[center “I am going to pull them from their pedestal and I will watch them burn.”]
Wistina, a small but prosperous country located on the southern peninsula of Esteroak. Being one of the few neutrally aligned ports in the area they keep good standing with their neighbors. All in all they seem to be in a golden age. The only real complaints are those of a naïve and frivolous king, but with many well-trusted advisors at his side no one pays him much mind. That is, not until he died. Leaving behind his wife and a young son, there is much debate on what will be done and things are not looking good got the widow and her child.
The night was boring. Even with all that Töka had given him to speculate, and he spent a good portion of the dark hours speculating, Augustine found it dull. There were a few quiet spurts of conversation with his friend, but for the most part silence. It made their watch shift drag on into infinity. Despite that, he could not complain. He would rather it this way than have to wake the lot of them so that they could ready for battle or deal with a looter. So the boy busied himself counting the stones in the dilapidated wall until the sun began to peak over the horizon. He wouldn’t dare admit how high of a number he reached before standing to stretch and get a good look at the golden rays that bathed the surrounding area. The land was flat, so the beams seemed to go on for miles on the swaying grass. It was beautiful; at least he thought so. Time seemed to speed back up after that and it was soon time for the others begin to wake. Their party, who was used to rising early to get on the move were the first to stir, with the exception of Töka and Nicolai who were in need of the rest after being up for half the night. The boy decided to let someone else deal with waking them, that or let the smell of breakfast do the trick. Often times that was all it took, and he had no doubt that would be the case today with Margery taking over cooking duties. Now the blond did not have a grandmother, at least not one he had ever met, but he imagined having her around trying to stuff everyone full of whatever foodstuffs they would accept was what it would be like if he had.
Florence slept okay... She was very much used to sleeping outdoors, but it was strange to have different people around her. It meant new sleep sounds to adjust to. The woman was glad to know that she would only have to endure the chainsaw that was Jonathan’s snoring for this one night. How his wife had gone this long without losing her sanity to sleep deprivation was beyond her. The couple was way off across camp and she still thought she might smother him in his sleep. However, once she actually fell asleep all was fine for the night. Even the next morning went well. All were fed; they packed up, and were on their merry way before the Sun was five fingers over the horizon.
This day was less eventful than the first in that no one came to stand in their way. They passed other travelers every now and then, but that was the extent of it. However, the excitement of growing closer to their destination was in the air, and the people of Preth were chattier than before. The conversation was contagious, as they pulled anyone and anyone willing to speak into it. Margery was particularly excited. She had not seen her children in months and while she very much loved to have Quinn with them, she would be glad to have the help with him, stating in her own words that she was not as young as she used to be.
It was early afternoon when they began to pass people more frequently, a telltale sign that they were drawing near to civilization. It came with wary looks to Ool and his pet, but he expected that coming in. The fields of grass soon began to morph into farmed land. Hay in particular caught their eyes, almost time for harvesting. That being said there were bodies in the fields, and one of them turned toward the fence as their group passed by. Doing a double take, the young man soon came running toward the road. [+navy “Ool, is that you?”] He called loudly before getting all the way to the wooden fence.
At hearing his name, the goblin turned to look who was calling it. Thankfully a familiar face, and one they were looking for at that. While he knew the folks they were looking for were in Creswell, Ool had no idea just where in the city they were. This was infinitely helpful. He didn’t have time to call back to the man before he made it within distance to see that it was not just the medic, but also everyone else. He practically tripped over his own feet at the realization. [+navy “Grandma, grandpa, you’re here too?”] Surprise soon turned to elation and he turned around to shout. [+navy “Danny! Go get pops, Grams and Gramps are here!”] The other figure in the distance, who seemed to magically hear him, looked their way and then started off in the other direction toward a house and barn set up.
