Tea & Confidences

…a private discussion…

Merri flies up into her private sitting room, calling out for Esther to prepare fresh tea for Ms. Scarlet’s impending visit. She tears down the pages of notes on the Correspondence and tucks them into a folio so that they should be safely out of sight — not that she doesn’t trust Scarlet, for of course she must, they are having tea in her private sanctum, after all — for to those with no experience or training, attempting to read the Correspondence can be deadly indeed. There have been enough accidents and mishaps, of late. Enough stupid mis-steps. Enough pain.

Esther is through the door with the tea service when they both hear the bell downstairs. Merri takes the tray, shoo’s Esther back downstairs, then attempts to smooth her hair back up into its bun.

When Esther answers the door, she takes whatever outerwear of which Scarlet might wish to divest herself, then shows her up the stairs, rather than into the downstairs parlour. “Lady Fawkes has requested you join her in her private sitting room,” the housekeeper says by way of explanation, her pinched and sallow face attempting something of a smile. “This way, if you please, madam.”

The stairwell lets out onto the hallway on the second floor; there are no fresh flowers as there would have been, had this place been in the world above. But there are rather artful arrangements of mushrooms and some sculptures in obsidian and glim that are pleasing to the eye. She leads her to one of the doors down the hall which lets them into a very intimate sitting room — Merri’s private space, clearly, for there is her writing desk with letters stacked neatly upon it, a comfortably upholstered chair and settee with matching divan, a low table with a large book upon it (she recognizes the copy of On The Maladies of Goats of course), all decorated in subtly feminine colors and trimmed here and there in lace and ribbons. Propped up against one wall is a rather large, partially covered frame. The part which can be seen is clearly a portrait of Merri, herself.

“Oh, do come in, thank you so much, Scarlet,” Merri breathes, turning to take her friends hands. “And thank you Esther, that will be all for now.”

[[Cue the daring, delicious Scarlet!]]



  1. Scarlet O said,

    August 20, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Scarlet waits till Esther leaves, at which point she rolls her eyes and near-giggles. “I do not think Esther approves of me, Merri. Although, that would probably be an apt assessment.”

    She raises Merri’s hand to her lips quickly, placing a quick kiss on the back of her hands where the knuckles meet, almost unthinkingly. The slightest pause is emphasized with Scarlet’s dark eyes meeting Merri’s before she drops her hosts hands and gazes about the room.

    “I’m honored to be welcomed into your private quarters. It is lovely. Of course, the entirety of your home is quite remarkable. It’s as if you’ve taken Fallen London as a style element, which few might be wroth to attempt. You’ve been a success of it, though!”

  2. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 20, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Merri smiles softly at the kiss and the kind words. “Don’t mind Esther. She behaves so with everyone, I believe. Her last employer was… well. It wasn’t a pleasant position, I dare say. Esther has actually relaxed quite a bit since she came here, if you can believe it.”

    She leads Scarlet over to the divan, gestures her to have a seat if she will, sits herself, and pours their tea. ‘As for the decor, well, one does what one can with what one has, my grandmother always said. We live in proximity to Hell, but I never supposed that had to mean my surroundings had to look like it.” There’s a flickering smile at this, almost a grin, then she goes on to add, “even when I had my own rooms above a gambling den.”

  3. Scarlet O said,

    August 20, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Scarlet gladly takes a seat on the divan and the cup of tea Merri offers, chuckling. “I imagine my address is much closer to Hell than yours. I quite like the heat of it, honestly.” She take a sip of the tea; her eyes close as she savors the invigorating tincture laced with nostalgia of times past.

    Her dark eyes flutter open, and she smiles gratefully at Merry, relaxing. “In many ways, it does seem as if I’m treading the same path you once did. I’ve not much in the apartment yet – just enough to manage one’s daily needs.

    “Besides, it would seem that regardless of the lavishness of one’s surroundings, the nightmares and frustrations of the Neath are ever present. I do wonder how you manage it all.”

  4. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 20, 2010 at 11:18 am

    “Oh, the same as everyone else does, I suppose,” Merri says quietly, sipping her own tea. “Laudanum and the kindness of friends for the nightmares. Tincture of Vigour and bed rest for wounds. Church and again, the kindness of friends for scandal. I have not had much of Suspicion fall upon me yet, but I’ve managed that mostly by manipulating the constables, which is easier than it perhaps should be. In truth…”

    She glances at Scarlet again, clearly appreciating the loveliness of her newest friend’s appearance. “In truth the loneliness has been the worst, I think. I make poorer choices from loneliness than I ever did from hunger, or lack of sleep. And there is no tincture for that. Only the kindness of friends,” she smiles, “who consent to keep my company even if it is distracted.”

