Affairs of State

Disclaimer: Castle in the Air (1990), sequel to Howl's Moving Castle, was written by Diana Wynne Jones.


Certain varieties of experience are bound to have lasting repercussions. Justin considered himself to be something of an authority on that matter, after having spent considerable time living in bodies other than his own. A shift of perspective, a change of tastes, these would not be in the least unusual, Justin firmly believed -- nothing out of the ordinary.

Nevertheless, as always, he would ask, "You're quite certain no one will be barging in?"

As always, she would reply, "Everyone is well aware that I'm not to be disturbed for Friday tea."

All the same, he invariably was relieved when she bolted the door for good measure. Thereafter, it was merely a matter of certain exchanges and of selecting the proper and most attractive accessories.

As always, he would complain, "This padding is rather awkward, I find."

As always, she would reply, "Oh, do stop dithering. As I recall, you were glad enough for it the first time."

He would allow her point. She in turn would allow him to reaffix the Strangian Campaign medals to his tunic. After all, he was quite fond of their colours; he'd selected them himself before leading the army of Ingary's invasion.

As always, she would study the effect, dust off her hands, and say, "Well then, I believe we're ready. Shall we?"

As always, he would incline his head gracefully in agreement, taking care not to upset the tiara.

The Conqueror of Strangia then would click heels smartly and bow, before offering an arm. The Jharine of Jham would accept this escort to the nearby divan. The Prince would set aside the sword and take opposite place for their afternoon tea.

As always, the Jharine of Jham would pause in his pouring to murmur, "I say, you look quite fetching in my kit."

As always, the Prince of Ingary would say heartily, "And you look far lovelier in the full rig than I ever did."

The Jharine would blush prettily before snapping open his fan. The Prince would place a booted ankle casually upon her knee and settle back, openly admiring the fine view.

And, as always, Justin would congratulate himself once again for having captured Beatrice, the most practical of princesses.