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Fern-hunting parties became popular, allowing young women to get outside in a seemingly innocuous pursuit with less rigid oversight and chaperoning than they saw in parlors and drawing rooms. They may have even had the occasional romantic meetup with a similarly fern-impassioned beau. — Bree


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WANTED:

Bunny Devon for Anne Devon. My fair lady of the night
Separating was also not a great idea, though they weren't doing great at staying together anyway. If she were to volunteer to be the human sacrifice.. well... Hogsmeade had plenty of debutantes anyway...

Barnabas Skeeter in CYOA: Group D


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Well-Traveled

Complete threads set in ten different forum locations. Threads must have at least ten posts, and three must be your own. Character accounts cannot be combined.

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Heels Over Head
#17
Zelda's cheeks turned a faint pink again. "I hope so," she said, although she wasn't sure that was for her. All of her siblings - except Nemo, who was too much like her to count in this case - had always seemed so sure of what they were doing -- Ari had always been the best healer she knew, Katia had always been destined to be the best mom, and Kons had always been destined to politic. She loved her job, but did she Love her job? Would she risk her life for it? She had not tried to join the MA&C, but had fallen into it. Did that mean the same?

Well. Xena had always wanted to be a debutante and in true love and look at how that had turned out for her. She got true love, but it sucked. And maybe Mr. Darrow's true love was boats, or travelling, or something. Zelda just didn't know what hers was, yet.

"If you find anything really really neat and Arthurian, will you let me know?" she said, "Like a sword. I would love to see a sword."

#18
The shift from discussing deep philosophical issues like drives and passions back to discussing the expedition (and more precisely, the accumulated knick-knacks that might return with the expedition, which was probably the least philosophical thing one could discuss about the voyage without resorting to the technical details of various knots) was so sudden that he felt a bit disoriented. He heard himself asking her incredulously, "You've never seen a sword?" before realizing that of course that probably wasn't what she'd meant at all. Swords were hardly common place in the Ministry of Magic or the streets of Hosgmeade, but it wasn't as though they didn't exist in the world any longer. She probably meant that she would love to see a sword with some historic value, or one of those very stereotypical fancy medieval broadswords.

He hesitated, wondering if he had come off as rude. He thought he probably had, which only made him feel more awkward about it all. After a moment's pause, he said as sort of an olive branch, "You know they issue swords to Navy officers? I don't know why. I've never used it. Just tradition, I guess. But I've got it hanging in my cabin on the ship. It's just a normal sabre, though, nothing fancy."


#19
Zelda pressed her lips together; she had, in fact, thought that a little rude. But then he mentioned his navy sword, and her irritation dissipated like the wind - instead, her face became a textbook expression of enthusiasm. "A sabre!" Zelda enthused, "Even if it's not really fancy - a naval sword? That's still fashionable and impressive-looking. In theory. I definitely haven't seen one of those before."

Why didn't Ministerial employees get anything cool? She could do fancy wandwork, but she didn't have sailboats, or sabres, or Prophet articles featuring her, or a fancy expedition to go on. (She supposed that if she bugged Ross about it he might give her a sword, or at least a fancy letter-opener.) She also had not almost died in the jungle, so - you win some, you lose some.



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set by MJ
#20
The amount of enthusiasm she was displaying was a little worrying, and Alfred worried immediately that despite his efforts to the contrary he had given her an over-inflated impression of how cool this sword really was. It was just a straight blade with a decorative gilded handle. The scabbard was probably more impressive than the sword itself was.

"It's really nothing fancy," he said again, in an effort to lower her expectations a bit. "But, uhm, you can see it, if you like? It's just," he glanced back at the docked ships and pointed out the Voyager to her, whose brow lay only about thirty yards down the pier. "There, onboard."


#21
Zelda looked, where he pointed, at the boat. If she went on, this would be the second boat she had been on as an adult — and the first had also been with him. It seemed more of a boat than the last one. There was another thing, too. If she went onboard - the thought bloomed in her mind and made her heart beat faster - she would also be

alone

with Mr. Darrow. Which was a thought both exciting and terrifying, after their kiss under the mistletoe. But did she want to be?

”I’d like to see it,” Zelda said cheerfully, ”If you don’t mind taking me, of course. I’d hate to take up too much time if you’re busy.”


