Odin doesn't think a great deal of marriage. If he'd told Laslow about it, he'd probably mention something along the lines of trauma, fear of commitment and all that emotional turmoil which had been caused by their past.
But Laslow is full of shit – not that he'd ever say that to his face because he's his best friend and his mothers had taught him to be kind and not using swear word – as well as married himself. So he was biased. However, he has to admit that he had been focused on survival. Not that this had been a problem for the other children who apparently couldn't turn their sexual attraction off.
Yet Odin isn't blind to their happiness.
Neither during his time in Ylisse, nor now in Nohr. Especially how relaxed Niles can be, officially being Leo's spouse, is something he can't turn a blind eye on. It doesn't change the fact that he's personally not interested though. His mothers had been happily married and whenever he said that he wanted to be like them when he grew up, they said that he'd find the right person to marry one day.
What they didn't understand was that he wasn't interested in this as much as he was interested in the love they had for each other – every gaze spoke of mutual understanding, every touch of trust and words spoken to each other were oozing of admiration.
Yearning for such a relationship seemed more idealistic than anything else. But he had helped to save the world – twice – so maybe it's not too unrealistic. Nohr was different than Ylisse, so he tries to look at it from the bright side. Third time might be a charm, or so they say, but he has a child now, a girl who needs him. Friends who love him, accept him. A home. Not people who are his home, but an actual place he can come back to!
And once in a while, despite of being a hero, he wants to be selfish.
When he reaches his room, Odin is greeted by the sight of Forrest and Nina waiting for him. It's a bit weird to see them at this hour, but he won't turn them away, adjusting his grip on the sleeping Ophelia in his arms instead.
“Why are you seeking my aid, little princess and prince of darkness, is there anything I can assist you with?”, he wants to know, quieter than usual so that he doesn't wake up Ophelia.
Instead of replying, Nina is glaring at him. Which is fine because she's a little girl and that's rather cute, how she's frowning like that. Not that he's going to tell her that. He himself hated it when adults had made fun of his expressions, even though he often didn't realise it until people like Selena had beaten them up for it.
Leo's and Niles' daughter is already 13, a year older than Ophelia, give or take, so he wonders how long it will take her to copy the older one's behaviour and stop clinging to him. Which he'd be fine with, but it's still amazing to see them grow up this quickly. To be fair, he only has been there for her for a year, but it feels like she's been his child for ages.
“Nina thinks that you haven't spend as much time with us as you used to,” Forrest tells him when they follow him inside his room, “I told her it's because Ophelia's your child and we aren't, so she gets more of your time.”
“Forrest!”, she hisses, embarrassed, though she doesn't deny it.
His daughter. Right. It's still so weird. He just wanted to be a great mentor when Niles had told them about the orphaned child he'd rescued during his mission. That they were grateful for Izana allowing her to recover in Izumo, though he was worried that her being alone at his place wouldn't be the best way to grow up, isolated and without children her age. Without the right person to understand her magic.
(And wasn't it scary, just a bit, that Niles realised how Odin isn't a simple mage as well?)
He hadn't hesitated to offer his assistance. When it came to children which had been left to fend for themselves, he couldn't help himself. While he had thought, as a child, that it was a sign of weakness, not being able to protect his parents, he now has learned that it wasn't his job. Children should be allowed to learn about death and war, shouldn't live a sheltered life in a castle. But they shouldn't have to experience it.
Along the way, he realised that he's more like a father to her, that she needed a parent as well, not just someone who taught her magic.
Leo had helped him with that, encouraging him to take that last step. Odin will never forget how she had cried that day, one month ago, and how he'd freaked out until he'd realised that she'd been crying from happiness. To think that she acknowledged how much he cared about her was touching.
Nina is teaching her how be strong while she learns how to show emotions from watching Forrest. Being adopted themselves, they partly knew how she was feeling. Odin had been there when Leo had brought Forrest to the castle. He'd been there as well when Nina had joined the family. Whenever their parents needed someone to look after them, the first one they trusted was him. He'd told them stories, helped them with their reading and been there to comfort them when they had felt out of place.
