8.A Time and Place
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We walk down the streets of the capital. The onlookers quickly look at us before hurrying along. It isn’t often for people to see members of the Arrian royal guard. “Hurry up, we stick out like a sore thumb.” I glare at Matteo, he simply smiles back at me. 

“Now don’t worry Lenuzo, you will see my beautiful wife soon.” Matteo laughs at my plight. It isn’t often for me to escape the duty of the emperor and it has been a while since I talked to somebody without a motive behind their every word and action. 

The reason for the trip is simple. I disliked the traditional Arrian military uniform used for celebrations but since Arria is at war it is required for all nobility of the Arrian military to dress up is the military uniform. Therefore, I changed the design and me and Matteo are using it as an excuse to get away from the castle. 

I look up and see Matteo’s house. I sigh in relief as it has been a long trip. We can go to the tailor tomorrow. Tonight, we can eat and rest. “Lenuzo, it is great to see you again.” I look up and see Caterina, Matteo’s wife waving at us. 

“It has been too long. You look even more beautiful since I last saw you my dear wife.” Matteo bows down and kisses Caterina’s hand. I look away to avoid the embarrassment, this is not something one can do in public. 

Matteo! There is a time and place!” Caterina slaps away Matteo’s wandering hands, her cheeks flushed red with embarrassment.  “Your cousin is watching!” 

“He won’t mind, he just recently got married. He should understand my desire to be next to you.” Matteo leans his forehead on Caterina’s forehead. Caterina just looks at me surprised. It is against the rules for a member of the royal guard to marry. 

“I just got married recently, if one has the connections certain rules can be... ignored.” I answer, this isn’t exactly true. The only one who could grant this privilege would be the emperor but she doesn’t need to know I am the emperor.

While Matteo and Caterina continue to flirt between each other I take a seat in a corner. Matteo hovers over his wife while she finished up her soup for dinner. I wonder if I wasn’t the emperor if my relationship with my wife would be closer to Matteo’s but quickly dismiss the idea. 

The reason I have problems isn’t due to something so silly as that. It may not help the matter but it isn’t the root cause of the problem. Instead it is because of my personality that I am having all the troubles that I am having at the currently moment. 

“Why didn’t you bring your wife Lenuzo. I would have loved to meet her. She must be a lovely lady to have managed to catch your eye.” I smile at these words. It wasn’t me who decided to marry her but she is indeed very lovely. 

“Perhaps I should invite her over the next time I come to visit you.” Caterina smiles at me and Matteo just laughs. “This was simply meant to be a trip to the tailor in order to get our new uniforms.” 

“Oh, I do hope they look good then.” A dark imagine resurfaces within my mind. The previous uniforms were too flamboyant and had too much cloth. The new uniforms are much more minimalistic 

“Me and Len would look good in anything, two handsome young men.” I almost break out in a smile. Half of his conversations are simply just him boasting about something. Be it his wife or himself. 

“That is most certainly true. Sit down at the table, dinner is almost done.” Matteo sits at the head of the table and I sit to his left as his guest. Caterina plates the food before sitting down to her husband’s right. “Lenuzo, would you care to do the grace?” 

“I do not mind.” I say before starting the grace. I hear Matteo chuckling lightly as he listens to the cynic of the group say the grace. I do not believe a single word coming out of my mouth but it would be a scandal for any family to have a cynic amongst them. 

Dinner goes by quietly as everybody at the table quickly eats the food. After dinner I go into the guest bedroom to attempt to fall asleep. I find it funny that not long-ago Matteo and Caterina were star-crossed lovers. 

Members of nobility cannot marry a commoner. I met Matteo on one visit to Ante and we grew close, as an act of good faith I helped him marry the love of his life. In return he introduced me to his wife as his cousin and pledged his undying loyalty. 

I have never had a family, my mother died in childbirth and what limited memories I have of my father he never even looked at me. From reading his diary I now know he blamed me for mother’s death. This causes me to wonder what Isabella is doing at this exact moment. 

“It is silly of me to be missing her.” I say covering my eyes while lying on the bed. She must be happy to not have me around. Why would she miss me? She hates me.

A/N: I have written about 31,000 words for this story. Unfortunately just under half of it is in a previous version as this is technically my revised version. I was re-reading the previous version and now I remember why I started over. It had two issues: It jumped into the heat of the action too fast and the war progressed at too rapid of a pace. The reason I bring this up is that Matteo is the character most different from his past version and he happens to be quite prevalent in this chapter. In the previous version he appears in chapter 11, this version he appears in chapter 5 while being mentioned in chapter 3. Part of the problem for him in the previous version is that he just kinda... appeared. Not to mention we never did meet his wife so some of his character traits were told and not shown. Sorry for the rant, I hope you guys all enjoy this chapter.