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Thread: Seeing the boys off to war - 11/16, Shellten Observatory - Delaney/Beatrice/Aloise

  1. #21
    House Hepburn Delaney Stormshand Hepburn's Avatar  
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    The bevy of interactions between the players made Delaney smile warmly, almost as though it was a winter holiday in Maple Glade. So many of them assembled, as though they were still in fact children who had been gathered together for a portrait or an outing. There wasn't much for Delaney to add to any of the questions that Aloise was asking, but she listened intently as the child moved away to address Beatrice.

    Grant seemed amused by the whole scenario, and did his best to give the Peregrine girl and odd look for questioning his story. "Is it so hard to believe that I once had baby teeth? Or perhaps you think I look old compared to Lady Beatrice?" Grant put his hands on his hips as though questioning if the girl was trying to insult him. But he smiled, and waived his hand at her dismissively. "I can still eat your weight in cake, little girl. I ain't growing up as fast as you think."

    His mother simply rolled his eyes and rubbed Aloise's back. It was something else the child had said that was causing her to look at Grant skeptically, and then turn to the girl. "You mean Rubianne Remington," she asked casually, and could tell by the look on Leigh's face that he believed the conversation was just starting to get good. The Remingtons had been distant neighbors in the Reach, though Patrick had very few dealings with them. "As in, the relation of Dexter Remington? I wasn't aware we knew her," Delaney said, wondering why a member of the Remington clan would be entrusted with Aloise in the absence of the boys.

    Grant was about to respond, but Seamus cut him off. "Lady Beatrice," he said over the group, though it was unclear if he was bored of the previous discussion or simply trying to save Grant from a public discourse on his rather unorthodox relationship, "Will no doubt be looking forward to joining you, Little Sprite. As nice as things are back home, not much compares with the shops here in Hebron." He was looking at her again, and he could sense that at least Aloise had noticed. But he didn't immediately brake off his gaze. "It's too bad you couldn't have come for the coronation," he said.

    The interest didn't go unnoticed by Delaney, and she tilted her head sideways in a manner that displayed the fact that she was considering something that might not have occurred to her previously. But rather than comment, she let it pass. "No need to worry about that, Seamus. The three of us are going to paint the town so often that Queen Vivienne will be jealous of us," she said with a chuckle. "Just as soon as we settle in here."

    Brushing down her skirts, Delaney smiled at Aloise. "I have a little unpacking left to do, child. Why don't you come give me a hand and we will chat some more." None of the boys seemed to object, and Grant gave her a nod of permission. "The bulk of Beatrice's things are still out on top of the carriage. Be a good boy Seamus, and spare Thomas' back by bringing them in for her, would you?"


    @Aloise Peregrine @Beatrice Ripley

  2. #22
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    "Everyone had baby teeth," Aloise said in a tone very appropriate for her age, stating the obvious to reinforce that it'd be stupid to think she didn't know it. But her sass ended there, as she found it hard to maintain the annoying tone, and she fell into giggles at his further protestations. She knew better than to say it, but in her mind she answered his second question in the affirmative. He did look older than Beatrice to her, although to be fair it wasn't by too much, and she wasn't going to speculate whether that meant Grant looked old or Beatrice looked young. Best to just put it out of her mind.

    The girl nodded, and in looking at Delaney entirely missed the look on Bosleigh's face. The second bit made Aloise falter a little; she wasn't sure who Ruby's family was, and the name didn't have any meaning to her. The trials of the Remington family, their rise and fall, and Dexter's seeming return from the dead, all were events she was oblivious to. Uncertain, Aloise looked to Grant, but before he could answer, Seamus cut in and changed the topic entirely. Attention shifted away from her, Aloise was left to wonder if she'd brought up something that was wrong.

    She was distracted, however, by the way Seamus was looking at Beatrice. Aloise couldn't quite figure out what the look was, but it made her feel curious and, in a weird way, suspicious. She remembered herself soon enough to keep from staring too long, and the lady in question had either not noticed or else just not reacted. Bea had looked up when her name had been spoken, but had broken away temporarily to take a drink. She looked back to him when he addressed her directly, though, and seemed to really look at him for the first time. It was a fleeting glimpse, and then she gave a little wistful smile. "It would have been a sight to see, that's for sure."

    "I watched the play with Queen Vivienne!" Aloise was so excited about it she seemed oblivious to the fact that she'd somewhat stepped over what Delaney had said. "I'll tell you all about it later!" She looked from Delaney to Beatrice, and Bea smiled, heartened that the girl seemed to be so ready to include her. Still somewhat buoyed by her excitement, Aloise looked to Grant and, getting permission, nodded to Delaney's suggestion. "I'll help!"

    Beatrice had missed Delaney's expression earlier, just as she'd been mostly unaware of Seamus looking at her, but she couldn't help be a little suspicious at the woman's motives in asking Seamus to unload her things. Surely there were stewards who could save Thomas the job, but she wasn't going to question it. Instead she looked to see what Seamus would say to his mother's request. "I don't have too much, I promise."

    -----
    @Delaney Stormshand Hepburn

  3. #23
    House Hepburn Delaney Stormshand Hepburn's Avatar  
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    Delaney looked nonplussed at the entirety of it, and she smiled whenever Aloise regarded her for approval or in question. Regardless of what was going on within the conservatory in regards to Rubianne Remington, it wouldn't diminish the joy she felt at having her boys assembled and little Aloise safe. The apparent interest in Beatrice by Seamus was something else to ponder entirely, but she wouldn't even consider broaching the matter before she was alone with Grant. Aloise was far too impressionable, and far too trusting of Seamus, and anything mentioned in front of her could well find its way back to her youngest son.

