Logs:The Crown Jules

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The Crown Jules


Characters: Gretchen, Jules, Lilium, Miles, Molly, Natalya, Peter, Phoebe, Robin, Roz, Sheena and Tris
Date: 2019-12-21
Summary: It's Winter Solstice. The Season chooses a King and a freehold is formed.
Disclaimers: {{{disclaimers}}}

.oO( Jules' House - Milan )Oo.............................................o.

It's a sizable old white-sided house on Saratoga, and compared to its neighbors, it's looking quite neglected--particularly as there are many places where the paint's still peeling. The front yard of this house is very little to write home about, owing to the porch being not very far at all from the pavement. There's a good deal more room around to the rear, past a gate into the high-fenced back yard. Maybe not much in the way of landscaping, at this point, but room.

There's a probably-rented set of white canopies set up back there, big enough that it might handle twenty people milling about in a pinch, which is good because it's seemed likely to be spitting rain at times over the course of the evening. Some very workaday sort of snacks are set out on a folding table, along with a set of three stainless steel carafes labeled with note-cards as "coffee", "decaf", and "hot water", disposable cups, and the necessary accessories for same.



It is a cool evening here in New Orleans, or cool by local standards--in the fifties, and it's been drizzling. Not the best time for an outdoor party, but maybe Jules had some concerns about having all these people actually in his house. There's a bit of on-street parking out there, but some people may wind up with a little bit of a walk to reach the house. A little before seven, the gate to the back yard is standing open, and Jules--in jeans and a waxed canvas jacket--is coming out of the house with the last of the coffee carafes. Hot beverages rating: Thumbs up! The rest of it is really very much nothing fancy. This may not last, but he tried.

--

Roz was told that this was BYOB, so she has a bottle of moscato in her hand as she joins the group. The last group gathering she was clad in a black tuxedo. This time, she wears grey trousers, dark brown shoes, a white shirt, a grey vest, and a grey tie with a snowflake pin. Her hair has been shaved close and neat, indicating that she's been to the barber recently. She just puts the bottle of wine on a table and moves to a corner out of the wind and rain, perfect for watching.

--

The Spring Mantle that hangs about Lilium as thick as ephemeral fog and sees tiny flowers budding in the wake of her steps is probably a good indication of the role she came to fill tonight. Dressed unusually casually as deference to Jules perhaps, she's just slapped on jeans and a sweater and boots, hair hanging in a braid beforeeither shoulder. But both her arms and Peter's both, are full of snacks made for the party. From elaborate spun sugar smowflakes that look like they are made of ice in one box to more traditional holiday candies like chocolate covered pretzels and the southern go-tof divinity in another, to an elaborate platter of gourmet cheese balls rolled in toasted nuts and served with various crackers. There's even a rather large jug of alcoholic eggnog, bring on the festivus activities. She bustles around trying to set things down and dry off what light precipitation got on her face and hair once done with as much.

--

At least one person attending this party-slash-meeting-slash-political-to-do (and probably more than just one person) has met Jules Landry before in his life. This, combined with the might of a very loose wallet, explains why when Tris arrives in designer jeans, tee-shirt and dove grey Dolce blazer, he also arrives with not one but several bags with the gilt lettering of a high end catering service across their fronts. It means that aside from offering nods to those he knows, his first stop is somewhere to disgorge all of his provender and if he can avoid the host of the party until it's all set out, more's the better. Call this BYOEVERYTHING. Now it's a party by Tris standards: fancy and less fancy hors d'oeuvres, and several trays of some kind of blue and clear jello shots.

--

Luckily without a car, Sheena doesn't have to work on parking. Not that she even knows how to drive. The girl in greenish copper tinge having had caught some of the rain, matting down already flattened short shaggy bobbed blonde-ish hair and dotting her black denim jacket and faded ripped and possibly too tight bluejeans. The clunk of a leather belt in black with metal studs lined in a helix patter faint as it hangs from a single loop on her waistband and old beat up knee high boots left half laced keep her feat relatively dry. Her hands however compared to some are completely empty.

--

Yes, there is a /perfect/ place to set down all that expensive catering. You see, smell carries, and so when Tris arrives with his mighty bags, something else awakens. Underneath the snack table, hidden amongst the shadows of a drab evening and the shade of tablecloth, a pair of blue slitted eyes open, seeming to glow with captured and reflected light much like a cats. It is followed by a visible grin of white, bright, and shiny jagged teeth. A small thrumming purr, but seemingly nothing else yet. The Gretchen awaits sacrafice.

--

Phoebe has arrived early, ever the image of old-school diligence. And old-school she remains--though she's as yet been able to find corsets at any reputable shop, the Bright One has made do with a formal dress and a fur stole. But it's apparent to even the casual viewer that Mrs. Delacroix is not wearing haute couture; the clothes fit poorly, and show signs of age. Obtained by a thrift store, perhaps. Small white camellias are blooming in her floating hair and falling to the ground, where they dissolve in a puff of fragrant, glowing mist. Phoebe is cradling a bottle close to her chest. "I brought champagne," she offers. "Though I fear I do not know its provenance. It is called... 'two buck chuck?' I do not understand what deer have to do with wine."

--

Surprise, surprise, Miles is wearing a suit tonight, gray with a muted blue tie, and a topcoat over the lot of it. No gloves, it's not that cold. He must have gotten here early to help with... whatever, because he comes out from inside to stand on the porch and survey as people arrive, a mug of coffee already in hand. If he brought anything, no one will probably ever know. But it was probably booze that he doesn't intend on sharing at all, so there's that.

--

Natalya may not have received the BYOmemo, for she arrives without extras or fanfare or even her very well loved Tupperware. The professor, it seems, has arrived from the very last faculty event before the end of semester. There's no one thing to point to that suggests this other than a sense of enormous weight that wants to lift, but hasn't yet. Or maybe it's her late contribution to the tables: tiny bottles that suggest an origin filched from airplanes or hotel rooms or (most likely) faculty gift exchanges. Tiny samples of the Basic Weird Shit. She keeps back one small bottle of Jagermeister. Rough term. Despite staying on the fringe, she is here.

--

Peter relieves himself of the party favors brought by Lilium, helping briefly to set things up, before he's wandered off. Heedless of the light drizzle, he circles the perimeter of the yard, eyeing different viewpoints into it and frowning at each and every window he can spot facing them. Eventually, the man in the pure black suit returns to the canopy to have any seat. His weak mantle displays itself with the accumulated dead leaves that seem to gather discreetly beneath his chair. Retrieving his briefcase from the load of crap, err, nice treats and snacks, that were delivered, he withdraws some paper and a pen, ready to take notes apparently.

--

Jules gets himself a cup of coffee while people are still arriving--and a cigarette, having apparently gone too long without while setting up all of this. With... whatever help Miles was providing? Sure. He does at least catch Gretchen taking up residence under the table at around the same time he spies the first people arriving with food of their own: "Okay," he tells her, somewhat begrudgingly, "you may have one paper plate of food and anything people share--" Pause. "Or drop. But nothing else from on top of the table until after the party." Maybe he is learning to stop worrying and learn to accept the garbage disposal.

To Tris, then, as he gets to unpacking: "What, did you tell them were having a Hanukkah party?" Jules sounds resigned. Weary. So weary. "I don't care if anybody drinks, but I hope we can all agree to stay... largely sober until we can address this freehold business."

--

Some may have walked from their vehicles which must be parked far from the party. Walking, though, is for chumps, because when Robin arrives, it's as a flaming comet arcing through the sky like an oil-soaked trebuchet stone. In fact, for a moment, it may appear as though the party is under attack. There is a -whumpf- as the fiery fae lands in the center of the party and slowly straightens to their six-foot height. Drizzling rain sizzles against a full suit of fiery plate mail that covers the only slightly more mundane armor beneath, and the Summer places the butt of a flaming sphere on the ground as they announce:

"Summer brings greetings, protection, and--" The Changeling's left hand raises, holding two Kroger bags with slightly curled and singed edges on the handles. "Spicy Ketchup Chips. Is there anywhere I should--oh, I see, over here." Robin goes to deposit the chip bags with the rest of the snacks.

--

Roz walks over to Miles, a faint smirk on her face. "I guess we coordinated for tonight, Mr. Norwood," she says, with the softest chuckle. She glances over at Jules, giving him a nod in greeting. Back to Miles. "He looks...tired."

--

Sheena picks some of the least fanciest looking snacks put down by Lilium, giving the elf a big grin. The really fancy ones should be for looking at first. One hand aiming a bite to the Dancer's own mouth to take a chomp while the other reaches down under the table with just enough bend at the hips to make the distance and offer the grue under the table. Hopefully she gets fingers back, but Sheena is unafraid.

--

There is a murmur from Lilium into Peter's ear, then, wholly distracted and looking a little awed, she wanders over on long legged strides to Phoebe, glassy little wings perking as she waves. "Hi, your hair is just.... beautiful," she greets the other woman, wearingma million watt smile. She looks over to Tris and asks, "How did you hear about the Hanukkah party?" And then there is quite possibly a Gretchen. It /sounds/ like something someone would tell Gretchen, so she starts ambling back toward the table, trying to coax Phoebe with her so as not to abandon her in pursuit of checking for Gretchen.

