Gemma, Orion, and Andrew stepped off the end of the bridge and into the main party area. Gemma still held both of the men's hands, but as soon as people began to look toward them she released Andrew and slid her arm into Orion's. "Smile, you two," she ordered in an undertone, doing as she herself suggested, "You look like you're coming from a funeral. Look happy, damn it..."
Various people moved aside at their approach, and Gemma was nervous to note that several of them looked rather suspicious at their sudden appearance. Maybe Andrew was right, Gemma thought, suddenly worried, though her smile never faltered, Maybe they will think the less of Orion and I for disappearing together....
Orion had noticed the staring from farther out and had, uncharacteristically, decided to act with a verbal charade.
"...and so, as you saw, the libraries really are some of the most up to date and complete collections of magical tomes outside of government sponsered repositories."
The looks melted into amusement. Apparently, the couple's studious nature was well enough known that they weren't that seriously suspected. Yet. A part of him almost grinned at the unspoken word, and it made him curious as to what was sparking this change in him. Was it comething about Gemma's veela nature? Was he being molded to fit her temperment? Interesting questions that would spark a serious amount of research later, no doubt. For now, though, they were expected to go and eat.
Gemma had to fight to keep a grin off her face at Orion's clever deception of the people around them. They were now effectively ignoring them, just as she'd hoped they would. "Nice one, Ri," she whispered, just loud enough that he and maybe Andrew could hear, "And now you've got me more interested than ever in actually seeing the real libraries... Speaking of which, I forgot my books. Would you mind sending them to me?"
They reached the dais and walked up the steps; Gemma halted at the top, wondering where to go from there. Did they have assigned seats? Likely. But... where?
Escorting Gemma was like walking beside a priceless painting. Everyone marvelled, but not at you. Orion couldn't care less if people, or women, looked at him or noticed him. In fact, he preferred going unnoticed. As Gemma was spectacular at entrances, he was just as adept as exits. His whole life wasn't about secrecy, but it made things easier. Now, though, with everyone admiring the beautiful woman on his arm, he could bask, if only just a little in her reflected glory.
She was looking for their seats, and, as if reading her thoughts, he spoke.
"Where else but front and center? We ARE the main attraction of this circus..." His laconic comment drew several unapproving glances, but, again, he didn't care.
Gemma giggled, shaking her head in amusement. "Ah, yes, how could I have forgotten? With half the world here and staring at us, eh?" She slid her arm a little more firmly into his and continued walking. Eyes everywhere followed her, and she ignored it as best she could, as she always did.
"I have to ask, Ri... do you ever feel like every single second of your life is observed? I mean, do people stare at you? Strangers? I don't see why they wouldn't, personally I can't keep my eyes off you..." She grinned at him, hoping to earn a similar expression back.
"Hard to say, Gem...we never really stayed anywhere that had a lot of people. When we WERE in populated areas, they stared. i always figured they were staring at mother and fathe, since they're the famous ones. I honestly don't care if they do or not."
Her arm wrapped around his felt much better than it should, considering that a month ago he was accused of being heartless and unfeeling. No, he had a heart, and he had feelings too. All it took, apparently, was this one touching him and loving him. it was, like his other emotions, slow to rise but strong.
Gemma smiled ever so slightly, finally reaching the center of the table. "It wasn't your parents, darling," she assured him, "Not always. You remember the first time we met?" She swiftly glanced around to make sure no-one else could hear her. "I was... well, mesmerized, truthfully," she admitted in a near-whisper, "Don't be too vain about it, Ri, but you are extremely attractive..."
She looked at the table to see that their names were set beside two chairs. She tapped the back of her chair, glancing at Orion. "I could pull this out myself, but I believe the custom is for the man to do it..."
Grinning to himself, albeit a small grin, Orion pulled out Gemma's chair elegantly and motioned for her to sit.
"If my lady pleases....and when we first met, you weren't the ony one mesmerized, though I believe you are a bit more accustomed to making young men's breath catch than I am with the young women. And I am not vain. Well, not too vain. I like to think I'm just vain enough."
From Gemma's other side, Andrew let out a bark of a laugh that he quickly stifled for decency's sake.
Gemma smirked, taking her seat. "Not vain, Ri? I distinctly remember having some sort of discussion with you at the hospital in which you deemed yourself 'awesome' or some such thing. Not that I disagree, it's just that such a statement usually indicates a certain level of vanity..."
