Anything (Marel is Searched)

Xanadu Weyr - Petals and Pots Garden Shop
Upon entering this rustic shop, the smell of flowers is the first thing that one notices as well as the subtle musty scent of fertilizer. Selling everything for your garden needs from flowers and plants to pots and tools, the whole shop is lined with shelving filled with various things, arranged neatly by type. On the back wall trowels, rakes, shovels and clippers hang from nails, while underneath them clay pots, glass vases and bowls are stacked on the floor. In the middle of the shop is a small table that is filled with tiny glass perfume bottles with glass stoppers, each bearing a label that reads, 'Handcrafted Parfum' and an Iernian seal. These contain different fragrances, depending on the shape of the bottle. A variety of hanging baskets dangle from the ceiling, tumbles of lush vibrant flowers or vine-type plants trailing from them with price tags on the pots.

A sign can be seen near the entrance that simply states "Woo your significant other, send a hint to your brother or say hello to your mother with a surprise delivery!"

This morning, there's a queue to be found at the counter of the garden shop, three figures waiting patiently (one not really so patiently) for Marel to add up total, tie up bunches of flowers, and gift-wrap or otherwise prettify their purchase somehow with ribbon or wrapping. She looks a little harried, a tightening at the corner of her eyes and tension lining the jut of her jaw as she focuses on the line-up of tasks at hand with a 'yes, sir', 'no, sir' and not arguing back no matter how abruptly any of them address her. When the last of the customers turns and heads for the door, Marel slumps down against the counter, head ducked, murmuring something under her breath. Sensing her decidedly un-chirpy mood, still-a-baby Brier shuffles himself along the counter and noses against her hand, the brown giving a quiet whistle. Cheer up!

As the last customer brushes briskly through the door, N'shen steps to one side to let him pass, looking amused at his rush. As the shop clears, the bronzerider hesitantly enters, glancing about as he shifts the child perched on his hip. When Alishe reaches for a nearby display of flowers, the young man distracts her instead with a bundle of cords pulled from his belt pouch and approaches the counter. "Looks like you've had a busy morning already," he remarks to his sister. "Was there a greenflight I missed, for so many apologies?" Laughter laces his voice and dances in his eyes, though his expression is appropriately solemn. Cords stuffed in her mouth, Alishe regards Marel with wide eyes, then manages to gabble out "Aun' Mara'!" around the bundle, waving her free hand enthusiastically and clouting her father on the chin.

"One forgot his sister's turnday, one forgot his /weyrmate's/ turnday, and the other…" Marel shakes her head a little, lips twitching as she gives a helpless shrug. "I don't know /what/ his problem was, but if that's how he usually is, he should be sending flowers to /everyone/." With a quick trail of dancing fingers, she coaxes Brier back to his now-usual perch within a loose tangle of smooth, dried-out branches, and reaches towards N'shen, silently requesting to hold Alishe, the dregs of her bad mood banished by the greeting given her by the little girl. "What brings you here?" she asks him. "Don't tell me /you/ need to apologise for something too?"

Hitching Alishe into his arms, N'shen willingly passes his daughter to Marel, rolling his shoulders once relieved of the weight of a nearly three-turn old child. The girl babbles happily around her bundle of cords as she easily settles into her aunt's arms, her eyes fixed on Brier and her free hand making grabby motions in the firelizard's direction. "I've sent my share of flowers to Natali for that," he murmurs ruefully, lips twitching. Tucking his hands in his pockets, he prowls around the shop, hunching his long, lean frame in an unconscious effort to lessen the impact of his height on the small space. "But no," he continues, as he eyes a hanging basket of ivy thoughtfully, "I've done nothing lately, that I know of, that needs an apology. I do, however, have a favor to ask of you."

"No, no, sweetheart," Marel murmurs, wrapping both arms carefully and supportively around her niece, a step or two taken away from Brier and his at-work home, just to make sure that child and firelizard can't conspire between them to have a meeting without express permission. "He's a bit too friendly right now, not that he could do you much harm with those teeth and talons of his," she tells her, words hovering just above a whisper as one hand lifts to stroke gently through Alishe's hair. Looking up, she tells N'shen, "Anything," immediately, with the innocence of a younger sibling looking up to an older; completely trusting that he cannot want anything awful. "Do you want me to look after Alishe for a bit?"

