View Full Version : We meet again... | 1.11 morning | Aurelia, Christopher
12-08-2010, 04:54 AM
The horses had arrived safe and sound, only a few being lost along the way. But they were the old ones, the ones not expected to make the journey as it was. Launce was there to meet him when the ship had made port, but after briefing him on the horses, he quickly went to greet his daughters. Christopher had avoided mentioning Adrienne at that time… They would later have that discussion over dinner. Launce handled it as well as one could expect, but after many assurances that Matthias was an honorable man (hard to convince considering this honorable man had vanished with Adrienne…), he calmed down slightly.
Other than that, things were going smoothly and the castle was in the stages of preparing for the wedding.
Christopher, however, needed a break. He normally took them in the greenhouses which is where he was headed now. Sadly, the greenhouses in Orqua weren’t as homy or familiar to Christopher as the one he kept back in Saefa, but it would do for his needs. Unfortunately, he had not been the only person to think to pay a visit to them, and now he was looking right at a woman he had not seen since Alska… A woman he’d gone out of his way to avoid. But there was no avoiding her now.
“Good morning, Lady Aurelia.”
12-11-2010, 04:51 PM
Aurelia was lonelier than she’d expected to be. As much as she enjoyed Amelie’s company, Amelie was the Lord’s sister, and Amelie’s future husband had also made the journey. So she found herself wandering the gardens of Orqua, as she’d always done when she needed time to think about the future. So much had changed in the past six months, and alone she finally had time to wonder how her life had tumbled into chaos so fast.
This was her first time away from Ozzie, and it felt more liberating than she’d ever imagined. She looked down at the heir ring on her finger, the symbol of her union to the man who, when she really thought about, had taken everything away from her.
Stepping into the greenhouse, she ran her fingers lightly over the petals of a growing flower. Even in the depths of winter, when the world outside was cold, the greenhouse managed to maintenance a sense of the warmth. Plants were so much like people. The most beautiful on the outside could be the most deadly on the inside. Some were tall and loud and displayed their colors for all to see, while others crept in the shadows until they could twist their way around trees and bushes and choke the life out of them.
Yes, people were definitely that way.
Suddenly, there was a voice behind her. Aurelia whirled around, her eyes landing on the familiar face of Christopher Mallory. She instantly felt her hackles raising, for as much as she’d tried to avoid him, her association with his sister inevitable forced them closer than she’d have liked. But this... this was too close. Especially in her current state.
“Good morning, Christopher.”
12-11-2010, 11:05 PM
Clasping his hands behind his back, he walked steadily passed her, looking over the flower she’d been observing before. It certainly made him think of the first time he’d met her, how they walked the gardens… And what that had led to. It was that which he regretted most, and looking back on it, it still confused him even now. It had taken him a while to figure out what had truly come over him that night, why he had done what he did. Not that an explanation would matter…
“You’re looking well,” he said, slowing and turning to glance at her. It was true. Lovely as ever. Even though there was something amiss. Before, there had been something about her that had drawn him to her. A fiery spirit, a magnetic smile, fervor in her eyes. Now she looked hollow… empty. It actually concerned him, but he wouldn’t comment.
“Have you enjoyed your stay in Orqua so far, my lady?” That would do for mindless banter. Though it’s not what he really wished to say to her… Not by a long shot.
12-12-2010, 04:40 PM
“You lie well. If I didn’t know better, I might believe you,” Aurelia replied, staring straight him. She had nothing to hide from this man, no matter what their past was. And in the grand scheme of things, their one night of misery was nothing compared to what Ozzie and Matthias had put her through. That thought was jarring enough to make her wonder why she cared so much about Christopher and what he had done.
“I am here for your sister, Christopher, and no other reason. If she hadn’t asked, I would have gladly skipped your wedding and returned home with my husband. But Amelie is a friend, a good friend, perhaps the only one I have, and if she needs me I am here. There is no need for you to stand there and pretend you’re happy that I’ve come, or that you wish for me to enjoy my stay, or your castle, or your wedding. As soon as she no longer needs me, I will be departing.”
12-14-2010, 12:32 AM
He was not bothered by her unwillingness to be cordial. He believed she had every right to be upset with him. “Not a lie at all, my lady. Perhaps you don’t know better.” He looked down at her into those eyes that had once been filled with vivacity and youth. It was as if she’d lived fifty lifetimes in such a short time. It was wisdom behind her glance, but a sad wisdom. But given what he knew of her story, he couldn’t say anybody would emerge emotionally or mentally unscathed.