    "That's what you think," Grant said to the girl matter of factly. "Bosleigh was born with all of his adult teeth already in place. Which isn't hard to believe, because he's always had something of a big head," he told her with a smile, and tapped his brother on the arm. Leigh merely swatted the hand away, pointed at his older brother so as to remind him just what had happened the last time they had disagreed on something. If needed he could get Aloise to remind him.

    "Quit showing off for the girls, Grant," Delaney said, in a rare rebuke of his eldest. "Bosleigh's mouth is hardly a laughing matter," she added, and cleared her throat as she moved to stand. "It appears to be all settled then," she announced for everyone's benefit, as she hooked her arm under Aloise's. "Grant, Leigh, do try to behave yourselves," she instructed them as she turned the child towards her rooms. "And Seamus, don't dawdle with Beatrice's things. Lady Ripley needs to join us so that we can hear about this royal play."

    "Sucks being the tallest," Leigh told Seamus as he made his way toward the corridor leading towards his rooms. "It was good to see you, Beet," he said, before catching himself. "My apologies. Lady Beet." A soft smirk was on his lips as he disappeared into the darkness.

    Grant also gave the girl a nod, and shook his head. "Make yourself at home, Bea," he said to her, deciding that she had heard enough of the old nickname for one sitting. "If you need anything, be sure to let Thomas or myself know, and we will see to it immediately," he assured her before tipping his head and bowing slightly. He followed Leigh down the hall, though presumably with a different destination in mind.

    Seamus, approached and moved toward the door that led out to the gates. "You had a good trip," he inquired, unsure if he had already asked that question. "I want you to know that I appreciate you dedicating your time to Aloise like this. She means the world to me, and I'm afraid that I'll owe you more than a few bags worth of labor when this is all said and done," he joked, though he meant to make good on whatever payment she asked. Seamus was more than flush, since he had never actually been good at spending money.

    The boy wasn't really concerned about how much she had brought. Beatrice wasn't a very large woman, and he had never minded the exercise. He slowed when they were outside, unsure of where the carriage had stopped, and chose to let Ripley lead, rather than search for it on his own. "What have you been up to in the, oh I don't know, how many years has it really been since we've seen each other? What does a Beet do when she leaves the garden?"


    @Beatrice Ripley

  4. #24
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    "That's what you think. Bosleigh was born with all of his adult teeth already in place."

    Aloise looked from Grant to Bosleigh as if she were trying to figure out, firstly if Grant were kidding, and secondly if such a thing were possible. Could someone be born with all their adult teeth? The girl scrunched up her nose thinking about it, her head tipped to the side, but she wasn't sure whether to take Delaney's comment as confirmation or not. But, when her adoptive mother dismissed the topic of conversation, the girl let it drop, too, albeit slightly slower, her questioning gaze lingering for a beat before her attention snapped back at the mention of the play once more.

    Beatrice stood as everyone else did, her hands clasped in front of her, and she grinned as Bosleigh sassed her. If 'Lady Beet' was to be her new nickname, it wasn't as bad as some things she'd been called, and she'd go with it. It couldn't be mistaken to be malicious, either, which helped.

    She thanked Grant for his assurances, and, although it wasn't apparent to anyone but her, for calling her 'Bea'. She appreciated that Grant was such an easy-going and hospitable host; her father was a little more uptight with guests, although she liked to think no less accommodating. Bending at the knees, she dropped a little curtsy as he left, which just left she and Seamus.

    "It was pleasant," she answered simply as she followed him outside. A soft smile curled her lip as he spoke of Aloise, and as she looked up at him she regarded him easily, his height - although more pronounced now that she walked directly next to him - seemingly not bothering her at all. "I'm happy to be of whatever help I can. She seems like an incredibly sweet girl, and if I can in some way help counteract some of the damage and hardship she's sustained, that will be its own reward." She wasn't going to overestimate her own impact, or assume the girl would even open up to her any time soon, but Beatrice was patient, and more than capable of playing the long game.

    When Seamus seemed to falter, Beatrice picked up the lead, although she didn't hurry back to the carriage. She was intrigued by Seamus, this giant of a knight who had gone out of his way to rescue a girl he had no connection to. His turn of phrase amused her, and she gave a little shrug. "Oh, a bit of this, a bit of that. I still end up following my brothers around quite a bit, but we get in less trouble these days than we once did." A bit of mischief crept into her smile, and she added, "Most of the time, at least."

    They were coming up on the carriage now, her trunk and a couple bags still strapped to the luggage rack on top. "I've actually done quite a bit of traveling - hand me that one, would you? - when I consider all the time it's been." She'd pointed to a smaller box, worn but well cared for, and she held it loosely against her chest when she had it, her arms crossed in front of it. "Spent a few winters down on the southern coast with my aunt and her family when I was younger, my parents hoping I'd pick up some more ladylike habits if I wasn't around my brothers. For awhile I went with Sean when he'd go visiting some of the other families of the Reach, and sometimes I'd go with Ewan to tourneys, especially when he started going on his own." She spoke of her travels fondly, although truth be told her favorite part of leaving was always when she got to come home.

    "And what of you? It couldn't have been very long after the last festival I went to that you started your training for knighthood, right?" They had only been children then, but she knew it started early; in fact, if she were honest she couldn't be sure he hadn't already been a squire to someone when last she'd seen him.

