The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz

FanFiction => Evie's FanFic => Anamchara and stand-alone short stories => Topic started by: Evie on June 16, 2010, 11:44:48 AM

Title: Man-Trap
Post by: Evie on June 16, 2010, 11:44:48 AM
“Aleph mulierem fortem quis inveniet procul et de ultimis finibus pretium eius.”
Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.—Prov. 31:10


   Nigel Haldane hastily gulped down his ale in a attempt to keep from spewing it across the High Table.  “Good God!” he whispered to his brother once he’d recovered from nearly choking on the mouthful of liquid.  “Have you spotted Oksana yet?”

   King Brion, resplendent in his Haldane crimson at this formal Christmas Court Feast, took a discreet glance around the room.  “No,” he muttered under his breath.  “What’s the man-trap doing now?”

   Nigel carefully redirected his gaze back to the trencher before him, pretending a studied interest in the venison.  “Second table to the left, forefront, in scarlet.  I have to admit, she doesn’t look half bad in scarlet—what there is of it!”

   Brion’s grey eyes scanned the corner of the Great Hall indicated, eventually landing on the young lady in question and her questionable attire.  He choked back a laugh.  “Sweet Jesú!   What the hell is the lass thinking?  Is she trying to catch a Haldane, or just a dairyman?” 

   “I have no idea, but I think she’s about to catch a Ramsey.  Poor Jolyon looks like he’s about to fall straight in!”

   Brion snorted.  “Better him than me!”  He grinned.  “Sir Jolyon needs to start thinking with the head above that white belt, and not the one below it, or he’ll end up getting a lot more than he bargains for.  I can’t imagine marriage to the likes of Oksana d’Enghieux would make for an easy life.”

   Nigel chuckled softly.  “Now, now, Brion!   You have to admit, the lady has some charms.”

   Brion looked dubious.  “Name them.”

   “Well,” Nigel’s Haldane gray eyes held a wicked sparkle, “there are two on rather prominent display at the—Ow!”  He laughed as he covertly rubbed at his sore shin.  “Damn, do you have to wear such pointed boots?”

   “Besides the obvious.”  The elder brother attempted to look stern, but failed dismally.

   “Ah.  Well, there’s her sweet and amiable…no, that’s not right….and her lack of preten—um….well, it’s said she’s made extensive contributions to her mother’s mis-matched crockery collection over the years, so that bespeaks a certain amount of generosity, don’t you think?  All right, I concede the point.  But I imagine you’d look upon her more favorably if she were mute.”  Nigel grinned unrepentantly.

   “Mute, armless, and not dressed for Court functions as if she thinks I’ll be auditioning for a harem in the withdrawing room the moment Feast is over, mayhap,” Brion muttered.

   “A Haldane harem?  Well, the bishops would be apoplectic, but at least you’d practically be guaranteed an heir….”  Nigel moved his shin discreetly out of the way of Brion’s foot before it could make contact, swiveling slightly on his seat as he did so. 

   “If I didn’t need you up here in your role as royal Prince this evening, I’d send you back to squiring at tables,” Brion teased his younger brother as a motion at the end of the dais caught his eye.  He beckoned to the liveried squire standing there to come forward.   The lad did, bowing respectfully, and handed the King a folded square of parchment.  Brion opened it, scanning the note quickly, then leaned to whisper to his brother.  “Our mother says she is feeling much improved, but asks leave to be allowed to remain in her apartment for the rest of the evening.”  He glanced up to nod his agreement to the squire, who bowed and retreated to deliver the message to the dowager queen.  “Still, would you mind checking on her once the feast is over?  I’d go up myself, but I expect to be tied down here for the next few hours, and she may well be asleep by the time I can get away.”

   “I’d be glad to.”

   “And,” Brion added with a teasing smile, “Lady Meraude might be with her.  I haven’t seen her in the Great Hall tonight.”

   “She’s not he—I mean, if she’s is here, I haven’t spotted her.”  Nigel flushed slightly under his brother’s studying regard.