There was a mess of hollering in the distance and then it seemed like people of various ages were practically falling out of the woodwork. Soon enough there was an excited crowd coming around the wagon, all very excited to see Margery, Jonathan and Quinn too to a lesser extent. By the time “pops” arrived he was having a fit himself, until he finally got over the shock of having his parents show up out of the blue and invited everyone over to the house.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat A half hour or so later Nicolai and Töka returned to the main campfire. It was only a brief return however as they collected some food, checked in to make sure everyone was fine, and set up the watches for the night. With his boot resting up on one of the tree trunks used as a seat, he made sure to catch the gaze of most of the adults surrounding them, save from Augustine and Florence. Rather than offer his suggestions he dictated the rules and lay down how things would go. He ended it with telling the others that this was to ensure they all were safe. It was only one night and they could all sleep better knowing there was some order to the caravan. He didn’t want them to feel he was making himself de-facto leader, and allowed Ool to make a few adjustments for the sake of the elderly and infirm in his group, none of which Nicolai turned down.
The short meeting over, and with everyone aware of how the night would go, he nodded for Töka to go grab their canteens as they would be taking the first watch. He went for his horse to re-strap everything down, knowing how the bright eyed girl never could tidy up after herself. Taking a few patrols around the outer edge of the camp from time to time, they watched as the others eventually trickled away to find sleep.
For the most part the night shift went well. It was quiet and the horses had settled. A few times Nicolai had made several sweeps by himself, wanting to stretch out his legs and feeling more than cautious of this area. But save a few nocturnal creatures that skittered away as he neared them there were no other alarms. He spoke with Töka about nothing important, just general chatter of guards on watch, having to shush her when she had begun to laugh a little too loud. He didn’t want to have the old man’s cane come flying at him in the dark.
Marko and Augustine were assigned the second half of the watch, Töka wandering off to her bed to leave Nicolai the task of waking them. It was easier than it had been when they first started this trip down, both of them sleeping lightly and pushed out to go do their watch. He gave Marko a bit of a pep talk of what to look for and what to do if he panicked – namely to come get the elf, as it was better to be safe than sorry – but the boy had been told this time and time again and seemed more confident in himself now. Leaving him to go get his own sleep Nicolai only paused to take a sip of his green liquid, tucking the bottle into a pouch from his belt before drifting off.
Töka squared up against him, grabbing at his shirt, but Augustine did not back down in anyway. He stared green to fiery eye with her as she threatened him. They were about the same height and he wished that he could have grown just a little bit taller so that he would be looking down on the stupidly tall girl. [+coral “Maybe you should, but I don’t think your beau would be too happy with you if you did.”] Another jab back when he probably should have just shut up. He didn’t feel bad about it though, she was the one who started all this combativeness in the first place.
Then there was a shift. He didn’t know what caused it, or really why, but she switched up her tactic. And yeah, for once he would call it that. It was surprising to see her actually use that brain of hers for something other than smashing. But that didn’t mean it made his skin crawl any less. The sickly sweet, clearly fake smile was unnerving, but he hated her touch even more. He scowled at her the whole time and as she left in her uncharacteristically cheery manner. Then he saw Flora and it all made sense, though it was a not so valiant attempt, it wasn’t going to work. The childhood sweethearts knew each other too well for something so small as a flirtatious smile to come between them. Well, that and his girlfriend’s determination to communicate. If she had a problem or question about something, Flora was not the type to sit and suffer in silence. She was gonna ask, or make a fuss. In fact, she was bridging the distance between them right now.
[+plum “What the hell was that?”] It wasn’t an accusation. The whole scene she caught was strange. Töka never acted like that, and from the way Augustine stood alone she knew he was uncomfortable. Amazing what one picked up about a person when enough time was spent together.
Letting out a sigh, the boy was still trying to make heads or tails of it himself. [+coral “I think she was just trying to get under my skin since I pissed her off. She started it though.”] He was going to hold onto that if it killed him. Then his tone kind of changed as he went on. [+coral “There’s something not right about her…”]
Brow furrowing, Flora chided her boyfriend. [+plum “Augustine! That’s not very nice.”] Sure Töka seemed kinda rough to her, but she was helping them out a great deal in being there. And that was not a very appreciative comment, even if the older girl was playing strange games.
Augustine shook his head. [+coral “I mean it.”] That only garnered him another sour look, but that wasn’t stopping him this time. [+coral “Be careful around her, please… Especially if Nicolai’s not around, I don’t trust her for anything if he isn’t there to keep her in line.”] He was serious about this. She was too much of a loose cannon for him to gamble on, especially when he couldn’t tell how much of what she said was lies.
