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Can I Ask You

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"Why did you say it?" she asks, and she says it so quietly, looking at the flames, that she might have been talking to the campfire.

Magus isn't so foolish as to believe it. Nor is he foolish enough to answer her.

"When you said, when you offered, to burn the letter from Queen Leene. Why, Magus?" She's looking at him now, and he is reminded that for all her effervescent cheer, she is also quite serious. The look is almost that of a queen questioning a commoner, and the reminder of their (possibly) shared ancestry prompts him to respond.

"It was a joke, Marle. Princess Nadia." he adds a bit viciously, knowing how she hates the name.

She's looking at him still, with her hand on her chin. He's not terribly surprised that she continues. "There's more to it than that though, isn't there."

It isn't a question at all, and he's not going to get any peace about it. The next sentence is a low, harsh growl that marks a desperate attempt to avoid further conversation; he only hopes she doesn't recognize that. "I never ordered the attack on Queen Leene, if you must know. Considering the degree to which the outcome backfired on me, I'd like to forget it ever happened. Wouldn't you?"

It might have worked, he thinks as she subsides. It might, and he hopes it did, because he really doesn't want them to find out - ever - that he'd engineered the threat against Leene simply because he remembered young Janus seeing a woman frighteningly like her, just before the fall of Zeal.

Some circles are not meant to be broken.