G R A C E   O F   S U N D A Y S

Written on July 3, 2019 (♋)

Author's Notes: Symbolic plants. I'm always here for symbolic plants. I'm also apparently here to ship Dycedarg with a character who has no in-game appearances because I am convinced that he is Orinus' father, and I will continue in this conviction until Yasumi Matsuno comes to my home and personally bests me in mortal combat. I rather blatantly took a few elements of the characters and their relationship from moemachina's "Horns," although I obviously put a different spin on it. Title taken from the Coventry Carol, as this is a very 'massacre of the innocents' holiday piece. The vaccas seeds are a reference to an in-game mini-quest involving a brewery.

In any event, rue is an abortificant, a symbol for disdain, a plant used to sprinkle holy water at masses (hence the title, which is another Hamlet allusion), and it is the one herb that a cockatrice's glare cannot wither. It also does, in fact, cause chemical like burns on your skin if you get its juice on you, and I can say from personal experience that they really really suck.

It was not yet dawn when Ruvelia awoke to the sound of birdsong, and realizing that some agent of her brother's would no doubt be along to collect her shortly, she got out of bed and began to look about for the thick wool cloak they'd had her wear over her shift. Finding it, she wrapped it in her arms and stopped a long moment to gaze out the thin slitted window, taking in for a moment the scent of distant apple blossoms and new turned earth as she thought to herself again and again what it was to be back in Gallione.

"Come back to bed, Rue," Dycedarg said, creeping up behind her to bury his face in her neck. "It won't do to have anyone see your fair face shining from my window."

She took a deep breath as he trailed kisses across her throat, playfully tangling a hand in his hair with a bit more force than tenderness.

"I didn't recall you being in any position to give me orders."

"I think the present position we're both in calls for some reconsideration of protocol," he said playfully. "Besides, if you wanted somebody deferential, you ought have bedded another Beoulve."

She allowed herself to be maneuvered away from the offending window, and eventually back to the bed. As the sky began to purple, she wondered what had changed outside of the walls of Igros, thinking on days when the former duke had let his daughter ride in the midst of his hunters, old knights laughing at the novelty of some sylph of a girl carving the pads and bush from a fallen fox.

"Bestrald didn't precisely give me leave to pick my suitors," she replied quietly.

"I'd think a queen might have a little more latitude in selecting her own but..." He tousled her hair. "I'm not objecting to the arrangement."

"It is a purely transaction one, you do understand?"

He gestured melodramatically as though he'd been struck through the heart, falling backwards in a mock swoon. "Gads! You wilt me, Rue!"

"I also didn't recall giving you leave to call me that." She smiled as she sighed. "Besides a man versant in poisoncraft..."

Dycedarg sat up, suddenly looking very grave. "Careful now," he said sternly.

"Rue is an herb for disdain, is it not?"

"It's an herb for many things. Things you ought not be thinking on."

As he spoke, he laid a hand gently on the small of her belly, looking at her intently as he let a great number of things go unspoken. She placed her own hand over it, gripping him tightly until her knuckles whitened and her nails left small crescents in skin. Both of them were still for a moment, barely breathing as they heard the echo of footsteps approach and fade in the long hall.

"I was not thinking of that," she whispered sharply. "I was thinking of what it does to those who pluck it incautiously."

"Refresh my memory."

"They end up burnt by its touch."