The redhead still was not thrilled about all this, but she could tell by his tone, Augustine meant it. He was legitimately worried about all this. So in attempt to alleviate some of that stress Flora nodded in agreement. She would be careful, even if she didn’t think it was quite so big a deal as he did.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Though the boy was listening to her, his reaction wasn’t what he wanted. He was still trying to take the moral high ground and she disliked that immensely. It stemmed from her need to make this kid realise not everything was sunshine and rainbows, not everyone would kiss his ass and not everyone would agree with him. Perhaps no-one had ever told him just how the regular common folk of this world though, surrounded by nobles like Nicolai and his mother and girlfriend. She would have told him in some roundabout fashion where he could take his opinion about marriage, but he just had to make that comment about her at the end.
Face losing the self assured look she had held throughout, she narrowed her eyes on the young Prince.[+red “Jealous? Why you little shit, I should gut you for that.”] It dripped from his lips with more venom than a witches curse. Stepping forward to close the distance between them she grasped him by his clothing at his chest, ready to either slap him very hard or give him a very carefully constructed warning about how he talked to her having reached her own tethers end. However her eyes darted to the side, looking beyond him to the fireplace. Nicolai had stood up and was walking away from Florence, pausing as if he were going to say something to the emerald eyed woman but then turning once more and continuing on away from the light.
Whilst that was interesting of itself it was the sight of Flora stood some ten feet away, staring across at Töka and Augustine, that made her frustration melt away with great speed, her eyes softening as her smile returned and she looked down on the boy with mischief.[+red “Don’t worry kid.. there’s better ways to hurt men than physically.”] She commented softly, her hand releasing his shirt as she stepped to his side and past him, fingers trailing over his collar bone lightly and she let out a soft laugh. As she stepped away a few feet she looked back and smiled at him.[+red “Bye Augustine, and thanks for that..”] Her voice was now gentle and full of happiness and joy, the look on her face one of giddy delight and she offered him a twinkle of her fingers as she left as she nearly skipped away and passed Flora. Only when she rounded one of the carts did she let her little act drop, wanting so badly to find a place to turn and watch the young couple to see if her swift plan had worked. But unfortunately she had taken the same route as Nicolai and he clicked his fingers at her, directing her to follow him.
She acted like she should be awarded some prize for her cynical view, when in fact Augustine thought it was rathe naive. [+coral “You have a better faith in men than me if you think that is true. Especially men in positions of power.”] Those who had the money and status to throw it around often had their pick of what they wanted and hated to be tied down. There was a reason men often married later in life than women. Getting people like this to ‘dedicate’ themselves to a single woman was not an easy task, even harder for it to actually play out that way. [+coral “But agree to disagree, I guess.”] His patience with her was wearing thin. The only reason he was still standing there at all was because he was waiting for the answer to his question and that came shortly thereafter, though it was not what he wanted to hear. At all.
[+coral “I hope for his sake that that isn’t true, but I am sure it will come out of the woodwork soon enough.”] Augustine knew his mother did not care for that shit at all, so it would likely end anything they had built in one fell swoop, but what did it matter to him. He still thought she was better off on her own like she was before. It suited her. [+coral “You never did look too happy about them spending time together, so I guess that would work out better for you and your jealousy in the long run anyway.”] And with that, he shrugged and officially checked out. He had water to deliver, so it was about time to be getting back anyway.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Töka loved how smug this kid was because it was finally showing her his true colours - or at least something new. Everything she was saying was right it was simply a shame he had been brought up to think highly of himself and those of his upper and royal social class. Not his fault, but didn’t mean he was right to mock her and think himself better. Though she didn’t say it, a knife to his gut would have shown him just how similar they were. Strip away his title and his background and he was a sack of meat like the rest of them. But she decided that would get her no-where. Instead she smiled that devilish grin at what he had to say.
