July 6, 2016

In Which Ava Can Attest

May 12, 1201

"Prince Oswald." Ava managed what she hoped passed as a genuine smile and held out her hand for her sort-of-betrothed to kiss.

He did just that, if somewhat nervously. "Princess Avirelle."

"I suppose you might as well call me Ava." Given that they'd both been at the university for almost a year now, she ought to have told him that earlier--but they'd never had much reason to speak, really. Oswald had been her grandmother's suggestion for her, as Ava had been his grandfather's idea for him; their parents had agreed to the match with the condition that either party was free to object if they found they weren't suited by the time they finished their studies. The few shared electives they'd had the past three terms had Ava thinking an objection was more likely than not, as Oswald seemed from afar to be a reserved, over-cautious sort with little interest in anyone or anything. Ava found plenty of things beneath her notice herself, but she didn't want any husband of hers to be one of them--nor did she want to be such a thing for him.

But, they did still have three years--so, when Brother Cenhelm had assigned a partner project for their shared Biblical Studies class, Ava had swallowed her pride and marched straight to Oswald's table. Oswald, though startled, had agreed.

"All right. And you might as well call me... Oswald, I suppose." A tinge of pink across his cheeks, he returned her not-quite-genuine smile with a sheepish twitch of the lips. "Er, no 'prince' necessary, that is."

"Yes, that would get rather tiresome. Anyway, shall we begin?" She gestured to the table, where she'd set out a bible by on the near long side before he'd arrived. In a pair project, it made the most sense for both of them to sit on one side of the table, so that eliminated the implied power struggle brought on by a seat at the head. On the other hand, it robbed them of the distance and scouting vantage of being seated across from each other.

"We should, yes." But he didn't move; it seemed he wanted her to choose her seat first. Was he the sort of man who would have wanted her to pick the chair by the bible, or the other chair? She didn't want to imply that she expected him to do most of the work, nor did she want to suggest that she doubted his ability to take charge of it.

But most of all, she didn't want to hesitate. She went for the chair by the bible, if only because it was nearer. If Oswald found something objectionable about that, he kept it to himself.

"So... your parents don't mind that we're unchaperoned?" he ventured as he took his own seat.

Ava shook her head. "I asked my brother if he thought it would be necessary, but his response was an endorsement of my left hook--and he would be the one in position to give that."

"Fair enough. I suppose I know firsthand that Viridis could land a good one on her betrothed if need be."

"Of course, I think all brothers--and we sisters of brothers ourselves--would rather our suitors not give us any reason to punch them."

"Indeed. I don't want my sister to be in any position where she needs to defend herself, and I certainly don't want to be the cause of such distress in anyone else." And yet, he sighed--eyes flickering to the open book in front of them, a little guilty. "My apologies for not approaching you, by the way. I just... I don't know. I never know what to say to people."

Then it was lucky that Ava was the older sister rather than Dera. Neither her nor Oswald would have ever said a word. "Usually 'hello' is a good start."

"Well, yes, but it's... how to say it, I suppose. That's why my grandfather suggested I study masquing, actually." He blushed again. Masquing was rather an odd choice of study for a man of Oswald's manner. "A future king has to be sure with his words."

As the daughter of a current king, Ava could attest to that. But, from what she knew of her father as a younger man, he had not always had the confidence he had now.

Not before he'd met her mother.

"For the record, you're not doing too badly with your words right now."



Van said...

Adrius and Anna have excellent genes.

Ann said...

Surprising, really. About Anna at least, since she's quite as heavily tweaked as her friend's husband Arthur.
I'd blame Adrius, personally. ^^ With a face like his and the genes to match he could probably balance out the features of a troll. Never mind the slightly weird, but nevertheless human, nose and jaw of his wife.

Regarding Ava and Oswald: This could actually work and work well!
Ava is really very observant and thoughtful for her age. Especially given her rather dominant personality. But I guess that comes from having parents, not to mention a grandmother, like her's.
And for all her thinking that an objection is more likely than not, she sure worries more about what to do around him, than I would have expected. ^^ I get the feeling that's rather unlike her as well.

And Oswald is not at all what I thought he would be. He seemed to give of such a strict and unyielding vibe in pictures. And then he turns out to be such an unassertive and embarrassed kind of... boy, really. Which makes for a strange contrast to his physical appearance, I think.

I hope that Ava can be as good for Oswald (ad vice versa) as Anna has been (and is) for Adrius. I just love the parallels! <3

Van said...

I think the thing that really messes with facial genetics is the slider that raises/lowers... either the whole face or the eyes. Or maybe both of those. I've mainly gleamed that from speculation about Peter Ottomas (for the record, on the off-chance I play him, I don't tweak his face... but I do end up doing minor tweaks to his offspring, just so they don't look... like their skulls are distorted to the point where they shouldn't be able to hold up their faces). Ava and Telvar are both particularly gorgeous, and they each have more than a little of Anna in them.

Oswald has the exact combination of Jamoran, Kelistine, and (Dovian) Kemorin features that give him such a strict look... but, he's really quite the kitten. I'm sure he'll grow into a decent king in time, especially if he and Ava do end up keeping to the engagement, but I don't see him ever being harsh on his family.

Ava, methinks, got the best of both parents--and just enough of Grandma Devidra to keep things interesting. ;)

S.B. said...

Oh this could work as long as they work out some strategy for ascertaining which chair to sit in. Talk about funny. There's beautiful Ava wondering what Oswald will think if she chooses the chair closest to the Bible or the other one. Is he even remotely aware that there's some kind of meaning attached to the chair choice?

He had me with the blush. Self confidence can be gained different ways. Maybe the one he's using will work the best for him.

Van said...

Haha! Yeah, I'm sure Oswald's only thought with letting her have her pick of the chairs was "this is her building, she studies here all the time, she might have a preferred seat".

There's an extent to which confidence is sexy in men, but soooo many end up confusing "confidence" with "being an arrogant, self-important douchebag". Oswald, meanwhile, seems to be using his own lack of confidence as an opportunity for introspection, at least--so when he does come into his own, that self-awareness will help a lot with keeping on the right side of the fine line.