Corthos and Gwen Scene
“She IS your sister. What good would come of you refusing to go to a dinner party?” Merrigold moved her head slightly to see her earrings more in the mirror, a small smile of vanity crossing over her. “It just seems terribly petty.” Corthos sighed deeply from the bed, “It is. It’s very petty. That’s why I want to do it.” Merrigold rolled her eyes and sighed back. “Cor….do it for Gwen. It’s family. People should be willing to do anything for family….even if they don’t want the lot it gives them in life.” There was a slight pause, and Corthos raised his head just enough to look at Merry. “Because if you don’t, and you lose Guinevere….you will always, always regret this decision.” A grumbling noise only vaguely connected to words came back, but as she looked into the mirror, Merry could see him moving slowly.
Corthos stood in front of the large oaken doors of the home of Alasdair Thrune, delaying greatly. He finally took one more deep breath, raising his fist and rapping against the door abruptly. It took a moment for a manservant to open the door, and Corthos followed him inside, taking care not to touch anything more than he had to – but still reaching out to nudge the queens portrait slightly off-center. There was a certain irony to the situation that did not escape him, causing him to laugh as he passed a painting of Barzellei Thrune on the hall. When the servant looked back at him, he waved it off with a small grin. As he was walked into the main room, the servant began to introduce him. “One Master Corthos Te-” Corthos had started to put his hand up to stop the man, but he was beaten to it by Guinevere Thrune. Dressed in a dark purple silken dress, Gwen crossed the room towards him, speaking softly. “He doesn’t need all of that, Joseph. He’s not real nobility, he’s family.” She laughed, clasping his hands in hers and planting a quick kiss on Corthos’ cheek. He returned the favor.
“You look lovely, Gwen. Prettiest thing in a pit of vipers.” Gwens eyes narrowed slightly as she stepped back. “Corthos….I almost thought you wouldn’t come.” He shrugged his shoulders and handed his coat to the servant. “I almost didn’t. But, you know….family. I couldn’t refuse you. If I had, then who else could I complain about Alphonse to?” Gwen turned on her heel, gesturing for him to follow. “The dinner is almost ready. And Corthos, please don’t talk about your issues with father. I get it, you and him are not the same mind. But…he is also family.” With a flourish, she opened the last door into a dining room with a table filled with food. She made a slight bow. “Alasdair, my brother has finally seen fit to come to a dinner invitation. Could you please inform the cooks?” Her husband stood up, crossing to embrace Corthos. A large man wearing the casual doublet of the Thrune nobility, he wrapped his arms around the leaner man, clapping him hard on the back. “I appreciate that you finally came to dinner with your family. Gwen has talked so much about you, and I had spoken with you so little.” He stepped back, shaking Corthos’ hand heartily. “I must go tell the cooks, however.”
Corthos watched him leave, taking a long moment before speaking. His eyes caught Gwen’s and there was a moment of hesitation before he began to speak. “It’s really very impressive. You’ve taught him to use silverware? Personally, I still think you shouldn’t let him on the furniture.” Gwen tried her best not to smile, taking a moment before rebuking him. “Corthos….he is my husband, and you are in his home. Please, try to behave.” Corthos shook his head. “He’s not your husband by any choice you made. He is a boorish, clumsy, dull garter snake from a house full of asps, and Alphonse decided that you were something that he was willing to part with.” Gwen looked down, an odd sadness crossing over her eyes as she spoke. “Corthos….maybe this isn’t the best idea. Alasdair is not a bad husband, nor is he a bad man. Can you…please, for me….can you try to behave like a gentleman and a noble tonight? Not the joke that my brother has become, the one that drinks and stays in whore’s beds like a common gutter rat.” Corthos stopped for a long moment, oddly quiet for the first time in days.
“If that would make you happy, Winnie….” Guinevere crinkled her nose at the old nickname, shaking her head as he continued. “….I will try. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.” She opened her mouth to protest, but stopped as Ala returned to the room. Laughing, he threw an arm over Corthos’ shoulder, leading him back to the table. “My boy, there are many rumors about you that one hears out there. Perhaps we can sit down and find the truth?” Corthos continued to look down, his tone flat and neutral.
Several hours later, he found himself sitting in the hall of the Lion, waiting for Merrigold’s room to open. When her gentleman caller left, a tall and older ship captain that Corthos watched leave with lightly concealed disdain, he stood and walked into the room. Merrigold was still getting herself re-dressed, clad in only her undergarments, and he found him averting his eyes – an oddly humble gesture from a not humble man in a not humble place. He glanced back as he heard her voice. “How did it go?”
Corthos sat on the edge on the bed, taking a long time to find the words he wanted. “Not good. Merry….how do you convince someone that you aren’t a joke when joking is pretty much all you know?” Merrigold sat behind him, softly running her fingers through his hair as her other hand counted his coin. She spoke quietly. “6 hours tonight. Must have been rough.” She paused. “I’ll get the tea.”