==== October 14, 2013
==== Eliseu (NPCed by Ladivos), Maryam
==== Still in disgrace, Maryam has her weekly tea with her betrothed. It goes…poorly.

Who Eliseu (NPCed by Ladivos), Maryam
What Still in disgrace, Maryam has her weekly tea with Eliseu. It goes…poorly.
When There are 0 turns, 11 months and 24 days until the 12th pass.
Where Private Quarters, Igen Weyr

maryamunveiled.jpg


-- On Pern --
It is noon
It is 11:31 AM where you are.
There are 0 turns, 11 months and 24 days until the 12th pass.
It is Winter and 30 degrees. It is raining.


Why is it that obligatory get-togethers seem to take place so frequently just after bad news? Such might be the case today, though it's not as if Eliseu has ever complained about Maryam's presence. Far from it. He's always been welcoming, in his own way. The sort of way that involves leaving your fiancee alone in your gaudy-coloured parlor for a little while because you have to take care of more important matters for half an hour. At least it's filled with things to look at - be it the inherited, high-polished furniture or the knick-knacks scattered about by ways of decoration. Hunting trophy here (who took that feline down? Certainly not the owner of the home), invaluable scroll of something boring there.

When Eliseu does finally enter the room again, and proceeds toward the corner in which the most comfortable chairs and a low table stand, he has brought with him snacks. A small plate of cookies of some sort. He doesn't know what sort. He doesn't do cookies. Perhaps they were a gift and he is looking to be rid of them. Already there was a carafe of water and a goblet, even if he walks into the room carrying one of the latter but with a suspiciously more wine-coloured liquid in it. "So." He doesn't yet look at Maryam, as though his mind is elsewhere still, even as he sets the refreshments down. "In your own words. Why did you do it?"

In the half an hour that Maryam has been left alone, she's done as she usually does- sit there, with her hands folded in her lap, looking every inch the meek and demure lady waiting for her true love. She'd moved only to measure water into that glass, because it would be expected of her to partake, and to unpin her veil on one side to allow her fiance the honor of being able to see her face. After that? Stillness, winter blue eyes drifting occasionally over the luxuries assembled here but more often than not simply studying the pattern of the carpet beneath her slippered toes. That changes when Eliseu does finally arrive though, his presence sending her to her feet where she can sketch a deep curtsey to the man. Notably, she doesn't sit again afterward. "Because I saw the opportunity," she says quietly, "and because I could."

"That isn't like you." Presumes Eliseu. Only now does he rise to properly look at Maryam, managing a smile that comes seconds too late to look like anything to do with warmth. It's something other. Pity? He takes a seat, one arm pressing hard against the armrest of his favourite, cushioned, inherited chair as he leans into it to study that rarely unveiled face. "Are you unhappy, Maryam?" His tone, though he does appear to try and sound as though he hasn't already made his mind up on the answer, is a far throw from concern.

When he sits, Maryam waits a beat before taking her chair as well. She can be grateful for that, at least, that he follows the custom of sitting rather than kneeling. Her fingers fit together again and fold over her hands. "I thought it would be to our benefit. It seemed the thing to do at the time." But no longer, that soft remark implies. That question succeeds in breaking through the mild reserve she adopts at these meetings, leading her to flick a glance towards her betrothed's expression to see what might be writ there. "Unhappy? To have angered my family? Yes." An answer measured out in slow and cautious increments, followed by a question that takes the same pattern: "Are…you happy, Eliseu?"

Expressions are funny, sometimes. And sometimes they're just boring. Right now there's a lot of distinctly unhappy things dancing across Eliseu's face - a twitch of an eyebrow, a pull at his lips - but none of them appear to want to stay very long. His answer is preceded by a careful sip from his wine, and even then it may not be sufficient: "I… have many things on my mind." A beat's pause, no more. "Perhaps you should stay here."

"Here?" Again he wins a point by surprising her, and without her veil, Maryam can't hide it. The blink, the widened eyes, followed by knitted brows and pursed lips. The carpet has suddenly become interesting again; she stares down at it. "People…might talk. If I were to stay here." That they might talk for her staying in a rider's weyr, even if that rider is ex-Bazaar, she does not mention. Instead, her hand darts out to close around the goblet of water to bring something to hand that she can fidget with. A change of subject, perhaps, phrased with apparent concern. "Is there anything I might help with?"

"Maryam." This sternly follows her question without a split second wait. Eliseu cants his head just slightly as he watches his fiancee. Surely, with her being just that, he should know her well enough for her to know what he is alluding to by saying her name alone in that urgent tone of voice. But whether he does know her well enough is another matter entirely. And whether she knows him, even so many years of engagement? Yet another.

