[Closed] And At Last I See The Light

The capital city of Anaxas and the seat of the government.
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Charity Valentin
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Sat May 18, 2019 10:56 am

1st Intas, 2718
PAINTED LADIES| LATE EVENING
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Charity crossed her arms, resting her chin on them as she leaned against the cold brick that encased the rooftop of the back half of their house in the Painted Ladies. Accessing the roof was a surprise in itself, a small hatch and ladder built into the roof of the attic. Once one climbed through, they would find themselves a top a flat square of rooftop, clearly designed into the building for the privacy of a personal rooftop garden. There was a small rundown gazebo, broken and rotted with age and neglect, overrun with dead creeping plants of some kind and potted plants long turned to dust. There were no chairs up there, instead the tactful blonde had dragged an old crate from the cellar all the way up and through to the spacious emptiness.

It was a quiet place where the whole entire world could be forgotten for a few blissful hours.

Can’t hide forever Charity Ann.

The galdor looked up at the clouded sky, watching as the fat flakes of snow began to fall on Vienda as the evening marked the less religious celebrations of Clocks Eve. In the streets below, the denizens of the Dives were making their way to private celebrations, or taking the opportunity to join the shindig being put on in Crosstown Court. Here and there along the Ladies, paper lanterns had been hung to shine their light on the snowy cobbled streets, giving the colorful strip a warm glow of amber.

“Neither can you father.” She muttered quietly, the flecks of gold in her violet gaze catching the orange hues in the street as she turned her head slightly to the sound of fireworks. They were a few blocks over, in the court itself, but the boom-crackle-hiss of the brightly colored explosions was still audible and the glow of the street was briefly overtaken by greens or reds or blues depending on the lightshow in the night sky.

It was the same every year for her birthday, except this year things were different. This year for starters, she was sober. She could enjoy the lights for their innate beauty rather than the spectral hallucinogenic chaos that she had endured in the past. Secondly, she was free from Damen’s thumb. After years and years of his cruel reign, she was free. She wasn’t even a D’Arthe anymore, rid of the Bastian name for her Brayde County bred Valentin.

Of course that also led to the third thing, her marriage. For too many years, the pianist had celebrated her birthday lacking the one thing that she ever wanted. The one thing she always wanted; Rhys Valentin. Had he been there in the past, there would be so many things that might not have happened. The knife in her ribs, the abuse of the narcotics, the violence of her father…so many things might have been different but then, would they? Would the man have joined the Seventen? Would he have learned the truth of his heritage? Would there be so many fucked up things in his life to deal with? Charity was absolutely positive the answer was no, but….selfishly she didn’t care. The petite creature was happy, at least, with that part of her world. The wicked man had overshadowed his own birthday with a proposal and union by law, it was a gift that covered every Clocks Eve or St Grumbles or birthday ever.

Charity smiled to herself, lowering her head to rest on her arms again as the snow settled softly in her hair and clung to the fabric of her ivory high collared blouse and long beige skirt. Her platinum tresses were caught up in a half do, the top of her hair neatly fashioned into a twist whilst the rest fell in gentle curls between her shoulder blades. It was cold on the roof—frankly it was cold anywhere given the time of year and the weather—but the galdor didn’t care. She had taken a brief moment to cast a thermodynamic Static spell with a touch of Physical 101 to create a bubble of heat around her. It wasn’t fantastic—Static and Physical weren’t really her key area’s of study—but it was enough to take the edge off.

Laughter peeled from the street below, tipsy revelers on their way out, making their wobbly way down uneven cobblestones on uneven feet. The blonde chuckled to herself, before looking up at the clouded sky punctuated with light and sound. Gods, she could stay in this moment forever. Always and Forever. Unconsciously, she fiddled with the silvery band that had engraved the words that so represented her love for Rhys.

Happy birthday, daughter.

“Shut up.” She muttered without lifting her head, used to the voice by now that she found herself replying to it more often than not.

Bubble of Heat - static/physical blend
SidekickBOTToday at 00:08
@Raksha: d6 = (2) = 2


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Rhys Valentin
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Fri May 31, 2019 2:41 pm

where the heart is
after dark on the 1st of Intas, 2719
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Rhys had not ventured far from the house, far from the Painted Ladies, far from the Dives for weeks now, months, really, save but for a few necessary times and never alone. The capitol of Vienda had become its own danger—streets patrolled by men and women in uniform he'd once trusted but couldn't any more, streets populated by strangers he no longer felt as though he had any authority over.

Broken bones had healed.

Broken hearts had been mended.

But that didn't mean that pain didn't linger in different, unseen ways in not only his life, but Charity's as well. Fear. Trauma. Anger. These emotions still haunted them, gnawed at the unspoken places of their minds, and while they'd planned their paths toward justice and plotted their next steps, the damage was slow to repair.

They had a long, hard road ahead of them that no amount of paint and carpentry was going to fix.

The young Valentin couldn't be more ready to bring a close to the year, to bury the old year without even the honor of cremation or the ceremony of a song, to drown it in the Avora and forget so much of it—not all of it, of course, given who he had to share it with. Even if he wasn't sure he was ready for the new year, he had no choice, but Rhys knew that before he could even consider the rest of the turning of the cycle of seasons, he had Charity's birthday to celebrate.

