Mirrored from Sythyry.
Arfaen took my teleport arrow. “I’ll be back in a few minutes with an interpretive snack!” and popped off.
Chiver sat in the tangle of well-used covers of Arfaen’s bed, and looked at me, with that peculiar expression used mainly by people who realize that they have just cuckolded a wizard, and that said wizard is now peering at them out of enigmatic lizardly eyes. (I have such lovely eyes, and so enigmatic (when I don’t know what to do (which is most of the time))). “Well, um … I … did I … could I … um …”
“Do you need some objects for your sentences, Chiver?” I asked him.
He looked rather miserable. “I didn’t … or … I didn’t mean …”
“I’m not sure what you’re fretting about, Chiver,” I said as nicely as I could manage. “If you’re worried about what Niia thinks, you know her better than I do. If you want me to keep it secret from her, um, we’ll have to have a bit of a talk.”
“Oh, no, Niia! I forgot her! What will she think?” wailed Chiver.
“I don’t know; I haven’t seen her for weeks,” I said. “And I don’t know what your terms are like.”
“We’ve an open relationship … and I haven’t seen her for weeks either … but … um … are you going to curse me or something?” asked Chiver.
“No — I know just how much monogamy I can expect from Arfaen. So I’m hardly surprised to fly in here and find someone in her bed. It happens once or twice a year. That I flap in on her, I mean; she takes quite a few lovers. But this is the first time it’s ever been another Cani. That’s a bit disconcerting.”
“Oh, no! Have I broken something…?”
Arfaen materialized in the room with a big tray. “Hi! Interpretive snack time — scrambled eggs on toast!” She proudly lifted the first of three leather domes over a serving platter.
I peered at the eggs on toast under it. “I am not doing so well interpreting your interpretive snack. Are you angry with us and wish us to suffer?” The eggs on toast were horrible. The toast was burnt, the eggs were carbonized on the bottom and nearly raw on top, and the whole thing smelled awful.
Arfaen took a big helping of the nasty stuff, and shoved a few mounds into her mouth and somehow choked them down. “That represents my cisaffectionate marriage,” she said. She tossed the contents of her plate into the serving dish, and the dish into the trash. “You don’t need to eat it. But try this:” She lifted the second leather dome. “Better?” The scrambled eggs were fluffy and soft and pure, with a hint of butter and a hint of salt and a hint of perfection. The toast was very straightforward and also perfect, crisp at the edges, soft in the middle. Arfaen served it forth, and took a bite. “See? Very nice! It sort of redeems the dish, after you’ve seen the first one. There’s cisaffection with someone you actually like, by mutual choice.” Chiver smiled and blushed his whiskers.
Arfaen popped the third and final dome off its platter, and grinned.
“That’s a quiche. It’s not scrambled eggs on toast,” I said.
“Well, people say that about traff liaisons, too,” said Arfaen. “But it’s not that far off. Cooked beaten eggs atop a crusty wheaten thing.” She served it forth. Eggs, yes, but slivers of bacon and caramelized onions and scallions, and the top had threads of gorgonzola and a sort of coffee-and-ham-stock sauce. The crust was as thin as eggshell, as crisp as shortbread, and sparkling with spices.
“This is delicious!” exclaimed Chiver.
“This is an appetizer from the restaurant, mind you; I didn’t have time to make it. It’s still basically eggs on toast. But this one you have to pay attention to. That one is delightful because it’s so simple. This one is delightful because it’s so complicated,” said Arfaen. “You can simply gobble it down like the other, or you can revel in each and every subtlety of flavor and texture.” She took another bite of quiche, snuffling a bit to enjoy the complicated aroma.
I’m not entirely sure that I understood all of her point, not being Cani and not having either the Cani social understanding or the acute Cani sense of smell. The snack was delicious, and I quite recommend variations on eggs on toast when one is a first-class chef and making sure that matters are smooth with one’s spouse and new lover.
So we nibbled and chatted for another third of an hour. Then we stood up. I fluttered to Arfaen’s shoulder. Chiver excused himself. He turned to curtsey to us as he left, and his eye fell upon the table, and all of a sudden his ears went flat and his tail drooped.
Arfaen had taken only the one taste of her simple scrambled eggs; she had not touched them after praising them.