--

Phoebe smiles in return at Lilium's kind words. "Thank you, madam," she says, softly. "But I fear it is a gift from... a being I would rather not have met." She has placed down her very fancy champagne and is turning away from the table to speak further when a meteor streaks through the party. She yelps in fright and dives under the table.

Gretchen's table.

There is a brief pause, and then a much higher-pitched and more strangled yelp. Scrabbling.

Phoebe emerges from beneath the table in record time, yanking her hair after her until it is all safely bundled in her hands. She pants for a moment, wide-eyed. "Good evening, Madam Gretchen," she manages at last.

--

Miles smiles at Roz, brief and polite, when she approaches. He lifts his mug to her after an appreciative glance over her attire. "Ms. Wells. It's nice to know some of us have any sense of proper fashion." He glances at Jules, "I think he'll rest better after tonight. We all will."

--

Peter looks from Lilium to Phoebe at the whisper, smiling warmly. There's a series of notes, and a look on startled surprise at Robin's entrance, but the announcement of Summer's protection puts his back at ease. A small chuckle escapes him at Phoebe's response to it all, though he quickly stifles it and looks properly serious once more.

He sneaks a tiny bottle of Jaeger, and lifts it in cheers towards Natalya, murmuring under his breath, "No one was aware that Peter was already a tad drunk before he arrived. He covered it well with his mein of responsibility."

--

Gretchen has been distracted by Jules and the 'Jules Rules on proper consumption of things that fall on the floor'. Wich combined with the arrival of Robin with alas, a lack of proper guitar solo, means that Phoebe escapes with nothing more harmfull than likely no longer having both shoes. It is just instinct, if it goes into the dark, it is in danger. The eyes, the grinning maw under the table reset quickly, peering back outwards as it speaks with a mournful tone. "But I am so very hungry." Then finally. "Hello. I smell fish girl. Is fish girl here?"

--


"Phoebe!" Robin beams brightly (because is there any other way) at the other Bright One. "I was hoping to see you here, you have to come to the community center soon, see what Ian's done with it." Robin's footprints are leaving behind steam and a -little- fire, but no actual burn marks on Jules' lawn, thank god. That said, the butt of the spear of fire...uh. It's small, the damage is minimal. When Gretchen announces being hungry, Robin tucks the spear into the crook of one arm to free a hand to offer her one of the four bags of the mortal world's finest food: Spicy Ketchup Lays. That said, Robin shines from every exposed inch of skin, has two suns for eyes, and is literally on fire. How hungry -is- Gretchen?

--

"Some people do celebrate Solstice, Jules," Tris replies to the host, his tone wry even as he finishes unboxing, expression entirely too prim to be at all serious. He flashes a sidelong smile toward the Winter. "Any excuse for a party," he adds as if that's some kind of joke. And maybe it is. It turns out Tris' first act, however, (probably directed by Jules' notice) is to take one full tray of fancy-cut finger sandwiches and crouch down beside the snack table to set it before Gretchen with a wink toward the cat eyes and maw of scary teeth. At least he doesn't actually laugh in the face of danger? He just feeds it.

He doesn't linger though, just as he didn't at Natalya's party. He's up and seeking to clap Jules on the shoulder. "We're going to need it, after." The jello shots he probably means, but since Tris isn't taking one now, he probably is agreeing to abide by the sentiment expressed. "Where's-" he starts, but his sweeping gaze takes in several people he might have been talking about and his smile brightens.

Robin gets a bright smile as they arrive near where Tris is standing, "Hey," is bright and with some kind of buzz to the energy like a child spotting Santa on Christmas night and just waiting to see what happens next. Maybe they'll burn Jules' house to the ground before the night is out? (BREATHE, JULES, BREATHE.)

--

Sheena flashes Lilium another big grin and finishes chomping down on the snack in her hand. she does at least turn enough to shield the snack from any potential splash from Robin's landing before deciding the best place for any snacks is in her belly. The blonde probably could do to eat more herself. Another handfull is slipped under Gretchen's table as well. "We'll keep you fed, won't we." she says with a wink at the Elf while Sheena smuggles food to the grue.

--

"Tris, can you please use... whatever language Summers understand to impress upon that person that we're trying not to make such a fuss here?" Jules, the very Winter host, trying to have a party and then not make a fuss. He makes his way back to Miles, offering an, "Evening," to Roz at the same time. "So if nobody has any better ideas," this mostly to the assembled masses of Winter, otherwise known as the two of them, "then I think we just get people to swear to some basic stuff until Spring and then... that should do?" It would be nice if he sounded more sure.

--

Phoebe looks down at her tattered, surviving shoe mournfully, then sighs. She removes it and tosses it gently beneath the table. "My apologies for startling you, Madame Gretchen," she says politely. She looks at Robin and beams in return. To a mortal, all the lights in the party would seem to shine more brightly. But to the assembled Lost, the reason is clear--Phoebe is just glowing. She moves to Jules. "Thank you so much for opening your home to us, monsieur," she says. "Are you... intending to establish a Freehold?"

--

Quick to come to the assistance of, well, this time Phoebe, but generally anyone, Lilium offers a hand, smiling softly at the genteel radiance of her fellow Spring. She barely conceals the grin aside at Peter from his line of sight, brief quiet exchanges with Sheena resulting in another grin on her part, and her gathering up a handful of chocolate covered pretzels and literally just dropping them where the Gretchen can now honestly say they fell. Then she pulls off her boots, offering them to Phoebe. She's rather tall somthey may well be too large, but the offer is made. She otherwise remains largely quiet so as not to miss any of the oaths and freeholds talk.

--

Natalya raises her own subtle Jager salute towards Peter, a brief interruption in her people watching ways. "Pre party parties are a long tradition. I indulged." She doesn't seem intoxicated, but the strategist Autumn may be keeping a low profile in case she's too close to the edge. Or maybe it's just habit.

--

Roz peers around the group, squinting a little at the brightness of the fiery Robin. "This is a decent sized group, though I see there are a few missing tonight." Then she focuses on, or under, one of the tables. "There is a...person...under that table. Our Court or Autumn, Mr. Norwood?" But that question is swept aside as Jules speaks up. She clears her throat and says, "An oath to protect our freehold and our fellow sworn, with a promise of death to loyalists and huntsmen, until the Vernal Equinox? Seems straightforward."

--

Peter rises smoothly and steps closer to the clustered Winter's, leaning in to murmur softly to Miles before stepping back and out of the way. He takes up a pose reminiscent of a security guard, and the all black suit adds to the effect.

--

"More straightforward to swear to serve a Crowned Monarch. Is anyone wearing the crown? I came to swear to serve a -crown-. It's late, shouldn't the season have picked by now? Did it pick someone who didn't show up?" Robin looks around, scanning faces. "Is there a Winter here who left a crown at home? Or is the season waiting for some more dramatic moment? Someone do something sad and melodramatic. Winter loves that."

--

Food that is given, simply dispears, this includes the second shoe. It alas, does not include ketchup chips. There are rules to be followed, things drilled into a broken mind, a battered body. Only once it has gone into the darkness, only once it is out of the light. Gretchen stares at the chips none the less with those slitted eyes, desirous despite literally just having eaten two plates of food, a handfull of pretzels and a pair of shoes. She just needed to figure out how to get them out of the light. But none the less, the fact that she is here, and Robin is here, and so many others was perhaps important. For it meant that no matter what others may think, that there was here in a back yard in New Orleans, a gathering of those who had suffered, but in doing so became something magical. Something special, something unique and wonderous. Seperated from a duller reality into a world of fantasy and companionship and shared suffering by a wooden fence and a simple gate.

Anyways, there's the wonderwall.

--

The approach of Jules makes Miles smile, just for a moment, in a way that's quite unlike how he smiled at their other fellow Onyx Courtier. "That should do, Mr. Landry." To Roz he notes, "Let's not get carried away, Ms. Wells. Our intention here is not to harm, but to keep us the Lost of New Orleans from coming to harm." It may not seem like much of a difference to some, but it's clearly a difference worth noting to Miles. He is distracted then by what Peter says to him, dark gaze lingering for some moments before his attention returns to the matter at hand.

--

"Oh, I got invited," Tris, on a delay, because he was watching Robin, waiting for something dramatic and exciting, per the Summer norm. But when there's just words, his brain catches up to Lilium's question and goves her that, distractedly, in return. "You're well?" He asks her with more attention, dark eyes as he turns to the tray of Jello shots and picks up two: one clear, one blue. He waits a beat for an answer before turning to step toward Robin and offer out the pair as a choice. "Jules says we're not making a fuss."

--

"Think I saw a burger joint half a mile from here on the way." Sheena chimes in. "Why can't the crown be metaphorical." she says and shrugs her shoulders. "I mean if you really need one I can kinda hook that up. I think. epends on how fast and fancy you want." she offers and again there's a shrug with some small bounce of her body under her jacket.

--

"Oh," Robin says, "That's good, I was worried there was going to be fussing." If 'we're not making a fuss' was a -suggestion-, that goes right over Robin's head. They lean in closer to Tris and ask, "Is anyone hiding a crown somewhere? Or are we...somehow going to proceed -without- a divinely appointed ruler? If we're going to try to all swear such a potent thing as an Oath, there may be -reason- for spears before the night is out. Do you have a weapon?"