(And isn't this a feeling he knows the best, wondering where he fits?)
Since he's taken in Ophelia, he hasn't spend as much time with them, that is true. He has assumed that it wouldn't matter with the other people in the castle. Because why would they miss him specifically? There had been Selena who knew how Nina felt as someone who had been adopted as well – not because of royal blood like Forrest –, or Camilla who was teaching Forrest a few things about needlework. Apparently, he had been wrong.
“Forgive me for neglecting you like this. Allow me to redeem myself.”
Odin laughs lightly when he sees their confused expressions. Before explaining himself, he carefully puts Ophelia to bed and tucks her in. It had been a long day spend in town, picking up some fabric while also making sure that she'd get used to the noise of people around her. Then he walks over to the window niche – a perk of being a retainer, the windowsill being wide enough to sit there comfortably with a book while listening to the rain outside.
Even though Forrest had spoken for her, he's eager to come over and sits down on one of the pillows, pulling up his legs. Being about ten years meant that he wasn't trying to be as mature as the other children, but it was difficult for Odin to really think about it. What had he done at ten? He was sure that he'd been able to hold a sword by then. Had he still been cuddling with his mums? Owain certainly had longed for their hugs years later, when it wasn't possible any more.
Nina tries to be more mature about it, but Odin counts it as a win when she takes the place to the left so that he can sit in the middle. Before he does that, he gets two additional blankets out of a chest and pulls one around the shoulders of each of the children. Then he sits down in the middle and pretends not to notice that they move closer.
“Do you want to hear a story or have me read your favourite?”
It's probably going to wake Ophelia up, but if he's lucky, she'll also fall asleep again while listening. Besides, it's what he's good at. Telling them stories, true ones and fake adventures. Making sure that their imagination is kept alive.
“A new one!”, Nina says, followed by Forrest's “Yes, please.”
Thinking about the last time, he decides that they had heard enough about dragons for a while and since his mind likes to wander nowadays, heroes and royalty are not an option either. But he's not Odin Dark for nothing, he can come up with something. And so he starts with a star in the sky, shining in hopes of leading other stars to him. It doesn't have a real lesson, only talks about being alone and wanting to make friends, a feeling they might relate to, with a hopeful ending.
They fall asleep, like he suspected.
It's not the first time this happens, though the position is new. Knowing that they are going to tell the other children about it, he has to make sure that Siegbert and Soleil don't feel left out. Sophie and Dwyer weren't too interested in taking naps with him, but they liked stories. Maybe they can get together during a nice cold evening, taking all of the available blankets and pillows to the library. He could read something instead of making up a story about dragons or stars. Let the younger ones build a fort they can sleep in.
(Don't think about Ylisse, don't think about Lucina and Kjelle and Brady and Uncle Henry and don'tdon'tdon't-)
Odin turns his head to the door when he feels another presence. There is no malice, so he doesn't worry. It's Niles. It's darker than it had been when they'd gone to bed, so he can't tell what the look on his face means. He'd probably looked for the children, so now he feels a bad, even though they were safe with him.
“Sorry”, Odin yawns, realising how tired he'd been as well, “I'll bring them to bed right - ”
Niles moves over with the intention to carefully pick up Nina, but Forrest is awake and reaches for his shirt to keep a hold.
“Can we stay?”
“Do you want to bother Odin?”
He doesn't ask this because he thinks they are. It's a disguised scolding because he doesn't like it when they don't tell him where they plan to go. Odin thinks it's cute that he cares so much about them. Despite of the less than ideal circumstances, these two were loved. There were still children like Ophelia who didn't have such a childhood, but that's why were still working, making sure to build a future for them
“They never are”, Odin tells him before the children can say anything, “You can stay. I have duties to attend anyway, right? That's why you came.”
