Dinner

Tristan met me as the sun was going down and took my hand. He kissed me softly and we pressed our foreheads together.

“You were trying to tell me something,” I said, “before, when Thom-General Martin came in.” He sighed and frowned.

“Yes, I was,” he admitted, “I told you, in Pantona, that there wasn’t anyone else, that,” I smiled. “I think I was blind to something.”

“She loves you,” I said softly. “Marina, Lady Marina,” he nodded. “And you?” He shrugged. “You feel the same?”

“No,” he said, “no, it’s only,” he frowned, “I shouldn’t have, I never told her about,” he sighed, “it doesn’t matter. Shall we go?” I nodded and we moved quickly towards where my family was.

My family. Not Olivia and Caleb and Aaron. But my uncle and cousin. My blood, my mother’s blood, my family. And I knew walking in that she was going to hate me.

“Ah, your highness,” my uncle, Lestat, Uncle Les.

“Lisette,” I said softly, after he bowed and stoof up. “Please, I don’t want to be,” Marina looked at me and frowned. “I can’t imagine you called my mother your majesty.”

“Only when teasing her,” he smiled. “Well, then,” he said, “Lisette, and you met Marina earlier.”

“Of course,” I said. She smiled softly at me. “I’m glad to know you finally. I hope we can be friends.”

“I hope so too,” she said, “hello Sir Tristan.”

“Lady Marina,” he said softly. I hadn’t seen him this quiet in a while. But I liked dinner, and looking at my uncle I had the same, well not the same, but a similar feeling about how I did when I saw Thomas. He could tell me about my mother.

“What have you been doing?” I asked Marina finally. She looked oddly at me again. “In Dovetail?”

“In Dovetail?” She repeated. I nodded. I’d talked about Pantona, and my life at least a little. “Very little. Since we got here though, I’ve been very busy. I’m learning to heal, and it turns out all of the nothing and studying I’ve done it’s helped me here.”

“So many hours in the library,” Tristan said, “here we all thought you were hiding from us.” She wrinkled her nose at him and stuck out her tongue and I swallowed. Maybe he didn’t love her back, but there was an easiness between them, something that I’d never seen in him.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Dovetail,” I admitted. Uncle Les smiled and sipped his wine. “Did you always live there?”

Another memory and story from that. I wanted to hurl myself at Tristan, to claim him, there. He was mine, we’d made promises, whispered and shared parts of ourselves she would never see.

But I knew I was being ridiculous. Tristan said he didn’t return her feelings, I had to trust him. As we discussed battle strategy, I noticed something else change, the way he was looking at me and then I felt the final shift. She saw.

I excused myself and left quickly, I wanted her to see me, but I knew it that moment that she wouldn’t. I could explain later.

“Are you alright?” Tristan asked as we got back to my tent and walked inside. I nodded. “You don’t seem alright.”

“I am,” I said and kissed him. “Make love to me.” He grinned and we fell back against the bed. It was restless, and quick, fitting how discomforted I felt. After, he took a lock of my hair, one of the curls, and twirled it around his finger.

“What are you thinking about?” He asked. I rolled onto my stomach and kissed him. “So we’re of the same mind then?” I giggled.

“Perhaps,” I said softly. His hands slipped around my waist and pulled me close again. “What you said, about me and winning this fight, you meant that?”

“I’d follow you to hell,” he whispered, “into the darkness and back, I wouldn’t even be able to help it, I don’t think.” I pressed my forehead against his. “Lisette.”

“Please don’t ever let me be anyone other than Lisette, with you,” I said softly, “I’ve felt so much today, and I want to be Lisette, in every moment that I can be.”

“Of course, love,” he said, “if I can be Tristan, the merchant’s son.” I nodded and we kissed again. He was everything I wanted.

“Good then,” I said. “I have too much to think about, and I don’t want that to be a part of us.”

“Lisette,” he said, “you were upset tonight?” I sighed and rolled onto my back.

“I was a lot of things tonight,” I admitted. “I was upset, and jealous, and worried.” He looked at me.

“Jealous?” He said. I nodded. “Of Marina?” I looked at him. “Lisette, she’s nothing,” I stopped him.

“No,” I said, “no, she’s wonderful, and beautiful and ladylike and you know her and she knows you.” He kissed me.

“Perhaps,” he said softly, “but I love you, and am loved by you, and I think that might be greater.” I sighed and pressed my forehead against his chest as we both fell asleep, him first, his deep childish sleep.

I dreamt that night of the palace at Dovetail, I was watching as a woman looked out over a balcony, holding a bundle. It was my mother, I realized. A man joined her, with eyes, exactly like mine and short cropped red hair. I smiled.

