Discontented

Carolina

I woke up with sunlight peaking through the curtains and pulled the covers over my head.

“Caro,” Tristan’s voice sing songed. I peaked back out. “Are you awake?”

“I am not,” I said firmly. He laughed and kissed me. “I’m sleeping, go away.” He kissed me again.

“But I’m home,” he said, sliding under the covers with me.

“You’ve been home for three days,” I reminded him, “and I’ve enjoyed it, but you’re rather tiring my love.” He smiled and kissed my neck.

“Ah,” he said, pulling my hips to him. “But I was in the wilderness for four months,” I giggled, “and the thought of tiring you out was the only thing keeping me sane.” I kissed him again.

“The only thing?” I said. He nodded. “Your mission didn’t come into your mind?” He sighed and kissed me.

“Tragically,” he shook his head, “you know I tend to be singularly focused, and this round it was, ‘I am going to go home as soon as possible and make my wife moan for three days straight.'” I laughed.

“Well Commander, you succeeded beautifully,” I kissed him. “But I ask for a slight reprieve.” He sighed. I kissed him. “Now, we can’t put off everything else we have to do.” He groaned as the door opened.

“Lady Dugarry,” our maid, Elsie smiled dropping a tray on the table, “Sir Tristan.”

“Thank you Elsie,” I said standing up and opening the curtains. Tristan pouted at me. “As you can see, Sir Tristan is behaving like a child this morning.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Elsie laughed. “Shall I send word to the Countess not to expect you, again?”

“You can send word to the Countess that she can hang in the village square for all I care,” Tristan grumbled, “as if my sister would attend a godsdamned dinner party after a four month ranging mission.” I kissed him gently.

“We can’t put them off again,” I said, “please tell the Countess we look forward to seeing her tonight.” Elsie nodded and left. “You know,” I said slipping back into bed and straddling him, “when Alex and Emily came through I bought several new gowns and I haven’t gotten to wear them at all.” He laughed at my pout.

“The gowns can hang along with my sister,” he said and flipped me onto my back. I groaned as he started touching me. “When we go to Dovetail, we’ll hardly have any time alone, here,” I whimpered, “I have you all to myself, just as I prefer it.”

“Oh Tristan,” I sighed. I’m weak. I know I should tell him no, that we’ve delayed long enough and we can’t spend another day simply making love.

But I’ve missed him too. Four months is the longest we’ve ever been apart. And his times out in Westran or east in Failor were getting longer.

“Tell me you like it,” he whispered in my ear.

“You know I do,” I teased and nibbled on his bottom lip. He smirked as he pressed into me. We always have this. The physical distance between us can become emotional, but in when we’re in bed, it’s the same as when we first met. We want each other and everything else doesn’t matter. “Tristan, oh gods,” I moaned, arching up into him. “I can’t, I’m going to,” I exhaled and clenched around him.

“Hang on a bit longer, sweet,” he said, “stay with me.” I nodded and cried out as we both finished. “I missed being with you so much, Caro,” he whispered. “Sometimes I thought I was Dreaming.” I smiled and kissed him.

“I felt that too,” I said softly, resting my hand on his chest. “We still have to go to the manor tonight. Athena’s likely to break down our door and then make Aaron evict us if we avoid it any longer.” He laughed.

“I don’t think he can evict us,” Tristan said, “the house was a part of our wedding contract. Unless someone in Dorin takes Andrei’s challenge seriously, he can’t get rid of us.” I barked out a laugh.

“Well, then we’re perfectly safe, since Alex has everyone in Dorin fully convinced that Andrei is out of his mind,” I said. “But we’d better not risk it.” He sighed and I kissed him. “Tristan,” I whispered, “please.”

I knew why he wanted to stay in bed, what he hoped it would lead to.

“Have you spoken to Marina about it?” He whispered. I nodded. “And?”

“Well, she said it will happen on the goddess’s timeline, not ours,” I slipped a robe on.

“Which is Marina for, be patient, the baby will come?” He asked. I shrugged.

“I think,” I kissed him, “it also means that even if we spend every moment we’re together having sex, only being together for a few days every few months, means we can’t count on anything.” He sighed and sat up. I straddled him and pressed my hands against his chest. He had so many scars now. There had been a few I’d always known, the one on his side from taking Dovetail, the small one on near his eyebrow, from a time Athena accidentally cut him as a child. But there were two on his right pectoral now, several on his back. Three on each thigh.

And I was never there for the healing, for his pain. I hated that, I wanted to be, so badly, but it was something he kept hidden away, like so many other parts of himself.

“You’re right,” he sighed. “But I know how badly you want it.” I smiled.

“I do,” I said softly. “But you’re home, and safe, and I can’t ask the gods for more than that,” he kissed me. “This one is new,” I said softly brushing his shoulder.

“Mm,” he nodded, “we walked into a briar nest, it was fine.” I nodded.

“Why didn’t Prior come here with you?” I asked. Tristan’s ranging partner sometimes came here. He frowned.

“He was in rather a hurry to get on to Dovetail,” he muttered. I frowned.

“Oh,” I said softly, “I hadn’t realized they were still,” he shrugged.

“She has to entertain herself somehow,” he sighed.

