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Fic: ConneXions - Part Four (4/6) PG

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  • Diana
    It s been a while, and I do apologise. Praise be to Victoria for giving me the kick in the butt I needed to get this going again. Title: ConneXions - Part
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 26, 2001
      It's been a while, and I do apologise. Praise be to Victoria for giving me
      the kick in the butt I needed to get this going again.

      Title: ConneXions - Part Four
      Author: Diana
      Rating: PG
      Short Summary: In which a dinner is held, and unpleasantness enters the
      Archive: Anyone who wants it, just let me know.
      Disclaimer: The X-men are not mine. Not even vaguely. I don't even want
      them. They're in my head and that's bad enough. I'm not making any money
      out of this, just doing it in the hopes that Scott, Ororo and the rest will
      shut the hell up.
      Note: Now I really start playing with the plotline. Yes, up to here I have
      tried to keep at least to the main theme of the movie, but now I'm just
      going to make it up as I go along. So please don't point this out to me, I
      already know; Just sit back and enjoy the ride. :-)

      WORDCOUNT: 2300


      Raven relaxed in the carriage, one gloved finger tapping against her smirk.

      "You have a mischievous look about you." It was Mortimer, her husband's
      oldest friend, and frequently her partner in myriad schemes. He would be
      with her in this one, she knew, as he smiled at her across the rocking
      carriage. Victor was wonderful, and her husband, but he didn't know how to
      play like Mortimer did.

      "I was thinking about those with whom we are shortly to dine," she told him.
      "They seem like such... nice people."

      Mortimer crossed his arms across his chest and merely looked at her, his
      smile amused and mischievous. "Oh, they are. Pillars of respectability,
      and the young one - Miss Rouge. She is the picture of innocence, is she

      "Oh yes," Raven agreed, and she knew that he thought as she did now from the
      sparkle in his eye. "They are simply so perfect." She turned to look out
      the window, one finger tapping again at her smirk, and added so very
      quietly: "We will have to do something about that."

      * * * * *

      Marie sighed, and tried to pull her attention back to the light conversation
      at her end of the table. It was futile, however. No matter how many times
      she dragged her gaze back to her turtle soup, she invariably found it
      returning to the other end of the table. It was difficult to listen to the
      pleasantries Mrs Creed was exchanging with Sir Charles at the head of the
      table when the faint sound of Jean's laughter from the foot told Marie her
      hostess was definitely enjoying Captain Logan's company. She would look up
      at every murmur, and see Logan speaking quietly to Jean, or to Miss Munroe,
      and both looked amused, smiling. Marie wanted more than anything to be
      seated next to Captain Logan, but when they had come into dinner, she had
      been placed here, between Mr Toynbee and Mr Creed, and across from Scott.

      Everything had been going so well before dinner. Captain Logan had arrived
      first, and the conversation had been light, until the bell rang to announce
      their main guests. Jean and Scott had risen to greet them, which had left
      her alone with Logan to witness his reaction to the entry of Mr Lehnsherr
      and his friends. It had been Mr Creed who inspired Logan's quick intake of
      breath, Marie was certain. When she had asked after the cause of his
      distress, he had attempted to dismiss it quickly, but after only a little
      pressing had admitted to knowing Mr Creed previously, in much less
      felicitous circumstances. He would indulge her no further, however, and
      declined to make any of it known. He would not cause a disturbance in Mrs
      Grey's sitting room, he declared.

      Marie liked having a secret of Logan's. It fit snug and warm in her head and
      made her smile. She noticed that Mr Creed, on her left, had been ignoring
      Logan as surely as Logan had been ignoring him. Then again, Creed spoke
      little enough to anyone, and only when directly addressed. He barely looked
      up from his meal, and his taciturn silence cast a small pall over the table.

      His companions were perfectly at ease and talkative, though. Mrs Creed was
      bright and sparkling, dividing her time between Sir Charles on her left and
      Scott on her right. Mr Lehnsherr, between Creed and Jean, spoke with a
      little reserve and a great deal of dignity. Mr Toynbee was all smooth charm
      and quick wit, making Mrs Creed laugh and bringing a smile to Sir Charles'

      As if her thoughts had summoned his attention, Marie suddenly found herself
      under Mr Toynbee's gaze. "You sigh far too frequently for such a young
      person," he declared, quietly and with a small twist of his mouth that spoke
      volumes of friendly amusement. "You should be full of gaiety and joy."

