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

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    House Hepburn Delaney Stormshand Hepburn's Avatar  
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    Seeing the boys off to war - 11/16, Shellten Observatory - Delaney/Beatrice/Aloise

    Had she known that the summons from Grant was going to come only hours after she had arrived back home in Maple Glade, Delaney would not have even bothered returning there. It would have simply been easier to travel with Seamus and Aloise to Hebron from Colmar and sent for her things to be brought up from the Reach. Though it would not surprise her to find that Grant wanted to settle the Peregrine matter without her meddling, and as such had waited until he knew she couldn't arrive in time. That, or he needed a few days to dispose of Satrina before trying to put them both in the same building.

    But the delay had given Delaney time to plan, which included petitioning Beatrice Ripley to join them. The younger woman had always been a favorite of the Hepburn mother, and while she had never openly spoke about arranging a marriage to one of her sons, it had been her late husband's goal to try and force a union between the two families, just for the sake of unity in and around Maple Glade. It wasn't a foolish idea by any stretch, but Patrick had never actively pursued it.

    "I'm glad you could come," the woman told Beatrice with a smile as she unpacked her gowns from one of the trunks and hung them in the wardrobe. There were servants who could have managed it, but Delaney wasn't the type to simply force her work on others because she could. "I don't know the Remington woman very well, and I'm afraid dear Lady Peregrine wasn't the greatest conversationalist the last time I saw her. I will likely need your assistance in managing the boys," she said with a smile. By all accounts Thomas was doing an excellent job managing the house, and Delaney had been happy to see him. He was sorely missed in Hepburn Castle. Seamus and Grant were out, and despite the late hour, Bosleigh was apparently still asleep. The old steward had gone to see about summoning the child in the meantime.

    "I do hope you will take a liking to each other," the older woman said casually. She would never force the issue of course, and didn't make the comment in a way that would imply that she expected it of Beatrice. "She is terribly frightened and lacking in friends. A fortnight of freedom and she's had to spend all of it in the company of my sons. I'm not sure that she has much to be thankful for at this point," Delaney told Ripley with a knowing smile. "I assure you that they are much more mature than when you saw them last."

    The Hepburn woman paused as she hung up the last of her dresses and thought about the previous statement. "Well, two of them are at least," she corrected herself.


    @Beatrice Ripley

  2. #2
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    Beatrice sat in Delaney's room as the older woman unpacked, still happy to keep her company even after the long trip from Maple Glade. She had been a little surprised when the request that she go with her had come, and her father hadn't necessarily been keen; he still harbored some resentment toward the family that had been imported to rule them, as he'd put it. Worse still that she was to go to Hebron, which the previous lord had chosen over the people of Maple Glade for most of his life. But, Lord Ripley had never been one to let his personal grievances weigh too heavily when making a decision about his home or his family, and he had never once denied a reasonable request from their Hepburn lords, and so Bea was allowed to go. She was happy for it; going to Hebron was an adventure, and she'd always been fond of Lady Hepburn. Delaney was kind, capable, and reasonable, and, all the better for Beatrice, not at all terrifying like Lady Satrina was.

    "I'm glad I could come, too," she agreed, not bothering to add the obvious fact that she didn't know the Remington lady who was staying in the Observatory, either. Being a lesser noble, Beatrice knew her place and knew how she should behave, but she wasn't at all knowledgeable in the specifics of the high noble families. Everything she knew was painted with broad strokes, but for as long as they were here she'd be keeping her eyes and ears open, gleaning all she could.

    Beatrice grinned at the comment at Delaney's sons' expense, and at the correction that followed. "It wouldn't be too difficult in any case," she said, although not unkindly. The last time she'd really had any contact with the Hepburn boys they'd all been children; Grant had had very little time or interest in her, and the younger two seemed more intent on making fun of her than anything else. But that was the way of children, and Bea was curious to see what kind of men they'd grown into. She'd heard stories, of course, but first hand observation was always much more telling. "I do hope Lady Peregrine and I get along. I'd like to be some help to her, after all she's been through." Bea's voice got a little quieter. She'd had the rundown on the Peregrine situation on the way here, and she still had a hard time fathoming it.

    "We'll have to treat her to some girl time, after dealing with the boys for so long," she said, smiling. Bea couldn't be sure, of course, that Aloise hadn't spent at least some of her time with Lady Remington, just as she couldn't be sure the girl would like her well enough to want to spend time with her. Nor could she be sure that Aloise would even come to trust her any time soon. But she was keen to make a good go of it, and happy to be any help to Delaney that she might need.

    ---
    @Delaney Stormshand Hepburn

  3. #3
    House Hepburn Delaney Stormshand Hepburn's Avatar  
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    Delaney was still smiling when the girl affirmed her own joy at their little adventure, but while the Hepburn woman knew her better than anyone else in her family, she still couldn't claim to know her very well. She knew that the girl had been around the boys when they were younger, and that she was relatively pleasant and outgoing, but she couldn't be sure how much her politics were in line with those of her father. There had been some cool personalities in the mix at Maple Glade when Patrick was made lord, but the extent of any ill will was lost on the woman. It never seemed to concern her husband, and Delaney never had cause to ask about it.

    In truth, Delaney was not entirely sure how Aloise would react to Beatrice, but she hoped it was well. And she wanted the Ripley woman to be an example for the Peregrine girl, who needed to reenter the nobility, even if it was more on the level of the lower houses than her previous one. Beatrice would be a good demonstration of how one could carry themselves from that position. Despite being all knees and elbows as a child, Delaney admired the woman that Bea had become.

    Before she could comment further, Thomas appeared in the doorway again, and Delaney paused to give him a nod. "I do apologize, mum," he said deferentially. "But it appears that I was mistaken earlier about Master Boseligh. He is apparently in the yard with Lady Peregrine." Delaney shot him a puzzled look, and the man cleared his throat. "Master Bosleigh has taken it upon himself to begin the girl's education in swordplay," he said lowering his eyes.

    Delaney looked at Beatrice with a shade of worry in her eyes. She wouldn't have guessed her middle son to have any interest in the girl at all, and even less so if it involved any kind of effort. As she set the gown she was holding across the back of the chair beside her, she cleared her own throat. "Lady Ripley, would you care to join me," she asked in a manner that made it plain that she was not actually asking. Even though she wanted to see this with her own eyes, she also wanted a witness to ensure her eyes weren't deceiving her.

