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Rose-y Cheeked Orlands [Closed]

Adelaide Orland

Noble
Noble
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
65
#21
Mother’s brief moments of being a good parent had apparently been a regular feature since even before Addie could remember. The sad thing was, Addie loved her, and couldn’t ever quite stop herself from hoping with each visit, each gesture of affection, that this time Mother would stay, and continue to be kind and sweet. Or at the very least, an ally, to make Addie feel less as though her own home was a series of traps she spent her day manoeuvring through. Each time Mother became distant again, either emotionally or physically, Addie felt the tug in her chest that was that small shred of hope being ripped out again. She’d never succeeded in completely inuring herself against it.

But Addie did have an ally now. Somebody else who absolutely understood the dangerous terrain she navigated. "It's hard, isn't it? They're horrible, but they're family. We make excuses for them... until we can't any longer. Until the damage they've done completely overrules any blood bond. I struggled with it so much when I was younger. I thought if I'd been a better son, a better brother... but no. They aren't going to change, and the emotional effort to hope for it... it takes too much of a toll."

He squeezed her hand again; Addie gripped tight with both of hers. "Alright, that's quite enough of talking about our horrible family. Annnnd I realize I've taken over the questioning... sorry about that. Do you have any for me?"

Addie was all too happy to leave the subject behind. She let out a sigh, expelling her worries for a moment, and gazed at her brother with soft fondness – and maybe a hint of teasing. She had worshipped Eddie when she was young, enough that teasing him didn’t really come into it (laughing when she had successfully pelted him with a snowball for the first time didn’t count). “I suppose I do. Now that we’ve also talked at length about mine – how’s your love life?”
 
Posts
61
#22
There was a teasing glint in her eyes that made him wary for what was to come, though he also felt... oddly reassured by it. That she even felt comfortable teasing him was telling. They'd been strangers for years, and in many ways they were still quite different people from what they'd been. If teasing was one of the markers of them successfully navigating this reconciliation, he would gladly take it.

Though he really should have expected the question she asked.

“I suppose I do. Now that we’ve also talked at length about mine – how’s your love life?”

Since he hadn't expected it, however, he became a little flustered. "Ah, nonexistent until very recently." A drink followed this admission, though he doubted she would fall for the alcohol as being the reason for the sudden redness in his cheeks. "My romantic prospects have been few and far between since I followed Carina around like a lovesick pup."

A smirk tipped up the corner of his lips. Perhaps Addie didn't remember his vast and clueless affection for his Antivan fencing instructor. Somehow he doubted that, though. He hadn't exactly been subtle.

"There is someone now, though." A softness came over him, along with a rather profound sense of peace. "You've met her, in fact. Aveline."

There was a chance his sister had already guessed that, given his interactions with Aveline when she'd led Addie to him. Then again, she'd been a bit busy coming to terms with the fact that everything she knew about the last eight years of his existence--even that he'd had an existence at all--was a lie.

"Out of everyone I've met in the last five years--everyone I owe for even making it to this point--she's had the most significant effect on me, I think. When I'm with her, I... feel more like myself. The person I used to be. The person you remember," he said with a small smile. "I'd say she's better than I deserve, but she'd be very cross with me if she heard it. Regardless, she's stuck with me for as long as her hopefully limitless patience will allow."
 

Adelaide Orland

Noble
Noble
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
65
#23
It was good to know that her tendency to turn red was a familial trait. Eddie quickly took a drink after admitting that he had recently had some positive developments in the arena of romance, not somewhere that had been a frequent haunt of his. He referenced Carina, which brought a giggle to her lips. At the time, she had been too young to begin with to understand why her brother followed the fencing master all the time. Then she had grown up just enough to understand that Eddie doted on Carina, although even then she wasn’t sure what that meant. “I have one or two memories of that. Nothing particularly defined, though.”

She wasn’t going to start teasing him about the past, when there was the much more interesting present to focus on.

“There is someone now, though.” His face went all soft, in the manner that Addie suspected hers did when she was thinking about Josc. “You’ve met her, in fact. Aveline.”