   “Not, I hope, because you’ve been too distracted by Oksana’s ‘charms’?”

   Nigel barely restrained a whoop of loud laughter.  “No, no, I looked for her before I got…um….”  The slightly pink cheeks turned scarlet as Brion made no effort to hide his amusement.   “Mother might not be allowing her to attend Court functions yet, at any rate.  She is quite young, still,” he added a trifle wistfully.

   “Aye.  Too young yet, Nigel,” Brion cautioned, though with a sympathetic smile, “though if you’re still minded to court Lady Meraude when she’s more ripe for marriage, I’ve no objection to a match between you and a daughter of the Earl of Rhendall.   Though she looks to be growing into quite the beauty, so I don’t doubt you’ll have some stiff competition for her hand.   Now, if you don’t mind leaving before the dancing starts, you’ll avoid being maneuvered into a dance with Oksana.  Which is more than I’ll be able to manage, unfortunately; I’ll probably have to spend at least a few minutes dancing with her, exchanging mindless pleasantries while staring fixedly at her hairline like a drowning man clinging to a rope, God help me!”

   “Only you could make a dance sound less pleasant than a funerary wake, Brion.  When you put it that way, yes, I’ll be all too happy to flee.   I’ll always have your back on the battlefield, brother—you know that!—but on the dance floor with the demoiselle d’Enghieux, you’re on your own!”

   “Cowardice ill becomes a Haldane,” Brion teased.

   “’Cowardice,’ hell!  You’d flee too, if you could!  And besides, now that I’ve the King’s consent to aspire higher, I’m afraid the Valley d’Enghieux has lost all its scenic attraction for me….”

   Nigel fled before his brother could make a third attempt to bruise his shin.

Title: Re: Man-Trap
Post by: AnnieUK on June 16, 2010, 01:00:00 PM
LOL, nice to see the Haldane brothers together.  Hopefully we'll see more of that when Childe Morgan III is out.

I can just picture this scene.  And don't we all know someone just like Oksana?
Title: Re: Man-Trap
Post by: Evie on June 16, 2010, 02:23:52 PM
Overheard at an SCA event, two knights quietly discussing a woman who had just entered the room wearing an engineering marvel of a bodice--one which might have been aspiring at something vaguely Elizabethan in fashion, but which was failing dismally--that was designed to push her already quite ample bosom up to monumental plateau-like proportions:

Knight 1:  "Good God, how's that corset holding together?"
Knight 2:  "I take it you're referring to the lady whose breasts walked into the room three full seconds before she did?  I've got no clue."

Yeah, for some reason I had no trouble imagining Nigel and Brion in this scene either.   :D  Especially after reading Oksana's entry in the Codex.  As the daughter of a mere landed knight, she certainly couldn't have hoped to catch Brion's eye by offering the promise of some political gain, and while she's described as dark-haired, tall, and graceful, I'm sure lots of ladies at Rhemuth were quite lovely as well.  Which means she'd have needed to make herself stand out in some other way, to catch the Haldane brothers' attention, and so I figured as she grew more and more desperate over the years, she might resort to the timeworn "put the bait out but don't offer it freely" ploy.
Title: Re: Man-Trap
Post by: Alkari on June 16, 2010, 05:11:30 PM
Great fun, and excellent banter between Brion and Nigel.

“Sir Jolyon needs to start thinking with the head above that white belt, and not the one below it, or he’ll end up getting a lot more than he bargains for.    Oh dear - this echoes a very funny discussion I had last evening with a friend! 

’Cowardice,’ hell!  You’d flee too, if you could!  And besides, now that I’ve the King’s consent to aspire higher, I’m afraid the Valley d’Enghieux has lost all its scenic attraction for me….”   Valley d'Enghieux indeed - wonderful!
Title: Re: Man-Trap
Post by: kirienne on June 19, 2010, 06:33:29 PM
I loved this bit of insight into the brothers Haldane. It was fun to see the banter and teaseing. I hope we'll see more?
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