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Season of Love and Joy

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When the imperious Duchess of Naxen was on the warpath, everyone got out of her way.

Roanna stopped by a page, who was quaking in his boots, and asked, "Have you seen my husband, by chance?" She gave the page a gentle smile. He shook harder. Nervous young things, these pages, she thought.

"Um, your grace, his grace is, um…" The page gave her an awkward bow and flapped his arm in the direction of the hallway.

Roanna's eyes narrowed. "He's hiding in his office, isn't he?"

The page frantically nodded.

"Ah." She gave the boy a couple coppers for his trouble, and he skittered off nervously.

She might have to have a talk with haMinch. These pages really were far too skittish.

Later, though. First she had a husband to accost.

"Gareth!" she snapped as she slammed open the door to his office.

Her husband jumped, upsetting his ink bottle. "What?" he snapped in reply, trying frantically to mop up the mess.

"It's Midwinter, and where do I find you?" Roanna tapped the doorframe. Gareth tried not to flinch. "Locked in your office going over-" she flipped an un-ink-soaked page upside down "-grain reports. In case you haven't noticed, dearest, you're not prime minister anymore."

"If I were locked in my office, you wouldn't have been able to get in, would you?" Gareth muttered.

"Don't be cheeky, Gareth; of course I could have." Roanna smiled. "Not everything they teach at convent is utterly useless."

Gareth mumbled something undoubtedly uncomplimentary under his breath, then glared at his wife. Roanna, unrepentant, grinned down at him and spun, dramatically throwing her arms wide.

"It's Midwinter. The season of love, and joy, and family. So tell me, husband dear, why you are hiding in your office?" She threw her head back, dramatically, and caught sight of a bit of greenery on the ceiling.

Gareth chuckled. "I wondered when you'd notice that," he said, limping around the desk. He tugged his wife's chin down, and laughed again; Roanna was gaping at him in an entirely unladylike manner.

"It's not easy to surprise you, you know," he breathed, leaning closer.

Roanna stared at him, stared back at the mistletoe, stared at him again, and then laughed just like she had as a young girl fresh from convent.

"You silly man," she said, and yanked her husband the last short distance forward for a kiss.

The season of love and joy, indeed.