Addie’s squeal managed to startle a few patrons before she clapped both hands over her mouth. Although her fingers stifled the noise, they couldn’t hide her grin. “I knew something must be happening! I didn’t think about it at the time-” she had been a little distracted by the fact that Eddie was actually alive – “but when I thought about it later…”

She decided to leave off there and let him talk. That she’d guessed something had been irrelevant given that she’d forgotten almost entirely about it in the days since, and she wanted to see how lyrically her brother waxed over the subject of the Guard-Captain. "Out of everyone I've met in the last five years--everyone I owe for even making it to this point--she's had the most significant effect on me, I think. When I'm with her, I... feel more like myself. The person I used to be. The person you remember.”

If Addie hadn’t already liked Aveline a great deal, she would have tipped into adoration then. She beamed.

"I'd say she's better than I deserve, but she'd be very cross with me if she heard it. Regardless, she's stuck with me for as long as her hopefully limitless patience will allow."

“Oh Eddie, I’m so happy! She’s wonderful. She scared off Gregory Rheinhart for me when he kept following me around after Father rejected his family’s proposal, and she didn’t even have to threaten him with violence to do it. And she’s always been so kind, when she’s seen me around.” Particularly given that they had occasionally made eye contact in the Hanged Man, where Aveline could have been within her rights to decide it was no place for a young lady to be and haul her back to Father.

Not that she ever would. “Aveline is actually the one who gave me the first indication that my situation was not something I should be taking for granted. That things could change for me. Although I’ll admit Josc was the one who first got me to take the leap.” A smile had flittered over her face again. “Oh, Eddie, you should have seen it. She danced with me, in the middle of the crowd so Sterling and Father couldn’t see us. She made me feel brave.”

She’d got distracted again. “Sorry. I swung right back around to talking about Josc again.”
 
Posts
61
#24
His sister's squeal of delight caught him off guard, and he couldn't help but laugh, his blush deepening a little. He hadn't exactly been worried over how Addie would take the news, but something inside him warmed at the fact that she was apparently quite approving.

“I knew something must be happening! I didn’t think about it at the time, but when I thought about it later…” she said from behind her hands, her grin too broad to be suppressed.

He talked about Aveline with an open affection, describing only one of the reasons why he'd ended up in this predicament. It certainly hadn't been planned. If things had gone as he planned, he would have avoided her from the first, or at least he would have stopped with the very obvious ploys to get her attention. But he was here now, and much better for it. Truthfully he didn't think this reunion would even have happened without Aveline's intervention, and he knew he wouldn't have been in a place where he was willing to look beyond vengeance.

“Oh Eddie, I’m so happy! She’s wonderful." She was wonderful, and that gave him excellent variety in word choice for when she grew tired of him calling her remarkable. "She scared off Gregory Rheinhart for me when he kept following me around after Father rejected his family’s proposal, and she didn’t even have to threaten him with violence to do it. And she’s always been so kind, when she’s seen me around.”

His expression softened again, a smile on his lips that began to hint at the dimple in his right cheek. "I can't say I'm surprised, but I suppose now there's even more reason for me to start composing sonnets."

Her face would likely turn the same color as her hair if he did that, which was reason enough to do so. But really, if he was going to write any ridiculous thing, it would be a song that he would of course perform himself.

“Aveline is actually the one who gave me the first indication that my situation was not something I should be taking for granted. That things could change for me. Although I’ll admit Josc was the one who first got me to take the leap.” As soon as she spoke the other woman's name, Edwin saw what he imagined was a reflection of his own face at present. Eyes far away and dreaming, smile managed without any effort whatsoever, posture relaxed; completely unguarded. “Oh, Eddie, you should have seen it. She danced with me, in the middle of the crowd so Sterling and Father couldn’t see us. She made me feel brave.”

He wished he had seen it now. Not only to imagine how cross it would have made his brother and father, but to see his sister happy. Something twisted inside of him, and his brow furrowed with realization.

“Sorry. I swung right back around to talking about Josc again.”

"No, don't apologize. I... actually think I should be apologizing to you." One hand moved to his face, his fingers skimming over the beard growth that ended just below his cheek. "Josc has been a friend to me, from the beginning. She isn't shy about what she wants, true, but she's obviously been considerate with you. And as you're making the same calf eyes that I was likely making just moments ago," he grinned, "well. I can only be thankful for that."

