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Game of Queens | afternoon 30/12- Xmas 1677

Francis Kirke

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The Queen’s Presence Room mirrored that of the King’s, in that it was open to all gentry and wealthy merchants. It was a spacious room, able to seat 40, but a welcoming one, decorated in warm red that was nicely accented by the ivory upholstery of the seats and decorative gilding. The central focus of the room was an elevated couch, reserved for the Queen, with a scattering of chairs near it as well as other groupings of seats settled around the room for attending courtiers.


The rounded tables and cupboards around the desk held bouquets of flowers as well as busts of various historical figues – Aristotle, Copernicus, Julius Ceasar, Sappho, Dido and others. Leading further from the room were two doors on the far side of the room. The door to the left would take one to the Queen’s Drawing room and the one on the right to the Queen’s private parlour that guarded the entrance to the Queen’s bedroom and closet.


The King had been visiting the Queen most afternoons, so it was not very long before Francis found himself in the Queen's Presence Room an afternoon not long after meeting Lady Dorothea. Or rather saving her from the innocent attack of one foolish youth by the name of Master Whitehurst!


He found himself looking at the bust of Sappho who, amongst the others, seemed just a little bit out of place. Love poetry did not seem their royal lady's thing from Francis' little experience of her, but ladies were strange creatures. Perhaps yet having the bust there was a hint at a gentler nature beneath their Queen's aloof exterior.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dorothea had innocently talked of Lord Kingston upon a couple of occasions, enough to have drawn others of the Queens ladies attention -- and then a gentle teasing had ensued (much to her blushing embarrassment.) Yet that being what it was, when Francis came to idle in the Queens apartments next, Dorothea was advised 'her Kingston' was attending.


"He wants to learn to play Latrones." the young German explained, though it did not especially explain why she checked her look in the mirror before going out.


Fresh of face and bright of eyes, Dorothea Charlotte of Brandenburg-Ansbach exited the Queens drawing room and moved out into the Presence chamber. She was wearing a heavy dress of deep green velvet, while her hair was in a style popular with her countrywomen* curled and held up at the sides then decorated (her own with a bit of ribbon.) It was not a vanity as much as duty to be well presented in Royal company.


"Lord Kingston." she greeted warmly he regarded the bust of Sappho. He was a thinking man, this she knew, and so she dared the comment, "I am told it was choice from the Queens Lady who decorated the rooms for Her Majesty... mmm, that Karoline noticed that some busts she had chosen did not appear in the rooms completed plan in the end. It was a tempering, she supposed, of this room, which is for many the first impression of her. She also did not want the red."


"But it is lovely to see you today - I had begun to fear you had forgotten."



* ref

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  • 2 weeks later...

Francis moved far enough from Sappho to bow. He smiled. "Good afternoon, my lady," he replied.


He probably should have asked someone with enough experience of either Germans or court to find out how properly to address her, but he had not. Charm and humility were good tools in such cases; tools Francis readily relied upon in these instances.


He chuckled as she anticipated that he was thinking of the meaning of the bust on the backdrop of the Queen's typical tastes.


"I did wonder," Francis replied, quietly. Leaning a bit closer, he cheekily added in a whisper, "Does that mean that Her Majesty does or does not enjoy love poetry?" A pause was followed by, "I only ask because it is my sworn duty to aide my royal master in such mystical endeavors." Women, after all, were always something of a mystery to all men.


"Then you fretted of my coming, but I am more honourable than that." His cheeks pressed up, making his eyes crinkle with a relaxing ease. "Even if it means being beaten by a lady," he added, with a wink, "And placing my copious idiocy out for a spectacle." His grin conveyed he was not very upset at all.

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  • 3 weeks later...

OOC: apologies, I'd forgot to add this to my bookmarked threads.



His was a warm and calm voice, or at least it seemed to hold a pleasant reassurance, but perhaps that was because of how her first interaction with him had been. His was a voice that gave her a safe feeling inside. "Lord Kingston." she curtsied in return, small smile upon her face.


They digressed on the busts.


"She has never admitted to me to so romantic." Dorothea replied softly, "though some might say that those who deny are the ones who most yearn entrancement?"