“Tristan,” I said quietly. Though that at least got him out of bed. I wanted to say something, but anything I’d say on the subject would sound hollow, jealous. She isn’t replacing you, no one could. I have to believe that. Annalise’s lovers have nothing to do with Tristan, because if they do, then what does our marriage mean? I know I can’t be what she was to him. I’d never even bothered to try.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “I know you didn’t mean,” I kissed him. “I’ll get dressed, we’ll walk into town, and then to the manor.” I nodded. “I brought some things for Calla.” I grinned.

“She’s missed you too, you know.” I said. “Annalise is considering giving her the circlet soon.” He looked at me.

“That’ll be sure to calm the Phanians down,” he said. I shrugged.

“Nothing else has,” I sighed, “we got some word that Lord Lestoff is rebuilding his launches, that’s good news, if the ferries start running.” He smirked.

“Any news from Brinecliff is good news,” he muttered. I shook my head.

“You don’t get to resent Annalise having Prior and Marina pining for Lieutenant Lestoff at the same time, love,” I teased. He laughed. “And us not having a child. It’s too much. Even you can’t sustain that level of brooding.”

“I’m very good at it though,” he grinned. I shook my head. “What is it you want to do today, besides dinner?”

“I have to go into town,” I said, he groaned. “I haven’t checked in in a few days, something may have happened.”

“I won’t speak to him,” he said.

“Oh that will be new a different,” I grinned. “You two are usually on such good terms.” He glared at me. “Tristan, he’s a useful contact. I can either do my job well, or I can ostracize William, it cannot be both.”

After I was inducted into the guard, it became abundantly clear that I was not a fighter. But Dowager Countess Olivia quickly observed how my merchant trained manners set people at ease, and how my contacts through Alex and Emily could keep the army up to date. So instead of a soldier I became a spy. I’m very very good at it.

Tristan hates it.

That is the least of our problems.

Cocktails In Cammadan: Lisette’s Regret

What Is This?

So, the big social media blitz for the 5th Anniversary was a lot of fun for me (Hoping for Y’all too!) and I decided that while I can’t keep that level up, (Cosplays and fanart and interludes, OH MY!) I CAN do some extra stuff pretty regularly, so I’ve decided to make cocktails for everyone!

I like designing cocktails and I like my characters, so I figure this could do it. Some will just be light tweaks on standbys, some will be new creations. It’ll be fun.

Lisette’s Regret

Upon yet another physical rejection from Eric, Annalise got a little buzzed on the pink wine that they make in Brightcoast (It’s Rose, y’all) and maybe got bolder with Harran than she would have otherwise, which lead to…uh some messiness, right? Anyway, I started there and made this delicious riff on The French 75…

The Actual Drink

1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1oz Lillet Rose
1.5 oz Vodka
Top with Sparkling Rose

Shake Juice, Lillet and Vodka over Ice and strain into a champagne flute and top with Sparkling Rose wine.

Down a few and proceed to have an ill advised hook up with you childhood crush that may or may not lead to a war between your country and your true love’s.

Just The Way It Is

Marina

I walked into my office in the palace, to the eager greeting of my secretary, Bethany. She took my cloak and I settled in on a couch. I like working this way better than at a desk.

“What is most pressing today?” I asked her. She looked at a list in her hand.

“Well,” she said and sat down, “Your grace has several invitations.” I sighed.

“Decline them,” I said, “Lady Nika is in the city and I wish to spend the evening with her.” Bethany nodded.

“Adept Quents wishes to see you,” she said, “he asks if The Duchess can possibly join him at the lab in the university sometime this week, that is if her busy schedule allows.” I laughed. I did owe Raymond some attention. “And Her Majesty is wondering if there is a plan to welcome Sir Tristan and Lady Dugarry when they return from Pantona.” I swallowed.

Carolina had found Bethany for me. She was a merchant’s daughter who’d joined to guard to avoid marriage and found the life didn’t suit her. I had plenty to do, between running Annalise’s household, and managing Brightcoast, (though Papa did most of that.), continuing the frustrating negotiations with the Westran tribes to search the desert for The Great Wheel. Having someone to help me was nice.

“I’ll go to see Her Majesty in a bit to discuss the Dugarrys,” I said, “and I’ll go to see Adept Quents this afternoon.” She nodded. “Nothing from Phania?”

“No, Your Grace,” she said, “but there is one from your father.” I nodded and dismissed her. I hadn’t had a letter from Damian in months. I was a little worried. I usually hear from him every few weeks.

“Thank you,” I said gently. She nodded and stood up walking out. I closed my eyes and frowned, opening the stack of letters, and got to work answering them. Papa asking questions about what to do with the increased Guard presence at home. Feed them, keep them entertained. And our most important instruction. Watch to see if anyone has magic, then write to Raymond or Elodie. It’s what Tristan and Carolina are doing in Pantona, it’s what Papa is doing, it’s what the Norvine’s are doing.

We need magic users and we need them to be trained, and we need to know they’re loyal. It isn’t easy.

“Are you busy?” Annalise walked in a hidden door. I shook my head.

“You were on my list,” I said. She laughed and plopped down. “I think just a dinner for Caro and Tristan, you know they don’t like a fuss.” She rubbed her face. “Is it just them?”

“I think so,” Annalise frowned. “Aaron didn’t mention coming, not that I blame them, Calla should be at Pantona as much as possible, not here.” I disagreed. So did Athena.

“She’s a Dugarry too,” I said softly. Annalise frowned. “And your heir.”

“Until I have children, there’s not much for the next generation of Dugarrys.” She muttered. “And officially speaking, you are still my heir.” I sighed.

