Tales of Graces f. (!)Pairing:
No one needs more evidence for why the king and the captain should never be allowed in the same room together, but here it is anyway.Rating:
W for Where Did This Even Come From?Notes:
So, uh...somehow I have gone from shipping Hubert/Cheria on a purely intellectual level to planning out a long-ass AU PSL for it with weavingmemories
, constructing an appropriately shippy playlist, and re-designing Hubert and Cheria’s outfits for the AU. It’s also the closest I’ve ever come to wanting to RP smut with someone. Help.
Oh, right: said AU is called Viscariaverse and it involves Asbel dying not long after the end of L&L, thereby setting off a chain of events in which somehow Hubert is not only forced to remain as lord of Lhant in Asbel’s stead, but he also has to marry Cheria for...reasons.
we’re still figuring this shit out, shh
Needless to say, there’s a lot of angst and awkward that results from all this, but thankfully this fic takes place after the two of them have begun sorting out their many issues and made headway towards being a happily-married couple.
(The name of the AU comes from the viscaria flower, which symbolizes an invitation to dance according to the Victorian language of flowers. The inspiration
for the name came from a memethread in which...well, just guess
(The actual fic idea can be blamed on an inappropriate Jade Curtiss macro.)
Some days, Cheria wishes King Richard and Captain Malik were around Lhant Manor more often. Other days...she’s utterly grateful that they aren’t.
At present, the three of them are gathered in the study. They, along with Hubert, have been discussing the organization and implementation of potential co-op initiatives between Windor and Fendel, using Lhant’s strategic position as a facilitation point. Hubert has left the room for the moment at Frederic’s request to deal with a pair of unruly travelers who for some reason have decided that the best place to start a midday fistfight is the road in front of the local lord’s manor.
“You know, it seems like you and Hubert are getting on much better than before,” Richard comments to Cheria once it seems like Hubert is out of earshot.
The change of topic from political to personal startles Cheria a bit. “Mm...yeah. I guess you could say we’ve cleared up some things between us,” she says with a bashful smile. It’s only been a few months since the two actually confessed to each other, so everything still seems so fragile between them, like a newly-built house of cards. Cheria is so deliriously happy about how things have turned out that she’s afraid that talking too much about it will destroy the dream.
“I have to admit,” Malik says, “I wasn’t sure that you two could pull through this.”
She laughs a little. “Things were really that bad, huh?” To be sure, the arrangement had been a shock to everyone who’d known them. She and Hubert hadn’t exactly been thrilled with having to take such a course of action themselves, either. But to think that it had shaken the captain’s faith in them...
“I won’t say it was the most obvious recipe for disaster I’ve ever seen, but it was up there, to be sure.” He chuckles and shakes his head. “Add this to the list of things I’m glad to have been wrong about.”
“The situation could have come straight out of a novel, dramatic as it was,” Richard adds. “Fortunately, this particular novel appears to have a happy ending for the two of you.” He smiles, but the wistful undertone in his voice betrays a deeply-buried sorrow, and for a few moments Cheria can’t help but feel guilty about her happy ending.
“Well, at least it doesn’t seem like Cheria is making Hubert beg for permission to spend his own money,” Malik jokes. “He must be relieved.”
This gets a grin out of Cheria. “You remember that, too?”
“Of course. It was a distinctive monologue. Hubert has quite the way with words. Why...if he’s half as adept with that mouth in the bedroom, then I imagine you’re a very happy woman as well.”
Her brain screeches to a deafening halt.“Wh-what?”
she sputters, staring at Malik in open-mouthed disbelief.
“Interesting way of putting it,” muses Richard, tapping a finger to his lips, “but I think it’s much more likely that he spends the bulk of his nights holed up here attending to business. As I hear it, Lhant has been running so well since Hubert took up the lordship that people are wondering whether he even gets any sleep at all.” He sighs dramatically and gestures with a regretful hand. “If only he applied the same sort of vigor to romancing his wife...”
“Now, now, we’ve been out of the loop here for a while. Who’s to say he doesn’t attend to her the way he attends to his paperwork?”
“That stuff is none of your business!” Cheria snaps, her hands clenching at her sides as she glares at both of them. “But just so you know, he doesn’t do...things
...that way and I wouldn’t want him to in the first place!”
