Chapter 5: Spica
The following morning, Aida wakes in an unfamiliar bed. She cringes as a raging headache pounds behind her eyes and against her temples. The first thing she notices is the burning heat of bodies on either side of her pressed against her own naked body. Gods, what have I done? She peels one sleep-heavy eye open and surveys the situation. Her other eye flies open when she notices a blonde mess of hair splayed over the pillows in front of her; the blonde’s face pressed against her chest with her arms tucked between them. Aida’s eyes drift further down, only to be met with the sight of her best friend’s bare chest. Oh... curse me, what am I doing? I can’t look. I shouldn’t. Do not look. She’s my best friend. But...maybe just a peek- NO. She’s not even awake, that isn’t right. This certainly complicates things.
Distracted by Elsie’s naked body pressed against hers, Aida nearly forgets about the pair of arms wrapped around her body from behind and the chin tucked into the crook of her neck. She holds her breath and peers down at the arms around her waist; Zelina’s ruby family crest ring confirms her suspicions. Aida strains to recall the previous night’s events but comes up blank; the bare breasts pressed against her chest and back making it decidedly more to difficult to focus.
Aida clamps her eyes shut when she feels Elsie stir against her. The blonde groans and unfurls herself from Aida’s chest. Moments later, the bed shifts as Elsie springs up; a startled choking sound escapes her throat. Aida’s eyes pop open in feigned surprise; she immediately slams her hand over her eyes when she catches a glimpse of Elsie’s still uncovered body. Zelina’s boisterous laughter bounces off the walls of the room startling both Aida and Elsie. Both girls turn, looking incredulously at Zelina who is lying on her back, confidently bare and amused.
Once Zelina’s laughter finally ceases, broken memories of last night come flooding back to Aida faster than she can comprehend. She clutches her head and cringes as images of the three girls tangled in one another, fulfilling their carnal desires play in her mind. “Holy cursed mother... what did we do?!” Aida screeches. Zelina shrugs insouciantly and shamelessly grazes her eyes over Aida’s naked body as she attempts to search for her discarded clothing, “Well, Princess Zoraida, I believe we gave the people something more to talk about. I’m sure they’ll have forgotten all about night before last, by now.” Fabulous, that’s exactly what I need right now. In hindsight, drinking excessive amounts of stolen nectar was definitely a mistake. So much for godly purification of the soul... I’m sure there’s a lesson in all this somewhere...
“Um, so you’re saying we had sex.... the three of us... together? Gods, I think I’m going to be sick...” Elsie says before promptly puking into the soil of a potted plant. Yeesh, that poor plant. At least his best friend isn’t puking at the fact that they had sex. Zelina rolls her eyes and pushes herself from her bed, “Seriously, blondie? You had the time of your life last night, believe me. Don’t pretend like you haven’t been ogling your friend here for ages; we both know you’ve been dying to stick your fingers in her cauldron and taste her witches’ brew.”
Aida, stunned by Zelina’s crude euphemism, gasps, slapping her hand over her mouth and turns to see a mortified, crimson blush on Elsie’s face. A forceful knock on the door startles the girls. Seconds later, the Queen and Celeste stand in the opened doorway just in time to see Aida’s naked body soaring onto Zelina’s bed in a failed attempt to hide herself. Sidera and Celeste stare silently into the room, taking in the scene unfolding before them. Celeste cracks a wry smile and turns to the Queen, “At least it wasn’t a waste. Seems these ladies had quite the evening.” Aida groans into a pillow knowing she’s in for it now. She spares a quick glance towards the other girls; Elsie looks like she’s on the verge of tears and Zelina looks as unbothered by the situation as she did when they first awoke.
When she meets Sidera’s furious gaze, Aida swallows a lump in her throat and steels herself for the wrath of her mother. The Queen ignores Celeste’s comment and addresses the girls through gritted teeth, “Get dressed. We will discuss this in my study, immediately. Celeste, you will stay and accompany them.” Celeste looks at Sidera with a raised brow, “Yes, my Queen. I’ll be sure they’re delivered.” Aida, Elsie, and Zelina dress themselves after the Queen departs and hesitantly join Celeste in the otherwise empty corridor.
Celeste eyes Aida curiously with a sly grin, “Zoraida, tell me, before I left were you so much of a sex kitten? It seems you’ve become rather... popular. I daresay, you may have even surpassed me in my prime; I’m quite impressed. Your mother, on the other hand, is seething. I applaud your choice of company, however. I always assumed you and Miss Elspeth here were enjoying each other’s company in more ways than one. Oh, and, of course, your adventures with Miss Zelina are well-known.” Aida’s eyes go wide in humiliation and an unforgiving blush floods her face. Elsie refuses to meet Aida’s apologetic gaze while Zelina chuckles heartily. Please, merciful gods, take me now.
After Celeste’s lurid comments, nobody speaks for the remainder of the walk. They hover momentarily outside the doors of the study before receiving a nudge from Celeste. Aida pulls the door open and they all shuffle inside. The room is eerily silent as they enter; Sidera’s disapproving glare lights Aida on fire. A familiar guilt settles in her stomach making her feel like a misbehaved child again. Sidera clears her throat, she rises in her regal manner and prepares to speak. Aida can’t help but feel inadequate, wondering if she’ll ever be able to command a room the way her mother does.
