Playing with Fire

Viverescribere

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For the next two months, Eris continued to see the king on a regular basis. She would frequent the castle on occasion, visiting with no excuses given for her appearance. The staff, as far as she was aware, had been strictly told to not allow a word to leave the castle, and while it seemed as though those warnings had been heeded... Eris knew first hand that whispers were difficult to keep from escaping. Otherwise how else would she have known about the king and queen's crumbling marriage?

It wasn't long until she had her own bedroom set up in the same wing as Sven's, the room occasionally holding a new present for when she next visited. Not that that mattered, as she sometimes received new pieces of jewellery back home. Knowing that she had the attention of the king excited Eris, causing her to wonder where she could go next with her life. Her father and mother wondered the same. She would happily remain at his beck and call, so long as it kept her in his good graces. She could scarcely refuse the opportunity to move up in the world - either at the king's side or at that of a Duke or Viscount. Eris had learned from a young age that men wanted what they couldn't have, and thus hoped that a high-ranking marriage would be on the cards should she ever feel like the king was getting bored of her.

Not that he was.

For now, her main goal was focused purely on him. He still pandered to her, enjoyed her company and sought her out. All she had to do was keep his wants and desires directed at her too... and maybe even become pregnant with his next child. Illegitimate, yes, but still carrying the royal Ignisian blood within their veins. She was certain they would have a good life.

Carina, meanwhile, had come to learn about Sven's adultering ways. It had resulted in her traveling to Eira and staying there for the full day. She had ridden there herself, not having wanted to sit in a carriage for the entire journey, rocking back and forth with the bumps in the road, thinking of what her husband was doing with another woman.

She had attempted to prepare herself for it, of course, ever since the night he had spat such words in her face that he would seek another to bear him another child. But that didn't make it any easier.

The young queen had spent her time away from Ignis releasing her powers, channelling them in a positive manner rather than allowing them to explode out of her. She had restored some of the Eirian castle, with the intention of returning each time her emotions got the better of her... and she couldn't afford to add another punishing cut to her body. Most of the time she could push the emotion back with such an action, but the rare few times where it felt like her powers were simply going to overwhelm her... Carina took a trip to Eira.

On this one occasion, Carina had decided to sit out in the gardens with Lorcan. With the heat of the summer beginning to flare up, she attempted to get him out of his crib as much as possible. She had dressed him in light linens, not wanting to over heat him, not that it was hard to, considering she could cool him down instantly.

She had the young prince laid out in her lap, having sat at a bench, bending over to talk to him and pull faces. Both her index fingers were caught within Lorcan's hands, which she gently waved through the air as she ducked down to blow raspberries and make faces before chuckling, smiling at his smiles.

The babe had been what got through the last few weeks. Of course there was no ignoring or denying the situation, but the ability to just forget for a little while was... necessary. Natalia and Andrew were also there, with the latter seeming to become a lot more toned and fitter, even on top of how he was before. Carina knew he was still continuing his reading lessons and Francesca knew he would be writing a little less rushed in the future.

It was too late, however, to get up and leave the garden when Carina finally looked up. Her eyes found Eris' lithe form just across the roses and Carina forced herself to swallow back her words. The young queen did attempt to pack up and leave, and by pack up, simply take Lorcan back into her arms and stand. However the movement caught the attention of Eris, who turned her head to look in that same direction.

She smiled charmingly and raised a hand to wave, causing Carina to force a tight-lipped smile in response. The queen cradled her son in her arms, watching with dread as Eris steered Sven and herself down the path toward her.

"Carina, it's wonderful to see you again." Eris gushed, smiling warmly, like nothing was out of the ordinary, "I was just saying to Sven that I never see you out here."

"...It's often too warm. I find it difficult to do things even still now. I think I'm still adjusting." Carina drawled, gently patting Lorcan's bottom as his head laid against her upper arm.

Eris looked to the child, chuckling fondly and leaning forward, which forced Carina to hold her nerves and stay still, despite wanting the woman nowhere near her baby, "He's adorable. Beyond perfect."

Carina ignored her, glancing momentarily to Sven, "Weren't you supposed to be in a meeting five minutes ago? I'd offer to go for you-- but I think what you're doing is utterly ridiculous." She told him bluntly, taking a step to the side and thus away from Eris, all in the preparation to head back inside and give Lorcan his dinner. "If you're going to plan a war, Sven, you've got to commit to it at least. No one else in this palace will for you."

The other woman looked to her lover, reaching out to touch his arm, "I hope you didn't ruin any meetings for me, Your Majesty. I can always wait for your free time." She told him with the utmost concern.

Fighting the urge to tell the other woman to just shut up, Carina bit her tongue and kept her eyes on her husband (if only in name), "Natalia came to me looking for you... not that I can understand why. And then asked for me to sit in your place. This is your kingdom, Sven. You run it. You've made it very clear to me you want me out of the politics these days unless it's to be a trophy on your arm." She had no patience to act like the happy couple in front of Eris, who had seen the worst between the two monarchs by now. "Maybe spend more time in your office than in the bedroom while planning a war, yes?"
 

potassiumboron

~I'm drinking coffee on a trampoline~
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Though he had had every intention of turning their one night fling together into something a little more substantial, Sven wasn't too sure whether it would materialise with Eris the way he wanted it to. The night they had met and become romantically entangled with one another was a night of raw emotions and tipsiness on his end; a night where he had been searching for something to distract him from the difficulties and complexities running rampant within a marriage he had once cared for - and still did at the time.

Professing with any certainty that what he shared with Eris that night would become something -anything- more was a naive move to make, and so he forced himself not to pin too much hope on developing their fling into an affair with some longevity. With so many disappointments having come his way, he knew it was best not to lend too much energy into seeing Eris again in case it resulted in another.

...But that night wasn't to be the only one they would share. Regardless of the risk he was taking by inviting her back -and having that invitation eagerly accepted-, Sven was powerless to resist the other's charms, particularly the enticing effect her presence had on him. Sure, the majority of his interest in her presence was sexually-motivated, but there was also that part of him that yearned for her company purely for the fact that she brought companionship into his life; a positivity that distracted him from dwelling too much on the failure his marriage had become.

Because no matter how he dressed it up or tried to delude himself, his marriage was over, any lingering flame all but extinguished the moment he allowed Eris into his marital bed. Even though he still cared for Carina (not that he would ever admit to that semblance of love that refused to budge from his chest), what were the chances of them rekindling anything when he had ventured so far down the path of adultery that turning back and being welcomed into his marriage again would take nothing short of a miracle.

