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Livia Quinnick

Leading the Way
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There was a reason Livia made the request that her family did not make efforts to visit her, not until she had some control on her corrupting magic. That guilt she still bore, the one responsible for the death of her father.

Still, it did not lessen the love from her brothers. Even her mother showed a shred of understanding and forgiveness.

Livia had not expected to see her older brother Okko, despite Vel Anir being a place he would be seen in more likely than Livia would these days. She had another mission, plucked from class to find some important thing that the owner could be without. They had waved around enough money to convince the Dreadlords to fetch Livia Quinnick to keep the nobleman happy.

Only thing was, it had been opportune timing that Livia roped Silas into it too, insisting he would get here there quicker than the best horse in the Academy stables and that meant getting rid of the woeful noble.

That was almost an hour ago, and Livia dragged Silas around to walk the city and away from prying eyes of the Academy.

She had decided to wait outside a store when Okko approached her, wrapping his arms around his youngest sibling and twirled her around. Her arms had been pinned to her sides, but the laughter flowed from her easily.

"Kress, almost did not recognise you without your armoured uniform." Okko grinned wide, ruffling her hair as doing well to avoid her swatting hands.

Livia had forgotten that he had seen her months before outside the Elven Quarter, keeping the crowd back.


"As nice as it is to see you, Ko, I am on assignment. I cannot chat for long." She lied, looking up at the taller male. He was eight years older than her, but still retained that youthful look to him.

"Right. I am sure they can spare without you for a night. We heard you are doing better with your magic, Liv. I am proud of you."

Before she could protest, Okko wrapped his arms around her and squeezed. She stood there, not moving, until she realised she had missed her brother. Her arms squished him equally, earning her a chuckle from him. "You did it, Livs. Like you promised me... Someone said they saw you here, and... I had to find you. You also promised that you would come back home and have dinner with us. Fuck what Mother says about your outfit. Tonight. You are to come to dinner tonight."


"Tonight? Listen, Okko, I will do dinner... but I really have to go now..." But his arms did not release her. Her eyes could catch sight of Silas Artesto now making his way out from the store, and soon, see the Head of the House Quinnick present.

If she knew anything about her brothers, it was that they would enjoy any moment to tease her. Celebratory thoughts and proud brotherly love would be soon forgotten once Okko sees Livia, obviously not on assignment, accompanied by a handsome fellow Initiate. Her cheeks burned, now doing her best to push Okko away.


"Gods, Ko! Alright! Alright! I will do dinner now let me go!"
 
There had been a time in which one of Silas' deepest desires was for Livia Quinnick to stop playing with his heart, to come clean about the feelings she had for him, and to let him in at least enough so that he no longer had to be left wondering and confused about where they stood. Several weeks ago, that had finally happened: Livia confessed her love and every conflicting emotion that came with it, to him.

He now perhaps wondered if he'd completely thought his wishes through. To say that Quinnick's passion for exploring the new freedom they had to express themselves to one another was overwhelming was... somewhat of an understatement, perhaps. Livia wasted no chance to be close to him; if there were an errand to run which she could easily do alone, she'd bring him along. If there were an assignment in class, or in sparring that required a partner, she would ensure that the two of them ended up in a pair.

That wasn't to say Silas minded it. The way that Livia looked at him when nobody was watching, the way she seemed to glow whenever they were close to each other... it made him feel like the most desirable man in all of Arethil. It was addicting, being loved in the way that Livia loved him, and especially those fleeting moments in which he was able to return that love. They still weren't technically a couple; Liv was still skittish about their relationship being too public, but they were much closer to being one than they had been before.

Today was one such day that Liv had managed to steal him away, snatching an easy assignment in the city and bringing him along for a day without the other students to see them. Around the general public who didn't know them on sight, she was far less bashful. Artesto enjoyed it, having her hooked around his arm, the small, stolen kisses... She was almost an entirely different person.

He'd briefly ducked into a shop to grab something for her while she'd waited outside, but as he stood at the counter to pay for the small, wrapped confectionary, he heard Livia arguing with somebody outside, a man. Now, Silas would be lying if he said he'd been looking forward to defending her honor so soon after they grown close enough for such a thing to matter, but he wasn't about to let some random guy give his Quill a hard time, either.

Thanking the shopkeeper quickly, Silas ducked out of the door to see a man a bit older than he and Liv, grasping her arms with a cocked grin on his face.

"Hey!" Silas snapped. "You mind gettin' your mitts off of my girl?"
 
Livia froze in the arms of her brother, who slowly released her and regarded Silas and his words with a wicked glimmer. His eyes, the same olivine hue as Livia's, fell back down on the young Quinnick. "His girl. Has my little sister found herself a suitor?" Okko's grin only made Livia roll her eyes and look up at him with a lightly pleading face.

It went ignored.

Okko extended his hand to Silas, still retaining that wickedness to the situation. "Okko Quinnick. Your girl's Head of House." Ko chuckled, winking at Liv's openly pouting face. "Her favourite brother."


"Leave him alone, Ko. Leave me alone. I will see you at dinner where you can no doubt dangle this chance meeting before Mother and Ban." She shoved past her brother, coming to awkwardly stand beside Silas. It was such an odd feeling to do that, to stand beside a male she... loved, and face a member of her family. Especially her brother, Lord in title, although he loathed to use it.

Okko's face softened for a moment, and Livia was about to open her mouth to tell him off for making this weird, when he turned to bow his head to Silas. "Of course, a dinner invitation will be extended to your friend, Livs." He laughed at her expression, a mixture of dread, surprise, and mortified trying to wrestle a single look upon her face. "We need to show proof, do we not? You know, she had a line of boys every weekend wanting to spend time with her in our parlour room. It was bound to happen she picks one." Okko turned his head to give Silas a proper look, letting out a low whistle."An Initiate... Not bad Livs. Better than some Anirian Guard, or else I would have to say you are following in the footsteps of our wretched cousins on our mother's side."