    ----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  5. #25
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    It had been so long since they had been kids together that Seamus could not actually be sure if he was still adept at reading Beatrice. He wasn't really sure that he ever had been adept at it. While it was true that the Ripley woman was here at Delaney's request, the knight seemed to sense that Bea was being genuine about her hopes for Aloise, and it made him glad. He wasn't at all confident in leaving the girl in anyone's care while he was in Welch Run, but knowing that if something should go wrong with the plan, that Delaney would be there for Aloise, and have Beatrice's help at that, soothed his nerves a little. And there was nobody he trusted more than his mother to make sure that the girl was well looked after. She might have always been at odds with Maera, but Seamus still considered Delaney to be an above average parent.

    Seamus opinion about the prospects of getting in trouble were favorable, as the related to the Ripley's. "It's one of the things I miss most about home," he admitted to her. "Working for the crown means a certain level of respectability is required. For Grant and I, at least," he said with a chuckle, knowing that Bosleigh was far from bound to the same quality standards as the others. "But I do enjoy a little bit of mischief when I get back to the Reach. Nothing serious, and I will probably have to refrain this year for Aloise's sake, but I do miss it."

    Taking the items down was no problem for the boy, who managed the task easily, despite being awkward about stacking the items in her arms. He kept pausing to make sure she had them, and then moving his hands in case to catch them should she falter, though she never did. "Lucky," he said with a little bit of genuine envy. "I've never been anywhere that I wasn't on assignment. Though I get to meet all sorts of interesting people," he added with a chuckle. "Three queens, two kings, a handful of lords, dancing bears, gypsies, and a scared little girl dying of malnutrition. But sadly, no trips to the beach," he shrugged with a smile.

    Without saying as much, he was a little disappointed that she hadn't been here to see him ride in the tourney. He was still enjoying free drinks about the capital for his victory, and Aloise looked at him proudly whenever they were out and someone would congratulate him, but it would have been nice to have someone like Beet, who had known him since he was a young boy, see him ride to fame in the coronation tournament. "Seems like forever ago," he said wistfully. "And forever is a long time to try and recount. Maybe after you are settled in, we can sit and talk about the time in a more thorough manner. That is, if you would like," he said, somewhat awkwardly.


    @Beatrice Ripley

  6. #26
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    There was a bit of a smile as Seamus acknowledged that the standards of decorum required of himself and his lordly brother did, for some reason, not apply to the middle Hepburn boy. Beatrice didn't want to assume too much, but if things were still as they always had been, Bosleigh had a way of slipping out of both rigid expectations and the inevitable trouble that seemed to follow him. It was impressive, really, how much he could get away with. Bea had always wondered how he managed it. "Oh, come now. Your mother seems keen to make the girl as much of a Hepburn as she can be, and one could hardly call her initiation complete if it didn't have at least a little mischief. There's got to be some sort of caper that can ease her into the ways of the Reach." The girl's voice had a pleasant lilt to it as she spoke, and a teasing smile played at her lips. She wasn't altogether serious, of course; Seamus knew the Peregrine girl better than anyone, and she wasn't about to insinuate anything different.

    Bea knew the tall knight was right about how lucky she'd been to be able to travel. Although she hadn't necessarily been keen on the reasons, looking back she realized she occupied a sweet spot in society where she had both the means to travel and the lack of obligation which made it possible. She got to be a little envious of him, though, for all the people he'd met, although it seemed uncouth to bring it up after he'd finished off the list with something so awful. "They say the bracing sea air is good for helping people recover...perhaps your boss would let you take Lady Peregrine." Bea thought to offer her aunt's place as a possible retreat, but refrained. Who knew if the Hepburns didn't have allies Seamus would rather stay with if they went to the coast, or some property of the crown available to them, or even a place of their own. It certainly seemed like Grant was doing well enough to be able to afford a summer home on the beach.

    It was a little odd to Bea, the way Seamus kept moving to catch things she was very definitely not in danger of dropping. Her own brothers had long ago gotten used to her level of capability to the point of no longer questioning much, but the care the knight was taking made her smile a little. When her arms were comfortably loaded she stepped away a bit, silently signaling that she had enough. "I would like that, very much," she said, smiling genuinely. "You've definitely got some stories I'm keen to hear, and I'll be happy to tell you some of what's been going on back in the Reach while you've been gallivanting around the rest of the country." She met his awkwardness without judgement, although she did secretly find it endearing, and found herself hoping he was genuine in his invitation.

    ----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  7. #27
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Seamus contemplated the wisdom of Beatrice for a moment, and then nodded sagely. He wasn't entirely sure that Aloise even knew how to play, in the more conventional sense of the word. She had done remarkably well from what he had seen in her training with Bosleigh, but even that was a lesson and not necessarily a game of any sorts. The pure unadulterated joy, the giggling of a girl at play, how long would it take for her to relearn those things, if she had ever known them in the first place. The knight was truly hopeful that Dephia's arrival would assist in the matter though. "My mother," he said with a chuckle and a shake of his head. "She's keen to have a daughter that enjoys her company, unlike the one she currently has."

    But he wouldn't wear on Beet with the details of the drama that enveloped his family. He wasn't even sure if the girl knew his grandmother, but if she did she likely knew all she had to know about the inner workings of the Hepburn clan. If she didn't, that was all the better. But Beatrice was already thinking ahead and changing the subject, a fact that Seamus greatly appreciated. "It hadn't been my intention to use Aloise as an excuse for a vacation," he told her, but not with any accusation in his voice. "Though I admit that your idea has more than a little bit of merit. I'll run it past Grant and see what he thinks though," the knight added.

