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Thread: Returning to the Scene of the Crime - 11/10, Late Evening, Dawn Barracks - Percy/Pippa

  1. #61
    Member Philippa Avery's Avatar  
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    Philippa stood and, as Percy said his goodbyes, shrugged her cloak back over her shoulders. Coming around the table to stand beside Percy's empty chair, she said her own goodbyes, and when she said she was glad to have met them she realized she might've meant it more than she ever had. Falling in line behind Percival and the princess, Pippa stopped short when she heard Sophia call her name. "Move your cloak!"

    It took Pippa a second to realize what Sophia meant, but when it dawned on her she grinned and gathered up the fabric, pulling it to the side. It seemed the Lady of Westbury wasn't going to let her leave without seeing if she agreed with the guard's self-professed enviable trait, and after a few steps Pippa turned to look over her shoulder. Gratifyingly, she was met with a grin and an approving nod, and just as Jesse cued the musicians and the song rose, the guard might've even giggled.

    Vivienne paused at the top of the stairs, and Pippa could hardly tell what she was thinking as she listened to those who tomorrow would be her subjects, singing her praise. It gave the princess goosebumps to hear, and with a grateful pride woven into her smile, she put her hand to her heart and bowed to her people, lingering for a moment before turning and heading down the stairs. Vivienne paused at the bottom to let Percy get ahead of her, and as Pippa retrieved her dagger she looked at the girl with a curious smile. Although they had covered the fact that she was a guard already this evening, Vivienne'd had a hard time reconciling that truth with the girl's appearance. Sure, she was dressed the part, but despite there having been female knights, even a Dawn, it was still unusual, and Pippa didn't bear the same hardened demeanor the others had seemed to have.

    With the dagger safely tucked back in her boot and secured, Pippa fell in just behind the other two. Aside from the fact that she didn't know her way around, the streets were still crowded enough with the influx of people here for the Coronation that it wasn't really feasible to walk three abreast. Pippa could feel her guard going up, and sensed part of her mind go still to sense the feel of the night. Situations almost always felt bad before they went bad, and Pippa had a knack for picking that sort of thing up.

    She was, however, still thoroughly enjoying herself, and she grinned at Percy when he turned to look at her. Vivienne was leading them down some side streets now, toward a thoroughfare that was not by any means quiet, but was nowhere near as busy as the main drag. Ultimately she was headed toward the side gate and the kitchen entrance, but for now she kept their pace leisurely.

    Threading her arm through Percy's, the princess pulled him close and put her head momentarily on his shoulder. "Oh, Percy, I'm so glad you came, and decided to stay. It's never as good a time without you." She didn't sound like she was humoring him, and in fact she wasn't at all - some of her plans for when she was Queen involved filling out the ranks of the Dawn to full again, so the knights who worked hardest for the Crown could finally be given a break and some recreational time off. "And I'm glad I came, too, irresponsible as it was. I think I needed this, before tomorrow happens." Before the princess could get sad, however, she reached around and took Pippa by the hand, pulling her to come walk beside her, not releasing her hand. "Especially since it meant I got to meet this lovely lady on better terms than could be achieved later. You had fun, too, I hope," she asked Pippa, and although she squeezed the girl's hand, she couldn't be sure of the answer she'd get.

    "I did, very much," Pippa replied. "It really might've been the strangest collection of people I've ever had the pleasure to share a drink with," she said with a laugh, "but I really did enjoy myself."

    Vivienne laughed, too, and shook her head a little. "We are an interesting bunch, that's for sure, and you had sort of a trial by fire. But we wouldn't have been so rough with you if we didn't like you," she said with a grin. "Isn't that right, Percy?"

    ----
    @Percival Torgood

  2. #62
    House Torgood Percival Torgood's Avatar  

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    It was odd for the knight to be escorting Vivienne home in this manner. On the few occasions that the group of them got together, it was very often in the castle proper, and there was no need for the princess to need him to escort her anywhere. That, or Lexington was close at hand, and Percy had to wonder what the other knight would think if he had found out that Vivienne had snuck out without him or his brother in tow. Torgood was determined not to mention it though. He could sense that it was important for the woman to be able to just be a normal person this evening, since her occasions to be normal would be minimized in the coming years.

    When she dipped her head onto his shoulder, Percy had to take a moment to consider just how human the future queen was. It was difficult for him to imagine what her life was really like. Her childhood, while privileged, was probably close to that of other kids who had siblings. But after adolescence things no doubt had changed. The grooming for marriage, the affairs of state, the governesses being replaced by maids in waiting. She was never intended to be strolling the streets of Hebron with her head on the shoulder of a boy, let alone this particular boy. Then again, with all the potential suitors and eligible lords, she had chosen Jesse. Fate was strange indeed.

    The knight listened to the conversation between the women, but he couldn't see Pippa's face with Vivienne between them. "With all due respect your highness, I didn't become the Sword of Summer by walking right into the dragon's mouth," he told her, even though they both knew that it was precisely how he got the name. If there was anything Percival was good at, it was stumbling into a dangerous situation only to find himself the hero when he exited. But he didn't really feel like Vivienne was setting him up. "She's likable enough, I suppose," Percy said nonchalantly, even as he leaned behind the princess to smile at Pippa. "She did an awful lot of flirting with your boyfriend though," he teased them both.

    Percy could tell that they were approaching the side gates to the castle, and he lifted his chin a little bit, sniffing at the air. "Good choice," he told Vivienne as he pulled the heavy wrought iron fencing open. "I don't think Pippa has ever seen the royal kitchens," he added, knowing that it was highly unlikely that she had. "Normally, I could probably get us a pie to share," he told his date. "But I think Mistress Corning might not be in the mood to humor me tonight. No doubt she's got her apron twisted trying make everything ready for tomorrow."

    As they entered through the heavy wooden door that led to the kitchens, the aforementioned cook didn't even seem to notice them, even though she whisked right past. Percy looked at Vivienne and smiled. "The queen and a complete stranger stroll through the kitchen during the witching hour, and nobody bats an eye," he said in a way that made it sound like a question only by half. "Tomorrow should be quite exciting, I think."

    Percy was smart enough to know that the princess wasn't going down the main hall to her chambers, and so he stopped Pippa and himself in the kitchen. How Vivienne got around was only partially a secret. The knight might not know where the passages were, but he was smart enough in the last year to realize that the princess got about too quickly and too inconspicuously for her own good. But so far she hadn't gotten into any trouble, and so he let it alone. "Say goodnight, your grace," he told her, before moving in to give her a hug. "And thank you again, for being my friend."

    Turning to look at Pippa, he nodded. "You ready? This night has been full of firsts for a lot of us. But I would wager that reaching my father's door at midnight and finding him waiting up for someone other than me will probably be the oddest."