“I am not pretending, Aurelia. I know why you are here, and I have not deluded myself to believe it is for any other reason but Amelie. But for precisely that reason, I am grateful to you. Amelie means the world to me, so we find common ground at least in caring about her.”
12-14-2010, 10:50 PM
“I know enough Christopher. Unless you have become a different person since we last met. Always possible. I can’t promise you I’m the same woman, but I can say that I can bite as hard I could then if I have to.” Amalthia knew she wasn’t even close to being the same woman; fun and flirty Aurelia had somehow vaporized, and deep down Aurelia still wished she would come back.
Not wedded to Ozzie though. Not anytime soon. Nemea was already calling her, a place for her to spend her days wandering as a broken soul, abandoned by Matthias and cherished by a husband who could not love her.
“And for Amelie’s sake I tolerate you, Christopher, and nothing more. Had you but set aside your raging ego for just a few minutes, I might have seen something worth remembering in you, but alas, I still see a man who thinks himself better than the world. Or am I wrong?” She was almost taunting him now, daring him to disagree, daring him to tell her he was not the man she believed him to be but the one his sister always spoke so highly about.
12-15-2010, 12:42 PM
“I think it would be safe to say that,” he said, thinking back onto how he was back in Atra. As he’d said before, it seemed like so long ago. He most definitely was a different man then than he’d become, but for better or for worse he wasn’t sure. The point was, back then, he had only his ambitions. Now he had what he wanted, but he had to be more than just for himself. “I don’t doubt it, Aurelia. Your eyes have the quality of somebody who has been forced to change too quickly.” He knew it was probably forward to say, but they’d never had issues with being forward with one another.
He didn’t do anything as she continued. Just stared at the plant behind her, considering the answer to her question. He wanted to be a righteous man. He once had been, back before his brothers had died and his father had left everything to him.
“I don’t think that,” he told her, looking at her again. “But it must seem that way… I have to make it seem that way or I’ll be eaten alive.” Which was true. These province lords seemed to hone in on weaknesses. He knew what they’d thought of Lennox. He would not share the same assessment. “You know better than most how our world works. How one must present themselves to these people. And I have no choice but to play along if I want to leave behind a better world for my son.”
12-15-2010, 06:10 PM
“Am I that transparent?” Aurelia replied, the hint of a smile on her lips. Amalthia help her she had changed if she’d become a walking book. Never one for emotions, Aurelia had spent her entire life living behind walls, and if they had come down for anyone besides her husband she’d probably break.
Then again, she was already broken. Not that she wanted Christopher to have anything to do with fixing her. She would leave that to Amelie, and maybe in the future, her husband. “You play the games because you have no choice? Really Christopher, that’s a narrow way to look at the world for someone who prides himself in having such open eyes. The games are there because people play them, not because they exist and people have no choice. Or now that you’re a province lord you fancy yourself like the Castells?” She rolled her eyes and turned toward the plants, brushing her fingers over the flower again. She taunted him, but his words were true enough. Stand your ground or they ate you alive.
Either that or poison their tea.
She tilted her head toward him again, searching his to see if his words rang true or if he was cutting her again. But there was nothing there but what appeared to be honesty. Not even the hint of the games he had played with her back in Alska. “You should have never let me go.”
12-15-2010, 11:33 PM
“No, not really,” he assured her. “I just recognize the look.” He would not go further into detail than that, but how often had he looked into Victoria’s eyes and seen that same expression. She’d been forced into a situation no woman should have been forced into. Her father wanted the match with the Mallorys so much that he was willing to have her sacrifice so much… too much. And in the end, it had destroyed her. She lacked Aurelia’s strength and will to survive it.
He only smiled. “My eyes are still open, Aurelia. Only more focused now. I must keep my sights in very particular places… Particularly on those who would seek to destroy my family. Before it didn’t matter. It’s a luxury I no longer have.” Now he laughed and said, “I’m afraid I’m still nothing like Victor Castell.” Not in any way, really. The one thing he did wish for was the influence the man had. Christopher at least respected that. “But since you seem to know so much about them, you could then understand why the games are necessary.”
He bit his lip, not looking away from her, but the smile in his eyes vanishing. He took a deep breath and said, “I know… I never should have. But then, I never should have played games with you in the first place. I dishonored you in many ways, and I still regret that… And I always will.”
12-17-2010, 01:19 PM
She said nothing for a moment, searching his face for some hint of a lie. What had compelled her to say those words was a mystery to her, but his answer only served to open the wounds they’d both inflicted on each other. Aurelia had chosen to play. She had given Christopher the opportunity to hurt her however he wished. She simply hadn’t expected him to succeed.
And she hadn’t expected herself to care. She’d never cared before.