--

Peter eyes the crowd, lips curling down into a worried frown before he returns to his spot at the table. His briefcase finds his lap, and a hand slips inside, gaze becoming dark and still.

--

"The one I swore to last was, er, long, and caused some trouble even in the attempt to avoid it. I'd prefer to start with enough to keep us basically safe until we have a better idea of what we're doing. I don't want someone forsworn by accident." Jules sips at his coffee here, looking to Miles as though for some approval that this is in line with what he was saying. A faint wince, then, and he offers more to Robin, though probably loud enough to cover anybody with similar questions: "There's no Autumn crown." So far as anybody's aware. "Don't know if swearing will be enough, but if somebody prefers to wait until a few folks do to see if it works, that's fine with me if it's fine with the rest of you lot."

--

The question of a crown and monarch in New Orleans could be enough to drive a 'ling to drink. Lilium nods at Tris and pours herself a too big glass of hard eggnog, takes a big swallow as she plays onlooker mostly, for now.

--

"Shows up when it wants? Cool, Saves me destroying someone's TV setup. Copper and gold wiring, be good for making a crown, that you can throw like a boomerang. very Wonder Woman." Sheena points out. Again she shrugs her shoulders and goes back to picking at snacks for herself and the Grue under the table. "Serving my court and a freehold, great totally down. Running things, so totally nope." she says playfully.

--

"Then we all swear we aren't loyalists, swear to do our best to uphold and defend the freehold from the Gentry and their servants, and obey the Winter Monarch so long as they do not shame the crown, boom, done. Then we get a Crown, we serve the Crown until Spring, and we'll have survived the damn Winter and can get on with real work." Robin is -ever- so polite about seasonal differences. Robin hasn't really noticed that there were jello shots offered. Mostly they're looking between the two Winters they know of, Miles and Jules. As if at -any second-, a crown of frozen ashes will appear. Robin leans in toward Tris and, pitched lower, asks: "You want my knife?"

--

"There is a freehold." The voice comes from under the table, with that low thrumming purr as Gretchen deigns to speaks again. The blink of those slitted eyes. "The freehold is not a building. It is not a place built of human hands."

--

Natalya flicks a hand in the air, questioning rather than the one being questioned. "Does someone just need to go first? Did someone write up the formal words, or are we winging it? It's clear some of us are willing. A crown's a gift. It being nearly Christmas, perhaps some fat man in red will throw it off his passing sled and onto someone's head. Perhaps when one of each makes the commitment, or...whenever. Capricious, magic." This seems careless mostly on surface; Natalya is paying attention, but somewhat like one adjucating a complicated game. She does add: "There's no Autumn to relinquish a crown as far as I'm aware, so we can hope that it's given first to Winter."

--

"Sad and melodramatic. Well, you brought ketchup chips, that's pretty sad," quips Roz, side-eying Robin. Then she adds, "Maybe this is a chicken/egg situation. No Crown because no Freehold, or no Freehold because no Crown?" Then she waves a hand towards the darkness under the table. "There you go. So sayeth the Under Table Person. Whenever two or more of you are gathered in the name of the Wyrd, there is the Freehold. I'm down."

--

Nodding deeply at Roz's words, Lilium continues drinking her big ass cup of liquor laced eggnog, before kneeling to smile under the table at the Gretchen which remains in the dark. "I like that," she says, nodding.

--

Miles takes a drink of his coffee, before saying, "Crown or not, our community deserves whatever protection a Freehold will offer in uniting us." His voice raises slightly, then to carry over everyone present as he swears an oath to the soon to be freehold, "Until the change of seasons brings Spring's crown, I swear that I will not knowingly bring harm to this freehold, nor provide assistance to the Gentry or their supporters against my fellows." The look he sweeps over the rest of the Lost is frankly a little challenging. Does anyone object? They better not!

--

Peter clears his throat, speaking up, "I.. I - need a fucking drink."

--

"The monster under the table, while adorable, is incorrect. We do -not- have a freehold. A freehold is not brick and mortar, but neither is it flesh and spirit. It is -Wyrd-. It is Contract. Until we have Sworn, we are separate. Disparate." Robin gestures at Jules with their spear, "The grumpy looking Winter with the ears and the nose and the practical jacket is correct, if we have no Crown, then it is likely that Winter will not give us one until we swear. I think it should be up to Winter to declare terms. It is their Season, and if we all simply shout terms and argue, then blood will spill before we agree." Pause. "Or one of them could just take charge and swear. That's fine. He'll probably be King or something."

Robin adds, in support of Miles' version of the Oath: "I do so also swear: Until the change of Season brings Spring's crown, I will not knowingly bring harm to this freehold, nor provide assistance to the Gentry or their supporters against my fellows."

--

"You wanna teach me how to use your knife?" Tris pitches right back to Robin as he tips a jello shot in toast to Lilium before swallowing it down. He leans, leans, to place the empty plastic cups on the edge of the table (sorry, grue, he's just not thinking). "My hands are probably better than your knife would be to me right now." Although he's certainly thinking about it. "I can come by the Community Center one day and we can find something to do with your knife. Call it skill-building." He probably means something that might be as fun as burning down a house and getting blown up. "That sounds melodramatic to me," Tris observes or Roz's comment of his fellow Summer, his smile turning sharply feral at the edges. He reaches up a hand to scratch at the raised gossamer scar twinkling a smooth ice blue and starry silver as though in honor of the season, though it's really just what it's splitting from the local sources of light.

His eyes do go to Miles and Jules and there's a moment after Miles speaks that oath, where perhaps he's taking the words' weight, considering his ability to live up to that contract. Then he follows suit with robin, echoing in exactitude, the oath as it's been given.

--

While Jules should be paying more attention to what Miles is saying just there, he is very swiftly distracted. It would probably say more about his good sense if he was distracted by the discussion of the freeholds, but unfortunately, the poor man is touching his nose like he's just trying to figure out if there's something desperately wrong with it. Finally, rushed through like he'd intended to say it a few moments before: "Until the change of Season..." And so on.

--

The first few vows do not, in fact, result in the spontaneous appearance of any crowns.

On the other hand, the slight lingering drizzle seems to have been replaced, despite the temperature, with a faint flurry of snowfall.

--

Lifting her cup, Lilium echoes, the same given vow as the others. Her eyes get big as saucers at the snow flurries and she looks sidelong at Peter.

--

There is pressure as the words are spoken. It is the heavy calm before the storm, when sunlit trees stand against dark clouds, when birds fall silent. It is the quiet of the leafless forest as the sun sinks below the horizon. It is the roar of the tornado, the earsplitting crack of the flood in thaw, the pitiless gaze of the summer sun. Oaths are being spoken, and reality itself bends as the Wyrd seals them.

Phoebe speaks, her voice clear and ringing. "Until the change of Season brings Spring's crown, I will not knowingly bring harm to this freehold, nor provide assistance to the Gentry or their supporters against my fellows. So help me, God."

--

Peter clicks his breifcase shut, looking both of relieved and like he's near to hurling. He rises, and speaks aloud, "Until the change of seasons brings Spring's crown, I swear that I will not knowingly bring harm to this Freehold, nor provide assistance to the Gentry or their supporters against my fellows." He pours himself some eggnog, lifting it towards Lilium with a grin, "Huzzah."

--

Since everyone is doing it... Sheena throws her oath in. "Till the change of seasons, I will serve the crown and free hold. Nor work on aiding gentry or anyone else out to do us in." It's not just Gentry you gotta watch out for after all. "That said, we'll probably keep it going in Spring anyway." she adds as she shivers just a little when snow hits.

--

Natalya raises a finger as the snowflakes start to fly, as if to say 'well, that's something'; she follows suit with the recitation of the simple-enough oath, tiny empty bottle still dangling from her other hand's fingertips. She watches faces; it's as if she's expecting that someone won't double down or join in, but hoping otherwise.

--

"This I choose to do." Gretchen speaks once more from under the table. A small little growl, a hightening of her voice. "Not by any other, not by gentry, not by man. I choose. This /I/ swear. Until winter does end, I will protect this freehold from the Gentry, I will not aide them or any who owe them loyalty."

--

Roz joins in with the oath swearing, buoyed up by the recitation of her fellow Winter, Mr. Norwood. She tilts her head, noting the slight change in the weather.

--

Peter takes a sip from his eggnog and then quickly begins writing, presumeably recording the exact wording of each and every Oath given and by whom, pen scribbling furiously.

Peter mutters, "It didn't even rhyme."

--

When Peter mutters about the Oath not rhyming, Robin leans past Tris to the table where, presumably, at least one discarded jello shot glass probably exists. This is then side-arm flung directly at the Changeling with scary accuracy. THUMP.

--

Molly is looking even more bleary-eyed than usual, deeper circles under her eyes, more feathers sticking up through her bed hair. She's rubbing at her face, just avoiding getting her claws in her eyes, lingering by the entrance after a late arrival. "Gjhdnrmmmpfffb..." she contributes a mumble, ending when she covers up a yawn with her palm. The harpy then rolls her shoulders and wanders up to watch the proceedings for a while. Hey, people are swearing things, so why not? "Until the change of Season..." she volunteers the oath, imitating the others. And then, scratching her neck, nose crinkling. "I mean, I ain't gonna snitch to the Gentry next season either, or whenever."

