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Eleora de Croismare

"I am yet a young earth, despite being familiar with scars."

0 · 1,115 views · located in Tiberia

a character in “Of Glory”, as played by Demai

Description

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cinnamon spice and frustratingly nice
where the world would cut her down
stubborn as heaven
stubborn as hell
stubborn as death and the sea
oceans;
that's what this girl is made of




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Full Name: Eleora de Crosimare

Nicknames: Ellie

Gender: Female

Age: 26

Rank/Title: Lady in Waiting

Sexual Orientation: Bisexual

Kingdom/Alliance: Seabel




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Description: Ellie has a face that you just can't help but love. She looks so genuinely sweet, it's almost heartbreaking. When she smiles, her whole face lights up and she'll look down sometimes to hide it. She's terribly pale, her cheeks are spattered with light freckles and her arms are dotted with them as well. Whenever she blushes, it travels all the way down and disappears into her dress. Ellie looks like she would sweep the whole world up into her arms if she could, protect everyone in it. And in general, she is wonderfully protective. More on that later, though.
Ellie's hair is a golden red color, and it goes to around her mid-back. She often leaves it down, or will braid it around her head. It's still recovering from when she was a few years younger and a lot more impulsive, and chopped most of it off. She didn't quite regret it, because her hair was often a giant red cloud that floated around her head whenever she moved. It's grown back in a darker, more sensible color, rather than the carrot orange that she spent her childhood with. It used to be somewhere around her waist, but the weight would give her terrible headaches, and so there it all went. She would have cut it shorter, but social decorum is a worry of hers that she wishes she didn't have to worry about. If she weren't so attached to the royal family that she serves, she would have fled long ago.
Ellie's eyes, meanwhile, are a soft, sweet green, the color of leaves or springtime. There's little flecks of foresty brown in them, little imperfections that swirl and catch the sunlight sometimes, turning her eyes gold. They're framed by long lashes that have a little space at the corner of her eyes. Her brows have a gentle curve to them near her nose, and there is a thin white scar through her right one. She has slight bags beneath her eyes from lack of sleep. Sleep doesn't come easily to this poor girl. Ellie's nose slopes gently and comes to a rounded point. Her features, in general, are a little blunt. She has lovely cheekbones, with soft roses in them. Her mouth usually carries a smile, whether shy or exuberant, and she has a very gentle Cupid's bow. She has a swanlike neck that leads down into a sharp collarbone.
Ellie smells of flowers and soap and something else clean and sweet that is simply Ellie. Her hands are not smooth, and her feet are calloused. She loves being out doors, and rarely wears shoes if she is given the chance. She likes to be able to feel the dirt and grass under her feet. She also feels that it gives her more preparation to be able to get her mistress out of danger, if she's able to sense something coming. When she laughs, she laughs with her whole body, fingers knotting and toes curling. She often has flowers in her hair, whether they are tucked into her braid or in a crown atop her curls. Her accent is gentle, and she often croons to those around her. She is a wonderful singer, with a high, sweet voice.
Ellie, when given the chance, will wear flowy dresses and two rings on her right hand. One is a nail, bent into a circle, and the other is a simple silver band with leaves engraved on it. It was her mother's wedding ring, and she has kept it. When she cannot wear them on her finger, she will wear them on a chain around her neck. Generally, she wears little jewelry besides those. Ellie has a habit of fisting her hands too tight, until her nails cut crescent marks into her palms. She paces when she's nervous, and will remove herself from a situation when frightened or angry. Generally, she walks as if hoping to avoid making any floorboards creak beneath her.




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Personality:
{Hopeful, Caring, Tidy, Dedicated}
Ellie looks like she may sweep you up into a giant hug and never let you go, and that may be an apt representation of her personality as well. Her mother always told her that she should be prettier on the inside than she was on the outside, and so she puts little effort into her appearance and lots of work into being kind to those around her. Ellie is all heart, and she tends to follow her heart when she is faced with a decision. She has a strong conscience, and so feels guilt with terrible poignance. She gives away her love easily, but is never quite sure if she is going to receive it back. She keeps herself open to others as best she can, but keeps certain things to herself. One would never guess, though, as she seems like the most genuine person you will ever meet.
Ellie may be one to follow her heart and her gut feeling often, but that has no bearing on whether she is educated or not. In fact, she has had the blessing to be able to receive a formal education, which was nothing short of a miracle for someone of her standing. Generally, women are meant to be pretty and fertile and little else, and sometimes they are seen as vacuous in this particular society. Which, of course, is absolutely idiotic. Ellie reads as if she is running out of time, absorbing books as if they are water and she is dying of thirst. She loves words, she loves poetry and epics. Rhythm in a story is one of her favorite things, and rhyme schemes will always make her smile. She's very smart, though she rarely makes the logical choice. She enjoys trying new things as well, and can be rather daring in that regard.
Ellie is caring, most of all. She is always the one to patch up everyone's bumps and bruises, to care for them until they're better. She's like the mom friend, and is very capable. She's terribly loyal, and she hates having to choose between people that she cares for. She does her very best to avoid choosing sides, and often tries to act as a peacemaker for those around her. She rarely becomes angered, and she is patient with people, though she does get frustrated easily when a thread won't go through a needle or when something she just cleaned becomes dirty again. She likes to keep everything very spick and span, neat and well organized. She works quickly and efficiently, often singing while she works.
Ellie loves music. Almost as much as she loves words. Piano is her favorite thing in the world, as well as lyre. She would spend hours poring over notes and playing songs if she could. She finds a wonderful order in music, one that is rarely found in real life. Ellie likes to consider the world in how it could be. She looks at reality and tries to see how she could change it, how she could make it better. She wants to make things better, and hopes that she can change things even in a little way. She loves to cook as well, and finds a peace in kneading bread dough in particular. She's a hard worker, and a friendly person. She takes insults personally, often, and is still working on her ability to forgive easily, because she is often wont to hold a grudge. She adores dogs as well.
For all of her good, though, Ellie is only human, and this is particularly shown in the crush that she has on her mistress's husband. It is only a crush, she tells herself often, even as her gaze lingers on him and then flickers down again as soon as he looks over. She shouldn't like this man nearly as much as she does, really, she does his laundry. But her heart is a frustrating thing, and her heartstrings are easily played. She is not weak, by any means. She is dedicated, and she is not easily made afraid. But this... is something new, even to her. And she is not sure of what to make of it.


Hobbies:
Adopting dogs, Reading, Cleaning, Music
Habits:
Clenches her fists too tight, paces, cleans when she’s frustrated.
Oddities:
Terrified of falling in love, can sneeze four times in a row

Likes/Loves:
  • Music
  • Chocolate
  • Cleaning
  • Reading
  • Taking Long Walks

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Dislikes/Hates:
  • Sneezing
  • Oversleeping
  • Dreams
  • Cantaloupe
  • Losing People




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Biography
Place Of Origin:Seabel
History:
Eleora was born to a noble family of her own, if they could really be called that. They were special in name only, their land had been sold by their greedy forefathers and their treasure was gambled away bit by bit. In the end, they had only the titles Lord and Ladyto call their own, as well as de Croismare. Growing up, Ellie didn't quite care. She had a puppy that she loved to death, she had the outdoors to play in, and she was a kid anyway. What use would she have had for treasure or money? Cash couldn't buy wildflowers, and she was more in the business of giving people flower crowns and receiving smiles in return.
As she got older, though, Ellie was faced with the stark realities of life. Her parents wanted her to get married, to marry up so that she could get them their lands back, even if they couldn't re-fame their name. But as a twelve year old girl, Ellie wanted to do a thousand other things. She was pretty, and her hair was horribly unique, and that was what got the offers of marriage. She started sneaking out at night, purposely trying to become unwantable. Who wanted a wife who wouldn't stay with you, who wouldn't even stay to meet you?
Her parents were angry, but Ellie was free, at least for then. She fell in love with her best friend, a girl named Stella, and they plotted to run away and live together and be completely happy with nothing else to worry about. Every night, she would see her, until one day, Stella didn't arrive at their meeting spot. Terrified of what could have happened, Ellie ran to Stella's parents' house the next day, begging to know what had happened to her best friend. They'd kept their relationship secret, and they'd kept it almost too well. Stella had been swept off in the night to be wed to a nobleman.
Understandably, Ellie was heartbroken. She wept for a month straight, and then plotted to go find the love of her life. She snuck away one night, barely bothering to leave a note or anything of the like. She found her beloved Stella, tossed rocks at her window till she came to answer. And her answer tore Ellie's heart apart. She wasn't leaving this man, she didn't want to leave this man. She was pregnant, and Ellie left with nothing to show for it save for tears in her eyes and a broken heart. She was so, so glad that her beloved was safe and happy--but oh, goodness, she missed her.
Time went on, and Ellie got older, and she was only getting older. Finally, her parents accepted that the only way that she was going to get married was to be kidnapped in the middle of the night. She came home one day from the village, with her dog by her side and a basket of fabrics, to a notice on her bed. She had been hired as a lady-in-waiting for the queen of Seabel, and she was to leave in the next week. She hated this idea, hated every bit of it, but... It was better than being sold off to pay her parents debt. She loved her parents, but she knew that she loved them more than they loved her. She was welcomed into the court, with her red curls and her gentle features. She loved her job, loved being able to help and do things with her hands, rather than being forced to sit and look pretty for a husband who loved her breasts more than he loved her.
She loved her job, that is, until the schism came between the king of Seabel and his wife. She was just trying to help him, to comfort him, and he had swept her off her feet. Her steady life, steady job, steady singleness--for she had sworn that she would not fall in love so easily again-- it was all brushed away in a single night. Ellie has grown to have a love/hate relationship with nights, for they are the things that both freed her and imprisoned her. Now, her heart feels as if it is both being sewn back together by the gazes that the king tosses her, and broken by the chance that he might make up with his wife. She wants her mistress to be happy, goodness. She keeps telling herself this is a crush, that it'll pass just in time for them to make up and move on. And she knows that she's likely just a fling, a pretty face that was there. But goodness, selfishly, she hopes it's more.
Happiest Memory: Coming to the castle, as it meant that she wouldn’t have to be wed anytime soon.
Saddest Memory: Her beloved Stella rejecting her.




