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Thread: A Giant Comes Calling - 10/17, middle of the night, Seamus & Aloise

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    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    A Giant Comes Calling - 10/17, middle of the night, Seamus & Aloise

    Aloise finally woke, exhausted and soaked with sweat. She lay in the middle of her mattress, and as awareness slowly crept over her she realized she was freezing. Her bedclothes had long since been kicked to the floor, but she was still in too much of a stupor to fetch them yet. Laying there, staring through the darkness at the ceiling, all she could do was try and catch her breath and be glad it was over.

    The nightmares visited just about every night, but on nights like tonight it was indescribably worse. She got trapped in a dream she couldn't wake from, no matter how much she moved, or cried, or screamed. Delphia had woken her the first time it'd happened, and told her she'd been trying to rouse her for the better part of a half an hour. She'd asked Aloise what she'd dreamed of, but she couldn't tell her; although she was left with an overwhelming terror, she couldn't articulate it into words. Now more often than not she woke alone, leagues more tired than when she went to bed, and too worked up to fall back asleep.

    Slowly she pushed herself upright, and only then did she realize she was shaking. Whether it was from the terrors or from the cold, she couldn't tell, but the end result was the same. Taking a shuddering breath, she tried to steady herself as she rolled her legs over the side of the bed. Sleep wouldn't come again, but she at least needed to get her bed back together. Without a window in her room she had no idea how far off daylight was, but the sooner she could get under a blanket and start getting warm again, the better.

    Coughing a little as she stood, she shuffled across the small room and splashed some water on her face. The shock of cold was worth it, as it chased the dregs of the dream out of her mind, but it drove a hard shiver down her spine that shook a small hoarse sound from her throat. Without lingering at the basin, she moved back toward the bed, stooping to collect her blanket and pull it around her shoulders. The pillow remained on the floor, too far out of the way to bother with, as she flopped onto her side on the bed, wide awake and resigned to another cold, sleepless night.

    -----

    @Seamus Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    The knight was sitting on the floor of the hall, what was left of the wooden block in his hand. The shavings were littered about the tone floor, being shifted by the drafty breeze that was causing his candle to flicker angrily. This was the fourth night in a row he had been out here, and all that had changed was the frequency of the DeAngelis guardsmen who walked by to check on him. They never spoke. They wouldn't dare. But as sure as he wasn't interested in letting them anywhere near the young woman's door, they were equally disinterested in having him there.

    Pausing, Seamus strained his ears to hear the shuffling behind the door. Aloise had made it further into the night this time. But Hepburn silently wondered if that meant she had found some rest, or if she had been trapped in the nightmare longer than usual. The blade of the knife flashed in the candlelight once more, as one of the guards approached the door. Seamus blew some dust off the now whittled wood, a small model dog that he was finishing, and the man glared at him but moved along.

    When he had rounded the corner, the Shield picked up his candle and stood, turning to face the door even as his large hand twisted the metal knob. His large shadow blocked the light of the hall as he stood in the doorway for a moment, before he moved inside and closed the door behind him. At his approach, Aloise he assumed was pretending to be asleep. Even under the blanket, the shivering was evident. Seamus looked at the cold fireplace and could feel his teeth begin to grind. But since he knew she was awake, he didn't bother to be as quiet when he left the room.

    He crossed the hallway to the storage closet and pulled it open. Stepping inside, he grabbed a table cloth and laid it out, filling it with firewood from the corner where it was stacked. As he rolled the corners of the draping together, he could feel the guard behind him. Seamus ignored him and stood, carrying the wood back to Aloise's door.

    "Hey. Lord Dastan has ordered that firewood isn't to be wasted on Peregrine scum," the guard said. The man reached for the sack, but pulled his hand back when Seamus glared over his shoulder and snarled.

    "Lord Dastan is welcome to try and stop me," Seamus informed the guard, who rather than escalate the argument, decided it would be easier to just make a report. Hepburn let him go, and reopened the bedroom door. He wasted no time checking to see if Aloise had fallen back asleep. It wouldn't have mattered to him either way. He began to lay the wood into the fireplace, piece by piece, until he had enough to last until morning, with extra stacked by the side. As if they had set to torture her, there were tinder sticks present. Not that she could have kept warm with them, and so they had been left. But Seamus seized them up and began to light the dried wooden logs. When the flames were safe to be left to catch, Seamus backed away and watched the fuel begin to burn in earnest.

