The Revelry.

Light, frivolity, happiness, joy, closeness…like family…Karm. I could live here.

Esmond is struggling. He prefers his personal space. Needs rescuing chuckle

My hand wrapped in his, the offer of space. Banter, teasing…unexpected response. Query “Are you ok?” Concern.

He leaves. I don’t understand what’s happened. I will give him space, I will not force him to talk if he is does not wish to. Confusion.

The Morning.

Many sore heads, thankfully not mine. Edan and Lara nowhere to be found. Good. They deserve time alone.

Querying the servants, Esmond has not been back since leaving. Deepening concern. Is he all right?

Recalling Julia’s words…have I done something awful? Fear, sadness, confusion. No, he needs space, I can’t force him to assuage my own emotions, that is selfish.

Return to the Palace.

 Early Afternoon.

Concern gnaws at me. What if he has fallen down a hole or something equally as unlikely, and yet ironically possible in the circumstances.

A trump call. Doilies, wood panelled wall…his tense face. No hole or traumatic accident. Much relief.

He is very uncomfortable. “I’m just checking if you are ok.”

Half formed words in reply, no clear answer.

“Shall I set another place for tea?” an unfamiliar voice.

Ah.

“It’s my mother!” A cohesive, if defensive, sentence at least. I make no assumption; there is no need for justification.

I reply. “I am only worried for you, but you are uncomfortable. Speak to me when you wish to. I will be here.”

Return trump to the deck.

Late Afternoon.

Check on Erica. Still she tries to do more than she should. It’s hard to break the habit of ruler I see. I offer distraction. Thomas is relieved. Easier to dissuade unnecessary appointments when a family member usurping her time is the best excuse.

Niwaki…I have been neglectful. I imagine the reproachful sigh as I enter. I am close, but the sound is quieter than it otherwise would have been.

An attempt at diversion that proves only to reveal my own perplexity. A conversation that resolves communication as the best course of action. Talk to his friends…no, that would be an invasion. He must be willing to talk to me on his own terms. There is no forcing the contact. Shared confusion on the motives and actions of men, wry amusement between us.

Oh! I should talk to Hagan, this could be connected with…recent events.

The Evening.

Catching Hagan in his quarters…Sudden thought, is it fair that I am discussing this with others? Concern that I am impinging on Esmond’s right to privacy… I am so unsure and confused…Am I overthinking everything now?

“Hagan, do they do weird things like this? Vampires I mean”

“All people do weird things like this. Have you talked to him?”

“I’ve tried, but he is not comfortable talking to me.”

“What is it you want?”

“For him to be ok; for it to return to what it was if he wants that; to understand.”

“Then you should say that…”

“When he decides he’s ok to talk to me.”

“Yes.”

“Well. That’s a good plan. I’ll just wait.”

 

The Following Morning (Early).

An unimpressed Melisandre, hastily donned dressing gown and a scowl on her face. She does not approve of gentleman visitors at such times…She does not approve of Esmond at all. What time is it? Half past two…in the morning?

Well, I did say “Speak to me when you wish to.”

Rubbing the sleep from my eyes. “Are you ok?”

Muttered response. There is still unease.

“Are you going to tell me what happened?” at the same time as “Can we go back to how it was before?” He skulks near the door as if not wanting an answer and instead preferring an escape. At least he’s asking one of the questions I had in mind, even if he’s not answering the ones I’ve already asked.

“I have no problem with that.” A mixture of relief and something else I can’t interpret. “Are you going to tell me what I did?” I’d like to know, so I don’t do it again.

“…um…you’re wearing too many clothes…no, no, that’s not going to work.” He’s avoiding that question too. I can’t make him talk to me. He has to be the one to make that choice.

“Esmond, you know that I like you as you are…and stuff, right?” Apparently I fail at articulation in the small hours as well.

“Ah, ok…but no and stuff. Just…the way it was before.” Before whatever happened that he’s not going to tell me about.

Oh for the love of the gods, man, just get into the bed already. I love him to pieces, even when he is unfathomable. I just wish I could reassure him of that.

 

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*OOC note. Sioned’s reactions to Esmond’s behaviour are informed by her own knowledge that she has a particular level of privilege and power due to being an Amberite (a lesson she’s learned very clearly from the situation with Isolde). It would be easy to let this dominate their liaison, which is why she is at pains to ensure that any decision he makes in regards to it has to be his own. She will not force him into an interaction he is uncomfortable with, regardless of whether the situation needs it or not. She loves him, but the boundaries have already been set. In addition, she does not believe that love for one person precludes love for another. Jealousy over Esmond’s past, present or future encounters with others does not form part of her emotional vocabulary. Remba is a predominantly polygamous society (even though it appears her parents were monogamous), so she has been raised where the concept is normalised. However, none of this has yet been put to the test, as Esmond does not talk about other liaisons, and Sioned has not pursued any others of her own.  Somewhere in all this, she knows she crossed a line, but she doesn’t know what it was.

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