I Know...

Xanadu Weyr - Wildflower Boutique
Whitewashed walls form the canvas for the colourful array of flower, garden and decorative goods that are to be found lining the shop's polished shelves and smooth granite countertops. Around the edge of the room, a slim metal frame supports deep glass buckets in which a variety of freshly-cut flowers sit to be selected for bouquets and arrangements from as few as half a dozen stems to much grander affairs. Above them, shelves contain a selection of clay, glass and stone vases, handheld gardening equipment and decorative stock, such as ribbons, small cans of waterproof paint and fancy paper wrapping. Fertiliser, pots and troughs are kept on display outside and beneath an adjustable awning in-case of rain, a wider range available upon request.

Three islands in the centre of the shop floor provide space for gift items and the like, including metal flower pins, single ornamental stems for vases, and taller metal blooms to be stood in gardens. A price list notes them as crafted by Ka'el and also available in precious metals such as gold and silver. Other items on the counters include a range of small bouquets deliberately designed with firelizard delivery in mind, meadow-themed silver jewellery, and small gift-baskets containing the seeds and markers needed to start small herb gardens and plant window boxes.

The main service counter is situated along the back wall, where a list of bouquet prices and other fresh flower products, including circlets, arrangements for special occasions, and petals by the bag can be seen on a large chalk board hung on the wall.

During a lull in customer traffic, the surrounds of the Wildflower Boutique are quiet, the caramel-brown dragon outside settled comfortably next to the building, patient and attentive to what's going on inside, given his evident distant focus and the easy whirl of his blue gaze. Inside is not so quiet, the proprietor's voice lifted in song; a song that her young daughter joins in with when she knows the words. Marel moves about the shop, rearranging this and that, Nerri at her heels, while one of her employees looks on and smiles indulgently for the musical efforts of the brownrider and child. The tangle of wood at the end of the shop's counter serves as a perch for firelizards, currently occupied by one of each colour, save for the pale gold who clings to Marel's right shoulder.

D'had's arrival at Xanadu may already be known to his youngest daughter or it may not. He can't be sure. He also isn't sure of what he'd say when he sees her. What does one say after all this time? What he doesn't expect is the singing when he enters the shop. He hasn't quite spotted the pair, mother and daughter, among the decorations and boquets but her certainly has heard them. Browsing for flowers, yes, that's all he's doing. Really! He does come to a pause in front a bin of single stems of what are, or should it be were, Thea's favorites. Fingers gently reaching out to the petals.

She must know. Not that Marel has acted on it, much as she hasn't acted any desire to see him for a near decade. Neither she nor Nerri immediately notice that they have company in the form of what can be assumed to be a customer, and only when Marel turns from rearranging a display does she lift her gaze to the newcomer. She immediately freezes, song dying on her lips, and the next thing she does is reach for her daughter, to pick up and quickly hand off to her employee, who accepts the girl without protest. "Take her to the caverns," the brownrider murmurs. "Please." Nerri is not one for tantrums, and in the face of her mother's paled features and hushed tones, she's quiet, and lets herself be carted off. Marel? She just waits. And watches.

Lifting one of the stems from the bin to turn towards the counter, the sudden quiet is cause enough for the man to look up. Deep klah eyes meeting the green of Marel's for the first time in far too long. He's cleaned up since the last time she likely saw him. The man hesitates, concidering leaving the single flower in hand and heading back out the door, its a fleeting thought, but it takes courage to close the distance all the same. D'had stops before he reaches her two arm lengths or so away, close enough to speak quietly yet still so very far away. "You look just like your mother."

"I am her daughter." In looks and other elements of herself, if not rank. She even wears the locket that was hers, and now one hand lifts unbidden to curl around it, protective or defensive. Marel looks her father up and down with a mere flick of her gaze, assessing, then promptly encourages Rescue to shift from her shoulder and to that perch on the counter, like she can't possibly handle another weight right now. "Isyriath said that he heard Siebith the other day. I told him that he had to be imagining things. That said, he's intuitive, but he doesn't make things up. I suppose he must have been right."

"I know," D'had replies, resigned to the fact that she may well be only her mother's daughter. Whether he noticed the locket before or only when she reached for it is hard to say but the simple fact that she's wearing it brings a slight, brief, twitch of a smile to his lips. "He did," he offers next of her lifemate having heard his being correct. What does he says now? Nothing sounds right.

Marel doesn't move any nearer, but nor does she give any ground, and she regards D'had with an even expression that does little more than acknowledge his presence. "What do you want?" is the question she eventually settles on, as she relinquishes the locket and clasps her hands behind her back. It's followed closely by, "Why have you come back?" Each enquiry is delivered for what it is, near flat and unrepentantly so; interrogative without too much interest shown.

D'had will answer each of those questions in turn. A saddness in his gaze that lifts from the flower spin idly between his fingers as he regards her in return. "I don't want anything," the answer to the first. "Just… to see you." He's not asking for anything though. As for why, that's a simple answer of diplomacy. "I was transferred."

"You've seen me." It's an immediate and too sharp response that Marel flinches from the slightest bit, yet she doesn't take it back. "The girl you saw," might be an attempt to soften her words, "she's mine. Nerri. Five turns old." But even offering that much draws her to insist, "I'm not a little girl anymore. I don't think I'm even who that girl was, in too many ways. I have Isyriath, and Nerri, and this business and the firelizards. They're my life. I've worked hard since I was probably even too young to have this place. Chances are, you don't know me anymore. And I don't know you." She looks him up and down again. "We're strangers. If you're the man my father was, then maybe we have a chance, but I don't want to get to know the other one."

"I'll go then," D'had replies given that immediate response from her, waiting only long enough to find the marks in his pocket to pay for the stem. Enough time for her to speak again. He pauses, mark in hand at the mention of the girl. "She's beautiful." He gives a slight nod of aknowledgement for the rest, "I know. I don't expect you are." She's grown up and he missed it. "Wouldn't have expected any different," than her working hard. Taking a step forward he leans to place the mark on the counter - its more than enough to cover the single flower. "Just know I'll always.." a twitch of a smile and a shake of her head, he's always had a hard time with words, before he's turning towards the door.

Marel goes very still when he leans to place the mark on the counter. She doesn't even look at it - yet - to check which denomination it is, for she's too busy watching D'had and almost trying not to breath, so determined is she to maintain that stillness. The brownrider finds that she can do little but keep watching him as he turns for the door, and only when it seems that he's about to leave and be out of earshot does she call, "I love you," sounding very much like the girl and not the woman. "…I don't like you… or what you did. But—" There it is. It's all she has, for now.

Its his turn to freeze on hearing that word. He doesn't turn around, not right away at least. Taking a moment to collect himself, yet there's still a crack in the voice that replies. "I know baby," which in D'had speak means I love you too. "Don't like me much either," he admits letting out a breath.

"Then… we're in agreement." Of the one matter, or the other, but Marel doesn't signify which. She draws herself up a little taller and gives a curt nod, then tears her gaze away from D'had and moves to head behind the counter, where she quickly finds some work to do, so that she doesn't stare at him or invite further conversation this day. The firelizards betray her when they drift from the perch to huddle near her, reassuring, but she doesn't give in. It's as much as she can manage for the time being.

"You did good baby," D'had might not say he's proud of her for all she's achieved, but that's what he means. With that he continues on out the door. She's already made it clear she doesn't want him there and he know's sorry doesn't cut it. If she's looking she might catch him glance back. One step at a time. Right?

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