    Crossing the floor, the large knight scooped up the pillow and placed it on the bed beside the girl. Seamus laid an oversized hand on her forehead and frowned. She shivered in response, either from the fever or the fear, but Seamus didn't say anything. He simply straightened her blanket and stepped away, looking to retrieve his candle. He had almost made the door before he remembered the carving in his pocket. He moved back to the end table and left it standing on top.

    Over his shoulder, he could hear multiple voices outside. They were trying to decide if they should come in and get him. They wouldn't. But even so, Seamus would need to prepare to deal with them when he left the room. Taking a moment to crack his knuckles, he pulled his cloak off so that it wouldn't stop him from drawing steel if need be. The fabric was heavy in his hand, and it occurred to him that the sick child might need it more than him. He unfurled the red and white wool and draped it over her blanket. She still hadn't acknowledged him. But that was alright. It had been three months, and none of the girls had spoken to him. It wouldn't stop him from following the code he swore to uphold.

    Now, about those guards.


    @Aloise Peregrine

  3. #3
    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    The second she heard the doorknob move, Aloise froze. It wasn't even a thing she had any control over; her fear was stronger than anything else, and it flooded her brain without meeting any resistance. Like a rabbit under the gaze of a wolf, she ceased any voluntary movement, eyes wide until the moment the door moved, at which point they pressed shut tightly. Through her eyelids she saw the momentary lightening of the room, and she heard the click of the door, and heavy footsteps approaching.

    Her mind raced. This wasn't Delphia, come to check on her. A man was in her room. There was no reason for a man to be in her room. Had she been screaming too much in her sleep? Had someone complained? Was she in trouble? She knew what would happen if she made someone angry. She could see the face of the last guard who had threatened her, could see the sneer he'd given her when he'd told her what he'd do to her, could even feel his fingers digging into her upper arm. And from there it was a short step to remembering another time when she'd had fingers pressed into her flesh. A strong arm around her waist, holding her down and back. A hand in her hair, holding her head up, making it impossible to turn away.

    The running panic gripped her, and it would have kept going if an odd noise hadn't snagged her attention. It was the quiet crack of a spark being drawn for a fire, and it made her jump, although it was hardly noticeable through her shivering. Her face shaded by the blanket, she dared open her eyes just enough to see the silhouette of a man crouched in front of the fireplace. She couldn't understand it: what was this? Nobody was allowed to help them, and they certainly weren't permitted the comforts of a fire unless, Dastan had said, they had gone out and felled the trees with axes of their own making. The only thing this could be, then, was someone trying to get her in trouble. It would work. Someone would see the light under the door and come in, and that would be the end.

    When the man stood she closed her eyes again, unwilling to be caught awake and aware. But she listened, and heard him moving around the room, freezing once again when he came close. She was too scared to be curious, and lay motionless as he placed the pillow beside her. By some miracle she didn't jump when he touched her, but she couldn't stop the tremble of terror, but the moment she felt her blanket move even the shaking stopped. This was the moment the blanket was ripped off of her, she was sure, and then...it didn't happen. Instead the man took a few steps away, turned back, and then stopped.

    In the stillness, Aloise could hear the crackle of the fire, but also angry voices outside. The tone increased her tension, but if they were angry then that meant they weren't in on whatever the man in her room was doing. The abrupt sound of knuckles cracking startled her, but a moment later there was the sound of fabric moving and then a weight over her. As always, a part of her was weighing the odds; she could continue pretending to sleep, but if there was an angry group outside her door then that wouldn't work for long. Better she be at least a little prepared. She opened her eyes.

    Draped over her was a cloak of white and red, the wool heavy and fine. It wasn't anything one of Dastan's men would have, and it took her a moment to place it: the knight from the King. What was he doing in her room? Before she could think about it, the light of the fire flickered and moved the shadow of something on the table beside her bed: a small dog, carved from wood. She didn't recognize it, so it had to have come from him.

    Although her muscles protested and her mind screamed at the danger, Aloise sat up, her blanket still clutched around her shoulders and the cloak covering her lap. Her large eyes were fearful, untrusting, and she only grew more frightened as she saw that this man was huge. She began to back away, but then she remembered the fire, and the cloak, and the dog, and she stopped. For a long moment she did nothing but look at him, as her body fought the instinct to back into the corner and her mind searched for something to say. She couldn't risk angering him.

    When she spoke, half of the first word was almost entirely unvoiced, as she was still quite hoarse from earlier, and she was only just loud enough to be heard. "Thank you. But I can't..." She looked to the fire and back to the door, clearly afraid of what would happen to her when the guards came found out.

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn
    Last edited by Amy; 01-06-2017 at 11:35 PM.