“Have you heard anything?” I asked softly. She shook her head. “When did he last,”

“Two years,” she said, “two years ago. An apology, freeing me, if you can imagine.” She’d never said anything. Not a word.

“Oh Lisette,” I said gently, “I’m sorry.” She sighed. “It’s been a few months.” I swallowed. “I’m worried.” I stood up and picked up a tea pot. Thank Rana for Bethany, who prepared it every morning, I poured myself a cup and offered it to Annalise who shook her head. “Raymond asked to see me today. He might know something.”

“Oh you mean our hostage,” she said, I laughed. “Nika arrived safely?” I nodded. “Alone?”

“I’m sure Brea is very busy,” I said. She rolled her eyes.

“I’m sure Harran is at his wit’s end,” she frowned. I nodded. Brea and Harran were getting married. Annalise wasn’t happy about it. I got the feeling that Harran was. “Rina,” she said softly, “I’m worried about you.” I smiled.

“Don’t be,” I said, “I’m tired is all.” She nodded. “When do you want to go west?” She sighed.

“When everyone comes here,” she said, “then we go west. And hopefully we can do some ranging.” I nodded.

“I hope so too,” I said, “Lisette, I’ve been thinking about Rastan,” I drifted off.

“Me too,” she said, “apparently the king is not doing well.” I nodded. “I’ll go when Ranier’s crowned.”

“Right,” I said. “Good meeting.” I said and stood up.

“Rina,” she said softly, “You’d tell me if something was wrong right?” I nodded.

“In what way?” I asked. “I haven’t had any Dreams out of the ordinary, or anything.” She nodded. “Have you?”

“Nothing new,” she admitted, “but still concerning.” I looked at her. “I worry about you.” I shook my head.

“Annalise, I cannot think of anything less likely to happen at this point in time than me pledging myself to Amina and joining Brayton.” I raised my eyebrows. “Among other things, when the hell would I do it?” She laughed at that. “I don’t hold it against you, you know.” She frowned. “I’d have wound up stranded in Phania if you’d let me go.”

“But you’d be with Lefty,” she said.

“But I wouldn’t be with you,” I said, “or my father, or Raymond, or Nika.” She smiled. “Anything else?” She shook her head and stood up and left.

I left my notes and walked back to my apartment, Nika was sitting on the couch with a book.

“You’re early!” I exclaimed and sat down with her. She laughed and kissed me.

“I wanted to surprise you,” she said. I smiled and carefully unwound her veil. She slipped her hands to my back and started undoing my laces.

“You succeeded,” I whispered. “I’m supposed to go see Raymond.” I said softly.

“I’m sure he’ll be plenty patient,” she smirked. I giggled and fell back against the couch. “Oh gods, I want you,” she said taking her rings off. I ran my hands through her hair. I love her hair. It’s silky and brown with flecks of gold highlighting it. I asked her once if she kept it veiled because the color made Brea jealous. That made her laugh.

Four years and we didn’t get nearly enough time together. Nika travels more than I can, but whenever we’re in the same place we’re together. We both understand what this is, we can’t be with one another permanently, it doesn’t suit us.

But our moments are worth it. I kiss her neck and down her chest.

“Marina,” she whispered gently, breathy as she touched me. I groaned softly. “Oh I never get tired of that,” she whispered. We tumbled onto the floor and I laughed kissing down her and between her legs. “Oh, love,” she exhaled. We finished, panting happily and wrapped up in each other. “Why does Raymond want to see you?” She asked.

“Who knows?” I said, “but he asked me to come to the lab so probably some experiment he needs help with.” She nodded. “How was home?” She groaned and fell back against the carpet and I laughed.

“Brea’s already crowing about her sons and how they’ll be chieftains and leaders,” she shook her head. “She didn’t particularly like when I pointed out that Harran might change his mind again.” I shook my head and stood up.

“I don’t think he will,” I said, “I think he loves her, in his way.”

“You think too well of people,” she pecked me lightly.

“You’re too cynical,” I teased. She laughed. “Do you want to come to the University?”

“Not today,” she stretched, “give Raymond my best.” I nodded and kissed her. I stood up and straightened my gown. “Rina,” she said and kissed my hand. “You seem sad.”

“I’m happy,” I said, “when you’re with me, I’m happy.”

Author’s Note: 4 Years Later

Well, that’s a wrap on Year 3! Thanks so much for coming along for the ride. I’ve had a blast writing it.

I put a lot of thought into what Year 4 was going to look like, and all I could think about was I wanted everyone to be very sad and in a very different place in their lives.

And there’s just only one way to do that. TIME JUMP! Remember in Season 5 of One Tree Hill? Or the Dawson’s Creek finale? Or Lost season 3? Sure you do! (Well, maybe not OTH) It’s like that. Here’s where we’re at:

5 years after Athena and Tristan arrived in Pantona, 4 years after a decision was made to meet destiny head on, a lot has changed.

Annalise and Eric remain apart, why? Well, Phania and Cammadan are in something of a cold war, which is straining the royal family. Especially Marina. She’s doing her best but it’s stretching her.

