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Gardening At Night (Tag: Victoria Heart)

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Gardening At Night (Tag: Victoria Heart)

Post by Dumas Tweed on Tue May 05, 2015 1:44 pm

Dumas Tweed spent most of his time in the casino garden.  Even when night came, he rarely bothered returning to his room.  It was easier to curl up on a patch of grass and let the garden sing him to sleep.  The melodic tinkling of wind chimes, the gentle rhythm of water falling into numerous fountains, and the deep bass croaking of the golden frogs who lived in the waterlily pond.  There was nothing so soothing inside the casino -- or, in Dumas’ opinion, nothing so beautiful.  Everything in the garden radiated life and peace.  Those were the things that he needed more than a soft mattress or a hot shower in the morning.  Those were the things that had been stolen from him during the war.

Tonight, Dumas had a special reason to remain.  Sitting with his legs crossed, he cupped his chin in his hands and stared at a particularly large bud.  It was nearly as big around as a manhole cover.  And each folded petal looked large enough to make a glove out of, if you needed gloves the color of a faded grapes.  Under Dumas’s watchful gaze, the flower slowly started to open, releasing its sweet perfume into the night air.  But that wasn’t the miraculous part.  The miraculous part was what it attracted.  Moths, in all shapes and sizes, began arriving from every corner of the garden.  There was an emerald giant, with a pattern like eyes on its wings.  And a swarm of white ones so small that they resembled flakes of snow, caught in a very localized blizzard.

Slowly, Dumas’s lips curled into a smile.  But his happiness was tinged with sadness.  He felt sorry for the humans in the casino, so wrapped up in their decadent pleasures.  They didn’t understand that true joy couldn’t be won with a roll of the dice.  They were so out of touch with their own feelings that they didn’t notice them slowly being siphoned away.  And yet, if they witnessed something like this, surely it would awaken their hearts.

“You should tell them,” Dumas murmured in his brother’s voice.  “You should make them see.”

But Dumas just shook his head vigorously.  If anyone stumbled across him tonight, he would not hide the flower’s miracle from them.  However, he also wouldn’t charge into the casino and drag people out of it.  He’d never been much of a crusader.  And some forces were too powerful to be opposed.


Last edited by Dumas Tweed on Tue May 05, 2015 10:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Gardening At Night (Tag: Victoria Heart)

Post by Victoria Heart on Tue May 05, 2015 8:21 pm

It had been quite some time since Victoria had last ventured into the casino gardens. There never seemed quite enough time in the day to enjoy the simpler pleasures in life, such as a stroll through the gardens to enjoy the exotic beauties growing there. It wasn't that ruling itself kept her tremendously busy, since her court was eager to take on many of the responsibilities for her. There were the odd executions that she had to rule on, and every so often she would meet with the scientists to discuss how best to harvest more exotic emotions, but save for that, everything was being done for her. Which was fine to start off with, but it got so dull! She had too much free time and not enough to fill it with. So she'd begun to book herself up. Meetings with the Spades, lunches and dinners with Veronica, drinks and tasting parties to try out Garrett's new merchandise. It kept the boredom at bay, but it certainly didn't leave any time just for herself.

Tonight had been the obligatory fortnightly visit to The Waiting Room, and as usual, it had put Victoria on edge. It was one of the more distasteful duties that she had to do, but she didn't trust anyone else's opinion in the matter of which oysters were to be sent to The Crucible, and which were to be sent to Sweet Dreams. In part it was a jealousy issue - if she didn't do it, the task would fall to Victor, and the woman couldn't bear the thought of her husband finding an oyster pretty enough to warrant saving. So as much as she detested doing it, she did what she had to. What troubled her wasn't the power over life and death that she held in her perfectly manicured hands; it was how weak and helpless they all looked, sitting on those plastic chairs and awaiting judgment on their fate. Resigned and defeated. No spirit left. It hardly seemed fair to throw them all into an arena and pit them against each other just for entertainment's sake.

But she did it anyway, because the queendom had gotten used to such a sport and if word got out that she stopped the games just because she felt an inkling of sympathy for the oysters, the Resistance would topple her regime in a heartbeat. The rebels would try to use any weakness that was presented to get back into power, and there was no way Victoria would allow for such a thing to happen. She'd worked hard to get where she was, and she wasn't about to let her cousin's sister take control over the realm. One White on the throne had been more than enough.