Frankly, it was just easier for all concerned that he abandon the marriage entirely, if only in the privacy of his castle. Beyond that, keeping the united front was necessary, but behind the walls and closed doors? There was nothing but frostiness between the two rulers of Ignis, the King preferring to distance himself entirety from her (which wasn't hard when she seemed to be taking trips to Eira at any given opportunity) and focus all his private time with Eris, a woman who had only brought him joy and pleasure since their eyes met two months prior.

Of course, she wasn't the only person he spent his time with, with Lorcan ultimately -and forever- being his priority, but new priorities had also sprung up in the man's life. Priorities he knew, deep down, Carina and a majority of the kingdom disagreed with, given how drastically they contrasted his prior protestations of 'a new beginning' for Ignis'; a chance to rebuild and regrow from the terror inflicted upon the nation by his father's unpredictability.

But he also knew that he didn't remotely care what anyone thought, not when he was determined to push through with the idea of war. Having ventured into old habits with Eris and their affair, it was hard not to fall down the slippery slope of finding comfort in other long-abandoned habits too; ones that stroked an ego he had ignored for far too long. His stubbornness, arrogance and duplicitousness slowly crept back into his being, becoming the forefront traits on display more and more often - so when a few minor disagreements arose with a valuable ally to Ignis, there was little chance of Sven talking it through maturely.

No, instead he chose a path of chaos; of backstabbing duplicity as he plotted to invoke an inevitably bloody, violent war on a kingdom who had, until two months ago, been a trusted friend to Ignis. An ally whose King felt confident enough in that growing bond to voice concerns and speak bluntly to the young Sven, unaware that Sven's mindset had changed and that he was potentially signing his own death warrant by doing so.

If war was something he wanted to pursue, ensuring proper plans were in place and tactics discussed to limit the loss of Ignisian life was a priority. Natalia had no desire to plan a war, the idea terrifying and disgusting her in equal measure, but it was her job to assist Sven in any way she was required to... though trying to assist him these days was like trying to get blood from a stone. He was never around when he ought to be, setting work aside whenever Eris was on the scene - a fact that Natalia found utterly distasteful and disrespectful to everyone in the castle, albeit to Carina mostly.

That day was no different. While she knew she could be spending her time with Andrew and enjoying the blossoming relationship they were building together, she was instead rushing about the castle in search of her King, just to try and force him to do his job properly and not rush into a war he had only adequately prepared himself for. She had no idea that instead of sitting at his desk and going through plans with a fine-tooth comb, he was strolling the exterior gardens and soaking in the summer weather - inevitably with Eris clinging onto his arm.

The last thing he wanted to do was interact with Carina and ruin what was an enjoyable afternoon, hence his decision to simply pretend he hadn't seen her and, by all means necessary, distract Eris from glancing in his wife's direction.

Evidently, from Eris' purposeful stride across to Carina, he hadn't managed much success in that endeavour.

He knew Eris wasn't an angel, that she enjoyed taunting Carina however innocently she framed it, but he lacked the desire to care too much about it - Carina could give as good as she received, after all.

"How I spend my time, my darling wife, is of no concern to you. If I'd rather make love than war, I'll do that - though I also want to make war too, so perhaps I'll multitask, hm? I'm rather good at that. I simultaneously adore Eris and despise you, so I've got practise in managing more than one thing at a time. I can both prepare for war and spend time with whomever I desire - whether it be Eris or my son," he muttered in reply, lacking any energy to even sound irritated. This wasn't the first time he had to deal with someone criticising his choices (Natalia hadn't been subtle in her disapproving) but rising to anger and unleashing every foul-mouthed insult imaginable wasn't worth it: not when he had had a great afternoon and wished to continue it.

And his son being present was just further motivation for him to keep his cool, focusing his attention onto the baby with a genuine smile warming his previously irked expression.

"Hey, little man, can Daddy get a hug? Oof, you're getting big, huh?" He cooed affectionately as he reached over to gently lift his son from Carina's arms, opting not to wait for her to hand him over. He moved to carefully stroke back a stray strand of his son's red hair from his forehead, his smile only widening at the gurgled one his son offered in response.

"...The war is going ahead, Carina. You may dislike it but I have my reasons; I will not have this kingdom be ridiculed on the international stage. We are not pushovers. It's about time these other nations realised that - as they will when I, and my army, rampage through West Toterra and make a statement. The way that King wrote to me was nothing short of disrespectful and he'll pay for it," the King continued as he let his eyes drift back down to Carina's, a sneer of annoyance resting unsubtly on his lips.

"Go attend the meeting in my place if you wish - but I don't necessarily trust you to do so effectively. You aren't what I'd call a tactician, Carina. I mean-- perhaps that's unfair. You did particularly well in planning my murder, I concede that. So maybe you are capable of the business side of this. All that plotting behind my back finally seems to have some use, hm?"
 

Viverescribere

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"The only thing ridiculous about this kingdom is you." Carina answered softly, her gaze flickering over him as she remained neutral and passive to his words. Around Sven, she returned to the state of relative control that she knew, that she had been taught. She channelled the icy aloofness that she told Natalia she was going to resort to after the burn on her leg. While she may have not perfected it before during the first part of their marriage, Carina knew she would certainly try now.

She wasn't about to allow either of them pass her cold defence and freezing exterior. Sven had lost the privilege to see her emotion the moment his hand dipped lower on Eris' waist the night of the ball.

Carina wasn't about to argue with him. She knew that Lauren's words had absolved her of all crimes, and that her involvement in the planning of his death had come prior to any emotion she felt towards him that resembled fondness and then, eventually, love. If he wished to cast the line with the bait in which to catch her and send her into a frenzy... he would have to try again another day, as Carina was in no mood to bite and provide him with any sort of verbal sparring... or provide Eris with any form of entertainment.

Her tongue darted out to wet her dry lips, not wanting to really stay a moment longer but also not wanting to leave her son behind. Especially with the woman Sven had decided to fuck whenever he felt like it. She supposed she ought to get used to it, it seemed like Eris would be a constant figure in Lorcan's life now and while Carina hated it... she would have to accept it. She could be miserable, but she would not allow her son's life to be.

"...Oh yes, that letter was rather rude, Carina, you should have seen it--"

"I did see it. I am the Queen, after all. Natalia shows me everything after Sven." Carina interrupted the dark-haired beauty at Sven's side, turning a piercing, eyebrow-raised look onto her. It did cause Eris to falter, but only momentarily as the other woman quickly smiled.

"Of course, excuse me. I... simply forget sometimes, you know, with how often I see you. Or really, how little." Eris responded in turn, stepping closer to Sven to peer over the baby after her little dig.

