James: “This is not a time for petty differences, Duchess.”
"My... I'll be as petty as I like, James." Francesca quickly changed course as she seemed to think better of labeling Philip as hers in any way, and she justified, "The King is dead."
Her retort seemed to lack much forethought, even or especially the address to her fellow leader in the kingdom. She devoured a thick slice of white cheese, as if the gesture excused her from the conversation while she chewed… until the Duke deposited a rather chivalrous piece of sliced fruit on her place in its absence.
While this should have been a kind gesture, Francesca reacted as if it were an inconvenience, with a heavy sigh and tension cutting through her shoulders, but she could not ignore the decisively gentlemanly move it was. "Thank you," she groused, and bit into the freshly-sliced apple, claiming it between two pale fingers as she passed the plate to her handmaiden again and reached for James' substantial arm. They had stayed in one location long enough, and they were less likely to be overheard by the other mourners if they moved.
James: “What would you have us do, Francesca?”
"If someone would like to crown me as Queen, perhaps I could weigh in on such a question," Francesca responded, sarcastically but doing her best to appear outwardly diplomatic as they began pacing the perimeter of the large rooms. She hated the looks that the innocent movement earned them… although they did make an impressive pair, and Francesca's parents would have beamed.
Out of the corner of her eye, Francesca saw Seo-jun fall in step behind them. His pale skin glowed warmly in the candlelight although the same shine seemed to absorb into his hair like night itself. There was no way to avoid the feeling they were being listened in on, even if his footsteps were as silent as his lips, and he was a supposedly trusted servant. Francesca stiffened, ever so slightly, and her words might not have sounded as authentic, even in their pettiness, as before. "But until they do, I have no opinion. I want to mourn - and then go home. No more."