Face Claim: Eleanor Tomlinson

So begins...

Eleora de Croismare's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair
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#, as written by Demai
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The ballroom was gorgeous, Ellie couldn’t deny that if she tried. She could linger by any one of those pillars for ages, tracing the intricate carvings and just resting her hand against the cool marble. The ceilings were absolutely transfixing, painted with clouds and bright colors. She was only so tall, though, and she wouldn’t be touching that anytime soon. Her mistress was dancing and socializing as she was wont to do, and Ellie glanced back to her with a soft little smile, making sure that she was still happy and entertained. She loved her mistress, truly, but...

Well. There was one she loved more, one more beautiful than all these paintings and pillars. She felt horribly girlish in that thought, naive and young. She’d heard story after story about women like her being caught up in affairs and then left behind in the dust, pregnant and destitute. Their children sometimes had power, but as a mother, all they had was stories and hate for the man who had done such to her family and fame.

Ellie desperately hoped that Cyprian was different. He certainly seemed different. He was just as wondrous as the ceilings that arced above them... and sometimes, he felt just as far away. At that moment, though, without wife or child by his side, he seemed to be within reach. She stepped forward, her footsteps lost in the sounds of dancing feet stomping the floor into submission and the laughter of the nobles. Knotting her hands before her, she paused beside Cyprian, gazing out the window with a smile. The stars were out, and it looked amazing outdoors. The moon had risen long ago, and it smiled down on them with a catlike grin. Automatically, her eyes sought out her favorite constellation, one that others had dubbed the Angel but that always resembled a butterfly to her eyes. She longed to go outside, to take a breath of the night air. Perhaps the two of them could slip away at some point...

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” She asked in that gentle accent of hers, looking towards the man she adored with that smile still present. The gardens were certainly different from the raucous sounds of the dance floor, cool and dark where inside the ballroom was lit with fires and candles and warm with the sheer amount of people that were stuffed into every corner. She longed to reach out and touch his shoulder, to draw him into a hug, but she knew just as well as he that they couldn’t risk rumors.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Mary Hardin Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Christoph Estermont
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She had honestly been worried about this day. The day that the three Kingdoms would come together and be reunited within the Western Palace. She had made sure that preparations for the ballroom were in order within a week in advance as people scurried to make sure things were done. Juliana was even more worried that her brother was going to be there, as well but maybe he wouldn't recognize her behind her mask but then again, her one of kind blonde locks of her hair might give her away. Juliana was just about ready to enter the ballroom but she was too busy outside as she paced from side to side, her mask covering her face so no one who she was.

With a slight huff, she turned heel as her body now faced the entrance of the ballroom. She walked up the stairs that led into the grand hall as she was absolutely stunned with the way everything looked. She dropped her jaw with amazement as she continued on walking through the hall. Juliana watched as people were dancing around her, chatting and laughing as she eavesdropped on a few conversations, giggling softly to herself. She loved social events such as this as her face behind the mask told the story. Her eyes wavered over everyone present as sh enjoyed their styles of choice for tonight's event. Soon, she had spotted her husband as she knew his stature and body a little too well now. As bad as she wanted to go over there and make her presence known to him, he seemed quite occupied with Lady Eleora so she decided to place herself elsewhere.

Juliana went over to the table where she grabbed herself a goblet of wine, taking a brief sip from it as she let out a sigh. She often wondered to herself why did Cyprian and Eleora get so close to one another, let alone how did they become so close. She eyed them from afar while taking brief sips from her goblet here and there. She was taken away from her thoughts as a male came up to her, as bowed and complimented her home.

She knew that voice from anywhere, let alone his blonde hair as she sat her goblet down and took his hand. "I'd love to dance with you, brother Lucas or shall I say King Lucas." She said with a smile while walking beside him towards the middle of the dance floor and started to dance with him. "You know, you don't have to dance with me to talk. Something's troubling you. I know we haven't been around each other in quite sometime but your facial expressions haven't changed." Juliana mentioned as she waited for Lucas to speak what was on his mind. No matter how much she disliked him, if her brother needed her help, she was down for helping him.


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Mary really didn't want to go to the ball tonight as she hated being around large crowds of people. Mostly because of the stares she'd get and the mutters she'd hear. But good thing about tonight is that they will be in masks and no one would know who she was exactly. But then again, what if someone did recognize her behind her mask. She stood outside of the ballroom, as the thoughts pondered within her mind. She sort of hesitated walking up the stairs before her as she tried about three times and not even making it past the first step.

She didn't want to be embarrassed. She didn't want to embarrass anyone else either, especially Christoph. Mary knew she couldn't stay outside forever so with the strength she had, she walked gracefully up the stairs as her mask shined as soon as it hit the lighting within the building. It seemed as if everyone's eyes had dawned upon her as she was flushed. Mary was asked to dance by a male dressed in black and white as she accepted his proposal and waltzed over to the dance floor with him. She danced elegantly along with the male as when the song ended, he bowed towards her as she curtsied.

"Pardon me." She told the male as she walked over towards a window to catch her breath. All of that dancing, well just that one dance, had made her a little bit tired already. Mary walked along the area where the windows were as she saw a male standing all by himself. Mary looked left then right before stepping outside and standing beside him now, enjoying the breeze that blew between them as the aroma of flowers warmed her inside. Her eyes glanced over towards the male as she knew who it was - Christoph.

"Simply memorizing, isn't it, love?" She inched closer to him now, wrapping her arm around his as she rested her head upon his arm now. Mary smiled up towards him as she loved the vibes that were being sent through her right about as her head continued to rest upon Christoph's arm now.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair
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He slowly became lost in his thoughts as he stood there, admiring a bush of newly flowering buds. The garden was a magnificent thing, he had to admit that. He glanced further up the row of windows and spotted a man smaller than himself gazing out on the shrubbery. For a moment, he considered walking to him, speaking to him out of courtesy more so than anything else. But then he recognized Christoph for his silvery hair. He hadn’t changed much in the two years since he’d seen Falor, but perhaps now his entire head seemed a bit more peppered with gray.

Cyprian wasn’t aware of Eleora’s presence until she spoke out, and even then, her voice was so gentle, so soft, that it was almost swallowed by the crowds. He turned quickly towards her, worried he may have said something in his reflections he hadn’t meant to disclose. But it was Ellie, and he smiled at her in a mixture of relief and joy.

”Yes, it is,” he returned, looking forward once more so that they may avoid the suspicions of the other nobles. He knew some might watch the two for a bit longer, but there was nothing odd about simply speaking with one’s servant. It just came off as attentive and friendly. Cyprian looked back at her now though, and they made eye contact, but he struggled to keep from smiling again. He wasn’t some love-sick girl, but damn it, if he didn’t feel like it at times. Their love was something he’d craved for ages - one of mutual affection and embracing and passion. It wasn’t a struggle for power or possession like so many other relationships he had seen in his years. No, this was different.

”I had worried you would not attend,” said Cyprian, looking at her and then around them before looking back out at the garden again. ”We could go for a walk, if you’d like. Slip away just as a song begins.”

He waited for his moment, calculated it perfectly, and then turned to Ellie to invite her after him. Cyprian reached a hand ever so slightly for her, hoping to seize her hand and run off. But his eye caught on movement behind him as Lucas approached.

”Dearest brother-in-law,” he greeted, stepping slowly back from Ellie as he turned to face Lucas, forcing an air of civility into his voice. ”My, you’ve grown up. Your father would be proud to see you now, I’m almost certain of it.” He took note of the three inch difference between the two of them and smiled ever so slightly. He extended a hand to take Lucas’s in. ”Have you spoken to your sister yet? I am certain she would love to speak with you.”

He frowned now, noticing an air of business about this encounter. Lucas seemed to have come with more of an intention than simply catching up with his brother-in-law. ”Can I...help you with something, Lucas?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair
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#, as written by Demai
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Ellie wondered, for a brief moment, if he had even been able to hear her. She wasn’t quite sure what she’d do if he hadn’t, and she bit her bottom lip, her already knotted hands tightening on each other. The crescents in her palms from the last time she had been this nervous, too nervous, were only just beginning to heal. She was struck with the strange and silly want for Cy’s calloused, gentle fingers to brush over those marks. But that can’t happen if he hasn’t heard you, Ellie, She admonished herself.

She was drawn straight out of her thoughts by a familiar, voice, and she couldn’t help the smile that came to her lips immediately. He had heard her, and her whole heart felt like it had taken flight when she saw the look on his face. That brief moment of eye contact, that split second to convey adoration and hope and a gentle smile was not nearly enough. Ellie glanced down at the floor, as was her place as a servant. She had made sure to stay a little behind him. Their dance was a careful one, always, stolen touches and glances, but Ellie... Well, she could be told all the rumors in the world about women being swept away by kings and left behind, and if her Cy was looking at her that way, she wouldn’t care a whit.

Sometimes, she thought she was a little too human.

“Yes, it is.” He spoke, and her gaze flickered up again. They made eye contact in a more permanent manner this time, and she bit the inside of her lip to keep from smiling. She could see him fighting to keep the corners of his mouth in check as well, and she wanted little more in that moment than to reach forward and brush her thumb over his jaw. And yet, even that would be too much. “I had worried you would not attend,” He said, and she let her hands loosen from their too-tight hold at last. “We could go for a walk, if you’d like. Slip away just as a song begins.”
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“How could I not come?” She asked softly, making sure to pitch her voice this time so that he would be able to hear it a little better, though she was still cautious of the many other people that lined the ballroom. It was a comforting publicity, though. Everyone was so busy talking to each other about private things and mingling that they wouldn’t notice anyone else. “I haven’t gotten a hug from you in days.” She teased gently, gazing out at the garden. She was relatively sure that her heart had taken up residence in her throat by the time he finished his sentence, and she was terribly grateful that there was no blush upon her cheeks. That, at least, she had more control over than her smile. “I’d love that.” She admitted. To steal even half an hour away, she would be grateful. If she had learned anything from this, it had been patience with time.

