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21 Days of Disney!
FILL: Josephine/Sera, Part 1/??, post-Trespasser
2015-09-24 03:45 am (UTC)
I have NO IDEA if I'm actually going to be able to finish this in time, but I'm going to try. (In my defense, A Nonnie Made Me Do It. =P)
Posting this in the "anything thread" because one, there are
minor Trespasser spoilers
for a non-Trespasser prompt, and two, because it was originally meant to fill this prompt: http://21-days.dreamwidth.org/2504.html?
thread=200392#cmt200392, but some elements of this one keeps slipping in and out: http://21-days.dreamwidth.org/2504.html?
Writing this has given me newfound respect for anyone who writes Sera well. Also: I know nothing of French, so I apologize if any of the nobles' names come across as odd.
It was not a large gathering; perhaps no more than thirty people attended. But conversation flowed easily, accompanied by the light, lilting flow of music and free of the polite bite of cultured disapproval. Even from across the room, Josephine could see that the hostess— the young heir from a prominent merchant family— looked pleased with herself, and with good cause. Perhaps when she was older she would count her successes by each move she made in the Game, but at her current age, a well-run party was accomplishment enough.
If only Yvette would pay half the attention to such matters, Josephine thought with a sharply contained sigh. She’d had to keep half an eye out on her sister since they’d arrived, and had already caught her several times that evening ignoring the other guests in favor of staring at the many portraits and landscapes hanging between each curved arch of the walls.
She herself had spent the hours socializing, when she wasn’t scolding Yvette, filling the air with easy chatter as she listened for hidden meanings. At the moment, however, she had no conversational partner; she’d taken a brief moment to herself, both to have a chance to look over the room as an observer, and to simply breathe.
A servant— an elf, she couldn’t help but note— approached with a glass of wine, and Josephine accepted it with murmured thanks. She took a small sip, and continued to cast her gaze around the room.
The family hosting the event were known for their fine art collection— one reason why Yvette had been so eager to come— and were clearly eager to show it. Elaborate arches lined the walls, with the paintings Yvette so admired filling the empty spaces in between. Where there were no paintings, there were scattered windows, and the occasional opened door leading to balconies overlooking the sprawling vineyards just outside. It was not a small space; there was just room enough for all to mingle, without leaving the room feeling empty. Most of the guests gathered in loose clumps of twos and threes, drifting easily from one conversation to another.
At some point, she’d lost track of Yvette. Now, after a moment of looking, Josephine spotted her again, at the other end of the room, sipping from her own glass of wine— she made a mental note to let the servants know not to refill her glass too many times— and making what was, even from this distance, clearly a lackluster attempt at conversation with another one of the guests.
It seemed Josephine’s respite was already at an end. With a restrained sigh, she lowered her glass, and began to wind her way across the room.
She had nearly reached them when, from the corner of her eye, a glimmer of movement caught her attention. She turned.
For a moment, she saw only the pointed ears and plainly-colored livery, and thought her simply another servant.
Then she realized that she
those ears, those slight shoulders, that rough, pale hair, half-hidden by the ridiculous hat the Courcillons required of all of their servants. She caught her breath.
She started, turning towards Josephine, and Josephine saw, with a startling burst of relief, that she hadn’t been mistaken: it
Sera, though she’d never seen her dressed in such a way. That, at least, had been no trick of the eye. Instead of her usual jeweled tones, Sera wore the plain, tan-colored livery of the Courcillon family.
Somehow, she doubted that Sera had actually decided to begin working for the nobility.
The moment their eyes met, Sera let out a low groan. “Oh, buggering
Her displeasure could not have been more clear. It stung, but Josephine did not allow her own smile to waver.
There were many things she could say; even without taking their current circumstances into account, it had, after all, been a little over six months since she’d last seen her— since the Inquisition had disbanded— and longer still since they’d properly spoken. Finally, she settled on something vague and open-ended. “I must say, I did not expect to see you here.”
Sera let out another groan, this one decidedly more frustrated. “
, don’t get started on all that stupid noble talk. Just say what you mean already. Or don’t say anything. That’s an option, too, right? ”
As she spoke, her eyes darted around the room.
“I think not.” She did not know Sera as well as she might have, but she knew enough to realize that putting her in the same room as nobility never ended well. An entrance to a balcony was not far ahead from where they stood, and Josephine nodded that way. “Would you care to step out for a moment?”
Openly conversing at length with a “servant” would, after all, only cause unwanted eyes to turn their way.
