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A Pampered Princess ((OOC welcome))


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Despite all the surprises and day to day dramas that popped up, her life was one of routine. Some days broke the cycle. After all, it was not in her usual schedule to find a potentially poisoned needle pointed at her, to summon and slay a Primal, to help some deranged Elezen investigate a vandalized rug and stumble upon a ring of slavery and fraud, to be ambushed by Garleans sometimes to triumph over them and perhaps sometimes to fall to them, but such things happened from to time. Still, most days were generally the same.


She woke up before the sun after a night of little sleep, a light breakfast and some tidying around the house to start the day. It was a large house, up-to-date, well kept and well decorated, but it was no mansion. Truth be told, she had the money for such. Between her own income, her family's inherited wealth, and that... mysterious revenue that seemed to pay all her bills (it certainly wasn't the company's meager profits--those simply went straight back into the company's funding), the noblewoman had more gil than most would even suspect from her already posh bearing.


However, only a fraction was spent on herself. It was true, she liked items of quality: She bought clothes of the current fashions, fresh flowers to brighten her home and office, luxurious perfumes and expensive jewels, bath soaps and body scrubs and face powders every beauty product under the sun, the finest fabrics for which to sew, the most sturdy and stylish furniture, the most praised teas and wines. She was not above spoiling herself nor displaying her wealth.


However, the majority of her income went elsewhere. A large portion went to funding the company, to purchasing supplies and maintaining the estate. Another chunk to various charity organizations, sometimes in the name of the company, or sometimes in her own name (never anonymous, however--she was a business woman, first and foremost, and marketing herself and her company was a particular talent of hers). Another small portion went to much more simple "donations"--a meal for a hungry passerby, a mercenary employed out of pity rather than need, a handful of gil for a beggar, a hearty sack of coins for a certain blonde-haired barmaid harassed by Ul'dah's "authorities" for alleged debts.


She could have hired a maid--or five--to clean her house. She had considered it. It took time and energy she was not always certain she had. However, if one wants something done right, one must do it herself. That was her mantra, and recent events had only made her more certain of its truth. Once her manor was spotless, she could move on with her day.


Next, hair and makeup, picking out the perfect outfit for the day and accessories to match, ensuring her appearance was presentable. What was more important than one's appearance, after all? It was a first impression, the simplest basis on how the world would judge you, how everyone would perceive you. One who could not maintain their appearance could not maintain their life at all. Who would take you seriously if your clothes did not match? Who would respect you if your hair was a mess? Who would find you pleasant if you couldn't muster a nice smile?


She would ensure she was pleased with what she saw in the mirror, and then, out the door she went to travel to the estate and slip quietly into her office. There, it was all mountains of paperwork. Applications, requests, letters, ledgers, complaints, reports, bills, anything and everything, from within the company and without. Her only excitement would be when a member of the company popped in with some complaints or troubles on their mind. She'd sit them down, offer drinks, and do her best to find the kind words and smiles to reassure them and calm their minds, and then send them on their way.


Every so often they'd come with lighter intentions, ideas or simple updates to share, perhaps even just to chat and catch up, or even with praise for her or another member of the company. It was then Faye was reminded why she did all she did. Perhaps the company did not liberate dozens of people every day, and perhaps she did not personally play a hand in every single mission, but to see the smiles of those in Harbingers--smiling because they were in Harbingers--seemed like a worthwhile reason in itself for the company to exist day to day.


As she worked between these infrequent visits, somewhere in the afternoon she found time for tea, and if lucky a light lunch, as well. Afterward, she'd take a break and venture out of her office at last, wandering out to run the errands of the day, be they personal or for the company. Thank the Twelve for the aethernet and having the gil to afford its frequent use--she'd be doomed if she couldn't teleport all around Eorzea each day. She would attend a few meetings--both business and social, deliver whatever letters and packages may be needed, and stop by a few merchants and stores.


After that, it was back to the estate once more. The evenings were a bit different than the morning, the majority of her work already done. She would finish whatever still needed done, and then simply relax and kill time in her office, wishing to remain present there in case anyone at the estate needed her, as the evenings seemed to be the time the company house saw the most traffic. She'd simply wait for visits, much like the same she saw in the mornings.


