I sat on the boy’s side at Farasha’s caravan fire. And it was almost enough to make me mad. They might have thought they were talking over my head… the ignorant foreigner… but I was Yeoli. We spoke with our hands. They might have hidden themselves from Arkans with this but not from Yeolis. I stared at Farasha and she looked away. I could see that people would want to hide how they talked when the Arkans were in power and hammering-diamond repression was the rule, but now?
I watched, carefully, to see if I could maybe figure out what they were really talking about.
“Yes, Ser. I was thinking of following my family in their business. But I have a lot of foreign training that might prove profitable.”
“Ahem. Of course.” And his hands flickered. Farasha’s lips tightened. She wasn't happy with what he said with his hands.
“Of course,” I continued. “My heart’sbrother is campaigning to become the Imperator of Arko. This, if taken in very carefully, might be a good thing rather than a detriment.”
I caught a flicker from mother to daughter, commented on by father and even little sister. Altaf was sitting on his hands, grinning. I would be angry if I hadn’t really started thinking about it. I smiled as if I were clueless. Any merchant would hide what he thought and felt. Especially in front of other merchants. Their information in hand was valuable. It was how they survived all the years of Arkan oppression.
If Farasha was going to marry me, however, it would hardly be fair our children grow up with me not knowing this language.
“So you intend to see your heart’s brother settled first?” Flicker of fingers. Ah. I think that motion means boy. That boy, perhaps.
“Why, yes.” I settled down hard on my seat bones. “I would never want family to go off on their own without letting me know what was going on. I’m still fixing that with my own parents… as I was forced to go off with Minis.”
I am not sure they like me. They are worried. That much I can see. They actually are worried about me and my heart’sbrother. I can see that much.
“Lad,” Ilias said. “Farasha tells us that you went to Haiu Menshir to be healed of that.” *Did they help him, or is he still fixated on Aan?*
“I did, and I am still speaking with a Haian-trained healer, a Yeoli, in the Marble Palace.” Gannara turned to Altaf, next to him. “Do we do the dishes since the adults cooked?”
*He really wants to change the subject.*
*Did they make him crazy, love?*
“I made the dessert!” Yalda chirped. “I don’t have to clean dishes.” Altaf slapped his head at her. *Don’t be stupid.*
“Don’t be silly,” he said just as Hafeza snorted. “You are a guest, Gannara. Guests don’t wash the dishes.” *What kind of question is that, Ilias? He’s not crazy.*
“My father would have said I’m a close enough friend to not be on formal manners, I insist.”
“Well, then let us get everything done and we can have tea or kaf or another piece of cake after.” *Good for him.*
There was a bit of bustle until everything was clean… mostly the big common plate and the drinking vessels cleaned and ready for Gannara’s bottle of wine.
“You’re pretty young for the two of you to be discussing marriage, lad. Aren’t you?” *And a possible three or four with that Aan boy.*
“We are. But Fara and I know we shouldn’t rush into anything. It is just a possibility.”
*There. Very sensible of them.*
*He’s just a youngster having sex with my oldest daughter! Let it stay fun and playful but marriage is serious!*
“I like hearing that Gannara.”
Farasha crossed to the boy’s side and cuddled up to him and he put his arm around her. Then he tapped her on the shoulder.
“I need to say something before we keep talking anymore,” he said, and smiled at Fara who winked back at him.
He jerked a thumb at his own chest, a sloppy, large version of their fingerspeak ‘I’. Then he held out his hand in the Yeoli charcoal sign for ‘no’. Then he slapped his own head, the way Altaf had. *I. Not. Stupid/Crazy.* “I don’t like being spoken of as if I were a stupid, repressive Arkan.” And crossed his arms over his chest as if to say *End of point.*
Fara and Altaf both started giggling hard enough to fall over and Ilias glanced at his wife who smiled. “Ahhhh.” He said articulately, fingers still. “I suppose we should all speak out loud. Unless we translate. Good enough?”
Gannara signed chalk, and grinned.