Hers was impossible to forget, being Clock's Eve. He'd wasted too many as a schoolboy—never a dance, never a kiss, never drunken giggles somewhere in the lantern-lit streets of the Stacks. Just like this new year held within it the whispered promises of redemption should they choose to take matters in to their own hands, so the tall blond decided it was time to remedy all of those missed opportunities they'd never had a chance to take in the form of private celebration.

Always one to have a favor to call in somewhere from somewhere, especially among his informants and contacts in the Dives, Rhys had forced himself out of the house one late, blustery Ophus eve to pay a visit to one of the many pawn shops that lined the street just within view of the Clockwork Stag, the Sergeant began his search for a birthday present fit for his delicate pianist. He spent the rest of that afternoon huffing about the outskirts of Uptown, too terrified to make his way to shops he knew close to his old home in Kingsway Market. Thankfully, he was not disappointed by his persistence.

Arrangements were creatively made and the tall blond continued to extend his talents of creatively keeping secrets until just the right moment.

They'd both agreed they had no interest in going out for Clock's Eve—the thought of crowds of strangers, of watchful eyes, and even moreso of familiar faces, keeping them from at all feeling ready to mingle with the general populace. Rhys had, of course, spent much of the day spoiling Charity in any manner she could imagine—he cooked, he cleaned, he cuddled—and the day was spent without any particular fanfare, only the promise of things to come. Yes, he was persistent with his, "Just you wait," and "You'll know when the time comes" any moment the petite blonde dared ask about his plans for her.

And then the sun set and the bells of Vienda's own many Churches rang. Songs were sung on the streets. Prayers were offered to Alioe. Celebrations began all throughout the capitol, from fancy dances in Uptown to block parties in the Dives.

Rhys washed dishes, quietly shooing his wife outside to sit under the stars and the little phosphor lights strung along their lovely but in desperate need of some work gazebo and humble rooftop garden. Wine would follow, he swore with a smile that was ultimately so suspicious he'd chased the woman out with roguish kisses and far too flirtatious pinches instead. He made sure to sing a very loud mockery of the Anaxi National Anthem when it drifted from the streets below, making sure his voice rang out above the clink of dishes and splash of hot water, making sure his volume covered the knock at the service door that led to the side of their kitchen.

A package, a smiling wick boy, red-faced and dusted with snow, and a few coins exchanged later and the young Valentin was donning his coat and making his way outside with a basket of wine and two glasses as well as the rather ridiculously large and impressively heavy-looking package balanced in his hands.

As if he felt the need to prove his renewed physical prowess after weeks of painful recovery, he swept his way through the snow to set the package under the mostly covered space of the gazebo, grinning so broadly he had to pause a moment before saying a single word,

"Happy birthday and happy new year, Mrs. Charity Valentin."

He was already laughing, breath a hot cloud in the frigid Intas air, aware that she'd probably hate him for his extreme methods of celebration, huffing snow and long strawberry blond strands from his face as he set the basket down on a bench and paused to add his own request for warmth and comfort to the mona, gathering his glamour and speaking the Monite as a support to the spherical shelter of heated air that his delicate pianist had humbly produced. It wasn't much more impressive, really, given that much like his wife, his focus was Perceptive conversation instead, but it was enough to allow him to slip out of his coat and turn to the bottle of wine, moving to begin to uncork it while he tilted his chin in the direction of the package.

It was a large box, rectangular and tall. It looked heavy, but it had been made in such a way that once untied, the sides would fall away and reveal what was within:

Happy Birthday CharityShow
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Tucked into the side of the box were several well-kept records of the Viendan Symphony Orchestra, the Bastian Royal Orchestral Players, and the Mugrobi Worshipful Company of Pipefitters' Auxiliary Band.

Rhys, in his typical mischievousness, waited until the package had been opened and he could see Charity's expression before he interrupted the moment with the loud pop of the cork and a rebellious swig straight from the bottle,

"Because we can't clocking dance when you're playing the piano. Here's to all the Clock's Eve balls we've never attended—fuck them all! Now I can just stay home with you."
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Charity Valentin
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Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:45 am

