December 5, 2016

In Which Nato Realizes What Else Didn't Happen

March 3, 1203

"So." Dress donned and hair tidied, Aspen yanked the blanket over the telltale stains of the night before. Not that Nato remembered having any part in making them. "As soon as you walk out this door--this never happened. Agreed?"

"Agreed," Nato muttered as he finished lacing up his boots, his own voice too much for his throbbing head. As if either of their lives weren't complicated enough without their apparently having fucked in a mutual state of black-out drunkenness.

At least--he hoped it had been mutual.

"Um... I know this never happened, but I didn't...?"

She shrugged. What did that mean? If he'd traumatized her, she'd surely have been more shaken up. Unless she was repressing it, that was. Fuck. "I don't remember anything. You don't remember anything. For all we know, maybe I did to you what you're afraid you did to me. If one of us is a criminal, maybe it's better if we don't know who it is. If it's someone's fault, then it happened. But it didn't."

Right. It hadn't happened. As far as anyone had to know, all he'd woken up to was the headache to end all headaches. No doubt the only reason Aspen hadn't robbed him of that was that doubling her own hangover would make the non-event less of a non-event. "What time do you think it is? Am I safe to leave?"

Aspen winced as she glanced back out the window. Nato took the hint not to look for any sunlight himself. "It's day, but I think it's still early? My housemates should still be asleep."

"Good." Nato cracked his knuckles, caught off-guard by the cold touch of his own fingers. Damn hungover senses. "Um... so, that was not a thing I expected to not happen."

"Ah, but since it didn't happen, there's no sense in discussing it." Aspen asserted herself with a grimace and gestured to the door with a jerk of her head. "And you were never here, so you'd better get on that."

"Right." He sidled past her, their parting little more than a pat he dared land on her shoulder. It was probably the last time he'd see her, if her plan really was to leave the country, probably heading off to her death. But no--the last time he'd seen her had been the last time, he'd have to remind himself. This time hadn't happened, after all.

Or so he would have spent the rest of the day, the week, God knew how long convincing himself if his plan to slip away from Capricorn House unnoticed hadn't been an instant and spectacular failure.

"Good morning, Nato."

Oh fuck me. "...This isn't what it looks like."

"I think you're right about that." Darry smiled, the impossible sparkle of his teeth more than Nato's sore eyes and the brain behind them could handle. The oddity of such a wide grin on a man who'd just caught someone he barely tolerated leaving the bedroom of his virginal sister didn't exactly ease the strain. "You needn't worry about last night. I saw the two of you heading in there, you know--and believe me when I say you were both most enthusiastic."

And a statement like that might have been a dagger to the forehead. "What are you playing at here?"

"I'm not playing at anything, Nato. Everyone who knows my sister knows just how much she needed a good lay."

"And if you've been standing here with your ear to the door, then you'll know she'd rather people think she still did, because no one else is going to find out about last night."

Darry snickered. "My God, Nato, I didn't realize the two of your were that drunk. Everyone already knows. You kept the whole building up all night, for one--like my poor little sister. She's asleep on the couch in the sitting room, and she'll probably still be out for hours before she has to wake up to her first ever hangover, and to the memory of Aspen and Nato making the floor vibrate. And even before you got back here, you two were all over each other; I'm fairly sure you licked her out under the table at the inn at one point."

And yet, that knife-twisting smirk didn't waver in the slightest. "For a concerned older brother, you seem to find all of this much too amusing."

"Concerned older brother?" Darry laughed again, practically spitting needles into Nato's skull. "Christ, you two really do remember nothing! You and Aspen didn't go right back to Capricorn House after you left the inn, you know. A few of us followed after you two got thrown out, and none of us were ready to call it a night just yet, so we ended up dropping in on the biggest party animal in Veldorashire."

"Who the fuck is the biggest party--?" Nato cut himself off, the flash of a face in his mind's eye twisting his throbbing brain to the halt. That face, the mingled smells of wine and incense and jimsonweed, the acute awareness of a foreign object against his finger. "No!"

"Kind of sad for the rest of us, given his age and all. But, no sense in judging." Darry shrugged--now a much less flattering gesture than the one Aspen used to deny having slept with him. "That's the Lord's job, after all, even if Father Sextus wasn't one of his own men."

Father. Fucking. Sextus.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK.

His mind a swirling mess of spirits and obscenities and horrified realizations, Nato would never quite know how he'd summoned the presence of mind to shuffle back to Aspen's door and nudge his fist against it. The only thought he'd have in focus when his father arrived to collect him some hours later would be the repeating assurance that--at the very least--neither he nor Aspen were at fault.

"Aspen? I think there was something else that didn't happen last night..."

NEXT CHAPTER:

4 comments:

Van said...

This chapter was mostly delayed by a lack of opportunity to catch up on pictures. :S

empireofmeliora said...

No problem. I'm not behind pictures or writing and I'm still procrestinating. ^^'

So Nato and Aspen pulled a Severin. XP
Unluckily for them history won't save them from being married. Technically such a marriage wasn't binding because the parents/families of those involved had to agree to it and even sign a contract, otherwise it wasn't legally binding. But I suspect that Naroni doesn't have that rule (anymore?). XD

Ann said...

So, married huh? That is quite a bit more than I expected... I had no idea they had it THAT bad for each other (yet). But can I just say: FINALLY!
All hail the liberating powers of alcohol! XD
Ashe doesn't seem very amused though...

Van said...

Mimus: A tendency toward getting married while drunk and forgetting it happened is apparently in the Kemorin gene pool.

Yeah, Naronian law doesn't require any sort of parental permission or betrothal contracts. There are families who do that anyway, obviously, but what seems to have been the case given the couples we've seen is that families who organize their children's marriages at least raise their children with the expectation that that's how things will be. Neither Nato's parents nor Aspen's have any interest in playing matchmaker for their kids on any official level.

Ann: I think the "yet" is at play here. But, given Darry use of Celina to get Aspen to the party and his buddy Falidor's insistence on Nato showing up, I think it's safe to say that whatever he thinks of the end result, the chain of events doesn't get the Ashe Torgleid Seal of Approval.