Norathar came over to our apartment for dinner all the time. She'd usually teleport in right to our kitchen (even though they don't have to worry about burglars, most Jhereg do keep up teleport blocks around their homes, but Cawti would take it down for a few seconds - not that Norathar couldn't have broken a teleport block if she liked, but that wouldn't be polite). It felt a little strange to me to have her sitting at our table, eating the food Cawti made, chatting away with the two of us as if it were the most natural thing in the world. I always got the impression that I was an intruder.
Norathar had known Cawti a lot longer than I had. In fact, Norathar had known Cawti for longer than I had been alive. One of the disadvantages of marrying an older woman, that.
We only went to Norathar's place for dinner once. She'd moved out of the place she and Cawti had shared, and into this echoing mansion that apparently had belonged to her family, and had been rather hastily returned to her while the decades-long job of tracking down the rest of the property that might or might not be hers was done by a bunch of people who might or might not actually be interested in justice. Certainly Norathar gave no impression of caring.
The thing that disturbed me about Norathar's house was how empty it looked. It wasn't just the absence of knicknacks. There aren't any knicknacks at Dzur Mountain either, but it has lots of lanterns, and rugs, and comfortable furniture, and in general it looks like a place that someone lives - just someone who doesn't pick up souvenirs. Norathar's furniture didn't get used enough to be worn comfortable.
She met us at the door, looking very stiff, and rather distant. It was extrordinarily obvious she didn't have visitors often. Also, there were no servants; most nobles keep a few even if they don't really need them.
Cawti tried valiently to keep up a conversation, but it felt strange to have Norathar - the Dragon Heir, in her ancestral estate, or at least something that was going to get called that by anyone polite - getting up continually to fetch the next course. It left the two of us sitting there alone, staring at each other across the table, trying not to say anything awkward about the situation. We'd just sort of trail off and wait for her to come back. Of course, when Norathar came to dinner with us I was always getting up to get the next course, but our kitchen was right next to the dining room and you could yell thourgh the door, so it wasn't as if there was any break in the conversation. Norathar's kitchen must have been on the opposite side of the house, from how long it took. I finally gave up, when she went for the second bread course, and told Cawti, "This would be a lot less strange if she had a servant to send for the bread."
"Yes, well," Cawti said. "Norathar won't keep a valet, and she says there's no point in a house staff for just one person." She stabbed at her lyorn leg as though it had done her personal injury. "She doesn't have dinner guests. Ever. Except us."
And this was probably going to be the only time she had us. It was almost pathetic.
We didn't say anything else until Norathar got back, and then we carefully picked up the conversation where it had left off, discussing some new gambling laws that might or might not be enacted.
When dinner was finally done I got up quite abruptly and excused myself and went out to the garden. It was a nice garden, really, quite well-kept. It looked, oddly enough, to have a lot of plants that I knew to be witch supplies, although Norathar didn't know any witchcraft. They weren't done in rows; this wasn't a kitchen garden. They were arranged like flowers.
Cawti didn't follow me for almost half an hour. When she finally came out her eyes were red. "Come on," she told me, "let's go home," and we teleported home.
When I left Cawti I sometimes liked to imagine, on cold nights when I was huddled under a blanket in the middle of nowhere with twigs in my hair and a hot bath miles away, the lant I had given her, filling up that empty, cold house with music, and the little souvenirs of our marriage taking up space on Norathar's shelves. It was a stupid fantasy, maybe, but I liked to imagine that even after everything, Cawti wouldn't throw them away.