Interlude: Anne and Les

Note: When I put together the Caleb and Olivia interlude, it opened a treasure trove of old notes, journal entries and abandoned prequel manuscript drafts that had in their margins, the story of two quiet nerds who fell in love and eventually made all of our favorite person. This is the story of Anne Brightcoast and Lestat Sanpierre.

Anne Brightcoast was sitting at a table with a book in front of her. She glanced up and frowned.

He was here, again. The Phanian, with the ridiculous name. He’d attached himself to Caleb Pantona which meant she’d be seeing a lot of him, but he seemed to always be here in the library at the same time as her. Which was annoying. This was where she went to get away from everything and everyone else.

“Lady Anne?” One of the Adepts walked over, she raised an eyebrow at him. “I apologize but your mother sent a servant and, well, he’s rather insistent,” she sighed and slammed her book closed. “As you aren’t officially a student,” he drifted off.

“Fine,” she said. “If someone else has this one tomorrow, I’m holding you responsible.” The adept blinked at her and the Phanian snorted. “Can I help you?” She looked at him.

“No, I,” he swallowed, “are you returning to the palace?”

“No, I’m going home,” She said. He stood up.

“I’ll escort you,” he smiled and she sighed. He followed her out. “I don’t believe we’ve been properly introduced.”

“We haven’t,” she said. “But let me preempt your questions. Yes, I am inheriting the largest Provenance in Cammadan. No, I am not interested in whatever business scheme you have. Yes, I am hoping to eventually marry. No, I am not chasing Prince Anton or your friend Caleb. Are we done?”

“I was going to start with, ‘hello, I’m Lestat. I’ve wanted to talk to you but Caleb warned me not to bother you while you were studying,”” he shrugged, “but that is all certainly interesting information.”

“Oh,” she said, “well, he knows me well.” He smiled. “Lestat?”

“Les,” he said, she nodded and they started walking. “I didn’t realize you weren’t enrolled.” She sighed. It was a point of contention. With everyone.

“I’m an heir,” she said, “one can’t have everything.” He frowned.

“And so they can ask you to leave whenever?” He asked. She laughed.

“Well, my mother can summon me,” she explained, “and make a great deal of noise about it. And the Masteros hate a scene.” He laughed. “So then they ask me to leave.” He nodded. “You’re enrolled by special permission, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” he said, his stance becoming tight. “There’s some family history that lead me to the archives here. King Cyrus was kind enough to request enrollment for me.” She squinted. That was odd.

“Is your line from Mariah?” She asked. He shrugged.

“Isn’t everybody’s?” He sighed. She laughed. “It isn’t Mariah.” She nodded. He clearly didn’t want to expand and she didn’t want to pry. “What are you studying?” She looked at him.

“The aquatic plants of our coast and their probable medicinal qualities,” she straightened her shoulders. “It sounds dull, but it will help a lot of people everywhere, and make work in my provenance if I can figure out some things.” He smiled.

“It’s admirable,” he said. “You want to be a healer?”

“I wish,” she sighed, “but no, I have to get married and make another heir. Those are the rules.” He nodded.

“But not the Prince,” he said. “Or Caleb.” She blushed.

“Prince Anton only knows my name because he’s very polite, and everyone makes assumptions about Caleb and me,” she said, “but we’re friends, is all. He understands.”

“He does,” Les grinned. “Can I see you again?” She smiled.

“I don’t see how we’ll avoid it,” she said slipping into the house.

Les laughed as she walked away. He didn’t normally do this. Pursuing girls was out of the question, just as Anne had been talking about her responsibilities he had them too. It’s why he was in Cammadan. To find answers about Marie. But he hadn’t quite been able to ignore Anne Brightcoast.

It wasn’t worth pursuing of course. Anne was going to be a ruler of a Provenance and couldn’t come to Phania to marry him, and while Tumona was closer to a house than even an estate, he was the only male heir and couldn’t renounce that to move here. Let alone, leaving his sister to his Aunt’s aspirations.

He was supposed to be staying in a dorm room at the University, but since becoming friends with Caleb Pantona he’d spent most nights at his townhouse.

