[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat He had shushed her but it was also to stop him from letting out a surprise laugh as her hand spanked him. It may have been a light pat but from a woman who thought of kisses as something near to her limit, that was quite the drastic action. It made his hold of her tighten just a little, a smirk on his face as she confessed that she could not reach her room if she was left alone. If he had helped her get there then he would probably end up sat on the floor falling asleep too. This way both got a good sleep, they stayed together and neither would be uncomfortable. He took her compliment with a demure smile and happily began to climb with her up the stairs. Indeed their shushing of one another, as each broke to laughter or joyous squeals of delight on climbing the stairs, was louder than if they perhaps intended.
He loved how ecstatic she was to be past those stairs and turned her to follow down to the far room on the right. The corridor was lit by a lone lantern but it gave enough light for him not to trip or bump into anything. It may have been his home and he knew it like the back of his hand but alcohol did not care for ones memory. As they reached the door he reached for the handle though a hand snatched at his wrist. He let out a panicked yelp, quickly muffled as he snatched back his hand and covered his mouth. In this he had somehow pushed Florence behind him, a hand on her hip, and he turned to the hand to see an unamused Helga.
[+darkgoldenrod “What have I told you about drinking and coming inside the house?”] She asked in a hushed but accusing tone.
[+royalblue “You fucking scared the shit out-”] Her hand jolted up and struck him across the cheek. It was so quick that even if he was not inebriated it would have perhaps hit him.
[+darkgoldenrod “Watch your tongue around me young man! Now what did I tell you?”] His free hand coming to stroke his cheek he looked at her with a frown.
[+royalblue “It's my damn hou-”] Again, lighting quick, his other cheek this time.
[+darkgoldenrod “Language!”] Her hand came back as if to strike once more and he pressed back a little into Florence. She was deadly with those damn hands.
[+royalblue “Fine, fine, I know – if you drink, you sleep outside, but I'm not going to let her sleep outside.”] He gestured back to the giggling mess of a woman with him.[+royalblue “Look, we had a long talk, I just want to sleep now.”]
[+darkgoldenrod “Oh? Is that all? I don't see a ring on your hands.”] Ever the dutiful woman she had noted it the moment they stepped inside the gate.
[+royalblue “Helga!”] It was long and drawn out, the whine of a child to their elder who was embarrassing them. He opened the door then, half turning back to Florence and nodding for her to go in,[+royalblue “You go on in, I'll have a quick talk with dear [i mother] here.”] He said as he held up the lantern for her to take in with her, making sure she was stable and closing the door behind her. From inside she would hear mumbled fussing that died down, a few shuffled steps as they moved away from the door to talk animatedly.
Inside the room it was quite how he had left it the last time he had been to his home. He had yet to tell the others but there had been two servants left here for a number of years. They were an older couple, given lodgings in the room opposite his parents room in return for them tending to his home. They had kept things tidy and clean until Jack had passed away, Julie left on her own. He had kept in some contact with them whilst with Elizabeth in Tyleth, and so when Julie made clear her intentions to leave he had brought Helga over. It kept the house tended and safe whilst keeping Helga safe too. Her farm was so open, ripe for bandits and the like. Here she was safer.
Either way, the room was quite the same. The room was quite large though perhaps smaller than Florence was accustom to in the capital or Astoria. The floor was covered in numerous bright rugs and furs leaving no need to touch the cool wooden floor to reach the bed. The bed itself was a King size, the sheets of similar colour and style to his tunic though without the family sigil embroidered into it. Either side of the bed were large double doors that led onto a balcony that would overlook the ocean and a garden similar to the one they had sat in but more devoted to flowers and a few fruit trees that were hardier to the salty air. In the room she would find a lit fireplace to the left, the logs needing replenishing having been lit a few hours before and giving the room a warmer feel. Against the wall beside the door was a wardrobe closer to the corner with a set of drawers beside it. Atop this were a few items such as his sword in its scabbard and his helmet, though the picture had been removed. It had been placed into a frame over on the right where a long table sat, the drawing of Natalya placed next to several other unassuming items with their own back story and meaning. Finally there was a toy, a set of four hollow, wooden, green balls placed in a little stand. It looked new, or at least as new as the day it was bought, and its stand was in the middle of the long table.
