Fall of the Court

/ By Loxi [+Watch]

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Florence took the offered canteen and drew a drink from it as she listened to what Nicolai had to elaborate on. Her eyes stayed set on Augustine though, she wished to see how he would react to all this. The boy wore a look of contemplation, though eventually nodded at what the older man had to say. They were walking a perilous line here and as the elf said, their timing needed to be impeccable.

The idea that people may not come to their side was a bitter truth, or rather a possibility that Augustine had a very hard time wrapping his head around. Even having heard that most people did not mind Vincent, they knew his true character. Surely the rest of Wistina would come to see it as well if they worked hard to expose him. Augustine kept that optimism to himself though. Now was not the time for it. [+coral “There is a lot that can go wrong no matter what we choose to do… but I think if we are careful and attentive enough we should be able to see the tides changing before they fully turn on us and act accordingly.”] If they see the Taken then they know they need to act faster than this initial plan allowed, just like if after some time it comes to be that no one takes their side they will have to resort to more extreme measures. [+coral “What worries me most is that even if we will do everything right, gain a following, rally them to help us, and back Vincent and his lackeys into a corner… there is a chance they will turn around and start spreading rumors.”] The blond’s wordage was vague here, but to those in the know it would be clear he was talking about his lineage. For those on the outside, such as Marko who was looking in, the comment left something to be desired. How powerful could a little hearsay be?

Florence looked over to her son and then to his friend and back again. Before now she had not been entirely certain just how much Augustine had shared with his cohorts. This put her wondering to bed. She was a touch surprised though. He was open about most things with the others, but for this it seemed he was taking her favored approach: the fewer who knew the better. The woman was not so sure how she felt about that, however she would let him do what he pleased. Well, aside from being completely transparent with it. She would really rather not be outed as an adulteress to the entirety of the country.

Beyond that, she had another concern, [+mediumseagreen “while timing is important we need to look at other pieces of the picture as well. How you decide to reveal yourself will be nearly as important as when. And after that, even if the people take a liking to you, there is a strong possibility their distain for me will not diminish so easily. There may come a time when I will need to fade into the background.”] It was not her first pick of plans, as she wanted to stay with her son, but if the backlash was that great that might be the best way for her to help him. [+mediumseagreen “I do not expect you to make any of these decisions just yet.”] There was not enough context for all that. As he said, they needed to be vigilant of the world around them and react appropriately. [+mediumseagreen “But I want you to have all this in mind for the future when these choices [i do] have to be made.”] Giving him the final call was a lot of pressure, and Florence did feel bad about it, but that was how it was going to have to be. [+mediumseagreen “I know this is a lot to think about; I just want you to be ready when the time comes, whenever that ends up being.”] Unlike Nicolai, she decided to use a gentler touch with him in the end. As his mother she could get away with spoiling him a little bit.

Augustine nodded again. [+coral “I understand.”] His voice wasn’t cheerful by any means, but it wasn’t quite solemn either. [+coral “… I will try to be ready to make whatever call is necessary when the time comes.”] This was more in response to what Nicolai had said before about handling Vincent in a more covert manner, as the young man’s brain still weighed heavily on that. It was not how he wanted to do things, but if that was how it had to be to keep them safe then so be it. He only wished he could have sounded a little more confident than he felt about it, if only to keep up appearances in front of those who were placing their faith in him.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 173d 12h 20m 34s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai was a little happier to hear he wasn't the only one seeing how fickle and tricky their situation was. It had seemed so easy in the beginning, to come sweeping in and rally the people behind them against an oppressive dictator who had stolen the throne. Except he wasn't. He kept the masses fed, gave them more wealth, made it appear that their lives were better with him in charge and to forget the previous royal line. Whilst he agreed with Florence's notion that they would have to be more forward and proactive, it was disconcerting that they had to go to such an angle so soon.

Lifting his canteen he poured a little over his head, letting it trickle down over his face whilst wetting his hand and brushing it back through his hair. Rubbing the back of his neck to cool it from that mornings ride, he let out an exasperated sigh. Walking across to Florence he offered the flask toward her as he spoke.[+royalblue “We have to be ready to accept that not everyone will support us.”] He commented with mind to her first remark. His eyes glanced Marko stepping forward in silent thought, and he felt a little bad for not including him, Flora or Töka in these talks. But for right now they were all learning the land and just getting by as the main trio worked out the larger aspects of this fledgling rebellion.