    Seamus couldn't tell if he was blushing, but he was certain that he was nervous at the prospect of anyone wanting to hear his stories. He wasn't exactly an orator, nor was he as good at talking about himself as Leigh or Grant were. He also hadn't expected Beet to sound as enthusiastic as she had, and the Hepburn boy couldn't even be sure he could write off her acceptance to simple politeness. But neither was he disappointed by her answer. After all, he had invited her and doing so would have been silly, had he only wished that she would decline the offer. "Gallivanting," he echoed with a small smile. "I suppose that is one way of putting it," he told her, as he grabbed the few remaining things, and gestured her back toward the observatory. "Which room did you get," he asked casually, not having been around enough to notice which Thomas had prepared. There were two extra chambers that were not in use that weren't servants quarters, and he was certain Delaney would insist she take whichever was the finest. Whether or not Beet had accepted such an offer, he couldn't be sure.

    When they reached where the girl was staying, Seamus pushed the doors open and held his items until Beatrice had gotten her own hands unencumbered. "I think that mother will keep Aloise busy for a while," he told her. "So I should be free for a couple hours, if you wanna finish settling your things. I could meet you in the courtyard, or the ballroom, or the kitchens," he offered, with no apparent preference on his part. He couldn't rightly recall if Beatrice played any instruments, but the old piano was just tuned at Grant's request, and there were a number of antique harps and glockenspiels that she might appreciate.


    @Beatrice Ripley

  8. #28
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    As it turned out, Beatrice did know something of the workings of the Hepburn family. She'd been a perceptive child, and it hadn't been too hard to see even on the few occasions she was there that Delaney and her daughter weren't close. And of course the Reach was full of stories of Satrina; it was only natural that people would talk of their lord and his family, and when there was a personality as large as Satrina's, how could she not become something of legend? Beatrice couldn't remember if she'd ever met her in person, but that alone led her to believe that she hadn't. If she had, she doubted it would've been an experience she could easily forget.

    Seamus was correct in his assumption that Delaney had offered Bea the finer of the two rooms available, but Bea had declined. Aside from the propriety of it, Bea just felt more at home in smaller spaces, and, as she'd pointed out, the fancier room was larger and would be more comfortable if Aloise came visiting. "I'll know it when I see it," she answered, a game smile on her lips. It would take her a few days to feel like she knew where anything was in the observatory, but she was at least confident she'd paid enough attention to remember which door was hers.

    For the moment Beatrice stacked most of her things in a bit of a jumbled pile; she set her own armload onto the bed, and then carefully relieved Seamus of his burden. At his suggestion that they could meet again after she'd sorted her things out, Bea considered the stack of trunks and boxes as if weighing whether she actually felt like dealing with them right now. It was tempting to put it off, but she knew when night came she would probably be tired enough from the trip here that she'd want to be able to just fall into bed. "If you'll tell me how to get there from here, I'll meet you in the ballroom in a half hour. I wouldn't expect an old observatory would have had something like a ballroom, I'm curious to see it." A half hour wasn't a long time, but Bea travelled light, and it would still be enough time to change into something fresh.

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  9. #29
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    There was a small snicker from the knight when the girl commented on finding her room only by sight. He could have told her which one it was, by simple methods of deduction, but he was just as happy to follow her about the halls until she discovered it. The items were not heavy, and he had no other plans since Aloise had been dragged away.

    Seamus stopped at the door, not even considering crossing the threshold, even though the space looked as though she had never even stepped into it, let alone resided there. He felt a little bad, forcing Beatrice to pace the floor in order to get the packages he was holding, but it wasn't as bad as the lashing he would have gotten if Delaney had caught him in Beatrice's chambers, even if she had stopped to invite him in. He had been lost in his thoughts somewhat when she began speaking to him, and he seemed to blink himself back to attention. "Ballroom?" He had actually forgotten that he had called it that, and because Seamus was not a sophisticated man who knew nothing about parlors or studios had referred to it thus, Beatrice was like as not to be disappointed.

    Turning as though he might see it, he pointed in a direction that was vaguely close to where he had first seen her above the courtyard. "It's ummm," he turned, realizing that he was facing the wrong way. He himself have only been here for the better part of a week, and wasn't nearly as familiar as Leigh or Grant with the layout. "Just a minute," he said with a shy smile, and stepped back to center himself in the hallway. "Thomas," he called loud enough that he was sure to summon Delaney and Aloise from the rooms down the hall with all the racket.

    Remarkably, the old butler wasn't more than a handful of steps away, and appeared in short order. "There is no need to shout, Master Seamus. Does Lady Ripley need something, or are you calling on your own behalf?"

    The knight was almost shocked at how suddenly the valet arrived, and he shook his head at the question. "Both, kinda," he said, and tried not to notice what appeared to be an exasperated sigh from the servant. "Lady Ripley was asking where the ballroom was, and I have kinda got myself turned around," he explained, hoping that Thomas was better equipped to answer the question.

    He wasn't. "We don't have a ballroom, Master Seamus," he said pointedly, and when he saw the younger man frown and grind his teeth, he folded his hands in front of himself and shook his head imperceptibly. "However, if you are referring to the salon, it is the room she took her tea in earlier. If you are referring to the larger room on the opposite end of the second story with the glass paned ceiling and black marble floor, we call that the atrium, and it enters from all doors on the western side of the hall, once you circle the courtyard. I suppose the presence of a piano in the room would lead you to believe it is there for dancing, and hence explain why you would think it is a ballroom. I shall go make sure the room has been straightened and is in perfect order, if there is nothing else," the man said.

    Seamus might have throttled the man, if he hadn't been a second father to him growing up. But instead, he just lowered his head in the apparent shame that Thomas wanted him to feel, but even then Seamus was sufficiently tall that it was barely noticeable. "Thank you Thomas," he said, not trying too hard to keep the mock from his voice. And as the butler turned on his heel, the knight looked back to Beatrice. "Get all that," he asked her with a somewhat embarrassed smile on his face.


