Follow Your Heart, Not My Footsteps

Title: Follow Your Heart, Not My Footsteps
Time Period: February 11, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Constance is paid a visit by someone she'd rather avoid.

While the sitting by the fire is warmer, sitting by the window is more interesting. Instead of the past days where she's preferred the warmth of bed or the crackling of the fire, Constance Rowntree is bundled up by the window, gaze following snowflakes as they slowly drift their way down between bouts of clouds catching their breaths. Her leg is set in the usual position now, resting on an ottoman in front of her. It's become the most comfortable position as of late and since she's not fond of pain, she prefers to try and keep it there whenever possible.

Constance had become frustrated with the sling and instead took that off in favor of resting her arm freely. She still tries not to move it and resists the urge to try and use her hand (she forgets sometimes), but it's no longer captive around her neck. The carefully stitched wound on her cheek heals slowly but shows little signs of scarring but is still enough of an injury to make the young blonde unhappy whenever she catches a glimpse of the wound in her reflection from the cold glass. A book, its cover faded almost beyond recognition, remains unopened on her lap.

A fragrance different from one that Constance's father, brother, or even grandfather wears drifts in from the hallway. Carried in by a stray breeze that's bounced around the hallway since the great doors opened a while ago. Confusing at first because the mixture, at its base, is built on lavender, usually a men's fragrance. It isn't until a distinct voice can be heard chittering to one of the younger maids, a few years older than Constance but younger than the speaker, that she can be identified.


"You must be joking!" A peal of laughter follows, two in fact, Luna's and the maid's. "No, this can't be a true tale because I could never imagine him trying something like that. You'll tell me the entire story when I come out again, aye? I can't imagine this will take so long." Then she sweeps into the room in a fancy and quite expensive light blue dress. As all of Luna's things, it's dripping with lace, ivory this time. Once she catches sight of the younger blonde, she rushes to her side and gently places her hands on the invalid's good leg.

"Oh Constance, I came as soon as I heard," there's actual concern in the failed governess' voice. "How terrible you must feel. Such a horrible disfigurement, did they shoot the beast that tore you to shreds?"

Constance tries not to cringe when she hears Luna's voice. She straightens herself up and takes a deep breath to compose herself. It isn't until she studies the other woman's appearance and voice that the young woman cracks. There's a surge of emotion, one having been carefully suppressed from days past.

"Luna Owens, if you are here to act like you are superior and pretend like you care and make yourself feel better because I am injured, you can take your ridiculous presence out of this castle before I set the soldiers on you," the tone is cold, but a split second later she barrels through with an entirely different emotion.

"It's all a game of pretend, Luna, that's all we do and we're good at it. Mariah was there when they found me and she told me how good we are at pretending. All of us. I know there have to be appearances. Ones for my family, ones for going out of the house, ones for friends… I lose what it means to be me and I'm so tired of it. Games are meant to be fun, they aren't meant to hurt." There aren't tears, but the tone itself could very well be weeping.

"So if you are here to show off, to play a part and act like you care or are some kind of friend, you can remain in here for a few minutes and then leave and everyone will think you are a good person for visiting someone who is hurt. I don't care who you pretend to be out there, we all have to do it, but for the sake of all that is good and holy, this is not all you are. So don't pretend with me, Luna. There isn't enough room in here for all this pretending."

"Of course Mariah was there and of course she had all the right things to say.. She always does." There's a wave of Luna's hand as she busies herself plumping up Constance's pillow, arranging blankets, moving the book. She's not exactly gentle. "Right things to say, right things to sing, why her voice is simply dripping with exactly the right thing all the time, isn't it." She also doesn't bother to hide the jealousy and bitterness laced into the words. "Especially when she's out trying to steal the heart of the man you've been in love with all of your life…"

Gritting her teeth, the prostitute turns her back on the girl and takes a deep breath, holds it, then lets it out slowly with a perturbed whoosh. There's a phony smile pasted on her face when she twists back and pushes another chair next to the invalid. "Never mind about Mariah, I'm here to make you feel almost human. You probably haven't gotten any good gossip or news since you were attacked and horribly disfigured, poor dear, I'm sure your auntie will make certain you'll still be a fine catch for some young man."

