View Full Version : Something Has to Change (Victor/Celeste, 1/15, evening)
12-27-2010, 01:43 PM
Victor had put off this discussion for a few days, knowing that his wife was not going to suddenly stand up and change because he demanded it. Or asked. And the gods knew he wasn’t going to beg. Hell, if Celeste had any sense she’d pay attention. He needed someone strong to run the house while he dealt with the political battles that were brewing.
He supposed he could officially name Blanche, but Archibald was smart enough to work the implications of that. Blanche couldn’t be in two places, couldn’t run two households. And her daughters needed her guiding hand as much or more than the ladies of Castell.
“Celeste?” he called out as he entered their room. The evening meal had long been cleared away, but she could have been visiting a friend or sitting off in some parlor avoiding him. “Are you here?” he asked, as he crossed from the sitting area toward the bed. The lamp was out, and the fire was low, casting the room in dull shadows.
12-28-2010, 06:25 PM
She had been standing by the window, cast in shadow as the lamp had doused itself. Now only the fire crackled in the pit and Celeste was not surprised her husband had not seen her as he entered the room. Victor rarely 'saw' his wife, although most of her life was spent in his direct view.
For a few long moments she enjoyed this respite, between solace and his inevitable berating, before Celeste moved free from the slight chill of the window panes to move towards her husband.
"Victor," she said lightly, glancing in his direction as she moved past him, to relight the lamp upon her desk once more. Upon the oak, lay a few unfinished letters, the quill cast carelessly across the parchment.
12-28-2010, 10:12 PM
Victor watched as Celeste the lamp illuminated his wife. She looked beautiful, even cloaked in the melancholy she often wore around him. He thought back on the last seven years, of their struggles, his need to put her down, hers now to defy them. Together, they could have run the house like a well oiled clock. Instead, the house broke between them.
How many times had they attempted these talks? If he told her to be more Castell, she would throw that back in his face. If he threatened to divorce her over it, she might well accept, carrying his child or not. There was a wall between them, one that would not, or could not, be knocked down.
If he wanted Celeste to do as he wished... He would have to give.
He crossed the room to where she stood, waiting as though she expected nothing but anger and hateful words from him. And usually those would be the only words he had for her. But something had to change; he wanted her to change. He had to be part of that. “Celeste...”
How to even start? Victor was a man of pride. He never broke. He rarely bent, and only when the circumstances required it. Perhaps this was one of them. He reached for her hand, slipping his into hers, expecting her to pull away. “I have been looking to the future. I have been reminded I need to look to the present. And...” Avskar strike him down, opening up to his wife was harder than he’d imagined when he walked in the door. “I need your help.”
12-29-2010, 10:45 AM
She instinctively stiffened as Victor's hand reached for hers, but Celeste did not back away. Rather, she was mildly shocked by such an outward display of affection - clearly, he required something from her, something he did not think Celeste would be willing to give, otherwise Victor wouldn't have played into such mock shams of sincerity.
But Celeste was struck silent by his next words, and for a few long moments, she watched his face, waiting for the expression to drop. Her help? When had Victor ever needed her help? Part of her wanted to throw this, too, in his face; to snip about how he had never required her assistance before. Something sharp to make him cringe, set them back again. But Celeste was far too weary to even try. Her strength was waning, what from the constant travel and the early stages of her pregnancy, along with all the other trials it took to running the household of a man who didn't love her and a family who despised her existence.
"With what?" was all she said, her face drawn, and voice soft. Celeste was tired of fighting. She doubted his request was anything of importance, regardless. Victor did not trust his wife, and had never felt the need to lean on her before.
12-29-2010, 12:34 PM
“With the now.” He responded, his answer too simple to make much sense. He looked down at her, taking in the darkness beneath her eyes that gave away her exhaustion. Could she do what he needed? Could she stand up to Loralynn and Evelyn and Ariana?
“I need you to be more. We’ve had this fight before. We might have had it a thousand times if I had thought to ask you more.” He sat down on the bed and pulled Celeste down to sit beside him, his fingers still grasping hers. “The truth of it is that the House is running away from me. Evelyn has taken to misbehavior and Grayson’s antics have gotten worse. Donovan and Lexington and the others will be needed by my side soon...” he would not tell her his intent for war. Not until they were back in Trista. Not until she and the children were safely behind the walls of his castle. Not until he could be sure that she could not send word to Alrik. Here, her movements were harder to track.
“I need you to run the house... with a firmer hand.” Victor told her, moving to tilt her face towards his. “And I will support you.”
12-29-2010, 10:35 PM
She listened in silence, surprised that Victor would be so forthcoming with dissapointed words on his relatives' behalf. To be speaking ill of his own sister before Celeste, to show even that small ounce of weakness was damning to both Castells. Celeste would be a liar if she said she didn't find a momentary thrill of it.
"Forgive me if I find your words hard to believe," she said lightly, and for the first time, harboring no malice in her voice. "You have never before seemed so resolute to support my position in your household. Our household, rather, as it should be, but is not." His fingers grazed her chin, tilting her face towards him. Always possessive.