    @Beatrice Ripley

  10. #30
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    Beatrice watched, bemused but not judgemental, as Seamus tried to sort out his mental map and his location on it. She realized she should have considered that he might not know his way around the place too well, considering he'd been living in Welch Run for however long, and what time he'd spent here had probably been primarily with Aloise in whatever spaces she was most comfortable in. If the girl wasn't keen on leaving her room, or a few rooms she was familiar with, he likely hadn't gotten much opportunity to explore and familiarize himself with the place. Just because she had a tendency to wander around a place until she knew it - often late at night, when she couldn't sleep - didn't mean other people did the same.

    She cringed a little, and couldn't help a small giggle, when Seamus hollered down the hall for the long-suffering butler of the Hepburn household. When he'd first started looking befuddled, Bea had started putting her things closer to their proper places, avoiding getting so involved that she couldn't be attentive if and when the knight came up with an answer to her question. As such, her back was to the door when Thomas began his answer, and she didn't have to hide the smile on her face. It was largely gone by the time her hands were empty of the books she'd been putting on the bedside table, and she moved toward the doorway as the butler was explaining things. A room with a glass ceiling and a black marble floor sounded more interesting than a ballroom, if that was indeed the room Seamus had been referencing, so Bea didn't seem at all disappointed to find out she'd been misled. In fact she didn't dwell on it at all, not wanting to further rib the knight for his imprecise term.

    "Get all that?"

    Bracing her hands on the door jamb and popping her head out into the hallway to see which direction Thomas had gone off in, Beatrice then gave Seamus a smile and nodded. "Pretty sure. And I know if I get turned around all I need to do is give a shout." She grinned, a little mischief sparkling in her eyes as she lightly teased him, and then pushed herself upright and put her hand on the door handle, pulling it ever so slightly toward her. "See you there in a bit?"

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  11. #31
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    "See you there in a bit?"

    The chipperness of her tone and the way she smiled and giggled gave Seamus a little bit of reassurance about the encounter with Thomas. He couldn't help but feel like he was something of a bumbler, after the rather cool rebuff he had gotten from the old valet, but perhaps a little jab at his expense wouldn't hurt. Might even make him a little sympathetic. "Sure," he said with a nod. "I'm gonna check on Aloise and touch base with Grant," Seamus told her as he took a step back and waited for her to close the door.

    When he was clear, the knight turned on his heel quickly, crossing the hall and moving down to the door that he knew would be the rooms occupied by his mother. Yanking it open without so much as knocking, Seamus stuck his head in and caught both Delaney and Aloise frozen at the sudden intrusion. They were looking at him, both with items of clothing from his mother's bag in their hands, clearly in the process of refolding them before placing them in drawer. "Everything okay here," he asked hurriedly. He didn't wait for an answer, instead nodding his head. "Good," he said, and was pulling the door closed behind himself before either of them could even ask Seamus what the hell was wrong with him.

    The bit about checking in with Grant was a lie entirely. He was going to be with his older brother for more than a week starting tomorrow, and there was no way that Seamus would risk the lord of the house giving him something to do that would prohibit him from meeting Beatrice in the atrium. Rather, he jogged most of the way back to his own room, and had his shirt off before even crossed the threshold and closed the door. He was already elbows deep in the wash basin when it opened again behind him. As though he had been kicked in the groin by fate, Grant strolled in casually and closed the door. "Not right now," Seamus told him over the sound of the splashing water.

    Grant however, was not in the habit of taking orders, and wasn't about to start now. But rather than comment in reply, the older Hepburn simply strode to the wardrobe and began to flip through the assembled tunics that were hanging there neatly. Seamus had begun to dry his arms, and was wheeling to see what his brother wanted, but stopped short when Grant flung a garment in his direction. "That one," he said, before moving on to the small vanity that was pushed against the wall, and littered with a plethora of items that it was never designed to hold. He lifted a few bottles one by one, inspecting them briefly before dabbing the contents of one into his hands. Setting the vessel down, he strode purposefully toward his brother who was still pulling the tunic down over his head. Grant slapped him on one cheek and then the other, before Seamus could even get his hands up to defend himself. "Relax," he said, straightening the collar of the taller man's shirt. "There's no need to look desperate. She hasn't seen you in nearly ten years, and she's probably just as nervous as you are. We're leaving in the morning, and she knows it. Just be yourself, and sort it out when we get back."

    Seamus was about to tell Grant that he was overreacting, and that there was nothing going on, but the older man waived him away. Sensing that perhaps his eldest brother might know what he was talking about, Seamus took a deep breath and nodded. Grant responded in kind, and stepped out of his way. "Thanks," the younger man said, and made for the door.

    "Good luck," Grant said over his shoulder, all while shaking his head and laughing. He couldn't help but think just how maddening this house had become in the last fortnight. And he couldn't help thinking about how sorry he was for Beatrice Ripley.

    Seamus made the short walk to the atrium in a few moments, and found that side of the building quite empty. But Thomas had been there, as evidenced by the tea and water that had been put out on a silver setting. There were a few snack cakes and softened butter as well. The piano had been moved, but was still in a position to be played. Rather, there was a small table centered by the windows, with a single rose in a vase on top of it. In all his anxiousness and rushing about, it had totally escaped him until just this moment. "I'm being set up," he said to himself quietly, and immediately realized that Grant and Delaney were way smarter than he was.