--

Tris' Solstice wish is fulfilled. Robin did something dramatic and exciting. He shouldn't grin, because obviously such behavior should not be encouraged, especially since it's likely to cause a fuss. Perhaps his half-hearted, "Robin," which should be followed by a 'don't,' or defense of their fellow freehold member or something counts as trying to help with what Jules asked him to do. ... Maybe not.

--

THUMP, indeed. Peter blinks, after the shot glass pops him in the head and falls into his lap. His large blue eyes fall to it, then up to Robin, narrowing. With slow and deliberate movements, he sets down his pen, practically steaming. He opens his briefcase and removes a small, tinsel crown, very much like a child's toy tiara or some Halloween costume castoff.

Peter considers the little toy crown, still glowering, and rises from his chair, heading quite slowly towards Miles.

--

"Whatever you're about to do with that crown, re-think it or the next thing I throw will be my spear," Robin says, very simply, as Peter rises with the toy crown. "These are serious proceedings. Please do not think that I have any doubt that doing so, were you to attempt to mock the Season's Crowning with that...thing...would leave my Oath to protect this Freehold and do it no harm intact."

--

Winter, Summer, Spring, Autumn--no, that's not how it's supposed to go, is it? Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and then Winter again on the longest night of the year. The yard's lighting makes the snowflakes sparkle as they come down. They don't stick, though. Not on the patch of uncovered grass, not over the canopies. Not for long on any of the assembled who wander out into it, even, melting immediately. Until Jules happens to stray out into it, coffee cup in hand, and the snow begins to collect in his hair. And crystallize, silvery spindles of ice forming a crown. A real one.

At which point it starts raining again, not drizzling but seriously raining, while Jules is standing there looking worried. So--now he can look worried and half-drowned. Winter's king, ladies and gentlemen and celestial bodies.

--

Gretchen perhaps tenses, perhaps hard to tell with her being half hidden. But her eyes track, and then slowly she nods, and whatever seriousness, whatever momentous moment this is is joined by. "I am still hungry."

--

“So mote it be," Phoebe intones, as the last of the once fragrant flowers falls, ice-clad, from her moonlit hair and shatters upon the ground. "The Onyx Court is ascendant. Now enter we into High Winter." And then, in a quieter voice, meant only for herself: "God keep our sorrows distant, and those we care for near at hand."

--

Miles seems quite pleased that the gathered Lost have all followed his lead to swear their oaths to the beginnings of their Freehold. He seems somewhat less pleased with, well, the fact that the crown manifests on someone who is not himself. It's as he's turning to, perhaps, go inside, that Miles notices Peter's attention on him, and he pauses to arch a well-groomed brow at the man. "Are you well?" is a strange question, maybe, but not a rhetorical one.

--

Tris' eyes strayed from Robin to Peter and Peter on his intended path, stepping into an intercept path, one elbow reaching to touch to Robin's arm in a 'this way' gesture, but the sight of Jules with the crown arrests his steps. Dark eyes go wide, wide and then he looks from the King to the suited Winter, brows drawing down, down, perhaps perplexed, perhaps something more complicated, but something at any rate. His hand rises and covers his heart in a slow salute of the new King. If anyone else is going to get fancy and kneel, Tris can do that too, but he's not going to start it.

--

"All hail the King! Winter is Crowned! All hail!" Robin thumps their spear into the ground again...then goes down onto one knee in the wet, pouring rain. Getting mud out of dragonscales sucks, but when a magical crown appears on the head of a divinely appointed monarch, Robin does indeed get fancy and kneel.

--

Sheena gets a few more snacks. Then sneaks them back under the table. It's a juggling act but sheena kinda manages it. "I'd suggest coming up and helping yourself. I think no noone is in a position to complain right now." the Metalfleshed dancer suggests rather playfully while everyone is focused on crowns and not being impaled with spears or hit with wasted jello shots.

--

Peter frowns at Robin, but ignores them, attention drawn to Jules as snow becomes Crown upon his head. He glances at Miles, murmuring the words, "I -knew- it," before turning to face Jules instead.

Peter holds out the tinsel crown to Jules, tone very solemn and sad as he states, "My Winter King, will you please take the burden of this away from me. It is a weapon that I no longer trust myself with. I trust you to use it with only Freehold's best interest at hand, if ever."

--

Sitting her drink aside, Lilium starts after Peter on long legged strides. After a nod of quiet acknowledgement at the Wyrd's decision, she shimmers argent then bodily stretches, wings growing wider as the fine scales on her skin grow larger, coarser, to mimic those on Robin's armor. And just in time for her to grow larger, perhaps to the size of a bear, the dragon she becomes settles peacefully between Robin and Peter, to protect the Author bodily. It lowers its chin to Jules, though, deferent.

--

Kneel? No. This is squishy ground and Jules is not fancy, and Natalya is a weary soul. Salute with a tiny bottle of Jagermeister? Of course. "You might want one of your early acts to be to try to keep the party pleasant, to earn Winter's regard. But that's just a suggestion from outside," Natalya calls to Jules pointedly. But it's Peter's gesture to Jules that has her ever slightly frowning, as if someone's just made a strange move on her internal chessboard.

--

Roz gives Peter a black-eyed stare as he approaches Miles with the little toy crown. And she seems to actually be in agreement with Robin on this. But then Jules is crowned. She looks...relieved. "Congrats on the shiny hat, Mr. Landry," she calls out, her joy tinged with the faintest bit of sardonic wit. Then she looks up at Miles. "Well, Mr. Norwood, I'd say this is your doing...in a way."

--

Molly digs into a pocket of her purple Prince symbol hoodie, rooting around for a moment before she hands Gretchen a solitary Starburst. It's pink flavor. It does look like she just pulled on whatever was on the floor and walked out, in jeans and no shoes. Which, coincidentally, have to fit the black claws her toes /also/ sport. She doesn't seem to mind the cold or the mud, digging in, though she scowls slightly as it starts to pour down. She seems to have a neutral reaction to the proceedings, more curious than anything else.

--

Phoebe glides forward smoothly and places herself between Lilium and Robin. "Let us stay peaceful. We have sworn Oaths to each other and seen the crowning of our King. There is an intensity to such affairs. I apologise for not serving you all as a leader of ceremony--for that is the province of the Emerald Court. On behalf of Spring, I am sorry. But let us proceed peaceably."

--

"I kinda wanna ride the dragon." Sheena adds as Lilium steps up like a boss. The dancer then moves does her own kneeling, not too fussed that the ground is squelchy. Those jeans are battered enough and at least it's her bare knee that gets dirty a moment. Her boots keeping the rest of her legs away from the mud and muck beneath her.

--

It isn't so much that Tris distrusts Peter, but between the look and the advance toward Miles and then Jules, the Beast is up off the ground, knees muddied, and moving toward the King to not flank but stand in his immediate vicinity like he might bodily put himself between the monarch and any threat that might come to him. That shouldn't include any of the sworn, and yet... Here he stands. Summer.

--

Gretchen, to note, has stopped eating. Food lays out still, visible, yet does not disapear.

--

Ducking back under the shelter of the canopy, Jules is only now starting to feel at his own hair very gingerly with his hands. Feeling the outline of the thing. And then jerking his left hand away as it actually finds one of the points. "Fuck." He sticks his finger in his mouth. People are kneeling, and he's looking towards Miles, but then there's Peter standing there holding... something? "Um. Yeah. So about that--later." More solid as he goes along, finds his verbal footing. He is at least deliberately backing up to keep his hands well out of range of the thing. The man did call it a weapon. There are bigger things to deal with, like apparently getting back to Miles. And the dragon. "Jesus, I didn't know she did that." Finally, coming up to the back porch through the rain again, which is settling back to a more moderate level. "Miles, what the hell am I supposed to do?"

--

Peter lays a hand on Lilium's scaled side, looking surprised. Then his gaze sweeps over everyone who was ready to defend the King from him, looking less than surprised, but disappointed nonetheless. He stands there, frowning, sliding the tinsel crown into his suit pocket. When in Rome, he kneels.

--

An upwelling of glamour surrounds Robin. They were very prepared for Tris to restrain them, but when Tris moves forward, Robin decides to do away with everyone getting inconveniently in the way and...leap into the air, arcing and twisting in air to flip and land beside Jules. "My King, you are to give orders. If you order me to remove this creature and its...gift...I will do so at your order. Grant me leave to at -least- poke a hole in him to teach him respect, timing, and subtlety. I promise I am capable of doing so nonlethally."

--

Miles watches Peter's turn to Jules with a frown, there's something protective in it despite the Fairest's general displeasure. "My doing?" he asides to Roz, then, "I think I need something--" But then Jules is coming closer again Miles' jaw sets with a tension he's trying and failing to hide. "You rule, I suppose. My king? Your majesty? How am I supposed to address you now?" It should be noted that he's not kneeling with the rest of the congregation, though perhaps he can be forgiven by the distraction Robin's sudden appearance causes. Time to rule, Jules.

