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 Return, Cass and Ambrosia
Edmund Du Nord II
 Posted: Oct 26 2014, 08:49 AM
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((for Cassandra and Ambrosia (and Aure if he wants to jump in) ))

The Duke of Fexlund rode at the head of a small party of knights, heading back to the DeWinter estate.
There were negotiations to be made in a trade route to the East. The deal had been signed six months since, but complications were always going to arise. It wasn't strictly necessary for Edmund to be there, but his advisers had told him it would add some gravitas to their argument if the Duke or Duchess was present.
Edmund had insisted on going alone. The journey would have been unnecessarily hard on Cassandra, even though she was back to her duties now that Ralph was a few months old.
Edmund looked up at his home, he sighed in relief as he passed through the gates. He had been away for a week, a whole week from his beloved Cassandra and their little son. He wondered if he had grown much in that time.

Edmund and his men trotted the last hundred yards up the gravelled track. Once they reached the courtyard, Edmund threw the reins of his bay stallion at the head groom, he pulled the new contracts out of the saddlebags and tucked them under his arm. He would drop them off in his office, but the only thing Edmund wanted now was to see his family. Oh, and perhaps a bath to wash away the long journey.

He jogged up the steps and made his way inside. The Duke sent a servant to heat some water, and another to let Cassandra know he had returned.

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Cassandra DuNord
 Posted: Nov 4 2014, 11:34 PM
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Cassandra already knew he was back. She had been waiting for him to ride into the court yard, waiting for him to return to her side. She hated when he was away, hated being without him. Since their talk she had been more comfortable with him, just like when they had first found each other.

The red silk of her dress rustled happily as she rushed down the stairs to beat him to the door. But he was always stronger and faster than her. A thing she hated about him.

She stopped on the stairs, assuming a more lady like manner. She smoothed her hair and folded her hands carefully across her dress.

When he entered the hall she beamed.

She couldn't wait to tell him the news.

"Welcome home love."
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Edmund Du Nord II
 Posted: Nov 5 2014, 05:06 PM
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Edmund had barely finished telling the servant to notify his wife, when the dear Duchess appeared before him, looking resplendent in red.
He thought to kiss her hand and greet her in a manner that was polite and acceptable for a noble lord and lady.
But at her bright smile, he closed the distance between them with two of his long strides. He took her in his arms and kissed her. Let protocol and prying servants be damned (though the DeWinter staff had learnt to turn a blind eye to their Duke and Duchess in moments of affection); Edmund savoured the feel of his wife in his arms, the perfume of her skin.
Edmund broke away and smiled sheepishly.

"I have missed you, wife."

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Cassandra DuNord
 Posted: Nov 7 2014, 02:59 PM
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"I missed you too, sweet husband."

She took his embrace all too willingly and reluctantly pulled away when it was ended.

"I have been waiting for you all day. How did the negotiations go? How are things in the wide world?"

She took his hand in hers. She noticed a glance of one of the waiting women but ignored it. He was her husband and she would touch him when she saw fit.

"Shall we retire to our rooms? I am sure a warm bath would do you good."

She could see the dust that hung on his clothes. Riding long distances was dirty work and seemed to leave one strained and tired no matter the distance.


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Ambrosia Augustine
 Posted: Nov 10 2014, 03:39 PM
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Ambrosia woke up bleary eyed to the sound of horses and men shouting in the courtyard underneath her window. The sun had risen high so she guessed it was late morning, she must have slept deeply, probably the comfort of a soft bed and warm, plentiful food. She had been well looked after she couldn't deny that.
She pushed back the coverlet and shivered as her bare feet searched for some shoes, she wrapped a cloak around her and went to peer down into the courtyard. She could see the Duke's standard flying in the breeze and a group of men dismounting their horses; she watched one man hurriedly throw his horses reins to a stable hand and run up the steps.

'Good morning Duke' she said out loud and smiled. Finally he was here, she knew it would be proper to leave Cassandra to summon her, ensure that the Duke and Duchess had time together before she was announced but she was impatient. It was alright for everyone here, everyone who lived in comfort and safety, even her brother, a boy Roland should be seeking out to kill had found a place of security and refuge while she had been forced to survive; forced to use her wits just to exist. She knew she should wait but she was tired of waiting, she had been cold and hungry and scared for too long and she was damned if she was going to wait another moment lost and uncertain just so the Duke and Duchess could make a start on baby number two.

She hesitated a moment and then summoned a servant ; it had been a long time since she had been treated like a lady and if today went badly then it could be long time before she was again so she made the most of it. She was scented and dressed and her hair was combed until it shone. When she looked in the mirror she saw a glimmer of who she used to be and it gave her confidence.

She left the room and made her way towards the hall in time to see the Duke kiss his wife and give her a look so tender that it made her hesitate, suddenly reluctant to break the moment husband and wife had created for themselves.

They broke apart and Ambrosia stepped forward into the hall and swept down into a curtsey; 'My Lord; I am glad to see you are safely returned.'

