Author's Note: Just a little Trap/Carissa ficlet that rambled out of my pen last night. There ought to be new books more often; they cause me to write fanfiction at an alarming rate! I would also like to repeat what has been my mantra for the past month: I AM A BOOK PSYCHIC. Once again, I suspected (or rather hoped for, anyhow) Trap/Carissa long before there was a decent hint in canon.Yes, I am aware that this makes me an obsessive fiend.

Preposterous

Duke Eltrap.

It sounded silly, even to her, and she was so accustomed to court frippery. It sounded pretentious and unnatural coming from her lips, and it did not quite suit this man with his unruly red curls and sardonic brown eyes and his— Well, if she wasn't Carissa Kalladorne, she might call it his "dashing air", but she didn't think she was quite silly enough for that. She, as she prided herself, was sensible, at least compared to most of the Kiriathan noblewomen she knew—if prone to fits of violent irrationality and occasional wistful daydreaming. So she wondered why she couldn't get this sudden name change out of her head.

She'd preferred Captain Meridon, and she could see that in many ways he did too (not that she could profess to know him). The names—Captain Meridon, Duke Eltrap—separated the two parts of his life, and he was insecure. She could relate to that, although her sudden thrust into insecurity had been rather more horrific and nightmarish than this. (But she never thought of Rennalf, nor of Balmark; not if she could help it.) This insecurity of his, surely, was somewhat less to earlier things, such as being chained to a galley ship's oar, or being made to fight in an Esurhite arena. It was merely a new name and a new life, and Carissa, when she wasn't having these strange pondering fits, took a perverse amusement in watching him attempt to process it all. An even more perverse part of her maintained that the bewildered look his face got when he was once again encountering a wholly unfamiliar situation was somewhat endearing.

"I thought you had a crush on him, once."

No, no, that was just as preposterous now as when Gillard had said it seven years ago. But, just as she'd thought then, he was undeniably attractive—and his religious persuasions were anything but distasteful now. He'd made a rather dashing Captain of Raynen's Guard, and a thrilling Infidel. Occasionally, when she saw a spark of anger flickering in his eyes (his jaw muscles would tighten, almost imperceptibly, and his right hand would find something to grip, usually his rapier), she remembered the day she'd seen him and Abramm fight at Xorofin, and she shuddered, part with awe, and part with some sort of curious delight. Well, he had saved her brother's life, countless times.

Duke Eltrap.

She was once again struck by the preposterousness of it all. It wasn't that she doubted that he would make a fabulous duke (was making one, in fact; certainly better than that officious primping Oswain Nott), and an absolutely splendid First Minister, but it still seemed—strange. That debonair, slightly mocking swordsman was suddenly being forced to be, well, proper, and she found that she rather missed the impropriety. Eltrap. She hadn't even known he'd had a longer name. It had always been Meridon, and, occasionally, Trap (although never from her lips). And she felt peculiar curtsying to him and saying "Duke Eltrap" and watching confusion redden his face. She wished that she could call him simply Trap. Except she hardly knew him, really, and it might provoke entirely unwanted court gossip.

But her lips formed the word; she tasted it for familiarity and found that it had a heady, slightly reckless flavour. Not irresponsible; never irresponsible. And his face was not nearly so boyish now, not after Esurh and slavery and watching his best friend nearly die.

Trap.

It fit.

And then, because her mind was leaping into all sorts of odd directions anyway, she imagined him saying Riss, tasting it as she had, and she did blush—quite hotly.

Preposterous, her mind said. Quite preposterous.

Still: Trap was settling quite comfortably into her mind, as if a niche had been specially carved for it all along.