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Edmund, Morgan and Two Hearts Day

So, rather than working on completing the next chapter of AW, or the one after that, I ended up trying to do something short and sexy for Valentine's Day.  And so, have failed.  This isn't short, and it is not especially sexy, except at the end.  And, alas, most of it is explaining what Edmund would have been doing in the Lone Islands with Morgan, which is discussed at the end of the last chapter of H&M Not a Romance.  By the way, just think of Vice Director Alan of the House of Meryl as a young, sexy, blond, and not very smart Alan Greenspan.  (I just broke your brain, didn't I?) 

There is some info dump, and you know,  it's hard to write two characters who are emotionally so stunted.  Really, I want to shake them myself.  As I've sort of whinged about, I'm in a bit of bind there because there are things that are important to AW that would have been told in the H&M that story.  Well, I'll work it out.  Let me know what you think, and even a Meh is fine.  Really.  If I'm able to piece together the whole of the Lone Islands part of the story, I'd probably post it.

I have, by the by, been getting more of the "Love it, but..." commentary lately.  So, I'll be blunt.  This is Edmund and Morgan and that means sexual content but in keeping with the tenor of their relationship, this is all build up and T or PG-13 and not explicit at all.  I'm not at the point of writing M-rated Maenad of the Maquis level content for this couple.  I might but, so far, I find that allowing the imagination to fill in the gaps is more amusing.


Sleet beat against the windows.  The wind howled in from the ocean, pitching the waves high to slam against the ice and frozen rocks of the quay outside.  The antechamber to the accounting room of the House was well fortified, but Edmund felt even here a breeze stir against his hair. 

 

 

Narrowhaven at the turn of the year was a very cold and dreary place.  He pulled the woolen scarf up around his neck and flexed his stiffening hands in the fingerless gloves. 

 

“The third column adds to 342 per share,” Lady Willa said from her seat on the table. 

 

Only a Narnian would not be perturbed that a Talking Rat was so adept at maths. 

 

“Thank you, Friend,” Edmund told her.  He looked up to the rafter where Sallowpad roosted.  “What say you, Chief?’ he asked the Raven who had been watching the unfolding calculations all day into evening for weeks.  “Am I right that the Buildings and Works Society in Zalindreh is paying too much out to cover the costs of that supposed river project?”

 

“You are, my King,” Sallowpad replied.  “The money is going for something else.”

 

“Invasion planning, most likely,” Willa said, cleaning a toe.  While the Head of the Mischief was biased in favor of bloodthirsty action, in this, Edmund agreed with her.  He had already concluded that the Building and Works Society was, as Morgan would say, as crooked as a Dog’s hind leg.  It was good to see the confirmation here on the page that it was really one of the many fronts that were raising money for a Calormene faction making lots of noise about Northern conquests. 

 

Jina, Lady Hound, lifted her head.  “Vice Director Alan comes.”  She paused.  “Carrying many, many flowers.”

 

The mild censure in Jina’s voice was reflected in the grumbling of Willa and beak snapping of Sallowpad above them.  Edmund did not quite understand why the Narnians wintering with him in Morgan’s House of Linch so disliked Alan of Meryl House.  Granted, the long flowing blonde hair and teeth so white they appeared painted made for a blinding spectacle, but the man was pleasant enough.  Dim, but unobjectionable, and so transparently good-natured it was impossible to dislike him.

 

With the sounds of grunting struggle in the hall, Edmund rose from his clerk’s table to open the door into the anteroom. 

 

Jina had, with characteristic understatement, managed to not convey the full of what was meant by many, many flowers.  Alan was struggling under the weight of, and completely obscured by, the height and breadth of an enormous pot of hothouse lilies and roses.  This was no small accomplishment as Alan was himself built on something of the same model as Mount Pire. 

 

“Vice Director!  Allow me to assist you,” Edmund said, duly slipping into his undercover role as clerk to Associate Director Morgan of the House of Linch banking syndicate. 

 

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Willa scurrying into her hiding place in a bookcase adjacent to his secretary’s desk.  Sallowpad would move into the darker shadow of the rafters and Jina would pretend to be a dumb dog. 

 

“Thank you, Harold,” Alan said from the shrubbery.  If you wouldn’t mind getting the door to Morgan’s office?

 

“Certainly, Sir.”

 

As Alan passed, Jina curled her lip in distaste.  He heard another irritable snap from the ceiling. 

 

“Did you hear something, Harold?” Alan asked, carefully balancing the flowers.    Really, to have acquired an arrangement like that in the dead of winter in Narrowhaven would have required a lot of advanced planning and even more money.  This was very extravagant.

 

“Probably just the wind, Sir,” Edmund replied, with a quiet down signal to his Narnians in hiding.  “AD Morgan is still meeting with the Director.” 

 

Edmund pushed open the door to her office and Alan stumbled in, nearly upending flowers, water, greens, and pot on to Morgan’s carpet.

 

“I know,” Alan replied, heaving the arrangement on to a table.  Edmund swiftly moved in to rescue her precious ledger of the Galman wine guilds before Alan spilled all over them.

 

“I wanted to surprise her for Two Hearts Day,” Alan said.  “You think she’ll like them?  My mother thought Morgan would rather have fifty shares in the Terebinthia Carpenters’ Guild, but I thought these were so pretty.”

 

Alan’s mother, and Director of the House of Meryl, probably knew better than her son what her future daughter would wish.  Why would a woman want cut flowers?  All they did was die.  More to the point…

 

“Two Hearts Day?” Edmund asked.

 

Alan was busy arranging the flowers to their maximum advantage.  Edmund found his nose itching and took a few steps back, seeming to admire the garden now blossoming in Morgan’s office.

 

“Don’t they have that where you are from in Archenland, Harold?” Alan removed a large, creamy sheet of parchment from his gold embroidered vest pocket and set it next to the flowers. 

 

“No, I cannot say I am in familiar with it.’