Addie's life in the Orland household had obviously not been a happy one. He didn't know if she'd been outright miserable, but it was clear she'd recognized long ago what she lacked and what was being withheld from her. If Josc was bringing his sister happiness, perhaps it didn't matter how long it lasted.

Though if that happiness turned into heartbreak, he would be newly justified in having words with the woman.

Reaching for his drink, Edwin took a sip. Perhaps it was his own infatuation speaking, but he felt a bit more at ease now. "So. What is it you like about Josc? You've given me quite the list already," he teased, "but I imagine there's something in particular that caught your fancy."
 

Adelaide Orland

Noble
Noble
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
65
#25
Addie wasn’t quite sure how everything kept swinging back around to Josc. Even at home, she occasionally found herself having to make an active effort to curb herself from dropping the other woman’s name into conversation. She was fairly sure Ria had an inkling, by now, but fortunately she’d managed to prevent mentioning Josc in front of Sterling or Father. Whether they knew her predilections or not, there was no way they could have worked out that she was interested in – no, involved with – her. Her feelings for her were strong, and she was grateful when Eddie admitted that he didn’t dislike her.

"Josc has been a friend to me, from the beginning. She isn't shy about what she wants, true, but she's obviously been considerate with you. And as you're making the same calf eyes that I was likely making just moments ago-” Addie blushed again – “Well. I can only be thankful for that.”

Addie wasn’t about to mention to her brother that sometimes she wished Josc were a little less considerate, although she recognised the reasons why. This was wholly new ground for her and Josc would have to be a different person to not show caution. Any progress with whatever they were would almost certainly have to come from Addie’s side, although how she could bring it up she had no idea. “She is very kind to me. And I know she would never make me uncomfortable.”

Eddie seemed to have relaxed a bit, at last. "So. What is it you like about Josc? You've given me quite the list already," he teased, "but I imagine there's something in particular that caught your fancy."

Addie chuckled softly, spinning the stem of her glass in her fingers as her eyes took on a dreamy cast. “Well, when I first saw her, it was at one of Father’s parties. She was the only woman there not in a dress, and I thought I’d never seen anybody look so good. Or be so daring, on Father’s own doorstep. I had to talk to her. But she approached me first, and one of the first things she did was make fun of Father’s awful choice of wine. It had to have been a little brave on her behalf, given she didn’t know how I was going to react. But I really liked that, as you can imagine.” Addie sighed, her mind back on the balcony. “We talked, and it was clear that she was like no noble I’d met before. She came up from a farming family and she hadn’t abandoned her old friends for her new fortune. And she was so utterly unafraid of Father that she asked me for a dance. She is so bold, and brave, and wonderful.”
 
Posts
61
#26
“She is very kind to me,” Addie assured him. “And I know she would never make me uncomfortable.”

Edwin could admit to himself--and only himself--that Josc had also been respectful as far as he was concerned. Oh, she’d gone for it. But that was his fault more than anything. When it became clear he was uninterested, she’d backed off.

And so he asked his sister what she liked about the woman, deliberately allowing her the chance to gush. It was good to see her so happy. It didn’t matter how she got there--her whole face lit up when she spoke of Josc, and Edwin couldn’t help but smile, too.

“Well, when I first saw her, it was at one of Father’s parties. She was the only woman there not in a dress, and I thought I’d never seen anybody look so good. Or be so daring, on Father’s own doorstep. I had to talk to her. But she approached me first, and one of the first things she did was make fun of Father’s awful choice of wine.”

Edwin snorted at that. He’d known no better when he was younger, but Father’s taste in wine was atrocious. Just because it was expensive didn’t mean it was any damn good.

“It had to have been a little brave on her behalf, given she didn’t know how I was going to react. But I really liked that, as you can imagine.” His sister let out a dreamy sigh, and it was clear she wasn’t here any longer. “We talked, and it was clear that she was like no noble I’d met before. She came up from a farming family and she hadn’t abandoned her old friends for her new fortune. And she was so utterly unafraid of Father that she asked me for a dance. She is so bold, and brave, and wonderful.”