1st Intas, 2718
PAINTED LADIES| LATE EVENING
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A​​s the boisterous shouted tones of Rhys’ voice echoed up through the chilled night air from their kitchen, the delicate creature couldn’t help but laugh softly, shaking her head and resting her cheek on her arm. The taller man had been so elusive all day, avoiding her prompts about his plans and skirting suspicious faces with far too friendly hands, much to Charity’s amusement. She insisted he didn’t need to plan anything at all, given all that they had been through and his untoppable gift on his own clocking birthday.
​​
​​That is an insulting spin on that song. The voice in her head complained, causing the blonde to snort and smirk.
​​
​​ “That’s the point father.” She said smartly, the song now finished but the mockery lingering. It was befitting, the crude turn of the verses that were supposed to lift and inspire Anaxi everywhere. The country was not a bright beacon of hope and kindness though, it was a hatcher waiting to rend flesh from bone, and it was scum on the surface of a stagnant pond. It could burn, and Charity would be dancing on its ashes. They should leave, move to Gior or Mugroba or something. But there was something holding them there, something that burned brighter than any beacon.
​​
​​Justice. Vengeance. Revenge.
​​
​​Lifting her head from her arms as the rooftop door opened, the pianist turned to offer her husband a warm smile. In all the darkness and fear, he was her guiding light, her rock in the storm. No matter how bad things were, or how loud the voice got in her mind, Rhys was there to keep her together. Like the gold that Hoxians used to fix broken porcelain, he filled the cracks that threatened to fling her apart, and he held her together. She knew that he was battered and broken too, her fault more than anyone else, and selfishly she held onto him. Selfishly she fought for him, and didn’t question the sometimes too dark thoughts that bubbled from within his tortured soul.
​​
​​She perhaps even encouraged it, feeding red raging flames that seared her field and singed her mind.
​​
​​ “Rhys Valentin, what on Vita have you got there?” The petite galdor asked with a chuckle, straightening from the edge of the building where she leaned to offer assistance where he seemed to need none. She laughed as he paused, brow arching and cheeks flushing with warmth.
​​
​​ “I think this is the first Clock’s Eve we’ve spent together. I mean together, not just in the same campus or Dining Hall. Tocks, I think it’s the first birthday I’ve had without—well…the first birthday I will remember the next morning.“ Her field eagerly mingled with his glamour, delighted by his casting and warmed by her love. They fit, like the pieces of a puzzle, from their minds to their hearts to the very nature of their fields. Watching him move to pour them a glass of wine, Charity followed his nod to the large package in the gazebo.
​​
​​ “You know you shouldn’t have. I’ve got everything I want already. A home, a husband. You. There’s nothing I want or need. Still,” Her delicate fingers paused on the ribbon with a mischevious smirk.
​​
​​ “I’m not complaining.” With a gentle tug she released the careful bow that held the clever box together, watching as the sides collapsed to the soft snowy surface of the gazebo seat, gasping quietly as the gramaphone was revealed. It was beautifully made, the rich redwood varnished and polished to perfection, the inside of the trumpet painted in sapphire and accented with tulips. Running tentative fingers over the records tucked into the side of the box, Charity jumped as the cork popped, looking up at her self-delighted husband with tears in her violet gaze.
​​
​​ “Rhys this is—“ The galdor shook her head, blinking rapidly and drawing the Bastian record from the box. Moving with the confidence of someone who’d used one before, the musician set the disc on the plate, winding the handle of the crank to build the tension in the coil, before placing the needle on the record. The faint scratchy sound of the point running on the material was quickly replaced by the gentle lilting sounds of the orchestra beginning their sonata. Moving from the gazebo, she approached the taller wick and took the bottle, taking an extraordinarily unladylike swig of the wine and making a face.
​​
​​ “Good Lady, that’s got a bit of body to it.” Raising the bottle, she suddenly shouted.
​​
​​ “Fuck them all!” She toasted with a laugh, her tone far too formal for such crude language. Handing the bottle back, the blonde swayed in time to the tune.
​​
​​ “Oh, I love this one.” The woman smiled at him, reaching out her hand in invitation.
​​
​​ “Do you remember the Confisalto introduction lessons they made us take in fifth form? By Alioe, they were so awkward! I wanted to be your partner but I had to pair with…oh who was it…some girl from Bastia who was the same height. She was so annoying. I kept stealing glances, seeing who they would pair you with.” The blonde giggled at the memory, recalling that Rhys was taller than most of the students there at the time.

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Rhys Valentin
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Fri Jun 21, 2019 4:10 pm

where the heart is
after dark on the 1st of Intas, 2719
The tall blond eagerly watched as Charity opened her gift, so obviously enthused by her reaction as though he needed any affirmation that he knew her, that he knew exactly what to gift her with on her birthday. He clearly enjoyed giving gifts almost as much as he enjoyed being right and it showed in the way his smile creased into the edges of his clear blue eyes and color flushed his cheeks. While Rhys turned his attention to the bottle of wine, his galdor wife set the gramophone up properly, selecting a record and cranking the handle.

"It's a good gift. I don't half-erse birthdays, Mrs. Valentin, in case you haven't noticed." He joked without a hint of shame when he acquiesced the opened bottle once she reached for it, chuckling at the petite blonde's echoing of his words, but more than willing to close any previous space between them once she handed it back. Pouring proper glasses before setting the wine down in the snow, he rolled his eyes about Confisalto from over the rim of crystal,

"Giorans, naturally. I was always paired with whatever Gioran they could find. Or a Hessean once. But, seriously, I've never been proper dance material and you know this. You missed very little when it came to me and dances. I promise." He replied with a self-deprecating sort of smile, free hand more than willing to take hers even if he was unwilling to set down his glass just yet.

He was teasing, of course, about his ability to fall into step with the rhythm, about his ear for music, though he'd had to work damn hard for it as a student, he'd had to work damn hard at it for her even though it had once been in vain. Rhys was aware they'd missed everything about dances: that permissible closeness, those awkward touches, that excuse to talk quietly against someone's skin. The young Valentin wasn't missing anything now, obviously, making a humorous but sincere show of himself finding a proper position all while taking a sip of wine and still smiling about it, bodies brushing and totally unconcerned with the Intas chill on their own little rooftop.

In the Dives.

"Little did I know I was more suited for a caoja than the confisalto." Rhys added quietly, though his tone was not bitter so much as genuine. He knew what he was now, and while he’d still not settled into the truth because he didn’t know how, he also couldn’t deny it. He wasn’t a galdor. He was only pretending, and now he wasn’t sure he could ever stop. Glancing away from her face toward the sounds of celebration in the streets, toward fireworks over the Avora, the faint hints of music drifting beneath the much louder gramophone's rendition of the Bastian Royal Orchestral Players more famous compositions.

