"I...y-your House? No, I couldn't, Kristen that's too much," Zinnia answered, despite the comfort that was afforded to her by Kristen's gestures, both physical and verbal. "I'd be putting your whole f-family at risk, I can't do that."
"But how could I—could we—turn you away? For all that you have been through for Vel Anir, if—Aionus forbid—your plight should become so dire, a pale shadow of Pirians we would be if we were to disregard our principles and cast you aside!"
And to this she added with an air of hope:
"The Republic has established the Elven Quarter—an act unprecedented, unthinkable, even, in just a small number of years prior to now. I wish not to stray too far from realistic concern, but...?"
...what if such a trend as this continues? What if, some small number of years still into the future, the presence of Initiates like Zinnia in the Academy might well be commonplace? Could the very notion of the Dreadlords change in so remarkable a way?
As Kristen said, though, she didn't want to stray too far into wishful thinking, knowing she was all to prone to it. She kept those thoughts as thoughts alone.
"...regardless," she said, "you shall find safe haven in Pirian homes and on Pirian land, and help enough to elude the more ruthless contingents of our Anirian homeland."
Zinnia rubbed one of her own arms, uncertain. "I'm no one, Kristen...principles or not, House Pirian, n-nobles, lowering themselves for an orphan nobody like me is j-just..."
Of course, Kristen did make a fair point about the Elven Quarter. Elves living within Anirian city limits was something that Zinnia had never expected to see in her lifetime. "Maybe, b-but no elf has ever tried to be a Dreadlord. I'm p-pretty sure they'd be publicly executed if one g-got caught trying to, even now."
Even so...Zinnia sighed. "Look at me...I've spent a long t-time trying to make friends and fit in. Now I've got the best one I've ever h-had sitting right beside me, telling me I have a place to go if my life ever gets to its l-lowest, and I'm trying to turn my nose up at it," Zinnia gave a breathy half-laugh and shook her head. Why was it, despite fighting so hard to get in, that she had trouble letting others do the same? She leaned bodily against Kristen, in that moment giving her all of her trust. "Thank you, Kristen. F-from the bottom of my heart."
It had to be hard. But of course it had to be. Kristen had tried many times to place herself in Zinnia's shoes, waking up one day in a most frightful circumstance, but her imagination, however vivid the torment it summoned, always paled before the real thing. For Zinnia must have known that a truly dreadful day might come when first those horns emerged, and feared it immensely. Kristen could but pray on Zinnia's behalf that such a day did not. But if it did, she need not be alone. In Kristen Zinnia had a sister—one who would not abandon her in her greatest hour of need.
All this Kristen sought to communicate through affectionate embrace, wrapping her arms about her friend as she leaned in. This she held for a time, smiling all the while.
Until at last she said, "Come. For what time remains for us in Elbion, we may yet discover an answer."