The Future

Xanadu Weyr - Garden
An arch woven from the tendrils of a willow tree stretches overhead lightly creeping with ivy as one steps in from the meadow into this sanctuary of green. Cool gray flagstone carefully spaced enables a soft velvety moss to thrive within the cracks, and creates a single wide pathway that fluidly breaks off into two paths of stone once free of the natural arbor. It is a wonder this place, and meticulously tended from the way it seems not a single leaf is out of place. On either side of the main path expansive grassy patches are trimmed short and edged behind with natural tan colored stone selectively chosen to stack just right. Beyond these are a line of fine puffed shrubberies in vibrant green intermingled with flowering bushes of brilliant pinks varying in hue from the very light to the very dark, which causes the occasional snowy white blossoms of other scattered here and there without worry to simply pop out of the scenery.

Directly in the center of the garden is another wall of intricately stacked stone, this of muted grays, creating what from the air would prove to be a perfect circle. It's been set high for safety, but not so much as one would not be able to lean over it to admire what lies beyond, either standing or sitting at the smattering of benches whose backs are set every four feet along it. Flush to the ground inside it's protective stone outcropping, is an enormous twenty foot wide fish pond. Within one can glean the metallic glint of playful goldfish, the unhurried cruise of fat koi, and even a frog or three among pale yellow and white flowering water lilies and their thick green pads.

The trees surrounding the entire garden were planted to give the impression that they had always been here, not only lending to a rustic look, but also eluding to the beauty that can be found among the wilds if only one might just look for it. Species vary from the ordinary Birch and Pine, but the flaming red capsules of the Indian Shot to the robust orange spokes of the Firewheel tree suggest the spice of the exotic. The two paths leading away from the entrance have come full circle, wrapping around to meet each other on the other side, yet still continue on to the far left and right. One path leads off deeper into the surrounding woods, while the other wider; cheerily decorated with brightly colored slabs of painted stones.

It's not her remit - at least, not as far as assignments regarding her wing go - but Marel has chosen to spend her time on this particular afternoon cleaning up, tying back and pruning some of the plants in the garden's substantial flowerbeds. She's working her way along a row at the moment, evidence of her journey in the deadheading of flowers caught by the change from summer to autumn, and the absence of weeds and stray, dead leaves. What's no longer required by man or plant has been cast into a canvas bag that the brownrider is drawing along beside her each time she moves, which isn't very often. Calm and unhurried about the whole thing, her focus absolute, Marel looks to have tuned out from the world around her as much as she possibly can.

There may, upon occasion, be a certain degree of flexibility in what functions are assigned to a particular person. In theory, a purely communalistic approach is plausible; in practice, there exist problems of organization which make it ineffective at even moderate scale. Nevertheless, full specialization is likewise unnecessary; the ideal state is a moderate one. Today, it would appear that Jethaniel has chosen to moderate his work in the office by a visit to the gardens. While this might be due to his observations of their upkeep, were that the case, he would more likely be proceeding briskly to his destination instead of walking slowly along a wandering path. His eyes lift to observe the complex pattern of the vines on a trellis. It is an aesthetic sight, but Jethaniel's expression is more troubled than pleased; a faint frown and an overall somber look as his eyes lower once more and he sees someone tending to the garden. More specifically, he sees Marel tending the garden, and he pauses in his wandering to observe her.

Maybe some gardeners can make tidying up look like a joyous thing, but Marel makes it look like a precise, methodical process that all the same doesn't necessarily seem all that fascinating or captivating from the outside looking in. As for Marel herself, it's possible that she looks much the same as ever, though her complexion is paler and the changes to her facial features that pregnancy has brought might be noticeable in the presence of slightly more exaggerated curves that weren't there before. Having finished with the plant before her (that now looks like a series of twigs and little else), she gathers herself to inch along the flowerbed, and, in the process, looks up to find Jethaniel in her line of sight. "Afternoon," she quietly greets.

Despite the apparent lack of appeal to observing the pruning process, Jethaniel continues to do so, and as such, he is present upon the conclusion thereof. He inclines his head in an acknowledgment to Marel's greeting. "It is." Jethaniel regards her for a moment, then lifts his gaze to where he may observe a tree off past the flowerbeds. "Shall I inquire whether it is a good one?"

"They're all much the same at the moment," Marel replies, after a moment's silence to consider her response. She reaches back across to where she was once sitting, to snag the canvas bag by its handle and draw it after her, then pauses to rearrange her knee-length skirts over her dark trousers. "I can't say that I really notice whether they're good or bad. They just… are." A twitch of one shoulder follows, and, as she lifts hands and secateurs to begin trimming back the next plant, she hesitates and draws them back into her lap. "And I suppose I've answered the question without you really asking it, so that's either wasted or saved you time."