 

“It’s a day for sweethearts, betrothed, lovers, and spouses.  You exchange gifts, flowers, poetry, sweets and tell the other person how special she is.”

 

“Sounds dreadful,” Edmund said feelingly, but it might just be that his eyes were beginning to water. 

 

“I wrote Morgan a poem.  Would you like to hear it?”

 

Edmund took another step toward the door.  “That seems something more appropriate for her ears alone, surely.”

 

Alan shrugged with such amiability, it was impossible to be irritable with him.  It was also impossible to take him seriously. 

 

Edmund shut the door to the office, locking the flowers within where they would at least not trouble him until Morgan returned.

 

“And if Morgan merited those flowers on Two Hearts Day, what of Constance?  A veritable greenhouse for your lady?” Edmund asked.

 

Alan absently dusted loose greenery from his fine cape; the blue of the cape matched his eyes.  The man’s grin was winsome as he spoke of fair Constance.  “I have brought a cook to make her favorite dinner, paired with a nice Galman wine, and I hired some players for dancing.  Just the two of us.”

 

It had taken weeks for Edmund to understand the arrangements.  Morgan and Alan were destined to form a “joint venture” under a letter of intent negotiated between the directors of their respective houses.  Alan’s mother, rightly seeing that her immense hard work to re-build the House of Meryl would collapse within a year under her son’s kindly but incompetent leadership, had secured the future of her House by undertaking the joint venture with Linch.  She thus had assured through Morgan, and the issue that would follow, the business acumen to sustain Meryl.  The Linch Director had seen it as an opportunity to shore up their client development side – Alan excelled at the meet and greet, rubber chicken dinner circuit and Meryl had a substantial client base in management of individual wealth – lacking in the Linch portfolio.

 

The joint venture would also increase the size of Linch, allowing it to compete more aggressively against the House of Stanleh, who had bitterly opposed the proposed agreement in principle.  Why Stanleh even had a say in a private joint venture between Linch and Meryl had not been explained to Edmund’s satisfaction other than that Stanleh had a say in everything, wanted Meryl for itself, and opposed anything of Linch on principle.

 

Edmund had, at first, intended to be offended or concerned, or, well, something.  Not that he was looking for a “joint venture” with the House of Linch, but it was a little odd to not even been considered adequate real estate in comparison to Alan of Meryl.  Instead, the Director of Linch deemed the Throne of Narnia as akin to a depreciated asset or a start-up company of uncertain and dubious prospects. 

 

Edmund had also worried that Alan might be proprietary and his whole cover as the bright but dull Harold, Clerk in Training of Archenland, would dissolve if King Edmund the Just had to be revealed – which, secretly he admitted, would be good fun.  However, his worrying came to nothing because Morgan and Alan’s proposed joint venture was non-exclusive, so long at the non-compete terms were followed.  The parties were free to pursue any private relations if they did not impact the Linch-Meryl joint venture. 

 

And Edmund had thought Calormene succession politics were complex…

 

“Have a pleasant evening, Sir.  I shall tell Morgan you came by,” Edmund said, escorting the foppish man out. 

 

He lit the oil lamps and sat back at his desk, determined to finish the last year’s supposed income statements for the Zalindreh Building and Works.  It was late, certainly well beyond the end of a normal workday in Narnia or anywhere else, but the Linch Director kept very long hours, and expected the same of his daughter.

 

There were sounds of footsteps in the hall and doors opening. 

 

Jina confirmed what he suspected given the hour.  “Food was just delivered to Banker Morgan’s private rooms.”  That meant Morgan would likely be returning soon. 

 

Unasked, the Hound rose, pushed open the door, and went to investigate.  If there were any off smell or suspicious person, Jina would know it and alert him.  Within Linch, however, Edmund felt safer even than Cair Paravel.  Jina, Sallowpad, Willa, and the other Rats, Teddy and Keme, roamed the house freely and knew its every nook, occupant, and visitor.  Everyone within the House was of Linch and sworn to it; as he was their under their auspices and Morgan’s sponsorship, he too was Linch and that meant more on the Lone Islands than being their sovereign of Narnia. 

 

It also meant that whoever was an enemy of Linch, and there were a great many of them, was also an enemy of his. 

 

He heard voices in the hall and Jina returned, with Morgan following behind her.  He rose quickly to help Morgan out of her heavy, green banker’s robe before she tripped over it, tore it, or caught it on something and then tore it and tripped over it. 

 

“Thank you, Harold.”  She put the ledgers from her meetings on his desk – whether they sorted through them now or tomorrow would depend on any number of things.

 

“All is well, King Edmund,” Jina said quietly.  “And in answer to your question, yes, Banker Morgan, today is fine, and the next three days at least by my judge.”

 

“Thank you, Jina.”  Morgan looked up and held out her arm.  With the invitation, Sallowpad launched down and landed.  “Keme and Teddy went straight to the kitchens after the meeting with the Director.  You all can join them there, if you like.” 

 

Willa scrambled out from the bookcase at the prospect of food.  The Narnians all looked to him, but Edmund nodded.  Rat and Hound trotted out for their evening meal; Raven winging after them. 

 

Edmund shut the door as Morgan crossed over to look at his day’s accounting spread out on the secretary’s desk. 

 

“It is as we expected,” he told her.  “You were right.  Now that I know what to look for, it is very a straightforward Stanleh scheme.  The Zalindreh Building and Works Society is a front, pushing monies to that armsmakers’ guild.”

 

“Who is arming Ardeesh’s faction,” Morgan said, a statement rather than question.

 

“So it seems, yes.”  The rumors Peter had heard over the previous summer in Tashbaan were one thing, but here it was, all spelled out in black ink and parchment.  Ardeesh, or a group controlling him, was making a play to be named the Tisroc’s heir.  The faction was no friend of the North, but it was not yet clear if they would turn their sights on Narnia and Archenland to curry favor, or if they would make an attempt against the Calormene cavalry, which was the part of the vast Army loyal to Rabadash.  Not that Rabadash was necessarily any better – but Ardeesh was plainly much worse and his pressure on Rabadash might turn the current heir more aggressive as well.