[+red “Hate to break it to you kid but marriage is just a weird concept at its core.”] She had thought of this before, it showed. Perhaps she and Nicolai had discussed it in some manner before.[+red “Look, your friends and family coming together and celebrating that you and some guy have been fucking and intend to keep fucking one another? Oh yeah, that takes a lot of class to pull [i that] off.”] She shook her head in derision as she let her arms unfold and hands fall to her hips, looking at the boy as if to judge if he really wanted to know. Behind him, illuminated by the fire, Florence and Nicolai caught her gaze and she nodded.[+red “What was it you said; its none of your business what I have or have not done with a Duke?”] She was like a Cheshire cat at that moment and her smile could not have grown any more to throw his own words back at him.[+red “Let’s just say your mom is going to be a very satisfied woman, congrats.”] She winked playfully at Augustine, neither confirming but not exactly denying what the boy was getting at.
Time spent in Astoria and having the freedom to do as he pleased, aka get dragged around town with Flora, had broadened his experiences with people. Augustine had met folks of many personalities, though his experience was skewed because of his relations and people treating him better because of them, but even with that Töka was still a lot to stomach. There was not much point in arguing about growing up spoiled. He knew that was true, even if there had been moments in his life he felt like balanced it out some. Also, stories about how life used to be in Astoria really gave him something to compare too. Even now, in a place as well to do as the palace things did not begin to compare to what he remembered of his life in Wistina. So, when the woman talked about focusing on herself and what was near to her, he understood, but only at a superficial level. Not that it mattered, because he let it fall to the side with what came out next. It was clear what Töka was insinuating. And quite honestly, Augustine was inclined to believe it. Nicolai had the tendency to stick to whoever was in front of him. Just in his short memory there was the daughter of that noble, his mother, Elizabeth, possibly Töka, and now he was on his mom again. To the boy it seemed like he would take an interest in the closest woman to him. However, instead of taking it at face value, the youth decided to actually dig deeper, in his own roundabout way.
[+coral “Wrong again, as expected. If anyone who happened to get it on with a royal automatically got a title for that alone I am sorry to say there would be a lot more nobility out there.”] Kings and their underlings weren’t exactly known for keeping it in their pants. Hence the long line of illegitimacy in many countries. Lucky enough for Augustine he was the only one here, or there might be more of a problem. [+coral “My mom was queen because she married the King. Big difference. Takes a lot more tact to pull that off.”] He knew that wasn’t necessarily true, but he said it matter of factly anyway, not willing to falter in front of her and let her prey on him because of it. [+coral “At least that’s how it is here in Wistina. Where exactly was your Duke lover from?”] He eyed her skeptically as he asked.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Töka liked the kids answer. At least he wasn’t boastful like most of the men she had met whose first words were about how impressive they were, or how they could make her feel amazing. Now the boy before her was young, very, but he seemed a little more respectful. Shame that meant very little to the woman who chuckled.[+red “Oh I agree I have no for.. forth.. that thinking thing.”] She wasn’t an idiot, but some words were just tricky to pronounce.[+red “Look, I wasn’t raised with a golden fucking spoon in my mouth and given everything on a silver platter. I deal with what I have before me. I don’t need to think about anything more than what’s happening right now.”] It was a very narrow point of view, but it was quite liberating. It was close to a ‘damn the consequences’ lifestyle and was going well for her thus far.
However, the other part he had mentioned, she grinned about and let him have his little sarcastic moment.[+red “Damn right I am your emin.. Empress. Yeah.”] She tried to sound reassured in herself, pushing out her chest and retroactively flexing on the young Prince. She hated that this kid was using so many fancy words she couldn’t repeat. It was like being in a foreign country, knowing the language, but being unable to say it back.[+red “I am diplomatic though, in my own way. You want to use words but I like to think sex is the peak of diplomacy.”] A little crude, but she had a point to make.[+red “And through my special kind of diplomacy, I do have a title. I mean, your mom was Queen simply for fucking your dad. So, that makes me a.. like.. the woman version of a Duke.. erm.. a Duchess! Yeah!”] She looked so smug not only at remembering the word, but for taking 1 and 1 and coming up with 2. As was a running trend with her it was simple and basic but broken down to its simplest forms – she was right.