Livia dropped her head, a hand covering her eyes as she sighed heavily.
"Mother would want us to dress nicely. This will not be just a family dinner, not if you have now invited a guest." With a sharp inhale, she lifted her head to meet her brother's gleeful gaze. "That is, if Silas even wants to come to a boring dinner party." She turned to look at him, managing a small smile that broke through her weary default speaking with her brother and his playful conversation. It was manageable with Ko alone, but once he inevitably involves Bannon?

Insufferable.


"The choice is yours. The family estate is a bit of a distance from the Academy, so an overnight stay would be wise. I doubt they would miss us for a night." Livia was fully aware of Silas' ability, throwing that suggestion out there for him to mull on. To suffer a dinner with a boy being brought home to her family was daunting, but the idea of showing Silas the place she grew up in? It made her giddy, excited even. The gardens were something she could proudly boast of to any soul. There was also that unspoken, forgotten tidbit to her warming to the invitation, that Silas would be there to support her once her eyes fall onto the front gates of the Estate.

The same ones that once held up the unresponsive body of her father a few years ago.

Silas Artesto
 
Little sister?

Oh gods, what had he just done?

Silas felt the anger in his body turn to dread as soon as he connected the dots in front of him; This wasn't some random man harassing Livia, it was her brother. And, like the delightfully bumbling moron he could sometimes be, he'd just loosed the secret that Quinnick had been so adamant on hiding from her family. Quill was going to have his head on a silver platter if her family didn't beat her to it.

At least, that had been Silas' worry. Surprisingly, The Quinnick sibling seemed elated at Artesto's words, his smirk turning to a face-splitting grin. He suddenly lost interest in terrorizing his sister and turned his focus to Silas, offering a hand and a polite introduction, all things considered. There was a hint of teasing to his voice, but Silas didn't feel any ill-intent from 'Okko', as he introduced himself to be.

Despite Livia's protests, Silas reached out and shook the man's hand, managing an awkward, lopsided grin. "I'm Silas. Sorry, I guess I jumped to conclusions there..." He chuckled, shrugging his shoulders. It hadn't seemed to lose him any points, for whatever that was worth.

Liv's warmth comes quickly to his side, and without much thought, he brings his arm around her waist, something he'd been doing all day and no longer felt totally self-conscious about, even when perhaps he should. Okko gave Silas another look, seeming to signal his approval by dangling a dinner invitation over the pair of them. Silas didn't know much about Livia's family life, but he knew she wasn't fond of making trips home, and the mixture of trepidation and outright horror on her expression seemed to match that just about right.

But ultimately, Quill laid out the details to leave the choice to him; He'd need to dress nice, and stay overnight, and it would probably be awkward and uncomfortable. Offering an apologetic glance to Okko, Silas stepped between them to face Livia. The obvious answer seemed to be no, but...

Even though the face that looked back at her was full of concern, unease, and worry, expressions he'd seen her wear far too often... he did see that slightest bit of excitement in her eyes.

So, sliding his hands forward to take hers, he nods.

"It'd be ruder to turn it down, wouldn't it? No, I think we should go, Quill. You've been wanting to show me some places for a while now anyway, and it means getting a little more time with you, without having to come up with an excuse. Why the hell not?"

He certainly wasn't worried about an overnight stay; The pair of them were quite skilled at keeping themselves occupied, and worst-case scenario, he could book it back to the Academy.

Livia Quinnick
 
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Livia managed a smile, a sweet one she found herself wearing a lot more in the presence of Silas.

It was Okko that answered for her, knowing that his sister would have difficulty at the thought of returning home. "She has not been home since... she left for the Academy. Now... I am not expert in romance or love, but I can say for certain that you, Silas, are fortunate enough to be trusted by my dearest sister. This invitation of course is one Liv can extend or take back." He could see that glimmer of brightness he ignited within her, just like she had been as a girl and it was himself and Bannon entertaining her. To see Livia happy was the only thing Okko wished for his sister, and it warmed him to witness that finally there was some spark in her.


"He is right, you know." Livia admitted, squeezing Silas' hands and glancing to peer up at Okko and his similar olive eyes. "As perfect as it sounds to show you where I grew up, and all of that... It is a big step for me to go home. Even the gates..." Her voice faltered, and so did her smile. She tried to keep it up, but there was worry there. "I told you about my father, did I not? The front gates... is where I killed him."

"You can enter from the eastern gate, Livs." Ko offered, taping Silas' shoulder to make him step aside so he did not have to speak to the back of the blond's head. "If seeing the... spot... is too--"

"No." Livia shook her head, again squeezing Silas' hand. "I cannot hide from it any longer. In order to control my magic, Ko, I have to be strong about processing..." She cut a glance to the other Initiate, brows furrowing slightly. "Silas was there for me after the dance."

The look of surprise on the older Quinnick's face turned to Initiate Artesto, regarding him with newfound respect. Of course, Okko had heard of Livia's discovery the night of the dance, and was met with a steel faced sister when he saw her keeping the crowd back when the body of the Diemut boy was strung up for all to see. "Then he should definitely come to dinner. Livs, take him to Borros & Skell and have them whip a smart jacket for the lad. That should please our mother." Okko turnned his head over his shoulder and cursed, seeing his valet finally catching up to him.

"I was supposed to be looking at cuff links mother set aside for me. Believes they would be quite fetching and would land me a wife." He grimaced as he turned back to look at them each. "Am I not the best Lord brother to give you freedom, Livia?" He smiled wearily.

