This Diamond Ring

This diamond ring can mean something beautiful. And this diamond ring can mean dreams that are coming true. And then your heart won’t have to break like mine did

Hybel 6th, 1513 – Fitz-Chivalry estate, River Sulis, Lothianshire, Albion

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The summer sunlight streaming in the windows hit Caroline’s tinted hair, exaggerating the brassiness of the tinting and highlighting the sallow color of her face over the mourning dress that Katherine insisted she wear. The forced laughter didn’t help any. If he lived to be ninety, Brandon would never understand why Katherine insisted that Caroline and Leo be chaperoned. All they ever did was sit and have awkward discussions until one of them lost their tempers. Then one of them would stalk off and sulk and the other would go home.

It was usually Marianne who was stuck with watching this sad pantomime. But she had protested that she had plans to meet “a friend” at the library this afternoon when Katherine had announced that Leo would be coming over and that she was expecting Marianne to chaperone. Well, it was phrased as a request, but all of the Fitz-Chivalry children knew when their mother said something in that tone, it was a demand and it would do them no good to protest it.

She’d looked so disappointed that Brandon had heard himself volunteering before the words had really even finished leaving Katherine’s mouth. Marianne had looked so grateful that he hadn’t even felt bad about subjecting himself to an afternoon of torture. At least until the torture started. He thought as his eyes flickered up over the top of the book that he was using as a shield against his sister and her inane chatter.¬†

Even now, though, it wasn’t that he was upset at Marianne, she suffered through this every time Leo came around, no, he reserved that for his mother who really thought that this madness was necessary. Leo wasn’t going to ravish Caroline on the parlor sofa with their father in his study in the next room. First of all, he couldn’t imagine any of the Finessas ravishing anyone, which was why he didn’t have too many concerns about the fact that the “friend” Marianne was probably meeting at the library was probably male. And he’d have laid pocket money it was Severus, who probably would have genuflected at Marianne’s feet with more seriousness than at the altar.

Second of all, Henry was in the next room and if Caroline so much as coughed uncomfortably, he’d stick his head out the door to see what was going on. And thirdly, Leo wasn’t stupid. Not to mention that Leo didn’t even seem to want to kiss or touch Caroline, so ravishing her on the sofa was probably as likely as a fae becoming an ironsmith.

So far they’d covered the weather and Leo’s classes at Camford and whether Caroline was enjoying her Hybel break. It all made one of Brother Loki’s lectures seem like a night out at the tavern.

“Um, I think that my mother mentioned that Lord Rance was–a cousin of yours?” Leo said, obviously grasping at straws for something to talk about.

“Well, a second cousin of my mother’s, I think.” Caroline’s eyes flickered in Brandon’s direction and he made a show of turning the page in his book, the last thing that he was going to do was help Caroline out here. If it had been any of his other siblings, he probably would have, but even at Edmund’s most annoying, he held no candles to Caroline. She was on her own here.

“I’m sorry.” Leo said running his finger over a crease on his breeches.

“Well, getting struck by lightning just sort of happens, right?” Caroline said. If she only knew, Brandon thought to himself. If she only knew… “I mean, it’s sad but I think that getting struck by lightning is just–it’s your time, you know?”

“Er. I–I guess?” Leo said awkwardly staring at the arm of the sofa.

“Your father does–something for the king, doesn’t he?” Caroline asked cocking her head to the side.

“So does yours.” Leo said, eyes narrowed slightly.

“Well, aye. But Daddy does stuff for the king in Reme, not in Albion, I was just wondering if–if your father had said anything about Garth.” Caroline asked.

“Who?”

“Cousin Milford’s younger brother.” Caroline told him.

“Nothing…” Leo looked hard at Caroline. “Why?”

“Well, I heard that the council wouldn’t want Adelina for Richard’s guardian because of Rance being near the Reman border.” Caroline said. Brandon frown slightly. Why would Caroline be listening to something like that? Caroline had less interest in politics than pretty much anyone else Brandon knew.

“That–may be.” Leo sounded guarded. “So you’re hoping that they find him?”