[+royalblue “I'm sure there were people in Astoria, common folk, who opposed change, not just those with the most to lose. Inevitably we will do the same. Their resentment will help him, so we shouldn't underestimate what is to come. Unless we can topple him covertly, perhaps sneak in and deal with him quietly, if we must rely on the people's support then things will get messy before the end.”] It was all obvious and did not need to really be said aloud for them all, but perhaps it was also worth reminding them that this would be a struggle. Again, they needed to live with the understanding that this was a fight. His home afforded them a little space to breathe and collect their thoughts but that safe haven couldn't be seen as a projection of the country as a whole.

Looking back over to the young blonde he thought to offer him some encouraging words, perhaps buoy him with sweet flattery or the like that he had once given to Germaine when he had advised him. But this was a much more intelligent being, conscientious of the world about him, to butter him up would be an insult really.[+royalblue “We need to find the right time and place to reveal your return. It's all well and good to collect information and what not, but the longer we wait the more he will gain the trust and support of the people above what he already has. And, the higher the risk of us being found and disposed of quietly without ever mounting serious opposition...”] He wanted to apologise at the end, as if stating that aloud was a bad or negative thing to speak of, but again if this boy was to be King he had to deal with the more distasteful topics.
  WI_ / 173d 17h 19m 15s
For Augustine the Wistinian terrain was as beautiful as he remembered. It was wonderful getting to see it more leisurely now. Not that they were just meandering about, but the one and only time he had come through these lands before they had been hastily running to the north. There wasn’t exactly a whole lot of time for sight seeing and taking it all in. He was also vastly happy to see Flora was taking interest in it. He’d noticed how she often dulled when conversation came to the topic of his future as king and her part in that. The boy knew it was something they needed to talk about, but he hadn’t felt like they had the time. But either way, seeing her light up at seeing his homeland gave him some hope that she might not be completely discontent here.

When Nicolai called out with his opinion as they rested, Augustine nodded. This certainly was not ideal, but they had only just begun. He would not allow himself to become disheartened so quickly. [+coral “I agree, the less we cause the common people to suffer, the better off we will be.”] He certainly did not want them rising up against him if this came down to them stealing into the castle to kill Vincent and reveal him to be the snake he was. [+coral “We just have to keep at it for now. There is no way Vincent has gone on all this time without making a mistake somewhere in the larger townships. We just have to find it and use it to our advantage.”] There was an undertone of confidence in his voice, but it was not to the point of being cocky, optimistic for sure, but not due to some false self-confidence. [+coral “Besides, for the time being everyone sees us as nothing more than strangers. We can’t expect them just to come out to us with all their problems.”] Doubly so when things were on the up and up, to complain about those in charge would make them look ungrateful. On top of that there was also the fear of starting rumors that their country was weak or ailing in some way. Having so many foreigners among their party certainly was not helping dissuade that apprehension in those they met.

[+mediumseagreen “By that line of thinking, we have to be ready to accept that they may never come to us with his transgressions.”] Florence was happy to see her son had not lost his spark after what could have been seen as a month of bad news. It showed that he had the foresight to know that this was not going to be over just because they showed up and began parading around the countryside. [+mediumseagreen “There may come a time when we will have to employ those who do support you to dig those things up in our stead.”] Connections were going to be key here. That was often the good thing about farmers, who were one of the groups that were ‘hurting’; they knew people. Not only did they employ them in the fields when it came time for harvest, but they made contact with the merchants and storefronts that would come to sell their produce. Through intelligence webs like these they might be able to see deeper into the mechanism that was Wistina, in fact, it was almost certain. Though it would be nice if they could also connect with at least a few of those in power in the cities. To hear word straight from the horses’ mouth was always the best, but she was sure there would come a time when they could not afford to be picky.

The blond heard what Florence was saying, but it still wasn’t exactly what he wanted. It seemed underhanded to play that way. He knew that was a childish view to take, and he knew he was going to have to work on that. This was war, be it large or small in scale, and he needed to be ready to do what it took to be the victor when the dust settled. So, he did not argue with her or try to rebut what she had to say.

