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Interdimensional Etiquette (or, The Queen in the Library)

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry, you’re going to have to explain this to me again,” huffed the Dowager Countess, “I simply cannot understand.”

“I think you’ll find, Mama, that you simply do not wish to understand. Its quite straightforward. The Chief Minister’s nephew, Nicholas Sayre, is escorting the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, someone called, actually, I’m not quite sure how to say it - Lireel, or Lirael I think, from the spelling, around the country on a sort of, semi-official visit, so I’ve invited them to stay. It seemed like the least we could do to help repair the damage after that dreadful business in Corvere,” explained Lord Grantham.

“I utterly fail to see the connection between a lot of populist rabble-rousers blowing things up in the capital, and you’re entertaining some sort of - Northern barbarian, in this house.” The Dowager Countess said.

“What precisely is an ‘Abhorsen-in-Waiting’?” Lady Mary asked, “it sounds terribly odd.”

“The Abhorsen is something to do with their religion, I think, like a sort of Archbishop” Mr. Crawley said, before Lord Grantham could, “so the Abhorsen-in-Waiting would be some sort of heir to the position I assume.”

Lord Grantham opened his mouth as if to correct him, but shut it again without saying anything.

“Well, I’m certain they’ll make for an interesting houseguest,” Lady Mary.

“Oh I’m sure it will be quite straight forward,” said Lord Grantham, “we’ll hold a dinner or two, show them the house and the estate, nothing unusual.”

“Well I think it’ll be terribly exciting, to have a visitor from the Old Kingdom,” said Lady Sybil, “they’ll probably have marvellous stories, about adventures, and magic.”

“Oh do stop being silly Sybil,” said Lady Edith, “you’re too old to believe in all that nonsense. Its made up. They’re not going to be any different from any other diplomat. It will probably be quite dull.”

“Well,” said her Ladyship, “I’m sure it will be nice to entertain a pair of young men.”

Although he was standing across the drawing room, Mr. Carson thought her smile looked slightly forced, as she said it.

“Are they going to be two men though?” Lady Sybil asked, “Queen Sabriel is the Abhorsen now, and she’s a woman, so the Abhorsen-in-Waiting might be a woman as well.”

“Yes, but the country was in chaos when King Touchstone and Queen Sabriel took power,” Lord Grantham explained, “they hadn’t had a real monarch in two hundred years, or even a regency in twenty. But things are more settled there now, so I suspect things will have gone back to normal and the Abhorsen-in-Waiting will be a young man. Besides, he apparently fought at Fortwin’s Mill. Its one of the reasons the Chief Minister is so eager to make him welcome.”

Lady Sybil looked a little crestfallen.