 

“Have I said how much I really hate Stanleh?” Morgan picked up the writing charcoal on the desk out of habit, preparing to correct his errant sums and analyses.  Edmund knew, however, she would find no fault, even if she never would say so.  Morgan was a demanding teacher and very sparse in her praise, which explained why she was so unpopular among the junior clerks and apprentices within Linch.

 

“You have mentioned your dislike, yes.  I have certainly come to be suspicious of them as well.”   The Narnians all shared Morgan’s distaste for Stanleh.  Fooh, Peter’s Cheetah guard, had said his fur could not lie flat with Stanleh bankers about; Jina and the Rats had reported the same feeling. 

 

Satisfied with his work, Morgan tossed the charcoal back on to the desk and walked toward her office.  Edmund had the sense to stand well away as she opened the door. 

 

She was silent for a moment.  Then, “In the name of Zardeenah’s three …” Morgan could not finish the shouted oath learned from the Narnian Dwarfs for she exploded with a powerful sneeze.

 

She slammed the door and spun around.  “Harold!  WHAT in Tash’s Hell!”

 

More swearing, courtesy of Narnian Dwarfs, probably learned during the beetle racing. 

 

“Vice Director Alan delivered the garden to your office while you were out,” Edmund inserted before she directed her anger at his poor, and wholly blameless, person.  Granted, he could have removed them, but the flowers were a gift.  Now, if the Vice Director’s gift had been something she might have truly wanted, like fifty shares in the Terebinthia Carpenters’ Guild, he might have done something about it.  Or not.  Really, better not to dwell on that. 

 

The ire went out of Morgan like a puff of pollen in the breeze.  “Alan?” she said weakly.

 

“There is a note with poetry as well, though I do not recommend going in to retrieve it unless you first hold your breath.”  Edmund brandished her Galman wine guild ledger by way of explanation of Alan’s well-meaning, but very focused, and hazardous, manner.  “I did not see it my place as your lowly clerk trainee to correct a Vice Director of Meryl.”

 

“A poem?”

 

“I declined his offer to have it read to me.”

 

Morgan fell back heavily against the door to her office with a weary nod.  “He reminds me of your brother, actually.”

 

“Is it the teeth?” Edmund asked.  “Or the hair?”

 

Morgan scrubbed her eyes and shuddered.  “The… everything.”

 

Peter was far sharper than Alan, but Edmund kept that observation to himself.  The important point was that in Morgan’s considered and intelligent estimation, he (naturally) bore up well in the comparison.  That was all that mattered.

 

Edmund reached for a parchment scrap and wrote a note for the crew who would come in to clean in the morning.  “I shall just tell housekeeping to share the flowers amongst the staff, with your good wishes.”

 

She snorted.  “They’ll know who is behind that, Harold.”

 

“Probably,” he admitted.  “But, at least your office shall be clear of pollen when you return tomorrow morning and we both earn a modicum of good will.”

 

Morgan pushed everyone about her as hard as she pushed herself and as hard as her father pushed her.  She was not especially popular as a consequence.  Edmund found he garnered tremendous sympathy from those who found Morgan difficult – he personally did not find her drive distressing and in fact enjoyed its consequences in personal contexts.  The advantage to training under Sir Leszi also meant that anyone else was kind, gentle, and effacing by comparison. 

 

She pulled herself up from her slump against the office door with a sigh and returned to stare at the day’s work on his desk. 

 

“I was wondering…”

 

 “Yes?” Edmund set the note on the bookcase. 

 

Morgan fiddled with the charcoal again and absently organized the financials into reverse chronological order.  Finally, as if it were a pronouncement of great portent, she muttered, “Dinner?” ending the query on an odd and hopeful note that seemed rather misplaced given their arrangement.  With whom else would he dine except Morgan or going to the kitchens and joining the Narnians?

 

Still, he had become adept at filling in the gaps in Morgan’s speech.  To give her the benefit of the doubt, he had to assume that “Dinner?” would have, for a normal, conversational person, been prefaced by, “After so long a day, I thought you might be hungry.  Would you care to join me for dinner?”

 

“Certainly.” 

 

For all that she extended the invitation, Morgan seemed reluctant to make the trip across the hall to her rooms.  He usually found her lip biting very provocative.  This evening, however, it seemed nervous preoccupation.  If Jina had been about, the Hound would have been able to explain to them both what Morgan was trying to communicate and could not.  Without that advice, he would just have to muddle through it and hope he picked up the right cues without any flung pottery.

 

He held the door to her rooms open for her, but Morgan awkwardly hesitated and hung back in the entry.  Edmund had to precede her in.  Looking about, he saw that the small table had been already set for the two of them. 

 

It was the food itself that both brought him up short and the reason for Morgan’s peculiar behavior became clear.  She had arranged for very plain foods – bread and butter, radishes, a little cold, cured meat, and cheese.  The simplicity contrasted starkly with the lavish meal that Vice Director Alan intended for fair, sweet Constance.  Alan had also procured a greenhouse worth of flowers for Morgan.  For their very modest meal, Morgan had managed to find three misshapen, greenish, out of season strawberries – probably from the same hothouse.  The bottle of wine was Narnian, not Calormene or Galman, and near impossible to find in the Lone Islands at all.  Morgan did not even drink wine.

 

He now recalled the afternoon in the stable yard with Peter, barefoot and trying to avoid Susan’s murderous mare, the Hell Bitch, as his sister had relayed the tale.  A Puppy, the son of Jina and Ibiza, had snuck into the kitchens and stolen the roast intended for the evening banquet.

 

"And Cook?" Edmund had managed to ask through his laughter. 

 

"Quite overcome. I have sent her to bed with a willow bark pain reliever and strict orders not to boil a single potato. We will not see her until tomorrow noon."

 

"So, a Narnian occasion then?" Peter had asked.