Livia let go of Silas' hand in order to hug her brother. Gods, it felt good to see his face just in passing.
"The best. I will happily tell Ban of my answer."

Okko Quinnick chuckled and bid them adieu, reminding his sister to take her beau to see the tailor before it got too late.

Livia turned to Silas and arched a brow at him.
"Right. Dinner... This seems... fast." She refrained from scrunching her nose for a few seconds, doing so after much thought did not comfort her. "Oh, Silas! I must warn you about my brothers! Within the walls of the Quinnick Estate, they will be foul. No Head of House Quinnick manners, not even before our mother."

Was the warning for him or for Livia?

Oh gods, it was too late now.


Silas Artesto
 
Silas looked a bit confused at the sudden mention of her Father. She'd not spoken at all with Silas about her parents, only her brothers. Being that the two of them weren't entirely sure where they stood until recently, he hadn't wanted to pry, but now... He wondered if maybe their relationship and the situation surrounding Initiate Joel weren't the only things weighing heavy on her shoulders.

"No..." Silas muttered, his brows arching concernedly. "You've never told me about him..." His stomach felt like it had fallen down a bottomless bit, a familiar ache eating at his chest. She didn't need to say anything more than she already had for him to understand, to relate. After all, he'd lost his father too.

Artesto felt a sudden urge to pull Quill in close, to hug her as tightly as he could. He wished he'd known, that he could have comforted her sooner, shared in that unending pain to ease it for her.

Before he had a chance to embrace her, he felt a light tap on his shoulder. Okko began to speak, and Silas quickly stepped aside to let the two of them converse, keeping his lips sealed for the moment. This matter was one far more personal than need involve him, and he wouldn't be so disrespectful as to interject. With decisions made and a hug shared, he watched as the Quinnick brother departed to go back about his business, a feeling of weariness creeping up his spine.

He was in deep, wasn't he?

No sooner had he the thought than Livia spun around to face him again. The idea of dinner with her family was certainly something neither of them was considering broaching anytime soon, but in the span of a few minutes, it seemed he was supposed to be some honored guest.

Like it or not, they were going public. As frightening as it was, he couldn't deny the kindling excitement in his heart.

"Oh, Silas! I must warn you about my brothers! Within the walls of the Quinnick Estate, they will be foul. No Head of House Quinnick manners, not even before our mother."


Instead of voicing any concern towards her family, Silas first stepped forward and pressed his lips against hers. It was a brief kiss, but one that he'd needed to give her. His hands came to her sides as he pulled away, amber hues staring into her face as he fought a small frown. "I'm sorry about your father, Quill. I had no idea..." He muttered. "For me to stand around and complain about losing mine all the time... That's awful of me."

Livia Quinnick
 
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"I'm sorry about your father, Quill. I had no idea..." He muttered. "For me to stand around and complain about losing mine all the time... That's awful of me."

Livia's surprised face softened as he said this, and the guilt and grief welled inside her.

"I... do not know why I had not told you about that..." Perhaps she was afraid of what he would think, what his face would give away. The feelings she held for Silas had made her the happiest she had been since attending the Academy, and after struggling with her magic, she did not want to dwell too much on that made her known as an Ice Queen on her good days.

Her hand found his and began to pull him towards the tailor outfitter, Borros & Skell.
"It was an accident... He was the one responsible for this second magic I have, the one that has been corrupting my compass at times... only I had not realised what it was. Now I do, but back then... I was angry. I was betrayed. I trusted my father and he made me into his weapon before the Academy knew what to do with me." Their walk was slow, but she did not mind. Squeezing his hand, Livia leaned her head at his shoulder. "He stole magic, forced it on me because I was the strongest Quinnick that had our natural power... that I proved I was capable."

She quietened when they passed others, giving them a polite smile that was trained into the noble daughter.

"I can corrupt magic... left unchecked, I can do more than just magic... I can disrupt human functions, like the heart." It was how she killed her father... and others too. Blood never stained her hands, but she had been the cause of many deaths already to date.

Silas Artesto
 
Liv seemed rather surprised that she hadn't shared the sorry tale with him, but the more she spoke, the more it made sense to Silas why she hadn't spoken up about it sooner. It wasn't a pretty story, and Artesto couldn't imagine the kind of pain those memories dredged up. It was one thing to feel the loss of a parent, to experience the hole they left behind. To watch it happen? To have them pass in your own arms? It was hardly a comparable experience.

"I mean... there were always rumors that there was something odd about your magic. Even proctors have loose lips sometimes, you know. I guess I just didn't press out of respect." He spoke softly down to her as she leaned on his shoulder, quietly leading them down the street toward what he assumed was the tailor her brother had spoken of.

Corrupted magic. It was such a foreign concept that Silas wasn't even certain what that meant. Judging from what she said next, it afforded her a wider arsenal, so could that really be considered a curse? It felt disrespectful to ask as much. Instead, he turned his face and placed a soft kiss on her forehead. "I don't care if your magic is a little mixed up. Doesn't change that you're you, and I love you, Quill." It still felt strange to say that word out loud, but he was growing more fond of it every time it left his lips. It made him feel warm, and he couldn't get over the way it made her fight back a grin every time.

"For now, tell me about this "Borros & Skell" place. I have formal wear at the dorms, is this really a trip we need to make? What exactly are they wanting me to wear?"

Livia Quinnick
 
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"I have formal wear at the dorms, is this really a trip we need to make? What exactly are they wanting me to wear?"
Livia chuckled and pressed herself even more into his side, the warmth and lightness in her still coursing through her frame after his admission of love. "Borros & Skell are specialised in high quality attire. The Quinnicks... are outrageously wealthy." She grimaced, peering up at him. "It is very much all for show, and the etiquette we learn in Proctor Urahil's classes are very much the practice I grew up with. The appearance is to ensure my mother has nothing to complain about, but if she starts, I will be sure to make sure she finishes."