  4. #4
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Seamus had lost Aloise somewhere in the last three months. She was less visible than the other two Peregrines, and on the few occasions he had spotted her, she tended to move quickly and keep her head down. It wasn't until he had stumbled upon the sounds of her restlessness and Delphia sneaking out of her room three nights prior that he had taken notice of her at all. Even then, he hadn't said anything to her, but only made a mental note to see if she was ill and needed anything.

    As he got closer to the door, it was clear that the men outside numbered three. Likely the two who had already passed him in the hall, and whichever shift commander they had found to summon when Seamus had gone into Aloise's room. Three wasn't too many. As he reached for the knob to go out and deal with what would likely be a short confrontation, he heard the broken voice of the little girl behind him. Turning, he gave her a soft smile that he wasn't even sure that she would see by the firelight only. "Head down, Little Sprite," he told her, before pulling the door open and waiting for the men in the hall to move away from the door so that he could exit.

    Stepping out into the hall, he left the door cracked as the most senior of the three men began speaking at him before he could even nod in acknowledgement. "Listen here, Hepburn," he started, but slowed his statement as Seamus crossed his arms at his waist, and rested his left hand on the hilt of the sword at his right hip. But the old man was a grizzled veteran of a few skirmishes, and even though he was nowhere near as imposing or well trained as his adversary, he wasn't so intimidated that he was going to lose face in front of the other men. "Lord DeAngelis has given orders, and those orders state that no luxuries are to be afforded to these girls. Now if you don't put that fire out, there's gonna be..."

    Seamus cleared his throat, but only for the sake of the soldier. "Ser Seamus," he corrected the man, who was easily thirty years his elder. But before the sergeant could make the amendment, Hepburn continued. "And I'm not bound by the orders of any man, save for Cailen, King of Tuneric. So if you wish to ride for Hebron and rouse him from what I assume is a very peaceful sleep, I'll be here when you and he get back." His eyes flicked to the other two men, just to make sure that nobody had any ideas, but both seemed content to let the man with the higher pay grade deal with it.

    "Ser Seamus," the older man began again, not necessarily begrudging the younger man his title. "We don't want no trouble, but that's what you're bringing us 'ere. You might'n be bound by Lord Dastan's orders, but that won't stop us from getting whipped for your meddlin'." The other two were nodding their agreements, and one of them mumbled something that Seamus didn't hear.

    The knight didn't budge however, and merely shrugged. "Some people within these walls are treated far worse for having done far less," he told him, and raised a hand to cut him off before he could counter. "File your reports, sergeant. If Lord Dastan has any problem with my actions, he knows where my quarters are. And if any retribution is brought against you or your men, you have my word as an agent of the crown, that I will see to the matter immediately. But in the meantime, I suggest you go about your business. And if I catch you or your men so much as breathing outside Lady Peregrine's door..." He left the threat linger. They didn't want to find out what the consequences were any more than he did himself. But he smiled at the way they rankled their noses when he referred to Aloise as "Lady Peregrine".

    The standoff only lasted a moment or two more, before the old man turned and took the two guards with him. "Meddlin' knights," he mumbled as he strode off, no doubt to prepare a more colorful story for Dastan DeAngelis than what had actually transpired. Seamus merely watched them round the corner before going back to the supply closet across the hall. He gathered a few things: two extra blankets, a few more candles, and large jug of water to replace what Aloise had splashed on her face.

    "Heads up, Little Sprite," he said as he made his way back into her small room, and crossed to check on the fire. It was raging now, and the knight looked well proud of himself. He set one of the blankets on the foot of her bed and rolled the other one up before dropping it on the floor. "Got a chill," he asked casually, moving himself to the wall by the door and setting his back against it as he sat. "You need me to fetch you some juice or something?" Seamus wasn't exactly sure why he would get her some juice. But it was what Maera always did when he or one of his brothers got sick back home. "Here, drink this" was all she ever said, pushing juice on them. But Maera was smarter than him, and so he just assumed she knew better.

    @Aloise Peregrine

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    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    "Head down, Little Sprite."

    The words were barely out of the man's mouth when Aloise moved, ducking immediately back down onto the bed as though she had been sleeping the whole time. No matter what came next, it was best she didn't see it coming; if he was setting her up to get in trouble, she didn't want to see the looks on their faces, and if the guards pushed in and saw she had a fire, she could at least claim she hadn't known, that it wasn't her fault. No matter what, Aloise didn't have the energy to meet what came next with her eyes open.