 

“We shall eat on the lawn, whatever is leftover from today, no utensils, with each person to wash his or her own plate and glass. If we all drink enough wine and ale, we shan't miss the meat at all, and no one shall even hear the twenty Dwarfs snoring in the tilting field.”

 

Morgan had tried to recreate the simple meal of that Narnian spring occasion in the dead of the Lone Islands’ winter gale.  Their first night together had followed. 

 

Edmund pulled out a chair from the table.  “If it please you?”

 

Gracelessly, Morgan fell into the seat. 

 

“If I may?”  He knelt next to her and gesturing to her feet.  Morgan nodded, still chewing nervously on her lip.  Edmund removed her slippers.  “Surely, you recall that we do not wear shoes at a Narnian occasion such as this fine one that you have so thoughtfully arranged?”

 

“You like it then?” Morgan asked, sounding very small and uncertain.  Edmund again wished Jina were there to interpret. 

 

“I do, very much.  And your part in bringing it about, that much more.  Plainly, I must reciprocate.”

 

Pushing up her skirt, he peeled off her stockings, set a kiss on the inside of her knee, and let his hands linger on her firm legs. 

 

She leaned forward with a relieved, happy sigh and wrapped her hands around his neck.  “What about number nine?” Morgan’s suggestion referred to her very well worn book of Calormene illustrated erotica.  Having thoroughly investigated volume one over the last few months, they had been trying in vain to locate volume two. 

 

“Nine requires fruit, and more than those precious strawberries on the table you managed to procure.  Where are going to find fruit now?”

 

“Maybe a root vegetable instead?”

 

Edmund’s imagination considered this, and decided it was willing to give it a go.  His intellect, however, was not at all fond of winter squash and did not like the implications for radishes.

 

“I thought we agreed to swear off foodstuffs after the problems with the sweet cream and honey?”

 

“True,”’ Morgan conceded.  “What about twelve?” Her hands began searching and her cool fingertips finally met his warming skin, under the collar, beneath the hem, at the tie and the cuff.

 

“Have we yet determined which end is up for that one?”  With illustration twelve, his intellect had calculated the time it would take to construct the necessary apparatus and deemed it prohibitive.  His imagination had been lobbying for consideration of a substitute that might be found in the carriage house.  Or, in a company of traveling tumblers.

 

“Perhaps some other time.”  His intellect and imagination tussled and compromised.  “Might I propose eighteen?”

 

“Oh,” Morgan whispered in a small, breathy way that blasted into his ears and plummeted straight down. 

 

“Quite,” Edmund managed. “If you will pardon me, but I need to be properly Narnian about this as well.”  He twisted about on the floor to remove his own boots.  Her roving hands continued their provocative explorations and going Narnian was fast becoming an imperative.

 

 “No shoes, and no corsets,” Morgan reminded him. 

 

The last impediments of his to going Narnian removed, Edmund shifted back towards her and closed the distance for a thorough tactile examination.  It was a good thing dinner was uncooked, temperate, and would await their leisure and completion of illustration eighteen. 

 

“I shall have to confirm the corset’s absence to assure continuing compliance with the terms of our contract.”

 

“And if I am violating its terms?” 

 

“Punitive measures,” Edmund told her, pretending more calm than he actually felt.   He was easing her bodice down to undertake the necessary confirmation, when Morgan cruelly interrupted his plans.

 

She leaned back in her chair, now impossibly out of reach.  Edmund did not necessarily mind his position on the floor, as it was a prerequisite to performance of illustration seven.  It was Morgan’s tone that was concerning.

 

“Punitive measures?” she scoffed.  “And just what punitive action could you possibly take against the supposed breaching party that would not also irrevocably damage pursuit of your interests?” 

 

“Apart from performance of number eighteen?”

 

“You have already agreed to that, Harold.  Remedies for my possible breach are independent of that obligation.” 

 

He knew just how to erase the arch tone of hers.  “I shall read the contract to you so that you might learn it better.”

 

Her eyes widened with shock and awe.  Morgan’s “Really?” came out as an excited and very satisfying squeak.  “Truly?  All of it?”

 

“Every single proviso and warranty.  And, I shall do so prior to executing upon number eighteen.”

 

He was prepared to be magnanimous on the point.  He doubted Morgan would be able to withstand an oral recitation beyond Section IV and her enthusiasm thereafter would be all the more heightened.  He could probably leverage her compromised judgment to finagle performance of illustration thirteen without any further compensation.  Proving the point, Morgan shot out of the chair and tripped over him in her haste to reach the contract they kept at the bedside table.  With a flailing of arms and legs, Morgan fell into the bed, precious parchment clutched in her hands.

 

Edmund climbed to his feet, rubbing his arm absently where she had struck.  He would probably have a bruise tomorrow. 

 

He stood at the end of the bed, watching as Morgan attempted seduction without doing damage to person, her clothing, or objects in her vicinity.  She hitched her skirts up and a sleeve and her hair were already coming down.  She had even manufactured a contractual breach by wearing a corset that now peeped through her gaping bodice.  All negotiations aside, she knew its presence and removal would merit his special attention.  Illustration four was warranted, after the reading of the contract and prior to eighteen. 

 

Edmund very much wished to continue this progressive dishevelment to its appropriate conclusion.  She was always very precise and controlled as a Banker and he took secret pleasure in watching her unravel and come apart with his coaxing. 

 

Still, if anything, these seductive efforts, coupled with the table set for a Narnian occasion, made him pause.  To be sure, wine, stale bread, removal of a corset, and achievement of illustration eighteen were all excellent ways to celebrate a day in Narnian style – with added verisimilitude if there was animal hair in the butter.  This, however, was the Lone Islands and different customs and expectations applied. 

 

“I did not know today was a holiday,” he said, feeling awkward and uncomfortable about it all.  “If you would rather, we might go somewhere?”  As his imagination selfishly whinged, he added, “Later, perhaps?  To the inn?  Or the club?” Edmund concluded doubtfully.