Carina's expression only hardened, her jaw tightening, "Yes... I suppose that has something to do with you being in my husband's bedroom for the majority of your stay here."

Eris didn't bother retorting, simply cooing over the child that Sven had cradled in his arms. Carina swallowed hard, moving her attention back to Sven. Her eyes searched him, trying to see anything of the man she had ruled with side-by-side even if only for a short while. For the man that had killed two of his father's old advisers because they were insulting her. For the man that had been by her side during the entire labour of their son.

"May I have him back now? It's dinner time and I'd rather he didn't go hungry because you wanted to finish your walk." Carina inquired, keeping her tone lacking in anything that he could use against her to make her life anymore difficult than it was already, "I'll leave him once he's fed and burped, you can spend more time with him then... if you aren't busy."
 

potassiumboron

~I'm drinking coffee on a trampoline~
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Even though both women were simply reciprocating the thinly-veiled contempt shown to the other, giving as good as they were receiving, the way Sven perceived the comments was remarkably different - solely because of his infatuation with Eris and his frostiness with Carina. Because of the former, the cattiness in which the digs were delivered was amusing; because of the latter, similar digs were considered low-blows with no justification or validity.

While he had no qualms in making it clear where his loyalties currently laid by leaping to Eris' defence, he really had no desire to disrupt his afternoon by engaging in yet another confrontation with his wife. Exchanging a few comments that hit below the belt was as far as he was willing to go with things, particularly now he had his son cradled in his arms.

As difficult as things were with Carina, he wasn't ever going to enter a full-blown argument while Lorcan was present-- at least, he wasn't going to do that anymore. The one circumstance in which he had drunkenly initiated an argument in Lorcan's nursery (the same night he inadvertently lost control of his flames) was, he hoped, a solitary incident that wouldn't be replicated - not now; not ever.

Because for all his faults, not once had his dedication to his son wavered. Fatherhood had always been something he had yearned for as a chance to right the wrongs his own father had made with him, so like hell would he ever turn his back on his duty to the most important figure in his life, no matter how badly things had gotten with Carina.

He lifted his eyes up from Lorcan at the question directed towards him, having allowed himself to effectively block out the bickers once he lost interest in it all. There were days where he would sit back and enjoy watching Carina have to withhold her annoyance as Eris effortlessly seemed to know what to say to get under her skin... but today wasn't one of them; not when he was dedicated to making the most of the afternoon.

And continuously causing aggravation with a person he had to share a home with, share a son with, wasn't always ideal. Sometimes, ignoring her entirely (or as much as possible) was a more suitable option - and their weeks of avoiding one another at all costs seemed to prove that they had both decided on following that course of action.

"I'm never too busy to spend time with my own damn son, Carina. I'll make time if I have to - or I'll take him to the office where I can work and be around him. Don't-- don't stand there and insinuate that I won't have time for him. I am a damn good father, that isn't an insult you can throw at me that has any fucking validity, do you understand? I wouldn't call you a bad mother, not ever; I wouldn't even insinuate it. If you insist on taking cheap shots at me, I'd appreciate it if you had some basis for them," he retorted sharply, regretting the curse words that had left his lips the moment they were communicated but the insinuation -or what he perceived as one- was hurtful, given just how contradictory it was.

Not once would he prioritise Eris or their sexual interactions over time with his son. If Carina genuinely thought so, his disappointment with her had just reached a new low.

"...I'd like to have him later on if that's not too much of a problem for you. I promise you, my darling wife, that I look forward to it; nothing comes close to the enjoyment I have spending time with our son. Not even sex with Eris, though it does come quite close. So yes, bring him to us later on. Eris and I would love to spend time together with Lorcan; I'm certain he'll be more than content in her company - and really, he ought to get used to her presence. She isn't going anywhere anytime soon."
 

Viverescribere

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"You can fetch him yourself. I'm not bringing him to you. You know where his nursery is, don't you? Or has she literally screwed your brains out?" Carina retorted, bristling at the demand that he had just laid out. It was insulting enough that he wanted her to be okay with her own son becoming used to some hussy's company, let alone actually taking their son to wherever they were going to be spending the evening together. Perhaps in the room that they once used to share... that would be just salt to the wound.

She swallowed down the bitter bile that had risen in her throat and blinked back the tears that seemed to burn her eyes, continuing to recover from his crass and disgustingly open comments about the new fling he was enjoying. While she knew that Sven was currently simply enjoying the company and affection that the Litost woman provided, there was that deep rooted fear that he would move on with someone else. If he started to love someone else, and continue to hate her, his slippery slope into his old habits could - perhaps - lead him to consider other notions he had once considered before. Removing her. Perhaps the only thing that would stop him would be the fact that she was Lorcan's mother... but Carina couldn't be at all sure lately.

"You're right... it was unfair of me to suggest you were a bad father," Carina eventually answered quietly, ignoring the smug smirk that appeared on the lips of Eris as the woman remained latched to Sven's side, having leeched onto him the moment he mentioned her indefinite role in their lives.

"...But you are more like your father than you have ever been in this moment." She finished, watching him with Lorcan. There was no malice or anger to her gaze, and no cutting edge to her voice. Only disappointment and hurt. Not that she thought it would matter to him.

She had to wonder how the old Queen of Ignis dealt with her husbands philandering ways. Perhaps it was made easier by the fact she knew she would always hold the King's heart and that he would always return to her, regardless of what he did. But Carina, at least in her beliefs, no longer held a fraction of a place in Sven's cold, broken heart. He looked at her and saw betrayal and something to hate. Nothing like what they once were.

She hadn't compared him to his father in months... not having needed to when they eventually started taking a turn for the better with one another. She started seeing a different side to him, one that, perhaps without the abuse of his parents, would have been his dominating persona all along. But now, with their relationship non-existent and dead... all she saw was the old King.

"You can keep Lorcan. Enjoy a walk with him. Just make sure he gets a bottle once you're done-- you're a good enough father to do that, aren't you?" She then challenged, taking a step back away from the couple, "Enjoy your evening."
 

potassiumboron

~I'm drinking coffee on a trampoline~
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Back when Sven had been at his worst (because even his behaviour now was nothing compared to how ruthlessly cruel he had once been), there had only been one thing that cut him deeply and provoked raw vulnerability from a man who was otherwise consistently presenting an appearance of invulnerability to the world. And that thing had been the comparisons to his father; the taunting remarks from Carina aimed to hit him where it hurt the most, and no matter how frequently she used it against him, it never failed to strip back all the bravado and reveal who he was beneath it all.

A son to a father who had always mistreated, abused and humiliated him. Any comparisons to a monster like that, a man who had made his life hell and ripped him of a childhood entirely, was always bound to feel like a punch to the gut for Sven, and now was no different.

