Title: The Rain Stays The Same
Summary: It is better to betroth distant lands to spread influence & power. At least, that was what Lady Macintosh said before she died. Now widowed Macintosh is greeted by the daughter of an English Duchess that is to marry his younger son. Alas, the couple-to-be couldn't hate each other more and Lord Macintosh (Sr) is the one who comforts her…overtime, Lady Evey starts to believe she has been promised to the wrong Macintosh.
Note: Since the movie has limited showing of both Lord and Young Macintosh, I've tossed in names I think would suit them. Not only that, but as an American, I'm rather…rusty on royal titles so bare with me. Enjoy~
"Aye, that letter be true." Lord Magnus Macintosh waved at the piece of parchment gripped rather tightly in his only heir's hand. "When you were just a wee lad of eight, your mother," his voice faltered briefly, "saw to it that you would marry someone great. And that will be the daughter of a Duchess in England, Evey Elward." The name came off his lips in an odd manner.
The young Vailean Macintosh rolled his eyes although the action was easily concealed by his long hair. "So I see in the letter, Father! Why? Why from all the way of England? There's a perfectly good number of women here!"
On his cushioned seat, Lord Macintosh's blue eyes clouded for a moment. Why indeed? Giving a heavy sigh, he ran a hand through his wild hair. "Because of the lass's dowry and what she will mean to us: money, land, and influence to different lands."
"And what good does that do us if she's coming to live with us here? What can we possibly do with land and influence across the ocean if we are here?"
Even now, over a decade later, Magnus could hear his wife's voice. He had asked that very same question, his gaze on his young son who had, at the time, been learning how to block with a mini-shield. As the first born male, he would marry in. Never would he have to give away a child of his to a foreign nation for the sake of a spouse.
And so he repeated the words his wife answered with. "To have a foreign bride, her country and its allies will come to her aide and ours, if we need them." And if her country needed help, well then, Macintosh's clan would have their chance to shine. That was his prideful side speaking though. The answer he voiced had its own mark of whose words they had really been since they were so humble. Yes, humble…his late wife was once the humble side of him. Now…
"Son…this is your duty. Like fighting to protect your people, marrying the lass to keep our line going is another way to protect them." Never had the lad disobeyed him. No, Vailean did as he was told and always seemed accepting of it, thankfully.
After a few moments, Vailean tossed his hair back and nodded, placing the crumpled letter back onto the desk. "If you say so, Father."
While it was true that Lord Macintosh enjoyed a good fight, he preferred it if it wasn't with his son. Happy with the way the talk turned out, he stood and clapped his hands together once. "Aye…then it's time for your sword practice." The younger Macintosh's chest puffed out, blue paint and all, as he smiled. Ah yes, time to show off his skills before the ladies. Up until a few months back, Vailean had been practicing in a place only the servants could see and while he enjoyed the attention of any female, status or not, he wanted more. So he had convinced his father to allow him in a more…public place where those who wanted to could walk to and cheer over his abilities. All he had to say was that those who were watching would take word to other lands of how grand their protection was in order to strike fear in the other clans, and his father all but jumped to agree.
And while the boy was out having his fun, it was time for the older man to ready for the arrival of Lady Evey Elward. Lessons were to be taught, manners to be known, titles to be said, rooms to be made…just another reminder that he was doing what a wife should do, and that he was still a widow.
Meanwhile, in England…
"Do not go back on our deal, Evey!" An older woman called out, almost shouted as she watched a younger version of her pace in the room. It was raining outside – when did it not in England? – which forced them to talk news in the common room rather than under a tree. "Each year, we renewed that deal: do your duties as according to your father's and I's definition, and you may continue to receive an education fit for a prince!"
The young lady that paced had her black hair free of the usual braids, tangled rather easily with each sharp turn her feet took. Her fingertips pressed to her temples, the same habit she had picked up from her mother in order to ward off a headache. "Mother, I understand but…so soon? A month from now? Why wasn't I told before?" Finally she stopped walking and set her accusing, desperate green eyes on Helena, the Duchess.
The woman pushed her own black hair back now streaked with gray – odd how a few of those streaks came just around the time that her daughter had started the education worthy of a prince. Her fingertips laced together only at the tips, she sighed gently. The way Evey was acting, so subdue with her own way of protesting, almost made her wish that the girl would stamp her feet and scream – much like she had longed to do years before her own betrothal. "We just sent a reminder and up until now, Lord Macintosh had yet to reply."
"When? When did we send a letter requesting a confirmation that I should be married there by the summer?"
Helena hesitated, wondering that as well. Usually it took just short of two weeks to communicate even when the Lord was busy…but a month? It was odd. What was even stranger was that Lord Macintosh hadn't indicated anything horrible that would explain his tardiness. "A month ago…but that does not matter now, Evey. Now is the time to prepare and pack…within a month, you'll be on the boat to Scotland. To your new future and husband."
This fact stated so simple and blunt stopped the girl in her tracks. It sounded so abnormal to her ears, which were more accustomed to hearing lessons, that she had to replay it a couple of times mentally.