 

Morgan did not even look up for she was already engrossed in her blunt, abject admiration of the product of his contracting draftsmanship.  “It’s all too crowded tonight,” she said with a shrug, turning a page.  “We wouldn’t be able to get in anywhere.”

 

This made it worse.  Missing a day like this wasn’t something Susan would have forgotten, or Peter.  “I had never heard of the Two Hearts Day until Alan delivered the flowers for you,” Edmund admitted.

 

“It’s a silly day,” Morgan said dismissively.  “For romantics.  Not people like us.”

 

Edmund wondered what Jina would say if she had heard Morgan speak so.  He further wondered what Jina would have said upon sensing his own unexpectedly confused and yes maybe even disappointed reaction to Morgan’s offhand comment that still did not seem entirely credible given those three hothouse strawberries on the plate and the hard- to-find Narnian wine.  He wondered if he had just caught her in a rare lie.

 

Morgan made it easier to shove such inconvenient and disturbing thoughts aside as not relevant.  She lunged forward and grabbed his shirt front so hard, he felt the ties and button strain.  “Read it to me, Harold.  Now.”

 

“You would not prefer poetry?  I understand it is more appropriate for today.”

 

Her look of horror answered that question, to his relief.

 

“Harold, your reading of courtship contracts and tax codes is poetry to me.”

 

Edmund pushed the misgivings aside and allowed Morgan to draw him into the bed they shared.  He plucked the parchment from her hands before there were paper cuts, and pulled her close.  Morgan settled against him with a lusty, contented sigh.  She twined her foot around his ankle and her hand eased between tangles of cloth, searching for and finding the bare skin of his hip. 

 

He began, “Section One, General Statement of Purpose.  On this sixth day in the month of…”

 

Comments

( 49 comments — Leave a comment )
amine_eyes
Feb. 21st, 2011 11:16 am (UTC)
Aw oblivious Edmund! Morgan not so oblivious but letting him work it out in his own sweet time! The bond between her and Alan allowing for extra partners! The Guards and the spies being awesome!

Lovely work :D (and it doesn't need to be M to be sexy :D)
rthstewart
Feb. 22nd, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)
Thanks so much. Like the rest of the story, I fear all I hear is the THUD of story fail, so I really, REALLY appreciate you saying it did not SUX for you. Thanks so much.
therck
Feb. 21st, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
I love this! Edmund and Morgan are so sweet together.

Thanks for writing!
rthstewart
Feb. 22nd, 2011 03:03 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. I mostly just see and perceive STORY FAIL every time I try to do this, and I so appreciate you weighing in. Thank you again.
autumnia
Feb. 21st, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
Aha... so is this the V-Day story you mentioned in your reply to me?

I just LOVE how Willa is so great at maths. Not only is she an excellent spy, but a good accountant as well! And even Sallowpad has joined in!

Your description of Vice Director Alan reminds me a lot of Gilderoy Lockhart – except perhaps for the bit about being impossible to dislike. And the fact that he is introduced as carrying, many, many flowers, remind me of the opening into Susan's world at the Embassy – with Lowry carrying the rosebush for Gladys. And like everyone else there, I agree that Morgan would surely have appreciated the shares more than the flowers. Does he not know that Morgan suffers allergies just like Harold?

Hahaha. I do wonder what kind of chaos would erupt should Edmund reveal his true identity to the rest of the House of Linch. Like Edmund, I think it'd be great fun (at least for the Narnians)!

Morgan cursing just like the Dwarfs – of course, she would pick up those habits, wouldn't she? Though, I did not think she'd have spent much time among them with the possible exception of Roblang. Ah. Blame it on the beetle racing. And then comparing Alan to the High King! Oh my...

...and let his hands linger on her firm legs.

So. Does the King Edmund have the same interests as his brother? Is Harold – like Peter – a leg man? But really, well done to Morgan here in trying her best to set up a Narnian-style dinner on the wintry Lone Islands.

Oh Harold. Morgan. Your courtship is so unconventional but I think that is why it's also very appealing to read about. You know, rth, this could still be a very fun next chapter of H&M should you want to post it on FF.net.
rthstewart
Feb. 22nd, 2011 03:09 am (UTC)
Thank you. I mostly just feel very much a failure over not managing to write something decent here that all but a very few people are interested in reading. I like what I write, I like the characters, I like it all, and I feel like it's just not a success. So, thank you. I should have been spending time on AW but I wanted to try this.

And, I couldn't possibly speculate on whether the Just King is a leg man -- the characters have been quite mum on all this (and threatening litigation), hence why so much of this is oblique. If I did post this on ff.net, I'd have to 1) add more context at the beginning, which would be fine. We'd get to meet the very formidable person that is Morgan's father, the Director of Linch. And, 2) I'd have to steel myself for what happened with the last chapters and another 50% drop in in reader response. Given the "Love it but..." I've been getting the last week or so, I need to sort of prepare myself for that.

In any event, on to AW and thank you so much for being so supportive.
autumnia
Feb. 22nd, 2011 03:27 am (UTC)
But who is actually threatening litigation? Harold, Morgan or both? You could always distract them with paperwork since they find such normally tedious things to be so sensual (though... I suppose that is more Morgan than Harold).

And really, you should write what you want to write, and not worry too much about the readers. You can't please everyone, after all – as long as there are people who DO enjoy your work, that's all that matters.
rthstewart
Feb. 22nd, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC)
But who is actually threatening litigation? Harold, Morgan or both? You could always distract them with paperwork since they find such normally tedious things to be so sensual (though... I suppose that is more Morgan than Harold).

