749. - Lucien
The knock is so faint I think I dreamt it at first; only when the door opens, I realise that it isn't. Before I can react, it closes again and I hear quiet footsteps dying away.
I try my best not to wake Emma, but just when I've slipped on my bathrobe, her soft voice cuts through the dark.
"Just checking on something, babe." I brush my hands over her lower leg as reassurance. "Go back to sleep."
I think she's done that before I've even really finished my sentence, which isn't strange considering it's nearly four pm. There's a part of me that I hopes I imagined the opening of the door, since I have classes tomorrow, but when I leave the bedroom and see the light coming from the living room, I know that I'm not going to any classes.
She's lit a handful of tea lights, dimly illuminating the room and her face.
Eschieve looks up from the couch, wrapped in her duvet. It makes her look exceptionally small. The look of pure misery on her face makes her look even smaller. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you."
"Except you came to the bedroom." I sit next to her, tugging my robe a little tighter around me and grabbing one of the many blankets we keep on the piece of furniture. "I heard the door open."
"I changed my mind as soon as I opened it." She mutters. "You can go back to bed if you want to. I'm okay."
"Eschieve, it's the absolute dead of night, you peeked into the bedroom cocooned in your duvet. The only thing missing from this image is a cup of spiced milk."
That gets me a a weak smile, but it quickly disappears. "I'm really sorry. I know it's late, and that you've got classes, but I just..." She pauses, then whispers. "couldn’t stop thinking."
"Do you want to talk, or do you just want to sit here for a while? Because I'm not going to bed and just leave you here."
She stays quiet for a while, giving me my answer. Since she seems taken up by her thoughts, I set to making that spiced milk I joked about. It's a quick and easy task, but she looks grateful when I return.
"Just like old times, huh?" She smiles sadly. "I never used to be able to open the door without waking you, don't know why I thought I could this time."
"You tried. There's just no beating the sixth sense I developed."
"Guess that's what knocking on your door every night for a month does to you." She blows gently into the mug of hot liquid. "Do you even think about him still?"
I don't immediately reply. I'm not entirely sure why the question surprises me; the setting is reminiscent of the countless nights after our brother's death, where Eschieve would come to knock on my door and cry in my arms, after which we'd make spiced milk together and she'd sleep in my bed with me. Despite us never being close before or after, it was a comfort to both of us when the world seemed to crumble down around us piece by piece.
"I mean..." Eschieve continues when I stay silent. "I know you two had a worse relationship than even you and father, but... Do you miss him at all?"
"I... miss him for you. I miss what he meant for you, and for father. I miss him because others have to miss him. I miss him, because I'm supposed to miss him." I say honestly. She nods along slowly, but doesn't elaborate. Then, after maybe a minute, out comes the question I suddenly realise must have been on her mind since she found out. Her voice trembles as she asks it.
"Do you think she'd be mad at me? For not wanting it?"
"I can't help but think what she'd say about it. About all the choices I make. I wonder if she would've liked Marcel, or if she'd have warned me against him. Or if she'd scold me for getting pregnant and then begrudgingly aid me in the abortion. If she'd be proud of me for being top of the swim team, or..." Her voice breaks. She bites down roughly on her lower lip to keep her tears in. "I wish I knew."
"Oh, love." I quickly put my mug down, and then pluck hers out of her hands so I can pull her into me. I let myself slowly fall backwards against the arm of the couch so that we're laying down. Eschieve quietly sobs against my chest.
"She would be so proud of you." I whisper, rubbing her back. "She'd support you every step of the way, no matter the choices you'd make. She'd come to each of your swimming tournaments and be your biggest supporter. And when she'd find out about Marcel, she'd give him a talking to so severe he'd be scared to leave the house. Seriously. He'd be more scared of her than he'll ever be of me."
A weak laugh erupts from her, and she sniffles. "You're not allowed to beat up my ex-boyfriend."
"I promise I won't go out of my way to find him, but I make no such promises for if I ever run into him."
Another laugh, and she snuggles into me. "I miss her, Luce."
"I know. I do, too." I kiss the top of her head. She's quiet for a while. The tea lights have burned out, clouding us in darkness, and the weight and warmth of Eschieve on my chest is making me drowsy. She's shifted, now more next to me, and her duvet now draped over both of us.
"Tell me a story?" asks Eschieve, sounding sleepy herself. "With the princesses and the dragons, like you always used to?"
I smile small, once again reminded of the nights after Aleran's death. "Aren't you a little old for that?"
"They're going to scrape a baby out of me. Tell me the damn story."
"Alright, alright, no need to get aggressive." I chuckle. "Once upon a time, there was a princess..."
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