(back to Elestra)
I have to be honest, I considered turning Flauvic down. I had a momentary attack of self-consciousness and couldn't understand why he would want me. There were so many women who were more what I was sure he was used to- the beautiful, witty, seductive types. But then I caught myself and realized that I couldn't possibly leave him to women like that! He deserved better, and I was definitely better for him. If he was crazy enough to want me, I was just fine with being the one to make sure he remained on the straight and narrow for the rest of his life.
Later, I found out from Alaraec that Mother and Father had gone looking for me when they hadn't seen me for nearly three bell-changes. They ran into Lemuel in one of the hallways, who, of course, led them toward the stairs that went up to the attic. The three of them found me and Flauvic exploring the depths of each others' mouths in the hallway under the window, rain pattering on the glass. It was nothing too scintillating, but quite a jolt for my parents and the innocent eyes of the steward. It was a scene he would become quite used to stumbling upon in the future at Merindar Castle.
Mother had a small break down right there, which Flauvic found vastly entertaining. I tried to keep the peace between the two of them, but honestly I felt like laughing, myself. Father took it in stride. I'm pretty sure that he knew I was in love with Flauvic before I did. Whether he was going to have a break down later where no one could see it, I had no idea.
The four of us, plus the marching army, followed by several wagons full of the minorly-injured-but-still-unable-to-walk soldiers, made our way back to the palace. The ones who were too seriously hurt to be moved right away were staying at Merindar Castle until Aulus felt that it was safe, and then they were to take a five month leave of service to recuperate. As the flags at the tops of the towers of Athanarel came into view, I actually found myself smiling that this would be the last time I would refer to going to the palace as coming home. I didn't realize until just then how much I had always hated all of the pressure placed upon me there, how everyone felt that there was a certain way to act and anyone who defected from that was looked down upon; how much I was going to love getting away from such hypocrites.
There was still so much I had to do. I had to break poor Phillo's heart, although I don't think that it would be too hard for him to fix, honestly. Then announce soon afterward that I would be marrying the one and only, infamous Lord Flauvic, soon to be restored as the Marquis of Merindar. I was definitely still planning on addressing the possibility of becoming involved with diplomacy to Mother and Father. I had no idea how I was going to fit everything I was planning to accomplish in, but I was determined to try. It was going to be an interesting few weeks, to say the least.
It was going to be an interesting rest of my life.
POST-A/N: So, there it is! There it was, anyway.