"Actually, yes," N'shen replies, face lightening with pleasure as he watches sister and daughter. "This evening, in fact. Natali has duty, and I have some errands to run elseweyr. It shouldn't take more than a few hours. I could leave her at the nursery, but, well…" He trails off, shrugging his broad shoulders as he moves to inspect another hanging arrangement, green eyes sharp as he studies the small flowers dotting the trailing vines, "I've always found the best babysitters are baby sisters." His gaze darts briefly to Marel, and his grin is bright and cheerful before he turns back to his perusal of the plant. Alishe, blissfully unaware that she's being discussed, shoves more of the bundle in her mouth and then reaches up with her slobber-damp hand to pat her aunt's cheek, squeeling happily.

Alishe's squealing prompts a long, high-pitched whistle from Brier, who gets a frowny don't-even-think-about-it look from Marel, which thankfully keeps him contently clambering in amongst those dead branches. "It's fine," she assures, nodding as she absently wipes away slobber from her cheek with the back of one hand, using that same hand to gently have at some sort of pat-a-cake game with the little girl, her attention darting between brother and niece. "It's better that she stays with family. And I never mind looking after her. I'm still staying with Mama, so you should probably come and pick her up from there?" When her gaze swings back to Alishe, she has a ridiculously silly smile for her that breaks through her usual calm composure. "We'll have fun, won't we?" she tells her quietly.

Grinning broadly, N'shen moves towards yet another plant - from the way he's examining them, it seems the bronzerider may be in need of more plants for his own weyrbarn. "I'm glad. I hate leaving her with strangers, and she loves to hang out with you. Quite a switch, from the days when I was the one babysitting /you/." He glances briefly at the two girls, winking. "You and your brother, and be grateful I only have the one. Right now," he adds as his gaze lingers on Alishe. Unaware - or uncaring - of her father's regard, the girl engages in the game briefly, then reaches up to pull the slobbery mass of cords from her mouth, offering it to her aunt. The young rider's gaze fixes on the chew toy and he winces slightly, stepping forward with one hand outstretched to intercept it. Before he can grab it, though, he's distracted, head tilting back as he gazes ceiling-ward.

"Are you about to launch into one of those 'when you were /this high/' speeches?" Marel teases, her gaze still on Alishe, though the words are clearly meant for N'shen, hand dropping to gesture two or three feet from the floor. "If you come along asking me to babysit half a dozen in a few turns' time, you might need to be prepared for me to shuffle quietly towards the door and run," she jokes, automatically reaching to accept her niece's chew toy, any particular feelings she has for the state of it well-hidden behind a smile that declares it to be the /best thing in the world/. "Thank you," she tells her, though she's not quite sure what to do with it, blinking at the counter, then considering the prospect of offering it back, only to tuck it into one of her pockets and subtly wipe her hand on her dress. Well-accustomed to her rider relatives tuning out every now and then, she makes nothing of N'shen doing so, and bounces Alishe on her hip for a few moments.

"… I see." What N'shen's reply is to, only he knows, but those sharp green eyes turn down once more, focusing on his sister thoughtfully. "You might want to pull that from your pocket," he remarks slowly, abandoning his search of the plants to go and lean one elbow on the counter, never taking his eyes from the girls. "It more properly belongs on your shoulder." Alishe, completely unaware of her father's change to solemn demeanor, giggles happily and claps her hands, shouting "Aun' Mara'! Bounce!" The bronzerider spares a glance for his daughter, but within a moment's span, his gaze returns to his sister, watching her closely. "Of course," he adds, "we'll see you get one that's a bit less… damp… but I'm afraid that was the only one I was carrying. I didn't exactly expect to need it this morning."