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#22
"Oh, uhm, no," he said, shaking his head and starting to fiddle with one of his shift-cuffs the way he did when he was nervous but trying not to show it. "Not busy." He really ought to be getting back to work, because there was an entire crew to be managed and they were currently doing nothing at all productive except finding ways to look busy enough to avoid interrogation at the hands of the Ministry representative. He'd just offered to take her, though, and he could hardly change his mind so quickly, so it seemed they were off to pull out Alfred's dusty old sword.

"Come on, then," he said, turning to start off towards the Voyager. His all-consuming thought on the short trek across the dock was that she was going to be terribly disappointed when she actually saw it, no matter how much he'd tried to down play it, but he couldn't think of any not-terribly-awkward way to say anything else during the walk. It didn't occur to him until he was halfway up the brow of the ship, which to those inexperienced with boarding ships might seem to be little more than a rickety diagonal ladder with a rope on either side as a makeshift railing, that in taking her onboard to see the sabre he was also, to a lesser extent, showing her the ship. Then, of course, he had to be worried that she would be disappointed by that.

It didn't occur to him that they would be alone in a room together until he was already onboard, and by then, of course, it was far too late to turn back.

"So, this is the Voyager," he said, all nerves. He really wanted her to like it and had no idea how to ensure she did. "And then through this door here is my cabin."


#23
Zelda followed Mr. Darrow towards the Voyager. She was less consumed with thinking about the sword now, and instead she thought about what, if anything, she would say inside that she had been unable to say on the dock. That she was terribly awkward - and so was he - was a thought that plagued her only slightly.

Of course, now that she was on the boat there were other things to be considered. Namely, not falling off the ladder in front of him. Zelda took careful steps, as she didn’t want to catch her foot on her robes, because she felt that if she did she would fall in the water and probably either be rescued by Mr. Darrow or drown under the dock. She relished neither thought.

But she made it without dying and held her arms out at her sides as if to hold her balance, although the boat seemed steady.

She peered over his shoulder and turned, cautiously, to look over the dock of the boat. ”It seems so much bigger once you’re on board,” Zelda said with a small smile. Her eyes had widened involuntarily as she took in the boat ”I think I should have expected it, but still - wow.” If she had been pleased by the wind in her hair and the salty ocean smell on his sailboat, what would this be like when it was sailing? Maybe this was why he loved it so much.

”But - your cabin.”



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set by MJ
#24
Alfred smiled almost shyly at the expression on her face as she looked around the ship. She wasn't disappointed after all — or else was very, very good at faking these sorts of things. His chest puffed out just ever-so-slightly with a hint of pride as he thought of a million things he could tell her about the ship, and half a dozen little bits of it she might enjoy seeing. The Voyager wasn't the most impressive ship on the waterfront — that honor went to one of the clunky but massive container ships, and he was surpassed as well by the companion vessel, the Ophelia — but it was a grand little ship, in its own way, and he was suddenly very confident that Miss Zelda Fisk would love it.

Before he could say anything or even decide where to start, however, she'd drawn his attention back to his cabin door, and his heart sank a little. Right, the damn sword. It was so much less impressive than the ship had the potential to be, at least in his opinion — but then, he hadn't really ever done much with swords, and boats were sort of his thing, so perhaps he was biased.

"Right, yeah," he said, walking over to the door with resignation. There was a gilded plate below a small porthole window which read J. Alfred Darrow — Captain, which he had been very proud of initially but which had since lost a considerable degree of luster in his eyes. Behind the door the room was small. The luxury of being Captain was that he had three rooms to himself, on a ship where even the senior officers shared quarters with four or five others and the crew slept fifty to a room, but the rooms in question were far from glamorous. The one they entered into was an office that was hardly big enough for a desk and one chair, with three or four feet between the desk and the door for visitors to stand. The desk was wide enough and deep enough to spread charts out on its surface, but at the moment it was empty, which made it look far too large for the room in general. A shelf built in to the wall ringed the room and was stuffed with books, and behind the desk, just below the book shelf, hung the sword.