    @Philippa Avery

  3. #63
    Member Philippa Avery's Avatar  
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    "Of course not," the princess agreed, the sarcasm apparent even though her tone was light. "Ever the man of calm, measured restraint, is our Percy." Vivienne gave a pointed look to Pippa, who was still grinning when she caught Percival's smile behind Vivienne's back.

    "He started it!" Pippa sounded indignant as she protested, but she had a hard time keeping a straight face, and Vivienne failed utterly, dissolving into laughter. "I've no doubt he did," the princess answered, confident that this was true. Jesse had an eye for a fresh target, and he loved playing the instigator when he could get away with it. Percy showing up with a date nobody had met would have been too great a temptation to expect the bard to resist.

    The kitchens were warm and, despite the hour, quite busy. Vivienne released her hold on her escorts and, with more than a little internal resignation, straightened into better posture. It was amazing, Pippa thought as she watched, how just a few small changes could utterly transform a person. Mere moments ago this woman was walking through the streets of Hebron, tipsy and laughing, and now the person who stood before them had a formality to her presence. If she was honest, it was a little jarring, and she wondered if she ever did anything similar. Was there a comparable change when Corran had come in, and she'd suddenly been alert and - although she would be loathe to admit it out loud - frightened?

    "Tomorrow will be something," Vivienne all but groaned, and she hugged Percy tightly. Pippa, too, got pulled in for a hug, and when she was released the princess was smiling. "I'm sorry, I probably should have checked if you're a hug person...are you?" Pippa answered in the positive, and Vivienne nodded approvingly. "Good. I won't be able to do that tomorrow, but I hope we'll be seeing more of you. Maybe I'll have to convince Corran to spend more time in the capital." She winked, and then made to turn and leave when she spotted a tray of sweet rolls, freshly baked, presumably waiting for the next morning's breakfast. Stealing a big one before the baker working on them could turn around and see her, she pushed it into Pippa's hands. "Here! It's big enough to share. Better with the frosting, but-" She finished the sentence with a 'what can you do?' shrug, and then waved and slipped through the inner kitchen door and out of sight.

    Tucking the pastry under her cloak, Pippa nodded and made for the door. "Watch him be asleep in his chair," she said with a chuckle. When the kitchen door was safely closed behind them, she pulled the sweet roll out and inhaled deeply, the scent of cinnamon and clove and sugar heavy but welcome in the crisp night air. Holding it out to him so he could pull off a piece if he wished, Pippa asked a question she hoped wouldn't backfire. "Did you often give him reason to wait up for you?" The question was asked in such a tone that it would be easy to dodge if Percy felt so inclined, but it was getting hard for Pippa to resist asking about the relationship the father and son shared.

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    @Percival Torgood

  4. #64
    House Torgood Percival Torgood's Avatar  

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    As the minutes and hours dragged on, the Avery problem seemed to grow exponentially. Percy had decided far earlier in the day that he liked the woman. Liked her demeanor. Liked her smile. Liked her capable air. Loved the way she interacted with Victoria. And was quite the fan of her appearance. But he could have pushed all of that aside, with a small twinge of regret, once she had rejoined her tour and later returned to Eddleton. He could even have survived her visit to the barracks tonight, and the party, had the guardswoman not been so easily absorbed by the amoeba that was his social circle. But in the few moments that they had known her, the other two couples took to Pippa as easily as he had. They seemed to enjoy her company, and were eager for more of it. But they were exactly that. Couples. And since Pippa had come with Percy to the party, and they didn't know any better, there was a fair to middling chance that the pressure for them to be the same would be too much for their fledgling friendship to survive.

    The worst part was that Percy was thinking selfishly. Pippa, Vivienne, and Sophia, even the boys, deserved to have friends. People with whom they felt comfortable, and who could share their joys and sorrows. He needed to stop considering Pippa in terms of himself, even if his attraction to Pippa was strong. "We'll all be there for you," he assured her. The knight didn't really have a choice in the matter. "I'm not worried," he told her with a broad smile. "The only thing better than ruling the world, is to have one of your best friends do it. Less work, just as many benefits," he told her, even though he was certain that Vivienne knew he would never take advantage of the fact that he had her confidence.

    Waiting as the princess said goodbye to Pippa, it was all he could do not to fidget. The cinnamon roll however gave him something to focus on, and he gave the soon to be queen a nod goodbye. He held the door for the woman, and slipped quietly out behind her. "That would be a new development for me," he said, taking a piece well less than half and leaving the rest of Pippa. After all, he would still have first shot at them come morning when he reported for duty. Percy had not known his father to show such a lack of vigilance, but he had to admit that when it came to the more recent mannerisms of the old man, Pippa was more of an authority than he was.

    The air had chilled since they had walked to the tavern, and Percy could see his breath as he exhaled into the cool Hebron night. "Warm enough," he asked her casually, ready to shed his jacket if she gave any indication that she was cold. No doubt that the oceanside city she had come from was much much more comfortable than the inland holds of the island. Percy couldn't be sure that Pippa had packed appropriately, if this was her first proper visit to the capital in the late autumn.

    Continuing back towards the estate that held the Delarose delegation, Percy kicked a stone as he studied the road before them. "It was quite a day," he said idly, thinking just how unexpected everything that occurred had been. "The kid is pretty swell, huh? I can see why Corran likes her so much," he said, resorting to his father's given name, if only for Pippa's comfort. What Victoria was, or was not, by relation to her father was not of Percy's concern. He had been suitably impressed with the girl on her own merits.

    Percy was painfully aware that he was bad at small talk. He had always been a man of action, and he was terrible when it came to a slow play. Perhaps that had something to do with his fallout with Kivi. Perhaps if he had only been more patient, or more understanding of her difficulties, things might have ended differently. But for certain, he knew it was far too premature to start drawing comparisons between the woman who had once assured him that she loved him, and the girl he had met less than twelve hours ago.


    @Philippa Avery

  5. #65
    Member Philippa Avery's Avatar  
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    Pippa honestly didn't know if Corran would be waiting up for her. It wasn't like she was a member of his household; close as their working relationship may be, it was still technically just that. But, thinking more about it, she wouldn't be surprised to slip in and find him sitting there, working on something so he didn't have to say he was just waiting for her. She wondered if he'd want to talk to her about the evening, and ask her how she'd come to be in Percy's company. Jesse had said he'd known, but she'd never been able to figure out if he'd been telling the truth, and if he was, how much Corran actually knew. Although she hadn't done anything wrong, she still couldn't quite quell the flare of anxiety at possibly being questioned, and it made her feel unpleasantly like a child again.

    "Oh yeah. This thing's plenty warm." The wool cloak wasn't new, and only went down to about her knees, but it was thick and well cared for, and it did the trick. It had started life in her uncle's possession, and had been a handsome rich blue before it had faded some, but she'd swiped it from him enough that eventually he'd given up getting it back from her. As a consequence the hood was still too big when she put it up, and the clasp seemed just a bit oversized, but otherwise it was still a respectable and useful thing.

