Elden stumbled sleepily into the kitchen, the bright noon light forcing him to squint. He yawned and picked up a piece of fruit.
"Late night, eh, brother?" Lessa taunted him, getting up from the table and scraping the remains of her lunch into the dogs' dish. "You know what Father will say when he sees you." She crossed her arms and watched him hastily swallow a mouthful of juice, every inch the disapproving older sibling.
"Yeah, well, what about you, dear sister?" Elden asked, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "Fraternizing with that . . . with that fish . . ."
Lessa slammed her hands down on the table with enough force to make her brother's plate jump. "You will take that back," she said menacingly.
"A fish, Lessa, the man's a fish," Elden repeated, scrambling out of his chair, poised to make a run for it.
Snarling, Lessa jumped on the table and slid across, catching him in the ribs with her feet and knocking him down. She stood over him, reached down and grasped a handful of his long blond hair.
"Sebastian . . . " she gritted through her teeth, "is thrice the man you'll ever be." Lessa drew her hand back, evidently preparing to beat her younger brother thoroughly, when a firm hand reached down and encircled her fist.
"Lessa, this is not behavior befitting the future Lady of the House," Lord Kale admonished her, his vise-like grasp pulling the elf to her feet. Elden got up slowly, rubbing the back of his head and grimacing.
"Elden started it," Lessa muttered under her breath.
"I don't care," Kale said, releasing her hand. "You are a woman, and should not engage in such behaviors. When you and Trevleyan are married, I fully expect you to cease fighting."
Lessa saw her brother smirking out of the corner of her eye and glared at him. "I'm not marrying Trev, Father."
Lord Kale frowned. "If you ever plan to rule this House, you will marry Trevleyan," he stated. Elden noticed Trevleyan walking down the hall and pause as Lord Kale made his declaration. The solemn elf's expression remained as implacable as usual, but Elden sensed dismay radiating from his friend.
"Then I won't rule at all," Lessa snapped, and pushed her way past her father into the hallway.
Lord Kale turned as she brushed by him and saw Trevleyan standing in the doorway. "She'll come around, Trevleyan. Don't worry," the elder elf said, misinterpreting the younger's expression. Kale smiled reassuringly and disappeared into the study.
"You have to love his complete and utter disregard of me," Elden commented as Trevleyan joined him at the table, order restored again in the household.
"Lessa really hates me," Trevleyan said, staring at his hands, which rested on the table top.
"No, not really," Elden replied. "I know my sister, she doesn't hate you. She still loves you, a great deal. Lessa's just been trapped, all her life."
"I know," the other elf muttered.
"Hey, man, it's not your fault Dad's a control freak," Elden told him. "Lessa just wants to have a choice or two in her life, and Dad wants that choice to be you. Although you didn't really help matters much when you were dancing with that other elf last year at the Festival."
"Whoa," Trevleyan stopped his friend. "I just danced with her, you slept with her," he retorted.
"Huh." Elden paused and thought for a moment. "So I did. But you know how possessive Lessa gets," he remarked.
Trevleyan knew well enough. Their subsequent fight last year had left him with literal scars.
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