|Lies of Omission|
|Summary:||Lucienne and Hardwicke speak of Evangeline's death and what has never been spoken.|
|Date:||February 16, 2012|
|Related Logs:||Battles of Women and Shades of Grief.|
|Roof Terrace — Four Eagles Tower|
|This is open to the air except for the rookery at the opposite end of the open walkway. Parapets and crenellations are about.|
|February 16, 289|
The sun has long set on the Lady of the Roost's last day, and the castle is mostly quiet now. The dark brings some small measure of relief to a grieving daughter, matching her sombre mood and helping to hide to red that rims her dark eyes. Lucienne is up on the rooftop, seated on the parapet with her legs swung over the side, skirts billowing softly against the stones in the gentle breeze. Her hair is loosed, a mess of deep brown curls, and she ignores the strands that the wind tosses into her face. Her eyes are closed, and by the shake of her shoulders, she could be crying behind those fallen lashes.
From the way Hardwicke stops and hesitates, it seems that he did not come up to the parapets of the castle in search of the youngest Terrick. He remains a good distance away, watching her with an overwhelming complexity of emotion warring across his expression. When he finally finds his voice, all he can say is this: "I'm so sorry, Lulu."
She forces her eyes open, but that seems to take all the energy she's got just now; Lucienne doesn't look over her shoulder, doesn't move otherwise. Her first instinct is to snap, her voice shaky as she says, "Go away." But should this knight sworn - her father? - linger long enough, he'll hear a smaller, weaker request from his daughter as her shoulders slacken. "No, don't."
He does linger long enough — though he had turned and taken a step, perhaps two — before catching that quieter request. He stops, his head turned just slightly back towards her. And then he turns entire, approaching her on slow, quiet steps to finally place an unsure hand on her shoulder.
"You knew," she says simply, unflinching under that hand on her shoulder as she searches the shadowy figures of the dark landscape below.
For a long while, he is quiet. The pressure of his hand eases for a moment as if to slip away, but then he refirms the content. "Yes," Hardwicke says quietly.
That answer only confirms for Lucienne that she doesn't want to turn her head, and she concentrates all the harder on finding some building, some point of focus down in the castle's yard. After another long moment, Luci asks through gritted teeth: "Does my father - does Lord Jerold know?"
"I—" Hardwicke turns his head, settling his gaze on some corner of castle parapet. "I don't know, Lucienne," he says quietly. "I don't know if he suspects anything. He doesn't — He was never told. No one was told."
That's such an unsatisfactory answer, says the continued clenching of Lucienne's teeth. Tears start to well again, and she begins to shake, rage building within. Her head snaps around and up to look at the ser with his hand on her shoulder, cutting him with a scowl as fierce as any flame. "How could you," she asks, spitting each word out with contempt.
Hardwicke draws his hand back as if stung; it is clear that Lucienne's words cut him deep. He swallows hard, not looking at her. "I loved her," he says, barely audible. "And he hurt her so terribly with Jarod, and we were — We were so young, Lucienne."
Tears work their way free as Lucienne blinks, glistening down her moonlit cheeks as she listens to the answer provided. Her eyes flicker over Hardwicke's features, even as he refuses to look at her. "So I'm just revenge," she says, not phrased as a question. Her tone shows her fatigue when she shakily repeats, "How could you."
"No," Hardwicke says, voice firming as he looks back to her. "Lulu—" He faces her full on now, a hand clasping her shoulder once more as the other wipes the tears from one cheek with his thumb. "I loved her more than — anything. We were young and foolish, but you—" He draws in an unsteady breath. "Watching you grow has been the most precious time of my life."
More tears replace the ones that Hardwicke wipes away, and Lucienne sniffles. She shuts her eyes tightly, and presses her lips so thin that that pale, her shoulders starting shake violently with the release of emotion. She turns her face away to cry some more, ducking her head and clenching fists at her sides.
Hardwicke draws her into the firm circle of his arms, helpless before her judgment and grief. "I'm sorry," he whispers into her dark curls. "Please, Lulu. I'm so sorry."
Accepting of this measure of comfort, Lucienne leans into Hardwicke, shaking in his arms as she continues to cry. It's a long time before she's able to formulate any other response, and when she does it's something other than forgiveness. She draws sharp breaths in between sobs, and begs, "Please. Please don't tell anyone."
"No," Hardwicke agrees readily, stroking a hand across her hair. "I won't. Not ever. You will get everything you deserve, Lulu. I'll not ruin you." His body is all solidity against the lean of her weight, unmoving and accepting.
"Please, Hardwicke, please," Luci continues to weep and plead, as though she's not even heard his response. "They can't know. She said I should have Middlemarch, they can't know." Twisting around in what must surely be an uncomfortable position, she presses her cheek to him, burying desperately.
Hardwicke swallows hard against the deeper hurt of her words. "They won't," he promises her. "You shall have it. Your father—" He is silent for a long while. "Lord Jerold will never deny it of you if those were her wishes. No one will know."
Unaware of the pain her pleading must cause poor Hardwicke, Lucienne is placated as his response registers with her. Her sobbing grows weaker, reducing to sharp, jerky breaths as her mind ticks. And ticks. And ticks. Finally, she murmurs a quiet, "Thankyou. — I miss her so much already."
"I know." Hardwicke holds her close, her expression drawn tight with banked emotion. "I do, too."
There's nothing more that Lucienne really feels like giving voice to just now, and so she shifts instead, freeing an arm to curl over Hardwicke's about her and snuggling close. There she will stay, for as long as he lets her, indulging in their shared grief for awhile.
In times such as these — or any time at all — Hardwicke will let her for a long, long time. He will not be the one to make her pull away.