Sally is quite young when she first hears about her cousin, Raven, her mother's sister's daughter. Raven is her age, only a little older, and the first thing Sally hears about her is that she is a pretty little girl, and so very good. Sally has never met her mother's sister, but she has heard how her Aunt has Very Fine Taste, and her Uncle has a Very Important Job. Her own mother feels it's important that she understands that if she says Raven is pretty, she means it. As far as Sally can tell, Raven is very pretty indeed.
Sally has never heard the word pretty used about herself.
When she meets her cousin, they are sent off to her playroom while the adults converse. They are pulled apart less than half an hour later, Sally being pulled off Raven who even cries prettily. She can hear her mother apologising to her Aunt, telling her how she's always been such a bad girl.
Bad is not the same as pretty. Sally thinks she can live with that.
Sally notices her Aunt and Uncle seem to dote on Raven. Their birthdays are very close together, and her mother and Aunt decided it would be nice for them to share a party. Aunt and Uncle are singing Raven's praises, with endless pictures of their good and pretty girl, and piles of presents.
Her own parents seem a little less enthused.
Sally notices, and her hands curls a little with a hotness in her stomach she can't quite place. There is something here that is not right, more so when she sees her mother comment on how wonderful Raven's hair is. Her own is a plain brown – mud brown, her mother says, can't do anything with it – and she finds herself wondering if today was just meant to be for Raven, and she had just misunderstood.
It seems like the most likely answer.
School makes things easier and harder for Sally. Easier because the focus can be on her own intelligence, she loves to learn even if she thinks education is a waste of her time. While her classmates struggle along with cursive, she puts her mind to coding, to technology, to anything she can learn. Her mind grows and her wit grows with it. She knows the world.
She finds the word for what her parents are. Oddly, she's not surprised.
It's harder, though, because Raven is there, too. Prettier than even, and harder for anyone to look away from. There's always surprise, when it comes out that they're related. Wide eyes staring, heads turning back and forth as if trying to solve a puzzle.
“But you look nothing alike!” They always say. “Raven, you're so pretty!” Comes the quick follow up. Her cousin knows she's pretty, she models now. Uncle's Very Important Job makes Raven Very Important too, and magazines always want to talk to her.
(“National magazines,” her mother always reminds her, before telling her not to slouch and get rid of that scowl. She seems to be always wearing a scowl as she gets older.)
Raven is still so very good, as well. She does well in her classes, and the teachers all seem to like her. Their classmates like her too, and she seems to always be surrounded by a group of friends. Sally doesn't make friends so well, she snaps a bit too much, her words have a bit more bite to them than they really should.
Her teachers tell her she's insubordinate.
This is still not pretty, but Sally thinks insubordinate is much better than pretty.
The first time she is arrested, it is at a protest over a housing imitative that would see about gentrification to an area that needs more social housing and less gastro-pubs. Her parents don't understand the distinction. She is not meant to have been at the protest in the first place. Sally was meant to be with her family, celebrating at an award show for Raven. She had been named as this year's Young Influencer and Sally doesn't see why.
Raven is pretty. Raven is good, her mother tells her. (Her father never says anything. He is barely a presence at this point. She wonders when the divorce will come through.) Raven speaks clearly and when people ask her questions, she gave careful, measured answers. She does not, her mother adds in a tone, jump to some radical solution that would not solve anything.
Radical is another one of those words that have become applied to Sally. She's not sure what she thinks about this.
She ends up in a single jail cell, sitting on a fold out bed.
In the cell beside her, through the bars, she can see a lanky boy with dark hair. He had been at the protest too, with a group she knew. The Bohemians. Rebels. People with thoughts and opinions. There were a lot of them.
“W-what's your name?” he asks her when he catches her look.
“I don't answer questions,” she snaps back, scowl more fixed in place than it ever had been. He looks almost shocked, and her door is opened before anything else can be asked. She's being lead away when a musical laugh hits her ears and she turns back, narrowing her eyes in the boy's direction.
“Nice to meet you, Don't Answer Questions.” He smiles at her.
It's the only one she gets that day
She dyes her hair for the first time after that.
Purple is not mud brown.
Sally doesn't feel like her name any more. She doesn't think she has a name, not really. She gets called a lot of things: bad, insubordinate, rude, bitch, loner, weirdo... The list can seem almost endless at times. She hears the names more than she hears Sally and she's weirdly alright with that. She's who she is, maybe she doesn't need an actual name for that.
She hears Raven's name more than she hears what was hers. Raven is a Teen Idol. Raven is admired nation-wide. Raven is the prettiest person that anyone has ever seen.
She's really grown to dislike the word pretty.
Her life is not pretty. Her life is not good. She is neither of those things.
She is anger, anger that burns bright and strong in a bad, insubordinate, radical package.
Anger that stomps her way through the world because if she does not she'll be run over and forgotten.
Anger makes people notice.