From the outside looking in, if anyone had been watching, they probably looked like a pair of idiots. Neither one stable, and still grabbing the other for support. It was a miracle that they did not end up face planted in the stone walkway, or even in the surrounding grass. Florence paid little mind to any of this though. Appearances were low on her list of current concerns, though Nicolai’s talking did distract her from her very concentrated steps. [+mediumseagreen “Just ‘cause I followed? Seems like a lot to take on for such a small decision... Now choosing to date you on the other hand, that might be due cause...”] The only problem with that was Florence didn’t know if Helga even knew they were together at this point. They hadn’t exactly made the prettiest or most loving picture when they first arrived, or through dinner. [+mediumseagreen “That’s more equal too. That would mean you would have to get in trouble for me and not just the other way around. It’s more fair.”] She announced that somewhat proudly, as though she could change the reason behind why Helga might be sore at her if they got caught.
The drunken woman wanted to make comment as to his teasing her, but she was shortly shushed. They were coming closer to the house, so she understood why, but she wasn’t happy about it. Still, she listened, keeping her lips sealed, though she did pat him firmly on the backside as they passed the threshold of the home. After that she attempted to remain silent. It worked in the case of her mouth, but to anyone who wasn’t completely intoxicated they weren’t exactly being quiet as church mice. Their shuffling and footsteps were heavy. It would not be enough to wake anyone who was already asleep though.
Florence paid little mind to where they were going, she simply followed Nicolai, who she was still basically connected to the hip with. Then they came to the stairs and he stated his intention. And then again when he decided to be more clear with it. The woman smiled. [+mediumseagreen “Gods you are cute when you are serious”] Her voice was hushed, and words slurred, much as they had been for half the night. [+mediumseagreen “That sounds good... I don’t want to say goodbye yet.”] She held onto his arm a little tighter as she admitted that. [+mediumseagreen “... and I am not sure I can get back to my room right now anyway.”] Quite frankly, the woman didn’t recall where it was. Somewhere downstairs, but where remained a mystery to her. Stumbling about trying to find it was not a good idea, not if she didn’t want to wake the kids. Florence could just imagine what Augustine would have to say if he saw her like this. He’d never seen her drink before.
Lifting their feet higher to climb the stairs, only made their steps louder. But this time they were able to recognize it. The two of them slowed considerably, taking the stairs one at a time, overly conscious of their noise level while at the same time trying not to trip and call down. The banister railing helped immensely. When they made it to the top, Florence could not help but laugh excitedly at their accomplishment. She was still hushed, but it seemed such a feat in that moment she needed to celebrate somehow. Then it was off to Nicolai’s room. The whole way there she wondered what it would be like. Was it how he kept it before they left Wistina? Or had it become more generic since he was gone and with Helga here taking care of things?
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Though he seemed more stable on his feet he did almost trip on the steps down from the raised garden they had been sitting on. Granted his backside was numb, but he was tripping over nothing and grasped onto her all the tighter about her waist. It was a good excuse to hold onto her.[+royalblue “You'll be in trouble because I am your problem now. Remember, you came after me, so you took responsibility!”] He smiled as he glanced across to her and in the waning glow of the lantern he led her down the cobblestone path past all the statues once more.[+royalblue “And if you want to help me, go ahead and have a feel. If my arse has been the focus of your desires all these years then I am shocked – shocked! - that you haven't tried to grab it yet!”] He was enjoying taunting her though he shushed her as they neared the house.
Taking her off toward the door they had used to exit the house he led her inside, closing it over behind them. This way they could enter from an angle that the elderly woman might not be expecting. Walking with Florence he led through the dining room and on to the main entrance-come-foyer area. It look rather quiet and there was no sign of the older woman standing guard which only made him a touch more worried where she would pop out of and scare him. She had a knack for that.[+royalblue “Come on, you're sleeping with me tonight.”] He said as he walked them to the staircase though paused with his foot on the first step.[+royalblue “You know what I mean. Not [i that]. But you're not sleeping in the servants quarters and I kinda, sorta, want you with me tonight.”] He looked across to her, hoping his stern gaze showed how much he wanted her to come with him, though she would also hopefully know that by now he was always willing to capitulate to her on this. Some things he would not back down on but sleeping arrangements were not one of them.
Her face contorted at hearing it was unlikely they would get back in. She did not want to be left in the cold… they had unloaded the horses so all their sleeping gear was inside. It might have been late summer, but they were on the coast and she was still accustomed to a warmer climate. So, it was unlikely to be pleasant, even if Nicolai had been able to keep her moderately warm up to this point.