"Yet I would not be quoted to your Master, Lord Kingston. I may be wrong, and would hate to be reason for a eror in the royal alignment.


"Oh I would not say I fretted." the girl belatedly denied. "Yet I had looked forwards to it... oh." his comment then had her understand something unimagined. To learn a game in a place as public as this was humiliating for a man. What could be done? "I...?" But then he was grinning. Was he only teasing? This serious-minded girl hardly knew.


"Lord Kingston." she looked back to him uncertain of what to do.

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"Ladies are such a," he paused for effect, "mystery. A pleasant one, but yet elusive and contradictory sometimes. That seems to be for queens as well."


He smiled at her explanation, "Do not worry, I have no more desire to stake my future on uncertainty." He chuckled softly. Of course, he did not think that sailors staked their futures on uncertainty as well, so he did not realize that his statement might seem rather contradictory as well!


As to their game he said, "Never fear, I have looked forward to it as well. I am never one to turn down a lady for fear of a little embarrassment."


After all, he had danced with the Queen at a ball and looked quite ridiculous, so he did seem to take such things in good spirits. At least, where a lady was concerned.


"Gentlemen, it seems, have their own mystique," he conceded with a lopsided grin.

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It was his second assertion that women were mysterious, a belief that seemed well rooted in the male mindset, His Majesty too. "Ah, I not really sure that we are as cryptic as all of that..." she begun, then to smile and complete, "though I dare many would not mind being a field for further study." it was a little joke. She was not sure if he'd think it funny though. Sometimes humour did not translate well between nationalities.


But then, with her uncertainty to his wishes, he made with humor too. Touched with relief, Dorothea chuckled and claimed, "Well I would like to offer you a more discrete location to learn, but then that might wrap us both in a mystery we neither want. As it is the other Ladies in waiting have already been talking about you. And I swear, I only mentioned your name once, and in passing."


“Ah but look, here comes the board.” Timely perhaps. A pair of servants carrying a small squarish table between them with a small ebony case on top of that, exited the Queen’s apartments. The young lady (who had previously instructed them to a need) directed them towards a grouping of chairs. Alas, they were not close to the fire, the chairs near the fireplace were already quite full. This was a cluster to one side of the room that currently had none others at it. Relative privacy, to begin with at least.

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"A gentleman surely cannot 'make a study' of a queen, princess, or any grand lady, for would that not be very irreverent?" Francis asked in a quiet, serious tone. Whether he was serious or not was another matter. He was more interested in how she would respond either way.


"In such cases, ladies are meant to be a mystery, are they not?" he asked, now smiling. "It adds to their greatness."


He could not help but chuckle. "Sometimes, all it takes is once," he murmured, perhaps with a hint of a cheeky lilt. Then he could not help but put her at ease, "My cousin, Lady Susan, says that some of the other ladies of the Queen simply enjoy tittering about me in general. You must have given cause to a new ripple." He seemed to take everything in that gentle-natured way


His blue eyes moved to the table that was being carried in. He did not seem to mind the location at all. He waited for her to sit and then sat himself.

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Buy now she had decided that he possessed humour for the day, and so in a like mock-serious tone she replied. "Not Queen, Princess, Duchess or Lady in their official capacity," she agreed , "but as a female other standards apply."


But all in all the subject was dangerously close to one she was personally sworn against. She was determined not to be just another ditzy girl expending her life upon meaningless things, flirting and talking nonsense day in and out. She instead wished to apply her intellect to serious and important things, perhaps to make a real difference to the world. Talking about ladies enjoyment of male attention was not advancing anything reasonable. (Also, she did not want him to start thinking she had an agenda with him of any sort - aside from being fine and Enlighted company.)


"It is only the ego I think, Lord Francis, this veil of mystery intended to incite inquiry." the young lady blinked and gave a small smile.


"Ah." Dorothea gave a chuckle at his explanation. "You are a man of interest to the Ladies... it must be your ability to quote Master Hobbes and Dr Spratt that caught their attention, of course." here she attempted to tease him in return. Her resolve not to reduce to flirtation with the handsome gentleman again temporarily forgotten, as she set herself down at the table.


