(1) Diplomacy


*I sidle unobtrusively into the dining hall, ignore Miguel’s eye roll, and take a seat next to Abilio.* And how does my Foreign Minister fare this day?

*Blinks as John appears from nowhere, or maybe I was simply not paying attention.* John! How are you this fine day? Er, the foreign minister. Yes, I should thank you for that. I am grateful for your patronage and continuing support …



John‏ @DukeBraganza15h *I wave a hand to halt the flow of words.* So you have said, several times. And yes, I realise your father is also grateful, as I am grateful for your support and the part you played in the victory over Duarte. Such a position is the least I could do in recompense. 

Now, apart from the unnecessarily excessive words of gratitude, how are you faring?



Abilio‏ @_Abilio_Pereira15:

Tries to focus and find the right words, quickly.* I am well. Things are going well. Several countries have sent their congratulations, and some have even sent their envoys. It is quite busy in the court of late. I think Miguel may have to order new chairs.


John‏ @DukeBraganza15h*I nod with a smile.* Chairs, and a new chef. Aimee is happy enough to feed the household, but one mention of foreign visitors and apparently she has started rambling about the new cook and demanding a replacement. Strangely, Miguel says he could find no fault with the new cook. In fact, he says she was actually an improvement on her predecessor, who seemingly drank his way through the entire wine stock for the kitchen in the brief time he was here, before he disappeared, without a word. Still, Miguel assures me he is once again searching for a suitable replacement if only to appease Aimee.



Abilio‏ @_Abilio_Pereira15h *Frowns.* I can shed no light on any of that, I’m afraid. I’ve had precious little time to consider domestic arrangements.





John‏ @DukeBraganza15     

*I nod, understandingly.* So, how is Adriana?






Abilio‏ @_Abilio_Pereira15h*Feels the blush rise in my cheeks.* I have seen very little of her since … er …





John‏ @DukeBraganza14h*I chuckle.

* Since Tiago tried to climb through her window?






Abilio‏ @_Abilio_Pereira14h*Blushes more.* Well, I was going to say since you bestowed a title upon her. *Thinks quickly, as I did not mean that to sound quite as blunt as it did.* Not that she does not deserve such honours.



John‏ @DukeBraganza14h The Duchess of Cadaval. I rather thought the title suited her, and I did promise her that I would make sure she was taken care of. Do you not approve?





Abilio‏ @_Abilio_Pereira14h*Searches quickly for an appropriate reply.* I approve wholeheartedly. Her loyalty to you deserves no less. She took a great risk, to back you against the wishes of Duarte.





John‏ @DukeBraganza14h *I smile.* Indeed she did, as did you in rescuing her from under Duarte’s nose, along with Catina.





Abilio‏ @_Abilio_Pereira14

It was the very least I could do. After all, we have been friends for a long time.



John‏ @DukeBraganza14h.       

True, we have, so perhaps you will not mind me asking, as one friend to another, what exactly are your intentions to Adriana?





Abilio‏ @_Abilio_Pereira14h*Blushes once again.* Intentions?





John‏ @DukeBraganza14     

*I shake my head in exasperation.* If I understand correctly and bear in mind this is second or third hand from Adriana to Aurore and then to myself, you were actually mid proposal the night Tiago got his windows mixed up.




Abilio‏ @_Abilio_Pereira14h 

*Closes my eyes and counts to ten.* I was … er … trying to … put my feelings into words … er … in an extremely clumsy fashion. *Sighs deeply.* Not that it matters now.



John‏ @DukeBraganza14

.*I frown.* Why not?






Abilio‏ @_Abilio_Pereira14h.

*Looks away.* She is a lady with a title now. What do I have to offer her? She will have plenty of suitors knocking at her door. She could have her pick of the court.



John‏ @DukeBraganza14h. 

*I smile, crookedly.* And what if the one she wants to pick is you?






Abilio‏ @_Abilio_Pereira14h

*Sighs again.* You cannot possibly know that.




John‏ @DukeBraganza14h.

*I grin.* And you cannot possibly know that unless you ask. Don’t be a fool Abilio. If what is in your heart is true, then ask. The reply can be no worse than what is already in your head.




Abilio‏ @_Abilio_Pereira14h.*Stares at him, thoughtfully.* You could be right. But I get flustered when we are alone, and I start to ramble, searching for the right words. It hardly seems appropriate for me to visit her chambers at night. Again.



John‏ @DukeBraganza14h*I chuckle.* You mean, Miguel read all three of you the house rules after that night? I believe he was merely trying to dissuade Tiago from any more foolish and rash actions, and to remind you, and Adriana, that there is a certain etiquette expected, especially now. Perhaps the two of you simply need to talk, somewhere in public, rather than behind a closed door where fertile imaginations may leap to conclusions. Now, these envoys. Should I hold a banquet for them, do you think? Or a Masquerade Ball. It is nearly Christmas, after all.

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