Solo I think we should get married.

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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I think we should get married.

Postby Madeira Craven on January 6th, 2021, 7:23 pm

    29th of Winter, 520
“I think we should get married.”

Madeira dropped her book to her chest as she said it, and she watched the motes of dust float lazily across the ceiling from her position laying across the bed. Winter was in full swing, but the spiritist had her dress pulled up to her knees and the top button undone to alleviate the unseasonable warmth. Crickets and beetles buzzed lazily in the flower box outside the open window. From across the room Chiona could be heard choking on her tea.

As the question hung unanswered Madeira tilted back her head, hanging it off the edge of Chiona’s bed as she watched her thump her chest with her fist.

“I will never understand how you do that”, the woman gasped, righting herself in her reading chair.

“Do what?”

“Say those kinds of things so…” she waved a flustered hand at Madeira, at her casual position and her unbothered face. “You enjoy shocking me, don’t you?”

“Is that a no?”

“Of course no!” Chiona threw back. The words seemed to come out harsher than she intended, and Madeira could see her pull back and recollect. “You just kind of dropped that on me.”

Madeira smiled, Chiona’s outright refusal rolling right off the curve of her lip. “I would have made a proper proposal at the Falls, with a beautiful ring, and a speech I had practiced nervously for weeks before”, she murmured dreamily. “But it can’t be spontaneous, not for people like us, that’s why I’m bringing it up now.”

Chiona leaned back in her chair, head tipped back, dropping her book on her lap so she could press the heels of her hands into the socket of her eyes. “I don’t want to have this conversation.”

“Why not?”, Madeira put her book aside and rolled onto her belly. “Do you not think I would make a good wife?”

“That’s not…” Chiona made no move to pull her hands away from her face. Her lips were set in a thin, hard line.

“Do you not think you would make a good wife?”

A quiet descended into the room. Chiona was a shattered version of the person Madeira had met two years ago. This one was no less talented, no less capable, but there was an uncertainty that wasn’t there before. Perhaps there was nothing she was sure about anymore.

“Let’s talk about this. Just this once. Then I promise I will never bring it up again.” Madeira sat up on her knees and patted the bed beside her, setting a kind of gentle expectation in the tilt of her head and the contact of her eyes until Chiona reluctantly peeled herself out of her chair and sat on the edge of the mattress.
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I think we should get married.

Postby Madeira Craven on January 6th, 2021, 7:24 pm

“There’s so much pressure on you”, Madeira began carefully. She squeezed Chiona’s shoulder as if to translate the feeling physically. “People talk. Always. Constantly. I know because I feel it too.”

Her own pressure sounded like a ticking clock, counting down the ticks until Roland Eyler, her upstanding husband-to-be, arrived at the docks of Lhavit. Several weeks ago, she had been given an ultimatum by the Cravens: fix your mess or we will do it for you. They wanted their single daughter and her kelvic spawn legitimized. She had less than ninety days to do it on her own terms, or else they would muzzle her themselves.

“You’re too old to have no blue-blooded Dusk children” Madeira continued, “I’m too young to have mine. Dusk has gotten bad press over the last year, then there was your… incident”, she said delicately, “the year before. And for me I’ve lived here two years and I’m still thought of as the Tower’s little pet outsider with the funny accent.”

The shot at levity did not crack on smile on Chiona. The woman had closed her eyes again, as if she could shut out the words.

“You could fix all of it with a good marriage, Chiona. And I am a good decision. The heir of the prestigious Craven line? Most accomplished Spiritist of her generation? The Dusk’s, and the city, would cheer in the streets if we were to marry. And you know that my family, of course, already approves of you.” Crawling behind her on her knees she wrapped her arms around the older woman, pressing her back against her with a hand on her chest as she whispered in her ear. “The powerful, lauded heir to the Dusk Tower. Strong, beautiful, a master in her craft. We could tie our equally powerful families together. All of Kalea would cheer for us.”

She lifted her hand, and from a point on her middle finger a fine filament of thread ran like spider silk to the center of Chiona’s chest. Her Cordas mark felt heavy on the bed of her tongue. She wanted this. She wanted this in a way she couldn’t even articulate. To have a name again, one that sang of power. She would always be a Craven in her heart. But to be called Dusk, to, with a swipe of a quill, be the embodiment of five hundred years of Lhavitian history and power, to be part of that wealth, made that same heart tighten with excitement. She wanted this. She needed this.

“You’re such a romantic.” Chiona sneered. She shrugged her off and got to her feet, but she didn’t know where to go. She paced to the bookshelf, where she pretended to be interested in the titles, then to the vase on the chest of drawers, where she pretended to care about the arrangement of the lilies. Madeira watched her progress, a restless lioness trapped in a cage. She needed to push her harder.

“It’s callous, its uncomfortable, but the politics of us cannot be ignored”, Madeira went on mercilessly. “Chiona you are an heir. One day you will be a matriarch. You need to consider these things! Public image, wealth, social standing, it all-”

Chiona slapped her hands down on the varnished wood, rattling the glass vase. The rest of Madeira’s words seemed to be sucked out the room. The crickets stilled for half a beat before the wavering song restarted.

“All this talk of marriage”, Chiona spoke with a forcibly measured cadence, “and you have not once mentioned love.”
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I think we should get married.

Postby Madeira Craven on January 6th, 2021, 7:25 pm

“Love is a privilege, not a right”, Madeira cut in immediately. She readjusted her own voice, working herself up to passion, not letting the older woman sabotage the tone of the conversation. “This isn’t some exciting secret tryst. This is real. I am lucky, so unbelievably lucky, that the person I’m in love with is one I would be allowed to marry. Especially when we, us together, are the best decision for everyone!”