--

So long as no one is actively harming Peter, the silver dragon that Lilium has become remains peaceful, docile as the rain beads slick off argent scales. There was a brief rumbling which could have been laughter at Sheena's comment about riding said dragon. It remains with its head bowed reverentially to Jules, though a wing extends out to one side and over Peter's head to shelter him from the rain in his squishy peopleclothes.

--

"Think titles are the hard part. How many of us are still American enough to feel odd calling someone their majesty, liege, and so on." Sheena ponders, there's more bouncy shrugs of her shoulders once she's back on both of her legs, dusting one knee clean where she was hunkered. At least with rain it's easy to rinse off. At least she decided to wear a jacket over her shirt, and a black shirt at that to go with the jacket instead of white.

--

Dragons and gestures and stab-threats, oh my. Natalya's answer to the perplexing conundrum of Peter's response and what follows is to remember her alcohol, once no longer in use for a salute, may be drunk or set aside. She chooses the latter, with a pause and some reluctance, waiting to see if Jules is going to sink or swim, command or flail. There's something she mumble-singsongs half under her breath.

--

Peter rises from his kneeling position, trousers basically ruined as he becomes sheltered by the dragon's wing. He seems divided between marveling at the mythical creature beside him, and attending to the active threats against him. He looks to Jules, nodding thoughtfully, stating more than asking really, "You want me to go? I get it. I'm a lunatic," he pointedly looks at Robin, "Unsuitable and unstable."

--

"What do you do? You...you do king stuff, that's what you do," Roz says, even though Jules *clearly* asked Miles the question. "First, get some sleep. Then tomorrow, you contact the Accords people and let them know that there is literally a new king in town, and that the Changelings are here to stay." She then looks at Robin. "Can you calm down for a moment? When it's Summer you can do all the stabbing you want."

--

Some emotions are easy to hide. Some take very little effort. The burn of wrath is not one of these emotions. Winter probably wouldn't approve of the heat radiating off of Tris as he skirts the silver dragon that he might be fighting to remember is a Lost with a name and a face he can normally recognize. There are impulses and there are long-trained habits that are harder to resist. Lean muscles cord and Tris' face loses much of its habitual open demeanor for something dangerous, something primal. The Beast doesn't make a threatening move toward the dragon or the dragon's protected, that he would, in a better moment, be able to call by name. Right now, that kind of higher thought isn't happening for him. What is happening is the following of instinct and that has him following Jules to the porch to be a menacing figurative shadow. Jules is perfectly safe from one of his self-appointed body-guards, but this is the look of a Beast whose leash might be fraying.

--

"Jules. You call me Jules. You know I don't like the fuss." Jules is very close to Miles when he says this, wet hair and all, but other things command his attention, so he turns around. Whether he really wants to or not. "No poking holes in anybody at this party," he tells Robin--with a moment afterwards like he's really about to tack a please onto the end, but then he doesn't. Orders. "We're all here, we're all alive. I guess what we do with the rest of the evening is celebrate the longest night by keeping the lights on." Which is the point where he reaches for Tris, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Tris," calmly. "I need you to get me a drink. Can you do that?" Maybe he's not going to fall apart. "Nobody's obliged to stay, but I'm not kicking anybody out."

--

And that was that. The waiting was over, and Jules has taken his crown and rose to the task. Perhaps the least important result of that is that the food starts to disapear again. Gretchen still watching, though she does flick a paper plate at Nata.

--

Peter repeats the words, "Celebrate the longest night by keeping the lights on." Obviously impressed, he adds, "I've got to write that down." He turns immediately to Lilium the Dragon instead, "Lily Anne. Can you be a hu-... you again? Thank you for your protection, Little Love. It isn't needed, anymore." His tone doesn't suggest he's fully convinced, but he does offer a sharp-fanged smile. "I want to try a cheese ball."

--

"If you knew you were an unstable, unsuitable lunatic? Then you likely should have sought help and put yourself under the guidance of someone more stable, suitable, and sane before you tried to approach a King with something that -looks- like a joke but which you claim is a weapon." There is a certain...relaxation as Jules orders Robin not to poke a hole in Peter. A deliberate change in posture. "My King--" Pause. Jules has ordered them to call him Jules. "My Jules. If you permit me, I will...remain in your vicinity until unstable elements have departed. Without poking holes. Burns and blunt trauma only, and only if necessary. In addition, I would like to speak with you, at your leisure, on matters of Freehold defense and safety."

--

For a moment, as Tris is walking forward, as Robin is requesting leave to stab, as the dragon stirs, Phoebe begins to glow a bit more brightly. At her feet, a small bramble writhes free of the ground--but then the King is in his Court, and he is ruling, and there is no need for anything drastic. The briar slips back into the earth with a whisper of sound, and Phoebe claps her hands happily. "Food and drink, for it is nearly Christmas-time! Let us rest merry, gentlemen!"

She glides to Lilium and Peter. "You are so beautiful, madame, but you are rather large. Perhaps you might regain your equally beautiful human form?" she asks politely. She cranes her neck to see Peter. "Are you a Notary, monsieur? You seem quite taken with the pen. I should very like to speak with you, if you are willing." Tamp down the fires. Keep everything rolling. Spring is at its ebb, but the wheels of society must be greased.

--

With the threat to Peter seemingly in hand, the silver starts to leech from the dragon at his side, receding along with its bulk and the scales until there is no indication of the beast that hides in the elfin woman anymore but for the brilliant silvery horns, glassy small wings, and the hint of shimmer that gives her skin a dull pearlescent lustre. Unfortunately, Lilium is not large enough to shelter Peter with a wing. She gives a deep and Courtly curtsey to Jules and smiles aside at Phoebe, "You would be much better at that then I, Master of Ceremonies, I mean. But I want to bring snacks." Her clothes are soaked, but she seems fine with that, looking between Phoebe and Peter when she tells Sheena, "I had forgotten I could do that... but would not mind at all. For you, I mean."

--

Molly is looking confused by some of the interpersonal dynamics at play, doing a double take with a quick jerky tilt of her head. She scowls, as if she's missing something, and runs her talons through her hair, feathers sticking out a little more clearly now that her tresses are gradually getting weighed down by the rain. Her nostrils flare into sharp arches, mouth pulled into a small tight line before a yawn forces it to open partly again. "Jesus."

--

Snarling is not generally considered polite. It's especially rude if the person one is snarling at is the newly crowned King. And yet, there's Tris, being all rude to the king with that reproachful look and snarl. It's not a loud one, but it's distinct. "Fine," is snapped to the Winter with his hand so close to Tris' all too human teeth, there on his shoulder, because he can't really refuse Jules' request. But it's not the thing he needs to break whatever mood struck him. That thing, as it happens, is when Robin says 'My Jules' and Tris laughs out loud. That seems to snap his tension, breaking it up like brittle ice in sudden heat. "Can I come?" Tris makes his request to attend the meeting of Summer and Winter, but he's off to do the King's bidding and get him a drink.

--

Sheena can't help but grin when there's an Elf again instead of a dragon. Thankfully Lilium's clothes survived. If soggy like Sheena's and a few others. "Can you fly? That'd be awesome. Maybe when it's less stormy." the Autumnul dancer says and grins brig and bright like she just spotted the motherlode.

--

Peter looks to Robin, and shakes his head, "It was a callback, an inside joke. Please enjoy the rest of your evening." He looks to Jules, "Later, thank you."

And now Phoebe has all of his attention, "Something of a notary, yes. I wanted more than anything to offer some sort of skill or value to the Freehold. I had designs on helping increase our Armory, but that is... for later. For now, I'd very much like to try some of these snacks provided and admire your poise and grace. I'm Peter Val.. no, Ver... ahem. Excuse me. Peter Vhorman, and I'm at your service." He takes Lilium's hand, leaning in to say, mirthfully, "Not a complete disaster."

Peter narrates, under his breath, "Peter couldn't fathom why his act of restraint, surrender, and humility was so threatening. He realized, too late, everyone saw him only as a thing to be feared and hated."

--

Natalya bends to catch the paper plate, and inquires of Gretchen: "Is this a request?" Overhearing Molly's reaction to some of the bigger dramas, she asides, "You can say that again." There's some humor in it, but she's still on guard, not quite in the more aggressive manner of summer.

--

Phoebe beams at Sheena. "Thank you. And I think I would be very happy to have assistance in the providing of a snack at future occasions." She looks at Peter and smiles gently, extending her hand. "Phoebe Delacroix, monsieur. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance." She leans and murmurs, "Robin can be... tempestuous. Do not let him make you think you are despised. You have changed, yes, but so have we all. You are neither feared nor hated--you are sworn to the Freehold, now. You are no longer alone."

--

"Jules, then. Congratulations." Miles offers a cool hand to Jules for a quick, respectful handshake. And then Miles will offer a nod to Roz and disappear back into the house, festivities be damned. Maybe he'll come back out in a bit once he's pulled himself together and not obviously having an emotion.

--

"I am very hungry." Gretchen responds softly. "For fish girl." Then a small pause. "Have you met bird girl? Light girl is very busy."