“Oh, you’re back early,” Caleb said as he walked in. “Did you find something?”

“No,” Les sighed. “I did talk to Lady Anne though.” He plopped on a couch. Caleb raised his eyebrows.

“That went well?” He shelved a book.

“Well, she made it clear she’s not interested in you or Prince Anton,” Les grinned, “so there’s that.” Caleb laughed

“I could have told you that,” Caleb sat down with him. “Well, not about Anton, which I could have guessed.” Les laughed. “But she was willing to talk to you?”

“Mm,” Les nodded. “At me, for a bit, but eventually to.” Caleb nodded.

“Sounds about right,” he said, “we could go to the palace tonight if you want. Her mother makes her go most nights. And I’ve probably avoided it for too long.” Les raised his eyebrows.

“Why do you avoid it?” Les asked. Caleb sighed.

“Have you ever seen what happens when a pack of wolves smell fresh meat?” He asked. Les nodded. “Imagine that, but debutantes and I’m the meat. It’s unpleasant.” Les laughed.

“I suppose I can understand that,” he shrugged. “You don’t mind?”

“No,” Caleb said. “I really don’t. Anne is my friend, so are you. She’s over due to fall in love and you’re useless in your current condition.” He tossed a pillow at him and Les laughed.

Anne stood in the palace hall the night, wrapping a fan against her hands.

“Hello there,” Caleb appeared at her shoulder.

“What do you want?” She grumbled. He grinned.

“To say hello, to my oldest friend,” he said, “and check what she thinks of my newest.”

“You’re meddling,” she frowned. “You’re worse than my mother.”

“I am not,” he said, “I mean, I am meddling, but I’m not worse than your mother, I don’t think you should marry Les, just, enjoy him for a season.”

“You’re ridiculous,” she said. Then she stopped. “Is he here?”

“Somewhere,” Caleb teased.

“Impossible boy,” she muttered. Les walked up. She smiled inspite of herself. “Lord Lestat.”

“Lady Anne,” he said.

“Caleb,” Anne said.

“Yes,” Caleb said sipping his drink.

“Go away,” she smiled, not breaking eye contact with Les. He laughed, bowed and walked towards the ballroom. “I knew he was up to something.”

“To be fair, it’s my fault,” Les blushed, “I was worried about it.” She cocked her head. “About you, talking to you, he’s trying to help.”

“He’s bad at it,” she grinned. “Why were you nervous? Wasn’t I pleasant this afternoon?” He laughed.

“This afternoon, certainly,” he shrugged, “but you’re quite intimidating.”

“I’m too small to be intimidating,” she shook her head. He smirked. Goddess, he was attractive.

“That makes you more intimidating,” he smiled. “So tiny, and so fierce.” She blushed.

“Anne, there you are” her mother walked over. Duchess Adelaide Brightcoast looked over at Les with suspicion. “And who is this.”

“Mother,” Anne smiled, “this is Lord Lestat of Tumona. He’s visiting from Phania to study at The University. He’s befriended our Caleb, isn’t that nice?”

“Hm,” Adelaide regarded him, Anne noted that he was taking it well. “Well, Caleb has always taken in strays. Come, Queen Maura has invited us to sit with them tonight.”

“I’ll be right along,” Anne nodded. The Duchess huffed and walked away. “Do you still think I’m intimidating?” He laughed.

“When can I see you again?” He asked.

“I’ll be in the library tomorrow,” she said. He nodded. “I should go,” he smiled as she walked away.

The next few weeks, they developed a routine. They would settle in at the same table while they studied, Les would walk Anne home, and they’d speak when they could at the palace.

“Les,” she said softly, one evening when they’d manage to study well past suppertime at the palace, on the steps of the house, “would you like to come inside?” He smiled shyly and slid his hand into hers.

“Yes,” he smiled and she opened the door. “Anne, I,” he said softly as they walked into one of the sitting rooms, she slid her coat off and hung it.

“Do you want a drink?” She asked. “My father sent us a wine this week, I haven’t tried to new vintage. Have you had Brightcoast wine? It’s sweet, but not sugary, more like fruit than cakes,” he smiled softly at her and walked over and kissed her.