[+mediumseagreen “Alright…”] Like him, it took the human woman some effort to get up. She was definitely not used to drinking anymore. His help was a godsent and critical in her ability to come to her feet. Somehow her legs were tingle free, aside from the heaviness that came with the alcohol. There was also a bit of a wobble to her, so she kept hold of his hand. It had been hard enough getting up once, Florence did not want to fall back down and have to do it again if she didn’t have to. Not to mention it would be mortifyingly embarrassing. Nicolai must have drank at least twice as much as her and he looked like he was doing fine… at least to her less than observant eyes. [+mediumseagreen “Wait… why would I be in trouble? If you do something you’re not supposed to, why is it me in hot water?”] She wasn't following, though his comment about his numbness distracted her from the question.
Florence chuckled along with him. More because his laughing was contagious than that she had made the connection he had. Though, that did not stop her from making comment. [+mediumseagreen “Would you like some help with that?”] She was referring to how he rubbed at his backside to try and bring the circulation back. How she spoke betrayed that she was joking, but even so it was rather bold for her. Inhibition was basically out the window, though for the time being Florence did not seem all too worried about it. She was having fun.
Once that was out of their systems, they were able to start back on the path to the house. Nicolai was the one to grab the lantern, as it was taking most of Florence’s focus not to trip on the cobbled walkway. He knew it better than her, so it was one less distraction for the elf.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was good that she wasn't fretting about telling him, as he wanted her the next morning not to be filled with regret or fear. He was able to keep secrets, and this was one that would sit safely alongside his memories of Vataly, not wanting to let anyone know what had befallen the two hopeless lovers in their early years.[+royalblue “I'm glad I told you too.”] He replied and shuffled just a little so that he could kiss her temple, her skin a little cold against his lips. She beat him to the comment however and he smiled, more so for that sweet and innocent giggle of hers. Drunken Florence was more above all a giggly mess and he found it quite sweet.
In turn he only shrugged softly.[+royalblue “Whilst I don't think she will – namely because she'll hold you responsible if I do anything wrong – why don't we go test out that theory?”] The gust had almost brought his teeth to chattering and he had held onto her all the tighter, but he slowly let her go so that he might stand up. It was some effort to get his legs working and he managed to grasp a hold of the bench for added balance. The alcohol he'd drank had gone down well but now he was seeing the full effects. Thankfully this was only a moderate drinking session for him – he could drink much more and be in a much worse state than he was now.[+royalblue “Oh god..”] He mumbled as he moved back over to her, offering a hand to help her up as the other went behind him.[+royalblue “My arse has gone numb!”] He complained whilst massaging the muscle, a soft chuckle building to a chest rattling laugh as he recalled what she had said about him and his 'very nice ass' not too long ago.
The way he fumbled about actually made her smile. She understood him with perfect clarity, probably because she was nearly as drunk as he was. Her eyes slowly began to dry and she snuggled into him a little more, even though he loosened his hold on her ever so slightly. [+mediumseagreen “I like the idea of together.”] Despite everything, she didn’t really want to be alone forever. Sure, she could tolerate it and sometimes it sounded nice, but surely it would grow old eventually and she would regret it.
Then he thanked her. For some reason it seemed off. She knew it was for the trust aspect, he even said that, but it still felt odd to be thanked for telling such a tale. It did not bother her though. She was growing rather content here pressed against him, though she did nod to acknowledge his thanks. The woman was still for a but, happy where she was, but before too long she did decide to speak. [+mediumseagreen “It was weird; I’ve never talked about all this. I didn’t think I ever would, but I am glad it was you who I told.”] Florence wasn’t entirely sure why, but now that it was out in the open air with her and Nicolai, she had a hard time imagining it being anyone else right now.
With that thought, the wind blew particularly hard off the ocean and over the wall. She shivered, goose bumps rising on her skin. [+mediumseagreen “It is getting cold… do you think Helga is going to let us back in the house?”] Giggling again, the woman pictured their faux hostess standing watch, ready to beat Nicolai off with a broom.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was relieving for the elven man to have her embrace him back. The thought of her ripping off his arms or pushing him away was a large concern, especially when he was so new to consoling someone like this. Often he was the one being consoled or rather pitied. He could see it was a difficult and near impossible task – how did Florence make it appear so easy and flawless? Now she pulled him in tighter and he moved his hand from her cheek to her head, brushing her brunette locks as she spoke against his chest and he nodded.[+royalblue “I understand.. it's hard to get past these feelings. We're both trying to put our smartness up against something that can't be explained.”] His poor vocabulary could be explained; he was drunk. Maybe that contributed to his feeling of not being able to help her. But regardless he continued.[+royalblue “But we will get past them.. together.”] His hands squeezed her a little tighter against him for a moment with that before letting her go again.[+royalblue “Whether as friends or more or whatever, we will help one another. We'll make new feelings, better ones,”] neither of those statements made sense but it sounded good,[+royalblue “and it will get better.”] He pressed his lips to the top of her head again then, though he did have one final thing to add;[+royalblue “Thank you for trusting me Florence.”] That had many more stipulations and meanings behind it than most other things said that night, but the sentiment held true and he was thankful for her wanting to open up so much to him.