He winced at her use of his title and then looked around. Luckily, they were alone at the moment. Augustine wasn’t trying to hide who he was, but he also wasn’t looking to broadcast it to everyone right this second, though it seemed all the tact of that was lost on Töka. No doubt she had no room for anything other than hitting things with an axe and making an ass out of herself in her brain. Still, her fiery combativeness was contagious, and she pulled him into her nonsense rather quickly. [+coral “It’s none of your business what I have or have not done with a girl.”] His face was a little red at that. Sure, he had gotten farther than the wily woman made it seem, but it was true he hadn’t exactly gone all the way with Flora. The last thing he needed was for them to slip up and get her with child. Augustine could just imagine how that would throw everything off. Trying to overthrow a usurper’s reign was hard enough without having to factor all that into the equation.
Then it was back to his title, or rather everyone’s. She somehow found it appropriate to mock him about his birthright. God, he couldn’t see how Nicolai could stomach her for more than thirty seconds at a time. In his irritation, he laughed coarsely at her when she dubbed herself with a truly nonsense rank. [+coral “You know, the thing about claiming a title is that it requires some level of diplomacy and forethought. Two things you don’t seem to have, so I am afraid no matter how much you think it suits you, it won’t ever come to fruition.”] In his mind, that was the main difference between the two of them. Augustine had been planning for this for damn near seven years and she was just along for the ride. Not that he wasn’t thankful, the help was much appreciated, but if she was going to be a straight up bitch about it, he didn’t really feel like taking that sitting down. [+coral “But hey, since you are such a great help I don’t mind humoring you, your eminence.”] That would have neem a great time for a condensing bow, but the blond was not in the habit of bending his knee for anyone. No King of Wistina was going to lower himself for anyone other than his father before him.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Töka heard Augustine’s response, just as she found the sharpening stone. As she pulled her hands out, she took a sliver of dried meat as a little compensation for the elf being so rude to her and turned back to the blonde haired Prince with a triumphant grin on her face.[+red “Oh yeah, I forgot you’re just some runt of the litter Prince, doubt you’ve ever had sex have you? Why bother asking, you’ve probably never even kissed a girl let alone touched one without crying to mommy.”] She grinned, taking a piece of the tough meat and tearing it off, popping it into her mouth as she folded her arms over her chest.
She wasn’t overly keen to be stuck talking to the kid. She found him to be too self-important and full of himself and at that moment she felt it her need to take him down a couple pegs.[+red “Also, refer to me by my rightful title of Empress Kickass-Töka from now on.”] She smirked more at the boys confusion than the joke itself.[+red “Well, you aren't a King and a Prince of nothing right now, so I suppose we can all take up titles that we like. And I like Empress Kickass, of all Esteroak.”] She knew enough about politics that titles were just fancy names and meant little without actual power. Even though they were in Wistina, Augustine was hiding for fear of being found. Some Prince, if all he did was hide from his people, and whilst it was an unfair assessment, it was a little accurate.
[+red “Suits me fucking perfectly if you ask me.”] Yes she was being sarcastic, but at the same time she had spent the last year or so with a group of men where showing any sign of weakness was attacked with gusto. A group of churlish and idiotic men and a young woman – she had to build a tough skin quickly.
Florence blinked as he claimed that this might have been the nicest thing she’d ever said to him. Surely that was not true, so she went to deny it, but soon realized that she could not think of much evidence to disprove him. All that came to mind was her telling him that he was handsome enough to catch her attention even when she was a married woman, but that came hand in hand with her telling him he did not line up with her ideal. And anything coupled to something like that would look as though it was only said in consolation, even if that was not true. The whole realization was dreadfully shameful for her. Florence was learning she had things that she was going to need to work on as well if they wanted to last as a couple. This being one of them, though she could scarcely think of how she might begin telling him things she liked about him without it being terribly awkward and painfully obvious that she just now noticed she was neglecting him in such a way. That was probably more embarrassing than anything else. She was a grown woman; she should be able to figure these things out on her own.
Letting the silence soak in, the time to bring it back up seemed to slip away from her. The quiet was nice too, especially sitting next to the fire like this. That was enough for now, she would think about all her little dilemmas later and just enjoy the present while she was in it.