He considered her for a moment, his fingers tapping almost soundlessly on the edge of the table. “She’s not the only one, you know. I would hope if I asked her, she’d agree with me.” Edwin gave her a smile. “There’s a high amount of bravery required to endure that household. You’ve hardly had anyone on your side until now. And I would say it’s very bold to reject what Father wants for you. Not to mention sneaking out as you have. To meet your brother who’s supposed to be dead, no less.”

His lips twisted into a wry smirk. It was hard not to be bitter about it. The fact that they’ve had a service--a service Addie hadn’t even been allowed to attend--was ludicrous. He imagined if they could have gotten away with it, Father and Sterling would have just disregarded the fact that he’d ever existed.

But he wasn’t going to bring the conversation back to that. Not now that they’d found something to talk about that made his sister smile.

“I’m glad you’re happy, Addie. At least in this.” His lips quirked into a smile, his eyes fond with remembrance. “I don’t think I’ve seen you this enamored since I found that book of Orlesian architecture for you.”

Back then he’d thought it was just a fascination with faraway places. He’d had that too, once upon a time. But it seemed it had matured into a real passion, and he was at least thankful for that.

“Out of curiosity… does Josc know all of this? How you feel?”

He supposed that, too, would alter the conversation he intended to have with the woman.
 

Adelaide Orland

Noble
Noble
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
65
#27
Eddie listened to Addie wittering on about Josc once again. She would have been afraid of boring him, but Josc was one of her favourite topics and it was rare that she just got to talk at will without somebody gently reminding her that young noble ladies should have a care about what came out of their mouths. Or if it was Father or Sterling, commanding her to be silent immediately. She’d learned how much she could get away with over the years, but it was freeing just to be able to talk without censure.

When she finished, Eddie was smiling. “She’s not the only one, you know. I would hope if I asked her, she’d agree with me.” Addie took a moment, and then realised Eddie was talking about her. She wanted to demur, but blushed instead, pleased. Of course, Eddie of all people would know what it took to live in the Orland household. And however poorly Addie rated her own abilities in comparison to the more exciting skills of her new friends, she did know that she had done well to go this long undetected. “You’ve hardly had anyone on your side until now. And I would say it’s very bold to reject what Father wants for you. Not to mention sneaking out as you have. To meet your brother who’s supposed to be dead, no less.”

Addie chuckled. “My new friends have helped. Each day I find myself doing something I wouldn’t have dared do before.” She learned forward, conspirational. “I have lifted so many bottles of wine out of Father’s cellar. Then put them back. It was just practice, and I didn’t want to actually drink most of the swill he keeps down there. Even if it was how Josc and I got talking the first time.”

“I’m glad you’re happy, Addie. At least in this. I don’t think I’ve seen you this enamored since I found that book of Orlesian architecture for you.”

Of course, he’d given that to her sometime around her ninth birthday. Even though she was precocious in her education, some of the information was beyond her ability to follow at that age, but she had immediately fallen in love with the style of the buildings. Beautiful marble and stone, and cross-sections showing how everything fitted together. “I still have it, you know. Hidden in my wardrobe.”

She could have segued into that but Eddie had further questions about Josc. “Out of curiosity…does Josc know all of this? How you feel?”

“Uhhh…” how much should she share? It wasn’t as though they’d done anything that would have Eddie charging after Josc in the name of his sister’s honour – although Addie really wouldn’t mind if they had. She just wasn’t sure that there had been a right time to bring it up. “Well, I think she knows I’m interested. She compliments me, I compliment her back. And I stay close to her whenever we’re out together.” She would not mention that Josc had been complimentary about her chest. “Actually, come to think of it – I know she knows I like her, but I haven’t actually said much about the other feelings out loud. Should I say something? Eddie, how do I do this?”

She wasn’t sounding high pitched and panicky at all.
 

Edwin Thatcher

Theater Major
Posts
61
#28
“I still have it, you know. Hidden in my wardrobe.”

Edwin smiled softly at that, his gaze casting down to the table. It wasn't exactly a surprise. He didn't imagine she'd just decided to burn every book he'd ever given her after he left. But it was yet another reminder that even in his darkest days, he'd been loved. He'd meant something to someone. He'd been in their thoughts and very likely in their prayers.