The faint smile that remained on his face, whether it be because of Carina retreating and admitting that he was a good father or Lorcan's continued gurgles up at him, flashed in an instant, as though it was slapped from his features entirely. His brows furrowed together to try and comprehend the words - he knew Carina was aware of just how much it would hurt him, and no matter how badly things had become between them, he still didn't think she would stoop to those levels; to see him reduced to his most vulnerable.

Even if he was portraying some of his father's behaviours, he refused to believe he was like him, capable of the cruelty and insensitivity the old King had prided himself on. And having Carina point it out so bluntly, with such certainty, only made it sting all the more painfully.

"I am fucking nothing like that m-man, don't you-- d-don't you-- I'm not-- I a-am not him, Carina," he began, having hurried into responding as soon as he found the words that he felt to properly compose himself. As a result, his energy and body language was nervous, frantic in his desperation to distance himself from the accusation, while a childhood stutter he thought he had worked past had made an unwelcome return, as it often tended to in moments of intense distress.

He felt the panic start to rise the more the words echoed within his head, vaguely aware that he wasn't quite presenting the image of coolness or suaveness he had presented to Eris since they first met one another but also not particularly caring to correct himself; not when the priority was fighting off Carina's words and convincing himself of their baselessness.

Because if he believed them for even a single moment, he wasn't quite sure how he would emotionally react to it.

"I-If I am like my father, then you are like yours. Cold, frosty, avoiding expressing yourself to those you love dearly. Pushing them away to avoid awkward conversations, to spare yourself the shame of having to be entirely open and t-transparent. If I am my father, th-then you are yours. I may carry blame for what happened between us, b-but so do you; you are not ab-absolved of all guilt when you recoiled from your own husband a-and-- a-and made him feel like he couldn't get close to you. Perhaps we are both our parents."

He breathed slowly in through his nose and then exhaled the breath through his mouth, a calming technique he wasn't sure worked but was desperate to try it. Counting to ten in his mind to prevent acting unruly or letting his emotions dictate his actions was another step he opted to take, if only to further separate himself from how his father would react in a situation like this, which was to carelessly embark on a rampage, venting aloud and brutishly.

"I-I can't-- I can't take Lorcan r-right now, I can't, I'll-- I'll see him later on tonight," he decided abruptly as he, with as much carefulness as he could muster, handed the bundle back across to Carina. He knew the state he was in, with his emotions running as highly as they were, was incompatible with caring for his son, who was better suited to Carina's care until Sven had worked through the digging up of a past fear; one he thought he had abandoned when he and Carina grew closer together, but evidently, it was always going to follow him; to taunt him that there was always a comparison to the man he despised to be found somewhere.

"I no longer wish to continue o-our stroll in the garden, Eris, I'm sure you understand that I would-- I would like to be alone right now. But I shall see you at dinner later tonight, I assure you."
 

Viverescribere

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Completely caught off guard by Sven's change in persona, Eris could only stand and stare to the shift in power that seemed to come from Carina's latest insult. She had been enjoying watching the two monarchs snap and bite at one another, taking pleasure in the knowledge that she truly had picked her time well in terms of getting into the king's bed. However, she had not expected the stuttering and stammering that came from the young king as a result to being compared to his father.

Like, obviously, many.... Eris had no idea what the truth behind the father-son relationship that Sven had with the late King of Ignis. Thus, she couldn't understand why Sven was so frantic and desperate to distance himself from any memory of or comparison to his father.

Carina, however, did understand yet didn't feel any satisfaction in having Sven react the way he did. His stutter rearing its head did leave her with a ball of guilt in the depths of her stomach. But she refused to acknowledge it. How could she allow herself to feel that guilt when the man before her had invited another into their marital bed? When he hadn't looked beyond his own vanity to realise that her leaving him that night wasn't because of him. If he truly knew her, like he once claimed, then he should have known. Perhaps that was too much to ask, but Carina didn't care.

Carefully holding Lorcan, she allowed his stammered retort comparing her to her own father to fall down upon her. She couldn't help but smile a little at the timing of it all. Of him making these accusations and her being exactly as he said, all because of what he was doing with Eris and the weeks that they had just experienced.

She stepped in front of him before he left, blocking his way for a moment after Eris had stammered her own assurances that she didn't mind not seeing him until dinner later that evening.

"You aren't like your father? Alright, let's see. You're starting wars that aren't necessary. You're back to sleeping with other women when you could be spending time with your son. You're refusing to listen to any council because you think you're right. You send mixed messages to everyone that cares about you. But at least your father, for all his faults, was actually good to his wife." She sneered, venom dripping from each word, "I won't apologise for resorting to my old habits-- not when it's helping me to protect myself from people who clearly seek to hurt me." Her gaze flickered to Eris then for a moment before returning to her husband, "As for recoiling from my husband, and making him feel like he can't touch me?"

Carina snorted softly, her smile turning into one of amusement before a narrowed gaze overcame her expression, "Forgive me for not wanting that when the last time he did I ended up with a third-degree burn."

Of course Carina knew the real reason why she recoiled was due to the cuts she had inflicted upon herself. His hands had wandered too low and, in her anxiety, she panicked, thinking he would feel them or they would snag on the fabric and reopen. But he didn't need to know that, not now, anyway. She doubted he would ever know, considering the path he would now take. He had, in her eyes, no right to know the truth, especially when he had made up one to suit his own narrative.

"Good night." She looked between the two before turning on her heel and making her way back into the castle, the stones of the path crunching underfoot.
 

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The last thing Sven sought was sympathy; not when the sight of it from either of the two (though Carina especially) would make him feel far worse than he was already feeling. If he had a choice, the topic wouldn't have arisen whatsoever, with his frantic emotions making him feel like a child again - and the feelings that had dominated the entirety of his childhood were ones he had no desire to see replicated now he was in his adulthood.

Not that it really felt like adulthood when he was forced to recall every uncomfortable emotion he had had to come to terms with in his younger years; to feel like he was right back in that position again, the panic rising within him now uncannily and uncomfortably similar to the panic he had almost constantly struggled with back then.

To have Carina of all people invoke that panic through her cutting comments, someone perfectly aware how detrimental comparisons to his father were for his emotional well-being, hurt more than he cared to admit - but he hadn't shrunk back and accepted the remarks without dishing out some insults of his own. He wasn't naive to the fact that he wasn't an angel deserving of sympathy because he had been unfairly targeted and treated with icy cruelty.