"Nor did anyone else, for that matter—anyway, listen, this is pretty much the only way I've ever wanted to spend Clock's Eve. So, it's about damn time." The tall blond's grin turned coy, almost shy, and he pressed a kiss to the shorter galdor's forehead, swaying to the clear, vibrant symphonic reproductions from the gramophone, closing his eyes for a few moments and pretending there were no troubles haunting them, no hatchers hunting them, no shadows whispering threats in their sleep, and no fears burdening them while awake.

He sighed.

It really was all impossible to forget, all of it pressed against them as close as their bodies were in the softly falling snow only far sharper and far more dangerous. He refused to give any of it room here, tonight, on the first day of a new year, on Charity's birthday.

Their problems could fuck off for just a godsbedamned minute.

"Did you keep up with dancing—in Brunnhold, that is—or just music?" Rhys had done his best to follow her life when he could, even after their harsh exile from each other's company, but he'd also been desperate to fill his life with anything but her and had sought distraction accordingly. They'd made small talk for months now, lovers reunited, husband and wife, but he'd perhaps purposefully avoided speaking too much of the youth they'd not been allowed to share.
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Charity Valentin
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Fri Jun 21, 2019 10:25 pm

1st Intas, 2718
PAINTED LADIES| LATE EVENING
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Ahe blonde laughed, a proper laugh with a light feminine delight and raising of eyebrows as she took the wine glass handed to her.

“Such modesty Mister Valentin!” She joked, letting her fingers lace with his as she swayed gently to the music and sipped her drink. Making a sound of amusement, she lowered the glass with another laugh, nodding and slipping closer to the taller Seventen.

“That’s right! I remember now, clocking Giorans with their stoic faces and lording around about that rain dance they do, like they were better than us. Mother tried to teach it to me when I was very little, before Mathas—” Cutting herself short, the petite pianist stopped that line of thinking, returning to their lighthearted conversation with another sip of wine. Ridiculously, she snorted at Rhys’ commentary about his own two-left feet.

“Proper dance material. It’s not your fault you’re so tall you can’t see your own feet.” Charity teased back, not at all disappointed as the blonde man fell into step with her, bringing his hand to rest properly at the small of her back and slipping her own hand to rest on his shoulder as they both continued to drink and shuffle in a simple rhythm.

“I missed a lot Rhys, but I won’t miss any more.” She said quietly, the humorous tone dropping ever so slightly in favor for the seriousness of the years lost. Damen had stolen so much from her, not just her innocence and her family, but her childhood and the freedom to love. The joy of awkward stolen kisses, the pain of a true first heartbreak. He’d stolen it all for his selfish need to control and to be known. His greatest fear—leaving no legacy behind—was also his greatest downfall. Now, his only daughter was a Valentin and his legacy would be ashes.

She would make sure of it.

Tsking, the pale creature lifted her fingers to brush his cheek as Rhys turned away, shaking her head before sighing and curling closer. Her hand moved to wrap around his waist, laying her cheek against his chest and closing her eyes.

“A caoja sounds a lot more fun than the confisalto anyway, so just shush you.”

Charity Ann! The voice roared with disgust in her head, almost causing the blonde to let loose a defiant laugh. Lifting her head to look at him, she briefly shut her eyes as he kissed her forehead, before opening them with a wider smile and another deeper drink of the sparkling beverage. She hummed a response, lowering the glass and shaking her head.

“No. I mean, I did some basic dance, but not confisalto. And I didn’t bother after eighth form. I didn’t really bother with much of anything after then to be honest. Fa..Damen pushed the music, not me. If I had my time again, I would have followed something like…oh I don’t know…moa racing or dueling.” The blonde giggled, amused by the thought of racing around on the large birds in full school uniform. Taking a long deep breath through her nose, Charity finished her glass of wine, briefly moving to place the empty vessel down before coming back to Rhys and running her hands over his shoulders before lacing them behind his back.

“What else…I lived a very uneventful Brunnholdian life. I studied, I partied, I graduated. I watched you from afar, annnnddd I cried all over again when I found out from Kent that you’d left for Numbrey. I grew up with the Seventen, and I couldn’t understand then why you’d want to be part of them, why you wanted to leave Brunnhold or Vienda.” Drawing away from the taller galdor, the pianist reached for the bottle and her glass, pouring herself another whilst topping up her partners. Placing it down, she took a sip and smiled, biting her lip with a private chuckle.

“I spent far too much time daydreaming about what you were doing, where you might be, who you might love now. I always pretended it was me…this one time—actually no, that is really embarrassing and you really don’t need to know that.” Laughing at herself, Charity blushed and glanced away at the fresh lightworks, drinking more of the wine to cover her rambling mouth.

Tumble.

“So, what about you? What did you end up pursuing aside from the Snaps? I mean, I may have stalked you from afar, but I didn’t very well have your class schedule.”

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Rhys Valentin
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Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:04 pm

where the heart is
after dark on the 1st of Intas, 2719
Charity moved gracefully closer to him while they found their rhythm to the orchestral music that filled their rowhouse's back garden, and Rhys made sure to share his body warmth in their proximity, quiet while she spoke of home memories before stopping short. He smirked at her comment about his height, pressing another warm-lipped kiss to her forehead with a coy tone,

"I don't hear you complaining, and it's not like I really ever put much effort into dancing anyway."

