The peaceful days in between
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After making the guard pay, Farin explained that he would be off to his home for the night. Since they had met straight at the restaurant, he hadn't yet introduced Alec to his family or even greeted them.

"You're just curious how he'll react to your mother, right?", Eylir laughed, thinking about the strong woman that easily followed the usually male hunters. He had gone out with her before and had mercilessly lost the hunting contest.
Farin shrugged without a comment. Alec wanted a strong wife, so he might as well take a look at one. After all, his father was the same. He had never liked the thought of having to protect his wife, so when Farin's mother came along, he didn't hesitate in marrying her. Farin's family grew up with the concept of girls learning how to be independent and how to protect themselves.

"Let's go along, I'm curious about his reaction", Skari suggested, poking Eylir's arm to catch his attention. There was no need for him to ask Farin whether it was fine to come along; his two friends were almost family, they could enter his house freely just as he could theirs. Even if his parents would wake up to one of them suddenly standing in their kitchen, taking food, they'd just be greeted with a hug.

"Is your mother home? I like your mother", Lori asked, running back to Farin from farther down the road. She already knew the way and was looking at the stores, so she was quicker than the three strolling adults. Alec followed behind her, listening to her talking.
"She should be back soon. I bet she'll be happy to see you."

Indeed, Farin's mother quite liked Lori. Ever since the girl had gotten used to living in the temple, her original lively demeanor had surfaced. Farin's mother was like an idol to her, a woman that did not need to cower in front of man and who could travel across the country without help.

"His mother is from the north", Lori explained to Alec, who widened his eyes.
"Ah, you can tell from how Farin looks that he has northern blood." Rudely, the boy pointed at Farin's long ponytail. "How come Farin is so timid? I always thought that northerners were... I don't know, strong, stoic. Not like him."

Farin opened his mouth to call out on the obvious prejudice, but decided that trying to explain it to Alec right now wasn't worth the trouble. In his stead, Skari began to chuckle.
"Farin only appears timid if you don't spend much time around him."
"Yeah, you can't underestimate how much he starts bending the rules once he's taken an interest in something."
This time, Farin wanted to refute but couldn't. Not after he had just broken the rule of not being allowed to interact with the Gods, even taking it as far as starting a relationship with one, finding out their true history, and even taking him out of the mountain for a short time.

"Still, it's probably good that he's not living in the north? I think no one would take him seriously. I mean, imagine him participating in a hunt. I wouldn't want to be in his group."
Farin blinked, forcefully keeping his gaze away from Alec but feeling his lip twitch.

"Is everyone getting a bashing today? It was Eylir during the meal, now it's me. Is it going to be you next, Skari?", he asked with an overly friendly tone. Eylir agreed with a loud laugh.
"Sounds good. Alec, what do you think about Skari?"

The boy mustered the scholar with squinted eyes, then ruthlessly gave his opinion. "He looks weak. I'd be worried that someone would kidnap him."
"Has happened", muttered Eylir, thinking with his hand on his chin. Skari was fuming.
"Who is weak! I'm just... not trained!"
"Well you're a commoner, you can just marry a man to protect you", Alec commented, shrugging his shoulder. 

All three adults sucked in a breath.
"...Can we stop including him in our conversation? I feel like it's just plain painful", Skari complained quietly. 

"What do they teach the noble children nowadays? How to hit it where it hurts? Because he's on a good way, if you ask me", Eylir grumbled, causing Farin to pat his back.
"Nobility is all about hitting those who are down and sucking up to those who are above you, if you ask me."
"So he's viewing us as below him in status?"
"You might have forgotten, but we are."

Eylir creased his forehead, them humpfed. "Well, shit. I guess we are."

"...I don't think I like nobility", Lori said to herself, warily watching a very confused Alec from the side of her eyes.
"What, did I say something wrong?", he wondered, not at all realizing how poisonous his tongue was.
Eylir heavily patted the boy's head, pushing him down. Alec made an angry noise and glared up, but didn't dare to truly complain to someone who was a close friend of Farin's and Lori's.