    Pulling small pieces from the pastry, Pippa didn't bother trying to hide the content smile on her face as she savored it. It was delicious, and it felt good to eat something sweet and heavy after having more to drink than she'd planned. She made a sound of agreement at his observation, and nodded when conversation turned to Victoria. "Vicky's a good kid. Some of the things she gets away with would have gotten me in serious trouble when I was her age, but I guess that's not really unexpected." She made the comment lightly, not out to lay down any real condemnation. "She's going to be a force to be reckoned with when she's older, though. She's quick and brave and clever, and incredibly good at learning where the lines of what she can and can't get away with are and then inching them in the direction she wants them to go." That may not have been a compliment from some people, but Pippa spoke with some exasperated appreciation. Whoever was in charge of that girl when she was a teenager was going to be in for a whole lot of work.

    "So, help me out here." There was only a little of the sweet roll left, and she popped it in her mouth, licking the spiced sugar from her fingers quickly before she continued. "I want to make sure I've got everyone straight. Correct me where I go wrong, okay?" She didn't wait for a verbal answer before going on, counting off the people on her fingers as she got to them. "There's Vivienne, princess soon-to-be-Queen. And she's dating Jesse? Who is...Sophia's brother, although there's something weird there. Not, like, hinky weird, but something weird nonetheless." There was a slight pause as she seemed to consider where to go next. "Sophia is married to Xavier, but they don't have the same last name? Also kind of weird. And it seems like you, and Jesse, and Xavier have the most common history, so I'm going to assume you three were friends before the girls came into the picture."

    She looked up at Percy, an apologetic smile on her face. "How far off am I?"

    -----
    @Percival Torgood

  6. #66
    House Torgood Percival Torgood's Avatar  

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    If Percy was upset by his missed opportunity for chivalry at the expense of the well worn cloak, he didn't show it. From the jump, Pippa had made it perfectly clear that she didn't want to be treated differently simply because she was a woman. He didn't get the impression that he resented the painted ladies of court, but rather she didn't want to be considered one. And, if he were honest, there was a small amount of jealousy over it. He had the small drawer in the barracks, some of which he had sent away with Vicky earlier, but beyond that there were very few items of sentimentality that he owned, and even fewer that belonged to his family. Corran had sent a great deal of his mother's things to her mother and sisters after she had died, and Percy had been drilled into thinking that it was silly for a young man to hold onto such trifles.

    "She respects you," he said with a nod. "She would fight for you. That much I've already seen," he said with a warm expression. Victoria Kendrick was ready to take on the lot of the tour when they had laughed at the idea of Pippa being a knight, and Percy had thought about letting her try, just to see the girl in action. "That says a lot, if you consider it," he told her. He wasn't about to bring up their difference in stations, or the fact that even if Pippa was a noble, that she was unlikely to be as wealthy or notorious as Carson Kendrick was. "As someone who didn't have a mother either, I can tell you honestly. You can only underestimate what you mean to her. She seems very independent, but I think that if you left, she would be unruly about it."

    Percy wouldn't speculate about what the girl might be like when she was older. Too much depended on where she was and for how long. If she remained with Corran and Pippa, there was no telling what she might become. If she returned to her father, the knight couldn't possibly know. "And how does that work," he asked, a suddenly mischievous smile appearing on his face. "Are you someone who would let people inch the line on you," the boy wondered, regardless of the story about her uncle breaking the fingers of others. Percy wasn't the kind of man who pressed a woman, but he also wasn't the kind to act as though he didn't notice them either,

    Her questions about his friends were expected, and he nodded knowingly. "For the most part, you have it, though it's a little easier chronologically," he assured her. "Xavier Fairfax was too much of a socialite to hold his sway over House Fairfax. He abdicated his position in favor of his younger cousin so that he could avoid an arranged marriage and remain as close to the Valley as possible. He was less suited for the plains than Edward or Lady Delarose." Percy seemed to be remembering as he went. "This, at a remarkably young age," he added, thinking that Xavier was only sixteen or seventeen at the time. "I met him shortly after, when my father interviewed him before his promotion to knighthood. Jesse arrived about a year later from the bard's college."

    Turning to go back past the tavern as they made their way toward Pippa's destination. The minstrel in question was leaving the building, and moved to flag the pair down. "No," Percy said before he could get too close. "We're talking about you, and the princess is waiting. Get you to your woman, young man. Tomorrow there will be an army of suitors who don't know, or give a fig about you, so you best go give her a strong reminder of why she chose your foolish ass," he said.

    Jesse frowned, but shrugged it off. He offered Pippa a bow, and moved past, but not without looking back and calling for Pippa. "Whatever he tells you about me, is probably true. Unless he says he's a better kisser. Don't you believe that for a second," he said, before putting his palm to his lips and blowing the girl a kiss.

    The knight just shook his head and walked on with a laugh. "We were fast friends right away," he explained. "He didn't have any friends, and Xavier and I appreciated that he could tell a story. He was a extremely good at helping us impress the girls at court. Until he impressed the girl at court. And nobody saw it coming." He didn't add any details, though he knew them if she asked further. "Xavier met Sophia a few months later, when he was working escort on Vivienne's trip to Westbury. Sophia's uncle was still the head of the house then, but something happened. There was some kind of fiasco wherein the man was abusing Sophia and her mother, and Xavier cut him down for it. It's the simplfied version, mind you, but that's at the heart of it. Vivienne had him pardoned, and Sophia ascended to the head of the house. They fell in love and got married, but she her rule was so new that she kept her name so as to solidify her power among her people."

    Percy paused to consider what he might have been missing. "Oh, and then Xavier stumbled on a portrait of Sophia and her brother as children in one of the rooms of Nightingale Keep, and he recognized Jesse almost immediately. Apparently Sophia's uncle had wanted Jesse, or Darren as he was born, eliminated to consolidate his control of the city. But Jesse's mother smuggled him out of the city and to the Bard's College in Aston. So, he's technically a high noble, but nobody but the group of us know it, with a few exceptions which were required to verify the fact," he told her. Old Walden and Augustus had agreed that it was more than likely a certitude that Jesse had been born Darren MacHeath, and eventually the dean of the minstrel school confirmed it.

    Without mentioning anything more of himself, Percy shrugged. "All in all, you were about spot on. People would think you were an insider with that deduction, though I would be careful what you share. Not all of that is common knowledge."


    @Philippa Avery

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    Member Philippa Avery's Avatar  
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    Pippa chuckled, but she couldn't deny that Percy was right: Vicky was defensive of her, and feisty enough to stand up to people on her behalf. But the opportunity to say something in response was cut short by the revelation - or, really, confirmation - that Percy hadn't had a mother. And she hadn't considered her relationship with Vicky in the context of what she might be to the girl in the place of a female role model. Sure, she had her governesses, the tutors, various maids, and most of them had been in Vicky's life far longer than she had herself. So was did she really hold such a place of importance to the girl? She found it hard to believe, but also difficult to discount, too. "I guess it's a good thing I don't plan on going anywhere," was all she settled on saying.

