Xanadu Weyr - Meadow Ridge

The meadow continues its gentle rolls and dips, grass tall and short waving in the slightest of breezes. Each hill seems to grow a bit higher, a bit steeper, as eventually, the meadow works up to a large ridge, the top flattening out at its new elevation.
From the top of the ridge, the view is certainly something to be admired - higher than the majority of the trees, one can look out over the rest of Xanadu Weyr proper. The houses in the lower meadow - each roof a different color - and the clock tower peeking upwards from the its forest surroundings are all visible, as is the cliff that houses the Weyr Caverns themselves. And yet, the ridge also holds an amazing view of the night sky - horizon to horizon - unaffected by the light pollution of the more heavily traveled regions.

Settled upon the ridge is a rather distinctive looking building - nearing three stories tall, circular grey walls have carefully been erected, and a large dome is settled upon this solid foundation. Large panels make up the roof, aside from one section which remains open, and from which the telescope the struction houses peeks out. Sitting adjacent to the tower is a long, low building, meant to serve as offices, record rooms and dorms for those who man the observatory, as well as providing a handy platform for those who seek to use smaller, hand-held 'scopes.

Perhaps Marel's day has run through to her break, or perhaps she has today off from chores: either way, she's nowhere to be found in the usual spots expected of Candidates working away, nor has she returned to the barracks. It takes a little trek from the Weyr proper to find her, out at the ridge with her hair and skirts being tugged at by the breeze, her arms outstretched. It might look like she's turned into one of those sorts that slip off to have moments with nature, yet the reason for her standing there in such an odd pose becomes more obvious when a very young blue firelizard swoops down from the skies and lands on one padded shoulder right after she calls, "Here!" a brown flying in dizzying loops a moment behind the other, landing on her forearm. Good thing his claws are about as dangerous as a spoon.

It's been a few days since the unfortunate scene in the archives. Thea has given Marel some space and pressing matters have kept her from fretting about her daughter - at least during the day. With the Weyrleader down injured, she's taking more report from the wingleaders since there is still no knotted weyrsecond for Xanadu. The faint telltale signs of strain might be visible, but only to those who know her well and in that it's really only a bit of tightness about her eyes and the tendency to smile less. Today however, all office matters have been put on hold for another, more important matter. A gold firelizard glides up and over the ridge, circles overhead and then pops *Between*. Shortly thereafter, Thea climbs the ridge path, the gold still circling above her and another brown firelizard on her shoulders. Drawing closer, the woman speaks, "Marel." That is all.

Marel's delighted laughter at finding that both Brier and Flynn are able to obey at least that command without following their own instincts and running off to play is abruptly silenced by the call of her name. Her arms drop back to her sides as Brier crawls up onto her right shoulder, meaning she has to step to turn around rather than merely turn her head, and when she notices who it is, she freezes completely, only the breeze to animate her in its insistence in snatching at clothes and unbound hair. Tensing further, she begins to turn back again, weight shifting like she might just dash off further into the meadow, but a half-step forward brings her to a halt, arms knotting across her ribcage.

Thea sighs at that reaction, eyes closing for a bare moment, the brown firelizard on her shoulder croons mournfully. She might normally comfort it but there is another who needs it more. She isn't likely to outrun Marel, even though she still runs to keep fit. Her one running step after her daughter is slowed when the girl stops but not halted. Swift steps take her to the rest of the way and she pleads softly, "Don't run from me too, please Marel?" Her hand lifts, hovers over the girl's shoulder but she hesitates, sensing perhaps that Marel will jerk away and that she cannot bear. The silence stretches and she strives for entreaty but the frustration and pain eke out anyway, "What? What do you want me to say, Marel, that would rectify the past? That I'm sorry? Because I am. That I was wrong? Because I probably was."

"I want you to say that you get it!" Marel exclaims with such force that it startles the boys and sends them off Between with a couple of out of tune squawks. She sighs in the wake of their disappearance, glancing from shoulder to shoulder to confirm that they have indeed abandoned her, and so her arms knot all the more tightly. "Because I /don't understand/ why you would send us away to a man who has hurt everyone you love, even if you thought you were protecting someone - anyone! Everything can't suddenly be made okay. I may as well have lost Daddy completely!" Is /that/ what hurts the most? "I've /tried/ to be happy, because we should try or it was all pointless, but I'm still just waiting for him to summon Muir again, or for you to go and talk Uncle Tharen out of it, or for someone to pack me off to a Craft, or to be left-!" Biting back the rest of those last words, she stares down at the ground, jaw set.