  5. Scarlet O said,

    August 20, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Scarlet ‘s gasp upturns the smiling corners of her mouth , her expression incredulous. “Dear dear Merri. I cannot imagine how you, perhaps one of the few true lights here in Fallen London, could ever be lonely. It is not a burden to be your friend,” Scarlet places a hand on Merri’s, “ – I am only so fortunate that you are so magnanimous that you might allow me even near you. I should hope to never allow undue loneliness to weight your heart, should you wish it.”

    She presses her lips together in a flash of consternation before she looks into her cup of tea. “I dearly appreciate your friendship, and would be happy to share the confidence and closeness of sisters. And the others respect and adore you equally – Mr. Paulsen even more so, if I may not be too bold in pointing it out.”

  6. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 20, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Whatever she had been about to say escapes her utterly with the mention of Henrik’s name.

    Merriwether Fawkes is British in her very bones and does not display her true emotions lightly. As a fellow countrywoman, Scarlet surely recognizes the breed and yet Merri’s face has paled noticeably, and the clear glass-grey of her eyes becomes cloudy and somehow opaque.

    “I… Henrik, ah, Mr. Paulsen, that is to say… well.” Her spine straightens a bit, as if trying to bear up a burden she’s long carried. “He and I have become… inordinately fond of each other of course, but… well…” And now her look turns pleading, as if she’s about to rattle apart from whatever she’s carrying inside her. “Scarlet, do swear you’ll never let a word of this pass your lips except to me, or let it show in your countenance in any way! I feel I must talk about this or I shall burst, but in all this wretched city I’ve no one else…”

  7. Scarlet O said,

    August 20, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    As Merri begins to speak, Scarlet slowly places her own teacup back onto the tray, and turns to face the dignified woman – noticing the paleness and the agitation silently. When Merri breaks through her stalwart British lockbox of emotions, Scarlet places a tender hand onto Merri’s shoulder, her other hand removing Merri’s teacup to the tray.

    “Speak your heart, with confidence that it shall live only in my heart, and not upon my lips.” Her voice is no louder than the susurrus of dark satin, and she peers into Merri’s pleading eyes with a powerful gravity Scarlet had not shown before. She squeezes Merri’s shoulder comfortingly.

  8. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 20, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Merri then pours her heart out to Scarlet, trying to relate the most important parts of what has transpired between she and Henrik in the past weeks, knowing she cannot possibly tell it all, but also knowing she must confide things that are not truly hers in order to explain. Her voice finally winds down as she says:

    “I was as surprised as I could be when, yesterday morning, Henrik
    pulled me aside to ask me to marry him. I could not accept in good conscience without speaking to Theodor and obtaining his blessing.

    “He… has not given it, Scarlet. I think I hurt him terribly with this, though I swear I did not mean to do so — Theodor is as dear to me as a brother! He has asked me not to speak with him at all for some time. Henrik has withdrawn his offer in light of this. Which is as well, for I could not have accepted it it anyway.”

  9. Scarlet O said,

    August 20, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Throughout the explanation, Scarlet’s attention seems entirely focused on Merri, and regardless of the content, Scarlet makes comforting noises, with a calm, even expression…

    …except when Merri mentions the proposal, at which point Scarlet blinks a bit quickly, and a tension enters her jaw as Merri recounts the results thereof. When Merri finishes, Scarlet reaches for her friend and embraces her, wrapping her white arms around her, as if she were to try and take on some of the burden her friend carries.

    She waits a minute before bowing her head, speaking softly into Merri’s lovely hair, “Such a traumatic series of events, dearest Merri. You have suffered such a pendulum of circumstances. I should think…” She doesn’t finish her statement, only clucks and says, “One cannot imagine your pain in this travesty.”

    “Would you have accepted, had Theodor consented?”

  10. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 20, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Merri clings to her, so grateful to have it out at last, in the keeping of someone who will hold it close. “Oh Scarlet… I suppose it does not matter, but… I think I would have, if only because I know the man who would have… requited those desires to which I am not… sufficient… and I do love him too, as fondly and dearly as ever I might have loved my own brother, had he lived… and Henrik could not ever reproach me for finding similar solace in the arms of another who did… desire me… as he could not.”

