Eliza’s eyes widened, looking at Julia in shock. Had it really been that long, she did not want to believe it.
“I suppose it has. You look well, how have you been keeping?” Eliza said.
“I’ve been well, thank you.” Julia said, she barely paused before she continued passionately. “I’ve been busy with a new research project. I found intact pre-cataclysm books on my last expedition. They turned out to be textbooks detailing forgotten arcane theory. The information is incomplete, so I’m seeing how I can extrapolate based on what I... sorry, this isn’t interesting.” The wizard immediately cut off and her body language subtly changed from being confident to making herself as small as possible.
Her leg bounced for a moment before her hand rested on it firmly to stop the stim, her finger clutching the silk of her lehenga.
Eliza glanced at her confused, not understanding why she had assumed she was bored with the subject she was discussing; frankly she found it interesting.
Eliza placed her hand over the wizard’s fidgeting one and squeezed it tightly, her voice was soft. “I want to know more about what you did.” Letting go of her hand she stood up and walked towards her father’s liquor cabinet, pulling out two tumblrs. “Care for a drink?” The bard asked.
“Yes.” Said Julia, “I’ve been told it’s boring.”Eliza assumed that yes was for the drink. The bard rummaged through the cabinet, not looking back to respond.
“Let me judge if it’s boring. I’d rather you continue your story.”
Her father had a nice collection of drinks, she pulled out a bottle of dwarvish frost reserve whisky. Pouring out the amber liquid she diluted her own with water, before returning to sit next to the wizard on the sofa. Handing Julia her glass they clinked their glasses together gently. The liquid instantly warmed her, the wizard seemed to still be nervous as she observed her hand wrenching as Julia attempted to remain still. Was her presence making her uncomfortable?
“Now Julia. Tell me what you learned from those books. I am always keen to hear what you’ve been up to.” Eliza said, wanting to reassure the taller woman.
Julia ran her hand through her golden curls before she cupped her glass, her fingers drummed on the edges of it.
"I hypothesised the possibility of divination in reverse. Instead of glimpses of a future that may come, I wanted to see what had certainly passed." Julia took a sip of her whisky, the corner of her lips upturned, she placed the book she was reading on the coffee table, turning to face the smaller woman.
“Is... is that even doable?” Eliza asked in surprise. From her own knowledge on the subject she would think it not.
“It’s too early to make any definitive conclusions ... but I have had glimpses into the past minute.” Julia said. Her fingers drummed against her cup happily, all the tension she had earlier had disappeared.
"Julia, this is amazing! It’s the start of your research and you’ve already accomplished something I thought impossible. The work you are doing is remarkable.” Eliza enthused.
“Thank you.” Julia responded. Her ears were tinged a dark colour; Eliza was happy to see that she still blushed at the slightest compliment.
“Are you still teaching at the university?" Eliza asked.
"Yes, I’m the head of the divination department. There is little teaching in my day to day duties but I do have a class assigned to me." Julia said. The bard's turquoise eyes gleamed in the low light of the study, she was happy that the wizard was doing well. She reached out and squeezed her arm, mildly surprised at how firm it felt. “It sounds like you’ve accomplished a lot and have more successes to come in the near future. I am happy for you.”
Julia nodded her head as she looked at the smaller woman, quickly looking away as she felt an intense range of emotions.
“What- What’ve you been doing?” Julia asked.
“Performing concerts around Highbridge and the Stormlands. My popularity as a performer has grown so I end up travelling a bit.” Eliza replied, a small smile on her face.
“I see.” Julia said. Unsure where to lead the conversation next. Eliza made a noise which she was not sure if it was one of agreement or not.
“I see you’re reading a book by Hermia Pendragon. Is it interesting at all?” Eliza asked.
The wizard glanced at the book she had placed on the table earlier, she moved loose strays of hair behind her pointed ear, revealing a long gold earring that followed the length of her neck. Eliza felt her lips dry, swallowing she focused on Julia’s lips and the words she was saying; rather than staring at her tantalising long neck.