“How is she?” He asked softly. My mother smiled.

“Wonderful,” she said, “asleep. So you shouldn’t speak to loud.” He laughed softly.

“She’ll sleep soundly. She was named crown princess today,” he said and slipped a silver r bracelet around my wrist. My mother laughed.

“So she is,” she smiled, “they all agreed then.” He nodded. “Even if I have others, and boys?”

“Yes,” he said, “it’s settled. There wasn’t much of a fight, honestly, only Brayton resisted at all.” She nodded. “I don’t know what’s gotten into him.”

“He’s angry with me,” she frowned, “I don’t know why, but he is.” My father kissed her forehead. “I thought this was what he wanted, he always said that he wanted to study to be a mastero, and now he can!”

“I’ve given up trying to please him, Marie,” he sighed, “he’s going to be unpleasant for the rest of our lives, just as he was odd until now.”

I wanted to scream at them to heed his anger, to try something, anything, to at least be aware. I knew I couldn’t, past visions didn’t work that way. I woke up and breathed deeply.

A New Dream

I woke up this morning, covered in sweat. When the maid (another new one. I don’t know her name yet. She’s very quiet. My maids keep getting replaced. I think Lord Brayton is the cause, though I can’t be sure.) came in she wasn’t surprised. I suppose someone told her about my dreams.

This was a new one and it was terrifying. My True Dreams are always disconcerting. Whatever god or demon decided that seeing the future was in my fate also decided that I was not ever to see nice things, or things that made any kind of linear sense.

Instead I saw The Girl On The Horse, who I suppose I might as well call Princess Annalise now, we were no longer on the hill overlooking the city, now we were in the city, or what was once the city, it was engulfed in flames. Annalise was walking towards the palace, unafraid of the fire. I followed her, I didn’t have much of a choice, really, I go where the dream takes me, and she entered the grand hall of Dovetail palace. This was when I noticed that she wasn’t crowned as she’d been on the hill, she was still wearing that green velvet dress though, and she was still carrying the sword.

At the end of the great hall, Lord Brayton was sitting on the great throne, something, for all of his boldness, he’s not yet dared.

“Come to me, darling cousin,” he said. Brayton is also Annalise’s cousin, on her father’s side, “I’ve much to show you.” Then she made eye contact with me and smiled.

“I am coming,” she said, “you could tell him if you like.” That smile scares me almost as much as the burning city does. Like she’s looking forward to this fight, to any fight.

That was when I woke up, and the new maid helped me dress and then I walked out into the sitting room, where Papa was sitting.

“How did you sleep, love?” He asked. I sat down next to him, still glancing at the maid.

“Not as well as I’d like,” I said. He nodded. “I thought I might go to the market to see if I could find some herbs to make a sleeping tea.” He nodded, he dismissed the girl, which was nice.

“The same?” He asked me.

“No,” I shook my head, “no it was new.” When I told him about the dream he nodded. “Is that my fate, to be the go between?”

“I don’t think so,” he said, “but that’s part of why we want you to get away from here. The Sisters say that it’s possible Brayton’s energy is effecting your visions.” I nodded. “How would you feel about going to the resistance camp?”

“Won’t that draw suspicion?” I asked.

“If we told the truth, I suppose so,” he nodded. “I just assumed that we would lie.”

“Oh,” I nodded. “Well, yes, that would work. I suppose we could say I was going back to Brightcoast?”

“Just the thing,” Papa nodded. I smiled and spread my jam. “Perhaps next week?” I stopped.

“So soon?” I whispered. But I knew why. I’d grown thin, and I knew I looked pale. He nodded. “I suppose so.”

The Secret, The Truth

I don’t even know where to begin.

The twins have not even been gone six hours and it seems as though everything in my life has changed. First was dinner, which was awful, as usual, especially without Tristan there, because Lord Brayton was watching me.

Again.

It feels like he always is, and it gives me the shivers. Mercy Williams says that I should be flattered. Flattered? That he feels the need to undress me with his eyes every time I see him. Plus I’ve Seen the things he does. He’s done.

If my cousin is dead, it’s because of him.

If she’s alive, it’s likely she’ll have to fight him.

I don’t know which is worse.

After that, Papa said that he wanted to talk to me in his study. This is strange, normally after dinner, Papa and I sit in the parlor and I work on my embroidery, while he writes letters to home.

Our home is Brightcoast, it’s the largest Provenance in Cammadan. Well, technically, it’s mine, since it’s my mother’s family, and Papa isn’t even from Cammadan, but I’m only fifteen and legally can’t control the seat yet.

