Aeris did not miss how Lokkir had flinched at her touch; or rather, at was not her touch. In this, she could not blame him; it was far from a natural sensation and even those well accustomed with Qaeltine medicine found it could still take them by surprise. In truth, even Aeris was not immune; on more than one occasion the brush of cold metal, of her own fingers, against her skin caught her of guard.
It was not natural. But then, neither was having the organic limb ripped from her, a victim of unnecessary war. Aeris felt no disgust towards her prosthetic, but nor did she love it; she appreciated it gave her back some of what she had lost in battle, but she would rather have never lost anything at all.
At some point, if Lokkir was willing, she would introduce her husband to the realms of Qaeltine advances, help him learn it was nothing to be afraid of, that it brought many benefits. And, by that same token, suppressing a shudder at the thought, she would have him acquaint her with aetheric magic. Though she would rather stay as far away from such power, for her own sanity, if she were to live in close confines with someone who wielded it, she needed to know, to really know, that it had more purpose than destruction.
Aeris perched on the foot of the bed; Lokkir was silent, at least initially, to her query and she wondered if she had asked too much of him. Why had she asked? She did not want to make him vulnerable in front of her, no… Did she want to seek common ground? Was she trying to understand him, or was she seeing if he understood her? Did she want to bond over shared pain? Perhaps, in an odd way, Aeris could have done far worse for a husband that Lokkir; he was repulsed by her body, but he understood, if not her need to repair damage done, that in privacy, their diversity was nothing to be ashamed of.
At least, Aeris hoped he felt that way.
Aeris listened to Lokkir attentively, one foot tapping quietly on the floor. It was not that his response bored her, but she was a woman of action, not of words, and she often struggled to sit still, much to her mother’s chagrin. Had this been a more formal meeting, Aeris would have tried to rein the behaviour in; but as it was, this was her husband, and she was already sat naked as the day she was born, so she doubted such fidgeting would be regarded with scorn or offence.
As she listened, Aeris caught herself smiling, faded lipstick still staining her mouth, the edges smeared from sleep. She had anticipated a short, simple answer, or none at all, not a monologue. Though she normally detested unnecessary verbosity, on Lokkir it was strangely endearing. Aeris made a mental note that, in any public gatherings, he could do the talking for the pair of them, and leave her to stew in her discomfort in silence.
“I-“ Aeris stopped; why had she chosen such a heavy topic? She looke away, though it was not in shame, just contemplation. “I suppose,” she finally began, “I just wanted to… Know my husband a bit better,” she offered him a wan smile. “As husband and wife, we should know all of each other’s secrets, no? I… Do not intend to use this information against you. Just to know you. Know the man I am to spend the rest of my life with.” Aeris’ brows knit together as she pulled her lower lip between her teeth, looking unsure for the first time since their meeting. “You and I… The sooner we are acquainted intimately, and I do not mean with physical intimacy,” Aeris hoped her tone conveyed that her reluctance to lay with Lokkir had nothing to do with him or his sex or the fact he was so recently her enemy, that it was not because of her being repulsed by any part of him, but rather the simple nature that, first, they were strangers, and second, that there were far more pressing issues than exploring carnal desires. “Then the sooner we might be able to…” Aeris faltered, trying to find the words in Hudvalri out of respect and a need to practice to the foreign tongue, “perform as one? Be… An equal- a team.”
Aeris was sure her pronunciation was sloppy; the words felt entirely wrong in her mouth, and there were some syllables that were difficult to train herself to voice after a lifetime of Qaeltic. Aeris snorted with amusement at how she had butchered her Hudvalri, not mockingly, but almost as if she were inviting Lokkir to find humour in her ignorance.
Aeris ran her good hand through her dark hair, catching on knots and tangles; she winced, trying to brush as many out as she could with fingers alone.
“Lokkir,” Aeris began, once more in her native tongue and her tone uncharacteristically gentle; she did not look at him as she spoke, instead focusing on the blanket beneath her, “we- I know you have… Reservations about Qaeltine medicine, but…” She paused, unsure whether she should go on. “I know that there are women who, in order to preserve their life further, have their breasts removed if malignant tissue is found… I could perhaps talk with the royal doctor, discreetly of course. You still would not have the body of a man but… It would mean you were free of needing such restrictive bindings.”