Oh gods. She had not spoken about her father at length with Silas, and he was going to meet her mother also? This very eve?

The Quinnicks, although not as powerful as a Great House and only gifted the title of nobility five generations ago for their successful business across different trades... there was a lot Livia had to tell her beau about what to expect. Would that be seen as flaunting her wealth? Her privilege?


"One of the goods my family are in the trading business for is silks. We have a good relationship with a family in the Empire that produce the most luxurious silk textiles and embroidery... and when fashioned into an evening vest for dinner, you would not be out of place at the Qunnick Estate. Okko could have made the dinner a casual affair, but seeing as my mother will be in attendance, and to keep her civil, it is the only condition of formality we keep."

Livia pushed him to the right, still guiding him to the tailors that were found on the main street that garnered the attention of those with a lot of coin. Many of those walking the area were of well to do means, and not many were the age of Initiates. It was her hair that gave way to her identity, that allowed them admittance into the tailor shop despite them not having an appointment.

"Miss Quinnick, a pleasure to do business with your family. How may we help you today?" The Anirian spoke slowly, calmly. He offered assitance and professionalism in just that introduction, and he kept from scanning Silas from head to toe.


"Lord Quinnick has a guest for dinner tonight. Master Artesto will be in need of a vest and jacket. The House colours." Livia spared Silas a sheepish smile. "If you do not show up in the colours she insists on, you will be sorry." After all, it was Idella Quinnick that insisted on keeping the tradition of naming Quinnick children with the names meaning blue or white.


Silas Artesto
 
"Funny." Silas snickered. "You've shown me a lot of your sides, but I don't think prim and proper have been one of them. Not that I'm complaining."

Silas had come from a family of notable status himself, and had his parents lived to raise him through his childhood he would likely have been held to similar standards, he figured. Still, as Livia expounded upon the expectations her family would have for him even as a guest, he couldn't help but feel the slightest hint of unsureness in his gut.

He was entering a different world than he was used to. Quill would be there with him, but... the nagging doubt that maybe this wasn't such a good idea was persistent. Silas certainly didn't see himself as noble material, let alone the type to show off at a fancy dinner. Still, as they approached Borros & Skell, the rather flashy-looking shop with letters illuminated by some magical means, he swallowed his worry and smiled over at his girlfriend.

"The way Okko was speaking, he wouldn't mind me sticking around the Quinnick Estate in a more 'official' capacity." He teased her, easing his own stress. "I figure I could slide in there before any suitors start showing up. I think I'd get jealous."

He was only half joking. As close as they'd gotten, Artesto couldn't claim the idea of Quill with another guy didn't bother him now. Up until this point, they'd kept things loose and undefined, but this dinner felt like a step towards something more serious. Something official.

Nerves again.

Following Livia into the tailors, Silas scanned over the spotless interior with an impressed eye; He wasn't hurting for coin himself, but even he hadn't been in here before. It was like every speck of dust had been totally eradicated from the shop, and Artesto had an inkling it wasn't done by hand. The judging eye of the older gentleman addressing Livia burned his skin, and Silas looked back just as Quill shared his name and requirements.

He saw the man's lips purse at his last name, a strange look crossing over his features before he nodded.

Livia Quinnick
 
"I think I'd get jealous."

Colour spilled across her cheeks hearing him say so, and it remained there until the attendant lead Livia and Silas to a private room in the back. It was dim, but not for long. Borros himself came into the room and illuminated it with his magic. Candles were conjured up, lit and burning fresh, and instantly added a visual warmth to the room.

"Livvy, darling girl! I should chastise you for never getting a thank you note for that lovely dress I had made for you. Was the dance a lovely night? Was this your dance partner?" Borros smiled to Silas, clicking his fingers for his assistant to hasten.


"I wore the dress and felt more myself than I would have in Quinnick blue and pearl." She greeted Borros with a kiss to his cheek, and he did the same for her. "Unfortunately, I danced with Leander Urahil and Rowley Stone. Silas had his own girls to woo that night." Livia turned to shoot Silas a devilish smile, just as Borros waggled his brows at Artesto.

"Ah, but the young master is getting a seat at the table. The House colours I hear. I think he will look exceptional in blue and pearl." His assistant appeared at that moment, strands of sample silks in varying colours of what could pass for Quinnick blue, and warm, light beiges. Borros gestured for Silas to stand straight and extend his arms, leaving Livia to take a seat on the side.

"I hand made her dress for that dance at the Academy, you know? Based the colour and design off of her favourite pearl ring. Came to me in near tears with the dress her mother had sent her!"


"Hey, you saw that dress. You would have cried seeing me in it." Livia shot back, frowning.

But she let Borros speak, letting Silas hear about the Livia that was not always around at the Academy. It was true, she barely kept up her role as a minor noble besides her privilege, but the role she would step into once she crossed those haunting front gates, it was something Silas would never see elsewhere.

"To watch this young lady grow up has been a blessing, I tell you Master Artesto." A sad smile twitched at the corners of his mouth as he began measuring different lengths and noting it to his assistant, who wrote down every detail meticullously. "But never have I fitted a suitor of hers for a family dinner. Prestigious honour it is, to be invited by the Lord of the House. How do you feel to have your brother give such a blessing?" The question had been aimed to them both, as Borros finished up his measurements and began draping different blues across Silas' torso.

Livia wished to bury her head somewhere, to avoid answering the question. Her feelings for Silas were unlike anything she experienced in her life so far. Still, it had been a few months since she declared her true feelings, had uttered the words I love you to him, but even then, they were not cemented together. She knew they were in an odd state of togetherness when they were together, and exploring, unattached with others.

