It's simply incomprehensible. And yet, it's happening.
Thea, his sparring partner of nearly twenty years, is leaving the island.
In four hours, she'll be on a ship out to Scotland, with a new position in the Acothran army and the promise of a lover's arms waiting for her. Freddie still hasn't got his head around the fact that Adam and Thea had managed to stay together for the last eight years without anyone noticing.
She's leaving them behind and not, she's gone but not truly. Lord knows how many more orders'll come in from four thousand miles away over the years to come.
With a rucksack slung over her shoulder containing every last scrap of her life on the island, Thea leaves for the bus that'll take her to the docks. Freddie runs into the courtyard as she leaves, yells a quick goodbye across the space that separates them.
Thea, true to fashion, flips him the bird.
Freddie smiles, then turns back and heads to the mess hall. As he gets inside, Amalia - no, he supposes he could call her Minerva now - walks by, munching on an apple. "Hey Freddie, d'ya hear that Thea's going?" she asks. He can hear the Dansan lilt in her voice, and he has to fight the urge to pull out a knife that he's never quite gotten over. She pulls out one of the plastic chairs at the table and took a seat. Freddie follows suit.
Freddie nods. "She just left. Flipped me off as she walked through the gate." Minerva snorted. "Don't know why I expected anything less, to be honest."
Minerva tosses the core of her apple into the bin, then leans back in her chair and slings her left arm over the back of it to make herself more comfortable to face him. "So. Freddie. Spill."
"I want the details on you and Thea. What happened between you two to make you hate each other so much? Were you guys a thing? Or is there more of an unresolved sexual tension thing going on here?"
Of all the questions Minerva could have asked in that moment, of all the theories she must have inevitably had about him and Thea, Freddie has to admit that that one has never crossed his mind.
"What the hell?!" he shouts, practically jumping out of his seat and knocking the chair back onto the floor. At this, everyone in the mess hall turns to look at them. Several of the doors open as people came from outside to check out Freddie's sudden outburst. He's agonisingly aware that there are about a hundred eyes on him at that moment, but Freddie kept his eyes trained on Minerva nonetheless.
There's bitter silence and for a moment, Freddie's pretty sure Minerva's about to chuck a bean bag at him.
Then he remembers that Minerva isn't Thea and that Thea's gone.
He sits down again, and business at the Victory Ground promptly resumes as if Freddie hasn't said a word. Good. He prefers it that way. He looks back at Minerva, who by this point has broken out into a laugh. He waits for her to calm down before he starts talking, but apparently, she beats him to it.
"I'm taking that as a no. If there's no UST going on here, what possible reason is there for you two arguing every time you see each other, without fail?"
"Minerva, you're nineteen. Haven't you anything better to do than speculate over your fellow soldiers' love lives?"
Minerva sticks her tongue out at him. "Nope. Now spill."
"How long have you got, princess?"
"All day. War's over, remember?" she says, tipping her chair back on its hinges. There's a rather good chance she was going to fall off, but, in all honesty, Freddie isn't entirely opposed to the thought of that happening.
"Sometimes I wonder why you and Julian are still here; war being over and all that. This isn't your place; you know it isn't. Both of you know it isn't. So why are you still here?"
He looks over to see that Minerva's staring haughtily at him (side effect from Dansan palace life, he supposed) and that Julian's somehow materialised next to her. Freddie makes a mental note to start a bet with Thea on that front.
Glaring at him, Minerva repeats her order. "Stop trying to change the subject. Spill."
Freddie sighs. "Fine. But be warned, it's not exactly a pretty story."