      Marie smiled, liking his easy manners. "Sir, I assure you I am quite gay and
      joyful under most circumstances."

      "Ah." Still with that teasing smile, he looked up to the other end of the
      table, then leaned a little closer to her. "Then perhaps there is someone
      rendering these circumstances unusual?"

      Marie glanced around quickly. Scott was attempting to engage Mr Creed in
      conversation, and Mrs Creed and Sir Charles were having an animated
      discussion regarding the virtues of various operas, something they both
      seemed to be particularly passionate about. No one was paying attention to
      her conversation with Mr Toynbee. "I am sure I don't know what you mean."
      But there was a blush creeping up her neck to give the lie to her words.
      She looked down to her soup, and hope he wouldn't notice.

      No such luck. He laughed quietly. "I am sure you do. Love should be a
      matter of joy and smiles, Miss Rouge. Such a shame. You blush so

      Which, of course, made her blush more, and when she regained her
      countenance, he had joined the conversation with Mrs Creed and Charles.
      Marie listened politely, as did Scott, she noticed, who had ceased his
      useless efforts to draw Mr Creed out.

      "Well then, we must certainly all go together some time," Mrs Creed was
      declaring with delight. "And we must invite Captain Logan. He seems to
      enjoy the company so much."

      All heads turned to the other end of the table, where Logan was smiling at
      Jean, who was laughing with her hand over her mouth. Yes, he did appear to
      be enjoying the company, Marie thought with a strange twist in her stomach.
      And Jean seemed to be enjoying it as well. She looked across the table, but
      Scott had already turned back to Mrs Creed, his face its usual polite mask.
      Marie's eyes drifted back to the end of the table, and suspicion grew in
      her. Why had Logan been seated, not next to her, but next to Jean?

      Marie suddenly felt angry, and looked down to her plate to hide her shift in
      emotion. No, but surely Jean would not do such a thing.

      Would she?

      Marie ate little and said less for the remainder of the meal, as course
      followed course and the conversation at her end of the table flowed through
      various topics, until, inevitably, it came to rest on that most contentious
      of figures, Napoleon. And from him, to the events of Paris, some forty
      years previously, that they were calling the Revolution.

      With that topic, the conversation suddenly gained an unhappy amount of
      vigour, as Marie was stunned to see Sir Charles deploring the bloodshed and
      events with a passion she had not known he possessed. Even more
      surprisingly was the heated response of Mr Lehnsherr, almost a declaration
      of support for the revolution, and for a moment it seemed as if matters
      would prove the end of the party, so personal and accusatory did the
      comments become.

      However, Mrs Summers could not condone such a thing in her dining room, and
      moved swiftly to calm both her uncle and her guest. Mrs Creed, following
      her lead, did similarly, and soon the old men returned to their meals in
      disgruntled silence, paying not one whit of attention to the other for the
      remainder of the meal.

      That uneasy silence pervaded until the ladies adjourned, leaving the men to
      their brandy. It was a subdued group that entered the warmly lit drawing
      room. Marie turned quickly away from Jean and went to sit by the fire,
      taking a book from a nearby shelf and immersing herself in the pages. Her
      plan for solitude was ruined, however, when Mrs Creed took Miss Munroe to
      the piano, entreating her to play, for she had heard so much about the
      girl's talent. Jean, left alone, came over to Marie, a concerned look on
      her face.

      "My dear, you seem out of spirits tonight, are you quite well?"

      Marie twitched away from the outstretched hand. "I am quite well," she
      answered stiffly. "And perhaps only out of spirits compared to those with so
      many reasons for gaiety." A glance at Jean showed her confusion, and Marie
      added: "Captain Logan is a delightful man, is he not? Of course, I would
      not know, having not been seated next to him."

      Jean folded her hands in her lap. The look she directed at Marie was almost
      stern. "Yes, the Captain is quite delightful. However, he is merely a
      captain, Marie, and his family and fortune are entirely unknown. A match
      between you would not be prudent."

      "What do you expect of me, Jean?" Marie asked, closing her book with a snap,
      but her voice still quiet enough under the music of the piano. "I will
      never catch a true gentleman as a husband; my experiences in Bath have
      assured me of that. He is a decent man, of a decent standing and decent
      fortune. Perhaps you have other motives for your disapproval. After all,
      he is 'quite delightful', isn't he?"