    The mischievous look on Percy's face was met by a coy smile from Pippa, and she was struck with how much she liked the way the expression sat on the knight's lips. "Depends on the people," came her answer, "and which line. Some are more flexible than others."

    Pippa was surprised to learn that Xavier was meant to be head of his house. Someone that charming could have gone a long way in politics, the way she figured, but she respected that he had followed his own wishes. Although, the idea of a man abdicating his place to avoid an arranged marriage struck her as a little amusing; wouldn't he have gotten to pick his own wife? It was usually a woman's place to lament the lack of choice in the who and the when of their weddings. Although, the way she understood it, it was next to impossible for a woman to do as Xavier had and step aside from their responsibilities to live the life they chose.

    The way Percy spoke to his friend made Pippa laugh, and she swept a bow of her own to him, sweeping one arm out to make her cloak swirl around her. She enjoyed watching the interactions between this tight-knit group of friends, how the different personalities meshed and played off one another. As she'd seen, sometimes there were conflicts, but if tonight was any indication they weren't long lasting. She laughed again at Jesse's parting words and waved as they moved on, shaking her head and chuckling.

    She tried her best to absorb the details that Percy gave, filling in the story as she'd understood it. At times she shook her head in disbelief, and at others she simply nodded to show she followed, but altogether it made for one heck of a tale. "My lips are sealed," she assured him. Although he would have to take her on her word for now, Percy would someday come to learn that Pippa made a good confidante; she was a sympathetic listener, and kept secrets well. She wasn't one that was eager to go share whatever exciting news she would have gotten.

    "You know how unlikely all that sounds, right," she asked with a chuckle. "Each bit taken in isolation is unusual enough - a long lost brother; a man who was meant to be head of one of the biggest noble houses marrying a woman who was head of her own, for love, no less; a commoner bard wooing and winning the heart of the princess, and then, oh, surprise, he's secretly a high noble?" Pippa couldn't help but laugh. "And then to have all those histories be true, and interwoven...you lot are complicated, in the most interesting ways." It seemed true that most of that intrigue centered with the MacHeaths, and maybe that had some impact on why Percy had seemed to feel a little on the outside of things.

    "So what about what you said earlier? Did you really get stuck playing wingman and entertaining the friends of Xavier's conquests?" She paused, and then turned to walk backward in front of Percy for a minute. "And don't be afraid to tell me if I'm getting too nosy. I promise I'll take it well." Her own stride being slightly shorter than the knight's, she returned to walking beside him, but she'd wanted to be able to look him in the eye when she assured him that he could tell her to back off. She didn't by any means want to pry.

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    @Percival Torgood

  8. #68
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    "Good for who," he asked out loud, thinking that he had rather meant to internalize the question. But he didn't cringe or make an excuse for it. Percy had tripped over enough sentences in his life to know when to just roll the conversation along. "You two look well together," he said, thinking back the that afternoon. "Same hair color and everything. If you had been sisters, I wouldn't have been surprised." The Kendricks were notoriously blond however, and the thought of it made Percy wonder if the younger girl's hair would lighten, or if her mother had naturally dark hair.

    The knight realized he had worded it wrong as soon as he had the answer, even if Pippa understood perfectly what he had meant. "That's good to know, I suppose," he said. "If this afternoon was any measure of how likely you are to be pressured into something, I think I am in luck. It gave me a small inclination of what I believe you can be talked into." He didn't say anything for a few moments, letting the statement hang in silence for almost a hundred feet, before he sighed and slumped a little bit. "After all, we're still a good mile or more from our destination, and I don't know if I will make it without a piggy back ride," he told her, smiling at the idea of her trying to carry him the way she had Victoria earlier.

    "Do I know how unlikely it sounds," he repeated, and laughed. "If I told anyone who hadn't met them already that same tale, they'd damn my eyes for a liar," he said, quite positively, shaking his head. "I mean, just look at them! The two of them. As if anyone would believe for a Hebron minute that I was the single one," he said with a bit of exasperation. "Complete rubbish and fairy tales, the lot it." It was a statement for show, naturally, but in fact Percy wasn't sure that they were interesting or complicated. For the most part, they were all relatively simple. Even the simplest of fates could be told in a way that spun them in extremely fanciful paths from birth to death. And while Jesse was better equipped to dramatize their existence than Percival was, the knight did kind of enjoy regaling Pippa with whatever stories he could, if they held her interest.

    When she spun and looked at him, it took a fair amount of restraint not to reach for her. Percy was acutely aware of a need to touch her, as though something of that carefree light in her eyes would shock him, if he could just get a hold on her for more than a moment. But he only smiled, and tried to push the urge into the back of his mind. "I don't mind," he said honestly. "For the most part, it was true, yes. Though I wasn't entirely fair to Xavier in the wording. I may have made it sound as though he had arranged it, or that it didn't happen spontaneously. And it wasn't always a chore. Some of those girls were remarkably handsome and intelligent, and some of them were more than willing, even when I wasn't. Mostly they were young women, in service to whichever lady Xavier had taken to wooing on any particular evening. Humoring me wasn't part of their pay, unless it was, and at that point I could never tell for sure what they were doing under obligation or duress. But more often than not it made it difficult for me to be myself."

    Was it whining? The knight thought that maybe it sounded a little bit like sour grapes, but he couldn't be sure and he wouldn't ask her. "Either way, I'm glad he's happily married now, and I'm glad you didn't bring any friends," he said with a chuckle and a small amount of blush. "It hasn't always been easy," he said at last. "But in the great majority, it has been fun. And I wouldn't trade either of them for the world." He thought he meant it.

    Attempting to change the subject, and not subtly, Percy asked about her. "And you? Tell me something about Philippa Avery. Something simple. Something true. Something I couldn't find out by asking my father, or your uncle, or the little Lady Kendrick."


    @Philippa Avery
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  9. #69
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    "Did it, now," Pippa asked, looking up a little skeptically at the knight. She didn't press as he let the silence linger, not uncomfortable in the least with the pause, and she laughed easily at his little sulk. Taking a little step back, she made a show of considering him, eyeing him up and down, and in the end she made a little nod. "Doable," she finally said, falling back in step beside him, a confident smile on her lips, "but probably not for the whole mile." Not easily enough to be worth it, at least. She was confident she was strong enough to carry him, though, even if it would be awkward due to his height.

    The guard laughed along with him, and it rolled on at his exasperation. If she was honest she was a little surprised, too; Percival was handsome and fit, came off as confident but not cocky, and made her laugh easily. Not that Xavier and Jesse were lacking in things to recommend them, either, but if she were looking and had all three as options she knew which she'd go for. In fact, he seemed like he would be a good match for her, if what could be learned of a man in one day was any indication. If. Futures seemed to pivot on that small word. If there were a way she could stay. If she got to know him better. If.

