Continued reading through my sections and making adjustments as I went to bring everything “up” to meet my outline. All the niggling little sequence issues that were bothering me have been fixed, and in the process, I added 1504 words! Then I finished the next new scene last night. All in all, a pretty productive weekend.
Up later than D&E this morning, so I may not get much done until tonight.
Snippet: This is the last part of the scene between Violet and Lilias that I was sharing last week. This bit is rather prophetic, or at least foreshadows Violet’s character arc through this story. I wanted to capture, too, the back and forth relationship of sisters: love and understanding one moment; competition the next; angry words spoke in haste.
Lilias averted her face. “I don’t trust myself.”
Violet’s chest felt constricted, as though her corset had been tied too tightly. She’d never been in this position before: her sister needed her. Lilias needed to hear the right words to encourage her, as she’d encouraged her younger sister all these years. What if Violet said the wrong thing? Would it push her unstable sister over the edge into madness?
Something flapped above their heads, drawing their eyes to the sky. A black bird swooped down and snagged a mouse a dozen paces away, and then soared toward the South Tower.
“It’s still here.” Lilias glanced at her, delight bringing some color back to her cheeks. “I saw him last night, but I didn’t know it was a raven. We haven’t had ravens at Nocturna for nearly a thousand years.”
Smiling at her sister, Violet suddenly knew exactly what to say. “I trust you, Lily, with my life. I love you.”
Her sister wrapped her up in a fierce hug that made them both cry, but this time, the tears were happier instead of tasting of ash and sorrow.
“I love you, too, dearest Vi.” Lilias stared up at the South Tower, smiling at that fool bird. Why did a raven mean so much to her? If Violet had known, she would have written to every acquaintance they’d ever made and begged a scraggly dirty bird. “Things are changing, for the better, I think. Can you feel it?”
All Violet felt was the lingering threat of ozone and boiling clouds on the horizon, regardless of clear blue skies and green growing things. However, she merely forced a smile and nodded. She’d been in a foul enough mood the past few weeks since the school had re-opened; she wouldn’t ruin this fragile moment of recovery with some dire threat she couldn’t even find the words to express.
“A gentleman arrived awhile ago inquiring about an item Father had borrowed,” Lilias said. “Did you know of any book he might have sought from Egypt?”
“No. Is he handsome?” Her sister merely blinked at her, so Violet added, “the gentleman? Did he pass through London?”
“He didn’t inform me of his travel itinerary,” Lilias replied, a wry twist to her mouth. “He’s coming this evening; you can inquire of his travels then.”
Excitement bubbled out of Violet’s mouth, a warbling song of laughter. She skipped ahead and twirled, laughing more when her straw hat slipped from her head. She untied the ribbons and swung it like a slingshot. “At last, an interesting gentleman and a party! It’s almost as good as a Season.”
“He’s staying in the carriage house, so you will have multiple opportunities to ensnare him.”
Something in her sister’s voice made Violet pause her dance. Lilias smiled, still, but there was a tightness about her eyes, and her lips were compressed.
A surge of femininity swelled within Violet, a sweet, fierce sensual power that she’d never felt before. She’d never been able to compete with her sister for a beau before. “I wager he’ll ask me to dance before you.”
“There will be no dancing tonight.”
“Then he’ll ask me to help him find this book.”
Lilias didn’t respond, walking instead faster. She was nearly to the door, and then it would be students and lessons. She would be the eldest, assured and powerful, and Violet would be reduced to the little sister in need of guidance, tolerated, not needed. This lighthearted moment would be gone as quickly as that ugly bird.
Desperate to hold on to this strange and wonderful moment of adulthood, Violet threw back her head and held her arms out wide, her face tilted to the life-giving sun. She filled herself with power, drawing more, more, sweet and thick and untamed. Molten honey poured through her veins instead of blood. Lightning crackled through her mind, blasting away lingering shadows of grief.
She wove strands of power high into the sky, seeking rain clouds and rainbows. She’d coax a gentle spring rain while the sun yet shone, casting rainbows and crystals of light. Yet all too quickly, the sweetness bordered on pain. She couldn’t hold nearly as much as Lilias, and there was no moisture in the air that she could draw.
Her gifts were lightning and wind, tornadoes and rain, fierce in the moment but too capricious to hold in the palm of one’s hand for long. Power melted away like those wisps of clouds, leaving her bereft and slightly embarrassed, else surely she would never have said, “And he’ll ask to marry me, too, and perhaps I shall say yes. I’ll be gone to London within the month and sailing to Karnak!”
Her sister gave her a look of such sad censure that Violet drew in a sharp breath as though she’d been slapped.
“Oh, Violet, you know nothing of this gentleman. Why would you say such a thing? You haven’t even met him! How could you possibly think you would find him a suitable match?”
Stinging and feeling unusually weary from straining to use her magic, Violet retorted, “I shall never make such a mistake in choosing a husband as you.”
Lilias recoiled and covered her hand with her mouth, her fingers shaking.
“Lily,” Violet breathed, tears spilling in horror. How could she have said such a thing? Why did her own thoughts and words so often betray her so foolishly and childishly? “I didn’t mean it. You know how much I adore you.”
Her sister turned away and pushed open the door. “You shall have your Season, Violet. I’ll see to it. And you may choose any husband you wish.”
“I’ll introduce you to Mr. Nevarre this very evening, but I warn you: I find him very cold and dangerous. Choose wisely, dearest. You may only have one opportunity at happiness.”