This particular evening, however, the routine had been broken. Sure, she could consider it a typical evening's visit from a company member, but she knew better, even if most would not.


Bwwrr bwwwwrr bwwwwwr.


Faye ignored the whirring sound, agitated as she was beginning to grow, only continuing to print out the letter she was writing, though her penmanship may have suffered from the annoyance. She'd done a good job of ignoring him so far; she would not give him the satisfaction of recognition.




The sound grew louder and faster, and she peered up sharply, slamming her hand and the pen it held down upon her desk. "Will you stop that?" she snapped. He complied, resting his hand upon the globe on her side table and suddenly halting its spinning as quickly as she wished she could stop the violent spinning of her own world, silencing the noise.


"I heard the company's been having trouble," he stated now that she'd finally addressed him in some form.


"Are we ever not?" she retorted, disinterested, returning her attention to the parchment before her.


"No, I mean serious trouble. You know, attempted murders, threats on your life, in-fighting, officers demoted."


"What of it? What does it interest you?" she queried with a hapless shrug of her shoulders, reclaiming her pen.


"Why would it not interest me?"


She gritted her teeth, giving up any hope of getting any work done and instead lifted her gaze to glare at the man. "Why are you even here?"


"Why? Your husband made it pretty clear to me some time ago that he expects me to spend more time around the estate and the company. Speaking of, you may want to have a talk with him. That and similar incidents lead me to believe he thinks he is in some position able to threaten me and, well, you and I both know who has the upper hand here and the repercussions of disobedience."


She scowled, unamused by the answer and even more so by the following tangent. "No. I mean here. In my office."


"You don't have time for family visits?" he asked, one corner of her lips curling upward into a smug grin, fully aware of the reaction his words would provoke.


Faye clenched her jaw, trying to calm herself at least a little before anything too rash flew out of her mouth. "We are not family," she said flatly before accidentally neglecting her "inside voice." "How moronic do you think I am? Zularti suddenly returns, and just like that you're hanging around here all the time?"


"Can't Zularti and I be friends? I mean, we've spent a lot of time together and become pretty good pals." He leaned nearer to the globe so that he was at eye-level with the miniature Hydaelyn ilms away from his face, inspecting it closely, giving it a carefully slow and controlled spin to inspect in great detail each land that passed by his eyes.


Faye gave up any attempt to remain being civil. She reached for the marble paper weight upon her desk, lobbing it across the room. Unfortunately, she was no marksman, especially not in her agitated state. It hit the wall next to the man's had with a loud thud before bouncing off the wooden side table and shaking its contents, then clattering sharply onto the polished tile floor where it wobbled a bit before settling to a stop. It was several seconds before he bothered to stop inspecting the globe to peer down at the paper weight near his booted feet, arching one brow.


"How stupid do you really believe I am!?" she hissed. "Zularti said he was kidnapped by Garleans asking him questions about his health and his eye! And then they just let him go, and he shows up here, followed by you? And what other nonsense have you been up to? When Lan was controlled? The Imperials after Mister Donne? The woman who showed up at our estate claiming to have ties with Garlemald?"


As she barraged him with angry questions, he bent to pick up the paper weight and straightened, turning toward her desk and making his way toward her with slow calculated steps. She likely would have continued her one-way interrogation, but she fell silent the moment he took a step toward her. He advanced, heavy armor shifting with quiet, metallic clinks with each motion and she eyed him uncertainly, doing her best not to look like a deer in the headlights and only half succeeding, frozen and rigid in her seat.


He came to a pause as he reached her desk, only the flimsy wooden construct separating them. Recalling the last time she'd been cornered there, Faye spared the desk a spiteful glance. Godsdamn that blasted desk. Why hadn't she burned it to ash and bought a new one? She quickly snapped her attention back to the armored man when he spoke.


"Do you believe that I have a hand in every single thing Garlemald and one of its people does? That I would tell you? That I could tell you?" he asked calmly, voice clear and measured. He gently rested the paper weight upon her desk. "You dropped this."


She stared at him for some time before she finally remembered she could blink, and shortly after remembered she could glare. "Why?" the singular word slipped from her tongue, little context given to the question of one syllable, but somehow he seemed to understand.


