Actions

Work Header

Florilegium

Chapter Text

Honoria Lucasta sits in bed, listening to her husband’s stumbling progress up the stairs. She has not gone to see since the night she found Williams giving money to a cabman while his master leaned heavily against the doorpost. When the house is quiet again, she gets up (ungainly with pregnancy, she disturbs both Tiglath-Pileser and The Moon and Sixpence in the process.) She finds Gerald sprawled, snoring, and oblivious. He looks, she thinks, like a bad caricature of himself. She shivers with rage, now, rather than fear. His behavior takes them ever nearer to open scandal, and remains an untellable secret.

Dashing away tears, the Duchess catches a glimpse of something unexpected almost at her shoulder. She blinks, and looks again. Great-Uncle Roger -- Great-Uncle Roger, of all people! -- here, and at this time of night. The old guardsman’s watery grey eyes seem more melancholy than their wont. She’s sure that he’s aware of her, but he neither speaks nor looks in her direction. Instead, he stalks grimly, martially to the side of the bed. Gerald makes a noise marginally more uneasy than a snore. And then, to the Duchess’ astonishment, Great-Uncle Roger begins to pace.

He paces with a tread no less regular for being insubstantial; he paces over –- or through, thinks the Duchess distractedly -- the legs of his recumbent and insensible scion. Honoria Lucasta sighs with guilty delight, and feels long-held tension go out of her shoulders. She smiles beatifically up at Great-Uncle Roger, who acknowledges her with what she might almost think of as a wink. Oh, the blessed relief of not being alone any more! And, she reflects with satisfaction, as she gathers her robes about her, Gerald will feel like absolute hell in the morning.