    Her arms tighten around Scarlet one last moment before she leans back and plants a grateful, affectionate kiss upon the corner of her friend’s mouth. “Thank you.”

  11. Scarlet O said,

    August 20, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Scarlet lifts her hand towards her lips, as if to touch the spot where Merri kissed and smeared a modicum of her lipcolor… but instead gestures towards Merri herself. ‘No need to thank me. I’m touched that you should trust me with your confidence, and happy that you have some way to relieve yourself of the pain of having been treated so …wrongly, dear Merri.” Her lashes flick quickly as she carefully chooses her words.

  12. Scarlet O said,

    August 21, 2010 at 8:45 am

    She purses her lips reprovingly. “I..I do mean, happy that I can be here with a sympathetic ear.”

  13. Merri said,

    August 21, 2010 at 11:03 am

    “Not wronged,” she corrected gently, squeezing Scarlet’s hands again. “Or if I have been it is only that I have wronged myself. I have known and understood each choice I have made in this and made it willingly, if not wisely.”

    Merri pauses to reclaim her tea and sip at it, for her throat remains tight. “Henrik and Theodor have dealt as honestly with me in this as they are able. I cannot think there is wrong in that. If anyone has behaved foolishly here, it is I.”

  14. Scarlet O said,

    August 21, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Scarlet folds her hands cautiously in her lap, staring down at them. “I would disagree. And I would say your claim of their innocence only proves it the more.”
    As she speaks in a measured tone, she refills her cup. “But I am here to listen, not to sweep away cobwebs.”

    Her tone cannot hide the hint of ire in the words, and she quickly raises the cup to her lips.

  15. Merri said,

    August 21, 2010 at 11:35 am

    A rather enigmatic smile flickers at the corners of her mouth. “You are good to hear me, and better not to judge, though I know ’tis difficult. Henrik and Theodor are good men; honest, honourable, kind. The heartache here,” she concludes with a shudderingly drawn breath, “was never maliciously dealt, and has been felt by us all.”

  16. Scarlet O said,

    August 21, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    It’s almost as if she cannot allow another moment of Merri’s good will. She places the cup firmly into its saucer, engaging Merri’s gaze firmly, cutting the edge of her demeanor with a caring tone.

    “Good men, perhaps. I have not imagined otherwise, and were this a case of maliciousness, I should but storm from this room and arrange for justice to be served.” Scarlet tilts an eyebrow playfully, but with a hint of deadly seriousness.

    “Wise men is another question. Learned, but not wise in the least. They might consider their actions a bit more before undertaking them, consider the consequences, and those they may harm or take advantage of.” She sips casually, as if merely stating facts. “They would also do well to know themselves better, to avoid entangling others in their flailing.”

    Scarlet transfers the cup and saucer to one hand while placing a soft white hand upon Merri’s knee, a pained expression on her face as her tone softens. “For it isn’t just their hearts in this matter, is it? They should take care with your heart, as it is deserving of the sweetness of joy in love.”

    She shakes her head sadly. “There is no fault of yours here, that is most certain.”

    As if having emptied her heart, she inhales slowly to refill with understanding. Her dark eyes search Merri’s, perhaps in apology, perhaps in consolation.

    “I am so sorry that you experienced this. Now that the offer is…removed, does that mean your intimate relationship with Henrik is also at an end? That would be unfortunate, because you two seem to compliment each other, socially and otherwise. Although, if he has chosen to obey the whim of Theodor’s response to the whim of his proposal, it would stand to reason that he would end your…intimacy.”

  17. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 21, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Merri looks faintly, then actively alarmed at Scarlet’s response. “My dear friend… do not tell me that by confiding in you I have added yet one more sin to the stack of them for which I must atone in this sorry affair. I did not confide this to lessen your good opinion of those men — they are among the best of men, truly! — and if they were not all-wise, all-knowing, well neither was I. I tell you — I knew the truth about them almost from the beginning, almost before they themselves did, and yet I chose to engage. Have a care, Scarlet, I pray you. Such things are not meant to be judged so harshly.”

    She sits back, trying to recover her dignity, without seeming to withdraw herself from her friend entirely. “As for what happens next, I cannot say. I do not know. I wait for Theodor to recover his good temper and tell me what he wishes. The three of us shall have to make our arrangements from there, I trust.”

  18. Scarlet O said,

    August 21, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Scarlet softens, shaking her head. “Merri. Darling. We are all flawed, and to recognize that is not necessarily to lessen the opinion of another person. My opinion is not lessened as much as it is clearer, understanding their flaws as well as their strengths. It would have only been time till they revealed it themselves.”

