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your smile and the sound of your voice and the way you see through me - Idiot Control Now
bees on pie, burning rubber tires
mellowcandle
mellowcandle
your smile and the sound of your voice and the way you see through me
Okay, here's the first draft of the next part. All feedback wanted and welcome.

Title: [Blank]
Series: ToA
Characters: Natalia, Guy
Part 3 of ?




In the long seconds since Natalia had spoken, the surprised expression on Guy’s face remained fixed in place, like he was posing for the world’s most awkward portrait. She watched his jaw twitch slowly, back and forth, as he tried to remember how it worked and formed words. “What?”

“I need you to marry me.” Rephrasing her question didn’t make it any less imperative. Her voice remained strong, no trace of her desperation in her request. He blinked at her, a sign that his initial reaction was wearing off, and she knew she had to explain. “If I don’t choose someone to marry by my next birthday, the Royal Council will force me to marry someone completely unsuitable.” She left Luke out of the equation. Luke was not an option, and she would not complicate things by mentioning him here.

Besides, she wasn’t convinced that she wouldn’t end up standing next to that odious Alfred Creemore.

“So….” He drew the word out as he assimilated this information. “You choose me?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

This was something she’d rehearsed during the long voyage to Grand Chokmah. “A marriage between my country and yours will be beneficial for international relations. We can represent this peace and remind everyone that this time, it can last. We can be the symbol your cousin and General Frings never got to be. And your input from the Malkuth perspective can aid Kimlasca in our future dealings.”

“For political reasons, basically.”

“Yes, in part. It never hurts to be practical.”

“True,” he said, nodding. If he had been anyone else, she would have sworn he was mocking her. “What’s the other part?”

“Pardon?”

“You said ‘in part’. That means there’s more to it.” Guy shrugged in that nonchalant way of his. If he were mocking her, he was being incredibly subtle about it. “There’s any number of Malkuth noblemen who’d be perfectly willing to marry you. Why did you pick me?”

It was a valid point. “Because my family owes you, both for Hod and for the unfair accusations against the Cecilles.” Politics had also been the reason for his parents’ marriage, and she was determined to right the wrongs done to his family.

“So, guilt.”

He always could see through her. “No.” Her seated position made her feel vulnerable and insignificant as he stood looking down at her. She was sure that wasn’t his intention, but she got to her feet all the same. “Even so, it would go a long way toward making reparations if a Cecille were in position to be king.”

He was shaking his head. “No. I don’t want that.”

She knew he wouldn’t, and his refusal made him the ideal candidate. The power hungry nobles would step over themselves to flatter her first and stab her in the back later, destroying everything she and her father had worked so hard to achieve. Guy shared her ideals and her desire to maintain this peace, and she could count on his support without the worry that he would undermine her at every turn to increase his own influence. “Your children, then. If you marry me, the royal line will have Cecille blood.”

One of his eyebrows cocked at this, intrigued. “Children. You know that means you and I would have to….”

“Yes, I am aware of that.” Natalia’s cheeks flushed hotly, but she wouldn’t look away. That was something else she’d spent too much time thinking about during the long voyage. Their marriage would have to be consummated, of course, and an heir produced. This fact had not escaped her. The idea of lying with him was embarrassing, although, she had to admit, far from repulsive.

She had to keep her eyes on his, even as her face was burning like a sunset.

“You just thought about it, didn’t you?”

“Certainly not.” Two sunsets.

He laughed. “Yeah, me too.” Unless she was mistaken, his laugh wasn’t as casual as he wanted it to be. A careless hand raked through his hair, making it stick out more than usual. “I have to say, that’s your most convincing argument so far.” Teasing her was second-nature to him, his way of disarming her, but there was something different here, this acknowledgement of an attraction to each other as man and woman. They had flirted before, and often, but always on a superficial level. With the potential—no, the impending reality—of becoming more than friends, there was a new layer rumbling underneath everything they said.

What was she getting herself into?

“Okay, so we’ve covered politics and guilt and heirs. Anything else?” His clear blue gaze never left her.

Politics and guilt and heirs. Practical, generic reasons that could apply to anyone.

She was fooling herself if she thought those were her only reasons for asking him.

“I’ve chosen you because I trust you, Guy.” Forgetting the practical, political advantages, this was what it all came down to. She trusted him. She respected him. “You know me like no one else does.” Their friendship may have developed out of odd circumstances, a princess and a servant who were both more and less than they claimed to be, but everything they’d been through together had cemented a bond between them that few others would ever understand. He knew her secrets, and she knew his.