--

Laying her lips briefly to Peter's temple as she pushes briefly to her toes, Lilium tells Sheena, "I think so. The other times I did that... were back There. But There, I could fly even with the wings I have now." She reaches with her other hand for the big ass cup of liquor and eggnog to start sipping again. Having only revealed that threats to her companion almost reflexively turned her physically into a fucking dragon, she nods at Peter's assessment of things as not a total wreck. Total being the keyword. At least there is a proper Freehold and a King now. She gives Jules a quiet, curious look aside but that is ruined by her laughing at Gretchen.

--

Roz watches Miles head off into the house and shrugs. Then she looks to Jules. "Mr. Landry, er Jules. Congratulations. I need to go and take of some business, but you have my number. We'll talk again soon, I'm sure." She gives him a lazy salute and heads for the exit, going into the rain, whistling a festive tune.

--

Peter looks surprised at Phoebe, remarking, "You read my mind, hah." Whatever thought occurs to him next makes him blush, "Oh. I see." He nods, listening to Lilium for a moment before asking Phoebe, "Might I ask what you need a notary for? I hope that it might be to relate some but of history. I'm developing a cipher to help keep our secrets, when I'm not trying to tentatively establish peaceful relations with the other 'Natures' of the Accords." Eggnog? A cup of that quickly fills his hands.

--

"Best I can do against gravity is cling to walls and ceilings and that's one of the contracts I learned. Handy when I'm sneaking about. But hardly as awesome as dragons." Sheena points out almost wonderosuly. to Peter before he drags the Elf off. "Lemme know when you want me to do the thing?" she says and makes a gesture like a sword being swung. Though empty handed. The only weapon Sheena carries is a set of copper knuckle dusters. And good luck finding where she keeps that in her clothes.

--

Burns and blunt--Jules gives Robin a look, and a sigh, and a, "Yes, sure, that sounds great. We'll talk." Close enough. Somehow, Tris getting snappy does not actually seem to attract more than a momentary furrowing of brow. It passes. Everything passes. "You, too, Tris, yes," before he takes off after that drink. Miles' disappearance after the handshake might be the source of some consternation in the lines across his forehead, but it also frees him to come down off the porch, seeking out something of the food and whatever beverage Tris has tracked down.

--

Molly glances in Natalya's direction, squinting for a moment into the shadows. Then she complies with the request and says it again. "Jesus." Her attention returns to the scene and she draws a breath, shrugs, lets the breath out as a sigh. "And I thought I'd miss going home for the holidays." Her eyes flick over to Gretchen, and she shows off empty hands. "I'm all out of candy. I oughta have breakfast, though..." she mutters the last part, and starts looking around.

--

With burns and blunt trauma approved by royal decree, Robin takes on a more confident, relaxed pose. If anything happens, fire and hitting with the blunt side of the spear. This will work. Talks for later are approved. Everything is working out and the new Crown Jules is functioning at acceptable levels. Robin goes quiet and alert, following behind the King and to his left, staying out of the way. Robin doesn't even go for the ketchup chips now that everyone's started eating. They're on Self-Appointed Royal Guard Duty.

--

Phoebe smiles. "You seem to enjoy history, Monsieur Vhorman. And I have great need of someone... well. I have been gone a long time, you see. And I have returned to a world where Mr. Edison's marvellous invention is ubiquitous--where carriages drive themselves, and great and monstrous metal creations fly through the sky like birds. I understand very little of it, and I should very much like to learn what has transpired while I was..." She pauses, then. Perhaps it is the newly ascendant Winter Court, but her radiance dims, and she must take a deep breath before continuing. "While I was gone. And, perhaps... perhaps, monsieur, you might be able to aid me in finding some people."

--

"We are getting breakfast?" Gretchen questions, still hiding under that food table, still mostly eyes and sharp teeth visible. But she is watching Jules approach. Gretchen has eaten many things in her life. Many many things, but she has never eaten a King before.

--

Tris has tracked down a coffee and is in the process of spiking it when Jules arrives near the snack table. He's also collected six Jello shots. When he catches sight of the King out of his (excellent) peripheral vision, he turns his head to spot Robin and tilt his chin in an acknowledging way. What's better than one self-appointed guard? TWO! Obviously. "Here or there, Jules?" The question might sound obscure and it's asked quietly, but the signs of anger in the Beast have altogether faded. He turns to proffer the coffee. "I'm sure Robin will keep you safe," which is probably the only reason Tris is even getting the offer. He steps past the King, even if he's still holding the cup to reach for a tray of some kind of chocolate mousse mini-pastries and crouches to settle it on the ground. He hasn't forgotten the eyes and teeth under the table. Who could?

--

Upnods are the universal language of all bodyguards when greeting one another, and thusly Tris's chin-tilt is responded to in a similar fashion by Robin.

--

Extricating herself for a moment from Phoebe, Sheena, and Peter, Lilium quietly approaches Tris, long enough to tell him, "I'm sorry, Tris, I did not mean to alarm you. Peter saved my life and so I swore some time ago to protect him, and as I am no fighter, being a physical barrier instead seemed the natural choice. In any case, I did not mean to be cause for upset or alarm."

--

Peter sidles up next to Sheena, or rather, is pulled away. "It's going to be a couple weeks. I've just moved into a place with Lilium, I've been working on securing my Hollow, and frankly, I'm a bit stretched thin. We're still on for it, though." He glances to Phoebe, then to Sheena, telling them both, "I'm actually hoping to try and finagle some higher education. Lilium inspired me, and i think routine structure and socialization might do us all some good, if you two would like to think about it."

"Madame Delacroix, please, call me Peter. I'd be more than willing to help you in your search. I searched for mine, uh, but of history, and was successful, and now, thanks to Tris there," he gestures to Tris, "I have a computer to work with that will aid me in helping. Consider me hired." He gives Phoebe a gentle touch on the shoulder if she allows it.

"I'm almost certain we need some kind of party game started. I think that'd really tie this altogether."

--

"She's probably better than she realizes." Sheena points out softly amongst Phoebe and Peter while Lilium is being gracious about being awesome. "Bet she could whoop my butt in one shot. Probably could find her a trainer. Or a good montage." she adds with a shrug of herr shoulders.

--

Phoebe beams. Literally. "That sounds wonderful, Peter. I have seen the electronic computers! They are truly remarkable devices. And I, too, must find a place to live... and some measure of gainful employment." She ponders, then. "Higher education. I think I am perhaps too old for that--but I should very much like to try."

--

As people start approach the foods, Molly tenses up. It's not immediately obvious, but she hunches slightly towards them, and her mouth opens, tongue swiping at her lips, nostrils twitching. Giving anyone who reaches for nourishment a long, hungry, predatorial look, including the King. Well. Close enough. She's not quite staring at people, but at the food in their immediate vicinity, before forcing herself to blink away. After quickly rubbing at her face, she saunters over to Tris's vicinity. "Hey, boss."

--

The cup of coffee is accepted with plenty of gratitude in Jules' body language, even if he doesn't actually say anything. It'd be hard to say anything when he so quickly needs to have a drink of it. It's only after that and a heavy breath that he tacks on, "Here. I think it will be okay, and I need you." Robin favored, then, with a brief bit of a smile. He hasn't done much of that this evening. "Not that I don't think you're competent. You look... terrifyingly competent." Hopefully that will be taken as a compliment? It sounds warm enough.

--

Peter tells Sheena and Phoebe, "You know, I recently met a hacker who could probably be persuaded to make us some new identities? I mean... He's a werewolf though. A pleasant one, I'll grant."

--

Ah, and so the King remains just out of reach. But there is a distraction, a platter of food. Gretchen's eyes shifts for a moment towards it, and a moment hangs in the air. And then the food is gone, the platter is gone, and Tris' hands is awefully wet. There is a small burp.

--

Phoebe smiles slightly. "That would be useful. I... have been dead for quite some time." Her smile falters as she says it.

--

"I hear they're usually all defauliting to plotting murder." Sheena says about werewolves. "I'm okay living off the grid. It's kind of a pain being fifty but looking more like your Fetch's daughter. But the best way to make fake ID is probably to break into the place and physically make one with actual resources. If he can sneak around with me then it should be doable." the Dancer states. "But if he can make them or get them made with less work for us, then party.

--

"I am competent at very few things, Tris is competent at a great many things, My Jules. I am neither insulted nor surprised that you enjoy their proximity and service. If you require your enemies smote with fire and sunlight, a wall of flesh and armor between you and a threat, or to be serenaded by guitar and singing, then I am at your service. Tris, however, has proven quite capable of speaking well, driving fast, providing emotional support to those in need, healing, and procuring coffee. I am terrible at all of those things, but -especially- at coffee." Robin's jaw is tight as Lilium approaches and speaks, but aside from their response to Jules' words, they keep quiet regarding dragons and where they decide to be at which moment.