Jethaniel's gaze lowers to Marel once again as she begins to speak, though not before. He nods, and takes a step closer, his gaze continuing to lower that he may consider the plant whose flowering is past but from whom the dead growth has not yet been pruned. There's a slight upward twitch of his lips, a wry smile. "Were you amenable to being asked, I would have done so; as such, it may be considered efficiency." He exhales; the smile, faint as it was, fades as he does so. His voice is quiet as he continues. "I believe existence is preferable to a lack thereof. It… admits the possibility of improvement."

It's around 'a lack thereof' that Marel's focus somehow wanders off completely and hardens at the same time, her icy-green eyes directed at some not so distant point in the soil of the flowerbed. She remains like that, staring at something and nothing, tensioning lining her clenched jaw, until she can look up without faltering. "Sometimes, I wonder," she confesses in a murmur, then reaches to start removing new growth that will ultimately choke the plant and prevent it from flourishing again. A second or two later, she must regret that admittance, for she sighs and says, "I'm sorry, Jethaniel."

Jethaniel conducts his observation of that plant instead of Marel, not that she's looking back to see it. He nods as she speaks, and while his eyes leave the green of the plant as she begins to trim it, they are not particularly hurried in doing so. They lift to Marel without surprise - at least, not until her apology, which causes a slight rise of his brows. "For what? It is…" He hesitates, considers his words. "…a question of indeterminant answer." Jethaniel's jaw shifts, his gaze drifting once more to that plant, kept small that it may be fully vibrant instead of dead inside. "You… are not often inclined to simply accept those statements made by others."

"For not having a better answer. For not having a certain, positive and assuring one, if nothing else." Marel doesn't quite look at him as she speaks, the tone of her voice taking on an edge of chastisement that she plainly directs back at herself. "Then, perhaps to have one, or to supply one, would be a lie, and that would be worse. For which of us, I'm not sure, but I'd be perjuring myself, so I'd be lying to both of us." As she cuts, she draws aside the stems and leaves that fall, gathering them at the edge of the flowerbed. "How are you?" she asks, her tone lifting someway back towards even.

Jethaniel frowns slightly as he listens to Marel, a twist of his lips as words are considered but do not actually emerge. He inclines his head to acknowledge that the answer she postulates would be a falsehood, keeping it in that lowered position as he considers the process whereby Marel trims the flower. "I prefer the truth, but I would permit lies if you found them preferable in this context." And as for himself? He does not immediately answer that question, instead considering on it. "I will continue. I… miss her." He looks the earth of the flowerbed. "I will continue to do so. I will, nevertheless, continue. I am… desirous of the future, and there exist positive elements to the present."

"I'm glad," Marel replies, with a hint of warmth that can only point to both her answer concerning his present and future, and sentiment behind it, being genuine. "She would have wanted you to be happy. You and Darsce." Carefully, she gathers together all the pieces of plant that she's pruned and casts them into the bag, secateurs left to sit in her lap once again. "…I try not to think of the future, because it reminds me that she's not going to be there for things that I need her to be. Want her to be. Things that she would have wanted to be there for. Perhaps that makes me selfish, but I don't miss her just for me." She ends up staring hard at the ground for the second time in so few minutes, then reanimates as abruptly as she froze, and begins to get to her feet.

Jethaniel's gaze rises to Marel herself once more, instead of merely the plant on which she works. "She would." There's confidence in his tone for that. "And for you as well." Jethaniel's gaze remains on Marel, quiet as he listens. He nods; Thea will not be there. While she may, as a postulate, wish for the happiness of those she cared for, she cannot actually be there to provide that care - nor to actually make that wish. It is merely a hypothetical. As Marel finishes, Jethaniel lowers his head, perhaps to hide the faint wry smile. "You are permitted to be selfish." His voice is gentle, not chiding, and after a moment, he lifts his head once more. "You are nevertheless capable."

Marel bends down to pick up the bag, the motion not a terribly graceful one with the bump of her belly to be navigated, then she tosses the secateurs inside that canvas bag. Hopefully, the bits and pieces of plant inside with them don't have too many thorns to make for a painful retrieval. "I suppose we won't know if I'm just quietly hysterical and hormonal or a genuinely selfish, self-absorbed derogatory-term-of-choice until the baby arrives," she remarks, voice self-deprecatingly wry. "And maybe not for some months, even then." Her lips tug to one side. "I gave her the anklet you made for me, to look after. I found it again when we cleared out her cottage, though I don't… think I'll need it again, for the purpose for which it was made."

