January 11, 2017

In Which Nato Is Caught and Released

May 5, 1203

"I, uh..."

Nato's brain fumbled about for an explanation as Lady Rona stared with an unnerving patience. He still wasn't quite sure when and how and why he'd made the decision to call on Aspen the day before. He hadn't planned on staying long, on holding her close while she let fall a few tears to his shoulder, on falling asleep fully-clothed and above the covers on a bed too small for two. He certainly hadn't planned on staying the night--and he definitely had not planned on what, if anything, he'd say to Aspen's mother if their paths crossed.

But now here he was, his escape cut short just shy of the door, cornered by Lady Rona at an hour when most of the household must have still slumbered. Aspen hadn't thought anyone would be up yet. She'd wanted Nato to leave before anyone had a chance to check up on her. Either they'd both failed to guess just how late it was, or Lady Rona had been unable to sleep and opted to go ahead with her day.

But the reasons made little difference, as the fact remained that she'd caught him now and he couldn't think of a damn thing to tell her. "...It's not what it looks like."

Aspen's mother... smirked? Most mothers didn't smirk when told that line. "I don't see why you'd be concerned about that, Nato. Given that neither of you have done much in pursuit of an annulment, no one would think much of whatever you and Aspen do when you spend the night together."

"We didn't--"

"Perhaps not, but you did spend the night together--and might I say that that was by far the longest time Aspen's been willing to spend with anyone since she graduated?"

"Um. Right. She, uh..." Nato bit his lip. Aspen must have had a hundred reasons for not having told her parents about her pregnancy yet, but he doubted that a wish for him to tell them instead was one of them. "She was caught off-guard, I guess. She had plans, and they didn't turn out, so now she needs... well, new plans."

"Which may or may not include you."

Nato dodged Lady Rona's copper gaze by fixing instead on a pair of candlesticks behind her. His own plans, if they could be called such, had been more of a means of keeping out of other people's plans. It was only a matter of time before an unlucky combination of place and people and circumstance allowed one of his fits to kill him, so he'd had no intention of being anyone's husband, anyone's father. He'd pursued knighthood in spite of his mother's fretting mainly for the hope of meeting a more dignified end before his body had him choking on his own tongue. Children came with the added concern of inheriting his condition, and the chance that their fates wouldn't take so many years to find them; childhood fits had only needed one attempt to take his father's sister, after all, his Aunt Felipa who'd never lived to be his Aunt Felipa.

Aspen would have grown up with a similar mindset. Her plan was to reduce the need for plans, to end things on her own terms. Neither of them had any ideas as to making or changing plans, with or without each other.

"I don't know if you should get your hopes up."

"Perhaps not, but if you stayed that long simply because she asked you to, then at least there are hopes that can be raised and lowered as pleased." Lady Rona raised one hand and waved it slightly, some gesture Nato was in no place to fathom. "I don't know if I even believe it myself, but something about your presence here since yesterday has had a calming effect on the air here, like Aspen's melancholy was a miasma and you dispelled it. I don't think I was the only one who felt that either."

Nato squinted. He hadn't thought Lady Rona the sort of person to misread the intangible as tangible, nor did he himself deem intangible things any more worth his time than things that didn't exist, because for all he knew, they didn't. "I don't know how a person could prove a thing like that."

"They couldn't, but that's not the thing in need of proving or disproving." Lady Rona let her hand fall back to her side, then took to the nearby couch as she nodded to the door. "I'll release you to go about your day now, but I request that you return tonight. Aspen will appreciate it."



Van said...

Shitty timing given that things having been slowing down a bit here (which may end up being the new normal, alas, since I just don't have the same kind of free time that I used to), but I guess I should probably mention that I'll be out of the country for a little over two weeks starting the Saturday after this one. So, yeah, there won't be any updates over the course of those two weeks, but there should be at least a couple before then.

lyricalnerd said...

I tried to leave a comment before, but it got eaten somewhere along the way! :P

The two paragraphs in the middle about Nato and Aspen's plans (or lack thereof) were so good. I love them. And I love Rona.

You will certainly be missed in your absence!

Van said...

Blogger does enjoy eating comments. XD

Aww, thanks! Rona really has grown up in the past couple decades. It took her a while, but she does have more of her mother in her than anyone (including herself) probably expected that she would.

Barring some unforeseen ridiculousness, it won't be too long of an absence. But, I'll be crossing the date line, so... jet lag will definitely be a thing. :S