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Thread: Matters Preying on the Mind [ 9/4, noon, Edward/Catherine ]

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    House Fairfax Catherine Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Matters Preying on the Mind [ 9/4, noon, Edward/Catherine ]

    Aware that Edward wished to speak with her privately, Catherine easily arranged to elude Victoria, not a challenging task when one considered the younger sister's lack of patience with the elder. Taking courage firmly into her hands, she tidied herself after a brisk walk through the gardens and to the markets, leaving Victoria to her own devices and entertainments, then went in search of her brother.

    Uncertain where he might be found in light of his revelation earlier that morning, his intentions to speak with Lords De Angelis and Durand on matters of business, Cat drifted through the halls until she returned to the chambers allocated to the Fairfax family. Slipping in as quietly as the Cat for which she was often called, she paused to listen for sounds of her brother's presence within the rooms, trusting she would not be interrupting some tryst with the previous evening's playmate.

    Hearing nothing, Catherine called tentatively into the lingering silence, "Edward? Are you here?"

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    House Fairfax Edward Fairfax's Avatar  
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    The woman from the previous night's tryst had been dismissed. He was bored of her. The woman had a gorgeous body and offered plenty of physical delights, but it was not ... enough for him. The woman had no spirit, no soul, no mind. She had been far too easy to woo into his bedchamber. It had been fun, certainly, and yet lacking. It was frustrating. Edward had never felt like this before. What caused it? What triggered it?

    When Catherine arrived, he was settled at the same table at which they had breakfast. A thoughtful gaze was fixed upon the window though he was not looking at anything in particular. Thoughts were racing through his mind. It was as though he were trying to sort out a puzzle in which the pieces and rules constantly shifted. He had also forgotten that he told Catherine he wanted to see him. Thus, he was lightly startled when he heard her voice. His dark brow furrowed.

    Oh, yes. Cat. "I'm in here, Cat," he called out, turning his gaze back the window.

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    House Fairfax Catherine Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Following the sound of her brother's voice, Catherine hesitantly approached the sitting room. When she paused in the doorway, she noticed that he was precisely where he was seated upon her departure from the table. Wondering at it, she inched around him to blink at him. The look on his face made her tense; it was a look that she did not like in the least. Whatever he wished to discuss did not promise to be pleasant, if she was any judge of his expression.

    Steeling the spine Victoria did not believe she possessed, she laid a hand on the back of an unoccupied chair and permitted her gaze to linger on Edward's face. "You wished to see me?"

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    House Fairfax Edward Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Her voice once again distracted him, making him furrow his brow. "I did wish to see you, yes." He took a moment to study her, realizing that she was tense and nervous. It made him chuckle, a charming and warm smile came over his face. "Cat, please, sit down. It will do me no good to feel as though I am talking to a statue!" Fortunately, he did not return to gazing wistfully out the window once again. Instead, he maintained his focus on her.

    "How was your day? I recall Victoria saying that you were going to take advantage of the day. Did you find anything of particular interest?"

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    House Fairfax Catherine Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Her brother could be the epitome of charm, but it was seldom unleashed on her. Catherine smiled weakly and obeyed, sinking to the edge of the chair she'd gripped to regard Edward with quiet curiosity. Statue? She was hardly that, but admittedly, she was easily the most quiet and reserved of the Fairfax siblings. Charisma was not among Catherine's virtues; that was instead bestowed on Thomas, Edward and Victoria. She had other virtues, she knew, but wondered briefly if her siblings would ever recognize, let alone come to appreciate them in her.

    The question posed, she lowered her eyes. "I walked down to the lake for a time. It's quite lovely there, and Victoria was able to meet some of the others. She went down to the markets with them, and I took advantage of the time to enjoy the gardens. Nothing special, just... nice." She paused, then inquired, "What of you, Edward? Have you been here since we left?"

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    House Fairfax Edward Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Edward listened to her, his expression one of quiet interest. As he did so, he was studying her. Edward would be a first to admit that they did not speak to each other enough. Most of his attention was diverted to matters of the duchy or his more effusive siblings. Little Cat, however, frequently escaped his notice. Yet, he had to wonder. She did not possess the Fairfax beauty, but Edward had always felt there was something about her eyes. Not necessarily their innate beauty, but how sharp they were. It was so easy to bear witness when one was not... seen.