No, he was aware that his actions to Carina and his political ambitious for Ignis in the planned war had contributed greatly to the deterioration of their marriage and their personal happiness and contentment with one another. As dismissive as he appeared to be about it, with his decision to flaunt Eris' company within the private walls of the castle evidencing how particularly cruel he was capable of being, it still affected him; it still hurt whenever he thought about how badly things had become with the woman he had genuinely loved and cared for.

The person he wanted to be a better man for. He may act as though he had moved past it all entirely, but he hadn't; he was merely doing a good job of distracting himself from reminding himself of it all.

That task became all the more harder whenever he had to interact with Carina, and all but impossible when they exchanged slights against one another... especially if such slights cut through his feigned indifference and exposed the vulnerability that always remained behind it.

He attempted to regain some of his composure, even after she continued to reinforce the similarities between him and his father; ones he refused to acknowledge when he felt justified in his actions, in contrast to his father who was wild and unruly in chasing what he desired. It was a desperate excuse, but one he was prepared to abandon all rationality in clinging to because the alternative -admitting that he was in the wrong an acting like his maniacal father- was far too depressing.

"Yes, good night," he eventually mumbled, the attempt to sound tough and certain of himself not quite successful enough; not when residual emotion continued to cause his voice to waver and quiver. He breathed slowly, eyes narrowed as he observed Carina leaving the scene, the uncomfortable, intense atmosphere that remained behind creating a sense of ominousness; an unpredictability over how he would react and whether his temper would rise to the forefront.

Somehow, miraculously even, he forced it down, his clenched fists slowly unfurling once he felt the flames beneath his surface retreat.

"...I want you to-- to forget about the conversation I had with Carina. About what she said and my reaction to it. If anyone outside of the three of us discovers how I reacted today, I'll know it was you that let word slip; that gossiped about me behind my back after I told you specifically not to. I trust you, Eris, but-- keeping a lid on what you heard and saw just now is vital, do you understand?" He eventually murmured, his eyes flickering across to his lover with the same intensity. His smile may have arisen on his lips again, to reassure her of his trust in her, but his eyes remained colder, more critical.

He trusted her, sure... but he also trusted Carina one time in his life, and she had just exposed a vulnerability he hadn't wished anyone other than her to realise, so he knew not to be too careful.

"Anyway, I'll see you at dinner, my love. I... just wish to enjoy some time alone until then, but we'll reconnect later tonight. I'll make up for our absence then."
 

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"I-- Yes, of course. I wouldn't dream of it, my King." Eris stammered in response, caught off guard by the request and the contrast of emotion that was shown in his expression. She had been ready to jump to his defence and tell him to ignore all words spoken by Carina, that he was doing the right thing with going to war and to assure him that no guilt ought to be felt by taking a lover if his marriage was in tatters (as it was now obvious to her that it was, if it hadn't been before).

But he had beaten her to it, speaking first, that is. While he smiled at her, she would have had to have been blind to ignore the threat of warning in his eyes. It was probably the first time she had ever felt a remote flicker of fear when dealing with the young king, since, until then, she had felt mostly in control of their new relationship and what was being provided. That moment just reminded her of who he was, and just what he could do if he so wished it.

However, she couldn't help but step forward and reach for his arm, gently taking hold of it to stop him from leaving too soon.

"Why do you let her speak to you in such a way? If you don't care for what she says, if she's insulting you in the way it seems like she just has... why do you let her get away with it?" Eris asked, curious to see if she could evoke such desires to rid himself of Carina once and for all. "She doesn't deserve your mercy, if you don't mind me saying so, my King. You continue to let her live here, after all she has done to you. You let her see her son when she doesn't deserve to and she has free roam over the castle and your carriages to go god knows where and see god knows whom."

She paused, cautiously removing her hand from his arm and clasping her hands together in front of her. Her gaze continued to run over his features, trying to get a read on how her words were being taken but finding nothing to convince her to stop... or continue.

"I just... I feel as though she should take better care in speaking to you, after all you have done for her in allowing her to stay despite her betrayals. You deserve so much more than to be spoken to like that. You must have all the patience in the world... I don't think I would be able to stand for such behaviour. You truly are a saint."

Eris was laying it on thick, of course she was. However, she knew that his ego needed lifting after the altercation between him and his wife. If she was the one to do that... she would happily do so, and earn her place at his side permanently if it helped.
 

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Not expecting a continuation of the conversation, especially not after the unsubtle threat he had placed upon Eris, her decision to prevent him from leaving did cause an eyebrow to raise - though being a fan of her outspokenness and determination to put her thoughts into action, he wasn't unsettled or angered by her intervention. As deeply as his desire to retreat to his bedroom might have been, he allowed himself to come to a stop and moved back to face her properly, respecting her enough to hear what she had to say; something she was apparently so eager to say in that moment that she felt it necessary to stop him to lay down those words.

Granted, any amusement or enjoyment he might have gathered from her confident nature disappeared gradually throughout each and every one of her proceeding remarks, the smile that had rested casually on his lips flatlining as his mood dipped. He wasn't angered by her statements, not when he chose to believe that they came from a place of care and consideration for him, but it also wasn't easy to just casually dismiss them either.

Not when the complexities in his marriage and the emotions still wrapped up within it made her proposed course of action far too simplistic... and genuinely quite nasty, requiring a cruelty from him that he wasn't sure he would be capable of.

He might have reverted to some of antics reminiscent of his past unruly, selfish behaviours... but what he had learnt over the months through Carina's love and understanding towards him weren't qualities he could just rid himself of. He couldn't dismiss the love he held for her, nor the sensitivities he had learnt to accept about himself because of it.

Throwing her from the castle and cutting her off from her own son would be cruel, unfathomably so, and despite his faults... Sven knew he wasn't that heartless.

The fact Eris seemingly was -or at least assumed he could be capable of such actions- caused a frown to appear, unsure how to really respond to it.

"...I continue to let her live here because it is her home, Eris. And I have no right to restrict her access from her son; I don't have sole custody of the boy, and nor would I ever seek that. As detestable as Carina can be, however angered I am by her, I will never separate her from Lorcan. She's hurt me deeply but not once has she hurt or unsettled our son. She's a good mother and Lorcan adores her. I like to think that you only suggested I take those actions because you care for me; not because you think I would be capable of such cruelty," he finally responded, doing a somewhat miraculous job of keeping his tone neutral and firm, rather than allow any of his disbelief to seep in... though, for the sake of keeping things uncomplicated between them, he allowed a smile to pull back on his lips.

It was just easier to believe that her words came from a place of concern for him and the way he was treated, rather than overcomplicate matters and overthink her words.