She looked up at her fiance, taking his hand gently in her own. "And I can't help the boys," she murmured, "Well, I can to some extent, but..." She trailed off, remembering what it was she had to tell Orion about what she had done several days before. The very idea terrified her, especially after the happy events of today. She understood love now, knew what it was she was feeling, but that also meant that she understood just how badly the news would hurt Orion.
The way she trailed off left alarms buzzing in Orion's mind. He looked at her with a tilt to his head.
"Are you alright there? Has something happened? You can talk to me about anything...I'll not get mad." He braced himself, hoping she would trust him enough to open up about what was bothering her. He suspected, given the nature of her phrasing, that some idiot had fallen head over heels for her and she had reacted as years of habit directed rather than as only weeks of relationship demanded. No doubt, there would be a guilt face, and some boo hooing over how she felt like she betrayed him. He didn't expect change over night, but if she felt guilty, that was enough for him. The other party involved, however, may get an unexpected visit depending on how they treated Gemma.
Gemma looked away from Orion, a sad little smile twisting her lips. "If only you wouldn't, darling," she murmured, clenching his hand tightly in hers, "I... I feel I should tell you, but... I'm afraid, to tell the truth." She glanced around at the other people near them. "But I can't tell you now. Too many people. Later, I promise. Besides, here comes your mother. We should see what she wants..."
She turned to look at the dark-haired woman heading toward them, hoping Orion wouldn't bother her too much about the subject right now. Later would be bad enough.
Her clenched hand, looking away, and admission of fear confirmed Orion's suspicions. That she felt guilty about it was enough for him. Orion was surprised about how mellow he felt about the suspected infringement, but this was Gemma. Flirting wasn't something she used to hurt him. It was a defense mechanism to keep herselfrom getting hurt. He knew that about her now, and was willing to forgive her.
"Later then," he nodded. "and Mother doesn't look too pleased..."
Helen didn't say anything to the couple as she walked past to sit on Orion's left side. Her eyes focused on the party and she brooded well enough to put Orion's own sulky moods to shame.
Gemma nodded, looking back at Orion with what she hoped was a genuine smile, albeit a small one. It was hard to tell whether it was or not, though, for she was still feeling nervous about talking about what she had done. It wasn't just a small thing that could be forgotten, at least not in her mind.... and she wasn't the one considered jealous.
"You're right, she doesn't," she murmured to Orion, watching Helen take a seat on his other side, "Why, I wonder...?" She leaned around Orion, placing her hand on his leg to do so, and spoke to Helen. "Is.... is something that matter? Anything we can do to help?"
So like Andrew, Helen waved a hand airily and dismissively. "No, no...please don't help. You helped enough by allowing that prat of a fiance of yours to rile your parents so badly that breaking the engagement seemed like a good idea...I've had the devil's own time of fixing the problem. And you, Orion Tiberius...I don't know whether I should smack the ever loving brains out of your skull, leaving you alive and retarded, or just kill you...I DO love you, but you make life so difficult..."
She heaved a great put upon sigh and went back to brooding. Orion, uncharacteristically, was trying to stifle a giggle.
"Mother dear, based on the traumatic outcome of my 'intervention,' I would surmise that I am functionally retarded as I am, and therefore render your choices to just killing me. That, however, would ruin your reputation and most likely result with you in Azkaban for murder. Since then, that choice has no benefit beyond short term satisfaction, you are left with an unspoken third option, which is do nothing."
He looked smug with his logical response. His mother, however, just looked exasperated, though a small smile played upon her lips. His apparently flippant response, as well as her overly threatening one, were a teasing tradition between the two.
Gemma listened to what Helen was saying, but truthfully, she stopped listening to the conversation after the woman mentioned Gemma's parents reaction to Orion's verbal battle with them. Her eyes went very wide, and then she had to turn and lay her arms across the back of her chair in order to hide her face, for her emotions were running rampant yet again.
Why can't I just control myself in situations like this? her rational side groaned, Why is it always this infernal breakdown that winds up needing to be fixed by Gerry or Ri? Her emotions, though, mentally flipped this side the finger and went right on filling her with agony. Her parents were no longer happy with the arrangement.... Even though Helen had managed to convince them not to break it off, they would treat her more poorly than ever for it.
She bit her lip, fighting tears. Her shoulders were shaking, she could feel it, and she wondered whether people would mistake it for laughter. Those in the audience might, but Ri and Helen certainly won't, her mind informed her with an unhappy sigh, Oh, joy... they get to witness yet another meltdown...
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