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Title: Slow Learner
Author: [personal profile] lavendre 
Fandom: Tales of Zestiria
Characters/pairing: Rose/Alisha, preslash
Prompt: Sappho #3
Rating: all audiences
Word Count: 986

It was a spring afternoon and the grounds were wet. It was a good day for introspection, maybe. Rose didn’t leave room for argument.

“Rose, this is silly. I feel like a child.” Rose shushed her and spun Alisha around by the shoulders gently.

“Almost there, it’s caught on something -- ah. Got it. I think.” The button unsnapped with a dull click and Rose stepped away.

“I haven’t worn this in years,” Alisha said slowly. She stood along the edge of the partition, white stockings glaring out at the world. The dress slipped over her head but caught on her shoulders, where they had grown broad and sharp from war. “Ah, no. I’m going to tear it.”

“No you aren’t -- hold your arms straight up.” Alisha obeyed. Rose gave it a gentle tug until the fabric unbunched and slipped over her body, a gentle wave of dark blue and silver buttons flowing over the oversized chemise Alisha had changed into moments before. Simple, but flattering. It settled just below her knees.

Rose grinned. “Told you it’d still fit. I bet you didn’t get any taller after you hit fourteen, huh?”

“I don’t look any older, either.” Alisha stretched her arms and looked down on herself, flexing her hands in the awkward silence that followed. “Second worst case scenario: now I’ll never be able to get it off again.”

Rose laughed and walked a circle around her. Alisha’s head swiveled to watch her. “Well, you look great. Every time I put on a dress I feel like I’m wearing a potato sack.”

Alisha’s face turned red and she half-smiled, smoothing out the crisp ridges in the fabric. Rose wondered if she could tell when she was being serious. “I’m sure you look fine.” She struck a pose in the mirror and sighed.

“You know, I’m always so amazed that Lady Lailah can fight so well in her dress. Even Edna crushes hellions so gracefully! I don’t wear these very often.” Rose watched her struggle out of the dress and heard the tell tale sound of a tear when it came off. Ah.

“Well, it’s a little different for seraphim. I’ve never seen them wear anything else.” Rose plucked gently at her sleeves; threadbare. “Kind of gross, when you think about it.” Alisha giggled.

“Hey, randomly, what’s your mom like?”

Alisha quieted when she shuffled behind the divider, tossing the dress up over the side. “There’s not a whole lot that I remember. Mother struggled to adapt to nobility. When father died, it stopped being a trial.”

“You mom married into the Diphda family?”

“Yes. Her hardships made her a very humble person. If you look at the portrait above the brazier, you’ll notice that we looked a lot alike. She was always comical about that.”

Rose stared up at Alisha’s mother, the novelty of parents ringing in her ears. The portrait was darkly painted, and the woman unsmiling. “Did you ever trace her family line? That stuff can be interesting, right?”

“Mother didn’t have much of a history. I think her father was from Marlind. She was a very strong believer of self-efficacy.”

“A legacy of scholars! Give yourself some credit.”

Alisha smiled when she emerged and immediately poured herself another cup of tea. “Now I feel like I’ve talked too much about me. What about your family, Rose? Do they know you’re a squire? Do you keep in touch?”

Rose startled, then sunk into an open chair. “Well, as to parents, no one in my family is blood related, so there’s no history there. If you count the knuckleheads that came before me, I have about seven brothers and three sisters. All of them are brats.”

Alisha smiled. “As an only child, I can’t say I know what that’s like.”

“Well, they’re awful, but I love them. I don’t think I’ve ever called Brad father before, but the sentiment is there. No mom, so I learned a lot of things on my own. After I was old enough to start trading with my brothers, I saw less of him. And now, it’s been about a year, probably. I don’t know what he’s up to, honestly. Maybe he died.”

Alisha’s fork crumbled through a half-buttered scone and rung out on the table. “Rose, that’s awful.”

“Sorry. It seems normal enough to me. People go on living and you assume they go on living until someone tells you otherwise.”

Alisha wiped the frosting off her fingers with a napkin, watching the cheery red spread across her knuckles where it dragged. “I’m sorry. You’re not wrong. I didn’t mean to say that.”

“Well, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad about it!” Alisha smiled wryly into her dish, head bowed.

“You didn’t. I just feel like I’ve misjudged you and I’m ashamed now.”

Rose looked nervous. She tapped her fingers along the rim of her teacup and laughed. “What?”

“I wasn’t sure what kind of person you were when you became Sorey’s squire. I know you’re the leader of the Scattered Bones, I’m not blind. I was... hesitant when I learned you’d assumed the role of Shepherd. I made assumptions. I don’t think I’ve been as outwardly helpful to you as I should have been... And yet, I can’t say the world is any worse off for the change.”

Rose relaxed back into her chair. “Oh, is that all?”

“Sorey relied on you. I--can I rely on you, too? This afternoon, it’s been great, I mean. If-if that’s too forward--”

Rose laughed into her hands, looking embarrassed. “No, not forward at all. Obviously I can’t stay in one place for too long, but you know -- when I’m here, I’ll help you how I can. I should say it too, I guess -- I’m sorry. For ah, misjudging you. You’re.... well, you’re more decent than most.”

Alisha’s smile was shaky but thankful. “Thank you. And same to you of course.”

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