Xanadu Weyr - Vine-Entwined Forest Cottage
The interior floor, ceiling and walls are raw wood that has been sanded and lacquered to make them smooth. Overhead, the cathedral ceiling gives the inside a spacious feel to it, the pale wood enlarging the space to the eye even though the cottage is fairly small. To the left, set under a large window, the bedroom area is plain, consisting of a wide bed and nightstands on either side. An ornately carved wardrobe, standing in a niche to the right of the door provides the only real decoration.
Past the wardrobe is a simple fireplace, the pearly stones rough-cut square, which provides both warmth and cooking since this cottage has no electricity. A simple leather couch has been placed in front of this and there are several hand-tufted rugs of lavender, moss green and white scattered about the glossy floors - Thea's handiwork. At the rear of the cottage is a simple kitchenette, countertop providing the division from the main area, while the back wall forms a breakfast nook with floor to ceiling windows that invites the forest in. A small, sturdy round oak table and chairs is set within the alcove, set simply with a few pale green placemats and an alabaster bowl for floating flowers in. On one counter, a circle has been cut out and fixed with a clay-fired bowl with a nearby matching pitcher.
Presently the cottage is dark, windows shuttered and mattress stripped bare. Cleaned out, the cupboards are empty and it is evident that no one will live here again for a long, long time.
The time has come to go through their mother's cottage. It's going to be difficult though, which might explain why there is the faintest hint of ale on Mur'dah's breath as he waits outside of the building for his twin to arrive. He's brought along a few crates, wooden boxes for things they want to keep. There are also some shabbier boxes for things to get rid of, but he's set those aside.
When she arrives, if Marel notices that hint of ale, she chooses to ignore it - at least so far as not opting to address it verbally. There's something like apprehension or concern visible in her gaze when she studies her twin, but she doesn't mention it, and only reaches to upend one of those crates and sit down on it, her focus swinging to the door of their mother's cottage. "…I guess… we should get on with things," she murmurs, fingers curling at the edge of the crate. But, before she can face that door and what's beyond it, she asks, "Do you think D'had will want any of her things?"
Mur'dah exhales softly, stepping to her side and resting a hand on her shoulder, squeezing gently. "Probably?" he murmurs. "We'll see if we can't find something to give him…or a few things…maybe something he gave her?" He looks at the door and then back at his twin. "Ready? If you want…you can rest and I can do most of it, just bring things to you to see what you think we should do with them."
Marel shoots a quick glance down at the locket around her neck as they continue to speak of D'had, her expression shading guilty, but she doesn't speak up to volunteer the piece of jewellery as something to return to their father. "…He thought I was her, the other afternoon," she quietly admits. "I think I frightened him. I had to— I had to go." She reaches up to cover Mur'dah's hand with one of her own. "No, it's fine," the brownrider assures. "Just… can't lift too much. I'm not an invalid. I can help." With that said, she stands and moves to catch at the edge of the crate, to lift it up. "You… you get the door?" she asks.
Mur'dah's expression flickers a bit. "I haven't even gone to see him," he murmurs, reaching out to lift - or help lift - the crate. "Here, yeah. I can do all the moving and lifting and all that stuff, Mare," he's quick to reassure her, before grabbing anotehr crate and walking up to that door. Taking a slow breath, he pulls the key from his pocket, unlocks it, and pulls the door open. There…their mother's cottage. Empty. Like Thea had just left it. Intending to come home. Swallowing thickly, Mur'dah glances at his twin and steps inside, setting the crate down gently. "Just say when you want to keep something," he murmurs. "I'll claim some of it too, and the rest…I don't know, maybe we just make a list, tell folks what's avilable, let them come take what they'd like until it's cleaned out and ready for…whoever gets it next."
In the doorway, Marel stares into the cottage, looking around and not really seeing, just glancing and trying to keep command of herself. "Can't we just… put the rest in stores? Without telling them whose it was? I don't— want people taking things of hers just because they want a piece of 'history' or something that was a Weyrwoman's…" After she's put her crate down and stepped inside, she knots her arms between her ribcage and the now evident baby bump, fingers curling into the fabric of her dress. Slowly, she moves forward to sit on the end of the leather couch and gather herself. "When we're done… I'll clean the place." Not that it's dirty or untidy, but. "I can do that." Even if there are probably drudges who can and would.
Mur'dah tilts his head a bit. "I guess we could, but in case there were people who were friends of hers, people who wanted something…I guess they'd know it in the stores if they saw it…" He really doesn't know what to do. Following his twin, he's about to protest her offering to clean it, but he stops himself. "Alright." He looks around and takes a deep breath. "I'm not even sure where to start," he murmurs.
