Although I didn’t get much writing accomplished this weekend, I did touch my files every single day. Combined with Dark & Early this morning — despite insomnia last night and a burgeoning cold — I can claim another 1815 words, bringing my total up to nearly 20K.
Snippet: This one is from Violet’s POV, the younger, headstrong sister who has one fierce dream. She thinks she’s willing to do anything to achieve that dream, but she’ll learn the price of her choices before the story is over.
Violet flinched guiltily, and then glared at her sister as she dismounted, embarrassed at being caught and called out so easily. “Does the Headmistress need my services so soon? Should I drone on for hours about verb conjugation, or did you wish me to teach Francis another country reel for this evening’s soiree?”
“If you don’t wish to attend this evening, I understand,” Lilias replied softly. “And you don’t have to teach French. Miss Weston or I will gladly cover those topics. In fact, I may need your help with a magic lesson.”
Appeased, Violet handed the reins to the stable boy and patted her mare’s shoulder before joining her sister. Linking arms, they walked back toward the castle proper. “Who?”
“Francis, of course, to see if that ‘tickle’ was real, and Becky.”
Violet laughed. “Now you suspect one of our maids is descended from some long lost arm of the Ravene family?”
“One never knows.”
Good heavens, she’s serious. “You want me to teach the maid to be a mage?”
“Let’s start with testing them both. I’ll help. I’ve already spoken to Mrs. Lane and made arrangements for additional help to come up from Ravenscar for the next fortnight until we know for sure.”
“Of course,” Violet said, not even attempting to keep the bitterness from ringing in her voice. “There’s money to hire another maid, but not enough money to send me to London. I shall never escape this place!”
Lilias jerked to a halt and stiffly pulled her arm free. Red spots darkened the cheeks of her otherwise pale face. “I’m doing the best I possibly can, Violet. Surely you understand that we need servants to cook your meals and wash your linens, unless you would like scalded skin to your elbows to go with your French and dance lessons?”
“I’d rather slave in the kitchens than teach those silly girls another day! You may enjoy teaching, Lily, but that was never my dream. You know I want more than this: I want a Season, dances, dresses, beaus. I want a life!”
“Please,” Lilas whispered, her voice breaking. “I need your help.”
If her sister had yelled back at her, then Violet would have felt better. The storm would have blown out leaving rainbows and sweet-smelling air behind. But this plea shook her world as badly as her parents’ death.
As the eldest, Lilias had always been strong and knowledgeable, always there when she needed help, tucking Violet back into bed at night after a nightmare or answering her questions when Papa had been too lost in his library to notice that his daughters were growing up before his eyes. Lilias was as formidable as Castle Nocturna. It didn’t need anything or anyone, it simply existed, undefeated and proud on the hill, demanding the respect and loyalty it deserved, the same as Lilias.
Hearing that shaken, fragile quality in her sister’s voice made Violet’s heart squeeze dreadfully. Tears burned her eyes and she clutched her sister’s hand between both her own. “What is it, Lily?”
She might as well have declared that the sun had fallen from the sky and pigs flew. “Goodness gracious, not you, Lily. You’re never afraid.”
“I am now.” She stared up at the burned hull of the North Wing and shivered despite the welcome warmth that had finally broken winter’s hold upon the land. “I’m afraid it’ll happen again.”