    @Beatrice Ripley

  12. #32
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    Beatrice was not as hurried with her preparations. She waited by the door a moment until she heard Seamus move down the hall and open the door to Delaney's room, and then she moved away. Surveying the trunks that were scattered throughout the room, she felt a momentary pang of guilt for not dealing with them right away, and she could almost hear her mother's voice in her head telling her all her clothes were going to wrinkle and it would serve her right that she'd look like a rumpled bumpkin for the entirety of the trip. Thankfully for now at least she was safe from that fate, though, as in the first trunk she opened she found a dress that would suit. Deep green of a fine heavy linen, it was a simple dress that fit her well, and that was frankly enough for her. As she rarely wore anything that would require help to get into or out of, she was down to her shift in a matter of moments, and she had already splashed her face in the wash basin when she realized her soap was still packed away. Drying her face on her discarded dress, which she'd just tossed over the nearest chair, Beatrice refrained from swearing as she tried to remember which case her toiletries were in. Finally she laid her hands on it, and proceeded to wash the road dust from her exposed skin.

    Now smelling faintly of cedar, Beatrice pulled her dress on and smoothed it in front of the mirror, tugging the laces at the back until it was snug but not tight and tying them off at the base of her spine. Normally that would be enough, but Bea found herself frowning at her reflection. Something wasn't right...or at very least, could be better. She thought about going down and asking Delaney, but held back, and satisfied herself with twisting her hair back into a bun. A few curls escaped, of course, because it took more effort than that to make Beatrice Ripley look polished, but she was beginning to feel like she was running late, so it would have to do. Securing the bun with a copper comb that blended in with her hair almost perfectly, the girl pulled the door open and stepped out into the hall.

    It took her a moment to recall what Thomas had said, but once she started walking she felt a little more confident. Nothing looked familiar, not yet, but she did remember to go upstairs and found herself in a hall that circled the courtyard, and so she didn't hesitate much when she pulled the door to what she hoped was the atrium open.

    The room was designed to draw the eye to the outdoors and to the sky, and it certainly did its job on Beatrice. She stepped in and immediately stopped, taken aback by the sheer amount of glass in the room. Her pause was momentary, but as she went further into the room her steps were slow as she took in her surroundings, spending no small amount of time looking up through the ceiling. It was only after she was approaching the center of the space that she really looked around at the contents of the room, her eyes falling first on Seamus.

    "I've never seen a room like this before, with so many windows. I mean, other than a greenhouse I guess, but that's different." She moved further into the room, and looked straight up again, un-selfconscious of the fact that she might appear simple to be so impressed. "It must be amazing on a clear night, to be able to be inside and warm and still looking up at the stars." It was only then that she looked over to see the table, intimately arranged with a single rose, and she heard Delaney's voice in her head.

    "I feel it is only fair to warn you that I have every intention of making it very difficult for him to consider any family other than mine."

    If it hadn't seemed impossible she would have suspected this whole thing might've been orchestrated by the crafty woman, but it just couldn't have been...could it? Either way, Bea was resolved to not let it influence her. She was just here to talk to Seamus more, to catch up on where life had taken them. If she was smart she'd also ask more about Aloise, so she was better familiar for when she would begin to spend time with her after the men had left.

    "That's a good color for you," she observed, nodding to the new shirt, but she didn't seem to question why he'd changed in the first place. She didn't know what he'd been doing before lunch, after all. "How were your mom and little Lady Peregrine getting along with the unpacking?"

    -----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  13. #33
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Seamus didn't say anything as the girl entered the room. It was clear that she was in awe of the architecture, and he couldn't really blame her. Leaning against the wall, he gave her a few moments to soak it all in. When she finally commented on the atrium, there as a small laugh on the knight's lips. "Weird huh? Did you ever imagine that someone would trust us in alone in a room with this much glass?" The panes were thick, and designed to withstand the summer hailstorms that were infrequent, but did occur. Even so, as children, the group of them wouldn't be allowed anywhere near a place where they could cause so much damage. They had something of a reputation for destruction, and if Seamus' young nephews were any indication, that reputation transversed generations.

    Seamus had never bothered to visit the atrium on a clear night. It hadn't really occurred to him that it might be something to behold. He appreciated that Beatrice thought about those things, and showed an eagerness for something he had taken for granted. "I don't know, actually," he said, raising his head to stare out one of the skylights. "I suppose we could wait and see," he said, knowing that nightfall was still probably a couple hours away. The tallest and youngest Hepburn didn't believe for a moment that he would have enough interesting things to say to keep Beet's attention for that long, but maybe once she had returned and finished settling her things, she'd come back and check it out. Grant would want him in bed early for the trip, but Seamus was more than capable of sleeping in the saddle.

    "Hmmm" he asked, unsure he had heard her final question correctly. "Oh," he amended as though there was some kind of delay between his ears and brain that had just been cleared up. "They were fine," he said, even though he had only seen them for the briefest of moments. "Seemed to be more gossiping than working, if you ask me," he commented in a manner that said, "Women, am I right?". Seamus still viewed Beatrice as one of the boys, despite all evidence to the contrary, and would think nothing of it if she came into the room in homespun overalls. But she hadn't.

    He put his hands on his shirt and glanced down, as though he were looking at the garment for the first time. He hadn't really thought about whether or not Grant had selected it for a reason other than the fact that it was clean, but his older brother did have a much greater fashion sense than Seamus. "You look nice too," he said, a blush immediately rising to his cheeks. He could hear his absent brother in his mind. Seamus and Beet, sitting in a tree... He could feel his teeth grinding, though he didn't suspect it was audible. Seamus tried to put it from his mind, and vowed to kick Bosleigh in the shins later just for making him consider it.