He’d been there when she needed a friend most. Those first nights after Asch died, Guy was the one who had stayed up with her, listening to her, letting her cry on his shoulder, and then, when she was all cried out, getting her drunk and making her laugh.

If he could get her through that, he could get her through anything.

At the heart of it, she didn’t want a practical, political marriage. This was going to be for the rest of her life. She wanted someone special by her side. Someone she cared about. “And because… I’m very fond of you, Guy.” In her position, that was as close to love as she could hope for.

He smiled at that, this time with no trace of teasing to be found. This smile was softer, lending an intimacy that wrapped around her, making her feel warm all over. “Now, was that so hard?” Even his voice was softer, lower, a hum that buzzed up and down her spine.

Of course. She’d been appealing to his logical side, when she should have been appealing to his romantic side. Who wanted a proposal that treated the recipient as a commodity? Wouldn’t he rather hear that he meant something to her, instead of focusing on what he could do for her? The only way she could have been more impersonal and insulting is if she had sent a messenger with a royal decree. “I’m sorry.” She bowed her head briefly in apology before looking at him again. “I should have started with that.”

“Nah, it’s okay.”

“No, it isn’t. I’ve done to you what’s being done to me, and I should know better.”

He gave a careless shrug. “I’m getting used to it. The families around here see me as a title first and a fortune second. Well, except those that see the fortune first. My being a person doesn’t really figure into it.”

“Welcome to my world. It’s fun, isn’t it?” See, she could make sardonic jokes, too. “But, truly, you shouldn’t expect that dismissive sort of attitude from me. I’m very sorry.”

“I know you didn’t mean it that way. Besides, your reasons are compelling, I’ll give you that. I’d be an idiot to hold out for a better offer.” There was that smile again.

Perhaps she’d like this new layer. Even if they weren't a love match, a match between friends was the next best thing. Some people weren't that lucky. “So, you’ll do it?”

He started to say something, then shook his head. “Wait. No. I’m only going to get one chance to do this, so let me do it right.”

In his old shirt and grease-streaked pants, in a cluttered room of metal tools and half-finished mystery machines, in a room that smelled faintly of oil and sweat and concentration and other masculine things, he knelt before her. It wasn’t anything like she pictured the moment. It wasn’t a moment she’d ever pictured at all.

Still, there was a fluttering in her heart, anticipating his words, as he brought her hand to his lips.

“Natalia.” His breath was warm and ticklish on her knuckles, and she fought an overwhelming urge to giggle. She could see the corners of his mouth turn up, and his blue eyes shimmered with something between laughter and seriousness. “Your Highness. With your extraordinary grace and your incomparable beauty, you are unlike any woman I have ever met, and it would be my greatest honor if you would consent to be my wife.”

There was a clattering sound as Merton dropped the tea tray.














I think the last line is OOC, but it amuses me. If it's too OOC, or just an awkward place to end the scene, I'll change it.

My one concern is basically that Nat's laying out all these logical reasons, and then Guy comes across as accepting just because he wants to sleep with her, which is not the case at all (although he does, that's just not why), but I'm planning to go more into his thought process when he meets with the king in the next section.


I swear, as soon as I get them in bed, I'm going to lose all interest in this.



revised 5/5

Tags: , , , , ,
Current Mood: drained drained
Current Music: the name of the game--amanda seyfried

8 pathetic excuses or justify your existence
Comments
cal_reflector From: cal_reflector Date: May 4th, 2010 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I swear, as soon as I get them in bed, I'm going to lose all interest in this.

Better keep putting it off then. Alternatively. Get them in bed several times, in different contexts.

“There’s any number of Malkuth noblemen who’d be perfectly willing to marry you. Why did you pick me?”

Excellent question from Guy; it combines praise, seeks an answer to his question, and maybe just a little of fishing there for compliments as well. 3 Questions in one.

One of his eyebrows cocked at this, intrigued. “Children. You know that means you and I would have to….”

Up until this point I was feeling that Guy is just a bit too cool about all this. He's shown very little emotion. The initial shell-shock should have worn off... and into what? Mere amusement? Perhaps he just is very composed.

I want to feel what Guy and Natalia are feeling throughout this most interesting and awkward of conversations. Averted eyes, playing with hands, body language and more signs of emotion would be good. After this point the ice starts to melt, things ease up, and their feelings become more apparent. The sunset(s) was a very nice touch.

but there was something different here, this acknowledgement of an attraction to each other as man and woman.

