June 3, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie frowned at Lovdyo. “Who…”
“Please don’t,” he whispered. “It’ll just make it worse. Just… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get you in trouble.”
He cut a pathetic figure, looking up at her through long black lashes. His braids were a mess, and his uniform was buttoned crookedly.
Enrie cleared her throat. “Go take a nap,” she suggested, making her voice as soft as she could. “Change your jacket and fix your hair. It’s all right,” she added, when he still looked like he was going to cry. “Whatever it is, I doubt it’s your fault at all.”
“It is, it so is. Thank you.” He nodded his head in a quick half-bow and ran away into the crowd.
“What, I wonder, was that?” Taikie mused. “He looked as if someone had roughed him up and then shook him upside down by the ankles.”
“He did,” Enrie agreed. “I hope he’s going to be okay.”
“You could have gotten him to tell you more,” Saydrie murmured. “He’s frightened of you.”
“Lovdyo is frightened of his own shadow. Whatever it was ‘they’ ‘kept asking’, whoever ‘they’ were, I bet they didn’t have to ask for long.” She shook her head. “Whatever it is, we’ll figure it out. We’ll work it out.”
“After dinner,” Taikie suggested. “If we can… oh.” Riensin and his team were back at the table they normally shared. “Oh…”
“Taikie,” Enrie muttered softly, “just try to be polite. Even the House Monitor won’t say you’re asking him for a suffix if you just say hello.”
Taikie shifted uncomfortably. “I… oh, all right.” She set her jaw and stomped over to the table.
This was not going to be good. Enrie followed, Saydrie by her side. Taikie in a sulk was one of their friend’s less endearing modes, and she had no way how to snap her out of it.
“Tairiekie, Enerenerie, Saydrie.” Reinsin has lost none of the slickness to the way he talked, but now his smile was gone and he sounded formal, right down to the little bow.
“Riensin.” Taikie nodded politely, but she sounded stiff and uncomfortable. “Kekla… Kekdela, I’m sorry I was… I’m sorry I was rude earlier. I didn’t mean to be. I’m just… worried.” She didn’t sound eloquent, but she sounded sincere, everything except the “worried”.
Enrie found she was holding her breath. Kekdela looked surprised. “You’re sorry?” Her voice squeaked up at the end. “I mean, why are you sorry?”
That had not been the response Enrie had expected, and it didn’t look like it was what Taikie — or Riensin — had expected either. Taikie swallowed.
“Kek—” Riensin began. She shook her head angrily, braids clacking against each other.
“I want to know. What changed? Why were they just fine on their own earlier, and now they’re all sorry?”
Enrie winced, both at the anger in Kekdela’s voice and at they. She wanted to protest that she and Saydrie hadn’t done this, but that wouldn’t help things at all.
Taikie flopped down in what was normally her chair, not looking at anyone. “My friends were teasing me about Riensin. I overreacted.”