I'd be worried about both of them and Morgan has that vindictive streak. I could try throwing the US Code Annotated at them, or maybe all the briefs (that's a one word oxymoron) in some big US Supreme Court case...
intrikate88
Feb. 21st, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC)
Loved it! Adorable all around- Alan's ideas of what a lady wants (hopefully he has better luck with Constace) and Morgan's unsentimental attempts at sentiment. ♥
rthstewart
Feb. 22nd, 2011 03:11 am (UTC)
Oh, Alan G does very, very well with fair Constance. I've not decided much about her character (or his, for that matter) but they are VERY NICE. Sort of like Jane and Bingley. Just NICE. Totally boring.

And thank you so much.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 21st, 2011 08:55 pm (UTC)
'E'

Oh, I was hoping you'd do something "H & M" around Valentine's Day. Hurray! Thank you so much for the story.

There are so many aspects here to like; Edmund being Morgan's "assistant" and having the Beasts brain trust of Narnia with him (although no Jalur. Sniff.). I really like having Edmund ... not quite out of his element, but seeing him in the Golden Age posing not as a ruler but as a simple accountant. Getting sympathy from the other lower level employees for working directly under Morgan. And yes, that was a deliberate double entendre.

Oh, and the layers of complexity you've added to the H&M situation with Morgan's contract with Alan! (He reminded me of Gilderoy Lockhart, too). Edmund's not quite reaction to the news of her contract (and his wounded pride that a King of Narnia would be worth so much less than an Alan). Not to mention Edmund's blindness about why, exactly, the native Narnian's hate Alan, which I find hilarious. Really, Ed? Can't see any reason for Sallowpad to dislike the fellow?

Morgan's dinner efforts (and her insecurity about them) are very sweet and very well done. Also the allusion to the first volume of Calormene poetry. And the second, which you bring up in your color's series, I believe.I love little nuggets like that.

I am very intriuged by the few mentions of Morgan's father -- seems like a very demanding, work driven type. I was wondering how his relationship with his daughter works, and what his reaction would be if he knew the truth about "Harold." So many questions! I do hope you write more eventually. Thanks so much.
rthstewart
Feb. 22nd, 2011 03:19 am (UTC)
It's really hard to write characters who are emotionally so un-self-aware. But, as Clio pointed out, they are both insecure, in their own ways, and living apart for much of the year. It is a good and stable relationship -- it is simply not an especially open one.

I have in my head a scene for when Edmund arrives at Linch and meets Morgan's father/Herr Director for the first time. I know that sort of personality so well -- Type A, scary smart, aggressive. Edmund comes away saying, 'Well that went pretty well. He accepted our cover story that I'm from Archenland' and Morgan replies, "He knows exactly who you are, Harold. Don't be a fool." I have another one, actually partially written, upon Edmund's departure, in which Herr Director and the Just King finally go at it with the masks and gloves off. It's more testosterone-heavy, type A oriented than I normally do, but it fits the characters.

Thank you so much for responding and sharing your observations. I really appreciate it.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 23rd, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC)
I really hope we get to see that scene between Harold and Morgan's father, testosterone flying everywhere. It's understandable how, after months of taking orders from others, Edmund would be at the end of his rope once he's finally revealed his identity. Sounds exciting.

'E'
rthstewart
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:28 am (UTC)
It would sound something like this with, you know, added context.

"We will retain the House of Linch to review the Code and make recommendations for its revisions. To confirm your work, I will retain another house, and possibly even a third if necessary. Or, I shall retain Associate Director Morgan and she shall advise me."

"You think she would be more loyal to Narnia than to her own House?"

"I think she would be unable to lie in Narnia and I do not think you can rely upon her to hold her tongue in the best interests of her House. She is too bluntly honest and is not even aware of it. I trust her blurting, spur of the moment, out of the blue judgments more than any advice I have ever heard. If I ask her opinion, she is incapable of not giving it."

"You would use my daughter that way?"

"You would."

"That, is a different question, King Edmund." The Director shrugged, unconcerned. "We can forbid her representation of Narnia. That is simple enough to accomplish."

Edmund leaned back in his chair unconcerned, seeing the threat for what it was. "You could not stop her counsel to Narnia her under the rules of your own House. She is of age, she owns her own portfolio and if you forced the decision, she could leave and take a full third of your business and clients with her, if my reading of your books over the last months is any indication."

“I see you have made good use of your time and our assets.”

This was only the beginning. "Moreover, if Morgan married Alan of Meryl under those circumstances, with your sister as her ally and gaining the portfolio of Narnia and Archenland, I think it likely you would not share in Meryl's portfolio; you lose hers. Frankly, there are nuances here that I can’t begin to understand, but Morgan does. You could kill her I suppose or lock her up, but I do not see you doing that to so valuable an asset for you would then lose her portfolio to Stanleh or Sterns and you hate them too much for that. You will do nothing that compromises her value to your house. She similarly has value to Narnia."

"And to you, King Edmund? What of her value to you?"

"Playing that card will not work with me, Director. Her value is to Narnia. That is enough and frankly far more important."
(Anonymous)
Feb. 24th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
Why do I get the visual image of Edmund steepling his fingers or stroking a white haired cat while having this conversation?

Oh, very good. Edmund's expression of trust in Morgan's advice is very important, given that, well, it's Edmund. And very nice, having Morgan's father trying to trip Edmund up on his personal relationship with Morgan ... silly man. This is Mr. "Not Relevant." I love it!
rthstewart
Feb. 25th, 2011 03:36 am (UTC)
Dr. Evil! I don't like those types of personalities very much, but I spend every day with them and they do translate well to fic. Thanks so much and yeah, I'll get working on that birthday fic! Watch this space!
autumnia
Feb. 24th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
How did I miss this last night??

Oh Edmund, you are handling Herr Director/Not-a-Lady's father very, very well. And it seems you have the advantage here, knowing Narnia's financial information AND learning a lot about Linch's clients as well.

And like E said, anything about Harold and Morgan's non-professional relationship is clearly Not Relevant here.

