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Victoria Rosanvallon

[1836/1837][EN] Ugh, you.

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Saturday the 25th of March 1837 - in the evening - a restaurant

 

It was bound to have gone wrong, in all honesty, because any time that Victoria and Richard spend more than five minutes together they wounded up having a fight, but sometimes, just sometimes, Victoria thought they should try to be a good couple.

 

Or in all honestly, she thought that Richard should try to be a good husband, because she was an amazing and wonderful wife and it was not her fault he didn't seem to get that. Because she had tried her best, she really had, and she was going to keep trying, so she had bothered him until he finally said he would go to a restaurant with her. Hurray!

 

"You cannot order that," Victoria told him, annoyed, and she plucked the menu out of his hands, even though she had one herself that she had just ordered her own meal out. "The steak does not go together with the pasta, so I think you should order the tagliatelle."

 

So. There. 

 

She kindly handed him back his menu. 

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Posted (edited)

Victoria occasionally thought they should be a good couple. Richard occasionally thought he wanted a drink. It was remarkable how often those two thoughts coincided. All right, it was not so remarkable, perhaps – he wanted a drink quite often, also when Victoria was once again leaving well enough alone – but nevertheless, though there was no perfect correlation there absolutely was causation at the root of this matter. Naturally, with how much and how stubbornly he drank, it never really did have much effect nowadays, but… that didn’t matter, it was placebo as much as anything else at this point. “Oh, you do, do you? Perhaps I like conflict in my sustenance. I certainly seem to seek it in my other occupations.” He raised an eyebrow at her, sipped from his wine, and beckoned the waiter. “I shall order the steak and some salad, and may I be struck by lightning should it upset the general order of our wonderful world.” And he was perfectly aware that she would hate him doing that in public.


And he was perfectly aware he didn’t care.

 

“So, my delightful buttercup, how was your surely trying day? Shall I be able to add to it?”

Edited by Richard Bowman

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Yes, Victoria hated Richard being Richard in public, she hated it in private, she hated it even when he wasn't around, because she only had to think for two seconds and she could remember something he had done that annoyed her, and it felt like it all over again. Like how he refused to listen to her opinion and dramatically involved the waiter. "Don't do that," she snarled, after the waiter had hardly left their table, looking as uncomfortable as anyone getting involved in a fight that wasn't his would feel. "Don't force other people to pick your side, just because you think you can't win otherwise." A little triumphant with her own argument she leaned back in the chair and sipped her own wine.

 

Delightful buttercup. She rolled her eyes. His stupid nicknames always annoyed her, because he was so good at thinking them up and she... well, was not. "My day was not that bad," she said, mostly because she wanted to do the opposite of whatever he thought. "I bought the most adorable dress of Kestrel today, she won't be able to wear it for a few more years, but I just could not resist. And what is the point of having daughters if you can't shop for them?" If only they would grow up a little more. Babies were so useless. They couldn't walk, couldn't talk, and all the best clothes were for the older children. Yes, Kestrel was already two and a half, but it took too long

 

"And what terribly important thing did you do today?" Blablabla. 

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“Oh, my precious wind through mountain grass, rest assured there was no side picking involved,” Richard said, as airily as the compliment which he had chosen to employ, in the full knowledge that Victoria found those all equally hopeful. “Unless you would suggest that to take someone’s order is an inexcusable sign of bias, an opinion with which, naturally, belonging to you, it would never behoove me to disagree... nonetheless, I would venture to hope that perhaps you might consider the practical implications of such a principled stance. You might put restaurateurs straight out of business.” Honestly, with Victoria being Victoria he had probably lost her halfway the second sentence already, which in fairness was not fully a critique of her intellect or lack thereof for he was also reducing her words to an absurdity never implied or considered. But it didn’t matter. He wasn’t saying this for her. He was saying this for himself. Like a chess game you played with yourself as an opponent, Richards inner monologue which he had always found abysmal company whether he was on a high or a low was these days at least his only chance of intelligent conversation. 

