April 17, 2014

In Which Lucien Listens In

March 15, 1185

"Oh." Caught off-guard by the grimacing figure on the couch, Lucien's hand lingered on the doorhandle a little longer than necessary. Vera's brothers were not infrequent visitors, but they all had their patterns, and Lonriad typically limited his calls to weekends. Certainly Lucien didn't remember ever coming home from the university to find him seated in the front room.

And yet, here he was. "Hello, Lonriad."

"Hello, Lucien. Morgan."

Hardly the Lonriad of old, for whom greetings were elaborate bouts of teasing. But it had only been two months since he'd lost Asalaye, so Lucien supposed any greeting at all was a step in the right direction. He doubted he'd cope half as well if he ever lost Vera. "What brings you here?"

"Well, Raia said Morgan wanted to talk to everyone about their characters, so..."

"You want to talk to me about your character," Morgan finished for him.

So there had been merit Raia's insistence on Lonriad's inclusion in the masque. The idea had been that the poor man needed something of a distraction--especially after his father's fabled widowerhood low--and what better than a rather significant role in the upcoming production? For some, Lucien thought, it might have been too much too soon, but it seemed that Lonriad was of the sort who needed to keep busy.

Hopefully no one else in the family would have to find out what sort they were any time soon.

"If now's a good time." Another awkward, obviously-forced smile. Morgan nodded and took a seat on the other bench, but Lonriad kept an eye on Lucien. "Um... do you mind listening in? My memory hasn't been great lately, and it would be nice to have two people who can remind me."

"All right." Vera wouldn't be home for an hour or so yet anyway, and he could postpone picking up the twins from her parents' house for the duration of a character sketch, if his own had been any indication. Morgan had filled him in on the gist of Master Tower on the ride back one day last week, and they'd still had plenty of time for other conversation. Then again, from what Lucien had seen of Morgan's manuscript as a whole, Sir Mordred was a more prominent character. Still--there wasn't much in the world that couldn't be condensed.

"Well, in the context of his life as a whole, the trial is a major turning point for Mordred. I don't want to lay all the cards on the table just yet, but suffice to say that the conviction takes a toll on both his emotional well-being and his personal ethics."

"So he genuinely believes that his mother is innocent."

"Consciously, yes. That's why he never stoops lower than standard defense lawyer practice."

"Still pretty low," muttered Lonriad. Was that... a smirk? It had only flashed for a second, but surely...

Had Lonriad made a joke? He'd have to confirm with Ashe or Searle, but he didn't think Lonriad had made a joke since Asalaye was still alive.

In any case, Morgan let out a snicker. "Fair enough. But the key point there is that Mordred can be scarily intelligent when he sets his mind to it--that comes up later in his life--and despite that, he avoids any underhanded legal maneuvers because he's so convinced of his mother's innocence that he thinks they can win honestly."

"All right. But you did say 'consciously'."

"I did." And Lonriad was invested enough in this conversation that he'd remembered it. That was an improvement on a few weeks' prior, if that awkward dinner at Vera's parents' castle said anything. "Subconsciously... I think he knows his mother well enough that neither her vanity nor her lack of empathy are particularly surprising. So at least some part of him knows damn well that she's guilty, or at least acknowledges the possibility."

"But he doesn't want to live with that knowledge."

"No. And ultimately, it's his refusal to face to reality that leads to his downfall."

"All right. I think I can find a way to get that across." Lonriad's mouth twitched into a shallow grin. It wasn't much, but it looked to be as sincere as Lucien could have expected. "Can I ask you one last thing?"

Morgan shrugged. "Go ahead."

"Can I have a ridiculous fake mustache? Like, Jadin-level ridiculous?"

Now that--that was the old Lonriad. Buried deep right now, but still in there. If only Vera or Lord Severin had been around to see.

But he got the sense that Morgan at least sort of understood. "...I'll think about it."