Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Tuesday, April 01, 2014 -

Birds and Stones

by LSF Publications
Published: Feb 20, 2014
Words: 23,811
Category: fantasy
Orientation: M/F
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Birds and Stones

Dinner in the Residence is a lot less grand than you might think. I mean, sure, Papa goes in for pomp when pomp is called for, but in private he's actually quite frugal, so the great porcelain chargers and the gold washed silver and the hand cut crystal were all locked up safe and what we had was a rack of lamb with little caramelized potatoes on tin glazed earthenware and a decent mid-priced Red with a little bark and a little bite. There wasn't even a servant except between courses, so we didn't have to be on our best behavior.

"I take note of the fact you're lonely," Papa said. He only uses the royal 'we' for company.

"Because I'm moping, or because I mention it at every opportunity, sir?" I asked. That 'sir' was very calibrated. I needed to afford him a modicum of courtesy, without letting him think he'd got the upper hand.

He grunted. "Been looking for just the right thing," he said. "Finally, I found just what I wanted, a servant who grew up as the daughter of a noble house which fell on hard times. Someone with decent manners, someone you might become friends with."

A servant. Papa wanted me to make friends with a servant. "And since you own her, you can still control everything, right, Papa?"

He sipped his wine. A little dribbled down his chin. I touched mine to let him know, and he grimaced and used his napkin. "Yours, actually," he said. "I'll give you title. She can be your confidant, and I won't pry. But you know how fond I am of killing two birds with one stone? She'll also be your disciplinary surrogate. Your whipping girl."

I felt a sudden chill. "Oh fine. Let me get close to someone and then torture her to make me behave, I get it."

Papa smiled at me. He does that when he thinks he's winning. "You're kind hearted," he said. "Your basic empathy will out, whether you're very good friends with her or not. But there's also a broader symbolism, my dear. When a ruler messes up, it is usually subordinates who suffer. It's a lesson well worth learning."

Birds and stones were flying 'round my head. Oh how I hate it when he corners me. "I'll agree to meet her," I said. "Give it a try, at least. But if it works out to be a net minus in my view, I'm going to give her back." I knocked back a rather large slug of wine. Papa took the decanter, and calmly refilled my glass.

She was a shy little thing in her servant's short hair and her servant's way short linen shift and her eyes were huge and she looked as if she could bolt at any time, like a wild thing in the woods. "Your highness," she said timidly.

Hearing that hurt my teeth. "Sonja in private, please," I said. "Being 'her highness' is not my favorite thing at all."