author's note: A sequel to Would You Mind?. This focusses more on how Miles interacts with the rest of the Armstrongs.
Title: No, I Would Not
Miles was shocked the Armstrong family had reserved him a seat in the dining hall. There must have been twenty tables scattered across the huge room, cutlery aligned perfectly with napkins in the shape of triangles placed inside the wine glasses. Currently the male had his arms interlinked with not just Olivier, but also Katherine who was most keen she accompany him.
What was more surprising was how many people mingled with him. It was comforting to have Olivier nearby, however she seemed very reluctant to be there. It wasn't a lot of people who spoke to Miles, but, considering his race, it was quite a few. Some tended to go a little off track and start questioning about how Miles came to Briggs, but Olivier quickly excused them both, aware that Miles was particularly sensitive about his past at the moment.
Katherine had dispersed from them when Lord Armstrong ordered her to come to him, probably unsure whether the girl should be accompanied by Miles. Olivier remained put, and began pointing out a couple of people. The first she introduced was a couple at the far back of the room, dressed very elegantly, young and chatty.
'I wouldn't go near those two. Last time I made such a dreadful mistake, they were berating me about how vital it was I escape from the military and start settling down before it was too late. Not like I don't get enough of that from my Father who, might I add, is very fond of them.'
Miles smirked. 'What about these people approaching us?'
'Oh shoot. Walk the other way.' -Quickly the two diverted their path to the right.
'All they speak about is money. Incredibly desperate to shove their hands into my Father's bank. Don't let the lady's husband trick you with his age.'
Miles peered over his shoulder and realised that the husband looked at least fifty years older than her!
'You can guess why she allowed him to slip a diamond ring onto her fourth finger. The slut.'
'Ma'am, should you be using words like that here?'
'Pfft, I'm an Armstrong. I do what I want.'
Finally dinner was being served. Unfortunately Miles wasn't able to sit next to his commanding officer and found himself between Amue and Alex Armstrong. It was a bit of a squeeze but Miles managed to breathe.
Unlike most of the guests, Alex was simply overjoyed to discover Miles joining them. Grabbing the male in a bone crushing embrace, Miles realised Lady Armstrong was viewing him most unpleasantly. It looked like she was sucking on a lemon.
'Be thankful you are sitting with us, boy. If our dear cousin didn't fall sick, he would be vacating the seat you are in right now.'
'Well I am very grateful, madame,' Miles said, aware what Lady Armstrong was implying.
'Mother, isn't it polite to refer to our guests by their name?' Katherine queried innocently.
Lady Armstrong said nothing and dealt with the napkin. Miles turned to look at Olivier who passed a knowing look at him, before having her attention diverted to the male sitting beside her.
Strangely, Amue was quite silent, if not sulky. It wasn't the dinner she was displeased with, more herself. Miles wanted to cheer her up but it appeared no one else was bothered— maybe it was normal. The Ishvalan finally turned to his cutlery, and realised in horror there was more than just a knife and fork.
Miles knew Lady Armstrong was watching him closely. To Miles' relief, Alex quickly murmured to him: 'Start your way up.'
Fair enough. The officer grabbed his tiny spoon and started his first course, remaining quiet throughout it while listening to the guests mingle. Olivier was silent, probably uninterested, and whenever Alex spoke it was so loud the entire room would have heard him.
During these rather tedious conversations, Miles attention was interrupted when Olivier managed to pass him a note under the table. The man took it, and lowered his gaze to read what she had wrote.
I'm so bored I might play dead.
With effort, Miles stopped himself from sniggering. Conveniently, there was a pen in his trouser pocket and he scribbled a tiny message before passing it back to her.
Behave now. Or we'll both be thrown out.
I am acting perfectly, thank you. Lord Armstrong is looking at you suspiciously.
Who are you calling "Lord"? That's my Father, and he's not a "Lord" in my eyes. And my Mother can't keep her eyes off you. Careful, I think she likes you.
Your family adore me.
I know. It makes me want to vomit.
When the main course was over with, Lady Armstrong targeted Miles once again.
'So, Mister Miles, do share what it is like to work for my daughter.'
A stillness fell across the table. Miles cleared his throat: 'Very— Very good. I have never felt more welcome.'
'It's most unusual how someone such as yourself manages to become an officer of the military. An Amestrian soldier at that.'
Miles avoided Olivier's gaze. In all frankness, she felt just as sensitive about this topic as he did. While Miles was much better than he first joined Briggs, his anger hadn't completely dissolved yet. And as far as these two were concerned, how Miles became an Amestrian military officer wasn't anyone's business.
Yet he couldn't refuse to answer, especially before a woman who viewed him as nothing but inconvenient dirt.
'I suppose you could say so, but I was lucky.'
'An Amestrian military officer though?'
'Yes, ma'am. I am one of few who is capable of perceiving both points of view when it comes to conflict between the Ishvalan and Amestrian race.'
'Mm,' This time it was a male speaking, probably in his mid thirties. He was sitting next to Olivier who appeared more fixated to this conversation than the others. 'How can you have the experience of an Amestrian when you have spent your childhood running around in dirt?'
'Never too late to experience anything, Sir. And I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't instantly assume my childhood as something to be frowned upon.'
'You find that sort of life appealing do you?' Lord Armstrong said, picking up his glass of wine. 'A peasant.'
'A human being all the same, Sir,' Miles smiled politely. 'Yes. Yes, it was very appealing actually. My childhood has shaped me to become the man I am now.'
'What kind of man are you?' Katherine voiced this time, although she was far more cheerful than the others, watching Miles with admiration.
'Heh,' Miles chuckled, 'Well, a man who is proud of his background. Unashamed. I find no reason to ponder over my bloodline and not feel human. I am more human than any other man sitting at this table. My upbringing was simply different. That doesn't make me an alien though.'
'You don't believe you can go far, can you? Someone like you will surely fail soon,' Lady Armstrong murmured, glancing at her eldest daughter who refused to look away from her subordinate.
'With all due respect, ma'am, four years ago I was scavenging for food on a dusty footpath, no family and nowhere to go. Now, I'm a military officer and having dinner with you fine people. I believe I can go far if I allow myself to.'
'Here here,' one of them said, others murmuring in agreement.
Miles finally faced Olivier and spotted a ghost of a smile. 'One's wealth is irrelevant to one's success.'
Maybe it shouldn't have, but when she said this he felt such a strong respect for her like he had never done before. Inhaling, Miles leaned back in his chair, smiling slightly. He was lucky to be placed under this amazing woman's command.
Lady Armstrong and the man sitting beside Olivier didn't seem very impressed with her remark or those who agreed with Miles' words.
However their approval didn't matter to Miles.
Just hers. Because her approval was the most significant to him.