    When the pair arrived on the balcony that overlooked the yard, Delaney held up a hand for Thomas and Beatrice to be quiet. There was steel ringing below them, though it was somewhat restrained. She could hear her son's voice instructing, and she simply watched the exchange. "Don't be shy, Little Sprite," Leigh was telling the girl. "You aren't going to hurt me, for a while yet. Let's dry it again, but really put your weight behind it. Twist your hips and drive forward."

    His longsword flicked out in Aloise's direction, and tapped lightly against her saber, but this time the counter rang much louder in Delaney's ears as she watched the Peregrine girl put her free hand on the bottom of the pommel as she rotated her torso and brought her sword forcefully back into Bosleigh's awaiting block. The man nodded approvingly and offered more encouragement as he lined her up to do it again.

    Delaney sidestepped and pulled her skirts under her as she sat in the chair, motioning Beatrice to the other. "Had I known she had already found a tutor, I would have taken you shopping," she said to Bea with a small chuckle.


    @Beatrice Ripley

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    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    "Master Bosleigh has taken it upon himself to begin the girl's education in swordplay."

    Beatrice looked up to Delaney, question in her expression, but her curiosity was answered by the worry in the older woman's eyes. She would grant that she couldn't speak to what the boys were like now, but from everything she'd heard, this wasn't necessarily expected behavior on the part of the middle Hepburn boy. And, by the way Delaney almost immediately stopped what she was doing and made to see for herself, Bea guessed that her impression was right.

    Rising without question, Beatrice followed Thomas and Delaney down the hall to the balcony. She peered over into the yard, careful to keep quiet but keen to indulge her curiosity. Down below, a large man with sandy brown hair stood facing a slip of a girl. She barely looked strong enough to hold the saber away from her body, but there was a certain determination in her stance that was admirable.

    Bea, however, found herself focusing more on Bosleigh. She could clearly remember him as a kid, and it was fascinating, in a way, to see how that person had grown into this one. It made her more than a little curious what the others had grown up to look like. She remembered that, although you could tell the boys were all related, they hadn't looked overly similar. Did that still hold true? Or, when their faces had lost the softness of youth did their resemblance to one another sharpen? Beatrice assumed she'd find out, sooner or later.

    Careful to keep from staring, the Ripley girl took a seat, grinning at Delaney. "And have missed seeing this?" Her gaze moved back to the figures out in the yard, where the girl was getting some correction on how she was holding her saber. "She's smaller than I expected her to be," she said quietly, although with no real surprise. She hadn't known what to expect after she'd heard what the girl had been through, but her mind had still made a few assumptions. "She seems to be doing well, though." Bea didn't specify whether she was speaking to the girl's lesson or her condition in general, but it really could have been both.

    -----
    @Delaney Stormshand Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Delaney Stormshand Hepburn's Avatar  
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    "Forest stock tends to be more sturdy than that of the plains," Delaney said with a smile, knowing that she had looked more like Aloise as a girl than she had Maera or Beatrice. Even the Hunters and Caldorans were generally taller and and more proportioned than the youngest of the remaining Peregrines. "Though admittedly, she looks healthier now than when I saw her ten days ago," the older woman informed Bea. At that point, she had been in Seamus' care for a fortnight, and he had said how much healthier she was than when he had met her. So that could only mean that she was nothing more than bones before he intervened. And would likely have explained the chill he claimed she had when the two had first met.

    Whether or not the girl was doing well with her lesson was less a matter of debate, and more a matter of opinion. And Delaney wasn't sure that her opinion was the one that should be the deciding matter. She would ask Bosleigh later in the day. For now, it was enough to see the girl with some interest, and her son as well for that matter. Delaney had realized that there was something special about Aloise in their first meeting, just as Patrick had seen that same thing in her. She might not have been a Hepburn by birth, but it was clear now that she was as welcome as though she had been born of her own flesh. At least she thought so in seeing Bosleigh. What Grant had to say about the matter was still a mystery to her.

    Looking back to Beatrice, Delaney remained confident that they were far enough away as not to be heard, and therefore didn't bother to lower her voice. "How are your brothers, child," she asked. The matron was aware that the Ripley boys had had something of a competition with her sons, both for attention and bragging rights when they were younger. That spirit of combat was what had propelled Grant to a position of dominance among the others. The age alone would have given him rights by law, but by most accounts he had earned it among the children. Delaney hoped that her eldest son was still in contact with the Ripley boys, as maintaining a good relationship with their family would be important to the Reach going forward.

    The woman glanced again as the steel rang out in the room, and noticed that the two women weren't the only ones watching. Seamus had come in while she wasn't looking, and had rested his arms on the far railing. But instead of focusing on the lesson between Leigh and Aloise, he was staring at Beatrice. Delaney would have scolded him for staring, but he didn't want to alert her guest or the combatants below. Instead, she simply turned back to face the girl as Thomas brought a tea setting and placed it between them.


    @Beatrice Ripley
    Last edited by Delaney Stormshand Hepburn; 10-17-2017 at 07:32 PM.

  6. #6
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    If Aloise looked healthier now than she had almost a fortnight ago and she still looked frail to Bea's eyes, she could not imagine what condition she'd been in when Delaney had first encountered her. Bea's brows knit and she shook her head, her full lips pulled down in a bit of a frown. She firmly believed that nobody should have had to endure what the girl had lived through, and she felt a strong pull to do what she could to help her, if given the chance. It wasn't her wrong to right, but the world would be in a terrible state if everybody only concerned themselves with their own business. The Hepburns had certainly seemed to open their home and their hearts to the girl, and Beatrice would offer whatever she could to go along with the aid her lords had already extended.

    "They're doing well," Beatrice answered, moving her gaze to Delaney but still glancing toward the yard to watch the lesson unfold. "Both a head taller than me by now, which Ewan never ceases to be smug about." She smiled, but as Delaney had said, the forest bred sturdy stock, and her brothers were no different. "Sean's been shadowing Father more, participating in more and more meeting and the like, although Father being stubborn as he is he's still not letting Sean have any say in anything important." Her father was notoriously proud, and while it had served him well in taking care of what he saw as his lands and his people, it had made him a contentious ally when the Hepburns had come in. He'd seen it almost as an invasion, and had never been comfortable with outsiders, as he'd considered the Hepburns, coming in and imposing their will on the place. While he'd never actively taken a step against their lords, and had made himself available to them for whatever they might need him for, there was an awful lot of grumbling at home. "I think he knows he and Sean see things a little differently, and he's not too keen on it no matter how pleased he is that his son has his own mind."

