Mementos

Title: Mementos
Time Period: February 17th, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Cas and Constance discuss mementos of lost loved ones and Cas leaves with a memento belonging to someone else.

Even two weeks after the attack, things still haven't quite returned to normal in the Rowntree estate. And this deep inside isn't where the stablehands of the younger brother tends to be seen. Luckily Cas Blackburn had the mind to put on his nicest clothes— even if they happen to have been gifted to him only recently.

Even then, any sophistication is lost, even before he makes it to the door leading to the girl's room, knocking faintly as he glances back behind him, warily.

"Constance? You in there?" he asks, not looking inside, but the side of his head and his dark hair is visible in the doorframe, along with the profile of his clothes. "It's— Cas." This time it's obvious that he's whispering— yet loudly. Like he doesn't want to be heard. Yet does at the same time.

"Cas?"

Constance's voice is a bit surprised. Cas Blackburn is not someone she thought would ever venture up to where she is. She'd pondered writing a letter to him to see if he'd visit, something that would assuage those around the castle that he was legitimately there to see her. She's taken to walking with a bit of a crutch, mostly because she's tired (and a bit sore) from sitting around all day. Limping to the door, she opens it as she peeks out at him and then beckons him inside.

"You didn't sneak into the castle, did you?"

Actions answer questions louder than words. Cas quickly ducks into the room that's been opened to him, turning to face her with a wide yet surprised smile, and moves to where he won't easily be seen to people out in the hallway. "No— I didn't sneak in," is what he says, though.

A moment later he shifts his stance some, practically bouncing on bent knees. "Well, sort of. Not into the castle itself! I mean— I work for your uncle so that got me through the front doors! I think they thought I was on a errand for him, or— well I didn't exactly do anything to change their minds about it."

There's fidgeting for a moment, before he reaches into his pocket to pull out something in a flat box, holding it out to her. "Here. It's a— uh— get well present. And an apology for not being able to see you until now…"

Constance shuts the door behind him, limping back over to her chair. "I'd say you were on official Rowntree business, then, coming to visit me. It's a very important task." She says, a wry grin offered towards the man. She takes the box gently, studying it for a moment. "You didn't have to give me a present, but it's very nice, I'm sure."

She's already singing its praises and she hasn't even opened it yet. Opening the box, she glances towards Cas. "It's okay. It's not like all of Dornie has seen me and I think there are more people who would have a lot more difficulty coming up with excuses to get in. At least you're employed by the family."

Inside the box is perhaps the simplist present imaginable. Or at least at first glance. There's a plain handkerchief folded up, but Cas moves forward and grabs the tip, unfolding it, to reveal the actual present. A long pure white feather that could only fit in the long box at an angle.

"I found a couple swans on one of the lochs," he explains, before quickly adding. "I didn't hurt them or anything! I just watched them until— I found a couple feathers that they dropped. I collected them in case I could trade them, but this one was the nicest."

With that, he backs away, scratching at the short hairs on the back of his neck. "I know it's not… much. But it seemed like it would fit Constance." He's specific in the use of the name.

"It's much more like Constance than Roslind. Roslind would have scared off a wolf like that anyways," Constance says, running a finger along the feather with a broad smile. "Thank you, it's a really sweet present. I like it. I think even my father wouldn't mind if I accepted a present like this. He got mad when he found out some of his soldiers were giving me presents." She chuckles. "He's convinced that every man has ulterior motives."

From the way his eyes shift to the side, Cas may not know what ulterior really means. Or maybe he's trying to figure it out. Or maybe he thinks he might have had one himself! Either way, he looks away toward the door, then at the window. As if to make sure her dad isn't about to bust down the door. "Well, I think people have… motives. Often they're selfish! But…" he trails off, keeping a decent distance from her.

"Actually I kinda have a— maybe-ulterior motive," he says when he looks back, making a slight face that seems one part confused, another part guilty, and a third part sad. "I sorta— need someone to talk to and… You're one of the few people I really think of as a friend and… I think you're the only one I could talk to about… this."

