James: "You are always lovely, Duchess"
With a coy bite of her lower lip, Malia tamed her voice down into a somber, deadpan tone even as she joked in return, "And that might well have presented a... complication."
Sanya: "Duchess North, Duke East," "My parents send their regards. My mother took ill just before they were to begin traveling to the King's City, and my father sprained his ankle while training with his guard's youngest recruits. He forgets to leave the adventuring to the youth some days."
The young lady was shrewd. Malia had only been at this for a few years, and so she was well aware than Sanya might have looked youthful, but she had Eventyr in her blood in ways Malia never would. The ease with which she both deferred to the other leaders of the kingdom's regions showed respect… but there was a corner of Malia's mind that latched onto that suspicion of a beautiful, capable up-and-comer in a particularly defensive way. Malia had to hope that her study of Shakespeare's Gertrude and Lady Macbeth for decade on decade would make up the difference.
James' snort bolstered her. It seemed to emphasize how very much he needed Malia to compensate for his - unexpected - total lack of charm.
"Send your parents our best wishes, if you would," Malia said, daring to presume including James' wishes in there. "Their situations must be severe," to risk their standing in court by sending their young daughter to such a monumental event! Didn't the Southern Dutchy already pay less in tax than the others?
"How does it suit you?" Malia asked, gesturing at the necklace around Sanya's throat. It was a loaded question if ever there was one: How ready are you to usurp your parents? "I think it couldn't be lovelier."