--

Though Tris might be distracted by leaving his offering for the grue...and his wet hand... Lilium's words to him garner the attention of his dark blue gaze and he rises. For a moment, he focuses on her face, the shapes of it, as though that's somehow an important thing to do before he meets her eyes. There's no trace of the anger from before. As he speaks, he reaches for a paper napkin to try to do something about the moisture on his hand. "My previous encounters with dragons have not ended well," is not an apology of his own, but it is some kind of explanation. "We all have things we struggle with." There's a little shrug of Tris' shoulders. "I understand that was a tense moment for us all." Everyone had someone they needed to protect. "I have a tendency to act first and think second." The understatement of the season, if not the year. "Especially to things that trigger memories." Bad memories. So it wasn't, at least, Peter, or Lilium that really spurred whatever went on for the Beast just then.

"Okay," Tris accepts Jules' ruling on his question. "Robin is awesome," he will endorse the other Summer with a boyish grin. "Coffee-related talents excepted, apparently." Then his eyes go to find Molly, "Molly. Have you met--" who all is right there? He gestures around. "I hired Molly to work in my store," which might be the first he's told either Jules or Robin about that, but not Lilium. She's in the know.

--

Peter blinks suddenly, remembering something. He lifts his voice to carry with the practiced ease of a stage actor and asks the group, "Something important, while we're mostly still here. Lilium told me she recently discovered a Hedgeway. Considering what it could potentially mean for us, I think we should all let each other know, let Jules know, where any active Hedgeways might be so we can monitor them for activity." He looks to Lilium, "Where was it located again? Jackson Square?"

--

Phoebe looks up abruptly. "Near the Cathedral?" she asks, anxiously.

--

There is a nod of understanding at Tris' words, and for a second, it looks like Lilium wants to hug him. But he's doing a guard duty thing, and she doesn't want to undermine that. "I understand," she replies. "It was a dragon who stole me from the site of my parents death when I was four years old, and kept me for centuries." She looks down at her hands, as if contemplating this newly rediscovered aspect of herself for a long moment. And whatever she might have added, she instead nods over at Peter's question, before telling Jules, "Foxlings live there. I'm afraid I actually owe them quite a bit of meat over the next few weeks for the part of me that was returned. They seem reasonable enough if you treat with them openly and honestly without reserve." She shakes her head at Phoebe, "Near an obelisk."

--

Sheena hugs her arms and scratches at her biceps at the mention of hedge. Not fun times. "I'd kinda want to avoid stumbling back into that." she states and shakes her head like going in is a hole heap of nope.

--

"Yes, I've met Molly, she's--" Then words ceasing at Peter's announcement, Robin looks...dubious. "Do Hedgeways not simply...come into existence any time someone opens a Door? And fade with the Seasons? I am not saying that they can't be dangerous, but it seems folly to track something so ephemeral and so easy to create. It would be a waste of--" Pause. Wheels and gears spin in Robin's head. "My Jules, I think it is -very- important that we catalogue the Hedgeways of the city, and I think this man is the perfect one to task."

--

"I don't think I've ever required being serenaded, but... thank you?" Jules is making an effort, here. A lot of an effort. Hopefully a few more drinks from that cup will have him relaxing a bit more. "Tris is a remarkable man, and I have come to appreciate his talents, even if he does have a few gaps." Only then does he start to catch up on the rest of this business. And here, finally, Robin could have been so useful. Could have. "We, er. We probably don't need every possibility to be monitored constantly, no. But if there's a known problem with that one, it could be looked into. Or destroyed. But we could hardly do that routinely."

--

Molly curls her hands into fists, claws pushed into her palms as her eyes dart to the food again, then to everyone nearby. Her stomach growls. Grrrrr.. "Hmm?" She asks of Tris with a raised eyebrow, then glances around. "No, think I know just about everyone, more or less," she replies, moving her chin to the others nearby. "Yeah, I mean, don't know what I'll be doing but... I'm sure you'll let me know and all!" She snaps a wink in Tris's direction. Her attention is drawn to Lilium, a brow arching, and she pipes up. "Yeah. Jackson Square. I was - I went with Lil' over there. Wasn't too bad, 'cept for the cold. It got real cold."

--

Gretchen has been awefully quiet the last few minutes. This could be said to probably be much like when your five year olds are suddenly not yelling and misbehaving, an indication that something may indeed...be terribly wrong.

--

Peter arches a brow at Robin, setting his eggnog down. "What exactly is your problem with me, sir?" He crosses his arms, waiting patiently for an answer.

--

Phoebe says, “I believe he thought you were making mockery of the celebration with your crown, monsieur... Madame Gretchen? Are you well? You have been... quiet...”

--

Setting up shop near the cheese ball and crackers, Lilium starts to scoop some onto one, listening to Peter and Phoebe and Robin and Jules. She kneels near the table, looking into the darkness beneath, nodding aside at Phoebe's question as she gives the Gretchen a genuinely concerned (but not worried) look. "Would the Gretchen like a hug?" she offers. Some appetites aren't just for food.

--

Jules gets an arch of a brow when the King says gaps. SAY IT ISN'T SO. Tris rolls his eyes because he's the generation that does that with little provocation. "I'm learning to cook. Maybe this time I won't set the kitchen on fire." He adds quickly, for Robin, "It wasn't like the time you did it." Cue the wistful sigh. THOSE GOOD OL' TIMES that he clearly pines for.

Tris grins at Molly and nods his easy assurance that he will let her know. "Odile will be in contact about the wardrobe. The contractor's been in and out with my business manager and I few times, but the subcontractors won't come in until after the New Year." Look at Tris, talking like a grown-up who knows what he's about and everything.

He reaches behind Jules to pluck up the Jello shots, blue and clear, and offer them around with one hand while he fishes in his pocket for his cellphone. If this means he also drops two of the Jello shots on the ground, that can't possibly contribute trouble the far too silent underside of the table and what lurks there.

--

"Unsuitability, instability, insanity, and the fact that you just announced a dire threat to this room with -such conviction- that it caused alarm...when it is no threat, and when if it -was-? It would be gone at midnight tonight. It is the -solstice-. Every Hedgeway in the city will close on the twelfth bell, but you caused fear at this gathering. -Again-. Needlessly. Falsely. False declarations of danger erode a Freehold's ability to respond to -true- danger. As before: if you were -not- dangerous, you and your dragon consort -behaved- dangerously, then you feigned weakness so that kind souls would comfort you. I do not know whether you actually -intend- danger, or are merely the most enormous fool I have ever met and thus are -unintentionally- dangerous. But on this, the darkest night of the year, you have proved the first Changeling that I feel the need to evaluate as a danger to this freehold. You will learn wisdom, you will disappear into whatever other place you came from once more, or eventually you -will- clash with the Iron Spear of Summer, wielded by me or another. -Sir-." Robin's gloved hand grips their spear more tightly, now, and they shift their posture -just so-, one foot sliding back, just in case, you know. Angry dragons.

--

Phoebe raises her hands. "Many of us are newly returned, Robin," she says in a placating tone. "Perhaps he did not know. There is no need for anger here... not directed inward. We have many enemies outward. Ignorance can be cured with teaching. Please."

--

Sheena just to be on the safe side, Sheena places a reassuring hand on Lilium. "It's just a chewing out. We're Autumns, pointing out things we should be fearful of is totally our thing. And going into the hedge unknowingly is pretty damn scary for a lot of us. If it wasn't Peter it'd probably be me if I knew it was there. For a chewing out though it is a little more than a mouthful." she admits.

--

Peter lifts both brows, then nods with resignation, "I see. I've been told off by the flying comet, the only one who has actually threatened anyone here, the only one who did not takes things seriously. It believes -I- am the danger." He nods again, gatherings up his pen and paper to slide them into his briefcase. "Well, there's something to be said for your conviction, at least." At Phoebe's comment, Peter nods, "I actually didn't know. Nor did I know that the Crown changes hands until the Solstice, until I was informed." He snaps his briefcase shut, telling Robin, "You know, for all that fear and paranoia, you'd probably make a great addition to Autumn." He looks towards Lilium, speaking softer, "I've got some work to attend to. Goodnight."

He lifts a hand to Jules, "Congratulations, and, my condolences. I've worn a few those, in another life. Try not to let it get you down." He offers a wave to the others gathered before turning to leave.

--

Lifting her head, Lilium stares at Robin with one eyebrow lifting. "I behaved dangerously?" She then visibly loses focus on the Sun in Dragon Skin. Willfully seeming to see past and around them, and everything but them. It was not a question, it was a rhetorical statement heavy with disbelief. Spring to the bone: it's unpleasant and causes her upset, and so now, she doesn't even seem to parse it. She tells Sheena with a gentle shake of her head, "From the person who threatened to fix their armor with my skin the very first time I met them. I will just avoid attending functions with them. It will be fine." She tells Peter, "I cannot offer you protection if you choose to attend them anyhow, because that is the only way I can see that this ends peacefully." She turns to leave with Peter.

--

"Call me 'it' again," Robin says, very quietly, very deliberately, to Peter. "Call me 'it' one more time." The spear lowers very slowly to orient on Peter, and this time the posture isn't defensive.

--

Familiar echoes here, maybe, but Jules is more settled about it here than Robin. Maybe whatever's in that cup of coffee is helping. "Robin, stand down." Not please, not I-would-appreciated-it-if. "But Peter..." His forehead is really doing some work here, like there are gears turning in his skull and the creases are just having trouble settling. "I understand you not knowing, Peter, but you need to stop going around like you know what the fuck you're doing when you don't. Just tell people you don't know. Ask questions. And for the love of god, have some respect for people."