Has her father’s prophecy of unhappiness for Tristan and Carolina come true and is Annalise’s continued singleness a factor in that? It probably has more to do with him founding a new order in the guard, Rangers, who ride into the remote places in Westran and the eastern neighbor Failan to search for signs of the gods, and being gone for months at a time

Aaron and Athena are parents! The three year old Viscountess Calla is everyone’s favorite person, or at least they say so if they don’t want Athena’s spear in their face. As a Countess, Athena is an excellent soldier. She has a lot of trouble dealing with Tristan’s absence, especially because he’s having adventures without her. Aaron couldn’t be more content, having settled in to life the life he’s always wanted. He does however, still yell at Annalise a lot.

Raymond is THIS CLOSE to becoming a Mastero. Nika and Brea float in and out, helping find the Great Wheel, and Brayton remains at large.

Anyway! That’s our status quo! I’m excited to bring you all further details and move forward.

A Long Time Ago

Marina

Tristan came and joined me sitting out by the water at the manor. I was still exhausted, even though it had been weeks. I hadn’t thought I wanted to see anyone, I’d even sent Nika away. I wanted peace. But Tristan didn’t disrupt that peace.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I can only imagine how you’re feeling.” I sighed.

“May I confess something?” I whispered. He nodded. It was Tristan, I could trust him. “I don’t feel anything. I’m numb.” He placed his hand over mine. “My heart isn’t even broken just, gone.”

“I don’t believe that,” he said softly. I looked at him.

“Losing the love of his life destroyed my father,” I whispered. “Damian isn’t dead, of course, which might be worse, he’s just out there, without me.” I managed a small smile. “Have you and Carolina settled?” I asked. He nodded.

“I think so,” he said, “Her mother and sister set sail today. Alex claims the ship they’re on will be here in ten days or so.” I nodded.

“I’m glad for you, truly,” I said. “But I’m a little sad.” He sighed. “It’s silly, I love Damian, and I’m,” I exhaled, “I don’t know what’s next with Nika, but you, and I,” he nodded.

“Whenever I think about the wheel,” he said, “and the threads of time, I think about us first.” I looked at him. “I think no matter what, Lisette and I would have wound up as we are, maybe by a different path. But it was doomed from the beginning.”

“I don’t know about that,” I said. He shrugged. “But you think about us?” I said.

“Mm,” he nodded. “I think about if I hadn’t been so focused on the mission, if I’d let myself look at you for a moment,” he sighed, “we could have had time.”

“I didn’t help my cause,” I shrugged. “I could barely speak to you.” He laughed, I pushed his hair out of his eyes. “When you were at Pantona, and you would write to me, you wrote about Lisette a lot.” He nodded. “In Dorin you never did.”

“I didn’t know to miss you when I was at Pantona,” he said softly. “I missed you every day in Dorin.” I nodded. When he’d left he said he’d regret me forever. He was changed now, I saw that. And I could see his commitment to Carolina was true. “I miss you still, actually.” And it was in that moment that I realized it didn’t matter.

“I miss you too,” I said. And we were kissing them, I don’t remember if he kissed me or I kissed him. It didn’t matter. Nothing did, except that neither of us wanted regret again. I stood up and he followed me upstairs. We kissed again and fell back against the bed. “Tristan,” I whispered.

“Yes,” he said.

“You know this doesn’t change anything?” I said. He pushed up onto his elbows above me.

“I do know that,” he said and kissed me again. “This happened a long time ago.” I nodded as he bunched my skirts up around my thighs. I slid his pants down and he pressed into me. We kissed as we moved with each other. “I’ve needed you so badly Rina.”

“I need you now,” I whispered and kissed him. I groaned as he finished. I swallowed and he rolled over. “A long time ago?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “The night of Annalise’s coronation,” he said, “when I went to her instead of you.” I rolled over and looked at him.

“I was with William that night,” I said. He shook his head.

“You said goodbye to William that night,” he reminded me. I laughed. “I waited one night too long, and it was a mess. But I’ve gone over those days in my mind so many times,” I pushed his hair off his face. “And that was it, that was the moment when we could have been together, and I missed it.”

“Why that moment?” I asked. “I seem to remember being very open to it after.” He smiled sadly at me.

“You met Lestoff the next day.” He sighed and I nodded. “I could love you but you can’t compete with the sun.” I laughed.

“If I’d been with you I’d never have looked at him twice.” I whispered. “I only ever wanted you, back then.” We kissed. “Martin can perform the ceremony, if you’d rather.”

“No,” he said softly, “I want it to be you. I’m starting a new chapter in my life, and you’re the person who’s been there for every chapter.” I smiled. “And I want you to be happy.” I closed my eyes.

“When he’s back, I’ll be happy,” I shrugged. “Until then, I don’t know. Content, I suppose, satisfied, curious,” I shook my head. “But no, I won’t be happy, Tristan. I hope you can be.” He wrapped a curl around his finger.

“I love her,” he said, “I do. She’s amazing, and so beautiful, and smarter than anyone I’ve ever met, including you,” I laughed. “And in Dorin it was easy. I could be what she needed, what, she wanted.” I exhaled and looked at him. “Here everything is weighted down by the past.” I nodded.

“It doesn’t have to be,” I said, “I let you go such a long time ago, Tristan,” I whispered, “it was freeing. You should let go.” He cupped a hand against my face. “We can’t live fully in one place or another, life is in the in between.” He pressed his forehead to mine.

“So wise, Rina,” he mumbled. “I’ll try to remember that.” I laughed. “Should I go?”

“No,” I said and snuggled close to him, “please stay. Unless you need to.”

