"Do you mean.... me?" I asked, staring at James.
"Your doing more than openly questioning this war, it seems your playing a part in it." James held up a hand as I went to speak. "But don't worry I'm not asking you to speak out. I will still find that kind of support. But maybe... maybe in some way we'll be able to help each other." He paused for a second. "I hope by telling you my secret you feel assured that I won't go rushing to the authorities with your own."
I tried to think this over. My role as spy was to find out as much information as I could about the Handrin army and its plans. But in doing so I could possibly find those among the nobles who did not support this war, and who might be talked into voicing their opinions by James. Surely it wouldn't hurt? And maybe James could help me in some way.
Suddenly Moira entered, a comb in hand. She shot a glare at James, clearly not trusting him as I have, before turning to me. "I'm sorry to interrupt so Miss Olivia, but if you are to attend this party tonight you must begin getting ready now. Mr Newberry, I assume you have your own preparations to make....?"
James nodded, taking my hand in his for a second, before dropping in a perfect bow. "Your maid speaks the truth. I shall see you tonight at this function. And perhaps tomorrow Eliza or Olivia, whichever it is, I will call on you again and we can discuss things."
"Perhaps tomorrow. Right now I think we both need some time to think," I replied, dropping into a curtsy of my own.
James nodded, before replying. "Be sure to save me a dance tonight." And with that he turned, showing himself out. Once he was gone, Moira turned to me a frown on her face. I knew I was in for a lecture.
"So you told him the truth huh? My dear do you realize the number of necks you risk? Not just your own, but mine and the rest of our household. Not to mention the other girls who are in this Masquerade with you," she began, as she gestured for em to begin walking towards my room. "You could be signing the death warrant on all of you."
"But Moira..." I began, but she cut me off. "You can say your piece in a minute. Right now its time for me to say mine. You can't go blabbing your story to every pair of handsome eyes that comes questioning you. Your supposed to be a spy Eliza. I thought you had more sense than that. Maybe I should just pack you off home right now. I'm sure if I could get some assistance I could have you tied to a horse and not able to offer up resistance before the night is through."
We had reached my room by this point, and I took a seat in front of the mirror, so Moira could begin on my hair. "Can I speak now?" I asked, as Moira began to violently tug the comb through my hair.
She nodded, her eyes meeting mine in the mirror. "Say your piece. I know you'll just fidget and make things harder for me until you do."
"James heard my name Moira. My rare, Iberan name. What was I supposed to do?" I asked her.
"I'm sure you could have thought of another option," Moira retorted.
"I did think of some. And I weighed up the risks. But I felt I could trust James, and I believed by telling a lie I would only be making the situation worse."
Moira paused in her attention to my hair to study me for a moment. "You thought you could trust him?" she asked, frowning. "Eliza you've only met him a handful of times, if that. How can you trust him?"
I frowned myself. "I just can... I feel that his trustworthy. We have nothing to risk from him."
Moira's frown deepened as she considered my words. Finally she spoke again. "That would be right of course. Of all the nice looking boys back home, it isn't until we swan over into enemy attention that one finally gets your attention. You always have to be difficult, don't you Eliza."
I glanced at Moira in the mirror. "I don't know what you're talking about," I replyed.
"Yes well just know that I have my eye on you," Moira threatened. "So tell me what happened when you told him."
As Moira moved about me, fixing my hair, and make up, and helping me into my dress I relayed the conversation with James to her. I was standing in my dress, as Moira set about adjusting it, when I got to the last bit, about James trying to drum up support for the Iberan born queen.
"So we both have secrets we've entrusted with each other. So you can rest assured that we're safe, he wouldn't share a secret like that with me and then turn me in," I told Moira, before frowning. "Its strange that I've never heard that the Handrin Queen is an Iberan by birth. Did you know this Moira?"
For a second, a strange expression seemed to cross Moira's face, before it was gone. "It was before your time dear, no wonder you've never heard of it. I only know of it because it was all the discussion among the nobles at the time. It was never something worth mentioning," she replied, offhandedly, tying off the last ribbon. "Now come, we must be off. The carriage should be ready by now and you have a party to attend."