“You’re in here a lot,” I looked up from a book I was reading to see the Viscount in the doorway of the study.
“I like it in here,” I said simply and went back to my book. He walked in and sat down opposite me. “Can I help you, Your Grace.”
“Aaron,” he said, pointing to himself.
“If you say so,” I closed the book and met his eyes. They’re startlingly blue. “Can I help you,” he rolled his hand to prompt me, and I sighed, “Aaron?”
“Much better,” he smirked. “No, I was just sent to fetch you. The Mastero wishes to inspect you and your brother.”
“Mastero?” I said and slammed the book shut. He nodded. “Why does he want to meet us?”
“Why wouldn’t he?” He shrugged. “He’s like you, thinks everyone is trying to kill her.” I rolled my eyes.
“I don’t think everyone is trying to kill her,” I stood up and stretched. He was watching me. Good. Let him. “You’d have struck by now, for example.” He laughed.
“I suppose I would have,” he said. “I’d be in line for King then, wouldn’t I?” I snorted.
“I think Brightcoast supercedes,” I said, “Lady Marina is very popular.” My voice was flat.
“Ah,” he nodded. “Good to know, come on,” he nodded towards the door and we walked outside. Tristan was waiting, practically vibrating anxiety. He hasn’t said anything to me, but I’ve noticed the way he watches her, how he relaxes when shes’s around.
Watching my brother fall in love has been fascinating. Being Tristan he can’t just be happy about it, I’m sure, and if I asked him he’d deny it, but it’s impossible to miss. We walked quietly through the woods down what was obviously a well worn path.
We entered a clearing with a small cottage and a lake. The air felt heavier, and I realized it was because this was a magic place.
Lisette was in the center of a ring of stones, her legs crossed and eyes closed. There were spheres of water floating and dancing around her. I lost my breath and looked at Tristan. His eyes were so soft, he was smiling fully.
“Oh!” We heard her gasp and the bubbles near her popped. “Oh, you came!” She leapt up and walked over. “I was supposed to make tea, but I lost track,” she ran into the house and then popped her head out of the window, “Come inside, I’m sorry.” I laughed. I’d come to expect this sort of thing from her, Aaron led us in.
“Aaron,” an older man said from a desk in the corner. “I didn’t expect you.”
“Am I not welcome?” He asked. The old man sighed. I liked him immediately. “Mastero Benjamin Anselm, May I present Lady Athena Dugarry and Sir Tristan Dugarry.” He glanced over.
“I made tea,” Lisette said, looking almost giddy, carrying a tray out. Tristan ran to her and took it. She beamed at him.
Oh, so it’s mutual at least, that’s nice.
“Well,” he said and stood up walking over, “Lady Athena.” I nodded.
“Mastero,” I said, “I’m happy to meet you.” He nodded and we all sat down. “My mother spoke well of you.”
“Your mother was a fine woman, your father, well,” he sighed, “he didn’t deserve her.” I laughed.
“She’d have said the same,” Tristan piped in as the tea was settled. “It’s a honor, sir.” He looked at him and nodded. “What were you doing, when we got here, Princess?” Lisette blushed.
“Just meditating,” she murmured. “But when there’s water nearby, I can get into the parlor tricks.”
“She’d do more with some discipline,” Mastero Anselm said. “Are either of you gifted?”
“No,” I said softly. “There was a time when we though I might be. It’s never been in our family though.” He looked at me.
“I see,” he whispered, “why did they think you,”
“How long have you been here?” Tristan interrupted. I nodded gratefully at him.
“I traveled with the King and Queen,” he explained, “they knew someone was going to have to teach this one,” he nodded towards Lisette who stuck out her tongue at him. “Of course the fact that she is unteachable did’t occur to anyone when she was a baby.”
“Weren’t you called back to the University?” I asked. The great institute still stood, even if it’s Masteros had been exterminated.
“Aye,” he smiled, “but I didn’t answer the call, a few of us didn’t. My brothers who went into hiding went deeply, or to Westran.” I nodded. “I am glad you’ve both finally come. Unfortunately, our visit will be short, Lisette and I have work to do.”
“Of course,” Aaron said standing up, “don’t let us keep you.” Tristan and I both stood up too. “See you at home Lisette.” We walked out with soft bows and then silently down the wood path.
“Are you alright?” Tristan asked. I nodded. I was glad he’d managed to change the flow of conversation away from a series of terrifying visions that occurred just after my parents died. “Do you think he approved of us?”
“As much as he approves of anyone,” Aaron said casually. He glanced at me. “You look pale, Lady Athena.”
“It’s nothing,” I said and marched back to the manor quickly.
You will be tested, Daughter of John, the voice had said, at ten I didn’t know what that meant, I still don’t. Or if the test came and went and I failed. I went up to my room and fell against the bed.
Coming here, meeting Lisette, has unsettled things that I thought were long buried.
I don’t like it.