Confessions & Disappointments

His hands rest on her shoulders as she replies, holding them both motionless as she finally confesses in words the secret wishes of her heart. Her words don't seem to surprise him, but he frowns a little in thought. Then one hand moves to capture hers, and he leads her back over to the cushions and presses her down to sit, not giving her room for argument. He also resumes his seat, and leans close to speak earnestly to her.

"Chaos is a hard place, Margot, and your family is here. Your House is here. How is it that you wish to leave all this behind for such an unknown? Do you not think you may come to regret such a hasty decision?" His tone is quiet yet demanding.

Margot wets her lips. "What will you have me say, Kendall? Shall I lie to you and tell you that I've considered all the ramifications?" She kept her tone gentle; there was an odd sense of peace, contentment. It wasn't until she uttered the words that she had accepted it with her entire being. This was what felt right. How do you articulate a feeling?

"All I know is that the only time I ever feel normal… complete… like I am who I am supposed to be, is when I'm with you. Everything here…" Her brow furrowed slightly as she desperately searched for the correct words. "It is a cacophony of discord. It fights with who my heart tells me I am and attempts to destroy that which it cannot endure. If I am not allowed to be who I am… is this really where I belong?"

He mulls over her answer, that expression of calculation coming to his face as he seems to mentally follow paths of possibility, one by one, deciding on the course to take at this heartbeat. He still is holding her hand in one of his, and his other fingers come up to cup her jaw, tipping her head back so he can look into her face more easily. He can feel the flutter of her pulse under his hand.

"Even if you come to Chaos with me, there is no guarantee we would be together. Or together in the way that those of Amber appear to prefer. At the call of my House, I may have need to take other mates in addition to you. What of that, Margot?" he asks.

"What of it, Kendall?" she returned. "Teach me of your ways. Educate me. Help me to understand. You have done more to protect me from outside influences…" She closed her eyes, calming herself. "And who's to say that my soul isn't stifled in the static way of Amber and longs to seek the seductive caress of fluidity?"

Her eyes open again. Again, he wasn't repulsed. She knew he didn't…. couldn't …. feel for her as she did him. She didn't expect him to. She didn't know what was worse, baring her soul to him or having him push her away. She supposed that was the reality of their circumstances.

"And you wish to protect me from myself." She watched him in earnest. "Your … beliefs about relationships are not the same as they are here or even the Shadow that I was raised in. I do not know how I will react or respond. Perhaps I will enjoy the freedom of choice. Perhaps my heart will be broken. Perhaps you will come to love me. There are many, many paths… I do not have the gift of clairvoyance."

He relaxes again a little, his expression easing into a half smile. A short chuckle slips past his lips and he moves his gaze from his keen study of her eyes, studying the features of her face again, and then leaning over to press a light kiss to her forehead. "You have an answer to everything, it would appear," he murmurs against her skin. "That is a start, the way to begin learning survival in the Courts."

She leaned against his press. A silent sigh of relief escaped her. Margot was silent for several heartbeats, simply enjoying the intimacy of the moment. What would happen next, she had no idea. It took everything in her power to simply remember to breathe.

He sits back again, giving them both some space. "I had a curious conversation a short while ago, with a strange being claiming to be named Amber. Apart from the reference to this land, have you knowledge of anything with that name?" he asks.

Margot's free hand found home in his, resting comfortably in his lap. Her brow furrowed in recollection. "There was a child introduced to me today by that name. Her mother is a cousin. Her father is Fey. Beyond that, I do not know anything of her. She seemed a rather odd child…."

A bemused chuckle soon follows, as Margot's thoughts go to her adopted siblings and her 'baby' sister. Perhaps she was the freak among the masses? "An oddity amidst curiosities. What was your conversation about?"

"It had the appearance of a girl child," he agrees. "Though obviously twas not. It talked with me about the possibility of having you accompany me to Chaos." He says the words almost casually, as though this was the sort of conversation he could expect to have any day of the week in Amber.

Margot's eyes narrow slightly, letting the words wash over her. Obviously, this is not a topic that he would have initiated. "Was this being's argument … compelling?"

And eyebrow quirks. "Argument? I did not see it as such. I hesitated to broach the topic to you since I have no knowledge of the creature's credentials and ability to deliver on its proposals. However, it seemed to believe you would become troublesome and rebellious if left in Amber."

"I cannot see that being the case at all, however," he continues with a straight face. "The mere idea of you doing something you should not is… inconceivable."