“The best for everyone…”, Chiona breathed deep, her tone still painfully calm even as her body worked up to rage. “How do you know what’s best. This isn’t some- some business transaction. This is a lifetime commitment between two people. Two. Not a family, not a city, not anything else. What I had with… It was much more than real. So where does that fit in with your calculations!”

Madeira waited as the silence turned unbearable, until Chiona finally turned around, to look her directly in the eye. Only then did she speak.

“I had a bondmate, once. I don’t know where he is.”

Chiona knew the facts of the story. Madeira had arrived in Lhavit with a Kelvic man. She was pregnant, and two seasons later had given birth to Kelvic twins. Everyone knew he was the father, though she had never spoken about it. When Chiona had asked her about him a year ago, when their romantic relationship had just started, she had told her he was out of the picture. They had not opened the subject since.

Allister, forgive me for sullying your name, she prayed silently. She would welcome him back home in an instant if he returned. He would not have vanished unless he had no choice.

“I loved him”, Madeira continued, her voice darkening with something that sounded a lot like hate. “I bore his children. I spat in the face of my family for him. He was much more ‘real’, too. But he left. Betrayed me just like Lhelie did you. So don’t you dare pretend that you’re the only one in pain.”

Chiona didn’t seem to know how to respond to this. Dropping her gaze she stare at the carpet between her feet. Madeira took the moment of privacy to work tears into her eyes. It wasn’t difficult. Speaking about Alister was like stabbing the aching hole in her soul he left behind, the one that never healed over.

“My house grows flowers all year round, did you know that?”, Madeira whispered, doing nothing to disguise the tears that were beginning to roll down her face. “In the morning I like to take a tea outside to watch them. I secretly like that my house is haunted. It’s chaos, most days, between the animals and ghosts and children. But I like it that way. It makes it feel more like a home. Inhabited. It’s not this”, she traced her hands in an arch, like she was shutting Chiona in a bubble, “but its… real. It’s mine. And I’d like it to be yours too.”

“Madeira…”

“I hate that I have to talk about the big picture when it’s the small things that really matter”, Madeira went on heedlessly. “I want to wake up in a bed I share with you. I want to raise a family together. I want to be your partner, your best friend, in all things. I- I hate this”, she gasped, finally choking on the tears that were catching in her throat. “I hate that what we are matters. We don’t get to fall in love like the rest of them. So maybe it won’t be like you expected, maybe it’s not what you wanted, but if I can’t be your first choice, can I at least be your second?”
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I think we should get married.

Postby Madeira Craven on January 6th, 2021, 7:26 pm

Chiona crossed her arms and looked away, but not before Madeira could see the reflection of hurt in her eyes.

“Don’t say that. You’re nobody’s second choice.”

Madeira hiccupped a little laugh. “You were always a terrible liar.”

“Maddy, please.”

Chiona rarely used her nickname. Its reappearance invigorated her like a surge of blood. It could be a sign she was bending under the emotions. Please want me, she inwardly begged, as much as I want you. Perhaps their wants weren’t of the same breed, but it hardly mattered. It wouldn’t make Madeira any less worthy of a wife, or less doting of a partner. They were perfect together. A credit to the Tower and Lhavit. Love was for children and poetry. The real word demanded something harder.

Perhaps not knowing what else to do, as the silence stretched on Chiona sat back down beside Madeira and gathered her up in her arms. Pulling Madeira halfway across her lap, she pressed her face into her thin blonde hair. “Gods. When did life get so complicated?”

“It’s always been complicated”, Madeira gave a watery laugh. “I think this is just the first time you’ve noticed.”

Chiona sighed into her hair. She smelt of jasmine and wealth, and though her arms were strong around her back her shoulders were bowed as if they were too heavy to hold up. Madeira snaked a hand between then and around her cheek, caressing it through her silk glove.

“I’ve always been there for you, haven’t I?”

Chiona’s face softened. “Always.”

“You love me, don’t you?”

Chiona stiffened around her. It wasn’t until recently, when they were alone together practicing the Lie, pretending to be other characters, that she had look the older woman in the eye and for a single moment in time was convinced this woman was in love with her. She wasn’t sure when Chiona had fallen in love with her, or even if it was real, and not a figment of her desperation. But still that moment lingered in her mind and whispered that maybe, maybe she did.

“You don’t have to say it.” Madeira rubbed her sleeves under her eyes, them coming away black with tears and kohl. “I’ve never asked you to say it back.”

“Just… Let me think about it, okay? I need some time. This is a lot.”

“That’s okay. I need to ask your fathers blessing before I ask you properly.”

“Is this the 400th av?” Madeira could feel Chiona smiling shakily into her hair. “I’m a grown woman. I don’t need my father’s permission.”

“I feel like he’ll have the same sentiment. But still, ours are old families, it’s the right thing to do.”

It did not escape Madeira that Chiona had a problem with her asking permission, not the asking itself. She was cracking, and it hadn’t even been that difficult. Those heartless realities that Chiona had been too worked up to consider would be turning endlessly through her mind once she calmed down. She would collapse under the weight of it eventually. She had made so many mistakes over the last few years. Perhaps she could right it with this one unselfish act.

Madeira pulled her head off the woman’s chest and tilted back her chin, catching Chiona’s lips in a salty, tear-stained kiss. Please want me back.

“Let me be your good decision”, she whispered against her mouth. “Not just for them, but for you, too. I will always take care of you.”
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Madeira Craven
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Posts: 1703
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Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
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