"Guess you've just proved my father right, I'm afraid," Constance says with a sigh, though it's quickly broken with a smile. "But I think you're my favorite person to help… so you're lucky I like you so much. Go on, tell me your worries and I'm sure you'll feel much better afterwards. I'm good at listening. I've even had the most unlikely of people come talk to me, so you're in good company."

"Not— exactly. The gift I would have given you anyway… I've had it for a while. I just wouldn't have … snuck into the castle to do it," Cas says quietly, looking a little ashamed to have made some move to prove her father right, even if he didn't intend to.

There's a sigh as he moves to drop into a seat in the room, not really paying attention to where he's sitting. Which is probably the only reason he drops onto the edge of her bed. "My baby sister died," he says softly once he's seated, the sad look taking over. "I just found out yesterday…"

Constance blinks for a moment before she moves, abruptly wrapping her arms around Cas. Her eyes water a little. "Oh, Cas… I'm… I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry. I don't know what I'd do if someone in my family died, especially my sister. Are you okay? Is your family okay?"

"I don't know," Cas says quietly, honestly. "It isn't— a guy I met who sees ghosts told me he saw her, that… she had things she wanted to say to me," he explains softly, wrapping an arm around her rather than trying to push her away. His eyes don't water much more than the girl's, but they do water. He's already cried some, but the shared tears seem to coax more out.

"She— was younger than you the last time I saw her, and now she'd be about— twenty… four. I think. She was two years younger than me," he says quietly, voice seeming to be rambling.

The young woman settles in against his side, refusing to release him for the moment, at least. "It's hard to lose someone you care about," Constance admits, trying not to sniffle. "Were the two of you very close? I mean, when you were younger. I guess they had no way to contact you to tell you, but I guess it's good that Beisdean told you about her. I know I'd want to know, even if it was hard. Sometimes pretending isn't always the best way to go." Which is a shocker, considering it's Constance Rowntree saying the words. Guess some things just give a bit of perspective.

"I think we were," Cas says quietly, voice soft as he doesn't try to get away from her grasp, even as he glances toward her finally, a hand going up to his face to rub away the tears.
"She was the only one of my sisters who rode— we even had a small mule that she helped me train. And… she could sing, and… when I left home, she was the only one I said goodbye to."

"Life's not fair," Constance laments, but it's more of a frustrated outburst than some sort of useful wisdom that she's offering forth. "People shouldn't die until they're old and have grandkids and great grandkids and have had a good life." Her arms squeeze Cas tightly, albeit careful of her bandaged arm.

"You got to say goodbye to her, though. That's important. You got the chance to tell her goodbye, even if you didn't know what that would mean."

"I did, though— even if I thought they would come after me. She would have been married off a few years later, and I probably wouldn't have seen her again," Cas says quietly, shoulders slumping somewhat, though he doesn't lean away from the younger girl. "I suppose you understand. Your mother died, right?" he asks, looking over at her, as if sympathizing with a loss makes his tears slow. They don't stop, though, certainly not.

"Did your mom… give you anything? I don't know how she died, but— did you get anything that used to be hers?"

Constance's eyes well up with tears. "I got a few things, just little mementos… I've got a handkerchief that still smells like her perfume. I don't know how it does after these years, but it smells like her. It's nice to have, when I miss her. We saved some of her nicer things for Celia because she never even got to know our mother. She was sick and didn't make it after Celia was born."

The blonde sniffles a little. "It's always hard, knowing they're gone, but sometimes I think she's watching over me. I think they do that, don't you? Beisdean can see them, so I guess that's even proof."

"Yeah, I guess so," Cas says quietly, reaching up to touch the girl's cheeks to brush at her tears rather than worry about his own for the moment. "She gave me her necklace. It was our mother's first, but— it was the one thing I never traded. I actually did trade the chain, I had to, but I kept the pendant… until recently." He winces a little at mentioning that, the fingers that brushed tears going to his shirt instead. As if feeling something under it.

"Giving it away is what brought her here, Baze said. But I'm going to get it back, I am— I just… I'm sorry your mom died. My mom died after childbirth too, actually. I was around six, I think. I don't really remember."