She had been focusing so hard upon his words that she nearly missed his meaning. Her eyes widen then narrow when she realizes he's teasing her. Crimson flashed to her cheeks and along her neck, threatening to blossom across her shoulders and down her bosom. "It is good to know that in a single moment of curtsy and 'enjoy your celebration' that I was judged to be a menace to Amber."

Perhaps the jest had been made solely to watch the color come to her cheeks, and observe the flashing of her eyes through all the emotions on the spectrum. His eyes brighten with his amusement.

"I must have made quite an impression…" The last is delivered dryly, mirth flickering in her dark eyes. "So, have you dismissed the conversation outright or is there more you have yet to share with me?"

"I am uncertain whether or not to dismiss it," he answers, calming himself. "However, the creature did seem interested in seeing you to Chaos. I believe with the intent to prove to you how much more noble and splendid Amber is." His tone matches her dryness, as the concept of choosing this place over his magnificent home is one that could only be suggested in jest.

"So you keep telling me… though I would prefer to experience it firsthand." She attempted to calm herself, but the heat from her blush was making her uncomfortably warm. Or maybe it was all the skirts. Or maybe it was him. It's him.

Kendall falls silent again, letting the moment between them rest for a brief time. Cupping her cheek in one hand, his other still holding hers fast, he caresses her lips with his thumb. "You must calm yourself, shayna," his voice is almost a whisper, noting her excitement with a smile. "We are being observed, as you know."

This time she indulged herself with a tender press to the pad of his thumb, her tongue sampling the taste of him. Her eyes abandoned his only long enough to glance in the general direction of their audience. In those few heartbeats, her imagination runs rampant with lascivious thoughts. When her eyes return to him, they continue to smolder, though her composure had once more returned.

Giving her one final caress, he again moves to give them both some space, though he continues to hold her hand. "As to that," he continues in a conversational tone. "How did the conversation with your mother go, regarding your announcement of the change in your virginal state?"

"Oh, that." She laughs, the delicious nymph attempting once more to be freed of her bonds. "I suppose it could have gone worse… it definitely could have gone better. She was displeased with my decision to take you as a lover. Her permission only extended to 'courting' me."

Her expression sobered then, her eyes casting down. "You were right. Nothing was gained by confiding in her."

"Parents are often… irrational to the eyes of their offspring," he agrees, darker thoughts leeching the humor from his expression.

"She lost her temper with me. Told me that I had to wait to bed you again until she smoothed it out with my father. She did not feel that I should tell him. And then, the next thing I knew… you had your confrontation with the Knight."

And everything comes back to center.

He nods, gaze turning inward. "As with so many things, tis all in the timing," he muses. "It took quite some time to convince the Lady Louella even to consent to see me. Twas unfortunate those two events coincided in such a way."

Margot releases one of his hands, turning the other over to study the lines upon his palm in equal parts curiosity and need to fidget. With his hand cradled in one, her free hand traces the lines of his palm. "Are you willing to share the tale of how…why Lady Louella refused you?"

"Refused me in what way?" he asks. "To see me? To speak to me with civility? I have only conjecture, which is of no use at this time."

"Why, if you had shared a moment together, she would not see you afterward," she clarifies. She tries to wrap her mind around why someone would bed another, create a child, and still loathe the other.

"Oh, I see." Kendall hesitates, his expression turning to mild distaste.

"Twasn't… so simple," he says at last. "The 'moment' as you put it so delicately, was not of either of our choosing, nor something either of us had great desire to remember or revisit."

"Oh." She replied softly, uncertain what else to say. "Then I will not ask you to revisit it either."

He sighs, watching her caress his hand as he thinks for a time. "Tis of no great account now, and I believe… t'would be best if you knew the facts as I see them," he adds. "What do you know of the Veil?"

She hates admitting her ignorance. Not growing up here, being shielded from anything and everything that would give her any defense… Reluctantly, her head shakes slightly. "As with most things related to Amber, very little has been disclosed to me… either for my protection or my demise…" The last a rueful comment nearly loud enough to note.

"I know little more than tis a defensive measure called up by the Queen during Amber's hour of need during the recent war," he explains. "I gather tis populated by the ghosts of Amber's dead, or so Lady Louella would have me believe. While traveling to Amber, my party was required to pass through the Veil. She and I were separated from the group and subjected to… illusions. Visions, perhaps."

"What sort of illusions?"

"I saw myself back in Chanicut with a former lover," Kendall replies, his voice dispassionate, lifting his gaze to look at her face again. "Twas not until later that I realized where I was, and who I had… encountered."