And for once, his usual cynical views didn't claw their way to the forefront. He took her words for what they were: A comfort, and a glimmer of hope that they could return to that place eventually.

Rather than risk that small and fragile sense of hope, Edwin continued to ask about Josc.

“Uhhh… Well, I think she knows I’m interested. She compliments me, I compliment her back." The corner of Edwin's lips twitched. Oh, he'd heard a few of Josc's compliments. He wasn't sure how he felt about Addie receiving them, but so long as they didn't make her uncomfortable, he supposed it wasn't his place to say anything. "And I stay close to her whenever we’re out together.” Addie paused a moment, then said, “Actually, come to think of it – I know she knows I like her, but I haven’t actually said much about the other feelings out loud. Should I say something? Eddie, how do I do this?”

He let out a reflexive crack of laughter, covering it not-so-smoothly with a clearing of his throat. "Sorry, but you know who you're asking, don't you? Until very recently, my experience was non-existent. Though I suppose recent experience is better than nothing."

Edwin gave his sister a sympathetic smile and reached across the table to briefly rest a hand on her arm, giving it a squeeze. He didn't think himself qualified to give advice on such matters, but who else was she going to ask? One of her other friends, perhaps, and who knew what advice they might give. Thinking on it for a moment, he settled on a few words he might have wanted to hear.

"I think it's better to say these things. If she's important to you, if you care about her, if you..." His lips quirked upward in a soft smile. "If you can't imagine what your life would be like without her in it, you should tell her that. Life can change, very quickly. You can't really take any of it for granted."

He held her gaze for a moment, another apology on the tip of his tongue. He'd always assumed he'd make it back. He couldn't have known otherwise, but he still felt there were things he should have said. Maybe it would've made the intervening years easier for her.

But then, did it really matter? Apologizing for the past wasn't going to change things. All he could do was be better, and right now that meant helping his sister with this dilemma.

"Do you..." He paused for a moment, unsure how to even phrase his question. "My, ah... lack of experience in these things, it's been by choice. I've had opportunities, but it's been a long time since I've felt compelled to pursue them at all. There needs to be... something there." He gestured blindly. "Trust, mainly. And an affection that runs deeper than mere attraction."

Maker, he didn't even know what he was saying or why he was saying it. He just knew there were people like Josc--or what he knew of Josc, at least--who could have fun casually, and he wasn't... one of them. Perhaps Addie was like that, too. Then again, she hadn't exactly had the opportunities he'd had.

Edwin waved off his poor attempt at an explanation or question or whatever he'd intended to say. "None of that matters. All I can really give you is my own experience, and talking about these things has worked for me. I'd say it worked quite well, actually."
 
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Adelaide Orland

Noble
Noble
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
65
#29
Her panic amused Eddie, but his laughter wasn’t cruel the way Sterling’s would have been. Instead he was sympathetic to her plight, given that he also did not have a wealth of experience to call upon. His advice was practical, even if the thought of acting on it gave Addie a major case of the butterflies. “I think it’s better to say these things. If she’s important to you, if you care about her, if you…if you can't imagine what your life would be like without her in it, you should tell her that. Life can change, very quickly. You can't really take any of it for granted."

Addie contemplated how her life would have been now had Josc not come into it. True, Celeste still would have come in on her Red Jenny mission and introduced her to a life outside the walls of her home, but she might have been a little less willing. A little less daring. She would have come of age and probably started trying to pick the suitor she seemed most likely to be able to stomach being around. Maybe not resigning herself to a life without feeling, but definitely one in which her desires would have to be acted on in secret. Now? She fully intended to break away before Father could pair her off.

Eddie seemed about to ask her a question, but hesitated over it. “Do you…my, ah... lack of experience in these things, it's been by choice. I've had opportunities, but it's been a long time since I've felt compelled to pursue them at all. There needs to be... something there. Trust, mainly. And an affection that runs deeper than mere attraction."

Addie looked down at the tabletop, smiling a little. The answer came to her with absolute surety. “I trust her. And I like who she is, not merely what she looks like.”

True, her interest had first been sparked by the woman wearing trousers, and partly how well those trousers had sat on Josc. But it was her boldness, her irreverence and the smaller kind gestures that had reserved a special place in Addie’s heart.

