Spirshash and I drank excellent godlike wine, and spoke of dancing and friends, of river foam and the habits of antlered pigeons during Surprise. I sat on his shoulder; I curled my tail elegantly around his arm; I licked around the edge of his cookie-shaped ear with a delicate forky tongue. He turned his head aside. I curled my neck to look him in the face. "Is all well?" I asked.
"All is not well," he answered. "Wine is well; chatting is well; dancing is well. After much thought I must say that kissing is not well, and detailed flirting is not well."
"You did not mention this the last time a kissing arose, Spirshash!" I fear that my breath scorched the fur on his shoulder, and perhaps contributed to the harshness of the ensuing conversation.
He curled his tail over his lap, covering his kilt. "I had thought little enough, or less. Now..."
"What, precisely, is not well about kissing and more heavily entwined flirtation?"
He looked both determined and despondant. "After much thought, I have come to think that I am too much a libertine. I shall restrict my attentions to my own species and, in general, to women thereof, Oostmarine excepted."
"When we first met , you ridiculed Thery for being cisaffectionate. Now you will almost do it yourself?"
"Love is not a safe game. Marriage, in particular, is not a game. Oostmarine was rather distressed -- especially about you. For with you, ten thousand years from now, what memory of him would there be? Only that when you took your first Orren lover you cuckolded him. This is a legacy he would rather not enjoy! Tillissa was differently distressed. She considers that you are too fickle and cruel to be a good companion for me: the letter you wrote was too Sleethsome, too cold and vicious. She has no great desire to tend me when you emotionally rip my belly open and show my liver and lungs to the gods in the sky -- she will do if she must, but thinks she would rather not. With all due respect, Sythyry, I care for my husband and for my wife more than I lust for you. Our discussion was extensive. In the end I decided that I have been less good to them than I should be ... that I have been more wicked than I should be. So for the near while I plan to be cisaffectionate save for Oostmarine."
There was nothing more to be said. It took about two and a half hours of shouting and hissing to say this nothing. In the end, only Dustweed's return stopped us from saying nothing to each other, loudly and angrily saying, with much bitterness.
I would swear off all mammals for the while as horrid, wicked creatures, save only that I wept in Thery's arms and got some comfort there.
And now I am putting seven or eight logs on the fire in the bedroom, hot Surprise be cursed and raked, and there I shall sleep for the long while.