The door closed on my mother and baby Tesha, the servants who had brought our tiny amount of luggage, everyone. It was as if quiet followed along afterwards in the cool blue rooms that were home now. I looked at Gan and Fara and Ky and… it was confusing. I wanted to hug them all… but I didn’t want to be improper.
Kyriala fixed my hesitation. She stepped forward and as gently as if we were going to dance slid her arms around my waist and laid her head against me. I folded her in my arms as if she were made of glass.
“I just wanted to welcome you home properly, Minis,” she said. “Nothing to be worried about.” She tightened her grip and then let me go and I, perforce, had to let her go as well, to not be a clingy, uncouth fellow. She smiled up at me… when did I get so tall? She tapped me on the chest and the mouth with her fan. “I trust you’ll do everything properly.”
Of course I would! I’d turn myself inside out trying if that was what she wanted, but would that be right for her? For me? For all four of us? Fara was smiling at me and Gan too, with his one hand on her shoulder.
“I… should wish you goodnight then, Ky. I’ve missed you. Would you and your friends be able to come to a swimming party in the Lesser Baths? I understand they are becoming very popular.” I just thought of it. I’d be able to invite my Dyer friends and all of her friends as well.
She smiled at me, very brightly for so late at night. “That would be wonderful. I look forward to it. Good night, Min.” She kissed the tip of her own fan and laid it against my lips, where I was grinning like simpleton.
I managed to kiss it, the silver cloth smooth against my lip and cough and wish her a good night as well. “Let me… shall I… um…”
“My chaperon will do very well to walk me to my chair, thank you, Min. Send a note for when the party shall be, hmmm?”
She hugged Fara and Gannara like she’d hugged me, kissed them both, while my jaw hit the floor. She kissed Gan and she kissed Fara. Um… I know she can’t kiss me, we’re not betrothed any more and it’s private but but but. I wanted to kiss her. I wanted her to kiss me… more than the silly fan.
While I was floundering she smiled another goodnight and was escorted out, by her chaperone, who had been on the other side of the door this whole time. What was the woman thinking? But it seemed to be all right, they were all smiling at me. Sometimes I just don’t understand. I’m just not that quick when it comes to nuances of my own culture.
I watch Minis stare after Ky, with his tongue glued to the roof of his mouth. Arkans. I pull Gannara closer to me with one arm and tug on Minis’s elbow. He looks at me and we pull him in. “You’re tired and you’ve just gotten off a wing and you’ve had some kind of wild experience in Yeola-e or my skin is light blue,” Nara says.
Minis laughs and settles in. “Am I weird? I want to pull Ky into the knot of us.” He smells of leather and high flying… that odd scent in the hair… and he’s so tired he’s weaving, even if he didn’t have to fly himself. “Minis…
“Hmmm?” He’s weaving on his feet. Nara holds him up and he lays his head on his neck and I nestle my nose into Nara’s neck on the other side. Arkans. They have to dance through the odd, weird tight-anused Arkan way. But Ky wants him… and she’s dancing through the new ways… she and I are exploring all the ways we… work. She’s happier than she knows but we don’t want to upset her mother.
Inensa likes her. Her mother and Inensa are having kaf more and more together, and the aunties and the faib girls. There is going to be a huge, huge fight to have Gannara and I marry Minis and Ky. Minis has to formally ask Ky, for one thing… or rather some adult man has to… or he has to wait till he’s grown up as far as Arkans count these things.
Gannara they’d accept as his alesinas. But neither Minis or Nara is going to let them not have me as Imperatrix with Ky. Neither is Ky. Nara and I want to be together. Minis and Ky want to be together. Gannara and Minis… their relationship is odd and needs to be smoothed out. Ky and my relationship… we are good friends, I trust her, she trusts me. And she’s hot. Really. She’s graceful and stylish, in an Arkan way. I want us to be closer and hope she likes me that much as well.