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"It's so arbitrary," Mel said, swinging her legs a couple of times. She stopped when the table shook under her. "I mean, it's just dumb that people are always telling others what they can or can't do. Like we should all be the same or something."

It was funny that Astrid seemed more civil right now than almost anytime else, just from getting a little buttered up. Then again, Mel couldn't imagine anyone reacting badly to a compliment unless they thought it was mockery, and it was clear enough that her interest had been genuine. Her mouth usually said what it wanted with little input from her brain, anyway.

She hadn't given thought to deliberately complimenting Astrid before. Maybe it was something to try in the future - give her some time, let her forget about this, then slip under her guard once it was down... It'd be amusing, at the very least.

As for Maxim, he seemed to have disengaged from everything to sink into his book. She could respect a good book enough, especially one with a fancy looking skeleton on the cover, not to interrupt him to ask what it was about.

"I wish my brother was interested in artsy stuff. Actually, no. Then I'd have to teach him, and that'd be a hopeless cause- anyway, he talks about your sister sometimes."

Mel grinned, left it vague for a long moment.

"Nothing weird, though."
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The Dynamo of Volition · Beale Library