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Of secular politeness

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He and Ada went to the theatre that day to see the newest play of that young dramaturge, whose works of drama and comedy had managed to agitate all of Reveil in a relatively short period. Frankly, Vincent wasn’t big on theatres (as well as on the other public places with a bunch of people, made with the sole purpose of these people sitting around and gossiping for two to four hours), however, he did manage to get his hands on two of the best tickets, and it was simply a matter of secular traditions to gift one of them to young miss Ada. Especially since she had already mentioned the play the other day.

And maybe it was their second date of the week. Vincent simply supposed that the theatre date in times like this, when it’s the most popular conversation topic in the capital, would do great deal in strengthening their relationship. And all of that would make it easier to manipulate the girl, of course.

There was no way in hell Vincent was going to admit to himself or anyone else that he did enjoy spending time with young lady of Vessalius.

What happened further is that Vincent didn’t enjoy the play in the slightest. The beginning of it was screaming cliches, and the final sequence was very unnecessary melodramatic. Not to mention that everyone’s newly favourite dramaturge was simply not that good at writing, considering the lessons taught barely made any sense, and Vincent could pinpoint at least two different plot holes.

He never found out what Ada thought about the play— afterwards, they never happened to get back to it. She kept silent throughout the whole performance, and when Vincent was about to indulge a conversation while walking her home, there happened to be some other circumstances to think about.

The thing was, the rain that had started was unlike anything Reveil had seen in months.

Neither of them had an umbrella at hands. Why would they, was the question: it wasn’t like the sky warned anyone about the sudden weather change that morning.

Which brought the couple into the mansion of the Vessalius House. Vincent was lucky enough to find out that Mr Oscar was out of the city, visiting someone for work reasons, and so, Ada was the only one present in the house, beside from all of the servants. Considering that, they only found it logical that it would be better for Vincent to wait for the rain to stop.

“We should put your clothes away to dry,” Ada said, looking herself and the young man up and down, both soaked from head to toes, “I should be able to get you one of uncle’s shirts for a change. What do you think, Mr Vincent?”

What Vincent thought was that he would love to see the look on old stupid Bernard’s face, if the one found out that one of the heirs to Nightrays is walking around wearing one of Vessalius’ shirts, and that thought made him smirk with satisfaction.

“It would be exceptionally nice of you, miss Ada.”

 

Oscar Vessalius’ clothing was just a little bit too long and big for him, but he did feel quite comfortable with the belt sitting tight, and the sleeves of his shirt tucked up. What he also noticed, looking at himself in the mirror, was that he reminded himself of a pirate from a book cover, maybe one of the books that Elliot owned. The only things missing were something alike a missing eye, and a knife hanging by the belt. That was quite a funny comparison, considering Vincent was never big on pirate fiction, either.

He looked around the room, which was one of the guest bedrooms in the mansion. It was, in fact, not so different from any other guest bedroom Vincent had been to in his life. The same big bed in one corner, a couple of chairs around the fireplace in the other, a wardrobe with a mirror, and a bright lamp. Although, maybe there were some more cat pictures around the walls than there would be in the Nightray mansion.

Then, he heard a knock at the door, and one of the servants spoke from the hall:

“Mr Nightray, sir. Miss Ada is waiting to see you downstairs for dinner once you are ready.”

Vincent sighed then, putting a secular smile on his face, and turned to the door.

Ada was indeed waiting for him downstairs, seemingly caught up in her thoughts behind the dinner table. It took her a moment to notice the young man— and once she did, she instantly jumped up from her seat, making sure her dress is sitting properly, a shy smile on her face. She really did look cute in her clean white dress, alike a little innocent sheep. And that smile of hers was so… not the secular kind, not the one the other young ladies smiled with, which was all so sugary. It lacked the necessary playful and fake adoration radiating from the face, and instead it was… How did people call it? Sincere.

Which, frankly, irritated Vincent to no end.

“Would you like some tea, Mr Vincent?”

“I would be endlessly grateful.”

Not that tea would make young Vessalius girl any less irritating. Truth be told, Vincent didn’t even crave so much for tea, but secular politeness and plain manners didn’t let him say no to the offer. And maybe, just maybe, the spring scent coming from the cups was indeed tempting. And the gentle movements of Ada’s fingers as she poured the drink with joy playing in her eyes, but that was one option that didn’t even cross Vincent’s mind.

The rain, it seemed, wasn’t going to end any time soon. Vincent could catch a carriage, or, at the very least, borrow a couple of horses from the mansion, but neither of them happened to remember about theses possibilities. That, or they dismissed it once it did cross their minds. After all, it was so warm in cozy in that dining room, comparing to the storming world outside, or comparing to the cold and dark atmosphere of the Nightray mansion’s own dining table. Vincent could admit that, through clenched teeth.

“Maybe it would be safer if you stayed the night?” Ada said, her voice so quiet it could as well be a whisper, and she wasn’t quite looking Vincent in the eye, instead watching the storm raging behind the windows.

“I appreciate your offer, but—” he really was going to decline. He was, before something caught in his throat, and he had to start over: “I suppose it really would be better for me to stay.”

That secular politeness was draining everything out of him.

He was put into that same guest bedroom, and Vincent chuckled, coming back there after their dinner was over. Old Bernard would lose his mind at the thought of him taking everything out of Vessalius’ hospitality, and, frankly, feeling sorry for him would be the last thing for Vincent to do.

 

At the very least, his own clothing dried by the morning. When he got dressed and went downstairs, Ada was already sitting there, her eyes still full of sleepy mist, and her hands mindlessly stroking a cat on her lap.

“Good morning to you, miss Ada.” Vincent greeted.

“Good morning, Mr Vincent.” she said back, that smile instantly back on her face, “Would you like some tea?”

Vincent thought, at first, that maybe it was better for him to leave right there, back to the Nightray mansion. On the other hand, nobody ever said no to the morning tea, did they?

Just like that, he spent another hour at the Vessalius’ mansion, accepting a breakfast with Ada, and then offering himself for them to take a walk around the garden. The grass was still wet after the storm, but neither of them commented on it, and when Vincent, at last, said that it was time for him to go, the smile didn’t dare to vanish from Ada’s face.

“Mr Vincent!” she did call out for him, when he was already turning to leave, “Maybe you would like to stay for some tea the next time as well?”

Vincent smiled back, and there was no way he could decline, all because of the damn secular politeness, of course. He didn’t let himself think about any other possible reasons.