January 30, 2017 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
It seemed that being in the favor of the Emperor, at least for the moment, had a few immediate benefits.
One of those was being in charge of the imperial bureaucrats as they searched the Library. Enrie had never been in charge of people before and she found it very educational. She had also not spent that much time around imperial bureaucrats, and she found that educational as well.
It also had some less educational perks. Somehow, Emperor Edemietridem had gotten word of Enrie and Gianci’s plans to go to the goat races — Enrie assumed that Wiltemika had told him for some reason — and had gotten them very nice seats in a private box right near the starting line.
She hadn’t been alone with Gianci in weeks, and while this might not count as discreet — the box was visible to most of the rest of the stands — they had no team-mates, no room-mates, and no teachers anywhere near them.
Gianci held out his arm invitingly, and Enrie took the invitation, slipping under his arm so it landed on her shoulder and she could rest her head on his chest. With snuggling in mind, she’d braided her hair flat to her head and simply, so that it didn’t cause any unfortunate lumps.
His arm felt nice there, settled carefully around her shoulder, and his heartbeat sounded fast under her ear. “I was beginning to think this would never happen,” he murmured. The goats and their riders, skinny jockeys in bright colors, their hair all coiled up in old war-patterns, were lining up. The announcer was describing their exploits, riders and goats both.
Enrie scooted a little closer to Gianci. “I was beginning to fear we’d be graduated before we got to it,” she admitted. “Or old and grey-haired, with stoops and canes.”
“I feared we’d never get to this.” He brushed his lips against her cheek. “You knew I thought you were lying.”
“I did. And I felt bad for it, too. But — well, that all worked out in the end.” She turned her head so she could touch his lips with hers in a very light kiss.
“Until the next emergency,” he teased. “Or until the Emperor himself needs your expertise.”
Enrie ducked her head, but she was smiling. “I think it’s some other team’s turn next. Maybe Riensin and his brother can get into some trouble. Or Larrabietta, or poor Lovdyo.”
“I think it’s Saydrie’s turn first, isn’t it?” Gianci grinned at her. “First Tairiekie had that mess where someone conked her over the head — and now you had this whole thing with the treaty. You don’t want to deny Saydrie his fun.”
“Well, maybe he can get into a little bit of fun now, while we’re here.” Enrie tried not to think about the Cevati Bitrani and the anger they’d been throwing around, or what the treaty she’d found might to do relations with the enclaves. She couldn’t help but think about Lirnilalie a little bit, though. “When Lirnilalie’s arms… lit up…” she offered cautiously.
“The whole place stank like rotten eggs and bad milk. It was horrid.” Gianci pinched his nose. “I can see why she lost her place in the succession. She was awful.”
“She really is awful.” And, as far as they knew, she was still out there. She cuddled closer to Gianci, suddenly feeling cold. “But we’re here now. Hey, look at number seven go! Like he’s lined his hooves with aether!”
“Oh, I think my money’s on number five, in the red-and-green. Look at the way he’s head-butting aside number three. He’s not playing around.”
“Oh, but number three is spry!”
Enrie squeezed Gianci’s hand. They might not be done with their problems, but they could be done for a few minutes.