The Trouble with In-Laws

This is an in-character game thread from Changeling: In Love and War. (This page is not Creative Commons licenced.)


An hour or so later, Ilandra and Cain had mostly made up. Ilandra
had promised to tell Cain in future if she wanted to go off on her own,
and given him spare keys so that he couldn't be locked up anywhere in
her house. Cain had ceased moping, and the two of them were
more-or-less back to their normal selves.


Having curled up on the couch next to Cain after they made up, Ilandra
was getting progressively more restless. Eventually she looked up at
him, trying to gauge how receptive he'd be to any new adventures.
Deciding that she didn't care, she took a breath and steeled herself
for a negative answer.

"Cain, do you want to come to the village with me? I sort of wanted to
go see the inn keeper's daughter..." she said. "Because I haven't seen
Alison in weeks and she'll want to gossip..."


Cain looked confused. "Do you really need me for that?" he
asked. "Gossip isn't, you know... it's not really my kind of


"I wasn't just going for gossip... I sorta wanted to make it a date...
but say hi to a friend while I was at it..." she said, blushing bright
red. "I don't know what really qualifies as dating..." so I was going to ask Alison...


"Well, okay then," said Cain. "To be honest, I'm not too sure
about it either. I assumed there was something between the having
a politically beneficial wife selected for you and actually marrying
the woman, but we were never taught quite what..."


"Oh." Ilandra said, "Well, we could ask Alison... she's been on lots of
dates... She's always telling me about these things so I was mostly
going to get an idea or two... though she suggested that usually on
dates the man pays for everything... which confuses me somewhat, mostly
because I never have to pay for anything around here anyway..."


"Yes, paying for things does sound rather more like a peasant's
date. Still, I suppose we'll work something out. You could
come over to Poppy sometime for a date, then I suppose it'd sort of be
me paying for it."


"That sounds fair, I suppose. In which case, let me take you out
tonight and then you can take me out some other day..." she said, not
quite meeting his eyes as she went crimson again. After a few seconds
she looked back up at him and smiled, "Besides, I owe it to you
really... it's the least I could do..."

She got up and extended a hand to him, in a mock-gentlemanly pose, a
mischievous smile on her face. As he took her hand, she giggled
nervously and pulled him towards her and inexpertly tried to lean him
back like they do in a tango. Unfortunately, her romantic gesture
backfired as she dropped him. Dissolving into nervous giggles, she
joined him on the floor.

"Well, I tried..." she giggled.


"Yeah," said Cain, grabbing Ilandra and rolling them over and over until they hit a wall and disengaged, still laughing.

After a few minutes, their giggling slowly subsided.

"So then," said Cain. "The pub?"


"Yup! The pub!" she chirped, then kissed him and got up. "Come on then, last one to the door is a rotten egg!"

She started running towards the door, giggling as Cain followed. As he
caught up, he swept her up and spun her round. She giggled more,
putting up a mock protest. As they reached the front door he put her
down to get his boots back on. She stuck her feet in her shoes and
pulled him out of the door playfully, only waiting until he'd tied one
boot up. As they tumbled down the lane towards the village, pausing
briefly to allow the other boot to be tied, Ilandra was trying to work
out what would constitute a date that they'd both enjoy.


As they entered the pub, the people inside turned to look at them going
quiet when they saw Cain. Ilandra waved a quick greeting, turning back
to Cain and grabbing his hand. She gently guided him towards the bar
where the barmaid watched him intently.

"Hello, your grace..." she said, keeping an eye on Cain. "I assume you and your guest would like a table out of the way?"

"Yeah, also is Alison about? I need some advice from her..." she asked, fidgeting with a loose thread on her jacket.

"Sure, I'll go get her. Just wait over there and she'll be right out."

Ilandra nodded and sat down with Cain at a table in the corner, aware that half the pub was still watching them.


"So," Cain whispered. "I can't help noticing a certain amount of... suspicion in here. I'm guessing it is less dangerous than the last pub in Wheat Down, right?"


"Hold on, I'll make them stop staring. They're just not used to seeing
me with anyone." she whispered back. Standing up, she walked back to
the bar and called the landlord over. After a brief exchange he turned
to the rest of the bar, ringing the last order bell for their attention.

"Right, you lot! Little Ilandra wants us to stop staring at her man and
said she'll pay for all the drinks tonight if they get left to it...
also, if I catch any of you staring I'll kick you out." he told them,
turning back to Ilandra to check he'd done the right thing. Turning
slightly red, she nodded and held her thumbs up at him before
sheepishly returning to her table.

