Domitia Viriatus & Liviana Viriatus
“Liviana, come on, we’re gonna be late!” Domitia called, pounding on the bathroom door for what felt like the hundredth time. (In truth, it was only the thirty-sixth such interaction this morning.) “What’s taking so long?”
“Go- just go to brunch without me, please. please.” Liv whimpered in Latin. From the sound of her voice she was clearly standing very close behind the door but refusing to open it.
Dom knew what this was about. Precisely four minutes and thirty-three seconds after the live coverage of the welcome gala had ended, Liviana’s cell phone started ringing. It was midnight in Lynston, which meant it was six-thirty-seven in the morning in Lusitania (Yes, Lusitania is one of those places that insists on having its own timezone, and not on a half hour like a sensible kingdom would, rather being precisely twenty-three minutes slower than Athenian Standard Time. Just to make them mad.) It also meant that their family had stayed up all night to watch the coverage, which meant in turn that they were likely grumpy.
Liv had dashed up to the room and locked herself in the restroom, but Dom could hear the shouting through the phone and the wall – if not well enough to make out the rapid fire Greek and Latin. The family certainly had a lot to say, given that Liv hadn’t emerged until nearly 3:30, and had crawled into bed and into Dom’s arms altogether wordlessly, curling up against their chest and badly feigning sleep.
She still hadn’t said a damn thing about what the problem was, but Dom figured they could guess as the bathroom door opened once more.
Liv looked, to put it politely, rather like a grandma. Not a trace of makeup was on her face, her eyes visibly puffy and red from the night’s phone call, and what little of her hair was visible seemed to be plaited and pinned tightly to her head to minimize its dramatic effect. Her long tunic was a plain grey-brown-pink color (someone more romantic might have called it ‘mauve’) of thin linen, shapeless around her frame, and surmounted by a half-sheer veil in a cream color, which draped over her head and shoulders, collecting on the left side of her body. Her stare was firmly fixed on the floor.
“Grandfather said something to you, didn’t he?” Dom extended their arms to their young aunt, catching her body against their side. Without looking up, Liv nodded, dumbly wrapping her arms around Dom’s waist and burying her head even further, so there was no chance of catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror.
They pursed their lips, wondering. The last thing they wanted to do was make things harder on their aunt. “Does the something extend to me? Do I need to change?” They wore a very simple short sleeved (and decidedly Aciran-styled) dress, in a neutral green color, with grey leggings, a (legit, thank you!) pair of Lusitanian legion combat sandals, and a men’s-fit grey suit jacket over the top of it all, unbuttoned. Their hair was fluffed up in its usual disarrayed bob (and eyebrows fluffed to match), and their trademark three-dot eyeliner on point, but otherwise they wore minimal makeup.
Liv looked them over briefly, cursorily, but buried her head again before she would meet Dom’s gaze. “No. You’re Britannia’s problem now. We’ll have to see what the tabloids there say, but they quite like you from the initial coverage. According to Father. And at the end of the day he- doesn’t have a say. Edwin-“ she swallowed, blinking rapidly. “Edwin is your… keeper, at least, as Father sees it. And Ed seemed to adore the way you two matched last night, especially while you were dancing. I could see it in his eyes. He- really likes you, you know.” She deliberately refused to meet Dom’s gaze. To change the subject, she quite abruptly asked, “Where’s Ana?”
I really don’t know how to respond to that. After a goodly amount of time, Dom simply ruffled Liv’s hair (gently, so as not to move the veil.) “She took Qvi out and went to go find food for herself. I sent her with her notebooks, she’s going to meet up with us after brunch for lessons.”
Liv nodded, peeling away from Dom’s side and crossing the room, picking up her cello case and easing it across her shoulders in one smooth motion.
“What? Where are you going?”
“To practice. Isn’t that obvious?” Liv turned on her heel, quickly walking out the door before she could do something stupid like break down and cry, again. She made it halfway down the corridor before the tears started, sniffling and biting down on her lip in an effort to stifle the sounds as she hurried up a flight of stairs, finding a room that seemed unused – maybe more of a breezeway between a few other rooms, but there was no one and no furniture to get in her way here, at least not obviously seen.
The folding stool was taken from where it was strapped to the back of the instrument case (never before had she been so glad to have brought it, finickiness of getting it on the airplane and all) and quickly unfolded, her instrument quickly tuned and soon settled. Though she hadn’t practiced in nearly a week now, what with travel and preparations, it took only a short time for the instrument to be warmed up and playing well. She had neglected to grab the folding music stand from the room, of course, so she didn’t even bother to fight with the sheet music, closing her eyes and visualizing the notes to her favorite concerto streaming out in front of her, fingers finding them nearly-automatically.
Damn that Livi. Dom saw her go, of course, but made no move to follow- perhaps it was the sniffling sound that just barely reached their ears, but they knew their aunt needed some alone time. On a good day, interrupting Liv’s practices would earn you a glare. Today it would probably incite a meltdown.
Dom turned smartly and descended the stairs, expertly remembering their way through the Aciran palace (which, though more spacious, was still not as confusing as the Lusitanian one, what with the thirteen different imperial expansions that had been done and later half-reversed on it!) soon walking into the parlor where the brunch was being held. They found themself a spot at a corner of the table, one that was as yet unoccupied, and there set up a perch to watch the other royals interacting.