There's a slight furrowing of Constance's brow, and a touch of concern. "The man you've been in love with all your life…" She glances towards the window, perhaps at an imaginary Mariah. "I don't know. Maybe she has a nice voice, but you're prettier than her. Your things are much nicer than hers." She lets out a bit of a breath. "Maybe we shouldn't talk about Mariah… perhaps we should talk about you. If you've been in love with someone your whole life, why aren't you with him?" Her voice is genuine and relaxed, for the moment. Perhaps Luna may not be able to let down all her walls, but Constance has no energy for one at the moment. "After all, you're pretty and not horribly disfigured like me." There's a smile and a lighter tone — perhaps a little teasing at her own expense.

While unpacking her things, Luna passes some needlework to Constance, a bit of lace that's just been started. It's intricate pattern isn't something for a novice to tackle but for some reason the prostitute isn't concerned whether the young actress will ruin her work or not. "Why? Well… I'm not good enough to hold onto him, she said so." Too many years ago for it to count but it's something the elder of the pair has never forgotten.

When she arranges herself nicely, the lace is yanked back and traded with a more mundane piece. A cross stitch sampler for young maids. Like Constance. "Don't worry about your looks. Really, Constance, you could look like Bridget Ross and still be the most sought after young thing in Dornie."

It's more something to hold than anything, and even if Constance makes no progress, she looks intently at the lace to, at the very least, learn something from it. When it's snatched from her, the sampler is studied again, but remains in her lap. Too much effort on her bad arm, she could argue, but she gives no excuse and simply lets it lay on her lap. "Do you believe you aren't good enough to hold onto him, Luna? Who cares what she says."

Constance looks back out the window where the snow has started falling again. "Maybe, but it makes little difference. No one's good enough for me according to my father and I think it will take him a very long time to settle on someone he at least somewhat approves of. And my father is no man to go against. I think he'd be too lonely if his children left him. It's what I imagine, at least."

"Probably, it's what she says," it's spoken like the truth, whether it is or not, Luna believes it. "I'm not meant for the likes of Beisdean Skye. He's for the perfect of the world, like Mariah." Constance is given a small smile and the prostitute nods her chin toward the sampler. "Start it up, it'll take your mind off all that ails you. Better than the poppies and drink, you don't want to do that or else your father really will see to it you'll never get married."

Reaching over, Luna's cool hands fit over the younger blonde's and she guides the needle through the first little row of xxxx. "I think his longing for more, for grandchildren, will win out in the end. Besides, he has Celia to keep him company for longer, aye? You can't be taking that burden on yourself." She returns to her own work, concentrating on it as she continues. "Just make certain that when you find that boy, you don't let anyone tell you that you're not good enough. If you aren't, then there's no hope for the rest of us, is there?"

The encouragement is enough for Constance to start the sampler. Whatever failures she might have had as a governess before, it seems Luna's making up for it a bit now. "No one is perfect. Perfectly flawed, maybe. I'm sure Mariah makes mistakes, but we're all pretenders. Perhaps she's better at it than you think. It does not mean that you need to be perfect to win him. You aren't the kind to sit back without a fight, that much is true. You admitted you love him and you're willing to let that go?"

Constance takes a careful stitch, moving slowly to avoid poking herself with the needle. It's a lot harder to do when she's babying her arm. "I wouldn't disappoint him by going off and doing something he horribly disapproves of. But I don't know. I don't mind being the princess in the castle. Being unattainable, it's something that keeps me interesting. And at the very least, someone needs me for something. It's nice to feel like that, don't you think?"

"He can be quite cruel when he wishes to be," Luna answers quietly when faced with the challenge of giving up. "Baizey can, he was. Something happened and it made me realize that I'll never be anything that he even wishes to call friend." Clearing her throat, the prostitute turns her head and wipes at the corner of one eye with a solitary fingertip. Probably to clear a smudge on her perfect makeup.

Before looking back at Constance, she takes the time to study the high walls of the room and everything on them. "But! Being the princess isn’t all that keeps you interesting, Constance, you're interesting enough… Without the playing and fooling. Besides, you'll need to find someone while you're still young and pretty so that you can keep him well after you've given him a dozen children. No sense losing the love of your life to a woman half your caliber."