    She takes a steadying breath. “I appreciate both men immensely, as well as I know them. I enjoy their humor and minds. I do not pretend to fully appreciate the circumstances betwixt you three – this is a matter of passion and not reason. You should not worry about besmirching anyone’s character for me.” Scarlet allows a dark grin. “Each person is allowed to do that for themselves. I give everyone enough rope to hang themselves, scandal or no.”

    “You are too sweet by half, Merri. You are ever more concerned for other’s feelings than your own. I hope that this situation resolves in a way that will replenish the good will you are constantly sacrificing to others. You deserve those who understand, and desire, the whole of you.”

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      August 21, 2010 at 5:19 pm

      “I am no saint, my dear friend,” Merri smiles sadly. “Nor a martyr. My first husband divorced me on grounds of abandonment; I did not contest it.”

      • Scarlet O said,

        August 22, 2010 at 8:30 am

        “I should not adore you as I do if you were either a saint or a martyr, Merri.” Scarlet raises her brows playfully, her suggestive nature layering her features as the donning of a familiar mask.

        “Marriage itself has little to do with sainthood, but a lot to do with martyrdom, I find.”

  19. Scarlet O said,

    August 21, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    She presses her lips together to a fine, crimson line. “Besides, I am too straightforward by half, and I would see you happy, if you would allow it.” Scarlet rises, stepping away from the the divan to turn and face Merri. She stares at her, a quizzical expression marring the line of her forehead.

    Striding forward, Scarlet sits at Merri’s feet, clasping her hands in her own. “What do /you/ want, my dear? Out of all of this nonsense? Your lonely heart cries out, unfulfilled. As I have come to care for you, even in such a short time, I would see you at least find something solid among all this lace and mirrors.”

  20. Merri said,

    August 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    “I… ” It was not a simple question to answer. She brushed a lock of Scarlet’s fine, dark hair from her face thoughtfully. Such a lovely, vital woman…

    “A companion, if I’m to be honest. I have carried these burdens by myself for so long now… is it so much to ask, to be at the center of someone’s heart, and know oneself securely held there? To be able to reach across the table for a hand, or a bed for the warmth of an embrace…? To know that, when I’m facing down sorrow spiders or Unfinished Men, that there is someone at my back… or at least waiting for me at home, who cares what might happen to me?”

    As if she can’t bear to hear herself go on in this way, Merri shakes her head and sits upright. “I should not complain so. I’m more fortunate than I deserve, really. You should not ask me such questions, my dear. Melancholy is worse than nightmares, sometimes — but you are good to listen to me.”

  21. Scarlet O said,

    August 21, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    “You were already melancholy – just not showing it.” Scarlet grins, rising from Merri’s feet and walking about the room. She, too, smooths back that errant lock of hair.

    “See here, Merri.” Scarlet paced back and forth. “We are in a unique position, you and I. I care deeply for you…even unto like a …sister, for I feel my heart burst within my chest to know you are in pain. You inspire me, and I adore our time together.

    She doesn’t look at Merri, instead her gaze seems caught by various nuances of the room – the intricate carving on a table, the sheen of the silver teapot, and finally the portrait on the wall. “But I am…something of a free spirit, barely tied down to even a space. I am…very open with how I share myself with others, physically. I cannot abide being tied to something or someone that may tell me how to live or who to be…at least, not now.” Scarlet gestures emphatically, a tension hardening her features.

    “Still, I can understand that without companions, without those I can trust and care for, I might succumb quickly to many things here in the Neath that torture the souls of so many. Not long from now, I may be speaking the very words you are.”

    Finally, she turns to connect with Merri’s gaze. “We both have a similar need, it would seem. I would say that I already am those things for you, should you seek them of me. No, I am not Henrik, and I am not a lover or a husband. And I am not a child. I cannot provide those things for you. But I can be a stalwart and…loving…companion, a friend, a sister, a solid rock. But that means I will be honest with you and your heart, inasmuch as any person can.”

    Scarlet makes a fist, in a gesture of strength. “Between us could rise a strong bond that allows us to not only survive, but thrive in this dank, mushroom-laden maze.”

  22. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Dear God… I remember when I had such drive, such determination, Merri thinks to herself, watching as Scarlet paces the room, making her proclamations. But then, she is at the very beginning of her journey here…. will she still have that fire after six months of nightmares and disappointments?

