He leaned forward, heart pounding and focused all his senses on what would follow.
His mind somersaulted as he wrecked his brain for what Olyfer had taught him about the other noble houses. Yes...yes, the name rung a bell. She was still alive wasn't she? He suspended his curiosity for a few more moments as his father continued to speak. When he finished, the very room seemed to hokd its breath.
Rafael sat astonished. A million questions flitted through his mind yet he found himself unable to even attempt to grasp at any one of them. For a while he remained frozen in his chair, too dumbfounded to even breathe. Then, slowly he stood up and passed the desk that had seperated them for far too long. He still had many, many questions but in that moment, only one thing mattered.
Standing on the tip of his toes, for his father was tall and he was still growing, he pulled his father into the tightest embrace he could muster and rested his chin on the broad man's shoulder. A few involuntary shakes and sniffs passed through his frame before he pulled back and watched his father with watery eyes. "I'm sorry," he croaked feebly. "I thought you wanted me gone, I thought you- I thought you didn't love me..." his voice trailed off and he fell into Ned's strong arms yet again, shivering like a reed while hot tears streamed freely down his cheeks. It was a relief to give in and cry.
After he simply had no more tears left to shed, Rafael pulled back once more and dried his eyes with his sleeves while a watery smile broke through. "Now it's my turn, right?" He did not sit back down but wandered over to a cabinet in the corner, pulled a glass and a flask of brandy from it and poured his father a glass full of his favorite drink. "Here," he said shakily. "You'll need it for what I am about to tell you." In secret he wanted nothing more than to ask about his mother, to find out where she was so he could visit. But he restrained himself. He owed it to his father to tell him the truth. Besides, he could not bare to live a lie any longer.
"Dad," he started tenatively, "I mean to join the Qe'Dreki..." he paused deliberately, gauging his father's reaction. He could still pretend it was a joke should Ned not respond well to the notion that his son had ambitions to fight the crown.