Monday, October 13, 2008

Chapter 33 (of 43)

XXXIII

Camilla was tired of the Fromage estate, most especially because Al’bert was no longer in it. She hardly saw her mother and father, although that was nothing new, and was just the continued course in which her life had always been set. No, she missed Al’bert badly, and began to wish she had insisted he allow her to come along.

At home she did the best she could to entertain herself. Master Bellafringe made her another gown, although her father quite unexpectedly informed her later that such indulgences were not to be allowed until after the war was over. That was the kind of thing of which she had never heard, and it made her dislike the war even more. It seemed frivolous and boring, and it took from her both Al’bert and Fangline.

Fangline, or rather Fang, she supposed was never hers in the first place. It had always seemed as if he tolerated her rather than approaching anything resembling love for her. She supposed she didn’t quite love him, but was more along the lines of fascinated with him. He was the only man who had ever been almost entirely resistant to her, after all. Then at last, when she was finally getting somewhere with him, he had to go and cut his hair and leave Schloeffelonia in a moody rush.

She would scarcely tell anyone (except Al’bert, of course) that when she heard that Fang had returned, she got butterflies, never mind the sordid news of what it was he did upon his return. The king was dead, and it mattered very little to her, since he had always been an extraordinarily dull person in her eyes anyway, and she hardly knew him. Of Fang’s aunt, she knew even less, except what she had picked up through Fangline’s incessant complaints over her harassment of him. However, when Fang had begun a swift and methodical execution of everyone related to the Schloeffel line, Camilla had begun to feel fear replace the fascination.

That had been his first act as ruler, and it put everyone in a state of shock. One night she had come to Al’bert regarding it, as that day his friend Ganlin had been executed for his distant blood, along with quite a few other quasi-Schloeffels.

He had quietly described it as if a box that contained a serpent had been opened and would not shut. It made her relieved they were who they were. Surely the Fromages were untouchable in this new world.

But this night Camilla walked the silent, perfect halls of the Fromage estate and heard her father talking with more fervency than he generally allowed himself. She could hear it all the way down the hall and knew he was agitated, as the timbre of his voice rose and fell in a pattern she recognized like a song, for Camilla was, above all things, brilliant with voices.

At the door, which was open just a few inches, she saw her mother was with him. They were rarely together, and Camilla never assumed there was much love between them, for “indifferent” was the best word to describe their union. Consequently, seeing them together now piqued her curiosity, both in the plain curiosity which rode upon her surface, and deep within her, in the child which craves the holy grail of security: parents who love each other.

This latter motive she was not consciously aware of, but she did watch them secretly with intent.

“This war is madness,” her mother said to le Duc.

“It is what it is,” he replied shortly.

“It is a waste and you can’t pretend we won’t be affected by it.”

“I’m not pretending anything,” he returned irritably. “We will be affected by it, and for the better, Seline.”

“I despise it,” she rejoined.

“It doesn’t matter how you feel about it,” he replied, and Camille was a little taken aback by his unkindness.

“Does it matter if I despise you?” she asked him. Camille saw her father stand still for a long moment, as if frozen.

Yet, it was with resignation that he replied.

“No.”

For no reason Camille could discern, tears stung her eyes and she left as quickly and as quietly as she could manage. She spent no small amount of time that night crying upon her bed, alone, and missing Al’bert terribly.

Dear Al’bert,

Please come back. I’m miserable. Mother and Father are useless. I can’t stand anything at all. Oh, Al’bert… please.

Love,

Camilla

- - - - - - - - -

Dearest Camilla,

Were I under the orders of anyone but he who has sent me to do this, I could return straightaway, but you know as well as I do that going against the will of Fang is foolhardy, at best.

Try to do something that will take your mind off of things, and perhaps I will be home before you know it.

Love,

Al’bert

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