At the edge of their small circle, Marko had come to join them. He did not speak as he did not have much of anything to contribute, but the boy took it all in. He wondered how long it would take for these types of conversations to be common place and at what time he would be expected to give his opinions as well. These were not the sorts of things he was versed in, at least, he had not been taught in the same way that Augustine had or lived it in the way the adults had. And so, he would continue to listen, gleaning what he could from their words and hoping that he might be able to call upon the different ways they thought at a later date when it was needed but perhaps they were not around to say it themselves.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 179d 12h 11m 3s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat With her kind words playing on his mind it left Nicolai to just hold her and drift back to a light slumber. It was pleasant being able to relax like that with her and to just embrace one another in an affectionate manner. For the week ahead it was a different story. Whilst he tried to carve out time for them, he was kept quite busy by the small but demanding Helga. The teens were given harmless tasks like tending to the gardens or cleaning within the house. Florence and Töka were put to work in the stable and in helping Helga personally with her own work. Nicolai… he was essentially the handyman come labourer for the week. From dawn to dusk he was mending fences, fixing walls, digging troughs and moving earth. If it was physical and tiring, then he would be put to task on it.

It was not all negative however as by the end of the week he was feeling that little more flexible and stronger. Being outside most days in the sun, shirt discarded often as he did not want the ire of Helga when she chastised him for getting it filthy during his work, he was left a little more bronze too, a healthy glow almost. She made sure the elfin man and his lady friend were separated of a night however, not wanting them lazing about come morning nor setting a poor example to the children. It was all quite old fashioned but, in a way, it was sweet, and Nicolai did not object too much. He did his best to carve out some time for Florence here and there and to ensure she knew he was not avoiding her as before.

When they began to head out from his home and take branching paths out into the country, he would do his best to accommodate Florence’s goals of teaching the others about the terrain and offering what he knew about Wistinian customs. Everything was prefaced with the understanding that it had been many years since they had been here and that the change in leadership would mean a different landscape. As expected, Flora was quite interested, though perhaps it was just to hear of her boyfriend’s homeland and to better understand the language too. He came to a consensus with Florence on how things looked as they visited the villages and found the people spoke of similar mind whilst those of the cities spoke the opposite. After a month or so of these excursions it was beginning to get quite depressing really. As they took a break having left their last city, Tarth, hugging the southern coast, he decided to speak up whilst they took shade beneath a tree.

[+royalblue “Not exactly getting any better the longer we do this...”] He muttered as he took his flask from his saddle and removed the stopper, turning to face the others though it was more directed at the mother and son duo.[+royalblue “If he holds the cities, he holds the numbers, and therefore the popular vote.”] It was distressing though it was mostly frustration that showed in his tone before he took a sip of his water, the coolness helping ease his annoyance.[+royalblue “We could use the chagrin of the villages to withhold food and goods, start pushing the produce north to Delfin and Tyleth, perhaps then the cities would see the fragility of their situation in letting the rural lands suffer whilst they prosper. Though, obviously, not exactly good for our cause and getting them to back us.”] Vincent was rather shrewd in this respect, keeping the majority of the people happy to ensure he had a good base of support.[+royalblue “Whilst you may be the rightful King, their memories are short and they are fickle, they will weigh up the change in leadership against their new found prosperity. Anything that endangers the new lives won’t exactly be looked upon fondly.”]
  WI_ / 179d 15h 20m 26s
[+mediumseagreen "Very well, but you cannot complain when your arm has fallen asleep or some such thing."] Her words were deceptively chiding, but there was a happy smile on her face that betrayed that rather clearly. His tucking them in did not much help her grogginess, though she was maintaining conscious well enough to hear his quiet question. In response she shook her head. [+mediumseagreen "Not in my wildest dreams could I have predicted this."] Perhaps she was being a bit too honest there, but it was what it was. [+mediumseagreen "I allowed myself to think that you might still be alive somewhere in the world, and that was it."] Florence may have been angry with him after their parting, but it never went so far as for her to want him dead. In fact, she whole-heartedly hoped that Elizabeth had managed to keep him alive, but she never thought that they would be reunited nor that they would attempt to make something happen between them again… or that it might just work. [+mediumseagreen "The fact that we are here together like this would have been impossible for me to grasp. I still find it baffling, and I have lived through everything leading up to it.”] That was more a criticism of herself than of their relationship. As previously mentioned, before now she very much planned on spending the rest of her life alone when it came to any sort of romance. [+mediumseagreen “But I am rather glad it worked out to be this way.”] Sometimes it was better not to know what the future held, and she counted this amongst the times that rang true.

