Second Daughter, pt. xx

Kaori and her brother walk quickly. The clear sky and young sunlight cannot yet counter the cold breezes and chilly earth. Even still Kaori holds her parasol to protect her from the sun while her brother walks beside her.

“If I’d known this was going to be my exercise for the morning I would have spent more time stretching. Slow down Kaori, last thing you want is to come home with a wet kimono.”

“I would never hear the end of it from her. But I would never hear the end of it from Father if I did not act on her advice.”

“Why does Hensei have the poem, anyways?”

“Father gave it to him as a gift. Since they so rarely get to see each other now, he wished to give him something that would last and bring fond memories. I suspect there are jokes in those verses that even I missed, but I couldn’t tell you where they were or what they mean.”

“Its good to have friends that close.”

“You don’t.”

“I do, just not here anymore.”

Kaori slows to think, her fan has made it to her hand, but refuses to open; far too cold to be blowing around. “I don’t remember them.”

Her brother shrugs. “You were young. Their families were called on by their lords to attend their duties in war, I receive letters every now and then from those that are still around.”

“But that’s nothing like Father and Hensei.”

“Father and Hensei had the luxury of peace while they were growing up.” Ahead, a blue bird chirps from atop the red-painted wood of a gateway a little away from the road. He flies away when the two get closer and pass by. “You are right though. When they return it is likely they will be different from their time in the war. I do not know that our closeness will be as it was. Perhaps with time, but not now, and not soon.”

“Do you ever regret not going?”

“Only in the regard that now we have lost standing in the eyes of our liege. But Father wouldn’t let me, no matter how hard I tried.”

Several people pulling carts pass them by, inclining their heads and tipping their hats to them. Her brother nods, Kaori lurches forward slightly every time.

“I thought our position was favorable?”

“Favorable and stable. I heed Father’s wisdom, but… stability means we are not growing.”

“How do you figure that?”

“We have to rely on marriages and allies in other houses in order to bring ourselves favorable outcomes in the courts, we work for everything we get out of that. If I were at war, there would be more opportunities for us to bring honor and advancement to our family.”

Kaori smiles: “’Even the greatest tree begins as a single seed.’ I understand your frustration, but I am pleased to know I’m not the only one he has to counsel on patience. I have to agree with Father on this regard though: sometimes a slow growth is best…”

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