With all the verdicts on the latest batch of useless oysters passed, Victoria strode out of the casino, shooing her bodyguards away. The cool night air was a pleasant change after the stuffy room, and the woman took in a deep breath before starting to run towards the gardens. There was a tranquility and magic there that couldn't be found anywhere else in the casino, and it had always calmed her in times of distress. As her shoes crunched on the pale gravel, Victoria reached out to gently touch the soft petals of the closest rose, a smile curling up the corners of her mouth. Closing her eyes, she stood for a long moment, letting the rich perfume of the blossoms take her away, if only for a moment. As the unease began to melt away, she began to hum to herself, strolling further and further into the gardens. She'd forgotten how much she loved this place.

notes In the series, The Waiting Room was a room where oysters that had regained consciousness were sent to until they could be sedated again. I'm thinking that our one is where they send the ones too drained to be of further use until they decide what's to be done with them. Also, I didn't mean for it to become so long, so don't feel you have to match the length! I tend to ramble with starting posts xD
outfit Rose dress and red cape with heart clasp
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Re: Gardening At Night (Tag: Victoria Heart)

Post by Dumas Tweed on Thu May 07, 2015 12:41 am

Soft humming alerted Dumas to a new presence in the garden. For a moment, he simply bobbed his head in time with its melody, while continuing to watch the flower bloom. But as the sound drew closer, curiosity got the better of him. Plants lived at a very slow pace compared to their animal cousins. And their emotions were much simpler. So, despite the deep love that Dumas felt for them, they didn’t excite his imagination like people. Even if he rarely found the courage to interact with anyone who visited his garden, he still enjoyed observing them from afar. He always tried to guess what they were like. What had brought them out here, to a part of the casino where relatively few guests ever went? Were they lost? Sad? Or just searching for a moment of natural beauty?

Scrambling upright, Dumas crept toward the humming, his bare feet moving silently over extremely familiar ground. It wasn’t long until he saw her, illuminated by light from the paper lanterns hanging in a nearby cherry tree. A stately woman, dressed in red, with black hair spilling over her bare shoulders like an inky waterfall. Dumas couldn’t help noticing that even in her apparently relaxed state, her movements contained the same dangerous grace as a predator. Then she turned toward him, and his breath caught in his throat. This was no ordinary woman. This was the absolute ruler of all Wonderland. And the absolute ruler of his heart, although Dumas imagined she would consider that a far less glorious title.

“Victor--” Dumas began, before remembering his place. Hastily, he dropped to one knee and bowed his head. “I mean, my Queen.”

He’d interacted with her during the planning of this garden, but that had been purely business. She was usually surrounded by so many people -- advisors, bodyguards, simpering sycophants. Dumas always seemed to vanish into the crowd. It felt very different to be with her now, just the two of them. Frightening. But also electric, like anything might happen. Cautiously, Dumas raised his head just long enough to steal a quick peek at her. Several of the tiny white moths had abandoned the flower and now flitted around her instead.

Like moths to a flame.
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Re: Gardening At Night (Tag: Victoria Heart)

Post by Victoria Heart on Sun May 10, 2015 11:55 pm

With every step deeper into the garden, Victoria couldn't help but marvel at the beauty around her. She'd had doubts about putting a garden in the casino originally; the humans were needed at the gambling tables, and she hadn't thought the rich Wonderlanders would want to spend their time amongst plants and nature. Plants couldn't provide the sort of thrills a roulette table or dancers could. They didn't do much; they were just there. But she'd quickly learned of their use. They relaxed, calmed, and made one forget about all the wrongs they'd done. Here in the gardens she could just forget about everything.

The woman gave a startled jump as she rounded a corner, not having expected anyone else to be in the gardens this late at night, but instantly regained her composure. Queens, or at least this queen, wasn't supposed to show such petty emotions such as fright. Upon seeing the newcomer, her shoulders relaxed and an easy smile came to rest on her lips as she took a step forward, bowing her head in greeting. "Dumas. I would have thought you would have left by now. Is gardening by moonlight the latest craze?" she asked with a quirk of an eyebrow and just a hint of playful teasing in her tone.