As stillness settled in again, this time Florence really did fall asleep. It was probably for the best given her hangover, but when she finally woke she would feel bad not spending more time talking with Nicolai. Namely due to Helga taking up most of his time over the next few days, it was just how he predicted. Had they got more time together perhaps she would not have felt like she squandered those precious moments, but it was what it was.

After spending nearly a week recuperating, it was time for them to be off again. It became somewhat of a pattern for them. The group would set out in a different direction, stopping in towns along the way. The main goal was to survey the land and the social climate of surrounding areas. Becoming familiar with the land was useful in obvious ways, but mainly it helped to give the foreign party confidence while traversing Wistina. It was not so important right that minute, but was likely to come in handy in the future if they ever came to be separated or any such thing. As for looking into the thoughts of the general populous, it was much as they had come to expect. The larger cities that had seen a great deal of attention under this new regime were rather happy with the way things were. The economy was good and they were expanding, mostly to make room for those who were moving in to be a part of all the progress, but regardless of the reason the growth brought a sense of pride that would be hard to overcome. Smaller settlements on the other hand often longed for days passed. It was not things were terribly bad, aside from in places like Preth that had seen some great misfortune, but with most resources being funneled into the main cities there was little left for them. There was little sign of those in authority in these places and it left vast sections of disconnect between the growing points of power. If things continued on this way Florence was certain Wistina would eventually break into city-states. Such a drastic development was probably a great way off in the future, but it was still something for them to remain mindful of as they progressed.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 180d 10h 46m 41s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Thinking he had caused her some discomfort in pulling her around, a thought given to mark below her chest, he watched her closely for a few seconds. Her laughter was sweet to his ear and he looked up at her with silent wonder as she looked down at him. There was a wonderful kindness to her features and perhaps seeing his silent and thoughtful looks, she leaned down to break his concentration upon her with a light and brief kiss. It was enough to sate him, and he did not go in search of more as his hands softly slid around her, moving up to between her shoulders and fixing the covers of the bed around them.

[+royalblue “I am happy to be here…”] His response was quiet like hers and slowly his hands began to gently stroke back and forth. She was not light, no adult was ever truly light, but even atop him like this she was not at all heavy. It was quite comfortable how she had settled herself and his larger frame held her with ease. She was warm, and soft, and he found it humorous that being where he was might be construed as [i ‘stuck here’].[+royalblue “Given how rude I was back in the tavern, and how I was not here for you when you woke up, I think it fair that I stay where you want me for as long as you want me.”] He still felt bad about his actions, as was often the case whenever he looked back on most things that had to do with Florence. Granted staying where he was not entirely selfless as he was happy to hold her and enjoy this embrace knowing full well that these moments alone were quite precious.

His head dipped a touch, lips pressing against her cool forehead, hands continuing their soothing motion.[+royalblue “Could you have ever imagined a few months ago, that you and I of all people, would be laying here together like this?”] It was meant in a positive manner, as shown through his uplifting tone. Months before he had been leading a rebellion, all whilst unbeknownst to her that he was even still alive. To go from a ghost of her past to a very real and potential partner for life, as she had put it, was a change in circumstances even his wildest dreams could not have hoped for. When the trio of teens and herself had first come across the straights to Malidek he had had a repressed desire to rekindle a modicum of friendship with the two Melbournes, to perhaps win enough favour and goodwill that he might crawl his way back to where he was seven or eight years ago. This, with her right now, was simply astounding.
  WI_ / 180d 16h 4m 26s
Florence had not really believed Nicolai would accept everything she said to him. His skepticism was too deeply ingrained in him as a person, at least when it came to himself. However, when he smiled, she decided to let it slide. He had made the choice not to descend into a self-depreciating spiral, so who was she to keep pressing the topic. Even if she hadn’t really meant his title when she spoke of him not being just a guard. It was fine though, she was content to know he had at least heard what she had to say, which was probably a first for her. Not having the final word did bother her the littlest bit though. That was something about her she doubted she would ever really change. The woman was not able to dwell on it though, not before she was pulled along with Nicolai as he rolled onto his back.