Florence heard him shift before she felt him pull her in. Her eyes had be averted, so she did not see it coming, but the quiet rustling was enough to clue her in to what he was about to do. She was fine with it; there was comfort in his embrace. Normally when she got upset enough, it was Gregory who held her. Really, he was the only one she’d ever done this sort of thing with, except for maybe in her early childhood. But he was not around, and the woman was missing her outlet. Not that anything particularly traumatic had happened so far on this trip, but still, after having him around for all those years, she truly did miss him. When those feelings piled on as well, it became just a little harder to hold back her crying. She was not full blown sobbing into his arms, but Florence had given up on trying to hide it. That pretense was gone.
She could feel Nicolai’s words through his chest, a dull rumble as he gently caressed her face. They were kind, he was doing his best to sooth her, though overall they were a touch on the awkward side. Whether that feeling came from his delivery or the meaning behind them, she was unsure. Still, she sort of preferred it that way. If he was too eloquent in a moment like this she might be worried.
Arms wrapping around to his back, the woman pulled herself in all the tighter to him. He was warm and it felt nice now that the chill was fully creeping into the night. [+mediumseagreen “I know… it’s just I cannot help it. There’s no logic to these feelings... And that often makes it worse.”] She knew Eugene would never do anything to hurt her, and obviously Augustine wouldn’t either. They were good. But it was not about knowing, it was about the memories that still gripped her when she wasn’t paying attention. Most of the time she was fine, she was used to it, but every once in a while she was caught off guard by something that pulled her back in. The healing was never fully complete.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat With her opening parry to push the conversation elsewhere, already Nicolai was doubting this was the right thing to have asked. He wanted to know, but had he opened a bag of worms? Was he dredging up the past that she had hoped to leave locked away? Her warning only served to confirm he was wrong and he drew in a breath to stop her from going on, the steely stare she gave him causing him to hesitate and by then she was gone.
A deep, dull throb began in his chest as she recanted the long buried tale. Her moments where she tried to offer light humour did not do much for him, and when she had questioned who could do this to their child he was too shocked to offer any answers. The break in her voice crushed his heart and like her he went quite silent and still. What could he say to what she was saying? His usual means of dismantling awkward moments, jokes and humour, was far and away the worst thing he could do right now. He thought to just let her get this emotion out and to vent and to let her have the silence to show he was solemn and not to hurt her by saying anything. He also considered saying something about how evil and awful that man was, how although Nicolai could not relate to her distressing past he could understand her woe and show his own anger at the man who had done all this. But none of them seemed right.
If nothing else this showed why she was so insistent he keep his hands to himself and to allow her to dictate the pace of their relationship. He had had inklings that this is what may have happened in the past, though he believed it had been during her rebellion in Astoria by a stranger, not like this, not by.. As she finished speaking he wondered if this was why Augustine wanted him to stay away from her. He may have had good intentions but were his wants really as important as giving her the space she requested and the peace she wanted? No was the answer. Yet despite himself, and to spite his earlier statement that she leave him behind when this was all over, he didn't want to go.
