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Thread: Facing Past and Future [ 9/4, Afternoon, Marianne and Charlotte, OPEN WITH PM ]

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    House Hunter Charlotte Hunter's Avatar  
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    Facing Past and Future [ 9/4, Afternoon, Marianne and Charlotte, OPEN WITH PM ]

    The last several days had been a whirlwind of dancing, music, food and wine. Marianne and Charlotte had arrived with two things primarily in mind: establish a strong presence for the Shelltens and ... to have a good time. Parties were as much about making a political statement as they were about enjoying life. Marianne had grown and blossomed into a confident, beautiful and capable young woman. Charlotte had no doubt that the Princess would make her mark on the kingdom, and Charlotte was looking forward to seeing what that mark was. Like with other young men and women in the past, Charlotte yearned to give her friends wings with which to fly. It seemed that Marianne was flying strong.

    This left Charlotte to her own devices and enjoyment. A handsome knight proved to be just the distraction she craved. They dallied, they played and life, as it always did for Charlotte went on. Eventually, she returned to the chambers to which they had been assigned, remembering that she had some dresses to mend. The day, however, was beautiful and the breeze still held its warmth, which she knew would vanish in the coming months.

    As such, she opened a window in the sitting room, prompting a bright smile to form on an elegant face. Marianne's dress, her sewing kit and a small glass of tawny were obtained next. Likely, Marianne would want to wear this dress during some evening and thus, Charlotte set to work. Quietly, she hummed to herself. Her young lady would show eventually, and Charlotte was eager to do a spot of gossiping.

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    Rousing late in the morning, Marianne allowed herself the rare indulgence of lingering in bed until well past noon. Drowsing after her rather eventful night, she felt her lips curving in a sultry, satisfied smile before stretching languorously and pushing back the sheet to gain her feet. A hand reached for her robe, aware that a bath would be desired before the final revelry of their sojourn in Welch Run. From here, they would begin to travel north, a slow and easy passage through the various estates of Tuneric with the intention of arriving first in Stone Forge to attend Gisela's meeting, then winding up in Aston for the festival to join Cailen, Nataliah, Vivienne and Vera.

    A need for sustenance and a desire for something to quench parched throat sent her out into the sitting room where her gaze immediately fell on Charlotte. Her lady in waiting was easily her dearest friend and companion, the warmth between the two unmistakable as Marianne went to embrace her from behind. A cheek rested on Charlotte's tawny hair as she noted the deft movements of hand plying a needle. "I'd tell you to let the maid do that, if I didn't know you felt you could do a far superior job of it." Her voice was low, raspy with wakefulness as she released Charlotte, dropping into the chair opposite her.

    The fresh air was welcome to her, her face lifting for a moment to enjoy the whisper of a breeze against her cheek like a lover's kiss. Blue eyes returned to Charlotte, a smile adorning her features still. "You shouldn't have let me sleep so late."

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    House Hunter Charlotte Hunter's Avatar  
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    Charlotte continued to work her needle with aplomb despite hearing her princess stir in the depths of her chamber. When the door opened, she heard the soft movement of her delicate feet approaching from behind. Since she had that warning, she did not have to completely stop until only after Marianne had embraced her. Charlotte's hand slipped up to brace her friend's arm as a sort of acknowledgment. "Ah, see? You have learned much about me over the years," she quipped playfully, a grin dancing across her lips.

    When Marianne settled into her chair, Charlotte resumed, "I've already summoned a meal for you. I had feeling you would want something sweet and light, so fruit and pastries it is. Tea is on the way, too." Her own own expressive eyes flickered over her friend's form, noting the robe and her relaxed posture. Good. Her night had gone well. "Why not? Do you have something particular pressing today that I was not aware of?" She gave Marianne a playful smile. "Besides, sleep is one of life's many pleasures. Its embrace is so alluring, especially after a long night."
    Last edited by Charlotte Hunter; 05-07-2014 at 03:14 PM.

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    Charlotte was Marianne's anchor to the world in many aspects, not the least of which was a guiding light in the murky depths of Tuneric's politics. Regardless of what actions Cailen took, or did not take, Marianne kept an eye and an ear open to the reactions of those whom he affected. Her intentions were simple - to prevent disgruntlement to the point that others intended action against their King. That was her version of loyalty to her cousin despite the distance, both emotional and literal, between her part of the Shellten family and the main branch. Ever grateful for the gift that was Charlotte Hunter, she kissed the woman's cheek lightly and nodded to her words.