She holds her breath as Sidera begins, “All... sexual happenings aside, it was brought to my attention late last evening that a significant portion of the nectar of the flos montis had been taken. It is evident that you three were responsible for this. I am sorely disappointed as I expected better from my daughter, the princess, and two ladies of noble birth. Though we aren’t sure exactly how you went about apprehending the drink, we were pointed in your direction by a guardsman. With that said, I’ve decided that you three will be working during this evening’s dinner for the public. You will be helping to prepare, cook, and serve the food to the people of our kingdom instead of participating in other activities. Once that is finished, you will spend time with the people in attendance and help familiarize them with your faces as future leaders of Sidus. Please, I do not wish to hear of any further shenanigans from the three of you. That is all, you may leave.”
The three girls scramble out of the study and into the corridor. Aida exhales audibly and runs a hand through her dark hair, “That could’ve gone worse. My mother and Aunt Celeste did see my bare ass and suspect that we had a threesome, which we did, but somehow it could’ve been worse.” Zelina giggles in agreeance before suspiciously darting her eyes between Elsie and Aida. She grins and cheekily plants a kiss on Aida’s unsuspecting lips. Zelina briefly studies Elsie’s face, winks, then turns to leave the two best friends alone.
Aida stands dumbfounded, her fingers pressed against her lips where she still feels the ghost of Zelina’s seemingly possessive kiss. She can feel electricity crackling in the air around her and whips her head to Elsie, who is staring after Zelina with the stormiest of expressions. She turns abruptly towards Aida, a menacing glint shines in her eyes for a long moment before dissipating. “Elsie... maybe we should go to our spot and talk about this. I think we sh-” Aida begins only to be cut off by Elsie, “We don’t need to talk about it, Aida. It’s fine. I just never expected I’d become one of your meaningless sexploits.” Ouch... something tells me things are not fine. Is that really what she thinks of me? “Wait, please, it wasn’t like that, Els. We were... temporarily uninhibited and it just happened. I would never have slept with you if I weren’t under the influence, obviously. It was a mistake; neither of us even knew what we were doing!” Aida pleads, desperately grasping Elsie’s hand to stop her from storming off.
Oops. Clearly, that was the wrong thing to say. Elsie looks at Aida, a mixture of hurt and anger swirling in her big brown eyes. She rips her hand from Aida’s grip; gusts of tempestuous winds whip both girls’ hair wildly and the crackling energy, a telltale sign of impending lightning strike, returns. Aida screws her eyes shut and braces herself for the raging storm of fury she undoubtedly deserves, but it never comes. Aida opens her eyes to realize she’s left alone in the corridor, now. I wish she had just struck me. At least the physical pain would drown out the emotional pain. I wonder if there’s a prize for being the most clueless idiot; I would certainly win.
Several hours and an embarrassing amount of sulking later, Aida stands in a corner of the kitchen and watches as kitchen staff along with Zelina and Elsie finish cooking the foods to be served. She was shooed away by the staff after her 5th incident and asked to just watch, instead. Aida, of course, would never have done any of that on purpose to get out of working. She figures her time to shine will be the socialization portion of the evening. During this year’s Festival of Nix, Queen Sidera announced that she would host a free dinner with entertainment to serve the people of her kingdom and, hopefully, boost morale during the war. Although most people are far removed from the war front in their hometowns, many have lost loved ones or fought, themselves, against the Zodiaci armies. While she hasn’t been successful in ending the war yet, Sidera and the council have begun implementing strategies to unite the people of Sidus to encourage and reward loyalty to their kingdom.
“Come, love. It’s time to serve the food; get your head out of the clouds,” Zelina says with a chuckle. She follows after her, allowing herself to be led by Zelina hand in hand. Aida hasn’t spoken with Elsie since their earlier argument. Or, rather, Aida has spoken to Elsie and been ignored. Every time Elsie accidentally catches Aida’s purposeful eye contact, she huffs and rolls her eyes. Aida’s hoping this will blow over quickly; she reasons that she says dumb things all the time, so Elsie should be used to it by now.
The girls along with several other staff members line up behind tables of food and scoop out servings onto the plates of the subjects of Sidus as they go along. Aida tries to push her lady problems from her mind and focuses on putting her charming princess persona on.
As they’re serving the last of the guests, a young woman approaches the serving station with a plate. Aida watches her as the woman surveys the room, seemingly searching for someone or something. When the woman makes it to Aida’s station, she nearly stumbles over the person in front of her. “Hello, can I help you find something?” Aida asks the woman; she absentmindedly turns to respond to the princess, but her jaw slacks, instead. She looks bewilderedly at Aida for several moments before finally speaking, “Nova...”
Aida scrunches her nose and clears her throat, “No, my apologies, I’m Zoraida, Princess of Sidus. Are you looking for a Nova?” The woman looks shell-shocked at the princess; when she finally comes to her senses, she stammers out an apology, “Princess, of course, I am so sorry, I didn’t recognize you. I... no. I’m not looking for anyone, I just...mistook you for someone else. If you’ll excuse me, I must leave.” With that, the woman slips into the crowd and disappears.
Aida mulls over her exchange with the peculiar stranger.
Nova... Nova... how strange. I wonder who that woman was; she seemed to be searching for someone. Odd of her to leave so suddenly. She looked vaguely familiar... it seemed she thought me familiar, as well. Why else would she have reacted so strongly? Nova... Agh, my head, I can feel a major headache brewing. Probably stress, I need to lay off the women for a while. Too much drama.