    His answer gave Pippa more insight into the way his mind worked, and she was impressed with what she learned. Common was the man who would take advantage of a willing woman even if she was only willing by obligation. "I can see how that could be," she said. "Not much point in making too much of an effort to put yourself out there if you know nobody else is invested." Pippa thought that Xavier was probably quite lucky to find a woman who didn't mind whatever history he had - assuming Sophia didn't - although perhaps the man would've been just as satisfied to have remained a bachelor his whole life. If the looks exchanged between husband and wife were anything to go by, though, it certainly seemed like they were well matched and happy.

    "About me?" Pippa crossed her arms and looked thoughtful, and then offered with a smirk, "Something simple and true? How about this: I'm not great with open ended questions." She chuckled, and tucked a loose golden curl behind her ear, revealing a cheek that was slightly pink from the chill in the air. "And, for the record, you can't find out much from talking to my uncle anymore. I've tried talking to his headstone, but he never has anything to say back." It wasn't a heavy statement, laden with sorrow and mourning, but spoken more lightly, sort of matter-of-fact.

    She considered his question for a little while longer, trying to come up with a serious answer, but in the end she shrugged. "I dunno. I hate peas. That's both simple and true." She grinned up at him, and looked a little apologetic. "If you want anything more profound you're going to have to be more specific."

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    Percival made a face as though he might be skeptical of her assessment, but he only let it fade into a smile, and then shook his head. "I'll let you try tomorrow," he offered, knowing that he would be in the unenviable position of wearing a ceremonial suit of plate. If she was foolish enough to try it then, he wouldn't be sure what to think. Perhaps dazzled by her confidence, or moreover, her strength if she managed it, or possibly befuddled by the silliness of even making the attempt. He certainly wouldn't discount her ability just based on her size and gender, but Percy balked at lugging the armor around on himself, let alone trying to carry it and a man who weighed the better part of thirteen stone.

    Her empathy about his dating habits only served to make him wonder more about her own adventures in romance, but he wasn't so bold as to ask. In fact, he was far less bold than Xavier and Jesse. "Don't get me wrong," he said in the interest of honesty. "I probably wouldn't be human if there weren't days when I wasn't interested in investing myself, but still took advantage of a fortunate situation or two. But I never made a habit of it. At least not to the extent that my friends did. Maybe that was where I went wrong," he conceded. "Maybe you women can smell the lack of experience on me, and just go fishing for more practiced men," he teased, making his generalization of her gender clearly farcical in nature.

    The knight couldn't help but feel at least a little embarrassed by his miscue, even if Pippa seemed to be relatively comfortable with the question. He thought about their day, and wondered if he was supposed to know that her mentor was gone, but he couldn't remember hearing her mention his passing. "I'm sorry," he said, but made a point not to linger on the matter, since she hadn't been visibly upset. "Is it open-ended questions," he asked genuinely, "Or is it a reluctance to talk about yourself?" He asked, not as though he were trying to analyze her, but only out of his own inability to talk about himself at any kind of length. He just never thought he was that interesting.

    At the mention of her distaste for peas, Percy smiled knowingly and nodded his head. He waived off both her apologetic look and her implication that he should be more specific if he really wanted to know about her. "No," he said with a chuckle. "I think I know what I need to know. I was never the guy who expected anyone to be profound, or that needed to know that someone could be. People are people," he said casually, and didn't think he needed to explain it any better than that.

    The knight detoured them down a side street that ran parallel to the road they had been on. Not to intentionally delay her return home, but because he knew the man who owned the building on the corner, and knew he liked to keep his storefront lit, even when he wasn't there. Percy reached up and took down one of the sconced torches, and held it in front of them far enough that they wouldn't be singed, but close enough to chase away some of the cold that was seeping into their skin and bones. "Has Corran said when you are leaving to head back to Eddleton," he asked, trying not to sound to hopeful about the answer.


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    "When you're in full plate?" Pippa made a sound of dismissal, a short blow of air from her lips. "Please. I've carried bigger men than you, but I draw the line when plate is involved. Too heavy, too painful. Besides," she said with a teasing look over at him, "I wouldn't want to muss up your fancy kit."

    As he elaborated on his romantic history, Pippa could only shrug, with a look on her face that echoed what he had already said: he was only human. Nobody could be expected to resist temptation every time it presented itself, after all, and just because those girls may not have set out to woo Percy, it didn't mean they couldn't have had a good time. The guard was, as a rule, pretty open minded about most things sexual. She'd heard enough stories, good and bad, around campfires and on long marches that nothing much shocked her anymore, and she could afford to be pretty laid back about the whole thing most of the time.

    If Pippa hadn't been drinking that night, she probably wouldn't have mentioned her uncle's death at all, but her avoidance of it would have been more for Percy's sake than her own. She hadn't given any indication to this point that he had died, and she'd put her companion in an awkward spot which, thankfully, he seemed to take well. She was happy to move past it, and when she answered his question it was with an open frankness. "Both, really. I've always liked listening to other peoples' stories and stuff better. And with broad questions, I end up getting stuck on wondering what the right answer is. Things are never as simple as 'what's your favorite', or 'what do you want to be' or whatever."

    "I'm tempted to ask what you think you need to know," she said with a sideways glance, "but I think in the end you're right. People are people." People were complicated, messy things, hard to pin down and sometimes harder to articulate. But you could know someone without being able to describe them; it was about a picture in the mind, an assemblage of context and nuance. Pippa had certainly built a picture of Percival, and of the others she'd met this evening, and it had all left her wanting to know more.

    The light on the dark streets was a welcome beacon, and Pippa stepped close to the torch, cupping her hands around the bottom of the flame. "He hasn't, no," she replied, giving no indication if she'd picked up anything other than casual interest. "I'm not sure we have a solid date...he said something about being unsure how much business he'd have and how long it'd take, alongside all the events that're going on." She didn't know if Corran intended to attend everything. He'd made some mention of the tournaments, but she couldn't remember at this moment if he'd been saying he wanted to go or that he didn't. She sort of hoped she'd get to see the jousting, at least. Archery was not her strong point, but she liked watching the jousters and seeing the technicalities of the sport. "You've got to be looking forward to the end of the week. With the capital full it's got to make your job that much harder, and I imagine it's not like you get much free time to enjoy the festivities yourself."

    ----
    @Percival Torgood

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    "You could try, Avery," he said somewhat haughtily. "But it wouldn't matter in the end," he told her. "I make everything look good," he assured her, drawing his arm across his chest and walking a few paces in profile so that she could see how regal he was. "Besides, if Sophia has her way, you'll be in heels most of the night. When you undoubtedly step on some poor noblemen's feet, I don't think he'd appreciate the added weight of my armor piercing his foot," he told her with a smile. Though if the evening had taught him anything, it was to be careful issuing challenges to the woman, because she didn't seem to fear any attempt.

