Every bone in my body is sore. I’m so tired that I fell deeply asleep on the train on my way home, but luckily no one bothered me. I woke up a stop before the one I get off at, but I still don’t feel completely awake.
Everything gleamed. The floor, the punch bowls, the gowns, the smiles of guests. The invitation must have read to wear gilded clothing because the ballroom was full of whites and silvers and golds and shiny wheat colors that spread like sunlight, like candle flames heating the room with laughter and tinkling wine glasses. It was a banquet and ball for the evermost of celebrations: Lord Everly’s entrance into society. He was of age, of status, and of perfect regard amongst the partygoers and other Lordships. The list of society entrants was long, and Everly was of age to officially be one of them; To host his own gatherings, speak to the elders, and finally begin his first family, the latter of which was much desired by the revelers. It was well known that Lord Everly’s devotion was a treat of which none had yet indulged.
Saiah entered the event dressed in red velvet and gold. She didn’t intend to stand out, but if that was the result, she was gracious. She had a plan. It was hard to capture the attention of the most popular person in the room, much less lead them away, but she was never one for subtlety nor failure. The elaborate dress worked in her favor just as his popularity did; On this night, they would all see Lord Everly leave the room with her. Rumour would obscure the true purpose of the talk, and their absence.
They were not strangers, the ballroom was vast yet familiar. It would be rare to see a face unknown in the crowd that had grown up along the same high walls, in the same protective yards, in the same dinner parties since their youth. Saiah curtsied and swept through the dancers with learned grace, smiled at some and winked at others. Lord Everly was ever on the elbow of another admirer, his hair so light and golden it fit the decor; He’d have blended right in if he didn’t shine the brightest of the room. He always did shine so brightly. A lovely, soft-spoken, warm and caring character who supported and nurtured and loved all through his youth. It was easy to love such purity, and the ballroom was full of that love for him. Saiah was drawn to it. “May I ask you to a dance?” she murmured, her gold-gloved hand sliding down his arm, extricating it from a debutante’s gentle grip. Everly’s look of surprise was replaced with a smile, “Yes of course, my dear, I admit your splendor—” “I suppose I don’t conform with the fashion of the group,” she said, guiding him around in a waltz as harp music chimed at their elbows. He held her gaze, hers sharp and his buttery. The evening was not yet half over, so she did not push too hard. “I have a glorious gift for you,” she said, “to celebrate your ascension. I will find you later.” Saiah left his arm, struck still in the dance floor only a moment before someone else was at his side. She smiled, and waited, she was very good at both.
Through much wine and many words, the night kept on, not quite at its decline. Saiah waited for the apex, the time of greatest revelry before she caught Everly again, swaying him to face her out of the circle of admirers hanging on his words. “Your present,” she asked, “you haven’t forgotten?” “Not in the least, my lady.” “I’ll show you now. Won’t take but a moment.” If Everly protested, none heard, for her arm entwined with his and whisked him away in a regal parade. He nodded and smiled to those he passed, who all looked on at the striking woman in the deep red gown, and he who shined brightest.
It was easy to retrace her steps, the manor was so large that when Saiah had arrived earlier, barely anyone had noticed in the rush of preparation. There was no reason to exclude her from anywhere but the working areas, for she was surely not of that caliber and would be promptly led to places of entertainment for guests. She was a guest, a celebrated child friend of the new Lord Everly and his bounteous friendship. There were few places she could not walk, even as a mere visitor to the home. And her elbow led Everly directly to one of those places.
“Lady Saiah, you surely spoil me with such an effort,” he prattled at her elbow, sweet and genuine like the bleating of a lamb. She smiled but did not engage in his discussion, nor as he mentioned what a wondrous time this night had been and how happy he was to be on his next steps of youthful life, she nodded and acted along as their measured steps echoed in increasingly deserted pathways in his manor. Everly’s curiosity was not abated, he spoke of them as children, running every which way and pestering the maids by trespassing into forbidden areas that ended up being full of boring nonsense. But it felt fun just to be there. Her smile grew at this, their memories were beautiful ones, little Lords and Ladies all daring each other to enter wine cellars and push over items in the armour rooms. They learned to go where they weren’t allowed. Perhaps they never grew out of that trait, because they were headed right toward somewhere that would be considered off-limits, mostly.