As she studied him in the warm lantern glow, memories of finding the most beautiful bouquets of crimson roses all over the Red castle in her youth suddenly came unbidden into her mind and Victoria ducked her head, pretending to be interested in the blooms of the nearby magnolia bush, lest he see her blush. He had never stated that they were from him, but she'd known. No one else knew of her love for red roses. The gardeners always gave her ghastly bunches of white and pink roses, deeming them more appropriate for a young lady than a blood red bloom. Worse still was when the gardeners got the rose bushes for the two kingdoms mixed up and Victoria would have to put up with snow white blooms underneath her window. They never stayed long after that.

A moth brushed up against her cheek, its tiny wings merely a tickle. With a soft chuckle, Victoria reached to brush the creature away. She'd enjoyed getting those roses, not that she would have openly admitted to anyone. She sometimes regretted not having talked with him, gotten to know the person kind enough to leave her those beautiful presents. But her head was too full of dreams of power, and besides that she was worried about what the rumour mill would start saying about such a friendship.  

Annoyed at herself for the bittersweet memories, Victoria bit the inside of her lip hard. Trying her best to push these thoughts away lest she get all soppy and sentimental, she turned back to Dumas, the silk of her dress sighing softly. "It's so beautiful out tonight," she murmured softly, gazing up at the sky for a moment before settling her gaze on him again. "Do you often stay here this late?"
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Re: Gardening At Night (Tag: Victoria Heart)

Post by Dumas Tweed on Thu May 14, 2015 3:50 am

Dumas blushed when Victoria teased him, and his gaze dropped back to the ground. But a small smile budded on his lips. Although he knew it could never mean what he wanted it to mean, he still felt extremely flattered that she remembered his name -- just one name out of so many who served her. And Dumas certainly wasn’t the handsomest or most charming. The only grand gesture he’d ever made was leaving her the roses, and he assumed that she thought those were from one of her other suitors. She’d had plenty, even back then.

“Most plants drink the light of the sun,” Dumas answered. “But there are also those that sip the moon’s soft glow. A wise gardener tends to both.” Dumas felt reluctant to tell Victoria that he usually slept in the garden. After all, she’d given him a perfectly nice room in the casino, and she might be offended that he rarely used it. Or she might worry that his presence out here would upset the casino patrons. What if one of them stumbled across him and got upset because they thought some homeless refugee was living in the garden? Fortunately, Dumas always chose his sleeping places carefully, completely concealed from the paths anyone was likely to walk.

“And what about yourself, My Queen? What brings you to the garden at this hour?” Dumas was especially curious why she’d come alone, although he didn’t dare inquire directly. It was bold enough for a commoner to speak with her at all, much less ask personal questions. But he still wondered. Where was Victor? Was there some sort of trouble between them? Surprisingly, Dumas hoped not. He’d never resented Victoria’s husband -- probably because Victor was so far out of his league that the term ‘rival’ didn’t even apply. Since Dumas didn’t have any hope of competing for Victoria’s affection, he just wanted her to be happy.

Trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, Dumas shifted his weight slightly. It would be rude to stop kneeling until Victoria gave him permission. But his leg was starting to cramp. Of course, he would gladly endure a body full of cramps just to remain in her presence. “Would you like a tour?” he offered shyly. “The glow berry bushes are coming into season. And I just lit the floating candles on the water lily pond. You should see the way the goldfish play with them. It’s like a watery ballet.”
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Re: Gardening At Night (Tag: Victoria Heart)

Post by Victoria Heart on Mon May 18, 2015 10:49 pm

A gentle breeze played with the her hair as she listened to Dumas' answer. Interesting. Victoria had never thought that some plants would prefer the moon's light rather than the sun's. But there was something fascinating about plants that chose to grow and thrive in the darkness, rather than in the light like most. Not unlike humans humans, now that she thought of it. Some flourished in the light, while some thrived better in the shadows. Both remarkable in their own way.

His question made her wrinkle her nose slightly, distaste flitting through her eyes as thoughts of the evening's events came back, but it was soon replaced by nonchalance. "I needed some time to myself. To breathe and think without someone watching my every move. And although the casino is my pride and joy, it can give one the feeling of being a bird stuck in a cage. The gardens are the perfect place to shake that feeling," she replied, turning to look at her concrete-and-glass baby for a long moment. She contemplated telling him about the visit to the Waiting Room, but decided against it. This impromptu meeting was too lovely to spoil with thoughts and talk of oysters that had passed their prime.