    She did listen, though. The words were slightly muffled, as she'd pulled the blanket over her head, but she heard enough to cringe as the head guard - she recognized his voice, and it wasn't a pleasant association - lay down his threats. She had never, ever heard anyone stand up to him and get out of the encounter well. Delphia had gotten a split lip the first time he'd come to tell Aloise off for shouting in her sleep. But this man did what had seemed impossible, and she almost didn't recognize the guard's voice when he spoke again.

    And that was it. A few more exchanges and she heard heavy footsteps retreating. Of course she didn't believe this was the end of it; they knew she'd had a fire, and even if Dastan didn't order it, she'd be made to pay for it later. Her mind began racing, trying to find a way out of the punishment she anticipated. Maybe she could clean the hearth out so well they wouldn't be able to prove she'd had one, but they wouldn't take her word over theirs, and if they came soon enough the stones would still be warm.

    A voice cut through her thoughts, and Aloise watched the man - Ser Seamus, she remembered hearing - as he arranged the things he'd brought in and settled down. He spoke to her, but she didn't respond for a long moment; she was having a hard enough time believing that someone was doing anything nice for her, so processing his offer to go get her something was out of the question.

    "He's lying, you know. Guards don't get whipped." Her small voice carried an unsettling conviction, for she knew this to be absolutely true. One of the few times she'd been working in the castle proper, she'd overheard Dastan talking to a few of his guards. Veronica had almost escaped again, and had killed one of the dogs that roamed the grounds in her attempt. The guards were not where they should have been, thus allowing her the opportunity, but all they got was a stern talking to. And for good reason, although Aloise wasn't aware of it: Dastan treated his men well, since few knew better than he how dire the consequences of abusing the lesser classes could be.

    ----
    @Seamus Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    The room was small, as rooms in a keep went. Which in this instance worked for the girl's advantage, since it warmed up rather quickly. From what he could see in the firelight, it was plain but clean. There was a small dresser. No wardrobe. When the girls were gussied up for visiting company, they must have been taken somewhere else to dress. Seamus was familiar with war, and what happened to the prisoners of wars. As far as cells went, Aloise Peregrine's wasn't terrible. That being said, most prisoners of war weren't fifteen year old girls.

    Despite his offer, Aloise didn't bother to answer him, but rather to clarify the sergeant's earlier comments. The knight thought for a long moment. He had been there almost as long as Dastan had, and tried to recall if he had ever seen one of his men be disciplined. He had raised his voice every so often, but to his recollection, the girl may well have been right. But it was moot in the end, because Seamus didn't put stock into much of anything that was said in Welch Run. It was a joyless place in his experience, and he would be glad when he finally left.

    The large knight grabbed the knife from his belt and pushed himself off the wall, moving toward the small girl in the bed. When he reached the night stand, he picked up the wooden dog and retreated back to where he had been sitting. "Oh, he may be lying for the moment, Little Sprite," he said to her as he began to add some details to his carving. Had he not returned to her room, the little wooden pet would have served, but since he was here, there was no point in not touching him up. Glancing back to the girl, Seamus smiled. "But if I know anything about anything, it's that if you live long enough, everyone gets whipped."

    Hepburn didn't bother to whisper. Aloise was up for the moment, and the guards wouldn't return without Dastan, who he was certain they wouldn't risk waking. And if they did, he was positive he would hear them coming. "You don't sleep so good, huh?" Not that anyone would sleep very well in the autumn months here with no fire and only that small blanket, but he knew that Aloise had nightmares. The chills alone could make people fitful, but not to the volume that she was suffering. "When I was a boy, I used to have nightmares," he told her, as he tucked his tongue into the corner of his mouth and closed one eye before holding up the carving to examine it. Turning it over in his hand, began to work on the underside of it. "The cooks used to think that I was destined to become a baker. They had never seen someone so eager to be working the ovens every morning before the sun had even thought about rising."

    Tucking the knife away, Seamus crawled over to the side of the bed and placed the dog where he had gotten it from, before retreating once more. He rubbed at the side of his cheek, attempting to determine the hour by the amount of stubble he found there. "But the kitchens were warm, and I didn't have to be alone," he finally said to her.


    @Aloise Peregrine

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    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    The glint of metal made the girl's blood run cold, and she went rigid, turning her face away and whimpering as he moved close. She didn't even feel foolish when the threat never manifested and the knight sat back down at his place by the door. There were too many demons in her life for her to feel silly when one didn't pan out.

    "You don't sleep so good, huh?" Aloise shook her head. Her immediate instinct was to apologize and beg forgiveness if she'd bothered him with the noise, but he spoke first. His tale gave her a small glimmer of hope; if he could speak in the past-tense about his nightmares, maybe if she survived long enough she would be able to, too. Such a future wasn't really anything she could imagine, though. There was no way out of this place, and as long as she was here with the ghosts of what had happened and a constant threat hanging over her head, it wasn't likely the nightmares were going to end.