    The torch light danced as they walked, and Percy was glad for the heat. The warmth on his skin seemed to chase away the goosebumps that had started to form, which he had convinced himself were entirely weather related and had nothing to do with Pippa. As chilly as it was becoming, he was still glad for the company, and still dreaded the long walk home alone. Not because he was concerned for his safety, but simply because he had gotten used to talking to the girl, and he wasn't ready to go back to being alone yet.

    There was a small and knowing smile on his face, but Percy shook his head in response to her statement. "Why? What would a wrong answer sound like? Is it categorically wrong? Or only wrong because you think it would hurt the other person's feelings, or might not be what they want to hear?" Percy could imagine quite a few people being disappointed by one of Pippa's answers, especially if the question was about love or marriage. "Rest assured, if you find yourself cornered by me, I won't have painted you into it," he told her with another coy smile.

    "You aren't so tempted that you'll ask," he said with a laugh. Percy only knew Pippa as a polite girl who was very careful not to tip the boat, and he highly doubted she were the type to press him. Partially because she might fear the answer. Swaren knew that he dreaded it himself. "People,"he said with a shrug. Most of them won't open up enough to get a solid idea about them, and the ones who do usually use the information to their profit." Shaking his head, Percy laughed. "They say that one bad apple doesn't spoil the bunch, but I try to leave the science to Augustus."

    In truth, Percy didn't know how he felt about the end of the week. He was tired and overworked, that much was true. And at least for a day or two the quiet would be a welcome change. But then boredom would set in and he would have to figure out how to pass the time. Most likely running barracks inventory for Guy. "If the capital weren't full, you wouldn't be here," he said, and looked the young woman in the eye. "I can't speak to tomorrow, but you're here now. Which is a might better than anything I might have dreamed up on my own."

    @phillipa avery
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    "Isn't being a pretty boy peacock more Xavier's thing," Pippa asked with laughter in her voice. Percy wasn't the one, after all, who had thrown a little fit when he'd gotten beer on his sleeve. "You do an impressive strut, though," she offered, although through the laughing it was hard to tell if she was being serious or sarcastic. Things weren't as funny, though, when Percy pointed out that she might be in heels all of tomorrow night. "Maybe she won't have any that fit me," she said with some hope in her voice." "Not that I wouldn't love a couple more inches in height, but those things are not comfortable for any amount of time." No, Pippa's feet were made for flats and boots. She couldn't remember the last time she'd had to wear heels for any amount of time, but she hoped if that was what ended up happening tomorrow that she'd rediscover how to walk in them quickly.

    Pippa had been about to answer Percy's question honestly. There were lots of kinds of wrong answer, and she was usually pretty good at finding them. But then came the comment about being cornered. She raised an eyebrow at him, and although she probably should have left it at that, she didn't. "Oh? And tell me, Torgood, how would I come to be cornered by you, then?" There was still a smile on her face, and it had a hint of challenge in it, too, even though pushing the matter was a bad idea. But really, if the worst that happened was that he demonstrated exactly what he'd meant, she could live with the consequences.

    "If the capital weren't full, you wouldn't be here."

    It would have been easy to brush off the comment as something he'd probably say to any girl he was walking home late at night, if he hadn't looked her in the eye. It was that which caused the girl's cheeks to warm, and she was grateful for the chill of the night having already made her cheeks and nose pink so the blush wasn't apparent. For a half second there was the impulse to step in front of him and halt their forward progress, although she didn't allow her imagination to go further than that before dismissing the thought. "You're right, if I weren't here you probably wouldn't have left your room tonight." She smirked up at him, sidestepping the focus. "Lounging in your bed in your skivvies, if you're anything like most of the men I know on your night off."

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    @Percival Torgood

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    Being a pretty boy peacock might have been a Xavier thing. And being a goof might have been a Jesse thing. But in his more light-hearted moments, Percy could manage both to a relatively successful degree. "A thank you," he said with a dramatic bow in reference to her compliment about his strut. Percy didn't even mind being humored at this point.

    The conversation about heels made the knight smile, both at the thought of Pippa awkwardly trying to manage them and at the imagined change in her person that a couple of inches might add to her stature. "It's a royal coronation, Avery. Nobody is going to be comfortable," he assured her. And while he understood her trepidation, it was hard to have sympathy for her having to wear uncomfortable shoes while he was going to be in a suit of heavy plate. "And if you think that Sophia MacHeath is going to accommodate your comfort in exchange for a lack of fashion sense, I think you are going to be sorely disappointed."

    The problem was the torch, of course. Percy was only gifted by the gods with two hands, and while he was apt to take up her challenge, he didn't want to see her golden hair singed by the flames. Asking her to hold it would have meant telegraphing his intentions, and giving her a weapon to defend herself. Instead, he drew the short sword from its sheath with his right hand and turned a pirouette in the same direction, catching her in the bottom with the flat of the blade in a smack that wasn't hard, but might have stung on the cold night. The blade fell from his hand just as quickly as it had been drawn, and he grabbed up her wrist in the same motion, turning Pippa so that his and her arm were trapped behind her body as he pulled her to face him. The torch in his left hand was safely above her head, and he was glad that she wasn't wearing heels in that moment. "In theory," he said, looking into her eyes, "It would go something like this," he told her, taking a half-step forward just to unbalance her and put his cheek on hers and his lips near her ear. "I'm not sure how it works with a halberd in the way," he said to her softly, his breath warm on her skin against the chilled air.

    His hand released her wrist, allowing her to turn away if she wished. Percy could sense more of her frame than he had been able to discern from simply looking at her all evening, and she was probably stronger than any woman he had ever held and he wasn't looking to be on the receiving end of a knee to the groin. The only thing that was certain was that for the moment, there was nothing cold about the Hebron night. He wanted to bring the free hand back up and touch her cheek, and to draw back and kiss the girl. But he didn't. Just because he thought the challenge was a tease, it didn't mean it was an invitation for anything more. Not yet, anyway.

    "I don't know what I find more curious, my lady. The fact that you seem to know me so well, or the fact that you are thinking about me in my skivvies," he offered with a smile, before taking a half step back and drawing the torch off to the side of them once more.


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    Pippa made a gesture to grant that he was probably right about nobody being comfortable at the coronation. It made her feel a little bit better, though, to realize that she wouldn't be alone in her discomfort. Perhaps she could blend enough that she wouldn't draw too much attention, and few people would realize that she wasn't really supposed to be there. "I'll just think of it as a different kind of uniform," she said with a smile, "only it's one to make me look pretty, instead of one to be useful." If she was honest she was a little excited about the prospect. It had been a long time since she'd had any occasion to dress up, and this was on an entirely different level. She wished there was a way her mother could see her tomorrow, all polished and prettied for their new queen.

