Persephone Observes a Birthday
(( This is one of several unlocked stories detailing the secret affair between Adam Wilson and Persephone Callahan. It follows "Adam falls prey to an ambush." It was written and takes place in early April of last year, nearly a month after the blizzard and less than a fortnight before the masquerade ball.
Mild content warning as always for Persephone's needing to wash her mouth out with soap. ))
Persephone knelt before the lone oak tree near the cliffs she was so fond of and laid out a small lantern, a cross, and a bushel of partially-bloomed wildflowers that had just begun to show themselves to spring. She sat back and hugged her knees to her chest, singing softly.
Adam walked along the base of the cliffs with a halting step, leaning heavily on a mahogany walking stick. He was a fortnight into his recovery, and had seen little of Persephone since the morning after his attack, but as he neared the oak tree, he recognized her voice.
As she sang, she took a small glass from her pocket and then a larger one. She set the small one before her makeshift altar, and the larger one before herself, pouring whiskey into both from the flask she often kept holstered to her leg. As she concluded her song, she raised her glass to the altar, took a sip, and frowned down at the little glass, as if disappointed it lay still on the ground.
Adam stood for a moment, watching her from afar, wondering whether he should approach.
Persephone took another sip and sighed as she laid back and looked up at the sky, counting the colors as the sun set. She caught eye of a shadow in the grass and raised her brows, tilting her head up further to spot the figure casting it from her upside-down vantage point. She blinked and rolled over, pushing herself up as she laid her eyes on Adam. She looked at him a moment before finally speaking. "Yeh shouldn't be on yer leg this far from home."
He twitched out a smile. "Doctor's orders, actually. Time I started getting my strength back. And this is an easier walk than the roads in town with all the horses and carriages."
She gave him a soft smile. "Care for some whiskey? It's Ellie's birthday."
His brow instinctively knit in concern. Referring to an absent person... Was she ill again? He saw the cross beneath the tree bathed in lantern light, the flowers, and the small untouched glass of whiskey. He took a tentative step toward her, still a little uncertain of his welcome.
"Fer s***'s sake, Adam. Either have some whiskey with me or leave. Don't just stand there lookin' like yeh've lost her wits." Persephone turned back around and poured another, even taller glass of whiskey for herself and took a sip.
He raised a brow and tried to smile. "Easier said than done, I'm afraid." His step was still somewhat hesitant, as he struggled with placing weight on his bad leg. Lowering himself to the ground was another task entirely, and he did so quite awkwardly.
"If yeh insist on walkin’ so far from home then I won't be goin' easy on yeh." She smirked and passed him the flask. "Adam. Meet Ellie...Ellie...Adam..." She motioned to the cross and back to him as though introducing them. She picked up the cross and turns it over, running her fingers over an engraved name on the back in an elegant script: Elpis Callahan. She sighed and placed the cross back. "Typically we all celebrate together...Me, Heph, and Cadi. Elpis was engaged to her brother. They...well they died together." She shook her head and took a swig straight from the bottle. "But things are a bit...tense still. Not made better I'm sure by my correspondence to her grandfather about her engagement." She shrugged and grumbled. "It's fine. I was only tellin' truths."
He cast his eyes down and accepted the flask, content to sit quietly for the time being.
Together they sat in total silence until the sinking sun had given way to the velvet night. The drink was gone, all save for the small glass beneath the tree. Persephone sighed and leaned forward, taking the glass and turning it over, setting it upside down on the now whiskey-soaked grass. She grabbed the cross and put it in her pocket before standing and holding her hands out to Adam.He took her hands to stand, finally accepting he was at her mercy, and winced only slightly. He gave her palms a comforting squeeze once upright.
She offered a small smile before leaning down to grab his cane. She took the lantern next and slowly walked toward the village, keeping pace with his limping gait. "Th-thank you." She glanced at him.
He smiled softly in response. "I understand your...friend not accompanying you...but why not your brother?"
"He is...not doing very well." Persephone sighed and shook her head. "It'll pass. He just needs tah get it out of his system, is all."
Adam frowned at this and looked ahead, concentrating on walking.
She looked back to him and then back down at his leg. "How is yer leg? Is it healin' right?"
He nodded. "Yes, it's fine."
She furrowed her brow and looked him over again before folding her arms and looking forward. "Honestly Adam, if yeh don't shut yer mouth and give me five seconds of silence, I think I may scream." She gave a small smirk.
He chuckled lightly. "Alright, what do you want to talk about?"
"Oh, nothing too involved." She put on a silly posh voice. "Perhaps the socio-economic difficulties of being at war with a rejuvenated France. You don't suppose we will give them a good swift kick for supporting those silly colonists?" She snorted with laughter.
He looks at her with a wry smirk, clearly humoring her. "If Nelson has anything to say about it, I imagine we shall."
"I suppose it'll be easy enough. I hear he's a wee li'l man. That is if the English are tah be believed. It is my experience that they are not."
Adam smiled mirthfully. "Can't be trusted at all, us." He cocked a brow, but she stiffened a bit.
He put his free arm around her as they moved forward and she spelled out awful things she’d seen in the rebellion she’d been barely more than a child for. After a moment, he hazarded a question, remembering one of her most frequent complaints against her friend's now fiance. "What were their names? Your parents?" His voice is soft, both in volume and tone.
"Seamus and Lorna." She took a deep breath to settle herself as she wrapped an arm around him to help him as he walked. "They're still livin'. I'll just...probably never see them again."
He swallowed, thinking at any moment she would run. "And your son? Collin? He's with them?"
She stopped again and looked as though she had been punched in the gut. "I...don't have a son." She swallowed hard. "I have a nephew, Collin. He my sister's boy. Artemis...Missy..." She was pale as she spoke, hoping her carefully worded answer would convince him.
"Ah" He humored her with a nod, remembering her saying it was a secret in her delirium barely more than a month ago. "How old is he?"
"He'll be 7 this summer." She looked down, certain Adam would be able to guess that she was not quite 16 at the time of his birth. She cleared her throat and tried to change the subject. "Ah... Calliope. She has children as well."
She continued on about "Callie's" family and what she'd been like as a girl. Adam was surprised to hear her talk so much and smiled a little. "All Greeks then?"
"Da learned to read with a book about Greek mythology and has been obsessed over since. Ma should be granted a sainthood at this point."
He smirked. "I always thought your brother's name convenient." He returned his arm to his side as they neared town.
She hadn’t realized how much she was enjoying his company until she found herself feeling very disappointed as they stood on the edge of town. She sighed. "Yeah...Planned with a great deal of hope and prayer." She looked up at him and offered a brief and weak smile. "Right then, you can make it the rest of the way?"
He nodded, his mouth a straight line. "Thank you...Miss Callahan." He couldn't understand why he cared about her or was always disappointed to see her go.
She nodded and bows her head a bit before turning away, eyes lingering on him. He stood in place watching her go, and she walked away without looking back.