    “I should be grateful for your sisterhood, and your honesty,” Merri admits, “both of which are like a breath of fresh air in this place. I do not know what I could offer you in turn, except my affection, and admiration. Perhaps even a little envy — I do remember that I was once as determined as you are. And I do wonder where I seem to have lost it.”

  23. Scarlet O said,

    August 22, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Like a gazelle, Scarlet moves towards Merri joyfully, seating herself such that she is pressed along the side of the woman. She pulls Merri’s hands to her lips with a sweet smile, holding them tightly in her own, looking down at the slender white fingers. /Artist’s hands/, she thinks. /So strong, yet so fragile. I could but kiss each tip. But she is raw inside, shredded…/

    “Then it is yours, dear Merri, if you but give me the same.” Scarlet’s dark eyes rise from Merri’s hands to engage her gaze, imploringly. “Did you not ask for a companion, to be firmly ensconced in another’s heart, to have moments of comfort and collection from the weary paths before us here? I ask but the same of you, that you be honest with me and my heart.”

    Her tone has brightened and the intensity of her gaze dissipates to a more reasonable level. It’s almost as if a contentment has lightened some concern that was hidden. /This is what I wanted, the need I feel for Merri. We can provide for each other what others with more romantic or carnal desires cannot,/ Scarlet assures herself.

    “I am nothing to envy. You’ve not lost those qualities, I’ve seen them. I will be here to bring them out, to give you a home.” She touches her heart when she says home. “Once you are done grieving this pain, and resolve the circumstances of this romantic fall-out, they will return.” Scarlet grins sinfully, the mask of her playfulness veiling her eyes again. She kisses Merri’s hands again. “I shall coax them out, and few can refuse me when I am determined.”

  24. Merri said,

    August 22, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    That startles tears and laughter from her, but it’s a good combination, more a relief than a storm. “I should have no trouble imagining that at all, sweetheart. All right, I am convinced. I am already so fond of you I could hardly be otherwise. Will you tell me more of yourself? How did you come by such determination?”

  25. Scarlet O said,

    August 22, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Scarlet waves her hand. “My father said it was my grandmother’s way of haunting him from the grave.” She laughs freely, a bright sunny sound that immediately causes one to notice that her laughter is rarely heard.

    “He was a doctor, very well established, and our family was wealthy and well-placed. It was ensured that I had the best education, accouterments and training money could buy. I play piano and sing, dance, paint – the usual fare. I refused, however, to do most needlework and cooking, choosing instead to read. My siblings mainly fulfilled my father’s wishes – fine manners and social graces. I did too, but I spent alltogether too much time listening to what the servants spoke of, taking an unexplored pathway home. I usually could convince my father of my innocence, which only made me feel more powerful over him.

    “My mother spoke very little when he was around, as he felt that was best for most ladies and wives. And she was something of a meek thing regardless. I don’t know her very well because I spent more time with my tutors and the like. As I got older, I found myself craving experiences of the world. My eldest brother died in an accident, and this provoked my father to determine that he should plan our futures for us. I still rebeled in my small ways, convincing my father that a husband was necessary – he no longer wanted to deal with me. Thus, I was basically informed that I should accept the courtship of Kincaid Stubbins, the cousin of a lord.

    “I think that was the beginning of the fall. I might have found my own way down here, had it not happened by accident. I began to steal away and visit the forbidden places that I’d heard of from the servants. I found the quickened pulse to be an enlivening thing, and I sought it out in cards, in dalliances – nothing that could truly be pinned to me, and that I couldn’t talk my way out of. I knew I did not want my path to be controlled by any one. But I was stuck. Until Mr. Randolph, and then I found myself down here. Freed from the cage, as it were.”

    The nostalgic expression of her features turns into a smile as she looks to Merri. “And your story? A husband, another life left behind in the past? Do tell, my dear.”

  26. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 22, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    “Not nearly as rebellious as yours,” Merri drawls delightedly, filling both their cups. “My family have lived in Northumbria for as long as anyone can remember, and have been airship designers and pilots for as long as airships have existed. My parents and my elder brother died in an airship accident in Germany when I was four years old. My grandparents had my name changed to `Merriwether Fawkes’ (the males in the family are always Merryweather Fawkses, you see, it’s something of a tradition) so I could inherit the family name and fortune.

