When he closed the door to his room, Lesa was there.

" You don't have that other girl with you?" Nova asked.

" She has an actual schedule, so she needs to sleep," Lesa replied.

" You need to, too," Nova replied, and flopped down on his bed.

" I just..."

" I still think you're brash and naïve," Nova cut her off as she looked lost in thought. " But that damnable man told me we'd have to wait for a while to do anything and that I should think it over more."

She bit her lip.

" ... You really like him that much?"

" What, just because I've never been nice before it means I'm not allowed to be nice ever?"

" ... It just... took me off guard."

" You're putting me in a situation where I'm just going to have to cut my losses, you know. Not to mention that Irdat is going to hate the both of us even more."

He laughed.

" Oh, Lesa, if we were to go home, she'd lock the both of us in cages and starve us for a month."

Lesa cleared her throat.

" ...She actually... does stuff like that, though..." she pointed out, twiddling her thumbs.

" What, you think I haven't been in the cage? Lanta and Vivan are the only ones who haven't, at this point."

" ... Surely she hasn't put Lyewa-Diurn in the cage."

" She did the first time I beat him in a duel," Nova replied. " I was about fifteen and he was forty-five, I think? Oh, she was so angry, she thought he'd lost on purpose to save face for having to fight a child. He's never gotten over it. Priceless. You should've seen it."

" ... I heard that your Wille beat him in a duel, too," she said.

" Oh, it was fantastic. Thought he was going to die and then he tore him apart like a wild animal. I hope someone recorded that."

She leaned against the wall.

" ... He doesn't seem like that sort of person, though..."

" You've been deceived."

" But you like him," she said.

" Yes. I was tricked. He's a strategic mastermind."

She looked at him for a long time without speaking, as though heavy thoughts were weighing on her mind.

" ... You seem much softer, Brother."