Hiraeth Chapter 38: Comforts
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Chapter Thirty-Eight: Comforts
Note: Another late update… Sorry, everyone! I’ve just been exhausted lately. Not tired in a sleepy kind of way, but in a “I have absolutely no vitamins and need some sort of supplement because after aspects of my health have completely depleted my reserves” kind of way. Don’t worry, I’m not sick or anything. I’m just a mess lol.
Nero had never once seen a table this long before in his life.
Even the orphanage that he had spent a good portion of his youth in hadn’t possessed one quite this large. They had just taken multiple tables and pushed them together so that everyone could fit in the same room. The orphanage had pretty good funding from the Order back then, at least from what he could tell, but they had been far from rich. And they had had at least 30 mouths to feed, not including faculty. That was part of why they had been so overwhelmed after the destruction of Fortuna during the Savior Incident and the subsequent fall of the Order of the Sword. But at least some good had come from it. They would have never met Kyle, Carlo, and Julio otherwise.
In all honesty, he always assumed that tables like this were fake. Figments of the imagination that movie directors dreamed up to display the extravagance of the wealthy who had nothing better to do than spend exorbitant amounts of money on completely useless showpieces that they then used to fill even larger, virtually empty rooms. Magnitude seemed to be a staple when someone wanted to show off their supposed power. A larger home. Countless meandering, purposeless rooms. Sometimes an unnecessarily large tv, sometimes forgoing that, a theater room. And always a faster car.
But this fucking table…
How many people lived in this house? It was gargantuan, but he couldn’t imagine that there were quite enough people living here to merit that many seats at one table. And getting a single piece of wood this long? Certainly, it had to be hewn from more than one log. Nero had never even seen a single tree that would feasibly make a table this long possible. He couldn’t imagine that it had been taken from a single source. Maybe the same piece cut down the center and then attached at the middle or something, but he couldn’t say. Maybe it was just super old and had been made back in a time when trees that big were just everywhere? He wasn’t exactly a woodworker or a historian.
They had not wandered to this side of the manor until Magnolia had left the library to go… wherever she had gone. He wasn’t blind. None of them were. They knew that she was suffering. In fact, so would a blind person. She had not been subtle about it, and none of them blamed her for that. Well, compared to most she had been, but for her, that had been quite the noticeable exit. Part of the youngest Descendant of Sparda hoped that she was alright. Here he was overthinking it. Maybe it was best to just go back to fixating over the table. It was less upsetting.
“What seems to be the trouble?”
Looking over across the room towards the window, he caught sight of V. The young summoner was leafing through some sort of book. No surprise there. He normally was, after all. The difference this time was that they had borrowed it from the seemingly restricted section of the library, and that he seemed to be focusing very hard on it as if he were actually having to put effort into understanding it. That wasn’t something that Nero was used to in the slightest. V normally just seemed to read for the sake of it because it was something that he enjoyed. He didn’t seem to study things. But this time was different. The young devil hunter didn’t want to disturb his sibling, but he felt that it might be best to answer him. He didn’t want to come off as though he were ignoring V.
“Nothing much, just this table. Who has a table this big? What about you? That book can’t be that good, right?” Nero laughed slightly, trying to lift the silence that had permeated the room. He looked around, taking in their surroundings and noticing that something was out of place. He just couldn’t put his finger on it. “Are we missing something?”
V closed the book, looking up at him in earnest. “I can’t seem to shake what happened earlier. Something about her… And yes, it is quite a large table. Though not the largest I’ve seen, believe it or not. One of the orphanages I stayed in had one a little bigger. Or perhaps that was just from my point of view as a small child. Everything is so much bigger then.”
He drifted off then, clearly considering something. Sometimes Nero wondered what went on in the other man’s mind, the vast halls of his machinations unknown to him. He wasn’t familiar with his sibling’s past to the degree that he would have liked. There were still some large gaps in there that made him wonder from time to time what had happened to him throughout the years. But then again, it was probably much the same for V. One could only imagine that he sometimes thought about what Nero’s youth had been like in comparison to his. Once all of this was over, he would have to ask him about it. But right now, he knew that he had far too much on his mind.
“Oh yea, sorry I brought it up. I know you don’t really like talking about that part of your life. Guess that makes two of us.”
“You had no way of knowing. Don’t dwell on my past. Please. I don’t. But I’m not surprised that you don’t enjoy the subject, either.” He paused, standing and giving the room a once over before smirking slightly, seemingly unbothered by the memories this conversation had brought up. “As for your previous question, I believe that Nico is missing. Are we safe to assume that she disappeared to look for the kitchen, then?”
Chortling, Nero nodded. “Can’t imagine that she’d go looking for anything else. This place doesn’t seem like it has a workshop or anything else that would catch her eye. And I’m pretty sure that she almost frustrated herself to death earlier trying to read the stuff in that library. Guess she doesn’t speak every language known to man like you seem to.”