Niles leads the two of them to bed. Forrest doesn't seem happy to let go, but then Ophelia reaches for him and his papa isn't so important any more. Niles just brushes over Nina's head before she grumbles and joins them on the girl's other side. They look like siblings, all three of them, being together like this. Odin's heart aches. He can't explain why.
(A war. Friends who became his family. His own brother Brady back home. Without him but not alone.)
Pushing his own thoughts away, Odin turns to Niles, asking him if everything is okay when the other one remains silent. He reaches out to place the back of his hand against his forehead, wondering if he should ask Lady Elise to take a look. Niles blinks. Turns his head away. Odin wonders if he imagines his hesitation, but that thought is gone when Niles reaches for his hand, fingers gently wrapping around his wrist to pull his hand away.
“Just need some sleep. I think I'll make use of that seat by the window and look at the stars. Leo is in his study room.”
Odin knows better than to point out that this isn't comfortable and that he should go to bed. Also there are probably not going to be many stars he'll be able to see from that spot. The only reason he doesn't is because Niles places a soft kiss against his palm before nudging him outside, closing the door behind him.
Huh. Strange. Ah, whatever, he had duties to attend. Evil never rests and so neither can he. Since Ophelia is asleep and Niles watches after them, he can do so without worrying.
It's not weird, he thinks, that he raises Ophelia on his own. Okay, so he isn't doing this on his own. Everyone looks after each other since the war has ended. It's nice. It reminds him of his youth, before it got worse. His mothers were the best. If they didn't have time, his uncle Chrom or auntie Sully were there for him. Whenever aunt Sumia and Cordelia hadn't been working, they had made sure to protect them as well. Or they send him to Ferox where he'd been safe with Laslow and uncle Henry.
(And then all of them had died and it had just been them. His friends.)
“Bad dream?”, Leo wants to know, doesn't look at him when he enters the room, eyes on the pages of the book, “it's not like you to miss your shift.”
With the first buttons of his shirt open, his wedding ring which is on a chain he wears around his neck, dangles a few centimetres above his pages. Owain thinks about his mother's ring, hidden in his drawer, where he put it after the war had ended. Thinks about how easy it would have been to leave everything behind because running away is something he's good at. It had always been easier then staying.
His name brings him back. Leo had stood up when he hadn't reacted right away and was now standing in front of him. Odin smiles, can't bring himself to laugh it off. Maybe he'd been too lost in thoughts today.
“Yes. It's been a stormy night. I'm sorry, milord.”
Leo's expression softens.
“If you need a day off, there is no shame in asking.”
He shakes his head. Leo accepts it with a nod. Reaches out, hand cupping his cheek. He thinks back to Niles, his soft touch. He wonders if they realised that he enjoys close contact and indulge him. He's scared of asking,
“Do not concern yourself with that. But thank you, I will keep this in mind.”
While they don't flaunt their relationship in public – Niles was shameless, but he respected Leo's boundaries – Odin often walked in on them being a sappy couple. It's nothing he thinks about, doesn't mind giving his report while Niles was sleeping with his head in Leo's lap. But sometimes, like today, he finds himself starring, waiting (wanting), until they realise he's present.
He hadn't meant to go to them. But Ophelia had shyly asked him about the dragons – she couldn't distinguish them from Wyverns yet which was very cute – and he's meant to ask if she could join Forrest's lessons to watch them first.
Odin knocks, announcing his presence, and waits for one of them to open the door. Instead, Leo tells him to come in. When he enters and closes the door behind him, he sees that they are both in bed already, Niles to his left, always closer to the door in case he needs to shield him. He often looks so soft when he's with Leo and nobody can see them, allows his guard to drop enough that he's still able to switch back and yet give him a glimpse of his emotions.
Which he does in that moment when he realises that Odin is just looking at them. It shouldn't come to him as a surprise, that Niles makes a joke, says that he can tell that he'd love to join them and that he should just ask. Leo thinks it's stupid, or at least rolls with his eyes which is basically the same. Odin doesn't know what to do or say now, unsure.
