Chapter Eight: Double Standard

1703 Words
Harmon felt very awkward just standing around watching as the seamstress did her thing, especially when the flying pair of shears started cutting away the clothes from Lydia’s body. At first he wanted to protest at the destruction of his perfectly good pajamas, but his mouth quickly snapped shut when he caught a glimpse of Dia’s bare pink n*****s. He cleared his throat and turned away, trying to maintain his usual decorum as he marched into the room next door. The room next door did not grant him the reprieve he’d been expecting, as it was chock full of lingerie and...more. He cursed softly under his breath as he took in the wide variety of toys and costumes of offer. The young drow was not entirely inexperienced. He knew how bodies worked, and had a few dalliances with the daughters of other foreign dignitaries at some of the formal events he’d been required to attend by his parents. But, those were quick, fevered experiences that were fun and exciting in the moment, but not particularly satisfying. After the thrill of the act faded, so did his interest - which only led to his checkered reputation with the ladies. Those experiences came few and far in between now that he’d essentially established himself as a one hit wonder. The things in this room, however, seemed to indicate that there was much more to s*x than fooling against the wall of a darkened hallway in between waltzes. At this point, Harmon could have turned and walked out of the shop; waited outside for Lydia to finish up and saved himself some embarrassment. But, he’d never been very good at resisting his curiosity. Once he started considering the craftsmanship of the many, varied contraptions and costumes on offer, rather than how delectable Lydia would look wearing them, it was easy enough to distract himself. He was so absorbed in studying a full body leather suit with more straps and zippers than he felt entirely necessary, that he didn’t notice when Lydia came up behind him. She actually had to clear her throat more than twice, then poke him in the side before he lurched twitchily upright and turned his unfocused gaze on her. Harmon shook his head a little, coming back to himself as Lydia put a hand over her mouth to stifle a giggle. “I would pay good money to see you in that.” Lydia said, motioning at the leathers with a cheeky smirk on her lips. “Maybe with one of those chains to walk you down the street with.” Rather than react in the negative fashion she was clearly expecting, Harmon merely glanced at the suit, then shrugged. He turned his blue-white eyes back to Dia with an expression of mild curiosity fixed firmly in place, “How much?” Lydia felt the blood drain from her face as she blinked stupidly up at the tall drink of water. Her mouth popped open too, and she could just hear her mother’s voice in the back of her head telling her to shut it before she caught a fly. There was no way he was being serious. No way. Also, ew. She wasn’t really into bondage, she just wanted to throw him for a loop! At least, she didn’t think she was into that...she hadn’t really gone beyond the basics with Killian... Harmon’s fingers fiddled with one of the zippers, then he reached down to the sleeve of the suit to fish out the price tag. “I wasn’t being serious!” Lydia squeaked. The drow didn’t break immediately, taking his time to look Lydia up and down before his face finally cracked into a wide smile so reminiscent of his father’s that it almost gave Dia deja vu. Good Goddess, he even had the dimples. “Neither was I. I think it would look much better on you, anyway…”  Dia’s hand moved before she had time to process it, and she felt as if she was watching from the outside as her hand came in sharp contact with Harmon’s cheek. The smacking sound rang through the room and in her ears far louder than it should have. It was the kind of smack she’d occasionally employed as a young lady at social events, when men were being intentionally rude or offensive. It wasn’t hard enough to leave a mark, but gave a clear warning. It sank in almost instantly for Dia that her reaction was unwarranted. Their back and forth flirty banter had been edgy, but she was the one who initiated it. Dia liked edgy; she liked pushing people. When had she gotten so soft that she couldn’t handle when people pushed back?  She could see the hurt and mild confusion flash through her drow companion’s eyes; he obviously thought they were just having fun, and now she’d gone and ruined it. Harmon blinked rapidly a few times, then brought his hand up to grip her hand, which was still resting against his cheek. “I would say that I deserved that, but I feel that would be holding myself to an unfair double standard.” “I’m s-sorry.” Lydia sputtered, her eyes turning down as they filled up with tears. “I...I didn’t deserve that. I don’t know what came over me.” “Hey…” the drow held onto her hand and gave it a squeeze. “You’ve had a rough few days. Are you hungry? I’m famished, and I always get a bit tetchy when I haven’t eaten. Why don’t we get out of here and find something to eat before I start being more of an ass than usual?” While Harmon was not the friendliest fellow, Lydia had the feeling that he was a great big brother. Maybe it was a little condescending to be led by the hand like a child, especially seeing how she was older than him, but it felt kind of nice to let someone else take the lead. Of all the ‘cousins’ in her extended family, she was the oldest, and by virtue of her personality she was always the one in charge. She let Harmon gently guide her to the shop’s showroom and nodded to Selene as they passed her on their way out the door. “I’ll just courier your things over to the Desrouleaux household once I’ve finished everything up.” Selene confirmed, giving them a dismissive little wave. Lydia was quiet as he pulled her up onto the hovercraft, though he could feel her loosen up a bit as they got moving again. By the time they arrived at their lunch destination, the tension between them had dissipated completely, and Dia was smiling again - though her smile was shakier than it had been earlier. “Harmon…” Lydia said softly as he offered her his hand to help her step down from the hovercraft. “Apology accepted.” Harmon said, circumventing what most certainly would have been another apology. “Though, I do think that if we were even before, you should now owe me one.” Lydia laughed, and shook her head. “What? Are we just going to trade d**k moves back and forth?” “Sounds like a firm basis for a friendship to me.” Harmon replied, his tone slightly more jovial than usual. It wasn’t forced, exactly, but she could tell that he was putting in a bit of effort.  “Though I might just be saying that because I really am that big of a dick.” Dia felt the joke about him being a size queen on the tip of her tongue, but choked it back before it could escape the barrier of her lips. From his expression, she could tell he had no idea that he’d left himself wide open, and she already owed him one. Having already lost the plot once, Lydia knew better than to start her s**t up again. “You mean you’re not a smooth operator like your dear old Dad?” Lydia said, linking arms with him as they headed into the pub they’d pulled up in front of. “Say it isn’t so.” Well, maybe not all her s**t, anyway. She couldn’t help teasing a little; she wouldn’t be Lydia Lionette if she played it nice. “Whatever do you mean? My father is quite famous for being a d**k. He’s mocked and offended so many people so viciously that his enemies have formed their own support group.” Harmon said, snorting. Then, he continued more apologetically, “Though his d**k moves are generally intentional, and mine are not so much.” Lunch was a pleasant experience. Harmon was doing his best to be personable, keeping to safe topics - like detailed explanations of the various dishes he ordered for them, or little snippets about projects he was working on for his Academie classes. He seemed worried about boring her with endless descriptions of devices that were, as yet, only concepts in his mind, but she actually found the conversation incredibly interesting. He spoke to her as if she was on his level, and when she did have to ask him to break things down for her, he never spoke down to her or acted as if going over the basics for her was a burden. This contrasted sharply with how Killian would scoff and mock her any time she asked him a question he felt she should already know the answer to.  Hours passed, and the sun was hanging low in the sky before Dia pulled back enough to realize how late it was. She’d been so absorbed in their discussion that she’d completely forgotten that she was only biding her time, sitting in the eye of the shitstorm that was swirling around her. Lydia grimaced a little as she got up from the table, knowing that as soon as they got back to the Desrouleaux townhouse everything she’d been avoiding would come whirling at her far worse than it would have been if she’d just had the good sense to deal with it up front. Unfortunately, she was not wrong in that regard.
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