Don't You Ever

Xanadu Weyr - Secret Garden Refuge
How has this gem stood empty so long? Constructed of hand-chiseled whitestone, this cottage is unique in that it appears to have been here from before the time Xanadu was founded, it's stones bearing a resemblance to the ruins in the old forest. Large windows, flanked by raw wooden shutters faded to a silvery-grey, have thick-leaded diamond panes that allow the meadow's light inside. Pink climbing roses scale the front wall, the porcelain blossoms scenting the air with their delicate fragrance and providing shade over the three shallow stone steps leading to a portico in which an arch-topped door is set.

The space within the cottage - sitting room, kitchenette, sleeping and bathing room - is simple: stone floors are covered in vast rugs in pale, pastel shades and the walls have been painted white. Some spaces have built-in storage: cupboards in the sitting room; counters and a cooling/heating unit for food in the kitchenette. The sitting room has a double-wide, deeply-inset window that make the sunny room perfect for housing potted plants, Isyriath's portion opening off of one side. Comfortable couches in pale pink line two of the walls, standing opposite each other, a long, low table set between them in the centre of the room. On the wall, above one of the couches, hangs a painting of meadow, in which both the cottage and Marel herself feature, the picture signed with a capital M. To the rear of the cottage, the bedroom has French doors that open onto a private retreat formed by a three-walled, flag-stoned courtyard of the same material that makes up the cottage walls. In the centre lies a flower garden, neat rows of tulips and rose bushes planted in fresh soil, a non-functional stone fountain serving as decoration alone, for now.


It's a few hours after noon. The lunch rush is calming as people begin to get back to work at their various crafts. The kitchens are being early prepped for dinner. And Ka'el has been keen to avoid most everyone. People are talking, of course. It was a senior flight. There's always much to talk about afterwards. The scandalous affairs had by those affected by the Queen's flight lust. The stories of the rainy flight itself. How many suitors were chasing. If there were injuries. And of course, just who caught the queen. Ka'el doesn't want to hear any of it, nor does he want the curious looks and the whispers of those who know. 'He's too young.' 'No, he's just right.' 'Finally, a true Xanaduian leader!' 'No experience at all…' He bypasses all of that as he heads through the meadow, on a mission. Pieces of memories come to him at random moments, and he received a new bit not long ago. Isyriath was there. And so now, his thoughts have turned to Marel, who he doesn't remember was there or not. He heads down the path that leads to her weyr, wearing no knot whatsoever and regular resident clothes of a tunic and trousers. He stops at her door and knocks. "Marel? It's me, Ka'el," he calls after knocking.

Right now, there's a problem with answering the door that has nothing to do with who is outside, but the fact that there's a bookcase still parked in-front of it. Ka'el won't see Marel stand there for a moment and weigh up her opponent, before turning to slowly make her way all the way through her cottage, through Isyriath's room and to the doors that keep his barn-like are protected from the elements. It takes her so long that it might seem that she's just not going to answer at all, but eventually she pokes her pale face through those doors and looks around for Ka'el. It's awkward, is what it is, not blurting out anything to do with the fact that he's slept with her mother, but she looks too exhausted to tackle that subject. She also has the grace not to call him 'Weyrleader' even in jest, and simply calls, "Over here," her voice quiet. There's no sign of her lifemate.

Is she not here? Ka'el's mouth pulls into a frown as seconds tick by and stretch into a minute. Then more. Still the door remains closed. He steps back a little and tips his head up to regard the upper level, the roof, or perhaps in search of that caramel brown that his memory recalled from the previous night. He knows that was Isyriath. But where is he now? And Marel? The answer to the second question is eventually given by the sound of her voice, and he turns with a perplexed look on his face, moving around to where that other, never-before-used (by him anyway) entrance lies. "Marel." Relief is in his voice and seen by the way his face relaxes, the lines of tenseness easing away. "Is your door broken?" After it's asked, he hears the absurdity of it. How can a door be broken? But there must be a reason why she's back here and not answering from her front porch. But even so, there's a matter more pressing. Pressing enough that he can disregard the fact that the night was spent with her mother and he has braved to face her so soon after. "Are you alright? Isyriath … He was there, wasn't he?"