"And… presumably, the Knight found comforts in a similar fashion?"

"Presumably," is the response. "Again, assuming either of us is to be believed."

"Is this Veil the only way for you to return home?" Margot asked, attempting to weigh the risks.

"I do not know," Kendall says. "Brisbane and I traveled here on the Black Road, but were required to pass through the Veil before passing into Amber. Whether that requirement was due to necessity or merely from a desire to inconvenience us, I cannot say."

Margot nods, contemplating the trials. That her mother created this anomoly shouldn't surprise her. That her mother did not see the potential ramifications, did. Or maybe that was the plan all along… It was a dark thought; but at this moment, anything was possible.

Pushing the bitter skepticism aside, Margot let the warmth she felt for him be known in her eyes. "How much longer do you intend to remain in Amber?" She wanted to leave with him, but that had already been articulated. Whether she would be permitted to leave was another scenario all together.

"Unknown," he admits. "I have yet to learn whether I will have an opportunity to correct the errors I have made here, or if I will be required return to Chanicut." He pauses, his eyes darkening at the thought of returning home, a sober possibility this time instead of a welcome fantasy. "I have been given some time, whether by design or by coincidence, to devise a plan. I will be considering this while you dance at your ball."

"Considering your options?" she asks. She sits silently for several moments, her fingers weaving into his and noting how they fit together.

"Be careful, Kendall." Her warning emerges in a hushed tone, near pleading as her eyes remain focused on their joined hands. "I have seen things … and there is a sense of darkness here this evening. I do not think it is simply because the siblings have been reunited."

In the briefest of breaths, she shows him something hidden deeper than her love for him. She shows him her fear.

He frowns at her expression, puzzled and concerned. His thumbs begin to caress her hands again, soothing perhaps. "You have seen things… how, Margot? Prophetic dreams and visions? Magic?"

She breathes deeply, eyes still focusing on his hands. "After we fought… I wanted answers. I wanted to … "

She sighs. "I don't know what I wanted. Freedom. Answers. You." Her head shakes. "I knew it wasn't justice being served by you bearing the weight of my decision alone. To bed you, I mean." Which parent she referred to is left unclear.

She closes her eyes. "I was so angry at her. At them. And their … standards of convenience." Her words emerge ragged, savaged by raw emotion in spite of her hushed tone.

"I wanted to see you. To apologize. To do so, or to weave magic… to have any contact with you, no matter how indirect, would have earned me a lifetime of exile." A rueful half-chuckle soon follows. "The siblings'… proclivities… are legendary. Anything I had engaged in was hardly noteworthy. And still…"

She swallows, taking time to collect her thoughts. "I was feeling lonely, trapped, isolated. I contemplated seeing Brisbane. Instead I sought out the Hall of Mirrors. It was not a pleasant experience. It is an accursed place; designed by someone to feed their malicious and sadistic joys."

Kendall frees one hand again, giving a gentle caress to her cheek as she recounts her experiences and lays her thoughts and feelings bare. Lifting his other hand, with hers held in his grasp, he presses a reassuring kiss to the backs of her fingers. "Peace, Margot," he instructs her softly. "Convenience and expediency are the nature of politics. What had you hoped to find in the Hall of Mirrors?"

Shame overwhelms her. She took several moments drawing strength from his tender assurances. “I don’t know, truthfully. I wanted to see you… but knew that was out. I wanted to see Chaos. Your home. Chanicut. I contemplated talking to your mother. Telling her that due to events beyond my control a union between our Houses was not feasible at this time… and that this brought me great sorrow as you had conducted yourself in a most honorable and gentlemanly fashion.”

She steals a furtive glance at his face before returning her eyes to his lap. “I wanted to see home. My home. The place where I grew up and understood. I longed to see Elsa and Francesca. And Gerhold. I wanted to know that their lives were at least what they had hoped for.”

“I entered the Hall, truly uncertain as to what thought would possess me when I stepped through the threshold. There was a man, octogenarian, washing the mirrors. He said he was me. He was most insistent. Told me terrible things of who I am. He walked past to leave and vanished. I wandered the room, looking at each of the reflections of me. Then one appeared, not unlike how your mother did, or how Clarissa did prior to that. It was me. A mature version. A cold, unfeeling version.”

Margot shakes her head vehemently. “I don’t care what the image said. That was not me!”

He looks beyond her again, out of the ruined tower and toward the invisible bustle of activity in the castle. "We are all many things, Margot," he says after a time of reflection. "Each of us has many facets, both noble and horrendous. If the version of yourself in the mirror was a true depiction of one course you may take, mayhap twas a warning only, and the course you choose now will decide which reflection you will be later in your life."

