He seemed rather surprised that she reacted positively to his daughter. Celeste knew that Tristan wasn't married and she imagined that there was some sort of scandal somewhere regarding his daughter's mother. After all, as far as all her information told her, Celeste had no idea who Ayla's mother was. Probably a commoner, maybe even a low-born or slave, Celeste wondered.
Tristan regarded her and then he seemed to come to some sort of conclusion. Celeste smiled and shook her head, when he thanked her. "There is no need for thanks, Your Grace. I understand that the old ways, the traditions of our parents and grandparents," his grandmother was the Duchess of Venora, as her grandfather was the Duke of Andaris. "But I'm sure that the world won't end were we to call each other by our first names and, honestly?" Glancing at the door to make sure that no one of diminutive stature was listening, Celeste explained. "Ala'ni is my daughter by adoption, as is well known, I've made no secret of it. It isn't something which is easily accepted by those who do not like change. But I refuse to apologise for loving my daughter, Your Grace." It was rare, but for reasons which she did not fully understand, Celeste found herself quite liking Tristan Venora. He played the game, yet he recognised it as unnecessary and that was something which she appreciated.
When he said that Ala'ni seemed like a lovely child, Celeste smiled a most genuine smile, although she looked a little sad. "She's been through a lot and she's very aware of her difference. But thank you, Your Grace, yes, she is. And please, call me Celeste. I believe the house is strong enough to remain standing should you do so." If he brought Ayla with him, she assured him, she would be delighted for the two children to spend some time together. When he spoke of time passing quickly, though, she could only nod her head. Yes, indeed it did.
He would have issues, she imagined, with juggling the necessity to wed and also wanting Ayla to be his heir. If he wanted that, although she thought he would. But then, she was making a judgement based on an initial meeting and Celeste did not know, not for sure.
Duke Tristan's take on the Eastern Settlements, though, was surprisingly honest. Cassander had done a number on him, by the sounds of it and Celeste raised an eyebrow. "Sounds somewhat like a poison chalice, to be frank." But then, one did not refuse the king, not at all. Her smile was genuine, though, when he admitted that he'd hoped to get to know her better before talking politics. "Well, if it helps, I suspect we have managed more honest conversation in five bits than many of our peers would in a ten trial." Was she enjoying her new position? Oh, that was a tricky one, in many ways.
"When I was engaged to Alistair Venora," Celeste replied, "I believed that I understood what my role as a wife would be. Xander is nothing like most nobles, and I have to say I did not expect events to turn out quite how they have." Unaware that he was speaking of her position as Baroness, Celeste assumed he meant her role as wife ~ truthfully it had been as big an adjustment, if not more so. "What about you, Your Grace? I imagine there is not inconsiderable pressure on you to wed?"