(1874-08-04) Interlude: Sisters
Interlude: Sisters
Summary: Ludovic, Imogen, Lillian, and the Three Sisters. All manner of happenings on a relatively quiet night at Chevaise.
Date: 2018-08-04
Related: References the qutanusstories logs and related to the logs related to Ludovic's injury at the hand of teleko.
NPCs: Rachel Moon, Violet Blue
Players:
Imogen  Lillian  Ludovic  Susanna  

Family Room, Chevaise
You know, family room sort of thing. Chairs, couch, fireplace.
1874-08-04

Sometimes being tall is a real nuisance. Having your eye socket prodded poked and generally treated is definitely one of those situations. Ludovic's chosen to throw a floor cushion down and kneel in the middle of the families sitting room and is trying his best not to flinch away from Lillian's actions. His face looks better somehow though. Perhaps the pale gleam of white stone behind the right eyelid is the cause. "Does feel better." he admits to Lillian. "How often do I need to clean it?" he blinks a couple of times. Obviously finding the sensation a little odd after so long without anything. "Everythings all good yeah? Know the vitae makes this an odd case."

Imogen has been a bit scattered over the last few days, running between hellsmouth and chevaise, but finally everything is settled, no more fighting, no more apologies, and no more surgeries. She makes her way into the living room to see dovi and lillian in the middle of….something, so being a naturally curious person she has to go over and look. "you…..have a fake eye?" she asks curiously

"Ludovic, if you don't stay still, I will have to have your knights restrain you." There was no real threat in Lillian's tone, it was surprisingly amused, as though she were, in her way, attempting to soothe his irritation with a gentler tone or at least to distract him from his agitation. She stood to the side, allowing the light from the fire to light her work, her hands exceedingly careful, as she fitted the false eye that Ludovic had shaped, based on the mold she had brought back to Hellmouth from her trip to Barjols. It had had to wait a day or so, for the delivery, given that she had been called the Chevaise, and they had had to work a few days after that to perfect the precise shape that was wanted, but now, it was ready, and she inserted it with careful attention. And once done, a hand cupped Ludovic's beard, a gentle goad to have him lift his head so that she could see the prosthesis that they had crafted between the two of them. "I would have perhaps chosen something more…in your style, a ruby, perhaps.." Lillian paused, as she heard the door open behind her, seeing Imogen step inside and make her way over, "But this is probably for the best. It is still new and best to work the details out with an easier stone to obtain than such a gem." As Imogen approached, Lillian stepped away, moving over towards where she had set out her tools, "I would say, to begin, as your body becomes accustomed to it, every third day, as you grow accustomed, you might leave it go as long as five days. But if you are in battle, or under strain that would cause you stress or irritation, clean it as soon as you are able."

"I can't see you." Ludovic grumbles in response to Lillian's chiding. "So everytime you touch me it comes as a surprise. How'm I supposed to react really?" He lets her lifts his head without any fight. "In My Style?" he asks. "You think i'm the sort of man who'd buy a fist sized ruby just to make a fancy eye?" His wife he shifts his gaze onto. "Yeah. Not having one kinda hurt all the time. This, i'm told, will help."

Following close behind Imogen are Susanna and her sisters. Rachel, recently free of infection, is held in Susanna's arms since she's still a bit weak and wobbly. Violet sticks close behind, clutching Susanna's sleeve and looking round at the place with her large amethyst eyes. Eventually those eyes land on Ludovic and stay there, though they'll occasionally wander shyly to Lillian. "'Scuse me, Yer Excellence," Susanna says with a curtsy. "Lillian said ta visit her fer Rachel's checkup an' I was tole I'd finde her here…"

Imogen giggles softly and grins at the sight once she fully understands what's going on. "Makes sense, I hope this is more comfortable for you then," she agrees with a small smile before glancing back at susanna. "Sorry we had to keep her away from you in that case, but she was the only healer i trusted that I could find on short notice," she explains with a gesture to rachel.