It was V’s turn to be amused. He chuckled slightly under his breath, his smirk widening. That had actually been rather clever, all things considered. He couldn't recall if he’d mentioned it before, but he actually did enjoy Nero’s sense of humor. “Not all of them. Just the useless ones that no one uses anymore. Well, outside of this library, anyway.”
Moments later, Nico rounded the corner, and sure enough, she was eating something. What that something was, they couldn’t tell, but she had an entire bowl of it and was tucking in despite the fact that she was walking. Sirrus accompanied her, seemingly amused by how eager she was to eat whatever it was that she’d brought with her from the kitchen in that large bowel. He shook his head and nodded politely to everyone present.
“Pardon me, everyone. I took the liberty of showing her where the kitchen was on the way back. Seems that everyone will be having their dinner in their rooms tonight due to the lockdown, so if you choose to eat in here, no one will be joining us.” He crossed his arms, shrugging. There wasn’t much more that he could say. It has been a long day for all of them in different ways. Most probably just wanted to rest. “Most prefer to stay to themselves and continue their studies, so this isn’t really that abnormal. Holidays are normally the only times that they bother to use this room. Either way, I suspect that we will have plenty of time to speak with Aluta tomorrow. I believe that she can answer any lingering questions you may have then. She wants to see V, after all. We just discussed it a few minutes ago while Nico was in the kitchen.”
He took a closer look at Nico as she pulled up a chair and sat down, still gobbling down whatever was in the bowel. She glanced over at him for a moment, pausing, and then looking at V and Nero. She had yet to figure out why everyone was looking at her like that. What, had they never seen someone eat a bowl of stew or soup or whatever before? Because that was somewhat hard to believe. Kyrie made it all the time!
V nodded in agreement with Sirrus’s statement. He had some questions of his own for her. As he approached Nico, curious as to what she was devouring with such gusto, she burped, blinking rapidly in surprise as to how loud it sounded in a place this quiet. Opting to say nothing from mind embarrassment, she just awkwardly returned to eating. The young summoner simply shook his head, a small smile spreading across his lips. Nico was always full of surprises. “... Are you eating out of the serving bowl, Nico?
She paused for a moment, looking down at the bowl as though she hadn’t considered that fact until now. He was, in fact, absolutely correct. She was holding a metal serving bowl filled with soup. A medium-sized serving bowl, but still a serving bowl nonetheless. It hadn’t even occurred to her until now that when she had asked to get something that she had probably taken the entire part of the dinner. Surely there had to be more, right? They wouldn’t make one bowel this size for a house that had as many people in it as this one probably had, right? The kitchen alone was bigger than most apartments she’d been in! “... Yea, what about it, V?”
He opened his mouth slightly and raised his left hand to elaborate before lowering it and closing his mouth. It was best to quit while he was ahead and just not say anything. After all, what was there to say at this point? It wasn’t the strangest thing Nico had ever done by a longshot, and if anything, it was pretty funny actually. Best to simply let her enjoy her food. “... It’s nothing, Nico. Don’t mind me.”
With a shrug, she returned to her food, doing just as he’d asked her to do. V then turned back to Nero and Sirrus, the two of which were still staring at her in disbelief as to the fact that she was capable of fitting that much food into her body in the first place. Nico normally wasn’t a picky eater, and she ate a healthy amount of food, but this had reached another level entirely.
“On that note, where was everyone?” Sirrus asked casually, seemingly thoroughly done and ready to just settle in for the night. Like the rest of them, he’d had an eventful day, and he was ready to just relax and enjoy a nice meal.
“Dante and Lucia went to look for Vergil. He just kind of vanished about an hour ago. Couldn’t tell you where he went, but I’m sure he’s fine. I mean, he’s basically indestructible, after all. At least, I think he is. Look, I don’t know.” Nero said, sighing in defeat. Honestly, he didn’t know where the hell basically anyone in this giant house was. It was just kind of up in the air. What he did know was that he really wanted something from that kitchen. Nico’s bowel of what seemed to be some kind of stew was extremely appetizing.
Noticing the way that he and V were looking at the bowel of food that Nico was eating, Sirrus shook his head and laughed slightly. That was completely understandable. He would be lying if he said that he didn't want something to settle his stomach. “If you’d like, I could-”
“Yes, please,” V said more eagerly than he’d probably meant to. Sirrus blinked in surprise for a moment before breaking down into almost hysterical laughter, covering his mouth with the backs of his fingers. He practically weased as he attempted to compose himself, utterly sent. The other two members of the team who were present laughed slightly as well, amused by V’s hidden desire to raid the kitchen, but then both Nero and Nico remembered how much V was capable of eating and turned pale. The staff that worked here were in for a rude awakening.
Dinner was going to be late tonight.
