Aeramin glanced up as his father sat down at his table. He had chosen this table as it was out of the way and quiet. It wasn’t near the food tables nor was it near where other people had chosen to sit. Most importantly, it was far from Imralion. He flicked an ear as he resumed bouncing the baby on his knee, causing her to squeal in delight. She loved watching all the people dance. Aeramin watched as well, not moving his eyes back to his father.
“Not even going to say hello?”
Aeramin twitched an ear, remembering this time to continue bouncing the baby on his knee. “I’m a little angry with you right now.”
His father frowned, “Do you want to talk about it? I’m not even sure what you’re angry about this time. I can’t fix it if I don’t know what it is.”
Aeramin chose not to respond as he watched Imralion approach the table.
“Hi Aeramin, Arancon.”
Aeramin refrained from flicking an ear. He was doing his best to not remind Imralion that he was spending time with his daughter. He couldn’t do that if he was walking up on him like that. He scanned the room for Kavia. Shouldn’t he be with her?
Arancon turned around to face Imralion, “Oh, hi.”
“Enjoying the party?” Imralion asked.
Aeramin brought Lyorri back onto the bench beside him. It wouldn’t be best to flaunt how much she means to him in front of Im. Luckily, Lyorri was really good at sitting now, and only needed one hand on her to make sure she didn’t fall.
“Yes. Are you?” Arancon answered Imralion as Aeramin steadied Lyorri next to himself.
“Yeah. Just getting drinks.”
Aeramin glanced at his wine glass.
“They have juice too.” Arancon said.
Aeramin grabbed his glass with his free hand, and took a big sip. He was already on edge just having Lyorri in the same room as Imralion, but she really seemed to enjoy watching people dance. She loved the music too. Aeramin could tell by the way she was trying to sway to it on the bench next to him.
They both looked at him as he put his glass back down.
“There’s a lot of other babies.” Imralion said.
Aeramin looked at him. He wasn’t fooled for a moment. The next thing Imralion said proved it.
“If you want her to play or whatever.”
Of course. He wanted her off in the playroom set up for the babies so that he wouldn’t have to see her.
“Yeah, sorry. I’ll just take her to the other room.” Aeramin muttered.
“I just mean if she gets bored.”
Aeramin got up, balancing the baby in one arm, the bag with her diaper change and milk over his shoulder, and his wine glass in his free hand. He knew what he really meant. Thankfully, he didn’t say it in front of his father. “It’s fine.”
“I should– oh. Okay.”
Aeramin walked briskly to the door and down the hall to the room where the babies were supposed to be. There weren’t any in there. At least, not currently. It was just him and Lyorri for now, and Lyorri was not happy about leaving the ballroom. He placed his wine glass on the table and dropped the bag on the floor. He walked back and forth, bouncing the girl in his arms. “Don’t cry. Look, there’s toys here.” He stooped to pick up a stuffed animal. This one was a hawkstrider. He tried to distract Lyorri with it, putting it in front of her, but she only batted it away and cried louder.
He picked up his wine glass and took another big sip just as his father walked in. He saw the older elf twitch an ear as he passed through the doorway. “Do you have to keep following me?” Aeramin asked over the baby’s cries.
“I was hoping you would want to talk. Maybe it’ll be easier here away from the crowd.” Arancon frowned as he looked at Lyorri, “Why don’t you let me hold her for a bit? I think she knows you’re upset.”
“That’s not why she’s crying. She liked the music.”
“Then take her back to the ballroom.”
Aeramin turned to glare at his father, “No.” He turned back around to continue bouncing Lyorri in his arms as he walked around the room.
Arancon waited silently for a few minutes as Aeramin tried to calm Lyorri. She hadn’t stopped crying when he said, “Your glass is empty. Why don’t you go refill it. I’ll watch her while you’re gone.”
Aeramin hesitated. His father was telling him to go get a drink. This was the same guy who was drunk off his ass for almost 100 years. True he was sober now, but Aeramin didn’t think he had any business telling anyone when to drink. Still, another glass sounded relaxing. He handed over Lyorri and picked up his glass. He noted Lyorri stopped crying almost as soon as she left his arms. He frowned and stormed into the hall.
He almost dropped his glass as he bumped into Imralion and Kavia.
“Hi.” Imralion said.
“Hi.” Aeramin replied.
“Hi.” Kavia greeted him as well.
There was an awkward pause before Imralion said, “We’re going to the garden.”
Aeramin held up his glass. “I’m just getting a refill.”
“Have fun!” Aeramin tried to put on a smile, but he was certain the corners of his mouth twitched. He was far from being in a smiling mood.
“Okay.” Imralion replied.
Aeramin quickly moved past them and back into the ballroom where he made his way to the table with the wine. He refilled his glass, and returned to the other room where his father and daughter were. He sat on the floor next to them. While he was gone, his father had gotten out the blocks, and was building towers of three to four blocks tall. Lyorri’s part was to knock them over. Aeramin joined in on helping with the tower construction.
“Are you ready to talk now?”
“Anything. You could start with why you’re angry with me, if you want.”
“Why shouldn’t I be angry with you?” Aeramin looked up with an eyebrow raised for a moment before restacking the blocks that Lyorri knocked over.
“I’m trying my best now. I’m sorry I wasn’t a good father to you in the past.”
“That’s not what I mean.” Aeramin twitched an ear.
Arancon stacked up another three blocks, “Did I do something more recent?”
Aeramin twitched an ear. Did he really not know? “You can stop talking about my ex’s around Imralion for starters.”
“I figured he knew you’ve been with other people.”
Aeramin looked at his father. He looked at his daughter, then back at his father, raising a brow.
“See, he does know.”
“And I’d rather not remind him.”
“Okay.” Arancon nodded. “I see.”
Aeramin stacked the blocks again with one hand while picking up his wine in the other. He took a long sip from the glass before putting it back down on the floor behind himself.
“Is that why you try to keep her away from him?” Arancon asked.
“He doesn’t want to be around her. She reminds him.” Aeramin twitched an ear.
Arancon waited a few minutes before speaking again, “That bothers you.”
“Of course it does. I feel like I have to hide her from him like some shameful secret, but she’s not– I’m not ashamed of her. I’m proud of her, but with him, I feel like I can’t be. She hurts him.”
“Have you talked to him about it?” Arancon asked.
“Yes, multiple times. I just really don’t want to bring it up anymore. She’s a reminder, and talking about her is a reminder she exists. I feel like I have to live some crazy double life because I love her, and I love him, but the two can’t be together. I thought I was okay with it, but there’s just so many things I want to share, but I can’t. Not with him.”
“I’d advise trying to talk to him again.” Arancon said as he put up a few more blocks. Lyorri laughed as she knocked them over.
Aeramin shook his head. “This is my problem. I just need to get better at dealing with it.”
“Does this have anything to do with Kavia?”
“No. Not really. I mean, I’m upset and I’d like to be with him now, but that couldn’t happen tonight anyways. I have to watch Lyorri. I can’t be with both. I’m afraid I’ll have to choose for real some day.”
Arancon placed another block on a new tower. “Who would you choose?”
Aeramin glared at his father again. “I won’t tell you.” He reached back for his wine and took another big sip.
“Fair enough. Do you want me to watch her for a bit for you?”
“No, they went to the garden.”
“I mean just so you can have a little room to breathe and relax. Maybe you could go out front. I’ll take her back to the ballroom so she can enjoy the music a little longer.”
Aeramin hesitated a moment before nodding, “Yeah, sure. Thanks.”
Arancon smiled, “She’ll be fine with me. Go get some air.”