“I’ve had the wine,” he smiled. “Queen Amanda likes it, they serve it before dinner at Vacana. And you’re nervous.”

“Aren’t you?” She said. He kissed her again.

“Of course,” he said, “I’ve never felt like this before.” She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him. They fell back against the couch. The kissing became touching and Anne rested her hands against his chest as he reclined her back.

“Les, I,” she whimpered and unlaced the front of her dress. “I’ve never done this.” He kissed her again.

“Me neither,” he whispered. “I’ve read about it.” She giggled.

“Me too,” she said as they kept undressing. It felt good, not the overwhelming wave of pleasure she’d expected, but warm and safe, and Les’s hands on her body, his lips on hers, him moving in her felt right. After, they lay wrapped in fur blankets in front of the roaring fire.

“I love you,” she said softly. He pressed a kiss against her hair, and rested his forehead on her shoulder.

“I love you too,” he said. “More than I thought was possible. Probably more than is good for me.” She sighed.

“Caleb mentioned enjoying a season,” she rolled over, “I don’t see why it can’t be more permanent.”

“Anne, I,” he sighed, “I have to go home.”

“I know,” she whispered. “I understand that, but I thought, I don’t know, we could write, and,” he exhaled and kissed her gently.

“You don’t,” he said, “my sister,” he exhaled, “it’s complicated, but I, I came here to help her.” She looked at him. “And I found something, but I don’t know, and,” she sat down.

“What’s wrong with her?” She asked. He laughed and shook his head.

“Nothing,” he said, “Marie is perfect, she’s amazing. But when she was born, the sister that delivered her had a vision and wrote down a prophecy.” Anne looked at him.

“Your sister is Chosen?” She asked. He nodded. “You came looking for her mandate.” She swallowed. Chosen were rare, some people didn’t believe that they existed. That people claiming the title were just, mad.”

“Sort of,” Les sighed, “she was promised a gift from the goddess, to free them, the union of earth and sea.” She nodded. “I don’t know, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Have you ever heard of the Holy Swords?” She smiled.

“The Sword Of Rana will cut her and Cornan free from the wheel of time,” Anne said. “The sword of Amina would shatter the barrier between this world and the worlds of the dead.” He nodded. “Cornan’s would fend off the armies invading from the loss of the barrier.”

“Yes,” he smiled, “but the swords aren’t weapons. They’re people, or at least, that’s my theory.” She looked at him. “And I think, Marie’s mandate is to mother one of them.”

“You learned all this studying here?” She asked. He shook his head.

“No,” he said, “I came here to learn how to stop it. A Prince is meant to father the sword. Prince Daniel has shown interest in Marie, and certain members of my family are eager for the match to continue. Marie is fourteen, and she has no desire to be Queen of Phania, but she has a prophecy on her head.”

“You want to sever the mandate,” Anne sat up. He nodded. “Defying the gods, you don’t ask for much, do you?” He laughed and kissed her.

“I’d stay with you,” he whispered, “I’d give up everything I’ve ever known to do it, Anne, really. But I can’t abandon Marie to people who don’t see her as a whole person, I can’t let her get swallowed up.” Anne kissed him.

“Do you want me to help?” She asked. He cupped his hand against her face.

“What about you sea plants?” He teased.

“They’ll keep,” she said. “This is very selfish for me,” she said, “you see if you sever her mandate, you can come back to me.” He laughed and kissed her.

“I think you’re amazing, Anne Brightcoast,” he whispered. She smiled.

Two Years Later

Anne was sitting at her desk in Brightcoast, her parents were absorbed in planning the opening ball to the summer season which left Anne to the actual work of running the provenance for the week. She liked it that way but it was still lonely. The royal family had arrived at the cliff perched summer palace a few days ago, and she knew she’d have to show her face soon. The idea of it made her sad.

“Hello Anne,” Caleb walked in and sat down on her couch. She looked up at him.

“What do you want?” She said.

“To say hello?” He asked. She went back to her work.

