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Aodh once more pays a visit on Ava Weaver, though in very different circumstances.

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Aodh Elzo
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Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:18 am

19th Rolis, late night
He looked down at Ava, noticed the change in her demeanor and wondered what had changed, then it hit his pain and booze fogged brain. He’d used her first name, he’d never done that, ‘bloody fool’.

Aodh returned her grin, though he shuddered at the mention of the guard dog. That bloody thing would haunt his dreams for a time. She was right, of course, he was still alive and whole.

He lifted his leg with her help and it did feel better, the binding hurt at first but again, it seemed to help.
The letter, of course she was right, Aodh dug the bits of the letter from his waistcoat and handed it to her.

Sebastian,

Please give Veronica my compliments – what a magnificent dinner she arranged last week. I am pleased to have seen you both in such good health, and I look forward to seeing you again in a scorenight, when I am returned to the city.

I have not forgotten the matter we discussed, of course. I must apologize: there is nothing I can do. It has been decided, I am afraid, that you are simply not a good fit for our group. Do not think that I was not your advocate; I remember my promise, too, and I am determined to keep it: you have my recommendation for any number of other societies with which I am in high standing. In this, however, my hands are tied.

I hope you will not permit this to stand in the way of our friendship. Will you come to dinner with Diana and myself on the twentieth of Roalis? We have invited Peregrine Gillespie, with whom I believe you have been acquainted, along with his wife; and the Cavendish family, of course. If your doubtless busy schedule permits, we look forward to seeing you.

Your dear friend,
Anatole


As Ava read Aodh said.

“Blackthorns sister was pretty angry the woman her brother spent most of the night talkin’ to, didn’t name her just called her ‘that tart’. The letter don’t mean much to me, but the fact he tore it up. That and the weird symbol on the back.”
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He shrugged.

“As I say I reckoned it was important. It mean anything to you?”
word count: 393

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Ava Weaver
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Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:42 am

Late Night, 19th Roalis, 2719
Woven Delights, the Painted Ladies
Ava had been petting the gray cat, up and down his back. His head leaning into her hand whenever it came close enough, and she rubbed the spot he favored behind his ears with her fingertips. There were a few rough patches in his fur still, spots that might never fully heal, but in the last pair of scorenights he had grown steadily sleeker. There was a lovely, healthy shine to him now, a softness that Ava could feel beneath her fingers with pride. The few small sores he had had were gone, healed.

He did not stay constantly in her bedroom; such a creature could never be confined. Ava knew that, and respected it, and did not wish him to change. She knew well that he might be injured again; she knew that there might come a time when he did not return at all, whether by choice or not. And yet she could not help but let him in.

Ava was tired; she was terribly tired. The rush of adrenaline of Aodh’s visit, of his injuries, was starting to fade, and she was left feeling a little weak. It was with an effort that she lifted her hand from the cat, smiled at Aodh, a few feet away on the couch - she could still feel the brush of his glamour, strange and woobly - and took the pieces of the letter.

He was talking already by the time Ava looked down at them.

It would not be until Aodh looked back at Ava that he might realize she was not reading. Ava sat, still and frozen, staring down at the four pieces of the letter in her hands. She had not made any effort to line them up; there was no movement of her eyes, no tracking that might suggest she was trying to read. Her face was still and utterly blank; there was no trace of the smile she had had before, yet nor had any other expression replaced it.

Ava moved, slowly, as if time for her was moving differently, as if she were fighting through air like syrup. She set the pieces of the letter down next to her on the couch, slowly, fumblingly, leaving them in the space between her and Aodh. She lifted the small gray cat and set him on her other side; he let out a grumbling noise and hopped to the floor, tail lashing, and wandered away across the room.

Ava rose. She pulled away from Aodh; she could not bear not look at him. She took a few steps, past the table, halfway across the room, arms crossed over herself, gripping tightly. It was like a nightmare and yet she was awake. She had started to tremble, at some point, and she could not seem to stop it.

Ava squeezed her eyes shut. Dead, she told herself; Anatole was dead. She had known it for his writing from the first moment, long before she had seen his signature peeking up through the pages. Dead.

And -

An old letter. There was no other explanation, and Ava knew it. There was a certainty in her that this could not shake. Anatole was dead. Ava felt something soften and ease in her chest, and she could breathe again. “I -“ she didn’t know what to say; she didn’t think there was anything she could say.

“I have something of a headache, I’m afraid,” Ava whispered. She knew her voice was off; there was something in her throat that she could not swallow, a lightness in her head. “Would you read it to me?” She closed her eyes, holding half way across the room from the man on her couch.

