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Thread: A Home Away From Home [ 09/7, afternoon, Baptiste Family ]

  1. #1
    House Baptiste Annemarie Baptiste's Avatar  
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    A Home Away From Home [ 09/7, afternoon, Baptiste Family ]

    The journey from Old Havenwich to South Huntswalk was not overly long nor taxing; Annemarie knew the roads between the two estates well. In some regards, it seemed only yesterday that she departed her childhood home for the Romanov estate and Wilhelm had come to the Baptistes for instruction. Gazing out over the lands that rolled from the manor as her mare cantered along the approach to the gates, part of her felt like a stranger now. This did not feel like home and had not for a time.

    The good news that her sister Eva was soon to return from Tuneric was conveyed simultaneously with her father's request for her to return to the family fold. Her skills were needed to assist in the production of the plague's long-overdue cure, granting her an opportunity to prove that despite her lack of physician's skills, Annemarie still had worthy contributions to make in the family's name. That sense of inferiority had not abated with the passage of years or the mastery of her skills; perhaps now she might earn the approval of her parents, something Annemarie longed to obtain in lieu of disappointment.

    As the pair passed through the gate, Annemarie waved off the pair of men sent to fetch her home. She offered no demurral, knowing they were sent for her protection but wished to make her arrival discreet. Let Eva enjoy the fanfare of the grand welcome, as she deserved. She merely wanted a chance to speak with her father and mother, and slip back into the framework of the family like she had never left.

    Reining in before the front, she slipped down from the saddle unaided, a nod thanking the groom who came to fetch her tired horse while she unstrapped the saddlebags that held what she believed she would need. Alexander had sent the equipment ahead of her packed in crates filled with straw to protect the delicate glassware; she would need to learn where she could establish herself. For now, it was enough to be here, a home away from home.

  2. #2
    House Baptiste Winston Baptiste's Avatar  
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    The sick were everywhere around them, one could hear little coughs as they rang through the houses at night. The city streets were no place to be and Winston was more aware than ever that the illness was spreading like wildfire. He was hearing of entire noble families dropping like flies and there was nothing that seemed to stop it. They'd fashioned some sort of elixir that seemed to slow it down a bit and make it slightly less contagious but this sickness still proved to be just as deadly as it were communicable.

    He'd been reading for hours the only time he took pause was when his wife passed by and it was simply to pinch her or harass her in some way. The rooms had been quiet as Yvette was sleeping and Henry was up to god knows what. The fireplace was clean but Winston was starting to feel bad for dirtying the servants good work. There was a slight chill in the air, it was damp, and he set down the book to light the fire on his own. With the logs stacked into the hearth he'd looked around for his flint and tinder, it was on a shelf somewhere.

    "Amelia my dear. Are there any of those little twigs left?" He knew there were and that they were only two feet to his left but he was using it as an excuse to coax his wife over to his side.

  3. #3
    House Baptiste Annemarie Baptiste's Avatar  
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    Annemarie moved quietly upon entering the Baptiste home. There was a pervasive hush over the halls, a silence that spoke of stress and strain due to long hours tending the ill with little progress. She understood well the frustration her family must be feeling; too many were dying with little hope in sight until now. Reluctant to disturb what rest was available to them, she handed off the saddlebags to one of the footmen with a murmur of thanks and then an inquiry as to her parents’ whereabouts.

    Armed with the information that the Lord and his Lady were in their chambers, she once more thanked the man and stole softly up the stairs to seek them out. Upon reaching the door, she rapped lightly, a glance to each side taken. It felt odd to be back here, the halls familiar yet with subtle changes that proved she had been away for a considerable time. There would be time, Annemarie knew, to explore those changes when the matter of the plague was resolved.

    Uncertain whether her parents slumbered, she waited for a response to her quiet knock, feeling a flutter of nervousness in the pit of her stomach. Thus far, she had not heard ill news of her family, or of any succumbing to the plague’s deadly effect, yet braced herself for the worst, whatever that might be. Annemarie thought she heard voices, listening with head cocked for permission to enter.

  4. #4
    House Baptiste Amelia Baptiste's Avatar  
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    With a look of affectionate exasperation, Amelia looked up from the papers that littered her lap. Reliable reports from the various cities were hard to come by, but what little they did hear wasn't good. In pockets, the plague was seemingly kept at bay, but in others it had completely ravaged entire holdings. And there seemed to be no pattern; for example, on the western coast of the island, the northernmost and southernmost holdings seemed to be holding out fairly well, while the lands in the middle had almost been completely wiped clean of people. That Lanwbury was to be largely untouched wasn't a surprise, given the seclusion in which Lord Pavon conducted his life, but one would think a busy port like Fort Chesbrook Springs would have suffered more than it had. So what was the key?

