Vivian took a measured sip of her steaming cup of tea, making sure she didn’t burn her lips as she drank. It was a beautiful day out, so she had the lounge area all to herself, along with the most comfortable couch. Most wizards and guardians were out training or doing some chores around the house. She was glad to find the room abandoned, since she didn’t fancy staying in her bedroom all day just to get some time to herself. She decided she’d stay indoors while most inhabitants were outside. She’d chosen an interesting book from the library, just a bit of light reading, enough to distract herself. Armed with this and her chamomile tea, she hoped it was enough to feel less edgy. So far it was working, she felt very relaxed. She’d even taken the liberty to kick off her boots and stretch leisurely on the sofa. Yes, she could tell this was going to be a good day.
Vivian knew she was wrong as soon as someone crossed the threshold and stepped into the lounge. She grunted, annoyed, and purposely leaned away from the door and the towering guardian that’d just entered it, thinking what a shame it was he hadn’t hit his head on the way in. Elias spotted her quite quickly, her audible grunt assisting him conveniently. He didn’t move right away, instead furrowed his eyebrows and squeezed his lips into a thin line.
Then, he cleared his throat and made his way over to the couch Viv was lying on. She made a point of it to ignore him and appear immersed in her book. She could hear his boots thudding heavily on the floor and when they stopped she could see him standing next to her from the corner of her eye. She guessed he was waiting for her to acknowledge his presence. She stubbornly refused to and pointedly turned a page in her book though she hadn’t finished the previous one. A moment’s silence, then she heard him grunt, move around, and from the noises he made Vivian figured he’d taken a seat in the armchair opposite the couch.
“Listen, I believe ... we got off on the wrong foot.”
He sounded begrudging, but it still piqued Vivian’s interest a little. Elias usually didn’t display this kind of behaviour, admitting he made a fault of some kind. Finally, she tore her eyes away from the book and turned her head in his direction, sporting a frown similar to his. His eyebrows were still knitted together and he seemed expectant of her, waiting for her to talk. Vivian simply raised her eyebrows a single time, clearly not planning to and nowhere near satisfied with what he was saying.
Elias huffed, cast a brief glare at the curtains, then went on. “Alright, so… I have observed you didn’t take too keenly to the entire… family tradition circumstance.”
Viv snorted and rolled her eyes. “Understatement of the year,” she growled, looking back at her book.
“Alright,” Elias countered, struggling to keep the impatience out of his voice, “Fine, I realize I might have come off a bit strongly. It’s merely… I… I hope you can gather how important this is to me and my family. And your family.”
The wizard turned her head again and saw he was looking at her, his face alive and intense like it usually was when he talked about something he was passionate about, or was sitting in front of a pot roast. Her anger diminished a little and got replaced with interest. She lifted her eyebrows. He must have taken it as a sign to continue.
“Look, this is not some kind of a whim,” he told, his voice calm this time, “It involves a sacred pact that intertwines our families. They did not establish this as a kind of fluke. It represents and honours the strong bond and friendship that existed between our ancestors.” Elias paused here for a minute, his lips a thin line, contemplating the incredible irony of what he just said because this didn’t apply in the least bit to the bond (or lack thereof) that existed between him and the person on the couch. Vivian shared in his sentiments and made a committal noise.
“Anyhow,” he went on, “It was both of our ancestors’ wish this bond they shared is to be protected, and for their descendants to look after one another. They cared so much for each other, it was their wish for their families to do the same and be close to one another for the ages to come.” The guardian stopped again for a second, regarding the wizard on the couch, “Come on, aren’t you at least a little bit curious about all this?”
Vivian didn’t respond right away, biting her lip instead. She silently cursed the man sitting in the armchair, who somehow seemed to have guessed she was indeed a little curious. Not that she was going to give him the satisfaction of finding out.
“That doesn’t matter,” she said cleverly, closing her book and sitting up, swinging her legs of the couch. “I just don’t want you to follow me around everywhere twenty-four seven!” Grumbling, she added, “I already see enough of you more than I care for.”