    Bea paused as Thomas brought tea, and she didn't yet notice that they'd been joined by another Hepburn, or that she was the focus of his attention. She poured tea for her lady and for herself, but left her cup on the table after she'd dressed it, letting it cool a bit before risking a sip. "Ewan's been working on his archery. There's nobody at home now that can best him, so he's been traveling to one of the other lesser houses to train against their son. I think he's smitten with one of the daughters there, too, which makes the trips a little sweeter for him." She paused, a little grin on her face. "It's nothing official yet, because he says he wants to be sure of himself before he makes any interest known to our parents, but I imagine it's not too far off, which will make Mum happy. She's getting antsy about weddings, and said when she found out I'd be coming here with you that she was envious you'd secured such a good match for your daughter, and she wondered if you were as frustrated at the lack of wives for your sons as she is with hers." The look on Bea's face said plainly that she felt her mother was being over-dramatic, but her tone was diplomatically even, without a hint of her own exasperation.

    -----
    @Delaney Stormshand Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Delaney Stormshand Hepburn's Avatar  
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    Delaney was reassured to hear that the Ripley competitiveness extended among siblings, and wasn't solely reserved for their interactions with the Hepburn clan. Though the woman could hardly be surprised that the boys had outgrown Beatrice. They were from good stock, after all. "I understand Sean's desire to be more involved," she assured her guest. "Grant was always eager to be involved with Patrick's affairs, and it wasn't until after his father had passed that he had really gotten a good look at what all that kind of business entailed. He has taken to it, mind you, but my husband didn't do the best job of preparing him. We all assume we'll live forever," the woman said with a sigh, somewhat sad about the thought of losing her husband so young.

    What Grant had accomplished so quickly would have likely astounded Patrick, both in the affairs of court and in his father's footsteps as an architect and surveyor. He had traveled all of Tuneric, and settled quite comfortably in Hebron. If Delaney would have guessed one of her children would become so worldly, she would have assumed it was Maera. And while the girl had done very well in society, her eldest child was a rising star with no signs of ever burning out. Though Delaney would still have to investigate the Remington matter if she was to be sure of his good sense.

    The woman sipped her tea and glanced across the yard, only to find that the boy who had been there was gone. Apparently, he was either circling around to them, or he was on his way down to where the girl and his brother were training. Delaney turned back to Beatrice and smiled. "Frustrated? No, I'm not really frustrated," she informed the other woman, with a wry smile on her face. "Your mother has years of noble breeding in her blood. She is programmed to be concerned about those matters." It wasn't a criticism of the woman, it was just the way of the world. "I was destined to be a cobbler's wife before Patrick kidnapped me away to Hebron," she said with a laugh. "So, I've learned that it might be better to just let such things fall into place on their own." But that wasn't necessarily true. Delaney was more than a little interested in seeing her boys secure, despite her bravado. Just because she wasn't frustrated, didn't mean she hadn't been thinking about it.

    The ringing of blades had stopped for the moment, and when Delaney looked down Bosleigh was teaching Aloise how to parry and pirouette. The young woman seemed to be smiling as Leigh spun her in circles, and the mother seemed to think that perhaps there were dance lessons in the Peregrine girl's past. She couldn't hear, but it looked as though the child had giggled, before resetting herself and holding the blade up, turning herself about more gracefully the second time once she had escaped Leigh's interference.

    "And is Lady Ripley equally frustrated about the prospects of her daughter," Delaney asked her with a small smirk, knowing that concern about potential matches for their daughters were usually the realm of fathers, especially when those fathers were businessmen who were eager to maintain or increase their wealth and political influence.


    @Beatrice Ripley

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    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    Beatrice nodded. She agreed with Delaney that it was good her brother was taking an interest and getting involved. There were certainly things Sean would change when the chance was his, but none of them were too eager for it. While they may have talked about a gradual transition, with their father stepping back and eventually retiring altogether, she and Sean were both of the mind that this wasn't likely to happen. Their father was too stubborn, too set in his ways, too used to control. He wouldn't be satisfied sitting back and being idle. Delaney was right: people were apt to assume they were going to live forever, and Bea agreed with a sympathetic look in her eyes. "That's certainly the truth."

    A smile grew on Bea's face as Delaney answered her mother's question, and she could just picture the face her mother would make. A little exasperated, a little flattered, and she'd probably end up saying something about, 'with her sons, if she let things fall into place on their own, they'd be unwed until they died', with this sort of hopeless roll of her eyes. Bea didn't agree, especially having talked at length with Ewan about his feelings for his girl, but their mother was prone to her dramatics, especially if there was someone to listen to them that she thought might be sympathetic.

    The silence from the yard below drew Beatrice's attention too, and she smiled at the sight. The girl looked like she was having fun, and it rather looked like Bosleigh was enjoying himself, too. Aloise seemed to have good balance, even with the weight of the saber, and now that she wasn't striking at anyone she looked a little more confident in her actions, too. It made sense; it felt wrong to strike at someone at first, no matter how much they assured you that you couldn't hurt them. Of course, Bea hadn't really had as much of a problem with it, since she'd been training against her brothers, but she could still understand it.

    "She is," Bea answered with a weariness to her smile. "Although perhaps less so than with the boys. Whenever Father looks like he's given in and is actively looking for a match for me she gets weepy and begs Father not to send me too far away." The girl shook her head, but she clearly felt for her mother. "The rest of the time she's just annoyed that I'm not helpful in badgering Father into having more gatherings where she can play matchmaker, or lecturing me about how when I travel I should really spend more time being charming at eligible bachelors."

    ----
    @Delaney Stormshand Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Delaney Stormshand Hepburn's Avatar  
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    "Perhaps I should have your mother up to Maple Glade," Delaney said to Beatrice, her mind working over a few different scenarios. "Your father too for that matter. I happen to know a family who isn't too far from your lands and who has a few eligible sons." It wasn't exactly in the older woman's nature to play matchmaker for her sons, but she was terribly fond of Beatrice.

