Somehow Ool was not surprised at the sudden self-flattery. After first glance and spending any length of time around this man, he seemed exactly the type to think highly of himself. Though Ool wasn’t exactly that different. He valued his own opinions above most else. The one real exception was his dog, but that was to be expected. There wasn’t much that came between a man and a dog he’d raised from puppyhood. However, the thought of having a pig instead was rather humorous. It actually got a smile out of him. [+sienna “Ah yes, I think a boar is next on my list of pets to have. I am afraid I have to keep them on the feral side though.”] God forbid he wind up seeming mundane to the world around him.
[+sienna “If it comes down to society or Cam I am afraid that is not much of a choice. But you are right; I would rather not hole up someplace never to be seen again. Ideally I would still be able to use my skills. Seems a waste to do all that studying just to squander them on my own in the woods.”] Helping others was a bonus, he supposed, though he preferred doing so in a community setting as opposed to with a slew of strangers. He found it more gratifying.
As for Nicolai’s inquiry after the goblins, Ool shrugged. [+sienna “I don’t see to many of my kind around. I imagine most of them congregate toward the larger towns where there is more opportunity, but I haven’t had a chance to do the same in years.”] And with Preth not exactly pulling in tourists or travelers he didn’t hear anything from word of mouth either. [+sienna “Guess I will find out soon enough if life starts to get harder than it needs to be.”] He was no stranger to discrimination as he was sure that the quote unquote bodyguard was as well. Came with the territory when living in areas so densely populated with humans. Despite the rather foreboding topic of conversation, Ool still wore a bit of a smile. He found it funny that someone who claimed to work for a small farming family would be so familiar with the king, especially after being away for so long.
[+sienna “So was the longing to see the plains again all that brought you all back to Wistina?”] He didn’t imagine so, but Ool wanted to hear what he had to say on the matter.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat A genuine laugh escaped Nicolai's lips at that comment and he raised a hand to brush through his hair, hand gliding carefully around the three streaks of missing hair.[+royalblue “Oh, looks can be very deceiving with myself and Aurora. I was one a very respectable and dashing individual if I say so myself.”] The old self-congratulating Nicolai sometimes reared his head but he did well to hold himself to the one statement.[+royalblue “As for her, well being forced from your home with your child under threat of death often leaves one quite… frustrated, shall we say. That and she does loathe wolves. Maybe if Cam had been a pig or a goat you would have received a warmer welcome.”] He grinned at the thought of a squealing pig bursting from the brush with a goblin chasing after him.
And he would be named Porkins – the perfect name.
The goblin's back story was logical if a little obvious and stereotypical of their kind, but he hadn't expected anything to come from that particular question. It was a wholesome answer and that added note that he too shared a fondness for Wistina was a nice touch. Yet the story of what he would do next was far more interesting and he nodded along slowly.[+royalblue “Yes, if Cam were smaller then perhaps she could pass as a large dog but I doubt such an impressive beast would be allowed in many towns.”] At mention of her name and the pat of her master the canine looked up inquisitively, faltering in her step just a moment before returning focus ahead and moving on.
[+royalblue “A woodland hermit eh? Somehow that strikes me as unlikely, given your propensity to help others and her desire for attention.”] The duo made an interesting pairing and to think of them living their lives out in some woodland hovel or a cave was not likely. He may be a goblin, but he was a proud man and would not take kindly to the stereotype of cave-dwellers that his kind had done well to shed.[+royalblue “How are your kind fairing by the way?”] It was quite obvious he wasn't talking of Cam now.[+royalblue “Last I heard, Vincent wasn't exactly enamoured by goblins – and healers were close behind them for disdain.”]