The music went on in the background, and she tapped her foot gently to the rhythm of one of the more familiar tunes. “I’d steal you away for a dance, if I could.” She murmured, affection clear in her voice. The song ended, and hope rose up in her chest. She let her fingers extend the barest bit, searching out his touch--

And then the moment ended and the next song began and there was her mistress’ brother. She let her hands rest at her side, as if nothing had happened, her eyes widening a little at the sight of the king of Falor. She curtseyed in greeting, but stayed silent, soon folding her hands and taking a step back, leaving the two men to their discussion. They’d have their moment, she reassured herself silently, and she tucked a loose curl back behind her ear absentmindedly. She watched them a little, listening to her beloved’s voice, waiting to see how Lucas would respond. She was terribly excellent at blending in with the rest of the mass of people, appearing clearly as nothing more than a serving girl.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Cedany Ulfricdottir Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Adelaide Ulfricdottir Character Portrait: Theran Ulfricson
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Image Lucas smiled at his brother-in-law, completely oblivious to the closeness of the man and his sister's lady in waiting. He took his brother's hand and gripped it firmly as he shook. He clenched his jaw a bit at the mention of his father, but it was not easily seen. "Good Evening to you, brother," He greeted. "I have, in fact, talked with Juliana already and I am quite pleased with the outcome. We have poor communication skills, I'm afraid, but it seems we were able to patch things up."

He turned back towards where he had left his sister for a quick glance, but the crowd was blocking his view so he turned back. "As for what your help, I have a proposition for you." His eyes darted to Elora and back. "Privately if you would not mind." He smiled at the young woman beside the man and bowed respectfully to her. She was not a noblewoman, but if his mother had taught him anything it's that women should always be treated with respect. "I shall return him to you shortly."

He looked back to his brother gestured to the room he and his sister and recently vacated. "Shall we?"

He barely waited a moment before he began to walk towards the room. Once inside he shut the door behind them and spoke with authority he saved for addressing the kingdom and the court. "I recently had an idea that I feel would benefit both of our kingdoms. I have run it by my sister, but she has requested I speak with you on the matter. My request is this: An alliance between our kingdoms. We've seen so much war I feel it is time for some peace. What do you think, dear brother-in-law?"






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ImageCed laughed at the love and affection that her family gave in return for hers. Aren and Addie were both laughing at their antics. She was quite pleased with herself for so quickly and easily bringing her family closer together in a time of obvious separation. Because of the masks.

They danced together happily and was soon joined by Ronan. He stumbled into their little group like an elephant drunk on champagne. Cedany laughed, the sound of their voices filled the air and warmed her heart. She smiled innocently at her eldest brother and batted her eyelashes. She knew his real reason for joining them probably had to do with the proverbial bomb she had just dropped on her brother, but he needn't worry. She would tell no one. This was information she planned on taking to her grave. She held tight to her siblings' hands and yelled, "Now Ronan, dear brother, are you sure you can keep up? We all know you have two left feet!" She was obviously joking, but what else were siblings for than making jokes about one another's skills?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair
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”Well, I am certainly glad to hear that,” he replied, taking note of the fact that Lucas and Juliana had already spoken. He was surprised, to be honest. Cyprian hadn’t imagined his wife speaking to her brother without, more or less, being forced to. He had heard a great deal from her, in the years they had been married, of her hatred for her younger sibling. He supposed he would ask her about it later.

Cyprian let his brother in law’s hand drop after an appropriate amount of shaking. Goodness, how he’d grown. He had seemed like a child when he and Juliana left, but Cyprian could begin to see the way his facial features had begun to lose their baby-like appearance, the way he gripped his hand not as a child but as an equal.

"A proposition?" he echoed, cocking an eyebrow for a moment, revealing his piqued interest. Slowly, he let his gaze back to Eleora, and he frowned for just a moment. "Yes, I suppose." He spoke as he looked at Eleora, his eyes flashing with a sort of longing. But he refocused himself and looked at Lucas just as the younger man bowed to his mistress. Oh, if only he knew. Perhaps Cyprian felt a prick of guilt, watching his brother in law treat the woman who had cuckolded his sister with such civility.

Cyprian followed after Lucas into the adjoining room. He waited, and he listened, and when Lucas asked for his opinion, Cyprian pressed his lips together and cast his eyes away.

"She sent you to me to approve your little...peace treaty?" he asked, his voice laced with a sharp sort of incredulity. Cyprian let out a sort of laugh and paced for a moment. His back was to Lucas now, and though it may have come off as disrespectful, he needed a moment to himself. His arms crossed over his chest without him thinking about doing so. Finally, he turned, forcing his arms at his sides as he stepped back to Lucas.

"Pardon me," he started, inclining his head slightly in a polite gesture. "I just...I was caught off guard. You understand, of course?" He walked to a table in the center of the room and balanced against the edge of it, crossing his arms once more. "Two years. Juliana and I - or, well, Juliana - has ruled this kingdom, and now she asks for my opinion?" He was being irrational, he knew that, but he needed this. Two years of bottled up emotion had fermented, and now it seemed to show itself in bursts of emotion that he couldn't quite hold back. It was his temper, his damned temper getting the best of him. But he needed this. He needed this outlet, someone to hear his grievances.

"Peace is certainly in order, brother," he agreed, nodding slowly before letting his lips purse again. "Too many a good man has died in the name of our nations - good men on both sides, mind you." He frowned now, looking at his feet. "Men I called brothers, slain in my wife's name."

He hated this, despised it. "It has brought nothing but strife, Lucas. You must see that, no?" He made an unapologetic eye contact with his brother-in-law now, his eyes narrowing ever so slightly like a cat's might as it plans the best route of attack. For Cyprian, however, it disclosed the fact that he was thinking quickly, his mind working as it had years ago on the field. The rush that overcame him was a beautiful, all-encompassing one, and he swore he could have thrown himself at the young king, taken him by the arms and exclaimed his plan. But that wouldn't do. Subtly was key - he knew that.

"Why bother with treaties when a reunification would be far more beneficial?" Cyprian stood now, and he stepped once, twice, towards Lucas. "Two years. Our people have fought and suffered and died for two years, Lucas. A treaty won't silence them as easily as my wife would believe." He paused, processing his next words for a moment. "Few know a man's heart as well as a soldier does, I can tell you that."

He reached out now, placed a hand on Lucas's shoulder in a fraternal manner. "Our people are in need of a long peace, dear brother. Don't deny them that any longer than you must." He remained even-toned through the exchange, but he couldn't ignore the pounding of his heart in his chest, the rush he got as he spoke. Perhaps they would write songs of Cyprian Auclair as the man who reunited Falor, who returned peace to the East.

Yes, that sounded quite nice.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Giselle Auclair
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Juliana was standing nearby as her eyes watched her brother and husband converse with one another. She eyed Lady Ellie but didn't know if she had saw her or not, so she just turned away for now and knew that they were going to make the best decision for their respective Kingdoms. Yes, she ruled Seabel by herself, it seemed at times but she wanted Cyprian to have at least a little input on the matter. While she raised a goblet to her lips, she sipped the liquid inside then let out a sigh. She continued to watch her brother and husband closely but was quickly pulled from her thoughts by her precious jewel, Giselle.

She smiled warmly at Giselle's question as she knelt in front of her now. "How adorable you look, Giselle." She said first as she admired her daughter's attire then rose up to stand upright now as she smiled again. "That's my brother, Lucas. Your uncle." She muttered towards her daughter while she noticed that Lucas and Cyprian had disappeared. With a raised brow of curiosity, she looked down at Giselle once again. "No need to be sorry. You have a vast array of wonders up there." She pointed to her head with a smile then chuckled.

"Come, darling." She extended her hand out for Giselle to grab as once she did, she'd lead her over towards to where Lady Ellie was placed. Juliana would smile once she approaches Lady Ellie while looking at her. "So, are you enjoying the ball so far, Lady Ellie?" She'd ask with a smile while looking down at Giselle, just to make sure she was still there and have not wondered off. "Oh, where is Cyprian and Lucas? I want to show Lucas his beautiful niece." She'd wave her hand over towards Giselle before her eyes went back to stare with Lady Ellie's, awaiting immediate answers.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Capheus Auclair Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Giselle Auclair
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Ellie knotted her hands together at her front, her palms making a slight indent in the skirt of the dress that she wore as she watched on. Her head was tilted down, her teeth making a slight indent in her bottom lip. She was a little worried for her Cy at Lucas’ words, to be entirely honest. What sort of a proposition could the king of Falor make? As much as it hurt her beloved... he had no power in this kingdom. As the queen’s consort, there was nothing that he could do politically besides go behind her mistress’ back. Perhaps he had even had more power back when he was nothing more than a noble, at least then he had had lands that stretched before him, ready for the taking. He told her about them sometimes. Now, he held about the same amount of political influence as a pretty bracelet upon her mistress’ wrist. It was a weight upon his shoulders and a wound in his side. She saw how it wounded him, and she wished to comfort him, but she was rooted to the ground by the knowledge of both Lucas and Juliana’s eyes on her.

She knew the latter was watching, despite not looking towards her. It felt as if she were always watching, and Ellie was infinitely grateful for Capheus’ influence in their lives. Whenever Cy snuck off to be with her, Capheus was the willing scapegoat. Earlier in their relationship, he had saved them many a time. She wondered where he was, briefly, and then a slight smile touched her lips at the thought that he was likely with his stable boy. Silently, she wished them both safety and happiness.