He let his hand slip a little lower than would have been considered proper, palm warm against her lower back, fair eyelashes fluttering heavily at her admission. He nodded, voice dropping in volume as well as gaining heft in its weight, their histories heavy with perhaps more regrets than anything else, "We both did. So much right in front of our fucking faces but too afraid—" Or perhaps, too hurt or too selfish or too something, really, "—too afraid to just reach for it. For each other."

She softened the blow of it all by making light of his bastard truth, her words eliciting the rumble of a chuckle against her cheek pressed against his chest,

"Moa racing, huh? You've got the height for it." The tall blond teased her back, but his mischievous grin faltered at the thought of what he would have done with his life had everything truly gone differently all those years ago, "I don't remember what I once thought I wanted to do. The Armed Forces maybe—you know, instead of the Seventen? Anything with travel. Anything to get away from Brayde County. From here. From you. But I didn't. I couldn't. And now, honestly, I've forgotten anything else ... even though I'm not sure Special Enforcement Sergeant Valentin is who I'm meant to be anymore, either."

He sighed as she slipped away, emptying his own glass to set it down, to give him both hands free but also to give him an excuse to hover close to the petite blonde form of his wife here in the snow while music played in their little bubble of magical warmth and while the sounds of Clock's Eve celebrations rang out through all of the capitol.

"Surely you knew why I signed on, though." Rhys riposted almost too quickly, reaching for the bottle in her hand to refill his own glass. He spoke from over its rim once it was full again, blue eyes distant, "You're really the only reason I became a Seventen. Despite everything, I—"

He pressed his teeth against the scar tissue of his lower lip, trapping it between their white sharpness and not allowing himself to speak of past choices, of tumultuous histories, of rebellious choices that he'd purposefully sent himself to Numbrey in some mad attempt to tame. Perhaps in some ways, training in the Anaxi law enforcement only taught him how to hide his flaws beneath a uniform, how to get away with more than he really ever should have, how to be worse ... not better.

Was he even close to the better man he'd wanted to become? Wanted to become for her?

Rhys drank deeply as if wine would at all assuage old wounds, as if this was exactly the kind of fucking conversation they should be having on his wife's godsbedamned birthday, "Charity, listen." He inhaled, sucking in a cold breath, alcohol stinging his throat, "I spent far too much time running away from everything I wanted, hiding from the truth, and being a fucking coward. Unlike you, I chose not to keep track of your life, too afraid to watch you from afar because that would mean I'd have to admit that you're all I wanted anyway. I never deserved that daydreaming—I still don't—but Good Lady, if I'm not glad you did."

He set his suddenly empty second glass of wine down and moved closer, blue eyes drifting from her face to the fireworks, the sparks and flashes thankfully too distant and too fantastical to cause him to wince, to trigger memories of gunfire from Yaris. His hands moved to her waist and he went back to swaying in time to the music, not looking at her for a long time while he spoke quietly,

"I joined the track team—did you find the trophies while packing? I, uh, I got in a few fights, and I don't mean just duels on the Lawn, either. I spent too much time pub crawling the Stacks. I made a few unsavory choices and tried to date just about anyone who'd say yes to an ersehole like me. You know all their names, I'm sure. I joined the Seventen not to get away like I wanted to, but to get closer. Closer to you, I think, even if I can't say I knew it back then. By the time I left Numbrey, I was quite convinced you'd never want to see my face again once I was in uniform because of ... well ... everything. I spent my recruit years a Collie in Brunnhold, crawling the same damn pubs and trying the same old tricks. Busting a Resistance How wide open in the Stacks is really my only claim to fame—and the reason for my Sergeant promotion. Coming to Vienda was my clean break, even if I knew who was here. Maybe it was me trying to give myself a last chance—"

He snorted, aware that he'd not made the same addictive choices as Charity, but also aware that her choices had only felt like those things—they'd never been a choice at all. He'd done what he could to make some kind of distance between his pining heart and her existence and so much of it had ended poorly. If he had any regrets, he'd already revealed them all time and again in conversation since reuniting with his delicate pianist, since making the petite galdor his wife.

Far too many mistakes between them, and gods if he didn't long for this new year to be something different.

It couldn't be. Not yet.

He knew what his next steps were, but right now, he simply didn't want to think about them. Looking down at Charity, taking in her lovely face through the warm lens of wine and genuine emotions, he sighed,

"—truth be told, I assumed you'd been married off and I'd never see you again. If you want embarrassing stories—do you know why I'm such good friends with a Clerk? Because I once spent hours in the archives, looking for wedding announcements. I wasn't about to ask your Father, and being an Investigative Officer has its perks when it comes to city records."

The not-galdor laughed ridiculously, scrunching up his face into a wince, blushing furiously at the admission of how he spent half an afternoon in some dusty Court Records room in his Seventen uniform, digging through every piece of signed paper he could get his hands on, searching for the name Charity D'Arthe. The heat of tears stung his eyes at such an admission and he looked away, raising a palm from the familiar comforts of her body to wipe one side of his face,

"Fucking ridiculous, I know." He mocked a scoff, the admission that perhaps he'd never given up hope making him feel strangely weak in the knees, steps faltering and glamour suddenly thick with emotion, "Gods, but it's true."[/b]
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Charity Valentin
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Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:38 pm

1st Intas, 2718
PAINTED LADIES| LATE EVENING
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”…Anything to get away from Brayde County. From here. From you.”

The blonde galdor bit her lip, turned away from her husbands face so he couldn’t see the flitter of a frown on her brow, field tangled almost possessively with his own like a singular aura. She hated her father, and everything that had come about because of him.