[+sienna “Bodyguard, eh? You don’t look the type.”] Giving him a look once over, Ool took the story with a grain of salt. He was not expecting the elf to just come out with the truth, but he was surprised how similar the story sounded to what he imagined was actually going on. [+sienna “You've got more of a lawless heathen look to you, if you weren’t surrounded by a whole slew of children I would have thought you were just another bandit.”] Perhaps that was too honest of an opinion to speak out loud, but he didn’t really care. [+sienna “And I don’t know what you are talking about, that lady looks like she would shoot you as soon as look at you.”] Their first meeting with her threatening to kill his pet probably played a great deal into his perception of the woman. Though it didn’t seem to be much of a secret that the elf thought differently of her. Ool thought he had poor taste in women, but for once he kept something to himself.
The tables turned shortly thereafter, but the difference was that the small man had nothing to hide. [+sienna “Yes and no. I was not born here, but I have lived here long enough that I might as well be. My folks were traveling merchants, dealing spices and teas so I was never really from any particular place to begin with”] It was a relatively common profession for his people. It may have been an outdated stereotype that goblins hoarded gold and treasure, but there was a bit of truth in it. They liked to collect things. Just what varied between individuals, however it was a quality that made them prone to specialized trading. Ool himself had a liking for herbs, which landed him where he was. [+sienna “I was always fond of Wistina, something about it just sort of stuck out to me as different and I eventually settled here on my own. So I guess we have at least one thing in common.”] They both seemed to like this place. Ool was less partial to the actual country aspect of it, though he had no real qualms there, but he found the landscape preferable to any other place he had been.
The last question posed to him was something he was actively trying to avoid thinking about, so he sighed before actually speaking up. [+sienna “I am not quite sure what I am going to do yet. I don’t really expect Cam to be accepted with open arms, especially in a bigger town. The only reason the people of Preth got on with her was because they knew her since she was a pup. She was given to me as payment for a house call I made years ago. The couple was dirt poor and lived in the middle of nowhere. All they had to offer me in return was a wolf from an orphaned litter. They were pitiful enough that I would have come out free of charge, but people round here don’t like accepting something for nothing.”] Leaning forward he patted Cam on the head. [+sienna “I guess it wasn’t too bad a deal. She has made herself useful, even if she is a pain in the ass and I am probably going to become a woodland hermit because of her.”] Ool wasn’t too opposed to the idea, but he would rather be somewhere he could readily get a home cooked meal.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was good to hear that not all of his beloved land had been given over to lawless revelry and highwaymen. That was not to say that he was not sickened that even one acre of land was unprotected. From how Ool spoke he understood that things had been better of with Nicolai and his men being in control, though his tone belied a disdain for authority. Perhaps the last seven years had poisoned him to those with power and he nodded with understanding as the two men watched one another.
Looking into the smaller individuals dark eyes he knew that there was a questioning tone to his statements. He was trying to suss out just what Nicolai and his group were doing here and likewise the elfin man was attempting to learn if this small green skinned man was trustworthy. He had a good heart, staying with the elderly and abandoned, but then first impressions could be deliberately misleading. And the way he finished his sentence spoke of some suspicions that little one had.[+royalblue “I see. It is good that some semblance of law remains, even if it is not as good as before.”] He kept his answer purposefully vague, not wanting to confirm what was such an obvious truth.
It was bewildering that the other villagers had not seen the group for who they were. Yes many were old but Margery had spoken of seeing Nicolai in his last ride through Perth – and her husband seemed none too happy that he had left, so perhaps he too was more intimate with who the former leaders of Wistina were. Yet Augustine had confirmed his own name – a blonde haired youth – and Nicolai's – a violet eyed elf, albeit with a fetching new scar. Either there were so many imposters no-one believed anything these days, or they had stopped hoping for them to return. Still, it seemed Ool was probing for answers. He looked forward before continuing.