    Shuffling the papers into a pile, the older woman stood, her joints creaking quietly as she reassembled herself into a standing position. Usually she was more spry than this, but the long hours had made even her bones tired, and she was feeling older than her years. Crossing to the bin that held the kindling, she took a handfull and handed it to Winston, bumping him with her hip playfully.

    It was then that she heard a soft knock at the door, and her brow furrowed as she looked to her husband, the unasked question of who could be calling on them on her face. Stocking feet barely making a sound on the floor, she crossed to the door and pulled it open, her face lighting up when she saw her daughter standing somewhat nervously on the other side.

    "Annemarie!" She took only a moment to look and make sure her daughter wasn't holding anything delicate before pulling her into a strong hug. Amelia loved her children more than anything, and although she was proud to see each of them finding their own way, a part of her would always wish that they could have stayed small and under her roof forever. "Come in, child, let me get a look at you." Tugging her into their sitting room, Amelia scowled at the unlit lamps for a moment before seemingly pushing the complaint out of her mind. "How was the journey? Safe, I hope?"

  5. #5
    House Baptiste Annemarie Baptiste's Avatar  
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    Standing in the hallway of her parents' home felt... foreign. Alien, even, compared to the comfort she was accustomed to in Old Havenwich, yet there was much she knew well within line of sight. Annemarie knew this to be her childhood home, where she and her siblings grew, romped, played and learned from their parents the skills that made each of them a Baptiste. Despite that, she felt almost a stranger.

    When the door opened, revealing her mother, she solemnly searched Amelia's face for the initial reaction to her presence. The way her mother's lovely face lighted relaxed some of her tension as she returned the hug gingerly, a light kiss brushed to Amelia's cheek. Of a similar height, the similarities between her mother and herself were more on a mental level; Annemarie knew she bore her father's coloring of hair and eye. "Good evening, Mother." Her gaze shifted, lifted to fall on her father. "Father."

    She did not think she had altered considerably since her last visit with her parents, approximately at the time of King Lochlan's coronation when they'd reunited in Silesia. Had so much time progressed at that? Annemarie had developed Alexander's tendency to lose track of time while engrossed in her work; it appeared that time indeed had passed swiftly. Glancing back at her mother, she mustered a small smile. "It was tolerable. Father sent an escort," she nodded gratefully to her father, "so my safety was assured." Satisfying her mother's curiosity, Annemarie looked between her parents. "How bad has it become?"

  6. #6
    House Baptiste Winston Baptiste's Avatar  
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    Winston had stood when the knock came at the door a furrowed brow and a look of slight concern on his face. Who could be calling at this hour? When Amelia opened the door to reveal their daughter he traded his worried look for a warm smile and approached the pair slowly as they spoke. "Annemarie!" He greeted her from a distance as he knew better than to interrupt his wife's assessment of their child. "It is a pleasure to have you back home with us my dear."

    She'd mentioned the escort and he put his hands in his pockets before questioning her. "I do hope they behaved like gentlemen." He'd sent men he trusted but at times when men get bored they do and say foolish things to entertain one another and impress ladies.

    "It has not gotten worse nor has it gotten any better." He shifted his weight from one foot to the other and shook his head. "I am hearing early reports that some in Chatlawn Hills are falling ill and have sent a healer over to try to help them contain the situation. I only hope he gets to them in time." There was silence for a moment and Winston took in a deep breath.

    "No business for now. It is late Anne. Please, tell us, how have you been since we last spoke?" He held out his hand to his daughter and a little sorrow washed over his heart. She no longer stayed with them, slowly each of their children were leaving and there was nothing he could do about it.

  7. #7
    House Baptiste Amelia Baptiste's Avatar  
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    Satisfied that Annemarie looked well both physically and emotionally, Amelia's face settled into a warm, content smile that didn't seem like it was going anywhere anytime soon. Although the household was nowhere near quiet, and they still had Yvette and Henry living at the house - when they were not traveling about the country, that is - Amelia was never happier than when her family was all under one roof. Even though that were not the case right now, it was enough to have her daughter back in her home, if only for a little while. Soon enough the house would be full of people, all with the mind to find a cure to the plague. But for now all Amelia wanted was to spend some time with her family.

    Moving into the room, she hustled her daughter with her, bringing her out of the doorway and into the sitting room. As Winston spoke she completed the task of getting a fire going, for although the afternoon was still young, there was a chill in the air that lingered. A tea kettle was soon filled from the pitcher and put on a hook to heat over the fire, and only when that was done did she make to sit, gesturing to Annemarie to take the chair nearest them. She was keen to hear how her daughter had been. "Yes, how have you been?" It wasn't an infrequent thing, for Winston and Amelia to echo one another. They blamed all the time they'd spent together. "It seems like it's been so long since the Coronation. And Lord Alexander? I hope he and his family are still doing well."