"There is nothing more I would enjoy than standing proud at your side as a head of this family. But you have yet to deem me worthy of such an honor. Why now, Victor?"
12-30-2010, 10:37 AM
"Perhaps a failure on my part,” Victor replied, knowing Celeste would cherish those words for the rest of her life. Admitting mistakes was not something the Lord of Castell did lightly. But tonight, with his wife, with what he needed from her, he would. “The past seven years you have been my wife only in name, and I your husband the same. The house survived, without issue, but the times are changing.”
Still holding her chin, he looked down into her eyes, thinking of her words. If she was being honest, things could change. If she could run the house, gain control... he wondered if even now he could trust her. Not yet. In Trista.
“I have leaned on Evelyn, Blanche, and the other women of the house more than I ever leaned on you. They are Castells, and you are not.” He paused, “But that needs to change too. Perhaps I never gave you a chance to show me you were worthy.”
12-30-2010, 12:01 PM
His words boiled in her chest, and Celeste felt an uncustomary flare of anger. The old her, downtrodden, beaten Celeste, would have preened at the chance to be considered 'Castell' enough for her husband. But it was too late. It was already too late for Victor to come to her and offer her another chance. Did she even want it?
Her blue eyes drank in her husband's face as his fingers held tightly her chin, orienting her gaze. This man before her was one of the most powerful lords of the kingdom, father to her children, her benefactor, provider. And yet this same man was also the one who struck her, who berated her verbally day in and out, let his family walk over her like a dirty doormat. Made her out to be less than noble, less than human. Did she owe him anything, anymore? Wasn't it more of a question of what Victor owed Celeste?
She couldn't leave him. She'd never had the chance but even now, as one hand settled over her abdomen, the tiny life beginning within her, another child of Victor's, Celeste knew.
"Perhaps you have not. You have a tendency to overlook that which does not strikingly stand out, Victor. Often, a foolish mistake. Are you attempting to tell me you now wish to give me this chance? This support?"
12-30-2010, 02:36 PM
“Yes.” The only word he needed to say. Had it been a year ago, when Celeste had been the carpet his family trod upon, he would not have granted her this. He wouldn’t have thought her capable. But now she looked up at him with a hardness in her eyes, as though she were finally ready to take on the world.
Or at least his family.
He could give her this. He could give her more if she could succeed. If she was the woman who could cow Evelyn and Ariana back to their places, then she deserved to stand beside him. “You have changed, Celeste. I have seen it. Felt it. I have fought with you because of it, but without that change you wouldn’t be able to succeed where in the past you failed. Now I believe you are stronger.”
He let go of her chin, but his eyes didn’t leave hers. “I will support you.”
12-30-2010, 03:37 PM
Something was terribly wrong. Or Celeste had made a grave mistake. These were the only two explanations for Victor's sudden change in behavior. Either he was setting her up for failure, or, ironically, Victor found himself with only timid Celeste to turn to. Both were laughable. There was little he could do to hurt her, now. She had already begun to shed the thin skin that was her former self. She didn't know whether to herald the change as wonderous or crippling. But what could be going so wrong that he chose her as his ally?
Regardless, now, her husband stood before, asking for her help. And she would give it. And, ultimately, he would regret ever asking for it.
"I have changed, Victor. I am glad you have seen it," she said softly, her eyes still locked on his face. And, in a gesture she despised but knew he would love, Celeste placed both her hands on the sides of his face and kissed her husband, gently, unprovoked for the first time in... years.
"I will not fail," she said, her voice low.
12-31-2010, 01:37 AM
“You won’t,” Victor replied, his voice as soft as she pulled back from the kiss. “Failure is never an option in House Castell.” His hands moved to her waist, to brush along the fabric of her dress. She could be truly lovely when she spoke with confidence. The ice that had been in her eyes had melted slightly, still there, hard, ready, but with softer edges. Either that or he was imagining that she was accepting a task he gave her, when before she might have spat it back in his face or nodded but done nothing.
Become the woman I need to be queen, he thought, as he bent to kiss her again, his lips grazing hers before he pressed harder. He was never a man for gentle, and the Celeste before him was far harder than any he’d seen before.
”The old Celeste would could not handle my sister, but this one,” he continued, stroking her hair, “Will not fail.”
01-01-2011, 08:39 PM
"Never," she said gently, with confidence in her voice. As Victor ran his hand down the tresses of her hair, Celeste leaned into him, pressing her body against his. Now, she could see the spark in his eyes, so often usually ignited when she shirked in fear or tried to spurn him.
"And why this sudden change, Victor? I thought you ran this household with an iron hand. Evelyn's behavior is... shocking, to say the least. From the details of what I've heard, of course." Celeste was lying. She barely knew any of what Victor was saying, the incident with Evelyn so fresh, for so often he kept her in the dark, and she, turning a blind eye to that which she didn't care about. But it was time to placate her husband, and play into his good graces. For the first time, perhaps ever, Celeste had the upperhand over her husband's god-awful sister, and she intended to exacerbate the situation to her advantage.