“If they don’t find him–doesn’t that mean that they would have to move Rance’s estate to–someone else?” Caroline pressed. Brandon’s eyes flew wide as he figured out what Caroline was asking a half moment too late to stop her from saying anything further.

“Wait–are you saying what I think you’re saying?” Horror crossed over Leo’s face. Unfortunately Caroline, being so shallow if she were a puddle you could cross it in stocking feet and not get your stockings wet, could hardly be deep enough to be saying something else.

“It’s not that I’m hoping they won’t find him, but if they don’t, somebody’s got to attend the estate, if the Rance’s can’t, then there are people who could.”

“I cannot believe, Caroline!” Leo gaped. “I know you want your father to be granted an estate, but to hope that your own kin lose theirs because your father might get it is repugnant.”

“What is repugnant about practicality?” Caroline asked as Brandon mimed for her to stop.

“You wouldn’t know practicality if it bit you in the arse!” Leo’s tone rose sharply.

“Do not swear in front of me, sir!” Caroline gasped.

“That is the very least of the profanity I would like to use directed at you right now. What kind of self-centered bitch would even think that? Certainly not one I would¬†ever care to marry.” Leo climbed to his feet staring down at Caroline.

“And no gentleman, and I do use that term quite loosely, I would care to marry would ever use that kind of language in front of a lady.” Caroline also rose.

“It certainly doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t marry you under any circumstances. Vivi was right about you.” Leo snarled at her.

“Of course, go hide behind the jealous convictions of your precious little Vivianne.” Caroline planted her hands on her hips and sneered.

“Why would Vivi be jealous of you? You’re stupid, rude, self-centered with a mind too shallow to drown a worm in.” Leo said, throwing his hands in the air and storming away. “My father will contact yours about dissolving the betrothal contract. Good day to you, Miss Fitz-Chivalry.”

“Good day to you!” Caroline called before dissolving into tears and throwing herself on the settee. “MOTHER!” Brandon stared at his sister then at the ajar parlor door.

“Brandon?” His father’s voice came from the study door, barely loud enough to hear over Caroline’s hysterical crying. He turned and walked into the study, shutting the door after him when his father mimed for him to do so.

“I am sorry, sir.” Brandon sank into the chair.

“Don’t be. I could hear well enough that I could have interceded if I really thought that it would help anything.” Henry sighed and picked at the cuff of his shirt. “This thing has been falling apart for long enough that I was almost expecting this. Maybe if I move quickly I can repair relations with the Finessas, though I’m certain that your mother will want all contact with them cut off as of immediately.

“But–if we cut off all contact with them–won’t we be losing our chance at ever becoming ennobled?” Brandon asked. “With the close ties that the Finessas have to the crown?”

“Quite possibly. We do live in a monarchy and no matter how much we like to pretend to be above nepotism, it does still exist.” Henry steepled his fingers and stared at the ceiling for a long moment. “Your mother–I hate to put it this way–but your mother is Reman. And the only thing more important to a Reman than power–is revenge.” He sighed. “I have worked in the Reman court too long not to know that. Right now, to your mother, cutting ties to the Finessas for their supposed slight to Caroline will be far more important than whatever help being in good relations with the Finessas would put us in for eventually being ennobled.”

“So–what do we do, sir?” Brandon asked with a wince to the particularly shrill pitch Caroline’s sobbing hit in the next room.

“Well, truth to tell, this couldn’t have come at a worse time, I received a dispatch this morning, I’m going to have to go to the embassy in Reme for a month, six weeks maybe, to hopefully keep the Remans from poking too many sticks at Rance until Garth can be located or another suitable guardian instated.” Henry admitted with a sigh.

“… The Lord Wright has a very peculiar sense of humor, doesn’t he, sir?”

7 thoughts on “This Diamond Ring

  1. I feel like writing. I feel like drawing. I don’t feel like shooting. Hopefully my inspiration to shoot will come back. Hopefully trying it this way, with only one header image will work out a little better than when I tried this with IWBY if it doesn’t. *sighs* Although I am setting myself a limit. If I can’t do an update once a week or I just really get tired of the story, I will put up a spoiler post and tell you what all happens. I just hope it doesn’t come to that.

