Bitterblue tries hard not to gloat, but she can't help feeling slightly vindicated. Five years after reforming the government, she accepts Skye's marriage offer. What does surprise her is that it was Skye's idea.
He is lounging in her rooms, having just returned from the Dells, full of stories and drawings of all he has seen in the eighteen months since he last visited. With him are letters from Fire, and King Nash, and Hanna, but they can wait for the joy of his presence. Bitterblue is less lonely than she had been when she was younger, but having a visitor is always lovely.
"Has it been more marriage talk, then?"
She snorts. "Always and forever. 'You must produce an heir, Lady Queen, before your insides shrivel up and fall out.' I'm twenty three. I surely have some time."
"And you've considered no one?"
"None that would make a good match, no."
"What about me ?"
Her first reaction is to laugh. He scowls.
"Oh, Skye, don't."
"No, I'm serious."
She looks at him then, steady and appraising. Skye is in his early thirties, handsome, and unquestionably prefers men. She has watched him kiss and flirt with plenty of them to be quite sure, even if he hadn't explicitly told everyone when she was still a teenager. He has become her close ally and friend, working with both the Council and herself to ensure Monsea and the other kingdoms make steady work towards better lives for their citizens. His regular travels to and from the Dells have brought science and medicine far forward of where they had been, and his ideas about representative governments have slid into the uprisings in other kingdoms. Bitterblue had adopted them openly, gladly. They are good ideas.
When she finally speaks, it is quietly. "You prefer men, though. I would want more than just a political marriage, as much as I do love you."
He has clearly considered this, leaning forward so his elbows are on his knees. It makes him less overwhelmingly tall, more human-sized. "Well. Yes. But I wouldn't begrudge you any other relationships if you would do the same for me. I've...someone...I would be happy to also stay with. But as the Queen, your marriage is inherently political. Better to marry someone who already loves and respects you and your work, surely?"
She considers this. He's right, that marrying someone she knows is the only real answer. She could not trust a partner from outside the Council, though there is also the possibility of one of the royals from the Dells. Nash has only granddaughters, which doesn't solve the problem any better. The one person she liked enough to kiss has not come home since he left.
"We would need to work out an appropriate system of how to keep these lovers without it being an enormous mess. And also find me one. I'm sort of lacking in the department."
There is a knock at the door, then. Irritated, Bitterblue shouts, "What? Come in."
It is the gold that catches her first. Gold in ears and on the hands opening, then closing the door quietly. His skin has darkened with being at sea, his hair gone very close to white. His eyes at the same, and he looks at her, unsure of his welcome.
Skye coughs. "Yes. About that. I have a mutually beneficial solution in mind."
Somewhere under her laughter, muffled into Saf's chest as he holds her close, and then closer when Skye wraps his arms around them both, Bitterblue is working out his implications. She can only kiss them both when the look the two men share makes it all plain.
She pokes Saf in the chest. "You are going to stay put this time."
"I think I'm finally anchored enough to try."