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Title: The Seven Deadly Virtues
Day/Theme: 4th December/"Like seven stone statues"
Series: Swordspoint
Character/Pairing: Canon
Rating: PG-13/12



Humility

As he bent his head, Ferris couldn’t help the sudden, bitter twist of his lips. The situation did have a certain piquancy.

 

“Of the Crescent I beg relief and pardon for my crimes. As all know, it was through a matter of honour that I met my downfall.” He did not risk a glance upwards; he knew that Basil Halliday’s face would be as impassive as ever. “As my honour has now been satisfied and the penalty for my handling of the matter having been long since paid, I humbly request permission to return from my exile.”

 

He relaxed slightly as he concluded his plea. The slow months in the ever-winter of his exile had taught him patience, if nothing else, and a patience that would see him through more than nights of languishing boredom. There was a short silence while, Ferris supposed, Halliday was considering the matter.

 

When the Crescent spoke, his voice was clear and firm. “The issue of your punishment has been long-debated in the Council of Lords. We appreciate your deference to our decision and your admirable behaviour. We also applaud the excellent work that you have achieved in your absence.”

 

Ferris clenched a fist into his robe, his only outward sign of any reaction.

 

“It has, therefore, been our decision that, in the light of your accomplishments while in exile, you should be released from your exile. However, the Council must still take into account your superb attainments and so we have determined that you should retain your position as Ambassador, naturally now with more authority and at a higher rate of pay.” Basil Halliday smiled as if Ferris should be delighted at this turn of events.

 

What could Ferris do but smile back?

 

Fortitude

The man Alec had picked on was huge and grimy, his hands and nails encrusted with the soil of days and weeks ago. His breath reeked of alcohol as he panted into Alec’s face. Alec tilted his head back, exulting in the agony of his throat as the man’s grip on his neck clamped down harder. It was becoming more difficult to inhale.

 

David, David – do you see it?

 

Harry…

 

“Stop it, George,” said a new voice, a stranger’s voice. The hand around Alec’s throat relaxed suddenly and Alec fell to the floor, taking great, sobbing gasps of air. His hands were shaking, he realised distantly; he hadn’t fully grasped the Leyland Principle. The mind may believe that it has control but the body does not want to die.

 

“Here,” said the voice. Alec took hold of the bottle being pressed to his lips; some of the water slid past his lips but most of it dribbled down his chin. Shades of Professor Harding, he thought viciously and wiped it away with his sleeve.

 

“What concern of it was yours?” he whispered.

 

“None.” The stranger was a tall man. Older than Alec. Not a random do-gooder, not in Riverside. Alec smiled up at him; it had a razor-sharp edge.

 

What happened upstairs hurt dimly; it was not what Alec had imagined it to be with Stone and others. The pain made it curiously real; for Alec it only heightened the sensation of skin and sweat and breath. When it was over, he rolled over to look at the man.

 

“You never told me your name,” he remarked, watching him through lowered lashes.

 

The man looked down at him and stroked an idle hand through Alec’s hair. “It’s Richard,” he said. “Richard St Vier.”

 

Oh. St Vier. The urge to laugh rose in Alec’s windpipe and he forced it back down again with unaccustomed savagery. “Will you kill me?” he asked instead.

 

St Vier gazed at him thoughtfully and caressed Alec’s pale shoulder. “No,” he said, and that was that.

 

Charity

The door of his study opened and closed but Basil did not look up, too intent on his draft of the Weavers’ Settlement. His attention was finally roused by the laying of a cool hand on his cheek. He touched his fingertips to his wife’s knuckles, catching her hand and bringing it to his lips.

 

“How far are you along with it?” she inquired, gathering her skirts as she sat down next to him.

 

“Almost finished,” he replied, smiling tiredly at her. He picked up his pen again and inscribed two more sentences before capping it and throwing it down across the page. “There.”

 

Mary plucked the closely-written sheets from the desk and read them over, frowning occasionally. “Melmsey won’t like that,” she observed, laying them down and pointing to one caveat.

 

“No.” Basil ran a hand through his thinning hair. “He’s fond of dogs, though, if I remember correctly. He owns the kennels in the Lawndown area.”

 

“It would take quite a donation to see this pass without comment.” Mary seemed contemplative. “Still, I think we can manage it.” She smiled gently at her husband. “You need more sleep.”

 

Basil laughed quietly. “So do you.” They kissed lightly and then rose together, clasping hands.

 

Chastity

Ginny Vandall probably could have liked Alec, or at least respected him, if he’d at least been honest about what he was.

 

In Riverside, everyone earns their own keep. Some are more successful than others: Hugo, who Ginny takes pride in, is one of the best. When times are hard, she walks the streets with Hugo behind her and that’s fine. No one cares, not in Riverside, where being a whore is one of the better jobs. When times are good it’s the other way around, because death is more valuable than sex, although it happens to most people for free. What she and Hugo have is a partnership, though, and that’s why Ginny doesn’t like Alec.

