Rating: PG-13 for angst, violence, language and some mature themes. Classic
A/N: Once again, my thanks to the lovely Carole and Vicky for their continued help and enthusiasm.
Summary: The aftermath of the scene in the Great Hall from “Arabesque”
Out flew the web and floated by
The mirror crack'd from side to side
“The curse has come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shallot
“The Lady of Shallot,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Father was never able to say, then or later, what had drawn him to the Great Hall that night. Perhaps it was some chore of Vincent's left undone, though Vincent was usually careful about such things and at the age of 15 was more than aware that some tasks could not be shirked. More likely it was something Lisa had left undone or done incorrectly. Not a few of the tunnel adults were put out with her; even as they acknowledged and were proud of her dancing talent, the fact remained that depending on Lisa for anything else was like looking to find the bottom of the Abyss. Impossible, and ultimately, a great waste of time.
He couldn't have said what drew him there, but he was glad he had gone. Father arrived just in time to see the desperate, clenching embrace of his son as he held Lisa tight, and the blood that welled from the scratches on her shoulder as she tried---and failed---to free herself. The fact that Vincent had nearly used those same claws on him as he called out his name was the most minor of the horrors welling from that night, and one that Father quickly disregarded as Vincent's sobbing mingled with Lisa's as she fled.
"It's all right," he murmured to his distraught son. But even then, he couldn't have said how anything would ever be all right again.
He met Mary in the hospital chamber as she was putting the iodine back in the cabinet. "Severe?" he asked, knowing who Mary had been treating.
"No," she replied. "Just some surface abrasions. I doubt she'll even scar." She finished folding the gauze, replaced that next to the iodine. "She's in her chamber, quite upset. What happened between her and Vincent?"
Father clenched his fists, upset that he hadn't seen this coming. The flirtation between Vincent and Lisa had been obvious for months and most of the tunnel dwellers had been amused by it, in the way of adults watching the teenagers they care for grow up, but Father had always been of two minds on the subject of Lisa. She had certainly needed them as a child but even then, there was something about her which had made him wary. Now, he dearly wished she'd found someone else, anyone else, to flirt with, instead of his son. "They argued," Father said curtly.
Mary ignored his tone, knowing him far too well to take it personally. "I see," she said, though she had yet to see the argument that would create that sort of wound pattern. Her heart hurt for both Lisa and Vincent. "Where is Vincent?"
"In his chamber," Father replied. "I wouldn't go in there just now."
Mary raised her eyebrows. "He's not...injured?"
Father shook his head. "Not physically. Emotionally, though..."
"But you'll talk to him?" Mary asked.
Father sighed. "Yes. For all the good that will do."
After some deliberation, Father set out for Lisa's chamber first. He found her sitting on the bed, staring out into space, and looking quite pale. "Lisa," he said.
She turned to look at him then, a singularly beautiful girl of perhaps 16 or 17--even Lisa didn't know for sure. "I came to check your wound," Father said, as evenly as he could.
Lisa vaulted off the bed and stood with her back against the wall. “It's fine. There's nothing to look at.”
“Why don't you tell me what happened, then?” Father said gently.
Lisa shrugged, rubbing her arms as if she were cold. “It's nothing. If you don't mind, I'd like to go back to practicing my dancing.”
Father thought of Vincent, who quite clearly loved---or thought he did---this chit of a girl. Who hadn't once expressed any concern for him, who was far more interested in her dance than she was in the well-being of her “dearest friend.”
“I see,” Father replied, seeing all too clearly and liking none of it. “I'd avoid any arm extensions for a few days, until it heals,” he continued. If she wanted her dance, he'd do his level best to make sure she got it. The sooner she left the tunnels, the better for all of them. “Has Madame Delacroix spoken to you?”
Lisa nodded. “She says I may come above and live with her while I train. But I really couldn't leave everyone.”
Leave your club of admirers, you mean. Including my son, my wounded and wounding son. “Indeed you can, Lisa. In fact, I insist upon it.”
Her brown eyes darkened. “You...do? You're making me leave?”
Father laughed, a sound with no humor in it. “Hardly, child. Madame Delacroix has told us many times how talented you are, that with more formal training you could perform on stage before the world. And she's asked us many times to let you go. Before, you were too young but now....we've grown too small for you, Lisa.”
“When am I to leave?”
“Tomorrow morning. Madame Delacroix will come for you.”
With that, he left. In the years to come, he was to turn this conversation over and over in his mind, wondering if he'd been too harsh on a young woman who'd been through a shattering experience of her own. But at the time, with Vincent's emotional well-being foremost on his mind, he couldn't bring himself to care. She was injured, but Vincent was hemorrhaging from wounds far less visible.
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2 months ago