Malik raises an eyebrow. “Oh? You mean you don’t want him to throw you on the desk and do you all night long?”
Cheria’s mouth suddenly goes dry — just as another part of her goes very, very wet.
Which is of course the moment the door opens and Hubert steps in, having properly seen to the commotion outside. “Well, with that settled, I think we can...” He trails off as he catches sight of a blush-stained Cheria wringing her hands, her eyes flitting back and forth between the floor and the desk.
Richard tilts his head in Hubert’s direction, waiting for him to finish his sentence.
Malik folds his arms expectantly.
Hubert frowns and places a hand on his hip. “All right — what have you two done now to distress Cheria like this?”
Richard holds a hand to his heart. “Hubert! I’m hurt that you could think us capable of such a thing. Cheria’s a dear friend; we would never
“I think it’d be more accurate to say that we were simply discussing ways she could de
-stress,” Malik says.
Hubert eyes Cheria for a few moments more before sighing and pushing up his glasses. “Somehow I find that explanation wholly unconvincing. But I’ll let it slide for now.” He walks over to sit at his desk. “Let’s get back to business, shall we?”
They pick up their discussion from where they left off, with Cheria pulling herself up from the depths of indecent thoughts enough to follow the conversation and offer her two cents here and there. Still, she keeps finding herself distracted by the glimpses of skin framed by Hubert’s low-cut shirt (why did he have to wear that on today of all days? I didn’t even know he had shirts like that
), or his slender hands gesturing to emphasize a point he’s making, or his eyes gazing intensely into the air as his mind works through the problems at hand. Or his legs looking as amazing as always in those thigh-high boots he seems to like wearing. Ugh — sometimes it just hurts her how attractive he is.
Thankfully, by the time talks wrap up, she’s regained most of her composure. With her eyes lifted, her heart not
racing, and her cheeks back to normal temperature and tint (well, without a mirror at hand, she’s assuming that since she feels the former, the latter must logically follow), Cheria feels much more like the elegant noblewoman that she’s supposed to be now, rather than the lovesick teenage girl that Richard and Malik seem to think she still is. (Though she has to admit that they’re not entirely
wrong on that count.)
“Not that I haven’t been enjoying this chat of ours,” Richard says, “but the captain and I do still have to make a stop in Velanik today. I’d like to reach the town before nightfall.”
Hubert nods. “Understood. How are things going in Velanik, by the way?”
“As well as can be expected given the conditions,” Malik answers. “There’s been talk of turning that cryas crater Pascal created years ago into some sort of educational tourist attraction. I think it’s an interesting idea, but it needs a little more meat on its bones before it can start earning money for the town.”
“I’ll have to agree with you there. Perhaps if it were part of a greater international tour package involving similar destinations in Windor and Strahta...but we’ll save that discussion for another day if you’re pressed for time.” Hubert takes his quill pen and notates the idea on a piece of parchment. “Are both of you free to meet again next month?”
Richard retrieves his traveling cloak from a nearby rack. “I think that should be fine, although I’ll have to check with Dalen’s plans for me. I’ll write once I find out.”
“As will I,” says Malik. “The chancellor has been running me a bit ragged lately, but my schedule should clear up a little in a few weeks.”
Hubert stands up to bid the two men farewell. “Next month it is, then.”
Malik nods. “As always, it’s been nice talking with you both. Cheria, take care of yourself. Say hi to Sophie for us.”
“Of course, Captain.”
“And as for you, Hubert...” Malik steps over and claps a hand on Hubert’s back with a devious smile. “Well, just take care of that paperwork on your desk, will you?”
Hubert blinks. “Huh?”
“Yes,” Richard adds over Cheria’s distraught squeak. “Work hard on it...as I’m sure you always do.”
“You — you’re both unbelievable!”
she screeches as Malik and Richard as they exit.
“Cheria?” comes Hubert’s perplexed voice from next to her. “What in the world is — ”
She practically jumps out of her skin. “N-nothing!” she stammers, waving her hands at him with a strained smile. “It’s nothing! I mean, they’re both so weird and everything, right? They’re just, you know...” She swallows. “Anyway! I should probably start cooking lunch right about now. See you later, okay?”
And Cheria flees the study without a backwards glance, nearly tripping over her long skirt in the process.
...Hubert furrows his brow.
“But didn’t we just have lunch together an hour ago...?”