This post has been edited by Ambrosia Augustine: Nov 10 2014, 03:43 PM
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Edmund Du Nord II
 Posted: Nov 16 2014, 05:02 PM
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Edmund sighed at her questions. He was no businessman, he had advisors and men more learned than himself. On this occassion he'd done little more than add gravitas to the proceedings.

"Oh, the negotiations were typically long-winded. Those men knew how to speak in circles. But it all went back to the original agreement. I will give you all the details when I have recovered from the boredom."

Edmund felt the comfort of her hand on his. He raised it to his lips and kissed it softly.

"A bath would be heavenly."

He replied, a flash of colour catching the corner of his eye.
He saw the lady with the flame-red hair descend the stairs and move towards them. Only when she curtsied did Edmund register what was happening.

"Rose? W-what are you doing here?"

He stuttered. His face blanched of all colour. This could not be happening. Edmund didn't know whether to be scared, or to give in to the bubbling anger at seeing the girl here. Their previous meetings had always been less than civil.
The Duke looked from the girl to his wife, his blue eyes clouded with confusion. Why was the dead-princess-turned-rebel coming from upstairs this early in the day. What on earth had his wife been up to while he had been away?

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Ambrosia Augustine
 Posted: Nov 17 2014, 01:25 PM
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Ambrosia kept her eyes down; trying to look contrite and modest. She knew Edmund would be wondering what was going on; and from the look on his face she guessed he hadn't forgotten their previous conversation.

Ambrosia looked up and hope the Duke would giver her a chance; Aurelius and Maximillian had made their wishes clear and she had no choice but to try and do as they wished. Not for the first time she wished she had been born a man, then the Duke and his wife would be bending the knee to her right now, but she was a woman and so had to do what she could with the chances that came her way.

'Edmund, you look well, The hunt must have agreed with you.' She smiled brightly; 'I have been enjoying your wife's hospitality.' She nodded to the Duchess; 'for which I am incredibly grateful for, it was wonderful to sleep in scented sheets on a feather mattress again. As you know Edmund it has been a long time since I enjoyed such luxuries.'
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Cassandra DuNord
 Posted: Nov 17 2014, 11:30 PM
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Cassandra didn't get a word in before Ed and "Rose" started in on each other. The look on Ed's face was unclear. He seemed confused, upset perhaps? She thought Ed knew, the woman, Ambrosia said that they had talked.

"Ed's whats going on? I thought you had invited her here, to be with her brother."

She had dropped Ed's hands. Her "news" forgotten.

"She showed up during the storm looking for you. I was alone...I took her to her brother to confirm her identity. I couldn't very well turn her out into the rain?"

That last part was a clear question if she should have. Anger bubbled at the sight of the girl and the thought that Ed was keeping things from her. She thought since their talk that all of this was past them. But it didn't seem so.

She smiled tightly as the girl mentioned her hospitality. She quickly schooled her features into a calm mask of displeasure. She and Ed would discuss their issues privately. Later..
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Edmund Du Nord II
 Posted: Nov 18 2014, 05:30 PM
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Edmund was still processing. The last time he had seen the fallen princess, she had half been his captive in Rodan. He had insisted that she stay in his house, while he visited Dunmore on behalf of his mother. When his mother was still alive.
They had come to admit that they shouldn't be judged by their families' past grievances. It wasn't exactly a glowing agreement, and far from an invitation to come to his wife's estate.

Edmund's eyes flicked to Cassandra as she dropped his hand and asked what was going on. Her brother? If Cassandra knew that this girl was Aurelius' sister, then she definitely knew the identity of her guest.

"What? How...?"

Edmund stuttered again, trying to get his thoughts in order. He nervously licked his lips and tried again.

"I offered her no such invitation, Cassandra. Although I suppose we must extend our hospitality to our resident poet's sister."

He glanced at the servants that hovered near them, looking like they were enjoying this exchange. Edmund wondered if the household knew who their guest actually was. Had they worked it out while he had been away? If so, it was only a matter of time before they invited King Roland's wrath.

Edmund turned to the princess, not sure how he should act. If it were only the three of them, he would be much blunter.

"Lady Rose, you are welcome as long as my wife desires it. I hope your brother is much recovered."

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Ambrosia Augustine
 Posted: Nov 27 2014, 12:06 PM
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Ambrosia knew she should be modest and contrite but she couldn't help inwardly chuckling at how much chaos her appearance had brought. Her eyes twinkled as she eyed the servants amused glances.

'My brother is quite well thank you, your wife's administrations have worked wonders on his constitution.' She smiled encouragingly, 'I hope I have not stepped past the point of politeness. I am aware no invitation was extended to me but my brother and I have found ourselves at a crossroads and I hoped to ask for council on these matters.' She looked down at the floor and for good measure added; 'I have always found your advice to be most welcome.'