    "Yes," he replied honestly, his face strangely devoid of emotion. "Yes, I have. I've spent the entire day thinking." Suddenly, he leaned back, his eyes narrowed in thought as he gazed at his sister. "Cat, I am going to ask you a favor. It is going to be a strange one. Tell me what you think of me, truly."

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    House Fairfax Catherine Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Ill accustomed to his scrutiny, Catherine sat uneasily under his regard. All too often overlooked by her brother, she discovered she preferred it to that speculative, assessing stare. Aware that she was easily the most plain of the Fairfaxes, she embraced her obscurity. Now he strove to pry it from her for reasons not yet revealed. She rather enjoyed knowing that everyone in the family save Thomas underestimated her, or more, dismissed her as unworthy of the heritage and name.

    An entire day thinking did not surprise her; Edward was occasionally prone to stretches of introspection, typically about his business or his paramours. On a more infrequent time, Victoria's latest caprice. The request of a favor put her on her guard, but she nodded cautiously, waiting for him to reveal what he wanted. Sure enough, a strange one indeed. He wanted her thoughts on him? Catherine regarded her brother warily for a moment. Where was this going, and was it intended as some kind of trap?

    "Why do you ask this of me, Edward? Surely that question would be better put to cousin Xavier, or to Victoria."

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    House Fairfax Edward Fairfax's Avatar  
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    That was an interesting response, indeed. Edward smiled. "Because you're my sister, Cat and I know you watch me. You watch everyone. I am curious as to what your observations are about me." He paused, realizing that he was not making it easier for her. Instead, he would simply make her more cautious. "Look," he sighed while leaning forward again. "I took a lover last night, a married woman who was bored and unhappy. Yet, while I was having her, I was thinking of another I met that same night."

    He paused again, "This woman is beautiful, no doubt, especially her hair and eyes. The smile is unlike any I have seen, but all the same, appealing. I thought I had my conquest for the night, so to speak. Yet, this one was unlike any of the others there. Sly, creative, crafty and a positive delight to speak with. I was ... surprised. Every bone in my body told me that I had to have her... and I chased too hard. Scared her off." He waved a hand, looking out the window.

    "Normally, I would just forget about it and move on. Yet, this time I cannot. Something about the encounter is sticking with me and I am trying to figure it out. As such, I ask you: what do you think of me?"

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    House Fairfax Catherine Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Catherine's discomfort level increased exponentially when Edward pressed her to divulge her opinion and observations. Her gaze slid from his, feeling his presence loom over her to make her sit more rigidly. This conversation was proving increasingly uncomfortable, moreso when Edward spoke of his last night's entertainment. She knew better than most of her brother's proclivities for the fairer sex and his penchant for married ladies, but seldom revealed what she saw or heard.

    Listening to him rhapsodize over a woman who resisted his charms and occupied his mind while he was engaged with still another woman surprised her. It was not like Edward's charm to fail him, nor for any mere woman, be she married or otherwise, to distract him from his accustomed habits and pleasures. Raising her eyes, Cat examined her brother's face, recognizing stunned fascination in his eyes. She had never heard him speak of a woman in that manner before. Had her brother finally met the woman who could resist him?

    It seemed so, leaving him to wonder what caused his failure. Catherine sat silently in thought, then spoke in a low tone. "You are too accustomed to choosing women who are bored, Edward, who do not present a true challenge, so you have never had to exert yourself in their pursuit. And perhaps this lady is not impressed by flimsy charm and meagre effort. There is a great deal more to you than you present, but you never let anyone see it. Perhaps it is time for your true self to show. The man who is Lord of Suffolk, the head of our House."

    She fell silent once more to allow him time to digest what she said. In one respect, he was correct - she saw a great deal, keeping most of it to herself.

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    House Fairfax Edward Fairfax's Avatar  
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    There it was. There was the mind behind the face. Edward had always wondered about Cat, though he couldn't pin down why he didn't take the time earlier to explore her depths. Perhaps because he was too busy being Edward Fairfax, the gift to women and so forth. Gift to women. Ha. That was a rather arrogant notion, even for him. To be certain, Edward was more than capable of providing a plethora of prurient pleasures. Yet, was that all he was to be? A man of hedonism?