Chuckling lightly at his antics, Florence tried to ignore the pulsing in her head the jostling of her laugh caused. For some reason him slinging her about was fine, but this subtler movement gave her grief. The body was a mysterious thing. [+mediumseagreen “I suppose it will have to be.”] There was not much chance of them getting any closer, though she had thought that before he pulled her atop of him too. So who knew, he might be able to surprise her again, but Florence doubted it. Once she was nearly certain they would be staying like this a while, the woman moved about some so that her legs fit better in with his. After hat, she was laid rather comfortably on top of the elf, her only worry was that she might be to heavy for him to be comfortable as well. The thought played at the back of her mind before she leaned in to place a soft kiss on his lips. It was a brief expression of her affection before she laid her head to rest on him. Surely he would move them if he needed to.

In the quiet, Florence allowed herself to simply soak in the contentment surrounding her. With her eyes closed she could feel herself beginning to nod off. She hummed lightly as if that might keep her awake. [+mediumseagreen “...If you are not careful you are going to wind up stuck here.”] Her words were a tentative whisper, as she warned him at her own expense. Florence did not want to move. She was happy here, however she also did not want to leave him trapped if he wanted the freedom to be able to come and go as he pleased.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 180d 17h 44m 18s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai had hoped he could listen to her response without her seeing how he reacted, that if he didn't agree with her she wouldn't see it in his telling eyes or from minor facial expressions. But she was smart to his hiding tactics and knew he would look to withhold such thoughts from her. Instead her soft hands cupped his cheeks and forced their eyes to meet and so she saw the initial scepticism he felt in her words. Perhaps it was a masculine thing to correlate physical ability with actual worth. He hoped it was just a trait of his gender and not one of his own design, as his gaze did soften when she told him what she thought of him. It was sweet if a little much; did she really think of him as courageous? From his point of view he couldn't think of a single courageous act he had committed. But that was left unspoken.

Her humour was quite poor though that only made it that much better and a larger smile broke across his lips.[+royalblue “You do realise I am not a General or a Duke any more. I am, for all intent and purpose, a mere guard now without my titles.”] It was not meant to counter her or to continue his dour mood but to merely rebut her and point out that indeed he was of no social stature any more. In a way it was for the best. Now he had nothing over him, no expectations or responsibilities. He was free to do as he pleased and as her leg crept up further on him he had settled on his next action.

As she told him she liked him, oh how sweet it would have been for her to say love but oh well, his hand around her pressed flush to her back. With a hold of her thigh in the other hand he rolled away, pulling her with him and thus ending with her laying atop him, sprawled almost as she pressed atop him and he looked up at her. Her hair tumbled down and obscured some of the light of the room leaving them in a veiled darkness almost and he chuckled lightly.[+royalblue “I really do like you too Florence. Is this close enough for you?”] He asked as hands moved around to her waist to save her slipping off of him or Gods forbid to tumble from the bed. If she did that he doubted there would be any chance of forgiveness for a day or two.
  WI_ / 180d 23h 45m 33s
The cold from the morning air still lingered on him despite how they came together. Florence wondered when her warmth would reach him, though it was a thought in the back of her mind, especially when he pressed his lips to hers. It was a brief moment shared between them before he continued. [+mediumseagreen “No, do not apologize… Hard or not, it is important we talk about this.”] Particularly if it was bothering him as much as it looked like it was. Keeping this in would only stress him further and make things worse. She wanted to understand his worries and fears. That way she could try to alleviate them, or share in the burden where possible. She also very much appreciated his truthfulness in what was not an easy subject to talk about.

He was right, she was going to tell him he was more than just a guard. Nicolai was an advisor and confidant. Someone they could place trust in with more than just their physical wellbeing, but he was not having it. Florence let him get everything out, watching how his eyes flittered away from hers and back again throughout his confession. In the end, she smiled back at him. [+mediumseagreen “You are not an idiot, but you should shut up and let me dote on you a bit.”] Wiggling, the woman freed her arm that had been pressed between them so that she could bring it up with her other to hold his face. Her touch was affectionate, but this was mainly a means of keeping him from looking away from her.