    It hadn't been very long since the luncheon, but Seamus moved to the table with the setting and poured some tea anyway. He filled a cup for Beatrice as well, but didn't move it. "Can I ask you something, Beet?" He stirred two cubes of sugar into this drink and set it aside. "Is it as weird for you to be Lady Ripley as it is for me to be Ser Seamus?" Maybe she had grasped her destiny more easily than he had. Seamus didn't really know. It just felt like everything had happened so fast, to go from kids at play to peers of the realm.


    @Beatrice Ripley

  14. #34
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    "Not at all," Bea said, laughing. "I still have an impulse to keep my hands folded behind my back to keep from touching anything." It had been a refrain she'd heard over and over again, any time her parents took her and her brothers anywhere nice. The boys were told to keep their hands in their pockets, and she had to keep her fingers laced together behind her back. "We wouldn't have been allowed anywhere near that, either," she added, nodding toward the piano. That would have been because of the racket they would have made, though, not necessarily because it was breakable. Although, when the group of them got together, she wouldn't have put it past them to have found a way to do it.

    "I suppose we could wait and see."

    Beatrice smiled, and looked up again. "I wonder if it's supposed to be a clear enough night." She didn't comment on how that was the second time today that he'd asked, in a way, to see more of her, but again she saw Delaney in the back of her mind. "It would be worth checking after dinner." Waiting, as he'd suggested, would probably not work; after all, he left in the morning, and if he was anything like her brothers he would still have some packing left to do. Or all his packing left to do, if he was truly like the Ripley boys. And realistically she had lots of unpacking still to do, but she wasn't against doing the bare minimum to get her bed cleared off and leaving the rest for morning.

    "Figures," she said with a grin, falling easily back into the role Seamus expected of her. Despite having been sent away from home to learn how to be a proper lady, Bea's mother had always lamented that it seemed her natural state was too close to that of the boys. When they were kids she might've gotten teased for being a girl, but she wasn't treated like one, and it was incredibly nice to be regarded like that again. It was odd, but getting to talk to Seamus again had a strange duality to it, as they tried to reconcile who they had been and how they'd regarded one another as children with who they were now, with the social expectations imposed on them.

    She pretended, for his sake, that she hadn't seen him blush, despite the fact that she found it an amusing thing on a man his size. Here was this man who loomed over everyone and looked the part of someone who had been trained to fight, his face pink because a girl complimented him. It was endearing, she would later decide, but for now she didn't linger on the thought. She simply thanked him for the compliment and didn't read into it much, ready to move to more sure conversational footing.

    Joining him by the tea, Bea claimed her cup and dressed it, but leaned lightly against the table rather than drink it right away. "Hmm?" She looked up at him, her large eyes inviting him to ask his question, and her face took on a look that was almost relieved as she nodded her answer. "Absolutely. In my mind Lady Ripley is still my mother, not me. How on earth did we wind up turning into grown-ups." She finally took a sip of her tea, and then went on. "Although at least for me it's kind of a default thing. You had to put a lot of work into becoming Ser Seamus." She certainly spoke as if she couldn't fathom how they weren't still kids, and it was true; every so often she would look at one of her brothers and suddenly see the man they were instead of the boy she still pictured in her mind, and it was genuinely jarring.

    There was a pause, as if Bea were considering whether to ask the question that was on her mind. "Do you like it? Being a knight, I mean. I can't remember if I ever knew how you and Bosleigh...did you guys choose it? Or was the future of serving the crown and saving damsels in distress something that just happened to you?"

    ----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  15. #35
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    The motion towards the piano drew the man's eyes, and Seamus smiled knowingly. None of them had known how to play then, but it was just as true that none of them would ever have admitted that they didn't know how to play. Bosleigh likely would have tried to convince them that the noise he was making was in fact some classical piece he had learned from the bard at Maple Glade. "Do you play," Seamus asked, curious if the piano was one of the skills or talents Beatrice had acquired since he had last seen her. "Nobody in my family does, but one of the servants is quite good."

    Seamus wished that he would have been able to say whether or not the weather was going to be clear in Hebron on this particular evening. But sadly, he was not in the habit of paying attention to such things as much as Grant was. Seamus didn't have much of a social life, and not much differed between clear days and rainy days. He had been about to lean out the door and yell for Thomas again, but didn't really need to give Beatrice Ripley the impression that he relied on the valet for everything that he wasn't completely knowledgeable about. If he had any ideas about impressing the girl, summoning the old man every five minutes was likely a poor way of going about it.

    Seamus approved of her agreement so thoroughly that he actually managed to relax for a few moments before the conversation resumed. He had feared when the woman arrived that she had been co-opted by Delaney into more of an operative for the nobility and less of the friend he had grown up with. But the fact that she was with his mind on the titles and the hassle of being duty bound to titles made him all the more at ease. "I did," he asked in reference to her point about the effort he had to put in to become a knight. In fact, his squiring had been easier than most and he had enjoyed a charmed time of it on the beaches of White Coast. As far as knights went, Eric Durand had been a merciful teacher. It was hard for Seamus to believe that the man had been related to the Knight of Autumn. Losing Eric to the plague had been damaging to Seamus, especially when he had felt he had much still to learn, even after he had been knighted.

    Whether or not he liked it, that was another matter entirely. "Heard a few stories, did you?" Damsels in distress indeed. But the tall boy simply shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know," he said honestly. "Some days I am grateful for the opportunity to do the right thing, in situations like Aloise's. Some days I think I would rather just be that same kid who pulled your hair and then ran in circles around tree trunks so you couldn't hit him back." There was a warm smile of remembrance, and Seamus lost some of his doubts, finding himself to be genuinely glad that Beet was here.