"I get it!" says Thea equally as forceful, but with quiet intensity and then she waits until her daughter's outburst is finished before she takes the remaining step to close the space between them. "I just-!" It's no use. Their perspectives are simply at opposite ends of the spectrum. Instead of reaching for her daughter, her hands drop to her side and she is silent, thinking hard. "No," she says at length, her voice sounding very, very tired, "You probably don't understand." This isn't what her daughter wants, Thea knows this, but her thoughts are tumbling through a series of rational thought fraught with emotion that completely destroys her ability to say anything coherent. She could reassure Marel that her fears won't come true, but that's not right either. She can't guarantee that Thadan won't try something again. She can't make D'had let go of his destructive bent so he can be there for them. She can only speak for herself. "I won't," she says firmly of talking Tharen out of his decision.

"I know I don't," Marel replies with a helpless little shrug. "And if I was asked or if Muir was sent, I'd go back tomorrow if it would help him or you." Her lips twist and she looks up, somewhere far in the distance. "I didn't say no then and I wouldn't now. Maybe I should have said no. None of us will ever know," she murmurs. "I don't… I don't want to lose you or Muir, but I don't… want to be the girl who just went along with everything either." She stares down at her feet while the breezes blows her hair across her face, almost entirely obscuring her features. When she lifts a hand to brush dark strands back and pull them away from her mouth, she says, "I'm just angry and I don't know who at. Sometimes it feels like everyone. I shouldn't have said what I did the other day, but sometimes it feels like I want to get away as badly as I don't want to ever leave again."

Thea is still speaking to her daughter's back. "Maybe," she says equally as quietly and her feet swish in the grass as she turns away to sit on the boulder she'd sat so long ago when Tharen snuck away from chores to come find her. She's still within earshot and so hears the rest, pushing down the words she wants to say. None of them seem right. "I'm angry too," she admits finally, though it stops there. She knows who she's angry with. Marel's mention of her outburst the other day, and the hasty words that went with it draw a nod from Thea. She has to turn her head and look out over Xanadu. "I've felt like that before. Still do at times If I could have, I probably would have taken you both and done that but the Conclave's decision was final regarding Muir and I was bound to it."

"…I wish we'd never touched that egg." Marel shoves her hands down into her pockets and stares off across the meadow, gaze distant. She lingers like that for a few moments, then turns to keep her mother in her sights, watching Thea's feet more than her face. "I don't know what to do. I just want things to be how they were. I even felt bad for accepting the knot." She twitches the shoulder at which it lies without acknowledging it any more than that. "I wanted to come home and stay and make sure that you were happy. And I've not managed to do any of it." Shrugging awkwardly again, she insists, "I /am/ sorry. I know I can't do anything to make it better, but I have tried, even if it's been wrong."

What to say to that? Thea's mouth opens… and then shuts. "Come here?" It's a gentle invitation as she pats the rock beside her. She is not good at stand offs. Eyeing her daughter across a span of grass is not only awkward, it's… well it's foreign to her. Silently she curses Thadan, herself, the conclave. "I do too, Marel. More than you know." Oh to be able to erase the whole mess, say it was a bad dream! Then slowly, she says, "I don't know what to do either, Love. Not anymore." Doing things wrong? Oh yes, she can relate to that! So she nods, accepting that. Somehow she gave her daughter the impression she had to fix it all? Well, she hadn't meant to do that. "I'm sorry too. Perhaps… we'll just take it one day at a time? That knot… you don't have to keep it if you don't feel ready for it. I wouldn't fault you."

Marel bites down on the inside of her lip as she regards her mother across that space, then slowly shuffles feet into action, not to sit beside her on the rock, but to sit at her feet in the grass like a much younger child might, meaning to curl in against her legs and maintain some sort of closer contact that way. "I don't blame you," she murmurs. "I blame me. I should have said something. Done something." Dry amusement rises from the absurd: a muttered, "I'll look those eggs square in the eye if it's the last thing I do." Wait. "If eggs have eyes. Maybe I should ask Briana to paint some on."

