“Athena,” Tristan said, shaking me awake. “Athena,” I groaned and pulled the covers over my head. “Come on, we have work to do.”
“No,” I said, “we just rode for seven days straight, and we know the manor is safe and I’m very sleepy.” He laughed and tugged on my foot.
“Hey,” he said, “I’m sorry about last night.” I sat up and rubbed my eyes. “It’s not your fault.”
“No, it isn’t,” I said. “You were never involved in the resistance leadership because you never asked to be Tristan, I didn’t block you out and neither did Martin.” He nodded and sat down.
“I know that,” he said, “I just, it was always easy between you two and it isn’t between me and him all the time.” She smiled. “So you know that they moved Marina from the capital too?”
“I do know that,” I said. “Are you relieved?” He looked away. “I know I tease you about her, and maybe I shouldn’t, if you care about her,” he shook his head. “Fine, we don’t have to talk about it, but I’m just saying if you do, I think you made a better choice than I did.”
“I think it would be almost impossible for anyone to make a worse choice than you did,” he grinned. I shoved him. “There’s nothing there, though. We’re friends, I do care about her but, I can’t even think about it,” I nodded. “And we have work to do.”
“Yes,” I said, “but today, I’m going to sleep in a bed and take a bath, like a civilized person.” He laughed.
“Alright,” he said, “I’m going to spar with her, see how behind she is.” I nodded and sank back into bed. “And since you agreed with the countess that we need to make a lady of her, maybe start with embroidery lessons.” I sprang up.
“That’s no fair!” I said, “You could teach her to dance or something.” He snorted and walked out. I sighed and rolled out of bed. Most of our things hadn’t arrived yet, they were a few days behind.
I quickly picked a green uniform dress I’d packed. I didn’t usually wear it for anything except dinners where I was on duty, but it would work for here. I peaked into a mirror and smiled.
A night in a bed had done it’s work, I felt and looked wonderful. I try not to be vain, but when you have a twin who looks just like you it’s hard not to notice when one is very attractive. And playing it down and saying I don’t feels stupid and petty.
I step outside and see the Princess Annalise stepping out of her room.
“Good Morning, Your highness,” I said. She smiled shyly at me.
“Good Morning,” she said softly. “You can just call me Lisette, you know. Everybody does.”
“Everybody doesn’t know who you are though,” I pointed out. She frowned.
“I guess not,” she said as we walked, “still though. I want us to be friends and that would be hard with you calling me, ‘Your Highness,’ all the time.” I laughed. “We were supposed to grow up together.” I nodded.
“There were a lot of supposed tos,” I said softly. She nodded. “You’re supposed to be sparring with my brother.”
“Ugh,” she groaned, “alright, I suppose we’ll go to the study.” I followed her and we met Tristan in the front hall. “Good morning.” He smiled. “Your sister says we’re going to spar.”
“If my sister says so,” Tristan winked. If I had something to drink I would have spit it out. Tristan acting like a human around someone who isn’t me, is not something I’m used to.
“I think you’ll like the study,” she said practically bouncing.
“Are we going to spar in the,” I started and then she flung open a pair of double doors. “Oooh,” I whispered. “The Study,” as she’d called it, wasn’t a small snug room, or even a grand library, but what a large hall, two stories, with an open training floor and several weapons hanging on the walls. I noticed a few battle axes, I know the Count favors them, so I wasn’t surprised. “Tristan,” I whacked his arm.
“Yes, I see,” he grinned. “Swords, Your Highness?” Lisette smiled.
“If you like,” she said, “if there’s something you like better,” she shrugged. “I’m trained on most close combat weapons. My archery needs work, but I’m still better than Aaron.” I nodded and Tristan pulled his sword off his belt. Lisette grabbed one of the practice swords and struck hard and fast. Catching him off guard, but I know my brother, he recovered quickly.
She is good, and she uses her size to her advantage, getting in close for her hits, and when she takes out his knees I actually applaud.
Tristan does not get beaten often.
Ever actually. I can’t even beat him.
“Well, it’s a start,” I said. Tristan grumbled. “I’m hungry, what’s for breakfast?”