Well... Silas was. She heard some things in passing. And herself? It was not as if she sought out such attentions... but she should tell him otherwise.


"Oh..." Livia cleared her throat, realising Silas had not answered yet. "Well, you know Okko. He is happy if I am happy." She winced, not liking how that sounded. "I mean to say... I appreciate how he is handling the responsibility of maryying me off in the future, to let me be free in that choice. Mother... is a traditionalist." She glanced at Silas, hoping her words would not scare him off. "She would have wanted to honour the arrangements my father had in place once I turned twenty."

Silas Artesto
 
Silas wasn't entirely sure what he'd been expecting from the proprietor of such a gaudy and fantastical shop, but he supposed the eccentric Borros just about fit the bill. It seemed as though his every move was full of an almost chaotic energy, as though the man himself was an animated puppet pulled by magical strings just above their heads.

Again, he seemed to have known Quill far longer than he had, as the two of them greeted each other with a formal peck, and the tailor almost immediately set about gushing over Livia's dance attire, her childhood, and the excitement he felt to work with somebody she considered a suitable date.

Wait, no. 'Suitor' was the word he kept using. Artesto had to hold back both his smirk and the urge to play into it for the sake of teasing Livia. It was a matter of angling his head as Borros measured him so that the man couldn't see the barely restrained snicker on his lips. "The dress actually worked a bit too well, Sir. Livia had so many people waiting to dance with her that I never got a turn, else I would have enjoyed the chance." He fired a grin over at the likely flushed Quinnick. "She's just being modest, is all."

Silas wasn't lying, per se. He would have enjoyed dancing with Livia, and she had been quite popular upon her arrival at the dance. Being in line though, would have meant standing downwind of Leander Urahil, and the more questionable food choices on offer there that night smelled rank enough.

"If I'm being honest with you, I'm not quite in touch with the noble types." He admitted to the tailor, only after Quill bailed him out of a somewhat uncomfortable question that he wasn't sure how to answer. "If I walk out of that estate without having offended somebody, I'll consider that a win in my book." Okko seemed to be a reasonable fellow, and from what Livia said, her other brother wasn't too bad either. It was the lady of the house he was concerned about.

Once Borros had finished draping some colors onto his chest and had briefly disengaged to likely go and gather more, Silas took a step back to wait for him, feeling a bit more comfortable with Quill than he was with the flamboyant tailor with the hyperextended vernacular.

He hadn't forgotten that jab she'd snuck in about all of the girls he'd been with at the dance though. Punches like that weren't going to go unreturned...

"You know..." Silas leaned to the side, angling his face to whisper quietly into Livia's ear. "For all of those girls I 'wooed', I only recall one person ending their night on top of me..."

Livia Quinnick
 
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Livia had so many people waiting to dance with her that I never got a turn, else I would have enjoyed the chance.

Ducking her head, her hair fell forward to hide her cheeks from view as they burned. It was certainly not true that she had boys lining up to dance with her. If she did, they never made their intentions clear that night. Liv cleared her throat and glanced up as Silas went on with answering Borros, her olive eyes watching him. It was a monumental thing for her to even imagine bringing home a boy, when she had been so convinced that the day she was have a boy at her side at home, it would be the husband her mother would have wrangled in some arranged marriage for her.

But Okko had seen them both, seen how happy his sister was when the last time he truly saw her, she was a wreck. Livia could have sworn she saw relief on his face when he realised how happy she was at the Academy, that he had made the right decision in getting his sister the help she needed.

So when Silas came to stand close to her as Borros busied himself for a moment, Livia snaked her hands around his middle and pulled him in for an embrace.

Until he whispered those words to her.


"SILAS." Her arms withdrew, and she delivered a not-so-gentle punch to his side. She scowled, deeply, but the pinks in her cheeks grew at such a picture he painted with so little words.

It had been an emotional night, and the beginning of her realisation that in such a state, distractions were the next best idea.

And she had been emotional with Ivan Skender in the past.

Her cheeks grew vibrant in colour, but before she could tell him, say anything, Borros was back in the room and pulled the fabrics he needed. "You can leave her be for a few minutes more, Master Artesto. If you are to survive this night, you may as well be in a finished piece designed by me!"


"I think Okko is in his corner, Borros. He would make note that Silas is sporting a design of yours, and Mother would be most impressed." Was the right thing to say in front of Borros, who would defnitely speak of this appointment to her brother when they meet for their regular drinks. What she wished to say, Livia would leave unsaid, but had full intentions of hanging up any pieces of clothing at the end of her bed and showing Silas where she used to sleep...


Silas Artesto
 
Silas let out a snicker as Livia drew back and gave him a swift blow to the gut, backing up and holding where he'd been hit. She acted upset, but the color on her cheeks told a different story. Artesto hoped that she looked back on that night fondly; It hadn't been what either of them were expecting, but it had been amazing nonetheless, and likely when he knew for certain how head over heels he was for her.

Before he could prod her any further, Borros returned and gently redirected him back to center stage so he could continue his work. The strange man made a quip about 'surviving' the night, and while Silas normally would have taken that kind of phrasing as a joke, Borros didn't seem to be jesting about that one. Buttoning down his antics and wiping away his smug grin, Silas slid back to the middle of the room and stood straight.

"I can't help but feel a bit nervous about the fact your mother hasn't heard a thing of me. We weren't exactly, ah, public just yet. Okko caught us off guard outside." Silas didn't see the harm in telling the tailor as much. He was only making conversation to pass the time while he worked, right? Isn't that how these kinds of people operated, by pretending to listen to you so you'd stand still? "Hope she's not opposed to surprises..."

Livia Quinnick
 
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Livia tried to contain her mischievous grin, until Borros scoffed and fixed Silas with a look. "Miss Quinnick is almost a carbon copy of her mother." Her grin turned into an offended expression, rolling her olive eyes. "She will deny such a thing, of course."

