White Rose

BY : OriginalCeenote
Category: X-men Comics > FemSlash - Female/Female
Dragon prints: 10105
Disclaimer: I do not own the X-Men fandom. Marvel Entertainment owns these characters. I make no money from the writing of this story.

“EMMA! Lazy wretch, get up here!”

 A much put-upon sigh escaped her rosy lips. “Coming,” she called back, making her voice as conciliatory as possible. Adrienne was in one of her moods, so her book would have to wait. Emma left her laundry in the basket, half of it swaying in the morning breeze from the clothesline.

 Adrienne ducked her brunette head out the upper story window. “I need my dress hemmed today! I won’t go into town stumbling over it and dragging it in the mud! Honestly! You’re no help!” she complained. “I’ll tell Father you’ve been wasting time again.” Emma was already on her way back into the house, following the sound of her sister’s shrill, nasal voice as she climbed the steps. Cordelia met her at the top and shook her head.

 “I don’t know why you bother with that garbage,” she muttered.

 “Reading builds your mind,” Emma sniffed, quoting her father’s lecture to them from one night over supper.

 “Could’ve fooled me. Yours is always in the clouds.” Cordelia pinched her as Emma brushed past. Emma retaliated by “accidentally” trodding upon her eldest sister’s foot. Cordelia screeched and gave chase, but Adrienne pounced first. She shoved the sewing box into Emma’s hands and gripped her slender upper arm, propelling her into the room. There, she tripped over a small ottoman and landed in an ungainly heap, unable to catch herself with her hands full. Adrienne enjoyed these casual abuses whenever their father was away from their modest cottage.

 “Do it now,” Adrienne hissed. “Or I’ll make you sorry.” She flung the dress at Emma, and sourly her younger sister noticed that the hem was torn loose, stitches broken where it had been torn free from careless wear.

 “That hem was fine when I did it the first time,” Emma accused. Cordelia smirked as she ran her brush through her long, dark tresses at the vanity.

 “Adrienne had an accident.”

 “Hush, you,” Adrienne threatened, pinching her. Emma chuckled, and Adrienne hurried forward and pinched her, too. Emma hissed and brandished the sewing shears, but Adrienne held up her hand in warning.

 “I’ll tell Father. Don’t you <i>dare.</i>”

 What bothered Emma the most was the false sense of security that holding the sharp tool gave her. Adrienne was vicious and unpredictable, and she’d learned to watch her back since she was a small child. At seventeen, things hadn’t changed much, except that Emma’s father left his daughters to their own devices more now that they were old enough to look after themselves, so that he could devote himself to his travels.

 It was a hard life. Her mother, Hazel, died of consumption when Emma was only five. Winston Frost was ill-equipped to deal with raising three daughters without his wife’s counsel, nurturing nature and feminine intuition. His only son, Christian, was hopeless around their humble farm, but he bore his youngest sister no ill will. Emma lived vicariously through her brother’s mischief, eyes growing wide at his tales of bar brawls and intimate indiscretions. While he did little to lighten Emma’s workload in the fields or around the house, he didn’t treat her as poorly as their sisters did.

 She adored Christian, and Emma didn’t let her brother’s unconventional preferences weaken their bond. Adrienne, on the other hand, found Christian’s exploits with other men detestable.

 “Be quick about it,” Adrienne finally snapped. The shears quivered in Emma’s hand. Adrienne roughly slapped them from her hand, sending them flying. “Make sure to stitch it properly, this time, and don’t make it crooked.”

 Emma took the linen gown by the hearth and bent to her sewing, redoing the tiny, neat row of stitches as her sister’s gossiped at the vanity. As she sewed, she let her mind wander back to the book she had to abandon about the rogue pirate captain and his ebony-sailed ship, chasing fortune by scurrilous means. She longed to see the world beyond their humble farm, even though she worried about the day she would have to leave her father behind.

Emma longed for a life of adventure and higher education. She was naturally bright, curious, and mechanically inclined like her father, and she shunned the prospect of entering a contract of marriage that would leave her in much the same circumstances that she was now: A woman who worked in the fields, slaved away in the house, and who tended little ones with snotty noses and growling bellies. It would be no different than living out the rest of her life as her sisters’ maidservant.

 Emma hung the finished gown from the peg beside the armoire and hurried back outside to the clothesline and her book, but just as she anchored the last corner of the last bed sheet, she heard Adrienne screeching at her again.

 “Father said you’re to take the eggs to market!”

 “You’re going into town, anyway! You can do it,” Emma argued as she shielded her eyes from the midday sun with her hand and glared up at her sister. Adrienne sneered and disappeared from the window, telling Emma that her sister wanted to bawl her out at close range. She rolled her eyes and took her time picking up the basket and extra clothespins and putting them back into the jar. Her sister tore out of the doorway, livid, and red spots of rage shone on her cheeks.

 “You’re not doing anything worthwhile, anyway, except sitting around with your nose in a book,” Adrienne hissed. “I’m to meet Donald at the Wild Duck in an hour.”

 “Donald Pierce?” Emma clucked her tongue. “Father hates him.”

 “It doesn’t matter what Father thinks. And you won’t open your mouth if you’re smart.”

 “Something you’ve never accused me of,” Emma countered, narrowing her light blue eyes. “He’ll take off running once he discovers you’ve no dowry, and that Father’s nearly penniless.”

 “Father’s waiting for his luck to turn,” Adrienne insisted, but a bit of the wind left her sister’s sails.

 “If it hasn’t turned by now, I can’t see it happening any time soon.” Emma retreated to the barn to feed the chooks, filling a pan with seed from a large burlap sack in the corner. “I want him to find his ship as badly as you do, but I’ve learned not to wish for what I cannot have.”