"No, you're just being a noble."
Eylir held back the disdain in his voice. He didn't like nobles, but he also knew that it was ridiculous to hate a whole group just for the black sheep he knew about.

Alec's eyes had widened to two huge circles when Farin's mother had entered the house, effortlessly carrying half a pig on her shoulder and even taking the time to stop and look at Alec, who was sitting in the living room with Lori and Farin's younger siblings of the same age. Not all of them were at home, and the youngest one was sitting on Farin's lap in a corner where the three adults sat.
With a huge grin, Farin's mother waved to the boy and then went to place the pig down in the kitchen.

"What a surprise", she said amicably. "So many visitors! Good thing I brought enough food. Especially since Eylir is here, hm?"
"I'd love some dinner later", Eylir purred, being very fond of the northern recipes. 
"We just ate, but I think those two here will stay for dinner. Lori and Alec will stay with me anyway, that shouldn't be a problem, right?", Farin called from the corner, pushing his youngest sibling off his lap, who made a pouty face.

"Always love guests. Hello, Alec, I'm Farin's mother."
Alec's face turned to excitement. He pointed at the woman, then looked at Farin. "See! That's what a northerner should be like!"

Farin placed his head inside his hands with a long sigh while his mother raised an eyebrow.
"It looks like he has some... ideas about the north", she slowly said. "Well, boy, why don't I tell you about the north later to straighten that twisted view, alright?"
"Oh, are you going to tell us stories? Farin sometimes tells me one! They're really interesting", Lori chirped, her eyes shining. The woman ruffled her short hair, mutely confirming her hopes.

Alec didn't look too happy with that. He probably thought himself too much of an 'adult' to listen to stories.
Farin chimed in. "Sharing stories is a tradition up in the north. The whole village sits together once a year to tell whatever stories they've gathered, right, Mom?"
"Indeed. It's a shame the central countries don't do this kind of thing", she sighed, shaking her head wistfully. "It was always a great enjoyment where even the youngest could stay up to listen as long as they could endure. There were even stories about the Gods that live here, you know?"

"You never told us stories", Eylir playfully complained, hitting Farin with his elbow. The carrier pulled a face.
"How could I? You aren't patient enough to listen, are you? I'm not even sure I know a story that would interest you... Except for one, and I don't want to tell that."

"What kind of story is it?" Skari tilted his head, curious, but Farin just placed his hand in front of his mouth with a frown.
"Not a nice one. Mom told it to me as punishment for a mess I've caused once."
"You can use stories as punishments?" Eylir's eyes widened, not understanding how that would be possible. Farin's mother laughed evilly, showing a mischievous grin.

"Absolutely. If it's told during dinner and you can describe things well enough."
Eylir lifted his eyebrows at Farin, whose face looked uncomfortable. "You don't want to hear stories about cannibalistic beings during your meal. Not with how well Mom tells her stories."
He had refused to eat meat for three weeks after that and had to sit at another table because he couldn't watch his family eat it, either.

"Now I'm curious. Can you tell it to me later?", Eylir happily said, looking at Farin's mother who shrugged, the evil grin still on her face.
She pointed at the children before answering. "Of course I can, but only if the little ones aren't around."
Their faces fell. "What? We want to hear it, too!"
"Be obedient. I'm not doing anything you two will regret."

"If Mom says you will regret something, you usually will", one of Farin's siblings said and the whole family, including even Skari and Eylir, nodded in quiet agreement. 

The sentence caught the children's attention, so they began to talk with Farin's siblings again while his mother walked over to the three youths, sitting down with them and reaching out to caress Farin's hair.
"How are you, sweetie? Are things fine up in the temple?"
Farin thought about it for a moment, then showed a small smile that could only be described as lovestruck. Eylir laughed at the sight and the woman raised her eyebrows. "Hmmm? So I thought correctly that you've found someone you like. When are you going to introduce us?"

