Lady of the Bow, Ch3 ~ Merlo

A/N ~ Amaya has given me some good stuff to think about for In the Know.  While that percolates, let's return to our original story, shall we?

Fun fact: Apparently in Spanish, "Merlo" is "blackbird" and "Arquero" is "Archer."

Previously ~ Blood in the Way

She didn't get to go straight to bed however; much to her chagrin, Angélica's mother summoned her to another fancy room no one used. Angélica warily peeked about herself as the maid dropped her off; she was less worried about her mother and more about her father.

"He's not here," Mrs. Moreno said, clearly amused. She was lounging on a chintz chaise, enjoying a porcelain cup of herbal tea. Angélica noticed right away that there wasn't an extra cup and was oddly thankful; it mean this conversation wouldn't take long.

She didn't even bother to sit down.  Eighteen years old and she stood like a stiff, awkward adolescent, waiting for her scolding.

"Ma cousine tells me you'd like to run your father's company someday," her mother smiled.  "I would support you whole-heartedly, of course, had it not been for that...unfortunate arrangement before we married."

Angélica tried not to flinch.  Why did you marry him then? she wanted to lash out.  You didn't see that as a red flag???

Instead, she wisely bit her tongue, waiting to see where her mother was going with this.

Her mother's eyes slowly glaze over with a grim, faraway look, and when she spoke next, there a bitter tinge to her voice.

"There was a time when money and land were the least of my family's problems.  We survived for centuries, gaining great power over others, but these modern days have been most cruel to our destinies.  You'd think we were being punished."  She suddenly looked back at her daughter.  "I thought the best thing I could do was give my children a new name, a new family to grow from."

Clearly, Angélica blinked, that didn't work.

"You should not mock your father's ambitions for you," Mrs. Moreno said with sudden severity.  "Whether you believe it or not, Angelique, you are quite talented.  The technique is there, of course, but you can - when you choose to - bring such emotion into your music.  You could be great someday."

"Mama," Angélica mumbled, "I don't love the violin that way Papa does.  Can't I just study something else?  Can't I form my own company?  Michele says you --"

"Michele is here because we d'Auvignes are not as strong as we used to be," her mother cut in swiftly.  "She miscalculated my worth, but she stays because like so many of my scattered kin, she has nowhere else to go, and she lacks the skills to see her through these modern times."

"And the violin is such a skill?" Angélica exclaimed.

"It can be...when you have the gift," Mrs. Moreno insisted.  Her face was stern, but her eyes were pleading.  "Angélica, your father is most upset by your performance tonight.  You are an adult legally, and because you know what you want, you think you know everything.  If this is true, leave this house now and go live your life on your own.  But if you want your father to provide for you properly, then you will go to school like a good girl, and study the violin."

Angélica felt her heart plummet to her stomach; her fingers and toes grew numb, and her neck tightened from hanging her head for so long.  She knew what her mother was really saying; the old days of borrowing money for school were over. Current laws decreed that parents were to avoid debt by appropriately planning and providing for their own children, and thus children found themselves forced to do whatever their parents bid.

"We managed to blame your mishap tonight on the inadequacy of your tutor," Mrs. Moreno finally continued.  "We said Michele specializes in piano, not violin, which is somewhat true.  Fortunately, your father has already been searching for a new music teacher for you, and he found one.  Her name is Merlo Arquero, and she will be arriving tomorrow.  She will accompany you and Casilda to Puerto Libre this summer, and she will ensure that you are more than ready for the Conservatory.  Comprends?"

Angélica stiffly nodded, biting back tears.

"In the meantime," Mrs. Moreno slowly rose to her feet, smelling thickly of roses and musk, and dressed like a prim, politician's wife, "your father has prescribed a special punishment for tonight. You are to practice Tchaikovsky's 'Mélodie' until you can play it without error. You are to practice it in the library near his study, where he can listen for himself."

Angélica turned at once left without waiting to be dismissed; she didn't want her mother to see her cry.  Bitterly, she went to her room to retrieve her violin.  On her way back, she saw Michele leaving Casilda's room, but said nothing to her now former tutor.  As far as she was concerned, Michele was culpable as well.

Her flesh crawled with waves of loathing as she set up in the library, knowing her father was just next door.  He was probably sitting in that giant leather chair he never used, drinking brandy or something and very likely reading something by Plato or Socrates, and patting himself on the back for being such a cultured man.