Meanwhile servants fussed about them as they oft did, adjusting cushions, offering refreshments etc.

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An academic discussion on what propriety allowed in one's observation of the opposite gender was not mindless flirting to Francis. Even if it were, he was not the one sworn off the activity. In fact, he found it far more engaging when the partner in such discourse did have a brain!


"Then they are admiring my words from afar, for I cannot confess to having had a conversation with many of them beyond my duties," he replied, with a titter.


"I think they shall be disappointed." For he had no desire to bed the Queen's ladies. Some men could do as they wished without risk and some could risk all, but Francis was in neither category. And he was older than he looked so had far more self-control that younger gentlemen.


He asked for a glass of wine from the fussing servants. It would take the edge off learning something new.


"I confess, I am hoping I have some aptitude for this," he said. "Accepting hopeless mediocrity is not in the Villiers blood," he added, in his self-deprecating manner.

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He had a pleasant laugh, and it felt nice to provoke it - that and she was pleased to hear that he was not talking the deeper things with just every lady he met. "Well I shall not be enlightening them, I shall enact the feminine wont of secrecy about it."


From her point of view the other ladies were thus missing out - though he voiced chivalrous modesty at the thought.


"Mulled?" she suggested to Francis, before settling upon it for herself.


Bending to opening the ebony box, two trays of soldiers were now revealed, with a larger piece to head each set. "You have a bright mind, perhaps this is from your family too." she expressed, "I am sure you shall learn quickly. Or I will hope the Villiers are not also prone for tantrums." the young lady grinned, further relaxing as her anticipation for the games fun grew.


"These ones are the Latones, or Marauders," she indicated the 12 regular pieces, "and these larger are the Dux, or sometimes we call them Duc, or General." she begun to explain. "Do you want to be white or black?" This set was beautifully cared from ivory and ebony.

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"Mulled would be lovely," he replied. Warm drinks were welcome in cold weather.


"No, rest assured, this Villiers does not throw tantrums," he promised.


Continuing in a whisper, "I cannot speak for other relations, but I got birched as a boy for not having self-control." He paused, and then added, "A lot," with a chuckle.


As for his color, he said, "It matters not, but white is oft associated with the best of ladies." Which was to say white was associated with purity, but it did not sound as good when put such a way.


"So...how do the Marauders do their marauding?" he asked.

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Dorothea felt that private joy a hostess feels, as he accepted her suggestion and chose the mulled.


"This Villiers?" an eyebrow rose, and as he went on to elaborate she gave into a grin.


"What made the lesson difficult to learn? Was it that your frustrated ambition to succeed was driven upon high emotion. I have noticed that those less motivated souls, who live within their own means and contentment, are rarely prone to excitement, even about themselves."


"Then I shall be white then." It seemed the luckier colour, and she was pleased to have been given that choice. She began setting out her pieces upon the 12x8 deep board. She with 12 soldiers in a line, and then the Dux on the second row in, sixth from the right.


"Well. The pieces may all move as far as they wish to, in either vertical up the columns, or horizontal lines across the ranks, never diagonally. They maraud by trying to catch the other players soldier between two of your own. Then that soldier is taken from the board.


"The Dux cannot be caught so easily though. To win the game you have to try trap the Dux, surrounding him by your soldiers." she looked to see if she had explained it's basics well enough. "It is simple of concept, but difficult to master."

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"I think it was more youthful idiocy," he replied honestly. "Unless my frustrated ambitions were in mastering sneaking off to spar or ride." He chuckled, "I was never mean-spirited in my misbehavior, though, never fear."


Books had not been as enthralling as horses and land and plenty after a boyhood of exile. Books had been rare, and they were exciting, but not in comparison to the adventures of outside.


He mimicked the way she lined up the pieces, thinking that both sides were made identically.


"Hmm, that sounds like it would require strategy," Francis replied as she described the game. "The rules may be easy enough but the task not quite so easy, but I shall do my best. Have you any tips for the neophyte? Or are you not a generous, grand lady whilst playing latrones?" he asked, the hint of tease glinting in his tenor voice.

