Continuities » Silmaril » North » qualifications
Jul 27, 2017 4:33 AM
Iobel and not!Elves
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He likes to think he wants power for good reasons like to fix the canals and solidify decent trade policies and fund magical research in a more transparent and predictable way, but sometimes he worries that he just wants power so he won't feel trapped like this. He feels desperately trapped. The King is dying and his heir hasn't shown up to court in two years - working on a new spell, of course, and it'll be a brilliant spell, but unless it lets Mitros impersonate him at state dinners it won't suffice to make up for zero interest in attending them.

"It's all yours," his father says wearily whenever Mitros raises this.

All Mitros's. As soon as he gets married. The law's two hundred years old and his father thinks it's ridiculous and yet there it stands.

Plenty of those have been political marriages but all of the participants have been at least willing to feign sincere interest in making children together. 

Fix the canals and solidify decent trade policies and fund magical research and transparency and predictability and pretend to be straight until your hold on power is secure enough.

They talk about it for a couple months. Then there's an ambassadorial dispute that escalates far past the point where it should have and spells are thrown. And Mitros's father is trying to learn a spellchart and the guards have been told to bodily stop anyone who interrupts him at his work.

He makes up his mind.

 

 

Finankar, for all he likes to complain that Mitros can read him like a book, can do nearly the same thing, so when he comes in he stops short at the door and raises an eyebrow and Mitros is unsure whether he should be grateful that he didn't even have to say anything. 

Then Finankar kisses him and he wonders if somehow he read him wrong. He turns away. "Need to tell you something."

"Yeah. But once you say it I am going to leave so first shut the fuck up."

"You're not going to change my mind."

"Figured. I can't - stop you from trying. I am not going to help you betray whoever you're trying with. Want to say goodbye."

So he returns the kiss and then deepens it and when Finankar glares at him challengingly he removes their clothes.

 

He waits to say it until much later that evening, when it's been quiet a while and they're lying there holding on too tightly. "I don't see how I have a choice."

"Yeah."

"It is not that I want the crown more than I love you."

"Oh, Mitros. Of course it is."

"If I thought there was an equally qualified King or that my father was even a marginally qualified King I wouldn't do it. The country not having good leadership isn't something that could weigh too little if I loved you too much. And I've been miserable ever since I made the decision and I'd be delighted if you came up with another solution and I'm sorry -"

Finankar starts getting dressed. 

"Once she and I have talked about it, if she turns out to be reasonable about that kind of thing -"

"You'll what, come win me back?"

"Do I have leave to try?"

"It will take a lot of winning."

He smiles weakly. "I'm very winning."

"Who's the lucky girl?"

 

"Don't know."

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She can dance now! That's as good a reason as any to trot out to her great-aunt's party, for all that it's hours in boats and Cricket complains about how much water there is in the canals the entire way ("would you prefer to walk, kitty?" "no, of course not"). The snacks are delicious. A cousin whose name Iobel just manages to call to mind teaches her a dance and she wades into the crowd with a spring in her step.
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He's been moping for a month - no, drawing up selection criteria for a month - but it's actually not at all on his mind when he sees her; what is on his mind is that he doesn't know her name and he knows everyone's names, usually, at things like these. 

So he makes as much of a beeline as one can make at these things, which is not very much of it.

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"...hello, have we met?" she says, when it's obvious from the receiving end that he's headed in her direction.
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"We haven't! I got it into my head to correct that. Mitros."

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- oh, that's one of the ridiculous number of princes, she really should have recognized him but there are so many. "Iobel. Pleased to meet you."
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"Likewise!" He gestures vaguely at the air above him. "Antir's flying around up there, I am not even sure where, but she can hear us and will refuse to help me remember your name if I neglect to mention hers."

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"Cricket," she points, he's winding around her feet, "can hear us too but will probably refer to you exclusively by impolite epithet whether I introduce him or not because he's very rude."
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"Oooh, what's my impolite epithet? Among family it's 'politician', and I think across the sea it's 'mind-speller' which I promise I do not have and would abhor it's just that everyone else gets tired of tax negotiations much sooner than I do."

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"Do you want me to ask him to come up with one on the spot? He may not have one in mind this quickly."
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"Can I have a dance? Perhaps that'll give him some time."

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"Sure! I couldn't dance until just recently, I had two left feet both of which belonged to poorly coordinated people who hated each other, but I finally fixed it. This does mean the only dance I know is the reel, though."
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"Oh, congratulations. That would explain why I haven't seen you around these before. We can do the reel, or I can do a bad job of teaching you something else if you'd like an expanded repertoire."

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"Well, you tell me, does this song work for a reel?"
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"Well enough!"

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"Reel it is then." She holds out her hand.
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He takes it. He is a good dancer and also has the advantage that people clear space for him.

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Cricket stops being underfoot when she dances. She steps very nimbly but doesn't consistently remember all the bits to the dance; she gets better at that as the song proceeds. "So do you spellbind much or have your familiar for other reasons?"
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"Other reasons, mostly, we get along splendidly and I loathe forgetting things and forgetting how to speak to someone -" He shudders. "I'd spellbind more if I thought I could make any progress on improved recall or working memory, I want both rather dearly. But if that were easily done someone would have found it a long time ago. You must be quite good if you invented something for dancing with two hostile left feet." 

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"It took some doing, but I'm a professional."
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"Oh? Somewhere I've heard of?"

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"Probably not. I do live in the capital and publish spellcharts but mostly I just run a little shop and as far as I'm aware it has never been frequented by royalty."
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"You might not notice, there are far too many of us. I suggested a royal initiative to dye everyone's hair the color of mine so new diplomats and new housekeepers and so forth stood a chance of knowing. It went over poorly. Your own shop? What sort of specialty?"

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"Miscellaneous hexes and books of spells. My bestseller's a box that holds more than it ought to and needs a password to open. I also sell a surprising number of clocks."
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"Research projects in the works, or are those secret?"

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"Nothing secret. In addition to more tractable projects I've got long-term hopes of teleportation and immortality."
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