Today we have a very special treat! Please give a warm welcome to Catriona from Words of a Bluebird. Catriona has written an original short story in honor of our event!
Peace and Provocation (A Short Story)
by Catriona Heyworth
Where characters from Persuasion, Lola and The Boy Next Door, The Inheritance Cycle, Harry Potter, and Paper Towns attempt a peaceful dinner party.
Anne was a hurricane, though chaos was not created by her presence, it was banished. Her nervous energy made everyone around her jittery, and her husband came up beside her, putting his hands on her shoulders to calm her down.
“I’m awfully nervous, Frederick. It’s the first party we’ve held since before Emma was born.”
“Darling, you’ll do splendidly. You always have loved these dances and dinner parties.” As she was still looking unconvinced, Frederick implored Lady Russell to help by way of a pleading glance. Abandoning the gigantic vase of petunias she was carrying on a side cabinet, she took both hands of her friend.
“Anne, honestly. They’ve probably never been to a party with this much elegance. You should worry more about your china than you should of their opinions. Just their names; Radar, Ginny, Cricket! I think that says much for their social statuses. You’ll feel better once you’ve met them. It will be fine.” Anne chuckled, shaking her head at the exaggerated snobbery.
“I know you don’t mean that, but thank you. You are a good friend.”
The great beat of wings signalled the arrival of the first guests; only the sound was muffled by a quick spell they had cast to keep their less-than-conventional method of transport a secret. The figures swept off their dragons, and after a brief farewell, the beautiful beasts flew away.
The male figure scowled at the sky, angry that he had to leave Saphira for so long.
“Why do we even have to do this? It’s a foolish dinner party.”
“Stop complaining. We must ensue ties with all the nobles of this foreign land are strong. Eragon, I wish you hadn’t brought your sword. I know you listened to Nasuada; it isn’t correct etiquette to bring swords to social gatherings in this kingdom.”
“I could hardly leave Alagaësia without it! Anyway, you took your bow, which is just as dangerous.”
“It’s ornamental, and hasn’t been strung in two centuries. It is a representation of the wealth of our lands, as we are a representation of the strength. We must look powerful – lest they try to take our country. You do remember what happened last time a human had possession of our land, don’t you?”
“Yes, I killed him with this sword. Stop being petty, Arya. You’ve been apart from Elven lands for too long.” When she looked at his stern face, she frowned at his coldness.
“Eragon, I implore you to put aside your troubles with me for this evening. Remember only that we are a united front for our kingdom.”
“Heavens, Arya!” He exclaimed, halting at the sweeping steps to the doorway and facing her, “Is all you think about fighting for the kingdom. We fought for it. We won. We aren’t in a war anymore, and sooner or later you are going to have to face your feelings for me.” She turned away from his intense glare, flushing.
“I cannot.” Straightening her skirt, she marched up the steps and knocked twice on the large, ornate knocker of their hosts. She stiffly turned her head to her companion, who, after a composing shake of his head, had glided with the serenity of an Elf, and was now offering her his arm. With a brief nod, she tucked a hand through, and convincing smiles graced their supernaturally beautiful features as the door swung open to reveal the calm, slim figure of Anne Elliot.
Following the arrival of her first two guests, Anne was not feeling better. The exotic clothes of the strangers pulled her eyes to them, but their beauty and their fierce, majestic weapons made them frighteningly threatening.
Thankfully, the other guests arrived promptly and together, and in the bustling excitement they brought, Anne was able to snap into hostess duty, with not much thought as to the guests themselves.
Unfortunately, Frederick could not, and as his wife settled on making tea and the final preparations for dinner, he could barely manage to hide his bemusement at the characters as he led them to the dining room.
He sat at the head of the table, with a girl called Lola Nolan on his right, with her fiancé, Cricket, on her right, while Anne sat opposite Lola. (After much deliberation, they had decided Anne should sit next to him, as opposed to the typical arrangement of the hosts sitting on opposite ends of the table, as this night was going to be far from typical, and they felt better sitting close.) The fierce man with the sword, Eragon, sat at the opposite head of the table, with Arya on his left, and a strange, robed figure called Ron opposite her. He had brought his wife, Hermione, and his sister, Ginny – both of whom were also in beautiful, embroidered robes made from fine material; which Lady Russell was fascinated by.
The final two guests had the strangest names, and Frederick tried hard to remember them, but he found it very difficult, and had to keep asking Anne. Quentin Jacobson and Radar.
Frederick was pleased about how well they settled, and stood up to make a brief speech.
“Hello friends, welcome to our home. We are delighted to have you here today; we hope your journeys treated you well. We especially welcome Eragon and Arya, who have travelled a long, long distance to be with us, which must have taken many weeks, so thank you.” Raising his glass, he toasted; “to friendship!” A cheery reply was returned, and he settled back into his chair.
Anne nodded subtly at the maid in the corner, and plates of food began to be brought in. Frederick noted thankfully that no one looked disappointed or confused at the food – he understood that his friend Darcy had encountered some problems when hosting these parties for otherworldly folk.
“Frederick, what do you do for a living?” The girl next to him drew him out of his daydreams and into conversation. As he tucked in to his meal, he smiled at the faint babble of conversation around the table.