Niles catches up on it, always does, observation not learned during a time of war but on the streets.
“Would you like to stay the night with us? In bed. Don't worry, I can keep my hands above your waist. And my mouth as well.”
Odin waits for an 'unless you don't want to' which he's so used to hear from him. But it seems like he tries to be serious. There is no reply he has to that either, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, thinking.
“You don't have to agree”, Leo says, “but I don't mind as well if you're worried about that. We did this before after all. Unless you're hesitating because Niles and I are married now.”
Right. They have done this during the war, at the end of it, whenever one of them had been hurt. They would get Niles in the middle because he was the best choice when both of them wanted to have a strong arm around them. One or two revelations had lead to Leo in his arms (betrayal was bitter, all of them knew this, losing a parent they once loved something Odin understood even better).
It's been comfortable. But most importantly, it had reminded him that those two had survived, that they are still by his side. There is nothing more relaxing than listening to the breathing of your loved ones.
“We used to do that. When we were younger”, Odin interrupts them, voice off, trying not to remember the past, “Even when my friends started a relationship, they didn't mind to have me.”
“Oh. And here we thought that you'd think it's improper because we're married.”
Odin shrugs. It's not that. They had stopped once the first peace treaty had been signed, so he'd just assumed it's been a war thing. There had been a lot of things he'd attributed to the circumstances, things they wouldn't speak of now.
(Insecurities shared after nightmares, tears wept after deaths, traitorous thoughts during long nights.)
“Nohr is different. I wouldn't have been surprised if you're the ones who think it's weird.”
Niles laughs. It's quiet, speaks of how sleepy he is. Odin doesn't complain. While he's rather charmed by Niles' commentary on some occasions, he's very fond of a quiet Niles as well. While the comparison to a cat might be lacking, seeing him relaxed like this just gives him the impression of a sleepy feline who graces you with their presence and only demands some petting as compensation.
And Odin is pretty good at cuddling, even if Laslow thinks that this is no competition.
(He only says this because Cynthia had liked his hugs more.)
Trying not to disturb them, Odin rounds the bed to Leo's other free side, doesn't even think about complaining since it would make him feel entitled. Leo has still a book in his hand, a candle holder above their head on the wall to help him read (magic, he can feel that).
With him in the middle, Odin had meant to sleep on his back, but he ends up on his side and facing them out of habit, eyes on the door. Neither comments on it. When Niles pats the space of the blanket above Leo's thigh, Odin follows his wordless request, one arm outstretched so that Niles can busy himself like he'd often did before; turning his hand over, thumb tracing lines, fingertips trailing along knuckles. It's nice.
He forgets, sometimes, how much he enjoys close contact. Maybe some of his moods were better if he'd gave in the craving instead of denying himself what they'd give him.
Whenever Leo doesn't turn a page, he finds a hand in his hair. From time to time, nails would gently scratch along the back of his neck. Odin had considered getting a haircut again, but it's nice when fingers play with the curls above his nape. He feels spoilt.
“Was there anything you wanted?”, Leo asks eventually.
“The dragons. Ophelia wanted to see them.”
“I'll ask Camilla.”
It's nice that they understand him. Odin means to thank them, knowing that they would also understand that that's not just for asking his sister this favour. But he falls asleep like this.
Odin doesn't understand how you can wake up in the morning and immediately want to do anything sexual with your partner. He hasn't gotten that in the past when Selena had complained about it nor now when Laslow would slip up about his spouses. However, he realises with confusion, that this can be a thing with Niles and Leo.
Well, he had to be told.
Leo had seemed embarrassed because Niles wasn't supposed to be so blunt about it. Niles had been amused, but only because Leo had been embarrassed. They didn't want to kick him out, felt bad when they had been the ones offering it in the first place. But Leo had remembered a mission and so they probably wouldn't get to see each other until a week. And apparently, they hadn't had the chance to be intimate in a while.
