Shameimaru, they say. Your wings are beautiful, they say.
Yes, she says. I know, she says.
Aya is tired.
Still, she pays the sycophants no mind, for the fools know nothing of romance but cheap witticisms and many, many colloquial phrases used to seduce female tengu aplenty. Shameimaru, tired as she may be, can only smile wistfully as she must bear with yet another toadie sputtering out verbatim: “your wings are beautiful.”
Aya is tired.
Her only solace is the man, the human, peering into the stuffy room, casting a watchful eye towards her direction. Shameimaru relents, dropping a casual blush-and-smile, coyly lowering her eyes. The rest of the bumbling fools swoon, clamoring for Shameimaru's attention, arguing for whom the smile was for.
It was for mine personage, cries he who had the talent of being less-than-tactful. Shameimaru sighs. She would never offer her blush to he who crowed that her breasts were "admirable assets" for the village.
Nay, for the answer can only be I, exclaimed he who knew the most platitudes. Shameimaru had adopted the policy of nodding her head at specific intervals (when the man ceased to talk, which happened rarely) and critically rousing herself in a similar fashion to a student keeping awake in lecture.
You filth, one says.
You cheat, another says.
Let us abate this quarrel, screams one in the crowd. Nevertheless, they squabble, whether it be squabbling over squabbling or rioting over "he who truly received the smile of Shameimaru." Only but a spectator to the uproar, the man, the human, winks and disappears from the windowpane.
Aya, amidst the chaos, smirks wryly.
The female tengu, gathering into a small coalition of sorts against Shameimaru, collectively scowl at the commotion and glare at her, petulant in their jealousy. Shameimaru sighs once more. In their envy, they fail to realize that Shameimaru would much rather be in their position – they who are out of the spotlight, away from the crux of the drab, faux-oriental room, out of the mockery that the tengu call a "matchmaking trial." The stupidity of Shameimaru's predicament holds enough density to amass its own gravitational force.
The dust has settled. Men cease grabbing at each other for the hand of Shameimaru. They have compromised, declaring in confident fashion that the smile was meant for not one, but for everyone.
Shameimaru, they cry.
But she is already gone, her empty chair still rocking back and forth.
Aya Shameimaru takes her partner's hand, clasping it tightly. He reciprocates by pulling her in closer, giving her hand a squeeze.
“Have I told you how beautiful your wings are?” His tone is level but his look, one of complacency, is anything but.
Aya chooses to be civil. By uttering various profanities at the human.
He in turn laughs. “But I must say, a traditional dress works wonders on your femininity. What say you?”
“You cretin,” Aya remarks drily, “have you no delicacy?”
“None,” he admits in his gaiety. “I've another question. Will I be able to see such a lovely dress on your figure once more?”
“It's but a wedding dress,” Aya spits.
In a fixed bout of nervousness, he pauses. “...I know.”
“You sly devil,” she croons, ushering him into the confines of her home.
Then he ambushes the crow tengu, sweeping her off her feet, his catch of the day yelping in surprise. She decides to have a fit, despite allowing her assailant to carry her akin to a princess.
“Oh,” the man quips. “Rumors have it that your bosom upholds the merit of the village.”
She responds with a slap upside the head. The man grins, disappearing into the Shameimaru residency.
Himekaidou sweats profusely; she was unprepared. She may have erred.
Leaving a couple of documents behind at Aya's home, she went to sneakily grab them before her paper is distributed in the morn. She catches the time – Aya shouldn't return until after the matchmaking is done. This is an assumption. The door swinging open may be an indication that her assumption is wrong.
“Have you returned, Aya,” Himekaidou speaks to the door, “Pay myself no mind, I'll be here but for a minute. I've documents to reclaim.” She eyes the clock, two hours early from the matchmaking. “But a shame, Aya! No luck with men? I hold you no envy beca–”
The documents slip to the floor.
Aya, propped up by her partner's arms, blinks. Her dress lay unsashed, barely covering skin unfit for public eye.
“Um,” Himekaidou stutters, “have I intruded?”
“Mayhaps,” the man sheepishly answers.
And then Himekaidou did the mile-walk to the door, wordlessly shutting the door with a click. She dare not look Shameimaru in the eyes.
Ten paces away from the residence, a calm yet horrifying realization hits her: she forgot her documents.