"I have a proposition for you. Granted, it's not one you haven't heard before." The tone of his voice had sobered, shifting from the mocking and flippant tone he had used earlier to something more sincere and serious. With that, she dropped her own guard, relaxing slightly in her high-backed chair and allowing her shoulders to slump.


"Proposition?" she echoed reluctantly, urging him on.


He nodded his head. "Come with me. Leave Eorzea. Things are going to become very... difficult in the near future. I'm sure you understand this is a complicated situation. It would be in your best interest to come with us."


She pressed her rosy lips into a tight frown, icy blue eyes staring up at him defiantly at the mere suggestion.


"You'd be like royalty there. The long lost daughter of one of the most powerful families in the empire--you would be an instant celebrity. You'd have riches to which your wealth here could not even compare. You'd have power beyond anything you could dream of here. You could even bring your husband with you." He canted his head to the side, a hint of that taunting tone returning, "Or, should it better suit you, you could forget that arrangement and leave him behind, and you could have men throwing themselves at you, begging for your hand in marriage."


Faye sneered, her nose wrinkling in disdain. "And what makes you believe I am not content with what I have here?"


He shook his head, beginning to work his way around the desk toward her. "Because I know you better than that. I know the blood that runs through your veins. You will never be content. You will always want more, more of everything. You will never settle for less than it all. You are relentlessly ambitious. We are. That's why we're where we are in life. That's what makes us so powerful, so dangerous."


She struggled to maintain the dirty look she gave him. "You're wrong. You don't know me at all. I'm nothing like you, or him, or the rest of you."


"You've been tainted by this savage land, but underneath it all, you're much the same." He stepped closer. "Why stay here? Why cling to this place? The people here resent you. You give them your all, and you remain more. They don't see it, but I do, and you do, too. You do all you can to ensure their well-being, all you can for the sake of the group as a whole, and they turn around and resent you for doing that very thing. That same thing they expect and demand of you, they turn around and attack you for as if it was a crime when it stops working in their benefit. They're so quick to demand you act as a leader when someone they dislike poses a problem, but when they pose a problem themselves, they despise you for acting as a leader. Why stay in this place where you throw your life away for people--literally in the case of those you heal--who condemn you for that very action? You're better than that. You deserve more than that. Why stay? Are you really such a glutton for punishment? I don't peg you for a masochist, Faye."


Faye swallowed hard, unable to give any immediate response. Instead, she was actually forced to consider his words. A tempting offer, tempting enough to sway even her stubborn resolve... She could have all she desired at her beck and call. A land of possibility lay before her. And what did she have here? Stress and criticism? Resentment and enemies? Exhaustion and frustration, adversity at every turn? Bad memories to haunt her? She was not even seen as a person here. She was a "leader"--some inhuman entity, some abstract concept of person who was not a person, who existed only to please her followers (never mind them all demanding different, often conflicting things of her), who could never think for herself, never feel, never err. No, she was supposed to be above that. She was supposed to be above being a normal person, and then they'd turn around and tear her down for thinking herself too superior to them. She was a scapegoat, the perfect person to blame for their own failings, their own hypocrisy, their own disobedience.


She could flee all her responsibilities, all the negativity. Let them see how they'd fare without her! The company would dissolve in a day. They'd all move on in hopes of greener pastures and find there were none, that disagreements and chaos happened everywhere in the world they could go and they simply had to learn how to deal with it. How long before even half of them got themselves killed without her around to babysit them, police them and protect them? They'd be lost without her, she was sure of it, and let them!


What did she have to lose? A sliver of pride lost by giving in to those she resented, maybe even admitting they'd been right along? It was little in way of collateral. She had learned the hard way that trying to cling onto pride was a lost cause. And Val, he would leave Eorzea and all the work and hardship there that kept them apart at times in a heartbeat. She knew that already? So what was there tying her to the place of her birth? Ah... there was still one thing. Zularti. How would she even speak to him again? Even if she could still contact him, how could she speak with him again? He'd hate her. He'd be furious. He'd be betrayed. He'd probably wish she was dead. He'd probably regret all the times he saved her from danger's grasp. His resentment she could deal with even as it would kill her inside; knowing that she hurt him enough to cause it, she could not handle. Besides, how long would he last without her around to look out for him and keep him out trouble? Everyone else either thought he was a fool and didn't care to help or see the value in him, or was enough of a fool themselves to go along with everything he said or let him do whatever he pleased. Only she could keep him safe as he had done for her.