      Her anger delivered, Marie turned away from Jean, opening the book once
      more. She held the pages before her eyes until she heard the other woman
      stand and leave, but she could not make sense of a single word.

      At the completion of the song, the piano halted, and there came the sounds
      of conversation from the piano, Mrs Creed and Miss Munroe and Jean, in muted
      tones. But Marie did not put down her book until the drawing room door
      opened and the men entered.

      Sir Charles entered first, face as stern as that of Scott, who pushed his
      chair. And behind them Mr Lehnsherr and his companions, subdued and almost
      stone-faced, and last Captain Logan, as cheerful as the rest. Sir Charles
      was settled in his favourite spot near the fire, and Jean came hurrying over
      to Scott.

      Marie fled away, over to the piano, where the others had gathered. Mrs
      Creed was praising the talent of Miss Munroe, and under the combined
      requests of the rest of the party, who were beginning to return to spirits
      in mixed company, the dark beauty was persuaded to play some more.

      Seats were taken around the room, and small conversation attempted.
      Luckily, perhaps, the music prevented any serious discussion. When Miss
      Munroe quit the piano, protesting her fatigue, Marie took her place, to play
      and sing. She was moderately talented at both pursuits, and enjoyed them a
      great deal. Though tonight her pleasure was sadly diminished at seeing,
      over the piano, Jean engaged in coversation with Captain Logan and Miss
      Munroe once again. As if she could sense Marie's gaze, Jean looked up, and
      colouring a little, took her leave and went to stand with Scott. They
      conversed little though, Marie noticed, and Scott looked particularly stern.
      Perhaps she had not been the only one to note events tonight.

      She finished a song she had hardly heeded as she performed it, only to find
      Mrs Creed at her elbow, smiling pleasantly.

      "That was so beautiful," the older woman complimented Marie. "Indeed,
      Mortimer was just agreeing with me that it was by far the most delicate
      performance we have heard of that particular air in a long time. Would you
      do us the honour of performing it again?" And as Marie blushed and answered
      that she certainly would, Mrs Creed laid her hand on her shoulder, and
      leaned closer to whisper: "Your talents have certainly had quite an effect
      on the Marquis."

      Marie blushed all the more, and was quite flustered for a moment. A
      Marquis? She could only mean Mr Toynbee. A quick glance towards where the
      man in question sat in idle conversation with Mr Lehnsherr revealed that he
      was looking her way, and she ducked her head. A Marquis, of all things. He
      must not know of her father's occupation, and think her a gentleman's
      daughter. "I am flattered that he would pay such a compliment to one as
      humble as I," Marie said quietly, and turned back to the piano, beginning to
      play once again to cover her confusion. A Marquis; and she stole another
      small look towards Mr Toynbee.

      The evening passed slowly, strained, until eventually it was completed and
      carriages were called. Scott and Jean, with Sir Charles, stood in the hall,
      bidding farewell to their guests. With her smooth politeness, Mrs Creed
      extracted a grudging acceptance of a resumption of festivities in a week; a
      trip to the opera that she and Sir Charles had conversed so pleasantly
      about, with, of course, the inclusion of Captain Logan and Miss Munroe to
      make the party complete.

      Sir Charles was tired, and was taken away to bed at once by his nurse
      immediately. Marie fled upstairs, pausing at the top to look down into the
      hall, concealed by the shadows. Jean turned to Scott, whose demeanour did
      not soften as he looked towards her.

      "That was... less than pleasant," Jean commented stiffly.

      Scott nodded. "The atmosphere over brandy was tense," he admitted.

      Jean shook her head, holding one hand to her temple. "I don't like them.
      Captain Logan mentioned something about Mr Creed, some hint of past
      misdeeds. He would say no more, as a gentleman, but I think it would be
      best if we did not go next week. Surely we could find a reason for refusing
      the engagement."

      Marie noted Scott's slight stiffening at the mention of Logan's confiding,
      recognised it as a mirror of her own. That had been her secret, her part of
      the Captain to keep for her own. And he had shared it with others. She
      stamped down on the betrayal welling inside her as Scott said curtly: "I
      should have thought you would have been glad of another opportunity to see
      the good Captain."

      He stalked up the stairs, and Marie fled into her own room. And so,
      sullenly and individually, the household of Greymalkin House went to bed.

      ======= http://viscerate.com =======
      "Now, when I listen to loud music, it's not
      teenage angst, it's dark and brooding."
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