"That should fix it." she told him, wishing she were slightly less embarrassed.


Cain sighed, and thanked Ilandra. "Well," he said, "I suppose
that's the peace and quiet sorted. But didn't you want to talk to
one of them?"


"Yeah, she's just coming..." Ilandra pointed out a girl who looked
about 19 walking towards them. As the girl approached she looked at
Cain and Ilandra in surprise before laughing out loud.

"Ilandra! I haven't seen you in ages and now you turn up needing advice
so I assume it's for help with that guy you spent two years moping
about and I find you with this gorgeous bloke!" she said incredulously.
"I'm Alison, by the way... Might you be Cain or is that too much to
hope for?"

Ilandra glared at her friend. "I would kill you if I didn't need your advice." she growled quietly.

"Ilandra, you wouldn't... you've threatened once a week every week for two years..." Alison murmured back.


Cain, busily looking back and forth between Ilandra and Alison as they
bantered, took a few moments to realise that they'd stopped and thus
that it was probably his turn to say something.

"Oh, uh..." he began. I'm Cain, yes. Er, Prince Cain, of House Poppy. How do you do?"


"I'm alright." she said, grinning salaciously. "So, what did you want my advice for? You got the guy."

"Yeah, er... don't laugh. What counts as a date?" Ilandra asked, pulling out a pen and paper.

Alison bit back a laugh, giving Cain a look of pity.

"Dates depend on the couple. It could be going out for a meal and the
guy taking care of the bill or having a picnic somewhere. What kind of
thing did you have in mind?"

"Er... dinner?" Ilandra asked, looking at Cain. Then she buried her
face in her hands and lamented. "I have no idea... I just want to do
something nice." Pulling herself back together she asked Cain what he
wanted to do.


"Well, a meal wouldn't be half bad. To tell the truth, I'm
somewhat famished. But I can't really pay for things here, all of
it's yours already! I mean... it's probably okay if you 'pay'
instead of me today. And we could always go for a picnic
tomorrow? Hopefully somewhere nice, without any armies."


"Right... Is the kitchen still open?" she asked Alison, who nodded and
told her she was the cook that night. "Well, if Alison's cooking I
guess the food is safe to eat... What would you like?"


"I, er..." Cain faltered. "Um, I've never really eaten in a place
quite like this is before," he whispered to Ilandra. "What do
they serve?"


Ilandra shrugged.

"Ice cream, mostly... I think..." she whispered back. "You want me to find out?"

Cain nodded.

"Alison... what kind of food do you serve that isn't... you know... Ice cream or cookies?" Ilandra asked.

"Well, tonight's special is venison fillet steak with potatoes." Alison
said, smiling understandingly. She turned to Cain sympathetically.
"Ilandra generally depletes our stores of ice cream... but we do serve
normal food. I strongly recommend the venison though."

Ilandra fidgeted with a strand of hair as Alison spoke, looking up once she'd finished.

"Also, could I have some scrumpy instead of milk? Scrumpy tastes like mice..." she asked, chewing her lip.


Alison burst out laughing, then reverted to a mischievous grin.

"Scrumpy, eh?" she asked. "You spent 'ow long with the Poppies, and now your boozing? And scrumpy, of all things?" Another chuckle. "Well, not like I can tell ya' off. Scrumpy it is!"

"And, um... Venison please," said Cain weakly.


"I'll have you know, I was shown the wonders of scrumpy in Hyacinth
land... though that's now Poppy..." she trailed off. "Least it's not
moonshine." she crossed her arms obstinately.

Alison's eyes fairly boggled.

"You got given MOONSHINE?!?" she sputtered. "Good lord! What's the world coming to when they give moonshine to young girls?"

Without waiting for an answer she turned and returned to the kitchens,
shaking her head in disbelief and muttering about how the world was

Ilandra looked apologetically at Cain.

"She gets a bit... much... sometimes." she explained, shrugging
slightly. "Did you want a drink? I'll get her to bring you something
when she comes back..."


"Just water or something, please. I can't say that scrumpy and moonshine really appeal at this point..."


Ilandra nodded.

"You sure you don't want fruit juice instead? I really don't mind either way..." she said, fidgeting with her signet ring.