And Christopher had been before Matthias had cut open her heart or Ozzie had stolen her soul. To think that even before Vadra she might have started sinking... “I wanted to play,” she finally admitted. “Your rejection is what dishonored me.”
12-18-2010, 03:19 AM
Christopher just glanced at her now, and then shook his head. “If that’s all you wanted, Aurelia, then you dishonored yourself.”
12-18-2010, 01:52 PM
She should not be having this conversation with him. Not with Christopher Mallory. She should be walking away, forgetting the past, thinking only of the places her feet would walk from here on out. But she felt drawn to him now that they were alone, in the same way he’d attracted her attention that day in Vadra. She wanted to beat him then.
She had no desire to beat him now.
Aurelia turned away, her blond hair tumbling down her back free of the hood her cloak, unnecessary in the warmer air of the greenhouse. “You saw a side of me I don’t often show, or at least, I didn’t often allow the other person to know who I was.”
12-18-2010, 10:22 PM
He sighed. “And you saw a side of me that you shouldn’t have. I realize what you meant to be… What you intended. And I realize it was never supposed to be more than that… You saw the darker side of me, Aurelia, and that’s a side I’ve never been much proud to show. I have seen how our world treats women, but I was raised by a woman who I loved well, who meant the world to me. Because of my mother, I promised myself I would never reduce a woman to less than who she was, to treat her worse than she deserved to be treated. Even if you were asking for it Aurelia, you didn’t deserve for me to treat you as a whore.”
His gaze met with hers. “I couldn’t go through with it…”
12-19-2010, 09:04 AM
Aurelia lifted her eyes to his, listening silently as he spoke. “You couldn’t go through with it... for me?” She replied, half disbelieving him. “Because the impression you gave me, was that tossing me out the door like used trash, like a whore you decided wasn’t worth the gold coin in your pocket, was for your own amusement and not because you were trying to save me from eternal corruption. You think, Christopher Mallory, that I should truly believe you had good intentions!” Her voice was rising now, as if all the stress of everything she’d been through was welling up inside her.
It wasn’t Chris. It was Matthias. It was Ozzie. It was the walls she’d put up between herself and her family, walls she let only a few men crumbled down.
Walls she wanted to keep between herself and Christopher.
Yet, she met his gaze, eye for eye, as though daring him to be honest. Daring him to admit that somewhere inside him he had relished the thought of sending her, a young girl far too full of herself, out into the night defeated.
12-19-2010, 03:16 PM
“It was mostly for me,” he said honestly. “As selfish as that sounds. I didn’t go through with it because of the guilt I knew I would carry with me later. It would be a lie to say that I have not laid with a few women, but it would also be true for me to tell you that every woman I’ve ever laid with has meant something to me. Even in the smallest measure, I have loved the women I have been with.” With one exception, of course, but he’d been married to her, so it was out of duty then. “Eternal corruption is a strange way of putting it. I may have gone about it the wrong way, and I felt as if I had to at the time, though looking back, I was mistaken to do so. Sorely mistaken. But it really comes down to my selfishness… I could not let myself be with a woman I meant nothing to… And in turn, I could not be with one who meant nothing to me.”
He could see that she was angry, and again, he felt she had every reason to be.
“If we could do it again, knowing what I know now, I’d change most of it. From the moment you walked into my room, me knowing your intentions, I should have sent you away then. But… if I had… it is likely you still would have felt slighted.”
12-19-2010, 11:39 PM
Part of her was confused. He’d admitted he’d left for himself, but not for the reasons Aurelia had always believed to be true. Still, it was his own guilt that had prompted him to shove her out, and none too lightly. And he’d made it seem as though he didn’t care at all. Aurelia reached for her pendant, instinctively, knowing Amalthia was watching this, testing her as always.
“It wouldn’t have mattered, Christopher. I came to your room because you invited me. It wouldn’t have matter when you sent me away. There is nothing you can do, or change, because what happened happened.” She looked up at him, her eyes trying to search more than just his guilty conscience. “The question is whether or not I will ever choose to forgive you.”
12-25-2010, 06:24 AM
He nodded, looking away again, but this time, not looking at anything at all. He was deep in thought, the events of that night replaying in his mind. It’d been so much easier to play games… But he’d gone too far with this one. “I suppose that is the question,” he said, nodding slowly. “I have apologized for what I have done, and that is all I can do. I never expected you to forgive me… I didn’t tell you I was sorry for your forgiveness. I said it because that’s how I truly feel. How you choose to process the apology is up to you, but I will not force you one way or another to accept it or not.”
