Red Queen

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Keep The Family Close -- Part 1

The Hellfire Club, Paris
The Hellfire Club, Paris

Naomi peacefully indulged in a glass of red wine as she awaited the arrival of her date for the evening. Her celadon-colored eyes drifted leisurely about the room as she sat back in an ivory chair, designed to suite the elegance of the Victorian era while maintaining the glamour of the modern world. This was her first time inside the walls of a Hellfire Club establishment, and its stuffy opulence left her feeling slightly unsettled both physically and mentally.

It was not without effort that her Huntington relatives had tried to get the young Delacour aristocrat within the inner circles of their private family business. Since Naomi’s birth, her aunt Emma had made countless visits to Luxembourg on her husband’s behalf, in attempts to build a bridge between the Huntington’s omnipresent influence over the New World and the discreet respect carried by the Delacour name in more traditional realms of the upper class. These efforts had all been carried out in vain, for Naomi’s father, brother to Emma Huntington (nee Delacour), wanted little to nothing to do with the way his brother-in-law Alaric carried out his worldly business.

Naomi’s parents had raised her on a firm ground of faith. Their money, influence and genetic gifts had been instilled in her as blessings from a higher power. She had been taught softly but immutably that she was never to mistake a divine decision for something which she could claim personal glory. This way of life pleased her, and kept her humble. At least, more humble than her cousins, whose faces she remained constantly aware of through news articles or other manners of public affairs.

That such an old and powerful family could refuse to play a hand in the world-altering affairs of the Hellfire Club had frustrated Alaric Huntington to no end. Behind closed doors he fought to understand why his wife’s family could not see his vision for the mutant world. But no matter how many offers he made to the Delacour house, no matter how many of Emma’s calls to Luxembourg, veiled thinly by notions of family obligation, Naomi’s parents remained immovable in their passive interest in anything related to the Huntington Dynasty.

Yet, somehow, Naomi now found herself in the heart of the Huntington system. She waited for the arrival of none other than her eldest cousin, the new face of the Huntington family, the White Queen: Valerie Huntington.

From a private entrance, Naomi’s eyes became enamored with a dazzling vision of white. Despite her personal opinions toward her elder cousin’s scandalous and public behavior throughout the years, Naomi couldn’t begin to refute the beauty she possessed. It seemed impossible any human’s legs could trail so long as Valerie’s, and her waist would draw envy from any antebellum Southern belle.

However the allure of her body dwarfed in comparison to the enchantment of her face. Her features found an impossible balance between haughty definition and a soft, rounded charm. The result left those who gazed upon her both intimidated and beguiled, in a flustering confusion which muddled the mind and excited the body.

The presence of a baby in the White Queen’s arms surprised Naomi. She could not see the child’s face, for he buried himself serenely in his mother’s chest. However even from across the room, Naomi could sense the inborn sovereignty the child possessed without conscious awareness of it yet. Naomi had heard of the birth of Valerie’s first child, and she knew he would bring, with his coming of age, the dawn of a new era for both mutants and humans. Whether this would be an era of peace or war could only be revealed with time. Valerie seemed acutely aware of this destiny, for she held her son in such a way that revealed he was the one thing in this world worth more than heaven or earth. He was the one thing she had ever loved more than herself.

Each body in the room paused their affairs to give their attention to the White Queen, many of them rising to offer courtesy bows of devotion. She drifted past them, enveloped in elegance and power, and offered graceful half-smiles to those she found deserving. Eventually the modern-day Aphrodite found herself at Naomi’s table, settling herself comfortably before resting a cool, mesmerizing blue gaze on her company.

“Darling, so good to see you. I don’t think you had even hit puberty yet the last time we saw each other,” Valerie smiled warmly. Naomi was caught unprepared for how sweetly words dripped from her cousin’s lips, the way her voice seemed to lull their listener’s every fear into a place of trusting complacency. Naomi readied herself for the conversation to come.

“Yes, it has been a while. Congratulations, by the way, on your new family. He’s a beautiful child.”

“He’s a saint, truly. I attribute that to his father. Please, take him for a while. There’s nothing more serene than a baby in your arms."

Valerie stood again, shuffling beside Naomi to place the sleeping child in her arms. She looked down onto his face and suddenly his eyes opened, revealing large amber eyes. Naomi gazed at him, frozen for several moments by the sheer magnetism the child possessed. Its power sent a chill down her spine, in such a way she could not discern the feeling between fear or love. This child would lead nations, worlds. But for now he sat placidly in Naomi’s arms, not a thought in the world as to his destiny.

“He’s incredible,” Naomi breathed, almost silently. She could not understand why, but some basic instinct inside her had been woken by Vicente Romeiro, and she felt deep within her that she loved the child. She had held babies before in her life, but something about her cousin’s son touched her in a corner of her soul she was not even fully aware of.

Having returned to her seat, a flute of champagne now between her fingers, Valerie smiled softly at the sight.

“Thank you. I never wanted kids, you know, but now I don’t entirely know who I was before Vicente. It’s like I can see my past self, remember her, but there’s no life in it. It’s like looking back on a character from a book, but I can’t understand how that was ever me. I only understand being Vicente's mom now, and what’s best for him.”

She paused for a moment, calculating the best way to proceed. Valerie had come to forge a relationship with Naomi that their parents never could. But she knew it would take finesse beyond the charms of her son.

“That’s why I’m here, Naomi. I believe you are a key part in building the future I see for my son. For all children. For the world.”

Her words fell heavy over the languid atmosphere of the Hellfire Club. Naomi took them in slowly, turning the interaction over in a number of different ways in her head. Her green eyes fell from Valerie’s face to Vicente’s as she dissected her thoughts.

Valerie seemed so vastly removed from the vain, selfish heiress Naomi remembered meeting when she was young. But just as she was letting her guard down, warmed by the presence of Vicente, a cold arrow pierced Naomi’s mind and brought her back to her own personal reality. Her back stiffened and her eyes narrowed as she looked back up at Valerie.

“I want that as well, Valerie. Truly. It’s why I study law, and why I abide by faith. Because I believe it can lead to a better world. However the world you speak of cannot exist so long as your father lives. Your father, the man who killed my mother.”

Valerie -- Balmain Spring 2019 Couture
Valerie -- Balmain Spring 2019 Couture
Naomi -- Jacquemus Spring 2019
Naomi -- Jacquemus Spring 2019