“Now,” said Anora as she deftly smoothed the front of Alistair’s tunic, “what are we not going to do?”
Rolling his eyes, the boy answered, “Don’t talk to anyone before being spoken to first even though Cailan said it would be okay.”
Humming in agreement, she asked, “And why is that?”
“Because my brother’s an optimist?”
Sighing, Alistair replied, “Because very few people see me the way he, you, or the Couslands do.”
“Correct,” she said firmly. “Most of the people out there view bastardborn children as something to be hidden away. I know you’ve heard a lot of things before, Alistair, but you’re going to hear a lot more tonight. And from here on out, it’s just going to get worse.”
His shoulders slumped at that then he nodded slowly, taking a deep breath. Tilting her head, Anora said, “You asked me to be honest with you and tell you the truth of how your first real mingling with the nobility was going to go.” From what Alistair had told her, Cailan’s version of how events would go had been a lot more optimistic than reality. It was sweet how he wanted to protect his younger brother but sometimes she wanted to strangle him because he was trying to protect him from everything. And he couldn’t do that forever.
“I know but that doesn’t mean I can’t hate it, does it?”
Smiling, Anora reached out to lightly touch his chin to draw his attention. “Just remember those of us that care for Alistair, not the King’s bastard,” she said reassuringly.
After a moment he nodded and managed to smile back at her. “Thanks, Anora,” he said. Then he paused and added, “You make a good big sister.”
It was the first time she’d heard the word referred to herself and the concept of siblings was an almost utterly foreign concept. One day, however, it would be true: she would marry Cailan and Alistair would be her brother.
“Thank you,” she managed to say. Then she laughed. “And you’re not as annoying of a little brother as you used to be.”
Alistair looked affronted at that for a brief moment before he started laughing as well. They were still laughing when Cailan entered the little anteroom and his confused look as well as asking what was so amusing just made the two of them laugh harder.
If giving advice and having a good laugh was part of what being a sister entailed, Anora could certainly get used to it.