“Why did you wait so long before telling me the word for flower?” I ask Haraa, tired and irritable over my Ai-Naidari homework.

“Why did you wait so long to ask?”

I fold over my books, think of Kherishdar. “When can I go home?”

“Your pot needs more breaking.”

I stop and stare at her, eyes narrowed.

“When your pot breaks and weeps tears,” Haraa says. “Then come back to us and we will tell you of the Tryst.” She nods at the book. “In the mean-time… ask your audience for sentences. We will continue the lessons.”

I am still staring at her. I stare at her long enough that she finally looks back at me and lifts her brows.

“What,” I say. In the Internet sense. Not a question, an interjection.

That makes her chuckle, a throaty sound that I imagine must have pleased her patron when she was fathrikedi. “You think I don’t know artists? Aunerai—I am in love with one.”

My “what” then is a little weaker. And is followed by, “I’m sorry.”

“Why?” Haraa asks. “I’m not. Not much anyway.” She smiles a very complicated smile. “All pots break. It’s the nature of the sentient spirit. Yes?”

“Yes,” I murmur, and if I had ears I would flatten them.

She nods. “So. Find some sentences or words. Let us continue.”

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