WE didn’t always get along, my sister and I.

For starters she stole my parrot. I was two years old, had almost just died from some life-threatening kidney thing, and there she was.

Monopolising my mum. Who was she? I don't remember feeling any sense of being replaced. I just remember the parrot.

It was red and blue and on a hoop, and there I was handing it to a weird little wrinkly thing that I was now supposed to love. She made bad smells and couldn’t even talk.

As we grew older I grew more ferocious over this little creature who rankled and delighted me.

She started coming to me with playground niggles.

I would round the corner from juniors to infants, and sort out her persecutors.

I would grab them, walk them to a wall, fix them to it, and make it known in no uncertain terms that if they dared to a blight her life in any way I would end them.

Our closeness varied over our teens and twenties. We went to different high schools, we had different friends and interests.

But in the late Nineties our Dad bought two flats in our names, mortgages wangled with God knows what financial sorcery, and we lived next door to each other.

We both got jobs in Yates’s Wine Lodge and spent shifts together giggling and drinking our tips on the job.

We became young women together. I kept one keen eagle’s eye on her the whole time and saw off any predatory twerps.

One wrong move from anyone and I would have frogmarched them out.

Then our dad died. I remember her throwing tins of soup across his kitchen as she let out her rage at what he’d done to himself. All I could do was watch my little sister, helpless.

Since he’s been gone I know in my gut that we will never argue.

Any sisterly annoyance we might ever feel is eclipsed by what he did. Nothing matters more than loving her. It lasers every petty thing to cinders.

I’m staying with her at the moment while I ponder moving.

It’s been lovely, living in the same quarters again.

We watch rom-coms and paint our nails together. We make each other peppermint tea and listen to music when the kids are at school.

In the evening we put the kids to bed, raucous and silly, read them to sleep, then spend time talking and laughing in the lounge.

Once I close my door at night, I fall asleep smiling.

My love for her has an outlet while I’m here.

And I could never have predicted the peacefully explosive love I would expand to holding for her children; the thing she most wants to protect. I am her ready army in all things.

I’ve realised what a rare luxury this brief interlude is. How often do sisters get to live together again after childhood?

It is a period of grace. It’s almost a mutual forgiveness of the past as we hum to songs and wait for our tea to cool.

We are together and changed by everything but we are still together.

I’ve determined to make the most of this time before I move on.

I’ve enrolled us in a six week art course.

She has talent she needs to explore and push. And I am leaving my bookshop and have diverted my job to her. It’s a good time for her to work now the kids are at school.

As I pass this bit of my life to her, I hope it will make her as happy as it’s made me. I hope it fires her brain and bolsters her confidence.

My little sister might not need my protection, but it will find its way out in other gestures. That is my biggest job for life.