    "I'm not really welcome in the kitchens." It wasn't a secret that even among the servants the Peregrines were looked down on. "I just get in the way." Every time she spoke, it sounded like Aloise had been drained of all confidence, and it wasn't an exaggeration to say that she had. In its place was a weary exhaustion, and heavy notes of fear. She watched him with wary eyes as he carved, at the same time nervous of the weapon and impressed by the dexterity of his large hands. Even when life had been good, she hadn't really seen anyone make much with their own hands, other than food. Sure, she'd seen ladies doing their stitching and spinning, but this was different.

    Reaching out, Aloise took the wooden dog in her hands, turning it over as she inspected it. It was clearly a handmade thing, and compared to the toys she'd grown up with it was what Veronica would probably call crude. She could see the work that had gone into it, the soft ridges left by the sharp blade, the little nicks that defined the face. Simple though it may be, Aloise loved it. These days not even the clothes she wore were to be considered hers, and so this little toy meant everything.

    "You've...been here for awhile, haven't you. In the castle, I mean." It wasn't really a question; she may not have had a good grip on time's passage, but she felt like the first time she saw him had been some time ago. "Why are you here?"

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  8. #8
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Seamus had a small sense of pride in the little wooden dog. Whittling was something he had taught himself to do, and only in recent years. When it was clear that as the youngest, he was never gonna have Grant's responsibility, and he had decided that he had very little interest in wining and wenching like Bosleigh, he figured that he should probably invest in a constructive way to pass some time. Otherwise he would be as in the way as Aloise felt in the kitchens. And even though he had a lot of free time in the last few nights as he patrolled lightly about the girl's door, he hadn't really begun the little dog with the intent of gifting it to the girl. It kind of just happened that way. But there was a warmth in him from her reaction that he could have done without the fire in the corner if he had to.

    There was a small snort of laughter from the big man, and he nodded as looked down at his hands. "I'm not really welcome anywhere in the castle," he said with a grin. Seamus wasn't sad about it. "When you grow to be as big as I am, you're kinda in the way everywhere." And then there was the nickname. He lived with it at home, but the best part by far about being assigned anywhere but home or Stone Forge was not having to hear his siblings chide him with that silly moniker.

    Aloise reminded the man of his cousin. But only in physical appearance. She was far too shy compared to the outgoing and often bothersome Talia. But the build and the long brown hair were similar. Seamus seemed to think back on his arrival and try to pinpoint how long her had been away from Maple Glade, and then again how long he had been in Welch Run. "I arrived about three fortnights after Dastan moved in," he told her plainly. Seamus was far from a snob, but he was still high born. And he knew that whatever DeAngelis was, he wasn't a "lord" by birth, and he rarely used the man's title when not talking to the guards. It often drove the less crazy of the man's two sisters mad.

    The second question was more difficult to answer. "Why am I here," he echoed in an effort to stall time and find an answer. "Why am I here in your room? Or why am I here in Welch Run?" The girl likely meant the latter, but Seamus was not insightful enough to be sure. Shrugging, he decided he would just take them in turn. "I'm in your room because I was worried about you. I've seen your sister coming to check on you in the night, and I have heard you thrashing. I was curious if I could do anything to help." The other matter was somewhat different. "As for why I'm here in the castle? King Cailen sent me for pretty much the same reasons. He's worried about you. And he wants to know if he can do anything to help."

    Seamus knew he was on a slippery slope. He had already ruffled the feathers of the guardsmen and if he overstepped his authority, he could quickly find himself in trouble with Guy Durand, or worse. The knight wasn't worried about being recalled. He could think of no other places that were as dreary and insane as Welch Run. He could make the argument that running the miserable place was worse than whatever fate Dastan was suffering at the hands of the Peregrines. "And what about you, Lady Peregrine? There must be more to you than this little room."


    @Aloise Peregrine
    Last edited by Seamus Hepburn; 01-08-2017 at 11:02 AM.

  9. #9
    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    Shifting beneath her blankets as Seamus spoke, Aloise bent one leg and pulled it to her chest, resting her chin on her knee. Her posture was entirely obscured by the blankets and cloak, and she looked like a small untidy heap, but her arms emerged from the folds of fabric and she held her new possession in both hands. It had taken until now, but finally the panic that had crawled up the back of her neck was starting to recede. Exhaustion might've just been taking over, but it could also have been the realization that if Seamus was going to do something bad to her, he probably would have done it by now.