Odin can sleep like a log, so being blunt himself and also still sleepy, he'd just told them that he doesn't mind if they do their thing while he sleeps next to them. Which he probably shouldn't have said because Leo had turned even redder and even Niles had an odd look on his face.
In the end, it's the children knocking at the door which helps him out of the situation. Odin moves on instinct, rolling out of bed and opening the door to see the three of them in various states of being half-asleep. Since they had one of their 'slumber parties' with their aunt Elise, he assumes they had sneaked out – Elise must have told them that Leo was going on a mission and wanted to say goodbye (as if he'd ever leave without telling them).
Had they been younger, he would have bundled them up, all at once and carried them outside. As it currently is, he only picks up Ophelia while allowing Forrest to ride on his back and taking Nina's hand.
Promising to get them properly dressed and prepare some breakfast before they would go back to wish him a safe trip, he's sure that he'll manage to buy them at least ten minutes for themselves.
Selena laughs at him later when they are on their way to town and he asks them what he'd done wrong; Laslows just turns an alarming shade of red, which, to be fair, is easy to achieve. They don't enlighten him but they mention one of the books hidden in the castle's library back at Ylisse. The one they had read because the adults had hid them from them. He realises that his comment might have meant more to them. Which was weird because why would they be interested in that? No, with him.
“Really? Are you really this stupid?”
Years of growing up together has taught him that Selena doesn't mean it like this, but also that he must have missed something. But Odin has no idea what. Why can't they just tell him!
“It's embarrassing to talk about. Why don't you just ask Niles? He never minds to be crass.”
True. But he seems also weird, lately, about it. Less laid back, not really on edge, but rethinking his words.
“Both of you are so so stupid”, Selena said, turning to Laslow, “How did you even manage to get married?”
“It's my charm, obviously”, Laslow replies.
They end up bickering and Odin still feels like he's missing something. Niles was really not holding back. So something about this must be different. He doesn't know why it worries him so much. The thing is, while Odin learned to be nonchalant about any sexual innuendos, discussions about sexual fantasies could make him squirm.
Especially if it's with those two because nobody else had ever – oh. Oh. He gets it now. Partly. They are close and if it's weird and awkward for them, then it's going to be weird and awkward in the future. Niles doesn't want to risk their friendship by upsetting or traumatising him! That's very sweet of them.
“So so stupid, I can't believe it”, Selena sighs when Odin shares his revelation while Laslow just nods; they always manage to stop their bickering just to team up against him, great.
Fine. He's going to ask Niles then after all.
“Was it wrong of me to say that?”
Two weeks have passed until Leo had come back. During that time, Odin had to take over his duties as well. Using magic to keep the place running. Going on an errand in the city. Looking after the children. But once he's given them a day to rest after coming back (and an additional one they spend with the children), Odin makes sure to ask them.
They exchange a look. It's a fun thing, to see them communicate without words. Sometimes, he and Niles could do that, too, and due to their shared adventure, Selena and Laslow managed this with him as well. Most of the times, Odin isn't good with this though. They must have come to a conclusion because Niles turns to him.
“You think it's stupid, right? Marriage.”
Oh, he hadn't expected that. Niles could read him so well.
“No. It's just not for me. You're clearly happy, so why should I think something which pleases you like this could be bad?”
Niles studies him. He hasn't done that in ages.
“Odin? What do you want?”, he asks him, arms loosely crossed in front of his chest; he throws a glance at Leo, but he just waits for him to reply.
“I don't know? Not much, I think? You may want to be more specific?”
“What do you want from us?”, Leo tells him.
Oh. A good question. Whatever they were willing to give?
“I like this. But I'm not sure... it's...”
Words don't tend to fail him. Unless it comes to his feelings for them. Oh. Okay. Odin likes them. This seems to be pretty clear now. Which kind of sucks because he expresses his love in different ways and he's not sure how they are going to deal with that.
“We're not going to coerce you into anything. There are different ways to approach this, obviously, so we -”, Niles interrupts Leo with a wave of his hand, a sigh but also a wry smile following.
