Lara Knutsson whose locker was next to Rune’s was the first one to say anything about her rings. After some consideration Rune had taken her gloves off almost as soon as she entered the building. It was a normal thing to do so she didn’t think it could be considered flaunting her newly acknowledged status whereas keeping the gloves on until she reached the locker room could be considered hiding her new silver rings from comment. Agents were supposed to be observant so she hoped that Lara wasn’t the first one to actually notice them.
“Those are new,” was the older, blonde woman’s comment. “Are we allowed to ask or is it too fraught and sensitive?”
“My father tracked me down.” Rune looked down at the rings that Constantine had first tried to give her without explanation at Solstice. “I think he might have made these himself.”
“You’ve got notable relatives then?” Solnje came from a noble family and she was used to people knowing it. She had found ways of making that background useful in her work. Her little black book of contacts was becoming well known around the headquarters. “Will you be changing your name?”
“We’ve decided that I’ll just be adding my father’s family name onto the end of what I’ve already got.” Rune divested herself of coat, hat and scarves. “My mother thinks that’s a good idea and it means people who know me shouldn’t get totally confused.”
“Both your parents have come out of the woodwork then?” Lara’s tone showed her approval of that.
“Apparently putting me aside wasn’t their idea at all. Someone with a lot of influence in my mother’s family was pushing an agenda.” Rune started swapping her street clothes for PT gear. “I’ve been told some of the details but I’d prefer not to talk about it.”
“Fair enough,” Lara nodded, “The reasons people do things can be passing strange. Strange enough that over twenty years later it seems incredible that they did them.”
“So will you be trying to get an invitation to the Spring Presentation Ball?” That supercilious question came from Agent Vordamma Carolinia Vorstayka, a member of the latest intake of agents who hadn’t quite realized that no-one was as impressed by her family background as she was. She insisted on the title and hadn’t yet realized that she wasn’t the only one in the room who had one.
“No,” Rune allowed while she tied up the laces on her running shoes, “I won’t be trying to get an invitation.” Not, she thought to herself, when Grandmother has already told me that I’m going, whether I want to or not. “I’ll see you all in the gym.”
At the end of the PT session they came back to find a member of the maintenance staff finishing some work on the door of Rune’s locker. “I timed that well,” he acknowledged the sweaty women cheerfully, “I’ll just finish packing up and get out of your way.”
“I thought you were just adding on the surname.” Rune was looking at her locker door, equally appalled, frightened and excited.
“I was told to do it the old fashioned way,” the overall-clad man told her happily, “which means all the old version had to come off. I’ll come back when you ladies have gone to your desks and redo the lettering.”
“Thank you.” Rune was subdued.
Lara watched him leave, then looked Rune, looked at the locker door and then looked back at Rune. “He’s ruled up for three lines,” she commented. “I can see two to cover your name, especially with a surname tacked on the end of what you’ve already got, but three suggests you’ve come into a title and it’s going on there.”
“Well, yes,” Rune admitted quietly, “I don’t want to make too much of a fuss about it. I’m a bit worried about what he means by ‘the old fashioned way’, though. I really only wanted to put the surname on.”
The ‘old fashioned way’ turned out to be black-outlined gold lettering that read ‘Vordamma Princesza Rune Greymalk Sjeldnjar.’ Written over a copy of the crest her grandmother had granted her. It was beautiful work.
Rune wanted to go back to her desk and hide in her file cabinet where no-one would find her.