--

That, that provokes a reaction. Whatever Gretchen had been doing (pulling the tablecloth to one end of the table so all the food would fall off) stops. The eyes move, the maw moves, and then she starts to keen. It isn't a growl, it isn't a purr it is something else. On the most primal level it is, like an oath, a promise. The promise of what happens when one leaves the light. The promise of sharp teeth, of strangling fingers in the darkness. And as those eyes shine, and draw closer under the table, one word is mixed in with it. "Enough."

--

Phoebe moves quickly to Lilium's side. "Madame Gretchen enjoys her privacy," she says, very smoothly. She inclines her head politely to Gretchen. "Our apologies for intruding. Is there something else you would like from the table, Madame?"

--

Jules' command takes a moment to take effect. But it does. Slowly. "-It-." Robin says, quietly, to Jules. "Eventually he -will- pay for that, one way or another."

--

"Yeah, the wardrobe..." Molly replies to Tris, face scrunching in a slight cringe and a very dubious look. "Right, you just say when you need me to do - whatever." Beat. "Hey. I should get paid extra 'cause I double as security!" She tries. Then she goes quiet, small creases working their way onto her brow as she glances between Robin and Peter. Partly it's a tense frown of disapproval. Partly - the greater part - it's confusion, again. "Jesus. The fuck is y'all's problem?" So that last part is only slightly above her breath, her attention diverted towards the food again.

--

Tris' other jello shots join the others on the floor in the moment that Robin steps forward, his body on alert again. Molly's bid for higher pay has to wait. Everything has to wait because the King is speaking and the Summer is standing, and this Summer is moving to stand beside Jules, beside Robin. Only after Jules instructs Robin to stand down and only after Robin shows sign of doing so does Tris reach out a hand to try to rest it on their shoulder, a silent show of support or perhaps seeking to offer a source of grounding for all that anger when there's no ready release to hand.

--

Peter pauses, looking back to Jules, "I first approached you with -only- questions. Do you remember how I was received?" He looks to Robin, frowning, "And you are not an it. A comet might be, a sun might be, but you deserve more respect than most mortals do, refugee from bondage, Citizen of the Freehold. I apologise for my choice words, and regret them. Not for the first time." His gaze scans the crowd, "Now that I know what I'm being seen as, I know where to change. Thank you for your patience and understanding, please forgive me my loss of temper." He shakes his head, "Please have a goodnight."

--

There is a heat-shimmer around Robin's body that distorts images of Tris's hand as they reach out to lay a hand on their shoulder. Robin reaches up with their non-spear-hand and lets their fingers rest on Tris's, give one small pat - an acknowledgement. Their jaw works, slowly, and muscles flex to unkink in a deliberate way. "I -am- a Sun. And even as a Sun, I was not an 'it'. You must meet a dozen Elementals who were transformed into objects. But you do not call Phoebe 'it', though she was a shining light same as I. You call her 'she' and 'lady'. Your word was given to me. Your mistake wasn't one of Wyrd and Glamour. It was one of human ignorance. Your excuses are hollow and meaningless as everything else you say. See that you -do- feel that regret, and keenly. Because it's the only time you'll slip like that and survive it." Robin glances aside to Tris. "Stay with him until they're gone. I'm...going to watch from higher. Hopefully where I cannot hear people talk about how unnecessarily cruel I was to the idiot." And with that, Robin moves away from Jules and Tris. Another gathering of Glamour, and they leap to the roof of Jules's house, moving to the very peak. Where, hopefully, there's a good view but no hearing.

--

"Thank you for not shedding blood on my lawn," Jules tells Robin, before they go; he's apparently already moving on, here. "Don't really want those things all over my lawn, either. Tris, how are you so uncoordinated when faced with food and only food is the thing I want to know." Life. It progresses, and Jules is off trying to gather up spilled jello shots, one hand steadying the crown like he isn't totally sure it'll stick if he moves wrong.

--

Lilium silently follows Peter out, her typically smiling visage quite grave and solemn.

--

Gretchen is silent, for long moments, before finally she moves out from under the table. She wears a simply hoodie and jeans, and the hood is up, protecting her slightly from the light. Slitted eyes rest on Jules as she straightens herself up. "It is still there." She references the crown. "That should be remembered." Then a sniff at the air. "Gretchen goes to find fish girl. The court of autumn, threatened."

--

"I... was not changed in such a way," Phoebe says quietly, as her light dims. "I retained my form, as one of the Sovereign. But... please do not refer to Robin as an it."

--

The seriousness in Tris' dark gaze as he gives Robin a down-nod of acknowledgement and follows the sun's leap is at odds with the feigned (and poorly so) lightness in his voice when he makes reply to the Winter King, "It's one of my talents. You know, the ones you're finding gaps in. I think maybe you're just looking at it wrong." He reaches out his hand now to touch Jules' shoulder before bending to at least try to help (read: probably make it worse, let's face it) the mess he made.

His watchful eyes do jump when Gretchen moves out from under the table and he manages a smile that is small but genuine. "One day, we'll meet properly," he offers in her direction, before his eyes are jumping around the rest, making his assistance in cleaning really quite worthless.

--

Molly lingers by the table with the food. She seems to prefer staring at the food than keeping up with the dispute, though she is scowling as she listens, forcing herself to glance up as Peter and Lilium leave, then up as Robin leaps onto the roof. She clicks her tongue. "See, now, this kind of feels like going home for the holidays," she comments, gaze returning to the food. She's not eating. Just, staring and watching anyone who draws near the table. Her claws go click-click-click against the table's edge.

--

"If other people seem to have finished, Gretchen," says Jules as he gets back up, "you're welcome to the rest of the snacks. Er, if you'll leave me that unopened bag of pretzels. I'll probably eat those. You've been... well, it seemed like you were behaving yourself." Maybe he shouldn't be entirely talkign to her like she's a small child, but at least it's now small child and not monster. "I do appreciate that." He gets at least a few of the jello shots back onto the table and then pulls himself back up to standing, only there catches Molly: "Unless you wanted something? Speak now or forever hold your peace, all that."

--

Gretchen furrows her brows for a moment, clearly uncomfortable, and a bit upset. She doesn't really hide her emotions well as she sways slightly, even the promise of food not luring her. Her eyes settle on Phoebe with a small tilt. "The Robin is not my king, not my leader, not my /keeper/. If the Robin continues to lead with sharp sticks and threats, the thing the Robin will be called is gone." A pause. "I have swallowed bigger lights." There is a small flare of her nostrils her body turning back towards the food table.

--

Does Molly want something? Molly looks like she wants something. Her curved black nails click a little faster against the tabletop as she shoots Jules a look. "Uh. No. No, it's fine, your... Julesness? I'll be fine," she waves it off, hand shaking from side to side in a gesture of refusal before it clenches into a fist and drops to her side. Her lips press into a small tight smile. Her eyes are drawn back to the food, keeping a close watch on it.

--

"Robin is protecting your king." Tris speaks the words simply, though a muscle in his jaw twitches. "Robin deserves as much respect as any other member of this freehold. Peter deserves that same respect. It's the respect that was denied each and every one of us for much too long." There's that undercurrent, that slow burn of wrath, because this Summer is angry, but it's not with Gretchen, it's with the stolen time, the stolen opportunities, the stolen lives taken by the real enemy in all of this: the True Fae. "We are, all of us, at some stage of learning. We are, all of us, works in progress." The anger burns low and steady as he seeks the eyes of the remaining Changelings here. "And now we're united under a King, within a freehold. That means something." It probably means they're not supposed to trying to kill each other immediately. Maybe the little speech seems unfinished, but that's what he's got. His hand rises to scratch across that very visible glowing gossamer scar that runs from temple down to nearly his chin on one side. "If you want to hurt someone, hurt Them." That'll do for a finish.

--

Unfinished or not, Jules goes to squeeze Tris' shoulder after that, and then glances around at the rest of who's left. "I want to go in and check on Miles," quietly, as though mostly to Tris. Then, with better projection: "This has been... well, if she isn't going to clean up the food, I'll come back out and deal with it later. Glad everybody could come out. Sorry it got a bit strained." To Tris, again as an aside, "You can stay out here or come in if you like." Then he heads for the back door, and inside.

--

Phoebe says, “We're all new, and in difficult circumstances. It will... well. We will learn more about each other.”

--

Tris has a job. It was self-appointed before it was reinforced by outside sources, and that job has him following the King as he heads inside, glancing back at Molly long enough to add, "We can talk about a raise." He hadn't forgotten; he just got distracted. Maybe, possibly, Jules is going to be stuck with a bodyguard from now on. At least if that's the case, Jules can be sure Tris is eating something other than Cup O'Noodles and canned tuna. So... silver lining?

--

Molly leans against the table, scratching at her stomach with her free hand as she listens to Tris's speech. She doesn't say anything, just nods slightly at the last part. Her stomach growls again. She grunts to herself, jaw clenching, then walks around the table and goes perch herself on a bit of fence, under the rain. She's already pretty damp, and she seems content to sit there, watching the food. "Yeah, yeah!" She calls out after Tris.