begged Oliver promise to keep quiet, to write nothing, to keep the truth to himself: not telling his own sister how Caius had shared not one but both her secrets, bloodied and angry, just over a ten-trial and a half ago when he first met the man. He'd held it all in, for the most part, and while it was uncomfortable, he assured himself he was doing the right thing. The best thing for Darcyanna's sake and not for his. It was just so sarding hard to feel that way about everything.
Once the older Venora's requested posters were finished, he'd wrapped them up in two fat stacks of waxed paper and twine against the wet, early Zi'da chill and packed them with a few books and a change of clothes for the carriage ride, having learned the hard lesson during his last visit that one didn't just stop and see the Onyx Rose without being properly prepared. He didn't expect to do any reading on the two day trip to Bellesoir, mostly because he had company instead, company that clearly needed his distraction. Where conversation faltered, his presence provided in whatever capacity of entertainment the moment required, but there was honestly only so much even the young Gawyne had to offer, quickly aware that the lovely pianist refrained from her usual habits while in his constant view.
By the time the familiar vision of Darcy's home stretched beyond the foggy windows of their carriage, Caius was not at all blind to her symptoms of need, his heart heavy as she found various ways of dealing with it. Withdrawal, the unspoken word was between them. When he couldn't stand to watch it any longer, he made himself the object of attention, sitting next to her so that his too-warm, ink-stained hands could hold her tightly and so that he could quietly ask questions about what went by them within their view and sneak in a few eager kisses.
The printer's diri did his best not to appear nervous, not because Oliver was at all threatening or intimidating despite his last visit but because the weight of the burden of all he knew and all he had done was heavy, uncomfortable. It crushed his chest and gripped his lungs tightly, it perched on his shoulders like a stone.
Knowledge was tangible, it had weight. Substance. It cast a shadow.
He was a Gawyne, however, born to record secrets, raised to bear the burden, but that didn't make any of it less cumbersome. If anything, his soft, tender feelings that grew in the dark cracks of his innermost being for the blonde Venora made him feel weaker, made all he knew about her history and her habits that much heavier.
He'd told her only half the truth, too, afraid to share all of what had transpired between himself and Oliver for fear she'd hate him, though in betraying one trust, he was forced to betray the other. Darcy knew he'd told Oliver about Pythera, knew the reason that her elder brother had attacked him, but she didn't know he'd told the older man about her habits, that he'd revealed the true extent of the damage done by their youngest sister. Caius was achingly aware that when everything came together, when all the pages from each of the stories were bound and glued, the result would not be pretty. He just longed for something to change, for something to be better, for peace.
The northern noble watched the lovely pianist fuss over her appearance for her brother, unable to hide his own admiration, "It's fine. Everything will be fine. You look lovely, Darcy. Beautiful. Perfect, but just in case you don't know by now, I'm sarding biased."
With an uneasy smile, his ink-stained fingers curled around her delicate hands that couldn't be still, perhaps more aware of what she was asking, what kind of respite she was hoping for than she knew. He wasn't about to let her out of his sight if he could help it, no matter how stretched thin she was. While he'd slept, it was hardly as much as when he'd traveled alone, careful to keep a watchful eye on Darcy whenever he could, "We don't need to stop anywhere."
She'd admitted to him how long it'd been since she'd actually come home, how long she'd been hiding everything, and he felt it, felt her words dig under his skin like a cold chill. She'd stayed away for so long, and this trip together was not going to be an easy one, he could feel it,
"Protector, mmm, I know that one."
Caius snickered, more self-deprecating than with malice, thumbing his nose at the memory of his last visit for emphasis, "And a cheeky bastard, brother or not. You're a lovely Venora yourself, if I may sarding well say so."
Thank the Fates the older man was a friend. An ally. A man at arms in this fight, hopefully a fight without any more blood.
"Yes, I'm ready."
He wasn't. He wasn't sure he ever could be.
Doing the right thing was damn hard.
Caius stood when the coach stopped and smiled gently at the blonde Venora, stealing another lengthy, encouraging kiss before the door opened and he exited first, making sure he was there and ready to help Darcyanna out of the carriage as was expected of him as a Lord and as her escort, but instead of looping her arm in his while they walked, he made sure to tangle their fingers together instead, holding her hand warmly. He paused to indicate that his packages would be necessary, the stacks of posters important before offering the blonde Venora a warm smile and leading the way.