She raised her gaze a little as Cy looked back to her, prairie green meeting emerald as she offered gentle support even silently. The longing, while invisible to all others, was poignant to her, striking through to her heart. If there had not been the weight of a kingdom and expectations on their shoulders, Ellie would have stepped forward then and caught him up in her arms, possibly to never let him go. Her expression would be unreadable to those others who looked at her, though, and her eyes soon went to Lucas, surprise coloring her expression. He promised to return her Cy safely, and she curtseyed to him in response, remaining respectfully quiet even as she offered up a gentle smile. She looked to Cy once more as Lucas left without waiting, her lips forming the words good luck when she knew that Juliana would not see. Then, the two men were gone.

Ellie looked after them with curiosity in her gaze, letting that become obvious. She would seem a slightly nosy lady-in-waiting, but she had done nothing to arouse suspicion of any sort. She looked back to the gardens soon enough, taking a deep breath of the cool night air. It smelled sweet, and she couldn’t help but smile. The scents of roses and jasmine and clean water found her, the safety of the night seemed to reach out its hands towards her--

And then a dreaded, high pitched voice reached her ears, and Ellie’s heart squeezed in her chest. "So, are you enjoying the ball so far, Lady Ellie?" The queen asked. Ellie turned to look at her once more, her smile gentle as she looked between Juliana and the tiny princess and her eyes alight.

“Aye, madam.” She answered, curtseying to her in response, dipping her head down a little. She tucked that stray curl away again, her hands clasping together as she looked towards the stars once more. “It’s all so beautiful.” She whispered, almost in awe. Cy particularly, the thought flickered through her mind. “How have you liked it?” She inquired curiously. “I imagine you’ve been to many a ball in your lifetime, majesty.”

The queen smiled, and her next words caused surprise in her that was easy to see. “Oh, where are Cyprian and Lucas? I want to show Lucas his beautiful niece.” Ellie met her mistress’ eyes, searching them for a moment, her own lips slightly parted in a silent question. She had thought that she hated her little brother, or at least was indifferent towards him. To show one’s child to him... Well, that was infinitely personal.

Plus, there was the issue of the two men being in the middle of their discussion right then.

It was not her place to question, and it was her place to warn them before the queen stepped in. “Right this way, ma’am.” Ellie curtseyed to her once more, smiled at Giselle, and then moved towards the room that Juliana and Lucas had recently vacated and that the latter and Cy were currently in. Her heart ached as she walked, though she hid it perfectly. So much for their walk in the garden, she thought.

“They’re in here, highness.” Ellie explained, looking to the queen. She raised her hand to the door as they reached it, and knocked four times, loudly. It would be impossible not to hear, impossible for the men inside to be able to ignore it. She lowered her hand, then, taking a step back and lowering her head once more, allowing Juliana and her daughter to go ahead of her. Hopefully, it would give Cy enough time to finish his conversation.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Giselle Auclair
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Giselle looked at her mother and smiled. "Thank you!" Giselle then proceeded to scrunch her face up in confusion. "My.. uncle? I never knew I had another uncle." That explains the similar looks. Was she going to meet him? She watched as her mother stood, taking her hand as she approached the lady in waiting. Giselle lit up at the mention of meeting her uncle. As they followed Ellie to the room they were in, which she noticed was the same from before, Giselle looked around and saw many people dancing, mingling with their comrades. A quieter atmosphere was certainly in her favor. As Ellie left, she smiled back at her, and waited for the doors to open. She was also happy to see her father, so it was killing two birds with one stone, basically. Could this be some sort of family reunion? Possibly. One would think of it many different ways in that sense.

Giselle suddenly piped up, "Do you think he'll like me?.." She didn't want her uncle to dislike her. She was always willing to meet new people and get along with them. After all, how could she know that he didn't despise her? He never seemed to bother to meet her when she was an infant, or at least see her as a child so she would remember the encounter. She silently hoped it was a contradictory matter.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Giselle Auclair
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He pulled away his hand now as Lucas began to speak, giving the boy his own time to propose an idea. Perched once more on the table, Cyprian kept his arms crossed. He was right, of course. Juliana wouldn't have accepted such a proposition after all they had been through; they'd done too much to turn back now and accept defeat. But maybe she would see his point, and she would agree that it had been too long, damn it. Something had to change, and he had to see to it that it did.

But he had never thought of going about it the way Lucas suggested. His arms crossed more tightly, if that were possibly, and he set his mouth in a frown. Cyprian looked up as Lucas finished though, his brow furrowed by now to complete his expression.

"Well, no," he said, letting his arms fall to push himself off of the table. "Not particularly." He strode towards Lucas once more, meeting him by where his mask had fallen. "I love your sister dearly, Lucas. You, of all people, ought to know that." Cyprian paused, forcing his statement to sink in. "The crown has changed her though. She would not tell you that, of course, but I can assure you it has." Had it? Well, of course it had. The crown changed anyone. Had it changed her for the worse? Likely, but Lucas did not need to know of such doubt. Cyprian knew how to speak to his audience, and he did so in an alarmingly skillful manner.

But maybe that was what he wanted. If Juliana had power, he too would have to wield something. She could never do it alone, and who would be better for advising her than her own husband? For a moment, a smile nearly crept on his face, but Cyprian destroyed it all too quickly. "But if it came down to that...well, I would do anything for the people." Perhaps he meant to add more to that statement, but Lucas would never know. Four sharps raps came from the door, and Cyprian looked at it quickly before looking back to his brother-in-law.

"We shall speak of this another time," he requested, stepping away now to answer the door. Though he wore his concerned expression when he answered the door, he quickly replaced it with one of excitement as he crouched down and seized Giselle in his arms. For a moment, he held her off of the ground, as he often did when he greeted her, and then he placed her back down. As he walked past her on his way to Juliana, he gave Giselle's hair a gentle ruffle, attempting to avoid ruining her hair.

"Good evening, my love," he said simply, still wearing the same smile plastered to his face as he leaned forward and kissed her cheek. For just a moment, he let himself make eye contact with Ellie, and then he turned to his wife. "Lucas and I were just finishing up. I am glad to hear you both are on speaking terms again."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Giselle Auclair
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Juliana eyed Ellie as she gave her a response to her question if she was enjoying herself. Of course, she said that she was because who would tell their Queen that they wasn't enjoying themselves within her own home. She smiled when Lady Ellie said that everything was beautiful as she nodded her head in agreement. "Why, yes. I am having some fun." She muttered towards Ellie as she shrugged her shoulders. "Well, I've only been to one.. three.. ten, at most." Juliana waved her hand in the air as if attending ten balls wasn't exactly a big deal.

When Lady Ellie started the small trek towards where her husband and brother was, she grabbed Giselle's hand and waltzed along her side. They approached the door, much like when her and her brother were speaking earlier, as Lady Ellie knocked four times. Juliana looked at Ellie and muttered a soft thank you. She rubbed her hand against Giselle's as she knelt down beside her. "I am sure he will adore you." Juliana muttered towards her daughter just as the door opened to reveal her love, Cyprian behind it along with her brother, Lucas.

Juliana stood back up now and saw Cyprian playing with Giselle as her gaze went towards her brother. She then looked at Cyprian as he went to kiss her cheek, which she allowed him to do. Juliana cleared her throat with the nod of her head. "Yes. You can say that we are back on speaking terms." She said with a smile as her eyes went back to Cyprian. "It's nice to see my husband for the first time tonight. Why did you get here so fast?" Juliana inquired with a curious expression as she looked at Lucas and Giselle and saw the flower that he had presented towards her.

She let a slight awe slip through her parted lips as she looked at Cyprian. Juliana wasn't really worried about why her husband came to the ballroom so early but she was indeed wondering about his talk with Lucas. She gave her husband one of those 'I really need to talk to later' looks and even looked towards her brother, giving him the same look.

"Well, I think it's past someone's bedtime, yeah?" She looked at Giselle then waved for Lady Ellie to come forth. "Mind putting her to bed for me?" She asked with a delicate smile while giving her daughter a tight hug. "You sleep well, my sweet." She told her daughter before standing back upright and standing in between Lucas and Cyprian, now, watching everyone as they were having a great time. Not to say that she wasn't but she just wished that she had at least gotten to dance with Cyprian - At least once. She let the thought wander off from her mind as she turned towards Cyprian with a slight smirk. "Care to dance?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Loras Estermont Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir
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Loras had never really been one for dancing, and watching his sister and the other Captain waltz together was quite enough for him. He watched them for a moment with a little smile on his lips, and then turned, stepping away to allow them privacy. He soon migrated off to the side, taking up residence near one of the many open windows and just scanning the general area. He didn’t cut the most approachable figure, standing there with his shoulders back and his arms crossed, and so he didn’t quite have to worry about people coming over and approaching him.

As he let his sea-blue eyes flick over the ballroom, taking in the clouds that adorned the ceiling and the dresses that gave vibrant color to the gold floor, his gaze lighted upon a woman with red-gold hair and a yellow dress, gazing out the window. She looked at peace, and a soft little smile came to his lips at the sight of her. She didn’t look particularly rich, probably a lady in waiting or something to be at that dance, normally reserved for people of higher standing. In any case, she had a kindness about her that he hadn’t seen in... a long time. His first thought was his mother, to be honest. She had that sort of soft sweetness about her face. He took a step towards the woman, perhaps to address her or to ask her where she was from, pausing only to avoid interrupting her as she took a deep breath of night air.