As her tears spilled he had to make his mind up now on what to do and he pushed aside all his thoughts and feelings. Instead he removed his hand from hers, quickly pulling it back and around her, encircling her back and pulling her tight to his chest. His hands were gentle and she would be allowed to pull free if she wanted to, this wasn't about hugging it out or holding her so tight she felt constrained.[+royalblue “I'm here for you Florence, you're going to be okay now.”] He couldn't find any more meaningful words than to try and reassure her that he would help protect her, as if she needed him to say that.[+royalblue “But please, don't forget that Eugene is not that monster, Augustine is not that monster, because you were so strong for them.”] By now he had nestled her head to his chest, a hand coming up to cup her cheek and brushed his thumb through her tears.[+royalblue “Eugene is a King and Augustine will soon be one because they have you. I agree they are kind, they are compassionate like you said, but they can only be that way because of you and how strong and steady and selfless you are.”] He was trying to bolster her but, perhaps due to his own self-depreciation and natural inclination to put himself down, he wasn't sure if it was helpful.[+royalblue “Those eyes are not his, just as mine are not my mothers, because we are better than those before us. We are the survivors. We are the strong ones. We are..”] He let his voice trail away, tugging her just a little tighter into his chest. He was good at boosting the morale of flagging soldiers or trying to push reason ahead of emotions. This was not his best moment and so he hoped just holding her, his hand stroking along her back slowly in unison with his thumb, might give her a similar feeling of safety he got from holding her earlier.
Her face fell at his request. She had sort of expected him to ask this a while ago, more when they spoke of his family. Florence had thought she was in the clear, but apparently not. She understood his want to know, but it was not something she talked about… ever. The idea of even having to think about it in detail made her anxious. Her hand that had come to rest on his arm at some point tightened its grip. [+mediumseagreen “What an odd thing to ask for, you have met Gregory yourself, what more could you want to know?”] Her words were quiet, attempting to hold on to that lightheartedness they had been filled with only moments before. She knew that wasn’t what Nicolai wanted to know… and she knew her little halfhearted attempt to get out of it would not work. Beyond that, using the out he had provided her seemed wrong. This was important to him, and if she brushed it off with that it would denote a clear lack of trust and she did not want that.
[+mediumseagreen “… I know that isn’t what you mean… I am sorry.”] She took a deep breath. [+mediumseagreen “Alright, but I need you to know, none of this goes any father than your ears. Some parts of this story have not been heard by another living soul, so if I find out anyone else has this information beyond the two of us, then I will know what you did and I will never forgive you.”] Her eyes were hard as the stone they took their color from for a moment. She was dead serious. Her expression only softened mildly before she went on. [+mediumseagreen “That man was an Earl. My mother was a farm girl, but she was quite beautiful so he found himself in love with her, so they were married and they were happy. I remember that much. That and the compliments. Everyone used to say I looked so much like her that it must have been a sign that I was meant to be just like her. I would marry up and bring fortune to my family. I suppose that was not wrong, though it happened differently than anyone could have imagined…”] She let out a laugh at that, but it was heavier than the others. The thoughts of what was to come weighed on her. [+mediumseagreen “It was a charmed life, at least until she died... Something broke in the bastard after that. He distorted more and more as time went on. Paying more and more attention to me. Telling me how much I reminded him of her… most of the time it was just a lot of pressure to have to hear that, but when he was particularly bad he would visit in the night when everyone else was asleep…”] Her brow furrowed. To this day she still couldn’t understand it, but she didn’t ever want to. [+mediumseagreen “He would touch me, but thankfully that was the extent of it.”] What an odd thing to be thankful for. [+mediumseagreen “This whole descent into madness or whatever you want to call it lasted about a year before he fully snapped. He took us to town and then told us to wait for him and never came back, never returned to the house either from what I hear. He abandoned everything, but I can’t blame him. As far as I can tell the guilt of what he’d done must have finally caught up with him. After all, who could do that to their child?”] Her voice nearly broke at that question. It was rhetorical, but she almost hoped Nicolai would answer so she could have a moment. He did not however, so she simply took a few calming breaths. [+mediumseagreen “Unfortunately, that is not where the story end.”] She wished it were.
[+mediumseagreen “Eugene and I barely survived on our own. I was doing my best, but people could hardly take care of their own families, let alone the urchins in the street. We were just another couple of kids pushed aside so that the rest of their family might survive. However, we were lucky. Someone took pity on us and took us in… Gregory.”] This intermission of sorts was helping to sooth her nerves. [+mediumseagreen “He had been a part of a traveling group of hunters, but recently split off to follow his dream of being a bard… you know how well that was going.”] Poking fun at the old dwarf did bring the smallest of smiles back to her lips. [+mediumseagreen “It is a bit of a story, so I will spare you, but he convinced us to come with him and he returned to his old life. The group took us in, that was kind of what they were known for, a refuge for men who were willing to work and travel. It did not pay anything, but you would have food to eat until you got back on your feet or figured out a direction for your life. Men often came and went, but there were a few who were always there. They were like our family, though Gregory was always the one who directly cared for us. It was rough, but miles better than starving.”]
