It was not possible for a man to stop loving Aral Vorkosigan. Now, twenty years too late, Simon thought he understood a great deal more about Admiral Vorrutyer. But a man could grow and change over twenty years, and what you wanted with all your heart at thirty, at fifty seemed only one of many possibilities. Simon knew he would never stop loving Aral. If twenty years of the man's most maddening personal habits and even more maddening bent on self-destruction hadn't altered his views, he knew nothing would. But he could not lie to himself, and he knew that it was Lady Alys's visits he anticipated most keenly, and her elegant form that warmed his thoughts at night.
First he tried to imitate Aral in this. Aral, after all, loved two Captains, and Simon had never questioned that Aral could hold more than one person in his heart at once. But Simon found that he was not capable of the same cardiac gymnastics. Cordelia would have a word for it, Betan and smooth, but it came down to this: he would always die for Aral without a blink, but it was Lady Alys's bed he wished to share now.
But just as Simon was not capable of polygamy, Aral was not built for monogamy. He needed a third to spark off, he always had. Fortunately, Simon had a solution.
"These are my recommendations for your next personal secretary, sir." He laid the list on Aral's desk, knowing as he did so which name Aral would choose, knowing too that his choice would be happy to be chosen. Negri had once chosen him for Aral; now he could choose another for Aral.
Aral turned his head to look up at Simon; his hand twitched as if reaching for Simon and Simon fractionally stepped back. Aral smiled then, converted the gesture, his hand opening like a lord releasing a man from his service, then picked up the list.