    @Beatrice Ripley

  16. #36
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    Bea cast a lingering glance toward the keyboard and nodded. "I do, some. My aunt was of the opinion that a proper lady would have some musical skill, and since she wasn't impressed with my singing voice, piano it was." Not really bothered by her aunt's estimation, Bea had been well suited to the instrument, even if the lessons hadn't been her idea. She had long, strong fingers and an ear for music, which made what could have been a slog into a pleasant endeavor. Granted, she didn't buy into the idea her aunt had tried to sell her that learning to play had somehow increased her worth, but that hadn't been a battle worth having at the time.

    It was strange, but Beatrice actually sensed when Seamus momentarily relaxed. His tension hadn't been overtly obvious - although she knew he seemed nervous - so it made its absence subtle, but perceptible. For a moment, Beatrice wondered if she was more nervous than she felt, and realized that she probably was; meeting Seamus and the others again was like making a first impression on someone you were already fond of, and if that wasn't enough she couldn't get Delaney's words out of her mind. It felt like any interaction she could have was going to be weighed by a third party. Perhaps it wasn't really going to be that way, and she was more worried than she should be; and really, if she changed how she interacted with the boys, and a decision was made on her behalf based on some facade she'd put up, it would hardly be ideal. Better by far to try to relax and be natural, and let her future unfold as naturally as it could.

    "I'd think you would have had to," she answered with a chuckle. She wasn't under the impression that they just handed out knighthoods, after all. But maybe Seamus had simply found it easier than some, and hadn't thought it a hardship. Bea listened to the rest of his answer, looking up at him with big eyes over the rim of her teacup, and nodded with, if not understanding, then acceptance of his honest answer. At the mention of pulling her hair she couldn't help but smile too, and she nudged him playfully with her shoulder. "Or the one coming home with stained fingers, when we'd find a spot with berries the birds hadn't picked over yet?" The cooks hadn't asked them to gather berries for a tart more than once before learning better, that was for sure.

    Beatrice had other questions for Seamus, and plenty more she was curious about, but for now she lingered in the warm glow of nostalgia. "You know, we still haven't quite let Ewan live down the time he spent hours going through the woods kissing trees because one of your brothers told him that one of them could be a dryad, and if he kissed it she'd turn from a tree back into a beautiful naked woman." She wore the smile of a sibling who'd gotten a lot of mileage out of that afternoon. "Do you remember? We were all going through, pointing out ones he should try, until he leaned in without looking and stuck his face in a mass of ants."

    ----
    @Seamus Hepburn

  17. #37
    House Hepburn Seamus Hepburn's Avatar  

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    Seamus couldn't rightly remember if he had ever heard Beatrice sing when they were children. He had a vague recollection of the Hepburn children being forced to sing at family gatherings, and even for local nobles who had come to visit. He didn't recall the boys being very good at it. Maera and Talia had gotten the vocal chords in the family. Whether or not the Ripley's had ever been forced to join in that merriment, the young knight was no longer sure. But given how competitive Beatrice's father had been, Seamus would not be surprised if Delaney told him there had practically been sing-offs. "I wonder if Aloise would have any interest in the piano," he thought aloud. "I don't know if the one in Maple Glade has even been tuned in a decade," he said, not sure that such things were kept up with in his own house. As far as he knew, nobody in his family could play.

    Seamus, by his own admission, was out of place in any venue that he wasn't wearing a sword. And when he moved his left hand to rest on the pommel of a blade that wasn't there and felt his fingers slip through the empty air, he tried his best to cover how foolish he thought it must have looked. This problem was exacerbated by the fact that when she nudged him with her shoulder, he reflexively lifted the arm and placed it on her opposite shoulder, holding her there as though he were trying to keep her from tipping over, but incidentally creating an unintended hug. He awkwardly released her a second later, and felt a little embarrassed, even though his intention was entirely harmless.

    He was expedient about rejoining the conversation, and tried to make his small laugh seem effortless. "The only people in out house who were more annoyed than the cooks were the laundry ladies," he said, remembering how Satrina had lashed him verbally for staining his white shirt. "Did we even know if they were ripe," he asked, trying to recall if he had even liked the berries, or if he had just eaten them because Leigh and Grant had. He had always looked up to his older brothers, even when he was past the height that he had to physically do so.

    Seamus nodded his head, remembering the incident with Ewan and the forest. He didn't laugh at the memory though. What he knew, and Beet did not, was that the incident in question was not unique. Leigh and Grant had played the same prank on him months before they tried it on Ewan. Seamus had played along at the time because he was simply hopeful that the others would forget about the fact that he had fallen for the same ruse. In retrospect though, the knight felt bad for not saving Ewan the embarrassment, knowing first hand how it felt. The only solace he could take was the fact that he had been younger than the Ripley boy, and would likely have been brushed off, even if he had tried to warn him.

    "The ants," he said, shaking his head. "There were so many in those groves. The idea of sitting on that forest floor now, as an adult," he was shaking his head. They were crazy as children. Or adventurous, however you looked at it. But either way, it seemed a lifetime ago. And Beatrice was practically a different person. At least to his memory. She was a woman. Which at the time, seemed far less plausible than the eventuality in which he would one day rescue a queen from the frigid waters of Pyre Cliff's harbor. Yet, here she was. And here he was.

    "You were more than a spot of fun, Beet. It's kinda sad that so much time has passed since then. That we kids would have been separated for so long." It was the nature of nobility, he knew. Lord and Lady Ripley had as good a reason for pulling their children back as Delaney and Patrick did, but it seemed as though that in the end, nothing had come of it. Seamus needed Beatrice now. For Aloise's sake. And if she was the person his mother thought was best qualified to aid the girl, then Seamus had double the reason to believe in her.


    @Beatrice Ripley

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