Girls will be girls
Warnings/notes: suggested Norathar/Cawti, Morrolan/Vlad, Sethra/Aliera and Aliera/Mario, slightly silly, ooc, drabble-ish.
Disclaimer: The wondrous world of Dragaera was created by Steven Brust.
written at 16th june 2006, by Misura
"All right then." Cawti lifted her head and sent Aliera a look what would have sent me running for the kitchen, to cook something marvellous and remind her of why she loved me. "Tell me, Aliera, what's the legendary Mario Greymist like in bed?"
I winced. Sure enough, I'd heard the rumors about Aliera and Mario having had some sort of fling, before he went and killed the then-Emperor. I'd never heard anyone repeat them in a place where Aliera could overhear them, though, and Aliera herself had never told me anything about the affair at all either. Cawti's strike would be a good one, if the rumors were true. I didn't think they were.
"Skilled, steadfast and dexterous," Aliera replied calmly, her tone that of someone stating the obvious.
Okay, so apparently Aliera didn't tell me everything. When I thought about it, that shouldn't have surprised me, but ... Aliera picking a -Jhereg- for a lover?
"I would assume that, due to his mixed blood, he's received the best of both Houses; the energy and passion of a Dzur, and the attentiveness of a Tiassa," Aliera chatted on. I suspected she was putting on a bit of an act to rib Cawti, although Norathar didn't seem the least bit scandalized by Aliera's frankness. "Of course, he was less skilled when I first met him than he is now."
"Of course," Cawti echoed. Her gaze was seeking Norathar's again.
"What of the Enchantress of Dzur Mountain?" Norathar asked, in what seemed to me an extremely unsubtle attempt to change the subject. Aliera would probably still go along with it, though. Norather was the Dragon Heir, after all.
"Sethra?" Aliera cocked her head, considering. "She's ... unique."
"A most descriptive description," Norather commented dryly.
"That bad, eh?" Cawti tossed in, her voice only slightly shaky.
Aliera glared at her with eyes that were neither blue nor green. I tried to remember if I'd told Cawti about what it meant when Aliera's eyes started to change colour. I didn't think I had.
"It's like Sethra is the person I'm married to, and Mario is my lover." Aliera shrugged. I supposed that made sense; if it hadn't been for Sethra, Aliera'd still be sort-of sleeping in a staff, without a body to walk around in and have love-affairs with legendary Jhereg with. It seemed no more than logical that Sethra would take an interest in what Aliera did with her life, although this did add one more mysterious side to the relationship between Aliera and Mario. I couldn't imagine Aliera carrying on with something that Sethra disapproved of so strongly. Mario might be as great a lover as an assassin, but great enough to incur the wrath of the Enchantress? All in all, I was surprised she hadn't turned him into a norska yet. Or, on second thought, maybe she had. Maybe that was why nobody'd seen him around for such a long time.
"They don't get along, I take it." Norathar seemed slightly amused.
Aliera shook her head. "He nearly killed her when she rescued him from the fall-out of Daddy's little mistake." I think it says a lot about Aliera that she still talks about Adron's Disaster as a 'little mistake'. "She had to assure him three times that I was alive before he believed her and went off to look for me."
"I doubt if she was in much danger from him," Cawti said.
"Well, she knew I loved him, so she couldn't kill him." Aliera shrugged. "And she was rather exhausted from the teleport, especially since she'd only counted on one person, not two. Mario was certain that I'd been killed at the time, which didn't exactly leave him with anything to live for. He might have wounded her badly, at the very least, if she hadn't managed to convince him."
Have I ever mentioned how modest Aliera is?
"Well, isn't that ... fascinating?" Cawti murmured. She looked slightly dazed. I assumed she wasn't used to people dropping the names of legends as casually as Aliera did. It's a special knack of Aliera's, really; nothing quite deflates the ego of an amorous Dragonlord like one of Aliera's casual references to her fling with Duke Wherever or Lord Whathisname back in the days when there still was a Dragaera City. Of course, it might just be the reminder of Aliera being the daughter of -that- Adron, but I don't think so. It'd ascribe far too much sense to your average Dragonlord.
"He was also pretty pissed off when she kept him out of her retrieving the staff containing my soul at first, and then visiting the Paths of the Dead to get back my body second. He nearly killed Vlad for doing those things in his place, but I convinced him Vlad wasn't really to blame." Aliera smiled.
I felt like I was going to be sick. At the time she was talking about, I'd felt a bit upset at Morrolan and Sethra setting up a meeting by convincing one of my button-men to make a run for it, with more money than I could afford to have stolen by an employee of mine. Okay, I'd felt plenty upset, and not at all happy. Still, it wasn't pleasant to hear Sethra hadn't just picked me because I'd seemed the best man for the job, but also because I was someone with some of the same abilities that Mario had, only without the importance to Aliera that kept her from using him instead. The idea of Mario going after me for nearly getting myself killed didn't help much either.