"My mother is unreasonable."

"As unreasonable as not, what was it you said, Master Artesto?" Borros began to pin different fabrics to Silas' torso, pinning the pieces together as his assistant now approached and helped clean up the lines. "Being out in the public? Miss Quinnick is not one to share so easily, if you have not soon realised. Best secret keeper." At this, he threw her a knowing look. "But that was the way she was raised. Her father and herself, keeping secrets between themselves. Bannon used to complain when I first started dressing him."

Livia got up and wandered over to watch the busy pinning and cutting, careful not to bring her guilty eyes to look into Silas'. She knew if she did, she would admit something.
"Bannon needs to learn to keep his mouth shut." As like that, she was behind a wall to hide behind. Borros knew her family for so long, she was now nervous that Silas would meet others that knew her well too. There had been so much she hid about herself, leaving it behind a door as she changed into her own self at the Academy.

Perhaps her family would not be able to claim they know her well after so long.


"That is fast work, Borros." She was impressed, her brows raising that fraction higher as she could see the forming of a nice silk dinner vest. So soon as she spoke, Borros' assistant carefully removed the pinned silk from Silas and went out the door.

"Give us half an hour, and it will be finished. I put my best customers first. Now, make yourselves comfortable here, away from the main store." Borros bowed out from the small fitting room.

Liv turned her head to Silas now, a sheepish look on her face.
"It is so odd for someone to talk about me and know me... I have not had that at all since I have been at the Academy." It felt as if she were just a noble daughter again, going about her day doing meaningless things instead of going on missions or sneaking to the kitchens at midnight with Houri and Thraah to bake cakes. "I guess I may not have changed as much as I thought I did."

Silas Artesto
 
As both excited and worried as Silas was for tonight, Borros and Livia's bickering back and forth was beginning to wear on him a bit. Not because they were particularly bothering him, but because they spoke of a world he was simply not part of. He respected the tailor's work, of course, but his appraisal of Quill didn't really matter to Artesto. Not when he had his own image of Liv, and it had nothing to do with her mother or her brothers.

So instead, he clammed up and let them talk, let Borros do his work. There wasn't much he had to add, and he felt like this fellow was distinguished enough to scrutinize every word he spoke as it was. By the time he directed Silas to look in the mirror, he too found himself surprised at how quickly he'd put together the outline of a vest for him.

Not only that, but he looked damned good. Better than usual.

Seemingly satisfied with his work, the tailor stepped away to complete his work, leaving the pair of them in the room alone for at least half an hour. As unfamiliar as he was with this place, he felt the tension that had been building in his shoulders release the moment Borros and his assistant vanish through the door. A long sigh he'd been holding since he'd been brought back here expelled from his lungs, and his upright posture slouched a bit.

"I'd never have thought getting clothes to be so... involved." He lamented, stepping away from the center of the room and letting himself fall down onto the small couch left for customers waiting for their finished products. Silas tilted back his head and yawned, opening one eye to peek over at Quill as she spoke. "Well, you weren't going to be able to run from it forever, but..."

Silas slid himself over to give her room to sit beside him.

"You're still just Quill to me. I don't really care what any tailor says, or who you 'take after'. I know you in my own way, without all that nonsense clogging the works up."

He knew it wasn't that simple, that she'd still struggle with her own self-image. Silas often had the same dilemma, to an extent. Even so, she'd always be his Quill, and nothing anybody said to him was going to shift that anytime soon.

"I should thank him though. Thirty minutes with a room to ourselves? I haven't gotten that much time alone with you since we got to the city. You know how hard it is to be an upstanding and respectable fellow with a beauty like you on my arm?"

A dash of the charm, just to let her know he wasn't taking this too seriously.

Livia Quinnick
 
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Livia came to sit beside him and curled up onto the waiting lounge. She leaned into his side, resting her head on his shoulder and let out a long exhale of breath. "You know... I have always thought of leaving being all this behind. Just take my inheritance and start my own version of being Livia... I guess I would have to drop the Quinnick if I do not want to be noble..."

And such a heavy admittance came with a smile as he caused her cheeks to blush.

"Silas..." She groaned, but hid her smile at his shoulder. Livia took a moment before lifting her head to kiss his cheek, pulling back to smile at him softly. "I feel so detached from this life I had lived. I guess that is really the reason I did not want us out and about, because I would be afraid of my family hearing of us courting..." She shrugged. "They would insist on meeting you, to see me after three years, and... the two versions of myself, I would not know which mask to wear. I still do not know what version I will be tonight..."

All Livia knew was she would be unable to hide her feelings for Silas from them, especially since Okko saw it the moment Silas came to her defense. So much of her now had been molded by growing up with her brothers, talking like them and living a carefree life to do as she pleased... perhaps there were morsels of herself that came from her noble life, just not the people she knew growing up.

"Promise me you will keep me sane tonight? That if I am not the same Quill, you will bring me back to her?" Because Livia liked who she was with Silas. The version of herself at the Academy. Initiate Quinnick, it was her new role for her to play, and that meant she truly was free from a life of being a daughter of a noble family. "Okko and Bannon, they will poke their fun, but... I never resolved things with my mother. I.. gods, I can only hope she gets a headache from Ko and Ban and retires for the night."

Silas Artesto
 
Despite his teasing, this moment of respite, this escape from the brief foray into her world, was what he'd needed most. If a trip to the tailor was so exhausting, Silas could only imagine how daunting the dinner ahead would be. That he had Livia by his side was probably the only way he'd manage. Silas rests his cheek against the top of her head, closing his eyes and letting his breaths come deep as she nestles warmly against him.