    But for now, at least it’s an update, right?

  2. Yes, yes it is.

    And well … it’s probably just as well that this ended when it did. Leo and Caroline would have never worked even if there wasn’t the ickiness between Leo and Caroline. And any descendent of the Ferreiras deserves better than a Babette clone.

    Hopefully Katherine won’t say or do anything that actually raises the ire of the Ferreiras too much. I have faith in Henry and Squeak, they’ll make things right between them as long as Katherine keeps her nose out of it. Hopefully Henry can get to Squeak and ask him to ignore anything his wife says until Henry gets back.

    Besides, we all know that hope of a Ferreira/FitzChivalry alliance isn’t as dead as it appears to be. ;)

    1. Oh, I think that the Finessas will take the whole thing with a grain of salt (and probably some tequila given that this is Caroline/Katherine and also Leo wasn’t entirely lily white here and I think that Squeak will know that after talking to Leo and Henry (which he is plenty clever enough to do before raging to the king and preventing them from ever being able to get their own land and what not.)) The Ferreiras don’t spawn that kind of fool, they just don’t.

      Very true. Caroline and Leo were about as likely to float as a boat with a hole in it. Maybe they’d have stayed up for a whole, but more than likely they’d have sunk before they’d ever really begun.

      I dunno if Katherine will keep her nose out of it, this being Katherine and all. But I think that Squeak will keep an open enough mind to know that a rage-y Reman being rage-y doesn’t mean that there is open warfare on all channels and will wait and see what Henry has to say. Especially as he was the one who encouraged Hector to send Henry to Reme right now.

      There just might be some other way those families might still get that alliance. some way…

      Thanks, Morgaine.

  3. It really sounds like you’re pressuring yourself with this. If I can offer a crumb of advice from my own experience? Don’t. If you won’t be happy if you don’t update weekly, then that’s your call. If you can’t make it work, then you should walk away. There’s no point in doing it if it makes you miserable. But, I know my worst times writing are when I feel like I *have* to do something – I crank open the game, stare at it for an hour with something half-done, and then rage quit and accomplish nothing. I’ve sat on things that needed only half an hour to finish for days or weeks because I was teeming with Do Not Want. The only thing that helps is permission to not give a fuck about what I’m stuck on – for an hour, a week, whatever it takes. Sometimes that means working on something else or just no update for four weeks. Whether you decide to press forward, shooting or not, or to call it quits, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of the story you’ve given us all. Your next step, I hope, will be what you want to do on your own terms, on your own time, and not what you feel like you have to do right. this. second.

    Caroline, you stupid twit! Was she trying to be clever? It felt like she was channeling Mary Crawford right then, with her mouth too big for her head. I can’t imagine she bothered with something so unladylike as politics without having a purpose, but to think that sort of statement would help? Marianne’s tea-taking will ruin them, but not this? And her mother, for all her machinations, is going to be just as bad on the spiting-her-face scale.

    I too hope Henry can convince Squeak to ignore whatever Katherine does/says in his absence. And Marianne, since this will be presented as the end of all hope with Severus and her friendship with Vivi.

    And speaking of Vivi, I wonder if Leo will be going to ‘tell her how right she was’?

    1. Oh, I’m really not pressuring myself too much. I just know that if I don’t set myself some limits I’m likely to trail off as I did with IWBY and never pick it back up. I’d like to have a bit of closure on the story. Stories I don’t end in some way sort of sit there and nag in the brain for a while.

      I figure if I have the ideas (which I do, for the next half a dozen updates at least.) the time, and even the slightest bit of inspiration, I can put a couple hours a week into writing something. In fact the not wanting to pressure myself is sort of why I haven’t even opened the game in like a month. I just haven’t felt like it. Sometimes I’ll go wander through some of my favorite blogs/Sim-tumblrs and see if I get any inspiration, but I mostly do that because I enjoy looking through other people’s pictures. Promise I’m not like “you must write NOW. You must SIM NOW.”