"I'm no saint, you know. I've hurt her as badly as she has hurt me. Granted, I think she's been particularly cruel in her attitude towards me, but a saint? I wouldn't call myself that, my love. You're far too sweet to me," he laughed as fondness re-entered his voice, his hand reaching to take her own, offering a quick squeeze in reassurance.

"The dynamic with Carina isn't one I enjoy, especially not within my house, but it's necessary she remains here - Ignis need us to appear united, so we can honour promises we made to better the kingdom. The bitterness between us would cause distrust and I cannot allow that to happen; not when I've come so far. So I have to deal with her, as unfortunate as it is - which is why I adore you as much as I do. You bring fun and calm into my life, Eris. Don't underestimate how fond I am of you."
 

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The answer was unsatisfactory, in Eris' eyes anyway. Having no children or serious lover herself, she couldn't comprehend the difficulty it would be to cast out, or aside completely, a former love and the parent of one's child. To her, it seemed rather simplistic - why would anyone wish to put up with the insult that Sven had just been dealt with? Surely it was better to rid themselves of that abuse and that hatred long before it could seep into any other part of your life.

And why keep it lingering when there was something clearly better on his other arm? A person who was willing to gush and coo and preen his ego at every turn? Who would defend his desire to go to war and, maybe, even encourage it?

"...If you say so, my King. You know what's best, after all." Eris smiled for now, allowing the topic to drop. She knew when to keep from pushing something to far, having learned a few of Sven's mannerisms in the last few weeks alone. She didn't need to unseat herself from the position she had earned (rather easily, in fact). She knew it would be just as quick for him to dismiss her, as it had been for him to indulge her flirtations.

"I'm sorry for keeping you, you said you wanted some alone time and I've kept you here longer than you would have liked. Forgive me." She brought his hand up to her lips, pressing a soft and lingering kiss to the back of his knuckles as she maintained eye contact, "I shan't keep you any longer, or distract you any further. And I promise the previous conversation is safe with me."

Eris smiled, a honey-sweet expression that was full of promise and desire, as she lowered his hand from her face and eventually released it.

"I'll have dinner prepared for our usual time, yes? But please don't feel like you have to come and indulge me if you're not feeling up to it later, Sven. I'm a big girl, I'm sure I'll be able to find a way to entertain myself for a day. Or I can even head home a little earlier than intended, should that be what you wish." She stepped forward, reaching out to gently hold the lapels of his jacket before reaching up to kiss his cheek, a ghosting graze of a gesture. Teasing and tanalising.

She lingered there for a moment and even took in a breath of his aftershave before stepping back again, dropping her hands from his jacket, "Whatever you want, you know I'll happily follow, my King."
 

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Sven would be lying if he said he hadn't developed feelings for Eris that went beyond simply lust; beyond using her apparent desire for him to satisfy himself (and provide himself with a suitably enjoyable distraction from the general misery his life had encompassed the last few months). He wasn't necessarily in love with her, consciously refusing to allow himself to do so when the last time he had fallen in love had concluded with hurt and pain he never thought possible to feel - and which still tormented him to the present day, perhaps as a result of the love for Carina that still remained.

Seeing her in the castle, where every interaction they had was laced with bitterness, anger and disappointment, inevitably brought on that distress; the hatred that existed now was a horrible, uncomfortable reminder of how far they -and their marriage- had fallen.

So no, he was almost dead-set against allowing himself to develop feelings for another woman when he was painfully aware of the consequences, the hurt, that would impact him if things ended terribly - and if he was honest with himself, he wasn't even sure he could love anyone other than Carina. He was certain their marriage was over, that what they had once had had perished, but he remained convinced that she was the only woman he was capable of loving, at least to the extent he had loved her.

But he wasn't emotionless when it came to Eris either. She wasn't a figure like past lovers of his had been, simply there just for his own pleasure without him emotionally investing himself into their interactions. Rather, perhaps a result of the progress he had made to better himself (which remained somewhat intact despite recent reversions into the more brutal past antics), he allowed himself to see and value her as a person; as someone who he cared a great deal for.

Perhaps that was why, even after the regrettable stammering whereby the vulnerabilities he always sought to keep hidden from view, he hadn't just stormed off and evaded her. Though he wished she hadn't been present, he recognised what he perceived as genuine consideration for him - and whilst other lovers in his past had communicated similar concern and been pushed back and dismissed coldly, he reserved a smile for Eris; a reciprocation of the affection she showed him.

Because he liked her - even if the growing fondness blinded him to the selfish intentions motivating her actions.

"...I don't wish you to blindly follow me, Eris. I encourage you to critique me where you see fit; to be honest with me. I value trust a great deal, and it's why I'm more than happy to... discuss my past with you; my relationship to my father and why I reacted the way I did to Carina's comments. I am not pushing you away; I just... need some time is all. But I will tell you, Eris, in time - what you and I have is becoming too special to me to jeopardise," he promised after a moment, soaking in the enchanting, smooth words accompanied by soft, deliberate movements in fascination. It was no secret that he found her irresistible, being unquestionably drawn to her like a moth to a flame - and now was another of those times, the young King struggling to overcome the pang of desire residing within him.

But he knew he had to - rushing into Eris' arms when he needed time alone wouldn't end well.

"I'll be at dinner, I reassure you - I don't wish to be apart from you when we are already running low on time. So I will see you then, at the usual time. Do whatever you want until then; you have free reign of the castle, my love; don't let Natalia try to tell you otherwise. If she gives you a hard time again, come to me: I'll resolve the issue for you."
 

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During the month that followed, war was on the verge of breaking out between Ignis and West Toterra, and Carina kept herself distanced from any politics. Or at least any politics to do with the war and West Toterra. She was not about to sully her reputation with any noble, considering that the fight was not something she wanted in the first place. While, of course, that still didn't help her case as it looked as though she wasn't doing anything to keep Sven from making good on his promise to rampage across their former allied kingdom, Carina wasn't sure what else she could do.

However, as a result of that and knowing that more people were disappointed in her, the guilt of the hurtful things she said to Sven in order to retaliate against some of the hurtful things he flung her way, plus the continuous presence of Eris and the reminder that she was a failure in her marriage and (in her eyes) as a mother... her habits became worse.

Sometimes she cut too far and too deep, too blinded by her self-disgust to realise what she was doing, and thus needing to apply more pressure with things such as a handkerchief in order to stem the bleeding. One night, it wasn't even the cutting. After a particularly hideous day, including more snide remarks from Eris and a hateful conversation with Sven and Lorcan continuously crying until she handed him over to the nanny and having to leave... Carina had drowned herself within two and a half bottles of wine. She had taken herself onto the balcony of her room to sit on the stone wall ledge, a bottle and her glass beside her. It wasn't until her maid was helping her down that Carina realised she had actually ended up stood, swaying in the thick Ignisian breeze, on the edge.

