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“I don’t know.” Umi poked again at the gauzy fabric swirling about her hips. “It’s just a bit…”

Tarta rolled her eyes from the bed. “It’s fine, Umi! Stop messing with it, you’re going to rip something.”

“But my stomach-

“Is cute, so what’s the problem?” Tarta waved a hand in the air. “People can see some skin. So what? It’s not like you’re naked – you’re wearing trousers!”

Umi glared at her. “If you start on about my armour again-“

They’d been in Tarta’s room for more than an hour already; Umi had rejected a dozen outfits without even trying them on, and this was the third she’d actually got into.

Tarta flopped onto her back, arms crossed over her eyes. “Your armour’s fine, okay? So what if it doesn’t protect your legs. It looks good on you! So does this! Can we please get down to dinner sometime soon? All the food’s going to be gone, and then we’ll be stuck at this fancy thing all evening spending the whole time thinking about how hungry we are-

It was the truth, too. The bit about Umi looking good, anyway; the part about food might be an exaggeration. Slightly. But the outfit Umi was in now was all soft peach and light orangeish-yellows, gold embroidery swirling over it, glimmering a little with each motion as if it was trying to draw everyone’s attention to how gracefully she moved.

(Probably it was deliberate. It had been one of Tatra’s outfits; Umi was still a fraction smaller than both she and Tarta were, and refused to have any clothes made for herself in Chizetan style, so they were picking from what the Princesses had worn a few years previously.)

It looked good. Umi looked good; she’d grown up a lot over the past few years, and Tarta had noticed.

…She was trying not to think about the steady urge to wrap her arms about Umi’s waist, the bare skin exposed there, and see what it felt like under her hands. It wasn’t even that much, it was just – rare to see, on Umi.

The bed dipped, and Tarta opened her eyes to see Umi sat next to her. “Sorry, Tarta. …You really think this looks good? It isn’t – weird?”

“Trust me. It looks good.”

Umi flopped down on the bed beside her, sighing. “I guess I’ll go with this, then.”

“Good!”

That only left Tarta with one problem – how she was going to go all evening without giving in and actually touching that skin. But one thing at a time. At least they could leave the bedroom now – maybe it would be easier to keep herself from asking permission, with other people around them.

oOo