01-02-2011, 07:07 PM
Victor watched as she navigated him, her words as much as question as a statement. “her behavior was shocking, Celeste,” he replied. He was sure that rumors had spread through the castle, but he doubted any were close to the truth. “Apparently, Vadra has caught up to her, and she acted out. She has always acted a woman and a lady, and this time she acted the child.” He paused and then decided to tell Celeste the story, of how Evelyn slipped her chaperons and took substances she shouldn’t have. He left out his own private talk with her and what was said, focusing only on the events that occurred that night.
“I have never been so disappointed with her. And I have decided that part of that failing is the lack of control you have over the house. And the lack of respect they give you. That much change.”
He brushed her cheek lightly with his finger. “The iron hand was easier when everyone was in Trista. With this traveling, with the political landscape of Forsilvra shifting, I have not had the time to keep them all in line.”
01-03-2011, 09:22 PM
Celeste listened quietly as Victor told her the story, logging away each detail for later, when it would suit her.
"It is very surprising. I'd never have thought her to be the type of girl so easily... swayed, by her emotions. But perhaps, as you said, it speaks to the lack of control I have held within this house. That will change."
She paused. "Perhaps it is time you married her off, then, Victor. She is young, but not terribly. And now two changed engagements? Matthias Ashpool is a fool, but you should not have let her out of it. People will begin to think she is unbearable. And to think, all those years of courtly education, to waste, if she is deemed unmarriageable by society." Each word was placed for meaning. Celeste watched her husband's face now, and her eyes closed as he gently brushed her face. "Perhaps you should let me... look into her situation. For you."
01-04-2011, 08:04 PM
“You must demand their respect,” Victor told her. “I can order them, but they will not truly abide unless you truly take control. I believe my sister needs structure, and you are the rightful one to provide it.”
He paused and then nodded. “I have considered another marriage for her. But I am not ready to ship her off just yet. Not while she’s... fragile.” Matthias Ashpool could go to hell for breaking down his sister. “Matthias is a fool, and he treated Evelyn like garbage. He didn’t deserve her hand. I didn’t break the marriage to let her out of it. I broke it because Matthias Ashpool left her roaming around the castle instead of protecting her.”
He glanced back at Celeste and frowned. “You are interested in making a match for Evelyn? Anything I agree to will have benefits.” For me.
01-04-2011, 10:48 PM
"And it will, husband," Celeste said in return, taking a step back from him, moving across the room towards the fire. With her back to him, Celeste smiled lightly. "Have I ever been anything less than faithful to your needs? I wouldn't propose something that I didn't think was worthy of a Castell." She glanced over her shoulder at him. "You said you intended to trust me, didn't you? Trust me now, Victor. You can give me your faith or don't. But you said yourself what will happen if you do not."
She moved now to the fireplace, resting one hand lightly on the mantlepiece. The aura of the fire burned on her face, and Celeste watched the flames dance, mirrored in her eyes. "And while you may have broken the engagement because of your own... personal reasons, Victor, it doesn't change how it looks to others outside this family. You have always been one to mind appearances. Why stop short now?"
01-06-2011, 08:50 PM
He stepped up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I will trust you, then, but understand my expectations are high. They always have been.” He leaned down to brush his lips against her cheeks. “Look at the Sanseverino’s then, my wife. Galeazzo has dropped hints that his son and heir fancies Evelyn. I’d like to know if the match is truly possible. Perhaps you could befriend his niece?”
It was a suggestion, one that Evelyn seemed to agree with, even though Victor knew she’d wed anyone he asked. But he wanted her to be happy, especially after the last disaster. “I’ll also need you to keep the other Ladies of the province under your wing.”
01-06-2011, 09:30 PM
"Sanseverino? Interesting," Celeste said lightly, her gaze still fixated into the fire, but leaning back into Victor's strength. His lips brushed the side of her face, and momentarily she closed her eyes, savoring the tenderness of such a gesture. You can only love me when I stop being myself and start becoming you.
"And of course. Obviously. But one step at a time. I will hold a tea for some of the ladies of the house. It is shocking what a woman is willing to divulge over a nice array of pastries." Celeste would be mindful of her choices. But never Evelyn. Even though she was a lady of no man's house, Celeste would make her sister-in-law pay for her treatment since she became Lady Castell.
But of course... all steps in due time.
01-08-2011, 03:42 PM
He was pleased. Celeste rarely pleased him, but if she would finally acquiesce to this one demand, perhaps they had more of a future than he’d hoped. Not that he would ever love her. Not that he would ever truly care. But he needed her to accomplish this task for him, to drive home the discipline of his house, and she would need him to succeed. If anything, they could find some mutually beneficial ground. He knew she wouldn’t complain about having him behind her this time
“I would be interested to find out. I need to speak to Lady Paige myself and Lady Ayala myself.” He let her go for a moment to pour two glasses of wine. A dark red had been brought to their room that night and Victor handed one glass to his wife.
“Perhaps a toast? To improved relations?”
01-09-2011, 11:56 PM
Celeste took the offered glass with a light smile. "Consider it taken care of, Victor," she said, watching him move. She raised her glass in return, and caught his eyes.
"To a mutual understanding," she said in return, clinking the rim of her glass against his before lifting it to her lips. Celeste never once took her eyes off of her husband. She knew better.
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