    ----
    @Annemarie Baptiste

  8. #8
    House Baptiste Annemarie Baptiste's Avatar  
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    Physically, Annemarie was relatively unchanged. Emotionally, she could not say the same, but strove to conceal it from her parents. Fortunately, distraction might work on her behalf to prevent them from seeing straight through their middle child. Drawn into the room, she went to assist her mother as the afternoon lengthened into evening by lighting a few lamps while Amelia kindled the fire. The kettle set to draw, she moved quietly, placing one lamp where it would shed its light over what her father was reading, giving his hand a brief clasp and his cheek a kiss before moving to place the other where her mother was working.

    Once that was accomplished, she accepted the chair to which she was pointed and nestled into it. Glad to be off the horse and seated on something that didn't move, Annemarie welcomed the warmth spilling from the fire. The tea would be welcome once it was ready to chase the lingering chill from her form, but first, the questions posed required answers. "I'm well, thank you, but I fear the Romanovs are not faring well." Her eyes lowered, the sober sorrow on her face all too easily read. "So many of the family have succumbed to the plague, and I was powerless to help them." One after another, they fell ill and died, those left behind compelled to burn the bodies rather than grant the dignity of a funeral. Annemarie closed her eyes on the ache, on the sheer waste of it.

    Acknowledging that matters throughout Balfour were equally as grim if not more so, she sighed. If she felt helpless, she could only imagine how her parents, so much more adept in the healing arts than she, were feeling. Certainly their weariness showed, and the frustration emanated from them in brief, unguarded moments. How the Baptistes managed to elude the deadly disease thus far was a mystery to her, leaving her to fear they might prove the hardest hit yet in the aftermath. Lifting her gaze finally, she asked quietly, "When is Eva supposed to arrive?"



    @Winston Baptiste @Amelia Baptiste

  9. #9
    House Baptiste Winston Baptiste's Avatar  
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    Winston watched as the women set to work, his wife completing the task he'd started and his daughter lending a helping hand. It was strange how something so little, simple every day chores, could remind him of how much he'd missed his house being full of laughter and busy work. He still had two children left under his roof, one to be lord of the city some day and the other, well she hadn't decided what she would be best at, but he wished he could keep them all.

    His smile faded and he reached out to take Annemarie's hand. "My darling daughter. I know you tried. This illness is more resilient than anything your mother and I have ever seen." He would normally point out the necessity to burn the bodies but he realized it would bother his daughter too much. That it was the fact that these souls were not given rest that upset her so. He kept his comment to himself and took in a deep breath. "It is a shame that families all over Balfour are being met with such loss."

    The Baptiste lord felt shame as he had no answer for his daughter's question. He was sure Amelia had told him but at this point he couldn't remember for the life of him. He looked to his wife and waited in the hopes that she'd have the answer that Annemarie requested.

    @Amelia Baptiste

  10. #10
    House Baptiste Amelia Baptiste's Avatar  
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    Amelia listened with a heavy heart as her daughter spoke of her host family's struggles and losses. She had hoped the rumors she'd heard trickling in would have been unfounded, but it seemed they were not that lucky. "I'm so sorry, my dear," she said, reaching out and squeezing Annemarie's hand. "It is truly a senseless loss...and one all too many are feeling. But you mustn't blame yourself for being unable to help them. Thus far there hasn't been anything any of us can do." It was maddening, the sheer helplessness they all felt. So many people sick and dying, and the one family in all of Balfour that was known for healing could do nothing. All this loss of life, and they were powerless to stop it, or even really provide any meaningful comfort to the suffering.

    They sat together in silence, the weight of the tragedy that surrounded them pressing down on all of them. It seemed they would all be crushed under it, if something didn't change soon.

    "When is Eva supposed to arrive?"

    Amelia looked up, and saw the look on Winston's face, meeting it with a weary smile. "Not too long from now, I think." The prospect of another of her children coming home brightened her face, and she looked wistfully out the window, as if the mere act of looking would see Evangeline's progression down the road. "I wonder what stories she has of Tuneric. She didn't end up saying in her letter why they'd returned yet...I can't imagine the King and Queen would call them back, when we've hardly heard a peep from Moorford after it got locked down."

    ---
    @Annemarie Baptiste @Winston Baptiste
    Last edited by Amelia Baptiste; 06-03-2014 at 07:06 PM.

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