Hana was always a quiet thinker, preferring to work out everything in her head before she voiced any opinion, so Harlowe was used to silence after an explanation or a question.
But there was something different about this silence. It wasn’t the quiet introspective silence, but a controlled careful silence, a false calm over white hot anger. Harlow had only seen Hana mad a couple of times in their entire lives, and never, never, mad like this.
“Don’t you dare, Harlowe. Just because I didn’t run away to join a King’s Army doesn’t mean I haven’t worked just as hard as you have. I have held this house and this farm and even this family together by pure force of will. My father died when I was young too, remember? And my mother has also gone slowly insane. The only difference between you and me right now is that I was here to watch that happen. And I understand why you left and I am not mad that you left, but don’t you dare act like I’m a spoiled child who got to sit around at home and played with dolls while you went out and did all the hard work.”
Harlowe knew that. Of course, Harlowe knew that Hana was a hard worker, and was keeping everything a float. She’d never meant to belittle the work of her little sister.
But the more she thought about what she said, and the more she thought about how Hana reacted, maybe she did doubt the work. Maybe some part of Harlow was still the seven-year old girl, jealous that the four-year old didn’t have to do as many chores. Maybe she was still thinking of Hana of having to do the easier job, less well done, for the same amount of praise.
Harlowe never wanted to be that kind of sister.
“I’m sorry, Hana,” Harlowe offered in earnest. A hundred excuses popped to mind, but she swallowed them down. Excuses weren’t going to help anyone. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that, and I’m sorry that was the way I said it.”
Hana bristled for a moment longer, but then deflated. “I know. I know you didn’t mean it like that. You’re just one of the few people in the world who still remembers me as a little girl. It makes me—I don’t know—sensitive, I guess. Like I have to overcome this old version of me.”
“Let’s forget it, yeah?” Harlowe suggested carefully, “Get some lunch? Be friends again?”
Hana smiled genuinely. “Lunch and Friends. I can deal with that.”