“No,” he whispered, “I can stay.” I fell asleep in his arms.

This all happened a long time ago.

Farewells

Annalise

A week moved so quickly I could barely take it. There were a few negotiations, a lot of planning our next step and mostly just soaking up every minute with Eric that I could.

It did not help matters that Tristan was planning his wedding and Marina and Lefty were walking around like someone died.

“It’s six months,” Eric said, “at the most.” He kissed my temple as we lay in bed. “He’s acting like we’re leaving forever.”

“Does he have to go with you?” I asked. “Maybe he could stay, if it is only going to be six months.” He sighed. “I’m worried Marina might cause a hurricane or something if she gets too depressed.” He laughed.

“No, he has to come,” he sighed, “to resign his commission if nothing else. Although I hope he doesn’t, he’s too good a sailor to give it up.” He kissed me. “I don’t want to go either, by the way, but it’s necessary. Daniel will insist.” He stood up. “Only one more tide and then we go.” I joined him and wrapped my arms around his waist and pressed my forehead into his back.

“I love you,” I said. “I can’t wait to see you again.”

The next morning we all stood on the dock, I was ready, we’d said everything there was to say. It was a strange reversal, I realized.

I’d grown so used to Marina’s calm, her ability to stay neutral in public, that seeing her in Lefty’s arms weeping as they got ready to separate while Eric quietly kissed my hand and smiled at me felt wrong. I’d expected her to break down later. But that she couldn’t control it now, was breaking my heart.

I should have let her go with them. I’d said I would, and now was going back on it, and I was relying on her seeming unending reserve of compassion to forgive me.

And I thought of the Marina of my Dreams, the shadow Brayton had conjured. That was in her too, cold, and powerful and calculating, and that Marina would be my enemy, the Marina who is drained of that goodness.

We stood together and watched them sail away, and she straightened.

“Marina,” I said gently.

“Don’t,” she whispered and turned away. “Not now, please don’t.” I nodded as she walked towards the manor. I exhaled and returned to the palace. Aaron and Athena were both waiting for me.

“I’d rather you two weren’t spending every moment haunting my steps,” I said sharply.

“To be fair,” Aaron said, “that is her job.” I laughed.

“I’m fine,” I said gently. They looked at each other. “I am. If you’ll recall I’ve been left before and that was more permanent.”

“And you took it so well!” Athena said. I looked at her. “You won’t get rid of me.”

“Fine,” I said and threw up my hands. They sat down and went back to whatever they had been doing before. “When do you leave?” I asked. Aaron looked at me indulgently.

“Lisette, I have to be there for harvest, you know that,” he said. I pouted and crossed my arms. “And I’d appreciate my wife being with me.” Athena beamed at him.

“You’re both insufferable,” I said, “my betrothed just left me, and now I’m losing you too.”

“We’ll come to Dovetail after harvest,” Athena said, “Probably about in time for your wedding.” I smiled, that felt nice to think about. “How’s Marina?”

“She didn’t want to talk to me.” I said. Athena nodded. “Maybe you could try.”

“Tristan should be the one to talk to her,” Aaron said. We looked at him. “Don’t look at me like that you know I’m right.” We frowned, he really was.

“What’s he right about?” Carolina walked in. She smiled softly. She’d settled into training, and even her small apartment in the barracks remarkably well. She’s still uneasy around me, I can’t blame her.

“Do you know where Tristan is?” Athena said. She frowned. “We’re worried about Marina, and sometimes,” she drifted off.

“Of course,” Carolina said softly, “my mother and sister are due today, he’s with your grandfather, getting the last of everything settled.” I nodded. “Did the prince get off alright?”

“He did,” I said. “When you see him,” she nodded. I realized suddenly that we understood each other. I was grateful for it. She was going to love him, I could stop worrying.

Interlude: The Children Of Destiny

Prince Anton Dovetail was bored. Not just with an evening of standing next to his parents greeting new comers to court. He was bored in general. He shouldn’t be. He didn’t usually find the yearly summer sojourn to Brightcoast boring, but this year everything felt stale. He glanced over at his friends who were having some kind of animated argument about something. Lady Olivia Bano, who really was more than a friend, he should admit, at least and Sir John Dugarry were both gesticulating wildly, even if he couldn’t hear what they were talking about.

He knew Olivia had also taken up with Captain Thomas Martin lately, which he should be more disappointed by, but wasn’t. Olivia had every right to live her life as she saw fit. Though he was reasonably sure that as early as a month ago they’d said they loved each other, he and Livvie had just as soon gone back to the comfortable companionship they’d shared since childhood.

“Anton,” his mother said, sharply, waking him up, “we’re nearly finished, but please try to stay engaged.”

“I’m sorry, Mother,” he nodded. He straightened his jacket, sash and the silver circlet around his forehead. “Who’s next?”

“Viscount Caleb of Pantona,” his father said, “who is asking to present Lord Lestat of Tumona and his sister Lady Marie.” Anton frowned.

“I met Lord Lestat two winters ago,” Anton said. “He’s back? And brought a sister?” Anne of Brightcoast would be pleased, Anton thought. Though that was another bride crossed off his mother’s list. She’d start importing girls from Rastan pretty soon. Queen Maura smirked at her son. They walked into the room.

The Viscount was the same as always, dressed simply, but cleanly, his red hair neatly brushed, Lestat of Tumona hadn’t changed either, from Anton’s mind, he was square shouldered and clean shaven, with his dark skin markedly standing against his white coat.