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word count: 651
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Aodh Elzo
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Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:14 pm

19th Roalis, late night
Ave's sudden reaction to seeing the letter had Aodh half off the couch, forgetting his ankle. Till he put his full weight on it, it gave out spending him back to the couch, biting off a curse.

Something had distressed her, but what. Aodh didn't even know how to ask her.
Once he had marshalled himself he said, voice full of concern.

"Miss Weaver I… "

He trailed off, and nodded.

"Aye, I shall read it."

So he did, once he had finished he looked across to her. He wanted to comfort her, but he had no talent for such things.

Aodh Elzo, who could and had charmed and lied his way into places he had no business in and his way out of deadly bad situations, was lost for words.
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Ava Weaver
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Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:48 pm

Late Night, 19th Roalis, 2719
Woven Delights, the Painted Ladies
Anatole’s words in a rough Tekaa voice. The irony did not escape Ava, although a few tears did, tracking steadily down her cheeks. She did not have a handkerchief on her, not just now, and so she blotted them gently away with the sleeve of her robe, and settled her arms back across her chest. She did not think she could have read them; she knew something of her limits, and she knew, too, that the voice her memory would have conjured would not have been Aodh’s, rough, a little dark, and yet smokey, with his distinctive northern burr; a voice of too many pubs, Ava thought, and smiled, hard enough to squeeze a few more tears from the edges of her eyes.

Ava wiped those tears away as well, and took a deep breath; she found the will to stop the steady trembling of her shoulders, and to bring herself back under control. She brushed a few strands of curly hair from her face, but they did not stay, tumbling from behind her ears to land back against her cheeks once more.

Any number of other societies. Yes, Ava thought; this could be very useful. A year ago? It must have been. A year ago, Anatole had been involved in some secret society, one which Blackthorn wanted to join above all the rest, and one to which he had been denied entry.

One to which Anatole still belonged? Yes, Ava thought – yes, very likely. Or if he did not, from the tone of the letter, he had until recently been in good standing. It was more promising than Aodh could possibly know; it was more promising than she could ever hope to explain. Peregrine Gillespie and Jonathan Cavendish had been his friends, of course. For a moment, Ava wondered if Gillespie – she could not quite imagine that encounter, and she tried to shy away from thinking too much on it.

“Let me see the symbol?” Ava cleared her throat, once, and within a few words the roughness was gone from her voice. She turned back to Aodh when he finished speaking. There was a faint rimmed redness to her eyes, and the light of her small lantern caught the trickle of wetness on her cheeks, but she had another smile for him, and she made her way back to the couch, and sat once more, extending her hands to his.

Ava took the letter – her hands trembled only for a moment – and turned it over, studying the odd symbol on the back. She tapped the pieces together, gently, and returned them to Aodh. “Very interesting,” Ava agreed. “It seems that – ” there were names she could not say; Ava had thought for a moment to talk around them, but she could not quite find it in herself to do that either. “That it was a worthwhile night indeed,” Ava looked up at Aodh – met his eyes for just a moment, and then had to pull her gaze away. She felt something rise up in her throat, more tears, and eased them back down, smoothed them away, and found a soft little smile from somewhere inside.

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Aodh Elzo
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Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:25 pm

19th Roalis, late night
As Aodh handed her the letter he saw her eyes, red from crying. Had he done that, in his clumsy ignorance, said something? No, it must be the letter somehow, maybe.

"Miss Weaver, the symbol… you know it?"

He dug around in his pockets and pulled a stub of pencil and a scrap of paper and he scrawled down, in his rough hand, the names he remembered, and held it out saying.

"That's the names I heard the sister say, I know a couple of um are in the letter."

The list read.

Urquharts
Cavendish
Vauquelin
Gillespie


He stuck the pencil back in a pocket and regarded Ava, he looked away. Aodh could see she was distressed, and couldn't help but feel responsible.
He glanced at his ankle and then the door, hoping she didn't notice.
He wondered if his ankle would hold out long enough to get him home. Best to leave Ava in peace, he bought enough trouble to her for one night. Aodh shifted his weight about to get up.
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Ava Weaver
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Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:40 pm

Late Night, 19th Roalis, 2719
Woven Delights, the Painted Ladies
Ava shook her head, fixing the symbol in her mind. “No, I don’t,” she said, thoughtfully. In truth, that only made it more interesting. Anatole had not been so clumsy as to leave his papers lying around – but – now… Ava thought she had better write the symbol down, to make a note of it. They could not, she thought, be certain that it was attached to the mentioned society, but it seemed likely enough, certainly worth investigating.