Sera relaxed a little at that, though she still looked disgruntled. “Yeah, whatever.”
The air outside was light and cool, the breeze still carrying a light tang of salt from the sea. Josephine leaned against the railing, wine glass dangling in her hand as she looked out upon the dark rows of vines below. Sera lingered to the side, fidgeting.
For a moment, they were silent. Then Josephine spoke. “I take it you have not joined the Courcillon’s household?”
“What?” Sera spluttered, then snorted, the annoyance fading from her face as she laughed. “No.
no. Do I look like the serving sort to you?”
Josephine let out a soft chuckle. “I must admit, I find it...difficult, to imagine.” She paused, and turned to look Sera straight-on. “However, that does strike out the most likely explanation for your being here.”
Sera grimaced. “Oh. Yeah. That.”
“Yes, ‘that’.” Josephine closed her eyes briefly. “I’m almost afraid to hear the answer, but I must ask. Sera, what
you doing here?”
“Just, doing...stuff. Things.” A pause. “
That...clarified nothing. Josephine resisted the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose.
She needed to look at it positively. At least Sera had answered her— she hadn’t been entirely certain that she would.
“I see. Might you tell me what sort of ‘things’ those are?”
“Er.” Sera chewed her lip, clearly thinking.
Finally, she seemed to come to a decision. “Right. So. You see that one, over there?” She nodded vaguely in the direction of the entranceway, and Josephine followed her gaze.
She could not tell who Sera was looking at. Several people filled her vision, but none stood out. After a moment of searching, she relented. “I’m sorry, but of whom are you speaking?”
.” An impatient note entered Sera’s voice. “The poncy-looking one— well, they’re all poncy-looking, but the
poncy-looking one. The one trying to chat that other one up.”
Josephine looked closely— and finally saw who it was she was talking about.
It was, she realized with a frisson of surprise, the man speaking with Yvette.
Sera made a dismissive gesture. “Yeah. That one. He’s been nosing around the docks, bullying ship-workers, throwing his weight around like it actually means something, that sort of thing. So we thought we’d embarrass him a little. Which, good, yeah? ‘Cept the one we got to do it’s new, and got nervous. So I said I’d be here, moral support and all that shite. Way I figured, watching a bit tit get humiliated’s no skin off my back.” Sera paused. “‘Sides, this way, I get a piece of the cut. So here I am.”
It took Josephine a moment to parse through everything Sera had said. The situation was nothing new; she’d done damage control after enough such pranks to know that this was typical Sera. But—
“Lord Voclain, at the docks?” She frowned. “Are you certain?”
“That’s what my people say.” Now Sera frowned too. “Why? That’s not weird, is it? Thought you Antivan types were all about your trade and your ocean and your big boats.”
“That...is not inaccurate,” Josephine allowed. “But Lord Voclain is not Antivan; he is Orlesian. His family has no involvement in trade— at least, not that I’m aware of it.”
“Huh.” Sera made a thoughtful sound, then shrugged. “Don’t know anything about any of that. I just know someone wanted him brought down a peg or two.”
Josephine’s eyes narrowed at the reminder. “Yes, about that—”
“Whoa, whoa!” Sera exclaimed with a burst of laughter. She leaned back against the railing. “Don’t get your underpants in a twist, yeah? Nothing’s going to happen tonight. Girl lost her nerve. I was just heading out when you caught me.”
Josephine gave her a flat look. “I believe I recall you making a very similar protest when the Duchess of Lydes came to Skyhold. I never could persuade her to come back down to the dining hall, after that.”
“Oh, yeah.” Sera laughed. “That was a good one.” Sobering up a bit, she continued, “But I really do mean it this time. Places to go, things to do, and all that.”
Reaching over, she snatched the wine glass that had been dangling, half-forgotten, in Josephine’s hand, and drained it in a single gulp.
Sera pressed the glass back into Josephine’s hands with a laugh, silencing her as their fingers brushed together. With a grin and a sing-song kind of voice, she said, “See you around, Lady Josie.”
Then, before Josephine could say anything more, she pressed her hands to the railing and, in a move utterly reminiscent of the former Inquisitor, leapt off the edge to the ground below.
the former Inquisitor, however, she did not land silently. Distantly, Josephine could hear her curse. “
! Bloody, buggering— how did she always
Josephine raised a hand to her mouth, a few soft sounds slipping out as she tried, and failed, to fully contain her laughter.
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