The Next Step

Supper was one of the better ones we’ve had in a while, William even came, as Caleb had stopped by the inn to invite him.

I hadn’t seen him since that very odd market day, and I wondered now, knowing how he felt about me, if it would change anything between us. I found myself less talkative than usual but William was still himself.

“All things considered how do you find Lord Brayton these days?” William asked curiously. Athena took a long sip of wine.

“He’s changed very little,” Caleb said, “though he talks of marrying soon.” I exhaled, and thought of my dream. Tristan looked curiously at me.

“An honor for any woman, I’m sure,” Olivia grinned wryly. Aaron coughed on the water he was drinking trying not to laugh. “You must have more news than we do William! After all the Dumanis camp only just moved on. It had to have been a good month.”

“I did well enough,” he said, “it’s always best when it’s the Dumanis, don’t you think, Sir Tristan?”

“Our family is generous,” Athena answered.

“That’s a word for it,” Tristan muttered. I smiled and looked at him. “Alex and Charlotte said they did well, also. Your tenants must be thriving Count.”

“I’m happy to hear that,” Caleb smiled. “Lisette, pass the potatoes.” I smiled and handed them to him. “Thank you dearest.” The rest of the meal followed in that fashion until William left. After we all sat in the parlor, Caleb had given Athena a letter which she was reading, her face getting more and more red.

“He’s alright now?” She asked.

“Yes, Athena,” Caleb said softly, “General Martin was recovering very well when I left. Lady Marina tended to him.”

“That does not inspire much confidence.” Athena mumbled. “I should write to him.” She stood up and stormed out. Tristan shook his head.

“Is he alright?” Olivia said softly. Caleb smiled at her and nodded.

“You know Tom,” Caleb shrugged, “homicidally brave, if he weren’t alright he wouldn’t be likely to tell me of all people.” She nodded. “Are you curious how he’s doing Tristan?”

“Marina is more than capable of caring for him,” Tristan said absently. I felt my face flush, “Lady Marina, I mean.” Olivia nodded. I smiled at him. “It was shadows though?”

“Unfortunately,” Caleb sighed, “they’re getting stronger, it’s part of why I think we should get you to the resistance sooner rather than later.” Aaron frowned. “You have an opinion, Aaron?”

“I don’t see the rush,” he said, “besides the symbol of coronation on her birthday, why leave when we’re safe.” I looked at him.

“We won’t always be,” I said softly. “He’ll find me eventually, I’d rather be in control of that.” I stood up and walked up to my room. I sat quietly for a minute before the door opened. I was expecting Tristan, but instead it was Aaron.

“You’re right you know,” he said, “but I worry, it’s what brothers do.” I smiled softly at him. “Lisette,” he said, “do you want this to change?”

“No,” I sighed, “no, more than anything else, I want to stay here, but we can’t, we always knew it was going to end.” He sat and took my hand. “You could stay.” He laughed.

“If it weren’t for this summer,” he said softly, “if it weren’t for her, maybe I would.” I grinned.

“It is different this time,” I laughed. He nodded. “Have you told her how you feel?” He nodded. “And?”

“She’s hesistant,” he shrugged, “but ammenable.” I laughed and kissed him on the cheek. “Lisette,” he said, “you’re worried.”

“About a lot of things,” I said softly. “I need you though, so I’m glad.” He nodded and I hugged him. “Now go away, Tristan should be here soon, and I doubt you want to be here when he comes.”

“I do not,” he sighed. “Do you know what you’re doing here?” I smiled and nodded. “Alright, I won’t bother you.” He kissed me on the forehead. “I know you talked to Father about it, and if you need me to,” I rolled my eyes.

“I’m not marrying you for political reasons, don’t be absurd,” I said, “Please leave.” He nodded and walked out.

Tristan came in then, and we didn’t talk. We didn’t need to. There’s something else there. Something deep and wild, and instinctive. I need him, it’s that simple.

I slept deeply and dreamt of Lady Marina sitting beside a lake, writing a letter. I blinked and then I was on a blue ship, somewhere covered in ice and snow. Two boys were standing looking at lights flashing in the sky.

“Where are you?” One of them, younger, it looked with long curly hair tied back. The other, short cropped hair, they were both dark skinned.

“I’m not sure,” he said softly.

“Is it time?” The first asked. The other shook his head.

“No,” he whispered, “but soon.” I woke up and realized I’d had a vision of Prince Eric. I’d never Seen him before. I swallowed and turned seeing Tristan asleep.

I have no idea what to do.

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