[+mediumseagreen “I became use to the lifestyle and eventually came to like it, but of course, something always has to ruin it… years later, who should come before us than that man. Eugene did not recognize him, but I did. I don’t know what he had been up to, but he sought out the hunters to ‘try and get a new start.’”] Her emphasis implied these were his own words. [+mediumseagreen “He came before me, probably worried I would out him for being the horrible monster that he was, and asked for forgiveness, claiming to have changed. He wanted a second chance, now that he had found me and Eugene he wanted to know us again. He begged me for that chance and I stupidly agreed, though my one condition was that he not tell anyone who he was. I did not want my brother to get too close to him. I also did not want to hurt Gregory. By that point he was by all means our father. I’d spent nearly as much time with him as I had with my birth parents, and Eugene had spend more. I did not want him to even consider that he might have to move out of the way for this man who waltzed back onto the scene by accident.”] Clearly this was not where the story ended either. Once again, she wish it had. Florence hesitated to begin again. [+mediumseagreen “…It was not long before he integrated perfectly into the group. Everyone loved him. Then in the height of that, it began again. On the nights he was in charge of watch, he would wake me. It started with excuses just to pull me away, to get me used to it, and progressed from there until it basically became a part of my weekly routine to have him on top of me.”] The last of those words were spoken through gritted teeth. Her eyes settled firmly in the grass below. She could not bear to look at Nicolai; there was too much shame, even now. [+mediumseagreen “No one else ever saw that side of him. I did not think anyone would believe me if I said anything. I am sure he planned it that way. Carefully constructed his persona and every moment with the others so that they would see him as perfectly disarming. Manipulative and meticulously thorough, that’s the kind of man he was.”] And part of the reason she hated that she had come to be that way as well. [+mediumseagreen “This went on for some months, but as I was on the cusp of being thirteen, something in me finally broke. I had my knife and so when he was through, I stabbed him… I kept stabbing him… I don’t know how long that went on, but when I finally came to my senses I was mortified. I did not know what to do. By some strange luck, Gregory woke in the middle of the night and noticed I was gone. He came looking and found me a complete and total mess. I didn’t have to say a word; he put everything together on his own. He was so angry. I had never seen Gregory that angry before or since… or that sad. Sad and guilty, like he blamed himself for not noticing sooner, I don’t know how he could have… He took care of the rest. I just sat in the river, trying to free myself of the disgusting feelings festering in me. The smell of the pyre on the wind did not help.”] He had been burned, a traditionally shameful death in Astoria. [+mediumseagreen “When we returned, me looked pale as a ghost, Gregory still seething, and that man nowhere to be seen, most everyone put the pieces together. They were all kind and gentle with me, which was well appreciated, but the party’s policy on permitting strangers to join the group changed from that day forward.”] She had felt bad about that as well for a very long time.
She had been still for a very long time, unmoving as if in some sort of trance. Part of it was the concentration to hold herself together. [+mediumseagreen “It was hard for a long time after that… I avoided Eugene for a while… It was the eyes. We both have his eyes. Augustine has them too... I prayed so hard that they would be blue like his fathers, but I’ve never been that lucky.”] Finally, she un-tensed the tiniest bit, head falling to he side. [+mediumseagreen “But that is nothing compared to his voice. They sound similar, eerily so... I’ve never heard anything like it before. Augustine has startled me a few times with it, I know it is not his fault, he can’t help his voice, but I wish…”] she cut off. Florence had had decades to cope with most everything other than this. The fact that her son now played the part of one of her most poignant reminders to what was undeniably the worst part of her life. She hated it so. Eyes watering, she tried her best to keep them from falling, but a few made it past her.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat A cheeky reply about her throw, along the lines of questioning her archery abilities if that is what she could do with a bottle, briefly flashed before his eyes and his lips had been about to move but for a faint voice in the back of his head saying [i 'you will regret saying that']. Nicolai hated this new conscience trying to be nice to her after all the teasing she had done that night. But she was happy, she was laughing, so he joined in and said little more. That was until her comment about his drills.[+royalblue "I'll have you know I'm a great tactician. It's just that the only thing we fought were bandits. Doesn't exactly prepare you for a war."] He had just finished saying how they would have been hopeless, but like a fat man calling himself fat, he took exception at her critique of his men. She soon moved on with a roll of the eyes and a light tap on his arm, a small consolation perhaps but he'd take it. Looking at her he mulled over his words for his question. He'd had it for some time and if this were to be his last he wanted to use it.[+royalblue "Its less a question more a request; will you tell me more about your father?"] Having taken them to jovial levels and brought it back to a nice mood he hated having to pull her right back into the emotional turmoil he had gone through.[+royalblue "I only ask because I don't want to bring it up at a later date or whatever. If we're doing the emotional stuff, the heavy hitting stuff, I want to get it done and out the way now so I can understand and be a.. somewhat acceptable boyfriend."] There was genuine doubt in himself to be anything but 'acceptable'. He hoped he could be more but again, it was best to aim low and exceed than aim high and fail.
