Jul 1, 2012

Interview with Fairivel, Part 1

I timidly push open the door and peer into the well-lit kitchen of white stone. Several elves in navy blue aprons glance up from their stations at the chopping board, the oven, the washbasin, the counter full of flour and bread dough, and back down again as if I belonged here. I slip in and shut the door. It’s too early for the full staff to be out of bed, but someone had to make Fairivel’s breakfast. Trust him to be an early riser.
“His Highness –” I begin, trying not to squint as a wall hung with copper pans reflects the sunrise into my eyes.
“Back there,” says the elf at the chopping board, pulling another handful of vegetables out of a basket and gesturing with his head. His flaming red braid swings. I turn, peering across the ocean of metal and white stone to what appears to be a breakfast nook with a large bay window. A man silhouetted against the glow of the rising sun picks up a cup, swirls whatever’s inside, and sets it down, turning to look back into the kitchen.
Even though I can’t see his face, I know Lord Fairivel is looking at me.
I set my shoulders back and march across what feels like a mile of white flagstones toward the breakfast nook. A cushioned booth encircles the space inside the bay window (not unlike my favorite booth at the Chinese restaurant – also, incidentally, the only one that seats our whole family) and embroidered blue curtains are tied up with tassels around the spotless glass. Fairivel’s favorite color.