    A slim hand patted away a last yawn, her smile equal parts drowsy and sly. "Tea would be good. Fruit and pastries? Delicious." She was indeed relaxed, her eyes languid thanks to a night spent in good company. "Not that I know of, but we will be departing Welch Run for Stone Forge, I believe. I'm not ready to return to Hebron, and the Sheridans will be having their festival soon. We'll be late, but no matter. Cailen is not likely to attend, as I understand he intends to depart for Balfour."

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    House Hunter Charlotte Hunter's Avatar  
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    Charlotte smiled, quietly pleased that Marianne approved of her selections for the morning. Upon the mention of their next destination, the needle's path faltered for a moment, almost pricking her finger in the process. Stone Forge? That was the home of House Hallward. Nonetheless, she maintained a pleasant, if not serene expression. "Stone Forge?" She asked, her voice laced with understandable curiosity, "What sparked your interest in that destination?" The Sheridan festival was dismissed from her mind at the moment, though there was a good bit of gossip to be had there.

    Instead, Charlotte's mind drifted into the past... to old friends and dangerous ideas. Gisela was at the foremost of those memories, recalling the vivacious, but mysterious brunette. They had been good friends, reaching a mutual understanding especially once Charlotte planted the seeds of freedom in her young mind. However, when those seeds began to bloom in earnest, Charlotte had grown fearful of the consequences. Allison came next, being one of the fruits of the tree. Then Hamilton darkened them.

    The needle moved. The pattern was maintained precisely.

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    The brief falter passed by Marianne unnoticed, a sure sign that her brain had not yet fully engaged for the day. Marianne was typically more perceptive than that. The curiosity swamping her lady's voice drew her gaze back to Charlotte with a lazy smile and a shoulder lifting in a shrug. "I was invited to a... gathering, you might say. Not to mention that we have not ventured there in a very long time, Charlotte. The Hallwards are a fine family, and it is on the way to Aston." In a roundabout fashion, true, but she was not about to be gainsaid on her intention.

    The look on Charlotte's face sparked Marianne's mind to puzzle over the thoughts behind it. Reading Charlotte could be a challenge even at the best of times, yet there was something in her face that defied comprehension. They did not know everything there was to learn about each other; Marianne respected her lady's privacy and expected the courtesy in return. However, she thought she noted some fleeting darkening on the lovely features, inquiring gently, "Is there something about Stone Forge that I ought to know, Charlotte?"

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    House Hunter Charlotte Hunter's Avatar  
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    Charlotte was silent for several moments as she continued to work the gown. It was clear that she was thinking over how to approach this. It was clear that Marianne intent on going to Stone Forge and it would be entirely against Charlotte to circumvent that. Still, she was quietly troubled. "Marianne," she began, her voice low and quiet. "I am going to ask you a question on promise that I will reveal my entire reasoning posing said question." It was clear that it was not an easy choice, but ... Marianne was one of her dearest and most trusted friends. It hurt Charlotte not to be open with someone on certain things. The needle was put down as she lifted her gaze to the lovely Princess.

    "May I inquire as to who it was that extended the invitation?"

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    Before her first cup of tea, Marianne was not the most perceptive of women. Charlotte's reaction had not yet fully registered on her awareness as she gazed lazily out the window at cottony sheep decorating an azure field in which they grazed. The low tone finally snared her attention back to her lady in waiting, blue eyes clearing somewhat as it occurred to her that something seemed... off about Charlotte at the moment. What it was, she understood, could be revealed once the question posed was answered.

    Aware that Charlotte had her secrets, Marianne opted seldom to pry into those unless they could result in harm or scandal for her lady. She was curious, understandably so, yet respected Charlotte's privacy until such time as her lady deemed it time to make her revelation. Sitting up straighter, she scrutinized Charlotte's lovely features as the question was posed. Why it should matter, Marianne was uncertain but shrugged elegantly.

    "Gisela, as a matter of fact. Why do you ask?"

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    House Hunter Charlotte Hunter's Avatar  
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    As soon as she heard that name, she let out a breath and moved to a stand. She couldn't sit any longer. Gisela had found Marianne. Well, it was hardly a surprise, the two of them were like minded in many ways. The window was Charlotte's next destination as she thought on her answer. "And I presume you'll be meeting with Allison Hallward in Stone Forge?" The smile was a faint one. Perhaps Allison and Gisela's movement had grown into fruition after all. She folded her hands together at the waist, not wanting to appear as though she were fidgeting.