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Dorothea gave a small nod as he copied the layout, he was doing it right. "While I was so timid as a child, I barely squeaked. Though I dare say I made just as many mistakes." their youths had been very different. "When I did sneak off, it was usually to my fathers study, or the library. I suppose my governess found it hard to scold me for that."


The rules of the game were indeed simple enough, the concept could be grapsed by a child, yet mastering the game might then continue a lifetime. "I shall admit, then it comes to latrones, my daring is loosed. Draw your sword. Take no prisoners!" said in her rich accent, appended with a girlish laugh as she moved her first piece.





OOC: Lets just fudge the actuall playing of the game, adding in some exciting plays/moments freely and at will. If you want to see a bit on You Tube about it,

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"There shall be no squeaking now, then," he added with a grin, as she declared she would take no prisoners. She was not meek with the game, it would seem.


He moved his first piece as well. Not having much idea what he was doing, he trusted his understanding would develop both through watching her strategy and making a few blunders.


"Perhaps your daring should be loosed more often? Perhaps it is a great hidden strength."


Francis enjoyed a woman who was dynamic. Moreso than most men, who seemed to like the sweet and manageable.


"Why not be a little daring at least." He smiled. "It is good to feel the exhilaration of life now and again." He chuckled, "With perhaps a bit of childlike wonder thrown in."


The almost twenty-nine year old was the sort who jumped in the water when it suited him.

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Dorothea's eyes narrowed with his first move, and she stole a look back to the man - then took her next piece and moved it in a sweeping gesture.


"Daring in an arena uncertain is not so much admirable as reckless.”


The benefit of conversation while playing a game, or any side activity, is that thoughts a less mentally screened when focusing on the next play. "I can be more daring at home, but here in England, your customs and ways are different. I dont want to be laughed at."


"What of you, have you been daring when the ground is uncertain under you feet?"

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"Surely latrones is not the only arena in which you excel," the blond countered. He was not going to let her off so very easily. At least not as easily as he probably was by the way he was moving his pieces.


Nobody played a game like that well on the first try, not when the game did not make any use of luck or odds.


"Ahh, customs, yes, I have been enough foreign places to know of different customs. But I would think there would be someone to help with such affairs, even for Her Majesty. Lord Feversham perhaps?" He knew the military man was her Lord Chamberlain, but then it struck him, "Though he is only naturalized English or at any rate, was not of English parentage."


Feversham was French and a relation of Turenne, that much he knew.


"Besides it is beneath you to worry of what most others think. You are a friend of the Queen and a lady of great rank. To insult you would be a slight to the king," he rationalized. "And very bad manners too."


For all his lack of perfect noble polish, Francis was aware of status and rank as well as very cognizant of the respect due to it.


Her question make him nod and snort, with a budding smile, "Many times and sometimes quite recklessly. Such are the benefits of being a man, and some are the benefits of being a man who was born to a more modest estate than as heir to a great title."


Did she know he had not always been Lord Kingston or heir to it? Surely his cousin Susan knew and any other of the ladies of the Queen who had seen him get Kingston that past spring.

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"Oh certainly not!" she agreed, not sure how she'd given him that misunderstanding. "I can read and write 5 languages, and passibly speak a further two more. I keep an intellectual correspondence with 2 professors at Leiden University, and have assisted with their gaining lofty patronage for their further studies. I am quite accomplished certainly, I would claim without vanity, and am but at the beginning."


Then it made greater sense, to how she'd provoked his encouragement - it had been her admission of not wanting to have anyone laugh at her. "It is in the practical arena's, that I am less certain, and if I am honest, less interested also. Like, there is a Ball approaching, and, well mistletoe." her cheeks pinked.


He then admitted that he had dared when uncertain. "I shall want for details my lord, a simple agreement only whets my interest."

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"Well, then I shall hope to see some daring in those areas," he replied, "Though I am not sure I would be an apt judge of the daring, for I do not have mastery over so many languages."


Like most English gentlemen he spoke French and then his Latin and Greek from schooling.


"Français, mais tout le monde connaît le français..." he said prettily. He actually spoke French with a better accent than his English; he had spent too many years as a child in France in exile. "Et il est hors de la mode.*" He chuckled. They were to war with France, so it was no longer a friendly language. "Mein Deutsch ist sehr verbrannt.**" He gave her an apologetic grin. Sophia had attempted to teach him for an entire year but that was far from enough time, clearly.