As cramped as this room may have been, it was the most glamorous of the three; the bedroom through the door to the right was large enough for a bed, a small washstand, and a wardrobe, with a rather narrow walkway to move between those items and reach the door to the bathroom, which, all told, was about the proper amount of standing space for two full-grown men (not that two people would ever be inside it at the same time). There was a shower, of sorts — not the sort with running water but rather a stall in which he could bathe — and the privy itself, and not more than a foot of unoccupied space between the two. At least in the office, there was room for both of them to stand comfortably without being close enough to smell each other's clothing; the same would not be true in either of his other spaces.

"So here it is," he said, moving behind the desk and taking the sabre down off the wall. He wasn't sure what to do with it, so he offered it to her over the desk, hilt-first. "Did you want to hold it?"


#25
Zelda followed Mr. Darrow into the cabin, which was - compared to the deck of the boat - small, mostly. She glanced around briefly - there had been some sort of jolt in her stomach at J. Alfred Darrow - Captain - but her eyes were immediately magnetized to the sword. Her stomach gave a childish flip. She remembered, quite starkly, playing swords with wooden toys with Leonid in the backyard at Ottery St. Catchpole -- Brannon hadn't been pleased, but Leonid would play whenever their father was out, and would sometimes even let Zelda trip him so he fell in the mud. (He would also, occasionally, push her. No survivors.)

"Sure," Zelda said brightly, "I told you that I used to want to be a pirate, didn't I? Not that you're a pirate - it's just, you know, a real sword." She reached out gingerly to grab the sabre by the hilt, but paused, fingers a dash away from touching it.

"Is it heavy?" Zelda asked. If she dropped it and stabbed it in the floor, or on her foot, she was never going to be able to make eye contact with him again.


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set by MJ
#26
"No," he said with a shrug. "Not for a sword, anyway." It did have some heft to it, but that was unavoidable with anything made of metal, and it didn't feel any heavier than it looked, to him. The lightness (and therefore supposed ease of use) was really the point of having a sabre as opposed to any other kind of sword, or so he thought. As mentioned previously, he hadn't ever had any actual occasion to use his sword. He hadn't even taken it underway with him on the Sycorax, since there had been nowhere to store it in a room that housed ten. Even if he had, it would have been lost in the shipwreck along with everything else long before it had ever proved useful.

At any rate, he didn't think it was unmanageably heavy, even for a young lady. Then again, he wasn't exactly a great judge of the things proper young ladies were and weren't capable of; he hadn't done much interacting with them ever, and none at all in the past seven years. If it was too heavy for her the worst it could do would be to put a nick in the floor, and the Voyager had seen far worse before they'd refurbished it.

He had the feeling that he ought to say something else — there was an atmosphere in the cabin as though there was something more to be said, anyway, but Alfred was at a complete loss for what it was. Maybe it was just the fact that they were alone, and the last time they'd been alone had been when they'd met at the beach, which gave the moment something of a nostalgic air. Or perhaps it was because the last time that they had been semi-alone, they'd been kissing, and they hadn't ever really talked about that.

Alfred's cheeks tinged slightly red.


#27
That settled, Zelda reached out to grab the sword hilt with a firm grip. It wasn't as heavy as she thought it would be, and so she held it out in front of her. She wanted to swish it around like a child, but she was concerned that it was sharp, and he would definitely never kiss her again if she stabbed him. And that was what she wanted - she wanted to be really kissed again, and he was leaving soon. Her cheeks turned pink again. She looked up at him and saw that Mr. Darrow's cheeks were pink, too.

She wanted to say something. In one of those grand moments of disconnect that Zelda was prone to, which had gotten her into so much trouble with Mr. Jameshill, she blurted: "I should have written you after last time, but I didn't know what to say. I thought you might be mad at me."



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set by MJ
#28
Alfred hadn't known what to say after that, either, and he had no further ideas about what to say now. He stood rather awkwardly for a moment, while she held a sword. This was a weird situation. How had they even gotten here? Of course he knew how (he'd been there, after all), but it occurred to him vaguely that if he were trying to explain this particular situation to a third party, it would have seemed utterly ridiculous. So I was standing in my office with this girl who had a sword...

He had no idea what to say. The silence stretched on. Eventually he realized that she might interpret that as his actually being angry with her, since that was the last thing she'd said, so he said rather hastily, "I'm not. Mad at you. And I wasn't." He couldn't even think of a reason why he could have been angry, really. It wasn't as though she'd had anything to do with the enchanted mistletoe, and while he was sure that the situation had been rather mortifying for her, they were equal parts the victim in the scenario.