"I think… wardrobe, drawers," Marel suggests, knotting her fingers together and unknotting them again. "Bedroom. Work backwards, to the kitchen. I think even we might struggle to find some sentimental value in utensils and placemats." She tries to inject some humour into those last few words, but she really only ends up offering a ghost of a smile. "Clear out all the furniture that holds stuff? We'll need to move it all in the end, anyway, unless… it's left furnished for… the next person."
Mur'dah smiles faintly at her little joke, nodding and taking a slow breath. "Bedroom then," he murmurs, taking his crate with her. Pausing in the entrance to their mother's bedroom, he has to /force/ himself not to knock. She's dead. Still, he hesitates, just like any child waiting to go into their parent's room. Then he steps inside, breathing in deeply. It still smells like her. He blinks rapidly, sets the crate on the ground, and pulls open the top drawer of his mother's dresser. Underwear. He can't help it. He laughs.
While Mur'dah goes to the dresser, Marel moves towards the wardrobe and sits herself down at the foot of it, where she opens one of the smaller drawers at its base. She doesn't immediately go rummaging, but she does find… something sitting atop the pile of other bits and pieces in there. She looks up before she can reach for it, distracted by her brother's laughter, and tilts her head, questioning without verbalising the enquiry. While she waits for a response, she plucks from the drawer the little circle of wires that makes up her shock anklet, and, with its charge long dead, secures it around her right ankle to make sure she doesn't misplace it.
Mur'dah quietly puts his mother's underthings into the crate, opening the next drawer and pulling out those clothes too. Briefly, he lifts a shirt to his face and inhales softly. Trying to memorize her scent. As if he'd ever forget. Glancing over at his twin, he frowns at the sight of the anklet. "That's…?"
"…Something I don't suppose that I need anymore," Marel says softly, but the anklet remains where it is, secured around the leather of her boot. "I asked her to look after it until the baby's born, in-case I wanted or had to use it and—" She looks back at the contents of the drawer, and, establishing that it's mostly odd bits and pieces, important, but not vital, begins to scoop it out. "In-case I hurt the baby." She takes a deep breath. "She understood. Why I wanted her to keep it, I mean."
Mur'dah shifts a bit, looking into the drawer and removing some more clothes. His feelings about the anklet are very, very complicated, and in the end he just nods. A roll of clothing is pulled out, but there's something about them that's different. Then he realizes they're men's clothes. Unrolling them, he manages to catch the journal and necklace that tumble free before they fall. "Look at this," he mrumurs, offering her the necklace while he flips through the journal. Just a brief look, and since it's not written in Thea's hand, he sets it aside for now.
Marel sets aside the little pile she's made of the small drawer's contents, then reaches out for the necklace that Mur'dah hands her. She holds it up to the light, letting daylight stream through and highlight the golden topaz beads that are spaced along the silver chain. "…Almost like… Seryth," she murmurs. Except it's not really like Seryth at all, and she's seeing what she wants to see. Cradling it in the palm of one hand, she runs careful fingers over the silver roses that make up part of the chain. "It's beautiful," she says quietly, casting a quick look up to see Mur'dah investigating the journal and setting it aside.
Mur'dah smiles faintly, nodding in silent agreement with his twin. "You should have it," he says quietly, bending to pull out the rest of the clothes, gently stacking them in the crate. He sets the journal on top - he'll look at it later.
For once, Marel doesn't argue, and she gently slips the necklace into one of the pockets of her dress, then buttons said pocket to try and make sure that nothing will slip out again. She closes the empty drawer, then reaches to open a flatter, wider one beneath it, its shallowness marking it as one that surely cannot hold much. Gently, she eases it open, then darts a hand out to support it as she pulls the whole thing free of the wardrobe's base - and for good reason. She brings the drawer and its contents with her as she gets to her feet and sets it down on the end of the bed, revealing a sketch in a deep green frame, the subjects of the artwork being Seryth and Thea, queen curled around rider. "Muir."
Mur'dah turns at his twin's call, stepping to her side and peering over her shoulder at the piece of art. He swallows thickly. "Oh." There's a pause. "I was going to get her portrait done," he murmurs.
"You should," Marel answers gently, reaching to run a single fingertip along one side of the frame. "I mean, another one. But this is nice. It's them, and that's—" She doesn't go on, but bows her head a little. They're both riders. They know. "It's a beautiful moment," she settles for, once she can speak again without the threat of tears. "You should keep it. Keep them safe."