Kendall returns his gaze to her face, continuing his thoughts in his soft, even voice as though nothing at all were amiss in this situation. "You will change, of course. You know that. You will grow more experienced, more mature. You will have love and hate, anger and betrayal. There will be the day you kill another for the first time. The Courts will change you. Amber has already changed you. Tis the way of things."

"I am none of the things she said… that she reveled in," Margot declares with a look of pained disgust. "She enjoyed her hate. Embraced it. Celebrated it. Assured me that there was no way of denying what my future was to be… as some twisted iron circlet sat upon her brow. It was worth it, she said."

She looks at Kendall with tear-filled eyes. "She … you…" She swallows, looking past him to gain strength. "Were I to stay on my current path, here in Amber, I will become a monster."

"How is it that you have come to think remaining in Amber will cause you to become a monster?" he asks curiously. The hand cupping her cheek moves to smooth away some of the moisture pooling in her eyes.

"That reflection was a cold-hearted killer. She told me that I should embrace it… I was trained to use a blade. She said that she … that she murdered you and didn't seem to have a single sense of remorse." Her voice cracks and she breathes deeply.

"She said that everything that I loved and cherished was about to be destroyed and that there was nothing I could do to stop it. That she knew the answers, that she could help prevent what was to come…" Her eyes close and the welling tears begin to flow freely.

"And still … she took sadistic pleasure in refusing me any insight or guidance. I know in my heart I would never refuse to help. This reflection was some twisted distortion of …"

Her eyes open to stare desperately into his eyes. All she wanted was to be safe. With you. "Kendall, something very terrible is coming. Something that is going to destroy Amber."

It takes a few heartbeats for Kendall to thread together all the different pieces of information she is providing. Leaning over, he touches her lips with his in a single kiss, hardly more than a brush of moths' wings. Sitting back again, the hand cupping her face moves away to pull a handkerchief from his sleeve.

"Margot, control your tears please," he instructs her, voice still quiet but firm as he hands her the cloth. "You must think of these things critically and in sequence. You must not let your emotions get the better of you. You deny the truth of this reflection's words in one sentence, and yet accept its words as truth in the next. While many mix fact and falsehood together into a believable whole, you must consider motivations and benefits before evaluating the circumstances."

His tone is patient and calm even with these harsh words.

"I am … fearful … that what I saw is my only future…" she replies softly, accepting his kerchief. Again, she curses herself. Stupid emotions, foolish girl! That was all that he saw. "Something is coming. Kendall. Something grave. Devastating. I know it in my heart. I felt it in all who gathered today. Celebration is only the mask for a foreboding that have everyone on edge."

"I am frustrated because the answers are available and …" She draws a deep breath. "I…" she wipes her tears away, removing evidence of her breaking heart. "I don't know what I would do if anything happened to you and I was helpless in protecting you. Saving you. I just want you to be safe."

She couldn't look at him. "There will be death. Soon. And all I want to know is how to keep you safe."

Having someone this concerned for his welfare is something of a novelty for Kendall. That this young woman gave without expecting something in return is something he wasn't sure he could believe, or know how to accept.

"Your concern for me is… appreciated," he answers her. A small smile and penetrating look into her eyes indicate that this is unfamiliar ground for him. "But ultimately unwise, Margot. The future is… malleable. It includes the present and the past, and cannot be easily discerned. Your warning is appreciated, but for the present, you must look to yourself and your House. I must look to me and mine. The concerns you value most may yet intersect, but the future may take a different turn than we anticipate."

Her House. His House. Moments before there was the fleeting fantasy of an Our House. She leans in, tasting his lips. "You are worthy of such things…" she breathes against his lips. That she would risk all for his safety and happiness, she did not need to say aloud. That she would continue to worry for his well-being, he would never doubt. With eyes closed, she rests her forehead against his.

He waits a time to allow her to compose herself before moving his head to press a kiss against her forehead. Laying his hands on her shoulders, he leans her back so that they have more distance again.

"Your guests await you, Margot," he says. Humor sparks in his eyes and touches his mouth in a smirk. "You should not make them linger in anticipation of your luscious beauty for long."

Deep down, she knew he was right; and yet, she did not want this to be their last moment together. She had said everything just in case; all the things she couldn't bear to keep hidden. She had confessed her feelings and how she would walk away from this charade forever.

He need only ask.