But... written to him? Written to him about what? It wasn't as though they were cousins who could be chastised for not keeping in touch for a period of some months; he'd only met her a handful of times before the mistletoe incident. Did she think that there was more to be said about that? That seemed the most likely scenario, but Alfred was utterly dreading whatever she might want to discuss about it. But it had been her first kiss, he remembered, so of course it was Important for her, and the sort of thing she would want to talk about. Not that it had been a trifle for him, all things considered, but he had no particular desire to revisit the memory in conversation.

"Uhm," he said a little awkwardly. "I hope you weren't... waiting for me to write you?"


#29
"No, no," Zelda said. She looked down at his shoes and wished very strongly that she could retract into herself. "I just - well, I was the one who left quickly." She had bolted, actually, sure that the longer she stayed there the more awkward it would be and, pointedly, the more likely it was that her father would talk to her about it. After the Lou debacle, that was a considerably horrifying possibility.

"And - well. I was the novice, I guess," she said. It probably was not out of the ordinary for him. Despite his awkwardness, and his ridiculous hair, and his surprisingly appealing tattoos, J. Alfred Darrow probably got kissed all the time. He was interesting and basically a more professional sort of pirate. Zelda was decidedly not interesting, or at least not interesting in the same way. No one was going out of their way to kiss her.



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set by MJ
#30
"Well, yeah," he said with a noncommittal shrug. He had assumed when she left that she'd been either irritated, or else too mortified to ever want to talk to him again. The silence following hadn't been surprising, nor was the fact that she was only interacting with him now because she was obligated to by her occupation. The letters, however, written or not, were still something of a mystery.

She probably just wanted to talk about it because it was a kiss and it was a Big Deal, not because... of anything else. It wasn't as though either of them could reasonably be said to have developed feelings after a handful of chance encounters and one forced kiss under magical mistletoe.

"It's not as though anyone expected you to be an expert, right?" he said, because replying only to what she had said — while still very awkward — was decidedly less awkward than trying to broach the much wider and potentially more treacherous subject of these letters she'd apparently wanted to write him.


#31
Zelda flushed pink. So he had thought that she was bad - or a novice, at least. This meant that Mr. Darrow was probably far less likely to kiss her again than she would have liked. She wished that there was a way to convey the buzzy delighted feeling in her chest when she remembered the kiss - which didn't compare at all to the strength of it when she actually kissed her.

"Right," she said, "Or at least, I would hope not. I don't know. It was a real kiss." She felt stupid, and silly, and young - a feeling which she had felt often while remembering Mr. Jameshill, but had not yet experienced around Mr. Darrow. Great!

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set by MJ
#32
It was a real kiss, which was why they were talking about it. Probably he oughtn't to have asked her, and he ought to have just given her the chastest of possible kisses to free them both of the mistletoe, but at the time it had just seemed such a shame to offer up something that disappointing if it was going to be her first. Seeing it out of the context of the moment, though — or rather, being forced to look back at the event critically in a way that he had avoided doing ever since it happened — Alfred realized how easy it was to make the jump from a real kiss to real feelings. His stomach gave a nervous flip at the realization. It wasn't even much of a leap, really — more of a wide step over a puddle. It was only logical. Why would he have even bothered to ask, much less kissed her the way that he had, if he hadn't had some sort of feelings for her? She would not have been going out on a very great limb to assume that he had intentions, after the mistletoe incident, and suddenly the idea of letters made much more sense. If she thought that he'd been planning on acting on some hidden affections, then the month of silence following would have seemed unbearable. Of course she was worried that he had somehow gotten angry at her. Of course she was concerned that her kiss had disappointed him, because from her perspective, he wasn't acting at all the way that he ought to have done after just having kissed a girl he was in the process of making overtures towards.

The only feeling to hit him along with this realization was a sinking sense of dread. He couldn't even properly consider how he did feel about Miss Zelda, or their kiss, because before he could even approach the subject in his mind he recalled his encounter with Lily the previous month. I grieved you.

It didn't matter whether the supposed connection between the two of them was real or imagined. He could not set sail in a month and leave behind a girl who was waiting on him to return.

"Miss Zelda," he said, aware that his cheeks were red with embarrassment and suddenly very aware that she was still holding his sword. "I'm afraid you might've gotten the wrong idea."




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