“I don’t work at the moment. I used to be in the navy, and after I left, I had enough money to settle down here with Anne. How about you?” She grinned enthusiastically,
“I’m currently studying fashion, actually. Hopefully after that, I will be a designer.” Frederick inclined his head, interested by her sparkling eyelids and bright clothes.
As their mutual interest grew, mutual hatred was brewing elsewhere, as Eragon noticed how the loud, inappropriate boy showed a particular interest in Arya, and he glared at him. Radar didn’t notice, but Arya did, and she put a hand on Eragon’s soothingly, instead drawing the beautiful Hermione into a heated, but friendly, discussion about the correct way of making a healing herb more potent through magic.
Without Arya’s attention, Radar exchanged snappy jokes with the scruffy looking redhead, Ron, and Eragon relaxed into a discussion with the respectful boy, Quentin. This became more intense, and as Quentin started to question the grand adventures he had had, Eragon felt like he was in an interrogation, but he liked the passion for adventure which Quentin clearly had, and he was more than happy to answer his questions. It had been long since he met someone who hadn’t heard of his legacy.
Anne was feeling much better. Now that the starter had been well received, she was more confident in the situation, and after admiring the strong benevolence of Ginny, she asked her about her interests.
She was very passionate about her career, which was very important to Ginny, and made her very happy. She worked in the supernatural school she was taught at when she was younger, and enjoyed working with the children there. She had three children of her own, who both went to the school, and she was hoping for another, as they were the most precious things to her in the world.
She made Anne’s heart swell, as she felt herself relating to everything she was saying, and Ginny was very interested in Emma, Anne’s own child.
As the main course came around, the conversations gradually stopped, as they ate, and Anne felt Frederick’s hand squeeze hers under the table. She smiled back at him, and he grinned, relieved that she was finally relaxing. The guests were comfortable, his wife was content, and he was happy. This dinner would be fine.
Eragon and Arya heard the noise first, and they looked up at each other with mild interest. The mild interest turned into mild alarm as they heard a man stagger heavily up the stairs at the front of the house. They could feel the presence of the stranger, and after briefly examining his mind; Eragon knew he wished no harm on the inhabitants.
“There is another guest.” He informed Frederick, who covered his surprise at Eragon’s supernatural abilities well. They were always difficult for people from this land to understand, but someone had clearly warned the host of them, for he merely stood up, and strode calmly through to the front door, which was around the corner; concealed from view from the guests.
Although Eragon could hear the conversation between the two men perfectly, he found the dialect of the entrant slurred, and very difficult to understand, so he kept his eyes on Arya to help him concentrate.
“Fred-e-rick.” The stranger stuttered, stumbling over the flat carpet and falling on the floor, face down. Eragon cocked his eyebrow at Arya, who nodded, and he rose; going to Frederick’s aid.
It took both men to get the drunk upstairs and into the bed of an unused room. Frederick explained who he was in the process.
“His name is Darcy, and he is probably the most wealthy man in England, excluding the King. He is a friend, and is married to my wife’s best friend, Elizabeth, who organises many of these gatherings for various people of importance, to grow friendship and peace throughout all habitable lands. A very impressive woman, who also tries to keep Darcy in check. Unfortunately, he likes to have a drink or two. And this is what happens when he does.”
“Is he going to be alright?”
“Oh yes, as long as George Wickham doesn’t seem him, no-one will harm him! The drink will leave his system. I will send a message right away to Elizabeth to tell her that he is here though, so I must excuse myself.” Eragon bowed his head in the respected etiquette, and Frederick did the same, before hurrying away to the servant’s rooms.
Eragon stayed with the man, and was reminded of royal Alagaësian wedding feasts, where the men would drink themselves into a stupor in the final day of the celebration, and they would pass out in various states all over the castle.
It was probably the distraction that impeded his senses, so the intruder was able to sneak through the back door, into the kitchen. He made it to the bottom of the stairs, before Arya picked up the hostile noise, and appeared in front of him.
“Who are you?” She demanded, a hand on her bow in case he became violent. The stranger didn’t reply, and she stepped forward threateningly.
Anne, noticing Arya’s disappearance, excused herself from the table. The guests had politely resumed conversation, though the missing members were noticed.
“Wickham?” Anne questioned, as the bright light of the dining room faded into the dimly lit hall. Noticing the name from Eragon’s conversation upstairs, Arya called for him, and he appeared next to her, his sword half-drawn.
“What are you doing here?” Frederick said, hurrying to stand partly in front of Anne. Wickham smiled sardonically, a crazy look in his eye, and Arya wondered about his sanity.
“Killing Darcy. Finally.”
Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth (Persuasion), Eragon and Arya (The Inheritance Cycle) Hermione, Ron and Ginny (Harry Potter), Quentin and Radar (Paper Towns), Cricket and Lola (Lola and The Boy Next Door), and Darcy and Wickham (Pride and Prejudice)
Emma (Emma), Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice), Nasuada (The Inheritance Cycle), and a few more.
I really hope you enjoyed this short story – I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you are having fun with this great event!