Ava glanced down at Aodh’s hands. Her breath caught in her throat, and she could not quite look away, watching him write the list of familiar names, one by one. He came to Vauquelin, slowly tracing it out, one letter at a time. Ava’s breath held there in her throat, and came again only when he began to trace the G of the last word. Gillespie, she thought, dizzily.

Ava smoothed the soft fabric of her robe over her legs. “This sister,” Ava began. She glanced down at the letter again, then back up to Aodh. “What did she say about – about each of the names? If you recall,” there was only one name that Ava cared about; there was one name about which she needed to know. And yet - she thought that she might not be able to bring herself to say it smoothly; she thoguht that her voice would go raw and ragged again if she tried, that to make her way through the three syllables without letting on what they meant to her would be all but impossible. And she knew, most of all, that she should not make the attempt if she was not sure she could succeed. Already tonight she had let on much more than she ever wished to. If only he hadn’t surprised her – if only.

There was, Ava knew too, never any point in looking back. How many times had she learned that lesson? How many more times would she learn it? Whatever happened, whatever came, she would make the best of where she stood. She always had.

Whether Aodh was able to tell her more or not, Ava would do her best to let it go there. If she paid a little more attention to any discussion of Vauquelin, it was only because she could not quite help it.

Aodh shifted against the couch, and she saw him start to gather himself, as if to rise.

“My apologies,” Ava said, quietly. She took a deep breath. “I am – overtired, I think,” she summoned up a smile for Aodh, soft and wan, but genuine, with a soft crinkling at the edges of her eyes. “You must stay here, Mr. Elzo, at least until you’ve had some rest,” Ava rose, smoothing her nightgown with her hands, and shifting back away from the couch to make space for him. “There is a cot in a room downstairs. But if you would prefer to stay here on the couch, that would also be – as you like.”

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Aodh Elzo
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Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:46 am

19th Roalis, late night
Aodh slumped back down onto the couch, running away was a damn fool thing to do, on a bad leg or otherwise. He rubbed his face with both hands as he thought about what the sister had said, about the names.

“She said, Blackthorn called um.. Self made men like him, that change was change was comin’ or something like that. She called um those merchants.”

He stopped talking, something was niggling at him, at the back of his mind, something that Veronica Blackthorn had said.

“There was something else she said, didn’t catch all of it mind. She said what was I thinking. He seemed so charming… such a gentleman.”


Aodh rubbed the back of his neck.

“Not sure who she was talkin’ about. Don’t think I saw her talkin’ to any jent fella’s during the party, least ways not so I noticed.”

He returned her smile, she was right walking anywhere would be unwise. This couch was more comfortable than the bed in his garret anyway.

“You’ve nothin’ to apologise for, thank you for everything. I’m the one who should apologise…”

He trailed off, but she was beautiful. All he was a musician, and without that.

Then he panicked and looked around eyes wild, then he spotted the black leather case by the door, where he had left it and sagged with relief.

“Miss Weaver, could you hand me that case please.”


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Ava Weaver
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Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:47 pm

Late Night, 19th Roalis, 2719
Woven Delights, the Painted Ladies
Ava felt like she exhaled a little of the tension out, a faint relief. Perhaps she might have understood more of what Blackthorn’s sister had said that Aodh did, if she had been there; perhaps, if he had been less drained, he might have been able to relay it more clearly. All the same, self-made man – she knew that term well.

Ava was tired enough that she could picture the conversation. She knew better; she knew better than to let her mind wander these old, familiar paths, but she was too tired to stay away. She could see Anatole in her mind; she could picture him smiling that thin-lipped smile of his. Self-made men, he would say, like us – flattery, for Blackthorn, because that was the phrase that Anatole had liked best for himself. In private, of course, he hadn’t thought so highly of the man; Ava remembered -

If she kept on like this, Ava thought, she would make herself sick. What mattered was that nothing had been said that she did not know; nothing new, whether good or bad.

Ava was standing, still, her arms crossed over her chest. “No, please don’t apologize. I’m glad you came,” she said, meaning it, looking at Aodh then down. There was, she thought, much to think about. The symbol; she would write it in her notes before she slept. Whenever she had the opportunity next, when the chance arose, she would have this one more small tool in her arsenal, this little weapon; she could not know when it might be useful, but it was one more little thread to tug at. It was a secret. Secrets were powerful; often, they were even dangerous. She would be glad of each one that she accumulated.

