The characters belong to Tamora Pierce.

In response to Tammy Drabbles prompt 48 – Envy

"He's too old for her," Neal spat for probably the hundredth time. He watched as she moved across the courtyard. She was dressed for the banquet, looking unusually exquisite in a blue silk gown that accentuated womanly curves. Her smoky brown hair fell in a lovely cascade from a matching bow in her hair, and her eyes danced between long lashes as she whispered something to her escort. The man replied to her whisper, and the object of Neal's affections threw back her head and laughed. When she resumed her ladylike pose, she was still amused, and her lips were parted softly with the hint of a smile that made Neal's heart thud heavily in his chest. "He's way too old for her," he repeated.

Kel patted his hand sympathetically. "Her loss," she said, though he suspected she was humoring him. He glanced at his friend, but her Yamani mask was in place. He could no more tell her thoughts than he could read the emotions of the nearest marten.

Kel caught the sideways look and forced her emotions even deeper from the surface, perfecting her Yamani mask. How wonderful it would be if she could draw men as effortlessly as her friend Daine, who was beautiful in spite of the fact that she spent most of her time covered in animal dung. Daine was not unnaturally tall or blocky, and she could never be confused for a boy – probably never was. Kel liked Daine, she really did. But there were moments she really wished Daine would go on a long trip somewhere far from Neal.

"How can she not know he's too old for her?" Neal asked again. Kel merely shook her head.