"I would have been honored to have you as my escort…" As soon as the words were uttered, her eyes blaze with a sudden, powerful intensity. "Come with me. Be my guest and escort. The day is mine to command and no one would dare risk losing face acting contrary in front of the rest."

Kendall blinks at her, taken aback by the sudden change in her attitude from gentle and earnest to rebellion. But then he chuckles. "I apologize, Margot, but I cannot agree with your assessment. Were we in Chaos under the discipline of a proper House, I could see the possibility of your claim, but here in Amber…" Eyebrows raise in blatant skepticism.

"Your mother the Queen will be at your dinner and ball, correct?" he continues. "Tis on her order that we have no contact with one another whatsoever. Your father has bent this decree, but not broken it. I would not see you or I damaged by the Queen's anger tonight."

Disappointment once more flits behind her eyes. Was she truly so powerless that all she could do was be paraded about like some prized pet? "We both know this isn't for my pleasure…" she states softly as she stares into the pools of his eyes.

It was clear that he had nothing to more to give her; no guarantees, no promises. She had fought to extend this moment to an eternity, but in that too, she would ultimately fail. Once more she dons the mask of composure, burying everything she felt — everything that made her Margot — deep within for none to touch. "It is unfortunate that you feel you must refuse," she says, her voice soft.

He watches the animation leave her face and her eyes become veiled. Necessary, but…unsatisfactory. A finger tips her head and he leans close, so close, but then hesitates. "Perhaps you are not the only one who wishes to protect the other," he murmurs before he claims her mouth with his, a tender kiss to taste her before she departs.

Margot returns his kiss as his words envelope her. At some point, she would recall and wonder if he meant for her to feel the warm affection that he knew she would hear; but for now, it was enough that he uttered the words. Lips parting to deepen their kiss; hers was a tender advancement rather than one of heated, lustful passion. It was one that whispered of good-byes, of promises for the future. A kiss that he alone could bestow upon her and make her feel complete. Her hands rise to cup his face, her fingers stroking him, drinking in his warmth and his scent. There was so much to commit to memory, and not nearly enough time to do so.

Fingers trail from her chin down her neck to her shoulder, caressing her skin, gripping her shoulder. Deepening the kiss as she desired, opening himself in this fashion was easier than using words. Nevetheless, he holds himself back, keeping the kiss to her lips rather than exploring the skin of her cheeks and neck. For now, this would be enough. There might be more later. There might not. But it could not go on forever.

Slowly, carefully, he begins to pull away, and when the kiss was no more but a figment of memory, she meets his eyes with hers. Deep within, he can see a glimmer of the woman that had come to see him; the woman who told him of love and who warned him to take care. "I will see you again." Whether the words were for her or him, it was uncertain save for that they were a portent she would see come true.

Rising from where she sat, she moves aside to allow him to rise should he choose. With her back to him, she deliberately smooths the fabric of her gown, giving her skirts and bodice a critical eye and firm hand. If nothing else, she wanted him to behold something beautiful before she left. Kendall stands when she does to make his own corrections to clothing and hair. It takes less time for him; perhaps he had less to adjust, perhaps he had more practice.

He steps forward to help adjust the hang of her skirt in the back and she feels careful fingers pull two locks of hair free to brush her shoulders. Instinctively her head tips as his fingers twist in her hair and brush her skin. Her hand finds his free one, weaving her fingers into his and pulling his arm around her. "Just one more moment," she whispers as she leans against his chest and rests her head upon his shoulder. She would don his memory — this moment — as her armor for what she must endure next.

Lips touch her temple as she leans against him, his arm around her waist drawing her close in a parting embrace. He is accepting of things, however, as she has not yet learned. Only the future would tell if she would bow to life's necessities or turn her energies permanently to rebellion. Tonight, though, all is yet quiet. "Be well, shayna," he whispers for her ears only. "You will dazzle them all, and you will be strong."

And then… The words were unspoken, but still they hung in the air between them. He knew her desires, but still had yet to speak of his own. He had yet to even decide on his own. There would be a great deal to occupy his thoughts while Amber danced and reveled.

Fingers stroke his hand, pressing it against her abdomen. Several heartbeats pass before she brings his palm to her lips. "Be safe, my heart."

With those last words, she releases him and walks away without looking back. He waits until she is out of sight entirely before gesturing to his escort to return him to his prison within the prison of Amber. Even so, a faint smile lessens the intensity of his expression. It would be a quiet night to spend on his own thoughts and plans.

Back to list of Kendall's game threads
A Decision is Made

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