[+royalblue “We left not long after Vincent took the throne. I was Aurora and the boys bodyguard, just some lesser land owners in the western farmlands,”] known for their fertile and profitable soil,[+royalblue “and you know what happens when a new King comes in, right? He takes all the good lands and gives them to his friends. Often the original owners just.. disappear, if you catch my drift.”] Although Germaine had not done such a thing he was trying to insinuate that Vincent was just such a man.[+royalblue “I convinced her to get out of Wistina for the good of her son though don't let her appearance deceive you – she was more than willing to stay and fight.”] He looked over to 'Aurora', riding alongside her son, a faint smile turning the corners of his lips before he looked down to his horse and then on further to Ool.[+royalblue “It is good to be back home after so long. The lands are so distinct from the rest of Esteroak, no-where else is quite like it.”] Trying to play up the sympathetic Wistinian who missed his home was not going to invoke much reaction, but the idea was to keep a low presence was it not?
[+royalblue “How about you Ool? Are you from Wistina? Better yet; what will you do once you get these folk to their new home?”] Now was his turn to probe the small man for answers.
For the most part Ool stayed back with Cam. He liked to be able to see what was going on with the others ahead of him, especially with a couple of old folks soon to be in the sun. They were still in the shade for the time being, but it might come to be a problem as soon as they were out of this chasm. Late summer was in full swing after all. Wistina was seldom very hot, but for the elderly, and those who weren’t used to it, it could be an issue.
Ear twitching at the sound of a voice amidst all the silence, the goblin looked up to the elf who had come along side him. His question wasn’t peculiar considering the group he was traveling with, but Ool did believe there was more to it than that. Still, he had no reason not to answer, regardless of who all these people were. [+sienna “Bedlam it is not, but some of the rural areas are not as safe as they once were.”] As someone who lived in the he knew that from experience, though many of those who lived in more populous areas might not have noticed the change. [+sienna “That bastard King Vincent has been focusing resources on the larger cities, which makes sense since they have the most people and all that, but it is leaving everything else in the dust. He's forgetting just who helps feed his pampered ass..."] The small green man grumbled for a bit before continuing. [+sienna "Sure they’ll throw a bit of gold our way when we get too noisy, but when it comes to substantial projects or renovations, nothing ever happens.”] That was what put an end to their little village. [+sienna “That goes for patrols as well. Aside from the boarders and areas near the main bastions, you don’t see much in the way of soldiers... The local thugs have taken notice of that and grown bolder. They've been making more and more a nuisance of themselves over the last few years... Guess there really was something to the army flaunting themselves around like that, even if it was incredibly fucking pretentious.”] The ruffians who came out of the woodwork were all small timers, like the men they ran into the day before, but it was still bothersome having to worry about it when it wasn't a problem not that long ago. And god forbid they somehow smartened up and organized. Then there might be a real problem and unfortunately is was one Ool didn't think anyone would deal with.
[+sienna “I don’t know how long you have been gone, but that pretty much sums up what’s been going on in this area for say… the last seven years.”] Black beady eyes stayed locked on the elf’s violet as he looked for any sort of reaction or confirmation to what he was insinuating.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Chuckling softly at her comment Nicolai pondered the thought of running away just a few moments more. Two emotionally stunted parents, more giddy and haughty than the teenagers they were grouped with. She was a dab hand with a bow, so food would not be difficult. And having lived rough for a number of years Nicolai could provide them with shelter and some comfort. Yet as she looked up at him with those big green doe eyes he knew that her loyalty lay first and foremost with her son and it always would.
Hands slipping from her as she pulled away to move back to the others he remained where he was, only turning to follow once she had began speaking to Augustine. There was no sadness or moping, no negative emotions of the sort. He simply had to slip back into a more professional character. It was silly and he knew it, but he had built up walls as a child that had become all the more built up whilst in captivity. Maybe he would explain that to her one day if she asked but hopefully it would not become known and he could slip easily between them.