"None of that matters. All I can really give you is my own experience, and talking about these things has worked for me. I'd say it worked quite well, actually."

Addie nodded, determined now. “If I can lie to Father and Sterling for years, I can tell Josc how I feel. Even if she’s…not quite as interested, she deserves to know.” She punctuated her sentence with a drink, as she had seen her friends at the Hanged Man do. It went down the wrong way and she spent the next couple of moments coughing up the ale in her lungs and being a source of amusement to the passing workers.

When the coughing fit had cleared, she looked up at Eddie again, and rested her hand on his. “I can still barely believe you’re alive. I don’t have words to express how grateful I am that you are.”
 
Posts
61
#30
“I trust her," Addie said without hesitation. "And I like who she is, not merely what she looks like.”

Edwin smiled a little to himself. He'd made a hash of his question and the explanation behind it, but oh well. It was good to know there was more there than a casual interest. He hoped it was the same for Josc, though the way she'd been acting recently led him to believe the idea might not be so absurd.

He told her it didn't matter--because it truly didn't--and advised her toward honesty. He'd seemed incapable of being actively dishonest with Aveline from the start, despite how easy it was to lie to other people. But then, nearly everyone else he'd met did a fine enough job lying to themselves. Edwin had just helped them along.

It didn't surprise him that Addie was more inclined toward honesty, as well. At least when it came to people who deserved it. “If I can lie to Father and Sterling for years, I can tell Josc how I feel. Even if she’s…not quite as interested, she deserves to know.”

She took a drink, tossing the alcohol back in a way he'd seen Josc and many others do effortlessly. It... wasn't so effortless for Addie, and Edwin had to bite his lip hard to keep from laughing. Even still, a smile stretched across his features, amusement dancing in his eyes.

“I can still barely believe you’re alive. I don’t have words to express how grateful I am that you are.”

Her hand came to rest on his, and Edwin's smile softened. He tried not to let that guilt eat away at him, but it got a few nibbles in anyway. "I should have told you sooner, when I first returned to Kirkwall. But I'm here now, and I'm not going anywhere."

He turned his hand to give hers a squeeze. It was getting late, and Edwin was struck by the sudden panicked realization that they likely didn't have much more time. Even if the rational side of him knew he'd see her again, he was still afraid she'd walk out that door and get caught up in their father's web. Not by choice. He wasn't afraid of that any longer. But if Barrett found out she knew he was alive, that she'd been meeting with him...

"The road ahead's not going to be easy," he knew it didn't need to be said, but he said it anyway, "I now you'll endure it. If they haven't broken you after all these years, they won't do it now. But... I don't know how long it will be until the pieces are in place. Things might get worse before they get better."
 

Adelaide Orland

Noble
Noble
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
65
#31
Eddie squeezed her hand. Addie remembered when his hands had seemed so much bigger than hers; he would splay out his fingers and she would press her palm to his, wondering at how her digits barely reached his first knuckle. Her hands were still small compared to his, but not by so much now. They’d lost so much time – but they had so much more time ahead to try and make up for it.

“I should have told you sooner, when I first returned to Kirkwall. But I’m here now, and I’m not going anywhere.”

Addie understood his reasons now. Of course after his treatment in the hands of his captors, and knowing he’d been sent on a suicide mission by his father, he would be wary of approaching any of them. The years had changed both of them, but thankfully, not corrupted them.

“I’m so glad, Eddie. So, so glad.”

"The road ahead's not going to be easy. I know you'll endure it. If they haven't broken you after all these years, they won't do it now. But... I don't know how long it will be until the pieces are in place. Things might get worse before they get better."

Addie nodded seriously. “They may well do. I’ll play along with whatever Father and Sterling come up with as it happens; if I need help, I know I can call on you and my friends. I don’t feel safer in that house, but I finally feel like I have people in my life I can trust, and that…” she let out a breath. There was a tiny tremor in the base of her gut, she was deeply afraid of what Father might do if he found out that Eddie was still alive, but he was smart and he had good friends. “That gives me reason to keep fighting him. As long as I can, in any way I can.”
 
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