"rest now, you sad eyes"
Genre: Drama, Romance
Summary: A cool head to a warm flame, together they presented facets of a whole.
Notes: This year I am playing around with the 50 sentence challenge over at another site - which prompts one to write four stories a month based on a set of fifty prompts. The fifty prompts result in one sentence each, and then a whole story is formed from the snapshots provided in those sentences. Obviously, this challenge will slaughter grammar, and bring out the seldom seen fandom from the muse - but is a fun and curious thing that has already been incredibly interesting. If you wish to, you can track my progress in my profile. :)
This is Table II for February.
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words. (And the title is a nick from the song "Weep You No More, Sad Fountians", which Kate Winslet sings in the 1995 film adaptation of S&S.)
Yes, she was old enough to know better than frolicking in the rain, but the air tasted like freedom, and the earth felt divine pressed in wet stains against her dress; so much so, that the thrill of the elements just hardly parted for a stab of guilt when Elinor insisted on cleaning her dress for her before the maids could do so (and the scoldings came).
Her father's study was still thick with the aroma of leather and candle smoke – it was a scent she carried with her on her gowns, in the bottom of her trunk, and deep in the whole of her as Norland became yet another ghost to her memories.
They had not enough to afford a fire in the evenings when the weather did not demand it; but Elinor still let her sister burn down a candlestick an evening in order to read her poems aloud, sure that everyone in the room needed to hear the romantic tales as much as her Marianne needed to voice them.
When Marianne would ask, she would not be sure how to answer – the rapport she had built with Edward was something gentle like a stream in the summer, and not the crushing sea swells and rapids that Marianne was convinced should accompany any breathless romance - for how did she explain that Edward did not leave her breathless so much as he simply convinced her that there was a reason to breathe once more?
Barton Cottage was small and quaint, sunk into the hills above the sea, and Marianne could commend the spirit of the place (even though it can never match Norland) for its simply beauty (which, of course, is nothing as compared to Norland); proclaiming that if needed she could convince herself to someday be happy here (but never as happy as she was at Norland – she would be ashamed of the heart within her if she allowed herself to be.).
Even though she thought herself silly, Elinor waited for her sister to turn her back in order to pinch her cheeks, and gently pat down her hair – not that she would ever admit to wanting to present as pretty an image she could for the man she was waiting for.
"When you tell me to love him as my brother, I shall see no fault in him," Marianne whispered, carefully searching her sister's eyes, an impish smile upon her lips.
"Was I not wrong when I said that we had a new songbird gracing us with her attentions here at the Park?" Sir John said, his warm and felicitous eyes not blind to the way his old friend had been enthralled by the rather pretty song that had fallen from the lips of one Miss Marianne Dashwood.
"What is the good of a chase if the man knows not when to pursue?" Mrs. Jennings chortled, her sharp eyes shrewdly trained on the gathering before her, considering just where to put her words to encourage the most.
"Yes, Margaret, you have grown heartily since Norland – and yet, if you were to grow another six inches in the next fortnight, you would still not be able to go to London."
"Call it unthinkable that an old and wealthy woman should see nothing more fitting than to spend her days matching up everyone else's daughters since her own is wed," Elinor said wryly to the annoyed and angry glances that Marianne held the whole of their way home.
She chased promises of blue sky amongst the black of the storm that pressed her against the Earth, and when he carried her back (broken, but blooming) she felt splashes of cerulean stain her skin where his hands grasped her tighter – his eyes quite like lightening trapped under a fan of black as soot lashes – and Marianne was lost before he even breathed his name, sure she read her future in the storm that rattled in her bones from his.
"While your company is something I very much would enjoy, Captain Margaret has insisted on my presence this afternoon – apparently we are to be sailing to China, and the decks are in painful need of a swabbing."
Fanny looked impatiently at her husband, her harsh features twisted into delicate distaste as she inquired, "Just, how much longer until your Mother and sisters quit the house, my dear?"
Elinor looked on in disapproval at her sister, her tone tired as she said, "And yet, he has opened you up to quite a bit of scandal and gossip, dearest – please, I only ask you to take a small heed to my concerns."
From the other side of the room, the Colonel watched with careful eyes as Marianne lit up like the sky at dawn in responce to some gesture of Willoughby's - when he looked down, he was almost surprised to see that he had grasped his tea cup so hard that the curve of its handle had left an indentation on his palm.
Willoughby's mouth opened and closed once, then twice; his handsome features twisted brokenly as he muttered, "I shall not torture myself by remaining amongst company I can no longer be permitted to enjoy."
"You have always been a cool head to Marianne's flame," her mother observed with a wry sort of smile, "together, the two of you present quite the whole to be had."
Eliza traced a slow finger over the long white scar decorating the Indian tanned skin of his arm, revealed from where he had rolled up his shirtsleeves in order to aide her walking, "How the war has changed you, my Christopher – tell me, where has that bright eyed boy gone, the one beguiled by fae tales and enraptured by sonnets?"
"A tea caravan under our guard fell to attack, and I was still at the age where I didn't know how to properly read a feint from a man wielding a knife," Brandon whispered the scar's tale to Eliza, as if they were children still, and the stories were merely that between them.
Elinor was a calm being with a rational disposition, and yet, even that was not enough for her to tamper the flame of feeling within her as Lucy Steele smiled her vulture's smile and declared herself claimed by the very man whom Elinor still cherished – no matter what obstacles laid between them.
"I believe that I greatly esteem him . . . like him, even," Marianne whispered into the quiet of her sister's parlour, making sure that no one else was at the parsonage to hear her small slip – the admittance of something everyone else had been hinting at for months.
Elinor raised a brow at the torn expression on her sister's face and couldn't help but return, "high praise indeed," to which she was rewarded with a very fond eye roll.