Before he answered Nicolai excitedly ordered her to throw the bottle. Panicking ever so slightly, she waffled a bit before finally pulling it back and giving it a toss. As much as she had put behind the throw, the container barely made it over the wall, at least there was still the satisfying sound of glass shattering. Bringing her hands over her mouth she giggled violently. [+mediumseagreen “That was so damn bad.”] The comment being directed at her throw and not the act itself, as she continued to snicker giddily at herself before calming down enough to listen to the elf’s story.
The tale he told was an entertaining one. It was good to know he had learned some lessons along the way. And that he did not completely hate the life he finagled his way into. Seeing him smiling and laughing, Florence could not help but do the same. If he had put as much coin and effort into these men as it sounded like he had, then there was also a good chance the lives of the infantry had declined. The green-eyed woman tried to save that mental note, as it might come in handy later, but it would be forgotten by morning. Especially given she was quickly onto the next thought with his mention of imagining a war. She did not have to imagine. The ground troops would have been ill prepared for what they faced in a real battled against equally numbered and armed forces, but that’s not really what war was about. It was about the tact and hitting your enemy when they had neither of those things available. [+mediumseagreen “I saw some of those drills you were running, they might not have been completely hopeless. Get you a good tactician and I think it might have worked out.”] They could have used that the night of the coup, seeing as there was little to no help from the barracks, but that was likely because they had been corrupted from the inside. Which may have been Nicolai’s fault for not keeping them under his thumb in that shaky time, but Florence did not blame him for that. There was a lot going on in the months leading up to that fateful night. And she was not one to talk, considering she couldn't even keep him on her side.
[+mediumseagreen “I suppose that concludes my last question… what will yours be?”] She looked up at him, eyes glowing with curiosity in the light of the lantern.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was a good thing he had just swallowed the whiskey or they may both have been covered in a spray of the liquid following her comment. He had thought she would mention his jawline again or perhaps she liked his eyes or something along those lines. To mention his own backside was.. interesting. It was certainly not expected to say the least. Looking down at her he offered an incredulous look, one not seen all too often as he liked to pretend he wasn't fazed by much. As much as he was shocked though, secretly, he was actually swooning. Nicolai didn't get many compliments about his physique like that. Often it was 'oo, don't you have pretty eyes'. It was difficult to maintain a tough appearance with bright eyes like spring flowers.
When her question came, the bottle now empty and still sat in her hand, he could only think of one thing to say;[+royalblue “Florence, throw the fucking bottle!”] It was said with a grin and a soft chuckle, wanting her to join him in throwing it over the wall as it was a very cathartic and stress relieving act. Regardless what she did with it his mind soon wandered back to the original question she asked and he hummed quite similar to how she had.
[+royalblue “I guess I did. At first it just made me good money off buying cheap stock and pocketing the profit. It wasn't awful stuff, it was better than what they were used to, but for what I was charging Germaine it was coppers for every gold.”] He sounded a little annoyed in his past self for cutting quality to get more profit for himself.[+royalblue “Gerald didn't much mind either, the army was mine, he had the King's Guard to worry about. But Germaine, well he decided one day he wanted to have a parade. Just out of the blue. And, well.. it was a fucking shambles.”] He laughed genuinely at the memory, chest shaking at the sight that had greeted them once everything was arranged and set out as best Gerald and Nicolai could manage.[+royalblue “I had one horse for every five riders, a single helmet for every seven soldiers, and most of the bows didn't even have strings. Gerald though I was done for, but I made it work obviously! Germaine loved it, of course he would, but fuck me was it a kick up the arse.”]