    His reason for being in her room seemed foreign to her, and the confusion played openly across her face. The only person who had helped her at all in months was Delphia. Not even Veronica, after those first few days, had done her any favors. She left it to process without comment. His reason for being in Welch Run, though, caused Aloise's eyebrows to knit together and her expression to darken somewhat.

    "If the King was worried, why didn't he do something when my family was killed? Why did he come to a party here like nothing was wrong?" She had been dressed up and paraded around that party, along with Delphia and Veronica, and made to act like everything was fine and they were treated well. She remembered seeing the king and wondering then how he could be here enjoying himself like the halls hadn't been soaked in blood so recently, but then she'd realized what must be true: he must have thought that her family had deserved to be slaughtered. What else made sense?

    "And what about you, Lady Peregrine? There must be more to you than this little room."

    It had been so long since she'd been referred to by her old title that Aloise wouldn't have registered he was speaking to her if it hadn't just been the two of them in the room. She looked uncomfortable, and seemed to shrink back into herself, clutching the dog a little tighter. "There isn't anything, really." She wasn't sure what there would have been to tell, even if she'd been capable of talking about herself. Everything that she had been had been stripped from her. She owned nothing, she did nothing, wasn't really allowed to even think anything. The De Angelis family, and their men, had been ruthlessly efficient about destroying the remaining Peregrines - most especially the youngest one.

    ----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  10. #10
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Seamus was a soldier. When it came to following orders, he was the man you wanted on the front lines. Stop the Balfourians from steeling a ship? Leap from deck to deck in the heat of battle? Nearly kill himself trying to escape the sinking ship he was already outnumbered on? Sure. He could do all of those things. Usually without complaint or objection. But if you needed Seamus Hepburn to answer a difficult political question wherein some people he didn't know ruthlessly killed some other people he didn't know, seemingly without consequences, and then held more of the people they didn't slaughter hostage in poor conditions, well...you probably should have called Grant.

    The large knight didn't even doing a good job of hiding his dismay about not having a good answer for the girl. "Well," he said, trying to think of something that sounded believable. "I...," Seamus stammered, and shook his head. "I don't know, Lady Peregrine. I think, maybe sometimes, when people fight, it isn't always clear which side is right and which side is wrong. Or if either side is right, or either side is wrong." He could tell this was going badly. There was no way he could justify a child's family being murdered, even if he knew that her family had murdered others. "I think King Cailen wasn't sure who to believe. I think he was trying to find out more about what happened, and that's why he came here when Dastan invited him." Seamus hadn't been present at the party. He couldn't guess what had happened. But clearly, Aloise didn't understand it any better than he. Or, if she did, she wasn't making it clear.

    There was silence between them for a long moment, and even her response about herself did a poor job of changing the subject, which his question had been intended to do. "Nothing," he asked her with a small hint of disbelief. "Surely, there is something. Dancing or an instrument? You got a boyfriend in town or something?" Seamus knew that her life now was far from good, but there must have been some joy before Dastan and his men came to Welch Run. "Is there something you want to do, when you are old enough to leave? Something you want to see or somewhere you want to go?"

    The knight could imagine that anywhere but here would suffice. Perhaps he should talk to Grant about letting Aloise ward somewhere. If she was as ill equipped to be a servant in Dastan's house, then he surely wouldn't miss her. It would be one less mouth he had to feed, if nothing else.


    @Aloise Peregrine

  11. #11
    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    The answer Seamus gave didn't give Aloise any comfort, but neither did it make things worse. She'd often wondered herself if she and her family had deserved what had happened. The idea that someone as powerful and distant as a king might have the same question wasn't much of a stretch. Maybe her family had done some awful thing...maybe worse even than what had ended up happening to them. She didn't know what it might've been, but ignorance didn't mean innocence. For all she knew, maybe she had done something to perpetuate the evil her family must have done.

    He kept asking after her, about her past, what she'd enjoyed, but it all made her desperately uncomfortable. Any time anyone paid too much attention to her, something bad happened. She'd survived by keeping her head down and keeping out of everyone's way. Being the subject of conversation made her feel like her throat was closing up, but at the same time she couldn't risk angering Seamus by not answering him.

    "Before, I..." There was a long pause, and it was clear she was struggling. It was an effort to make herself talk, but it was also almost prohibitively painful to talk about her life before. Remembering how things were just sharpened how awful things were now. "I dunno. I guess I just did normal things? Lessons in the library. I wasn't very good at dancing, so they made me try and learn how to play the harp. They said I needed to start learning how to act like a proper lady." In her family that had seemed to mean developing a taste for expensive dresses, growing cold and serious, and most of all learning who was worth talking to and who was...lesser. Aloise hadn't liked it much, but she'd been desperate to fit in and gain her family's approval, so even though it went against her nature she'd been trying her best.