Turning back to the others he offered nods to those caught his eye and assisted where required to get them going. Back on the road – what little there was down in the ravine - once more he would linger towards the back, sharing Florence's trepidation that more attacks may come. It was never a good thing to have such high vantage points all around them from where arrows, spears, even rocks could be thrown down and the attackers hide from sight. To try and mitigate this concern he pulled Flora back to ride beside him, moving Marko off with Töka to one side and leaving Augustine with his mother on the other side of the caravan. It gave them options should something happen but to be safe he called on Ool to drop back for a moment.
Once the goblin was close enough to talk but far from the others so as not to concern them, he leaned down from his saddle;[+royalblue “Aside from the bandits of yesterday, can you tell me a little of the situation in Wistina at large? It's been a little while since I was last here and I have people to take care of. I would appreciate knowing if the country has gone to bedlam or if there is some modicum of civility.”] He did his best to play it off as a concerned man looking out for his people, trying to play off his Wistinian accent without alerting too much suspicion of whom he was. Then again, after Augustine all but confirmed that he was the 'missing General', he was sceptical of Ool and what his motives would be should he know who they all were.
It seemed that her reign of terror was cut short as her face reddened at his comment. Florence could handle teasing, in fact she was rather good at dishing it out as well, but when he became more serious with his flattery, the woman had a hard time keeping composure. She wouldn’t have blamed him if he found it humorous or even laughed at her, but he did not. Nicolai just pressed forward, bringing their tender moment to a close with a kiss, which she reciprocated with no fuss. Upon pulling away and catching his violet gaze, she wondered if her own emerald eyes betrayed how much she wanted just a little more time, because she certainly would never have been able to say it aloud without prompting. Still when she did speak, it was with a dour smile. [+mediumseagreen “I am afraid you might find I am a terrible running partner.”] That comment held more than one meaning for her, but here the emphasis was on the more literal of the two as she poked fun at her own shortcomings.
[+mediumseagreen “Yes, I suppose I just about am. Though I do not see that I have much choice in the matter. My child as already decided we are to play caravan the next few days.”] Florence rolled her eyes. She knew it would not be too bad. Quite frankly aside from that hill this made for an ideal first task for their group. It was not too difficult or too drawn out and they would be able to get a feel for what real Wistinians were like through interacting with their tagalongs. All in all it was not a bad deal, but she would have still rather had a few days on their own to explore the countryside before jumping into something like this. [+mediumseagreen “Oh well. It is what it is.”] True to form, she did not stay mad at her son for long.
Before stepping back, she glanced up at the tall man. From her expression he might be able to tell she was debating something, because she was. But in the end nothing came of it other than a look of hesitation and she started her way back to the others. [+mediumseagreen “Is everything in place?”] The question was directed at Augustine who confirmed all was as it should be. His sour mood seemed to have passed for now and it was time to get going.
Moving through the ravine was slow going for a long while. Gradually the canyon widened out, affording more room for the cart and the rest of the travelers. It was a journey that became easier as they continued forward, but so long as they were confined in these walls Florence was sure to keep eyes and ears out for any signs that they might be ambushed from above. It seemed they had handled the worst few of those bandits from the previous day, however they could not be sure that there were no more and that they would not be out for revenge for their friends.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Those emerald eyes turn on him and he feels as light footed and breathless as the first time he had met her. It didn’t happen every time, but like a little confirmation it served to remind him that she was indeed someone more than ordinary. Of course she was taunting him at his own expense and he shook his head lightly.[+royalblue “Your past glares and present softer looks are just as perfect as each other, given I get to look back into these eyes.”] His hand that had rested on the back of her head had come about, resting on her cheek and brushing his thumb across her fair skin.
As she stood up to gain a better look of those behind him, his hand slipped to her chin and grinned as she informed him their little moment together would have to end now – lest the others become disgruntled at waiting a minute or two more. Taking advantage of her being so close, pressed against him, warm and soft to his hands, he used his hold of her chin to guide her lips to his for a long kiss. It was barely more than a few seconds but for this couple it was one of their longest yet. Pulling back just a little, lips parting though with deep regret, he smiled as he looked down on her.[+royalblue “It’s getting more and more difficult not to take your hand, pick a direction and start running.”] A fanciful thought whispered between them as his hand pulled away from her very slowly.