“Leo, we talked about this. This is not a battlefield which uses strategic plans.”
“You made plans?”, Odin blurts out.
The prince blushes.
“I wanted to get this right. So I just thought about a few things. Also we are partners, so while we make these decisions on our own, we have to talk to each other.”
“Would it be weird? If I share a bed with you like a lover... but don't want to be married to either of you?”
Odin grimaces upon his own choice of words. Married. That's two steps ahead. But they don't seem to mind, as if they weren't – oh. So this is what he'd missed. They liked him this way as well. They had already realised it, how he expresses his love and tried to receive and return it properly. Maybe Selena had been right, he truly had been a fool.
“Not really. Xander has chosen to marry Charlotte and Laslow, but even though Charlotte gave birth to Soleil, she isn't married to Laslow. Camilla has a child with Silas but they aren't married. It's not like there is a right way.”
“Unless you mean 'right' according to old traditions”, Niles chimes in, “But you know how I feel about them.”
“I would have suggested to marry you, but only because I'm worried that you'd feel left out.”
It feels right, being with them. Even though he has no interest in the way they are together. How can they think that he feels left out when they already give him all what he wants? Okay, there could be more, but he is content.
But isn't this why Selena had called him stupid? Because he's always just content with the situation as it is, doesn't ask for what he wants before it's offered to him? Marriage. They would have married him if he'd wanted to. So they had assumed he was already together with them! Was it that day he had joined them for sleep? Or when he'd made this careless comment? Looking back on it, there are so many small moments he remembers.
“Ah, forgive me. I think I need a second.”
“Take your time.”
“Yes. It's not an easy choice to make.”
Actually, it was pretty easy. Odin reaches for Niles hand, looks in his eyes and tells him exactly that. Everything else would have been stupid, honestly, as if he'd say no! Ah, but maybe they had their insecurities as well, different from his own, so he shouldn't make light of them.
“I like what we have. It's simply the point of time that I was qualified enough to be part of this which I had to dwell on.”
“I assume this is fine then?”, Niles wants to know, pulling him closer.
In reply, Odin simply uses this new position to bury his face in the crook of his neck, welcoming the arm around his waist. Odin hums, doesn't flinch when there is another hand on his back. A second body hugging him.
“There are no qualifications to this”, Leo tells him, pressing his lips against his neck for a second, “but to be honest, we don't know either. You just managed to find your way into our hearts.”
“And we wouldn't have it any other way, don't think anything stupid, okay?”, Niles adds, in a more serious voice – how can Odin deny any of it?
He's truly lucky, isn't he?
Odin doesn't mind kissing. He prefers cuddling and everything which comes with it – hand on his back, in his hair – but he doesn't think much about it. Niles likes to be the cause of his reconsideration. So it's something Odin indulges him in from time to time. Niles is also not mad when he's not in the mood, amused when Odin points it out.
“Leo is my husband, but he also doesn't want to kiss me all the time”, he explains, adding, because he's Niles and can't himself, “especially during meetings, though I have no idea why.”
Yeah, okay, he does have a point. Odin doesn't mention that his favourite kisses are the other ones. Against his shoulder blade in the morning. In passing when they go on a mission. Also that one time his mouth does find it's way to his thigh. But the rest? Not his thing.
At least Hana and Hinata agree with him on that. It's also probably because of them that they realise his disinterest isn't connected to his disinterest in marriage. After all nobody doubts Hinata's lack of sexual activity after giving birth to Hisame as well as Kiragi. Neither do they doubt how happy Hana is since she's married to Sakura. They are really cute together! But they also make him think of his mothers and that hurt.
(During their anniversary, because he wants to make Leo happy, Odin suggest that Niles can show him what his mouth and hands were capable of below his waist. It's kind of nice, even when it isn't because Niles stops at once when he asks him to. And Leo had definitely appreciated that view.
Odin prefers the kissing though.)
The world around them doesn't stop while they negotiate their relationship. But things don't change that much. They go on missions, do their best in rebuilding efforts. Make sure the kids are alright.