"Is one of the seven Italian? For we could truly punish the other ladies for any attempts at eavesdropping if we speak it." It was mostly a merchant language unless one lived there, but perhaps she did know it.


As he moved a piece rather stupidly, he said, "Ahh, I see," in response to her 'practical arenas.' "As am I to some extent. This is all very grand to me still; I made my court debut at the ripe age of eight and twenty." He leaned forward a bit conspiratorially, "And what is so scary of mistletoe? Do you not have the tradition?"


She had momentarily distracted him from a story of his daring, but he had plenty he would share.



*French, but everyone speaks French.....And it's out of fashion.

**My German is very burnt (LOL)

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  • 2 weeks later...

The thought of being daring with languages was entirely new, her eyes flared and then narrowed some as she wondered how that might work. Then he was professing himself to be no man to judge, and her thoughtful expression lapsed into a smile, "Ah, you are teasing I see. You talk of the young man from the hallways, though the daring one there might have been whoever taught him so wrongly."


She could forgive Bradley now, now that the right of vulgar language in darkened hallway was long past.


Francis did attempt some language, his French was very good, and she expressed as much in kind. Then his German - was les-so. "Verbrannt? You mean Stumpf... then your German is the cliché of our people, I have heard the English say that we as a people are too blunt also." Which she hardly counted as true, even if she had noticed that the English did react as though she was blunt too at times.


"Sì, parlo italiano." she replied on that, "Cosa vuoi dire, punire?"


The girl looked at him then, trying to guess how old he was not. If he debuted at 28, then could he be very many years older than that now? Were there grey hairs hid amongst the gold? "Why did your family keep you away for so long?" she asked, still trying to guess how hold he was. He did not seem very wrinkly. It was so hard to guess ages, she was terrible at it!


"I am not afraid of mistletoe, and yes it grows at home also, it just not so... everywhere! The English court seems to set the stage for kisses at every turn. It is not like this at home." She lowered her eyes.

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Considering Francis looked more 20 than 28, trying to guess his age truly was something of a puzzle. The fact that he did not carry himself like someone just of age was likely the only reason anyone would think him even in his mid-twenties. It could be something of a curse, to be always first treated as a boy or youth.


"They would not be able to eavesdrop on our conversation for any tidbits which, taken out of context, might cause much chatter. I am sure you have noticed the court propensity for gossip*?" he grinned.


Her next question, though, was not necessarily easily answered. One brow arched in thought, followed by the other. Clearly, she had not heard any rumours about Charles Kirke; his father's reputation had followed him around for awhile, undeservedly. Talk had changed which was a blessing.


"I was raised by my grandfather once we returned from exile, and he had his own eldest son to bring to court and advocate. We are close in age. The blond who is a Gentleman to the Duke of York and bears resemblance..." he interjected, before continuing. "He wished to when I came of age, but he died and I ran off to sea for many years."


The amount of time he had spent wondering how life would have been different had his grandfather lived just a few more months. It was likely that was when his grandfather might have told him the truth; when he was of age and legally nobody could force him to anything.


"No desire for ubiquitous kisses from gentlemen adorers?" he asked, with a half-grin. "Enlist a lady-friend to help keep you from standing under it?"


(*let's just say it's Italian )

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"Ahh..." she nodded, glanced to the side, and continue on their conversation in Italian.


And as the conversation grew, it became more and more distracting from the game that they played. "It was grief, that had you run away to sea?' she asked with innate empathy. "What was your Grandfather like? He was an old cavalier too, is my guess.*"


Then he was teasing her again. Francis might not know it, but being teased by a gentleman was a rarity for this young lady! She frowned a little, and laughed a bit too, shaking her head in the negative, while blushing at the same time. "I would not like to be caught off guard of that. Not that I would if prepared either." why was she blushing quite so much! Dorothea was in complete denial that she might not mind a kiss from Francis.


"That is a very clever idea." she agreed, "if one could trust the other ladies in the household. They are rather prone to mischief at others expense." here she placed her piece on the board with daring exaggeration (as though trying to change the topic!).



