She hurried down the servants' stairwell, carrying her golden slippers in one hand and hoisting up her skirts with the other. If any of the slaves thought this a strange phenomenon, they did not voice their thoughts aloud; they'd much rather swallow their words than offend their empress.

Kalasin of Conte sweeps into a courtesy, spreading blue skirts about her, and offers a dainty hand. Kaddar smiles down at her, brushing her hand with a gentle kiss. Behind her, members of the Tortallan delegation smile heartily, knowing a good match when they see one and hoping that Kalasin would see it too.

"Kaddar," she gasped, arriving at the bottom of the stairs, out of breath and less than elegant. Her husband smiled.

"I'm glad you're here, Kalasin. Everybody was getting worried."

"I'm sorry to have kept you. It's these earbobs, they took me so long to find. Since we're meeting with Scanran ministers, I thought it only fitting that I wore the gift they gave me last time."

It's her wedding day, a day every girl should have a right to enjoy. Yet, as Kalasin looks around her at her family and friends, all she can think of is how much she wishes to be home.

Kaddar walks over and smiles. The smile is intended to make her feel better, but only increases her insecurities. What if she never loves him?

They descended the red staircase, much to the applause of everyone present. Kalasin's silk skirts rustled as she walked, whispering for attention. Her hand was firm on his arm, and her practiced smile was plastered firmly onto her face.

She holds their baby in her hands, tickling him softly. Kaddar walks over, leaning down to kiss first her and then the baby. She feels all the joys of being a mother, but no love. She feels pleasure in knowing the child is hers, but does not envy it for having parts of Kaddar also.

Kaddar's speech was powerful as always, praising the valued alliance between Scanra and Carthak, and expressing wishes for more alliances to come. More speeches were made, and Kalasin zoned out during most of them, hoping she didn't look at bored as she felt.

Daine holds up her baby girl, joy lighting up her eyes. Behind her, Numair smiles with the same sort of wild happiness, love lighting up every feature on his face. Kalasin's heart is pinched with jealousy; their love is obvious. They are so happy.

Speeches made and formalities through with, the banquet began. It was not long after that that every couple was on the dance floor, swaying slowly to the music.

His hands are firm against her back. She leans against him, but does not feel safe. Is this how it's going to be like forever?

She finished the dance with a flourish, twirling into Kaddar's arms. He leant down and kissed her passionately, the perfectly romantic finish to a perfectly executed dance. But, perfect as it might have been, Kalasin only felt one thing.