A look of surprise crossed her features at him still kneeling, and taking a few steps towards Dumas, Victoria placed a hand on his shoulder, cocking her head to the side as she looked at him before giving her head a gentle shake. "You don't have to kneel for me," she told him softly. Chivalry was dead. No one ever kneeled before her any more, unless they were awaiting the verdict on an execution or were new to court. A tingle ran up her fingers from where she touched his shoulder and Victoria quickly removed her hand, clearing her throat. "I just mean that no one does it any more. Not really. Everyone usually just bows, or if they do kneel, they're up in ten seconds anyway. Chivalry's dead," she added with a wry laugh. "Or whatever you want to call it."

At his offer, a warm smile lit up her expression and she gave a nod. "I'd lo-- I'd like that very much, thank you. It sounds very beautiful, though I'd forgotten we even had goldfish...!" It had certainly been too long since she'd last visited and now that she was here, Victoria wanted to explore as much of this nocturnal beauty as she could. "Lead the way..."
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Re: Gardening At Night (Tag: Victoria Heart)

Post by Dumas Tweed on Mon May 25, 2015 7:17 am

Dumas saw the pride in Victoria’s expression as she gazed at the casino.  It was her masterpiece, just as the garden was his.  And, although Dumas seldom went inside, he had to concede that it was a magnificent place.  The shining steel walls, the windows which glittered like precious jewels, and the interior filled with rooms painted in every imaginable shade of red.  The casino resembled a giant crown -- a crown stained by blood.  Perhaps no other comparison better highlighted the similarities and the differences between Dumas and his Queen.  They both shared the same desire to create, to give form to the visions that danced in their dreams.  Victoria had produced something dazzling, and dangerous, and strong.  Dumas had built a landscape of much more subtle beauty, where little could cause harm and fragility made each plant even more precious.  Yet, both had been constructed for Wonderland, their respective gifts to a world they loved with equal passion.

“Only the most desirable birds earn gilded cages,” Dumas murmured, too shy to meet her eyes as he spoke.  “And only the most clever learn to escape them.”  Still, despite his praise, Victoria’s words saddened Dumas.  She’d fought so hard to claim this life for herself, he’d never imagined that she might sometimes feel trapped in it.  But perhaps being Queen hadn’t turned out exactly like she’d expected.  So few things ever did.  And the price had been great, losing her parents and her son.  Perhaps this was another way in which they were similar.  The garden was not a cage for Dumas, not exactly.  It was more of a refuge.  Unfortunately, even a refuge could become a cage if you hid in it for long enough.

Dumas’s heart nearly stuttered to a halt when Victoria rested her hand on his shoulder.  All the nerves in his body and all the cells in his brain focused exclusively on the spot of contact, making everything else go a bit haywire.  His breath trembled in his lungs and his vision blurred.  No one had touched him in a long time.  And for her to do it...the woman that he desired above all others...it was almost too much.  Dumas couldn’t even speak until she withdrew her hand.  “I like kneeling before you,” he confessed, his voice still a little shaky.  But he found the courage to look up at her, his eyes shining with adoration.  “I want to show how much you mean to me.  How much I would do for you if you ever asked.”

Chivalry’s dead.  Dumas wondered if the war had killed it, as it killed so much else.  However, Victoria’s acceptance of his offer quickly banished all thoughts about that terrible time.  Eagerly, Dumas bounced to his feet, a wide grin stretched across his face.  He loved showing people his garden.  And showing it to Victoria would be a true delight.  Beckoning for her to follow him, Dumas started off at a brisk pace.  He hardly knew where to start.  The whispering willow?  The flower’s ballroom?  The icicle orchard?  However, since he’d already mentioned the glow berry bushes, that made a good jumping off point for the tour.  Leading Victoria beneath an archway ovegrown with blossoming vines, Dumas pointed out a small cluster of shrubs.  At first glance, it seemed that they had been wrapped with strings of multi-colored lights, until closer inspection revealed that the ‘lights’ were actually the berries produced by the bushes.  Carefully, Dumas picked a few of the ripest ones, which he handed to Victoria.  Then he selected a purple one for himself.  Even removed from the bush, the berries continued to glow.

“They taste really good,” Dumas informed, popping one into his mouth.  “Sort of like sugar mixed with moonlight.  But they make your mouth turn colors.”  Feeling slightly silly, Dumas stuck out his tongue, which was indeed glowing a faint shade of purple.
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