As Rhys took the bottle, Charity watched him, violet gaze meeting crystalline blue over the tops of their glasses, the tone of their conversation moving from nostalgic to serious. Her fingertips shifted on the delicate stem of the vessel, glancing down at the lightly carbonated beverage with a guilty blush.

“I know. I don’t think I did then, but I do now.” The pianist said quietly, letting the dulcet tones of the music wash over her like a comforting blanket as she took another sip of the wine. Her face turned to another colourful explosion in the night sky, the hot pink sparks lighting their small snow covered hideaway for a moment in cheerful contrast to their words.

“You would have only been disappointed had you watched me anyway.” She muttered, burying the old aches under another large unlady-like drink, the galdor emptied her own glass, coming back to him with a quick smile.

“Yes, actually. I did see them, the trophies, and giggled at the memory of your lanky teenage self bounding around the field. And the fights, always the rebellious hot head, always in trouble when there was no need for trouble.” Glancing at his face, a slender brow arched slightly.

“No, I wasn’t…I knew…I mean we didn’t even kiss so it wasn’t like you couldn’t…” Blushing, Charity looked away with a laugh, breathing her next words.

“Though, I spent my eighteenth birthday in the hospital wing whilst you and Nic—“ The blonde stopped short, eyes widening slightly.

No, they weren’t going to have that conversation. There was no need for that conversation.

And you wonder why I tried to keep you apart. There is no boy who will look after your future more than your own father.

Laughing again, the pianist shook her head and rolled her eyes.

“Wine. Going right to my head, silly stuff. Anyway. Yes. Well, I wish I’d known sooner you were back. You didn’t…” Her smile faded a little, gold flecks in her iris’ catching the lights of another celebratory explosion.

“You didn’t even come to say hello. I don’t blame you, Damen was…is…a monster but I was here. My name was in the paper for the weekly theater performances and such and I never…look it doesn’t matter.” Violet eyes met his again, the corners of her mouth turning upwards again as the perhaps a little inebriated man confessed his ridiculous round about investigation on her, warmth welling in her field and soothing the old hurts being brought up between them.

“Married off? My Good Lady, you honestly thought a single man could weigh up to Damen’s standards? Rhys Valentin, you are adorably moony.” Reaching for his cheeks, the petite woman tiptoed to press a kiss on his lips between her own perhaps a little inebriated giggles, thumb brushing at the tears she found there.

“Ridiculous and sweet.” Letting her amusement fade into a gentle delight, Charity embraced the heavy emotions now swimming between their mingled auras, sharing in the almost aching love she felt for the wick. Letting her arms rest around his neck, she sighed.

“I know it’s true, I know, husband. She emphasized the word, swaying in time to the song that was lilting from the gramophone, unconsciously turning her wedding band with her thumb as though checking it was still there. Looking into his piercing blue eyes, the blonde sighed softly.

“I would never had married anyone else. Ever. I would have died an old spinster and that would have been okay.” The pianist said quietly, the warmth of their spell wavering as the alcohol affected concentration. Fat flakes of snow fell lazily to land in their hair and rest on their shoulders, claiming courageously that which had been denied.

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Rhys Valentin
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Location: Vienda
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: It's Inspector to you, thanks.
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Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:43 pm

where the heart is
after dark on the 1st of Intas, 2719
"Disappointed?" Rhys scoffed while his petite galdor drained her glass in the most romantic of impolite fashions, rolling his eyes. As if he hadn't at all fallen into a long, spiraling series of poor decisions and poorer life choices after her father had made it clear he didn't want them to ever be seen in each others' company outside of the necessity of classes again. Oh, but she kept talking and his steps slowed, faltering out of rhythm once she was blushing, scarred lip caught between his teeth and fingers curling a little tighter into the fabric at her waist,

"Ah, now—"

That's not fair he wanted to blurt, but he knew it was more than fair. More kindness than he deserved when she stopped herself from saying Niccolette's name or any other Brunnhold students' name that he'd been seen with over those last four years of their schooling. Gods, and she had no clocking clue about Numbrey and he wasn't about to dredge through how well he dealt with strict training on the off nights. Damn it all.

"—you would only have been disappointed. Just because we never—just because—Good Lady, I made a lot of mistakes pretending I could ever possibly get over you." The not-galdor whispered a flustered echo of her words, his fair eyebrows drawing together with only a slightly noticeable pucker over the left side, a frown etching its way into his well-carved features, "For the record, Charity Ann Valentin, while you were in the hospital, delusional in believing I was making something of myself with Nicco other than a public nuisance and a troublemaking ersehole, I introduced her to her husband, Uzoji pez Okorie, by attempting to break every bone in his face."

His jaw clenched at that memory, not because he had regrets (the Mug had deserved every knuckle), but because he worried he'd hardly changed. Rhys had taken all of his anger and helplessness and shoved it into a uniform, but was he really any better of a man because of these years he now worried had been wasted as a Seventen? Sighing heavily, he shook his head,

"I've fucked up a lot—but this? But you?" Rhys emptied his wine glass and smiled stupidly, "The only right. Ever. I'm sorry I was afraid to get in touch. I am. I, uh, had season passes to the theatre for a while, but I only went when I saw your name headlining in the list of performances. I never brought a date, I promise, and–"

He stopped, helplessly full of confessions that felt so very useless and pointless now, fields mingled, bodies pressed together. One more empty year behind them and this one already so much more full with her in it, regardless of the fear and the trouble that loomed ahead. She spoke of Damen's standards no mortal galdor, bastard wick, or mythic beast could ever meet and he thought to counter her, but her delicate hands reached for his face and her warm lips sought his, giggling into a kiss that was not at all unwelcome.

