It is mostly morning.
The sky is fading from navy to grey, the sun still not up. Shinko blinks, adjusting to the change in light. She shifts in bed, wrapping the sheets more closely around her body. The air holds a morning chill, a draft coming in from somewhere. She turns and sees Roald, awake and watching her.
She turns towards him, and he kisses her forehead. "Good morning," Roald says, voice still rough. He yawns. "You're awake early, no?"
Shinko raises an eyebrow. "Oh? And what do you have to say for yourself?"
"I couldn't sleep," her husband says. "I've been awake for a few hours, I think."
"And you've been watching me?" Shinko asks.
He shrugs. "I did read for a while. I'd thought the book of philosophy Neal saw fit to gift me with but- well, you can see how well it did. And now I have a much wider understand of the concept of a universal truth. Unfortunately."
She smiles, pulling him toward her. "I'll watch the sunrise with you, then."
"Lovely," Roald agrees, and winds a hand in her hair, which spills over her shoulder in mussed waves. Soon she will brush it until it shines and pieces fly out from static, then twist it into a neat bun. It is something Shinko does not permit anyone else to do for her.
The sky is turning pink at the edges.
Shinko does not know what to say.
Roald buries his face in the curve where her neck meets her shoulder. "I'm sorry I was mad last night," he confesses, voice muffled. "It wasn't anything to do with you."
"It's alright," she says after a moment, hand stroking up and down his spine. "I knew that, even if you wouldn't say. You know it's alright."
"Just because it's alright doesn't make it right," Roald says, disgust creeping into his voice. "I'm not stupid, I just-"
"He is a polarizing man." Shinko's voice is quiet. This is how they are at times like these: quiet and controlled, anger never allowed to boil over. It is something she was taught, and it is something that Roald seems to have taken on by instinct, a response to the passions of his mother and father. "And no one, least of all myself, expects you to be him."
"I know that," Roald says, words bitten off piece by piece. "And good, because I don't ever want to be like him."
"Trust me," Shinko says. "I wouldn't love you if you were. " This is true. As she much as she admires how Jonathan has rebuilt the realm, and as much as she respects him, she sometimes thinks less of Thayet for loving him so unabashedly, for smoothing over all the little nicks and ignoring all the scars. "Have you noticed-" and she stops, afraid to finish.
But Roald knows. "He isn't loved," her husband says. He is not bitter, not proud, just matter of fact. "They admire him, they fear him, but they don't love him. And he doesn't realize it."
"They love your mother," Shinko points out.
"But for all the wrong reasons."
There is nothing she can say to that. She trails her fingers over the back of his neck and he shudders.
"I don't want to be either of them," Roald says after a minute spent in silence. "I don't want to be my father, but then of course my father doesn't want me to be his father, even though he went ahead and named me, his heir, after the man! He wants a king in his own image, and he's going to die thinking he hasn't got it."
"Because he won't," Shinko speaks with brutal practicality. "You know he is not always right- look at Kel being punished with her probation. Over a decade later she is a hero, and every time she looks at King Jonathan she can face him and stare him down knowing that."
"That isn't an apt comparison. I'm not a hero- I'm a knight wrapped in cotton wool."
"You're not a hero because you're a king. Or you will be. It is not your place to seek out dark things alone." She is frank about this. She believes in him, in his power. Roald is quiet, Roald watches. Roald doesn't make enemies. Roald will always do what he thinks is best for the country, and he will only decide after weighing his options.
That, Shinko thinks, is the type of person who should rule.
"Have I mentioned," Roald says suddenly, "that I'm absolutely bloody terrified?"
"Of being king or of turning into your father?" Shinko says, a wry smile she would never permit anyone else to see twisting her lips.
"Yes," Roald admits, and she knows that the sigh of exasperation in his voice is not for her. "And of mucking it up. And of the country hating me. And of losing my friends."
"Look at my father and Lord Raoul," he says, and Shinko knows he is right. That weakened friendship is one of the little tragedies of life, and both men are to blame. She also knows neither will be the first to apologize, and so nothing will be fully mended.
"You will learn from his mistakes," she says, with her own finality. Roald bows to it. "Your friends love you just as I do. And think of Kel or Neal- neither of them are fair-weather friends, and they are both wiser than they ought to be. They'll be here when you need them. And they won't let you become pigheaded."
"If I weren't royal-" Roald starts. Shinko holds up a hand.
"Then you wouldn't have me." She kisses him. "And then where would you be?"
His shoulders, always so tense, relax. "Right as always, my love." His hand drifts to the rounded convex of her abdomen. "You know, I'm so glad we're having a girl. Thwarting expectations already, you and I."
"Have you been thinking more about names?" Shinko asks. "We don't have much time left, and she isn't going to be another Jessamine-"
"That's Neal's sister's name, and I honestly believe she would be rather sharp-tongued if she heard," Roald says, a smile in his voice. "Besides, I rather like the Yamani names in your family. What was your grandmother called again- Akemi? What does that mean again?"
"Bright and beautiful," Shinko responds. "But you know as well as I do that it's too foreign a name for the heir."
"This shouldn't be a matter of state," Roald mutters crossly. "This should just be us. Though I've been thinking..." his sentence trails off and Shinko gestures.
"What if we combined the two? We could explain it off as a diplomatic gesture, and as long as we name the next child something grossly Tortallan like Emry, though that's Neal's grandfather's name, perhaps we shouldn't look to his harebrained family for ideas, but if we name the next one after some old general we could do whatever we wanted now. Plus it's not like anyone would say anything to our faces once the reasoning is given out."
Shinko is trying not to laugh. "And what were you thinking of?"
"The suffix in your name is reserved for the royal family, yes?"
"Yes," she murmurs. He is on fire with this, eyes alight for too much for an hour when the sky is still grey. "We would be well within rights to use it. Actually, my uncle would most likely be honored at the consideration given to the Yamani with the naming."
"So I was thinking- Lianokami."
Shinko tries it. The name is strange on her tongue at first, Yamani influenced but deceptively Tortallan. But she likes it all the same, likes the history that is behind it.
"She will be Queen Lianokami the First," Shinko whispers, and meets Roald's gaze.
His eyes hold a triumphant gleam.