 

There’s precious few words to describe someone who lives off someone else’s earnings and repays them with sex and Ginny’s heard them all, had them all thrown at her. But no one seems to dare say them to Alec, as though he’s different, as though he’s special. It might be Richard, because no one crosses Richard, but Ginny doesn’t know why he’d care. Alec wouldn’t, Alec would just smile, catlike, and stretch his long limbs. Ginny really can’t stand Alec.

 

Alec doesn’t pay Richard back in any currency but sex that Ginny can see. He doesn’t meddle with Richard’s business any more, and people don’t talk about the last time that he did. Not because they’ve lost interest, because St Vier and Alec aren’t the kind of people that you lose interest in, but because it was months ago, ancient history as far as Riverside’s concerned. There’s no point in spending time mooning over the past; it just makes the future that much bleaker, because in the present someone’s nicked your purse.

 

Really, Ginny doesn’t care about what Alec does. She only wishes he’d admit he was doing it.

 

Temperance

Alec prodded the coals of the fireplace with the poker and threw it down onto the hearth, where it clanged loudly. “You should take the Titherington job,” he said.

 

Richard jabbed at the air with his sword, darting backwards and forwards with an agility that gave credence to his form. Alec watched his torso appreciatively for a moment or two and then repeated himself. “You should take the Titherington job.”

 

“Why?” asked Richard. He twisted the blade and it danced through the air.

 

“We don’t have any money.”

 

“Marie will let us be late with the rent,” thrust, back one-two, thrust, “and we have enough wood for a week.” Feint, three-four, slash.

 

“The price of bread has gone up.” There would be riots in a fortnight if Halliday didn’t do something about it, Alec calculated. Then it would either explode or start sinking again. “And the cat ate the last of the fish.”

 

Richard looked at the cat, apparently vaguely puzzled. “All right. But that one won’t come off until next Tuesday.”

 

“He’ll pay half in advance, same as always.” Alec curled up by the fire again, satisfied. The people next door thumped on the wall and he glared at it, opening his book.

 

Zeal

“You’ve been working on those accounts all day,” Bertram complained, sliding his hands under Michael’s collar and pressing hard on his tense muscles. “Come to the club with me.”

 

“I want to get them finished.” Michael frowned at the numbers; after staring at them for several hours without a break they had begun to wobble.

 

“The farmers’ reports can wait, Michael.” Bertram nuzzled his hair, planting kisses in his curls. “I don’t know why you bother, anyway.”

 

“It’s necessary.” Basic, Diane had said. Learn to deal with smaller problems first, before you tackle the country. The farmers were growing too much grain, the farmers were killing too little meat, the farmers were getting abysmal prices for their food either way.

 

“Not for you.” Bertram caught Michael by the short hairs, leaning down to kiss him deeply. Michael returned the kiss, but as soon as Bertram broke away his eyes were flickering back to the accounts.

 

“Yes, for me. I have a responsibility.” He almost added ‘to Diane’, but neither Bertram nor Diane would appreciate the reference and Michael valued both his genitals and his fledgling political career.

 

“Damnit, Michael!” Bertram was losing patience and he finally flung up his hands and stormed out of the study and presumably the house. Michael sighed and applied himself more thoroughly to the farmers’ problems. It wouldn’t do to disappoint Diane.

 

Generosity

Darling, of course, Diane wrote in a fluent, sloping hand. She touched the end of the pen delicately to her lips, ruminating on how to couch her accord in the most obliging terms possible. She absolutely could not pass up this chance.

 

You know that I would truly adore having David with me. He must be quite the young gentleman these days. I haven’t seen him in so long – a gentle reproach there, but what else did her daughter expect? I remember him to be the most charming lad that I ever did meet.

 

David would be sixteen now, she thought, or close to. An ear to the bedsheets would be no bad thing and David must be simply aching for company of his own age and class by now.

 

They would, she felt, make a rather good team.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
canis_m
Dec. 4th, 2005 08:18 pm (UTC)
Swordspoint! <333 The only thing I tripped over was the description of Richard. I'd thought he was not very tall--shorter than Alec? But I could be misremembering.

Enjoyed it very much.
athousandwinds
Dec. 4th, 2005 09:01 pm (UTC)
Ack! I'm not sure myself - I didn't have the book with me to check.

Thanks! I'm glad you liked it.
wordsofastory
Sep. 14th, 2006 06:05 am (UTC)
Oh, this is excellent. Really, marvelous job. I adore how you've managed to capture all the characters, and do such an accurate job with their voices.
athousandwinds
Sep. 14th, 2006 06:38 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. Swordspoint's voices can be hard to get down sometimes.
padawanslacker
Aug. 23rd, 2015 06:40 pm (UTC)
These were lovely--it's nice to see glimpses of the Riverside world outside of Richard & Alec sometimes. My favorite was "Chastity" with Ginny Vandal . . . I think that's exactly the way she'd see Alec, and frankly, she has a bit of a point. :p
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )