AR 1216-06-16 Elsie and Yari get back together
“What number’s that?”
“You’re a terrible liar, Jarl Hastae.”
“Nott really. Nottso much annimor.”
She sighed, and took a seat across from him. The tavern’s table was washed clean so often, the wood was polished smooth and shiny. Five empty glass bottles sat to the side, while a sixth, still half-full, rested in his tenuous grip.
He sat, slouched over his bottle, staunchly refusing to meet her eyes. He had, in fact, been refusing to look at her properly all day. Elsie thought he might have met her gaze during their duel, but even then, it was out of trained, combatant reflex; nothing more.
She sighed again, and reached over to take his hand. Yari was tense at first, but almost immediately he relaxed and allowed his fingers to fold into hers. Though he smiled at her touch, he still did not look at her.
“T’really is my pfourth,” he insisted. “Uncle Shindri had a pfew with me earlier.”
“Ah,” she answered, then waited patiently for him to say something else.
Elsie waited several minutes, before Yari finally squeezed her hand tight, then let go. Raising himself back up in his chair, the young man drew in his breath and let it out slowly. In one swift motion, he downed the rest of the contents of his drink, and placed it with the rest of the bottles – all, still, without looking up.
In her head, her heart, Elsie thought she could actually hear her beloved crying, grieving; though, to all outward appearances, Yari remained a stoic, if slightly intoxicated figure. He hiccupped, spoiling the tension of the scene, and she couldn’t stop herself from giving a quiet giggle. Yari scowled, but didn’t otherwise react.
For a moment, Elsie felt a pang of fear. She had seen Brog scowl similarly before, and with the addition of alcohol, the girl knew all-to-well what was coming next. At least, she would have known if it had been her former fiancé sitting across from her. Instead, it was Yari, and just as soon as she thought to be afraid, she knew she didn’t have to be.
Elsie scolded herself gently, suddenly picturing Yari’s voice in her mind, assuring her she never had to be afraid of him. In the same instant, his hand was grasping hers. In the same instant, his eyes finally met hers.
In the dim light of Igorekson’s Tavern, Yari’s eyes were like two, dark silver coins, holding as much water on them as they could, the surface tension ready to break and spill the liquid down the lines of his face. The candles cast harsh shadows, dancing across his features, highlighting creases of sorrow, making him look much, much older. She reminded herself that he was now technically younger than she was.
Yari opened his mouth to speak, but his voice caught in his throat, and his face contorted in grief. As he shut his eyes tight, they finally gave up their load, and tears flowed freely down his cheeks. She felt him squeeze her hand again, tightly, and he didn’t let go.
As the seconds burned away, Elsie began to think this wasn’t alright. A quiet voice in the back of her mind told her that Yari shouldn’t be acting so selfishly, that instead of crying over whatever was bothering him, he should be trying to comfort her. She had suffered under Brog for years, and then she had watched as his throat was ripped from his neck and he bled out, gurgling horribly.
She had loved him, and he had left her for a spoilt brat. Even after Verona shunned him, he still pined after her, while Elsie continued to live with an abusive alcoholic. Verona had only ever been a project for Yari; something broken to fix. She, Elise, had remained his true and faithful love, and yet even now, all he could think about was himself!
Jarl Hastae was the most awful, selfish man she had ever met! Her thoughts were filled with disgust at Yari, and that was when she finally understood what was happening. These were not her thoughts, but his.
Yari…? she probed hesitantly. She didn’t so much get a response as an acknowledgement. You… you can do the same thing your dad can do, can’t you?
Yeah, came his voice, clear and distinct among her own. His eyes still clamped shut tight, Yari’s voice added, Sorry.
I’m so sorry, Elsie! I’ve been a terrible friend to you.
The girl scoffed audibly, and reached across the table with her free hand to flick him on the nose. The action shocked Yari as though he had just been slapped across the face, and his eyes bolted open to stare at Elsie in surprise. She simply stuck out her tongue at him.
He continued to stare at her another moment, then let out a long breath and scrunched his nose to the side. The motion made him seem even more adorable to her, and Elsie had to stop herself from leaning over to kiss him. She got the impression Yari knew this, as his face quietly lit up with the barest hint of his old mischievous grin. She stuck out her tongue again.
Yari glanced down, then cocked his head to his shoulder, smiling at her. “I’m nott inna good plase, Elsie,” he said, still slurring his words slightly.
“Well, yeah! You’re sad, and you’ve had six beers.”
“Told you: only hadd pfour.”
“Heh,” a new voice said. A tall, slender man, with hair that once was raven-black, though now was a healthy shade of dark gray, approached the two. In one motion, he swept the half-dozen empty bottles into a bin he carried, causing loud clinking sounds. “You’d think the grandson of Igorek could hold his liquour. ‘Pfour’ beers in, and you’re plastered! You’re a shame to us all, nephew.”
“Shush up, Unkle Sindri,” Yari salurred, more annoyed at the interruption than the insult. Sindri grinned in the exact same mischievous way Yari always did, winked at Elsie, then left the two alone again, carrying the bin away with him.
Yari scrunched his nose the other way and furrowed his brow at his departing uncle. His mouth suddenly dry, the man worked his tongue for a moment, then gave up. Anyway – he thought at Elsie – this is easier right now; I hope you don’t mind – I haven’t been in a good place for a long while. It’s not the beer; the beer’s actually helped tonight. Well, that, and my uncle… when he isn’t poking fun at me…
I get it, Yari, responded Elsie. You’ve been through Hel –
Wow. But, that just proves my point: You’ve been through so much, and it’s taking its toll on you. I get it.
That’s not the point! he insisted forcefully. It shouldn’t matter what happens to me. I’m supposed to be there for my family, no matter what! What about all the things you’ve been through?!
“I love you, Jarl Hastae,” said the girl, earnest emotion flowing from her words, “but you’re kind of an idiot sometimes.”
“Wha – ?”
“Shut up and kiss me.”
Oceans of stars cascaded through his head. Swirling around in countless eddies of little points of lights, painting kinetic spirals against the dark canvas of the Void. As the stars rushed past his vision, Yari saw some of them bore the images of his loved ones. They all watched him as they flew away, waiting to see what he would do. The mass of lights receded, circling around into a single point, far in the distance. The point became the reflection of his own face in the watchful eye of a raven, who then cawed and flapped noisily away, taking the reflection and the Void with it.
Elsie finished her kiss and pulled away from him slowly. Stillness hung in the dark air between them, but the silent sound of Yari’s smile could be felt for miles. He sniffed sharply, eyes closed, and relaxed as the weight of the very Universe lifted from his shoulders, born away on ravens’ wings, and a beautiful girl’s lips.