(Also, I am very glad that the Director can at least call Edmund by name. Clearly, Morgan did not take after her father here.)
rthstewart
Feb. 25th, 2011 03:34 am (UTC)
Well, I didn't actually intend to post, but this tends to happen when people motivate me. Errrr, weak, I am, yes. I'd mentioned earlier that I don't normally go for this sort of posturing maleness Type A, but I know that type very very well and it's surprisingly easy to channel it.

Thanks again!
sunnymcgee
Feb. 21st, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
Perfection!
As much as I enjoyed The Maenad of the Maquis, Harold & Morgan have had my heart from the get-go. I adore how you have kept all their passion abstract, allowing the reader to set the level of smut involved.

Thank you for your version of Narnia. I, for one, appreciate the complex and intelligent world without easy answers that you have presented. True, it may not always be ‘kid friendly’ but then, neither is the real world.
rthstewart
Feb. 22nd, 2011 03:20 am (UTC)
Re: Perfection!
Thank you so much. So few have weighed in in support of this relationship and my take on it that it's been hard to figure out what, if anything to do with it, other than leave well enough alone. I HUGELY appreciate your support.
snacky
Feb. 22nd, 2011 03:59 am (UTC)
This was so adorable and funny! I love the intricacies and intrigue of the Banking Houses. And arranged marriages, with someone on the side! Oh, Lone Islands, you are so very cosmopolitan. The NYC of Narnia. :D

You really gave Morgan some nice depth and complexity in this - I love Edmund figuring her out (and wishing for Jina!) and what she's trying to do, and the little flashback to the earlier Narnian Occasion. Oh, and their slow seduction with the contract, and their adorable awkwardness - Edmund feeling bad about missing Two Hearts day - this was a perfect story for them.
snacky
Feb. 22nd, 2011 04:01 am (UTC)
P.S. I forgot!
Alan was hilarious! Gilderoy Lockhart indeed! And I love Morgan thinking of him as like Peter! Oh dear. :D
rthstewart
Feb. 22nd, 2011 10:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I'm glad you liked it. I certainly whined about it. I had never thought of Lockhart! I do see Alan as being a very nice guy -- just not especially bright. He's her cousin, too, and I'm going to just stop right now so I do not expound on and on regarding OCs. Valentine's Day for dysfunctional personalities.
ilysia_039
Feb. 22nd, 2011 04:01 am (UTC)
Oh, I absolutely adore this! Morgan with her Two Hearts Day, and Edmund with his uncertainty. I do so very much love the two of them and their relationship. Never change it, rth! It's perfect just the way it is.

Thank you so much! (And I will get around to reviewing AW soon, I will!)
rthstewart
Feb. 22nd, 2011 10:56 pm (UTC)
you are alive! Thanks so much.
min023
Feb. 22nd, 2011 10:16 am (UTC)
I love H&M, so I'm so happy to see this post. OMG, mergers and offspring. Boy, the Banking Syndicates sure do live in some arcane Land of Accounting, don't they? Love Morgan's attempt to recreate the whole experience of going Narnian - just gorgeous. And that poor contract - is it still the original replacement, or has the second copy also been worn out? Don't care about the apparent lack of context, this is cool. Cheers ; )
rthstewart
Feb. 22nd, 2011 11:06 pm (UTC)
I think the contract is a replacement. Morgan had been sleeping on her own and it was pretty tattered before she even made it to Narnia so they had to draft another one. It took a really long time -- Edmund had to copy it in his own hand and he would barely make it through a section before Morgan would distract him. They had lots of time on the ship passage to the Lone Islands so that's when they did it. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it. This story always pushes my many buttons.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 22nd, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you for writing more of H&M story. I find it very tasty. Your last update stopped at the most interesting spot - Harold and Morgana leaving for Lone Islands, where as I hoped Edmund would be undercover, which he is. Thanks. It is a nice view of the world where a king is not the most important person, even if it is not a constitutional monarchy. Brings life and dimensions to the story.

I would be great to see Edmund's interaction with more people there and how does Morgana manages to keep the cover story.

Thanks once again.

Hellen
rthstewart
Feb. 22nd, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, Hellen! It's lovely to see you over here! The whole story in the Lone Islands would involve Edmund dealing OCs -- yes as if I do not have enough of them. There's Morgan's brother, who is a very good sort, and her father, who is really an investment banker, Type A personality, and Alan and his mother (who is Morgan's aunt) and Princess Even More Dim appears because she's a client of Stanleh and is engaged to someone from Archenland who is represented by Linch. Stanleh is really not happy about this arrangement between Alan and Morgan and is prepared to do very uncivilized things -- which the Bankers just do not understand because really, it's all about money, right? And... errr.. stopping now.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 24th, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
"errr.. stopping now"

Please don't. I guess for everybody here who are so deep into your story any extra information about OC is always welcomed. Also, I personally find that plenty of times it is very nice to see our heroes though the eyes of others.
Very good piece of conversation between Edmund and Morgana's father. What I liked the most that Edmund never ever claimed a higher moral ground or authority, but still got the upper hand.

Hellen
rthstewart
Feb. 25th, 2011 03:32 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, Hellen! I'm glad you came back and liked it! This is just a bit of a bit but you are quite right about how the two men go at it, and that while Edmund plays the same game, he also does carry the argument.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 23rd, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
Wonderful! So happy to hear more from these characters. I find them so sweet, in the straight forward good way, not the too gooey, mushy way. If that makes any sense at all. It must be quite the challenge to write so much as subtext, but you have succeeded! Thank you!

- JamieApple
rthstewart
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:29 am (UTC)
Oh my! I did not know you came over here! thank you so much! Subtext is HARD, but I do try!
(Anonymous)
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:43 am (UTC)
I don't usually, but did on a whim. I am very happy I did! Now it will probably happen more often. : )

-JamieApple
(Anonymous)
Feb. 23rd, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)
Harold and Morgan!!! I was thrilled to see this update. I really hope you don't give up for good on their not-romance story, because it is simply delightful. As much as I love your Spare Oom, I go giddy with every little flashback that gives us glimpses of your Narnia. Baking and taxes are far from my world, but if you can manage to make even that exciting and (dare I say it?) sexy, then that means you have a good thing going!

