Miss Hanston

Chapter 11 Part 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

The chief midwife came into the Queen's sitting room, where Ansella's daughters and husband waited. Her face formed a professional mask, but the moment the woman entered Ellika knew. From the Queen's bedchamber came a newborn's wail and the sobs of women. The midwife cleared her throat. "The Queen…the baby is fine, healthy and whole, but I'm sorry. The Queen is gone."

A shocked silence fell. Ellika's insides dropped to the floor. "Gone? The Traveler Queen said she'd be all right!"

"No, she said it was up to Mama," said Sedra. "It was her choice. I didn't know this is what she meant! Mama chose the baby. How could she--how could she leave me!" Sedra fled from the room, crying.

Chapter 9 Part 6 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Sedra prepared herself to creep down the path, but to her surprise the Traveler Queen walked as briskly as she herself did. In the corner of Sedra's eye, a much younger, dark-haired woman flickered, superimposed on the withered Queen's figure; when Sedra looked at her directly, the flicker disappeared.

They stopped before a large knothole in a gnarled tree. "You've asked my mother prettily," said Connin, "but you haven't spoken so to me."

Sedra bit back sarcasm and squared her shoulders. "Do you wish me to beg?"

"I wish for you to kiss me."

"Amma give me patience, boy, stop it!" said his mother.

"You must kiss me," he repeated. "Are you too proud to kiss a Traveler? You'd be the first princess among the many I've asked if so."

Chapter 9 Part 4 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Inside, Harsin was stripping as he hurried into his bedchamber; his valet Gram followed behind, stooping to pick up the discarded riding clothes, and his secretary Winmer brought up the rear. Harsin changed into fresh clothes and washed his face. "This would have to happen when I was at Middlemont. Cancel any appointments for the next three days, Winmer, and send word that while it was a lovely interlude et cetera, I will not be seeing Miss Shelstone in the immediate future. Do not under any circumstances say anything about the Queen's indisposition, to Miss Shelstone or anyone else." Winmer nodded, scribbling in his neat little book, and Harsin stepped through his bedchamber door through the private hallway and into the Queen's bedchamber.

Chapter 9 Part 3 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Temmin had a time tracking down his father. He wasn't in his rooms, he wasn't in his office. The council room contained a few Ministers, alarmed and irritated at his headlong intrusion. He finally thought to ask Affton and tracked him down to the servants' hall. "Riding, I believe, Your Highness," said the butler. "May I say I took the liberty of sending a groom to find His Majesty as soon as the call for the Sisters went out, sir."

Temmin slumped against the kitchen archway and let out a shuddering sigh. His eyes burned, and he wiped at his brow with his handkerchief. "Thank you, Affton, I should have known you'd think to find him."

"May I also suggest, sir, that since there's nothing you can do for the moment you might have a cup of tea?" Affton murmured. "I can send a tray up to your room, if you'd like, or the Small Sitting Room."

"If I go upstairs I'll have a hard time staying away...and Lady Donnis made it clear..." he trailed off. Affton glided him back through the kitchens to the Small Sitting Room. Temmin sat in his shirtsleeves drinking tea and eating plain buttered toast, huddled in a corner of the big room.

Chapter 9 Part 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Two days before Summer's Beginning on a sunny Vennaday, the merciful Most Highs sent Temmin back to the Keep. He shot his cuffs and twitched under his now-unfamiliar shirt collar in the warm weather; there was much to be said for the loose, comfortable Temple garb as the temperature rose.

He sought out his younger sister on arrival and found her in her apricot-and-gilt private sitting room, pacing on the needlepointed roses of her carpet. Ellika pounced on him as soon as he came through the door. "Oh, I'm so glad you're home, Temmy, it's been the most vexing spoke ever!" She poured out her sorrows: the odious Elbig Shelstone's elevation, the hussy Twenna Shelstone's residence at Middlemont, their father's frequent, indiscreet absences, Sedra's impending engagement, and their mother's troubling indisposition. "You look well at least," she sniffed.

"I'm here," he said, kissing her forehead. "Doesn't that satisfy, you little baggage?"

Chapter 6 Part 6 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Ansella paused, remembering their early marriage. She had loved him, though she thought she'd schooled herself out of it by now. She wondered if he'd loved her then or simply wanted her. He couldn't possibly love her now, not after so many years apart. "I'm surprised you're nostalgic for that time. I know I'm not."

"You never think back on our early days?"

"Not in the way you seem to." She moved away from him onto her back to stare up at the canopy again.

Harsin twisted onto his side and propped his head on his hand. "What do you think of?"

Chapter 6 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

This section is NSFW.

Temmin stumbled through the shadowed gardens, swatting away worshippers eager to be one with him. Where was the girl with the sapphire eyes? He should know her name, but what did it matter? Neya said she was his, he would find her, and when he did--

There! She was running towards him, she was in his arms, she was clawing at him. "Wait--wait," he said. He picked her up and slung her over his shoulder; passers-by cheerfully hooted congratulations. Where could he take her? He shifted her weight with a grunt and headed for a nook few knew about, where the grass grew long and bushes blocked the wind.

Chapter 5 Part 8 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Lady Donnis Provisa, Dowager Marchioness of Petras, looked nothing like her younger cousin. Her eyes were nut brown, her hair the same color though lightly threaded with somewhat wiry white; her skin less like a dainty porcelain creamer and more like the pottery the cream arrived in from the farmyard; her face broad, ruddy, and good-natured.

Chapter 4 Part 1 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Ansella suffered in ways Temmin didn't understand. Yes, she had loved Ibbit, but Ibbit had proved false. Ibbit wanted Temmin dead. She wanted his father dead. Oughtn't Mama to be more angry than sad? She stayed in her rooms, avoiding both the morning room and the dinner table. Miss Hanston swore she ate, but "Her Majesty is in a kind of mourning, sir, and that's a fact."

Chapter 3 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Ansella stumbled against her son, and Temmin grabbed her by the elbows. "Come, Mama, back to your fire." He supported her into the gloomy drawing room and onto the blue tufted couch beside the fire; he propped her feet up on the couch and covered her in a thick shawl draped across the couch's arm. "It's dark as Harla's Hill in here." He made to turn up the nearest lantern and discovered the wick had burned all the way down. He trimmed and relit it, turned up the second lantern on the table opposite, and stoked the fire into a fine blaze again. "You used to sit in the dark and brood at home when you were upset. You haven't eaten, have you?" He didn't wait for her answer but went straight to the bell pull and called for Miss Hanston.

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