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A very pefect spy

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In a lot of ways, Hava made the perfect spy.

It took her over a year to consider Helda's repeated offer. The thought of being in disguise at all times was comforting, and the lurking, and the doing something useful for the Lady Queen. Her sister. But leaving the city--even the castle--was a daunting thought; she could not bear to be away from the art gallery for more than a day or two without becoming all tremors and the feel of boiling panic like treacle in her veins. Hava was disinclined to give up the sister she hadn't known she had.

It was Bitterblue who convinced her. The Dells were peaceful and pleasant, she promised. All her job would entail would be going as another version of herself: the Lady Queen's newly discovered half-sister. She would be welcomed at court and treated kindly, and be able to keep an eye on a few spies she and Helda had lingering doubts about. She wouldn't have to wear her real face. 

She would look like Bitterblue.

She went with a small replica of her mother's bird-child statue and one of Queen Ashen's pillowcases. There were guards and escorts and for the first three weeks she wanted nothing more than to call it off--until she overheard a bit of information here, a hushed word there, and began to feel useful instead. Useful was good. Useful was not afraid, or at least not so much she wept herself to sleep.

And it was true, King's City was beautiful. The court was pleasant and warm and kind, and she found she didn't mind being looked at quite so much when she looked like the Lady Queen.

It had been an accident, falling in with the sailor. He was tall and freckled, and she knew him from home. The Lady Queen's sailor. Bitterblue's sailor. She hadn't meant to smile in recognition. It had definitely been unplanned to kiss him, three weeks later. 

"I know you're lying about being Graced," he told her, laying next to her in the small bed in the small inn he used when on shore leave. He was due back to sea within the week. It was part of the disguise. The Lady Queen's sister had ordinary brown eyes. She had insisted.

"Hmmm," she said.

"Don't try to lie. I know."

"I wasn't lying! I wasn't saying anything."

He put his hand over her mouth, looking at her with his disconcerting mixed purple stare. It made her uncomfortable, so she bit him. He growled, low in his throat. "I didn't say I cared. Well, no, in fact, I do care. You're the one from the art gallery. You don't look a thing like her." She waited to hear what he would want for his silence. This reluctant job was too important for him to ruin. 

He leaned in closer, invading her body space in a way distinctly different than an hour before. "I want," he said, "for you to be her. For me."

She let it happen, and he watched; no one ever liked to watch. He seemed to, and then inspected her with his eyes, then hands, and then mouth.

In a lot of ways, Hava made the perfect spy, and a very terrible sister.