And the girl had to be his sister. She looked young, maybe sixteen or seventeen, her dark hair was brushed clean and tied into half a tail, with a wide bow. She was wearing a simple white gown with a red waist band.

And she was beautiful.

“Your Majesties,” The Viscount smiled and bowed, “Your Highness,” Anton inclined his head. “I am sure you remember Lord Lestat of Tumona,”

“Of course,” King Rupert said gently. “Welcome back, Lord Lestat, we’re happy to see you again.”

“I’m happy to be back, Your Majesty,” he said, his voice was gentle, “May I present my sister, Lady Marie Sanpierre.” Lady Marie dipped into possibly the lowest curtsey Anton had ever seen, her wide brown eyes now downcast.

“Lady Marie,” his mother said, “we’re glad to have you.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty,” she said. Her voice was beautiful too. Why was he fixating on her?

“There’ll be dancing later,” Anton managed to pipe up, she looked at him oddly, but then softened her face to a neutral expression.

“That will be nice,” Viscount Caleb said clearing his throat, clearly covering a laugh. Great, Anton thought, I’ll be in for a lecture after embarrassing myself in front of courtiers.

“Thank you, Viscount,” his father said, sending Anton a confused look. They all bowed and excused themselves. “Are you feeling well, Anton?”

“I think I need some air,” he said and walked out onto the terrace.

“That went well,” Viscount Caleb said and offered Marie a glass of the pink wine that was being passed around. She shook her head. “I won’t tell the High Mother if you won’t, Marie.” He teased. She giggled at that and took it.

“It’s not like at home, sweetheart,” Les said gently, “you can talk and everything.”

“I don’t know what I’d say,” she admitted and took a sip. “Why was the Prince looking at me like that?”

“Like what?” Les frowned. She sighed.

“Like he’d eaten something that didn’t agree with him,” she said, and covered her mouth, realizing immediately it was disrespectful to speak of royalty that way.

“It’s because you’re pretty and new,” The Viscount said in an offhand way, not like home, “Anton is often distracted by shiny things.” Marie frowned and he realized himself. “Not that you’re shiny, or a thing.”

“I don’t want to be a distraction for a prince either,” she said, “I came here to get away from that.” Prince Daniel had been insistent in his attentions, and she’d been unsettled by them. Les had suggested the trip to see his friends in Cammadan, to keep her away from the royal family. The Old King’s new young wife, Aimee, would have been a good excuse to bring Marie into the household. A place she absolutely did not want to be.

“Anton isn’t like Daniel,” The Viscount said kindly. “He’ll flirt, but it won’t go anywhere, it never does.” Marie frowned and played with the symbol of the goddess around her neck.

“Everything alright?” Tom Martin walked out. Anton looked at his friend and shook his head. “The little Phanian girl? You spent all of five second with her, man.”

“And here we are,” Anton said, “Cornan help me and Mariah’s blood curdle if I spend more time in her company.” Tom laughed and leaned across the rail. “Livvie will be disappointed.” Tom looked at him and raised his eyebrows. “Or not.”

“I’m hoping not,” he said. Anton nodded, and realized he was bored again. Three years of Olivia with him, or with Tom, back and forth, around and around. All the better if she’d chosen Tom finally. “Though she’s upset with me for going to Dorin.” Anton nodded. “You aren’t upset?”

“I should be,” Anton said, “I finally get her to admit to caring about me and you swoop in a minute later. And no one can compete with the great champion.” Tom laughed.

“It’s serious between me and her,” he said, “I wouldn’t have, if it weren’t.” Anton nodded. “So, what’s the plan, with this Lady Marie?”

“Ask her to dance, I guess,” Anton said. “She won’t say no, they’re really over polite in Phania. When I visited a few years ago I thought I would get beheaded for smiling at a servant.” Tom laughed.

Marie stuck to the side of the room when the dancing started. It was strange, she saw a tall blonde boy and a pretty girl with dark hair start the dancing, rather than the Prince and anyone else. It was different from home, and that was the first difference.

“Lady Marie,” she nearly jumped out of her skin, when the Prince approached her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“I’m sorry Your Highness,” she curtsied and looked down.

“You don’t have to,” he said, “I wanted to know if you’d like to dance?” She puzzled at him. She hadn’t really looked at him before. He was handsome, she realized, with soft pinkish skin and a few freckles. His hair was a light brown color. And he was tall. Not quite as tall as The Viscount, but still.

“Oh,” she said, “I,” his hand was outstretched. “Yes, thank you.” She took it and they walked to center of the floor. The dark haired girl eyed her, as she followed the Prince’s steps. “When did you arrive?” He asked.

“A month ago,” she said, “The Viscount found us a place to stay, to recover.” He nodded. “He’s been very kind.”

“I’m sure,” Anton said, “he’s very kind.” Marie nodded. Until she’d met him, she’d half expected her brother to shove her at Caleb Pantona, who’d instead treated her with the kind of friendliness she’d never known. They stopped, as the music slowed. “It’s quite hot in here,” he pulled at his collar. She giggled. “Have you seen the view?” She shook her head and followed him out.

Not like Daniel at all, she thought to herself. They stood quietly, looking out over the sea. She exhaled, and reached for his hand again.

“Your hands are cold,” he said. She looked at him, confused.

