Corden Rane, fresh out of the Amarr Naval Academy, stepped through the nave of the Amarrian Legio Basilica, inhaling the fresh scented air, making his way out to the garden.
He found her stretched out by the fountain, staring off in the distance. She wore her militia flight uniform, hair in disarray, and just as lovely as he remembered, if not more.
"Yes?" placed her hand at the back of her neck, absently rubbing it while turning to look at Corden, gazing at him without any recognition.
He picked up a nearby stone and flicked his wrist, sending the smooth rock skipping against the water's surface. "It's me. Corden. If you remember."
She furrowed her dark brows as she looked at him. "Hmmm? I'm sorry...? Do I know you?"
Corden looked to her after skipping the rock. Had she truly forgotten him? He surely had not forgotten her. At times, it was the only thing keeping him going in the war. Reaching for another rock, he would hand it to her as if to suggest... "Don't you remember? We skipped rocks together. Corden. Corden Rane. Your legal husband."
Her mouth opened as shock flashed across her face, words dying in the back of her throat. Her eyes went wide, "B-but how did you find me? What are you doing here?"
"I came here to find you. my service is fulfilled to the Navy. Now, I am free."
She stood up suddenly shaking her head. "You don't even know me..."I don't even know who you are! I-I'm can't be your wife, just because our Fathers decided it years ago."
"I am sorry.. I know this must be unreal for you.. but it is for me, as well," he said, hoping she would at least understand where he was coming from.
She stared at him unblinking. "Yes, of course it is unreal. W-we are strangers. Why are you even here anyhow? Do you really think I'm just going to suddenly be a wife to you? I don't even know you...this is madness."
He blinked several times, tearing his eyes from hers. "No, I'm sorry. Of course not. I am sorry." There was a long pause. "My mother and father are dead. You are my.. next of kin," he explained, looking up to her with tenderness.
"Stop saying that. Please, Corden?" She glanced to the exit looking as if she were about to run off. "So. What do you even want from me?"
He stared at her. "I'm sorry. But you are my next of kin." Another awkward silence filled the space between them. "We can annul that if you prefer." How embarassing.
"But of course I want to annul it. I'm not even...you are not...we. I mean." She stuttered, clearly upset. "I had forgotten about it."
"We are not what?" he asked quietly, truly not knowing the meaning of her words. "Is there someone else.. ? I mean.. I suppose I could start the paper work tomorrow morning.." Did she really want to dismiss what their parents established years ago?
She seemed to calm somewhat. "Yes, there is someone else." She said, wincing. "I am engaged, I had thought...well, I thought that you would have already taken care of that ...when I left." Ran away.
He frowned. Ouch. Burned. She had been the one thing he'd been looking forward too. Just one embrace. She was all he had left. But, the young Amarrian had to be realistic. He couldn't possibly expect any feelings from her after all this time. "I see. Well.. I should hope not to be any sort of burden to you," he replied meekly.
She nodded, brushing a strand of hair from her face and tucking it behind her ear. A moment of awkward silence fell between them again. She stared at him, her expression becoming sympathetic. "I'm sorry I didn't mean to freak out on you."
He waved his hand in dismisal. "No, please. I understand your reaction. I may ask your forgiveness for showing up like this, disrupting your life." He cleared his throat. "But as I said.. you are my next of kin."
She nodded, "I see...so your parents have died? I'm sorry to hear that. I remember your Father. He was kind."
"Thank you. Come.. let us walk? We can catch up. And discuss how we should approach this matter." He asked politely, crossing his arms in front of him, his posture as perfect as ever.
"Indeed, they have passed. And your own?"She neared him apprehensively, laying her hand delicately across his sleeve and nodded her head towards a path that led down to a koi pond. "My mother died when I was seven. My father...." she shrugged.
"He is probably dead."
"Probably dead? Yet, you are not sure?" he asked curiously, speaking only from his own experience.. he would kill to have his father's company just once more."Things have changed. After the Empress free'd so many slaves, he defied her order and was arrested for treason. I left the day they took him...and I assume he would be dead by now."
"Indeed they have. I barely recognize anything any longer since my return. It is different. So different. Still though.. do you not remain curious to your father's where abouts? Begging your pardon if I am being nosey."
She paused by the water and stared out absently at it. "No. I hope he is dead."
"I see. Please pardon my instrusive questioning." He didn't really know what to say. She was his wife and yet they hadn't seen each other for years. "And yourself? How.. how are you?"
"Oh...fine. I guess. I've served with the Praetorians for about nine months or so, now I fly with the Knights. In the Amarrian militia. You mentioned the war...will you be joining the militia?"
He nodded while looking to her. "Yes, I will." He paused; he wanted to ask what she thought of it, but she wanted to annul the marriage.. he thought it best to keep the question to himself. "Yes." A pause. "If it would please you."
She tugged on his arm as she started to sit down, pulling him down with her, shifting a bit so that she was facing him, "Actually, yes. It would. I've dedicated my whole life to this war, Corden. It means everything to me."
"Good," he said quietly. "I am happy to hear it. Even if you wish to annul.. our.. marriage, it is still my duty to you to make sure you are happy until the day we separate."
She looked at him curiously, "Surely you don't wish to remain married to me? You don't even really know me?"
"I am an Amarr of my word. And my vow was to you, as long as you remain my wife." The seasoned naval officer reached into his breast coat pocket, removing a holo. It was of them, on their wedding day. He handed it to her, hoping the gesture would be enough to answer the question she posed him about whether or not he still wished to remain married to her.
She took the holo from him and held it lightly between both hands, staring at it for a moment, silent, contemplative. "Do you know what I see when I look at this? A girl who was thrust into a vow with a man she does not know."
He cleared his throat, not knowing quite exactly what to say. "I am sorry.. that you were forced into this." But you were the only thing keeping me going in the war.
She seemed to hesitate, then impulsively asked, "Do you mind if we stay married for a while...say a few weeks or so?"
He responded quickly, perhaps a bit too quickly. "No, of course not. As long as you like.. I hope you won't hesitate in asking me for anything. You are my obligation until we separate."
She furrowed her brows quickly, "Well. I don't mean like a real relationship or anything. Just on paper...technically. Just for a while."
He nodded. "Of course. It will give me a taxing break for some time as well. .. I hope you will alert me should you need anything. Afterall.. well. You know. Ahem."
She trailed her hand across the blades of grass absently, staring out at the water once more. "We are stationed in Arzad, I've taken an apartment there...just for convenience. Where are you staying?"
".. No where. I was only discharged sixteen hours ago. I suppose I should find some hotel.." He glanced down to the grass she toyed.
"Perhaps you could take an apartment in Arzad...or. Well. Since we are 'married'...you can stay with me." She quickly looked to him. "I mean, not in the same room or anything."
"Certainly. Of course not.. guest bedroom, of course. Only if it is not an intrustion. Truly. I don't wish to be a burden."
"No no, it will be fine. But uh...well the thing is. I have a fiance? This is going to come as a suprise to him, I guess. And he has a bad temper."
He bit his tongue. Another man? With his wife? He would try and contain his rage, masking it with a smile. "Your private matters are of no concern to me. All I wish is for a place to rest for a few days."
"I just wanted to warn you. He isn't going to take this very well. So, yeah." She leaned back on her elbows and tilted her head so that the waning sunlight was hot against her face.
"I shall stay in a hotel, then. Please. I want no quarry with you or anyone you favor." He crossed his arms over his chest.
"Absolutely not. You should stay with me....at least until you get situated and we get this sorted out."
"If you insist"
"I do." She said with a hint of irony.