"Yes, I’m intrigued by her theory on the quantum polarity of force paired with intonation. She makes a few speculations on divination; which I believe are wrong." Julia said, she laughed awkwardly, trying to not fidget. Eliza looked at the wizard, a little lost.
"I’m going to pretend I know what that means." The bard said with a smirk.
“I love how you can explain such complex concepts in such simple terms that I can understand.” Eliza said. Julia looked extremely pleased at the compliment, her ears perked up as she leaned towards her.
“You know... I think I may have something for you.” Eliza walked over to where she kept her unorganised mail, in one of her father’s cabinets “It’s complex arcane theory, and goes way over my head.”.
Finding the thin book she was looking for near the top of the pile, she returned to the wizard and handed it to her.
“You can keep it.” Eliza added. Julia’s eyes went wide as she began to quickly flick through the pages; her ears twitching as she looked up at the bard with the biggest smile she had seen. Eliza felt her heart race, as she looked on at the excited woman.
“This is a limited print run! They sold out before I could get my hands on this, this is amazing. Thank you thank you thank you.” Julia hid her face behind the book taking a moment, to either recompose herself or… hide? She excitedly continued. “How did you get your hands on this?”
Eliza sheepishly scratched her cheek, she had not expected such a strong reaction from the wizard and if she was honest she had butterflies in her stomach.
“Ah you know Hermia, she keeps sending me copies of her work. It’s rather sweet of her but between us I can hardly understand what’s written in them.”
“You know Hermia Pendragon?” Julia opened the first page of the book and spotted the personalised note to Eliza on the inside cover. “To my favourite bard,” She read aloud, “thank you for all your support… stay fabulous? Hermia Pendragon, the Violet Mage of the Sundered Tower.” As the wizard spoke Hermia’s dedication, Eliza had to stop herself from giggling at how wrong the tiny, hyperactive mage’s words sounded in Julia’s deep, level voice.
“I can’t take this, she’s signed it to you.” said Julia, after staring at the writing for several seconds more.
The bard smiled softly at the conflicted wizard. Gods, she was just so perfect. “I want you to have it.”
“Thank you.” Said Julia, earnestly. “What is she like? Hermia Pendragon.”
“She’s an extremely charming wizard, her charisma and mystique won me over when I studied in High Haven. We even dated for a short while. Didn’t work out, because she’s a little… emotionally unavailable, but we’re still on friendly terms.” Said Eliza.
“I’ll have to introduce you both sometime, I think you’d get along well.” The bard watched the wizards cheeks tint, she was unsure what that meant or what Julia was thinking.
“Um... I’m sorry it didn’t work out.” Julia said.
“Don’t be. I’m more interested in a different wizard.” Eliza said confidently, staring at the woman in question.
“I see. Are you dating them?” Julia asked obviously.
"No. We should go out for tea this week, I would love to hear more about what you've been up to in greater detail." Eliza asked the wizard, whose face showed brief surprise and embarrassment as she realised she was the mage in question.
Julia placed her empty glass onto the table, her fingers interlaced with her own as she twirled her thumbs around one another as she thought.
“Um... yes.” Julia said timidly. Eliza smiled brilliantly at her.
“Let’s make that dinner instead. We have seven years to catch up on. Meet me at eight o’clock on Beyasday at the Amon.”
“Right. I’ve not eaten there.” Julia said with a touch of anxiety.
“The culinary experience is brilliant... the venue is quiet and not too overstimulating.” Eliza rests her hand over Julia’s interlaced ones, she squeezed her hand reassuringly.
“Um... that sounds nice.”
“I must get back to the party downstairs, but feel free to stay here as long as you need.” Eliza leaned in, her lips met her cheek. She pulled away after squeezing her hand one last time.
“It was really good seeing you again Julia.” Eliza walked to the door, she looked back at the wizard before exiting the room.
Julia’s gaze followed the bard as she left the room. Her elegant hand touched her cheek; it felt hot.
Was she just asked out by Eliza Jenkins, her childhood friend who had a promiscuous reputation?