Noble, 48

The Truth Hurts, and it Hurts More When You’re Not Ready for it

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“Do you think the wedding will be bilingual?” asked Janus, head on Geoffrey’s shoulder.

“Probably not?” Geoffrey shrugged the other shoulder. “Maybe. But it’ll probably just be in Daolo.”

“Yeah.” Janus sighed. “Sorry, Dalton.”

“It’s okay.”

“You don’t know Daolo?” Geoffrey asked. “We could teach you some before we get there. It’ll be another week and a half. If you want.”

“I mean…” Dalton shrugged. “Sure, I guess. I’ve been to weddings before, so I can probably figure it out. In the eyes of God I hold you to these vows, in the name of God I bless your union, by the grace of God I declare you married. World peace, amen.”

“That’s the gist of it,” Javier agreed. “Though it’ll actually take four hours.”

Janus nodded. “Yeah. I actually like weddings, you know. I think four hours is a bit on the long side, but I do like them.”

“Yeah?” Geoffrey asked. He thought about it. “I liked ours.”

“Me too. I think this one will be pretty cool too.”

“I should hope so, the amount of money they’re probably spending on it.”

Javier kicked him from the other bench. “Don’t be a cynic, it’s a wedding.”

“Sorry,” Geoffrey said, recognizing that Javier was actually telling him not to make Janus feel bad for being excited. “It’ll be fun. I’m glad Franz invited us.”

He wasn’t sure if that was true. But he had, so they were going. Giacomo had pretended to be happy about it. Maybe he had been happy about it. Geoffrey hadn’t spoken to him in person. He was travelling in another carriage, and Geoffrey’s was just one in his convoy.

“Me too,” Janus said, and Geoffrey knew he meant it, which did make him feel a bit bad. Janus was having fun, and Geoffrey was pretty sure he hadn’t had any of that since they’d been married. He always talked about wanting to go places with Geoffrey. “I’ve never been to Dolovai. I wonder if, uh…”

Geoffrey looked down at him. “If what?” He clearly wasn’t planning to continue his thought.

“Nothing,” Janus said, shaking his head. “It’s stupid.”

“I doubt that very much, love,” Geoffrey said, holding him closer. “What is it?”

“Nothing,” Janus insisted. “I was just thinking it would be cool to see some of it while we’re here. Like the Amaran Mountains and stuff. But the king would never let us.”

Geoffrey so badly wanted to say that he might, that they might be able to convince him. But he swallowed. “Yeah, probably not. I can ask him.”

“You don’t need to do that.”

“I’ll ask him,” Geoffrey said, firmly. “I’ll ask the queen. It’s the least they can do for you.”

“You say that like I’ve done anything for them,” Janus said with a snort.

“You married the most hated person in Kyaine, didn’t you?”

“You’re really not,” Janus told him.

“He’s right,” said Javier.

Geoffrey shrugged. “It’s okay.”

“It’s not.”

“He’s right,” Dalton said, coming over to sit on Geoffrey’s other side. He didn’t talk much, which Geoffrey kind of appreciated, but it did mean Geoffrey barely knew him. “You shouldn’t think of yourself that way. I don’t think most people hate you. Most people don’t even know who you are.”

“I think…”

“It’s true,” Dalton said, shaking his head. “Most people, especially outside of Hawk’s Roost, don’t know who most nobles are. They might know your names or more likely the names of your houses, but they don’t care. They care about having food and clothes and their family being healthy. They care that the war’s over and you ended the war, Geoffrey.”

“I actually started the war, Dalton.”

“That doesn’t matter. Trust me. Being a noble is like…I’m not a noble, obviously. But being a noble is spending your whole life knowing that everything you do might be important, but you’re doing it for people who don’t know you exist. They don’t hate you. They might have heard that someone called Geoffrey DiSheere did something bad, but they don’t know what or why and they definitely don’t hate him for it. Most of them probably think whoever he did it to deserved it.”

Geoffrey looked down at his lap, hearing screams. “And they probably also think he deserved whatever happened to him.”

“Yeah,” Dalton agreed. “That doesn’t mean it’s true, because it’s not. But normal people don’t think that rich people’s problems are real. We don’t live in the same worlds. I’m not…” He suddenly seemed to shrink in, swallowing. “I’m sorry, I’m not trying to make you feel bad or anything. It’s just, I see you beating yourself up for stuff and it’s not fair. Because it’s only you doing it.”

“So what?” Geoffrey said, feeling something hot. Anger? He wasn’t sure. “Getting gang-raped by half the city was all in my head?”

“Geoffrey, that isn’t what…”

“No,” Dalton said, interrupting Janus. “It wasn’t. And you didn’t deserve that. But they didn’t do that to you because they hate Geoffrey DiSheere. Most of them didn’t know who you were. They hate feeling helpless and small and weak and they had a chance not to feel that way. It doesn’t mean it was okay or that it was right. But it wasn’t about you, Geoffrey, it really wasn’t. Most things aren’t.”

“Okay,” Javier said, pulling Dalton. “That’s enough. Geoffrey’s tired.”

“No,” said Geoffrey, who was tired. The people he’d called into the Spongecake hadn’t recognized him or Giacomo. They didn’t know who the king and his brother were. Just some boys in an inn. “It’s okay. He’s right. Not everything is about me.”

“Oh God,” said Dalton, voice faint. “I’m so sorry, I just realized what an asshole I must have sounded like. I didn’t mean…I was just trying to explain why nobody hates you. I thought it might make him feel better, but I…I’m sorry.” That was obviously directed at Javier, and Dalton stood up.

Geoffrey grabbed his wrist and got him to sit again. “It’s okay,” he repeated. “I think I needed to hear that.”

“Maybe not quite in those words,” Javier said.

Geoffrey nodded. “Maybe. But I did. So thank you.” He wasn’t sure it made him feel better. He wasn’t sure it had helped. But being reminded that the world didn’t turn around him wasn’t a bad thing, because it didn’t.

Geoffrey wasn’t important enough for everyone to hate him, and there was something nice about that.

“Yeah, turns out there’s something to this whole companion thing,” Janus said, leaning on Geoffrey again.

“Yeah,” Geoffrey agreed, smiling at Javier, who still seemed worried. “I’m fine, you.”

“Yeah, and you always say that when you’re not.”

“Yeah, and I always say it when I am, too.” Geoffrey stuck out his tongue. “Just to make it hard for you.”

“Yeah, because my life is so easy without you,” Javier said, sitting beside Geoffrey in Dalton’s once again vacated spot. He’d gone to sit on Janus’s other side. “It’s okay, Dalton, I’m not mad.”


“He means it, Dalton,” Janus told him, and Geoffrey nodded. “If you can be honest, you can trust him to be honest too.”

“Trust me, if I were mad, you’d know,” Javier said, holding Geoffrey’s hand. “Because I’d be crying.”

Dalton nodded, letting Janus hold his hand. “Okay. Sorry. Janus always tells me I need to get better at subtlety.”

“Subtlety doesn’t work on me,” Geoffrey told him. “And hey, if you’re not good at subtlety, you’ll love learning Daolo. Did you know they don’t even have a middle voice?”

“What’s a middle voice?”

“Doesn’t matter, it disappeared one day.” Geoffrey waved his hand. “Now repeat after me, I’m going to teach you how to say you’re a cocksucker.”

Maybe he did actually feel better, actually. Because maybe nobody did hate him. They didn’t know him. But there were people who did know him, and they loved him, and they were right here with Geoffrey, and if that wasn’t better, it was at least something.

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