A pane of glass and a wooden door are all that separates them; for a moment Susan wishes away all the shades of gold that play around the edges of their love, because it was once so simple. The door swings open, a bell rings, the wish is gone.

"Is this alright?"

And there is Lucy, standing there so doubtfully, for all the world like an insecure young girl on the cusp of realising all the gifts she has and all the tragedy that can come from them. She stands, the dress wrapping her like a contrived present, laces and tasteful flower, thick ribbon twining round the slender waist, one sleeve almost slipping off her shoulder.

"Good, Lucy, good. Now just see if that..." She reaches out, her eyeline slides away for just that perfect moment, and she fails to catch (she fails) the hurt look in her sister's eyes. It has been a long time since she last called her Lu.

The strap is tugged up again, a flower arranged minutely, and Susan smiles. Despite everything, she is glad to see her sister so beautiful (again), glad to be the one to have prepared Lucy so well for the parties she must start attending soon. She's already seen a few boys approach her - shy and stuttering and brash like all the young ones, but still, one or two are quite handsome.

She flashes a smile at Lucy, confident. "You'll be the belle of the night in that dress, darling. Why, I'm sure the boys can't keep their eyes off you already!" She smirks a little, conspiratorial, coy.

"Don't be silly, Su, they wouldn't!"

"Now, Lucy, you musn't be so shy. Hard-to-get is all very well, but there's a limit to everything, you know. Don't tease them too much, but don't fall right into their hands either. It's rather fun, once you get the idea."

Lucy is looking at her with a foreign expression in those changeable eyes, a shiver runs across Susan's neck for once there was nothing her little sister could hide from her.

"Play with their hearts?"

Slence. Neither of them can find the words to say what they want to, and Susan doesn't want to speak anyway, just to pretend that the accusation she hears in that voice is imagination, and Lucy's disappointment is not as tangible as the silk beneath her fingers.


"Well, yes, you musn't take it all so seriously, Lucy! It's all a game, you know, just loosen up and have a little fun, will you? No boy will want you if you act so uptight!"

"There was a time when men wanted us," and the instinct to answer not now drains like the last strains of an old song. Lucy's tone is annoyed, stung to anger at Susan's rebuke, and fragile, too, for the falter at the end when Susan's answer is not yes, there was.

"Go and change, Lucy," she says abruptly. She cannot meet those eyes, passionate eyes, loving eyes, faithful eyes. "I need to get home and get ready for tonight."

Lucy watches her for an infinite second with all the truths of two worlds burdening their young depths, and wordlessly she turns and shuts the door firmly, leaving Susan staring into her own painted face in the mirror.