Constance shakes her head a little. "I'm sorry to hear that it won't work with him. They say all sorts of rubbish about love and how you're supposed to let them go, but I think that's a bit of a lie. You might let them go, but it doesn't mean you can't be upset about it. If that's who Mariah wants and if he wants to be with her, try not to hold it against them. It doesn't make you feel better, but they're both people you care about." She sniffs after a moment. "Besides, I'm sure there are all sorts of other gentleman callers to catch your attention."

The younger blonde smiles genuinely before looking back at her needlework. "Maybe you're right, I just haven't seen anyone worth my efforts yet. He'll have to be able to keep up with me and I'm not sure there are many quick-witted enough. Dornie's full of dull men, I'm afraid. But I don't have to tell you that."

Constance pauses for a moment before adding. "He wouldn't deserve you, anyways."

"That's the thing, aye? She don't want him for nothing more than a ruffle through the sheets and a few baubles. But that's enough, you're right, no use crying over someone that don't even like me, let alone love me." Luna smiles at the addendum and leans over to nudge Constance. "Look at you smiling and carrying on with the advice, you'd think that I was the one attacked by a ravenous beast."

Lifting her piece up, she holds it against the girl's neck and nods. "I always say, the prettier your dress and hair, the less a man cares about the face. Until that bit of stitchery on your cheek heals to nothing, we'll just make you fancy in other ways." For a moment, it seems as though Luna might work in silence. Those who know her better know it's a hope too good to last. "Tell me about that stable boy, the one with the rabbity teeth. Cas, I think his name is? How'd you think he'd like someone such as myself?"

"Love is a ravenous beast," Constance says, batting her lashes before she can't help but laugh. "And if all she wants is a few shiny things and some messy bedding, let her have her fun. If he's too stupid to give his heart to someone who doesn't want more for him, he deserves to learn the hard way." With the lace at her throat, the younger woman turns her head to note its appearance by her reflection in the window.

It's the mention of Cas that causes Constance to laugh again. "You? And Cas?" She grins broadly. "I do not think you two would go well together. He's a good friend, he's willing to put up with the theatricality and the fun, but he's a dreamer. He had heartbreak and he's the type who wants to fall in love with some pretty girl at first sight, like in books. Maybe if he saw you like this he'd understand, but I think you'd have to give up a great deal to be with him."

She pauses, as if to reflect on the situation. "At least, if you're saying romantically. I don't think he thinks very highly of himself. You'd be too fancy for him." Constance looks back over at Luna intently. "Why, are you interested in him? I could tell you more!"

"No, I suppose I could have been at one point in my life… that was quite a long time ago. I was barely older than you are now when I met Mister Blackburn. Did you know that?" Luna leans back and relaxes in her chair, stitching more to the lace and focusing on that work rather than the face of the Rowntree beside her. "I was travelling with my Da', he was doing business and I was running from pub to pub to pub. It was before I went to the Dovetail, you know, I met Cas at one of them. He walked me back to my room and we kissed along the way." Then the prostitute holds a finger against her lips, bidding the other girl to silence on that little piece of gossip.

"That's neither here nor there now, it's much too late for anything to become of the tale of the princess and the stable-boy." The needle works triple time to her words, which seem a slow drawl in comparison. "It was back when I was so in love with Baizey I couldn't see the sky for the clouds. He'd already been gone for years but I was looking for that kiss that made me feel the way his did. None were the same."

"You met Cas when you were younger?" Constance leans forward in her chair a little. "Kissing? That sounds kind of sweet. But you know, the princess and the stable-boy sounds like a tale that ends happily ever after. Well, in stories at least. Dornie's hardly a fairy tale, and even the fairy tales have people being horribly disfigured and dying." The needlework is forgotten as Constance watches Luna, even if the other woman is intently working. Or at least looking like she is.

"He must have hurt you very badly… and that must have been some kiss. It's all very romantic, but if it's not meant to be, you need to find something that doesn't feel the same as that kiss… but it feels just as good," the young woman insists. She then grins. "I bet eventually some man will hear all about you and be so determined to find you and catch your attention that you'll be swept off your feet. Men can be stubborn and determined, so it's not just some fairy tale. Maybe not as pretty as the way I'm telling, but…"

"Well I'm no longer a princess now, am I?" Luna smirks and looks up from her work just long enough to cast a sardonic twist of the lips to the young girl. She gives off a long and forlorn sigh as she goes back to her crochet, the needle slowing in its hooking as she considers more. "It was quite the kiss, you know, it was my first grown up one. My thirteenth birthday, I met him in a secluded little spot that he used to go to be alone. Not that anyone bothered with him after— after the accident— but… I was smitten."