Smiling to himself his eyes took on that distant look as he let himself dwell in the past and on one of his few moments where hilarious outcomes outweighed the negative situation.[+royalblue “I was embarrassed, truly ashamed. Father had taught me that presentation is key, and these men represented me. So.. I started to spend more. I took pride in seeing them in good armour, eating good meals, they looked so much better. But I wanted more. So I started training them more. Gerald had trained me since father passed, so he helped get them to be better, stronger, faster, smarter. That's when I made my Horse Guard. I spent years of profits buying them and myself the best horses, the best armour, swords, saddles, stirrups – everything you saw on those men was paid for out of my pocket. And I felt only right taking them out, showing them off to the people. I started to enjoy their attention and seeing the little boys look up in awe or the little girls clap their hands at all these beautiful horses. By the time you came around I was already in this mindset of wanting people to stop and look at me when I walked in a room. I wanted to have that power, that draw, that.. attention.”]
He stopped, but in reality, he wanted the attention he and his brother had never gotten. He wanted everyone to finally recognise him for him, not for what his mother had trained him to do like a performing animal. He wanted people to see him and his name to gain traction and popularity and adoration. Nicolai had combined his mothers need for attention with his fathers cold ability to get what he wanted and to damn the consequences. He couldn't change his childhood, only adapt it to his future.
[+royalblue “But Gods.. I can't imagine how badly we would have lost if there was a real war, I'm sure I'd have been beyond hopeless.”] The topic had been getting a little too serious again, and he preferred the lighter tone they had. Plus given her teasing he was sure she would have said the same, looking down to her with a softer smile.
His excuse made her laugh, as did his quick and deliberate digression into another topic, that being the alcohol. [+mediumseagreen “Oh come now, Nicolai. You act like you are alone in this. I told you before you caught my eye when I first came to Wistina. What did you think that meant?”] Albeit when she mentioned it before it had been incredibly vague. She was just drunk enough to add a little more detail to what she meant at the time, continuing to chuckle as she did so. [+mediumseagreen “You have a very nice ass, always have.”] Part of the reason she was able to say all this was because with him downing what neared the last of that bottle he couldn’t prod back at her. She was safe from embarrassment at least for a little while. And luckily, when he finished he had his own idea of how to proceed and it did not entail mortifying her by turning that conversation around.
Taking the glass container from him, she held it a moment. [+mediumseagreen “I suppose that is a good idea.”] Florence did not really want to part, as that was what she assumed going to bed meant, so the idea that this time was coming to a close soon did make her a little sullen, though it did not last. [+mediumseagreen “Oh, what a noble fellow you are.”] Smiling, she teased him that last little but before taking the final drink of whisky. [+mediumseagreen “Hmm… What should I ask…”] If she only got one more question, the woman was going to have a hard time narrowing it down. A look of half contemplation found her features as she continued to hum in thought. Finally she came out with it after deciding against asking silly things, like if he thought Helga was going to hide them for trying to go inside in this drunken stupor. [+mediumseagreen “Did you enjoy being Wistina’s general?”] Really she meant to ask if he liked it or if he just liked the attention that came along with the position, the feeling of being useful, as he seemed to frame it, but that is all that came out so it was open to interpretation.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Again it tugged at his heart to hear her say that. He could understand very well wanting the best for a sibling, but to hear her believe she wasn't better did give him a melancholic feeling. He kept quiet however, not wanting to start an argument over the matter as she was steadfast in her belief as much as he was in his own. Instead he offered a nod in understanding and it was his turn to lift her hand up to kiss the backs of her fingers. However he paused mid-kiss as she challenged his notion that he did not stare at her, a light pat at his shoulder to chastise him for such a statement. His cheeks subtly darkened a shade on being called out on this and he looked away for a moment as if he didn't really hear her, though he couldn't ignore her.[+royalblue “You're always riding ahead of me. What else do I look at? The horse's arse?”] Perhaps not best to mention a horses backside in the topic of your girlfriends backside, so he tried to quickly move on.[+royalblue “Look, we're almost out of drink!”] He called out as he lifted the almost finished bottle of whiskey. It was a third full at most, but he looked at it with a quiet tutting sounds.[+royalblue “Okay, how about we get one more question each, and then we go to bed?”] He made no mention of whether they would be in the same bed or not, or if they were then who's bed. But he smiled at her regardless.[+royalblue “I'll be the gentleman and let you go first.”] It was namely so he could get the final question in, but he was rather open to answering any more she had – just hopefully not where the air was getting colder and they could sit or lay down on something better than this grass. He lifted the bottle and took a liberal drink, though left enough for her to finish.
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