He shrugged, indicating his ambivalence. Ilandra reached over and took
his hand, feeling that she was somehow failing at dating unless she
showed him a little of how she felt but let go of it as her nerves
failed her. The ensuing awkwardness was immediately interrupted by the
barmaid bringing Ilandra her drink.

"Would you like your usual when we bring his food or do you want it now?" she asked.
"I'll wait, thanks." Ilandra replied. "Also, could you bring Cain a
drink? Preferably non-alcoholic... Also, have you been allowed to try
moonshine yet?"
"You know I haven't. My dad would never allow it... I am curious
though." Alison replied, sneaking a look at the bottle behind the bar.
"Fair enough..." Ilandra replied, mischief beginning to sparkle in her eyes. "I could arrange something if you like..."
"Ilandra, you'll be the death of me someday..." Alison laughed. "...anyway, I'm off to fetch his Highness a drink."

Alison disappeared off behind the bar to get Cain a drink, returning a
few seconds later with a glass of kumquat smoothie which she placed
before Cain. Excusing herself she returned to the kitchen, returning
with a plate of venison for Cain and a bowl of ice cream with cookies.


Looking around, Ilandra made sure nobody was watching her so she took a
sip from her glass to soothe her nerves and shuffled her chair closer
to Cain, taking his hand again. Looking up into his eyes, she lifted
his hand to her lips and kissed it then returned it to the table.
Despite the alcohol, she was still quite nervous and she could feel her
cheeks burning in a fierce blush.

"I hope you like the food..." she said, looking slightly away from his
face as shyness threatened to overcome her. Reaching over, she brought
her food closer to where she was now sitting. Quietly, she began to eat
her ice cream enjoying the contrast between the coolness of the ice
cream and the warm and crunchiness of the cookies.


"So," said Cain once the two of them had got partway through their
meal. "We've got, er..." He reverted to a whisper.
"We've got the two Rose dukes and their cohorts coming to the wedding,
but what about the others? If nothing else, we at least need to
invite the rest of the Poppies and the Honeysuckles."


"Try not to tell anyone about it until your mother knows and everything
will turn out just fine." she told him. "Especially not my butler."

A passing woman turned and approached their table.

"What aren't you telling Catkin now?" she asked Ilandra.

"Nothing he needs to know yet." Ilandra replied.

"Really?" she turned to Cain. "Listen, our duchess is always getting
Catkin into the most bizarre situations and I'm sure he'd totally
appreciate it if you got on his good side... after all, aren't you
engaged? He'll be your butler soon..." the woman's eyes widened
imperceptibly. "Unless you have a date! Do you have a date for it?"


"Of course not!" said Cain, his mock incredulity masking the lie.
"We've only been engaged four days, give us a chance! No," he
said, calming down, "it's more of a political matter. I just
don't want any official Honeysuckle involvement unless my mother okays
it, and I particularly don't want anyone such as Catkin taking anything
into their own hands and making things worse by trying to help."

"Sorry," he said with a smile. "No gossip here yet!"


Ilandra giggled, surprised that Cain had thrown her off the trail. She looked at the woman, smiling.

"Told you so!" she said, smiling broadly. The woman seemed completely
satisfied with the couple's replies and continued on her way to
wherever she was going. As soon as she was out of earshot, Ilandra
breathed a sigh of relief. "Good grief, just as well you pulled that
off... she's Catkin's best friend."

Looking up at him happily, she pulled him down to her level and kissed him.

"So, what else would you like to do?" she asked him, smiling mischievously at him.


"Um... I don't know," said Cain. "What is there to do?"


"Well, we could go for a walk..." she said, blushing bright red. "Or er... maybe... erm..."

She trailed off, as the sheer force of her blush began to make her feel
a little light-headed. Grabbing her drink she took another swig, to
settle her nerves a little, and hiccuped.

"Let's see... at this time of night there's not very much to do other
than either socialise with the people or wander around or read..." she
said, still blushing a little. "Sorry..." she smiled weakly, trying not
to make eye contact with anybody least of all Cain.


"I don't really... I mean, I'm not really used to socialising
with peasants," Cain whispered. "It's more your sort of thing
than mine. And you look a bit... you know, like that scrumpy went
to your head."


Somehow Ilandra's blush deepened, leaving her almost glowing in her chair.
I hope no-one notices
She was jolted into further embarrassment by Alison coming to take her plate away.
"Ilandra... you realise you're going to end up burning the pub down
with that blush... what kind of filth were you thinking about now?" she
asked, laughing.
"I wasn't...!" Ilandra protested. "I am now! Ohgoodgriefcainisrighthereandicantstopblushing!"