"I am sorry, Ludovic," and she did sound it, "I had considered having a mirror brought it, but I thought that you might find the sight of what I was doing even more disturbing if you could have seen it. I have found that patients who do not mind performing a task for themselves, find it entirely uncomfortable to watch someone else perform the same task for them." Lillian shook her head, stepping away to intercept the door as it once again opened, disgorging the three sisters, "I believe, that you are a man of such stature that a gem such as that one would have added a rather commanding air to your presence." She stood between Ludovid and Imogen and Susanna, buying the Viscount as much time as he needed, "I'm glad that you brought her, Susanna," her eyes shifting to Rachel, "And you, Rachel? Better?" Violet she offered something of a conspiratorial smile. "They did not leave you with the tutor again, I see."

Violet shakes her head, sending her long, long dark braids dancing. "Tha' was mean!" she says.

"I'm sorry, did I come at a bad time?" Susanna worries. Rachel's arms are around Susanna, much

Violet shakes her head, sending her long, long dark braids dancing. "Tha' was mean!" she says.

"I'm sorry, did I come at a bad time?" Susanna worries. Rachel's arms are around Susanna, somber brown eyes much shier than her younger sister's, though she seems to regard Lillian with affection.

"Long as you stop nagging." Ludovic gives Lillian a quick grin. "It dont matter. We're done I think right?" He pushes up to his feet. There is still absolutely no doubt that his eye isnt right. Its not a prosthetic just something to support the muscles in the socket. He starts prodding along at the areas around his brow and eye socket in general, curious as to the feel and reassuring himself as to the security of it and such, and then looks to the women. "The family rooms a hospice now eh? Guess i'd better get out the way."

Imogen cackles a bit at the hospice comment with a roll of her eyes and makes her way over to dovi, she's not poking the prostetic but it's clear the reason she hugs him is /definately/ more to get a look at the thing than to display affection. "Did you already get back from the meeting with darius?" she asks absently as she steps away, her curiosity sated that it's just a plain prostetic

"Is that the secret to making you more biddable, then, Ludovic? Promise not to nag you? You should not have given away that secret. I shall not soon forget it." Lillian allowed husband and wife to make their greetings, as she lead the sisters over towards the fire, "I know that it seemed mean, Violet, but we had to take care of your sister, and knowing that you were being well looked after was more of a help than you know." She did turn her attention towards Ludovic, "You do not need to leave, nor should you. There will be no examinations of that sort. But perhaps a seat by the fireplace? That one there, I think it might be quite large enough for yourself and Rachel, Violet, and I can have something brought for you, I know that it is a long journey from Chevaise."

Ludovic puts his arm loosely about Imogen's waist as she leans into him for the sake of her curiosity. "Happy?" He murmurs to her, amusement in his voice. Lillian giving him instruction makes him look over at her and then chuckle. "Yes Ma'am." He puts himself into the seat by the fire and stretches out his limbs comfortably. "Thought that was the point of nagging Lillian? Just keep on and on until the guy has only two choices left. Either do what you say or hit you until you stop." A nod for Imogen then. "Yeah. Went as expected. They've never wanted peace and agreement between us." Susanna he looks at somewhat curiously.

Susanna smiles in relief. "Thanks very much," she says, and Rachel nods in quiet agreement as Violet skips forward into the room, still dragging Susanna along, before stopping in front of Ludovic to get a better look at him for herself. "Starin' ent polite, Violet," Susanna mutters to the girl as she breaks away from the girl's grip to settle Rachel on the couch. Violet's feet idly follow partway to the couch, but her strange purple eyes remain on Ludovic before she gets there. Susanna looks back at her, sighs, returns to Violet and curtsies to Ludovic. "'Tis good ta meet ya once more, Viscount," she says. Violet finally gets the idea to curtsy as well, and she says loudly, "I'm Violet Blue! D'ya remember me?"

Imogen grins unabashedly when dovi realises what she's doing, but she's not embarassed, not yet anyways! "Psh, you still get a hug either way, so what if i spend half the hug staring at your new eye?" she teases good naturedly with a kiss to the cheek, though the news od what happened does make her happiness dim a bit, it's not a subject for company. She steps out of the way to let Violet greet dovi as well, clearly amused at her choice of greeting.