    Thus, Catherine's words made him fall silent. It was several moments before he spoke, "I tried too hard last night. I tried too hard to remain that man, to remain a ... a ... " he took a second to search for the appropriate word, "hound." The thought of it made his nose wrinkle vaguely in disgust. "I felt mildly disgusted with myself when I woke up this morning with that woman in my bed. Hm. Perhaps you're right. Perhaps it is time for a change. I wonder if I'll have the opportunity to prove her wrong." Edward's gaze turned briefly speculative.

    "But," he said, a tight smile forming, "I am not going to make this all about me. Part of why I had to talk to you is because of your future, Cat. Do you recall a good friend of our father's? Robert Morgan?"

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    House Fairfax Catherine Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Edward had always been handsome, thus he was seldom overlooked. The same was true of Victoria and Thomas, Catherine knew. She was not beautiful, possessed of no striking or extraordinary features, lacking Victoria's fiery personality, Edward's charm and Thomas's humor. Life for her meant being utterly forgettable, invisible and grossly underestimated. Accustomed to it, Catherine had learned to use it to her advantage, honing eyes and ears to glean every morsel of information available. For now, she kept it to herself, but now that Edward seemed aware of her ability, she wondered what he might do about it.

    Her words had not fallen on deaf ears, fortunately. He swiftly grasped the implications behind her words and understood where he had fallen short with the as yet unnamed lady. If her words served to guide him into rising to the expectation on him as their lord and leader, so much the better. Perhaps Edward would now look to rein in Victoria before she landed herself in trouble to a depth well over her head. That would be a conversation for another time, however.

    The shift in topic made her blink at him. "Yes, I remember Sir Robert very well. But what has Sir Robert to do with me, or my future, Edward? What future?" To the best of Catherine's understanding, her future was at Suffolk, retiring to the dowager house once Edward married.

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    House Fairfax Edward Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Victoria would be another matter to deal with, but that was for another time. Edward didn't need Cat's insights there since Victoria made her opinions and thoughts about various matters known very keenly. He also knew that Xavier had been feeding ideas into her impressionable head. Victoria's fire was a thing of beauty, but it could be equally destructive if not controlled properly. Ah, the joys of being the Lord of a House.

    Edward paused a moment, gesturing for her to wait a moment while easing to a stand and retreating into his chamber. A few moments later, he came back out with a few papers. One was a letter from Robert Morgan and the other seemed to be some sort of contract. "Apparently," he began, settling back into his seat, "Our father and Sir Robert made an agreement. It was to be revealed well before now, but circumstances did not permit it." He paused, debating how to break the news to Catherine.

    He decided to be gently forthright, "Cat, there is an arrangement for you to marry Robert's son and heir, Rhett." It meant a future for her. A house to run, a family and a life... something that Edward was not certain would happen for her. The agreement was placed before her.

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    House Fairfax Catherine Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Fortunately, Victoria was Edward's difficulty with which to contend. Catherine did not envy her brother the task of checking their sister's rasher impulses and headstrong nature, though their cousin Xavier did little to aid in the matter. He encouraged Victoria far too much for her own good. Perhaps she ought to express that concern to him...

    Bringing her attention back to the moment when Edward returned with the papers, she gazed down at them before raising her eyes to his inquiringly. What could a contract possibly have to do with her? The revelation however took her by surprise, her heart plummeting into her stomach. A marriage for her? To the Morgan heir? They had concealed it from her, but why? Snatching up the contract, Catherine read it word for word, feeling dread mount within her. She had never met the Morgan heir before, now she was to be wed to him.

    She scarcely felt the agreement flutter from her fingers to the table's top, her face gone ashen. Horror darkened her eyes as they met Edward's. In the letter, Sir Robert expressed that he would come to fetch her from Aston and bring her back to his home to begin her acclimation to her future. Her days, apparently, were numbered.

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    House Fairfax Edward Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Truth be told, Edward was not certain how Cat would react to the news, but he was not expecting to see the look of horror on her face. Edward's thoughts raced. How could he comfort her? What would the right words be? They may have had a poor relationship, but Edward was not a cruel or harsh man. His sister was scared. "Cat," he started, reaching out to take her hand into his own. "I know you've never met him, but you and I both know that the Morgans are a good people. They have been very good friends to our family."

    He wasn't certain how comforting those words would be. If their positions were reversed, Edward wasn't certain if he would be quiet as much as resigned to his fate. He would have to marry eventually. The thought made him feel a little sick in his stomach, but for different reasons than Cat's. Yet, they would both ultimately feel the same thing: fear. "I know it's frightening."