Aodh jerked, suddenly, and Ava’s gaze snapped up, fixing on him. She held very still, abruptly, fear and adrenaline pounding in her chest; she could see sudden fear on his face, but she didn’t know the source. He calmed, then, and sank back against the couch. Ava’s hands were shaking, and she tucked them gently beneath her arms, and followed Aodh’s glance to the door.

“Of course,” Ava exhaled shakily, and made her way to the door. She did not bend over; she crouched, carefully, and picked up the heavy case that Aodh had brought with him, that he had dragged through the streets with his weak, injured ankle. She carried it over to the couch, and set it down.

Ava didn’t offer the cot again; she thought perhaps he was too tired to move, and she didn’t want to make it obvious. She didn’t like to press him for his needs, either, so instead of asking Ava stepped behind another curtain, and fetched out the blanket she kept down here – for herself, in truth, for late nights when she needed to work downstairs instead of above, when she was cold. It wasn’t soft and expensive and lovely; it wasn’t rich and silken and smooth like the rest of the room. It was a bit ungainly, an ugly brownish-black, and the wool seemed like it might scratch, but it also looked thoroughly warm. Ava carried the folded thing to the couch, and set it down next to Aodh; even Roalis nights grew cold, when it was late enough.

Ava took the cup of water he’d finished as well, and crossed the room, disappearing behind another curtain and returning with it full once more, setting it down on the table beside Aodh. She stepped back again. “I’ll let you rest, then,” she said, quietly.

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Aodh Elzo
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Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:17 pm

Day and time
Watching Ava carry the Elzo Mandolin gave him a strange feeling, he pushed it down.
He laid the case across his lap and laid a hand on it, the feel of the fine leather bringing him comfort.
Aodh smiled as Ava bought out a blanket and placed it beside him.

"I can't thank you enough for the kindness you've shown me tonight. Mujo mujo ma."

Aodh bowed his head, when he looked back up tiredness was writ plain on his face and he looked older. Hiding a yawn he said.

"I'd play ya a song, one I've been workin' on. But I reckon I'm about don' in.
Thank you again Miss Weaver, an' good night.


Exhausted as he was, he still was able to smile, and the warmth of it shone in his tired eyes.

Aodh's hands were both on the case, he looked at them, then back up to Ava.

"Actually, I reckon I've a song in me. After, I never got to finish my set at Blackthorns. If you'd like to hear it?"
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Ava Weaver
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Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:52 pm

Late Night, 19th Roalis, 2719
Woven Delights, the Painted Ladies
Ava met Aodh’s smile with her own, warm and friendly. “You’re welcome,” she said. She would not dismiss his thanks by refusing it; she would not cheapen it by saying it was not necessary. She accepted it, and hoped he knew that she had meant it: that she was glad he had come.

Ava folded her hands gently against her front. She nodded when Aodh said he was tired; she would not have asked him to play, not when it seemed to her that he was nearly dead on his feet – or, rather, off them. But she hesitated when he offered, looking at the wick for a long, thoughtful moment.

The healer in her thought it best to tell him no, that he should rest. The rest of her said that was foolish, that it would insult him to scold him so, and that it might well help him to play the song, to finish his set. Ava lowered her eyes for a moment, thinking, and – for a moment, just a moment, she put that aside.

“Yes,” Ava said, and smiled at Aodh again. “I’d like that very much.” She sat again, slowly, on the other couch, sitting straightbacked in her high-necked nightgown and pale green robe. The cat hopped up onto the couch next to her once more, settling against her thigh, and Ava stroked his back, gently and idly, sitting and resting.

Ava was tired; she was terribly, terribly tired. But she knew this kind of tiredness, the kind that hummed in her, the kind that buzzed, anxious, through her mind. It was bone deep and miserable, and it would not let her rest. She would lie awake in the heat of this long Roalis night, sweating in the miserable heat, her mind racing circles around itself. If she could sleep at all, she would toss and turn beneath the thin sheets of her bed, awaken sweat-drenched from nightmares she could not name and wished she could not remember.

Some music, Ava thought, before she had to face that – and she would face it, she doubted she could avoid it – would be lovely. She thought perhaps it would have been wisest to refuse Aodh’s offer, or if she had accepted, she wished that she could have said she had done it on his behalf. In the end, though, that was not what had swayed her; it was her own need, selfish though it might be, that had prompted her to accept. She thought, if she had told him so, that the wick would understand.

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