He was about to take his chance when suddenly, a familiar blonde stepped into view. His gaze softened at the sight of Juliana, the woman he had wooed so long ago. His heart still ached for her sometimes, and he caught himself gazing after her as if he were some stupid schoolboy. The queen’s voice reached his own ears, but he had no time to focus on it. He saw something flicker in the redhead’s eyes as her eyes opened, before she turned to look at Juliana; something unreadable to all those save for those who were specifically searching for it. It was an instinctive fear, a silent wish that the queen would leave her alone, almost a cry for help that no one would see save for the flowers that waved in the breeze outside and the moon high above.

Loras’ brow furrowed. There was no mistaking what had caused that clear, instinctive want to hide away. Juliana had changed since he had first been stricken by her, but... had she changed enough to warrant such a reaction in the people who served her? He himself had stepped down from his noble place to lead armies, to help his country and defend it. He had gone from someone with a great name to another soldier. Had this woman done the same? What had happened to her to cause such a reaction when the queen appeared?

It felt as if his world had been tipped on its end, suddenly. How blind had he become, in the face of his infatuation? For he knew that it was merely that. He’d left home, friends, sister for a person who terrified her servants?

It was during that revelation that another world-shaking individual would ram straight into his life.

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Normally, he would have been able to righten himself when suddenly hit with a blunt object, but he was reeling in that moment. When an arm was offered, he grasped his hand, searching out balance and stability, something to ground himself. And when he looked up, locks of his own dark hair falling in his eyes, he found it in a pair of light emerald eyes filled with awe. He was caught up in that color for a moment, and then he realized that the eyes were attached to a person. The king of Ostwall, apparently. Salt and pepper hair and a beard and arms that reminded Loras that he might need a damn hug or something--

And then he realized that Ulfric’s mouth was moving and that he was still holding his hand. The king moved let his hand fall back to his side, and Loras let go of him quickly and instinctively, taking a deep breath, offering up a crooked smile. His eyes were too bright and a little lost, betraying his relatively young age all too easily. He felt it in that moment, truly. He was... a stupid, infatuated boy who didn’t even know what he was doing.

“No hard feelings? I don't suppose I'd like to be on the bad side of you or your Pa.” Finally, Loras registered Ulfric’s words, and the grin turned wry at the mention of his father.

“None at all.” He promised, and his voice was steadier than he thought it would be. He glanced down towards the ground, taking a deep breath and then looking up towards him with a little smile, though his eyes were still as lost as a sailor in a storm. It still felt as if waves were battering at him, lowering every defense that he had. He offered him his hand once more, half wishing just for that steadying influence once more. “Loras.” He introduced himself, out of habit, leaving out all titles and names. “You’re Ulfric, right?” He questioned, and his chest warmed inexplicably at the smile that the king attempted. “Your Majesty.” He teased a little, though there was no bite behind it, and bowed to him.

He was about to go on when suddenly, a harsh voice and soft cries reached his ears. Focused for a moment, his gaze flicked up. The corners of his mouth tipped down in a frown when he saw an older man gripping the arm of... Ulfric’s young wife. He nodded towards the two, and looked back to Ulfric, his own hand going to the hilt of his sword. “I’ll knock him out if you get her out of here.” He murmured. He needed something to ground him, something similar to his job might be a good idea.

Another metaphorical wave hit him, and it was on a strange instinct that he added; “I’ll be in the garden later tonight, by the elara flowers.” It was a stab in the dark, a desperate need for company and reassurance that caused almost a plea to enter his gaze. His sister would be with her entourage, with her fiance, and he... would be alone.

Goodness, he didn’t want to be alone.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Loras Estermont Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Giselle Auclair
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Ellie remained behind the rest of the royals as Cy and Lucas stepped out, keeping her head down. Juliana’s voice scraped against her nerves, putting her on edge. Little did she know of the world changing thoughts that she had caused to come into the Captain of the Guard’s mind. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the tall blonde who was holding tight to the king of Ostwall’s arm at the moment, and she worried for a moment about him before Cyprian caught her eye for a bare moment. The tiniest of smiles came to her lips, silently wishing him well. It was a great relief to her that he didn’t look absolutely haggard after that conversation. He didn’t look worn out, he looked... almost vibrant. She wished to take his hands, to ask him all about what had happened, but knew she shouldn’t, knew she couldn’t. One of those days. One of those days, she would be free to take his hands whenever she wanted... She hoped.

Her heart still squeezed at the words my love directed towards Juliana, though. She had no doubt in her Cy, but... It still hurt, sometimes, often, the knowledge that she was the other woman. She’d never envisioned this for herself, not in all her life, but... Cy was worth it, she knew. That much was a fact of her life. She’d walk over hot coals for him, and she could say that about few others, if any.

One of those may have been the tiny girl, Giselle. Cy’s daughter. There was something horribly, completely endearing about her, and Ellie had fond memories of telling her stories and singing her to sleep. Her gaze flicked momentarily to her as the child went to greet her uncle for... possibly the first time in her whole life. She couldn’t help but smile, finding the sight utterly endearing. She’d braid the flower into her hair later, she resolved, maybe after she’d twirled her around the dance floor a couple of times while waiting for Cy. She soon looked down, respectfully, avoiding looking King Lucas straight in the eyes.

Then, the queen’s words reached her ears, and where Ellie’s heart had squeezed before, it stopped now. Take Giselle to bed...? With the flick of her wrist and a sickeningly sweet look in those green eyes, her mistress had dismissed all of them save for Cy. How dare she? She swallowed hard, rather than protesting. It wasn’t her place, she couldn’t raise suspicion... She let her gaze flick to Cy for a moment. She’d meet up with him later. They always found time. It just... was another roadblock. That was all it was. A silent assurance was in her eyes, a promise that it was alright.

“Yes, mistress.” She whispered, at last, and curtseyed in response before reaching out, finding Giselle’s hand and offering her a smile and then a wink. Maybe they didn’t have to go to bed just yet. “Come along, highness.” She spoke to her. With a slight glance back, she led Giselle off--and more towards the banquet tables. “I think it’s a little early for bedtime, don’t you?” She teased gently, squeezing her little hand with gentle fingers.

Then, everything went to hell.

There was screaming and shouting and people were punching and swearing--Ellie’s eyes widened and she wrapped her arms around Giselle suddenly, gathering her close and protecting her with her arms. She crouched down a little, pressing one hand to her ear and defending her from having to hear the words that were being spat. It was the rulers of Ostwall, she realized, now spattered with blood and staining the dance floor. Gold turned to red, and Ellie held her breath, focused on keeping the little princess out of the range of flying fists.

Then, she heard a heartbreaking scream, and the queen of Ostwall flew from the room. Ellie was lucky her heart was strong, for it had gone through so much in even the past ten minutes, which was to say nothing of every other part of her life. It took but another moment for Ellie to look back down at Giselle, checking over her to make sure she was alright. “Let’s grab a pastry for you and go help her.” She said gently, finding her hand again. Gently, she reached out, finding the flower that Lucas had given the little princess and tucking it behind Giselle’s ear instead. “We’ll dance as soon as we can, I promise.” She added with a little smile. Then, she found a fluffy treat for her, hesitated, and found another, just in case Genevieve needed something sweet. She led her from the dance floor, out the door that Genevieve had fled from. “Your majesty?” She called out, keeping Giselle near, just in case. “I’m Ellie, and this is Giselle... Are you alright? Were you hurt?” Worry was clear in her voice. No one should have to witness that, much less experience that, and she hoped that they could be some sort of comfort to the young queen.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Brigham Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair Character Portrait: Giselle Auclair
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It brought a smile to his face to see Giselle reunite with her uncle. He hadn't thought she wouldn't remember the young man, but it had been two years. It only made sense when he thought about it. Would she see him again soon? If their plan worked, she would. Hell, perhaps they'd grow sick of each other. Cyprian could only hope. His attention turned back to Juliana as she responded to him.

"I am glad to hear," he added, nodding gently. His brow furrowed ever so slightly as she questioned his timing at the ball. "I've been here since it started. You know I don't enjoy being late to such events - especially those in my own home." Cyprian looked away for a moment, looking back at his daughter for a moment before turning to Juliana again. "It is good to see you as well."

He knew not what to say in regards to Giselle's bedtime, for while he'd tucked the girl in on multiple occasions, he was never truly the type to send her to bed. He left that to Ellie or Juliana. Not that he wanted to, but he always grew anxious when it came to parenting. Perhaps his own parents had set expectations far too high for him. But he almost smiled to himself as he noted he would never be as miserable a parent as Estermont.

"Good night, sweetheart," he said, crouching to place a kiss on her brow. As he stood, he made eye contact with Ellie and nodded, pulling his brow into an expression of genuine upset - it made him look regretful - regretful he hadn't asked her to dance, to run off into the gardens. Perhaps she'd find him later. "My lady." In those words, as he nodded his head, he hoped to convey his emotions, praying she'd tell somehow that he still wished to see her - no, he needed to see her. Oh, if he could just hold her in his arms for a moment.

But he was ripped from his thoughts as Juliana spoke, and he turned to face her. "Of course, love."

Cyprian made an effort to match her smirk, but it turned into more of a sad smile as he held an arm out for her to take. He guided his wife on to the ballroom floor, and then he let her spin out slowly before he drew her back into his arms. They moved elegantly, perhaps better than most - if not, all - of the couples in the room. He'd been rained to be a knight, and she to be a princess. Together, they worked deftly through the dance, matching each other even as Cyprian looked around himself, too anxious to stick to one place for long.

The song ended, and he pulled her in close, perhaps intending to kiss her reassuringly. But then the screaming began, and he realized the music had ended due to the violence beginning to unfurl in the middle of the crowd. He could see nothing, but he could hear everything - bone crunching, women crying out, and the voices of two men from Ostwall. It was a peculiar accent - thick and harsh sounding to the lilting Eastern accent that he'd grown up with. What a shame - they always seemed to struggle with such events.

"I suppose...that's the end of it?" he asked, his arms slowly dropping from Juliana as he watched the fight dissolve and the guests depart from the hall. "They've gone and ruined it." His gaze followed Ulfric for a while as his lips pressed into a fine line. "What a shame."