Half-hidden, Maryam's eyes narrow in a wince. "I apologize, Eliseu," she says promptly. Less prompt is the reason for her reluctance- but that too comes out eventually. It's been too many years, under too many expectations, though she can likely anticipate his reaction. "Webley has already invited me to stay with him. He was given a weyr." Directly after, she raises the water and takes a healthy swallow, wetting a throat gone parched through nervous tension. Once done, the goblet is set on the table again and her hands reordered in her lap. And then? Then she waits for what's sure to come.

Suddenly Eliseu's stance changes. His lean evens out, and his back leaves the support of cushions to straighten. His eyes seem to adopt a mind of their own while she drinks, showing some of that nervous tension not through his expression but through being unable to decide what to look at. As though Maryam is a broken device and he's biding time before someone more knowledgable might come along to fix it. Hands? Face? Water? Her lap, shoulders, eyes? Eyes. As if to mirror her actions, he tips his drink against his lips and drains a good portion of it. After a silence, he concedes while still looking straight into those blues, "People might talk, if you were to stay there."

Damn the lack of veil. The immediate rush of color into Maryam's cheeks is highly visible in skin left pale from being so often hidden away from the sun. She blinks once but somehow manages to not break eye contact. Call it pride. Maybe stubbornness. "Webley and I have been friends since we were in diapers. There is nothing to talk about there and he is…he is loyal to the Bazaar still. If I were to stay here, people might think…" They might think ought. Words which she won't give voice to, though even thinking them sends her gaze finally swinging away, back to the carpet. Quiet, cool, she adds, "I would not want to impinge on your privacy." Who knows what fills those hours, after all? Certainly not Maryam.

Certainly not. Eliseu's eyes stay locked where they are, attention-grabbing carpet or not. He moves forward on his chair so that he's on the very edge of it, drink held in his lap with both hands. That latest sentence brings a pang of confusion to his face, brow furrowing. "There are things you could do even outside of-" He starts promptly, a little too harshly, and swallows back the rest of the sentence before he starts over. A little calmer. "I'm sure there's something I can find for you to occupy yourself with that isn't ploys to shake the very foundation of-" He grits his teeth, and rises to walk toward the middle of the room promptly enough to spill a trickle of wine over his fingers. After pouring the remainder of it down his throat, while his back is still turned, he asks, "What are we, Maryam?"

The roses in her cheeks continue to grown, claiming the entire garden of her face now. Maryam burns so hotly, in fact, that reflex leads her to reach for her veil and draw it across her cheeks, the bridge of her nose, hiding some of the damage done by Eliseu's lecturing. Behind that barrier, and with eyes closed, she concentrates simply on breathing. Breath in, breath out, the sisal fluttering and smoothing down with each inhalation and exhalation. It being her place to do so, when she does speak again, she offers up contrition in the tone of her oh so faint voice. "We are Igen. We are of the Bazaar. We are promised to each other," she says, to be certain of covering all possible desired answers.

"Promised." The word is returned by Eliseu as though it is a currency he does not accept. He makes his way through the room further still, coming eye to eye with that hunting trophy. He is left with his profile to Maryam while a violently snarling yet inanimate feline gazes upon his attempt at a straight face. He lifts his chin at it, as if in quiet defiance. "I have been kind, have I not?" Despite sounding genuinely puzzled about what the answer to that might be, he leaves no room for any of the sort and continues immediately with, "Free of the ties your family, save for your late father to mine. Free of the tasks they force upon you. Yet you don't seem to grasp this." He turns his face to her, now. He looks just this side of sad, and his voice joins in on the effort. "What you fail to understand is that the value of promises… decays."

Dangerous ground, and she knows full well that those questions are rhetorical. Beneath the sisal hiding part of her face again, Maryam's jaw tenses. It's the only display of displeasure she'll allow herself and it is (of course!) well hidden. Stubbornly, she continues to favor the carpet with her regard, however winsomely he poses himself with the trophy or before her. "What would you have of me, Eliseu? Shall I stay here? If you tell me to, you know I will." If only because she has to. "In all of the Turns of our engagement, I have never done less than what was promised. Always done what you asked. What more do you want?" That last question escapes her before it can be modulated, quiet frustration all too easily read.

And frustration seems to be all Eliseu needs to dispell that sadness. At once he seems to join the frozen feline in its contempt. "You can only hide so long, Maryam. Behind that veil. With We'bey. With the guard, should that be your plan. In the darkest nooks of the Bazaar or even with your mother, with your brothers, if they'll have you." A stiff twist of his weight and he's taking himself and his empty glass back out of the room in hasty steps. "I will be here. Decayed worth or not, you will be welcome here. With me."

The icy contempt serves its purpose: Maryam remains frozen throughout, hand still held fast to her temple to keep the veil in place. Though Eliseu has succeeded in getting her to lift her gaze, to look at him now that he's dropped the mask, that's all she does until he leaves- just gazing back at the man as he spits words at her and paints a picture of the inevitable. She has nothing to say to that. Not a word. Only when the sound of his footfalls have faded, does she move…and that's to stand, to leave his quarters in search of sanctuary.

Whether it will make people talk or not.

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