      I’ve been working my way through several games my brother loaned me and just enjoying the down time. If I feel like simming, I will. I’m really being rather chill about it, despite how it might have sounded.

      Yeah, there is just a wee teensy bit of irony here isn’t there. Taking an extra cookie at tea shall damn us to hell. But this whole mess… it’s nothing, really. Katherine, as Henry pointed out, is actually very Reman. And Remans have committed treason and overthrown governments for less slight than cussing out their daughter and telling her she’s an idiot. Add to that the fact that Leo “broke Caroline’s heart” and there’s enough reason to start calling in favors from poisoners.

      Caroline didn’t really think before she spoke. *gaspshock* And if this were not her baby, Katherine might think herself. But nobody attacks Caroline. Nobody. She’s gotten into fights uncounting with Marisol because of Elizabet and her lack of patience with Caroline which isn’t very smart either.

      As I said to Morgaine, Squeak understands how vindictive Katherine can be when spited and he’s smart enough to know that Henry stands behind very little that Katherine says when spited. He’s not going to burn the bridges, in fact until he has a very clear idea that Henry supports anything that Katherine says, he’s likely to stand on the bridge tossing buckets of water on the fires Katherine tries to start. He doesn’t need another enemy in River Sulis. As Henry doesn’t support anything Katherine will try and start, I think they can probably work it out later.

      For their parts in it, Ferreiras don’t give up on people they care about very easily. After all, this bunch is descended from a pair who, well, one of them broke into a heavily warded workroom and stole Elixir of life for his granny and the other was ready to go do battle with the fae to get the guy she loved back. It will take more than Katherine to end this for either Severus or Vivi. (And I don’t think that Marianne will give up that easily either.)

      We shall see what happens with Leo and and Vivi hopefully in the next update. (Or we’ll at least see what happens afterward, I’m not sure whether their actual chat will be the update.)

      Thanks, Winter!

  4. This update didn’t need the pictures.

    Well, I can’t say I’m sad about the end of Leo and Caroline. Not at all.

    And hey–if Henry finds out about Marianne and Severus, there’s the problem solved right there. To hell with whatever Katharine thinks.

    And speaking of Katharine… she’s disappointed when one of her other children volunteers for an unpleasant job she had earmarked for Marianne. Yeesh, was Marianne a four-day labor or something? That sounds closer to genuine hatred than merely having an unfavorite.

    1. No, it probably didn’t, though I do rather like how the Fitz-Chivalry’s parlor looks, so it might have been nice to show that off, even if it didn’t really need pictures.

      Actually, it was me not being very clear on wording. Marianne was disappointed so Brandon volunteered. Kathrine wasn’t disappointed that Brandon volunteered. In a way I think that Kathrine’s reaction would have been closer to happy that Brandon would volunteer to spend his afternoon chaperoning. After all, that means that things going well for Caroline is important to Brandon. (Which it isn’t–at all–he was doing it to spare Marianne hell, not for Caroline.)

      But that’s not how Kathrine would have interpreted it.

      Although as far as the dynamic between Kathrine and Marianne goes, it’s actually a little more abstract than that. Marianne is very much her father’s child in demeanor, personality, and values. And quite honestly Katherine is not that fond of Henry in a lot of ways. She thinks that her parents sold her short. SHE is a scion of house Gwynedd, one of the original founding members of the Albionese court and her mother’s family is very high ranking in the Reman court as well. Why should she have been married off to a man who is barely clinging to nobility, why should her son not have a title, lands, and fortune waiting for him when he comes of age. Her daughters should have lines waiting for their dance cards at parties.

      She should have been married to a man to whom her pedigree was appreciated not to some–diplomat that her mother’s family probably snubs when walking through the market. In a lot of ways the dynamic between Kathrine and Henry is a lot like Medea and Octavius’s, without the mental illness factor. And rather than throwing this in Henry’s face, she throws all of it in Marianne’s face because her daughters have the privilege of being like her, why would they want to be like him?

      Thanks, Van!

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