"Shall I escort you to your room, Julia?" He stepped to her again, taking her hands in his. It seemed real for a moment. He could recall their wedding day - an opulent affair, funded by two obnoxiously wealthy families. They had danced about in eachother's arms, and he swore he'd never let go of her. But now he wanted nothing more than to run to Ellie and hold her tightly. But he couldn't let his wife know that. "Might as well rest up for tomorrow, no?"

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Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Giselle Auclair
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#, as written by Inuiri
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A collab between Inuiri and Demai



Genevieve had managed to shove herself under a table in fear, cowering like a child as she clamped her hands over her head, weeping as quiet as she could manage, trembling violently. Ronan would hate her for this. She had ruined everything and she would lose the love of her life for it. A thud came from the table, flinching and hitting her head on it at the sound of voices. Her eyes widened as she scrambled back, trying to disappear entirely. Maybe once everything had died down she could slip away to her room. Though the sound of her injuring herself only seemed to lure them closer.

Ellie squeezed Giselle’s hand gently before releasing it as she moved slowly towards the source of the crying, wincing at the thud that echoed off the walls. Her first thought was the potential of a concussion, but perhaps that was the all around worry speaking. “Please, mistress.” She pled softly, not wanting to scare her off with a too-loud voice. “Is there any way we can help?” Would going away be the best course of action? But Ellie was unlikely to flee the scene right then.

“I-I’m f-f-fine.” The queen managed to hiccup, voice hoarse and shaky as she hugged her knees close, heart beating so hard she thought it might burst. This couldn’t be good for the baby, she vaguely thought, hands shakily tracing over the bump where her heir sat. “P-Please your mistress probably needs you.” She tried her hardest to be commanding, but she just couldn’t.
Fine was a relative term, and this woman was certainly not fine. Wasn’t she pregnant as well? That had been one of the many topics of conversation during the dance... She caught a bit of motion under the table, and knelt down a little distance away, able to see her but not moving too close to her. “She sent me off already, actually.” She offered up a soft little smile. “Wanted to dance with Cy--her husband, the king.” Her nickname for him came out automatically, and she added his titles quickly afterwards.
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Genevieve peered at her, normally calm, cat-like blue eyes full of fear as her hands tightened in her dress, trying to calm her nerves. “I didn’t mean to ruin it all..” She gasped, scrubbing her eyes, pristine cheeks turned splotchy and red.

“You didn’t ruin anything.” Ellie promised, clasping her hands together and resting them on her skirt. If anything, that horrible man had done it all. Everyone else was merely reacting. “I promise. The night was drawing to a close anyway, and you... No one deserves anything like that.” She told her, her voice gentle. “Nothing’s ruined at all.” That much, she knew. There might be some gossip, but there were far more interesting things that people would have their minds on the next day.

Her heart slowed a bit at her words, calming the barest bit as she swallowed the lump in her throat. Ever so slowly, she shifted, crawling out on her hands and knees, looking down the hall to make sure no one was around. “Thank you..” She mumbled softly, sitting before her now and giving Giselle a weak smile.

Ellie smiled at her as she emerged, glancing back just in case. “No one followed us,” She added gently. “In case... you wanted to be alone.” Well, she was kind of removing the alone part, but it was for a good purpose. “Are you alright, mistress?” She asked, scanning over her just in case. The young queen had been all too close to the action. “Physically, I mean.” She added softly. Emotionally, the woman looked a little like she needed a hug.

She gave a nod, despite aching in three different places now, hiding her bruised wrist as she turned his gaze downward. “I’m alright.” Genevieve murmured almost silently, one hand going to her mouth as she gnawed her thumb nail uneasily. She just wanted Ronan… She had behaved all night and she still didn’t get it.

Ellie caught her words for the most part, despite the slight distance between them still. She shifted a little, as if to move towards her, though she hesitated after a moment. “Might I?” She asked, not wanting to scare her off.

Genevieve peeked up at her, curls falling from her face as she nodded a little, shifting so she wasn’t so curled in on herself, clearing her throat a bit.

Ellie shifted up on her knees, moving towards the queen carefully, still a little wary of going too suddenly. She settled beside her, reaching out to wrap her up in her arms, drawing her into a gentle hug.

The queen gave a gentle gasp in reply, mind briefly taken from her fears as she hugged her back, hiding in her neck as her shoulders shook with her gentle cries.

Ellie held her a little closer, rubbing her back with gentle fingers and whispering reassurances to her. She was alright, she would be alright... It broke her heart to see the queen like this, and she wanted little more than to be a comfort to her in that moment.

Genevieve didn’t know how long passed before her tears finally subsided, pulling away and wiping her eyes one last time as she thanked her quietly, running a hand gently over Ellie’s long locks with a soft smile.

“It’s my pleasure, ma’am.” Ellie promised her with a smile in return, reaching out a little to find her free hand, squeezing it gently. She hesitated for a moment, and then spoke once more; “Can I ask your name?” She knew her mostly as the queen of Ostwall.

“Genevieve.” She answered gently, “Thank you Ellie..” She murmured again, smiling the best she could at their joined hands. “I’ll be alright.” She promised. A little bit better at least… She still worried about what Ronan would think of her.

“Genevieve?” Ellie repeated, just to make sure that she got it right. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” She said genuinely, smiling at her repeated thank you. “Anytime. Really,” She assured her. She was happy to help. “Could I walk you back to your quarters?” She asked.

She nodded almost too emphatically at that, slowly standing on her wobbly legs, grabbing the table for support and squeezing Ellie’s hand to assure her she was alright.

ImageEllie stood up a little quicker, wrapping her free arm around her waist to help support her. “I’d offer to carry you, but I think I might drop you,” She teased a little, giving her a half hug. She shifted a little, taking at least some of Genevieve’s weight onto her as she found Giselle’s hand and moved towards the door.

Genevieve giggled a bit, smiling and leaning on her shoulder a bit, one hand brushing over her abdomen as she glanced down at it uneasily. Would he really be upset with her? Maybe… she was imagining things. But her father always got upset when she did things like this, why wouldn’t Ronan too? Or even worse, how would Ulfric react?

Ellie frowned a little at her actions, shifting to gather her a little closer. “What is it?” She asked softly, looking to her before taking any more steps forward.

The brunette lifted her gaze, vaguely confused as she shook her head. “Nothing.” She promised quietly, squeezing her hand and smiling a little, remaining quiet as they neared her room, hoping that Ulfric wasn’t there already.

Ellie paused before the door, wrapping Genevieve up in a tight hug. “If you find you can’t sleep, my room’s upstairs and to the right, the second door.” She told her, pressing a brief kiss to the top of her head. “If there’s any way I can help, let me know.” She requested, pulling back a little and putting her hands on her shoulders, offering her a smile. “It really was wonderful meeting you.”

Genevieve smiled and nodded, hugging her near and resting her chin on her shoulder as she whispered her thanks one last time before departing inside, thankfully alone. She sighed, dropping heavily onto the bed as she scrubbed her eyes and stripped herself down before crying herself to sleep.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Juliana Auclair Character Portrait: Ronan Ulfricson Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Ulfric Bjornson Character Portrait: Genevieve Hansdottir Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair
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There was an obvious downside to holding a joust in the middle of the day. The heat was nearly unbearable in Seabel by the time the riders had begun to mount. Cyprian shifted on his horse and wiped at his forehead, but the glove did little to remove the moisture that had built up. He had been up for hours, bathing, eating, and preparing himself for the joust. It had been a while since he'd ridden, but he had insisted upon it. Next time the celebration came around, he'd be forty-one. Gods willing, he would still ride, but he didn't want to count on it. Who knew where they would be in ten years.
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"Are the mountains cold this time of year, boy?" he inquired, turning his mare so that he could face his opponents.

Ronan looked up from his hand slowly, frowning at the king. His hand still ached like hell, and so he'd kept Cedany's improvised binding on it, hoping that the thing would get him through this joust.

"I believe the mountains are cold any time of year to a man from these parts," he countered, gesturing about with his broken hand. Cyprian chuffed softly in laughter. He had begun to circle slowly on his horse, readying her for their ride. Ronan's stallion, meanwhile, had taken to stomping in the dirt, tossing his head eagerly as though he knew what his rider had in mind for them.

"Yes, I suppose." Cy held a finger out, as though requesting Ronan to put his thoughts on hold as he called over a flagon-carrying squire. In a quick movement, he tipped his head back and downed a few mouthfuls of the sweet wine within. After, he held it out to Ronan who took his own drink, gulping more as though it were some sort of competition.
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The herald beckoned them soon after their silent exchange, and Cyprian received his helmet from another squire. "Best of luck to you," Cyprian called as he kicked his horse and took off towards the stands. Ronan pursed his lips, off-put by his opponent's swift departure. He shouldn't have taken it personally, he knew that, but he couldn't help it. And so he received his own helmet from some chieftain's son his father had taken with them. And then he hurried off after Cyprian, meeting the man in the center.

The two knights nodded to their kings and queens respectfully. Ronan found Genevieve quickly, and he swallowed anxiously. They would have to speak after he rode. He needed to tell her everything, justify himself for the night before. Cyprian sought out Juliana's gaze for a moment, and once he'd found it, he made a quick, mock bow in her direction. He prayed she took it playfully, but it came bitter-sweetly to him. As he turned to his end of the range, he looked for Ellie. He hoped she was watching, for although he couldn't tell her, he knew he was riding for her. And he hoped she knew that too.

The two men had placed themselves at either side of the range, aimed to race at each other. They waited, and a soft hush had fallen over the crowds. Christoph and Corinna had ceased their argument to watch - Cora because she worried for her brother, and Christoph because he had placed a large bet on Cyprian Auclair.

