“What did you do?” Harlowe scolded quickly, pressing the handkerchief underneath Hana’s nose.
“What I had to do,” Hana replied tartly, taking a hold of the handkerchief and slapping Harlowe’s hand away, “and it saved your life, so you could try being a grateful first and a pain in the ass later.” There was silence for a count of three, and then Hana sighed, “I’m sorry, Harlowe, I didn’t mean to snip. I know you’re just as stressed as I am.”
“No, no, you’re right. You did just save my life. Thank you, Hana. I should have thanked you first. And perhaps asked you if you were okay before sounding like a scolding mother.” Harlowe conceded.
“Thank you,” Hana answered softly.
For a moment, they considered each other very carefully. It occurred to them both that they didn’t know each other at all anymore. Those sisters who would swear backwards and forwards that no one knew the other better—now, didn’t know each other at all.
“I’m in love with Conlyn,” Hana blurted.
“What?” Harlowe sputtered, because she had no idea how else she was supposed to respond to that.
“Head over heels crazy in love with him. I haven’t told him—because I thought that would just complicate the whole thing—but I know it’s true I haven’t told anyone. I thought maybe I should tell you.”
Harlowe understood. She wished she had some sort of secret to share with her sister. But the only secrets she had left were secrets that couldn’t be shared—so she just had to commiserate on her sister’s secret. “It’d be complicated, you know. He’s badged, that’s a life’s agreement. He’s got to do the King’s bidding. Even if he wanted to, he might not be allowed to go live I our little farmhouse with you.”
“I know, I do.” Hana pulled the handkerchief away from her face to check and see if the bleeding had slowed any. “Besides—we’re getting ahead of ourselves. He might not even see me that way.”
“If he breaks your heart, Hana, I will break his legs. Don’t doubt that for a second.”
“Oh, Lowe, don’t. Don’t frighten him into being with me or whatever. I want him to do it his way or not at all.”
“Oh, he can do things his way, but if his way involves breaking you heart, I will break his legs.”
The sisters stared each other down, and for a moment it was like they were kids again, each sure that their way was right, and it was just a matter of time, of waiting each other out, to see who caved first. And on any given day, it was a fifty-fifty chance to see who would quit first. Neither was more stubborn than the other.
Today, it was Harlowe who caved first because it was hard to stubbornly stare down a girl with a nose bleed. Besides, she didn’t have a secret to give, so she might as well give Hana this. “Well,” She said, blinking and looking away, “Do you want me to say something to him?”
“What am I twelve?” Hana scoffed, but in a way that was more light-hearted than anything else, “No- I don’t need you to talk to him. This is just not the time for anything of this kind. We’ll prevent a war, first, get home in relative safety. And then we can discuss my happily ever after or lack thereof. All right?”
“If you say so,” Harlowe grinned, “You’re the boss.”
“Today? Yes, yes I am.”