But tonight I went to his study, I was still wearing my navy blue dinner gown, with the green wheels embroidered on the hem. It was to represent my hope that Annalise would come back. Green is the color of the royal family and The Wheel is the symbol of the Goddess Rana, who they say Annalise is chosen by.

Papa wasn’t alone, which surprised me. He was with General Thomas Martin, the leader of the Resistance forces (The resistance fights Brayton’s secret army. I know very little about any of it), and Count Caleb of Pantona.

I was surprised to see Count Caleb, as his wife had left with the twins earlier in the day, and the two of then rarely travel separately.

“Sit down, Marina,” Papa said gently. I did so, and looked a three men. General Martin was by the fireplace, he’s taller than Papa, with broad shoulders, and dark hair, cropped short. He was wearing his green uniform. Count Caleb is even taller than the General, but he’s thinner, with grey streaking his auburn hair. “We thought it was time to speak to you about a few things.”

“Have I done something wrong?” I asked. The General smiled at me.

“No, Lady Marina,” he said softly. “On the contrary, according to your father, you’ve done very well.”

I didn’t know what that meant, but it was reassuring. Especially from the General, who, if Tristan and Athena (Sir Tristan and Lady Athena) are to be believed he doesn’t give out praise much.

“We wanted to speak to you about Princess Annalise,” Papa said. His eyes met mine. “I’ve told General Martin and Count Caleb about your dreams, my dear, and they think it’s time you knew the truth.”

“She is dead then?” I whispered.

“No,” The Count said, he was smiling too, and laughing a little. “No Lady Marina, Princess Annalise is not dead, she is in fact quite alive, and safe. She’s lived at Pantona these past fourteen years.” I swallowed and nodded.

“She’s coming soon, isn’t she?” I asked. The three men nodded and I sat back in the chair.

“We’d like to take the capital before she turns seventeen,” General Martin explained.

“And before that we want to move you from the capital,” Papa said. “It won’t be safe once Annalise shows herself.”

“But in the meantime?” I asked. This time I looked to the Count. He smiled softly at me.

“In the meantime,” he said, “you are to go on as you were.” I nodded. But for some reason all I could think about was the fact that Tristan was heading towards my cousin Annalise.

And for some reason that gave me a knot in my stomach.

Goodbye, Perhaps Forever

I was glad that Papa told me Tristan, Sir Tristan, (I must remember that we aren’t children anymore.) was leaving. He couldn’t tell me where, but I did want to say goodbye. He looked at me strangely, as I handed him the handkerchief.

“Just, something to remember me by,” I said. “And for luck.”

“I see,” he said, he was smiling, but I think he thought I was being silly. I suppose that I was. In the books that I read, brave knights going on quests always take a favor from a lady with them. Of course in those books the brave knight and the lady are in love, and Tristan is not in love with me. “That’s very kind of you.”

I was blushing, but then he kissed my hand. Honestly! I think I could have swooned.

“Do you know how long you’ll be gone?” I asked.

“As long as Countess Olivia needs us,” he said simply. “We’re escorting her home and then she said she had work for us.” Us. Of course he wasn’t going alone, his sister, his twin, Lady Athena would be with him. I blinked at him. “Have you Seen anything?”

“No,” I said quickly. Not about him. Not lately. But I had been spending an awful lot of time trying not to think about him. I couldn’t tell him what I had Seen either. Papa forbade me from telling anyone whenever my Dreams were about my cousin. He says that it’s too dangerous.

He’s probably right, unfortunately, but I could barely think with Tristan holding my hand like this.

“Please try to stay safe though,” I whispered. He nodded. “And to Lady Athena, too.”

“Of course,” he said.

That’s when Lady Athena came in. The twins are tall, and they have identical blond hair, although Athena’s is long, and Tristan’s falls just into his eyes. Those perfect green eyes, that they both also have. She insisted that it was time for them to leave. I bid them both farewell, but I kept thinking about Tristan.

He hadn’t been in my dreams of late, certainly not any of the Seeing kinds. Those were just the same one over and over again.

It’s her, she looks a lot like me, actually, the same lightly curly dark hair, and same brown skin, but her eyes aren’t at all alike, hers are grey, like stormclouds. She is sitting on a horse, with a sword at her side. She’s wearing a crown, well not a crown, the crown. The Crown of The Goddess. The view from the hill is clearly of Dovetail, the capital city, where I am.

She looks at me and smiles. It’s not a friendly smile, it’s fierce, like she’s relishing something.

I told Papa and he said that it was my cousin, Annalise, the true queen of Cammadan. It makes sense, Annalise has been missing my entire life. But she’ll be turning seventeen soon and that’s when she’d be crowned, if she’s alive.

I don’t know if she is, although if I’m dreaming about her, she must be, and she must be coming!