Rating/Warnings: PG, read between the lines
Characters: Gregor (Vorkosigan saga)
Prompt: snowstorm (written for lmb_challenge)
Gregor watched the snow fall on the Residence gardens. There wasn't much else to watch, with the snowfall already covering the first story windows.
"Sire," said a voice behind him.
"Yes, my Lord Regent?"
"I have just informed the appropriate agencies that we are postponing Winterfair for two days. The blizzard should be over tomorrow, and then we give the Vorbarr Sultana municipal services a day to wake up from their hangovers and dig us out."
"Sounds fine. Is that all?"
"Yes," Aral said as he strode forth and surprised Gregor with a hard, quick hug. "Now don't get into trouble on your two days off."
"How can I do that? Miles isn't here."
Aral laughed. "Poor Cordelia; she's stuck with him down at Vorkosigan Surleau, and I expect I'll hear tales of snowgliding off the roof by the end of this. I'll be in my office if you need anything."
A few minutes later, alone in his room, Gregor sat in a chair on glider rails, a reproduction of the one that had burned in his mother's quarters at the end of Vordarian's Pretendership. Drou and Cordelia had both cuddled him here, when he was small and scared, just as his mother had cuddled him in the original. Even now, by himself, the chair's silent movements comforted him.
He gazed idly at the two-person couch draped in green on the other side of the room, positioned to have the best view out into the gardens.... though right now one could only imagine that there were gardens somewhere under those drifts of snow. The couch had replaced the glider chair about the same time as cuddles had been replaced by heart-to-heart talks. Cordelia, Lady Alys, occasionally a bouncy Miles or laconic Ivan, had all shared that couch with him. Never Aral, though; their relationship was not one of closeness but of mentoring.
Sooner or later, he'd share that couch with a girl. Not just any girl, but a future Empress. At some point he'd sit on the couch next to a girl, with careful chaperones silent in the background. And maybe, if that went well, he'd be alone with her sometime, and slip a ring onto her finger and tell her she was The One.
Lady Alys had been hinting that at eighteen, it was time for him to start seeing what the High Vor daughters had to offer. Aral, much more bluntly, had commented that the sooner Gregor was married and had a son, or three, the sooner the various political forces on Barrayar would relax in their jostling for status and Imperial favor. Aral's personal interest in having as many little Vorbarras as possible ahead of him and Miles in the line of succession was left unspoken. Cordelia had given him "The Talk" when he was 12 -- when she noticed that he seemed to be looking forward to dancing lessons rather than complaining about them -- and had expanded upon it, warning him to be very careful in his attentions to girls, because it would be easy for any girl he favored to think she might become the Empress. To him, that advice was more frightening than anything she'd covered in The Talk.
Warnings didn't stop him from wanting, though. After circling the couch and evaluating the view from various places, he settled into his favorite, non-approved position, head on one of the armrests and feet stretched over the other, and contemplated what he'd have to do with the girl he imagined, so she would be comfortable with him there. By shifting up slightly, he could see that he could hold her against him, her back to his chest, and they would both stare out to the drifting snow.
She became more real to him as he let his imagination take hold. She would be soft, rounded, warm. Light-haired, wearing a gown that would allow him a splendid view if he peeked over her shoulders. He would put his arms around her as he held her, maybe brush his hand across her breasts and she would sigh and settle back against him willingly as he let his hands play over her. She would shift and turn around and kiss him, adore him not for Who He Was, but just because he was there.
And so he occupied himself that afternoon of the snowstorm, and it would not be until years later that he'd understand that he'd not stayed out of trouble, letting himself imagine that he was just an ordinary snowbound teenage boy wishing for a girl of his own.