Faye drew in a ragged breath. "I can't. I have things to do here. I won't leave. I won't abandon everyone and everything for selfish refuge among my enemies," she said the words with conviction, the type of conviction where she was trying just as hard to reassure herself of this as she was him.


His lips fell, a hint of disappointment and maybe even pity flashing across his features before he gave a disapproving shake of his head. "I hope you understand what you're doing. You're making a grave mistake, Faye."


She did understand. She knew she was as good as signing her own death sentence, and for all the hatred and doubt thrown her way couldn't even fully enjoy her life until the time came. But she would not let him sway her. 'Being a leader is a thankless job.' 'Doing the right thing never gets you praise, only resentment.' The familiar words were practically her mantra, and she realized at some point had become the sole basis of her life, with all the painful ways they'd been proven true to her. Being a leader was nothing but silent suffering. And she would endure it. She couldn't explain why she did the things she did. Who would listen? Who would care? Who could understand? Who would even try to? Want to? Their minds were made up; explaining and defending herself was wasted breath. It was easier just to let them hate her and pretend she didn't care, or even that their hatred was what she desired. Let them think her the villain if it made their lives easier; her own would be just as complicated either way. When her words would be ignored anyway, explaining only seemed like an act of depseration.


She knew she would die for her cause and be shamed and blamed all the way. And when she was gone, she'd be remembered as a victim at best and a traitor at worst, never as a hero or martyr. "My mind is made. Get out of my office," she muttered the words, averting her gaze to stare at a very interesting grain of wood on that damned desk.


He did just as she asked, turning and walking out the door without another word nor gesture, and with that, routine returned and the day was at once normal again, even if her mind was not. Rattled as she was, work was a lost cause. Instead, she gathered her belongings and returned home to Camp Bronze Lake. Home, the place where there were little fake smiles and forced calm, her shelter. It was a shame she spent so few bells of the day there. It was the one place she could relax a little, even if not fully. She could stop being Lady Covington and simply be Faye. But who was Faye, anyway? She was never an open book, not even around her lover.


And there, as was routine, Val would be waiting for her with something to remind her why she bothered to wake up each day. She never asked for it or expected it, but he would. He was far too good for her, and she knew it. He would have a bath drawn with the warm waters of the springs, scented salts and soap bubbles prepared, everything needed to make her feel clean and fresh, soothed and calm, to wash away the remnants of the day both in and out. Perhaps there'd even be two glasses of wine and some lit candles on hand to amplify the mood.


He'd feel her emotions throughout the day. Frustration. Fear. Doubt. Anxiety. Guilt. Self-loathing. Insecurity. Stress. Exhaustion. Sorrow. Anger. Shame. Hurt. All the things she felt, but would never voice, not even to him. She had to be strong, be a rock for those around her. Showing weakness would provoke her allies to falter and her enemies to attack. She could not allow that. She secretly resented the mutual link between her and Val. It let him know how she felt, but as if that wasn't frustrating enough, he still could not know why she felt the way she did, and she certainly would not explain.


Sometimes he tried asking. She refused to answer. He'd be met with silence, and she'd withdraw from him, curling in around herself on the inside and sometimes even on the outside. She thought he had been discouraged enough now that he wouldn't bother to ask anymore. It hurt to think that, but somehow it was a relief as well.


She'd sink into the hot water to soothe her weary body and he'd follow suit to bathe her and massage her and whisper sweet nothings into her ear. Indeed, he'd pamper her like a princess. But she was no princess, was she? If anything, she was a queen, a head heavy from wearing the crown. Perhaps he believed it was all he could do, the best he could offer to soothe her troubled mind and bring a smile to her lips. Maybe that defined the measure of his devotion to her on even the most trivial of matters, like fetching her a fresh pot of tea.


After a shared bath and idle, adoring chatter, they would retire to bed, partake in the activities husband and wife so often did, and she would fall asleep in his arms to slumber for a few bells before she would wake before the sun to begin a new day, the same routine, only this time without an evening visit from yesterday's nuisance.

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