Antras was just smiling at me now as he'd poured more wine and withdrawn. I'd asked him to arrange dinners with Ky and Gannara and Fara many times in the past few moons, but this night it was just Kyriala because Gannara was so busy with his own wedding preparations for Farasha. He was going so far as to hand-build most of a wedding caravan… though I kept sending him carpenters and inlayers.
For myself I’d promised horses to Farasha and her family as my bridal presentation… even if she wasn’t my bride she was cuddling me with Gan and she was certainly familiarly intimate with my person. I just couldn’t make more time in the day to actually make anything with my own hands. I wished I could but I just never had time. I was living in a world of words and ideas and enduring and encouraging the bombardment of other people’s ideas and arguments.
My whole household seemed to brighten up when they realized my marriage was truly going to be some exotically wild combination of the four of us. My servants had gone from merely friendly to actively… very actively helpful. It was more than a little startling sometimes. How could such… well, conservative… servants be so – supportive? I actually asked Ky about it and she smiled at me.
“The servants put lip service onto perfect propriety, Minis,” she said. “But anything that makes the people they work for easier to deal with, they will support with their whole hearts.”
When she put it that way it made perfect sense. It was just the two of us, in another private dinner on my balcony. Not the Heir’s Balcony, that was Ili’s now. I quite liked this set of rooms, they were somehow not as overwhelming as the Heir’s rooms. They were older, simpler and their ostentation was more subtle.
A city minstrel stopped on the woodland walkway… the public one further away from the Marble Palace, to sing in the hopes I or a guest would hear him. Ky paused and turned to listen. He was good.
I sat back and sipped my wine and listened to ‘Kyriala’s Progress’ a song that had been inspired by ‘Ky’s Ride’. People knew I didn’t really like heroic songs about me. That didn’t stop them from writing them, but the street players didn’t try to get close enough to the Marble Palace to sing where I might hear them, though they did with others. People knew that I liked the satirical and rude songs about me, and tended to tip if they were particularly funny.
I signaled Antras and whispered to him to send someone out to pay the man, watching Ky’s rapt face, and to get his name should I want him to play or sing for her some other time. “I hadn’t heard that one before,” she said when he’d finished.
“I had and I thought it was good.”
She smiled at me and turned back to the table. “You didn’t have him come to sing that just for me, did you Minis?”
“Me? No, no no. It was entirely spontaneous. Even if I protest you aren’t going to believe me are you? So, yes I’ll say I was that devious. I take complete credit for arranging that!”
She giggled. I had to keep a completely straight face as she did and I managed it, but only barely. I had to laugh with her. “I have to remember that,” I said. “Pay someone to ‘randomly’ show up and sing. Especially songs about how incredible you were during our flight back to the city!”
“Oh, stop.” She took up a pink beef-curl on her fork. I had finished eating and was sipping my wine. Antras would come with kaf soon and I wasn’t going to tell Ky that I’d probably go back to my desk to do more work after I’d wished her good night. The evenings where Gan went with Farasha I’d take advantage of, to try and get caught up with what Kallijas had left for me, along with the notes from Assembly and all the things coming from Skorsas and Sal Faren’s desks.
I couldn’t think of another time that might be better to ask her. I held my breath and then let it out a little. “Kyriala? Ky?”
She looked up, perhaps hearing the concern in my voice. “Minis?”
“I… um… er… well… there’s something terribly traditional that I wanted to talk to you about. Um. Well. I didn’t want to but I… um… have to… you know?”
She set her fork down. “No, actually, I don’t know, Minis. I am listening.”
My gut knotted itself into a single ball. I hadn’t thought I was going to ask her this, or talk about it at all, but my mouth had just opened itself and this had fallen out. When was I going to learn? “Um. It’s traditional… as I said. Um… er… ahh… um.” I ran out of air. I took another deep breath. “It’s about the groom’s knife.”
She sat back, abruptly. “Yes?”
“I don’t… I um er um… I don’t want to have your little brother give me one. I don’t want to use it. I’m sorry if that seems very untraditional but after all the things I’ve learned… I … um… I’m sorry but…”
She cut me off. “Minis.”
I stopped and looked down at the dregs of wine in my glass. There were no servants in evidence at all and I was surprisingly grateful. There were very interesting patterns of reddish sauce on my plate and droplets in my glass that I found amazingly fascinating. I was so hot I wasn’t sure that the temperature hadn’t gone up in the past few moments.
“Minis.” Her voice was soft and I couldn’t help looking up at her. Her eyes were incredibly gentle. “You don’t have to worry about that. I...” It was her turn to get red and look away. “I already saw a Haian about it... and the Fenjitza and I talked about it quite a lot. I’m glad you don’t want to receive a groom’s knife from Nuni.”