written for Goldenlake's Minor Characters Week

Lady Adalia of Mindelan has always looked like the perfect lady. One day she will be what mothers use as an example to their daughters to end their running and climbing trees. Nothing in her belies her merchant heritage, they will say. She is an example for you, is Lady Adalia.

Lady Oranie is a bit more wild, a bit more tempestuous than any of her sisters. She could not turn herself into a Yamani the way that Keladry and Patricine did, and she cannot be the perfect Tortallan noblewoman. She tries, but she chafes in the role.

If forming a good marriage wasn't told to be so important when she was in the convent, she could have been one of the best of the Queen's Riders, a fighter like her mother and her sister. Instead, her fights are steel hidden in silks and gold leaf.

She is one of those people that one should take care not to anger.

Doanna of Fenreigh is not someone who realizes this small fact.

Oranie walks up to her after the Midwinter feast.

"Don't insult my sister," she says quietly. The other girl is bigger, but the other girl never had diplomats for parents. She also never was taught how to fight.

"I stand by it," Doanna says. "She's a disgrace."

"She isn't a disgrace." Oranie says, her voice modulated and low.

"You can't say you're proud of her!" Doanna laughs harshly. "You're proud of that slut of a sister! You can't tell me that."

"I can," Oranie says. "And don't ever insult her to my face. Don't ever insult her."

"I second that," Adalia says. She has walked up behind them, her footsteps slipper-soft on the stone floors of the hallway. "Do not speak badly of Keladry again."

"And what if I do?" Doanna says, but now it is two against one. Adalia and Oranie are shoulder to shoulder, an impenetrable wall of sisterhood and solidarity. Two pairs of sharp eyes, one green and one hazel, focus on her. Neither of them are smiling.

"We'll react," Adalia says.

"And do what? It'll well known all over court that Keladry's a disgrace and a whore."

"I think you'll find differently," Oranie says. "Clearly you realize that people talk. You're already known for being unmarriable, are you not?"

Doanna sniffs. "My dowry and family name attract the more choosy of men. I must be careful of those who only wish to wed me for my inheritance."

"Yes, that you must," Adalia says, straight-faced. "But I think you'll find that there are far more people who think that you're not the one they want for their daughter-in-law."

Doanna looks at Oranie, who nods.

"If I were you, I would stop," Oranie says. "Now."
"Or what?" Doanna asks. "What are you to stop me?"

"Her sister," Oranie says, then takes Adalia's hand. They walk away.