Rei sat on the bed in the guest chamber, watching her mother who stood by the fire. Since learning that her mother intended to leave her with the Leolins, she had to wonder why there was such urgency for the girl Rionna to be married, but she dared not ask so frankly.
“Have you met Lady Janoah?” She queried.
Reina had her back to her, and was warming her hands by the fire. She was already wearing her coat, and waited sombrely for dawn to break. “I have not, though I’ve made her husband’s acquaintance several times.”
“What is he like?” Rei leaned forward eagerly; she had heard stories of the Draki family, most commonly that they ate infants for dinner.Her mother seemed to understand her curiosity and she laughed, “Like any other lord.”
Nobles and commoners alike feared the Draki family, for reasons unknown to Rei, all knowledge she had of them was the stories nurses would tell their wards and Rei always found herself giggling at the absurdity of such tales.
“And when shall you return?” She asked her mother with a smile.
Reina straightened, “Are you afraid to be alone, child?” She said, “Don’t fret, Maiolaine will be here to chaperone you.”Rei looked up to catch the smile her mother shared with their maidservant, and felt a sudden heat as she blushed, “Oh.”
She hadn’t told her mother much of her meeting with Lucan, but she had found herself wearing a smile quite readily when the subject was brought up. Her mother had simply clucked her tongue knowingly, and shared the briefest of glances with Milena. There was a quick rap on the door, and Rei turned to see the Lady Milena enter.
Behind her followed the small figure of a girl, she had auburn hair like her mother. Rei frowned to see the girl was crying, with her face buried into her hands. Her sobs were wet and loud, and her mother’s smile was reserved for Reina only.
“How can I ever repay this kindness, Reina?” She said as she greeted Rei’s mother with a hug, “You have a dear heart.”
Rei grinned at her mother, who scoffed at the compliment. Meanwhile, Rionna's sobbing grew louder and more obnoxious.
Milena sighed at her daughter, “I just hope she doesn’t give you any grief during the journey.”
“Oh I know how to manage teenage girls, believe me.” Reina cast a glance at Rei before turning to the sobbing girl. “I realise we have not met formally, child. But I promise to find you a good husband.”Melina turned to her daughter, “I know you feel as though I am throwing you away, but I believe this is the only way to ensure your safety – in every sense.” She reached out to hug her daughter, but the girl rejected the embrace by pulling away. “Rionna please,” Milena sighed.
The girl said nothing and seemed to find comfort in her tears.