"I will thank you to excuse me if I would rather not find out how skilled you might be in beating me until I stopped nagging." Lillian allowed Susanna to settle the girls onto the sofa, well, herself and Rachel at least, as Violet clearly seemed to have other ideas, and returned to the door. A few words spoken with one of the guards was enough to summon a steward to see to bringing in refreshments enough for all of them, with care taken to request such foods as Rachel could likely tolerate and a child as Violet would find palatable. Once that task was done, she moves to join the two sisters at the sofa, "And how have you been feeling, Rachel?"

Ludovic just chuckles at that. "Reckon your Cervantes might turn around and return the favor. You need to tell him I need to know what he's doing too. Making me twitchy him running off south without telling me why. He leaving? Know he didnt like me saying we needed an overall commander for the combined force and know Darius is an ass but least he can do is keep me up to date with whats actually going on." Imogen he tells "Don't worry. We're not at war with him. Just made some argument about how he wanted to cooperate that was basically the exact thing he said that i'd already bought into. Not much of anywhere to go from there. Had his men there throwing berries at me too. So its not like he was even pretending to us seriously." The girl he turns to look at levely. "Not really lass." Susanna gets a smile over the girls shoulder. "Now you I remember. Beat me at arm wrestling when I was being all arrogant." He seems amused. "Put me right into my place you did."

Susanna can't help a grin. "Wherever our places are, I doubt a simple arm wrestle would let us know, Yer Excellency," she says, while Violet looks very much put out. "/I/ was th' one tha' got Susanna ta wrestle ya, I was! I bet on her fifteen whole stars!"

"'M better," Rachel tells Lillian, proving she has a voice but indeed not being very descriptive. Her face is half hidden under a layer of slightly tangled dark blonde hair. She's been especially bashful since her illness.

FOOD

Imogen seems quite content to let the 'adults' talk while she nibbles the newly brought out snacks, because hey, she's five months pregnant, what's anyone really going to say if she gorges? "We should talk to him again another time, maybe he was just pissy, or his men weren't really his men and he couldn't control them?" she suggests, but her expression gives away she knows how likely that is to be complete BS. But then Violet gets her attention with a small smile. "Don't be offended Violet, my husband forgets alot of things, it took me not only rescuing some qutanux captives but also being good with horses before he remembered my name," she remarks playfully as she ruffles the girls hair.

Lillian turned, a frown creasing her brows, as she heard Ludovic's words, "This is the first that I heard tell that he had left, Ludovic. I have not seen him in quite a few weeks now, as I had to return to Bordeaux. Not since he departed for the forward camp, and I had intended to ride to meet him there, but was delayed." She had only just returned to Hellmouth, when she was summoned to Chevaise. "If I should see him, I will be certain to ask him what he was about, though I am not certain I have any way to locate him." When Rachel spoke all of Lillian's attention turned to her, "That is quite good news, Rachel. We will see if a nice light meal will not make you a bit better still." Lillian's eyes lifted to her hair, to the bandages still neatly wound around her head, "And when you are tired, we will find a place for you to rest."

"The Imperials told me he was planning to take one of the galenthian cities." Ludovic tells Lillian. "Didnt much appreciate having the imperials tell me what my own so called ally was doing. I never even would have known he'd given up the forward camp if it wasnt for messengers." He makes a grumpy little sound, gives Imogen an amused look and then looks back at Violet and Susanna. "Can't blame me if I can't remember everyone I meet. I've.." He thinks about if for a moment. "Well I've like thousands of people i'm responsible for right now. Thats just here. How'm I supposed to remember what happens in another city?"

"Ya tole me," Violet continues pointedly, "Tha' ya were gonna squire me since I wanna be a knight!" She grins, showing her missing teeth—or rather the gap where two adult teeth have stunted with rot. (Lillian has perhaps noted them already and spoken with Susanna about how another healer suggested she chew catgut to treat it.) Susanna looks down at Violet a bit sharply, but doesn't seem to want to outrightly tell her no. "Why, er, why is Viscount Arkanin trying to siege a Galenthian City?" Surely that's a question of greater concern.

"Okay," Rachel tells Lillian with a smile and a nod that's stopped midway—she squeezes her eyes shut and holds a hand to her ear.