“You’ve done that,” she said, “go away.” He laughed. “Caleb, you’ve been here a few days, why are you here now?”

“Well, I had to get settled in,” he pointed out. “And of course there’s Lady Olivia,” she groaned.

“Please don’t,” she said, “I had a month of blessed peace from you talking about Lady Olivia,” he smirked at her.

“You were in love,” he said, “I dealt with it.”

“My love was reciprocated,” she pointed out. “And much less tedious.” He nodded.

“I have to tell you something,” his voice went serious. She looked at him. “I got a letter from Les.”

“Alright,” she said, “I get letters from him frequently.” He sighed.

“Anne, he’s coming back,” she dropped her pen. “He’s bringing his sister here, something about Prince Daniel, and being worried for her safety. They’re arriving in a few days, I’m presenting them.”

“What?” She said. “Why you?” He raised his eyebrows. “I would have,” she leaned back.

“I think he was worried that it would hurt you,” he said. “That he was coming back to protect Marie.” She nodded. But she understood that, Marie’s safety was Les’s priority. He’d told her that. “I didn’t want you to be surprised.”

“Thank you, I guess,” she said and stood up, he grabbed her hand and squeezed it.

“Anne,” he said. “Just wait until you talk to him.” She nodded.

Les looked around the ballroom. The first gauntlet of the night had been cleared, that was introducing Marie. He was more nervous about the second. They’d been in Brightcoast for four days and he’d gone back and forth between going to see Anne in his mind a million times a day.

But he hadn’t. Caleb had mentioned she’d seem hurt that he hadn’t asked her for help, and he wanted to explain himself. And he wanted her to meet Marie, who he had completely lost track of. Caleb had gone to pay homage to his doomed love for Lady Olivia Bano, and that just made him want to talk to Anne even more. He was sure she would be happy to tease him about it.

But she wasn’t in the ballroom. Or on the terrace. He paused and saw John Dugarry refilling his wine and walked over.

“Your sister is with Anton, don’t worry, I’m watching them,” Sir John said and took a long drink. Les nodded.

“I was actually going to ask if there’s a library,” Les said, “but thank you for that.” Sir John grinned.

“There is,” he smiled. “If you go down to the main hall and turn left, it’s down that passageway. She may just have gone home though, or not even come tonight.”

“Thank you,” Les smiled at the guard who nodded and winked at him. He rushed quickly to the library, which was lit by a silvery magic generated fire, and in the center in an armchair there was Anne. She had some kind of jewels in her hair, because the moonlight and fire were hitting it and shining off of it. She was wearing a pink satin gown and looked almost like a painting. “Anne,” he whispered. She looked up and then looked back down and pointedly went back to reading.

“Lord Sanpierre,” she said coolly. He swallowed and walked over to her. “Your sister did well. I think Anton swallowed his tongue.” He laughed. “I look forward to meeting her.”

“She looks forward to meeting you,” he said, “in fact, I’d hoped tonight.” She snapped the book closed and looked at him. “Caleb said you were upset.”

“Did he?” she said. He nodded. “Well, that was good of him.” He sighed. “Did you think I wouldn’t help you?”

“It isn’t that,” he said, “I knew you would,” she nodded. “I didn’t want to be in your debt.” She looked at him. “I always thought of us as, well, equals, I suppose, and if I,” he sighed, “if I owed you so much, it would break us, this.” Her face soften and she leaned back.

“What happened? With Prince Daniel?” She asked. Les frowned.

“He pursued her,” he said, “agressively. She was becoming frightened by the attention. I think she had a few Dreams about it, but she won’t say.” Anne nodded. “And when Caleb wrote that we should come here, when I mentioned I was concerned, I,” he swallowed, “I couldn’t say no, because it meant I would get to see you.” She leaned across the space and kissed him, and he pulled her into his lap. “Anne,” he whispered.

“I missed you so much,” she said, “and I was so happy you were coming, really.” He pressed his forehead against hers. “How long are you staying?”

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. She looked at him and smiled.

“So we can get married?” She said.

“I’d like to,” he smirked. She giggled and tumbled onto the floor with him. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she said as they fell into the kiss.


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