Oliver's heart raced as he saw the tears on Darcy's face, made all the more apparent by the vibrant foliage around them. Reaching as Darcy did, they both plucked a luscious red rose from the same bunch, Oliver's lips curling into a small smile. He and Darcy had always had a connection, with the two just clicking more than with Pythera. Thera was hard and mean, spiteful for no apparent reason. They had all been given the same advantages, the same affections. If anything, Thera had received the most, and should have been the most spoiled, not the most spiteful. Still, though, Oliver recognized that his youngest sister had a malicious streak, and often that was directed at Darcy due to the closeness in their ages.
As Darcy began plucking the petals from her rose, Oliver twisted his in his hand. Raising it to his face, he sniffed, barely smelling the sweet scent over the tobacco from his mother's cigarette. Taking a final drag from it, he exhaled high so as to not blow it in Darcy's face, then crouched next to her, raising a well-manicured thumb to wipe away a stray tear that fell. Lifting her chin with his finger, he brushed her hair behind her left ear and placed his rose, ensuring no thorns were pressing into his sister's soft flesh. Smiling, he leaned back on his legs, getting comfortable.
"The thing you have to understand about Thera, DA, is that she is malicious for no reason. She likes to pick on those smaller than her because, in her heart, she is small. And you, you're not. You're sweet and ladylike, and she is jealous of that because she isn't. Don't let her upset you, little rose. The boys in Krome, if they do say you're ugly, probably only said it because Thera held them down and forced them to. You're the prettiest young noble in the Kingdom, and jealousy is the only colour Thera wears."
Rubbing Darcy's shoulder, he rolled forward and sat on the polished stone of the gazebo, his back against the bench upon which she sat. Sighing, he leaned his head back and took a deep breath, the smoky scent from the cigarette still lingering in his sensory organ. He rubbed soft hands on his pant legs, smoothing them down as he tilted his head to rest on his sister's ruined dress.
"I'll tell you what. Tonight, why don't you go put on the dress Mother got you for your birthtrial opera night, and tomorrow, just you and I will go out and find you another dress to replace this one? Is that agreeable to you?" Oliver smiled, craning his neck to look at her upside down. His hair fell over his face, and he blew it out with a gust from his mouth, sending it in a waterfall out of his eyes.
"I know they are gross, DA," he said, grinning sheepishly. "Sometimes, grown ups do smelly and gross things to appear more impressive to their friends. See, Mother's cigarettes have started a sort of fashion in Venora, and right now, smoking is all the rage. You, young lady, should never do it, but for now, I think I will. Perhaps Mother and Father will understand then that I am a man, and am not supposed to just sit outside the meetings and sulk. At least you and Thera are still kids. You're supposed to run around and giggle with roses in your hair. Not me..."
He sighed wistfully, before turning dark eyes back to Darcy with a small smile.
"Alright, you. Let's go change your dress, and we'll go back to the party together. I hear Malero is in there, and he plays quite the rendition of Merudda's Fifth. Maybe you'll dance with me?" He smiled, standing and offering a pristine but strong hand to his sister, waiting for her to accep before leaving the garden gazebo.