 

He wasn’t happy. But he kept himself amused.

 

“Despite all that, perhaps, if you have a particular doubt as to the impartiality of our current waiter, I am sure that we can have him excused. Just don’t do that to the sommelier, please, honeybee delight, they are not so replaceable and foul injustice is somewhat preferable over pairing a white wine with lamb racks.” He smiled. “And what forethought! To buy a dress she can only grow out of when once she has grown into it! Perhaps for now we shall turn it into a little tent.” He Actually now and again did spend some time with Kestrel, doing things Victoria did not approve of. Only on good days. He wasn’t so much of a bastard that he’d inflict his bad days on an innocent child. Even if it was Victoria’s. “I worked, mainly, toiling away with chemical reactions. I don’t think it would interest you. We were not so fortunate to accidentally stumble on a perfect recipe for moisturizer.”

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Wait... what?

 

Victoria blinked slowly, as she tried to figure out what exactly Richard had been saying. Something insulting, probably, and she was naturally offended by anything he did anyway, so the scowl on her face came naturally. "I'm not doing... that," she protested, basically the clearest protest she could pick out after what he had said because... what? "And fine, I won't get rid of the sommelier." She leaned back in her chair, waving dismissive at him, because ugh, having a conversation with Richard was so tiresome. Why couldn't he just be normal for once? You know, fun to be around with?

 

"No, it probably wouldn't," she admitted. "But I do care about more things than moisturizer, you know!" Of course she did! She was a good mother, a delightful friend and a wonderful gossip too. So. There. Oh and she had great fashion sense. "How are your coworkers?" Victoria asked, because well, those were more interesting. "Did Matthew find that ring he was looking for?" 

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Bewilderment looked pretty on Victoria. This was one of the few benefits of her character and looks combined, because the one virtually ensured that the second would frequently have to present itself in such a fashion. Richard could, of course, on good days and even days like these (which was an okay day, would have qualified as good because at least he’d had the energy to move), appreciate the fact that she was beautiful: the large, piercing, somewhat slanted eyes, the symmetry of her features, the delicate line of her shoulders to her neck. There was nothing about her he could love but these were things he could value, again, on those good days anyway. They were what eventually had led to their having daughters. Well, that, and plenty of booze. And possibly a slight desire to just make her shut up.

 

He hated having kids, by the way. He hated having to hope that they would take after their mum, because he was even worse.

 

It looked pretty on Victoria but it annoyed him nevertheless, it bored him, because he needed someone who would bounce back his spiteful commentary and give better than she got and Victoria was never going to be that person, was never going to understand half of the things he said, much less return comparable fire. She just whined.

“They are doing well,” he informed her, enunciating the words clearly for his own amusement. “I did not know that Matthew had been looking for a ring?” Usually, when he spoke to Matthew it was about alchemy, although they had some personal conversations in between. Richard was not… exactly well liked, at his work, but he wasn’t loathed. People interacted with him as though he was an alien from another planet. It paid to be polite and to pay attention, but you were never exactly sure what he was going to do.

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Of course Richard didn't know that Matthew had been looking for a ring. She rolled her eyes for a moment, and let her gaze drift away from him, through the restaurant. Sometimes she looked at other couples and felt a deep longing, because she wanted a husband who looked at her like the man who looked at his wife two tables further, with love and desire and a deep respect. And sometimes she looked at other couples with hatred, because what had they done to deserve such a match and she had been given to Richard? How was that fair? How was that just?

 

But oh well, there was nothing to do about it. She had been given Richard and the most positive thing you could say about Richard was that he was bound to die young anyway.

 

"Yes," she said, bored, leaning her head on her hand and staring off into the distance. "He wants to ask that girl to marry, miss... Maple something?" She gestured the word away with her unoccupied hand. "Pretty girl, a tad homely perhaps, and I think he can do better, but he has his eyes on her." She sighed deeply. "True love." 