Rhys hummed, forced without objection to lean closer when her arms curled around his neck, warm now with just enough wine that edges softened and the brush of pale skin felt inviting. Music warbled and fireworks crackled, the wick very aware that despite their difficult paths back to each other, despite all the poor choices, despite all the hurt, they'd both made it.

Husband, she reminded him, and he smiled, reminded of everything he didn't deserve purely by the syllables of a single word. Not by birth and not by behavior, regardless of the earnest intentions he'd kept aflame somewhere in the withered darkness of his heart,

"I'm glad you don't have to—die an old spinster, that is—because there's already enough I struggle to forgive myself for and that would have been the worst. Maybe one day, instead, you can die a happy old grandmother in Bastia, surrounded by family we make together instead of family we have no choice but to deal with." Not unaware that his words implied they'd have to have children to have grandchildren, Rhys smiled shyly, unconcerned as the Intas chill crept in, if only for a few moments, to find their rhythm to the orchestral music again for a little more dancing under the stars until going back inside the warmth of their home for more private sorts of celebrations.

Returning her kiss before tilting his head, he lingered before he whispered, lips against her ear. His promises were, at best, bittersweet but well-intentioned, the gentle sway of that right amount of alcohol making everything feel like a much better idea than it would have been sober, "Not that we're at all in a place to think about such things, of course, nor should I even offer, given what I am, but ... should the gods choose to favor us, I wouldn't be opposed to some happy ending to all of this mess we're in. For now, I'll settle with some cake and fireworks of our own, hmm?"
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Charity Valentin
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Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:41 pm
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Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:54 am

1st Intas, 2718
PAINTED LADIES| LATE EVENING
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C​​harity smiled politely, her field only just belaying the searing shock and jealously that she could still vibrantly recall from her teenage hospital bed upon hearing all the gossip from Diaxio. In hindsight, she knew the girl had been feeding her the information to tear her apart piece by piece, to drive her to the opiates like a good little customer. But back then, somewhere in her addled state she had expected Rhys to burst through those doors and kneel by her side to hold her hand and declare they were both to abscond to Bastia or Gior or anywhere but Anaxas. Instead, she’d laid with aching insides, listening to the rumours and the stories. Rhys Valentin and Nicolette Villamarzana. It didn’t help the girl was gorgeous dark locks and gentle green eyes. The blonde had cried far too much over it, letting Xi convince her that it would hurt less with just a tab under the tongue.
​​
​​It didn’t really hurt less, it just made her not care.
​​
​​Taking a deep breath, the Valentin came back to the here and now, looking over his face with a soft tsk. They were dredging up the past, things that couldn’t be changed, in the heat of wine and emotion. Charity cut off the rest of his helpless confessions with her kiss, unwilling to fall into the depths of her rage and sadness over things that couldn’t be changed. Swaying almost distractedly, violet and gold gaze almost dreamily holding his own, the pianist made a strained sound in her throat and looked away for the rest of the wine.
​​
​​Children? Gods there was no way she was ready to bring life into this world, not in the mess she had rippling from each footstep. It wasn’t fair to introduce innocents to such violence. Oh, but the idea of it all, tucking little versions of themselves into bed. Taking them to Brunnhold for school.
​​
​​ You forget they’d be wicks Charity Ann. Filthy half-breeds that would be better off left to the elements.
​​
​​Finding her husbands face again, Charity was almost caught off guard by the kiss, lashes fluttering closed as they both lingered with unspoken promise of more to come. She kept them shut as his lips brushed against the curve of her ear, still moving to the recorded orchestra and resisting the shiver that wanted to run up her spine. The wine had most definitely gone to her head, and the chill of Intas was demanding reclaimation of their rooftop, the snow coming down thicker and heavier as the explosions continued overhead.
​​
​​ “It doesn’t hurt to…think of such things.” She said softly, a small giggle escaping as imaginings of blonde children running through the parlour flew through her mind. Biting her lip, the petite woman opened her eyes, drawing back to look at him with a mockery of seriousness.
​​
​​ “There’s cake? What the clock are we out here drinking wine and dancing for?!” Charity grinned, full of playful humour, releasing the taller man to run to the gramophone and turn up the volume with a loud gasp.
​​
​​ “Oh I love this part! Listen, just listen to the way the piano lingers…just….there.” She sighed, pressing a hand to her chest with a face full of appreciation for the clever lilting notes, the other hand pressing imaginary keys of a piano before her. Pausing on the last note, she tilted to collect the bottle of wine, taking a deep drink of what was left directly from the opening as she came towards Rhys with a smirk.
​​
​​ “I will have your clocking babies, Mister Valentin, regardless of what you are. We’ll come through the other side, we always do, and when we do it’ll be a gloriously happy ending. And I will get fat and you will have to rub my feet and tell me I’m beautiful.” Giggling again, her free hand snaked upwards again, grabbing his lapel to pull him closer for a far less tentative kiss than before. If he were to try and grab for the wine bottle, she would hold away from her at arms length, turning her body slightly with a ridiculous laugh.
​​
​​ “Will you think I’m beautiful when I’m all full of child and old? I’m twenty eight Rhys, twenty eight! Good Lady, what if you don’t want an old woman as the mother of your children?” Her voice was teasing, though it was clear she was becoming drunk and possibly actually serious, even if her seemingly unstoppable giggles continued. Swigging from the bottle again, she held up a finger, letting the other three assist her thumb with keeping it in hand.
​​
​​ “I am cold. And drunk. Or nearly drunk. Shall we find a warmer place to enjoy our own cake and fireworks?” The blonde asked with a suggestive drop of her voice, pulling herself closer to brush her nose against his, breath warm against his mouth but not quite coming in for another kiss.

