I was helping to teach the healers the spells Elodie and I had come up with the weave soothing herbs in with bandages when I heard the deep clearing of a throat behind me. The healers all stood at attention and turned around.
“Tristan!” I squealed and ran over to him, “I mean, Commander,” I inclined my head.
“Duchess,” he said, bowing with dignity. “Are you very busy, or can you spare a moment?”
“Oh, I think we’ll manage,” Elodie winked. I shook my head and rolled my eyes and walked out of the tent with him.
“I’m so glad to see you,” I said and threw my arms around his neck. He laughed and he spun me around. “Are you taller? Is that possible?”
“No,” he grinned, “but you might have gotten smaller.” He put me down and I whacked him the chest. “How has it been?”
“Awful,” I sighed, “and wonderful too, but,” I shrugged. “Feels like old times.” He nodded. “Did you come alone?”
“Here? Certainly,” he said. “Carolina is at a house her father took. It was a compromise.” I nodded. “I missed you. Every day,” he placed his hand against my cheek. I swallowed and looked up at him.
“I missed you too,” I said, “so much has happened and I wanted to talk to you and I just,” he nodded and pulled me close. “Have you seen Lisette?” I whispered. I could feel his exhale against his chest.
“Not yet,” he whispered. “She’s locked in with the Phanians.” I nodded. “Why aren’t you?”
“I made up a job to get out of it for the day,” I admitted. “Elodie didn’t really need me for this.” He laughed. “Where is Carolina staying? I’d like to go see her, if you wouldn’t mind.”
“I won’t have you scaring her,” he narrowed his eyes. I shook my head.
“I’m not scary,” I said. He frowned at me. “On purpose.” He smiled then, I slid my arm through his and we started walking. “How did you like it in Dorin?”
“I actually,” he sighed, “I loved it. There would be moments when I was so angry at Martin, for keeping us away from that life. It was simple, once I learned the rules,” I smirked, “and nice, and quiet. And Caro is,” he exhaled. “It’s hard to explain how I feel about her.” I looked at him and smiled gently. He was blushing.
“You’re in love with her,” I giggled. He shrugged. “Oh but that’s wonderful, Tristan! Here I was, so worried you’d be miserable, that you’d hate her.” He blushed.
“And you?” He asked gently. “How’s Lestoff?” I sighed. I could see how annoyed he was to even be asking.
“It’s complicated,” I shook my head. “He’s unhappy. We’re,” I sighed as we kept moving. “I know it’s not me, it’s not us. But he’s wretched, and I don’t know how to help.” He looked at me.
“If anyone can it’s you,” he said softly. I nodded. “I suppose I should let you get back to work.”
“Yes,” I said softly. I didn’t want to though. I wanted to stay here, with him holding me.
“Well, hello,” I jumped away from Tristan hearing Damian’s voice. “Welcome back Captain.”
“Thank you,” Tristan said, his face instantly hard. Damian had a cool smirk on his face. “You aren’t in the negotiations?”
“We’ve adjourned so Annalise can speak with General Martin,” he said sliding his arms around my waist. Tristan nodded. “I’m surprised you aren’t with him.”
“I’ve been with my sister,” Tristan said, “and when I’d heard Marina wasn’t in the meeting,” he drifted off. “If you’ll excuse me, I should go find them.” He took my hand and squeezed it gently.
“I’m glad you’re home,” I said softly.
“I’m glad to be home,” he said. “Lieutenant,” he nodded to Damian. He walked away and the pulled away from him.
“What is wrong with you?” I said harshly and started walking away.
“What’s wrong with me?” He snorted. “I found you in another man’s arms. I’d say my reaction was justified.”
“Please,” I rolled my eyes and kept walking. “You know how hard this has been for me and yes I was taking comfort in an old friend.” He grabbed my arm and I shook him off. “Is that really something you want to condemn me for right now?”
“It’s different,” he said flatly. I laughed shortly. “I was never in love Elaine.”
“No,” I said, “and Tristan was never my lover. So I suppose it all evens out, doesn’t it?” I started walking away. “Don’t follow me!” I shouted over my shoulder. I marched to the beach, where Nika was sitting on a rock, the waves crashing against it. I turned to go, I didn’t want to disturb her.
“You don’t have to go,” she said softly exhaling out of her meditation pose. “I already sensed the storm in you.” I sighed and joined her, sliding my shoes off and dangling my feet in the waves. I already felt better. “Who did you argue with?” I laughed and shook my head.
“Damian,” I said softly. She nodded. “I don’t think I can take much more of this.” She looked at me and smirked.
“Do you require a man?” She raised an eyebrows. I blushed. “I am serious, if the queen marries she’ll likely have many children, surely you could leave your title to a younger one.”
“There are other benefits,” I pointed out. She laughed. “And I do love him.” She sighed and stretched.
“My sister says the same,” she shrugged, “of course Lefty loves you back, and Harran does not love her, so I suppose your case is less hopeless.” I sighed.
“I suppose,” I said. Our knees touched. “It feels rather hopeless, at the moment.” She slid her hand to mine and I shivered.
“The gods have a plan for you, Marina Sanpierre,” she whispered, “it’s as plain as looking at you, the path will be difficult, but,” she stopped, I realized she was blushing, and so was I. “I’m sorry I,” she paused and I swallowed.
“Please don’t apologize,” I swallowed. I stood up. “I should go find The Queen. Thank you.” I ran off then, my hand still tingling from where she touched it.