"This was going to happen eventually, no matter what we did. You know that." He muttered, wrapping an arm around her and letting his palm rest on her back. Silas turned his head and placed a kiss upon her head, and then another. "But I don't think you should be worried about masks. What we've got here is as real as it gets. If I know anything, it's that."

Livia was going through a crisis of identity, and he really hadn't realized it until she started opening up to him. Nor could he blame her for it. To go from a well-to-do family like hers to the gritty world of a Dreadlord Initiate was a drastic shift, far more difficult than the transition he'd experienced. Now with him in the mix, she had another piece of the already baffling puzzle she was struggling to make fit.

The thing was, Silas didn't expect her to solve the puzzle.

Artesto tucked a finger under her chin and brought her face to his to steal another kiss from her, the shiver it sent down his spine not something he could ever see himself getting bored with. In a quiet voice, he assured her as best he could. "No masks tonight, Quill. If you need to hide, do it behind me. I'll protect you." A little smirk grew on his face, and he leaned his forehead against hers. "I don't want to see 'Initiate' Quinnick or 'Lady' Quinnick. I want my Quill. And you know what? I think that's more reality than you realize."

Livia Quinnick
 
How he could quell the daunting thoughts from her with a single kiss. It were as if he had tasted them and swallowed them whole and kissed peace to her lips. Silas brought a smile to her face, one that only he could truly elicit.

"I am glad to have you." She stole a kiss, not quite happy he had ended the one he took. "Forget the looming situation with my family, I am most excited to show you the gardens. The library where I studied my lessons with a tutor. My bedroom." She grinned wickedly. "I have almost an entire wing of the home to myself. A dance studio, a smaller library where I would read in the nook, and the map room. My rooms, all catered to me." Liv ignored the thought that this was her father separating her from the family, his greedy and selfish act to keeping her power for himself as he trained her ability to point to a map. She could find where the trading ships were, where the pearl he had a stranger place somewhere in the Anirian territories.

"Guess what my favourite flower is. I will give you a hint, it is blue. Almost Quinnick blue." She grinned.

Forget-me-nots. The petite flowers were lovely in a bouquet, but the meaning behind them had never felt truer to her now.
"You have until tonight to answer. Perhaps when I do show you the gardens, to can have your final guesses there." She smiled pressing her lips to his slowly.

Silas Artesto
 
Silas grinned against Livia's lips, feeling the unease and anxiety melt away from her body with each kiss they shared. In some ways, they were a panacea to one another's weaknesses and faults. She made him feel confident, like he didn't have to pretend to be so sure of himself all the time.

With Quill, he could make mistakes and learn from them, because she'd still be there. In turn, he was a place of safety that she could return to whenever she needed an escape. What had started as midnight visits to his bed had become at least several hours a day in which she'd steal him from the world.

So as she took him on a tour with her words, painting a picture of the place she'd called home in his head, he imagined them all with her. At the particular pause she gave to her bedroom, punctuated with a teasing grin, Artesto reached over and grasped her by her hips to lift her frame up and into his lap with a devilish snicker. "Almost seems cheating, to wait until I see the garden..." He spoke in a murmur, his hands sliding up her back as he gazed up at her with lidded eyes. "I have a feeling, though..." With every word, his face drew closer, and his words softened. "That the wait will be worth it."

Silas slid his eyes closed and parted his lips against hers, kissing her the way he'd been yearning to since they'd met up this morning. For however long this privacy lasted he dropped his restraint, allowing his hands to roam her backside as his tongue danced with hers in a shameless dance of desire. He could have sat here with her, kissing her like this for hours.

If only they'd the time.

Livia Quinnick
 
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Silas had coaxed a happy laugh from her as he pulled her onto his lap, and she helped him by moving to a comfortable perch before him. Naturally, her arms wound around his neck and listened to him speak. So in love, she listened and grinned wickedly. The gardens were well known for the different colours, sizes, and shapes of flowers. Her grandfather had curated all the favourite flowers her grandmother loved and adored, and from there, they built up the expansive gardens to their heart's desire.

Livia relaxed into him, eagerly meeting his kiss with a response from her own desire. All day she had waited for a moment alone, but spending the time with him in public like they had, was cherished. It felt as if there was no pressure, that this was natural and not just a few short months of spending their time together.

This moment of being behind the eyes of many was what she needed. Noble Daughter Livia would not do this, not in a dressing room waiting for a piece to be made. Even if it was to upset her mother, Livia would not be caught dead stringing along someone.

But Silas was different. He was comfort, and he was True North. No matter where she was, what she needed, her direction always led her to him.

"I do not know if I should be proud you have found happiness, or disappointed you act much like your brothers. You Quinnicks need to learn some control!" Borros chuckled, returning to the room with the finished dinner vest in hand. He had worked his magic quickly to get it done in time, but he supposed the two love birds needed next to no time to attach themselves to each other.

Livia threw herself from Silas so quickly, she almost fell from the sofa.


"Oh!" Her cheeks were burning, smoothing her hair and clearing her throat. "Thank you for your prompt work, Borros." She averted her gaze.

Silas Artesto
 
Silas wasn't sure whether Borros had finished his work ahead of schedule, or if losing himself in Quill just made time pass that quickly. Either way, the moment he'd spent holding her in his lap and letting himself drift away against her lips felt far too fleeting. Not that he particularly blamed Livia for quickly returning to some form of decorum upon the tailor's return.

Maybe he should have been embarrassed at being caught in the act, but all he could muster to Borros was a satisfied grin upon a flushed face. He'd gotten what he wanted, and Borros didn't seem too bent out of shape over it, so what harm was it?

