All that's best of dark and bright

For Lisa

The Summersea Citadel was quiet. Duke Vedris was at one of Yazmin's performances and Erdogun had tactfully taken himself away. Sandry relished the peace after the intensity of the Namornese court.

Sandry and her siblings had been home in Summersea for about a week. Sandry had barely seen anyone in that time, although she did talk to them occasionally through their newly-renewed mental link. As much as the others thought she had been a bit of a stuck-up overbearing Clehame about her Namornese lands, they understood that it had been a big thing for her to give up her title – after all, it had been her last link with her mother. Her siblings hadn't given her much time to wallow in self-pity on the ride to Emelan, but once back home, they were content to give her some space.

Sandry sighed slightly as she turned away from the window. She knew she was being a little bit sentimental and silly. Ambros was the right person to manage the Landreg lands. They had never really interested her, but he cared and, more importantly, the people cared about him. There was no point bemoaning the loss of something she had barely paid attention to. Sandry squared her shoulders. She was a fa Toren and fa Torens did not sulk. Her uncle needed her and she had her siblings back. With that thought, Sandry thought it was time she paid a visit to Cheeseman Street.

Number 6 Cheeseman Street was quiet. Briar was on his monthly visit to Urda's House and Tris was doing the grocery shopping. Even Chime was being quiet; having a nap as she digested some stolen crystals. Daja loved her siblings and, for the most part, was glad they lived with her, but this morning she was glad to have some time alone. They had only been home a week and the ache still hadn't gone away.

The knock came just as she was taking the kettle off the boil, but it was hard to be annoyed at the interruption when she saw how Sandry's fair hair was escaping from its plaits. It was so like the old days at Discipline Cottage that Daja even managed a smile. Sandry saw where she was looking and grinned ruefully.

"I try to keep them neat, but sometimes I don't know why I bother." She gave a few tugs on cotton hair ties and everything smoothed back in to place.

"No guards today?" Daja asked as she led the way into the kitchen.

"Not for the moment. Uncle thought I might enjoy not being followed everywhere for a while."

Daja paused in the middle of getting down an extra cup to give her friend a pat on the shoulder. Sandry gave her a small smile in return.

Once they were settled around the small kitchen table with their steaming hot mugs of tea, some of Daja's earlier gloom returned and she felt her smile slip. Sandry's keen blue eyes noticed immediately. She reached across the table and took Daja's free hand in her own.

"Oh saati. I know you're hurting. I'm so sorry I haven't been around."

Daja gave her hand a small squeeze. "Oh no, saati, don't ever think like that. It's not your fault. You've had your own hurts to deal with. I'll be fine." She gave Sandry what she hoped was a reassuring smile. "We both will be."

Sandry gave Daja a smile and a squeeze in return. "Of course we will be. We've got each other."