Mur'dah nods a bit, and then looks at Marel. "You sure?" he asks quietly, but his voice gives him away. He'd like to have it.
"Of course I am." And, to emphasise that, Marel eases the picture, frame and all, from the drawer and holds it out to her brother. "Take it," she encourages. "It would be nice to know who 'E' is, though. Maybe one of her clutchmates? It doesn't look like… something officially commissioned. It's not posed." Which somehow makes the image all the more endearing.
Mur'dah reaches out slowly to take the picture, looking down at it with a slow swallow. "It's perfect not being posed," he murmurs. "E…yeah. I'll…ask around I guess. Thanks for letting me keep it." He smiles at his sister and then shifts the picture to loop his arm around her and give her a hug. "Let's keep going."
"You don't need my permission," Marel murmurs, leaning to press a kiss against Mur'dah's temple before she moves away and back to the wardrobe, where she adopts a braver approach, after flinging its doors open to discover a rail of clothing that looks rather daunting. She eyes the rail, and reaches out a gentle hand to run fingertips across the fabric of skirts and sleeves, then swallows hard and reaches out like she'd engulf the whole lot of garments. Partly successfully, she emerges from her 'attack' with an armful of clothes, and stumbles her way towards the bed, where she tries to set things down as carefully as possible, though it's clear that it's all heavier than she was anticipating. She stands there, breathing heavily, her hands on her hips, and stares down at the little heap. "Okay, that was—" Not the brightest idea she's ever had. "…Alishe might like something that was hers, to wear when she's grown-up," she says quietly.
Mur'dah hastens to help, grabbing the rest of the clothes and laying them on the bed. "Is there anything here you want? Maybe Darsce wants something too…Is this her style?" He's really not sure.
"…I don't know," Marel confesses, as she reaches to leaf her way through some of the topmost garments, carefully exploring the different fabrics. "None of it is very… fussy. She could alter anything she'd like to keep, anyway, if she wanted to. I'm not sure how she'd feel about wearing her clothes." For all that she's looking through the different things, Marel herself doesn't obviously seem to know how she feels about the clothes; whether she wants to cling to sleeve or hem, or not touch for too long, like she could sully them and erase what memory there is of their mother in their presence. She swallows again, then decisively turns and says, "I'm going to… make some tea." Which will be black and undoubtedly poured into the china left behind.
Mur'dah nods, "Okay," he says, turning to watch her go. Once she does, he'll set about neatly folding the clothing into the crates. And if he pauses a few times to smell them, well…it's soothing, in a way.
Marel's really not so long with making the tea, but it's enough to give her the time to compose herself, though not completely erase or hide the red rings around her eyes that linger as evidence of tears shed. When she returns, she holds out a cup of what is indeed black tea, the edge taken off with sweetener, with a murmured warning of, "Careful." Because it's hot. "…You know," she says haltingly, setting her tea down so that she can assist with folding clothes, setting aside the odd garment here or there, meant for Darsce or Alishe, or even herself, "a lot of the things here are made by her, if you really look at them." Silence, then: "…I'm going to want us to keep it all because she made them and it's going to get silly…" Because they can't keep a whole cottage's worth of things, surely.
Mur'dah takes the tea, cradling the cup and taking a sip. "I was thinking the same thing," he murmurs. "I have space in my weyr. At least to store it until we can really sort through it all. I don't want to get rid of something and then regret it later…" He looks around, exhaling softly. "Like those stuffies. Remember us playing with them when we were kids? Remember which one was my favorite?" He wanders in that direction.
Marel sniffs, quietly, as if she could pretend she hasn't or just for the sake of manners, then lifts her gaze from the cuff of a well-tailored jacket and lets it follow Mur'dah as he moves through the space of the cottage. "The blue," she tells him, something like fond remembrance rising warmly enough to cover the tremor in her voice. "You were so sure you were going to follow D'had and find your own Siebith." She ducks her head a little. "Isyriath and Kalsuoth are so much better than the dragons we imagined," she murmurs.
Mur'dah sets his tea cup aside to pull down his favorite blue from among the group, rubbing his fingers against its head. "Yup. And you, gold." He turns to smile at his twin. "I want to keep these dragons. Maybe give them back to their original owners…but I'm keeping this one. Do you want one?"
