“Please, Louisa? You have the best posture of anyone! How am I going to have the trick ready if no one helps?”
Louisa closed her book with a snap and set it on the bench. “It is unladylike, Balin. My Mother would-”
“She’s gonna love it! I promise!” Seizing her hand, he pulled her out of the garden toward the practice grounds.
Louisa stumbled behind him, glaring. “You know this will not go well.”
“There won’t be any chickens, pies, or fertilizer this time. What could happen?”
Almost a candlemark later – including several kicks in the head, an elbow in the eye, and a tear in her dress –she was long past finished.
“Once more. Please, Louisa? I almost had it!” Balin sounded desperate.
Louisa sighed loudly but held her hands out. The would-be acrobat flipped himself gracefully upside-down over her head – perfection at last? – No; he’d flipped too far. They tumbled to the ground.
“Louisa!” A female voice thundered.
Balin’s head snapped up. He was lying on top of Louisa! He scrambled to his feet, red-faced.
Louisa stood calmly and brushed down her dress. “Yes, Mother?”
“What is the meaning of this?” The woman’s face blazed.
Balin stepped forward. “It’s not her fault! It was my idea… Your Majesty…”