This post has been edited by Zorrah: Nov 27 2014, 12:07 PM
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Cassandra DuNord
 Posted: Nov 30 2014, 12:09 AM
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"Ed..."

Cassandra was still confused.

"If you do not wish...Rose..and her brother to stay then of course send them away."

She spoke carefully. All too aware of the eyes and ears that watched and listened.

"You are my Lord and your will is my own."

She nodded at him, encouraging him to do what he needed to do. She had invited the girl for no other reason that she had said she had spoken to her husband. Of course she knew who Aurelius was and now his sister. But Ed had his reasons for inviting him in and she would not question that decision.
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Edmund Du Nord II
 Posted: Nov 30 2014, 02:58 PM
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Edmund took half a step backwards. He felt like his ability to process anything more right now was impossible. He couldn't believe this was happening.
Aurelius had landed in their laps, and had sought allies and support to reclaim his father's throne. Edmund was still in two minds about it, he wanted to help the boy, but he doubted Aurelius' strength. It was easy to play the good Samaritan and nurse him back to health, but not take his bigger goals seriously.
What did it mean now that his sister was staying? Would it sway Edmund's mind? And how long could this go on before Roland or the Regesvard heard about it?

When Edmund looked between Rose and his wife, he couldn't help but notice movement in the corner of his eye. He wanted to trust the staff that made up the DeWinter/DuNord household, but all he could think was that they were extra ears and eyes.

"Let us speak in my office. I must freshen up from my journey, I will meet you there in an hour, Lady Rose. Cassandra, perhaps the three of us could have lunch there?"

((time skip? ))

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Ambrosia Augustine
 Posted: Dec 15 2014, 11:44 AM
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(time skip)

Ambrosia adjusted her gown; after living in the forest for so long the feel of a long skirt felt uncomfortable and she was annoyed at this. She needed to present a calm and confident front to the Duke and Duchess and standing in front of them rearranging herself was not going to convey that.

She had washed her face with rose water and brushed her hair until it gleamed like fire and she knew she was looking as well as she could; she suppressed a feeling of insecurity when she thought of the fresh faced, pretty young Duchess. Ambrosia knew the hardships she had faced now showed on her face and she envied the blemish free skin of Cassandra.

Mentally shaking herself she glance once at herself in the mirror and then summoned the guard that had been provided for her to escort her to the Duke's study rehearsing everything she wished to say under her breath and she walked.

The guard knocked on the door to announce her presence and she waited for the Duke to admit her.
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Cassandra DuNord
 Posted: Dec 15 2014, 11:21 PM
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Cassandra had left Ed reluctantly. She had allowed him to clean up, change his clothes and be alone with his thoughts. Meanwhile hers rolled.

She nervously sat in his office, in the large wing back chair that stood by the fire. Her hands pleated and folded her red dress rhythmically, over and over trying to dispel her growing anxiety.

She couldn't help but feel she had done something wrong but allowing the girl to stay. Perhaps the childish boy was one thing, but the woman seemed like a viper. She should have trusted her instinct and left the girl to the wide world.

Why had she not listened to her instinct?

As the guard knocked Cassandra jumped, emitting a loud squeek much like a mouse would when stepped on in the dark. For a moment she just stared at the door, but finally, mentally willed herself to let the girl in.

Cooly she approached the door and opened it.

"Please come in. Ed...the Duke... will be here soon. Would you like some tea?"

On the table in front of the two women were the fixings of a light lunch. She didn't think any of them would have had the stomach for much more than that.
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Edmund Du Nord II
 Posted: Dec 22 2014, 04:15 PM
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Edmund did not hurry, he soaked in the warm water, letting it loosen his muscles and wash away the dust from travelling. It was a relaxing haven, and gave the Duke a chance to get his head around the fact that the fallen princess was in his house. The princess... and the prince. Two young people that had a legitimate claim to the throne. They had the drive to succeed, they may even have the allies. If Edmund threw his weight, and that of the Black Court, behind them, he could see Roland's reign quickly destabilising.
Edmund sighed and pulled himself out of the metal tub. He hated his step-father, that much was clear. But did he want to actively pursue revenge? Yes, a voice whispered.

Once Edmund was dressed, he made his way downstairs. The scent of soap clung to his skin, and his black hair was still damp.
Edmund rapped his knuckles on his office door, before entering immediately. His blue eyes took in the two ladies that hovered inside, and the untouched lunch on the table.
Edmund moved automatically to his wife's side, his arm encircling her waist, as he pressed brief kiss against her cheek.

"Thank you."

He murmured, his fingers squeezing into her flesh, unwilling to let her leave. She needed to stay and stop him in case his own moral compass went askew.
Edmund turned to the princess.

"Lady Rose, sorry for my earlier lapse in manners, you caught me off guard."

Edmund looked to the guard that had accompanied the princess. He wanted to trust the DeWinter household, but he was keen to reduce the number of ears that could betray them.

"Leave us. See that we are not disturbed."

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