    Maera, Satrina, and Patrick had all been in agreement at various points in their lives that Delaney Stormshand was not the most subtle of creatures, and it was a fault that never seemed to bother her. "You'll have to forgive me for being blunt, Beatrice. I think that you are a very well educated young woman who knows what is best for herself. But if the matter of your future is not yours to make, and your father is insistent on making the decision himself, then 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." Or rather, she would insist that Grant arrange for it, since he would have to be the one to handle the head of House Ripley. But Delaney had never been of the impression that Grant was overly invested in what happened to Bosleigh or Seamus as far as their futures went. Her sons were fiercely independent, but between herself and her eldest, they would be made to see reason.

    As determined as she had made herself to sound, Delaney was still smiling pleasantly. It was not an immediately impending matter, nor was it Bea's sole purpose for being here. "But I won't press," she told the girl. "And I don't want you to think that I have brought you here for that purpose. Perhaps it was simply a defensive reaction to the topic of conversation. And I hope you aren't put off by my manners." She paused to sip her tea, and then almost laughed as she pulled the cup away. "Perhaps I have lived too long with my mother-in-law," she said with a chuckle.

    Apparently she had laughed a little louder than she had intended, because Bosleigh stopped what he was doing at looked up, pointing out their presence to the Peregrine girl. "We've been discovered," she said to Beatrice, not necessarily wanting to change the conversation but rising from her chair regardless. "Shall we adjourn to the main hall. No doubt our combatants will be coming up to see us, and we really should finish settling into our chambers."


    @Beatrice Ripley

  10. #10
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    Beatrice was, in a word, gobsmacked. Her mouth hung open for a moment before she realized herself and closed it, and a flush rose to her freckled cheeks. "I- no, I've got no objection to bluntness. I'm just...surprised, is all." She'd had to search for the right word, and even so, 'surprised' might not have cut it. Delaney's comments had given her quite a lot to unpack, but it felt like she needed to have some response now, so that the woman didn't think she was unhappy with what had been said. It might be easier, though, if she knew for sure if she wasn't unhappy about it.

    Such a match was possibly higher than her parents had hoped to attain for her, and to have it essentially fall in their laps, well, all the better. And Delaney was right in that the Hepburn's home wasn't far from her home, so she would be in the forest she loved and close enough to go home quite easily if she wanted to visit. Not to mention the fact that Delaney wanting her to marry one of her sons was a high compliment indeed.

    If Beatrice were a dutiful, submissive daughter, that would have been enough for her. She would have been full of thanks and agreement, would have offered some nice sentiment, something like 'I'm sure I would be more than happy with whichever son you think I'd match best with'. But Beatrice, although she was dutiful, was not necessarily submissive. She knew she'd have to marry for alliance, in the end, but she'd hoped to be able to sway her father's decision to a man she preferred. To have the field narrowed to two...it was difficult to look down into the training yard in the same way.

    But one thing Bea knew for sure was that if she screwed this up, her mother would never forgive her. "I'm honored you think me fitting to join your family," she said warmly, clearing the hesitation from her voice. After all, that part was true. She liked Delaney very much, and saw her as something of a role model. The woman was capable, confident, gentle and strong in equal measure. And, as Bea had just learned, driven, and unafraid to speak her mind.

    Before she could say anything more, however, they were found out, and Bea watched with some amusement as Bosleigh pointed in their direction. The girl turned to look where he was pointing, and then it was like the sun itself dawned across her expression. Her smile grew, and she genuinely jumped up and down, only remembering after she landed and felt its weight to sheath the saber in her hands. Lifting her teacup, Beatrice finished her drink and then nodded. "Looks like you'll have a visitor sooner rather than later," she said with a smile. Secretly, she was a little nervous about seeing if Bosleigh remembered her, especially now that she had Delaney's intentions lurking in the back of her mind.

    ----
    @Delaney Stormshand Hepburn

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    House Hepburn Delaney Stormshand Hepburn's Avatar  
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    It was not Delaney's intention to keep the girl in a conversation about her future, or to even meddle in it. If Beatrice could find a man on her own with whom she was happy, and could convince her parents to allow the union, the matter would be settled. And even if she did not come to such a discovery, the Hepburn matron could still tie up Lord Ripley in negotiations long enough to buy the child more time. And if all else had been exhausted, she would convince one of her boys to yield to her wishes on the matter. She didn't expect that either would be overjoyed by her management of their lives, but if they fussed over much, she would just twist Grant's arm until he made it so.

    "I'm glad you consider it an honor," the older woman said, smiling to herself as she walked. "I'm not convinced it's a universal opinion," she shared with a touch of amusement. It wasn't as though there weren't an equal number of women who found the notion of a union with Bosleigh as dreadful as there were who thought a marriage to Grant would be a fairy tale. But there was no sense in making plans right now. It would be enough for all of them to get through the next five minutes before she even considered allowing her unruly children to start imagining a union of the two families.

    The pair of them would have to cross the entire estate to reach the main hall that was only a small walk from the entrance to the yard on the other side of the building. As such, both boys and Aloise were already awaiting them when Delaney led Beatrice into the room. "Lady Peregrine," she said, holding out her arms in the child's direction. "Don't bother with the curtsy, child. Come here and give us a hug," she instructed the child, unperturbed that she might have been a little dusty from the training she had been doing outside.

    Leigh frowned at the attention the girl got from his mother, who had yet to even acknowledge the boys. Now that he could see the other woman up close, he took her measurements with an inspecting glance, before leaning over toward Seamus, who was standing at his right shoulder. "I don't know who the redhead is, but I call dibs," he whispered, before giving the girl a smile and a nod of his head.

    Seamus, rolling his eyes leaned back over to him and sighed audibly in his ear. "That's Beatrice Ripley," he told his brother, who only shrugged in reaction. He could sense that Leigh was about to ask if that name should mean anything to him, or if she was some kind of famous musician or royal cousin, and Seamus cut him off as he leaned in to speak. "It's Beet, you moron."

    Leigh blanched and looked back to the woman a second time, as though just now really focusing his eyes on the person before him. "Holy shit," he said as it dawned on him. "Little Beet?" His words were louder than his brother's had been, and were clearly audible to everyone in the room. "I barely recognized you," he said out loud, causing his brother to open his mouth and just stare at him for a moment.