"Uh-uh." Cawti bobbed her head.
"I hear I definitely must speak with Sethra again some day," Norathar said.
Aliera made a slight bow. "I recommend that you do so. She may be able to tell you much of interest, and as the Dragon Heir, I am sure that she will not begrudge you her time."
Norathar sighed. I wondered if it was because she'd remembered that while Sethra would have time for -her-, she might find herself rather short on time for Sethra soon, once the Council got fully used to the idea of her being the new Heir. Both Aliera and Morrolan had been very clear about considering their assignments only temporarily, until a more suitable candidate could be found, but from what I'd heard, Norathar didn't have that option. She was stuck with the title, and all that came with it.
"Shouldn't we be headed back to the hall now?" Cawti inquired.
"We might, but then the Lady Norathar wouldn't get a chance to share her experiences with us," Aliera replied. The look she threw in Norathar's direction was slightly less than friendly. Perhaps she hadn't quite appreciated Norathar cutting short her interviewing of Cawti.
Norathar compressed her lips. Cawti shifted on her seat, her expression a little worried. It wasn't the kind of 'worried' that made me concerned for Norathar's or Cawti's health though; it was more as if Cawti expected someone to hurt her, and wasn't able to do anything about it.
"There is no need to speak of such things," Norathar spoke at last. "We see no reason why we should indulge your curiosity, Lady Aliera." The 'we' she used was imperial, no doubt about it, and yet she also managed to include Cawti in it.
All three of them rose, with Cawti and Norathar staying close together, and Aliera standing aside, alone. Aliera didn't seem bothered by this, although I thought I caught a glimpse of annoyance in her eyes.
"My cousin has informed me that Vlad is rather boring and dull in bed," Aliera said to Cawti, just when they were about to leave. "Although I suppose you're really not used to anything better."
Norathar froze. It was the dangerous kind of freezing; the kind that would have sent me diving for cover if I'd thought I was the cause of it. Cawti's stance matched hers, reminding me that the Dagger and the Sword of the Jhereg had been, a mere three weeks ago, nearly as legendary as Mario.
"I never said any such thing," Morrolan declared. It was only then that I noticed he'd teleported to the scene we'd been watching, leaving me alone in his study. I wondered if he'd left me behind to save my life, or just because he'd been in too much of a hurry to ask me if I wanted to come along, too. I wasn't sure what I'd have done if he'd asked.
"No, but you do seem to consider it perfectly honorable to spy on your guests, even if one of them is your future Empress," Aliera shot back. She didn't even seem to be aware of the danger she was in, or had been in for several seconds. "Perhaps you'd care to tell us why that is?"
Morrolan flushed. I wasn't sure if he was embarrassed, or if he was just angry with Aliera having caught him. "I was merely experimenting with a new spell. I assure you no insult was meant, and that I had no intention at all of listening in on a private conversation." He bowed in Norathar's direction.
"My lord Morrolan, I accept your apology." Norathar gave him a slight nod. For a moment, I was sure that Morrolan would protest and say that he hadn't intended his words as an apology at all, since he'd done nothing that required apologizing for, but he seemed to think better of it and merely nodded back. Cawti was glowering at him, so he nodded at her as well.
Aliera sniffed. The curtesy she offered Cawti was elaborate, and probably more mocking than serious, although it was hard to tell. "I assure you my words were only meant to get my cousin to reveal himself, and I wish you and Vlad all the happiness you deserve."
If Cawti detected the irony in that last part, she didn't show it. Instead, she merely smiled at Aliera and murmured that, of course, she understood, and that Aliera's best wishes were most kind.
Norathar and Cawti departed, leaving Morrolan and Aliera to glare at each other.
"Your comment was most uncalled-for," Morrolan said.
"So were your actions," Aliera said.
"However, it would interest me to learn how you became aware of the spell. As I mentioned, I am still fine-tuning it, and I would greatly appreciate your assistance," Morrolan continued smoothly, like Aliera hadn't spoken at all.
"Very well, then I will tell you so."
The two of them walked off in the direction of Morrolan's laboratory, and I realized I'd been holding my breath, and that I could go on breathing normally now, since all had ended well. The spell dissolved the moment I closed and opened my eyes again - or perhaps Morrolan had remembered to turn it off.
I thought that would be the end of the affair until, five minutes later, Norathar and Cawti came striding into the room, demanding me to tell them all that had been going on between me and Morrolan the past few years. Loiosh, traitor that he was, confirmed to Rozca that I'd spent the night here several times, and was granted instant forgiveness for his part in my supposed crimes.
The morale of this story is, obviously, that you should never trust your familiar to keep something a secret from the woman you love. Also, it's probably a bad idea to get involved in a Dragonlord's experiment with a new spell. As to getting involved with a Dragonlord himself ...