For all its appalling sense of sentimentality in its aesthetics, Charlotte had found that Victor’s home had its own dreary charms. Nothing in the way of her own preferences, to be sure. Wandering the halls as she had taken to doing these past few days, she could see that he had very much had a hand in creating everything to the last detail and it was a dreadfully nostalgic atmosphere of their equally dreadful childhood. She was nothing if not completely disappointed that he had opted for such an antique look for his abode and yet she was not surprised in the slightest. Still, she couldn’t help wondering if a slightly different environment might bring out a different man in her brooding sibling.

She laughed to herself at the idea. No, Victor was born to mourn something. He mourned the childhood that he was robbed of at the hands of the man they called father. Set to inherit the whole estate and all he truly wanted was a chance to be someone different and how tragic for him that he was born with such a personality that would make him claim that chance. Of course that didn’t stop him from mourning, however. Mourning first their mother, though she could understand that one at the very least. Mother was always the one to create fire and conflict in the household and she was a woman that was to be obeyed. Indeed, she was the only woman that Charlotte found herself in awe of and if she could find a flaw with her at all, it was that she did not learn the art of riding herself of the dullard she’d married before he found a way to rid himself of her. For that, Charlotte had long since vowed to find a method to make a mends on her mother’s behalf if only to deal with the sense of disdain she felt at losing so great a woman to someone so very stupid. How satisfying to know it would happen far sooner than anyone knew about.

Ah but what to do about that little thorn, Caroline? She’d managed to bungle this little web quite thoroughly already, though to what extent the damage ran, it was too early to tell. Clearly her meddling sibling had to be stopped permanently before she could do more harm but it was all too tempting to act hastily. Such mistakes might cost her and she knew it. It was important first to find out the depth of Caroline’s plots. Charlotte was not completely unaware of her dealings but there was only so much that she could find out without Victor getting suspicious. As it was already, she had counted on him insisting that she stay here because he knew better than to let her go about her way without him being able to see where she went. He knew that such an error would lead him to find out what fate had met her fourth husband. Still, she had hoped that this arrangement would allow her the opportunity to see him better too. See his mannerisms better and perhaps even get some clues as to what Caroline was hiding or if he had already felt the sting of her attempts to ensnare him. She could tell that whatever plan her sniveling sister had in store had already been partially sprung by both her own behavior and that of their brother but Victor was more difficult to read these days. Something dark was sitting upon his back and it made for a difficult shadow to penetrate. Charlotte wished to blame it on his torrid little affair with that ridiculous maid that he’d been so fond of but there was a kind of pall cast over him and sometimes even the rest of the house. Curious, it was to her. Why, it threatened her good mood over her victory of finding her long lost sibling and getting that much closer to grasping what he was so willing to give up. If he’d been any more prepared to shove aside his own inheritance, Caroline might have already failed at her task and that would have left Charlotte in quite the fix.

She smiled at the thought. Oh to be stuck out here with the likes of these two! Caroline fretting away into madness somewhere and darling Victor full of fire and as ready to dispatch her as she was him. What an elegant mess they would all make again and this time she would be present to see the play in its entirety. If there was a reason to be thankful for the lack of decently rich bachelors in this pathetic corner of the world, it was only that she would at long last see the fall of the ones that she hated so dearly. And if she played the cards right, she might well be able to grasp at that lovely golden fleece that was more welcoming in her hands than any other wretch in the Fevrier name. A name that ought to turn to sour earth with the impending death of the patriarch. How glorious it would be and how gratifying to finally see her glorious plans come to fruition.

For shame, she thought to herself. Getting ahead of herself again. Why, if she kept this up, she might end up with that same clumsy mess she found herself in during her second marriage. Oh if her mother could have seen her then, she might have well disowned her in disgrace. Considering as well that unlike that clod that Charlotte had wedded, Victor was not as stupid or trusting, it was best to keep her guard up on these matters. Caroline may very well be as dull as her father but she was mad and obsessive in a way that he wasn’t and that could also prove to be the undoing of her work. Then there was this little matter of Victor’s house and his work. She had been able to find out precious little about him back home and that had been by his very careful design. He’d done well at hiding himself away and it wasn’t until Caroline had managed to find him that she’d finally been able to trace him too. Even once she landed here, Charlotte could find very little about him and what he had done. She knew about his business, though to be honest, the specifics bored her terribly and her brother knew better than to trust her too much with any kind of information. He had secrets to be sure and she wasn’t certain of how much he was hiding but she knew that his life was one that she must be patient as to pry into. He would not reveal it easily and considering how very adamant he was about staying out of the clutches of the estate, she had to be careful as to which of his strings she might pull. Victor had never been one that she could puppet easily but more so now that he was driven to stay where he was. Truthfully, she enjoyed that he was so stubborn about this. Made her work just a little easier and it was nice for once not to have to worry about the mess it would create just yet. Besides, who knew what kinds of delicious secrets he kept that might yet turn up something profitable for herself? Only time, she mused.

For now, things seemed quiet and for this she was thankful for now but Charlotte knew that comfort was only the beginning of the end. All the more reason for her to keep a close eye on her brother but a closer eye on her wretch of a sister. Heaven knows that Victor, for as formidable of an opponent that he could be, was better off kept in the dark and from that vantage point, he would be far more predictable. Caroline’s madness, on the other hand, was a far greater threat to everything that she had accomplished so far. It was imperative that she figure out her dealings as soon as could be. But this first step was important, boring though it might be. She had to settle for a moment and allow herself to be trapped in this house with Victor to let his guard ease. Though it would never come down completely, it was preferable if he was not watching her every motion. Besides, the more occupied he was with his own affairs might be useful in finding out where he went. What his real dealings were. Surely no one, not even a man of Victor’s intelligence and position, could have prospered so far without something to hide and she intended to figure this out but that must wait. She must focus now on the wild card of this operation. Perhaps there was yet another way to get her to come out of hiding and reveal something more helpful along the way. For now, a strategy was needed. Something that would allow Charlotte to move in secret and without her darling brother becoming too wildly suspicious. He would be livid if he knew all that she had done so far.

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