(*excellent plan!)

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"In a way, yes, but I also thought that there was little else to keep me either around London or Devon."


He had never been introduced at court. He had already been planning the business venture with his younger uncle anyway. He had known if he remained that he would be constantly reminded of his grandfather and would have to deal with his mother and grandmother.


"Indeed, he was and of the most devout degree. He spent all of the war either by the Duke of Cumberland's side or the late king's, and after he never capitulated to Parliament. He escaped captivity more than once and had a stay in the Tower." He smiled as he reminisced. Christmastide was the time for such a thing, was it not.


"And what if you were pleasantly surprised?" he asked. "Perhaps it is all in how you look at it. Besides, when there is a lady of rank no gentleman would do such a thing unless he was fairly sure it would be welcome." Traditions of the season were a bit lower than other societal traditions. "You could always offer your hand or cheek and kiss his in return." He doubted such a thing would be out of place. There were plenty of extraordinarily proper ladies about.


"Perhaps you wish me to send undesirables dirty looks?" he asked, as he moved his own piece with his own dramatic flair. Only his signaled the idiocy of his move as he had little idea what he was doing.

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"Your life might have been far different if he'd lived to see you introduced." Dorothea voiced in a quiet-reflective manner, giving a small smile to the man who, for better or worse, had lived a life of great variety as a result.


"If I were a man, I think I would travel. The differences in a new place, is a wonder for the mind. Why, the most curious thing I have noticed is I have not had dreams while traveling, I think it is because my minds imagination is spent already in all of the viewing. Did you find the same thing?"


He told her more of his beloved Grandfather - who by accounts had been a man of unwavering loyalty. "You must be proud." She understood that standing by the Late King had been no small task - though her understanding was only that of history books, and had never heard personal accounts before. In a quietly tentative voice, and still in Italian she asked, "Did the nation weep when the King was slain? Did the tears of patriots give him strength?"


Francis seemed like a gentle optimist as he posed she might be surprised. Dorothea became abashed, and lowered her eyes. Her cheeks pinked as she seemed to study the boards - though she was hardly studying it really. And nodded slowly as he presented her with alternatives. Shyly she gave him a grateful smile. To be honest, she'd not mind listening to more talk of kisses, but it was a naughty subject, so she could hardly encourage it.


"Oh no!" Timely perhaps, his show of bravado evoked her cheerful cry. "If only we played a game of bluff, you would win I am sure. But instead..." and with a poor attempt of hiding her pleasure of it, Dorothea moved her piece that trapped his Dux, signalling her win of the game. It was during her ebullience she admitted, "I would love you to send such looks for me, you might be like my protector! And, I might not even mind the Queens Ladies thinking that!"


Words that she of course instantly regretted, as far too forward and recklessly spoken.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Francis smiled in agreement. His life might have been far different, very true. He had been hidden for a reason; had he been known, he would have been known for everyone now spoke that he looked very much like his father. Uncanny, that was what had been said.


Now few were alive who had known his father well enough to note the resemblance.


The blond gentleman turned baronet, baronet turned baron was not one to complain about his life, though others might have thought it harsh or unfair or even beneath him.


"Hmm, I oft dream unless I am exhausted, so perhaps that has something to do with that. When doing much traveling, I am also far more spent at the end of a day. I over-exert myself when traveling, too much excitement, too much to do and see," he postulated.


As to his grandfather, he said, "It is easy to venerate men such as that. I can only hope to measure up to his example." As to the martyred king, Francis nodded solemnly, as if speaking of such a thing was only to be done with due veneration as well. "Many did, they say there was a joint gasp as the deed was done. I cannot speak to the other." He found it hard to think of what a king might or might not feel. "I only know the stories that were told to me, it was a subject that is difficult to ask questions about," he confessed.


Seldom did one have a candid conversation about anything of substance. Most were concerned of getting something or doing something, and since becoming one of His Majesty's gentlemen, that was only more noticeable. So to speak of deeper thing was welcome in a way.


