Lys: Two Matches

Aithne smiled a little at Lucius's response. He seemed at least somewhat favorably disposed towards her, which was something.
And he had given her leave to prepare food against their return. As he turned to mount, her smile widened just a bit. It was said the way to a man's heart was through his stomach, and she knew very well how to fill a stomach. She might even be able to win over Jason, if he bothered to try it.

As they rode off, she nodded a returned farewell, and watched them go for a bit.

She heard Lucius say something in audible, then Druce's voice carried quite clearly to her, his head turned as it was. "Jason and I are arranging a match for you."

Her face burned bright red with embarassment. She turned and fled for the kitchens. Arranging a match? How could they? The had no authority. And there could not be two people more unequal. Besides, she was already promised to Cathair. Whatever good that may do. You don't know if he's even alive anymore.

She went to wash her hands, and saw her reflection in the water. Oh heavens, I look a mess. Gone was the tidy girl of this morning. Her hair hung in damp curls and she was sticky with flour paste. She'd dusted off as much as she could before going outside, but it still managed to cake up on her arms and tunic. She sighed, allowing herself to simply stand still for a moment. Then she shook herself out of it and washed up as best she could.

Now that the initial shock had worn off, she chuckled at the idea of being married off to Lucius. Lucius, who was so very different from Cathair- almost opposite from him...

“Come on, Aithne. Just one sentence- it’s not hard. ‘Yes, Cathair, I’ll marry you’.”

With a sigh, she shook her head. “No, Cathair, I know you. You’re just trying to get me to break my word, to quit my training.”

Cathair stared at her. “After eight years, you’re still holding that grudge?”

She set down the towel in her hand. “No. I don’t keep grudges. But I don’t break my word, either. I said I would become a bard and I will, if it is in my power.” She went back to folding the towels, but he caught her hand, taking the towel away and covering her hand with his own. “You and I both know you don’t want it that much. It’s pure stubbornness, Aithne, plain and simple.”

“And so what if it is?” she asked, her chin jerking up. “Determination accomplishes much. And I have much yet to accomplish, with Brother Parthal├ín’s training added to my father’s.” She looked sidelong towards the house that was now a chapel. “I think he fancies me becoming a nun. But a bard I will be, and neither he, nor you, nor the High King himself can change that.”

He looked at her pointedly. “Determination and stubbornness are not the same thing, Aithne.“
Her chin came up again. “I don’t care what you say, I-“, before she could continue, he cut her off. “Crom’s toes, Aithne, for once will you just let it go?” Before she could respond, before she knew what happened, he pulled her close and kissed her. It was rough- he was making his point, not sweetly wooing. She resisted, but he didn’t back down this time. Against her will, she felt her stubbornness melt away, found it hard to think…
I’m going to faint. But just before it happened, he broke off. She was grateful for the arm still around her waist- her legs were water. The fight had completely drained out of her, and it took a moment before she managed to gain her feet and pull away. She looked up at him. He was wearing that maddening grin again.

“I- I’m still going… to be a bard.” She said, but it came out sounding half-hearted.

He just smiled, “No you aren’t,” turned, and sauntered away.

Aithne's smile turned wry. Impossible man. Ohhh, how he had vexed her. But at the same time, they somehow remained friends through the years, just as quick to laugh as they were quick to argue.

She turned from the bowl, having tidied herself as best she could, and set to work on the bread again.

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