A/N: Arrrighty, this was inspired by the song Hello by Martin Solveig & Dragonette. Sort of a pointless little thing :"D I'll write more in this future-verse sometime...this oneshot will be followed by a two-or-more part story (:
Warnings: future fic
The party was crowded and suffocating, pressing at him from all sides. Bodies—some fat and some not—moved to the music, their steps timed together as though in a dance that only these fancy partygoers knew.
Rhodri did not know this step-step-shuffle dance of attending balls at the palace. He was out of place and awkward on his bare feet, to which the cold marble flooring was very unkind.
Step-step-shuffle. Step-step-shuffle. Repeat. Turn. Step-step-shuffle. Step-step-shuffle. Rhodri watched it all with undisguised annoyance. Even Harv knew the tune; he didn't. It was unfair. Harv got everything and by that, Rhodri meant everything, and apparently this included attending parties.
Why was he in on this circle of upperclass men and ladies and their fancy foods and parties? How come he knew how to dance and how to make formal conversation? How come he was just hours away from being crowned a knight along with several of his classmates, and Rhodri was…
Rhodri was pressed up against the wall done up in stiff clothing and barefooted, that's what he was.
He snorted to himself and crossed his arms when he spotted Roland, his father; the once-burly man was greeting his eighteen year old son, and their loud laughter drifted across the hall to Rhodri's ears.
It was so unpleasant.
Why was Harv their father's favorite? Roland didn't even bother to hide it anymore. He always looked extremely disappointed when he looked at Rhodri, too, even though the second oldest boy had a stash of stolen goods that would make him a large sum of money the moment he found a way to sell them undetected. Why didn't that make him proud? Didn't he know he had the means to provide fresh bread for his family for years to come?
Instead, he showered all the good things onto Harv. The nice new shoes and gloves and shoulder and breast plates, the high class schooling and extra helpings at breakfast (which, granted, normally made their way to Rhodri's plate) were all so infuriated.
Harv even got all the ladies. It wasn't fair. Even now, as Rhodri watched him through slitted eyes, they ladies crowded towards him; Roland had drifted off to chat with the Teacher, and now a gaggle of ladies surrounded Harv.
He watched enviously as Harv bent to kiss the princess's hand, then as she blushed and giggled, along with the others. Harv shouldn't be amusing to all these ladies, anyway—look how completely flustered he was! He had no idea of the ways around women.
Rhodri decided that he should go and find some ladies to entertain, himself. At fifteen, he was at a perfect age to do so.
Standing a bit straighter and pushing determinedly away from the marble way, Rhodri swept his eyes across the crowd; They were still moving amongst themselves at that strange rhythm which didn't include him, that step-step-shuffle-repeat-turn-repeat.
Formal talk still reached his ears.
He couldn't do formal talk.
All the ladies here would expect him to.
Scowling again, he slumped back against the wall and let his mind drift to the palace delicacies at the various tables around the ballroom. Keeping steadily against the wall, Rhodri made his way to the nearest one. He searched its fancy surface, trying to distinguish between what was a fancy and intricate centerpiece and what was food, what was edible.
He stood there a minute, staring down what was strewn over the table and wondering what was edible and what wasn't. Eventually, he shook his head and reached for a swirl thing coming out of a cup, as it looked rather like food – except, when he turned his head, it sparkled, making him pause.
"Yeah, I wouldn't it that if I were you," Said a voice from behind him, causing him to stiffen. He knew the voice—in fact, he knew it well and could see through the fake lowness to what was underneath.
Turning, he snorted, "Well, what is it then?"
Emet adjusted her hat and stared down the sparking, curling object. "…I think it's a piece of octopus," she said slowly after a minute. "With some sort of glazing. I tried one last time there was a graduation and it was gross."
Rhodri gave the octopus another look and decided it wasn't worth risking. He asked, "What's edible here, then?" a question to which Emet shook her head and grinned a little.
"Try the olives," she suggested. Rhodri snagged a handful. He sampled one and found it acceptable, quickly shoveling the rest into his mouth and chewing it obnoxiously.
Emet laughed lowly, a chuckling sort of sound that took Rhodri off guard. He realized he'd never heard her giggle, like he had every other girl he knew—and he'd known Emet a long time. Three years.
He paused in his chewing a moment and stared at her, and when she realized this, she glared back. He quickly met the glare with one of his own even meaner ones – and so she intensified hers. This pattern continued until the mouthful of olives in Rhodri's mouth went soggy and he had to finish chewing them and swallow.
He rubbed his fingers down the sides of the rough material of his pants, leaving five streaks of olive oil down either side. Emet turned to leave.
"Where are you going?" Rhodri demanded. She shrugged.
"Back to mingle," she told him—well, grunted more like it, then paused and added, "And avoid Finn. Probably talk to Harv before he gets dragged off to receive his knighting ceremony."
Rhodri sunk in on himself, shoving his hands into his armpits. "Oh,"
Emet knocked him on the head, a blow which was stronger than she must have intended it to be. Rhodri glared at her, raising his fists as though ready to fight back, but she only flashed white teeth at him.
"I'll be around," she told him.
"The party will be more fun without you."
They glared at each other, faces migrating closer. Eventually, Emet turned and disappeared back into the step-step-shuffle-repeat-turn, and Rhodri went back to staring at the shiny octopus.
He wondered how it tasted, so he reached out for it—surely Emet had been exaggerating.
"Really. I wouldn't do that if I were you."
He spun quickly, ready to yell at Emet, tell her to get lost and go cut her fingers on Harv's short sword or something equally stupid, but she wasn't there. Confused, Rhodri stared into the crowd of step-step-shuffle until he was sure he'd been hearing things.