When Marel sits and curls against her legs, Thea reaches a hand to gently stroke Marel's hair, quelling the impulse to hesitate. If she sends the girl fleeing, so be it. "I blame me, so I'd thought you might," she confesses. And so like mother, like daughter. Nevertheless, she tries reason, "I don't know how you could have; you didn't know. I didn't intend for you to, though I was trying to protect you." We see how well that worked! Her own chuckle is faint and she teases, "Not going to let them chase you off any more?" She hasn't been watching the sands, so maybe that's just a guess on her part. Or the AWLMs give her report. Probably it's a little of both.

Tilting her head to rest it against Thea's knees, Marel closes her eyes and goes still, save for her quiet, steady breaths. "They're… frightening," she says softly. "I didn't think dragons could be like that, because… I mean, they /are/ dragons even now, aren't they?" If her arm goes to wrap around her mother's ankles, she'll pretend she doesn't notice her own move to cling, either letting herself have this moment as a child, or promising herself she'll be a grown-up lady later. "It makes me wonder if Impression is like that; if it might be scary or beautiful. Everyone always seems so happy when it happens."

Don't grow up too quickly, Marel. That is the expression on Thea's face and heart. Her fingers move soothingly through those dark strands, lifting the ones at the back of her neck in a gentle, rhythmic way so the light afternoon breeze cools there. "What exactly frightens you? A dragon knowing your mind or… is it something else?" Instead of hasty reassurances, she's unhurried, silent well after the answer is given. "I've never seen anyone terrified of their dragon," she says at length, "but sometimes looming change can be scary."

"Maybe it's that there weren't any words…" Marel muses quietly, tucking her knees in more tightly. "Or that they knew things I've never told anyone." The motion of her breathing stills as she takes in a deep breath and holds it, poised on the edge of a statement to argue with herself. "But if Seryth's egg made you cry and you Impressed her and you love her… Then it can't be awful." Quieter and quieter her voice becomes, like she might just drift off to sleep there with her mother running her hands through her hair. "I guess… if you love them like that, you won't mind them knowing everything…"

"Maybe…" Since Thea hasn't touched an egg in many a turn so she really isn't sure, "Maybe they were sharing their own unique spin on what they draw from everyone all garbled up? I mean, they haven't actually seen any of it, so all they know is from what they get from all of you. Or maybe those uncanny encounters are bits and pieces of their own minds." She's guessing; she doesn't know exactly what her twins have experienced, only their accounting of it. "It did. The feelings placed in my mind was rain on rock, the scent of the high reaches (because they'd know it rains a lot there after living there) and the feeling I should go home." She draws a deep, steadying breath, perhaps the memory stronger than she'd like to admit. "I wanted to badly, only I couldn't because of…" Thadan. "So I cried, yes." Deep, DEEP breath! Then, "She's… my sanctuary, Marel." The way she says it leaves little doubt that they share a bond far different, deeper than she can express. Peace, tranquility, unity, love. All there without being named.

Marel tightens her arm around Thea's ankles, hugging herself closer. "Maybe… they're just mirrors," she whispers, words half-mewed out around a quiet yawn. No more words follow for a long stretch of time, spent in silence and stillness, until her arm begins to slacken a little, for all that she doesn't otherwise move. "…I want that…" A sanctuary, presumably, though with her confession slurred almost all into one word, heavy with sleep, it might be difficult to make out. Later, perhaps she won't even remember saying it. For now though, she seeks the quiet, and the comfort of the nearness of her mother, drifting between asleep and awake, tension finally bleeding from her frame. The fact that she doesn't let up her hold? Maybe it's a plea. Let her stay like that a while longer.

And so Thea remains upon that rock, her fingers moving in slow, even strokes, running those shining dark locks through her fingers, bending forward to kiss her daughter’s head tenderly now and then, humming the lullaby Marel surely has known by heart most of her life. The Weyrwoman leaves the office to fend for itself as long as Marel lingers at her feet in that semi-sleep. For this span of time she is solely… a mother. And this has priority.

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