She hadn't planned to do anything stupid, she had just closed her eyes and took in a few deep breaths to try and compose herself, her drunken self believing that it was good idea to balance herself. But the next thing she knew she was standing, a foot close to slipping off the edge. To someone looking in, she supposed it did look a bit frightening.

However, for that maid, it had been the final straw. She had told all to her housekeeper, who in response knew that the king ought to be informed. Either to try and bring his wife back onto the right track mentally, or to at least organise something to keep her from doing herself any harm.

So that's why, three days after Carina's balcony behaviour, did the housekeeper and the maid approach the King's office door. The housekeeper knocked first, waiting for the summons before entering, the maid shuffling in behind her.

"Your Majesty. We apologise for disturbing you when we know you're busy... but Lucille here has been experiencing some... disturbing behaviour, and we thought it best to bring it to your attention." The greying woman explained, hands clasping together and resting against the white pinafore tied to her waist. She then looked to the young brunette at her side, who seemed just a bit older than the two monarchs.

Lucille's hands wrung together tightly, clearly uncomfortable with the situation, "I... don't want to make trouble, King Sven. Or get anyone into trouble," she began hesitantly, looking to the wised housekeeper for support, who nodded as a result, "But, ah, Queen Carina... I don't think she's... doing well. Mentally, I-I mean. I don't wanna get into anyone's business but just a few things recently have got me... concerned."
 

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In the month that had passed, there wasn't much that had altered Sven's life - or shifted what had become normal within it, at least.

Eris was still invited to accompany him in his day-to-day life; a description he used that purposefully omitted the benefits and pleasures they brought to one another's lives, more now than ever before.

Plans were still being made for the oncoming war he hoped to spring on West Toterra, uncaring that some might regard his decision of the surprise release of violence upon Ignis' former ally, without forewarning them, cowardly. In his eyes, it was simply good tactics designed to give his kingdom and its soldiers the best chance of success.

And things with Carina were as bad as ever, a new normalcy in their lives that he had -sadly- become accustomed to. The distance that had grown between them was the default state of being, a common feature that was more automatic to them than the love, cherishment and comfort that had existed prior. Hell, the young King's memories of those times together were so drastically contrasted to the existence he and his wife now lived that he sometimes couldn't believe they were true; that there was a point in his life when he and Carina were on good, loving terms.

It honestly felt so opposed to the bitterness and vitriol that now dominated their lives that if he hadn't experienced it, if he still didn't feel it, he would never believe that that love had once been in place.

Fortunately (for him, at least), he had his plans to continue to distract him from contemplating the sad state of affairs his marriage encompassed. When Eris wasn't on hand to draw him in and give his mind a place to unwind, then the plans for war took over and accomplished it for him. No matter how negative the view on the proposed war was, Sven had thrown his entire focus into ensuring that it went ahead - the last month, he had stepped up and attended the necessary meetings, filed the appropriate paperwork, trained at the dawn of the morning alongside his soldiers in preparation for the battle he intended on leading from the front.

However bad the idea of war might be perceived, nobody could doubt his dedication to it - at least in the last month or so.

As had become commonplace, the King was situated within his office sorting through various notes and papers that needed his attention - his work didn't take a backseat just because he had other political plans and ambitions, after all. Without Natalia's aid (he had grown tired of her sour expression and criticisms of the war, so sent her away earlier that afternoon so he could focus without feeling judged), the workload was intense but he pushed on through... albeit with the aid of his trusty cigarettes, having smoked his way through more packets of them throughout that month than he would care to admit to.

Thus, a cigarette inevitably rested between his fingers as the staff knocked and -upon his command to do so- entered the room. His eyebrow lifted the moment his eyes settled on the two women, having anticipated a general with his army with an update on proceedings, or even a young soldier seeking advice (as he had informed them all to do without hesitation - he didn't want anyone fighting who didn't possess the right mental attributes for something as challenging as war). Instead, he was faced with his housekeeper and a young maid, his curiosity overclouding the slight irritation that his work was to be interrupted.

One hand moved to brush through his hair to at least appear a little more presentable than he currently felt, the effects of little sleep, coffee and cigarette-fuelled working days and intense training hours in the mornings and evenings ultimately taking its toll. The effects of the training had inevitably had an impact too, a certain muscularity making its appearance, but the dark-circled eyes and pale, ghostly complexion were arguably what drew the eye the most.

Yet, the concern over Carina's mental state jolted him to attention, any tiredness that had lingered upon his expression vanishing. He opened his mouth to respond, only to find that no words would leave that soon; not until he fully comprehended the extent of the worry the maid must have to bring it to his attention.

And despite all the bitterness between him and his wife, the thought of her potentially struggling to cope, or feeling stuck in a dark place, made him feel sick to his stomach.

"...And what have you noticed from her behaviour that would suggest that she's not well, Lucille?" He finally managed to utter, keeping his breathing steady despite the mild panic that had entered him; the guilt of not having noticed anything in his wife's behaviour to cause him concern. But when they were so cold and distant with one another, what chance did he have of that?

"Be honest with me, spare no detail," he encouraged, a smile gracing his face in the hope of reassuring the maid. "What has given you the impression that she requires... help?"
 

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Lucille hesitated again at his request for further detail, despite knowing it would come and regardless of his encouraging smile. While her relationship with the Queen had once been on the friendlier side, she too had experienced a slight guardedness over the last few weeks. Carina would never fully feel comfortable with letting anyone in ever again, even Natalia didn't know the full extent of everything - as it was clear since she hadn't come to Sven with any concerns herself. Really, the maid only did because she was the one that saw Carina every single day, probably for longer and in more vulnerable positions than anyone else.

"Answer the King, lass. Nothing bad is going to come of it." The housekeeper, Sophie, verbally nudged the younger servant, nodding in her own encouraging way.

Lucille quietly cleared her throat and stilled her hands, despite them immediately going to her own pinafore to begin fiddling with that instead, "I, uh, I'd noticed-- there've been some handkerchiefs with a few-few bloodstains? At first I thought Her Majesty was getting nosebleeds, and she didn't say anything to, uhm, suggest otherwise? B-but then I started noticing that they were too... the stains weren't... consistent with nosebleeds? T-The blood was scattered, sir, over the material instead of... instead of gathered, if you know what I mean."

She glanced to Sophie before giving Sven back her attention, "Then, uhm, then I got a glimpse of some, ah, scarring... on her-- on her upper leg? Like really up high, the tops of her thighs. She had a towel on and had sat at her-her dressing table. The material had ridden up slightly. When I asked her, she just... pulled it down to cover it and told me she had nicked herself with her own ice when in Eira the other day. But... but the line was... perfect. Like it wasn't... jagged or uneven."