    "You didn't," Seamus said, starting to object, but Delaney cut the conversation short.

    "Lady Ripley, you remember Bosleigh and Seamus," she asked casually. "Though at least one of them is considerably taller than he used to be." Smiling down at Aloise, she added, "And this is Lady Aloise Peregrine. A special friend of House Hepburn, and our treasured guest."


    @Beatrice Ripley @Aloise Peregrine

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    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    Beatrice spent the walk to the main hall processing Delaney's intentions and then, perhaps oddly, pushing them from her mind. It didn't seem like she was keen to press the issue, and Bea didn't feel it would do anybody any good if she dwelled on things. Better, as Delaney herself had said, to let things unfold as they would. If such a time came that the Hepburn woman decided to take action and arrange for a match between the Ripley girl and one of her sons, at least Bea's interactions with whichever one was chosen would have been natural and unforced up to that point, and that seemed a stronger foundation to build a marriage on than one fraught with worry and riddled with 'what ifs'.

    Stopping so she was a few steps behind Delaney when they finally reached the hall, Beatrice smiled at the woman's interaction with the Peregrine girl. Aloise had been poised to curtsy, but she all but bolted into the Hepburn woman's arms when she was told to. The girl wrapped her arms around Delaney and held tight, loosening her grip only after a long moment, and even then she didn't let go. Beatrice noticed the girl eyeing her, and she gave a gentle smile, but didn't make any further move; she didn't want to startle her with any unexpected or unsolicited interaction.

    "Holy shit. Little Beet?"

    Beatrice grinned prettily, and stepped forward to draw even with Delaney. The brothers' interactions made her feel a little bit at home, and although the nickname the Hepburn boys had given her as a girl had bothered her then, it didn't have any sting to it now that she was older. Even if it had, Leigh's reaction to her was gratifying enough that any annoyance would have gone out the window. She gave a little curtsy as the boys were introduced, and nodded. "I remember them well," she said, and added, "It's good to see you both again." If she was surprised by the fact that Wee Baby Seamus was not quite so wee anymore, she didn't let it show, and in fact she studied neither man well before shifting her attention to Aloise.

    Again she curtsied, and then she took to one knee so she could look up at the girl. "It's my pleasure to meet you, Lady Peregrine." Aloise looked curiously at the woman, and finally detached from Delaney to give a curtsy herself.

    "Pleased to meet you. You can call me Aloise, if you want to." The girl's voice was quiet, but stronger than it had been the last time Delaney had really heard her speak, and although she looked nervous it didn't seem to root as deep.

    Beatrice smiled. "And you can call me Beatrice. Or Bea." Aloise nodded decisively and gave a small smile, hopeful that if this lady was with Delaney, and if Seamus and Bosleigh both knew her, that maybe she could be a friend.

    As Bea stood back up, Aloise looked back over to the boys, a quizzical look on her face. "Why did you call her Beet?"

    ----
    @Delaney Stormshand Hepburn

  13. #13
    House Hepburn Delaney Stormshand Hepburn's Avatar  
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    Delaney embraced the child closely, and had they been alone in the room, might have gone so far as to muss her hair. But she knew that Aloise would no doubt be a little self-conscious in front of the stranger, and therefore spared her the necessity of straightening the mess prior to introductions. When the girl didn't pull away, Delaney made no effort to dislodge her. There was almost the odd sensation of having a daughter again, one with whom she might avoid all of the pitfalls that she had eventually fallen into with Maera.

    Allowing the introductions to go on, the senior woman in the room was almost surprised at how vocal Aloise had become, but she made no mention of it. And when the girl had completed her curtsy and greeting to Beatrice, Delaney put her arm back around the little one, and answered the question she had asked before either of the culprits could speak up. "As Seamus so eloquently put it, it's because they are morons." The childish games they played as kids may well have been overlooked by Patrick, and their casual demeanor as adults might well be dismissed by Grant. But Delaney was less than tolerant of such shenanigans, especially in the presence of guests who were not Hepburn by blood. Even if she had failed to teach her boys better manners, she wasn't one to stand for them demonstrating her failures.

    Bosleigh was grinning so wide it looked as though his face might split in half, but Seamus had the good sense to look cowed. The larger boy cleared his throat, and looked at Aloise seriously for a moment. "Lady Beatrice was a childhood friend," he explained, in what was without a doubt a gross simplification of their relationship. "Beet was simply a nickname that she went by," he lied, and eyed the now grown woman with a slight frown. "Kinda like when we call you, Little Sprite." The shorter man was nodding his agreement sagely, or in a manner that he thought looked sagely.

    It didn't help the cause of the boys that Delaney looked overly skeptical, and a cursory glance at her face from Aloise would reveal that perhaps the boys were trying to exonerate themselves after the fact, without so much as an apology to the Ripley girl. "Kinda like that," the woman echoed in a manner that made it clear that it was nothing like that. It would serve either of her sons to be stuck with the girl for the rest of their lives, but Lady Hepburn was not sure it would be fair to Beatrice.

    "But I am sure you will have ample opportunity to hear both sides of the story and judge for yourself, Aloise. I think that we girls will have more than a few tales to share with you about Seamus and Bosleigh while they are out of town," she said as she eyed the boys, making it clear that they would likely find very little mercy in their absence. "For now, I believe Thomas is setting out a luncheon, and we should move to the solar for a bite to eat." She looked down to Aloise and smiled. "Did you work up an appetite," she asked.

    Seamus fell in beside Beatrice and did his best to smile innocently as Bosleigh took up at her other arm. "It's good to see you, Bea," he said to her, wondering why she was here, and not with her husband back in the Reach. Was she married? Now that he considered it, he couldn't recall hearing about any such event.

    Leigh however, was curious about another matter altogether. "You weren't really upset that we called you Beet, were you?"

    @Beatrice Ripley
    Last edited by Rick; 10-24-2017 at 05:08 PM.

  14. #14
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    "As Seamus so eloquently put it, it's because they are morons."

    Aloise looked up at Delaney, still a little confused, but Beatrice had to fight back a grin at the boys' expense. She looked down to the ground for a moment, brushing a wrinkle out of her skirt as a distraction, and she looked up only when she was sure her expression was under control. Tucking a long coppery lock out of her face and behind her ear, Bea even managed to keep a fairly straight face at Seamus's take on their shared history.