Who won't stop sort of multiplying, turning the castle into a place which has the sound of children laughing and running around filling the empty halls. It's due to Arthur who saves a small orphan boy from bandits and calls him his son sooner than anyone else had done with their children. Or Azura who shows up with a boy a few years older than Nina, his past as mysterious as hers had been. Or Keaton who comes visiting them because Elise was little Velouria's godparent and she hadn't seen the child in ages.
But it's fine. Xander had told them, once, that he wants to do things differently. A family with anyone looking after the other one. Not just because of their blood. And they are pretty much doing that. Though most of them are already worried what happens once they become teenagers – due to the war, they had no idea how to handle this, either having skipped that phase or turned off their thoughts on this.
However, this is going to be a problem for the future.
Even if their children are already really smart and figured out that something has changed between them. It shouldn't have been such a surprise then that Forrest is the first to call Odin 'papa'. Unfortunately, he's also very embarrassed about it, so that he hides in uncle Xander's room; Camilla might love her nieces and nephews, but she doesn't tolerate hiding and Xander can never say no.
His uncle won't push him, has the boy play with his four and six year old cousins instead. Nobody knows why he is hiding aside from Odin who had been the one being present and Corrin who has just arrived at Krakenburg and was very amused by all of this.
“I assume that this is new”, they ask him when he's not sure about going after Forrest or giving him some space; it takes him a second to understand what they mean.
“Ah, yes. But also not?”
“It's complicated then?”
“No, not really.”
And isn't this the most fascinating thing? How easy they managed to make things work. Odin is still amazed by all of this, though a small part of him wants to make sure he knows that he only enjoys this because he still won't accept it as permanent. Wants to make sure he only sees this as something temporary before he'll be gone.
(Where will he go? Or is it going to be war again, somewhere? Odin is really tired. No person is made for this.)
And Corrin truly seems to understand it. Odin thinks that they are rather naive, but he also realises that they learned a lot during the war. About themselves but also other people. Maybe, he can have this much confident about himself as well.
“So, are you two going to marry Odin now?”, Elise wants to know after hearing Nina calling him 'dad' when she had said that he was allowing her to watch his training.
(She had pretended that she hadn't said it while Elise was tactful enough not to point it out with the way she had been blushing and just went back to tell her how a healing rod worked.)
It's their usual family dinner on Friday with the exception that the children aren't present – tomorrow is the birthday of Corrin's twins and they wanted to celebrate, so they were already sleeping to be awake enough for midnight.
The dining room is suddenly very quiet.
Leo gives her that reply without thinking or hesitating, firm in his answer. They won't convince Odin of anything he isn't interested in, respecting his decision. Unfortunately, while Odin might have told them that he doesn't want to, the rest doesn't seem aware of his reluctance and so he suddenly has a lot of glares shot in their direction.
Niles tries not to laugh. He fails.
“Idiot”, Silas hisses, before turning to him, an encouraging smile on his lips, “Hey, Odin, we -”
Laslow interrupts them with a sigh, leaning back in his chair.
“Laurent owes me money now. He always told me that you were going to change your mind when you meet the right people.”
“Good luck trying to get this through the dimensions”, Selena adds, “but if you manage that, please make him give you the money for me as well.”
They are so nonchalant about it that the rest feel bad for being surprised; Niles won't admit it, neither will Leo, but being referred to as 'the right people' by someone who was close to Odin, meant a lot to them.
“You were betting on Odin's love life”, Corrin wonders, “are you okay with that?”
Odin just shrugs, for once uncomfortable with the attention.
(Also he can't admit that he might have done something similar – to his defence, it was very amusing to see Hinata failing to realise that Takumi was wooing him and anyway, Hina had won that money.)
“Well, you're adults”, Xander says, clearing his throat, “I'm sure you can work this out on your own. Without noisy family members.”