"…In a manner of speaking," Marel replies, of the door, stepping back from the much larger dragon door to let Ka'el through. Stepping away allows the single crutch (that she's presumably abducted from the Infirmary) that she's using to walk with and keep as much weight off of her left leg as possible, but she doesn't comment on it, lingering long enough only to roll that door back into place again. "Shouldn't I be asking that of you? You're the one with the new knot." She turns away, meaning to head back towards the break in the wall that will allow them both back into the cottage proper, hobbling though she is. "I couldn't stop him," she murmurs, a touch of bitterness tainting her words. "He wouldn't listen to me. I didn't follow." And indeed not, for there's that bookcase before the door.

A crutch? Ka'el's eyes zero in on the thing, widening a little as he glances from it to her face with a look of question written on his. "What…" But oh, he moves inside first. Allows that door to be closed. Follows her hobbling self back towards the cottage. He ignores her question. Ignores the mentioning of his knot, which is nowhere to be seen. Instead, he looks to her barricaded door with a wilting expression. "Oh, Marel.. They say stopping them is nearly impossible to do, especially after they've already started to chase. It's pointless." Nearly pointless. "What happened to you?" he asks, turning to her again and looking to that crutch. Did she fall? Twist an ankle? Lose herself in the spiraling madness of flight and injure herself in the woods? Did a too eager competitor find her in his loss and… His expression suddenly darkens. "Did someone hurt you?"

"He's never done that before." How quickly bitterness becomes betrayal, which perhaps explains why there's no sign of Marel's lifemate. She leans her weight a little more heavily against the crutch, but she can't keep standing for much longer, and so has to head towards the couches and sit herself down on one of them before she can think to finding her way to an answer. "No-one hurt me," she promises in a murmur. Leaning down, she snags fingers about the hem of her dress and draws it slowly up her left in such a way as to not reveal anything but bandages that run almost the length from hip to knee. "I did it. Knife. Only way I could get him to listen." And then, in-case she should appear completely mad, she adds: "It was my mother's gold." Which, of course, he knows, but it's her reason through and through.

A very slow breath is exhaled, and with it goes a tightness he was holding in the arms and chest. No one hurt her. There goes the reckless plan that formulated in his mind. A manhunt to track down the offender that so injured his friend. But if not a lust-drunk rider, then what? He moves closer to the seated girl as her skirt beings to inch up to reveal her bandaged leg, grimacing because of it. Btu before the question can be asked, she answers it. .. And the answer that she gives has his eyes flicking back to her automatically, wide with shock. "You? … With a knife?" His voice sounds incredulous. Disbelieving. Even with her tacked on explanation, he's having a hard time swallowing what she claims is the truth. And so he gawks at her for a good half a minute before his mind snaps back into action. He's next to her in the next moment, sitting at her side with an expression that's difficult to read. Anger? Worry? "I don't care if your father's shardin' green he was after, Marel!" And yes, he does know that her father is in fact not a green rider. "Don't you ever do somethin' so flippin' stupid again! Anything could've happened!"

Marel drops her hem back to the floor and smoothes a hand over her skirts, using the other to prop her crutch against the arm of her chair. "Yes, if I hadn't, I could have ended up Weyrleader," she says evenly, though the flicker of disbelief that accompanies her answer suggests that she doesn't much believe anyone would let that happen, even if Isyriath won. "Or worse. The girl whose brown caught her mother's gold, Ka'el! Even with me barricaded in here, none of us would ever have lived it down!" She glances down at her injured leg and gives a slight shrug of one shoulder. "It doesn't hurt," she insists, her pale countenance belying that. "I didn't snag anything bad. It'll just take a while to heal." Tilting her head back up to regard Ka'el, she supposes, "…And since you're my Wingleader now, I guess I should let you know that I'll only be good for archive work for a while…" in a murmur.