When the horn sounded, the two stormed at each other, a flurry of limbs and metal hurtling down the range. Ronan's lance chanced to move just a bit to the right, and it caught with Cyprian's shield, nearly knocking the lighter man off of his saddle. The king exhaled sharply as he rounded the corner, regaining his composure while, at the other end, Ronan struggled to keep his horse under control while he dealt with the unwieldy lance.

And then they were at it again, but Cyprian was ready for Ronan now, and he predicted that Ronan would go for the same maneuver - which he did. His lance was raised ever so slightly, and it was just enough that the lance bypassed Ronan's shield and hit him in the shoulder. The wood protested under the pressure, but it did not splinter, and though Ronan gasped out loud, it did not pierce his armor. Instead, it pushed him sharply enough that he fell from his saddle and smacked the dirt, sending up a soft puff of dust as he landed on his back.

The prince remained where he was for a moment, far too embarrassed to stand. Cy rounded once more, taking a victory lap of sorts past the spectators before he returned to his tent where he'd remove his armor and recover for the next round he'd have to ride. By that time, Cyprian's men had moved across the field to assess Ronan's injuries, but he stood quickly and pushed past, walking off of the field and away from the festivities.
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From where he sat in the stands, Ulfric couldn't help but frown to himself. He hadn't wanted to be here either - his joints still ached from the night before, and his head throbbed. Sleep had not come to him, no matter how hard he had tried, and so he drank casually at a goblet of some sort of southern ale that had been presented to him. He hated the taste - it was too sweet and fruity for a man who had not even seen such things until he had taken the throne.

This was not his world, and oh, how he hated to be a part of it. If he had been a younger, more capable man, he would have ridden, but fate had not been kind to him, and so he was confined to a seat beside a woman who did not love him and children who would not acknowledge him while his son - his eldest, he should have been his dearest - stalked away, creating quite a stir through the spectators.

He yearned for someone to speak with, and his mind went to Loras once more. Gods, he wished once more he had not missed their meeting. He had to be here somewhere though, protecting Seabel's royals, right? Perhaps they still had time. Perhaps fortune would smile on him for the first time in quite a while.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eleora de Croismare Character Portrait: Cyprian Auclair
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#, as written by Demai
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A collab between Scarlet Loup and Demai




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Ellie could easily say that watching Cy and Genevieve’s stepson run headfirst at each other was one of the most harrowing experiences of her entire life. She had been stuck in her seat the entire time, her fists clenched as tight as possible. There were red half-moons cut into her hands by her nails, and she knew she’d have to care for them later. Cy dismounted and moved towards the tent to remove helmet, armor, and the scent of horse, and Ellie arose, taking advantage of the cheering crowd to slip away. She walked along the back of the stands, taking a deep breath to try to calm herself. Otherwise, she’d likely end up opening the tent door and falling onto her beloved or something equally stupid. She might end up falling onto him anyway, she hadn’t touched him in what felt like weeks at that point.

Working under the disguise of a good maid, she kept her head down, her shoulders slightly hunched. If anyone were to see her, they would see a servant going to help her master. Her hair was bound back with a green cloth, curls escaping to frame her face, and she smoothed her hands down her skirts shakily.

She pushed open the tent door, keeping her head down until she entered and it closed behind her, giving them privacy of some sort. Were there squires hanging around still? Goodness, she hoped not. Relief flooded her expression the second that she saw him, and instinctively, she scanned over him to make sure that he hadn’t been wounded too badly as she whispered his name, her name for him, worry and desperate love clear in her voice.

Cyprian whipped around as he heard the flaps of his tent opening. After last night, he worried it was Ronan, coming to exact some sort of revenge for knocking him into the dust. But it wasn't, and his jaw dropped open for a moment as he looked up Ellie. He'd just removed his helmet, and he held the ornate thing in his hands, fingers tightening over the surface of it as a smile crossed his lips.

Image"Ellie," he cooed, placing the helmet down almost too forcefully on the table before he hurried to her side and wrapped her in a hug. His armor was warm to the touch, for it had baked in the sun outside. Cy's hands were still clad in gloves, but he quickly pulled one off so that he could brush his fingers against her cheek. "Gods...I missed you." Hand still cupping her cheek, he leaned and kissed her. Cyprian's lips spread in a smile as he held her tightly, pulling away only when he realized he might hurt her with the hot metal.

"Would you help me out of this, dearest?" he inquired, gesturing down at the ornate breastplate. He often insisted upon removing the armor himself, for he was horribly and obnoxiously independent, but the sooner he was out of it, the sooner he could hold her and pretend that their love was alright and that he would never have to let her go.

Ellie thought, for a moment, that she must be in love with some horribly heavenly deity, for her Cy looked like he had just come down from the sun for a moment. His helmet in his hands, his hair framing his face--he’d had to cut it for the tournament, but there was still enough for her to run her hands through--and the gentle lighting making him shimmer gold... it was almost enough to make her heart hurt. She realized, after a split second, that she didn’t have to wait to run her hands through his hair any longer, and she was moving towards him even as he spoke her name. She couldn’t help but laugh, prairie eyes alight as she wrapped her arms tight around him.

His armor was warm, perhaps a little too warm, but she couldn’t possibly care less. She buried her face in his neck, inhaling his familiar scent. “I think I must be addicted to your touch, milord,” She teased gently, a little wetly, reaching up to grasp his wrist as he touched her cheek. She turned her head, pressing a soft kiss to his palm. Then, she kissed him back, letting her free hand slip up into his hair. “Oh, Cy...” She whispered, and there was nothing but adoration in her voice. She made a laughing sound of protest when he moved away, reaching out to draw him back to her, stealing another brief kiss before she nodded.

“Give me one more second.” She requested softly, reaching up to cup his cheeks. She didn’t want to be separated from him, not in this little time that they had. She hated to admit it, but she didn’t know how long they would have. “Were you hurt?” She asked, finding his hand and tugging off his final glove, setting it aside and kissing his knuckles. She shifted a little to gently begin undoing the straps of his armor, her fingers running along the soft fabric underneath. With every strap she undid, she left a gentle kiss on his shoulders, his biceps, his sternum. “I was a little worried.” She admitted softly. She bit her bottom lip, less in embarrassment and more because her hands stung for a moment, almost as if reminding her. She’d had little doubt that he would win, but the fear of broken limbs was... prominent, in her mind.

Cyprian loved many things, but if he had to name one of his favorites, it would be the way she toyed with his hair. In fact, he often kept it longer than he would have just so that she could run her fingers through it. His scalp seemed to spark beneath her touch, and it only caused him to grin more broadly, letting out a soft laugh to match her own.

Her every touch made him want to sing her praises. How many songs would the bards have sung for her if she were his wife? "And I to yours, sweetest," he replied coquettishly, wiggling an eyebrow for a moment. He let her cup his cheeks and kiss him and run her fingers along his body. Cyprian was hers in every sense of the word in that moment.

"You think I'd let that brute hurt me?" he teased, watching as she kissed his knuckles. "Couldn't let him touch me - not with a beautiful lady awaiting me." Cyprian almost lost the end of his statement, however, as she began to place kisses along his upper body. A sharp intake of breath silenced him, and he seemed on the verge of melting beneath her touch. As he hurriedly removed the breastplate and his gambeson, Cyprian frowned. He hadn't wanted her to worry - that wasn't supposed to be part of it. They were supposed to be happy in this moment and speak nothing of the outside world. It would ruin the illusion

And so he seized his arms around her waist and hoisted her off of her feet, forcing his smile to return. Not that there was much forcing to do. There was a soft light that filtered into the tent through the fabric, and this danced off of the strands of hair that had slipped out of her cap. She was radiant, and he couldn't help but stare up at her, lost in her beauty. He placed her down now, setting her on the edge of a table in the room as he quickly undid the more accessible straps of his greaves and other leg armor.

"Worried for me?" he asked, coming back to stand before her, left only in the thin tunic and long braies he'd worn beneath his armor. He rested one hand on the table top, drawing him to her height as he ran the thumb of his other hand over her lips, tracing them. "No, don't worry for me." He cast his eyes away for a moment before reaching up to unravel her scarf and let her hair fall freely. "You see, when I rode, I promised I would make it off of the field to see you again." And now his fingers toyed with strands of her hair, marveling at the intense color of it. "What sort of a knight - or a king - would I be if I broke my promises, hm?" Cyprian smirked to himself, pleased with his answer, as he leaned in and kissed her once more, bracing himself on the table with a single hand as he held her from behind with his other.

ImageEllie couldn’t help the laughter that bubbled up at that silly waggle of his eyebrow, resting her forehead against his shoulder briefly to muffle it. He was going to be the death of her, she reflected, likely with his adorable antics. She kissed him for the affectionate name, attempting and failing to hide a smile. She shook her head, covering her mouth with her hand, smiling against her fingers as her eyes sparked with mirth. “I adore you.” She informed him, and then kissed him once more for good measure.

She hummed playfully at his next words, despite the worry that had touched her earlier. She’d seen how Cy’s brother was nervous as well. Ostwall had quite the reputation... But Genevieve had been so sweet last night. She smiled at his compliments, rolling her eyes with a soft chuckle. “Thank you for coming back to me in one piece.” She hummed, kissing his cheek once more. She squeezed his hands, soon finding his breastplate and holding it for a moment, brushing her fingers over the carved metal. It was still warm from him, and she glanced down upon seeing him frown, a silent apology in her actions.

She set the piece of armor on the table--and then turned to laughter once more as the ground suddenly disappeared from under her feet. His name came out as half giggle and half actual word, and then her cheeks flushed the color of her hair at the way that he looked at her. She always felt beautiful when he looked at her--something more than what she really was. She rested her hands on the back of his head, searching his gaze, a soft smile still present on her lips. Goodness, she was smitten. She was reminded all over again of just how much she loved him in that moment. She’d often heard her parents speak of falling in love over and over again--she’d just never thought that it would happen to her.