On their way back to the dining area, Magnolia and Vergil had made a detour, the botanist suddenly remembering something. “I have something I want to show you” she had said, bounding off through the puddles and down the path that led to the back area of the manor. Once Vergil had rounded the corner, not bothering to protest her request, he had found himself within the central garden, surrounded on three sides by the manor and by the woods on the far side. Perplexingly enough, there were actually two central gardens here, this one being the furthest back leading the residence to have a sort of U-shaped structure with a line through the middle like an A. That was the best way that he could describe it after seeing it from above.
Ahead of them stood an imposing glass structure, victorian in style, and easily two stories tall lined with wet glass on all sides that glittered under the now visible starlight. It wouldn’t last for long, but for now, it was a welcome change. A menagerie of flowers, large-leafed plants, and water features surrounded it, wisteria making its way up the sides of the structure on the right, fully engulfing it. The entire left half of the structure was draped under a massive cherry tree, the buds of which were blooming. How strange to see during the fall. It was not unheard of, but strange nonetheless. Perhaps it was supernatural in nature? That wouldn’t be all that unusual when the residence of the property were taken into consideration. They possessed a variety of abilities, many unknown to him. It was all a matter of their chosen field of study. Such power had been what had drawn him here in his youth, and it seemed that it had brought him back all these years later. It seemed that his life still went in circles.
“You have an Arboretum. Was that always here? I can’t say that I remember it.” He said casually, finally catching up to her. He could have done so long before now, but he simply hadn't felt like it. Rushing through the gardens had never been something he’d done if he could help it. This was one of the few places that he actually enjoyed being at, the lush greenery and soft, delicate scent of the flowers something he found strangely pleasant. A part of him wondered if they were poisonous. That would be just his luck. Some of the most beautiful blooms held the deadliest toxins.
“No. It was commissioned by me as my last act before stepping down. A tribute to my mother’s love of horticulture. The fountain inside, a tribute to my father.” She smiled sadly, more than likely remembering something from her past. Vergil couldn’t say that he completely understood the feeling. He had been half her age when his own parents had disappeared from his life. She had a clarity that he just didn’t possess in regards to this matter, and her parents had been similar to his own, but entirely different at the same time. He loved aquatic life. The butterfly garden within is climate controlled. One of the few things they both loved were butterflies, so I felt it was only right. I’ve never really had the never to step foot inside of it, though.”
Pausing for a moment to take in the structure again, Vergil then turned and looked at her, gaining his attention as he failed to follow her. She was going to ask him what was the matter, but then he spoke before she had the opportunity. “Did you want to?”
She pondered what he meant by that for a moment before realizing that he was referring to the Arboretum. She debated her response back and forth with herself, unsure as to why that was such a difficult question for her to answer. But after a moment, it occurred to her that she really had nothing to lose. Steadying herself, she nodded, recognizing that she would need to actually take a chance and step foot into the structure if her feelings associated with it were ever to be under her direct control. “Yes. I think I will.”
Vergil said nothing. Instead, walked over to the structure with her just behind him, casily steppin over the stepping stones through the water that led to the Arboretum. As she approached, he stood next to the door waiting. She gave him a curious look, but he stepped out of her way and gestured towards the door as if to say “after you.”
A small smile spread across her face as she gave him a gentle, playful shove and reached for the door, now ready to go inside. She was glad he was here, even if it was only to satiate his own curiosity. No one would ever believe her if she told them that she had somehow managed to get the Darkslayer to go into a botanical garden filled with butterflies. It wasn’t very on-brand with his cool, composed nature.
Just outside of their view in one of the central windows on the second story stood Dante and Lucia, surprised and unsure as to what was going on below them. They looked like two teens who had just sneaked out without telling their parents, although Mongolia was the more outwardly excited teen and Vergil the reluctant tagalog. But either way, it wasn’t really their business, was it? After all, what harm could come from it? They were just out enjoying the garden. About as harmless of an endeavor as Dante could hope when it came to his older twin.
“Let’s just leave them be. Why ruin the fun?” Lucia said, smiling slightly. She wondered what they were up to down there. Wondered what had transpired that had led them both here after Magnolia had left. She knew that it didn’t have anything to do with her, but it was still fascinating either way. Vergil didn’t seem like the kind to just walk about and have a conversation with someone, so presumably, Magnolia was doing most of the talking. That was, if either one of them was talking at all. They could just be enjoying that wonderful garden. Maybe she could visit it tomorrow? They would be here for at least one more day.
“Honestly? Yea, sounds like a good idea.” Dante turned and headed back towards the hallway, his back to the large window. For once, Vergil seemed like he might be enjoying himself. He wasn’t going to mess that up. But he was definitely going to ask him about why he’d lent Magnolia his coat. He never did that. “Let’s head back. They’ll find their way in when the rain starts again. Or get rained on. Either way, we’ll see them later.”
LOL Don’t really have any notes this time! See you in the comments! I hope you liked this chapter and that you had a good day!
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