February 10, 2017

In Which Riona Is Curled Up

June 10, 1203

"Welcome... dear." Riona had meant to say 'welcome home', but it felt somewhat presumptuous to be calling her castle Aspen's home just yet. Her daughter-in-law had only recently resolved to move in, and both she and Nato had been so hesitant about it that Riona and Isidro had agreed to treat this as a trial stay. With a vested interest in said trial going well--a happy home life would give Nato some incentive to take better care of himself--Riona didn't want to jeopardize it.

She hoped a hug, at least, wasn't stifling. Not greeting Aspen with a hug would have been aloof, and neither extreme would have made for a promising start. "How was the ride?"

"Well enough, thank you." Aspen held her breath, as if sucking in her stomach would have been enough to free their discourse of baby subtext. That... was another trial. Riona knew better than to impose her will on that either. "My parents will be by later with some of my things."

"Of course." Some of her things had already been brought. It would be a gradual move, which Riona didn't mind. She could gauge her expectations by the number of deliveries.

"Riona had your room prepared. Just let one of us know if anything's been overlooked." Isidro, as Riona might have guessed, had opted for diplomacy over familiarity. Between the two of them, perhaps they could strike an ideal balance. "I think it goes without saying that where Nato sleeps is up to you."

"He can stay." A soft request, a quiet one, but sure enough in conviction. "I don't want to be an inconvenience."

"Never a need to worry about that. If your stay here can grant you and Nato any clarity--separately or otherwise--then your presence is the exact opposite of that."

"If anything, this castle's been a little empty since our older three left home," Riona added, again substituting a phrase at the last second. 'Started their families' might have set in an acute dread about the two of them starting their own. "A great big place like this needs young people to keep the candles on in all corners. Old folks like us just want to stay curled up in one cozy little wing and leave the rest to ruin."

"You two aren't old," Aspen offered, never mind that they were older than her parents. "Thank you, though. Do you mind if I go lie down?"

Riona shook her head and watched her as her son took Aspen's hand with a slow reach. He found his haste as they touched, and the two whisked away to the castle's interior. It wasn't the usual newlywed impatience. Each of them no doubt needed space to hear themselves think first, then a little less to bounce thoughts off each other. In any case, Isidro and Riona made for two people too many in the room, and it was to their credit that they'd made sure the children had been occupied.

And with greetings out of the way, maybe they needed their space for a while too.

"Just curled up in one cozy little wing, are we?"

With a swiftness she hadn't known he still had, Isidro looped his arm about her waste and pulled her into him. How long had she known him, now? Dear Lord, they were old.

But it wasn't all that often when they stopped to consider that. "As long as I'm curled up with you."