Skeld was waiting for her out the front of the Headquarters building when she arrived. He looked...awkward. Looking at him, standing there in his winter coat with his duffle bag over his shoulder, made her feel awkward too.
"Hi." He spoke first, taller than her and standing on the step above her.
"Good morning." She had, perforce to look up at him. She wore a knitted cap over her dark hair while he had a fur hat with ear flaps over his lighter brown crop.
"I hear we're cousins. I mean, I, we all got letters from the Royal Household this morning." Skeld paused and went on apologetically, "The phones are running hot all over the family."
"Boris and Mikhail Sjeldnjar got letters about it from Uncle Algernon yesterday," Rune offered apologetically. "Apparently there's a protocol to the timing of all of this."
"Of course there is," Skeld nodded. "The throne and crown are surrounded by protocol to keep them in their place and doing their job properly. To keep our portion of the world running smoothly. Royalty is constrained and harnessed to the service of the state, then rewarded by privileges for behaving. It's when royalty forget that those are privileges and not rights that we get in a mess. You and I, Cousin Rune, are mostly well out of that."
"Skeld," Rune looked at him in surprise, "What did you say that 'very ordinary degree' of yours was in?"
"I haven't." He smiled at her. "But it was political science, theory and history."
"Just how ordinary a degree was it?" Rune looked up at him with interest.
"You'll have to get into the family gossip net and talk to my mother to find out that." He laughed. "She'd love to tell you." Suddenly he sobered. "Rune, I said we're mostly out of the protocol and stuff. You're an unencumbered Princess; your mother was offered up as a match to the Terrencians, twice; and there are talks with them due again...shortly. Don't be too free with your heart just yet."
"I can't live outside the country," Rune walked up the steps until their faces were level. "Would an Archduke live here?"
"Not Rudolph, Ferdinand or Josef," Skeld said thoughtfully, "the ones after them in the succession might. Speaking of which," he grinned, "Svensson always reads the paper before PT. I want to see his reaction and Rostov's when they find out. See you later." He turned and went up the rest of the steps two at a time.
Rune looked bemused for a moment and followed him into the building, wondering what the reaction was going to be in the female locker room.