“You could have stayed, you know,” Sandry said, joining Daja near the back of their party. It was the third day out from Dancruan. Briar and Zhegorz rode at the front, telling stories to the children, while Gudruny gossiped with the guards.
Daja looked away, eyes clouding. They'd talked about this: whether it was better for them all to leave; whether someone should stay with Tris, until she was ready to travel. “Another week, and it would have been even harder to go.”
“You could have stayed much longer than that.”
Do we have to have this conversation? Daja thought. “I couldn't. I couldn't stay where you wouldn't be safe. You're my saati.”
Sandry's mouth arranged itself into a pout. Except when you're...
I said I was sorry! Daja fought the urge to kick her horse's ribs in frustration.
I know, came the snappish reply. I had no right to expect--
That I'd listen? Daja sighed. Of course you did.
It's not just... Sandry's mental voice trailed off, and she looked away.
Silently, through their magic, Daja pushed. The feeling that came from Sandry was quiet wistfulness. You're my saati, Daja repeated, holding tight to the thing that made sense.
Sandry opened herself up, words and emotions tumbling out. You never even wondered? It was almost an accusation. Before you met Rizu, you never thought about it – with a woman?
I didn't, Daja replied, honestly. I just didn't.
Sandry looked her in the eye. I did. Her horse began to fidget, and she forced herself to relax her grip on the reins. I still do. I know what it's like, kissing a man...
Images of Shan spilled over the connection between the two girls. Daja looked at Sandry, eyebrows raised.
Sandry blushed, gathering her thoughts back in. I don't know if it's different with a woman, she continued. I don't know why it would be...
It is, Daja interrupted. She kept her memories close, but let her emotions – the way she Rizu made her feel – through. It's so different. For me.
“And what about me?” Sandry whispered.
I guess you have to find out.
Sandry replied with a tiny nudge in Daja's mind. It was bright and warm, reminding her – just a little – of the way Rizu made her feel.
Daja stretched out a hand, and Sandry took it, lacing their fingers together.
“I don't know,” Daja said, aloud. “Let's start by getting you safely home.”