With how many various nobles were in the tavern thanks to the proximity of the bustling trading town like Pilzno, there was simply no humanly chance to get two, separate chambers for me and Eila, forcing us to share both the room and the bed.
Considering the fact that we were officially supposed to marry, there shouldn't be anything wrong with this, but with the alcohol that prompted our previous forwardness diluted to the point where it no longer could affect our thinking, the situation between us turned tense.
"I didn't expect such a skilled and… quirky noble to travel so far just to for the sake of finding employment. Strange are the ways that Lord lead everyone through."
With Kalen instantly poaching two garns worth of my beer, we were left with only a single unopened barrel, and barely as much as Kalen took for the two of us. While others might consider it quite a lot, after all, eight litres worth of relatively strong beer was way more than enough to turn even a drunkard in his beloved state of mind after what happened on the carriage, neither of us was ready to just drink our shyness away.
"Okay, let's stop it right now."
Sitting almost at the opposite ends of the room, I rested on a chair beside a small table, while Elia occupied the bed, with her legs curled under the rest of her body, as she observed every single move of mine with wariness in her eyes.
"If we continue to act like damned children, neither of us will catch any sleep. And let's not forget, tomorrow is an important day!"
Thankfully or sadly, depending on how I was thinking about it, Elia wasn't either repulsive nor was she a one-in-a-century beauty. With how… normal she was, I was forced to look at her through the lens of what I learned about her since we first met… And it was pushing me strangely towards liking her! Maybe because she was entirely different from both the cold beauties and open sluts of the modern-day I hailed from, but there was this refreshing feeling to almost anything she would do or say, making me enjoy her company more and more with each passing day.
"Yeah, you are right. It's a rare chance to drink something so nice, so pour me some if you would be so kind."
Hearing her request, I silently grabbed the mug from the table and submerged it in the small barrel that held all that was left from the normal barrel we opened almost the same moment we passed through the gates of my castle, back in Tarnow. Instead of passing her the drink right away, I only slightly leaned towards her, making it impossible for either of us to reach far enough to pass the cup, before raising my head and asking while looking her directly into the eyes with a dead-serious expression.
"With a cup, or directly to your mouth?"
While my question froze her for a moment, I continued to stare at her face for a little longer, before I couldn't stop myself from keeping the pretence of seriousness any longer and burst out with open laughter.
Standing up, I passed the cup to her hand, still watching her face through the tears of joy brimming in my eyes.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself!"
Ignoring her mute reproach, I moved back to the chair, grabbed the small barrel and was about to drink from it directly, before Elia's gesture stopped me.
With one of her hands raised in the common gesture of halting someone by showing them the palm of their extended hand, she downed the entire cup in one go, before moving up from the bed and approaching me. This time, instead of mounting me like a horse as she did back on the carriage, she simply sat sideways on my lap, reaching with the cup to the barrel.
"Don't look at me like that! Aren't we supposed to get married?"
Saying those words while looking at me with a complicated expression on her face as she passed the cup to my hand, Elia rested her side on my upper body and sighed.
"You know that this isn't as easy as you put it out to be."
Taking a hearty sip from the mug, I lowered my hand and rested it on Elia's thigs. Compared to how modern people would consider this as an already lewd act, it was something that happened completely naturally, as if her thigs were simply on the way for a completely natural movement of my body.
"Don't you like the idea though?"
Turning her face away from the reach of my sight, she silently asked, while placing her hand on top of mine. Maybe because of all the events that happened to me, only now did I fully realise how close she was. Form the sweet smell of her body, mixed with a minuscule, acidic note of sweat, through the softness of her legs resting on top of mine, all the way to the nice curve of her upper body right in front of my eyes…
If something like our current situation were to happen in modern time, it would lead only to a single outcome, yet right now, I felt as if trying my chances with her would be sort of sacrilege to how she was finally opening to me.
Yeah, we knew each other for a few days already, but outside of the usual bantering and exchanging either small talk or laughing together, we never really had the chance to just spend some time together, without really trying to keep up the appearances.
"That question isn't easy either, you know this."
While I said it, I was most likely even more hurt by this sentence than she would if she started to develop some feelings for me during the time we knew each other. Looking at the things in the simplest way, marrying her for real would be a political waste. With the lineage of a great noble behind me, I could easily vie for the spot at the table with other major nobles, so settling down for someone like her, with only a single city to her wealth and power, would be akin to trading a house for a luxurious car.
Even though the car might be valuable, it would lose its worth over a short amount of time, while the price of the house would continue to grow. Speaking in strictly political terms, marrying her would count as anything else than a loss!
But even though my ambitions were great, this simple moment of slight skinship between the two of us was enough to remind me that I was still a human. Maybe it was the influence of the period and how historians would look at it in the future, but so far, I never actually thought what I wanted to do with my new life here.
While it was true that I instantly jumped into various schemes aimed at growing my powerbase and raising my chances of coming out of interregnum stronger instead of weaker, I never bothered to think what I really wanted to achieve in the long term!
Sure, power and wealth were great to have, but in the end, they were only a tool to achieve one's needs, not the target in itself!
"Is that a no, then?"
Replying in a silent voice, so soft I wouldn't even be sure if she really said it if not for the slight movement of her cheeks, Elia was about to retract her hand from mine, when I actually grabbed her waist with my free, right hand, and lightly hugged her closer to me.
"It is, I don't know. While I like you a lot, I just didn't pay enough attention to this matter to say anything with certainty. I don't want to give you a half-baked response after all."
With her soft body softly pressing against my torso, I shook off her hand… only to raise my cup and take a sip myself. Putting the mug away on the table, I grabbed her hand between my thumb and my palm and started playing with it lightly.
"I don't mind giving you even more reasons to consider it, right now…"
Turning her face for the first time since she sat on my lap back to me, I could see how her eyes were still wet from the tears she had to usher at some point of our discussion, yet instead of sadness, her pupils were filled with determination instead.
"Right now, is not the best moment. How about returning to this topic when we will chase away your step-family from your lands? You could show me around your bedroom then."
Raising my left hand from her palm, I wiped the wetness from under Elia's eyes, while gracing her with a soft, and genuine smile.
At first, she grabbed my wrist and hugged her head to my hand, only for her calm expression to be replaced with a small, mischievous smile, as she grabbed the mug from the table and brough it to her lips.
"How would you prefer your beer sir, from the cup? Or maybe…"