 “You think you’re so wise,” Adrienne muttered. She reached out and yanked a lock of her sister’s enviably golden hair just to vex her.

 “Ow!”

“Father will find his ship. Then our fortune will come back to us,” Adrienne vowed.

“You mean his fortune.” Emma knew her sister still had visions of a sizable dowry dancing in her head.

 “Cordy and I will be able to hold our heads up again.”

 “Your nose isn’t having any such trouble.”

 “Bitch.” Adrienne sighed. “It’s fine for you to live here in squalor. You’ve no prospects, anyway. You’re hardheaded as Bessie.” And Adrienne decided that she wasn’t even giving the family mule enough credit for being more pleasant than her youngest sister.

 “I’ll leave this farm on my own efforts, by my own hard work,” Emma promised. “Tell Donald not to rip your skirt this time when he tries to flip it over your head.”

 “OOOOOH!” Adrienne swung her open palm, but Emma quelled her with a look.

 “Don’t get ahead of yourself, sister.” Adrienne felt as well as heard her sister’s voice, in her ears and inside the chambers of her mind, and she shivered. Lightning seemed to spark in Emma’s eyes, and her lips were mulishly thin. She felt a chill in her belly that traveled up her spine. Adrienne backed away, but she glared at Emma.

 “Get a fair price on those eggs. Father’s depending on it.” She flounced out of the barn, hoping that Emma wouldn’t notice how she sped up as she reached the house. Emma snickered under her breath.

 “Coward.”

 

*

 

Winston searched the shoreline with a battered collapsible scope, searching for signs of wreckage and his trademark white sails. The day already felt fruitless, and he’d only been out on the beach for two hours following his meager breakfast of tea and a stale biscuit. The day was cold and breezy, and he stifled a curse at the drafts that worked their way up under his old, battered coat. For days, he’d combed the shore and come up with next to nothing from the remains of his ship. Bandits, gleaners and squatters had already been there, looting the ruined hull of all of its treasures – his goods – leaving his hopes of regaining his fortune dashed.

 “Damn it,” he muttered as he tucked the scope back into its case. His daughters would be so disappointed. He hated to return to the farm with more bad news.

 Emma would welcome him home with open arms; of that, he had no doubt. Cordelia and Adrienne, on the other hand… Winston sighed. He knew his two older daughters were spoiled, and while Christian didn’t share his sisters’ avarice, he was hardly a model son, justifying Winston’s belief that he wasn’t destined to remain a simple farmer. After all, a man who worked the land needed to have big, strong sons to handle the plow and take the reins after he passed. Christian was a born hedonist, almost as pretty and useless as Adrienne and Cordelia, even though he made weak attempts to conceal his exploits.

 The tide didn’t turn in Winston’s favor the night he learned two of his ships sank on their way back from the Indies. Hundreds of pounds worth of silks, teas, hemp, perfumes, blown glass and jewels went down with the first when it was boarded by pirates. Three of Winston’s couriers were brutally dispatched and the boat was left washed ashore, stripped of lumber and sails. He gave up hope for the second after three weeks went by with no word or sign of it at the docks.

 He was nearly ruined, having invested his profits into this last trade. He’d had to close his shops in the local market, much to his daughters’ horror. His wife’s physical decline followed fast on the heels of his loss, leaving him a widower and broken man. They eked out a hand-to-mouth existence. He held out hope that his daughters would marry well and that Christian would manage to find meaningful, profitable work. Emma was his pride, even though she broke his heart; she was too good for the local men who sought her attentions, quick-witted and ambitious, and far less promiscuous as Adrienne. He rued the day that his youngest would have to compromise her dreams for marriage. It was their lot in life. Beggars truly couldn’t choose.

 Winston sighed and made his way back to his rickety wagon. His matched pair of Clydesdales nickered at him, eager to head for shelter. They smelled an impending storm in the surf and longed to bury their muzzles in sacks of oats. He climbed up onto the seat, a feat made difficult by burgeoning arthritis. He urged the horses back toward the trail, planning to head toward the valley. Perhaps there would be further word from his contacts in town.

 

*

 

The small of ozone and the crackle of static suffused the imposing castle in the hills, whipping the trees that obscured its rusted iron gates. Crows took flight on wings that resembled glistening claws against the soupy gray sky.

 Long, furry fingers ending in black talons opened the sumptuous red velvet drapes with the thick, golden cord. The building storm met with the creature’s approval, some of her finer handiwork. When she wept, the whole world wept with her. She silently counted the seconds as thunder drummed in the distance, waiting for that first stunning, blinding snap of lightning. When it arrived, the fur rose along her back, bristling with anticipation and excitement.

 She longed to hurl herself into it and paint the sky with her rage, but something restrained her. She settled for throwing open the windows, letting the shutters bang back; the rush of the wind stirred her hair, whipping tendrils of it loose from her shaggy braid. Something flickered through the trees from her vantage point high on the hill, and she heard hooves clopping along the rocky trail.

 A wagon. A stranger. Obviously, whoever it was hadn’t heard the rumors circulating in the valley. Her lips curled with disdain. Fool.

 

The thunder rolled through the sky, making the ground tremble. She relished it, closing her murky eyes and letting the energy course through her body. All around her, she felt the shifting patterns of electricity and dancing ions, knowing they submitted to her whims.

 Yet she felt empty.

 She heard the hoofbeats slow and pause. She manipulated her winds to carry the sounds upward to her ears, where she discerned low, grumbling male curses. He sounded old and haggard, clearly not fit for the current conditions or for prolonged travel. She didn’t pity him. Not much.

 She felt the pull of some odd emotion in her breast.

 

“Mistress? Can I fetch you some tea?”

 “Not yet. Wait.” Her nostrils twitched. “We may be having company soon.”

 



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