    The smaller girl, though, didn't seem to be buying it. She looked up at Delaney, whose expression all but confirmed that there was something fishy going on, but before she could question further, she was promised the truth at a later date. It was enough for her; she'd be asking Seamus about it the next time he wasn't busy, and she was quite looking forward to spending more time with Delaney. Beatrice she wasn't so sure about, but she seemed nice enough, and if everyone else liked her then she couldn't be too bad.

    Beatrice, too, was looking forward to some girl time; with two brothers she rarely got time with a woman that wasn't her mother. She liked the idea of being helpful to the girl's recovery, too, and hoped that she'd be able to be at least a little bit of a distraction for her while she waited for the boys to get back with her sister and cousin. For now, though, the girl was looking quite well, all things considered, as she gave a little shrug to the prospect of food, but seemed quite enthusiastic to talk about what she'd been learning.

    Finding herself flanked by Hepburns, Beatrice was struck by just exactly how much they'd grown since the last time she'd seen them. Of course she hadn't thought they'd stayed the size they'd been as kids, but Seamus especially was...well, he was very tall. Bea's older brother wasn't a small man, either, but even he would have had to look up at the youngest Hepburn boy. She didn't find it intimidating or off-putting, though, perhaps because she'd known him as a snot-nosed kid, and she smiled and nodded an agreement to his pleasant greeting.

    Bosleigh's line of inquiry made her smile, although still pleasant, take on a little more incredulous tone. "I'll admit it wasn't a favorite," she said, taking a somewhat more diplomatic route than she might've. "It wouldn't have been so bad if other kids hadn't picked it up, but hearing it from the lord's sons gave just enough immunity." She didn't sound bitter, though, and gave a little shrug. "But, kids can be jerks, and I fully recognize that I was a pretty easy target. Doesn't bother me now, though, and I'm certainly not going to hold it against you at this point, so don't worry, you're safe," she said, giving a light laugh.

    -----
    @Bosleigh Hepburn

  15. #15
    House Hepburn Delaney Stormshand Hepburn's Avatar  
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    For his part Bosleigh was doing his best to look confused, clearly uncomprehending that the jerk she might have been referring to as a child might have been him. Clearly, in his own mind, he had meant the name as genuine term of affection, and it had mercilessly been twisted for the evil purposes of others, and he was about to say as much before he reconsidered. Beet seemed as though she wasn't going to hold any grudges, and even though he was very bad at quitting while he was ahead, the knight decided to make an exception at this point.

    Delaney was rounding into the solar with purpose, with Aloise in tow, and the trio not far behind. Bosleigh was somewhat distracted, as though he were looking for someone, and Seamus reckoned that he was hoping to find Grant or Rubianne in a compromising position, so as to give Delaney something else to be scandalized about, but as yet he was disappointed. What Delaney knew about Remington was a mystery to all of them, though the woman would have had to make an effort to be oblivious to the clues that a woman was there.

    Thomas ushered in the serving staff, and a pair of young girls brought in a half dozen serving trays with short legs so that the guests could lay them across their laps on the couches where they were sitting. The Hepburns had never been good at formalized family meals, preferring this method instead. Lunch was more of a sewing circle than it was an official meal, and Delaney reckoned that it promoted conversation, even if it lacked in etiquette. "Lady Ripley is here to help you acclimate, Aloise," Delaney said, lifting her arms as one of the servants slid a small salad plate onto her tray. She didn't elaborate, but she caught Seamus' curious eye when he looked at her.

    The larger man was immediately concerned about the proposition, unsure that Aloise was ready for strangers, or whatever kind of instruction her mother imagined. He couldn't help but feel that somehow Grant was involved in this, but there was no way for him to prove it. "Beatrice was always the smartest of us," he explained to the girl, though he was certain that both his brother and hers would argue the point. And Seamus personally believed that Maera was every bit a match for the Ripley girl, but he didn't say as much.

    "That much is certain," Delaney confirmed, looking at her two boys. "But we can discuss that later. Tell us, Aloise, how was your lesson today?" Delaney was intrigued by everything involving the girl, and hoped to find that she had become more comfortable discussing herself. "I understand you met Queen Vivienne," she added, not the least bit concerned that the events were mutually exclusive. The older woman figured she would give the child multiple topics to choose from, if it helped her maintain a dialogue.

    Seamus was simply trying to flag Beatrice's attention, as though if her eyes met his he might somehow read just what was going on in this most unexpected encounter. When his mother had wanted to get their attention as children, she would make this short noise that was something between a shush and a hiss, but Seamus knew that any such attempt on his part would only upset Delaney and alert her to what he was doing. And even though Ripley had yet to notice him, the moments of staring had solidified how much she had changed over the years. She had maintained her youthful appearance, but had blossomed in all other ways out of her younger beanpole figure. He thought for a moment that Aloise might have caught him staring at her, and quickly looked away, giving up the ghost, at least for the moment.


    @Beatrice Ripley @Aloise Peregrine

  16. #16
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    Beatrice was nonplussed at the somewhat unconventional eating arrangements. She wasn't one to feel any real need for propriety for its own sake in most cases, and all things considered this was probably the best way for the girl to begin to get accustomed to her. Aloise had the benefit of being with people she felt secure around, two of whom were in many ways just as oblivious to who Beatrice was, and nobody had to feel as if they also had to uphold proper dining etiquette. Bea took her seat, not too close to Aloise, and sat back so the tray could be placed over her lap.

    "Lady Ripley is here to help you acclimate, Aloise."

    Aloise looked from Delaney to the new woman, her brow a little furrowed. Bea offered a kind smile and a nod, but didn't seem to push the matter, and both she and Aloise looked to Seamus when he spoke up. As such, the girl missed the flicker of surprise on Bea's face, and she wished that Sean had been here to hear that; Sean had always fancied himself to be both the strongest and the smartest when they were younger, and even now Bea wasn't sure he thought any different despite no longer pointing it out at every opportunity. She also wasn't quite sure she agreed with the largest Hepburn, but it would have been foolish to turn down the compliment. Instead her eyes flicked downward modestly at Delaney's confirmation, and Aloise took to the change in topic well.