    The second part of his questioning, though, was something she genuinely couldn't answer. "Old enough?" How old would that be? Veronica and Delphia were older than she was, and they were stuck here just like her. "I...don't think I get to leave."

    ----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  12. #12
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    It wasn't hard for the knight to deduce that the girl was uncomfortable. Even though Seamus couldn't put his finger on exactly what was going on, something was happening in Welch Run that made Aloise alarmingly timid and afraid. He didn't think that she was touched, at least not in the way that Dastan's sister was. Dealing with Secily had taught him quite plainly the difference between crazy and just awkward. But he didn't suspect that he would get the answers he needed from the child tonight. She still didn't trust that Seamus was any different than any of the other guards, and the knight was unlike to change that overnight.

    Rolling onto his side, Seamus slid across the floor to retrieve the rolled up blanket he had dropped. Spinning his large frame awkwardly in a one-eighty, his head came backup toward the top of the bed, and the knight tucked the bedding under his head and stifled a yawn. "I remember when my grandmother decided that it was time for me to be a proper gentleman. Constant lessons on posture and how to bow to a lady; learning to ride the right way. All I wanted to do was fight and play. I guess growing up isn't supposed to be much fun," he finally said with a shrug.

    There was a part of Seamus that was afraid that the girl would convey such ideas. It would be something he would have to investigate without making it known to Dastan that he had any interest. Perhaps he could convince the King to summon Aloise to the capital for the coronation. It didn't matter what the excuse was, if Guy had managed to get Danush sent to Hebron, then he could no doubt find a way to call for the girl.

    Turning his head on the blanket, Seamus looked up at her, trying to read her face in the firelight. "If you think that you are unable to leave because people more powerful than you say you can't, then we shall simply find some people more powerful than them to insist that you must. There is a big party coming up in Hebron next month. Much bigger than the party that was held here for the King," he told her. "Would you like to go? I could probably convince Dastan to allow you to accompany me, if you wish."

    The fire was doing its job, and Seamus wasn't the slightest bit cold. He rolled onto his side and yawned a second time. "You should get some sleep, Lady Peregrine. And be quick about it, if you know what's good for you. If you aren't out by the time I start snoring, you might not get any sleep at all."


    @Aloise Peregrine

  13. #13
    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    It became clear that the knight in her room wasn't going to leave, and Aloise watched as he tried to make himself comfortable in the cramped confines of her room. She wasn't sure how to feel about it; on one hand, there was a man in her room, which made her feel desperately unsafe. But on the other hand he had stood up to Dastan's men, and if he remained here then he would be there when they inevitably came back in the morning. Hope was something that was out of her grasp, and so it seemed too much to think he might defend her again, but there was a feeling creeping into her mind. A feeling like maybe this man was different. That maybe she could trust him. But not yet.

    Seamus spoke of finding more powerful people, and although he certainly knew men more powerful than Dastan - he worked for one, after all - she wasn't convinced they would be moved to help her. And if she left for a party, would she have to come back? She would, unless Delphia could go with them. She couldn't leave her sister in a place like this. Her cousin, too, although if she were honest with herself she wasn't as concerned with Veronica. She would want to take her if she could, but if it was either she and Delphia get out and Veronica doesn't, or none of them ever left, Aloise couldn't promise she wouldn't make that deal. She hated herself for it, but it didn't change the truth of it.

    "If I went...could Del come too?" She paused, weighing whether her next question was too much to ask. "Would we have to come back?"

    As Seamus settled in to sleep, Aloise began to arrange her bed. With some measure of reluctance she carefully put her wooden dog onto the table and unwound herself from her blanket cocoon. Her shift was finally dry, and with the warmth in the room she didn't have to bundle up quite so much. Taking her blanket by the corners, she flicked it out and let it fall evenly over the bed, and in so doing she revealed just how thin she'd grown. The allowed ration for the Peregrines wasn't great to begin with, but Aloise had long ago lost her appetite; now she only really ate to make Delphia happy. The extra blanket at the end of the bed stayed there, and in its place Aloise lay the red and white cloak. Its weight was comforting, and although she didn't think sleep was going to come, Aloise curled onto her side facing the room and pulled the covers up over her shoulder. Then, when she was settled, she reached out and took up the small toy dog again, holding it to her chest. She was careful to hold it so that it wouldn't risk getting broken, but she refused to risk someone coming in and taking it from her.

