Suspicious Minds

1627, Fire Season, Harmony Week, Wildday


Serenelda has been bearing up under the most aggravating problems. Session S02.42.


Dear Kesten, so dependable, but a little dull at parties. Of course he is making an effort, but it is visible politeness, and he is not natural at it. And yet, given the party in question, can a woman blame him? She knows he is not entirely immune to emotion. Perhaps his unmanly calm is appropriate here.

Polite, supportive, and of course he is listening in to everything she says, every mote of gossip and understanding. She has been poring over the guest list, as rumours spread, and she knows who is likely to be watching them here, and exactly how large a smile to use as she greets them.

But this one is… unexpected. An armoured warrior, her bronze highly polished, and the Truth Rune painted on her cheek. A low class accent. Not, then, the chief’s daughter. The other one. The other woman.

The Humakti either fakes honesty well, or genuinely cares, and that is sweet. Being prepared to say those things is good politics in either case. And importantly, Kesten’s arm is steady, after a moment of tenseness that might be initial alarm. No guilt. He does not want – or fear – to be alone with her. One day he will work out that she can feel his pulse in the stretched skin under the scar along his forearm.

In her rough way, the warrior shows respect, asks permission, even offers to look after her comfort. All that time spent defending him last Earth season, the long hours of sweet cakes and sharp needles, and here she is, the victor. Time to show her power. A kiss of the cheek, a squeeze of the hand, and a moment to shoo him away. They leave and neither looks back.

A suspicious woman would watch them. A careful one would glance in a nearby bronze mirror, check her make-up, and watch to see who is watching her husband talk to a foreigner linked to him in song.