“Yours too,” she said. “There’s a breeze.” He nodded. “I said thank you?” She’d forgotten herself completely.

“Yes,” he said, she nodded. “You’re very beautiful.” She swallowed and looked away. “I’m sorry, I,” he ran a hand through his hair. “I’m usually better at this.”

“You’re not making a joke?” She whispered. “Making fun of me.” He stared at her.

“No!” He exclaimed and took her hands. “No, I never,” he swallowed, “I wouldn’t know where to start.” She laughed.

“Marie,” Les appeared in the doorway, “Your Highness, excuse me, but we ought to go.”

“Thank you, again,” she said softly. “For the dance.” He kissed her hand gently. She bounced over to Les.

“Marie,” he called after her, she turned. “When can I see you again?” She smiled.

“I’m not planning on leaving, Your Highness.” She said, and followed her brother through the door.

5th Birthday Taylor Swift Playlist!

Hello Everyone! It’s been 5 years of The Marina Chronicle! (Can you believe it? I cannot. At all.)

To celebrate, I’m doing a bunch of stuff, but here’s the first thing. I made a playlist of Taylor Swift songs. Just Taylor Swift, all of which have vibes for certain characters and moments.

Some are repeated from the main playlist, most aren’t.

  1. “Mine” – This is Aaron and Athena’s song. They don’t appear on this playlist much. They are far too functional and mature for Taylor.
  2. “Sparks Fly” – This is a Raymond and Evan song. I heart those boys and I’m so happy to finally get them together.
  3. “Haunted” – Brayton, OBVIOUSLY
  4. “Long Live” – For my three chosen ladies. May they slay dragons forever
  5. “Blank Space” – William Santino’s opportunistic fuckboy anthem
  6. “All You Had To Do Was Stay” – Marina for Tristan
  7. “mad woman” – Really everyone, but especially Nika, you’ll know why soon
  8. “This Love” – Lefty and Marina, eternally bound and in love
  9. “willow” – Eric and Annalise (Eric has a lot of Taylor feelings)
  10. “Wildest Dreams” – Annalise and Harran, all sex and yearning, none of it real.
  11. “White Horse” – Brea and Harran, the timing’s all wrong, and she’s done with it
  12. “The Way I Loved You” – Annalise for Tristan, toxicity wrapped in first love
  13. “Forever And Always” – Annalise for Eric…you’ll know when you know
  14. “Endgame” – From the original playlist, this is all Eric. No interest in being just another ex Annalise doesn’t want to see
  15. “Delicate” – Nika and Marina, not sure where they’re at yet. Tentative, testing their boundaries and attraction
  16. “Getaway Car” – Tom & Trey, heavy love with no shot at longevity for previous feelings reasons
  17. “New Year’s Day” – Aaron and Athena, remember, how they’re all mature, grown up love? 
  18. “The Man” – Need I explain?
  19. “Paper Rings” – Tristan and Carolina, all sweetness and optimism
  20. “I Knew You Were Trouble” – Early Carolina and Tristan, she knows who he is, she can’t help herself
  21. “Stay Stay Stay” – Olivia & Caleb, the first stability in her life, it wins her over.
  22. “The Last Time” – Tristan and Marina, All she ever wanted was for him to choose her, finally he ran out of chances to do that. 

Vows

Athena

I stood nervously as Olivia pinned a wreath of white flowers into my hair. I smoothed my gown and swallowed a lump in my throat.

“You look lovely,” she said. I looked at her. “Just like your mother.”

“Are we making a mistake?” I whispered. She shook her head.

“No,” she said, and rested her hand on my heart. “Waiting longer would be a mistake. The wheel is turning and you don’t know what’s going to happen next, but this way you’ll know this,” I swallowed. “Athena, this won’t go away. It’s solid.”

“Thank you,” I said, “how did you know that’s what,” she shrugged.

“When I married Caleb,” she said, “I thought about my father, and the conditions he put on his love, and Anton, who would be distracted by well, anyone,” I smiled, “and Tom, who couldn’t stand still long enough to build anything, and I worried, so much that this would flee from me too.” She smiled. “But Aaron’s like his father. He wouldn’t commit to anything that would falter.” I realized I was crying.

“I wish he was here,” I said softly, “I wish my parents were here,” she hugged me.

“Me too,” she whispered and wiped my eyes, “smile, darling, you’re going to be my daughter now.” I laughed.

“Are you ready?” Tristan asked, walking up to us, with Martin not far behind him. I nodded and looped my arm through his. “I suppose this means you’ll outrank me forever.” I laughed.

“Yes, I think it does,” I said, “I actually think my babies will even outrank you which is the best part.”

“You two can squabble about this all day,” Thomas said, “but you’re both still runt recruits.” We reached a courtyard, shaded by willows arching over it. A few rows of chairs had been set up and Aaron was standing at the end of the aisle, beaming at me. Marina was behind him, dressed in her simple blue healer dress, which pleased me.

I walked towards him and took his hands.

“Hello, love,” Aaron whispered to me.

“Hello,” I said softly. I glanced out at the assembled group, Annalise was standing her hand in Eric’s. Harran hadn’t left yet, and winked at me. Thomas, Tristan and Trey, Carolina and her father. Mercy and Elodie. I swallowed and looked at Aaron.

