Saturday, September 1, 2007

Gifts and Apologies

The second time I awoke, it was to the sound of someone entering the room. I could hear the slight clink of mail under the visitors clothes, but was too tired to see who it was. If they attacked me, then I would deal with it. I rolled over, trying to go back to sleep.
Andrevo's voice broke the silence. "Good evening, dear. I got you something."
I opened my eyes, and sat up in the bed, smiling wanly as I watched him walk over to the mantle and put a stone icon upon it. It looked to be of great age, and but part of a larger piece. "Ah, you're here. Thank you for the gift."
"I heard you are not well so I thought an icon of a war might raise your spirits." He had tried to find something to my likes... "Did you try and wear the Jewel?"
Straight to the point, interesting for him. "Yes, and no. I did, but that was not what did this to me."
"Seems we've both been up to trouble." He winked. "But you first."
I motioned to the chair Samba had left next to the bed. "Please sit. The short story is, I walked the Pattern while under the influence of Chaos." He sat, sighing in response to my words. "Things didn't turn out quite the way we--I expected." Oops. I hope he doesn't give Samba too much trouble.
"Well all that is important that you are safe here now."
"I must remember to thank Agnes for that."
"She cares for us all deeply; even ones who do foolish things." What was he trying to say?
"Even the foolish ones? A personal experience?"
"I was more making a jab at the thought of you wearing the Jewel again."
"As I said, the jewel wasn't the problem. The Pattern was. I wasn't wearing the jewel when I walked it. Siobhan would have none of that. It's a long story, with the end result being that I let my hubris get the best of me." Indeed I did...
"Do I have to chain you to your bed to keep you out of trouble?"
An amusing thought. "You could try. I doubt you would get very far."
"They'd go with the piece I just brought you but otherwise clash with the decour; so I'll leave the chains in the dungeon." I don't want to think about what it was he got.
"That reminds me, I have something for you, as well." I had finished the pins.
"Fabulous; I have more gifts, hopefully we can keep alternating."
"Surely, it's not necessary." It wasn't. Although not unwelcome.
"Well I lavish over opportunities to shower you with gifts; but ladies first."
Unfortunately, they were across the room. I suppose if anyone, I should be able to show my weakness to my husband to be. "Could I impose upon you to fetch it here? It's in the pocket of my pants over there."
"Of course."
He headed over to the corner, and pointed to the pockets, as if to ask which one. I nodded when he pointed to the right one. "There is a small jewelry box in it." He pulled it out, and headed back to the chair. "I'm sorry to impose on you so." His warm smile at my words warmed me slightly. It seemed he would not have issue with having to deal with my occasional...infirmities. I had been worried about it. "Open the box."
He opened the box, holding it up so we both could see inside. Two stick pins lay within, their heads showing my symbol, the green tree upon the black background, picked out in jewels on the gold. "They are the pieces I was talking about. The wearers can communicate with each other across shadow, using their thoughts. They *should* be safe from spying, but of this I am not certain."
"But more importantly, I think they'll go very well with my winter suite." Why was I surprised at that answer?
I smiled. "Well, one of them is mine. Unless you really want to talk to someone else instead."
"I'd rather talk in person, but a backup is wonderful."
"Sometimes the situation can make it...difficult. Oh, and don't walk the Pattern with it on. It will break." As I had learned.
"Walk as in the formal way; or any travel?"
"Walk as in the formal way. It removes all enchantments, I have discovered."
"But again, your next gift. I have found a way for you to make amends with mother. And I have it on good authority she wishes to apologize."
That was...unexpected. Although not exactly a gift one would think of as particularly...romantic. "We might need to work on your sense of appropriate gifts. Apologize? That is...unexpected. Perhaps I misspoke." He grinned. "I can't even imagine what brought that about, but thank you."
"Your side of the bargain is that she'd like you to be a judge for your family. Since you were seeking a way to make this happen; I didn't want to leave you without some part to play in making it happen."
I chuckled. "That should not be difficult to accomplish, considering it already has been. Although she would be unwise to think she would be able to control my decisions."
He chuckled as well. "You see too much into it, perhaps. Joan isn't trying to rig the gathering."
"A bad habit, I suppose."
"But I do have a third gift to catch me up to your offerings."
"Forgive me if I hope that it is slightly more traditional that your other two."
"I had considered bringing flowers from where I was; but they were a bit gloomy and not great for inspiring wellness. Instead I have arrangements for your wedding dress." I raised an eyebrow at that one. The finest artisan of such in Amber has politely insisted she be able to make it for you."
I smiled. "I'm afraid I hadn't put much thought into it yet, so I suppose I will need to get started soon."
"But the details of such can wait until more appropriate a time. Well perhaps by the time you meet with Joan you will have had time to give it due thought; but I cannot fathom the frivolity and intricacies of women's wedding attire in any era.
Joan? Interesting. Why the sudden..interest? "Then I shall have to ensure there is extra frivolity and intricacy, just for you"
He smiled, picking up my hand. "Forgive me dear, but I must retire as exhaustion is near."
"One last question, if I might. Why are you dressed for war?"
He continued to hold it as he answered. "You have been learning of mine; and myself of yours." He kissed my hand.
I smiled. "Don't hurt yourself, and sleep well."
He nodded. "Of course." With that, he departed with a slight skip in his step. I had to laugh at that. I faded off to sleep as well. Tomorrow, I needed to fix this mess I was, and start finding out who was going to become King.

Before I left Dubrovnik, however, I had another visitor. Joan arrived in a whirlwind of servants and fabric, and started talking about my wedding dress. She seemed to completely ignore anything that had happened before. I talked with her for a while, but eventually I asked her for a moment alone. She looked around in confusion saying that we were alone. I indicated the retainers.
"Oh honey none of them are real."
"Even if they are only shadows, I still don't feel comfortable with them."
She motioned them out into the hall. "I'm not sure how you wish to be addressed..."
"Joan, things have...happened between us that we both hopefully regret. Even if that is not so, I do not wish to enter into my union with your son enemies with my mother-in-law. Your son had said you wished to apologize. If you truly wish to do so, please feel free. Otherwise, I am willing to let the past be past, if you are."
"We're not enemies dear, but I'm glad we could clear that up." With that, she sighed, and opened the door, letting the servants back in. So much for that. I suppose it was simply best to let things go. After an hour or so, she and her whirlwind left me to myself, going to start work on the dress.

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