written for Kat (treanz-alyce) because she is fabulous!

"Why are you here?"

Her voice is flat. "Because I wanted to see what a true monster looks like."

"Oh, yes." He speaks elegantly, sibilantly; not at all like a man imprisoned for life. "I had heard about your little Scanran adventure, Keladry. Disappointed with the Nothing Man, were you?"

She frowns. "And how did you come across that piece of information?"

"Jonathan visits me more then you would think." Roger's face speaks of a challenge, but his words speak elsewise. "You may go."


Kel stretches languorously and then relaxes into comfort and warmth. "Was he always insane?"

Raoul's eyes always darken when he looks at her. "Who?"

"Roger. You knew him before everything, before he died."

"Why do you-"

"I visited him today." It's probably best to just say it. "I'm curious."

"You visited- Kel-"

"I needed to see," she says simply. "Can you answer my question?"

He scrubs a hand over his face, sighs. "I don't know. It's possible, I suppose, but we wouldn't have been aware of it, not then. We were all too young to suspect anything."

"Of course." She shrugs. "I just thought- I don't know."

He wraps an arm around her. "Roger gets in your head, I understand that much. Are you cold?"

"It doesn't matter, you're warm enough for both of us."

His hand begins to slide downwards and explore. "Come back to bed, Kel."


"Does anyone else visit you besides the king?"

The duke's face quirks. "That's an interesting question, lady knight."

"I'm here," Kel says, "you could do me the courtesy of telling me."

"Mmm." The cell is cold as the Chamber of the Ordeal, cold that seeps into bone marrow, but he is somehow unaffected. "Manners are manners, I suppose. The king, Gareth the Younger. My nieces and nephews, out of some sick curiosity. I'm sure the only reason they made an appearance was because Jonathan warned them away. Myles of Olau, once or twice. You. And the lovely Lioness."

"Lady Alanna?"

"She alternates between gloating and regret that she did not shove me into the Gate of Idramm. Once was not enough for her, I would say. And she is still upset that she lost her sword."

Kel blinks. Roger leans forward.

"And how is Lord Raoul?"


"You shouldn't go back a third time." Raoul's hand presses into her back, and Kel is sure his fingers will leave marks. "He'll draw you in."

"I don't want-" Kel's mouth feels as if it is stuffed with cotton. "It's not- not like that, Raoul."

"I didn't accuse you of anything," he says lightly.

She finds the laces of his tunic with fumbling fingers. "I'm freezing."

"I can feel that." His thumbs sweep over her ribs, counting each one in turn before sliding up to her breasts. "Luckily for you, I know a good way we can warm up."

"Very funny," Kel says dryly, but she kisses him all the same.


"I thought you weren't coming back."

Kel shakes her head. "I don't know how you ever managed to convince people using your words."

"It's a skill I used to have," Roger replies flippantly. "It's lessened with age."

She doesn't say anything.

"How's Goldenlake?" Roger presses. "Keeping your bed warm?"

"I suppose you heard that from the king," Kel remarks back, "because I can't think of anyone else would tell you."

"Jonathan is still rather upset that he doesn't have your full loyalty. He lets things slip; it's a habit of his he ought to correct."

Kel hums noncommittally.

"A girl like you is wasted on a king like him," the king's cousin says. "I hope you know that."


She contrasts. The two men are not black and white (they are both grey), but they are opposite sides of the same spectrum. Raoul's hands stroke warmth back into her body. Roger's kisses make her cold.

Someday, maybe, Kel will just accept that people cannot change.

Today is not that day.