afternoon at mother's house. Subject: Look who's back among the living Who: Mary Roper Where: A park near Anna's rented townhouse in the fashionable section of town. Warnings: none Open to: whoever
The young lady's eyes were wide and dreamy, her face serene if not exactly happy. Her dress was new and the latest thing from Paris. Anna had made it her immediate mission to begin her daughter's new career as the daughter of Italian nobility- there were already papers attesting that Cesare Manzoni was her father and her name was to be Mariana Lidia dei patrizi Manzoni. She even had a circlet to wear when they went to Italy. So the dress was new, the shoes.. everything. She'd not returned to Harry's house and she supposed now she might never get the opportunity though she missed Lady Jane's kind unwavering face. Mother was insistent about the rounds of balls and parties they were to attend now, and there always seemed to be more of them. She was to be a courtesan perhaps, Mother said but it would be better to marry first. Advantageously. Added to those were lessons on Italian, literature and a madcap running through of politics and etiquette and fashionable dances. She'd scarcely had a chance to breathe, much less consider her decision to be here at all...
Mother said she was lucky- if only Mother had had someone to teach her all this so early on she might have achieved even greater fortunes and titles. Mariana had tried her best to look grateful though she was none too sure she wanted much part of it. The games her mother enjoyed were difficult and for all their edges didn't have the razors of old Jon's or Slater's, there were dark places as well.
She sat delicately as she had seen other real ladies do- back straight and shoulders positioned just so, head at a certain angle as she turned at the sound of footsteps. "Good afternoon, Miss Manzoni," a passerby said. He was familiar, well-dressed, his features more handsome than not. Probably an acqauintance from the last party... the one the other night at Lady... oh, Lady Someone's. She nodded without much interest though she summoned a warm smile and smoothed the cream skirt of her dress.
"Good afternoon," she said with a small nod. Even the voice was barely her own, the accent copied from her mother's, complete with occasional slight accents hinting at time spent abroad. He tipped his hat.
"I hope I may still call on you tomorrow?"
"Indeed. I shall be counting the hours," she said with a smile she told herself was real.
A few more moments of idle chatter passed, the man smiling and her own gaze admiring, and then he left and she settled back into the safer confines of her imagination as she gazed down the path that would lead her back to Mother's house. There the palace of Paribanou stood, grand and great and empty; masked from mortal eyes and to it she was bound to return. But there was no returning whence she had come, for that way lay only an emptiness more vast than any fairy cavern and twice as dark. She had bound herself to the djinn and what came before could never come again- going onward was the only chance. This new game brought a chance for leaving everything where it ought to be. With a sigh, Mariana Lidia dei patrizi Manzoni rose from her seat and began making her way along the path which would lead her to her mother and another round of parties.