[+mediumseagreen “Even if something were to happen and you could not fight, I would still not consider you a burden. Those I care about will never be a burden to me… I know you take pride in protecting us, and I understand how that might stay your fears for the future, but please do not sell yourself short and think that is all there is to you. You are thoughtful and loving and courageous, so if a day comes when you cannot raise your sword, there will still be plenty of you left that is worth keeping around.”] And those were just a few of the things she could think of. Certainly with more time she would be able to comprise a longer and better-worded list of his virtues. [+mediumseagreen “Besides… do you really think I would consider spending the rest of my life with a ‘mere guard.’ I think we both know I have much higher standards than that.”] Her last point was made lightheartedly as she let her hands come down from his cheeks and rest around his neck. There was not room to be any closer to him, as they were pressed tight to one another, but that did not stop her from trying to snuggle in more. Her movement did little other than set her thigh higher upon his, ensnaring him just that little bit more so that he could not escape from her or the bed. [+mediumseagreen "I really do like you Nicolai."] Florence was fairly confident all she said before had got that point across, but still, in times like this it was probably best that she was outright with what she meant. She was learning that much at least.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 182d 15h 17m 20s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai could tell this wasn't an easy subject for her to discuss. He felt she understood what he was getting at, trying to tell her this was not some light illness that could be managed and wouldn't impact their lives but that it may take him at any moment. However discussing ones mortality and the ease with which he could be here and then gone was not simple or simply brushed aside. Even when she tried to justify it with talk of the Taken it came out rather macabre and a wry smile tugged at his lips.[+royalblue “I know it isn't something easy to talk about.”] He shifted very slightly, hands still holding her full figure close to him to share their warmth, yet he managed to dip his head and his eyes opened to look at her.

Leaning forward briefly he kissed her, a light and fleeting moment as if to thank her but also to quash any concerns he may have brought forth. Easing back his hands squeezed appreciatively.[+royalblue “I'm sorry, it's not pleasant I just haven't had anyone to talk about it with. And after last night I feel like I can be more honest with you.”] It was odd to admit that aloud but it felt the right thing to tell her, to let her know she held such a lofty seat within his inner world. It was his way of telling her that no longer was she shunned or pushed aside and withheld from his thoughts but that she had broken through and now she had access to the more demure and tainted parts of his soul.[+royalblue “Look, I know we can't see the future, we can't know what day will be our last, but I worry and I always will. I have spent so long wanting and trying to keep you and Augustine safe and happy that if something stops me from protecting you two it leaves me fearful for what is to come.”] Whether it was from his illness or being injured in a fight, he had always felt the need to be strong and in control was his only means of helping them. They may have toyed with the idea the night before that he was not the best General, but he was, at his base element, a man with a sword and a determination to keep them safe.

[+royalblue “I know you will argue I offer more, that I can be more than a mere guard, but I know my limits and this illness and... I worry that as we get close to the end I may be left a mere guard unable to raise his sword and fight. Being a burden on you all is worse than doing nothing at all.”] The exasperation in his voice was blatantly clear and he released a gentle sigh as he looked down, away from her gaze as if not wanting to see her agree or see the pity in her eyes.[+royalblue “I'm being an idiot, I know. Just… just tell me to shut up and tell me you like me again. That helps.”] He tried to show his humility, that he understood how ridiculous he was being, and a softer smile turned the corners of his lips as his bright eyes came back up to hers. He was like this at times with Elizabeth, though loathe to admit it now, where he needed her encouragement. Sometimes he could let his inner demons become too powerful and he just needed this strong, bright eyed woman to remind him he wasn't alone.
  WI_ / 183d 10h 48m 45s
His admission was obviously not ideal. It was not really something Florence wanted to think about either, but it also was not a topic that should be swept under the rug, and she knew that. And so she nodded along with what he was saying, an acknowledgement that she had heard him and was processing it a bit before she gave her actual response. She knew what it was like to be sickly, but not in this sense. Her own ailment was predictable and while it could be debilitating, Florence did not really have to worry about it suddenly killing her, not if she managed herself properly. However, despite all this, she had something else that could act as a point of comparison and so she could relate to his feelings, even if it was not quite the same.