Anger makes those same people cower.
Raven would never be forgotten.
She can't bring herself to care anymore
She's arrested again. Just after Raven 18th birthday, but just before her own. She had gotten too involved in another protest. A lot of arrests were made that night and the cells were fit to burst. She was shoved into the corner, leaning against the bars with a sense of annoyance and boredom as she waited for them to empty out.
“Hey, Don't Answer Questions.” She turned and stared. It was him again. The one with the musical laugh. He smiled at her again, blue eyes glinting somehow in the dull light of the cells. “Fightin' the good fight again?”
“Like you can talk,” was her reply. It brought forth that laugh again and her scowl lessened, just slightly. “What do they call you?”
“All sorts. But I go by Galileo Figaro.”
“I wasn't being serious.”
He laughs again. It surprises her. No one laughed at her, not if they wanted to last in her company. He didn't seem to be doing it to mock her, and it was... different. She hadn't had that in a while. She studies him for a second or two. “What do you mean, you go by?”
“I found my name. Made it my own.” This is something that is unusual to her. Having a name that you picked for yourself. She has had so many words given to her that she had adapted to that the idea of picking her own seems... unusual. “Do you have a name?”
“Not one that's my own.”
“Can I give you one?” She stares at that, her face harsh, and she can see the flinch in him. Good, let him flinch, she was used to people flinching. To be given a name, though, that was different. She had been given words.
Things she was, things they decided for her without her word on it.
“...What kind of name?” He brightens, she can remember that so well, and his smile makes something in her feel lighter than it has in years. There's still anger – she thinks anger is all she is somedays – but this smile... it makes her feel like there could be something else.
By the time she leaves the cell, she has her own name.
She sees Galileo again the next day. She never calls him that. He's Gaz, or Gazza, or Gazza Fizza. Anything she can think of on a particular day, though Gaz and Gazza are most frequent.
He always has that musical laugh, and he speaks about anything and everything that comes to his mind. Most of it is pretentious bollocks, and she tells him so. He laughs again and shrugs and agrees that she might have a point.
“I've definitely got a point, Gazza,” she snaps in return, “you just don't want to admit your head's stuck up your arse.”
He smiles, and it's like the fire of her anger is under control, just for a second. “Whatever you say, Scaramouche.”
Her name sounds like a tune in his mouth.
She likes it.
She likes the way he tastes too. Their dance lasts for hours. She's damned, he's damned. Why not be damned together?
It might mean some company for a change.
The house is in an uproar when she finally decides to show her face. She had spent days on end with Gaz and the Bohemians, learning the way of the rebel society. There's so many groups, so many ways to be, and Scaramouche wants to know them all. Her anger isn't wrong there, if fits in, it burns with other angers to make an explosion that will change the world.
The uproar isn't over how long she had been gone. Of course it wasn't. It wasn't over her being arrested – again. It's over her.
The good girl.
The pretty cousin.
The one who could do no wrong.
She got married. To someone she had met the night Scaramouche was arrested.
They had known each other two weeks, and now they were married. Scaramouche stares as her father speaks with Uncle, looking for legal advice on what to do. Her mother consoles her Aunt, who had not wanted this for her beautiful daughter.
The phrase, Scaramouche was sure, rhymed with: clucking bell.
The uproar dies down long enough for a family dinner to be announced. For them all to meet the new … member. Aunt seems tense when she says it, eyes darting to Uncle like she is daring him to say something. Scaramouche finds it amusing.
What won't be amusing will be dealing with them all once the alcohol starts to pour. None of them deal well with it. Family dinners are the only times Scaramouche and Raven are not bad and good but instead simply dealing with what is.
She brings Galileo along. She figures she might need it.
He knows the husband, he's been in a cell with the husband. He and the husband were arrested for attacking one of Uncle's developments. The husband's name is Strat. If Galileo is known to be one of the front faces for The Bohemians, Strat is the front face for The Lost.
Uncle had always had issues with the Lost. Raven married the boy her Daddy hated.
Scaramouche would almost be impressed if it hadn't been mentioned how little time it was that Raven had actually known Strat. They had caught sight of each other during a riot outside her tower. He broke in later that to her room. They were married before a fortnight had passed.
She always knew her cousin was naïve. She didn't know she was a total idiot.
And yet, somehow, Raven's still the good one. They're talking about how while, yes, it was rushed, at least they chose to commit to each other before anything else happened. Looks are thrown towards Galileo and Scaramouche, who raises her eyebrow, daring them to push her. Uncle's grip on his wine glass tightens as he glares at Strat. No one spots the blush Raven gives.
Galileo squeezes her hand as this chatter continues. It's... nice. He brings a lot of that to her.
She thinks she might be able to get used to it.
Knowing Gazza has given her a new word. It's not harsh like the others. It doesn't feel like it would break someone with a look. It's not entirely who she has become.
… It's growing on her.