    Aloise looked at the fire for a long moment, watching how the flames made shadows dance on the stone walls of the firebox. "Ser Seamus?" She used the title he'd given the guard, hoping it was right. "I'm sorry if I start dreaming again and end up bothering you." He was the first person other than her sister who'd been kind to her. She didn't want to repay that by keeping him awake.

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  14. #14
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Seamus wasn't necessarily tired. He had rested earlier in anticipation of potentially spending another night camped outside of Aloise's room. But he felt as though he should lay down, in hopes of coaxing the young girl into getting some rest herself. Everything about her appearance suggested that she could use it, and if his being here helped her sleep more securely, then he could lay awake for a while. Odds are that once she dozed off, if she dozed off, that the rhythmic sound of her breathing would soon lull him into a slumber of his own. And if for whatever reason, Dastan and his men should come in to inquire, they would have to go through him.

    The knight had rested his hands behind his head, staring at the ceiling lazily as he considered the child's questions. "Well," he sighed, wondering exactly how he would convince Dastan to let the girl leave, or if he would even ask for permission. Adding her older sister to the question would certainly be met with push back, and he didn't think for a second that De Angelis would risk two hostages, just because the knight assigned to his castle requested it. Unless of course...

    "I don't think it would be a problem," he said, not being entirely truthful. Thankfully, she hadn't asked about Veronica. As the next Peregrine of kin, he could not envision a situation where her captors would give her purchase to escape. And from what he had seen and heard, Seamus was not entirely sure he could handle the more volatile cousin.

    The question about whether or not they would have to come back was another matter. Seamus would certainly have to come back, unless for some reason he was relieved of his post. And if he came back without the girls, things would be ugly in a hurry, and he would be grossly outnumbered. "You don't want to come back," he said, knowing it was a statement and not a question. He had clearly not been paying attention to what was happening here, if Aloise was willing to risk the unknown certainty of life outside of Welch Run, as opposed to returning here. He could feel his jaw beginning to clench, and distracted himself by unbuckling his sword and sliding it under Aloise's bed, where he could fetch it relatively quickly.

    "No, Little Sprite. You don't have to come back," he said, resolving that he would make that statement true at any cost. But before he could return to face Dastan, he would need to know why. Kidnapping was not the kind of activity that an agent of the Queen should be engaging in, unless there was a good reason. Seamus assumed there was, but he would have to know.

    Her apology tugged at his chest and Seamus propped himself on an elbow so that he could look over the side of the bed as she began to spread out her blanket and his cloak. He watched Aloise for a moment, as she gathered up the small wooden dog and tucked it under her arm. "No need to fear, Little Sprite. Whenever I'm scared, that cloak protects me. No matter what you dream about, you'll be safe as long as you have it." He offered a smile and retreated back down to the floor, turning on his side to head off the aforementioned snoring, in case he did manage to doze off, after Aloise was sound asleep.


    @Aloise Peregrine

  15. #15
    House Peregrine Aloise Peregrine's Avatar  
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    "No, Little Sprite. You don't have to come back."

    Aloise let out a breath she hadn't been aware she'd been holding, and a strange, uncomfortable feeling of hope started crawling over her. She hadn't dared even think that any escape might be possible; it had been made crystal clear to her by her captors that she was trapped, and even if she did escape she had nowhere to go. Her name had been ruined, she had no possessions, no money, no friends. She'd never left Welch Run before, and had been pampered enough that she wouldn't last more than two days on her own. Now, though, with help she'd never anticipated having...but what of her family? What of Delphia? Would she be able to be saved, too? And what about Veronica? She might've been scary, but she couldn't leave her behind if at all possible.

    Settling down, she leaned a little over the edge of the bed to listen to Seamus's reassurance, and the ghost of a smile pulled at her face. It had been months since she'd worn even a perfunctory happy expression, and it felt foreign, but it was a step toward something better. The weight of the cloak reminded her of how heavy her blankets had been back when things had been good; her siblings had always thought her strange for wanting dense quilts pinning down soft blankets, but she'd always found it to be comforting. Between the weight, and the warmth in the room, even with her mind buzzing with the threads of hope that had been sewn, she felt herself getting drowsy.

    If anyone had told her, even before the uprising, that she'd be falling asleep with a man in her room, she would have thought it impossible. After the invasion it became absolutely unthinkable, as her fear of men grew to enormous proportions. But now Aloise, curled in on herself, drifted into an exhausted sleep, experiencing a hesitant feeling of safety that seemed too good to be true.

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn

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