I couldn’t sleep and snuck into Minis’s room but there was Gan and Farasha sleeping and Minis wasn’t there, so I was really quiet and sat out in the front sitting room with Jia and Altras and Bella all of us in a pile on the big chaise. Antras came in and asked me if I wanted Kaita or anything else and I asked him if he could get me a big glass of goat milk, since I found out I liked it better than cow milk.
I was starting to get sleepy when Bella’s head came up and she trotted out of the room, squeezing her big fat butt through the tiny cat-door. I heard the guard down the hallway say good evening to Minis. That must be what Bella heard; my brother coming in. I sat up straight and Altras complained and moaned and Jia cheeped.
“Ilesias Aan, what are you doing up so late and in my rooms?” He looked… funny sort of. Like he got smoothed out somehow.
“Waiting for you. Couldn’t sleep.”
“Oh, Ili, don’t you feel all right? I can call for Akminchaer.”
“I feel fine, you don't need to call him.” He sat down and we all kind of crawled into his lap and he laughed and wrapped his arms around us as best he could. “I just wanted to talk to you. You’re so busy and I’m so busy now we don’t have time to talk anymore.”
His arms tightened around me and I buried my face in his stomach, even though I was too big for that. “I’m sorry about that, little brother.”
“I know we both have a lot to do, because you were elected and saved us from getting killed. And because Arko wants you for the Crystal Throne.” I knew it, but I didn’t have to like it, even if I was mostly comfortable being in the Marble Palace now. I wasn’t having a lot of nightmares any longer but sometimes I’d be somewhere and start shaking and sweating and getting scared even if I couldn’t remember why. Akminchaer and Kaita and Tanifas told me that it was probably memories that only my body held onto and that made sense to me.
“You know I still love you, little brother, even if we can’t be together so much?”
“I know that! You’re silly if you think I don’t know that. I’m smarter than you think.”
“I’m sorry, Ili, I didn’t mean to imply that you were less than intelligent.”
“Apology accepted. Where were you so late?”
“I was talking to the Fenjitzas.” I sat up and raked my hair out of my face. I’d taken my braid out and my hair was everywhere. His eyes were full of lightness and happiness. “He’s… a holy man.” I felt like I should be quiet and listen, instead of talking so I pinched my lips shut. “He... well, he makes me laugh.”
“Shhhh! You’ll wake everyone up!” Sometimes I wondered if Jia understood Arkan, because he grabbed me around the mouth with a couple of his tentacles. But I wasn’t that loud and there was a snort and a snore from the bedroom. And my brother didn’t look angry. He smiled. “I think I’m going to have a lot of fun talking about the Ten with him.”
“Hunh. Good. Hey, Minis, my music master says I have a talent.” I yawned and lay down again on his chest.
“I’m glad to hear that. Why don’t I lie down with you and when you fall asleep, we can tuck you back into your own bed?”
“Yes, please.” He shoved a space in the animals and they wiggled around so we could all lie down together and Minis was tireder… more tired than he was showing. He held me in a way that was heavy like he’s falling asleep too. I liked that and snuggled in. “Night Minis.”
“G’night little brother.”