It was the early hours of the morning when Yannic and Rensa left the party. He was the one who led her out ‘the back way’ in case anyone was still waiting out the front for the Emperor but she was the one who knew her way around the back corridors of the palace and steered them back in the direction of her quarters. Neither of them was entirely sober.
“I’m surprised you know where we are,” Yannic observed when she steered them up an obscure set of stairs that didn’t look like they’d been clean since the regime had changed.
“We used to play hide and seek back here when we were children,” replied Rensa. “We weren’t supposed to, of course, but it was out of everyone’s way when it was wet outside.”
“So, what did you think of my family?” He draped an arm around her shoulders. Rensa wasn’t sure if that was because he was worried about walking in a straight line or if it was because Yannic wanted to be closer to her.
“Your family touches each other a lot.” Rensa paused. “Practically everyone prodded me, said I was too thin and handed me something to eat.” She flashed a smile at him. “I’m surprised how many ways there are to say that. But Yannic,” all trace of the smile disappeared, “some of them fondled instead of prodding. They still insisted that I ate something but even on my pilgrimage that’s never happened to me before. I hope I wasn’t rude but I’m not used to so being touched by so many people and I’m not used to-.” She broke off and seemed both smaller and more withdrawn than he was used to. “They’re not going to do that are the wedding are they? I know your sister’s friend said that your family’s easier to cope with after a bit more alcohol but...”
“I’ll speak to them,” Yannic promised, tightening his arm around her shoulders. “I’ll get my mother to talk to them. It’s going to be your wedding, you should feel comfortable.” He looked down at her concerned. “You don’t mind me touching you, do you?”
“Oh, this?” Rensa looked up at him and he nodded, silvery agouti hair catching the light from the fitting behind him. She smiled, and slipped her arm around him in return. “This is nice.”
“Good.” They walked companionably the rest of the way back to her room, her head occasionally leaning against his shoulder. It was resting there when they reached her door. “I’d better watch you go in and then wander off to my own rooms. Before I go though-,” he leant down and kissed her firmly on the lips.
When he straightened they looked at each other quietly for a moment. “That was nice,” offered Rensa quietly, tentatively, maybe hopefully.
“Good,” Yannic smiled down at her. “That was what I thought too. Are you happy to wait for events to unfold or do you want me to come in with you for...?”
“I’m happy to wait,” Rensa could feel her blush rising, “so everyone knows where we stand and we don’t have to explain if anyone finds out and I won’t feel like I might be doing something wrong...”
“Then we’ll wait.” He bent and kissed her, briefly, again. “Now, in you go and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
She slipped inside her door with a shy, “Good night,” and Yannic continued on his way to his own rooms. An objective observer would have said that he had no trouble in walking in a straight line.