Ah, Xander was always so awkward with this. He's pretty sure that the only reason he is married was because Charlotte was tired of waiting for them to make a move. She can act in front of them all she wants to, but Odin knows about the true nature she is hiding. Not that those two seem to mind. While Laslow told him he and Charlotte are not as much in love as other couples, they do love Xander and love to team up to make him feel flustered. Which had been a bit too much information, but it got his point across.
“But we're family!”, Elise complains, hating it when there are secrets, even though it had been less of a secret and more of an unspoken arrangement.
“I love them”, Odin tells her, “I'm not interested in the ritual of marriage however.”
And that's it, isn't it? It feels like a ritual whose magic is foreign to him. Words – vows – which are heavy on his tongue. But what they have? This is nice. It's comfortable. It's not him running away, shying away from a risk he's scared of taking.
If they have him like this – accept him without a spell spoken in front of others – then isn't marriage just a label, a different word?
“Aww, look at you two blushing like this”, Camilla coos, “Odin, you shouldn't say something like this in the open, your partners seem unable to bear that honesty.”
“Oh, be quiet”, Leo grumbles, but even Xander laughs quietly, dispersing the last bit of the tense atmosphere; they return to their meal and previous conversations just like that.
And Odin is unbelievable grateful that nobody seems to be confused by their relationship itself. Maybe thinks had been rather obvious then after all.
“Would you be fine with me getting you a ring?”
Niles is half-asleep, but he's more awake now after Leo asks that. Odin could tell when he was faking it and normally, he lets him get away with it; this time, he's tempted to nudge him so that he doesn't have this conversation alone. Leo waits for an answer. Odin hesitates. Then he gets up because when have those two ever disappointed him when he'd been open, honest, with them?
“Wait here a second.”
Niles who stopped faking his slumber moves closer, making sure Leo can't leave by wrapping his arms around him.
“Wasn't planning on it”, Leo says, glaring at Niles who just innocently smiles.
Odin comes back with a little box, sitting cross-legged at the end of the bed. He hasn't taken it out in front of them before, not because he was scared of sharing this about him. There was just something about it which had felt like it hit too close to home, as part of his past which he couldn't put into words.
But if there is one thing he had learned, then it was that they will always try their best to understand him, even if the words won't come to him.
They watch his hands as he opens it, Leo's eyes widening while Niles simple raises an eyebrow when he takes out a ring. Despite of the curiosity, they wait for his explanation, don't rush him.
“It belonged to one of my mothers. My brother has the other one. It's the only memento I have of her...”
They seem to get it without him having to put it into words. Good. Despite of the magic, despite of anything which happened in Valla, there are some things he can't explain. How he associates his hands with killing. Sword heavy and fingertips tingling with magic. Having a ring on this hand would just feel weird. And the ring had been around his neck before he had hidden it in his room, so a different one would feel like a noose.
“Thank you. For telling us”, Leo says and Niles who had remained silent reaches our for his hand.
It's nice. Grounding. They are so sweet and he loves them so much. And there is something, he had thought about, once, after Selena had made a comment about Laslow in passing. Maybe that would be a good compromise.
“I always thought that it would be rather fitting to get my ears pierced. I would be honoured if you picked out the rings for that. It might not be the same, but it would be something special.”
They remain silent. Oh. Was this the wrong thing to say?
“You”, Niles starts, and he seems struggling with words, “need to stop doing that.”
He's very confused now.
“Stop being so smooth”, Leo tells him, “it's cute and we'll never be able to let you go.”
“But so are you? When you're with each other and think that nobody is watching you. When you're playing with the kids. And also –”
His words are muffled when Niles wraps his arm around him and pulls him against his chest. Leo carefully takes the box from him and puts it to the side. Then he joins them. Odin doesn't tend to lie in the middle often, but it seems like they won't let him go like this. Oh well, it's fine. That's quite comfortable.
(A week later, they go into town. Odin comes back with two new piercings – one is a simple silver star for Niles, the other a purple stone for Leo. Odin thinks that – for him – this is better than any wedding ring.)