Elias was offended, but he decided to bite his tongue and chose to ignore it. “That is not the idea,” he explained, unable to keep a small edge out of his voice, “I have no intention to follow you around everywhere you go, I avoid it if I can,” he added, not wanting to be the only one insulted here. He continued before she had a chance to retort, “It just applies to potentially dangerous situations. I know you are safe inside the house, so I’m not going to follow you around—and it’s not following around!” he corrected heatedly, “It’s looking out for one another. If it puts your mind at ease, we will only see the normal amount of each other inside this house. Though I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to check out your living quarters, just to make sure I know where they are should something arise,” Elias added as an afterthought, holding his chin between his thumb and index finger, casting his eyes at the floor momentarily in consideration.
Vivian groaned and was about to argue, but he was faster and his grey eyes flew back towards her face, “Look, I didn’t ask for this to happen!” he told her, holding out his hands to the side, “But circumstances are what they are, it just happens to be this way.”
“But why?” the red-head argued, also spreading her arms to the side. “Why is it that way? No one’s making you! Why are you doing this?” She didn’t even sound cross, just baffled.
Elias regarded her as though she’d was asking him why one plus one equals two.
“… Because it’s important to me,” he said simply, as though this was obvious. “It’s part of who I am, where I come from and how my mother raised me to be. It’s important to my family and my family is important to me. So in a way, inadvertently,” he made sure to stress the word, “you are important to me.”
It looked as if he was about to say something else, but apparently he caught on the connotation of what he just said and flushed a little, embarrassed. “Well you know what I mean,” he muttered, waving a dismissive hand. He was not the only one flustered as Vivian sported faint red cheeks, looking slightly mortified.
“But what if I don’t want to?” she said, deciding to pretend he’d never said that, “What if I don’t want to be protected or whatever?”
Elias raised an eyebrow, “You know what guardians do, right? They’re supposed to-”
Vivian scoffed. “Of course I do! That’s not what I meant! I mean what if I don’t want anything to do with this whole family tradition business? It’s not like you can make me!”
The person opposite the wizard observed her for a moment, looking thoughtful. “I don’t intend to,” he said, “In spite of what you might believe, I have no desire to make you feel uncomfortable.” He shrugged a little, “It just seems unusual to me you bear the crest, but you have no idea what it means. Especially since it’s a symbol of what I described earlier and at the same time a manifestation of agreeing to the traditional pact. Agreeing to look after the Blackwoods. Like mine does the Reids.”
Viv looked away and stared down at her necklace, the gold glinting pleasantly in the morning sun. She noticed she’d subconsciously started to fiddle with its chain. Thoughts were going through her mind and she wasn’t sure what to say to him.
“Contemplate this,” the guardian said, causing her to look up. “Is it really that horrible to have someone looking out for you? In the end, it’s what all of us do for one another. It’s only an extra dimension that’s added, because it has historic significance. It’s not supposed to be a hassle, it’s supposed to an asset.” He rose his eyebrows after this, as if he waited for her to deny his logical reasoning. Vivian was a little frustrated that she couldn’t.
“Okay fine,” she said begrudgingly, “I suppose that makes sense.” She looked down at her necklace again, observing the golden crest. “And I can appreciate the historical background about my famil-”
“Excellent!” Elias responded with his usual fervour, flying from the armchair in one swift movement and clenching his fists ardently. “So that is settled! I shall inform mother immediately of this incredible discovery, she will be most enthused. Certainly she will be able to offer some insightful advice to boot. I shall find pen and paper instantaneously and write to her!” It looked like he was talking to himself more than he was to Vivian. He was already making way for the door.
“Hey wait a second, Snowflake!” Viv retaliated, also jumping off the couch and grabbing her boots off the floor. “You can’t just--!”
“No, no exactly, you are right,” Elias said, turning around so quickly Viv almost ran into him. “It would be more important to get a good estimate of each other’s living quarters first. You never know what might happen and I can always write to mother later. Right!” He slapped Vivian amiably on the back, knocking the breath out of her lungs. “I suggest we find yours first. Lead the way!” In spite of what he’d just suggested, he was already off, taking long strides pacing out of the room, with a fuming wizard in his wake.