And now that you've mentioned the Rreturn of Princes Even More Dim (which could possibly work as the next Star Wars prequel... would that be a postquel?), my imagination is in overdrive.

Anyway, just so you know that yet one more lurker out there is irremediably hooked on H&M! They are the most endearingly awkward couple, yet so easy with each other... though I can't help thinking of Jina as translator.

On that note, I should get back to my own translation work... before you post another update and I decide my work is Not Relevant!
~Syrena
(Anonymous)
Feb. 23rd, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
By the way, about your Alan Greenspan comparison... the world started tilting on its axis at 'young', my mind packed its suitcases and left for saner climes at 'sexy', and every posterior adjective just left me jibbering. So yes, you broke my brain.
rthstewart
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC)
I really should have mentioned Gilderoy Lockhart instead, I suppose. I could not decide whether to call him "Paul" (Volker), Alan (Greenspan), or Ben (Bernanke). Although really, pick any economist, and it's going to cause Broken Brain.
rthstewart
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:32 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, Syrena. I don't think I knew you followed H&M and I really appreciate you saying so. "Sexy" is OK in this context, to be sure, as that's sort of the point of it. I was only going to run for the hills when someone referred to Peter in that context in chapter 3 of Part 1. That gave me brain freeze. Thanks so much!
(Anonymous)
Feb. 24th, 2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
I LOVE Harold and Morgan!!! They're sweet, funny and very interesting.
rthstewart
Feb. 25th, 2011 03:30 am (UTC)
Thank you!!!
cofax7
Feb. 26th, 2011 03:31 am (UTC)
Oh, that was very cute. I still haven't read the Harold & Morgan stuff, so I'm a bit behind, but there's enough in this to let me follow it. And I love that Edmund falls in love with someone so entirely prosaic, and yet clearly very intelligent and attractive in her own right. And of course I love that there are many conflicting agendas at work, which they must navigate through.

I see from your comments above that this storyline isn't getting much response from your regular readers; I suspect it has to do with the banking/business content, which is going to be impenetrable or actually off-putting to many. At least, that's my guess, even though a good writer can make anything interesting, the readers have to be willing to try. I could be wrong, though.

In any event, this was quite entertaining and I'm glad you posted it.
rthstewart
Mar. 1st, 2011 03:19 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it even without added context. I first created "Evil Banker Morgan" of the House of Linch during 2009 when the US financial markets were in free-fall and I was dying from Spring allergies. Hence, in By Royal Decree, while I don't say it precisely make no mistake, everyone is out having wild Dryad Tree sex except Edmund because he's allergic to tree pollen.

As for the density of the content, that is certainly part of it, but the interest dropped at the same time in TQSiT, so... I dunno. There's no answer, really. As the last track on my Dr. Who Soundtrack reads, "Onward!"
varnafinde
Feb. 26th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
As you know from my other (evil) input, I love everything about Edmund and Morgan. Thanks for giving us some more!

"so far, I find that allowing the imagination to fill in the gaps is more amusing."
It certainly is!

“Harold, your reading of courtship contracts and tax codes is poetry to me.”

That's so descriptive of Morgan - as she says. she's not a romantic, but these topics appeal to her so much, and having Edmund share them with her, make them all the more poetical.

Besides, there seems to be a lot of the "number so-and-so" mentioned in the contracts. Morgan fills in the gaps with her imagination as well - that's part of the charm.

And then completes her imagination with the real thing ...
rthstewart
Mar. 1st, 2011 03:21 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'll be posting something else in the next week involving Morgan, so ... well, we'll see.

In this case, I don't think my imagination can take me where that book does. Fruit? Root vegetables? Radishes? Equipment from a troupe of tumblers? Best to leave that to the fictional characters.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 1st, 2011 05:29 am (UTC)
Loved this- vignettes work best for the Narnia side
Thanks for showing us more of Harold & Morgan. While I agree that "H&M: Not a Romance" somehow began to fizzle, I do love the Narnia flashback side of the larger story, and "Harold" & Morgan's relationship in particular. Somehow this side of the tale seems to work best in small doses- connected to each other by that larger story, and sometimes running together into something quite substantial, but more by slowly filling in the gaps as they become relevant than by trying to step through the whole thing.

On the other hand, it's the grand always-moving-forward-into-the-unknown feeling of the Spare Oom side that I love the most there.

thanks for all your writing!
-H
(Anonymous)
Mar. 1st, 2011 06:12 am (UTC)
I, uh, just left a review for you up on TVTropes - for Oxfordshire, 1942. I don't know how much reader response you'll get, then. I hope you'll get more.

--'too lazy to log in but really really really loves everything you write'
rthstewart
Mar. 1st, 2011 04:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! That was really, really kind of you! I did go and look at the Trope review you left and I'm mulling your comment about the Christian nature of part 1. Brown Betty had said it read a bit like Saint Francis goes to Oxford. With Richard, that was deliberate as I wanted to show the co-existence of faith and evolution. Digory has gotten a bit more complicated and I might need to tweak the first chapter of Part 1 a little bit as he has become a theologian who is not religious and hasn't been to church in decades. He'd reached his limit during a Good Friday service when he could not longer abide some stupid pastor forgetting that Jesus of Nazareth was, in fact, a Jew.

Errr, right then. Thank you again.
muscatlove
Mar. 4th, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
Just ran across this and wanted to say that it's delightful! I love Edmund undercover and being slightly devious to keep Morgan's attention away from potential rivals! :)
holstencat
May. 14th, 2013 11:35 pm (UTC)
Given the "Love it but..." I've been getting the last week or so, I need to sort of prepare myself for that.

I wouldn't worry about the "Love it but..." comments we are all entitled to or opinions. Just know that there are many who like your stories far out weighs the "Love it but..." people.

Great story I love these two together who have thought that a contract was so sexy.

( 49 comments — Leave a comment )

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