Title: Six
Rating: G
Summary: The trials and trysts of love, Conte style. Winner of "Best Multi Pairing Fic" in Goldenlake's Peculiar Pairings Ficathon 2009.

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I

His father's expression was thunderous. His mother wouldn't even at him. "Of all the girls in the Eastern Lands, her?"

Roald stood frozen. Finally, he choked out a response. "Are you sure?"

Thayet turned to face him. "My midwife saw her. A pregnant belly doesn't lie."

"Her father is furious."Jonathan cut in. "He wants to challenge you on the courts. The conservatives are up in arms." Jonathan rubbed his brow, frustrated. "We haven't told the Yamanis."

"We'll need to keep Margarry out of sight of the delegation," Thayet suddenly looked old. "She's too far along to go back to Cavall."

II

Her first months in Carthak were terribly lonely. She'd been permitted to bring six ladies for the passage over, and most of them had returned to Tortall after her presentation. The two that remained were rather dull, and the beady gaze of her mother-in-law bode ill for any sort of mischief. Time dragged, until Kalasin finally found herself praying that something would happen to break the monotony.

The next night she met an old woman, who grinned at her with a gummy mouth and winked.

Three weeks later, Zaimid arrived with Imajane Rittevon, a runaway Copper Isles princess, in tow.

III

If he was honest, he just liked women. From the rough city girls to the dainty court ladies - they each had their own special something. The Yamani ladies were no different; with their exotic grace, guarded faces and secretive smiles, they presented him a most appetising challenge. Their scarcity was the only real issue; Shinkokami was off-limits in the most severe way, and Haname protested rather vigorously that he was too young for her.

So when he found out that the lady Yukimi was particularly pining for her fiancé up north, Liam did his utmost best to comfort her.

IV

When he left for the North, he said he loved her. Though he was a landless younger son, he would come back from the war and claim her hand as his. So she waited.

Two years went by, and she passed over suitors put before her. Then rumours came to her ears that he now loved another. It broke her heart to hear such things, and so reluctantly, she agreed to a match.

And it wasn't until Domitan returned from the war, a decorated hero ready to claim his bride, that he found out Lianne had already left for Maren.

V

"Are you going to ask me to dance?" A tart voice asked. "Or are you just going to stare at me?"

Jasson shook himself awake, to find an unimpressed Alinna of Trebond standing in front of him. "Hello Linna" he greeted her. "Kindly sod-off; I'm busy."

She rolled her eyes. "Busy on your own. In the corner. During a ball. Very nice, Jasson." She leaned, whispering urgently. "Your mother expects you to dance with me. I can't keep covering for you and Zahir if you don't play along, Jasson."

He sighed, knowing she was right. "Fine." He snapped. "One dance."

VI

It wasn't so much that she wasn't attracted to boys her own age; like her wine, she simply preferred the more mature variety. The fact that her lovers were often married was coincidental; after all, Aunt Buri said that the good ones were always married or gay (and failing to seduce Uncle Douglass she knew the latter was a bit beyond her skill).

And this one was particularly dashing; tall, handsome, powerful, rich. The only thing Vania didn't like was his long hair, tied back in a horse-tail; but then, how many black-robed mages would she ever get to bed?