As had been apparent from the look on his face, Augustine was not altogether pleased to have one of ‘his own’ draw on him. She stopped when she realized who it was, but had just about the rudest comment ever to make about it. It wasn’t his fault she was overly jumpy, however he kept that to himself. Over the passed weeks the blond had learned it was best not to argue with Nicolai’s touchy friend Töka, at least when it came to things that didn’t really matter. He counted this among those more trivial things, even if it could have potentially been catastrophic if she hadn’t stopped.
Ready to move on and ignore her for probably the rest of the night, Töka said one more thing and unlike before this actually ruffled him. Stopping in his tracks he stared at her. [+coral “Holy shit, could you stand to not be disgusting for like one second of the day?!”] Part of him appreciated the warning, because he really did not want to see that, even if it was a gross exaggeration as he assumed, but even still he didn’t want to hear about it either. Especially so crudely as she put it. [+coral “I don’t want to know what they are getting up to.”] After his talk with Nicolai today, Augustine was really trying to put in an effort to not bothering them, but when it was thrown in his face like this it was difficult. Couldn’t they not, at least not right by the fire where everyone was hanging out.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat A bob of his raven haired head and it was clear he appreciated her input that the changes he had made, though maybe not as drastic as they could be, were turning him into someone she wanted to be with. It was difficult to balance between changing himself to better appeal to Florence, and not changing so much that he was a totally different man that pushed her away. He had found a good middle ground but it was just as easy to upset that balance and make things worse than they ever had been.
Looking over to her he nodded again and smiled lightly.[+royalblue “I like how you try to cheer me up by calling me a fool. Then again, for you, that is quite the touching statement. Perhaps one of the nicest things you’ve ever said to me.”] He laughed a little, trying to think of a time where she had been more complimentary and not finding one, annoyed at himself for mentioning it now. He knew he wasn’t her ‘type’ so to speak, and that Adrian had been a link to remind her of her home, but he tried to remain optimistic. Perhaps his personality could shine through above all that? It made him smile wryly and he looked back to the flames to hide the doubt in his eyes.
Grumbling under her breath the crimson eyed Töka stormed away from the campfire muttering curses and arguing by herself as she left. In truth she was getting out what she should have said, how she would have embarrassed Nicolai or any number of clever putdowns that only came to her once the moment had passed. Going over to his horse she flipped up the cover of his saddle bag and began to rummage around within when she heard a crunch behind her. In a few seconds she had dropped her hand and turned whilst drawing her knife. Of course it was just Augustine, filled canteens in his arms and he didn’t look particularly delighted to have Töka drawing on him.
[+red “For fuck sake kid.. damn near gutted you.”] She grumbled as she let out a deep sigh, replacing the knife at her belt as she turned back to the saddle to continue her search. She paused for a moment, glancing back to see him still there.[+red “Word of advice, don’t go back to the fire. Your mom is about to mount Nico and even I want to spare you that sight.”] They had seemed close to something happening, but whether the golden haired boy listened to her was his choice. She was busy with finding that damn sharpening stone.
Florence nodded along as he mentioned avoiding awkwardness was not worth putting them all out. For the most part she agreed. It would be quite the boon to have a home base. She just worried that the relationship might be too broken and cause more trouble than a handful of awkwardness. Just because someone was family did not necessarily mean they were redeemable or worth spending the effort to forgive. She personally believed that Nicolai was, or else she would not have given him another chance herself, so it was likely his parents would be lenient there. It was whether he should be so tolerant with them that worried her. Without knowing the context of what he meant in saying they had not left off on good terms it was difficult to tell just how big of a mess they would be walking into.
His further explanation for why he was telling her any of this at all was thoughtful. It put things into a little better perspective for her. For some reason Florence had not fully realized just how much consideration he was putting into them as a couple, besides the title and whatnot. He was determined, that was something she always saw, but now it seemed he was utilizing it in a more constructive way. Nicolai was actually looking to make this work and be meaningful in a lasting way. Quite honestly, she had not been doing the same. Yes, she was accepting and happy in what they had right now, but she had not taken the time to think about how it applied to the future and the plans she had for herself. Doing so brought a rather glaring problem to mind, one she had missed until right that second. Florence was going to be faced with a decision in her future, but for right now she buried the thought away. She didn’t want to deal with it right now, aka she opted to avoid her personal problems for the time being.
