"Okay, okay, how about this one?"

"Very funny, Young Lord."

"You're right, it's not extravagant enough." He ducked back into the wardrobe and returned with a flourish. "How about this?"

The young girl blinked stonily.

"Aw, you're taking all the fun out of this!" He knocked the hat off his head and flopped onto the bed dramatically. "Don't tell me I bought all these crazy hats for nothing."

"Young Lord, surely it's not proper to be-"

"-trying on hats in my quarters with the door closed. Yes, you said that earlier."

Lan Fan sighed from her post by the door.

"Well, you're my private guard, aren't you? You're going to have to get used to being with me in private if you're my private guard. Besides, you've even got that stuffy grandpa of yours outside."

"My family has served the Yaos for generations. I'm only doing my duty."

Ling sighed. "Fine, I guess. If I'm going to be emperor one day, though, we're going to have to get used to each other."

"Yes, Young Lord."

Ling cracked a grin and sat up. "C'mon, don't you ever smile?"