Violetta is an angry woman.
Part of it is Tarvek. Tarvek is (was) an easy target—slow, stupid, Sparky, incompetent. Mad from grief from his sister, oozing with grace and charm while subjecting hundreds—thousands—of girls to death. Tarvek is an easy target, because being angry at Grandma and Grandfather is a fool’s game. Aaronev was frightening; Anveka is gone. Tarvek is safe to be angry at. It’s nothing personal.
Then he got her sent to some backwater, because she’s stupid too, and useless at being a Smoke Knight, and she was angry at the whole world for that—because she wasn’t good enough, would never be good enough, they gave her a task she was unsuited for and laughed at her failure—and she was so, so angry at herself, because she cared— cared that no one loved her, and she cared that she was distinctly unlovable. She is angry, because it is safer than pain.
(Tarvek did it to save her life. Another thing Violetta missed; another sign of her complete and utter incompetence)
(Agatha wasn’t good enough once, too.)
Violetta is an angry woman.
Perhaps she would not have been, in a better life—one where she was not forced into a job she hated, with a family more than willing to tear each other apart for scraps, a family who considered her disposable. A family where sneaky, twisted Tarvek was the best of it.
But they are all scarred and twisted, even Violetta.
Violetta is an angry woman.
Violetta often wants what others have. They are rarely the things (she thinks) she can fight to get for herself.
Agatha is beautiful and smart, and has parents that love her, unreservedly and unconditionally. Even when she was stupid and useless, she was loved. Agatha has a baby sister to dote on, and is beloved by a whole town, a whole army, by minions in denial and two idiots who very much aren’t.
Violetta has the affections of a few friends (but it’s sweet on her tongue; she’s never had a chance for actual friends—too dangerous, to let people in like that. Smoke doesn’t feel. Smoke doesn’t love. Smoke kills, insidious and without prejudice. Violetta is a lousy Smoke Knight, because Agatha, Krosp, and Zeetha, Dimo, Oggie and Maxim; they are her friends.)
(If she squinted at her memories, she could call Tarvek one too.)
Violetta loves, but she wants to be loved, too. Wants to be loved like Agatha, and Zeetha. She wants a boyfriend, maybe one day a husband, one she doesn’t have to be willing to kill. She wants that closeness the jaegers have, one Smoke Knights don’t, aren’t allowed.
Violetta wants to love, but doesn’t know how to do it right, and she envies her friends that ability.
Violetta tries to remember that they are damaged too. (And that she loves them back.)
Violetta is a terrible Smoke Knight. But while it’s the only thing the family cares about, she is good at other things.
For one, she is very good at the gamba.
For two, she can drive nearly anything, and she does it very well. (Tarvek’s screams of horror at a particularly daring stunt is music to her ears.)
These are accomplishments she is proud of, if only to keep her self respect.
She also has a somewhat dangerous tendency to show off; to Zeetha, to Von Zinzer, to Tarvek, to herself. But she isn’t too proud to ask for help, particularly regarding the Lady Heterodyne. There’s a thick streak of common sense that’s saved her life, once or twice.
She walked out of Castle Heterodyne.
Agatha thinks she should be proud of that.
Let’s be honest, here. Violetta hates mornings.
She hates waking up in the knowledge that she’s (herself; useless, weak, angry, sad) going to do the same thing today as she did yesterday, time without end. Born to fail. Trapped in a boring town, with a boring job, in a life she hates (d).
But she does it anyway.
(Maybe she’s not so lazy after all.)
Violetta’s never valued wealth all that much. When you are essentially a glorified guard dog, most of your physical needs are met. No; Violetta’s desires tend to be more abstract. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want things; a pretty dress and a place to wear it; a good book; a beautiful new gamba and the time to play it; a life that doesn’t stink of blood, fear, pain.
She refuses to be ashamed to want a better life.
Smoke knights live to die. Bad smoke knights are as mayflies. Both burn calories like a Spark in fugue, and eating is as crucial as a fully stocked poison kit and a sharpened dagger. No one wants to be like Great-Aunt Blanche Iepure, who fainted dead away mid-assassination. Bad for the brand.
Violetta knows any meal might be her last—is always surprised when it isn’t. Tarvek has commented, often, on this tendency of hers to never miss a meal, and to enjoy wholeheartedly what she’s eating. It’s the one part of being a smoke knight she’s good at.
(Agatha tells her she’s better than she thinks. Agatha
makes people better makes Violetta want to be better.)
She wants(ed) a career as a concert violinist. In this, she and Tarvek (and, frankly, much of her family) agree that it would have suited her better. But Mondarevs do not become violinists, they become Smoke Knights; and Violetta has never been strong enough to say no, I don’t want this, pick someone else.
There are also more...pedestrian urges. Von Zinzer, with his high-strung competence and chiseled jawline, triggers a desire in her she hasn’t had in years. (A servant in the employ of Seffie. It had been a beautiful six months until Violetta had to poison him.) Then there
was is Dimo, and his fur had been silken under her fingers and his claws had left furrows down her back. Dimo had sensed her bubbling, ineffective rage, had helped her channel it into something, well, not externally destructive, but it wasn’t healthy and likely wasn’t safe, but Sparks don’t have a monopoly on madness.
(Violetta does not know that Dimo is a little in love with her. She does not know she is a little in love with Dimo.)
At the end of it all, Violetta is a sinner, a failure, a disappointment, a fool.
At the end of it all, Violetta is brave, determined, tough, loyal, a friend.