12-26-2010, 10:52 PM
Aurelia closed her eyes for a moment, letting his words wash over her. To not forgive him would be like her, but after Matt and Ozzie... how could she hold this tiny thing against Christopher Mallory? He had hardly touched her; he hadn’t held her heart and then let it go. He hadn’t held her body and nearly killed her. He had wounded her pride, but the others had stripped her completely bare.
She’d have been better off playing games with Christopher Mallory, than loving Matthias or caring for Ozzie.
Her eyes opened again and she regarded him. “I am not the same woman from Alska, who would have hated you forever for what you did. I will accept your apology Christopher, because I believe you when you say you’re sincere. And because I need to let go of that night, like so many others of my past. I am a wedded woman now. There is no reason for me to care of games long past.”
12-27-2010, 03:15 AM
He nodded, his eyes seemingly seeing her for the first time. “No. No you are not that same woman. And I do assure you, I am not the same man. Then I believed I knew everything. I thought I knew who I was, what I wanted.” He smiled sadly. “Now I’m painfully aware of the very many things I don’t know. Aware that the man I thought I was is not the man I have become.”
He could see the pain in her eyes, and honestly, he wished he could take it from her. A woman as young as Aurelia should not have had such old eyes, a wisdom that only heartache and loss could produce. The scars would only fade, but never vanish. Her heart would heal, but not completely. She was forever marred by those who had harmed her, and even if he had not played a major roll the hurt she was feeling or had felt, he still felt guilty.
“You truly are a remarkable woman, Aurelia. I am glad my sister has you to lean on.”
12-30-2010, 12:34 PM
“I lean on her as much,” Aurelia replied. “She is also an amazing person, and truth be told, if we had not met in Alska, I would have assumed much the same as you for all that speaks highly of you. I suppose that letting one mistakes determine the rest of our... relationship, would be something that the people we were would do. Not the people we are now.”
She turned to Christopher, watching him as he looked into her eyes. She could see his own struggles there. His knew position perhaps, watching his sister leave for House Castell, the burdens of dealing with the King, or maybe something else. His soon to be wife? She couldn’t knows, but she wondered all the same, just as it appeared he was wondering about her.
“You wish to know why I’ve changed.”
12-31-2010, 01:50 AM
“She is exceptionally good to lean on,” he said. “She is my dearest friend. Was when we were children, and always will be, I know.” It would be so hard accepting she wouldn’t be right down the hall. It had been extremely hellish those months she’d been away at the chantry, leaving him alone to deal with his bitch of a wife who constantly reminded him that she held the power to ruin his life and his world all in but a few words. He’d needed her then, but when he needed her most, she had come. “Amazing how quickly a person can grow…”
As their eyes met, he knew she could tell what he was thinking, and not long after, she confirmed it. He nodded slowly, but then added, “Perhaps it’s partly that. Some part of me wonders on your happiness. I know that when a person changes, it’s impossible to change back. But I at least wonder if you are happy… And if you’re not, what can be done to make it be so. You’re much too young to have eyes that wise.”
01-07-2011, 10:57 PM
“Much has changed for me in the past few months. I have been ripped from my home, warded, wed. And now that I am away from House Severne...” She ran her hand over the floral petals once more, her eyes shifting back to meet his.
“Have you ever had something happen to you that changed everything?”
01-10-2011, 03:53 AM
Christopher stepped closer, right next to her as he watched her touch the flower. “Yes,” he said simply.
“I was a third son… I was not born to take the reins of my house, to direct the future of my family. When I was a child… All I wanted was to be a scholar… Or a doctor. I studied so hard, begged my father to send me to the citadel to train. I earned a few degrees, but I wanted more. I was voracious to learn… I wanted to dedicate my live to being a scholar, to give up everything and just do that. But then Jason died… and then Edvard… And I had no choice but to return home and be the man that my older brother was supposed to be. I was not supposed to be the one at the head of my family… But everything changed in what seemed like an instant… The man I am now… This was not the man I once was…”
01-12-2011, 07:20 PM
“I never wanted to wed,” Aurelia replied. “I just wanted to have fun. Instead, I ended up the bride of a man I should have never even met. Strange how life goes. You will never be that person again, and neither will I. I can only hope that the people we continue to be, will be better than the ones we have become.”
She reached a hand up to touch his face, her eyes boring into his for a moment. “I forgive you. You no longer need to place blame on yourself for anything concerning me. The broken woman in front of you was not, and never would have been, your doing.” She pushed up on her toes and kissed him lightly on the lips, quickly, as a sibling might do. Her husband would care little, but he was betrothed.
“Until next time, Christopher Mallory.”
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