    "It was hard. I'm still kind of frightened by the whole thing, but Leigh makes it fun and doesn't make me feel bad if I do it wrong or get scared." Aloise went on, describing her most recent lesson in detail, oblivious to the fact that they'd watched most of it. For her part, Beatrice tucked into lunch, paying attention to the girl and studying her while her attention was elsewhere. She took in not only what she said, but how she spoke, how she held herself, and her manner in general. The ghost of her experiences hung over Aloise and seemed to dampen everything about her, but it wasn't as bad as Delaney had prepared her to expect.

    Beatrice may not have noticed the attention Seamus was paying her, but Aloise, pausing in her story to take a drink, did. He looked away quickly, so she did, too, but it stuck in her mind, and she was momentarily distracted. She couldn't place the look he'd had on his face, but she thought perhaps it wouldn't be right to ask him later. "I did meet Queen Vivienne," she said, picking up the other thread of conversation, "with Seamus and Grant. She was...different from what I expected. I told her what had happened, and she asked me some questions, and then Grant made me and Seamus leave while he stayed behind to talk to her more." Aloise paused, to eat a bite before she got scolded for neglecting her lunch, and Bea looked at Seamus, curious about his reaction to her retelling. "And now they're leaving soon to go get Del, and they'll take her away from there and bring her back here where she's safe and she can get better, too. Just like I am."

    There was an utterly trusting belief in the girl's voice that made Beatrice's heart ache, and she glanced between the boys, hoping she wouldn't see any doubt in their faces.

    ----
    @Delaney Stormshand Hepburn

  17. #17
    House Hepburn Delaney Stormshand Hepburn's Avatar  
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    If the man who appeared in the doorway next had heard Seamus' comment about the fact that Beatrice was the smartest of the children, he chose to hold his objection. Nor did he reveal any amount of surprise that the Ripley woman was the tutor that his mother had mentioned in her letter. Grant was more than capable of reaching his own conclusions without having to vocalize them for all of the world. It was one of the things that set him apart from Bosleigh and Maera. And he was a far more patient man than either of his brothers. He held up a finger to his lips to let Beatrice know that he wasn't quite ready to announce himself, and then leaned on the outer frame of the door as Aloise was speaking.

    For her part, Delaney sipped her tea quietly and nodded with a smile to the girl, gratified both that she was learning a new skill and that Bosleigh was making a more proper use of his time than what she had become accustomed to. "And hopefully you've been keeping a good eye on the boys and making sure they are behaving themselves. A mother can't always be around I'm afraid, but I hereby deputize you to scold them whenever you feel they need it, Aloise." Seamus snorted, and elbowed Leigh, as though warning him to look out, but the older boy simply smiled innocently at Aloise, as though he were completely incapable of doing anything wrong.

    The child's optimism was not unfounded in Delaney's eyes. If there was hope of freeing the other Peregrines from Welch Run, it was more than likely that the Hepburns were up to the task. If their interaction with Queen Nataliah and their part in the Balfourian war were any indication, they had learned to be far more reliable than they had been as children. At least the younger two. "We look forward to meeting her," the older woman said by way of affirmation, and was glad to see that neither of the two men were displaying any hints of trepidation.

    The same could not be said for Grant, who entered the room at that moment, but put on a positive expression when Aloise looked up. "Tomorrow, in fact," Grant told the room. "Orders just came down from Her Majesty. Cousin Gavin shall be joining us as well, so it'll practically be a reunion," he told his mother with a smile. Pausing for a moment, he looked at the other guest again and nodded his head. "Hello Beet," he greeted her, with almost a subtle hint of affection in his voice.

    Leigh was the first to snap his head around, and pointed directly at his older brother. "Ha! Moron! Right mom?" He turned back to look at Delaney to make sure that her assessment of the younger two for using the nickname Beatrice had been given was also being applied to the eldest.

    "Eat your lunch, Bosleigh," the woman said flatly, and did her best not to smile when her middle child was clearly put off. "These are precisely the kinds of moments where you can feel free to scold them, Aloise," she said with a smile. "Have a seat Grant," she said to the oldest, who obeyed and reached for a small plate. "We won't pester you with questions about the details of your mission, but we are very excited to have you gone. Us girls are going to do a lot of bonding this week, and do something about the dreariness of this place. But by the time you get back, I think we'll have it in order, won't we ladies?"


    @Beatrice Ripley @Aloise Peregrine

  18. #18
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    Motion caught out of the corner of her eye alerted Beatrice to Grant's arrival, but aside from meeting his eyes, her focus didn't linger. She'd been up to enough capers with her own brothers that she knew the correct response to the signal. She let her gaze pass right over him, as if she were just taking in the surroundings, before turning her attention back to Aloise.

    The girl, for a moment, seemed troubled. She didn't feel like she'd been helping the boys behave themselves; after all, Bosleigh had bloodied Grant's lip while she was in the room! But Delaney officially giving her the power to scold three adult men made Aloise grin, and she immediately looked at Seamus and giggled at their interaction. There was little worry of the girl letting her new power go to her head, though. Home life in the Hepburn household was like heaven compared to what she was used to. She could find little to complain about, and thus in her own mind she wouldn't have much chance to scold anyone.

    Beatrice nodded, echoing Delaney's affirmation. She'd been curious to meet the youngest Peregrine, who had seemingly won the heart of every Hepburn she met, but she had to admit a more personal interest in meeting Delphia. They were of a similar age, and she couldn't help but wonder if they might become friends.

    Movement, again, drew Bea's eye back to Grant, and she caught what she thought was the ghost of doubt before it was banished from his expression. Now that he'd made himself known she felt a little more free to pay him more attention, and she was impressed with how he held himself. He'd always been a confident boy, but Bea was pleased to see the power he now wielded didn't seem to wear on him. "My lord," she greeted with a nod of her head. "It's good to see you again."

    Aloise almost seemed to miss Leigh's outburst; her mind had been pinned by the announcement of when they'd be leaving, and hadn't moved past it yet. She sat almost without moving, only coming back to reality when she heard her name spoken, and then it was like the conversation she'd missed washed over her. The girl nodded to Delaney and cast Bosleigh a look that might've meant to be scolding, but didn't quite get there. Bea watched the progression, careful not to stare, and could see hints for the first time of the scars the girl carried. Up until now she could easily have just been a child from an isolated and unpleasant household, hesitant but eager now that she was encouraged. But now Beatrice realized there was much more this girl was working against in her own mind, and she could start to see the shape of the task ahead of her.