“It is my honor,” Marina began, “to unite Count Aaron of Pantona, and Commander Lady Athena Dugarry in marriage,” Aaron winked at her and she giggled. “Aaron, do you vow to love Athena, to cherish her and support her, to honor her will, joy and sorrows?” His face was serious now.

“I so vow,” he said and squeezed my hands. I smiled. Marina nodded to me.

“Athena,” she said, my eyes were fixed on Aaron’s, “do you vow to love Aaron, to cherish him and support him, to honor his will, joy and sorrow?” I swallowed.

“I so vow,” I said, though if I made any noise at all, it would surprise me.

“And do you both vow to share your home, warmth, and hearts, to build a family worthy of your ancestors?” She said.

“We so vow,” we said in unison. She them placed my right hand over Aaron’s.

“I bless you, and your union,” her voice was soft and steady. “In the name of the great god, Cornan, the holy goddess Rana, and the lines of Pantona and Dugarry. May your marriage be the greatest of all blessings.” We smiled at her and then he pulled me close and kissed me.

“What do you think Countess,” he whispered to me. “Did it suffice?”

“Perfectly sufficient,” I whispered back. “Thank you.” He laughed into my neck. “I love you.”

“You’re the best parts of me, Thena,” he said softly. I kissed him again and he pulled me close.

“You’re my home,” I said as we pressed our foreheads together. Realizing finally that I’d arrived there.

No Rush

Carolina

I’d fallen asleep, which I hadn’t thought was previously possible. Someone had gotten a note from Papa letting me know he was safe. I was grateful for that.

“Caro,” I woke up to Tristan smiling softly at me. “Good morning,” I sat up and looked at him.

“Good morning,” I said and hugged him. “You’re safe.” He nodded.

“I am,” he whispered. “Brayton got away.” I looked at him and swallowed.

“So what does that mean, for us?” I asked softly. He kissed me.

“It means I’m going to be very busy,” he said softly. “And your training will be quick.” I nodded. “And I want to get married.” I smiled.

“We are getting married.” I said softly. Tristan shook his head.

“No not,” he sighed, “not in a few months, not after Athena’s finally worn your father down, not when Emily and your mother have fought you to a guild hall wedding that we don’t even want,” I looked at him. “I want to marry you now, I don’t want,” he exhaled, “I want to know that you’re going to be secure, if something happens.”

“Tristan,” I whispered.

“If you don’t want to,” he said, “if you want to wait, I understand, but Marina said she’d perform the ceremony.”

“I want to,” I said, “maybe, wait a few weeks though? So we can send for Emily and my mother?” He nodded and kissed me.

“Alright,” he said, “I’ll send for them,” I smiled and kissed him again. “Thank you, I know you’re giving up so much for this.”

“I’d give up more for you,” I said, “but we don’t have to rush.” He nodded and kissed me. “Mercy is an interesting person.” He snorted.

“That’s a word for her,” he said as I stood up.

“She reminds me of Emily actually,” I said. He nodded. “Was it awful?”

“No,” he said, “I missed most of it, actually, Annalise, Athena and Marina confronted him. There were a few shadows to push back, which Nika and Brea handled.” I nodded. “I was careful.”

“I’m glad,” I said and sat back down with him.

“Athena and Aaron are getting married today,” he said softly, “we should get dressed.” I nodded. “Do you want to go to the house?”

“It is where most of my clothes are,” I smiled, “I can’t go to your sister’s wedding, to a Count no less, in last night’s gown. Emily will never speak to me again.” He laughed. “I thought you might die last night.”

“So did I,” he whispered. “I think it a lot, actually.” I exhaled. “I don’t know what comes next, Caro, I wish I did.” I kissed him gently.

“The wedding will be at sunset?” I asked. He nodded. “Good, I’ll write to Mother and Emily, get it on the next boat to Dorin. You write to Alex and ask that they be sent down on the fastest.” He nodded. “Do we need to give them a gift? Goddess!”

“Caro,” he laughed, “we do not need to give Athena and Aaron a gift. First of all, we have nothing, and could not buy anything that could possibly be of value to them,” I laughed. “But I do need to talk to Lisette and make sure the contract is finalized.” He kissed my forehead. “I love you.” I smiled.

“I love you too,” I said gently. I quickly put my dress on and rushed down through the palace and into town.

It felt different from yesterday, quieter, and calmer, and a little eerie. I got to the house and found my father in the study. He stopped his work and looked at me.

“I’m glad you made it back,” he said. I nodded.

“Tristan and I have decided to move up the wedding,” I said firmly. He stood up and walked over to me. “I’m going to write to Emily and Mother and they’ll come here and we’ll be married once they arrive.”

“I see,” he said, “and I was not to be consulted in this plan?” I sat down and took a piece of paper and pen and began writing, “Carolina, look at me!”

“No,” I said, “since it’s become abundantly clear you don’t want the wedding to happen at all, I assumed when it happened would be irrelevant to you.” I went back to the letter.

“He isn’t going to make you happy,” he said. I stared at him. “You’re an escape for him, and now he’s realizing he can’t escape, and it will make you both miserable.” I looked away. “Andrei made a mistake, Caro, but he cares for you, do you think he’d have come here if he didn’t?”

“It doesn’t matter,” I said, “I don’t want him, and I do want Tristan.” He frowned at me. “I know what you’re saying, I know what you mean even, but it doesn’t matter. It’s over.”

I could see it in the way he was looking at me. He would never forgive me for this. And for the very first time in my life, I didn’t care.