Jethaniel's frown for Marel's selection of perjoratives is followed by a quiet, "Ah," regarding her current reproductive status. "You may likely obtain the assessment of your choice, up to and including grieving relative. You have time to consider." He exhales slowly as Marel speaks of the anklet, and nods to the… change of circumstances. "It is unlikely," he agrees somberly, then asks, "Will you be keeping it?"

"If you don't mind," Marel replies, arms knotting loosely about her ribcage. "I'm hardly going to be advocating my choice as the way to handle things, but knowing that I could avoid situations I absolutely couldn't bear has made things… somewhat easier." She wrinkles her nose, then adds, "Not to say that I've used it to get myself out of flights that he's wanted us to participate in." One hand makes a brief motion towards her abdomen without the unknotting of her arms. "If I had, perhaps I could have avoided this," the brownrider remarks, summoning back that wryness. "But one of my brother's weyrmates rides green, and there's no telling who in my family could Impress green or gold. It gives me peace of mind, even if I never need use it."

Jethaniel lowers his gaze as Marel begins her answer. He nods slightly for the acquisition of ease, and his jaw tenses for her mention of the circumstances regarding a flight and the consequences thereof. They certainly have not - the possibility of hormones aside - been conducive to that peace of mind Marel desires. Jethaniel's lips tug to the side, and he says quietly, "My preference is substantively irrelevant." Presumably to the flowerbed, since that's where he's looking. "The anklet is yours. It may, at such a time as you no longer require it, be disassembled. Until such a time…" Jethaniel closes his eyes for a moment. "You are the sole authoritative source on your requirements." His eyes open again, and he lifts his head. "I have cleared the personal items from her desk. If there is anything you wish to claim, I will provide an opportunity for you to do so."

Marel glances down at her feet, where her boots hide the lack of presence of the device under discussion. "Not as irrelevant as you'd think," she murmurs. "You and she are the only people to have shown understanding without clear condemnation at the same time." So his opinion holds more weight? She doesn't dwell on that thought any longer. Inclining her head a little to acknowledge the news about the items from her mother's desk, she answers that matter with a slow, somewhat halting, "…No, it's… Mur'dah might feel differently, but… we cleared out her cottage. We've had our chance to claim what we wanted that was hers. If there's anything in her desk that you'd like in memory of her, you should keep it."

Jethaniel makes no comment regarding the possible relevance of his opinion; not even a nod or a shake of his head. Regardless of its weighting, he appears disinclined to actually provide it; perhaps the change of topic will be sufficient such that this lack of response is not given any particular note. Jethaniel nods for Marel's disavowal of the objects found in that desk, again for her permission to keep them. "I will do so. The remainder… may be repurposed for the benefit of the Weyr." Some of those materials may be harder to repurpose than others, but even a lopsided clay pot is minimally functional as a pen holder… or shards to decorate a path. Jethaniel smiles slightly. "She would, I expect, find that appropriate."

"I think she would," Marel quietly agrees, giving a nod that's little more than a tip of her chin. That thought must be on that she lingers on, for she looks away, her gaze distant, and lapses into a silence that she doesn't seek to fill with words in any outwardly noticeable manner. "I think that's how she'd want things to be," she says eventually, before squaring her shoulders and unknotting her arms. Time to march onwards. "I should get home. Isyriath's waiting." However, she doesn't dash off, and tries out a ghost of a smile when she asks, "Tell Darsce I said hi?"

Jethaniel makes no attempt to fill that pause, though it's hardly entirely silent; there are noises from the Weyr and forest, from the small insects which pollinate the garden and the avians who perch on the branches even if certain sounds are absent. Certain sounds will, in fact, continue to be absent… but Marel, at least, speaks once again. Jethaniel nods his agreement. "She loved Xanadu." His tone is factual, and then he inclines his head. "I will do so." Jethaniel hesitates for a moment, gaze lowering, then lifts grey eyes to Marel as he adds, "You still have family."

The curve of Marel's lips imitates a proper, pleased smile, but no brightness reaches her eyes, and, even as she manages to make the 'smile' stick for a couple of seconds, it's easy enough to see that it's a hollow attempt, plastered in place to support, "I know," and try to make that assurance seem believable. She lifts one hand to support the bag slung over her shoulder, then lifts the other in a brief, tiny wave as she turns to head back through the garden and towards the meadow.

Jethaniel makes no attempt at a smile to answer the false one provided him; his expression is instead somber as he nods to Marel. He does, however, reciprocate her wave, standing there to watch as she departs before turning to take a path that leads him deeper into the gardens and permits him to become, for a certain time, an approximation of lost - or at least, not easily found by others. He himself is aware of his own location.

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