"When His Majesty was restored, many asked for and received much. Grand things that some might say were not deserving or justified when compared to the loyalty and sacrifices of others. My grandfather, instead, did not wish such; in fact, did the opposite, begged His Majesty not to give him titles that were too grand for only doing his duty." Few ever asked him about his family and those that did wished to know about Buckingham. If more had asked him about his grandfather, they might have learned a thing or two about Francis' model for character. That was the only father he had ever known.


Talk of kisses was swiftly ended by her soundly beating him. He chuckled with good nature and put up his hands.


"I admit defeat on the battlefield!" he chuckled more.


Instead of finding her request forward, he grinned and nodded. He looked at much in life with an easy-going humor. "Even His Highness will agree that I am a steadfast protector of German ladies, so in penance for my defeat, I shall swear myself to your service for the evening." He sat back and licked his lips. Still using their quiet Italian, he continued, "May a baron escort such a highborn lady as yourself?"


For even if he was attending the King that night, she would be with the Queen, and the royal couple would be arriving together for such an event. That was no obstacle.


He rather thought himself unworthy, thus why he did not ask outright. Francis had a hard time fathoming that being Buckingham's pet cousin gave him stature enough, and even with two duchesses in the family, still did not feel fully a part of it all. He was far more humble and unpresuming that most Villiers, to be sure.

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Somehow, with his more open talk of Grandfather, Dorothea had forgotten to ask fo his Father. Perhaps in part due to her lack of more personal relationship with her own Father, who had presided over her life in an absentee manner via governesses, tutors and the like. Men of her Fathers age were oft heavily occupied with ambition and politics, which was the case in her own instance at least.


"Ah, then that is is." she grinned, pleased that he'd experienced the same thing of his dreams. It had felt a slightly silly thing to admit to, she was not sure why shed even said it!


And so instead she quizzed of his Grandfather, a man Francis admitted to wanting imitate. Dorothea nodded softly at that, and gently commented, "Adversity is the great proving ground of character, yet even in peace the true spirit of a person can be perceived."


Dorothea's nature held an love for questing beneath the surface, for thinking deeper into morality and philosophy, to the very heart beneath - thus her trail of questions delved deeper into considering the late king; the father of her childhood friends new husband. Francis could not comment on the man's thoughts and feelings specifically, but Dorothea believed the best of the Martyred king.


Drawing a fresh breath, she then continued, "There is a school of thought that says that it is the every day trials that need ones greatest focus, for a hundred small steps may unwittingly deviate a life. That the challenges in peace also need singular attention."


The topic of kisses rose and fell, with a handy catalyst for change of topic as she won the game. Still, she felt a pleasant glow of what had been said before - and perhaps he did too, for he responded with a pleasant gesture.


"I would be honoured by your escort to the Ball." she voiced with a broad smile. The other Queens ladies would get quite a surprise! Yet that was not even the only reason she was happy to agree. Oh it was not that she hoped anything would come of it, she had her life in Europe all planned. "It shall be wonderful to attend with someone I can actually talk to, rather than prospect of a night spent voicing polite cliché." a pause. "Yet I will not hold you all evening, Lord Kingstone, I understand a popular man such as yourself will have many other plans already made. Perhaps just an hour, enough to take a part, then you can return me to the apartments and carry upon your evenings sport."

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"There has not been much peace for me," he commented. There were few years of his life where there had not been fighting which he either participated in or which impacted his life. "But I hope my character equally honourable in peace or not."


Few knew the deeper recesses of his character. And most were all personages he was close to in position or relation, but who he did not know very well. Perhaps only the King, Buckingham, & York could appreciate it. He was neither grabby nor held a chip on his shoulder over his birth. All three had either told him so or insinuated that he was singular in that way; most of questionable birth who showed up at court wanted something. Francis had only wished his mother taken care of in the entire thing.


He could be pleased with himself for such conduct, but nobody else could know. There were different rewards that one could feel more deeply than title or power, and his grandfather had understood such a thing and now he did as well.


"I think our martyred King is a perfect illustration of just that, but I know from my grandfather that His Late Majesty's concern for the safety of his children was very deep and for the safety of those who had served him well. At the end, I do not think he wished more deaths on his soul, for many would have done more and happily died." One would not hear any critique of the late king from Francis; he had been raised on the sanctity of royalty.


