Champion

After talking with Aaron I felt more at peace but I thought of the blast of light I’d shot at Carlton. Combined with the memories of those strange dreams, I couldn’t shake that the world was shifting under my feet.

And there were dreams again. They weren’t seeing Dreams, I don’t think. They were just oddly specific, times and places I couldn’t know. Martin holding a great sword I’d never seen before a charging army of shadows, and then kneeling before a boy with eyes like Annalise’s. A woman on a pure white horse, charging bareback towards the sea, with an army at her back, a golden crown on her head.

Soon, Athena, a voice echoed in my mind, You will be tested, you will be my champion.

But my days had gotten better, smoother. I’d fallen into the rhythm of life at Pantona. Up early, train with Lisette and Tristan, and sometimes Aaron. Breakfast the four of us. Write a report to send off to the resistance and Martin. Ride and inspect the farms and village with Aaron.

Kiss Aaron.

Laugh with Aaron.

Be held by and hold Aaron.

Dinner.

Sleep.

Terrifying and odd dreams.

Repeat.

There was of course that day, when I was dressing for dinner and there was a knock on the door.

“Come in,” I said, expecting Lisette, or maybe one of the servants, but instead a baffled and rumpled Tristan walked in. “Hello there,” I said. He nodded and sat down. “Are you alright, you look like you got whacked in the head.”

“I,” his throat scratched, “I think I made a mistake.” I raised my eyebrows.

“Alright,” I said, “of what nature?” He frowned and stood up and kicked the wall.

“Damnit,” he said, “with Lisette, I told her, and well, she said it first, and then we,” I sighed, understanding immediately.

“Well, I don’t understand how that’s a mistake, Tristan,” I grinned, “I’m happy for you.”  He glared at me.

“What about the family? Our duty?” He said.

“What about them?” I shrugged. “It has nothing to do with them. You love her, she loves you. Enjoy yourself for once in your life, darling brother.”

“Grandfather will want to use her,” he muttered, “like he does everybody.” I nodded. “I can’t make that easier for him.”

“Then don’t,” I said, “being close to her means we can make it easier for him or harder for him.” He nodded. “Didn’t we already discuss this? He’ll try regardless, it’s who he is. He’ll despair a good match for either of us at this point.” He looked at me.

“You’re still in play,” he said, “unless Aaron’s been much more straightforward than I realized.” I frowned. He hadn’t been. We were being so careful, taking our time. Marriage had never come up.

“I do love her,” he said, “I didn’t expect it, I just want to be around her all the time.” I laughed.

“I’ve noticed,” I said. He smiled. “I have to tell you something, it’s odd, but,” he sat down. “I’ve been having those dreams again,” he sighed. “I wrote about them to Martin but he hasn’t answered and now The Mastero left.”

“You should tell Lisette,” he said, “maybe, I don’t know, Athena, there’s something about her, it’s not just the magic.” I nodded.

“Well, yes, you lost your virginity to her, so I would imagine there’s something,” I stuck out my tongue. He snorted and pick up a pillow and tossed it at me.

“I’m never telling you anything ever again,” he sighed. “See you at dinner,” he stood up and walked out. I smiled and bit my bottom lip. I was thrilled for him. I’d never seen him so happy, but he was still Tristan, he’d find the most miserable way to be happy.

I walked downstairs and saw Aaron waiting in the hall. I suddenly realized it was time to take my own advice. I took his hands and kissed him gently, but long and deep

“That’s quite a hello,” he smiled. I giggled. “Everything alright?”

“After dinner tonight,” I said, “do you want to,” he exhaled.

“You do not have to ask me twice, Thena,” he mumbled and pulled me close. I smiled.

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