    "I met Gisela several years ago in Huntstown, she was a friend of Dorin, my cousin. She went through a difficult time and I helped her," Charlotte did not go into the specifics of that. "A few years pass, Gisela returns and has brought along Allison Hallward. They have a plan to put into motion, give women equal standing to men in the kingdom. It was ambitious and I knew it was right in my heart. Yet, I ... declined to join." Charlotte lowered her head, her expression something akin to shame. "I feared retribution from my lord brother if he were to find out."
    Last edited by Charlotte Hunter; 05-13-2014 at 06:56 AM.

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    Fully awake now, Marianne narrowed her eyes as Charlotte abandoned table and sewing in favor of the window and unseen thoughts. Still patient, she refrained from comment, aware that in waiting, her unspoken questions would receive answers. Despite the question posed, she believed it to be largely rhetorical, as the mere mention of Stone Forge was response enough; the estate was known to be the home of the Hallward family. The smile did not fool Marianne for a moment; Charlotte was deeply concerned, bordering on frightened.

    Fortunately, Charlotte began to speak, divulging thoughts and concerns on the matter. Questions formed yet were not posed; there would be time enough for that once the revelations were digested. Charlotte knew Gisela, that was a surprise, but Charlotte's refusal to join Gisela's movement was not. Even Marianne knew enough of Hamilton Hunter to know that care had to be taken. He would not have understood, let alone supported such a movement. Rising, she went to take Charlotte's hands. "And now that you are free of Lord Hunter, Charlotte? Will you continue to decline?"

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    House Hunter Charlotte Hunter's Avatar  
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    "That is the crux of it, Marianne, I do not feel free from time. I feel as though he could come through at any moment, rend me away from you and kit me up with a husband. After all," she quipped dryly, "That is how he views the women of the Hunter family. Handsome, charismatic, and gentle in his own way, but he has a definite line of thought when it comes to the women in his life." A line of thinking she thought to be a little hypocritical, considering that he went against his parents' wishes and married a commoner. Suddenly, she stiffened. "But then I remind myself that I will not subject myself to his whims."

    Charlotte's large and expression eyes looked into Marriane's deep blue, as though she were looking for the answer within her friend rather than herself. No, that was foolish. Marianne would not provide the answer, only Charlotte herself could. Marianne's touch was appreciated and returned. They were soon released so that Charlotte's hands could frame Marianne's delicate face. The blonde woman first pressed her lips to Marianne's forehead and then to her lips. "I remember helping you explore and find yourself, giving you wings to fly as a beautiful, self-confident woman. Now. . . " she paused, "With your help, it's time for me to stand strong."

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    Marianne frowned as she listened to Charlotte aptly describe the potential life-plan of nearly every woman of rank in Tuneric. Disconcerting to realize it, but the realization did not render the words any less true. She grasped all the more the need for the sisterhood that Gisela spoke to her of, and the accomplishments possible when women gathered together to stand strong. Hearing the description of Hamilton Hunter only hardened her resolve and her refusal to fall meekly into line if and when Cailen chose to snap his fingers at her. Unlikely that he would do so; such behavior was largely out of character for her cousin, yet the possibility existed.

    "You are not subject to his whims, Charlotte," she reminded her lady in quiet tones. "His whims require my approval, because they take precedence over him. There are times when rank trumps gender, and this is one of them. You cannot be wed without my agreement, and I will not give it if you do not wish to be betrothed or wed. It is that simple, thankfully, but I also gain your point clearly."

    She hugged her lady tightly, a supportive action beyond words. "Exactly so, and why I feel I must do this. How many other women of our stations have been subject to these whims without so much as the courtesy of notice? It has to end, Charlotte. The men of Tuneric must learn that the women of this kingdom have minds and hearts, hopes and dreams, goals and ambitions the same as they, and they will not be content to rest meekly in the background for all eternity. It is time for us to stand beside the men, not behind them. Don't you agree?"

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    House Hunter Charlotte Hunter's Avatar  
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    When Marianne spoke, she listened closely to her words. Marianne was not in the direct line, but Charlotte was proud when she had decided to assert herself as a princess of the realm. Charlotte had encouraged Marianne in a great many ways, and was immensely proud of the woman she had blossomed into. Indeed, it drew her cherish Marianne with her heart, though she knew that to be a dangerous feeling. The tawny haired woman nodded and smiled weakly, but smiled nonetheless. "Thank you, Marianne. That means more than than you know."

