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Prologue

She was ten years old when she fell in love.

He was barely twenty, but he had already been Lord for four years, and father to his siblings. He was cold and haughty and wore his power like a silken cloak around his shoulders - it was as much a part of him as the colour of his eyes.

She was pudgy and shy but already showing signs of her father's brilliance, a worthy successor to the best Royal Historian in the land.

Which was why he allowed her father to bring her along when he was hired. Two Royal Historians for the price of one - at least until she came of age, completed her apprenticeship and was inducted into the Guild.

Meggie sighed silently as he walked towards her. He was tall, long-legged, lean and so handsome he made her catch her breath if he caught her unawares - even after fourteen years and far too much familiarity. He was still cold and haughty, and he still wore his power like a silken cloak. She was still pudgy and shy and desperately in love.

“Meggie,” he greeted in his usual coolly indifferent tone, as remote and unfeeling as the Wall that surrounded the country.

“My lord,” she replied just as coolly, even though she felt anything but and actually thought she'd melt - or spontaneously combust - as she met his eyes.

“How does your father fare? The King has called a Meeting of Royals, and I need my Royal Historian to record the happenings.”

Meggie shook her head. “He's better than before but he's in no shape to travel to the Centre. If he were to go now, the trip may kill him.”

“Hmmm,” Lord Lyon frowned, and stared into space. Even he, with all his power and wealth, couldn't make a sick man well. Meggie was also slightly stretching the truth. Her father was better than before, true, but he would never again be a healthy man. He was dying, and they both knew it, but neither wanted to state that fact out loud, especially not to the man now standing in front of Meggie. Lyon would never cast them out; after the last fourteen years, they were as close to him as his family - which was to say, he held them in cold and remote regard and felt he owed them his protection. They were now simply another part of his duty, and Meggie didn't have the heart to tell either her father or Lyon how much that feeling of obligation galled her.

She realized Lyon was staring at her, his eyes sharp and penetrating, and she flushed, then lifted her chin and held his gaze.

“You're very young, Meggie,” he said, his voice smooth as velvet but coolly disinterested.

“Young. Not very young,” she replied.

“Too young to be our Historian for this event.”

Meggie glared.

“You have not yet finished your apprenticeship.”

“If I had started as soon as I came of age, I would have finished last year." She stopped abruptly. It wasn't as if it was her father's fault he'd fallen ill.

“And what were your plans, little Meggie?” Lyon purred, and her pulse leapt, even as she hated herself for the reaction. She wasn't sure if Lyon felt anything for anyone except a cold and distant attention to duty. She wasn't even sure he felt physical desire.

“A Royal House of my own,” she replied honestly.

He raised an eyebrow. “You would have left us? Left your father?”

“It's what Historians do,” she said. “We train apprentices, both to take our own place and to find their own. If things had gone as planned -” She frowned, pressing her lips together.

“He's dying, isn't he?” Lyon said, and his voice was surprisingly gentle.

Meggie considered him for a long, silent moment. “You've known all along,” she replied slowly.

“Yes. Probably much sooner than you did.”

“Why didn't you say anything?”

Lyon was silent for a thoughtful moment. “He's been a source of great wisdom to me. In many ways, a great comfort as well. And a friend. I didn't want to be the first to admit it. It...wasn't honourable of me, because you're his daughter, and you shouldn't have to be the first to admit it, either."

Meggie stared at him, astonished. “I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said about him.”

Lyon gave a thin-lipped smile. “Don't expect it again.”

She laughed slightly at that. “I won't. You're right. I haven't finished my apprenticeship, and still require two years of training to do so. But Corter House still needs an Historian for the Meeting of Royals. What are you going to do?”

“Your father is the best Royal Historian - but he's far from the only one. Lady Kensey has always boasted about the skills of her Historian and has always claimed he was the best. As much as I hate to give her any credence, no matter how small, I'll give her this opportunity to prove Royce's worth.” He smiled a thin, mirthless smile. "It will give her something to hold over me. Perhaps her triumph in this area will soften her towards me during our inevitable debates. Or at least during one of them."

Meggie bit her lip, wanting to volunteer for the duty and wishing she had a counter argument to Lyon's suggestion, but there was none. Regardless of all she'd learned from her father, she was not yet a Royal Historian, and therefore couldn't fulfill that role for this Meeting of Royals. To do so would threaten her ability to ever complete her apprenticeship and be admitted into the Guild.

“You'll be my Royal Historian after your father, Meggie," Lyon assured her quietly. "I have faith you'll be as brilliant as he was. But you can't do it yet.”

“You're right,” she sighed. “When do you go?”

“We leave the day after tomorrow. We'll be gone for three weeks, perhaps four. Longer, if the King commands it.”

Meggie nodded. It was the normal way of things.

“How long do you think your father has?” Lyon asked.

Meggie shook her head and shrugged, blinking back tears. “It's difficult to say. He's rallied in the last few days - but it's truly only a matter of time. However,” she added with a faint smile, “you should be able to go to the Centre for a few weeks. I expect my father will still be alive when you return.”

“I hope so. I would hate to have anything happen to him in my absence.”

“As would he.”

“And you?”

Meggie frowned at him, thrown off by the question. “Me?” she echoed. “I'd hate to have anything happen to him, whether you're here or not.”

Lyon gave her a thin, humorless smile. “Not quite what I meant, but I understand the sentiment. I'll go pay my respects, if he's awake.”

“He'd like that,” Meggie nodded. She watched as he walked into her father's bedroom, languid grace in every movement.

Meggie's father died that night, delaying Lyon and his family's journey to the Centre. They left the day after her father's funeral, a week after the original summons from the King.

It would be three years before Meggie saw Lyon again.

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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
lorrainemarker
Jan. 4th, 2012 04:35 am (UTC)
It's way to late at night for me to gobble down this entire story in a single sitting. However, I'm now tightly caught in the trap of your Prologue and plan to tab the masterpost for full perusal at my leisure (when ever that magic moment actually occurs). Also, I was wondering if you have a PDF download available somewhere?
shirleyann66
Jan. 4th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
Hee - I know it's a bit too long for a single sitting. :) I'm glad to hear you're caught by the Prologue though!! :D

I don't have a pdf download available (at the moment; I'm posting from my work computer and I'm having "issues").

I do, however, have an .rtf version available here: http://www.mediafire.com/?r9fh3qb55l0xonu , and a text version available here: http://www.mediafire.com/?38aodkf9c0c9agt .

Hopefully these links work for you; I've never used this site before, so please let me know if you have trouble with the links. :)
blindmadness
Jan. 14th, 2012 10:32 pm (UTC)
I am loving this so far! Already so intrigued by these characters and this world. Poor Meggie, pining so much, and I do like Lyon, despite myself -- I like how moments of humanity peek out from his remoteness. And the entire quiet progression of Meggie's father in the background is so sad. I can't wait to see where this is going!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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Historian's Daughter

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