The Heir


Nika has moved her things out of my rooms. She didn’t speak to me while she did it, and I didn’t insult her by acting like I didn’t know why.

But it still hurt.

Now I’m sitting in council and listening to them argue about Calla. Annalise is taking it well, Aaron looks furious. I don’t blame him, every comment feels like a backhanded insult to him and his father.

“Of course no one can deny your family’s sacrifice and bravery, in taking the princess in, Count,” Elliot Frears said languidly, “but surely, The Queen’s own blood line is more suitable.”

“My cousin and I do not share blood on our Cammadie side,” I piped up. Annalise looked at me. “It makes no difference to me.” He scowled. “I am in full support of The Queen’s choice for Lady Calla, please do not consider my feelings in the situation.”

Aaron smirked.

“So it’s settled then?” Annalise rose. Everyone joined her and nodded. “Good, Count, Duchess come with me and we’ll discuss how to handle things moving forward.” We walked out into her private office and she collapsed. “Thank the Goddess that’s over.” She groaned. I laughed and poured myself a cup of tea.

“It always amazes me,” Aaron grumbled, “If my father wanted the throne so damn badly why would he have raised you as my sister? Makes no damn sense.” I laughed. “I am glad it’s settled though, and thank you.”

“It’s really a relief to me too,” I smiled at him. “What do you want from me? For Calla?” He sighed.

“She should be here more, but I can’t be away from Pantona more than I am,” Aaron sighed.

“She should go to Brightcoast too,” Annalise said. “Perhaps not this summer, but next.” I nodded. “Do you want to hand the household over to her, when she’s old enough?”

“That doesn’t need to be decided now,” I said, “I rather like running the household honestly.” Aaron laughed.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” he said, Athena walked in. “Hello dearest, how is your family?” She scowled at him.

“Oh no,” Annalise sighed, “what did they have to say?”

“Oh nothing particular,” Athena muttered, “apparently Reiniere wants to marry Marina after his father dies. Congratulations.”

“Goddess,” I murmured and sipped my tea, “a guaranteed proposal from someone I’ve never met, my very favorite thing.” Annalise snorted. “I appreciate your fury on my behalf Athena, but this is hardly unprecedented.”

“Then they started talking about contigencies,” she sighed, “involving Calla.”

“Oh,” Annalise said. Aaron sighed.

“I’m sorry love,” he said and kissed her forehead. “It isn’t as though they don’t know how you feel about it all.” She nodded.

“I’m just so tired of it,” she said. “I’d prefer an open fight to all of this.” I smiled at her. “I’m sorry Rina, really.”

“It’s alright,” I shrugged. “I made my decisions. This would all be settled if I’d simply gone to Vacana and married Kieran Franz. The fact that he’s disgusting and Damian would probably murder him halfway through the ceremony would have been a bit of a hindrance but it would have made all of your lives easier.” Everyone laughed.

“You would be a lovely queen of Rastan,” Annalise kissed me on the forehead. “Though I think I’d prefer Failon. Otto at least bothered to come here.” I laughed. “At least the debate about Calla as my heir is settled.”

“Yes,” I said with a smile, “will there be a ceremony. I didn’t have one, but that was a bit different.”

“She’s three,” Athena reminded us. “I think simply having her beside you whenever you hold court will suffice.” I smiled. “I doubt she could make it through a ceremony without wiggling.”

“Good,” Annalise said, “I’m glad that’s settled. Marina,” she looked at me, “we have to meet with seamstresses about Westran.”

“I have to go to the University,” I shook my head, “speaking of ceremonies, we have to plan Raymond’s vows.” She exhaled. “Not that I wouldn’t rather watch you stare at fabric samples.” She rolled her eyes. “Mercy will be there, she’ll do better than me anyway.”

“Calla is going to demand constant service from Althea, by the way,” Athena grinned. I laughed.

“Imagine having a little girl toddling after you demanding your attention all day long,” Aaron smirked, “sounds like a complete nightmare.” Athena sighed and looked at the two of us.

“It is a trial,” she teased. I shook my head.

“I didn’t bother you, I was too terrified,” I said.

“You bothered me plenty,” Athena said. I laughed. “Althea’s a good choice though. Elodie is in the guard, and it will help Mercy repair the damage done her family by her father.”

“Ooh, I’m going to use that,” Annalise said, “if Mercy puts up any resistance.”

“No faith in her,” I shook my head, “any of you. She’ll be thrilled.”

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