Imogen stays pretty quiet as lillian and dovi discuss cervantes, she isn't the fondest of the viscount, but she's indebted to the healer and thus uncomfortable speaking badly of a man she very obviously cares for. Still dovi's amused look cheers her up a bit and eases her awkwardness as she chomps down on food. "Violet love, if you want to be squired i can see it done, you only have to ask," she points out good naturedly, attempting to rescue her husband from the well meaning, but perhaps over eager child.

"Ah did I now." Ludovic says. "Well we do owe your sister a favor so I expect that will be fine." He leans back in his chair. "But before I can do that I need you to go on over there." He points to the door "And run up and down the stairs till I tell ya its enough. Gotta know you're strong enough for it see. As for the city. Retaking its a better choice of words."

"That is a dangerous gambit. With all else that is going on the front." There was a certain stillness, in Lillian's manner, that careful way she had of withholding whatever emotion it might be that she was feeling. "If he has gone to do so, then I will hope…that I will see his return." Against such a force, there was no guarantee that he, or any of his force would survive the battles ahead. "Ludovic is right. The city is currently being occupied by the Qatunax, as the keep was that you all fought at." Lillian had not been on the field, having not managed to return to Hellmouth in time, though her troupes had been there. "Would you like some soup, Rachel?" She raised a hand, taking the one Rachel did not raise to her ear, "I will prepare you a bit more of something to help with the pain."

Violet's face lights up at the d'Korbina couple's response, satisfied and triumphant. Rachel peeks at her from her place on the couch, making a face that says she knows better. "Yes, Sir!!" Violet shouts louder than ever, unaware of her own volume as she pounds her way to the stairs and starts her first ordeal.

"…I see," Susanna nods at the clarification and sits down with Rachel, rubbing the girl's legs. "Thank you fa th' offer, Excellency, bu' she's… she's a bit young ta be a squire, don'cha think?"
-
Ludovic looks after the girl and then back to Susanna. "How old is she?"

Susanna bites her lip briefly. From her size and personality, most people would estimate the child to be seven or eight. "Eleven,"

Imogen blinks a bit as dovi orders her ward to do something so….strange, and it's clear her going up and taking his arm, on his visible side, is more so she can whisper to him. "Please tell me there's SOME kind of logic to having her do that?" she murmurs, still partially bemused if a bit concerned but mostly allowing dovi and susanna to talk.

"Suppose that is a bit young, yeah." Ludovic tells Susanna. "Usually its twelve or thirteen." He looks to Imogen since she's questioning him. "No point making her a squire if she dies after hard exercise now is there Imogen? That would just be cruel."

Lillian rose to her feet, making her way, first, towards the travel bag she carries for her supplies. She withdraw the bottle of roadside poppy she had been using for Rachel, and carried that with her towards the tray of food. It was hearty, but did not have large pieces of meat of vegetables which could be a problem if Rachel found herself having difficulty in swallowing. She prepared a bowl of soup, as well as a few slices of bread, and such fruit as the girl might like, allow with some cooled juice to drink, and all of that on a tray she carried back to the sofa, moving to settle on Rachel's other side to hold the tray while she ate.

Rachel's eyes actually sparkle at the sight of all the food, making Susanna smile. She takes the juice first, sipping it slowly, savoring. "Thanks," she tells Lillian, and flops back on the couch.

"I'VE GONE UP AN' DOWN THREE TIMES!" Violet shouts.

Imogen sighs softly and nods with a roll of her eyes. "I'm just concerned, i'm rather attatched to these children, just like i'm attatched to our son," she murmurs with a small quirk of her lips as her eyes drift over to Rachel's seemingly returned appetite.

Ludovic rubs at the back of his neck and then stands up. "Well I'm gonna go home. I'll see you in a few days I reckon." He starts for the door, suppressing a bit of a yawn, and pauses only to speak briefly with Violet. Something encouraging that keeps her running up and down those stairs.

Lillian seemed content to sit with Rachel and help the girl as she might need to eat. There was no rushing in her movements, the intention clearly to allow the girl to take her time and hold down what she took in. She rose to refill anything that might be wanted. And she rose again, when Ludovic rose to his feet, "If you need me, I will not be far. if you have any trouble with the eyes, don't wait to call me."