    “Which I did, after they both passed on. Grandmother first, then grandfather six months later of grief and loneliness. Neither lived to see me graduate university with my degree in aeronautics.” She sips her tea and takes a deep breath — the grieving for them both has obviously been done, though she will never stop missing them. “I know now that it was simple loneliness and a heart-rending desire for some joy in my life that caused me to fall in love with Gavin. He promised me the world. I was so captivated by him, by the child-like joy he viewed life! We married… took a long honeymoon… until I tired of the constant merry-go-round of parties and came back to Northumbria to resume my work. Gavin would have preferred I stayed with him in Paris, I think, but I could not spend the rest of my life in idleness and debauchery. He came home shortly after I did, promising to reform himself… so many promises, always, Gavin had.”

    Merri smiled ruefully. “I conceived our son after our reconciliation. Nicholas…” and here her voice does catch, and she clasps a golden locket which is always about her throat, “was born a healthy baby boy. Nicholas Merryweather, as our family tradition would have it. I was so dizzily in love with him, my tiny miracle…”

    If Scarlet was looking for some hint as to what would drive this woman, who had everything in her favor on the surface, down to this place of darkness and nightmares, she’s getting it now. Merri’s throat tightens again, her voice thick with a grief she has not allowed herself to feel. “He died in a fire at Gavin’s family’s ancestral estates in Cumbria. Gavin and most of the servants escaped. Nicholas and his wetnurse were trapped upstairs. Both were lost.”

    She takes a deep breath, sips her tea. “Gavin left for Paris shortly after the funeral. I heard about the Marvellous from some acquaintances in Manchester and resolved to come here and stake my soul for a chance to get my son back from the dead.”

  27. Scarlet O said,

    August 22, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Scarlet blinks, her eyes glistening. “I am without words, Merri. You are so very accomplished, so driven, and for such a heart-rending pursuit. It would seem my eyes are opened to the depths of you.” She sips her tea, obviously still astonished enough to want for a few moments of quiet to compose herself and her thoughts.

    “I don’t know what to call any of that but determination. I only seek the Marvellous because it is the ultimate challenge. But you’re reasons…” Scarlet presses her lips together into a fine line before continuing, “If I can help you in that resolution, I am honored.”

  28. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 22, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Impulsively, Merri reaches for one of Scarlet’s hands and brings it to her lips, to kiss a knuckle. “You already are. You have. Help me stay sane and determined, Scarlet. Help me stay focused. I have reached a point in the pursuit of the Marvellous where I can go no farther forward. Until I can resume my work on it… help me not go completely mad with the waiting. If you can do that, you’ll have done the service of a friend, indeed.”

  29. Scarlet O said,

    August 22, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    “Willingly, gladly, with delight and ridiculous levels of awe. And I’m certain I’ll have help. You are well loved.” She turns her hand over to caress Merri’s cheek. “I will not let you stray. A path will awaken when it is time. Perhaps this lull is the height of the challenge, the true test for your soul.” Scarlet pats her cheek. “So that when the time comes to find the Marvellous, it will be a matter of using hard-learned lessons gained during this darker time.”

  30. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 23, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Grey eyes widen, this is obviously Merri has not considered before. “I– I confess I had not thought of it so. Skills of observation, deduction, bluff, even acting… but not patience. Not…. endurance.”

    Her next thought is predictably self-critical, for she will always see her worst faults and focus upon them relentlessly. “I have not borne it very admirably, to date. Not at all. Shameful, really. That must begin to change at once…”

  31. Scarlet O said,

    August 23, 2010 at 11:11 am

    She grins, “Tisn’t your fault. You had not yet found a faithful distraction. If I can be anything faithfully, it is distracting.” Scarlet gestures dramatically, a glitter in her eye.

    She leaps to her feet, bowing low and offering a hand with a pompous blustery accent. “Ms. Fawkes, I should be delighted to take a walk with you arm in arm through the Bazaar. We can watch the Neath Doves – as I affectionately call the crows – steal moonpearls in lieu of the sun. It is a simply lovely way to wile away the long hours.

    “Will you do me that honor?” Scarlet winks with a grin.

  32. cl0ckw0rks said,

    August 23, 2010 at 11:28 am

    “I can think of nothing that would please me more,” Merri avers, arising with the casual grace that bespeaks a fitter physique than most Victorian-era women could own. She pauses near the door to pull a fragrant red rose from a bouquet near the door, removing a pin from her own hair to fasten it to Scarlet’s coiffure.

    “There. That marks you well,” she smiles, opening the door. It’s amazing and humbling to her to know just how much of her troubles she no longer feels she must carry alone.

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