It was only Marianne's passion for the rake of a man that Willoughby was that stayed Brandon's hand - shifting his aim from the other man's heart, to his shoulder instead; no pity within his eyes, or his veteran second's, for the pain on the handsome youth's face.
A man was nothing without his honor; and it was this elemental belief that kept Edward strong as he stood by his promise to Lucy, even if by doing so he was forsaking every greater tie upon his heart.
Their time at Barton Cottage had Elinor resuming her painting for the first since their father's death – grand expanses of her memories rather than the seascapes before them, and Marianne couldn't help but smile and say, "If such a fondness for his memory can provoke such a masterpiece from your hand, you may just move Edward to advancing himself in one talent, yet."
Her laughter caught on the air like wings against the gales, while her hem caught in the high grass of the shore past the sand; and yet, it was the smile on Elinor's face rather than the warning on her lips that Marianne paid heed to when she was called back.
"Marianne is adept at many things, but keeping silent on matters of such nature is not one of them," Elinor worried to her mother, her tone troubled as she took in the silent cast of her sister in the garden beyond.
Around her the ballroom swirled drunkenly, and for once her sister didn't seem to care about the crowd watching them as she supported her past the axis that her whole world had just turned on; Elinor's support the only thing keeping her from caving to the ground in utter despair.
The letter contained her lock of hair and an explanation – that the man she loved was to marry another; not for love and honor, but for the comfort of a life of riches.
London was a staggering tapestry of sights and sounds – all stars fallen amongst mire and the dark things of dreams seeping to create smoke and mirrors – and while Marianne thought it to be her salvation at the beginning of their journey, now all she could do was long for her quiet cottage by the sea, and the peace it represented.
Her sister could call her cold, but if a tenth of the dark sort of rage she felt for Miss Steele made it to her features, then she could produce proof enough of a love gone wrong to even convince Marianne of the strength of her passions.
Eliza looked up at her guardian with wide, pained eyes, her trembling hands soft and fluttering over the telling swell of her stomach as she whispered, "He said he loved me . . . and I feared your disapproval for how far I let myself fall."
Taking a deep breath at the way the daughter before him so resembled the mother, Brandon took the girl's hand in his own, and assured her that he would see to it that she and the child would be cared for; he could do no else.
"It looks like rain, dearest," Elinor said softly, unwilling to deny her sister any request, but disturbed by the broken image Marianne presented before her – with ghost pale cheeks and world weary eyes, the wind, carrying the secrets of the elements, tossing her dress in dramatic sweeps around her frail body as she finally turned her face to meet the threat of the storm above.
Elinor's hand trembled on the delicate stem of her tea cup, even as she tried to politely smile at Mrs. Palmer's ongoing conversation; the white stain of her sister against the soot of the oncoming storm her constant attention beyond.
If she could be no Ophelia drifting away of madness and love lost and lorn, then she could stay here and let the waves of rain that had first bound them together take her away now – sinking her down into the Earth to him, as her eyes drank in the sight of what should have been hers.
He was surprised that the Earth didn't rumble underneath him like something possessed, so fervent was the pounding of his heart as he held Marianne's fever wracked form closer to his own for the long hike back to Cleveland Manor.
"Please . . . please don't leave me," Elinor begged at the side of her sister's bed, taking her clammy hand in her own, willing life back into the fever cast eyes and red washed skin before her.
"But not enough," Marianne said softly, her voice soft and far away as she confided in her sister, "and if he didn't love me enough to love me in poverty, then it was not an attachment of the sort I would have been content with as the years wore on."
Strangely enough, the sound of mother and daughter plotting and spinning their insipid tales was a strange sort of harmony to Mr. Palmer, who turned his eyes skyward at every moment that he was forced to bear yet another anecdote about Lady Chilton's lace.
"I daresay that Mrs. Ferras took quite a liking to me," Lucy purred, her voice the simpering tone of any gossiping lady, even while her eyes were vulture black and threatening strong.
Edward passed a finger over the words his brother wrote (freeing him at the price of his own chains), scoffing as Robert praised Lucy's beauty; his mind unwillingly whispering that she was like the moon, reflecting stolen light, where, others held themselves like stars.
"I'm not married," Edward mumbled quietly, a strength to his eyes that quickly defeated her own, drawing a sob unbidden and uncontrolled from her lips as those three words brought her world back into orbit once again – the beauty of them defeating every single pain of the last year a thousand times over.
She tapped her fingers against the new ivory keys, contemplating her views from younger years (the validity of second attachments – her own parents, her sister and Edward both), knowing that while this was not the fierce flare of feeling she had held for Willoughby, it was something that warmed slowly before burning over a cold center – a comet's fixed course - and something she was particularly interested to observe as it grew.
"He did it properly," Margaret whispered conspiratorially to her mother and eldest sister, "and I dare say he can kneel and deliver a proposal as well as Edward did."
Fascinated, she passed her fingers over her husband's skin from one battle scar to the next, delighting as his deep voice whispered to her of far off campaigns – of the spice of India, and the exotic colors of the Orient, and she wondered how she ever could have seen a life half lived in him before.
"Don't let go of all of your sensibilities, dearest," Elinor whispered softly, her eyes both teasing and sincere as she watched the renewed life in her sister's eyes with something past affection – something not quite unlike pride.
Mrs. Dashwood touched the small portrait of her husband, and breathed a fond wish with her prayer – hoping he knew how happily his daughters had settled, and how much she still cherished the memory of him, even after all this time.
"I daresay that my husband is very nearly second in my heart – very nearly, at any rate," Marianne drawled, her eyes flashing impishly as she threaded her arm through her sister's, affection and thanks in her stare, even as Elinor rolled her eyes, fond as always, at her words.