Always Friends

Annalise

“Tell me about him,” I said to Eric, as we sat in at the breakfast table in my rooms. “Franz.” He frowned. “You didn’t seem to be friends.”

“We aren’t,” he said, “he’s a big believer that in supporting the change in law that would allow Karina to inherit after my brother, I’m abandoning my duty to the island and to the goddess.” I nodded. “And he was among the many who simply failed to bring Lefty and me to heel when we we first entered the navy.” I giggled at that.

“I can see that,” I said. “Will he negotiate in good faith, or are we stuck with him unless Martin succeeds to bring the Dumanis around?” Eric sighed.

“He’s not a bad egg,” he said, “even if he doesn’t like me.” I nodded.

“How’s Raymond?” I asked gently. He shook his head.

“Heartbroken,” he said, “angry.” I nodded. “More determined than ever to enroll.”

“I’ll make absolutely sure of it,” I said and sipped my coffee. The door opened and Mercy walked in.

“Your Majesty,” she said softly. “Your highness.” Eric looked at me and then at her. “Prince Harran is here.” I exhaled.

“Oh,” I whispered. Eric stood up and kissed my forehead. “Don’t go.” I said.

“I don’t think it’s right for me here for this part, love,” he laughed. I whimpered.

“But it’s hard,” I whined. He laughed.

“You’re about to try to talk your way out war, Anya,” he grinned, “you can probably talk a man out of love with you.” I pouted. “I should try to find out who else is here.” I nodded.

“Of course,” I said and stood up and walked to the parlor. Harran was sitting and staring at me.

“I was worried,” he said softly. “I knew you’d be upset.” I closed my eyes. “And now, it’s all trivial, I guess,” I sat down with him. “Lisette,” he muttered.

“Tell me about her,” I said softly. He smirked. “I’m serious Harran, you came to Dovetail when I called, and I used your affection here, and it was very wrong of me.”

“I enjoyed it,” he said. “I was very willing to be used. And there isn’t really anything between Brea and me.”

“Perhaps not on your end,” I said. He rolled his eyes at me. “But still, it just never occurred to me, to think of your life between when you left Pantona and when you came back to me.” He cupped my face.

“You had other things to think about,” he smiled. “I really thought that stubborn streak of yours would win out for me.” I laughed.

“It nearly did,” I whispered and kissed him gently. “I wouldn’t blame you for going home, not for a moment. In fact, I might need you to, depending on how things go now.” He nodded.

“So you’ll send me home as a failure a second time, hm?” He teased. I giggled.

“You’d have been a good king,” I said softly. “I wish,” I sighed, “I wish I could have told you then.” He smiled.

“It wouldn’t have made a bit of difference, love,” he said, “the gods rolled for you and him. Time to stop fighting it.” He kissed my forehead. “Brea will be happy.”

“Will you be?” I asked. He smirked. “Tell me about her, I asked.”

“She’s very determined,” he said, “ambitious. Talented, in her way, though when it comes to power Nika’s the real thing.” I nodded. “They mirror you and Marina that way, I guess.” I raised my eyebrows.

“I’ll try to take that in stride.” I said. He smiled. “We’ll be friends?”

“Always friends, Lisette,” he said. I kissed him on the cheek. “Do you need me for any of this?”

“Yes,” I groaned, “no, I don’t know yet. We need to convince them Eric and I are happy.” He nodded.

“So I keep my distance,” he smirked. I nodded. He kissed me softly.

“Thank you,” I said. “For everything,” he nodded and squeezed my hands.

“Thank you,” he said. “And I’m always here, Lisette.” I nodded. I sat down and exhaled.

“Oh, good,” Athena walked in, “so that’s handled.” I glared at her.

“I didn’t enjoy that at all,” I groaned.

“Well, we can’t live for pleasure, especially not you,” she said. “Martin’s found a ship to take him up to Dorin, it will be quicker that way, take him a week instead of two.” I nodded. “And I’m going to present terms to the Admiral as soon as we come to them.”

“I want him and the ships gone,” I said simply. “Those are my terms.”

“Of course,” she said patiently, “but if they don’t accept?” I sighed and crossed my arms. “I thought perhaps an invitation to court? Or a scheduled official visit to Phania?”

“The invitation for now,” I said, “we should hold the visit until necessary.” She nodded and went to leave. “Thena,” I said, “thank you.” She nodded.

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