Violet gives Ludovic a big hug at whatever encouraging thing he says.

"Wha' kinda juice is it?" Rachel asks Susanna, offering her a taste. Susanna thinks for a moment. "Grapes, I think. Kinda like wine."

With her husband gone and the conversation between her handmaid and the healer, Imogen opts to do the smart thing and give them space to talk. "It's been a long day, i'm going to go lay down and rest while I still can," she murmurs. "It was nice seeing you again Lady Bordeaux," she offers before turning and heading out.

Lillian settled herself back to the sofa, returning her attention to Rachel, offering Imogen a bow of her head as she made her own excuses and the pair of them departed the room, "There is more than enough for everyone, and you all need your strength."

Lillian settled herself back to the sofa, returning her attention to Rachel, offering Imogen a bow of her head as she made her own excuses and the pair of them departed the room, "There is more than enough for everyone, and you all need your strength." She would rise when she needed to, to replenish Rachel's meal, and to offer Violet a chance to choose what she might like to eat herself.

"I gotta prove I can be a knight!" Violet insists, going up the stairs once more. "Bordeaux," Rachel says. Susanna looks to her, recognition starting to bloom in her eyes. "We met a scary man named Bordeaux," she continues seriously as she chooses a piece of bread and inspects it.

The comment turned Lillian's head, her eyes turning to Susanna as she prepared the tray for Violet, and once it was done, she called to the girl. "Come and eat, Violet, you can prove that you can be a knight after you've eaten and rested." With that done, she tilted her head, "I do not believe I have met any scary Bordeaux men. The only one who might hold that description…long ago gave up his name and his allegiance to our House."

"He wasn't scary," Susanna says just a little too adamantly. Rachel lifts her eyebrows knowingly and bites into the bread. Violet, panting, takes her tray and stuffs something indiscriminately into her mouth, head bent down. "He…well, he stole into our room a' the Inn in the middle o' th' night. He was hidin' fra jealous gamblers. Bu' he was very gentlemanly, otherwise, I thought," Susanna explains.

Lillian, hearing the description, actually laughed, though she only allowed herself a few peal of it, "Let me guess. Dark hair, dark eyes, about a hand taller than I am? Handsome as the devil?" Having ensured that both of the younger girls were fed, she rose to retrieve two glasses of wine, one of which she offered to Susanna and the other kept for herself, "You should eat as well, Susanna. You need your strength every bit as much as your sisters."

Susanna blushes alarmingly fast at "handsome as the devil," whereupon the watching Rachel snickers. "Oh, thank you," Susanna says quietly as she takes the wine. "Er, yes, I think tha's wha' he looked like."

With all of the sisters as well appointed as she could make them, Lillian moved towards the fireplace, settling into the seat that Ludovic had only recently vacated, her expression showing warm amusement, "That is my cousin, Vemmorn. My Uncle Kellan's son. Vemmorn and I are of an age, and we grew up together. It sounds the sort of thing he would do. Was he looking for something and got the wrong room?"

Susanna lifts her eyebrows in surprise, blinking at the news. "Oh, wow. Huh. Er, no, seems he was runnin' fra some people he beat at cards. Had lotsa gold on him. As well as…" Susanna pulls a silver ring from her pocket. Violet heads for the stairs again.

"You're thinking that we don't look very much the same?" Lillian laughed, "If you should ever meet my cousin Sebastian, you will likely think the same. That sounds even more like Vem, though. He's always been something of a free spirit. I will never fault him for his duty to family or to his command, but he has always been one who enjoys his life." Lillian leaned forward, seeming amused as she saw the ring, "He was likely attempting to repay the surprise he must have caused you. He's a gentle spirit for all he must have seemed quite fierce to your sisters. He is a force of nature."

"Nonetheless, yer both very handsome," Susanna assures, and then blushes once more. "An' he did prove very charming…" Really, who knew people from Rikton could be so pleasant! "I'm glad to have a chance to meet him again, perhaps." Rachel finishes off her toast and rolls her eyes.