    In theory, Pippa knew Percival was agile and quick. She'd observed the short swords, and that style depended more on maneuverability than brute strength, and with him being a Dawn it made sense to assume he was at the top of his class, so to speak. It followed that she should have anticipated in some measure what came next - especially given that she'd instigated it- but the last thing she'd expected was the smack with the flat of his blade. Even through the cloak it stung a bit, and she gave a little squeal as she went to lurch forward out of reach, only to find her wrist caught. While it was technically true that she could have broken his grip, she didn't resist. She told herself it was because he was just giving her an answer to her question, but the flare of excitement that rushed through her at their sudden proximity proved she wasn't being altogether honest with herself.

    Looking up into his eyes, she found herself wishing again that she knew him enough to read him well, although there was plenty there that spoke for itself. She expected - and maybe wanted - him to lean in and kiss her, but he surprised her again, stepping in and putting her on the back foot. Despite being a woman with good balance, out of something like instinct she reached out to steady herself, taking a handful of his jacket to keep her from having to step backward and re-balance. His cheek was cool from the night air, and a little rough, but it made the heat of her own flushed face feel that much more apparent, and part of her wondered if he noticed now that it wasn't the cold that had her cheeks pink. "Good to know," she said, her voice steady and low. There wasn't anything in her tone to encourage him, necessarily, but neither was there even the slightest hint of displeasure. "I wouldn't worry. I'm good at keeping it out of the way."

    Lingering for a moment even after her wrist was released, Pippa finally took the half step back and let go of Percy's jacket, smoothing where she'd held; although whether she did for the sake of the garment or for an excuse to keep physical contact, even she wasn't sure, and she wasn't going to think on it too much. He, too, stepped back, and as the light of the torch moved she slipped down to a crouch, retrieving his dropped blade. "Lucky assumptions, the both of them," she said lightly as she carefully wiped the grit from the blade on her cloak-covered forearm. "You said yourself you haven't been socializing much, and if I remember correctly it didn't much seem like you were all prepared to go out when I showed up earlier." She remembered with a smile how Lexington had sat and talked with her, and she could only imagine now that it had been Percy trying to buy time. "And it's a shot in the dark that you even wear skivvies when you're lounging in your room, but living somewhat communally makes the alternative perilous during the hours in which one might get interrupted."

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    @Percival Torgood

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    "I hope they aren't expensive," Percival said, referencing the heels. "You'd be hard pressed to find anything that might make you look prettier than you already are," he said, this time turning his eyes away from her and shivering a little. Percy was fond of Pippa as she was, and even though he was glad she would be attending the coronation tomorrow, he wasn't exactly fond of the idea of her getting dolled up. It was foolish of him to be jealous now, just as it was foolish an hour ago when he was dealing with Xavier. After all, he barely knew the girl. Perhaps it was the frustration of knowing that he thought she was beautiful just the way she was. And that he saw it when other people seemed so likely to overlook it. And if they didn't look now, why should they be fortunate enough to look tomorrow, just because Sophia had framed it for them?

    Torgood was trying to convince himself that it was just the sudden movement that had his heart pounding in his chest, and that somehow correcting his breathing would immediately send his pulse rate back to where it belonged. But long after he had come to a rest and allowed himself to breath, the blood in his temples was still roaring and the knight immediately became concerned that his hands were starting to sweat. That might have factored in to why he had released her wrist so quickly. The cool night air blew across them and if Percival had thought about it, the one that had had a grip on her might have been trembling. He could feel her hand on his jacket, and he couldn't tell if she was pulling him closer or just holding on. Everything was a blur in that moment, and he couldn't even be sure where he was.

    It was her voice that snapped him back to reality, as she made the reference again to her halberd. His free hand came up, as though in direct opposition to his will, and rested on her cheek, his thumb brushing lightly toward her bottom lip. "I'm not sure that's the proper way to defend yourself, Lady Avery," he whispered, but was thankful that there was no steel between them. He turned her toward him and kissed her softly, a warm touch of his lips to hers, feeling her tighten and then release the grip on his jacket. Percy pulled away after a second, somewhat embarrassed at his lack of restraint, as she worked to smooth the wrinkles from his jacket.

    He had been about to apologize, when she dropped to the street and snatched up the sword from where he had dropped it. He looked at her and listened to her rationale for her assumptions, smiling at how well she seemed to know him already. Perhaps she gleaned more from living with his father than he had imagined. He turned out, but didn't take the sword from her, instead sliding his free arm behind hers and pulling her close as he resumed the walk back toward the Delarose residence.


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    "I'm not sure that's the proper way to defend yourself, Lady Avery."

    If his cheek had been cool from the night air, his hand was anything but, and without even thinking Pippa leaned the slightest bit into his touch. A response came to mind, asking what there was to defend herself from, but it didn't find shape or form enough to be voiced. Her eyes fluttered closed as his lips touched hers, and she couldn't tell if she was rising into him or not. She wasn't aware of herself anymore, or their surroundings, or anything else but that moment and the softness of that kiss.

    Although she wasn't the least upset or embarrassed, bending to fetch the sword gave her a chance to compose herself again as reality came creeping back. The sudden absence of him, although he'd only been close for a few breaths, if that, left the night feeling colder, and it was tempting to slide her arms around him under his jacket. It wasn't a good idea, though. They both needed to get to their separate beds, sooner rather than later, and while lingering together in the cold night and letting the spark between them keep them warm was a compelling thought, it would only make the coming days more difficult. There was already enough that had happened today that would make leaving Hebron more difficult than she could have anticipated; getting too much closer to Percival would only make it worse.

    Still, she couldn't - and didn't try to - hide the smile on her face when he looped his arm through hers and pulled her close, and she held his arm close to her body, falling into step with him. His sword was held in her dominant hand, and as they began walking again she looked it over. In the dim light she could see little detail, but she could easily feel where his fingers normally rested, and the places he gripped to use as pivot points. Rolling her wrist, she gave it a twirl, and held it out, her arm and wrist straight, to test the weight of it. Seemingly content, she tucked the blade under her arm, almost as one would if playing at being run through, and kept her hand loosely on the hilt. "What made you go with short swords," she asked, genuinely curious and hoping her question didn't sound like she wanted to distance herself from what had just passed between them.

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    There seemed to be a silent understanding between them about what happened, and Percival didn't want to necessarily disturb it. As much as he was pleasantly surprised, he was simultaneously content and without worry. When he eventually returned to the barrack and was, as she theorized, in his skivvies and attempting to sleep, it would dawn on him about consequences and regrets and propriety. Percy would do what he could to put it out of his mind. It would be futile, especially once Jesse and Xavier got him alone, because even if he were to deny the occurrence, their questions would still be a reminder of what had happened. Of the heat from her cheeks as it flowed through his fingertips and touch of her lips on his as she reached for his jacket to steady herself.