    The embrace was returned just as tightly, her hand going smoothly into Marianne's hair to stroke it. She knew everything she said was true. It was not fair to the women of Tuneric that she allow one man to stand in the way of her support. A deep breath was drawn in as she thought on it for a long quiet moment. "I will go. I will go and stand with you. I will stand with all of you." She leaned back from the hug so that she could gaze into Marianne's eyes. "I cannot hide in the trees anymore. It's time for me to strike."

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    Much of whom she had become in the past few years was largely due to Charlotte's subtle influence and gentle guidance. Confidence, intelligence and eloquence had blossomed thanks to her lady in waiting's careful nurturing. As a consequence, Marianne accepted the task of balancing her responsibilities with her ambitions despite the very real and hideous restrictions placed upon women of rank. None knew the weight of those restrictions better than Charlotte herself, thanks in no small part to her brother.

    She smiled gently, touching Charlotte's cheek lightly in an effort to bring some confidence to the weak smile. "Truth is truth, Charlotte. I know you rather well, and I have no desire to see you made unhappy if I can prevent it." Marianne did not fear Hamilton Hunter in the slightest, but the advantage of calling the King cousin lent her whims and wishes more weight than most could boast.

    Once the embrace was engaged, she felt the hand over her hair and smiled. The difference in years was enough that Charlotte stood as chaperon to her, yet they were true and genuine friends. Not one to force the point on a friend, Marianne was prepared to wait quietly for Charlotte to render her own decision on the matter, trusting to her friend's strong spirit to overcome her very natural and understandable fears. For as much as they both respected Lord Hunter, men such as he were precisely why the Sisterhood was needed.

    Searching Charlotte's eyes, Marianne was satisfied to see the resumption of strength and confidence of will that she cherished in her lady in waiting and friend. A nod lent her approval, her smile warming with encouragement. "Good. I am glad to see you take this step, Charlotte. It's time. For you, and for all the women in Tuneric."

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    House Hunter Charlotte Hunter's Avatar  
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    "Yes, you're right. Of course, you're right," she laughed quietly. "I rather love this turn around in our usual conversations. Usually, it is me encouraging you to spread your wings and fly. Now you no longer need any encourage for you take flight quite readily and beautifully so," a fond smile was cast in her directly as a hand came up to warmly touch her cheek. "Thank you, Marianne. I will come with you and stand with you proudly."

    An exhale escaped her as the servant arrived with breakfast. It was just what Charlotte needed, realizing in her relief that she was rather hungry, indeed. It was time to get Marianne fed, bathed and ready for the day. Once the servant departed, the tawny haired woman glided over to the table to prepare Marianne's tea just the way she wanted it. "On to more lighthearted matters," she eschewed speaking to Marianne of her previous night and went further back. "Did you meet anyone interesting during the dance? I believe I saw a lord try to chase you down?" There was a mirthfully questioning look in her eye.

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    House Shellten Marianne Shellten's Avatar  
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    Charlotte was more than friend, more than companion and confidante. In so many ways, she had become an elder sister to Marianne, one who allowed her to stretch her wings while keeping her from flying into the heart of the sun. Grateful for her, she leaned into Charlotte's touch, her face softening with a rare display of affection for one who truly was important to her. "I'm so terribly proud of you. I know this was no easy decision, but I think you will not regret it." She gave Charlotte's hand a soft squeeze, peeling back when the servant arrived with their meal.

    Waiting until the man was gone, she adopted a languid repose, amused at how brisk and efficient her lady in waiting could be. Charlotte knew her so well, knew her proclivities and propensities. The reminder of Lord Fairfax, however, made her snort indelicately. "He tried. He failed miserably. Lord Fairfax. I believe you've had the dubious honor of making his acquaintance? Lord High and Mighty of Suffolk, I believe."

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    House Hunter Charlotte Hunter's Avatar  
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    With the discussion of the future behind them for the time being, Charlotte turned her attention to Marianne's activities at the recent party. "Oh, Edward Fairfax?" Her blonde eyebrows rose as at the name, "Yes, I do know who he is. He has quite the reputation for being a ladies' man, but I am surprised to hear he did not do so well with you. You might have thrown him for the loop, my love," she grinned at her suddenly, putting the tea cup before her.

    "I did not meet anyone quite so interesting. There was a knight with whom was I was acquainted with in Hebron that was recently assigned to the area. We reconnected and a night of fun," she smiled almost dreamily. "I must say, that armor they wear does improve the stamina immensely." The chuckle was dark and almost lewd as she took a sip of tea. There were some parts of her that would never change.

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