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To give Richard his due, he had not started out as cruel, clever and uncaring with regards to Victoria as he was now. He’d tried for a little while, ish, at least to be merely less than animated instead of downright cutting, but it hadn’t worked out. She’d loathed him from day one - he could not fault her though he occasionally wondered why - and he’d loathed her pretty much from day two of their engagement. They were simply not well suited. He was always bored, and she was always boring. All right, in fairness, she probably thought the exact same thing about him. And between the two of them and common supposition, presumably, his interests were more generally considered dull than hers. For some bizarre reason where those occupations you were supposed to enjoy were the same ones you made everyone else suffer through. He’d never comprehended it - he didn’t want to. It drove him to distraction. 

 

And there were things he liked to do, there were people whose company he liked to keep, every now and again when the mood took him and then he was actually fun to be around, even if the next day he was incapable of getting out of bed not because of the hangover but just because of the... depletion. 

 

Also, sure, Matthew was a part of not that circle but people he did somewhat like. Still, hearing about his impending wedding - or, hypothetical wedding at this point, of course, it was entirely possible that it was all going to come to nothing because he still had to ask - was about as interesting as the menu had been. Not, unless they could get into another fight about it. “Oh, really? Well... she seems nice. And she’s interested in everything he says and that’s impressive with Matthew. He loves birds.”

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"Hm," Victoria commented, annoyed and she drew her gaze back at him, slowly, letting him know (if he bothered paying attention, something he hardly ever did, according to Victoria) that she was going to take offense to his words. "In comparison to who, exactly?" Because obviously Richard only pointed out Maple's good character because he found Victoria lacking. "Maybe if you spoke of more interesting things, I would be more interested in what you said too." And if he didn't, how was that her fault? She tried, very well!

 

Okay, she had never really tried. And that wasn't entirely his fault either, because she could've put a little more effort into it and their marriage probably would've gone a little smoother, but she had never wanted to be married to Richard in the first place and he didn't seem to care about her at best and simply hate her at worst and she had already known enough people in her own family who didn't care about her. Was it really that bad that she had wanted someone to worship her?

 

"Maybe you should have married her instead," she couldn't help but add. 

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See? See!? This was why he and Victoria didn’t get along! Well, it was one of many reasons he and Victoria didn’t get along, but for the purpose of the moment or the night, this was it. That even when he went along with her story, paid proper attention to what she’d said, and passed relevant and not completely interchangeable commentary on her bit of news, she found it well within her range to make out all his words as offensive. And he didn’t mind - not exactly, some part of him again had actually been going for this exact reaction, some part of him was already bored enough with her if she was rude and volatile and didn’t want to risk encountering her when she was friendly and on her best behaviour because that might make his brain drip out of his ears in fact - but he wasn’t well pleased either. Because yes, Victoria could not do it right. Not anymore and perhaps it had never been in her power. He wanted everything from her that he could not specify, he knew who she was, he knew that he had seen to the very depths of her character. She could no longer surprise him. And he hadn’t enjoyed it in the slightest.

 

He grimaced, and gulped another helping of wine, wishing it was something much stronger, something that would make a dent in his straitjacket of sobriety. “Ah, yes. Such a pure understanding of the world, where naught can be valued without its comparison. The imagination, the surface, the impression, would never provide such unqualified understanding, would they, my frailly beating heart, my beloved cherry blossom?” He clicked his tongue. “Would you prefer the conversation of the devout ornithologist, speckled sparrow mine? Perhaps I might endeavour to encapsulate nature’s beauty’s in language’s most aesthetic form, too, and try my hand at some poetic escapades.” 

 

Dinner was served. 

 

“Who would you have married, had you had a choice?”

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As soon as dinner was served, Victoria grabbed her fork and used it to spear some broccoli on her plate, simply for the satisfaction of spearing something, and while doing that, she raised a defiant eyebrow at Richard, expecting him to realize that the broccoli was a metaphor for his heart.