"You gave it away?" Constance shakes her head. "I don't think I could ever do that. If the whole castle was on fire I'd probably come back to find the handkerchief anyways. I hope you get it back… if I can help you recover it, just say the word. I know how important these things are." She sighs a little. "Celia's nine now, which means I must have been about seven when she died. I remember it really well, though. I had to. It changed everything and then there was Celia to worry about too."

The blonde pulls her head back just enough to give him a serious look. "You'll be okay, though. It never stops hurting but I think everything we go through proves how strong we are. I'm still here, you're still here, and we'll keep being here because we don't give up or give in."

"I will get it back," Cas lowers his eyes, perhaps finding the topic particularly embarrassing. "I only gave it to… to someone… because they…" His voice trails off, as if he's at a loss for how to explain the reasoning behind the transfer of mementos. "I do know it's safe where it is, if nothing else, though… Though I am a bit worried about asking for it back, before I can return her memento, at least."

Trade is never simple, it seems!

"But once I can pay the gypsies, that shouldn't be an issue. I can return her necklace and get mine back." He stops talking to scratch at his hair. "Though I'm going to need more than a few swan feathers, I think."

Constance raises her eyebrows at the vague mention of where his memento went, but she leaves the topic alone. Mostly. "I'm sure she'll understand why you need it back when you explain how important it is to you." Her ears perk at the mention of gypsies and she tilts her head. "You're trying to pay the gypsies for something? What do you need that for? They're a bit sneaky, those gypsies. You ought to be careful with how you deal with them. They could very well try to pull one over on you."

She pauses, gears turning in her head. "What kind of payment do you need?"

"Everyone seems to think I'm gullible," Cas pouts mildly, not really seeming insulted, but certainly concerned. Maybe he's starting to think if everyone else thinks he is, maybe he really is! "But they didn't even ask me for payment, not outright. But they are going to do something for me. Something— really important." Really really important, by the inflection. Despite the fact he's being intentionally vague. Maybe the really important thing is something he doesn't want to worry the already injured girl with.

"I'll come up with something. A donation. It's nothing you need to worry about, Constance."

"I always worry about my friends, Cas," Constance insists, but she looks at him seriously. "Okay, so a gift. Something to thank them for helping you." She pauses, fidgeting for a moment. "I was supposed to bring this back myself, as it turns out it was stolen and my father thought it was good that I return it, but then I was hurt and I really hadn't found the time to get down there. So… you can kill two birds with one stone for me. Not that I advocate killing birds."

She straightens up. "I have, in my possession, a bracelet belonging to one Miss Elvira Banes who is currently with the gypsies. You can bring it back to them and they'll be grateful and help you in exchange. Problem solved! You'd be doing everyone a favor."

"Huh, really?" Cas says, looking at her just as seriously for a moment. But there's no doubt in his eyes in what she's saying. In the past he'd been good at playing along, but he may not think she's spinning a lie at this point. And it also helps that he actually needs something to donate. So taking care of two things at once is certainly a good way to do it.

"That's brilliant, Con," he says with a smile after a moment, moving to stop hugging her, as he wipes at his eyes. They weren't really teary anymore, but they had been. A cry he needed. And one he couldn't have around everyone.

"I'll definitely take it back there for you— that the present your dad didn't want men giving you? I can understand that— guy probably wanted a kiss or something in return," he teases with a soft poke at an uninjured part of her.

"I'm better at dealing with men than my father thinks. He doesn't seem to understand I know a lot more than I let on sometimes," Constance says with a smile. "And if he was cute, I would have given him a kiss in return. Luna's not the only one who gives out kisses for those who give them nice things or do something nice for them."

Her good hand gives him a soft poke in return. "Not that you'd know anything about that!" Her tone, of course, indicates that she knows Cas knows everything about that.

"Wha— what— You— " Cas looks at Constance with a new hint of wariness, as if he's suddenly very aware he's in the girl's room. Alone. And her father happens to own guns. But she's not making a move to kiss him despite the feather, so he laughs shyly, scratching at his nose a bit.

