Delindra (prime)/After Court One Evening

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Delindra pulled the modwir door shut, the well-oiled lock making a slight click as she slid the key home. She tucked it away as she looked around, taking in the stately foyer of the manor house. It did not yet look lived-in, she noted with disapproval. It was as pristine as the day her sister had moved in. Where was all of her stuff? Books, clothing, shoes... it wasn't home until it was comfortably strewn with belongings, really.

She glanced down at the small shoe chest near the entryway with a guilty shuffle of her feet. It seemed to glare at her, so she sighed and bent down to pull her slippers off, placing them in the chest with an almost reverential air.

Straightening, she smoothed the folds of her emerald surcoat, adjusting its drape self-consciously. It still bore a few wrinkles from being hastily removed from its packaging and quickly donned after court, and clashed wildly with the bright red silks of her gown and Cholenite Initiate's robes. Her eagerness had overruled her fashion sense, though, and besides, the many layers had helped on the brisk walk back to the manor.

She cast another furtive glance at the shoe chest before padding barefoot through the lower floor. As expected, the back door leading out of the scullery was open, light from the lanterns around the veranda spilling into the dim little room. The faint strains of lute music drifted in, and she let it guide her footsteps back out into the night.

"An eventful evening for you," Jisandra's familiar voice purred, somehow in tune with the chords she was strumming without quite singing. She sat in one of the wrought iron chairs, feet propped on the table unceremoniously. She had already changed out of her court garb. Delindra envied whatever thespian trick allowed her to shed and don clothing seemingly at will. Autumnal velvet and silk set off her tanned skin and contrasted with the green in her eyes, making Delindra feel even more like a mismatched mess.

"It could've been for you, too, you know," she replied, plopping down unceremoniously across the table and slouching into the cushions on the chair gratefully. For a place that demanded uncomfortable footwear as a rule, court sure did insist on a lot of standing.

Jisandra snorted indelicately, and even the chords she strummed seemed to turn derisive.

"I don't think so," she muttered. "That ship has long since sailed."

Delindra tilted her head back and closed her eyes, expelling a breath as the nervous tension drained from her muscles.

"You know, you say that, but you don't exactly stay behind whenever we get any marching orders," she countered. "And I've never seen you preen so much as when you get to dress up for court."

"That's not true," Jisandra retorted. "I preen more in one hour on any given day than anyone else does in their whole life."

Delindra barked a laugh without bothering to open her eyes.

"I'm just saying," she murmured after allowing a few soft moments to pass. "If you tried, even a little, you could find more of a place here."

"I have a place here," her sister replied, engrossed in her playing. "You're in it. Well. In the yard, anyway."

"You know what I mean," Delindra muttered, opening her eyes to narrow slits and peering at Jisandra through her lashes. "And anyway, you've barely unpacked."

"I'm fully unpacked. I just use things like, you know, closets, so you don't see my undergarments strewn everywhere."

Delindra folded her arms with a harrumph. Another moment passed, and their gazes met across the lantern-lit table before they both burst into a fit of giggling, their musical laughter blending with the casual strumming of the lute.

"I just want you to be... you don't need to be poised to run," Delindra finally said. "You're... home. You know?"

Jisandra focused on a point somewhere above the younger sylvan's head, expression distant. The strumming turned solemn.

"I know," she said at last. "And I'm not going anywhere. Not this time." She met Delindra's gaze as she spoke. "I have my sister to take care of, after all."

"You have a lot more than that," came the tart reply. "And anyway, I can take care of myself."

"Of course you can," Jisandra replied, softening. "I'm just making sure you do it correctly." Whether you like it or not, her tone implied.

It was Delindra's turn to snort, followed by another bout of quiet. They locked eyes once more, and the silence again disintegrated into giggles.

"You don't have to worry, you know," Delindra stated. "I've grown. I can pull my own weight. I can take care of people who need taking care of."

"I don't doubt it," Jisandra answered. "I'd never say otherwise." She paused, leaning forward, letting the notes from her lute die as she dropped her feet off the table and fixed her sister with a serious gaze. "You're much braver than I am."

Delindra stared, taken aback, for once at a loss for words. Was it true? Did her sister finally respect her? Finally acknowledge that she was a capable adult, not to be coddled and sheltered? Jisandra met her gaze evenly, then leaned back in her chair again.

"Of course," she continued before Delindra had recovered, "you're also a lot stupider, so it balances out. Just don't get yourself killed tomorrow, okay? I hate having to write mom explaining why you need more deed money."

The silence lasted longer this time; but then again, so did the laughter, gently wending its way through the cooling air as the night's peace settled over Vornavis.