The embarrassment suddenly got too much for Ilandra and she dissolved
into cat form. Alison shook her head and picked up Ilandra's empty
"You know, I'd almost say that the scrumpy went to your head... but I
know you too well..." she said, turning back to the kitchen and
carrying the bowl away. "I'll be back with some more ice cream and


Cain set about idly scratching Ilandra behind the ears until Alison returned with the promised food and drink.

"Sorry," he said meekly to the waitress.

Alison chuckled. "It's okay. She's fun to tease!"

"Yeah," said Cain, smiling back at her. His smile turned into a
wistful gaze into the middle-distance as she headed back to the bar.


Ilandra moved from her seat onto Cain's lap, purring as he continued
scratching behind her ears. After a few minutes she could feel the
initial embarrassment disappear and decided it'd probably be safe to
revert back to her fae form so she did, neglecting to move off Cain's
lap. Once she'd regained her usual shape, she realised she was still on
his lap and blushed slightly then scooched back onto her chair.
She looked around to make sure nobody was watching her, satisfied that nobody was.

"so... fresh air?" she asked, fidgeting slightly with her spoon.


"Sure," he said, and the two of them made to leave. From behind the bar, Alison winked at them both.

"Down to the river?" Cain asked as the two of them stepped outside into the faintly moonlit darkness.


"yeah, ok." Ilandra said, taking Cain's hand and allowing him to set the pace at which they walked.

The air was refreshing and cool, like an early spring evening, and
Ilandra wished that she had put on a cardigan before they'd left.
Letting go of Cain's hand she moved slightly towards him, putting an
arm around him to better share his warmth.

"I hope you're enjoying yourself..." she said, earnestly. "because I am... I like spending time with you..."


"Yeah," he said faintly as the two of them wound down the path to the
river. Without another word, the two of them seated themselves on
the trunk of a tree that jutted out over the still water. In the
heavens above a crescent moon shone and was echoed by a thousand
glittering stars, each of which in turn was reflected up at them by the
mirror-like surface of the stream.

Cain looked down for a while, then sighed happily and began to stare upwards at the real stars instead.

"It's all been... quite a rush, hasn't it?" he asked.


"It has." she agreed, leaning on him contentedly. "It almost feels
weird to be here like this, just not doing very much... Do you actually
mind everything being so manic?"


"I... I don't know, really," said Cain. "The last two years
have been really hectic, so I was sort of looking forward to everything
being calm again once we got home. But then it was me that
proposed to you, and that happened kind of fast, and... I guess
it's okay, though, really. I think. Are you okay with it?"


"I haven't thought about it yet..." she said, looking fixedly at a
point in the middle distance. "On one hand... I kinda well..." she
blushed, glad that the night made her blush harder to see. "When you
went away I was hoping that some day this would eventually happen...
but I didn't expect it to be so soon and then when it came to asking
the rose dukes my mind raced ahead of itself and well... I'm trying not
to think about it..."

She shrugged, as if words wouldn't explain the way she felt adequately enough.

"Either way, I'm not massively looking forward to telling your mum..." she admitted.


"It's all right, I'll tell her," said Cain. "You just hang around
out of sight and out of... blast radius. We ought to tell her
tomorrow, though. The longer we leave it, the angrier she'll
pretend to be. I guess from here on it's going to be quick
whether we like it or not..."


Ilandra thought for a few seconds, agreeing with Cain.

"...Why would there be a blast radius?" she asked. "Will she really be angry?"


"It's my mother, I'm sure she'll find something to be angry
about. We told her too soon, we left it too late, it's too fast,
it's not fast enough, we didn't consult her, she hasn't had enough
chocolate recently..."


"Perhaps we ought to take her some chocolate..." Ilandra mused. "You
know, your mother is the scariest thing in all of Arcadia... still, if
you bribe her with enough chocolate she's not too bad..."

Ilandra trailed off, letting out a barely stifled yawn.


"Mmm," said Cain, "I guess we'll have to pick some up from the kitchens
tomorrow. You look tired, shall we go to bed for tonight?"


"That sounds like a fantastic idea." she said, jumping down from the
log. She smiled sleepily at Cain. "It's been a while since I've slept
in my own bed..."

She took his hand and together they walked back to the cottage.

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