The three exchanged awkward glances. "Mom, introducing is going to be... complicated."
"Complicated? Why? Is it because of their status? Is it one of the nobles?" She frowned, watching Farin turn his eyes away.
"What's worse than a noble? ...Even the temple master and his heir wouldn't have a status problem, and there shouldn't be anyone from the royal family in the temple right now..." Her eyes squinted a bit as she thought, tapping a finger on the table.
Farin pointed his finger upwards in a gesture that said 'higher'.

With every passing second, his mother's face slowly changed, until she landed with what could only be described as 'incredulous indignation'.
"No." Her voice was half questioning. Farin smiled as an answer, so she groaned. "Child, why can't you ever take an easy road in your life..."
"We asked him how he managed to mess up that badly, too. Several times, actually." Skari patted her arm supportively.

"It's fine, though! We're together, his side has no complaints and the temple master knows it. We are just... trying to figure out how to manage this right now."
It was enough to calm his mother down, for the moment anyway. He had no doubt he'd get an earful the moment Skari and Eylir were gone and all the children sleeping.

Farin blinked. "Hmm, roughly mine." "Gender?" "Male." "Job-... no wait, I don't need to ask that. His family doesn't mind?" "Not at all." "Name?" "...Alvarr." "...Huh."

She exhaled through her nose, cooling her temper. "Would I like him?"
"Everyone here would love him. I don't think it'd need more than five minutes for you all to take him as family."
Eylir fidgeted in his place. "Man, now I'm curious, too..."
"I still have to figure out what to do about this whole situation, then we can see what we'll do."

He halted his breath, then swallowed. His next words were a lie, but he needed to say them. That way, everyone would have the same story, and it would keep the imaginary danger of approaching the Gods. "Uhm, also, it's not quite as bad as you're thinking. In fact, he's not one of the Gods, but one of their servants. I only found out recently, though."
"Right, Lori and Alec know about that, don't they?"
"Yes, they got lost in the forest. I asked him to help find them, that's why they've seen them."

The two nodded in understanding and he continued. "The Gods are... not too fond of humans intruding in their territory, but Alvarr took an interest in me so they're tolerating me around. But even if he could leave the mountain, he's too obviously not human, and I... I could only move into the mountain forever. I don't want that, either, so right now we're stuck."

"There are so many things I'd like to comment on but won't for the sake of this conversation staying peaceful", Skari said monotonously. Farin's mother rubbed her forehead.
"Oh don't worry, I'll squeeze everything out from him later." Well, he knew that would happen. "I swear, Farin is exactly like his uncle."

"What is my uncle like?"
She rarely talked about her siblings, so Farin took the chance. The woman crossed her arms and leaned on the table with an annoyed expression. "If there's anything to explore, he runs right out. You can't keep an eye on him for longer than two minutes before he's off doing something, somewhere and most of the time he ends up coming back either half-dead, with some long-lost artifacts or with information about them. One time we needed to buy him from a slave-trader. How does one manage to do that? Get yourself sold as a slave?"
"Your poor grandparents", Skari whispered.
"You sure sound like him." Eylir nodded thoughtfully.

"The worst is, I can't even deny anything you're saying right now."
Unhappy, Farin turned his face away, only for his mother to chuckle and kiss him on the head when she stood up.

"I can't ever boast about it, but from now on, when other mothers talk about the great catch their children got, I can think: My son is charming enough to attract a God's servant. Despite all that trouble, at least there's a sense of self-satisfaction in raising you."

Do I want to know how many plotholes I've created? I think I dont sob



Farin: "You're Mom's favorite future son-in-law."
Farin: "And I think when my siblings see you, they'll want to keep your for themselves."
Alvarr: "Why?"
Farin: "You're kind, polite and handsome."
Farin: "Also, you're fluffy, which is a huge plus."