April 27, 2016

In Which Nato Wastes Another Night

December 31, 1199

"So I get that this might be a tough concept for your tiny brain to comprehend, but one lousy cold isn't going to kill your little brother." Nato resisted the urge to glare back at the reckless woman on the couch and instead channeled his frustration into the fire in front of him. The poker drove one log to the back of the hearth, burnt bark crumbling off of it as it hit the wall. "You, however, look worse and worse every time you do this--even if it's just a lousy cold. Damn it, Aspen, what the hell is wrong with you?"

On the bench behind him, Aspen sniffed--sniffled, more like. Damn lucky thing her family had decided to stop by on his before heading over to his Uncle Lonriad's castle for the party, really. If she'd grown worse for the wear there and had to leave the party early, then that would be a ruined night for most of the guests, never mind the already-stressed Yvanette who'd probably end up taking care of her. Here, she at least gave Nato an excuse to stay home.

"Sorry for caring about my family, asshole. Why do you even care, anyway?"

"Because you make no fucking sense and that bothers me." That was the only answer he'd managed to think up when he'd asked himself the same question, at least.

"If I bother you so much, then just leave me with a servant; like you said, it's just a cold."

"Don't tempt me." Not that he would, though. His mother had been the one to take to immediately doting, whisking Aspen off to Shahira's old bedroom--the warmest in the castle--and wrapping her up in a robe she herself reserved only for the coldest winter nights. She would have stayed with Aspen herself had Nato not insisted that she'd enjoy the party more than he would. If he left Aspen with a servant, he'd be dealing with her wrath until he was fifty.

Of course, telling Aspen that was out of the question--but he was spared having to do so by Aldhein's knock at the door. "Nato?"

Nato gritted his teeth. His sister hadn't had any interest in attending the party, but her children had wanted to go, so she'd taken them; her husband, meanwhile, had gotten out of it on the technicality that it overlapped with the tail end of his work hours for the day. Frankly, Nato would have preferred it if Aldhein had gone to the party and Shahira had stayed at the castle for a few hours instead. Shahira could have been a firm-but-sympathetic nurse for Aspen for a few hours while Nato worked off his fury as the makeshift steward. "What is it?"

"There's someone here. He asked for your father--"

"My father's not here."

"Obviously. Would I be asking for you if I thought he was?"

Back on the bench, Aspen coughed out a small laugh. "Hmm. I suppose I'm lucky; my brother-in-law never gives me any mouth."

"And if you start taking on other people's tooth decay, don't expect that anyone ever will," Nato hissed under his breath.

"Still alone in that bedroom together? You know, for two people who say they can't stand each other, you have a weirdly intimate relationship."

"Shut up, Aldhein." Nato abandoned the fire and made for the door, opening it just wide enough to greet his brother-in-law with a glare. "Did this man say what he wanted?"

Aldhein shook his head. "No. He just asked for your father."

"Fine. I'll go talk to him then--and I'm also going to send you off to relieve my sister at the party. Aspen, you stay here and think about what you're doing with your life."

"Does wanting you out of it count as a start on that?"

Nato couldn't be bothered with a response, so he slipped out of the door and slammed it behind him, storming past Aldhein as if he were some inconspicuous statue on his way to the front room. Damn Aspen. Damn Aldhein. Damn whoever it was who'd come asking for his father. Was it too much to ask for, really? Just one night where he didn't have to be the only one around with a shred of sense?

"What is it?" he growled as he reached the front room, the worst of the storm that followed him having made it through the double doors.

The man in front of him squinted; given the apparent age of him, that wasn't surprising. "Isidro?"

"He's out." And while he'd been told all his life how much he looked like his father, his light eyes and unscarred face had proven enough to avoid being outright mistaken for him until now. "Who the hell are you?"


1 comment:

Van said...

Goodbye, twelfth century! Next up, lucky number thirteen...