Witch, 103

“This seems like something you could have mentioned to us.”

“I am mentioning it to you. I just did exactly that.”

“Prior to now, I mean.”

“I only found out about it a short time ago.”

“You could have sent a message.”

“When I was already coming here in a week?” James shook his head. “Seems like if I’m going to send you messages about important things in advance of the Coven meetings, then I never need to attend another Coven meeting.”

Witch, 95

“I still believe that re-connecting the two clans so suddenly is a radical step.”

“And I still believe it is a necessary one.”

“I did not say it wasn’t necessary. Merely that it is radical. There will be friction.”

“There is friction now.”


“Must we go in further circles, Amaryllis?”

“No. You did not let me finish. I am willing to attempt your plan.”

The forest erupted in music as Amaryllis said that, and Ron was completely shocked. She’d been so completely against a full reintegration of the clans just yesterday, and now suddenly she’d agreed to it. Had going to see the thing in the cave really been that convincing for her?

Witch, 94

“Do you guys need anything?”

“No, we’re fine, really.”

“Okay. If you do, I’ll be just outside.”

“We wouldn’t want to interrupt your big meeting. It sounds very important.”

“It is, but taking care of people who need it is also important. Come get me if you need anything.”

“If you insist.”

“I do,” said Ron, giving Daisy a smile. “I know how hard it is to suddenly have to leave home, and it must be even harder when you have a baby.”

Witch, 93

“They’ll be here any minute.”

“Yeah, I can hear them coming.”

“Yes, they’re quite loud, actually.”

“In all senses of the word, yes. Speaking of which, can we trust the centaurs not to clomp through the garden or should I go tell them not to step on Howie’s shoots?”

“I think we can trust Estelle to know better than to disrespect our garden.”

“I think so too,” Ron admitted, stroking the table to calm it down. Everyone was going to be getting here for the meeting soon. Their family was already here, standing by the house and waiting. Ron could hear the faeries approaching from the east and west, at the same speed and distance. They must be able to sense each other, and of course neither of them wanted to arrive first and be made to wait.

Noble, 26

“We have no choice but to accept these terms,” said Bernd, reading over the treaty. It had been taken from Geoffrey before he could throw it in the fire where it belonged. “They are more than fair considering we are now on the wrong side of this conflict.”

“Extra taxes, military supervision, and our sons and nephews as hostages sounds fair to you?” Tanya demanded.

“It does. They could well hang us.”

“We’re not accepting their terms,” Geoffrey said. He didn’t understand why they were still having this conversation.

“I’m not sure that we have a choice, Geoffrey,” said Danai, leaning forward. “They have all the cards.”

Noble, 25

“What the hell is this, Giacomo?” Geoffrey asked, in the wake of Giacomo’s declaration. There was no smile on Giacomo’s face, no joke, no mischief. He was more serious than Geoffrey had ever seen him. “This isn’t funny.”

“I agree. If you could sit down, we could talk like polite people, Geoffrey.”

Geoffrey sat down, pulling his chair in. Janus took the chair beside him, but none of the others sat. “When did you switch sides?” Geoffrey demanded. Giacomo hadn’t really switched sides, Geoffrey didn’t believe that. He wouldn’t believe that. But there was obviously a game being played here, and Geoffrey knew Giacomo wouldn’t forgive him if he screwed it up by refusing to play. “And why?”

Giacomo nodded, obviously having expected that. “I didn’t switch sides. I’m on the crown’s side like I always was. The reason why I’m not on your side anymore is because you’re in rebellion against the crown.”

“And since when do you care so much about House DiGorre?” asked Tanya, from behind Geoffrey. Geoffrey was very aware that there were twelve of them on this side of the table and just Giacomo on the other. It wasn’t a good look, he thought. It made them look scared.

Geoffrey was scared.

Prince, 77

“Is there a way out of this without having my uncle assassinated?” Franz asked.

“It’s not impossible that there could be.” Isabella said. “There’s clearly a strong opposition to his regency.”

“To his coup,” said Boey, tapping his spoon to the table once. They were having dinner together, all of them. “His regency is invalid—Dahlia is old enough not to have needed a regent, which means that she should be serving as the baby’s regent.”

“I’m aware of that,” said Isabella, glancing at Francis, sleeping in a bassinet in the corner. “And we can talk about terms and what they mean, but the fact remains that he’s using regency as his excuse to justify the coup, and now that he has a baby he’s claiming is Felix and Maria’s, that excuse is strengthened.”

Prince, 76

“With your entire family having migrated up here,” said Gerard, looking not at Franz but at Francis in his arms. “It’s time to decide what to do.”

“I’m buying a house for them,” Franz said. “Don’t worry, I’ve got it all figured out.”

“That isn’t what I mean, Franz.”

Franz nodded. He knew that, but he wasn’t ready to play the game his future father by law wanted to play. “You’re mistaken,” he said instead.

Gerard raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”

Noble, 23

“There’s no sign of them,” said Carlotte. “Nobody saw Dahlia leave. We know where she is, obviously, but she was whisked out of here without any of the guards seeing so much as a shadow.”

“He has to have had help,” Danai said, rapping her knuckles on the table. “He couldn’t have pulled this off alone.”

“I don’t see how he could have pulled it off at all,” Janus disagreed. He had a habit of leaning on the table, which he shouldn’t. He was getting taller and looked short when he did that. “He’s smart, but he’s no criminal mastermind.”

“He could have pulled it off,” Geoffrey disagreed, feeling tired and sick. “He could have. But I don’t see why he would have.”

Prince, 72

“Prince Franz?”

“Hm?” Franz looked up at Helena, who was looking at him. “What is it?”

“Are you listening?”

“Of course,” Franz lied. He had not been listening. There was some kind of situation down south. He had a letter from Hans claiming that Geoffrey had staged a coup and tried to kill Dahlia, and a letter from Dahlia—probably—claiming that Hans had seized the throne and that she was hiding with Geoffrey. He wasn’t sure what to believe, but it was evident that his sister was in danger.

“Do you have an opinion to offer?”

“About the food at the wedding?” Franz asked. “Not really. I think we should have some.”