Immediately the needle goes back to its original speed but the older blonde doesn't stop talking. "It was the greatest moment of my life at that point. Do you remember him back then? He was the most handsome boy in Dornie and of course I was the prettiest girl by far. It would have been a match to end all matches. Of course da' didn't approve, given the family Baizey comes from."

Constance giggles. "I think I was too little to remember many boys. Much less his family. I can't say I remember him, but I bet he was quite charming. He's very cute now, of course. He kind of talks… scholarly. I wish I sound half as intelligent as him when I'm his age." She pushes the needle through the fabric. "Do you still think it was the greatest moment of your life? I mean, it's a good memory to hold onto, but I hope you've had better moments." She pauses to look out the window. "I really wish you would have had your fairy tale. It sounds nice. Life's not very fair."

"It's not what he wanted, I'm not what he wanted or wants now." Stopping, the woman glances up again with a bittersweet smile and then nods toward the sampler that's barely been touched. There's approval in her expression as she watches the needle push through to complete yet another line. "Until I find another great love, that will be the single best and worst day that I've had. Worst because at my party we kissed again but Mariah and some of my other friends caught us. I was ashamed because they started teasing me, I was young and afraid of becoming an outcast as he was."

The lace is laid out flat on the prostitute's lap as she traces over its pattern with her fingertip.
"There are a few of my clients that have caught my eye but they're clients. It's highly doubtful that they would ever deign to cross over into an actual romantic interest given my profession." Though she has been considering leaving it.

"I am surprised you and Mariah are friends. It sounds like things were difficult back then and still are. An awkward love triangle?" Constance continues with the sampler, frowning at it slightly, but not quite stopping. "I suppose it is easy sometimes to pretend yourself a life when you're with a client, but I'd imagine it makes it very difficult to find someone to marry… does it make you lonely? I can't imagine doing something like that. I'd like to get married."

There's a small titter of laughter from Luna and she shakes her head, smiling widely at Constance. "Things weren't always wonderful, they were strained for quite some time. Especially when Baizey ran away. I didn't forgive her because I believed that if we hadn't been teased, if I hadn't denied my affections in public, he wouldn't have left."

Shrugging, she smooths her palm over the small panel. The light blue color of her dress shows through softer than the rest of her garment. "Time heals all wounds, they say, aye? I suppose that's what happened between us, Mariah and I. I couldn't stay mad at her when her entire family was slain in that horrid ambush. When she landed at the doorstep of the Dovetail, I was there for her. No matter what anyone says, I have been a good friend to her as much as she has me."

Constance can't help but laugh. "It's funny how things change, I guess. I am glad you've at least got one friend in there. I've heard all kinds of whispers of feuds between girls in your profession and how horrible they can get." She purses her lips. "Do you ever regret being part of the Dovetail?"

Luna's eyes dull and she stares toward the window, past the pane of wavy glass and toward a bird hovering on a gust of wind. It could be someone's familiar or it could be another mundane creature like the two women in the warm room, she'd never be able to know. "I should be going," she states quickly enough, tying off the lace and placing it on the arm of Constance's chair. "Tuck that around your collar, no one will look at the scar on your face."

Gathering only her thread and needle, she leaves the sampler for the girl. Her shawl is pulled up around her shoulders, ends tucked around her waist and tightened. When she's finished, she leans down and graces the invalid with a kiss to both cheeks. "Goodbye Constance, I hope your recovery goes quick enough that you can still put on your play. Perhaps on my next visit we'll write something for you to put to the stage, aye?" It's clear that the older blonde is suddenly uncomfortable about something and her hurry is nothing more than a bid for escape.

Heels click across the floor in regular rhythm and once the prostitute is at the door she pauses and nods a farewell. "Every day, Constance. Follow your heart but don't follow in my footsteps, it leads nowhere good."