in retrospect. Sorry about that too.)

      As I told Morgaine, this is pretty much the best of Marisol, she’s in a position where she’s defending, but she’s not scared of the offensive either. The more I work with her the more complex I find her. She’s supposed to be a neutral character, but not without the ability to be a secret badass or at least use her inner Angelique to knock a few pegs off someone like Katherine…

      There are some interesting dynamics, I’m hoping they’ll be interesting to follow through.

      No, I don’t see Squeak being a Bors to his wife and kids. He’s a Ferreira twice over. (His mother was a Ferreira as was his father. They were cousins. The Ferreiras are kinda the antithesis of the Bors side of the de Ganises in how they treat their families.) I just wanted to be able to make some jokes about Bors’s robes really. How would you take a man wearing that seriously.

      Squeak is an agent for the crown, he’s kinda a fireman for the king. The king sends him here and there to put out political fires for the crown. And we’ll see more about why he’s here in River Sulis in a few posts as well.

      Thanks, Van!

  3. Count me along the ‘impressed with Marisol’ team, though as I think about it, most of it was her just smacking down Katherine. (Not that it isn’t a worthwhile activity!) I’m having trouble not liking Lianne. She’s fairly screaming ‘oblivious’ at points, but she just seems so damn pleasant. If what she’s not seeing in her children becomes problematic… well, it’ll be fun to read how she handles things, but I won’t be envying her the experience.

    Katherine and Caroline should be the first Albionese in space – a one-way mission to an asteroid belt would do the trick.

    I have to wonder what Bors would think of Squeak marching around in his signature outfit. Actually, no. The idiot would probably be flattered to be imitated hundreds of years later, even if it’s by a guy named Squeak.

    1. Yeah, Katherine is kind of annoying, she and Caroline are me attempting to channel the kinds of characters you read in say an Austen novel where there’s some snobby, well born pain who thinks that her money and blood make her better, even when she’s in the company of people with more money and better blood. We’ll see what happens to them, though space is not currently on the itinerary.

      I’m glad that you like Lianne, she’s painfully blind but I wanted someone who was not such a strong, at times unpleasant, personality to fill out my last big noble family. (There are other noble families and we’ll see them, but they’re less important at this point.) I needed someone who would try and make peace between Katherine and Marisol rather than egg Marisol on or be a snob with Katherine.

      Actually, Squeak’s name is Firenze, at Morgaine’s request. But everyone, including his wife, calls him Squeak. You’re right though, Bors would never get that it was a joke, especially not a joke on him. Of course his robes are so timelessly classic that someone would wear them years later!

      Thanks, Winter.

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