If she hadn't had told Sophie all of this before and been reassured that she didn't sound crazy or paranoid, Lucille would have felt like a total fool. She would have shaken her head, excused herself and apologised for wasting the King's time. Especially hearing the whispers that Ignis was about to go to war.

She almost didn't tell him, having protested against Sophie's desires to do so. She knew he was a busy man, and didn't want to trouble him... especially when everyone knew that things were so fraught between the two and he had seemingly moved on with someone else.

"And, uhm, three nights ago... she got... uhm, she got raring drunk. Like, two bottles worth, I think. And I... I found her stood on the edge of her balcony. Not doing anything, just... standing there. When I got to her, she, uhm, she had her eyes closed? When I pulled her down, she said she... she wasn't going to do anything... she just needed to... rebalance herself or something?"

Lucille watched Sven nervously, her hands now once again wringing together so tightly her knuckles were turning white.

"I just-- I thought... someone should know that Her Majesty is... her behaviour is worrying. I know I don't... I know I'm only her maid, but... but I'm just concerned about what might happen, Your Majesty."
 

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  2. 1-3 posts per day
  3. One post per day
Online Availability
3pm - 1am (GMT / BST)
Writing Levels
  1. Beginner
  2. Elementary
  3. Intermediate
  4. Adept
  5. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Female
  3. Transgender
  4. No Preferences
Genres
Horror, gore, bloodiness, monsters, supernatural, fantasy, romance, criminality
Despite the panic that had risen within him in the knowledge that there had to be something serious at play for Lucille to have arrived at his office, Sven didn't want to believe that to be the case. He didn't want to have to prepare himself to hear the worst when he wasn't ready to comprehend whatever fears his staff had for their Queen.

For his wife who, regardless of how vitriolic they had been towards one another, he still loved; still... cared for.

No, all he wanted to do was pray that their concerns were baseless, without evidence and capable of being easily dismissed with just a little investigation because the alternative -that Carina was suffering so badly- made him feel physically and violently sick, both because he didn't want her to go through anything of that nature, and because he knew the guilt would hit him hard. His guilt was hardly of a priority in comparison to her precarious mental state, he knew that, but it would exist regardless, a ball at the pit of his stomach reminding him that his unruly, wild antics had had a part in the deterioration of Carina's health.

Yet, however hard and desperately he prayed to hear something minor in comparison to that, he sunk back against the back of the chair as Lucille parted with the evidence she had gathered, the evidence he had feared, each description dealing a blow to Sven's ability to maintain a pokerface. It was until the event on the balcony that any semblance of calmness fell apart, his hands shakily balling into fists for his forehead to rest upon, eyes clenched shut tightly in the effort to, somehow, make sense of what he was being told.

"You-- You are absolutely sure that all of this is correct, aren't you? You haven't perhaps... been mistaken? Put two and two together and come up with five?" He whispered after a long moment of silence (the exception being quickening, shaky breaks), forcing himself to lift his head to peer appealingly at Lucille, almost begging and pleading with her to tell him what he wanted to hear, rather than the actual truth of the matter - because the truth was hurtful. It was unwelcoming.

And it made him feel far worse than he ever thought was possible.

"N-No, of course, you... you wouldn't come to me without being sure, I... I am not doubting you, Lucille, I assure you," he corrected, unwilling to allow a maid barely older than he was to feel anymore nervous than she already was; not when it had already taken her courage to come to his office and inform him of her fears. He averted his gaze back to the table, gulping hard to rid his throat of the lump that had formed and blinking back the stinging of tears within his eyes, equally unwilling to be seen to cry. Ideally, he wouldn't appear as overwrought with emotion as he currently was either, but the display wasn't something he was capable of hiding.

Not when the pain and concern was as raw as it was.

"I... I wish to see my wife, where is she now?" He enquired as confidently as he could, rising to his feet and setting his half-smoked cigarette in his coffee mug to extinguish it. "You have done the right thing in telling me, but I will handle the matter now. I... I will get to the bottom of this. So where is she currently?"
 

Viverescribere

Always looking to write
Original poster
Invitation Status
  1. Looking for partners
Posting Speed
  1. 1-3 posts per day
  2. One post per day
  3. Multiple posts per week
  4. 1-3 posts per week
Writing Levels
  1. Intermediate
  2. Adept
  3. Advanced
  4. Prestige
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Male
  2. Female
  3. Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Fantasy, Historical, Magical, Romance (usually within other genres), Dystopia, Fandom.
The look on the King's face only confounded Lucille's guilt in coming to the King in the first place. Although she knew that Sophie would take her away and reassure her that it was the right thing to do, the reaction that such confessions had caused was not something she could ignore. Like a few others in the castle, Lucille had come to believe that the monarchs (or at least Sven) no longer felt anything for each other. Given that the King had moved on with the noblewoman, Eris, there were a handful in the castle that wondered why Carina stayed when it seemed as though she had nothing to be in Ignis for... except for Lorcan, that was.

A hand came to settle at the midpoint of her back and Lucille was grateful for the gesture of reassurance and support from her superior, which caused her to straighten her spine as a result. Her nails continued to bite into the fleshy part of her palms, however, as she finally clasped them together to keep them from fidgeting.

"I-I'm sorry to have caused Your Majesty distress." She told him, averting her gaze as he stood, "It was the last thing I wanted, especially with all you are having to balance at the moment." She looked to Sophie before providing him with her attention once more, "I could-- I could still be wrong, sir. Perhaps there is some explanation for it."

Lucille fell quiet as the hand on her back moved to rest on her shoulder to give it a gentle squeeze. The young maid took that as a signal to stop talking and did so, bowing her head slightly to look down at her hands.

"She's in the nursery, Your Majesty, giving Prince Lorcan his nigh time feed. She... she should be there for another hour or so-- Likes to stay for a bit afterwards." Sophie told him, smiling faintly.

She had to bite her own tongue, having wished to simply assure herself that he would take it easy on the Queen if things were as they seemed. However, it was none of her business really, or Lucille's. Of course they got involved by telling Sven what Lucille had witnessed, but it wasn't the same as offering advice on how to best handle the situation. Besides, Sophie liked to hope that the young King wouldn't go in there and cause even more grief for the Queen to angst over.

"We'll leave you be, King Sven. Once again, apologies for the interruption." Sophie kept the weak smile on her expression, unable to bring a real one about considering the sensitive conversation.

The housekeeper then softly murmured to the maid, ushering her back out of the office, to allow Sven some time to himself after what he had just learned.