Perhaps because it's the only thing she can immediately understand and do for someone, Marel keeps bouncing Alishe, albeit more slowly as she regards her brother with a flicker of confusion that is soon masked as well as any distaste for the condition of her niece's chew-toy. She drags the tangle of cords from her pocket without seeing it for what it truly is, staring at the slobbered-on thing even as she lifts it and lines it up with one shoulder, lips pressed together in a thin line as she struggles to comprehend what he means without having to submit to asking. Another few seconds of her holding it there pass, words replayed in her head, then her own green eyes lift back to N'shen as realisation dawns and she sees the cords for what they are and not what they've been used for. "Oh…" she breathes, arm sagging back to her side, Alishe supported with just the one. Before she's had time to process much, she blurts out, "What about Muir?" which tells much of her priorities without her sharing anything else.

Compassion blooms in Nash's eyes, though his expression remains hooded as he regards his sister quietly. Finally, "That is up to the dragons. They choose who they will." Perhaps not the most comforting of responses, but he isn't the type to offer hope where none may be warrented. When Alishe reaches out for the Candidate's knot once more, her father instead passes her his own knot, letting her chew contentedly upon the twisted cords with their bronze thread. Doubtless he has dozens to replace it, as it's clear the girl is used to having knots to distract her. "Right now, little sister, this is about you. Will you accept the knot, and all that it entails?" Still leaning on the counter, he watches Marel's face with cautious eyes, the faint tension of his shoulders showing how important her response is to him.

Marel swallows hard, fighting to retain her composure as best a girl of her turns can, which is to say that she makes it look like an effort, how obviously she's torn in two directions playing out across her features whether she likes it or not, the slightest of things giving her away, from the tightening of her jaw to the widening of her eyes as she tries not to frown. Brier gives her away even further, trilling a jumbled thread of a few notes, jubilant, where Marel won't let herself appear to be. Easing Alishe in her arms, she shifts her niece's weight back between the two, meaning to hold her close, as if she could help her make her decision. Eventually, she gives a very quiet, "Okay," and a tiny nod; the slightest movement of her head. "I mean, yes, I will."

"Excellent." N'shen gives no sign that he notices his sister's struggle - instead, he allows her her dignity as he offers a pleased smile. "Don't think this means you get out of watching Alishe tonight, either," he adds, with a hint of teasing in his voice. "Babysitting is a most appropriate chore for a Candidate." Pushing himself away from the counter, he studies the empty shop, then returns his regard to Marel. "Is there anyone who can cover for you, or can you close up the shop? It would be best to get all of the formalities out of the way now, and your life has gone in a different direction for now." Taking a few steps back from the counter, he shoves his hands in his pockets, head tilted to one side as he watches his sister expectantly. Alishe, sensitive at last to the tension in her aunt, wraps her arms around Marel's neck and presses a sweet, somewhat sloppy kiss to the young woman's cheek. "Love Aun' Mara'."

Tipping her head to duck it down in against Alishe's, Marel takes comfort in the little one's words, and murmurs, "Love you too, sweetie," focusing solely on her and not the big wide world and all she's just agreed to. "Um," is not a usual un-word for her, uttered when she lets her attention find N'shen again and likewise glances around the empty shop. "I can lock up, for now. I'll have to come back and talk to my boss when he gets back at lunch. He's had deliveries to do," she says, uncertainty weighing down her words. "…Can't I… keep working here? Or do I have to do chores all the time?" Reluctantly, she makes to hand Alishe back to her father to make it easier to do that locking up, and also keep her out of the reach of a certain brown firelizard yet to learn proper manners.

Gathering Alishe in his arms, N'shen tucks her on his hip easily even as he continues to watch Marel, moving to keep out of her way. As his daughter lays her head upon his shoulder, still gnawing at his knot, the bronzerider shrugs. "I imagine that's up to whoever is in charge of the Candidates, but a great deal of being a Candidate is learning about everything the Weyr has to offer. Though you may be able to spend some time here, I imagine they'll want you at any number of chores - you would be amazed at how much those little skills you pick up as a Candidate help as a rider." His lips twist into his familiar half-grin as he moves back to stand by the door. "Don't worry, though, the Weyr will make sure that losing you won't hurt the store."

"I don't mind chores," Marel hastens to say, for reasons unclear until she confess, "I just… want something to do." She fishes her copy of the key to the shop out of one of her pockets that doesn't contain a slobbered-on knot, glancing over her shoulder at Brier, who, given permission, flies clumsily over to her in those odd little loops of his, to land on her right shoulder and cling with stubby claws. "And I like it here." Rounding the counter, her steps slow, nerves taking her over and making her hesitate before she forces herself to continue on, heading across to the door, which she holds open for her brother. "I'm sorry," she sighs. "I sound really…" Ungrateful? "I /do/ want to Stand. I /hoped/ to."