word count: 877
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Rhys Valentin
Posts: 204
Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:06 pm
Topics: 8
Location: Vienda
Race: Wick
: It's Inspector to you, thanks.
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Writer: Muse
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Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:17 pm

where the heart is
after dark on the 1st of Intas, 2719
He'd said too much. There was a tension in her body against his and it wasn't just in surprise to his lips lingering, and Rhys felt the emotions flutter through their mingled fields as a mixture of fear and unexpectedness. She didn't lean away, however, giggling her words as if to assure him that she, too, had at least thought of family once or twice. Perhaps she'd thought of such things before they knew the truth—

Before they knew he was a half-bred bastard.

Before they knew he was a wick.

The tall blond not-galdor began to backpedal, leaning his body away, some kind of humor burning the back of his tongue, but then she grinned at him about cake, slipping from his hands to attend to the gramophone while his body stilled and he watched Charity's delicate form flit through the snow and sigh longingly at the recorded sounds. His eyes fluttered as he listened to the music, trying so very hard to hear things the way she did, to appreciate the intricacies her well-trained and musical mind could understand as if it were its own language where he could not. Alcohol filled him with a comfortable warmth that helped combat the Intas chill, and he watched her with a different kind of longing when she reached for the wine and sauntered back to him.

She'd always been a vision—he couldn't remember not finding the petite pianist the loveliest galdor he'd ever seen. Ever. And he'd certainly made attempts to compare over the years just to forget her perfection. It had never worked.

Regardless of what you are.

How much he longed to be like her again. But he couldn't. There was no going back.

While Charity had most likely meant her words in coy affirmation of her acceptable desires to make a family with her husband, those words from her lips still stung. It would have been socially acceptable to desire offspring with her galdor husband, but they both knew he was not at all a galdor. They shouldn't ever desire such things knowing what he was—wicks masquerading as galdori, learning their magic, studying their laws, living their lives!—and yet here he was, just that! Some unspoken truth hidden among the lies, aware that such a truth could one day kill him. What kind of father could he be, hanging in public for his heritage alone? What kind of father could he ever be, bringing children into the world to bear the burden of what he'd made them?

"Well, I mean—I—we don't—"

Her fingers curled into his coat and tugged him closer, Rhys already breathless from the realization that any child he'd produce would be a wick, just as he was a wick. Never a galdor. Never truthfully. Her lips were just as welcoming as they'd always been despite the syllables that had dripped from them, the taste of wine covering the bitterness of truth. One of his arms wrapped around the small of her back and his fingertips brushed the wine bottle she carefully kept from his reach while he caught her lower lip between his teeth in retaliation,

"Charity—" He whispered between a few far more distracting returned kisses, lingering as if to emphasize his honest compliments, "—you cannot ever not be beautiful. So much has tried to rob us both of many things, but none of it can carve away whatever it is that makes you so lovely that it glows from within. You will be amazing, round and perfect with child, and I will gladly wait upon you as your heart desires. You are hardly old—"

She leaned away from his attentions to take another swig and he laughed at her, finally snatching it from her hand when she held up a finger between them, holding it there while he curled fingers of his other hand into the fabric of her dress. Slipping the wine away to bring it to his own lips with the coyest of grins, he took his own long sip and hissed, not bothering to pick up the words where he left them in a cloud of his breath.

The frigid spring had seeped in through the soles of his feet and whispered through fabric to gnaw at even the hot thrum of his heart in his chest. He burned with defiance as always, her reminder of what he was not and her concerns of her their wasted youth kindling to flames that had burned for so long in his life he didn't even know what it would have been like without their bright glow.

"—it is fucking cold. And this is not birthday conversation, godsdamnit. Save this seriousness for tomorrow's hungover breakfast—" He hummed at her suggestions, ardent, meaningful thoughts interrupted by the tone of her voice. He swallowed them all, head swimming with all the promises in her field, entangled with his glamour as though it was the most normal thing in all of Vita. He tilted his head when she pressed closer, foreheads brushing, bodies pressed close but no longer dancing to the music that had begun to fade from one composition to the next on the gramophone. It would be safe beneath the little gazebo despite the snow, and he'd just fetch it later.

Much later.

"—I don't think I'm sober enough to make it through cake in the kitchen, darling. I'm afraid we may just have to enjoy some warmth and fireworks first." Rhys purred deviously, stepping back to empty whatever was left of the wine instead of giving into her taunting for more kisses. He dragged his hand from her lower back to tangle their fingers together, tugging her toward the doors that led back inside of their modest row house in the Painted Ladies of the Dives. He could have been ashamed of such things—his galdor wife here far away from her peers—but they both knew that home together had no comparison, regardless of where home may have been.

"But it's your birthday, Charity. You're more than welcome to tell me what you'd like—" He laughed, scar-split grin both wicked and coy even as his tone of voice was too devious to be denied, "—and how you'd like it."
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