[+mediumseagreen “It was my understanding from the beginning of this we were going for something more.”] The whole goal for her was to build something solid so she might have a chance to move passed some of her own issues and feel normal for once. Florence did not think that was possible with something fleeting or temporary, but given their tendency to clash against one another, she could see why he might have felt otherwise. [+mediumseagreen “But I understand your reluctance to push this to front and center.”] Seldom did anyone want to dwell on their own mortality. She was no different, but here they were. [+mediumseagreen “I do not want to lose you...”] she knew how painful it would be. [+mediumseagreen “But I am not going to let that stop me from being with you. This happiness now is worth it... It is the same for you too, is it not?”] Perhaps this would have been an apt time to pull back enough to look at him, however she was content to let their closeness be enough to convey her sentiments, especially in the way her hand gripped his just a little bit tighter. [+mediumseagreen “I pissed off a band of mercenary assassins... I do not imagine they want to talk it out.”] The only reason she could figure why they had not killed her when they had an agent in Astoria was because they had other options to inflict suffering onto her. Now that they were back on the Taken’s turf, it was unlikely that would be the case anymore. Not as soon as they figured out their little group was here. But that was not really the point of what she was saying here. [+mediumseagreen “By coming back to this country we are risking our lives, we could be found at any time and that would be the end.”] This was coming out much more morbid than she intended. [+mediumseagreen “...I guess what I am trying to say is life is unpredictable. Anything could happen tomorrow, whether it be illness or something else entirely, but that never stopped me from wanting this.”] Florence had heard the apprehension in his voice, but she could not tell if it stemmed from a fear of death or from the fact that she might reject him in light of his condition. So, in the end she decided to focus on the latter, as it was something she could try to comfort him in and do so sincerely.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 183d 21h 8m 42s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It had been a tremendously nerve racking moment for Nicolai to place his illness so openly before her. Yes he had managed to quell the worst of the tremors, subdued his own body back into some semblance of normalcy, but it was unnerving for him to just place his hand to her and make it so apparent. She said all the right words and had a way with language that often subdued him and left him quite humbled, yet the belief that he had to be strong and physically imposing was a societal trait he would find hard to overcome. Men with illnesses were pitied and shunned. He wanted to personally feel he was perfect as much as hear her say he was. It was an odd masculine flaw.

Closing his eyes as she pressed her hand atop his he was grateful for the kind way she showed her acknowledgement. It was sweet and it was gentle, though he felt a touch shameful for having hid it to begin with given how she was reacting. He had expected her to shout at him or shame him. This reaction… it was new, and whilst refreshing it threw him off a little as he was unsure how to respond. His hand's squeezed her a little, their chests pushed together, her thigh pulled closer.[+royalblue “You have to know… it could take me at any time...”] It was said very softly, trepidation in his voice and it was good that he wasn't looking at her less the fear show in his gaze.[+royalblue “I can't let you be in the dark on that any longer, not if we're going for something more.”]
  WI_ / 184d 24m 45s
That was a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand she was glad to not have to worry about parting too soon, but on the other she hated to know his suffering would be prolonged over the course of the next several days. Nicolai did not seem all to thrilled at the prospect either, though it seemed he was already plotting how to lessen the torment, much as she was. That was until he shimmied in closer to her and she decide not to squander the present on thoughts of the future.

[+mediumseagreen “It takes more than that to scare me.”] Perhaps it was probably truer to say it took different kinds of things to scare her, but Florence felt as though her comment got the sentiment across tolerably well. More so when he pulled them closer together, bodies flush to one another. It brought a slight smile to her face, even if his words were mildly self-depreciating. [+mediumseagreen “And there is nothing for you to be scared of either.”] Her head tilted ever so slightly, as she spoke the warm words. They matched her expression, though her green eyes stayed locked to his violet ones as his gaze traveled over her features. However, that connection was lost when he gingerly brought their foreheads together. She had been happy to watch his beautiful eyes, but this was good in its own way. The self-consciousness at being watched as she spoke dissipated. [+mediumseagreen “I have a bad habit of overlooking the flaws of those who I am closest with.”] This was most apparent in her son and her brother, though she was certain Nicolai had already noticed that ten times over. [+mediumseagreen “I am already convinced you are worthy of me,”] whatever that meant, [+mediumseagreen “and I cannot help but think you are fast approaching perfect in my eyes.”] Wrapped up in the moment, it was terribly difficult to see how he was not perfect, but to say such would be admitting something she wasn’t quite sure was true. Or rather, if it was, she had not admitted it to herself yet.