It would seem it was not uncouth for someone such as he to ask to escort her, and so she replied that she would enjoy it, which made him smile. He too would enjoy conversation and as he did not greatly enjoy dancing, he would be happy to have fewer desirous glances coming his direction.


"Ahh, but I shall hear none of that, for I am not so selfish. You must stay until Her Majesty wishes to leave or until you do. I shall not plaster myself to your side, for I know other gentlemen shall wish dances, and I shall only frighten away those you do not wish." He chuckled. "And perhaps you might do the same for me, so that we both might only treat with those that give us pleasure. Or for me, also those who it is my duty to treat with," he added, with a sly grin. A Gentleman of the King had many obligations, but so did the live-in cousin of the Duke of Buckingham.


He would likely have to dance with every Villiers-blooded mother in attendance! No matter how lackluster his dancing ability could be. He would at least have to kiss twenty cheeks!

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Whatever the deeper intricacies of his character, Dorothea found him singularly comfortable company. In his presence she felt unafraid (trepidation of what the English thought of her was usually very present in her mind!)


"I do not know all of the stories." she admitted as Francis hinted of ones that touched upon the Martyred kings family. "Then he knew Charles Rex was safe, before the end." she did not think his heirs safty had been a condition upon Charles the First amicability of execution, but perhaps it was. Gravely she agreed, "Family is the most important thing."


And so it was settled, she would have a charming cavalier as escort to the ball. The young woman grinned of it, even as Francis conjured further plots about the arrangement. It became a wondrous intrigue! (and better yet that he did not seem to think her a spoiler to his own evenings fun, a mere polite duty courtierly offered) "I can hardly imagine your 'fierce face' to frighten others away! You may need a Greek-Mask to do so." her eyes danced at the topic, "but... truly, how will you frighten others away?"


And as a two laned bridge, she need consider how to shoo away ladies he hoped to avoid too.


"How I shall ward other ladies away from you I wonder? Perhaps I shall talk of something so boring they shall make an excuse to leave."

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"If you wish it, I can tell you some of the ones that were told to me sometime." It was hardly a first hand account, but his grandfather was not much for embellishing. "Things about the war that you do not hear," he added.


He expected the time before was like some distant dream for those even still alive who were at court for it, in the late king's earlier reign. The murder of His Majesty's father rather guaranteed that many did not wish to speak of it.


"Well if I spoiled the surprise it shall not be as enjoyable for you," he replied, with a wink. Honestly, he did not think he would have a difficult time. He did have a very strong well-placed glare, even for the pretty sort of man Francis appeared to be. If he could glare sailors into submission...


"Besides, as one of the King's gentlemen, it's part of my duties to keep people away when His Majesty does not wish it. I have a bit of practice now." He grinned. Every gentleman had a decent idea the people the King avoided, affable though he was, so heading courtiers off at the pass became a necessity sometimes.


"If they do not have blonde hair and blue eyes," he joked, with a chuckle, meaning everyone that did not look like a family member!


"And how shall I know who you wish to avoid? You might give me a surreptitious nudge or pinch."

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"Would you tell me one such story - now?" Dorothea asked, not certain if he'd actually meant immediately, or if it was one of those never-never offers spoken to settle a subject away. "Or perhaps at our next game of Latrones would better suit."


It was up to Francis, she having been raised well enough to not be overly pushy of a gentleman.


As for how he'd frighten away ‘unwanted-s’, he kept his method a surprise (for now) sensibly mentioning that it was something he was practised in doing. "I suppose it takes different methods for different types." of the subject she paused to honestly consider.


"Mmm..." his question paused her conversation. But then she admitted how she thought, "May I confess, Lord Kingston, that I do not wish to meet anyone other, especially not frivolous men or women. Yet if there was an opportunity to meet Gentlemen of the Royal Society then I'd be very pleased. Though I would not think we would need worry about recklessly placed Mistletoe around enlightened men!" She added a little jest after her discreetly placed request. Perhaps he’d enable her to meet some of the intellectual men she’d read of? Alas, such men were hardly the sort to approach a little known German girl on their own accord.

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