Glancing back to confirm that indeed the others were near ready to move on, he released his own sigh to match hers.[+royalblue “Ready to get back on the road?”]
Indulgence was a good word for this. It was in indulgent in a way that Florence seldom allowed herself to experience, especially given the opportunity nearly never arose. That went hand in hand with the type of person she was. It generally did not bother her, but here as her head bounced softly with the movement of his chest it kind of did. Perhaps she should have made more of an effort to push herself. Then maybe she could have felt like this sooner, but then again maybe not. If that were the case she probably would not be here with Nicolai right now. It made her wonder if it was more the situation or the man himself making her feel this way. For now, that would remain a mystery.
[+mediumseagreen “Just content?”] Shifting to look up at him, a smirk pulled at her lips. [+mediumseagreen “I had thought you might be ecstatic. Especially since some of those glares have turned into softer looks.”] She would not go so far as to say they were full of longing or anything like that. At least not yet, but he was right that she had not been angrily staring him down as much. [+mediumseagreen “I would have to agree with you though, you are doing well. Better than expected, and I mean that in the best way possible.”] Well, aside from harassing her son to the point of him hitting him. She still did not know what that was all about.
Not really ready to back away, Florence stayed in place. At some point her arms had come to wrap around him, though she did not consciously remember when. The moment lasted a while longer before she became hyper aware of time and its passage around them. Lifting up on to her toes, she peeked over the mass of fur on Nicolai’s shoulder. It looked as through the others were finishing up. The woman sighed. [+mediumseagreen “Any longer and we will be holding everyone up...”] She said that, but for the moment Florence did not make any attempt of her own to move.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Despite the bulky armour and general awkwardness of such an embrace, this being one of only a handful of times he had held her, Nicolai was grateful that she did not immediately push him away. Similar in a way to their first kiss it was a very forward act to take a hold of her and pull her close. Given how she seemed to always despise him being this affectionate, especially when they were not alone, it was a surprise that she settled against him. But it was good. Great actually. Placing her head to the soft collar of his hood he moved his hand in slow circles around her back and he smiled a touch more when she spoke.
He had let himself wallow for too long, not understanding that he couldn't change what had already happened. But at that moment, like this with her, did it not prove that things can change drastically? It was an understatement to say either of them could have imagined this coupling happening in the past. Germaine aside these one time ardent opponents who clashed on anything including the trivial to now be talking rather sweetly together was as wild as this journey to reclaim a throne.
Nicolai enjoyed the time to just think of himself and Florence and to put aside Augustine's future and the future of Wistina. It was selfish, very selfish, but then again it was only for a short time they would indulge themselves with one another.[+royalblue “Well, so long as you are happy in the present then I am content. That and you haven't given me your infamous death glare in quite some time so I think I'm doing well.”] His chest reverberated with a soft chuckle.
Her vibrant gaze stayed fixed on their hands, even when he pointed out her tendency to overthink things she only nodded, eyes stuck to that point. She knew Nicolai was right. But somehow she doubted it was a habit she would ever break. Throughout her life many things had happened to her, some good, many bad, but very few of those moments shook her strongly enough to change who she was fundamentally as a person. Unfortunately, this kind meant advise would not make the list. She was a stubborn mule stuck in her ways and through hell or high water Florence was bound to keep overanalyzing each and every thing that passed her by.
Still, that did not mean she could not be distracted. She had said it herself that the elf had a knack for doing just that. When he grabbed her, her mind went blank, but thankfully not as a panic response. Florence used the few seconds of stillness to adjust herself against him. The exposed chain on his chest was cool against her skin, but not for long and soon she was actually rather comfortable there with him. Even if the way he kissed her reminded her of her father and his Malidek tradition she had come to use with her own child. Though perhaps that was a good thing, it was an act she trusted and took comfort in. It relaxed her and she was able to listen to his optimistic outlook. When had he come to have such a positive view of what the future held?