Florence had taken note of the minute tremble of the elf’s hand on her leg no sooner than he placed it there; she opted to leave it be while she continued with what needed to be said. She knew he did not want to be viewed as weak or worthy of pity, but as she spoke, she could not help but think this was exactly the sort of thing she was talking about. So, taking her hand that had fallen around him when he turned, she placed it over his on her thigh, quelling the barely noticeable shaking with a light pressure. [+mediumseagreen “And I do mean all of you, my dear.”] She hoped that this knowledge might deter him from hiding his episodes from her, in much the way he seemed to have done just a short while earlier. The woman hoped to be able to support him as much as he did her, though that would be hard if he continued to feel shame over circumstances out of his control. But change was a process and she knew it. Florence just hoped he might come to be more comfortable relying on her with such things in time.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 184d 16h 51m 16s
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nicolai nodded along, though he found it hard to imagine this woman drinking anyone under the table. She had done well last night, drinking quite a fair amount, but to hear her talk about drinking as if she had been some kind of professional? He doubted that. It did make him smile just a little and he shifted just a little as she leaned up to kiss his cheek, pressing her figure atop him just a little and it was gratefully welcomed. How long had he been longing for a return to these times, where a soft squeeze or gentle kiss on the cheek was a highlight to his day? Perhaps a few years. And that was just sad.

[+royalblue “Oh, not to worry, she will leave me be. The punishment will come in the next few days. I’ll be her little lackey – though I think I may use Augustine and Flora as a distraction much sooner.”] He could do without the stress of Helga haranguing him for help and servitude. It might keep his mind distracted, but for now Florence was the perfect distraction. His right hand continued its flexing to stem the lasting tremors though, he believed they were beginning to subside.

He let out a hum of indecision as his arm around her wrapped more securely about her side and his hand came flush to her stomach. Pulling her figure tighter against his side for her softness and warmth and allowing him to tangle their feet once more he shuffled a little down into the bed so that he could be on eye level with her.[+royalblue “I hope I didn’t scare you with my stories last night. I can understand if it sits at such odds with how I exhibit myself in public or even with how I am now here with you.”] He eyes flitted about her face, from her full lips to her bright gaze and back to her rosy cheeks, seemingly lost in just watching her.[+royalblue “I guess part of [i me] was and perhaps still is scared. Scared that my past held me back from being fully open to you, making me want to be someone worthy of you, not wanting to be less than perfect to you.”]

It was then that he brought his other hand across, turning onto his side a little to face her though now his chest pressed to hers. His free hand came to rest on her thigh – not in an overly sexual manner – and positioned her in a slightly more comfortable position to him. Though it was not as obvious as he thought, his fingers would tremble against. It was subtle but they would offer varying degrees of pressure as if he were playing some imaginary piano against her smooth skin. He leaned his head forward pressing his forehead against hers lightly as if to complete their connection in a manner of speaking.
  WI_ / 185d 11h 22m 14s
Of course he felt the need to bring that up. [+mediumseagreen “Well, perhaps we could have lived without that particular comment. But it is true, so I will let you have it.”] Florence let out a short sigh. It was not one of anger, but of defeat in knowing that she may never hear the end of that. He was just lucky that kiss to her head placated her just enough to let it slide. [+mediumseagreen “With any luck, that will be the case.”] Sure some of the things they spoke of were worth repeating, especially the ones that carried on into the future with their feelings and whatnot. But the darkness of long distant pasts, that could stay there as far as she was concerned.

Florence shivered at the mention of stronger drinking alternatives, both because her stomach could not handle the idea of taking any more alcohol and she had experienced something similar long ago. [+mediumseagreen “I can remember a few nights in my youth much like that, but with moonshine…”] Obviously she was not the greatest kid in that regard. [+mediumseagreen “But my tolerance was not quite so low back then… I could drink just about anyone under the table; then came Augustine. I do not know what that boy did to me, but ever since he was born I can barely handle a decent stout without making a mockery of myself. It is a shame.”] She did not know a thing about chemistry or whatnot, but she knew after she had that child she was a complete and total lightweight. Augustus teased her terribly when she came back to Astoria.

Then the topic came back to Helga. She did not want to lose him to her, but that was the price they had to pay in order to have this time they were currently sharing. Pushing herself up, she placed a kiss on his cheek. [+mediumseagreen “Thank you. I know it is a pain, but hopefully this will get her off your back for a while… if not, we can toss Augustine at her and mention him and Flora. That should get her distracted for a good while.”] Strangely enough, the two of them were almost on the same page there. [+mediumseagreen “For now though, fingers crossed that she will get her morning chores out of the way before she comes to collect you.”] With that comment she squeezed him just a little bit, a sign that she was not ready to hand him off just yet.
  Florence Melbourne / Loxi / 195d 13h 49m 2s

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