I got up early, even poking Aaron to see if he wanted to get up to train with me. He grumbled and pulled the covers over his head and I laughed before getting dressed and heading down to the yard.
Tristan was waiting for me and I smiled at him. He shrugged back and pointed. I noticed Lieutenant Lestoff was standing waiting. I smirked and I saw my brother laugh as I walked over.
“Hello Lieutenant,” I said, “may we help you?”
“Lady Athena,” he said and then stopped, “Or Commander Dugarry? Which do you prefer?”
“Lady Athena,” I said, truly shocked, most people, men especially simply said what they were comfortable with. He nodded. “I heard you wanted to spar?”
“I wanted more than that,” he winked, “but having spent some time with you intended, I can see that would be hopeless.” I laughed. I liked him, almost in spite of myself. “Luckily Dovetail is not bereft of interesting women.”
“Hm,” I nodded and picked up a staff and tossed it to him. He caught it easily. “Well, as long as you’re entertained.” He smiled and bowed I return it and Tristan met my eyes.
“Flatten him,” my brother grinned. I laughed. He liked very few things more than when I beat someone new. Particularly if the new person is at all arrogant. He struck first, I blocked. Then we both pulled back and I struck.
“Tell me,” I said, “why now?” He smiled.
“Well, we couldn’t very well come while Brayton was in charge,” he shrugged, going for my legs and I jumped over the staff. “King Daniel never officially acknowledged him.”
“But she’s been here for months,” I said, landing a hit on his shoulder. He winced but then twirled the staff and reset.
“You’re new to diplomacy if you think we could run out of Rastan the moment we heard the news,” he pointed out. “Though I notice none of them are here.” I nodded and winced as he hit my ribs. But then I caught his staff with mine, disarmed him and crossed them at his neck. He inhaled sharply and then laughed.
“Yield?” I said.
“With pleasure,” he said and extended his hand, I took it and shook it. “I look forward to our ride later.” I nodded and he turned and left. “Will, um,” he inhaled stopping, “will the Duchess be joining us, do you know?” I stopped and nodded.
“I believe so,” I said.
“Oh,” he said, “well good then.” He kept moving. I heard Tristan exhale sharply.
“I can’t go,” he said. I glanced at him. “I’m going to see Grandfather, to, well, make plans.” I looked at him and then hugged him. “I’m not saying I’ll do it, but I’ll hear him out.” I nodded.
“Good,” I said, “I think it’s the right thing, Tristan, really, I do.” He nodded. “What will you tell Lisette?”
“The truth,” he sighed, “that I finally understand what she’s been saying, that we can’t be together, no matter how much we want it.”
“And Marina?” I said. He sighed and frowned.
“Marina knows, and understands, somehow, I think, she always will,” he said. “I don’t like him sniffing around her though.” I threw my head back and laughed.
“He’s a flirt, I’m sure she can handle it.” I said. He snorted. “It really is a shame I met Aaron first, because I think the Lieutenant and I could have had a great deal of fun together.”
“Oh Cornan,” he gagged. “I don’t need to know that.” I giggled as we headed back to the palace. Martin was waiting for us with his arms cross. “Morning General.”
“You,” he pointed at me, “Upstairs,” and his eyes narrowed at Tristan, “you and I are going to have a conversation.” I swallowed. “Now, Athena.”
“Thomas we aren’t children,” Tristan said.
“I am aware of that,” he said, I looked between them. “Athena, I won’t ask again.” I swallowed and walked away it isn’t as though I won’t be able to hear them. “Quiet” is not the word for when Thomas and Tristan argue.
“And what, precisely, would you have me do instead?” I hear Tristan.
“That isn’t the point!” Thomas bellows back.
“No, to you the point is merely knowing you were right and Trey was wrong, but it’s my life,” Tristan roared back. I stopped running into Countess Olivia.
“Heavens,” she said, “what is that about?” I sighed.
“Tristan proposed to Lisette but now he’s going to go to Dorin and possibly marry a girl the Dumanis picked out,” I explained. Another yell and we both winced. “The General is, not pleased.”
“I’d gather not,” she said. “Lisette is taking the Prince riding?” I nodded. “I will talk to Thomas.” I frowned. It might calm him down.
“And selling yourself to some featherheaded debutante solves the problem, how, Tristan?” Thomas yelled. I winced, and it might not.