After leaving the table, Kendrick locked himself in his study for a while; he needed to think. At the moment, all he could think of was how his brother had played him and how much it hurt to realize that. Growing up, Kendrick had not been close to any of his siblings before Alston. There were several years between their ages, but Kendrick actually enjoyed being around his youngest brother. Even when they were too young to enter the war, Alston drew his attention; he always seemed older than he was. It made Kendrick feel comfortable, and very few things did that. Given the fact that his youngest brother seemed to loathe Edan almost as much as Kendrick did was another plus in his favor. But, if he truly loathed Edan, why would Alston lead the Deluvia Flair to his home?
Could it really be because they had married? It had been very obvious that Alston cared for the girl, but enough to marry her? Was it enough to marry a Xamalian Flair? To marry the Xamalian Flair that was trained by Edan? Even if Alston did care for the Flair, he couldn't have known her for more than a couple of months. Even if he did learn about her existence shortly after Ella discovered her, he couldn't have possibly fallen in love with her - not in that brief span of time. Alston didn't have an impulsive bone in his body. Even when he was six or seven, he thought about everything he did. So why did he do this? What was there to gain by bringing the Xamalian Flair to his older brother's home, if not to show her where he lived?
It just didn't make any sense, Kendrick thought bitterly. Alston hated Edan. Why would he agree to fight for him? Because of a girl? No, there was no way. Could Edan have something on Alston? Perhaps their older brother was blackmailing him? No, that couldn't be it . . . wouldn't Alston have told him? Or hinted at it? Or done something to let Kendrick know that Alston was pulling away for a reason?
Suddenly, Kendrick could hear his wife washing the dishes. Thinking that it might not be a bad idea to talk through all of these questions with an actual human being, Kendrick stood up and walked over to join his wife. Without a word, she handed him a towel and one of the plates that she had just finished washing.
"Dinner was . . . interesting," Julia said in greeting, keeping her voice soft and light.
Taking the dish from her outstretched hand, Kendrick remained silent and dried the plate.
Passing him another plate, his wife asked, "So, what do you think of our new sister-in-law?"
That simple question sent Kendrick's head reeling into a frenzy. Instantly, he wanted to ask her if she actually bought the fact that Alston had married someone. Julia was almost as good at reading his brother as Kendrick was, so if she said that she believed him, that might weigh in Alston's favor. But, if he asked Julia that question, they would most likely delve into a petty disagreement on whether Alston would lie to him or not. It was an argument that Kendrick had already spent way too many nights on with his wife. Julia was firmly on Alston's side in that argument, as she had been for years. Deciding to skip that dispute for the time being, Kendrick instead set the now-dry plate on the counter and waited with his hand outstretched for the next one.
"I'm not sure what I think of our new sister-in-law," he said carefully, his voice controlled. "Why don't you tell me what you think of her, Julia?"
"Alright," his wife responded evenly. Kendrick couldn't help but think that was what she wanted to happen in the first place. "She came here unarmed. Unless you count her necklace as a weapon, but she had no blades to speak of."
"I do consider her necklace to be a weapon," Kendrick said quietly. "But that was the only weapon she had, and I really can't expect her to come here without it. After all, I go nowhere without mine, so how can I expect another Flair to abandon the jewelry?"
"Ok, she did have her necklace, but she had no intention of using her skills as a Flair. I would think that it is possible that she forgot it was on in the first place. Like you said, a Flair always has their necklace on."
Kendrick did not think that any Flair would ever forget that they were wearing their necklace, but he kept that thought to himself. His wife was not a Flair, so it was possible that she just didn't understand how the relationship with the necklace worked.
"Additionally, your brother was completely captivated by her. You can't fake that amount of love, Kendrick. It just can't be possible."
"Alston is very gifted at portraying emotions that he doesn't actually feel," Kendrick said, but his wife jumped in, cutting off his argument.
"Yes, he is very good at portraying certain emotions, but love isn't one of them," Julia said dismissively, handing a fourth plate to her husband.
Narrowing his eyes while he took the dish, he grumbled, "No, not usually."
"What is really bothering you about dinner, Kendrick?" Julia asked, keeping her voice soft. "You rarely get this worked up over nothing."
"It's just that," Kendrick started to respond, but then he stopped suddenly, dropping the plate he was drying. It shattered right in front of him, but at the moment, Kendrick didn't hear it. Turning to gape at his wife, he said, "The girl that came with him was Deluvia, right? The recently claimed Xamalian Flair?"
Julia nodded, but stayed quiet.
"The Xamalian Flair that is supposed to be receiving orders to protect her uncle from my blade."
It took his wife a second to catch up to where Kendrick's mind had already raced to, but then he saw the recognition flicker in Julia's eyes. "But, if that is true, then how could she be meeting her new in-laws that live in the Monan Regna? Our home has got to be a solid two or three week journey from the southern capitol."
Alston is connected to a fairy, Kendrick realized suddenly. He was so taken aback by the realization of that fact that for a moment, he forgot to breathe. Though it was insane, to think that his brother would have kept that kind of information from him (or even been able to), it was the only explanation that made any sense to Kendrick. It explained everything - how Alston was able to complete Kendrick's murder requests so quickly, how he was able to escape from Temoragu's castle two years ago, and how he had been able to journey to the Monan Regna with Kelly Deluvia the very day that she was meeting her dad in Xamalie's castle. It all made sense.
"I think Alston has been keeping secrets from me," he said, his voice lifting with a malicious tone. "I do not know if he was lying about being married to the Flair, but I do think he brought her more for protection than for any other reason."
"Protection?" Julia asked, giving her husband a confused look. "Protection from what?"
"From me," he said slowly, turning to look at her. "Surely he knew that he would need someone with her abilities to protect him from the wrath I could unleash on him."
"Wrath? Wrath for what? What did he do?"
"Don't you see?" His wife was a pixie - why couldn't she see it? "He is tied to a fairy, Julia. He's tied to a fairy and he didn't tell me."
Realization spread across his wife's face. Face draining of all of its color, she asked quietly, "Do you think that Edan knows?"
"No." Kendrick wasn't sure of a lot of things concerning his youngest brother at the moment, but he knew that Alston would not tell their brother of anything that could be used to further the south's cause. And being tied to a fairy would certainly do that. If Edan knew about this connection, Alston would either be dead or wearing navy; of that much, Kendrick was certain.
"So, what are you going to do?" Julia asked after some time had passed.
That is a very good question, Kendrick thought. What was he going to do? One option was to send his wife out to tell Alston that her husband needed to speak to him. Another was to send a Messenger to him. The third option was to do nothing, and spring it on him the next time they met in person. While the last option would give him the greatest advantage over his brother who liked to plan everything, Kendrick quickly ruled out this choice, because Alston was much too good at prolonging their time apart, as was evidenced by his ability to journey to Temoragu in the rescue of the Deluvia brothers. After another minute passed, Kendrick decided on the best way to proceed.
Giving his wife a nasty grin once he chose the best option, he asked lightly, "Julia, can you get me a Messenger? I have a message that must reach my brother."