[+mediumseagreen “Yes, I suppose I did say that…”] It was such a long time ago now, however her point still stood. She would not be with someone who would not consider her and speak with her on equal terms. That meant sharing problems and finding the solution together, much like he was doing here. [+mediumseagreen “But I think you are doing well. Much better than before, that is. The man I see now hardly compares to the one at the lake. He may still be a fool, albeit for different reasons, but he is a long way from pathetic.”] She felt a bit bad to insinuate that she thought he was pathetic before, though it was not entirely untrue. Smiling over at him she wondered if this was something he dwelled on frequently. [+mediumseagreen “I appreciate the effort. I want to be able to help you like you are trying to do for me and this helps with that.”] At least it made her feel like she had a chance.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Her denial that it was wrong, or that she was okay, was put down to her being the modest and kind person she was at heart. Nicolai knew she was not one for embracing or anything beyond perhaps hand holding so he saw this as a particularly bad no-no he had committed. The silence and change in topic had done well to stem any backlash though perhaps it would come back at him at a later date. She had such a terrific memory as compared to him. Pushing that aside thought he listened to what she had to say.
Focused in toward the fire he mulled over her words and her offer and it had its positives that was for sure. It just did not sit well with him and he shook his head.[+royalblue “For the sake of the initial awkwardness I won't make everyone try to find somewhere else that will be safe.”] It would be silly to put them all out like that for his own comfort. It would be more dangerous looking for somewhere to take refuge and he couldn't guarantee than with each fight they would come out as unscathed as today. To put a roof over their head and offer them warmth from an approaching fall and winter would pay dividends in the future.
[+royalblue “I'm just.. trying to make you aware of how I'm thinking, how I feel and all the nonsense that goes on up here.”] He tapped the side of his head with his hand before placing his chin back in his palm.[+royalblue “You said I never opened up, that I kept shutting you out. There's no point in us trying for anything significant if remain that way and don't change. Otherwise we'll be back at that lake and I'll be walking off like a pathetic fool again.”] He hated to recall old memories, especially sensitive ones, but he also wanted to get across that he was trying to improve himself and be better for her. He couldn't change the past but he could learn. Maybe that was worth something.
What was meant to be little more than a distraction from his frustration and a rather selfish ploy to have him pay attention to her, seemed to have the intended affect. In fact, Florence would say it worked better than expected. Something about his look of near intoxication pulled her in. It was just a few lighthearted kisses and yet he reacted as though she had changed his world. The difference was night and day and it almost, [i almost], made her heart skip a beat.
Caught up in that odd train of thought and rush of emotion, Florence had not even noticed his stray hand. A fact that surprised but did not bother her. [+mediumseagreen “Oh, no, it is fine. I am fine.”] She attempted to reassure him, but he withdrew, turning toward the fire. It was not long before she did the same, embarrassed by her implication just now. Her words almost made it sound like she did not want him to move his hand, which was not exactly the message she had been trying to convey. The woman knew if she tried to explain any further it would only become worse, so she sat quietly, discomfited to know she probably sounded rather indecisive. And worst part about it was that it was partially true.
Nicolai was the one to reach out in the silence, as seemed to be the norm with them. However he breached a topic that she had not expected to come up until there was absolutely no chance of avoiding it. That was not the only shocking thing though. He mentioned parents, that being plural. She was under the assumption that his father was dead, but perhaps she had misunderstood through the years. Or maybe his mother had remarried; it was not entirely unheard of. [+mediumseagreen “That does make it difficult…”] That she knew from experience, both with long separations and begrudging last encounters with parents. [+mediumseagreen “Are you sure then that that is where you would like us to go? I am sure we can find something else to make into a place of refuge if you think that it will be too awkward.”] Florence did not imagine it was some easy task to walk into ones family home a person so changed as he was. And with a pack of strangers and foreigners no less.
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