Though he is suddenly standing up and putting some appropriate distance between them. Perhaps not helped by the Luna accusation. "I've never— traded jewelry for Luna's kisses before," he says rather cautiously, but with no hint of deception. "Did— I thought you and Luna weren't very good friends."

"That's what I thought too," Constance smiles a bit. "But she came to see me and she… she wasn't so bad. I've got a lot more in common with her, it's just I can't stand her when she's all uppity like she usually is. She's still a person behind that, though. So I try to remember that." She pats the spot next to her again.

"You don't have to be scared of me just because I've had one talk with Luna Owens, it's not like I caught anything by talking to her."

"She does seem to have… layers," Cas admits quietly, but from the way his lips are pressed together, he doesn't like admitting it even to someone who admits she has bad layers as well as the not so horrible ones. "But even if you do have things in common with her, be nice to boys you kiss in exchange for presents. A single kiss can haunt a guy for years if you say something mean after."

He's turned away, but it seems for a moment he's rubbing covering his mouth with his hand, as if self-consciously. When he turns back around, he's all smiles. "So where's this bracelet?"

Constance blinks. "She said something mean to you after?" There's an apologetic look. "I didn't know it was a sore spot. "We were just talking about boys. You know. Girl stuff. Gossip. You just happened to come up. It's not like I go around telling everyone…" She gets to her feet again before walking over to a jewelry box on her vanity, pulling out the simple bracelet and offering it towards Cas.

"Here. I hope it helps you get what you want."

"What she said likely wouldn't have bothered me if it weren't the first time any woman outside my family'd ever kissed me," Cas says quietly, taking the bracelet and flipping it over in his hand a few times before opening his coat and dropping it into a hidden interior pocket.

"Any little bit helps, thank you. Especially since I'm doing you a favor too! Anything else I'd have to trade more than a smile and a swan feather for, I'm sure."

The blonde grins. "Your smiles are worth a lot more than you think, Cas Blackburn," Constance insists. "I'll have you know I'm a collector of smiles and yours are always the best and most valued in my collection. Smiles don't keep very well, though, so I have to be very aggressive in my collecting so that I have enough to last me a while."

And that brings more of a smile to his face, even if it's turning towards shy and sheepish for a moment. Cas scratches at his cheek as he leans forward and down, to drop a quick kiss on her forehead. "I'll try to visit with good news rather than bad news, next time. You still need to help me learn my lines for that play of yours, you know."

There's a pause and he glances around again. "Though— uh— we should probably set a more official meeting in a sitting room or something. Cause your dad sounds touchy. And I don't like bullets. Or guns. Or bullets coming out of guns."

"I wouldn't let him hurt you, Cas," Constance insists. "And there is nothing wrong with you being in here. My father's too busy to come snooping around my room much anyways. Sometimes I worry I'll have to get into some kind of trouble just to get his attention." She clears her throat. "But if you're that worried I'll come see you or meet you downstairs or something, okay?"

"Well that's good," Cas says, still looking sheepish in his smile, before he rubs his hands over his coat, as if he's trying to straighten it, or trying to make sure he has everything. Perhaps a habit of wearing most of his belongings on his person.

"If you think it's okay then— I can probably come up here. Until you're well enough to get out at least," he says with a smile, only a little less sheepish.

Constance smiles. "Good, I don't want you being scared of coming to see me. Besides, if my father expects me to stay home all this time… then he's going to have to expect that I'll have my friends come visit. Fair's fair." The blonde leans over and offers him a peck to the cheek. "Get what you need back and fix what you have to and when you come back I'm hoping it'll be with better news. I could use some good story to pick me up."

"Oh I will, and when it's all done I'll have a great story to tell you," Cas says with a grin, the peck on the cheek causing it to widen again and become less shy. "I better slip out now— I'll make sure to announce myself better next time, so long as you let the guards know you're expecting me. You may be able to stop your dad from shooting me, but a jealous guard might have an itchy triggerfinger," he jests, as he makes his way toward the door, opening it a bit to peer outside, to make sure it's safe to slip off unseen.