After dinner I suggested that we walk on the beach, because Aaron is so on edge, and barely speaking to Lisette still. He was so there when I was dark and I want to be there with him, too. But he’s sullen and edgy and I miss his sparkle and laugh.
“They seemed nice,” he said softly, “Brea and Nika? Do you like them?” I smiled.
“I like Nika,” I said, “or at least I think so. Brea seems a little more high handed, and she wants to take Harran away and I can’t forgive that.” He laughed.
“Mm,” he sighed, “yes, you’re too protective of your friends.” I looked at him. “I was glad to see Eric at dinner.”
“Me too,” I said softly, “I don’t know that it will amount to much. Marina seems to think he doesn’t have it in him to forgive her.” He nodded. “Do you?” He sighed.
“I think I have already,” he admitted. “I’m just punishing her now,” I laughed. “And I miss her.”
“I can tell,” I said. “I got a letter from Tristan today. Carolina DuKarras accepted him. They’re planning to be married in Dovetail, after us.” He smiled.
“After us?” He said. I nodded. “I’ll pressure William about the place in Pantona for them. And she’s joining the guard?”
“That seems to be the plan, though I suppose it’s up to Lisette,” I shrugged, “and Martin.” He nodded. “Are you going to enlist?” He laughed.
“No, darling,” he said, “I don’t think I will, if you can forgive it.” I laughed.
“Of course,” I said softly and kissed him gently. “If it comes to war though,” he exhaled.
“I’ll fight beside you,” he whispered, “and her, always, but knowing I can walk away,” he drifted off. “And I can’t pledge more to her, if these past few weeks have shown me anything it’s that I can’t,” he sighed. I smiled softly at him.
“I know,” I whispered. He looked at me. “This is very romantic, by the way,” he laughed and kicked the sand.
“We’ve been a little pathetic on the romance front lately, haven’t we?” He smiled. I laughed as he pulled me close. “Better?”
“Oh, much,” I nodded. He kissed me. “Aaron,” I muttered.
“Yes, Athena,” he said softly. He traced my jaw gently with his thumb. I exhaled.
“The game you and Lisette used to play, if she was really Lisette,” I said softly. He nodded, “What would we be in that world?”
“I can’t imagine I wouldn’t have dropped everything to pursue you the minute I met you,” he smiled. “Without Lisette between us, it might have taken me longer to get your guard down.” I laughed.
“It certainly would have,” I said with as much dignity as I could muster. He laughed. “But I can’t imagine not softening to you eventually.”
“Mmm,” he nodded and kissed me.
“I don’t understand why you sent for me, then,” we both slunk back behind a pillar hearing Brea, following after her was Harran.
“Because I needed to know I could trust whoever it was,” he said, “and I trust you.” She snorted, Aaron looked at me.
“You needed someone with the sight and you knew Nika wouldn’t come without me,” she said, “I guess I was fooling myself, thinking that you actually wanted to see me.”
“Brea,” he said gently, “what am I supposed to do?”
“I don’t care what the elders say,” she straightened up, “or even you, I won’t marry Rian just because you changed your mind.”
“I never made up my mind,” he hissed. “You made it up for me, but things changed.”
“Yes, obviously,” she said. “And I’m just supposed to bow and smile at the woman who’s ruined my life, how excellent.” She marched back into the palace.
“I know you two are there,” Harran called out. We stepped out. “Does Lisette know?”
“I think she guessed,” Aaron grimaced, “though I doubt she thought you were celibate between leaving us in Pantona and getting into her bed three weeks ago.” He sighed. “You might have warned both of them, though, for your own sake.”
“Brea wasn’t wrong, though,” Harran sat down and looked at his feet, “I knew we needed Nika and she’s not likely to do anything without her sister. It wasn’t really fair to her.” I looked at him. “She should marry my brother though, she’s being stupid about that.”
“Maybe she is,” I said softly. I left the rest unsaid. He was being stupid too, he knew Lisette didn’t love him, and wouldn’t keep him with her for the long term. Aaron looked at me. “Nika seems game though.” Harran laughed.
“I think Nika will do well here, honestly,” he admitted, “She never quite fit with the tribes. The Witches are always a bit on their own, but Nika,” he shook his head. “She was exceptional, which made her lonely.”
“No wonder I like her,” I smiled, “I’m exceptional too.” He laughed and I heard Aaroon snort derisively.
“Athena,” Marina walked out. “I have to get Papa home, but I made Lissette a sleeping drought, could you bring it to her?”
“I’ll bring it,” Harran said. Marina stared at him.
“Did she ask for you?” She said softly. He frowned. “She was upset today, I wouldn’t press.” He sighed.
“You’re right,” he mumbled and slunk out, probably back to his own rooms.
“Our little diplomat,” Aaron smirked. Marina sighed and shrugged.
“I know Eric went to speak to her,” she said, “I can’t imagine Harran showing up to help her to bed would help that conversation along.”
“No,” I said. “I don’t imagine it would.” I inhaled. “The kitchen will have it?” She nodded. “I’ll bring it. Although, isn’t it Mercy’s job, technically?”
“Technically,” Marina shrugged, “but she and Elodie disappeared ages ago and you’re right here.” I laughed.
“The lady has a point,” Aaron sighed, “if we’d adjourned to bed immediately instead of taking a walk maybe you’d get out of it.”
“Hm,” I sighed, and kissed him. “I’ll meet you there then.” He grinned. I walked inside and up to Annalise’s apartments. The two guards at the door let me past, as I held the pot of tea that Marina had brewed up.
“Lisette,” I said, gently but loud enough to penetrate the door, as I knocked. There wasn’t even much of a sign of Eric, which was a little worrying. “Lisette, Marina sent me with the potion for you.”
She opened the door, looking flushed and wrapped in a sheet. I cocked my head to the side.
“I don’t know that I’ll need it after all,” she said and took the pot. “But thank you, and I’ll thank Marina later.”
“Of course,” I said, “should I send Mercy up?”
“I’m alright,” she said softly. “Really.”
“Hello, Commander,” Eric walked over and hugged her from behind. “Is everything alright?”
“Your Highness,” I said. “Yes, just doing my job.”
“I’m fine,” Lisette said, “we can speak in the morning.”
“We certainly will,” I raised my eyebrows and sighed as she closed the door.