Marel's lips twitch in a not-quite grimace, but her silent disagreement is reasonably clear to see. "…Can't we keep them?" she suggests. "…I'd like one, for my baby. The brown one." Like Isyriath and Kalsuoth; for a girl or a boy. "And for Alishe, even if she's getting too old for toys. And for any children you have?" She keeps on folding clothes until she's filled up a crate nearly to the top, then glances back towards the wardrobe. "…There's something back there," she tells her twin. "Looks heavy. Something with… nets?"
Mur'dah blinks. "Well yeah, that's what I meant. We. We can keep all of them if you want." He begins to gather them, setting them gently into another crate, before he's looking into the wardrobe. "Nets?" That catches his attention and he moves to gently pull out the A-frame with the two fishing net hammocks hanging from it. "What's this?"
"…I don't want to give them back to anyone, that's all," Marel offers, by way of explanation. Not that she's been enthused about giving up much so far. She eyes the A-frame and the nets, tilting her head a little, then gestures back towards the way of the crate that Mur'dah just put the plushies in. "…Get one of them back out?" she asks, still staring at the net affair with a faintly quizzical expression on her pale features. "Maybe more than one…"
Mur'dah gives his twin an odd look, but he does as she asks, getting three of the dragon plusies and walking back to her.
Marel probably looks like she's lost a few of her marbles to grief or hormones in the moments that follow, since she sits down on the floor beside the frame and begins to pat at the nets, then reaches for one of the plushies to hold close while she continues to stare at the arrangement before her. Slowly, she puts the plushie into the cradle formed by the nets, then reaches for another and puts it in the other hammock-y drape of netting. Sitting back to 'admire' her handiwork, she frowns and declares, "…Either that's right, or my body is making everything about babies and cute little animals."
Mur'dah walks up behind his twin to stare at it. "Uh. I…maybe? I'm not sure," he murmurs. "Fishing nets though…are those Dad's? Why would he make Mom a holder for her stuffed animals?"
"No, I mean there's two…" Marel makes a swaying, cradling sort of motion with one arm, "of them and two of us…" She gives one of the hammocks a nudge and watches the plushie swing back and forth. "It's a bit like some of those things they have in the nursery to help babies stand or walk… but… not." Because hammocks are not for walking over. Or on. "I don't know. Maybe I'm crazy." Sounds like a theory she'd buy into anyway; her being not exactly of sound mind right now.
Mur'dah shakes his head, squinting at them. "No…you're…I mean it makes sense? These were for us?" He peers at it. "I think you're right…you want to keep this?"
Just for good measure, Marel gives the other hammock a little push and watches the two plushies swing back and forth. Maybe it's hypnotising. Or soothing. "If I'm right… It'd be nice to see if it works with my baby," she says gently. "And then, if and when you…" When Mur'dah has babies, which she's assuming that he will. "You could use it with yours too. It seems too… personal to put in stores and let anyone take. They might deconstruct it and use it for fishing." If it isn't actually meant for fishing, that is.
Mur'dah arches a brow and looks at her, at the suggestion of him having children. Then he nods. "We'll keep it. You're right. This belongs to our family."
Marel reaches to collect up the plushies from the hammocks and hand them back to Mur'dah, then sits back against the side of the bed and reclaims her tea from where she set it down. "It might be an idea to bring Grandmother here, if she'd like to, before we close everything up and hand back the keys," she suggests. "So she can… I don't know. See this place one more time. …Even if it's without Mama. You know… closure." As much as any of them can have, given the circumstances of Seryth and Thea's last departure.
Mur'dah nods slightly. "That's a good idea. We can offer it, at least, if she wants to. And if not…" He looks around and sighs. "We'll divide the furniture and…just…" Move on? It's hard.
"…It's the first step," Marel murmurs, unable to commit to more than that, especially given the evidence of her own tears. In the hours that follow, the rest of the cottage is explored and possessions sorted little by little, some put into crates to go to stores, and others kept by the twins. Most, if not all of what was made by their mother is retained by one or the other, including rugs and cushions identifiable as Thea's work. Among other furnishings, a tapestry is removed to be taken to Ista one day by Mur'dah, while Marel parcels up the baby blankets and clothes that Thea made, once used by the twins and now set aside for her grandchildren in the turns to come, packets squirreled away for Mur'dah by his sister, for if and when the day arrives when he shares the news of impending fatherhood. The twins even retain their old dressing up clothes, a blue dragon and Lady Holder costume respectively, as they work their way through the rest of the cottage. At some point, Marel finds herself in possession of the china that they've been drinking from, the cups and teapot the first things carefully cleaned before she begins to set about doing as she promised, and clean the cottage for… its next occupant. Whomever it might be. Whatever happens, it won't be the same home again. Not for Marel and Mur'dah.