If Natalia could read that from Guy's reaction thus far, she REALLY can read him. I haven't seen enough from Guy to know that he is acknowledging attraction, only teasing.

Also, isn't Guy just being a tad mean here? He's practically cross-examining the poor girl! Asking her to put it all on the table while he keeps his Hand to himself. He knows how antsy she must feel, but there's no encouragement, no nod of the head, like a stolid boss listening to a newbie making a presentation who remains silent until the very end, at which the point the newbie has forgotten how to breathe.

a princess and a servant who were both more and less than they claimed to be

This is a unique aspect about their background which they share. The difference is of course that Natalia grew up not knowing, whereas Guy never forgot his noble origins. Maybe something to go into a little more.

His breath was warm and ticklish on her knuckles, and she fought an overwhelming urge to giggle.
A giggle may in fact lighten the atmosphere here appropriately as the chapter comes to the end.

“Your Highness, you are unlike any woman I have ever met--Strong yet gracious, beautiful and kind. It would be my honor (and utmost happiness) if you would consent to be my wife.”

There was a clattering sound as Merton dropped the tea tray.
Crashing, shattering, a word that's more terrible and dramatic to reflect Merton's utter dismay.
mellowcandle From: mellowcandle Date: May 4th, 2010 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, he's being a little mean. When he realizes she's laying it out as a political arrangement, he thinks it's only fair to hold back until he can get her to say, "I picked you because I like you." It's never going to be a grand declaration of love, but it's always nice to know that you're wanted for you and not for where you're from or who your parents were.

I worried about him saying too much because then I'd just have to repeat it all when he meets with the king. And I worry about repeating too much of what I've already done in other fics. I'll feel like I'm writing the same conversation over and over if I don't spread it out a little.

I hate writing the narration bits. It's always been my weakest point because I find it so boring both to write and to read. I wish I could just write in screenplay form.
cal_reflector From: cal_reflector Date: May 4th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Makes sense, the spreading it out part, and your other considerations as well.

I tend to employ a strong narrative voice because I'm not as comfortable with dialogue. There are many great authors who employ a minimal narrative style; John Grisham's characters talk ALOT, in contrast to... Wodehouse, and Thomas Hardy. Either can work. I think some of your best nuggets come through in your character's internal monologues though.

I'd encourage you not to force yourself to narrate more than you like. Play to your strengths and interests.
mellowcandle From: mellowcandle Date: May 4th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I probably should find some way to get more of that in there, though. If he's been disenchanted by all these marriage-minded girls treating him as a title and a fortune rather than a person, then one of his best friends does the same, I need that to be more clear. (Well, I guess you'd expect it from Anise....)

I'm reminded of a book I read a few months ago where the main character went to someone's door, and a woman holding a baby answered. There were two paragraphs describing this baby, then after two pages, neither the woman nor the baby was seen again, and I was left thinking, "Why did I need so much information about that baby?" Or another book where the narrator described all the contents of her pockets, when old receipts and chewing gum had no relevance to anything happening in the scene. I'm the type who wants to get on with it rather than worrying about what color the walls in a room are and whether the ceiling's been recently patched and how the light comes in through the windows. But I know some people eat that stuff up. I probably need to find a better balance.
cal_reflector From: cal_reflector Date: May 4th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Getting bogged down in intricate environmental/atmospheric details is one my problems. I need to work on being more comfortable giving readers less so they can fill in the imagery themselves... and I can focus on the characters and the plot.

Better choice of words may help: the word "gym" should give a reader a plethora of sight, sound, and smells. "Training facility" does not.
mellowcandle From: mellowcandle Date: May 4th, 2010 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
But something like "training facility" is good if it's a specialized kind of environment. "Gym" I'll think weights, treadmills, spin classes, raquetball, stuff like my gym for us ordinary folk. "Training facility" will make me think it's for more serious training, like for athletes or military or something. So it all depends on context.

I know I'll let everyone down if Nat's wedding gown isn't described in spectacular detail, so that's one place I'll really have to go all out.
cal_reflector From: cal_reflector Date: May 4th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Exactly. If what you want to describe is a gym, then the word gym works great, because it's something people can relate to; they been there. If I wanted to portray a Training Facility, I'm going to need to do a lot more work filling in blanks for the reader, maybe a paragraph. I'd like to use more words that people can relate to, not just for economy, but it also makes the reader feel closer.

If the description comes from Guy's POV I think it'll be even better. Reader gets to be in his shoes.
mellowcandle From: mellowcandle Date: May 4th, 2010 10:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, that could be good if I could pull it off.
8 pathetic excuses or justify your existence