The girl knew it hadn't truly hit her yet and when it would, she would be broken hearted. Taken from her family, tossed into a barbaric country with only a couple of her servants, to be wedded and bedded with a stranger all while being under scrutinizing watch, pressured to love and protect Scotland…and at the same time still represent her homeland. But broken hearted as she would be, she would carry on with her head held high and her dry eyes focused on the goal: success, no matter the cost or requirements. Whether that meant children, running the lands, or simply looking pretty…she would do it.
"Mother…" Evey swallowed as she closed her bright green eyes, "I will go."
"That doesn't come as a shock." Helena gave a small smile to take the edge off her sarcastic comment. "We raised you as the Lady your title implies. You know what your duties are. You know what to do for the sake of your family, our lands, and those that live on them. I've never had a single doubt in my mind that my only daughter would make me proud."
A watery laugh left Lady Evey, a catch in her throat stopping it quickly. When she could talk once more, she said, "I will miss your speeches, but I suspect they will appear in ten parchment letters! I will go and make the best of my new life…with one condition."
"Haggling like a cook in the market, are we?" Giving a chuckle, Helena added, "Just as your father taught you, never be cheated or tricked out of something you've worked hard for."
Evey paused briefly as it struck her how fortunate she was to have such understanding parents. For them to allow her a prince's education when she was a mere woman was quite unheard of. Even more so, to encourage her mind and to ask questions instead of sitting silently in the corner with needle and thread…that blessing wrapped around her tightly. "I want a copy of the betrothal agreement."
Now the smile the older woman had on twitched into confusion. "A copy? Why ever would you want a copy of it?"
Now it was Evey's turn to switch emotions. Trying her best to not appear as concerned as she felt, she shrugged her shoulders. "Some of the other girls…they have shared the unanimous opinion that Scotland is full of barbarians that wear skirts and nothing else. That they have no manners and are beasts who treat their hunting dogs better than they do their wives." The images she had unwillingly conjured up flashed in her mind. "I wish to see if there is a…a clause, a section that says there should be a divorce if my husband-to-be raises a hand against me."
Helena's blue eyes, the eyes that had caught the attention of the Duke Peter(?), her husband, widened like a tea saucer. Slowly she stood from her chair and walked to her daughter. "Of course there is a clause in the contract…we would never leave you in a foreign country with an abusive creature. Your father and I would petition the King of England himself if we had to get a fleet to gather you back in our arms." Her hands went to Evey's shoulders as if inspecting her attire before a ball. "My daughter…how long have you had this worry plaguing your mind?"
Weeks. At least a month since she had first told her 'friends' about her betrothal. But to tell her mother that…Helena would feel horrible as if she had failed in her job as a parent. So she lied. "Just a few days, but I am relieved to hear that."
With a smile on her daughter's face, Helena joined. "Anyway, the other Ladies you speak to know nothing past the fencing of their own yard! Lord Macintosh is quite kind and respectful; it is only natural for his son to be the same way. I have heard tales of how the Lord Macintosh courted his wife, how he paid her gifts even when they married. Romantic tales you'd expect only in those silly love novels. He loved her very much, so much that he hasn't remarried for over a decade."
Evey pictured it or at least tried. Such dedication between royals was so rare that it was almost unheard of. It was more common to hear that the daughter of an Earl had fallen for a common poet or that the son of a Baron longed for a bookkeeper's daughter. Perhaps this Lord's son would be the same way as his father was. It was enough of a thought, a hope, to make excitement blossom.
A soft knock at the door broke their own thoughts of this far-fetched love from Scotland. "Yes?" Helena called out.
In popped the head of one of their servants, a young girl about the age of fourteen. "Your Grace, Lady Evey, dinner is ready. His Grace requests your presence if you are both ready."
"We'll come right down, thank you, dear girl." Helena nodded as she turned away to straighten up the letters at her desk. They were all the letters sent from England to Scotland since Evey had been a child. One day, perhaps a few weeks after Evey would settle down in the new land, she would send her daughter them all so she could learn more of the men she was to be locked into a new family to.
Helena closed her eyes briefly as she sighed quietly. She knew the soon-to-be reality had yet to hit Evey fully. If it had, she would have realized that living in a new court meant new restrictions, expectations, and perhaps even a lack of freedoms. Perhaps even some of Evey's most prized freedoms, those worthy of only a male heir. To mention that now though after Evey had, for the time being, made peace with the situation…that would be just too cruel.
For now and throughout dinner, they would speak of the opportunities opening up to their daughter in a new world.
A/N: Next chapter shall be written soon. Again, I'm not too knowledgeable on royal titles no matter the country so I'm tweaking it a bit to fit the story.
Preview: Evey gets on the ship and travels. Both Macintoshs meet the girl that is soon to share their last name. What will Vailean and Evey think of one another? Plus, more personality/history on Evey, as well as more of an insight on how Magnus Macintosh rules his clan.