"That is kind of you to say, Susanna, and I thank you for the compliment." Lillian, though she noted the blush, was kind enough not to make mention of it, "It would be nice to see him. He was home for a short while while I was in Barjols, but the Saint Tiadora, his ship, was only at port for a few days, and being a naval captain and not an independent one, he cannot, often, choose where he would go and where he would not. Though I worry for him with all of the terrible news we have been hearing of the White Hall raiders. We have been fortunate in Rikton that that war has not yet come to our shores, but I fear it will not last."

Susanna truly can't believe she's starting to care about whether or not White Hall raiders attack Rikton of all places, and she struggles for something genuine to say that wouldn't be callous or confused as she feels. But Rachel leans forward a little to tap Susanna's arm, and her attention is diverted. "Violet ent goin' up an' down th' stairs," Rachel points out.

"Oh. 'Scuse me, Signora," Susanna says, moving from the couch and disappearing into the stairwell, which remains silent. After a few minutes, she still hasn't returned.

Lillian only allowed a few minutes, before she rose to her feet, following Susanna out into the hall, and making her way down towards the stairwell. "Rachel, please stay and finish your meal." A shake of her head, as she set aside thought of other concerns, "Susanna?" She kept her pace quick, heading across the hall to find where the girls had gone.

In fact, they hadn't left the stairwell. Lillian finds Susanna holding Violet in her lap, who is weeping into her shoulder. Susanna looks up at Lillian, still unsure of what to say.

Lillian moves to settle on the stairs beside the sisters, hands adjusting her skirts so that she could settle comfortably, "Violet, dear, what's got you in tears now? You did fantastically at the task the Viscount set for you." She trusts that if the girl had injured herself, that Susanna would have mentioned that as soon as she had seen Lillian arrive.

Violet buries her head further into Susanna's shoulder as her shoulders shake, embarrassed. Susanna doesn't want to exacerbate Violet's unhappiness, but she feels like the healer should know. "Violet gets pains in her limbs sometimes, whens she gets too rambunctious," Susanna whispers. "Actually, I don' think she' lets 'em stop her mosta th' time, bu' sometimes they get real bad…" Susanna looks pained herself—not as frantic as she was for Rachel, of course, but pained with a helplessness one has had to become accustomed to.

Lillian considered, looking over the girl,considering, perhaps, what she had already known of Violet, from her brief time with the girl, and what she knew of their condition previously. "I think it is no fault of her own, Susanna. Especially in growing children, the sorts of foods they eat are entirely important to their development. Some of the signs I have seen in her would indicate that she has suffered from poor nutrition and it has affected her development, and not enough has been done to remedy that. But I think I have a few ideas of how we can improve her nutrition and hopefully correct the pain and discomfort she is feeling."

Susanna can't help tearing up with shame, regret, bitterness…all sorts of feelings as Lillian explains what's probably going on. "I see," she says thickly. "Thank you."

Lillian reached out, setting her hand on Susanna's shoulder, if she would allow, and then on Violet's back, "You are not to blame, Susanna. Your circumstances were not easy, and, sad to say, in many of the poorer areas, this is not an uncommon ailment for the commonfolk, who do not always have access to the foods they need, even when they do have better means. But this is not a problem which cannot be corrected, not an ailment which cannot be cured and she offered a much better outcome." She dipped her head, attempting to see Viole's face, "Nor will it stop you from attempting to achieve your dream of being a knight, Violet."

Susanna wipes her face, nods. Lillian's words don't quite get rid of the horrible feelings that have always been there and just now crept up in full force, but even if she does blame herself, at least the healer doesn't. For her part, Violet turns her head a little so she can blink tears out of her vision and look at the miracle-worker before her. "R-really?"

Lillian offered Susanna a sympathetic look, but she focused most of her attention on Violet, "Really. A very large part of being a squire is working hard and not giving up, especially when you think that the work is too much for you. When I first squire to my knight, Kellen, I had no idea of the work that would be required of me. And it was hard, and I think I might have cried myself to sleep more nights than I didn't. But I managed it, and I think you could too. We just have to make sure you get all of the good food that you need, and we get you healthy, and I think you will. Heart and determination are what make good knights, you know, not just strength and being good with weapons."