    Rolling on with the conversation as if she'd noticed nothing, Beatrice nodded and gave a small, confident smile. "Between the three of us we'll have everything well in hand."

    Aloise smiled, somewhat timidly. Her enthusiasm was dampened now, but not altogether erased. Rather than contemplate the future, though, with all the unknowns it held, the girl looked to Bosleigh. "Leigh, why did you react like that when you saw Lady Bea?" Aloise wasn't comfortable enough to use the woman's first name alone, but calling her by her formal name felt funny when everyone was using a nickname for her, so she settled on a middle ground. "It's not nice to swear in front of ladies."

    ----
    @Delaney Stormshand Hepburn

  19. #19
    House Hepburn Delaney Stormshand Hepburn's Avatar  
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    Delaney and Seamus' gazes met as Aloise giggled, and both the mother and son had to work at not giggling themselves. There was an absurd imagery that accompanied the idea of Little Sprite with her hands on her hips in objection, or her tiny finger wagging in their direction. But they would both have been glad for it, and the normalcy it represented regardless. Even if Aloise didn't have a lot of growing up left to do, she still had a good deal of growing out ahead of her.

    The older woman was brought back to the remainder of the company when Grant waived his hand at Beatrice. "It was then, and remains now, Grant," he told his guest with a shrug. "You've known me since I still had baby teeth, Beet. The day I expect you to refer to me as 'my lord' is the day I deserve to have my ass...err..." He looked at Aloise with a small smile and a defensive gesture of his hands. "To have my bottom kicked," he corrected himself bashfully.

    "In hand and then some," Delaney affirmed, resting a hand on Aloise's shoulder. The older woman's maternal instinct had been dormant for so long that it felt odd have it resurface now, but the nurturing nature of her personality had found new life with the arrival of the Peregrine girl. There would be lessons, and shopping, and hugs. So many hugs that Aloise would be a rebellious teenager in no time. Delaney could hardly wait to dote on the child, and made a note to begin doing so at the first moments that Grant was gone. Delaney knew that he had drilled strength and fortitude into the girl, but the need for that was gone now.

    Aloise's question of Bosleigh seemed to make all the heads in the room turn and focus on the man, as though there was nothing but curiosity in the room for his answer. It was the kind of question that nobody else could have asked, simply because they had known the knight too long, and had come to expect such behavior from him. But to his credit, Leigh took the question in stride. "Lady," he asked incredulously in reference to Beatrice. To his right, Seamus cleared his throat, and his brother frowned at him. "Oh for Swaren's," he began again, before sighing under the strong gaze of his mother. "Fine," he said, clearly defeated. "I apologize for my outburst, Lady Be-a-trice," he said, emphasizing her full name. "It was shameful of me, and it will...probably...never happen again."

    Delaney seemed to be both amused and satisfied by the exchange, and she patted the Peregrine girl on the thigh. "Excellent work, Aloise," she complimented her charge. Looking to Beatrice, Delaney spoke more formally. "Is this apology acceptable to you, Lady Ripley?"


    @Beatrice Ripley

  20. #20
    Junior Member Beatrice Ripley's Avatar  
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    Beatrice smiled, and nodded, but didn't speak to correct herself in how she'd addressed Grant. Her parents would have never forgiven her if she hadn't properly addressed the Hepburn lord. She would have been subjected to an endless lecture on how she was to represent her family, and her mother would doubtless point out that she had been raised better than to assume familiarity. But, Grant's words were amusing and, in a way, refreshing; she hadn't been sure of what to expect from the eldest Hepburn brother after all this time, now that he fully wielded the power of his station. It was good to see he'd retained his sense of humor and seemed grounded, and it spoke even better of him that he took care to catch himself rather than speak inappropriately around his young ward. Sean had asked her to take stock of the Hepburns while she was among them, as he wanted an opinion other than their father's to go on, and Bea felt confident he would like what she'd seen so far.

    Aloise brightened as she looked up at Delaney. Careful not to bump the trays, she leaned her head on the woman's shoulder, and to Bea it seemed the girl drew strength from that simple contact. The shadow of fear that had hung over her expression melted, although it didn't release her entirely judging by the tension in her frame, although in fairness Bea couldn't know if that was just how the girl carried herself normally.

    The girl sat up as all eyes turned to Bosleigh, open curiosity on her face. She frowned a little when he seemed to question whether Bea was a lady or not, and, catching this, the older girl had to try to keep from laughing. In truth, Aloise hadn't meant to make him apologize; she'd been genuinely curious about what had made him react like that. In her old life, if someone swore when somebody else entered the room it was always a bad thing, but that didn't seem to be the case here. Was he just surprised to see her? It seemed odd to swear, if that was all it was, but Aloise had learned that sometimes Leigh was just weird.

    Beatrice, amusement in her eyes, bowed her head at his apology, and nodded in response to Delaney's question. "More than," she answered, and she wondered if Leigh was going to be sore about this later. Gods knew her own brothers would have been, if either of them had been in his shoes. Brushing her hair behind her shoulder, Bea caught Aloise looking at her, and the girl didn't look away when she was found out.

    "Did you really know Grant when he had baby teeth? Are you his age?"

    The girl seemed unabashed by her curiosity, and Beatrice wasn't bothered in the least by it. "He probably still had a couple when I first met him, yeah," she said, glancing to the man in question with a smile. "He's a few years older than me, though. I don't quite remember, but I think I'm younger than all of these guys." Although a statement, Bea's pitch rose as she finished speaking, almost turning it into a question, and she looked between the others as though to invite clarification. She thought she remembered Sean being the same age as one of the younger two brothers, and Ewan was the youngest of all of them - a fact which he was always unhappy about - but it had been long enough that she just couldn't remember reliably.

    Aloise considered this for a moment. "You might be my sister's age, then. She's just turned twenty last month." Bea nodded, but Aloise went on. "My birthday's in three days. I'll be fifteen, and Rubianne said she'd take me shopping since it looked like everybody was going to be gone, but now you can come too!" She looked at Delaney hopefully, unaware that Grant's mother didn't technically know who Ruby was or what role she played in the house.

    ----
    @Delaney Stormshand Hepburn

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