    The walk resumed easy enough, even if it was quiet for a few moments. It was Percival's hope that she was simply as pleased with herself as he was, and not that she was contemplating whether she had made a mistake. But she looped her arm through his and stepped into him enough to dispel any kind of worry that may have been creeping into his mind. He watched with a small amount of amusement as she twirled the sword, rolling it over deftly in her wrist. He could see a natural affinity for weapons in the way she showed reverence for the blade, and he couldn't help but wonder if she wasn't playing in her mind what it might have been like to try and defend herself. She hadn't hinted at it, but Percy would not be surprised to find a little bit of a competitive nature in the girl.

    The question was not a surprising one, and he had been asked it countless times since he had become a knight. He usually made a point of embellishing an already accepted story that wasn't at all true. Some tall tale about how he had decided long ago to make a point of proving that it was the man and not the weapon that mattered, and that a short sword in the right hand was just as valuable as a bastard sword in two. But he didn't feel the need to lie to Pippa. He didn't feel the pressure of her potential judgment. He simply drew in a deep breath of cool air and shook his head. "I didn't choose," he said, twisting his elbow slightly and stretching his hand open to find hers and interlace their fingers.

    The short pause made it clear that he was gathering his thoughts for a story, and indeed he was. "Guy Durand decided on short swords when I first became a squire. I wanted to learn the longsword or bastard sword, like my father had used," he said honestly. "But it was never really Guy's intention that I would become a Knight of the Dawn. I was destined to be a Knight of the Sword, leading patrols and working abroad in King Cailen's interest." He shrugged at how things had shaken out in the end. "During his coronation, Durand had an inclination that something was amiss. Perhaps paranoia, after what had happened to King Aramis. But it turned out he was right. He stationed me in the Royal Box during the melee, and the short swords turned out to be necessary in the close quarters. He'd tell you that the entirety of my squirehood was all one long buildup to that event, but I don't know how much of that I believe."

    Percy admitted that it seemed like a lot of coincidences to all fall into place in such an apparently pre-ordained order, but he chose to think of it as his destiny, more than Guy's wrangling. After all, so long as he held to his belief in destiny, he could somehow explain this night with Pippa. "After that, I've just grown attached. I might not be the best swordsman in Hebron, but I hold my own. Plus, I'm very vain about my appearance," he lied. "And I was always afraid that a long sword would make my right arm more muscular than my left," he told her, stopping to inspect the two appendages to make sure they were still the same size.


    @Philippa Avery

  19. #79
    Member Philippa Avery's Avatar  
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    What would strike Pippa later was the depth of feeling in these moments. It wasn't even just the physical sensations, either, although she would be hard pressed to forget the feeling of easy strength as he'd maneuvered her, or the gentleness of his kiss; perhaps more than that, she would be shaken by how natural it felt to walk beside him, her fingers laced with his. There was nothing about it that felt forced or awkward, and she could hardly believe she'd only known this man a matter of hours.

    It turned out that Percival's feeling that he wouldn't be judged for his honesty was well founded, as the content look on Pippa's face barely shifted when he gave his short answer. She listened with interest, intrigued at the twists and turns it took. She'd heard of the attack on King Cailen during his coronation joust - it was why there was no melee this time around - but learning that it had been Percy in the royal box with him gave the event a new level of reality. And Guy Durand...the way Percy told it, the man was almost omniscient. But perhaps there had just been a gap in the skills of the men he had to hand when he'd decided what Percival would specialize in, or something similarly practical. Same with the decision to put Percy in the royal box; a bastard sword would be little good in an enclosed space, just the same as a halberd would be. Short swords would have been ideal, and as it turned out, they were essential.

    Grinning as they stopped, Pippa moved to stand in front of him, making a show at scrutinizing his arms, her fingers slipping out of his grasp so she could put her hand up to her chin in thoughtful contemplation. "Hard to tell through all the layers, but I think you're good," she assured him after a moment, and thankfully the thought of what he might look like beneath everything he was wearing was banished quickly enough that it didn't register on her face. "Here," she said, pulling his sword from beneath her cloak and carefully returning it to its scabbard at his hip. "Doesn't feel right having both blades."

    "I'd be curious to hear that story sometime, if it's one you don't mind telling," she said as she returned to his side, and she reached and took his hand again, sliding her smaller fingers between his. "I'd also like to find out how you got your fancy moniker, o Sword of Summer," she looked up at him with a grin, "assuming it's not the same story." It may well could have been. She didn't remember what season King Cailen's coronation had been in, but rescuing a newly-crowned king would certainly be enough to earn someone that kind of title.

    -----
    @Percival Torgood

  20. #80
    House Torgood Percival Torgood's Avatar  

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    The problem with the moment, and the contented nature of the aftermath, was that Percy had never been the type of man who could accept the happiness without the added sense that it could never last. Whether it was the love of his father, the girl from Swaren's temple whose name he couldn't remember anymore, or the certainty that he and Kivennah would live happily ever after. And all of this in one very short day with Pippa. It could have been different. He could have forsaken the slow burn of the simple kiss and thrown all of his fuel on the fire, letting the passion burn out before the sun rose. He could have taken her and stolen away at dawn, if she would have let him. There could have been no questions asked, no emotional investment. He could have be Xavier.

    But in the end, he was compelled to act the fool. To tell the stories without concern over whether they made him look weak, or a pawn, or something other than the knight he had become. He had committed to honesty, because he knew that Pippa was smart enough to know the difference. She might even expect him to exaggerate, embellish, or even outright lie, and let him get away with it as well. His friends had no doubt done a good job of making him look pitiable, and maybe it was their hope that Pippa would just be sympathetic enough to take him to bed. But as much as he didn't know the woman, he was certain they knew her less.

    "Pfft," he said to her and waived his hand dismissively. "You're gonna have to work way harder than that if you're trying to get me undressed, Avery. What kinda boy do you think I am?" He knew what he wished she thought, because he would probably make good on the idea tonight. But Percy was pretty sure he was safe. "I'm sure I don't have to tell you what it's like to have a weapon feel like an extension of yourself," he said as she slid the sword home. "Even only bringing the one with me was difficult," he told her, knowing that he would much prefer to have them both.

    Percy smiled and nodded. "Different stories," he conceded, and even began to blush a little bit at the thought of it. "I would love to tell you both," he said, wondering if the sometime in her statement precluded another date. "I'm not sure we're far enough away from your place for me to start them now though," he said, leaving her the opportunity to arrange another meeting or detour them long enough for him to recall the matters. He did have to get back to the barracks. His rational mind realized that. The irrational mind that had no intention of ever parting company with Philippa Avery ever again, was hopeful.

    The gates of his father's temporary home were looming in the distance, and he could make out at least one light in the upper window. Motioning to it, Percy smiled. "Corran or Victoria," he asked, knowing that it was highly likely that Pippa would know who was staying the in each of the rooms in the large building.


    @Philippa Avery

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