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    House Fairfax Catherine Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Of course she was frightened! Catherine knew that an eventual prospect of marriage would be likely, but this was a settled affair, conducted long ago without any notification to her. She was not fond of surprises as a rule; this was more than a surprise, this was a blow from which she had no warning or opportunity to brace herself. Though she was aware of Sir Robert Morgan, made his acquaintance several times, Catherine had not - to the best of her recollection - met his son. She knew nothing about this man who was to become her husband.

    Her fingers were icy and trembling in Edward's grip when he surrounded them with his own, her eyes failing to meet his. If he deemed his words a comfort, then he would do better to think otherwise. They offered no comfort, but there would be no evasion of this responsibility either. Words were slow to come, barely whispered. "It... it is an honor, I am sure. Father was thinking of my future well-being." Whether Catherine sought to comfort herself or reassure Edward, she was not fully certain, but the words were the correct ones.

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    House Fairfax Edward Fairfax's Avatar  
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    At least, for her sake, he was acknowledging her very real fear. Edward studied her for very long moment, seeing that she was consumed by a very real and very understandable fear. The man was speechless for several moments, "Is there anything I can do for you?" He paused, "I am afraid I do not know a great deal about Rhett Morgan, since he has not made many, if any, appearances in Court." That would not assuage Catherine's concerns any, but Edward was frankly at a loss for what do for her.

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    House Fairfax Catherine Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Her mind raced with thoughts of what Edward could do for her; none of them were plausible in the scheme of things. The agreement was written, signed, sealed. To break it was an unthinkable breach of honor, something Catherine could not ask of her brother, however frightened she might be of the situation. A slow, hesitant shake of her head was given in refusal of his offer. There was nothing realistically that Edward could do for her that would not cause further problems. "Thank you, but... no. Ah..." Catherine lifted her gaze to her brother's cautiously, "does this mean I will not be returning to Suffolk at all?"

    The prospect was not very inviting, but better to know the worst now, Cat felt. If she was indeed to be married, as the agreement said, then she should begin to prepare for that life. Perhaps it would prove a blessing in disguise; she had never truly fit at Suffolk. Perhaps she would thrive in the Morgan household as she had never in the Fairfax household.

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    House Fairfax Edward Fairfax's Avatar  
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    "I don't see why that would be the case," Edward answered with a thoughtful frown, "The Morgans have always been friends of the Fairfaxes. Suffolk, whether you are married or not, will always be a home to you." Granted, Edward wasn't so blind about Cat's feelings on the family. The quiet sister of the family had always been distant, but ... Edward had slowly come to realize that the blame could not and would not be placed upon her. Perhaps Thomas had been right all along: Cat had been grossly underestimated.

    "I also do not know if Rhett will be in the party coming to retrieve you," though Edward did hope that would be the case. Edward had a feeling a discussion with Robert was going to be in order.

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    House Fairfax Catherine Fairfax's Avatar  
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    She referred to after the party at the Sheridan estate, but drew reassurance that if matters truly proved unbearable, she could retreat for a time to the comforts of Suffolk if need be. It would not be the home she had, yet she could appreciate the respite it offered as a means of temporary retreat. "Thank you," Catherine murmured to her brother's words, her head bowing quietly. Perhaps it would prove for the best; she was often ill at ease in the company of her sister, all too well aware of Victoria's propensity to view her in a negative light, and Edward's tendency to simply overlook her. Cat did not take it as insult, merely accepting it as a fact of life.

    A nod indicated that she heard what he said in regards to her future husband. "I am sure that the Morgans will ensure that I am...retrieved safely, and take care of me."

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    House Fairfax Edward Fairfax's Avatar  
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    Edward looked at her with an oddly wistful smile. "It seems a great many things are starting to change around here," he observed quietly. "I grow tired of the man I have been for the last several years, as it has not brought me any real happiness. Victoria is ready to be let loose upon the world," no doubt due to Xavier's influence. Edward's lips pursed with a brief sort of annoyance at that particular thought. "You have been overlooked for just as long, if not more so. Now, you are to become the future Lady Morgan."

    He nodded slowly, "If ..." he paused, thinking. "If you become truly unhappy with your betrothed, Cat, you let me know. You let me know and I come for you." Cat was his sister, Cat was his family, regardless of their past issues. He was protective of his sisters, no matter who they were.

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