 

No, it wasn't. A piece of broccoli was just a piece of broccoli and Victoria wasn't a poet, and while she wanted Richard to think she wouldn't mind waving her fork around like a weapon, Victoria was very squeamish about blood and stabbing someone's heart with a fork was bound to cause of a lot of blood. But still, she needed to free her aggression somehow, and the broccoli had the added benefit that you could eat it. And it was healthy.

 

"You're a jerk," she muttered, meanwhile, because his words had lost her once again. 

 

Jerk.

 

"Someone with respect," she pointed out, waving the fork in her hand so much that the broccoli nearly flew free. "Who understands me and cares about me." And doesn't confuse her with confusing words. They were probably pretty, but prettiness was wasted if it wasn't simple. "And who doesn't turn a simple meal into a fight." 

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A jerk. Really? That was all he got for his troubles? This basically made all the fun go out of even his tactic to cope with the lack of fun he was chronically having with Victoria, i.e. to find new, creative and eloquent ways to piss her off. If she wasn’t even going to respond, if she was going to just stare at him with that angry and admittedly beautiful glare, then what was the point of even trying this? Keeping himself amused within his own mind was, as so often, not working, his mind could not provide new information, could not surprise him, not at least until he’d sufficiently dulled his senses and his capacity for thought so that his own mind, his own imagination, could become strangers to him from one minute to the next. He needed a little input, a little inspiration, a little bit more... And that was something he was perfectly aware Victoria could not provide. Yet he continued to try.

 

For they were married, and he was stuck with her as much as she was stuck with him. He was tired of it, frustrated with it, and at the same time on the good days he could almost not avoid to put energy into it for it was reality and reality was something even Richard must occasionally touch upon. Again, depending on his levels of intoxication only. 

 

He chuckled darkly. “Oh, but I do understand you, my beloved.” He gestured to the waiter to top up his glass as he too dug into his food, hoping that his body and mind would continue to allow him to convince them that they found this sustenance enticing. It was a good restaurant but he was not a good... human, and often enough he would find himself losing interest in all foodstuffs very rapidly, anything but the drink turning to ash in his mouth. Nowadays, though, it seemed to be okay. Today, it seemed okay.

 

As the waiter left he continued. “And I might argue that with you, those criteria you mentioned are somewhat mutually exclusive. Wouldn’t you say?”

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"What is that supposed to mean," Victoria hissed at him. It always took her a moment to pick the things he said apart, turn them into words she could understand, if it was even possible, because it was never easy to explain Richard to herself, and often, Victoria was just... lazy. He wanted to insult her, so why not let him put some effort into it and explain himself to her? But don't worry, her mind was already working, albeit slow because she didn't use it much, and finally she managed to put together what he meant.

 

"You're saying I can't be respected?" she huffed, dropping the fork with a clatter on her plate. "Only because you live in a boring, dull life with... academics." She wrinkled her nose. Ew, books and so on. "I'm wasted on you, only someone with an artistic sense can understand what it means to be me." 

 

She glanced away from him, mostly to show her he was beneath her, and drowned her sorrows in a glass of wine. 

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“Not quite, my beloved,” Richard said lightly, as he refilled his wine, because waiting for the waiter just was no longer going to work with the way their amazing romantic dinner was going. He sipped from it, did not gulp, never needed that, it was too desperate, too… odd. It wasn’t that he would be embarrassed about it: so far it should have become clear that Richard did not much care about how he appeared to others, members of the public, those amongst his acquaintance, and definitely not his family. As for his friends… well, those he had, knew him for who he was, knew that he was peculiar, appreciated him nevertheless or just not always (because he could actually be pretty clever, funny, smart). The rest, he did not care about either. “I said that it would be impossible to both understand and respect you. Because the more you understand, the less the magic makes the mystery.” Anyway. You’d say there had been no need to spell it out.

 

But see, he understood Victoria, so he knew that there in fact was a need to spell it out.

