THKGT is comprised of basically three parts: meeting, shenanigans, post-shenanigans. Now, when endeavoring to make/keep it a short story, I kind of started at the very end of the first part, then cut out most of the second and third and smooshed the remaining bits together. This was acceptable for short form.
For long form, that's not really an option. Everything takes longer, and this is very much what is called a slow burn romance. That romance, in fact, cannot even realistically take place until the third part, and that's the main reason this story has to be so much longer.
In addition to that, more must be done with the politics and strife, and there are way more characters to juggle. I also have a sub-romance going for Rene, whom I'm sure most fans of the short story will remember.
I posted a snippet of the rewrite before. That was the new beginning, and was Allen's POV, so today we'll switch to Sarrica, the most stubborn, head-desk High King you will ever meet.
Sarrica wished his head would stop hurting for one damned hour. Goddess grant him mercy, just one hour of relief was all he needed.
He looked up as the door to his office opened, beckoned Lesto and Rene to enter. "Did you manage to learn anything from the sailor before he died?"
"A little, thanks to your feisty little silver tongue."
"My what?" Sarrica motioned impatiently when Rene started to answer the question, though the startled, curious look that Lesto shot his brother almost gave him pause. "What did he say, then?"
"The Swan wrecked somewhere close enough to Benta that they were able to take our sailor prisoner."
Sarrica slammed a fist on his desk. "Damn it. If they bothered to kidnap a bunch of sailors then they must know one of them is much more than he seems. If they figure out they have Prince Morant, that is the end of Korlow, and Benta will be in a position to challenge Harken outright."
"Especially if they have managed to gain the cooperation of Cartha," Lesto said where he leaned against the wall across the way from Sarrica's desk, arms folded across his broad chest. "Korlow's loyalty and Cartha's apathy were all that kept Benta in check. Korlow isn't strong enough to hold out."
"They will be if we can still figure out a way to put Morant back on his throne. Benta can't do a damned thing in the face of a rightful heir," Sarrica said. "With Korlow shored up, Fyr Dane and Vemeteria will turn on Benta, and after that we can start to oust Benta from the rest of the northern continent." He leaned back in his seat, smacked his desk lightly with the flat of his hand. "Ideally, anyway. If only saying it were enough to make it true."
Rene shook his head. "I would not want to be the man with that kind of power."
Sarrica smiled briefly.
"The council won't like it," Lesto said, and they both turned to look at him.
"If I was concerned with the council's opinion on a matter about which they are not fit to opine, I would have told them of the scheme in the first place. Espionage is not the council's purview. As to hearing we may have to prepare for war … if that comes as a surprise to them, they are greater fools than I had already believed." He scrubbed at his beard, noting absently it needed a trim. "We need to get into Benta and get Prince Morant back out—or confirm that he, and therefore Korlow, is lost. I can prepare the council for war in the meantime, but I would much rather infiltrate Benta and end this war with far few casualties than we will otherwise."
"I can do it," Rene said. "The Dragons can, I mean. We've done that kind of work before. It wasn't with Benta, I admit, but we're here freshly returned from another mission and no new orders have been given. We can be ready to leave in three days, and I'll try to make it sooner."
Sarrica's mouth tightened as he stared at Rene and Lesto, who looked so much Nyle that some days it still hurt to look at them. In the days immediately following Nyle's death he hadn't been able to be in the same room with them for very long. Rene and Lesto were six years apart; Nyle had been the brother right between them, had considered himself the easily missed middle child. It had taken Sarrica a long time to convince him that it really was Nyle he wanted—loved.
And he honored his dead husband by sending Nyle's brothers into battle again and again. "Do it," he said quietly.
Rene nodded and left, as quick to come and go as ever, like he was afraid he would be trapped if he held still too long. Lesto swore, shot Sarrica a look that was tired-angry-understanding all at once, then chased after Rene.
The office was silent in their wake. Sarrica hated silence. He also hated not eating; the fact he could not remember when he last had eaten certainly explained part of his foul mood. A glance at the clock confirmed what he had vaguely noted earlier: dinner had long since come and gone.