"I have good food," Violet says, still crying a little because of the pain, and getting more emotional as she continues. "I ate peaches in Four Corners! I remember when I was really little, I was na hungry all the time, an' now it's like tha' again. An' I don' hurt as much no more, really, even ma teeth are better." Suddenly she sighs heavily and a sob escapes her. "I wanna be a knight, like you, like all th' knights tha' saved us fra the Riktons. I wanna be great like them. Bu' I ent big an' strong like Susanna an' I'm only eleven an' I hate it when I hurt…" Her crying was softer before, but now that she has an ear to confide in she lets herself make more noise. Susanna's made it her turn to look away, a hand on her face.

"Yes, you do, but you're a growing girl, and growing girls need even more every day, don't they? Or else how will they ever grow up to be as big and strong as a woman like Susanna? And Violet, you're not hungry, but I think that is because of you not being fully well. Sometimes, when our bodies can't get precisely what they need, they will tell us…we're not hungry. They try to help us as much as they can. I think if we try something new, new foods and different times to eat, you'll find your appetite returning. You might even out-eat Susanna." She lifted her eyes, offering a smile to the other woman before she looked down again, "If you are willing to help me, and work with me, I think we can make you just as strong as any of those knights, and you will make a wonderful squire."

Her head turned away, Susanna didn't see Lillian's smile. Violet moves to embrace Lillian, sobbing and grateful. "Ya like an angel," she says, brittle arms wrapped around Lillian as tight as they'll go. "Can I be ya squire?" Susanna is very still.

Lillian slipped her arms around the small girl, accepting her into her lap, if Violet made the attempt, "I am no angel, Violet, only a woman trying to do her best, as you sister is, as you are as well. And Rachel too." She did smile, as she considered the question, "I am afraid I am not allowed squires anymore, Violet. When my father and brothers died, and I had to become the Signora for my House, part of that meant that I could not serve as a knight anymore, not the way you imagine them. I am still a knight, but I must be a Lady now first. I cannot go to battle as I once did, or take squires into my service. You have seen my healers, Miriam and Dilan? They helped us when Rachel was very ill. They are the closest I can come now to having squires, and they are healers first, and only know a little about arms, only enough to protect our patients. But I know that the Countess has promised to help you find a knight of your own, and I am sure that she will."

Susanna seems to have brought herself under control as she turns back to look at Lillian and listen to her explanation. "Yer like me," Violet says, almost excited. "My papa and both brothers also died. An' Mama."

"But you could still be a knight," Susanna tells Violet, brows twitching at her own statement, and Violet looks at her in disbelief. "You can do anythin' ya put ya mind ta, sweetpea." Violet smiles back, wiping her eyes.

"Yes, in many ways, I think we are very much alike, Violet. But your sister is right. If you are determined enough and you work hard, you can achieve your dreams. It will be a hard road, I will not lie about that, because it is not easy to become a squire and then, to become a knight, but I think you are strong enough to do it." Seeing Susanna turn back to face them, she allowed Violet to return to her sister's embrace.

Violet indeed gives Susanna a big hug, and though Susanna is still pained she is unmistakably grateful to have her arms around her little sister.

"Hello?!" Rachel calls from the room, and Susanna stands up, taking Violet with her. "Let's na leave Rachel alone too much longer, eh?" Through the door, Rachel holds her arms out for Violet. "More pains, Vi?" Violet nods as Susanna sets her in Rachel's lap. "Yah, bu' I'm arright." Rachel hugs Violet, and Susanna kisses both little sisters on the head.

Lillian returned to the sitting room with the sisters, offering quiet words to Susanna, "I will work with the kitchens to create a meal plan and to bring in such foods as will help Violet. It is not the same pain as Rachel is feeling, but some of the same draught that Rachel is taking will help with the pain she is feeling, rest as well."

Susanna stands and, with all the hugs going on, embraces Lillian as well. "Thanks so much fer all ya've done fa ma family, Lillian. I hope I can repay ya somehow."

Lillian returns Susanna's embrace, holding her tightly for a moment before she releases her, "Take care of your sisters, and yourself, Susanna, that is all the repayment that will ever be required."

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