"Apologies, Sir!" He called back to Barros cheekily, flashing his teeth at the man. "We can chalk it up to me respecting Quinnick Tradition then, ay?" As soon as the words left his lips, he braced himself for the blow from Livia he fully expected to follow. Nevertheless, he continued. "Look at that though, fast -and- the vest looks killer!" Patting his hand against Livia's thigh, Silas stands up and walks over to meet Borros halfway, reaching out to touch the freshly made garment.

"I won't lie to you, I had my doubts coming in this place. I'm not a fancy dresser, usually. This though... I like it. Liv was right about you." Silas beamed, feeling just a tad less anxious about the night's events. At the very least, he wouldn't have to worry about looking the part. As long as he could get his mop of hair to behave. "How much do we owe you, sir... Borros, is it?"

Livia Quinnick
 
"No, no," Borros smiled, glancing to Livia. "This goes onto the family account." His light gaze returned to Silas and his smile turned heartfelt. When he spoke next, it was in a softer tone, meant for the boy's ears. "She will frustrate you, this girl. All Quinnicks are known to be headstrong and convince themselves they know what they want... but if you truly care for her the way I believe you do, then I think you will have the patience to weather whatever she throws your way."

Borros knew the family well before the children had been born. He was only a few years older than Livia's late father, but he also watched the Quinnick children grow into the people they were now. Livia changed the most, but it had been for the better.

"It is almost sundown. Be sure to pay a visit after tonight, and tell me how the evening went. Do you promise this, Master Artesto?"

Livia appeared by Silas' side, smiling at Borros.
"Of course he does. I will drag him back here if he thinks to go to any other tailor in the city."

Their farewells were said and the dinner vest put away in a box, ready to be taken back to wherever they needed to go.

"I suppose we should go back to the Academy to get ready. The Estate is between here and the Academy... just a little west of the city." Meaning the travel there would take considerably less time than it did to get here. Livia slid her hand into Silas', pulling him along for a short walk in the afternoon sun that warmed their backs.

"How are you feeling? Daunting, is it not?" She grimaced, unsure if Silas was on board with the evening plans. The idea of her Academy life meeting her family made her feel out of sorts. It all came down to her mother, whether Livia would make her proud and silent, or being a grievance to her.

"And I still need to figure out what dress to wear." Because it would be expected of her. House colours, too.

Silas Artesto
 
The family account. Of course, Livia wasn't about to let him pay for his own suit. Silas supposed that was a perk of dating a girl from a wealthy family, but then Silas wasn't exactly poor. Artesto might Borros' genuine smile with a grin and a shrug. He'd just have to pay for dinner the next time they went out, whether she liked it or not.

"She will frustrate you, this girl. All Quinnicks are known to be headstrong and convince themselves they know what they want... but if you truly care for her the way I believe you do, then I think you will have the patience to weather whatever she throws your way."

Silas smiled, offering a gentle nod of his head in return to the tailor's words. Of course, he'd already gotten a taste of how stubborn Quill could be; just getting her to admit she wanted to be with him had been a tall task. Honestly though... she was opening up to him now in ways he hadn't imagined before. She was trying with all her might to let him in.

And he loved her for it.

"She's already tried breaking me a couple times, Borros." He muttered back with a wink. "I'm a tough nut to crack. She's given up on fighting me, for now anyways." Silas was sure they'd have disagreements, things they stood on different grounds upon, but for whatever reason, he wasn't worried in the least about it. They'd make it work, just like they always did. "I'll take care of her, Sir. On my honor."



"I suppose we should go back to the Academy to get ready. The Estate is between here and the Academy... just a little west of the city."

Silas cackled at Livia's phrasing, spoken as if the trip was a simple one. He wrapped his fingers around hers and pulled her hand up to his lips, pressing a small, affectionate kiss to her knuckles. "Good thing you have me here, or you'd be shit out of luck." Livia didn't seem to mind his snark anymore. In fact, he was starting to think she enjoyed it. Sure, got slugged every now and then, but not without a nice bit of color in her cheeks.

Gods, she was adorable.

The evening walk in the sun was pleasant, but by the time they made it to the gates of the city, it was time to pick up the pace. Silas pulled his hand free, and quickly swept Quill up into a bridal carry. Well, almost: The hand that should have been tucked in the crook of her leg was resting rather blatantly on her backside. Leaning in, Silas steals another quick peck of affection from her lips before the vibrations in his body begin to increase. "Maybe I should be nervous, but I'm not. I think... I'm ready for this."

He'd begun to walk down the long road back to the Academy, but as the vibrations channeled into his legs, his pace slowly increased to a jog. They were moving about as fast as a one-horse cart now...

But he could go faster.

"So... if I make it there fast enough, maybe I can talk you into modeling some of those dress options for me? Without a tailor there to stop me from peeking?"

Livia Quinnick
 
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Livia found herself comfortable in his arms, the box holding his vest carefully resting against her abdomen to keep it in place as they traveled the only way they could get away with from the Academy. She snorted, lightly swatting his chest as as wicked smile relaxed onto her lips.

"Well, who else is to help with the corsets to some? I have three in mind, and will need your opinion on which to choose. Quinnick blue, I will try not to give my mother a hard time like I did at the Dance." She only had six dressed in her wardrobe, and only three options for Quinnick representation here at the Academy.

"Besides, Sile, I have other things to fashion for you. The sort of thing only for your eyes at the end of the night..." Because try as they might, Livia was sneaking Silas into her room after dinner. Okko once had a discussion with Livia about her role before she came to the Academy, that he wanted her to live how she wished once she left home. That it would do her good to find her own way to life, and not at all be tied in servitude to their minor House, like their father planned. "Awful timing that I had gotten out from them after the dance, when I came to see you." Of course, she was clearly not thinking she would go see Silas and tousle in his sheets. She needed comfort that night...

Comfort and distractions. It was her favourite thing to resort to.

Silas Artesto