"Arta, what are you doing here? Why are you dressed like that? Not that you don't look nice--you look wonderful, actually, quite beautiful...Gods, really, really, quite, quite beautiful." She stood now, very straight and rigid, her small, shaking hand still in his. She was blushing, and she wouldn't meet his eyes. "Arta," he said more forcefully, "what are you doing here?"
"I...I am bid to say--that is, no, not bid to say..." She blinked rapidly, and began again, her voice stronger, working hard if not successfully to overcome her northern Valmouth accent. "I am here to comfort you in your disappointment, Your Highness. They--I mean, I thought you mightn' want to be alone tonight, an as you an I are friends...we might be better friends," she finished, daring a guilty glance up at his face before fixing her eyes on his shoes again.Read the rest of this post