April 26, 2016

In Which Hollie Is Understood

December 25, 1199

"Hello, Hollyhock," Hollie's cousin greeted her. She hadn't expected or even wanted company--but if someone had to join her in Lord Severin's study, then Ricky was among the least objectionable possibilities. "You never were one for dancing, were you?"

"No, not really." Or much of the rest of it. Hollie pushed herself upright; if Ricky was anything like her in that regard, he'd want to sit down. "I hate weddings."

"I do too--and not just because my parents keep pestering me about when mine will be. They're pretty excessive, really. If you love someone, I don't know why throwing a big party would make that much of a difference."

Hollie sniffed. If love was what made the party unnecessary, then no wonder Gennie and Wolf had insisted on such a massive event. "Not everyone marries for love."

"I guess not. But anyway--I wanted to talk to you about something."

And what better time was there to do so than when they were both avoiding the rest of the guests? "All right."

"You start at the university next term, right?"

She did. He knew she did. "Why ask what you already know?"

"I want to know what your plans are for after."

"For a career?" Hollie frowned. "I don't think that's for me, really. I think I'd rather keep studying on my own time and maybe see where that leads--like what Rennie's doing." Careers, or at least any that sounded half-interesting, had more social requirements than she was willing to fulfill.

"Fair enough; some disciplines can be a bit restrictive in their commercial purposes. But do you mind if I ask about any..." Ricky grimaced. "...personal plans?"

"What, like marriage?" Hollie snorted. That might have been a cruel joke, had she been in the habit of denying her own flaws. "As if anyone would want to marry me."

"Actually, uh... I kind of want to marry you."

...huh. She'd never quite realized just how low her jaw could fall. "What?"

"If you're interested, that is. And this wouldn't be until after you've graduated, so you've got a few years to think about it, if you need them."

Her interest. As if that was the problem. "You don't seriously expect me to believe that you don't have anyone better in mind."

"Hollyhock, you're a hell of a lot better than you give yourself credit for. I haven't considered anyone else; we get along, we know each other well, and you have the right combination of brains and political background to make an excellent duchess." Ricky cemented the compliment with a smile--and a blush on his cheeks as his eyes swept over her. "And I hope you don't mind me saying it, but you've really grown into a beautiful woman."

"Um... no, I don't mind." She'd never really seen much reason to agree, but that didn't she minded. "Thank you, I guess. If I told you 'yes', but then I changed my mind--would you understand? I'd understand for you."

"Of course I'd understand." He laced his arm beneath her own and hoisted her onto his lap. "But I'll tell right now that I won't be changing my mind."

She couldn't help it.

She rarely smiled quite so freely. "Then I believe things are looking well on my end too."



Van said...

Next post is the last of 1199--and, by extension, last of the twelfth century. Weird.

Winter said...

Yes!! This is what I was hoping for for Hollie! Barring any unforeseen issues, they'll make a very good couple. Armion is a sensible place led by low-drama people, which is perfect for Hollie. And it's nice to see Hollie smiling, too :D

I can't say I like the bags under Aspen's eyes in the preview shot...

Van said...

Being (future) duchess would be a good role for Hollie in that she can be as involved or uninvolved as she chooses to be at any given time; she'll be respected and her opinion will be valued, and it's a role that will allow her to grow, but she doesn't need to worry about being absolutely in charge or about micromanaging. Probably the best balance she could have hoped for at this point in her life. :)

I'll assure you right now that this particular ailment of Aspen's isn't too serious--just serious enough for Nato to have an excuse to stay home New Years' Eve.