She figured she'd give it her all and get it over with, but as it turned out, she was far more behind than she'd expected.  She erred within seconds of her first try.  She made it about a minute of her third try without mistake.  After a making it halfway through her fifth or sixth try, Angélica stood quietly, trying to play it off, hoping he'd left or fallen asleep or something.

"Otra vez*, Angélica," Mr. Moreno called softly from his study.

She actually felt the hate and loathing bubbling up within her from somewhere deep; for a split second she thought she was going to vomit her fury all over the posh library floor.

She tried and failed again a few more times, until she was trembling with rage.  Her anger was a good fuel for a while, but after a while her circadian rhythm stepped in and she started to fall asleep.  She caught herself a few times, yawning and swaying on her feet.  Every so often her mind wandered so deeply she wasn't sure if she was half-asleep while still standing.

I hate this stupid thing, she cursed the violin.  I can't believe my father would actually stake my future on a damned musical instrument.

There are those who've staked their very souls on a musical instrument, another voice suddenly murmured.

Angélica blinked rapidly, trying to wake herself.  The voice came from the deepest recesses of her mind, yet she questioned if it were her own.  It sounded a little like her; she wondered if she'd finally fallen asleep fully and some dream character was starting to form.

Yes and no, came the dry reply.

Yes and no, what? Angélica inquired, growing confused.  I didn't even ask a question.

You're wondering if you're dreaming and if I'm a character from your dream, the voice mused.  Yes to the former, no the latter.

Well, if you're not part of my dream, who are you?  In a distance, Angélica felt herself yawn.

I'm Nehset, the voice replied.  I come from the Land of the Bow.

I haven't the slightest clue what that even means, Angélica blinked...and once again, her movement felt heavy and distant.

Here, "Nehset" told her.  Let me help you out.  Relax for me, will ya?

Angélica gladly obeyed, wanting nothing more than to fall on her goose feather mattress and conk out for the next several hours.  And for a moment, she thought she had, for she felt so warm and comfortable, as though she were floating in a sea of hot water.

But then she heard Tchaikovsky's "Mélodie No. 3", played as though she'd never heard it played before.  For a moment Angélica stilled, listening intently, straining to hear the flawless perfection flowing in the distance.  After a moment of denial, she realized the music was coming from her violin.  After another, she realized she was playing it.

Haunting...mesmerizing...breathtaking, Angélica felt herself sober and awaken apart from her body, listening to a level of talent and skill she thought no human could possibly possess.

The piece ended without an error, and she felt herself slowly pulled back into her own body, awestruck and tongue-tied.


She turned, trying not to fall.  Her father was in the doorway between the library and the study, his mouth agape and eyes threatening to tear (or so she thought).  He looked like he wanted to hug her, like he wanted to cry for her, but more importantly, like he wanted to ask her questions she hadn't the slightest idea how to answer.

"Papa, may I go to bed now?"

Speechless, Mr. Moreno nodded, and Angélica promptly fled, hoping no one else in the house had heard.

Next ~ "Sí, mi señora"

"Otra vez" = "again"


  1. ........huh. Seriously, I feel like Mal did when he realised Inara's customer was a woman.

    1. *blink* I don't know what that means. All's I remember is that Jayne had to go to his bunk.

    2. LOL! Mal had his whole idea of the world torn down and rebuilt in seconds.

      I can't wait for the next chapter.

  2. Replies
    1. What do you mean "finally"?!??? We couldn't very well have her show up in episode/chapter 1!!!!

    2. I can finish entire 26 episode series in a weekend, I am not a patient woman. You have no idea how much it itches that I can't read the future of Gaya's Astronomy, the rest of the Hirosawa enterprises and know what ultimately happens btw Matawai and Ammetwa. So yes, FINALLY it begins.

    3. *mutters* Well...well damn....

      WAIT A MINUTE!!! How about you, Miss Mile-Long emails of glorious, Miss I've-Been-Brainstorming for 2-3 While Pygmy Patiently Waits to Read Actual Chapters - what about you????

      *mumbles* Can't believe I almost let you get away with that?

  3. ...Y'all aren't sick of Gaya's Astronomy yet? After 5 "Seasons"? Come on now!

    1. Girl hell naw. But I can be patient. You've got a wonderful epic going there...


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