 

He smiled, somewhat sardonically. Unbeknownst to his wife, Richard could be said to have an ‘artistic sense’: he wrote poems, he painted. This was unbeknownst to her and he would certainly keep it that way, for he didn’t want her opinion on his works, on him, either. Not because he’d be embarrassed, just because he wouldn’t care… and because he didn’t even read his own poems or look at his own paintings, they were usually quite dark, a sudden disastrous streak of the imagination, or productivity, and he didn’t normally go back on them. “Oh, an artistic sense, hm? And what would you have in mind in that regard? A fashion line? A driven, injured soul?”

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Not quite,  not quite... he truly was the most exhausting person she had ever met and unfortunately her husband too. She could've been so happy with anyone else, but no, she had to be stuck with Richard Rosanvallon. And he wasn't even a duke, or anything! Her parents really had sold her short.

 

And yes, she was going to be upset about that for the rest of her life and take it out on Richard, and no, she wasn't just going to accept that she hadn't gotten everything out of life that she wanted (and she also wasn't going to care she hadn't put any effort into it at all) and try to make the best of it. If you had thought Victoria would knew that, you truly didn't know her at all. She was whiny, she was stubborn and she was getting slightly upset and slightly more drunk.

 

"I don't want mystery," she pointed out, which was a lie that Victoria didn't know was a lie. She didn't want mystery, but she did want perfect and anything less than perfect would just upset her. So best to keep some of the mystery up. "Hm... A poet, I think. Someone with a tortured soul, deep thoughts that no one else would get. And someone with a sense of humor. It's so important to be able to laugh." 

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Richard chuckled under his breath. A poet with a tortured soul and a sense of humour. Well, this only went to show that Victoria would not have done a much better job picking out a husband than her parents had on her behalf: because Victoria could not understand a sense of humour, and had no patience for tortured souls. They were not shoes, and as such, they were not worthy of her notice. “Ah well, but such people are one in a million, surely,” he said with a wan little smile. “Most of us just have our regular Monday morning souls to be getting on with. Torturing takes time.” He raised an eyebrow. “Unless, of course, you seek to further complete that picture for yourself? An admirable job so far but I fear that it does lack a certain depth. You should draw more extensively perhaps from the imagination, or consult a few books on the topic... I don’t know if any come with pretty pictures, though.” They finished their starter and the main course was fortunately brought immediately. Sitting and waiting was becoming less appealing by the second. 

 

“Perhaps you could dangle your admirable assets around the literary section of the Cambridge library every once in a while,” he went on to suggest. “To be sure, the books there have never experienced such a sight; nor I bet have most of the students. Become someone’s muse, heartily woe the day that you married me and severed yourself from him forever... or her, of course.” He sipped from his drink again and commenced on his meal. “After all, if it’s an illicit affair it might as well be a with a girl and perhaps you would find more common ground.” 

 

Once again, shoes.

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Why oh why did Richard just have to be so... ugh? Victoria almost wish she had read more books or maybe swallowed a dictionary once as a kid like Richard had surely done, because while ugh was a lovely word, it was a little inadequate to describe just how much Richard frustrated her. He was just so... unimpressed with her! She had never been able to charm him, not from the very first second they had ever met. He saw her, noticed her, declared her dumb and there went all his attention out of the window. And she saw him, noticed him, and declared him ugh, so there you were.

 

"I don't torture people," she protested, angrily, stabbing the last piece of broccoli on her plate. "Most people love me very much! They think I'm charming and a delight." She waved the fork towards him and the broccoli shifted dangerous close to the tips, but she caught it and ate it before it would fly in Richard's face. "Just because you love books so much does not mean I'm a terrible person." Or whatever his offense with her was, she had hardly paid attention, in all honesty. 

 

"Girls can't fall in love with girls, that's not a thing." Not that she had ever thought about it, but if it was a thing, surely someone would've told her? Or she would've seen it? "But at least a girl would understand me." 

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