Jasper gathered his resolve and drew a silver box from beneath his cloak. "I have a favor to ask you." His fingers trembled as he set the box before his sister, almost knocking over her goblet. He backed away.
Curiosity widened her eyes, and Amber flicked open the silver lid. "A knife?" She drew the blade from its velvet bedding. Light from the window glinted on its razor-sharp edge, and her eyes turned hard again. "What favor?"
Jasper pushed the hair away from his good ear and tugged at its pointed tip. "I request that you cut off the top of my ear for me, so they'll match." His other ear had been cut long ago, almost as small as a human's.
Amber examined the knife, weighing the balance in her hand. "Why?"
He glanced away from her. For an instant he almost reconsidered. But even Wilgefortis had commented on his ears. "There is a lass -- "
Her laughter cut him short. Amber leaned against the table, tears glinting in the corners of her eyes. When she recovered, she smiled slyly and asked, "What of your little narwhal?"
He shrugged. "I doubt she likes me."
Her fingertips danced along the blade. "And yet you fancy this one does?"
Jasper bristled. "It's hardly your concern."
"Then why have you come to me?"
"Because you hate me enough to do it."
Amber met his eyes. She made no effort to contradict his statement. "You know the geis on our blood. If I harm you, I feel your pain."
She considered the knife, gently pressing the blade against the pad of her thumb. "You are quite certain of this."
He nodded, the words frozen in his throat.
Amber crossed the gap between them and grasped his ear. The knife flashed.
Pain shot through Jasper's head. He tried to muffle his scream with his fists as he sank to the marble floor. He fumbled for a wad of gauze in his pocket and shoved it against his bleeding ear. Ow.
Amber stared down at him, contempt on her lips. She toyed with the bloody knife. "Huh. The geis doesn't work."
Jasper squeezed his ear, barely able to think. "The geis is fine. You're not my blood."
The knife clattered to the floor. "You..." Amber snatched it back up and grabbed Jasper's hair, forcing his chin up. The blade tore against his skin. "Breathe a word of this, and I swear on my crown I'll cut your throat."
Jasper began laughing deliriously as red droplets pricked his neck. "I have no wish to die before I am even wed, my sister."
Amber withdrew in disgust and tossed the knife onto the table. "You're bleeding on my floor." She gestured toward the door. "Out."
Jasper dragged himself off the floor, still smarting. He hadn't time to mope over his ear -- his grain shipment had been delayed, and he needed to find out why before it all disappeared into the pockets of some thieving official. Before someone starved.
"You're wasting your time." Amber's voice followed him into the hall. "She won't have you."
I like this scene, but I decided to cut it because the whole business with the ear and the geiss and realizing they weren't really siblings was just too complicated.