Resting her head on his shoulder, Florence a faint smile pulled at her features. [+mediumseagreen “I know there is no way you can know that for sure, but still, when I hear you say it, I get the feeling it might be true.”] Her voice was low and contained a touch of hope. It was not a full blow optimism like he had, but she did begin to think maybe she could still have some of the things she wanted, even if they were a little different than she first expected and severely past due.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat At first Nicolai was feeling trepidation that he had asked too serious a question. He had only expected a yes or no in answer, and to be left to ponder the reasons behind either choice. Yet that slow exhale and he knew he had opened a bit of a sore spot for her. Listening very intently, looking at her as she spoke so candidly, there was no helping but feel engrossed into every word she said. She was such a mystery that any glimpse into that devious mind beneath was savoured.
Holding her hand as she talked of revenge was something he could understand rather well, and yet he couldn’t help but smile when she told him she was indeed happy.[+royalblue “You overthink things sometimes you know?”] He commented smartly before she made a rather sweet remark about this him being a good means of diverting attention and taking her mind off the much more serious matters. He thought of adding to his statement, to hear her chuckle or see that smirk return to her lips, but it seemed unproductive to the greater scheme of things.
Instead his boot grated on the gravel as he turned toward her and released her hand. Not allowing her a moment’s pause he wrapped his arms about her, a hand to her back and the other the back of her head as he pulled her close to his chest. For a few moments he allowed her to settle into this new position, to make sense of what he had done, before he dipped his head just a touch to press a kiss to her forehead, moving just a little to speak in a quiet voice to her.[+royalblue “Sometimes you need the bad times to help you appreciate the good times. We have to remember what we have rather what we lost and what we can have to come. Things will get better and stay good. I promise.”]
In all actuality, Florence had expected a much more pointed question. She had been rather blunt with her words, as always, so she would have deserved it, even if her intent had simply been to talk with him. [+mediumseagreen “Well… that depends on the scope of your question.”] The tone she took was much more serious in nature than the playfulness of their previous banter. [+mediumseagreen “As far as my current circumstances in life go, no, I am not.”] Releasing a slow breath, she knew she would need to elaborate. [+mediumseagreen “I had thought that once I killed Gresham, I would never have to deal with any of this nonsense again... but here I am. The situation may be a different, but it is the same game. And somehow I have found myself betting the lives of my family on it for a second time.”] It was Eugene before and now Augustine. And even if they were both walking into the fray willingly, in a way she saw it as her own fault. [+mediumseagreen “I want my revenge, but I would much rather have it by a different means.”] It truly was a shame her son was so set on it being like this, between her and Augustus they could have come up with some way to wreak terror on their enemies and wore them down from the outside.
[+mediumseagreen “However, if you meant more specifically right here and now in this moment, then yes.”] Her emerald eyes wandered down to their hands and stayed there. It was strange how much bigger his hands were than hers. It should have been obvious given the general differences between men and woman, but Florence found herself dwelling on it, silently delighted by the random disparity between them. [+mediumseagreen “In spite of everything else, being here with you right now is calming. It is a pleasant distraction from my long list of worries and regrets. So despite my overall outlook, I am happier here with you than I am without you.”]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Ah, so she had hired Meredith precisely knowing the woman was a gossip – therefore anything she said would be taken as inane chatter and nothing that held a shred of truth. Perhaps those hair brushing techniques were also a sham?
The grin that tugged at her full lips made him smart just a little that she had had the intelligence to think so far into the future and protect herself whilst simultaneously leaving him with naught more than wasted time. There were times that former childish manner wanted to spring forth and to snap back at her, yet again he was able to hold himself together. Several little voices were telling him to remain calm, that she was simply being sarcastic like he often was with her, and that this had all occurred so long ago when they were different people. He felt rather laughable at having such a silly argument with himself.
