I’m crowned now and I know I should be greeting my guests, but all I can do is lay on my bed and breathe deeply. I want to scream. I want to laugh. I want to cry. But I just breathe. I’m still in the simple green uniform dress I wore for the ceremony though the more ornate ballgown is staring at me, hanging outside of my wardrobe.
I dressed myself this morning, for the first time since we got to Dovetail. I’m going to insist on it more I think. At least on more casual days, I don’t want to become spoiled or useless. An ornament. I’m not just a figurehead, I’m the sword of the goddess.
“Lisette,” Olivia said walking in, I sat up. “I thought I’d help you dress.”
“Marina?” I asked.
“She’s taking a nap,” she smiled and sat down and pulled a comb from her belt and began untangling my curls. “Well earned, I’d say.” I smiled.
“Mm,” I said, “Can you braid it?” Thinking of my hair.
“Not in elegant enough fashion,” she frowned at me. I sighed. “Perhaps we should bring someone over from Phania for your hair. Your mother had Sister Mara.” I looked at her. “I’m proud of you, love, really. You did so well today.”
“I wish Caleb was here,” I said. She nodded. “I suppose you have to back to Pantona soon.”
“Yes,” she said, “I might stay too,” I frowned at her. “Darling, it’s my home.”
“But Aaron and I will be here,” I said. She laughed. “And, well, what about Martin.”
“What about him?” She said. I shook my head.
“He can’t go to Pantona, I can’t spare him,” I said standing up, “and I don’t think it’s terribly fair of you to,” she shook her head.
“Thomas and I have no understanding,” she sighed, “beyond our grief and shared history I doubt we have much in common.” I grinned at her.
“Yes, and what is thirty years of shared history and grief, nothing at all,” I teased. She sighed.
“Impertinent girl,” she said, pulling the laces on the back of my dress.
“Can I be impertinent, now?” I said. She laughed. “I don’t think I can. Maybe to the gods.” She smiled and tightened my corset. I inhaled.
“Serves you right for teasing,” she said, I giggled as we continued dressing me. “Now, you’ll hate me for lecturing but you know that you have to circulate tonight.”
“I know,” I said softly. I exited my bedchamber where Athena and Aaron were waiting.
“Took you long enough,” Aaron said as we all stepped into the hallway I punched him in the arm. “Look at me, Lisette,” I did, “I love you, and I’m going to do everything I can, everything Father would have,” I stopped him and kissed him on the cheek.
“No tears tonight,” I said. He nodded.
“Captain,” he offered Athena his arm.
“Count,” She smiled taking it and they walked off, “See you on the other side, Your Majesty.” She turned around and winked. I sighed, realizing I was alone. I walked towards the ballroom and glanced up the large stairs. I smiled seeing Tristan walk down. He was in full dress uniform, it suited him, his face relaxed, which for him was still serious.
“I’m too late?” He said. I smiled and took his hands. “I wanted to escort you, Athena said you were still dressing.”
“No,” I said, “you can still escort me.” He smiled and we entered the ballroom. It was already loud and rowdy, which I was glad of. There was no fanfare, I’d asked not to have one. We made our way to the head table and ate. And danced, and drank.
“You’ve restored joy,” Duchess Norvine said to me at one point, “and life. I never thought I’d hear this sort of thing again.” I was glad to know people approved. I was worried it was too loose, to full of life, not respectful.
As the music and crowd died down, I saw Tristan leaning against a pillar, I walked over to him and smiled.
“Well hello,” he said. I kissed him. “Lisette, not here.”
“The come,” I said guiding him up to my room. He sighed and we kissed again. We started undressing.
“You’re sure,” he asked.
“Are you?” I returned. He laughed and we fell back onto the bed. It felt so natural, so right, to be lost in him again. When we finished I looked at him. “I suppose we should make plans.”
“Plans?” He said. I nodded. “Of what kind?”
“How you can be here,” I said, “at night.”
“To be fair, Lisette, that’s not terribly complicated,” he grinned. “I order the guard at your door to stand aside and they will. My people are well trained.” I laughed and straddled him. “But I suppose we should be more discreet.”
“Mm,” I nodded running my hand down between his legs, “perhaps a bit.” The door swung open and Marina was standing in front of us, in her nightgown and robe.
“I’m sorry,” She said, “I didn’t,” she met my eyes and started giggling. I exhaled and started to laugh myself as I rolled off Tristan. He was furious with us both as he dressed and quickly excused himself.
It was too funny, I assured Marina, but I stopped laughing when she told me why she’d come in.
He was here, I realized, we both knew what it meant.
Suddenly what the Goddess said to me rushed into my head, “I do wish you’d hurry up.”