Trophy rooms were silly things. Cleaned once a month, visited far less unless you had something to hide. Saiah had nothing to hide and everything to show, as she led Everly into the gleaming room full of artifacts, awards, objects of priceless worth. His fingers tensed in her golden gloved hand, as though worried of revealing a secret, which she did and had. The room and its corridors were empty. “What is this present you have?” he said, his breath tinged honey-like with wine and affection, his movements sluggish as he looked around. They were alone. “It’s here,” Saiah motioned to an intricate bowl, carved with leaves and deep recesses. She motioned and nothing more, waiting for him to walk closer. He did not. “…I know that bowl,” Everly said, and his inebriated state was apparent. Saiah did what she could, moving to his back and guiding him closer. “Look inside.” “Must I?” “It’s part of the present,” she whispered in his ear, her arms at his back and waist. He tipped his gaze toward the bowl, its grandiose state only evident from the outside. Within its thick-lipped depths, there lay a single finger. It was a thumb, pristine, no blood, no torn skin. Sliced clean.
“You know this, I’m sure,” she whispered all the more, purring her thoughts into his ear, “LORD Everly, so eligible, so kind and wondrous. You’d make a fine husband for a fine spouse, and I believe you’d find a fine wife in me.” “What is this?” “Your lover’s hand, you know. You’ve held it in this gallery so many times.” Saiah had known of this, the secret dealings of this desired creature and his forbidden love.
Saiah stepped away, dragging on Everly’s shoulder to face her. The light in his hair and his eyes had gone out. He was none brighter than the gallery’s fixtures. “I will be a fine wife to you,” Saiah said evenly, resplendent. All the light in the room seemed to gravitate to her, “We’ll attend the galas, greet guests and admirers. I am a most charming hostess, a perfect pair we will make. And of course… I say, we WILL make.” She gestured to the bowl. “He is safe, your lover, but the choice is yours. Our worlds will connect, our fates sealed. I’ve lived in this mansion for my young life, with you and with our friends and associates. Now I want it to be mine. We will marry within the year, I will inhabit the Queen’s wing of the manor. You are free to do as you like, even to save the young Page you have taken to so kindly.” Everly’s eyes flicked to the bowl and back. “It IS your choice. He is safe, and we will marry. I don’t expect you to propose right away, I have time. He has nine fingers left. I have just as many days.”
Saiah swept out of the gallery as the raspy question met her ears. “Where is he?”
Everly won’t find him, she knew. A magnificent ring would be on her finger before he would accept another severed digit delivered to him.
Saiah would keep her promises, so long as Everly kept his. Marriage. Children. So many parties she could barely count. But she COULD count. After all, the young lover’s toy had oh so many fingers.
Close To Home|| Closed RP|| Smellslikenapalminthemorning
Tonight, Everly hadn’t been able to sleep. Her mind had been buzzing and whirling for the past two hours. Glancing at the clock next to her bed she sighed. 2:15am. It didn’t look like she’d be getting any sleep soon. Tossing her covers back, Everly rubbed her eyes roughly. When her feet hit the the cool floor she flexed her toes before standing up. She stretched, listening to her body creak and groan. Running a hand through her unruly hair, Everly headed out the room and into her living room. The darkness didn’t bother much, she just headed straight to the kitchen.
It had been an interesting past few months. With the addition of John to the team. The others adored him, including Tasha although she pretended not to. Everly had been training him for a while now and she was fully confident in his abilities. She could trust him to be her partner. They would soon rival Black Window and Hawkeye.
Sitting at the island. Everly held her head in her hands. She supposed she could go to Steve’s room. He would be more than happy to have her spend the rest of the night with him. But she couldn’t shake this odd feeling that she had.
“Jarvis, is John awake?” She asked lifting her head. But the AI didn’t answer. Frowning, Everly sat up. That was odd. Tony never turned Jarvis off. “Jarvis?”
There was still more silence. Sliding down from the bar stool, Everly crept out of the kitchen. Her living room seemed darker than before. There was a sinking feeling in her gut and a hint of fear. Something wasn’t right. Heading over to her door, Everly put her back against the wall as she listened. There was a ticking nose down by the handle. Eyes widening, Everly threw a force field around herself just as her door was blasted off it’s hinges.