She ran her hand through his hair gently as she was set down, rubbing the ends of his locks between her fingers. She released him, crossing her ankles and smiling after him, unable to take her eyes off of him for a moment. “You fell for a worrier, my Cy.” She murmured, teasing just a little, cupping his cheeks as his steady hands rested upon her, touching her lips, making her heart warm. She smoothed her fingers down over his shoulders, able to feel the warmth of his skin beneath the thin material. She was surprised when her hair was suddenly left loose, and a soft gasp escaped her lips. She dipped her head down briefly, her curls falling down to frame her face. Her smile returned in moments, and she peered up at him from beneath her lashes. “You might not be much of one, my love.” She teased gently, leaning up to meet him halfway, kissing him back softly. “I must say, you are my favorite king.” She hummed with a smile against him.

She drew him back in moments, letting her hands slip back into his hair as she tipped her head back, kissing him softly. It felt as if this moment could last forever... And she loved it. “You have to keep that promise for the rest of those jousts, though.” She hummed. She hesitated for a bare moment, wishing that she could give him a favor, her scarf, something... But she knew that she should not. “I’m so glad to see you.” She murmured, caressing his scalp with gentle fingers.

"I did indeed," he returned, smiling back at her softly. "What would man be if he did not have woman to look out for him?" Cyprian paused, laughing to himself for a moment. "Dead, probably." His cheeks flushed under her touch, even though he willed them not to.
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As he curls fell around her face, he let out a faint sigh. If he could, he would have burned the image into his mind, kept it to himself until eternity. But he couldn't, and it pained him to realize that. Their meetings were few and far between, and so he savored each and every minute movement she made, unsure of when he would next be able to gaze upon her so easily

"Your kindness humbles me, my lady," he replied, grinning into her kiss. He furthered it into a sort of smirk as her fingers tangled in his hair once more. Cyprian leaned down now and started to pepper kisses against her neck, taking his time with each one. "Of course I will. I couldn't dream of going back on my word." He punctuated each word with a kiss, drawing his statement out as well as each peck of his lips.

He pulled away for a moment and cupped her cheeks in his hands, running his calloused thumbs across her cheek bones. "Words can not even begin to capture how much I've missed you," he breathed. As he spoke, Cyprian leaned forward and pressed a kiss on her forehead and then a bit further up by her hairline. "Sometimes I wish I could just...leave this. You would have loved my father's estate - gardens of ancient flowers, a breeze from the sea." He pressed his forehead to hers, dropping one hand to wrap around her waist while his other hand continued to brush along her cheek. "It would have been mine, and you would have held all of the titles an Auclair woman ought to." But nothing would bring that back, nothing except for-

"I spoke with Lucas of a treaty between our kingdoms," he told her, certain he could trust her with his plans. "Or, rather, a merger of the kingdoms. He wishes to give Juliana the crown, however." But if he could get it from her...

“I think it depends on the man.” Ellie teased a little, crossing her ankles and tucking them beneath the table, leaning forward a little to press her lips to his hair. The notion that no man could care for himself was terribly silly. “However, just in case, I think I’ll stay by you.” She gave him an amused look, pulling back a little to rest her forehead against his. “I’d hate to see you walk off a cliff because you won’t ask for directions.” She spoke innocently and teasingly both.

She glanced down, and looked back up again, finding herself captivated by those deep eyes. She searched them, as if she could memorize the flaws, the perfections that were beautiful and clear in them. She was near enough to pick out the lighter parts, the stretch of his irises, the dark of his pupils... She could get lost in them. Often, she found herself gazing at her Cy as one would gaze at the stars; as if she were looking into infinity, with an infinite sense of wonder. Perhaps she valued him above the stars, for those pinpricks of light were hers every night. Her Cy, on the other hand...

But those thoughts were for another time. His smirks always made her smile, and this time was no different, the corners of her mouth pulling up. She pressed him to her as she tipped her head back, uncrossing her ankles to welcome him nearer, her eyes falling shut for a moment. She whispered his name, and the smile turned into a grin at his promise. She pressed her lips to his temple in response. “Good.” She hummed playfully. “If you don’t come back, how can I be expected to kiss you half to death?” She punctuated that by kissing him, one hand slipping down to the back of his neck in hopes of keeping him there.

She kept her hands still as he pulled back, fingers pressed gently against familiar curves as she leaned into his touch. A heartbeat, and then she slipped one hand down to grasp his wrist as she turned her head the tiniest bit, kissing his wrist, able to feel his pulse. She couldn’t help but smile at his kisses, a soft blush dusting her cheeks. For a moment, she allowed herself to fantasize. Shimmering beaches, just the two of them together, alone. But... “If you’d stayed at your father’s estate, love, would we have ever met?” She whispered, gazing up at him through barely open lashes for a moment. “Things happen for a reason.” She promised softly, and kissed him briefly. “I don’t need a single title in the world if I have you.” A little smile came to her lips. They could run away, she knew, but... What would happen to the kingdom? To Giselle, to... So many different issues would arise.

Her brow furrowed the tiniest bit at his words, and she reached up to cup his cheeks, searching his gaze. He could trust her, that much she knew. “A reuniting?” She asked softly, and then hesitated at the possibility of Juliana having the crown. They’d truly have the world’s eyes on them then... “What would become of you?” She asked softly, brushing her thumbs over his cheekbones. Would he finally have the influence that had been held back from him? As always, her focus was on him. Goodness, she just wanted him to be happy.

"A death by your lips would be the most noble way of all," he cooed, laughing lightly after he'd spoken. His laugh was cut off as she silenced him with a kiss and pulled him closer still. Her uncrossed legs allowed him to pull her closer as well. Their bodies pressed to each other for just a moment before he had pulled away.

He had wanted to imagine a life for the two of them where they had lived freely, openly, as man and wife - and so he found himself frowning as she shattered the fantasy he'd created. But she was right, he figured. "No, I suppose we would not have," he admitted, however reluctant he was to do so. And no, he did not need titles either. He needed nothing but her - and yet, he wanted to give her everything, and he never would be able to without his own titles.
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The furrow of her brows brought Cyprian a sense of concern, but it dissolved as soon as she took his face between her hands. He forced his expression to remain one of neutrality - though perhaps it betrayed a layer of excitement at the prospect of the concept of unification. But it was quickly replaced by one of sudden realization as a sort of horror crossed his face.

"I suppose...I suppose I would have to follow her," he replied, pulling back out of his lover's grip now even as her thumbs brushed his cheeks. That's not what he wanted - no, he couldn't bear to live under more observation, his every movement scrutinized. And if Juliana found him with Ellie, there was no telling what she would do to either of them. Cyprian had meant to bring up the concept to reassure her - to reassure himself. But now he'd only gone and worked himself up. His gut churned at the idea. Cy pressed a hand to his forehead for a moment, shaking his head slowly. He couldn't think of this now. And besides, he would find a way to make it work. There had to be a way, damn it. He just needed time to think of it.

"We...we should talk of this later." He looked back at Ellie now, and he crossed the few steps he'd taken away from her with ease. As he looked back on her, he let his expression soften again. She couldn't know how worried he had become - it would only worry her. "I need to get ready once more, dearest. May I have a kiss for luck?"

Ellie sometimes wondered why she was such a realist. At times like this... Seeing her beloved’s vaguely crushed expression, she wished that she could take all of her words back. But she knew they were true, and perhaps that was the pain of it. They were a couple born of tragedy and acquainted with much grief, but they had made it through so many obstacles so far. “Cy.” She spoke softly, reaching out to find his hands. Once he returned to her, she reached up to cup his cheeks. Perhaps she could reassure him, where his words had been twisted. “One day, we’ll go back to those lands.” She promised softly, caressing his cheeks and pressing her forehead to his. “You’ll show me the ocean, and I’ll get sand all over you.” She teased, though her voice was gentle. “We won’t even make it back to the house, because we’ll fall asleep to the sound of waves. I’ll sing you to sleep every night, and you’ll never stop playing with my hair. Just the two of us.” A little smile pulled at her lips. “And we’ll look back on this time as if it were a dream, and smile over our stolen kisses and be glad, because we have all eternity ahead of us now.” Perhaps it was a dream, but... Goodness, it was a dream that she would fight to make into reality. She would do anything to bring them peace, to make him happy. To make them happy.

“I love you.” She spoke once more, and let her hands slip into that beautiful hair of his as she tipped her head up, kissing him softly. “You come back to me safely, and we’ll figure this out.” She promised, pressing her lips to his forehead next. “We’ll find peace, my Cy. I swear it.” They’d find a way. She shifted, then, wrapping her arms around him, pressing him as close to her as physically possible, eradicating any space between them. “I love you.” She repeated, whispered into his shoulder, and pressed her lips to him as her fingers curled into his tunic, as if she could keep him there with her forever. “I love you so much. And soon, I’ll keep you.” She promised. She kept him near for a moment longer, and then reluctantly let him go.

ImageShe helped him to dress in his armor once more, but she did not feel as if it were a physical nor emotional separation. Repeating her earlier actions, she kissed each bit of him before putting his armor on. This time, though, she also kissed the armor-plated parts of him. The helmet, she lingered over. Goodness, she hated that helmet. She drank in the sight of him for a moment longer, allowing herself this. What a sight they were, standing in the low, golden light, she holding his hand in one of hers and a familiar helmet in the other. “Try not to maim Lucas too badly.” She teased gently, kissed him softly, and reached up to set it upon his head. “Come back to me, and I’ll reward you with kisses.” She added. She kissed the metal that covered his forehead, and hesitated, before ripping off a scrap of her scarf and tucking it into the wrist of his gauntlet. It seemed to be the best place; one where it wouldn’t disturb his ability to use a lance, nor would it be easily found or torn from him. “Think of me.” She whispered at last, and squeezed his hands.

Then, she let him go.

cron