{ A/N: okay i am completely in love with corellia and geldoblame's quasi-friendship and write them all the time so. here is some very very light 5 years post-bko coreldoblame (not actually shipping of any kind, though; that's just what i call them haha), in which corellia realizes mid-meeting that geldoblame is probably her favorite human — because he's one of the easiest for her to peer into and observe. (8 }

Correlia knows that Geldoblame likes to think himself an impartial man, a fair and competant ruler. He tries his very hardest to be amiable and pleasant outwardly, but still strives to show a measure of undeniable presence, even as he participates in what he finds to be the long, boring, fruitless talks with the other leaders — for the Alfard Empire is always watching, keen and noble and — above all — volatile.

In the last few years he has striven to make this known through increasing militarism and countless imposing construction endeavors, not the least of which is a new palace said to extend over the edge of the continent. The growth of Mintaka has been fast and startling, but what was more startling to the Fairy Guide than the rapidly amassing Alfardian Army was its rapidly deteriorating emperor.

And it is when, the month or so before his thirtieth year, that his relative youth and its possible inconstancy is brought up in the same breath as the reforms he is imposing in the Empire, Geldoblame rises up very slowly from his chair and lays his open palms upon the back of it, surveying his peers with a strange look in his eye. "You do not think me a viable leader?" he croons, voice barely audible.

Corellia knows this trick of his well by now. It has been only four years since he took the throne, but she already has observed quite a bit about this young, impetuous new Emperor — some things that even he himself may not have noticed.

He is a very tall, deep-voiced man with an accent that sounds rather remarkable to foreigners, and he knows how to use these things to his advantage — for everyone that had not been looking when he rose is looking now. Geldoblame smiles, turning his gaze onto each of them in turn, though his eyes do not linger for long on Corellia. She knows that he, however erroneously, considers her somewhat of an ally.

"You would accuse my youth of affecting my ability to rule my empire firmly?"

Rodolfo scowls hard from a seat down the table to Geldoblame's left. "Nobody's saying that you're not fit to rule," he sputters. "We're just thinking that, maybe, with you being one of the younger generation to step up —"

Geldoblame beings to laugh, making a great show of it; he lets the golden adornments dangling from his robes jingle mirthfully as his laughter escalates. "'Step up,'" he chuckled to himself. "Is that what I did?"

Rodolfo scrunches his face up rather distastefully at what he correctly assumes to be Geldoblame mocking him. "Well —"

Geldoblame waves one hand absently toward the right side of the table, where the young king of Diadem flinches imperceptibly, a twitch noticed only by Corellia.

"A monarchy may be ruled by a boy of twelve in a time of great crisis, but an empire may not be guided by a grown man?" he asks gently, leaning down to peer with his darkly intelligent eyes at the lord of Sadal Suud, who stammers and falters again as Geldoblame says quite congenially, "I have a political background that spans back a great deal of years. If you do not mind me inquiring, Lord Rodolfo, for how long have you been exposed to the sensitive inner workings of your nation …?"

Corellia decides that it is nigh time to intervene and holds up a hand, signaling peace, calmness, quiet — but she does not dare ask that Geldoblame be seated. Instead she says, "Emperor Geldoblame makes a valid point," giving him a moment to preen before continuing, "and we none of us may look down upon him, knowing his understanding of his country and how it was guided out of tumult by his leadership. King Ladekhan," she continues, turning toward the boy, "has done the same, and he is the youngest in this room."

She pauses to withdraw a folding fan calmly from the sleeve of her kimono. "A ruler may not be characterized solely by age, for time has a fondness for deception," she says, pursing her lips in an effort to stop a small, secret smile from forming on her lips. "An elderly king may not lead as well as the youngest of duchesses."

She snaps open her fan. It displays pattern of embroidered, winding vines that seem almost to have a life of their own; they hang over a silky blue background adorned with shimmering silver threads, depicting a willow branch drooping over a shallow, calm river. The image evokes thoughts of Anuenue at once, and Corellia notices from the corner of her eye the young King beside her gazing from the ornate yet humble beauty of the Fairy Guide to the nearly overbearing ostentation of the Emperor and his gilded garb.

The meeting settles back into a dull hum of quiet conversation at last, as Geldoblame seats himself once again and begins addressing the Duke Calbren regarding Mira's accessibility — for the old Duke has recently gained a new addition to his manor in the form of a baby, of all things, and the Emperor happens to be acquainted with her parents.

But Corellia knows the second that Geldoblame turns to the Duke that he will bring up Mira pretending to be concerned about trade with the illusory nation, due to the dangers the Trail of Souls can pose — he will not speak of the child here or now; neither of them will. Calbren suggests that they make an arrangement for Geldoblame to discuss such things with him in Balancoire — and by pure coincidence, of course, this is where the new family just happens to reside.

Geldoblame agrees in his usual prim, businesslike manner, but Corellia can see the elation hiding in his face, welling up in his eyes and pouring out into his aura in excited bursts as he drums his fingers lightly on the table. He reaches up to adjust his hair, touch a finger gingerly to his rouged lips, observe with faint disbelief exactly what he is clothed in — he still has a sense of childish modesty and wonder about him on occasion, for he has not yet discovered all the power that he wields. Corellia has seen this in many leaders over the years, especially in Alfard, where some new Emperors and Empresses have tipped over in her presence under the sheer weight of their grand regalia. She hides another little smile behind her fan, recalling a time when the Empire had a sense of humor.

She turns her attention to Geldoblame again. Rings glitter on his fingers, their jewels reflecting the sunlight streaming into the room and casting faint, colored light that dances bizarrely over his skin when his fingers twitch and tap the table. He is covered in solid gold adornments, imposing armor made for show rather than functionality, and pounds upon pounds of jewelry.

Geldoblame wears the colors of Alfard well, Corellia thinks to herself, but he does not yet understand that he must lessen the burden on himself that she will become; she is unwieldy, and soon he, too, may collapse beneath her weight…

But Corellia knows that it is not just nationalism that keeps Geldoblame swathed in a perpetual shroud of gold. Corellia soon finds herself thinking with vague disdain that he does not need such embellishments, for his face is still quite extraordinary. She remembers first seeing him nearly five years ago and thinking to herself that he held in his hands two great powers: beauty and intelligence. But he is now beginning to lose his grip on these gifts; she could see it in the thin lines around his mouth and on his scholar's forehead, the darkness beneath his eyes, the taut rigidity of his neck and the hard set of his jaw.

But he does not know that, the thinks; he does not see.

Or perhaps he does?

This young man is terribly fascinating to her. The subtle differences in pigmentation on his neck and face Corellia observes with nostalgia, the flecking of soft dust from his cheeks and beneath his eyes, where he has seen the gradual effects of age and sought to put a stop to it. Of course, there is nothing she can say to him, nothing she can do but observe — but that is what Corellia is pleased to do.

For although she is able to maintain her state of detachment from the others from within her bubble of noncommittal neutrality, Corellia finds that she simply cannot turn a blind eye to what she has witnessed countless times before, because what is called "human nature" never becomes any less alluring to her — this desire for perfection, youth, beauty, wealth, and the desire to watch these things fade from others' grasps.

And so Corellia, ever-alert, will continue to watch from the sidelines, gleaning new knowledge of these creatures that have accepted her, not only because it is her obligation, her most important duty, to be indiscernible from them - but because they truly can be so strangely engrossing to study in times such as these — when they close themselves off from the world and are yet so exposed to her.

Yes, Corellia realizes, she has been stricken by this "human nature," for now even the subtlest wavering of beauty can somehow manage to seem very great to she who has seen — and felt — many lifetimes worth of it.