[+royalblue “Not to worry, I would have made an awful soldier in your army. Although as a personal bodyguard..”] He let the idea hang for just a few moments, a titillating thought that sprung forth many a wild and lustful fantasy. Nicolai could quite easily lose himself to such thoughts, wiling away hours in his past in such a manner. Thankfully he was not a hormonal child anymore. Not solely.[+royalblue “Well, in my own defence, I had thought it best to be churlish and blunt in the hope of stunting my liking of you. Some youthful belief that if I was mean to you it would hide my interest and over time quell any desire.”] Glancing to their hands he smiled all the more.[+royalblue “It failed, so it would seem.”] Talking so honestly with her was very cleansing for his mind. It was a means of unburdening himself and being free to tell her how he truly felt and thought.
Yet her offer to answer any single question he had, put him firmly on the back foot once more. A plethora of questions ran through his mind. They were personal, they were accusatory, emotional, rhetorical, and more. Questions about the days leading up their escape from the capital. Questions about the journey north and her life in the years he had been away. Questions on how she felt about him there and then and their future and what lay ahead for them. But they all seemed far too personal and too deep to ask her right then. They would require long answers or for her to search deeply and find difficult responses – or offer nothing and leave an awkward air between them.
Instead he leaned a touch against her and sighed softly, face softening as he glanced at her;[+royalblue “Are you happy right now?”]
At learning that he had come to know rather little of her after all that time, Florence’s smile turned to more of a grin. [+mediumseagreen “Strange, it is almost as if my hiring of such a young girl to be my attendant after the last retired was intended for such a purpose.”] Beyond Meredith’s habit to babble on about herself, there was also the fact that anything from the mouth of a gossip had to be taken with a grain of salt. You almost always had to assume what came from her was nothing more than an exaggeration of the truth, and that was on a good day. It was sort of funny to receive such validation so many years later, not to mention after such a great betrayal from the young woman.
[+mediumseagreen “Though in all honesty, there was not much that needed to be kept secret while she worked for me.”] Meredith came after Augustine was born, so she didn’t run any chance of her discovering what had really happened there and that was the big one. Florence still wished that that secret would have died with her, but she seldom got what she wanted it seemed. [+mediumseagreen “I am a little surprised she would tell you anything I said. I was not kind.”] Perhaps once she had a drink or two in her she worried less about stepping on toes of important people. Certainly, that was the case when she or her family was threatened. [+mediumseagreen “In my defense, you were quite the pill. I was convinced that you, like many of your colleagues, hated me on the principle of being a foreigner alone. However, you stood out as the one and only person to make your distain immediately clear to my face. You were curt at best and downright hateful at your worst, albeit in the absence of my late husband… I respected that honestly to some degree… that and your work ethic. I would not have minded having you as a soldier in my own army, though I could have never told you that back then. Not that I think you would have believed me if I did.”] Florence found the whole thing rather funny in hindsight. She mused over it with a light tone, squeezing his hand back playfully to make it clear she was not holding any grudges. [+mediumseagreen “I was quite embarrassed to discover just how wrong I was, you know. I am not generally so oblivious, if you can believe that.”] Something about reminiscing about the past without all the tension like this was cathartic; she might go so far to say refreshing. Perhaps it would have been a good time to go a step farther and apologize for lack of delicacy at that time, but it did not feel right. Not with so many strangers just a stone’s throw away.
[+mediumseagreen “There,”] stepping in closer, she bumped shoulders with him and stayed close. [+mediumseagreen “Now you have a little more insight into what I used to think.”] It was all rather dismal, so she did not want to end there. Even she knew better than that. [+mediumseagreen “Is there anything you want to know about what I think now? I will answer any one question you have. And I will even do so honestly.”] Florence thought it was a somewhat generous offer; she wondered if he would take it.
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