I surveyed my reflection in the mirror. It was very fortunate that we are both the same age, albeit I look a little younger. Then again, none of my suitors knew the appearance of James, so as far as they were concerned, this was no deception of the brain. I frowned at the one anomaly in my appearance: my long fair hair. I had padded out my tunic to appear flat, and stood straighter to appear of a suitable height, but my hair still ran in slight waves down my back. I fingered the knife laid out on the table, on which all of my- well, James'- tracking possessions lay. I took it up in my hand and held it to my locks, but felt my fingers trembling. I had to...this was the only way that I could truly find my love. I was stopped by a movement that I sensed behind me, and immediately tensed up. Surely this could not be the end of my plan? I had to go on the quest. A voice spoke:
'And how did you expect to keep all of that hidden? Stuff it down the back of your shirt?'
'Olivia!' I breathed a sigh of relief. There was no doubt of Olivia's backing on my plan. 'How can I-?'
She looked from me to the knife, and for a moment I saw the idea skip through her mind of actually completing the task herself, and I reflexively tensed again. 'Well...' She came to stand at my side, and lowered the knife back onto the table, taking up a cap instead. 'Nobody will be any the wiser. James usually wears a cap as it is.'
I hugged her, and tried to stop my eyes from welling up. I realised in this moment that I was very much grateful for my sister's company on this quest. I was ill prepared. 'How do you propose Father will react?'
'Hmm.' She frowned for a moment. 'What are you telling him?'
'Lorette shall go to his chamber at eleven in the morning and declare that I have fallen ill, and set out in a carriage this very morning to visit Manna Caedwell.' Manna Caedwell was the royal nursemaid, and Olivia and I were often accustomed to pay unexpected visits to her. Father always trusted this, and never contacted Manna as he held her in very high esteem: Manna had been our Mama's dearest friend.
Olivia nodded and I grinned. 'You are sworn to secrecy on this Olivia.'
'On the Royal Oath of the Family of Diensworth, I swear not to let one word of this conversation extend to the quest party.' She held her hand up in all solemnity and then broke into a smile, which made me laugh. 'You do need to work on James' voice, though.'