The three of us walked out to the courtyard, and saw the others. Tristan had joined them and he smiled gently at me. I nodded and went to Harran.
“Walk with me,” I said. He smiled and we went out of the courtyard. “I need you to go home,” he sighed.
“Of course,” he said. I swallowed. “With a specific mission, or are you just tired of me?” I laughed.
“No,” I said, “I need to you to take your father and brothers’ temperatures, I need to know they’re with me.” He nodded. “And argue for me if they aren’t.”
“That I can do,” he pressed his forehead to mine. “I’ll be called a failure, you know. Twice I’ve not managed to keep you.” I laughed.
“I’m going to miss you,” I whispered. “Not nearly as much as Athena, but still,” he laughed then.
“She might never forgive you,” he admitted. “Brea and Nika?” I bit my cheek.
“I still need them,” I said, “we have to find Brayton, and after him Amina, probably.” He swallowed and kissed me. “Harran,” I whispered.
“Lisette,” he said softly. “Gods, if I’d been bolder four years ago.” I laughed.
“You’d have had a terrified little girl in your arms,” I said, “I’m glad we waited.” He frowned.
“But I’d have had you first,” he said, “and could hold some claim on you.” I smiled. “You have a wild heart, my queen, you needn’t tame it to suit others.”
“He doesn’t want to tame it,” I said, “but it is his.” I swallowed, “you said it yourself, I can’t keep fighting fate.”
“Yes, but when I said that you weren’t sending me away,” he pointed out. “And Tristan wasn’t back yet.” I laughed. “I’ll leave in the morning.”
“Good,” I said. I walked back over to the group. Marina was sitting with Nika, their foreheads together and they were whispering, Athena and Tristan looked at me.
“You two should go to,” I paused, “I’m sure Aaron and Carolina are worried.” Athena smiled softly.
“I’m sure they are,” she said, “but you need us.” Tristan nodded.
“This is what we do, Your Majesty,” he said. I laughed. “We protect you, we fight for you.” I swallowed and threw my arms around his neck. “I’ll die for you, remember. I swore.” I nodded.
“I’d really rather you didn’t though,” I muttered. He smiled. “I don’t know, if,” he cupped my face.
“I made another promise,” he said gently, “to tell you the truth,” I nodded. “You can handle this. You were born for it.” I swallowed. “We also have a favor to ask, though.”
“Anything,” I said softly. The twins made eye contact.
“We know,” Athena said, “that whatever’s next, we have to be with you.” I nodded. “And that any plans we might have had.”
“We want to get married,” Tristan spat out. I stared at him. “As soon as possible.”
“Oh,” I said. “Well, what do you need from me?” Athena smiled.
“Permission to do it on the palace grounds, mostly,” Athena shrugged. “Marina’s already agreed to perform the ceremonies.”
“Permission granted then,” I said softly. Tristan’s face relaxed. Did he think I’d say no? “I should speak to Eric.” I walked back to the palace and found him waiting in the apartment.
“Well?” He whispered.
“Something’s starting,” I said, “I don’t know what yet.” He nodded and kissed me pulling me close. Sex would be easy right now, to just be with him, to think of nothing and no one else. “How’s Lefty?”
“Restless,” he said, “worried, but unharmed.” I nodded. “Did you catch him?”
“We let him go,” I said softly, “he’s not important anymore.” I sat down and rested my head on his shoulder. “When do you go?” He exhaled.
“A week or so, I think,” he kissed me, “I’ll come back as soon as I can.” I slid into his lap. “Anya,” he said. “What’s wrong?”
“Don’t know me so well,” I teased. He laughed darkly. “I can’t just want you?”
“You can,” he said, “but in this moment, you don’t,” I exhaled. “Tell me,” I frowned.
“You’ll be angry,” I said. He sighed. “I sent Harran home,” I whispered, “and Tristan and I,” I pressed my forehead to his, “I don’t know, Eric, I love you, I want us to be together, but I can’t not love him. And I know you’ve said you can’t live with that.” He pressed his forehead to mine.
“I never said you shouldn’t love him,” he whispered, “I said I wouldn’t share you.” I swallowed. “I still won’t, but I trust you.” I wove my hand into his. “I’ve never loved anyone else, Anya, but you have. You love so fiercely, why would I want to change that?”
“We have a week?” I whispered. He nodded. I kissed him fiercely. “What will we do with ourselves in that time?”
“I think you’ll be rather busy,” he teased, I nipped at his bottom lip. I nodded. “As will I,” he groaned as I kissed along his jaw. “There are a lot of arrangements to make.”
“Mm,” I smiled. “Are there?” He nodded and stood up, carrying me to bed. “I don’t want to lose you.” He pushed his hands over my thighs.
“You won’t,” he said, “I swear it.” I smiled.