"There are worse things you could be other than the girl who caught her mother's gold, Marel. Dead, for example!" Ka'el retorts, his attempts at keeping cool and calm crumbling at the edges as his voice raises in volume. "Paralyzed, for another. What if you would've hit some artery that wouldn't stop bleedin? What if you'd've fallen and hit your head or your neck or something? No one would've known! Has anyone even been by before now?" he asks, waving a hand towards the bookcase that's still in place. "You could've laid here for hours hurt or dyin’, and nobody would've known!" It's anger more than worry that dominates his tone now. That sort of anger that one gets due to fear and worry. "Damn it, Marel I don't care about your shardin' desk work. I care about you."

"…If you hadn't noticed for yourself already, nobody really thinks straight during a flight," Marel mutters, sounding more petulant now. "I had to stop him. It seemed like the quickest way at the time. I didn't come home one evening and decide to stab myself in the leg for the fun of it." Where he is angry, she continues to keep to the exhausted edge of calm. "I got to the infirmary and they sorted it. I didn't use a dagger or anything like that; it's hardly worth mentioning." Yet there's an awful lot of bandaging for something not worth mentioning. "No-one's been by because I'm fine." She reaches to try and find Ka'el's hand, to wrap her fingers around his for a moment.

Hardly worth mentioning? Ka'el isn't so easily soothed by her flippant response to her injury. Bandaged. Crutched. It's definitely worth something! His reached-for hand is claimed, but he pulls it away not long after to instead lift both of his hands to place them against her cheeks, cupping her face. He seeks her eyes, his own bright with intensity, hard with seriousness. "Don't you ever do this again. Marel, promise me you won't. I don't care if you have to tie yourself to your bed, lock yourself in a closet, get a rooommate to tie you to a rope, whatever. Anything is better than something that'd cause you harm."

A little startled, Marel finds she can do little more than stare up at Ka'el and listen, green eyes wide and earnest as she really does stop and process and take onboard what he says. "…It was harming me," is the last, softly-spoken fragment of argument that she puts up, and in that second she sounds absolutely terrified, before she swallows it down again and gives a single nod. "Okay," she agrees in a murmur, lifting a hand to cover one of his own. "I promise." She tries to move on not a moment later, if only because she has to, offering, "…Do you want some help with the archives and the meetings and the planning?" She can walk around his rank without directly addressing it.

He hears that fear in her voice. He can only imagine the amount of desperation she must have felt. And what can he do? As much as he's danced around the topic, he's Weyrleader now. She is his rider. Isn't he supposed to fix things? But his mind is blank and there are no miraculous answers that Ka'el can spill for her to make the facts and easier for her.. As her hand moves up to his, his thumb shifts to graze against her cheek before his hands are pulled away after her promise is given. His body gently slumps with an exhale, but immediately after, he wrinkles his nose. Archives? Meetings? Planning? Planning for what? Meetings with whom?… Oy. "I don't know what that means." He rises from the sofa. "I don't want to think about that now. Thea says I start tomorrow. So today… is just another day." A day to get his thoughts together and his mind prepared. A day to be himself one last time. He moves over to her front door where that bookcase is standing guard. "I'll move this back. You want it in the same place?" He grips at the heavy thing, already beginning to tug it back where it belongs.

Marel grabs for the crutch at the side of the couch to follow after him, concern easily readable in the depths of icy-green, dark-shadowed eyes. "Don't hurt yourself," probably isn't meant to be ironic, for she means it with the utmost sincerity. "But… please." Yes, she'd like it back in the same place. "I'll… make some tea." Even thought they could probably both do with something stronger. Later, when the bookcase is moved and the tea is ready, she'll not touch on the subject of meetings or anything or the sort, until the time comes when they must part and she doesn't ask, but tells: "Tomorrow, then." He is her Weyrleader and she is his rider; she is one of those who knows his new wing better than he might, right now. So, the shop will be closed and she will be there, crutch and all, if and when needed, not because he's her Weyrleader, but because he's her friend.


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