"It's hard." It's clear the bronzerider completely understands his sister's confusion and discomfort. "It's supposed to be. It seems cruel," N'shen adds, with a slight frown of distaste, "but there are reasons for why we do things the way we do. Once, many, many turns ago, Candidates weren't brought to the Weyr." With the air of one telling a story, he steps outside of the shop, still balancing Alishe on his hip as he speaks. "Instead, those closest to the Weyr were expected to make their own way in, and those further were gathered adragonback the day of the Hatching. The adjustment, especially for those hold- or craft-bred was… severe. Now, we do our best to prepare Candidates. It's not perfect," he adds as he turns back to watch her lock up, "but it works. Don't fret, little sister. I'm sure we can work tending the shop into your chore schedule. I'll make a special note of arranging it." He may be a wingrider, but even in a Weyr, family will tell.

Locking the door, Marel then leans into it and twists the handle just to make sure that it is indeed locked, and nobody will be getting through that door in her absence. "I guess it's just as well that I didn't try to choose a craft when we were brought home," she replies, trying to inject some levity into her voice. "And I want to be prepared. I've helped look after Seryth and Siebith, but that… I mean, washing and oiling a dragon is the least of it right? I know Mama and Daddy haven't shown us what all of it's like." Turning her back on the shop, she makes to step in close to N'shen's side (the one not occupied by Alishe), arm lifting to wrap around his waist in a one-armed hug. "Thank you."

Wrapping his arm around his sister's shoulders, N'shen returns her hug with a tight squeeze. "There's much more to being a rider, yes. And there's no need to thank me, little sister," he murmurs, before adding wryly, "and before this is all done and over with, I imagine you'll want to take that back, at any rate." Chuckling, he offers another squeeze, then releases her, hefting Alishe on his hip before looking out across the clearing. "Let's go get you settled in the Candidate barracks. Once you've gotten your cot picked and we've got you all set up, you can run to the weyrbarn and pick up anything you want to take back with you. You won't have any chores for the first couple of days - other than watching Alishe," he adds with a grin, "while you settle in. After that, well… just remember. A Candidate may be the 'lowest of the low', but the potential reward is worth the hard work."

Marel manages a quiet, unladylike (in her book) snort of laughter. "In that case, un-thank you in advance," she says dryly, fighting the smirk that tugs at her lips. Anything more she might have said is smothered by the weight of all that's about to come, before anything /really/ happens, namely the idea of telling her twin and their mother, a nod all she has for N'shen as she squares her shoulders and strides on ahead at his side, ready to do as she must, listen to what she must, and then, eventually, tell who she must. If she's brave enough.

After a moment of watching the girl to judge her reaction, N'shen gives a quick nod, then gestures for her to follow him. "To the barracks, then!" And thus he makes his way towards the clearing and Marel's new home.

Xanadu Weyr - Candidate Barracks

A long, low ceiling room opens off the entrance hall to the arena, one wall slightly curved as it is set against the outer wall of the arena itself. Cots are set evenly the length of the room, in two rows, each with its own small press at the foot, for personal belongings. Wide windows are spaced along the outside wall, letting sunlight in, while other lights are available for the night time hours.

With his daughter Alishe on his hip, N'shen swings into the barracks, leading behind him Xanadu's newest Candidate. "You know, your mother is going to be so pleased," he remarks idly over his shoulder as he escorts Marel in. "At least, if her reaction when D'had Searched me was any indication." He politely doesn't mention their brother - though the brief flash of consternation on his face betrays that Muir at least features in his thoughts if not his words. "Anyway. Welcome home. Choose an unoccupied cot, settle in, and try not to fret too much." Even as he speaks, he backs towards the doorway, clearly intending to abandon the girl. "Good luck, little sister, and congratulations." Abruptly, Alishe pipes up with, "Zao says I did good!" With a thunderstruck expression on his face, the bronzerider makes his escape, daughter in arms.

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