I stop looking at the nook and look at him. My heart gives a little leap, half joy, half nervousness. He’s exactly like my mental picture of him and almost exactly like the picture of Anderson Cooper I stole off the internet. Fair oval face and strong jaw; no beard or mustache; sharp nose and well-made, slightly lined mouth; slanted, steely blue eyes. At once a regal face and an intelligent one, a face to make you respect the man behind it.
He blinks. His polite demeanor takes over and he smiles at me. It’s a wide, even smile, deepening the lines around his mouth – genuine, but his eyes are still probing me. “Elizabeth. How nice to see you here. Won’t you sit down?”
I smile back and sit across the table from him, sinking down into the cushions. He’s taller than me, even sitting, with strong shoulders and long-fingered hands like his son’s. I swallow at the thought. He’s nothing like his son, I remind myself. Not nearly as cruel. Or sarcastic. Just as stubborn, though.
Fairivel raises both eyebrows. I cringe as I realize simultaneously that he can hear my thoughts and that I might have offended him.
Of course he can hear my thoughts. He’s my character.
“Have you eaten?” he says gracefully, trying to put me at ease. It won’t work, because I’ve just remembered the notepad full of questions in my pocket. This is going to be a long interview.
I glance down at his half-finished breakfast – beautifully presented honey-smoked fish and steamed vegetables and a sort of dipping paste, each arranged in a small stoneware bowl of its own – pretty, but unappealing for someone used to pancakes and cereal. I begin to regret basing Laeclan cuisine on Japanese. “I’ll pass.”
This time he only smiles with half his mouth, but somehow it seems bigger. Deeper.
I dig the notepad out of my pocket. My introvert tendencies shouldn’t be showing up with someone I know so well, but they are. “I-I suppose you do know I’m here to interview you.”
“With questions from a slew of young people from a scribe guild, yes?”
“Something like that.” I’m glad I caught him at breakfast; he’ll be the most vulnerable when he’s half asleep. If he ever is half asleep. Come to think of it, he strikes me as one of those people who has no option between full on and out cold.
He gives me a slightly exasperated look. “You’re writing this, aren’t you? You could have ‘caught’ me in the middle of the night if you wanted.”
I shrug. Questions in order, or gentler ones first? I glance at the first question, the one from Hannah about his greatest fear, and wince. Gentler ones first.
Fairivel acts as if he hadn’t heard me and flakes off a piece of fish with his fork. Ever the gentleman.
“All right. We’ll start with questions from Connie. Do you like kittens?”
He coughs in his throat and swallows his bite. I know he’s wondering exactly how many questions like this there are. “Kittens?”
“Kittens,” I confirm.
“They’re…sweet, I suppose. Though there’s not much use for them.” He looks up and I see a little bit of his son in him as he asks, “What, you didn’t want a tragic childhood memory about kittens?”
“Not at the moment,” I say, a smile creeping up on me. “I could give you one if you like.”
“All right,” I say quickly, a little embarrassed. “Would you rather sleep in or stay up late?”
“Up late,” he says, without a moment of hesitation. I had a feeling this would be his answer. “You’re wasting daylight with the other option.”
“But you’re more tired if you stay up,” I counter, glad to have found someone who agrees with me about this question, and maybe, just maybe, looking for an answer to my mom when she tells me to go to bed.
“True,” he says, to my disappointment. “You’re sure you don’t want anything to eat?”
“No fish,” I mumble, giving in.
He laughs, and I feel myself blushing. “Laon! Any fresh bread?”
“In a bit, Sire,” calls the cook, plopping the dough back on the counter amid a cloud of flour.
Fairivel nods to me and I grin despite myself. “Sunrise or sunset?”
“It’s the sun either way.”
“Not an answer.”
He skews his lips to one side, thinking. “Sunrise, I suppose. New beginnings and all that.”
I nod, satisfied. “Last question from Connie.” I peek up at him over the top of the notepad and find his bright eyes on me, a couple of silver-blue hairs slipping loose from his braid to drift around his face. “Has anyone ever told you how handsome you are?”
He sits back. I couldn’t catch him off-guard with the kittens, but this…? How strange.
For a minute he just pushes a steamed leaf of what looks like lettuce (but probably isn’t) around his bowl. I suck on my lower lip, uncomfortable because he’s uncomfortable and wondering what it’s like to interview a villain.
“Varia did,” he says gently.
I blink several times. His wife. No wonder. And that’s all the answer I’m likely to get.
The notepad feels suddenly heavy in my hand. I straighten, steeling myself. There are plenty more uncomfortable questions to ask.
I decide this is a good lead-in, so I force out, “Emily wants to know if you ever wonder what happened to her.”
His gaze shifts to the wood grain of the table. “Not often any more. The oddest things make me think of her, though. Anyone with green eyes. Red hair loose in the wind. A certain perfume.” He exhales. “And then when she used to show up out of nowhere, for a day or a month, and then leave, I thought about her then. I don’t know if it was me, or…our child, or if she just didn’t want to be chained down.”
Oh, there’s a lot more to it than that. I force myself not to follow through with that thought. Better not to spoil the third book. “When did you last see her, again?”
“It would be…over twenty years now.”
I start to shake my head until I remember how long elves live. Fairivel in human terms would be at least seventy-four, but elves learn and age slowly.
I’ll bet this is the most he’s told anyone, ever. My chest aches. This isn’t the worst I’ve done to my characters, by far, but meeting the raw pain right in front of you…
Fairivel shoots me a look that means, Are you quite finished with this topic? I am.
I wonder if he’s wishing we’d stayed on the subject of kittens yet.
“No,” he says, and takes another bite of fish.
I frown, wishing he couldn’t pluck information from my head like a bird on a berry bush. “Hannah asks what your greatest fear is.”
He looks at me sideways under lowered eyebrows, knowing why I’m asking this question now. That’s right. I’m opening another old wound. One that’s related to your wife, no less. Two can play this game.
“Loneliness,” he almost snaps.
The table is silent for a moment and I hear Laon open the oven and slide in two pans of bread.
Fairivel sighs. I can’t look at him. “My father died. My brother left. My wife left. My son left. And I’m left here alone.” He snorts. “Except I’m never alone. There are six people in this kitchen and three attendants outside the door and two guards at the end of the hall. Always but never alone. Poetic enough for you?”
“Yeah,” I mutter, kicking myself. I decide I never, ever want to interview a villain. “Greatest weakness?” I blurt, before I can change my mind.
Fairivel glares. “You don’t seem to appreciate the effort I’m going to for you.”
“I appreciate it,” I say, resisting the urge to gulp. This will be research for scenes where he’s angry, I console myself. “Now answer the question.”
“I wish,” he says slowly, as if to someone a little less than all there, “I was better at understanding how people feel. I’m not very good at that, you know.” Yes, I know. “My son, my wife, a couple of the barons I see frequently…I favor logic, and somehow that always ends up offending them.” He casts a pleading glance at me, and I shrug. It’s his personality. I can’t help it that I wrote him this way. Well…I can, but I won’t.


Meaghan Ward said...

That was great! I only have one thing left to say though... Part 2? Please? Part two? Part dos? Porfavor?

Sandra said...

Wow! I like that interview. The description at the begining was good. Hmmm... He's getting touchy. Yeh I agree in an interview with a villian they are not coopertive and they always bring their sword whether you want them to or not. I'm going to join with Meaghan Part 2, Please?

Shawnie said...

Your blog has a new LOOK, and it has FISH!!! * squees *

Hee hee. You made Shawnie's day with this, E, if you couldn't tell.

I'm loving this chance to get a glimpse of Fairivel; it's already making out email interactions more...concrete. :)

Part 2? Please? * begs, begs, begs * * hands donuts *

Shawnie said...

Google is being weird... o.O This is Shawn/Elizabeth, by the way.

ElizabethLiberty said...

Hahaha! I have part two posted! You didn't see it?

I hoped someone liked the fish. ;)

Elizabeth Kirkwood said...

I just did after I read this. XD I just had the direct link from HW. :D

* bounces * I love it!!! :D