It’s since he’s stepped in the room that Naesala feels the eyes of everyone on him.
Now, he’s used to this: everyone always stares at the treacherous crow, everyone glares; this isn’t anything new.
The annoying things is that they’re supposed to be discussing what to do with the Begnion scum who still keeps raiding the forest, and he’s finding it difficult to focus when everybody’s looking at him like they’ve never seen him and don’t even know who he is.
Thankfully Tibarn asks to take a break and everyone agrees, so the only people remaining in the room are Tibarn, Naesala himself, and Reyson.
Naesala walks at the window, looking outside of it.
He can feel that the others have something to tell him, but that for some reason they’re hesitating, which is weird. Usually they never hesitate to tell him anything, especially if those are insults.
No, now he’s being unfair.
Things are going… quite well for them ultimately. Sure, they aren’t the best of pals – they haven’t been for a long while – but they’re also starting to work together without anyone threatening to kill him.
Naesala still doesn’t know how he feels about this; it’s weird, he doesn’t feel like he deserves it, but now the war’s over, and he can’t deny that it feels nice.
That situation’s tiring him, though, so he decides to cut the chase and, turning around and resting on the window with his elbows, he asks:
- Ok, something’s clearly bothering you. Mind to spit it out? -.
Tibarn and Reyson look at each other, then Tibarn clears his throat and Reyson asks:
- Naesala, did you cut your hair? -.
- No, it suddenly decided to get shorter -, Naesala sarcastically replies, then he finally understands what’s going on.
- Wait, is this what this is all about? -, he asks then.
It’s true: he’s recently cut his hair.
He’d usually make a big deal about it, but this time he didn’t say anything to anyone. It’s just something that happened, even though for him it meant more.
To be honest… He had forgotten about it. Usually he would remember it when he passes a hand through his hair, only to find that it’s not as long as they used to be.
It doesn’t even reach his shoulders anymore, but it’s still well groomed and in perfect order, because of course Naesala would never go out with his hair in disorder.
- Well, it was just unexpected, that all -, Reyson mutters.
- What? You think I’m too superficial for this? -, Naesala teases him, but Reyson sees right through him and he doesn’t reply. He still frowns at him, though.
Naesala turns to Tibarn then, and he asks:
- You too? All this bafflement just for my hair? -.
- Can’t blame me -, Tibarn replies, - I’ve never seen you with short hair, so I was surprised -.
At that Naesala passes instinctively a hand through his hair, and Tibarn mistakes it for a gesture of self-consciousness and he says:
- It looks good, though -.
- Given your expertise in fashion, I don’t know if I should take it as a compliment or an insult -, Naesala replies, but he’s smiling, and Tibarn doesn’t get angry. He must’ve finally learned to tell the difference from when someone’s joking to when they’re not.
The hawk shrugs.
- I was just saying… -, he says then.
- Is there any reason for this sudden change? -, Reyson asks.
Naesala starts to scratch the back of his neck; he knew this question was going to come, but he can’t help but to feel like a fool nonetheless.
- I don’t know… -, he mutters, despite knowing full well why he did it, and in fact Reyson looks at him and he raises his eyebrows, in a clear skeptical expression.
Of course Reyson would’ve been able to see right through him.
- I mean, it’s just… -.
Why should he tell them? What do they care about this? It’s private stuff… But in the end it’s pretty harmless, right?
He’s definitely opening up for some endless teasing on Tibarn’s part, but he guesses he can be the bigger and more mature person. It’s not like Tibarn has never done stupid stuff he should be made fun for ever in his entire life anyway.
- Well, I mean, we’ve just hit a new year, right? -, he says then, and Reyson nods. He seems to have understood where he’s getting at.
- And so, as the say goes “new year, new me” -, Naesala concludes.
He can already start to hear Tibarn chuckle, but thankfully Reyson speaks up first.
- I think it’s a wonderful idea -, he says, and he gets closer to Naesala, resting a hand on his shoulder, - It’s good that you’re trying to change yourself -.
- I just wanted to do something special to mark a new beginning -, the raven says then, but he can’t even look at Reyson.
It still baffles him how the heron still seeks his presence and treats him decently. He doesn’t deserve this.
- The end of an era and the beginning of a new one -, Tibarn adds, and it doesn’t take a genius to understand that he’s not being completely serious.
Naesala’s about to turn towards him to say something snarky, but he can’t help but to smile. It feels nostalgic, all this light-hearted bickering; it reminds him of when they were just little nestlings – as Nealuchi still continues to call them – without any worry in the world.
Ah, he misses those times…
- Exactly that -, he finds himself saying, and then they all chuckle.
- Seriously though, it really looks good on you -, Tibarn says then, - I’m sure you’ll be able to find someone that… -.
- We’re not having this conversation! -, Naesala exclaims, interrupting him before he can finish his sentence.
He really, really doesn’t want to have that conversation with Tibarn, of all people.
- And by the way, don’t we still have a meeting to finish? -, he asks then, in order to change the subject.
From the look on the others faces, it seems like they’ve forgotten about it.
Well, luckily for them he’s there to remind them on how to run a country.
- I’ll go fetch the others -, he says then, leaving the room before neither Reyson nor Tibarn can say anything about it.
As he walks through the halls of the new Serenes’ castle, Naesala can’t help but to smile.
The end of an era and the beginning of a new one…
Who knows, maybe for once Tibarn’s right.