Chapter 37: Leofric

Thursday, December 28, 2000

It was the worst Christmas break ever. Leofric was pretty sure that if it weren’t for his cy’ree practice, Eriko wouldn’t have let him out of the suite at all. As it was, he was missing his kendo lesson; it wasn’t vacation, so he didn’t have to go. At least that’s what Eriko had said when he’d asked.

So instead, he was stuck here, in the suite, sitting to the side while Eriko watched a movie. Some kind of romance drama. He’d tried following it, but he was finding it hard to care about contrived angst when everyone in his own life had it so much worse.

Why Eriko hadn’t decided to get rid of him yet, Leofric had no idea. He was constantly miserable. She was constantly crying, or angry, or crying and angry…

His musings were interrupted by a loud knock at the door. When he looked around, Cya was already getting up to answer the door, so he turned his attention back to how boring the movie was. It wasn’t like it would be anyone to see him, after all, not while he was here. And if Cya was getting the door, he didn’t have to worry about Eriko trying to make him do it.

“Is Leofric here?”

Leofric’s head jerked up and he stared at the door. That was Luke’s voice. What was Luke doing here?!

“Yes, sir. Should I get him?”

“Yes. Please.”

He was already standing up and heading towards the door, when Eriko frowned at him. “Where are you going, Leofric?”

“…to the door?”

“Why are you going to the door?”

“Luke is here to see him,” Cya answered, perfectly calm. Like she always was these days.

“What?!”

Leofric ignored his Keeper, because he was awful and that’s what awful Kept do, stepping up to the doorway as Cya opened it the rest of the way and bowing to his Mentor.

“You didn’t show up for practice today, Leo.”

“I didn’t have to.” He regretted it as soon as he’d said it; being rude was being bad and he’d fallen into the habit (because Eriko hated it), but he wasn’t trying to get Luke to realize he was a bad Student… was he? Suddenly, he wasn’t so sure.

“It’s a class, isn’t it? You know you can’t skip class.”

“…it’s vacation?” Leofric looked uncertainly up at his Mentor, resisting the urge to look back into the suite, to see what Eriko was thinking. “We don’t have classes during vacation.”

“We agreed to continue kendo over the break.”

Leofric didn’t remember agreeing to that. Not that he wouldn’t have, but he was pretty sure–

“Leofric? Is that true?” Eriko had paused the movie and was frowning at him. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Answer me when I ask you something, she’d said. And don’t lie to me. “I don’t remember it,” he said, reluctantly, pushing against the order making him speak.

“Well next time, make sure you tell me when you have something important going on.”

“You already know I have kendo classes,” Leofric retorted. He almost didn’t notice the twisting guilt in his stomach anymore; it was background noise, like living next to a highway or having a noisy refrigerator.

“But it’s Christmas vacation…” Eriko sighed quietly and stood. “I apologize for the trouble, sir. I’ll make sure to keep better track of Leofric’s schedule so this doesn’t happen again. Leofric… you can go with Luke. Come back right after kendo.” She was looking at him with that sad lonely expression she hadn’t had for weeks, and it was almost enough to make him tell Luke to cancel the class, to go over and sit by her feet and remind her that she wasn’t alone.

Almost enough.

But that’s what a good Kept would do. A good Kept would’ve told Luke it was all right from the start. A good Kept wouldn’t backtalk his Keeper. (Cya was a perfect Kept, and look what that was getting her.)

Leofric shook his head, dismissing the thought before he did something really stupid, and went out with Luke.

The kendo lesson was uneventful. Luke didn’t ask any questions or offer any explanations, giving Leofric an hour essentially to himself, with nothing to think about but footwork and the motions of his shinai. An hour that felt much too short before he slowly, slowly walked himself back to the suite. He couldn’t stretch Eriko’s order to let himself wander around the school, but as long as he took the most direct route and didn’t stop, he could take it slow. No one else was in the halls to pester him – or to be bothered by him – so he ambled slowly, singing anime theme songs to himself.

By the time he pushed open the door to the suite, he was in what passed for a good mood.

“Leofric.”

The door clicked shut behind him, and the good mood shattered.

Eriko stood and looked at him, her gaze freezing him to the spot. “Why didn’t you tell me about your kendo lesson?”

Leofric worked his jaw for a moment, her paralysis warring against the order, answer me. “I didn’t know about it, mistress.”

“How can you not know about it?! I told you not to lie to me, Leofric!”

“I’m not lying,” he protested, “I didn’t know.”

Eriko scowled. “Fine. If you can’t behave, I’ll just have to take away your privileges. All of them. From now on, don’t do anything unless I told you to or gave you permission. Understand?”

Leofric tried to retort – and couldn’t. He couldn’t, couldn’t–

. . . .

. . . .

“…Eriko, he’s not breathing.”

“What?”

“I think… You didn’t tell him he could.”

“Oh, departed gods. Of course you’re allowed to breathe, Leofric.”

Leofric gasped for air.

“And if you’re too stupid to figure that out yourself, I have to give you permission to use the bathroom, too, don’t I? Ugh.”

“I don’t think he’s allowed to ask for permission, either…”

“Yes, yes, Leofric, you can ask me for permission if you need it to do something.”

He breathed.

Don’t ignore me. “Thank you, mistress.”

5 thoughts on “Chapter 37: Leofric

    • She doesn’t understand, and she also doesn’t care very much, as far as I can tell. That is, I don’t think she cares about it sufficiently to do any research, ask for any advice, etc.

      • True, that. 🙁 And this order won’t backfire at all, because, being such a conscientious Keeper, Eriko will of course think of all the things Leo will need to do each day to look like a reasonably normal Kept, beforehand.

        Incidentally, did she actually give him permission to use the bathroom? The way I read it and taking her words literally, she sure as hell didn’t, because it’s her, and not him, who is too stupid to figure it out, so the condition in her order doesn’t apply…

        • You are correct! But he does at least have permission to ask for permission, so that’s better’n nothing, right? >.>

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