"(souls are not meant to live more than once — death was not meant to be temporary, and she is so sure that every time her heart starts to beat again that irreversible damage is further inflicted)" -- Anonya, written by Colby
Chel is at the playground, but Vastra does not stray far. She is concerned, as any parent might be the first time they are separated from their offspring, but there is also a sense of loss. How did she fill her days prior to Brunhilde’s pregnancy and then Chel’s birth? It feels as though she had been sleeping for the years before and only recently has she finally awakened.
It’s an effort, but she at least tries to not obviously spy - tries to occupy herself. She wanders the nearby reaches of the meadow until she finds a boulder. She shifts - the action that caused her so much grief a handful of years ago coming so effortlessly now. So instead of a sand-coloured mare there is a tawny cougar that climbs the boulder and settles down - delighting in the baking sensation of the warm afternoon sun.
Her storm grey eyes occasionally drift to the direction her daughter is in but flick up to the sky or anywhere else when she catches and scolds herself. She can’t even see the playground from here, which is the point. She only wants to be close by just in case. And she certainly does not want Chel to feel hemmed in by a hovering parent. The red-tinted filly was destined to be free and Vastra wanted that right from the start for the little wild soul.
She thinks of going to find Brunhilde but doesn’t budge from the rock just yet. She’ll just wait a little bit longer - just to make sure everything was really okay.
He knows of his plight, but the sun-and-sky stallion keeps it to himself. He would remind himself that it was dangerous to allow his other self to become a known fact, yet would soon find that it would become even more dangerous to keep it a secret. But with a life that has held no secrets in the past and with no hardships to ever strike him, Svedka was rather clueless on how to handle this part of himself and decided to keep it to himself; perhaps it would resolve on its own.
Famous last words.
He ventures from Tephra like he normally does and into the meadow. Svedka has no idea that this might be his last adventure out in the open for quite some time. If he had known, maybe he would have spent the day differently besides meandering aimlessly. He was, however, enjoying the springtime sun that gently touches his back in golden layers of light, gentle and warm against the tawny and white of his skin.
Svedka sees the winged woman from afar, his curious gaze quickly lingering. He had always found himself attracted to those with wings (why then, wouldn’t the fairies gift him with flight instead of this cursed cougar?) and watches her mindlessly for a moment, feeling sleepy amidst the noontime sun.
Like a false sense of hope, when his cerulean eyes watch the tawny woman shift into a cougar, his own lion does not stir within him. A lazy smile finds his pearled lips, his leisurely walk turning into a gentle trot. It would be fine, he reminds himself, it was only a one-time thing. A curse, maybe, that had been broken with Ilma’s return or Pteron’s visit. Beqanna is full of magic, perhaps his is already gone.
Evermore curious, however, he brings himself to a halt just a few feet from where the sun-warmed rocks jut from the earth, a single brow becoming crooked as he glances at her from beneath a flaxen and pale blue forelock. “Are you still you?” He asks boldly, a flicker of a smile on his lips but genuinity sparkling in his eyes. He has known enough shifters to realize that the majority do not share in his ailment - they are perfectly conscious and aware, their minds at full clarity, despite being in a predator’s skin.
The interruption of her thoughts is welcomed. Once, not very long ago, she would have found it annoying - but not very long ago she didn’t have a daughter to occupy much of her waking thoughts. Didn’t have this little family that had bloomed in her life. It is all still so fresh, still so new, that she has trouble redirecting her worrying thoughts - she has no experience with them.
So outside intervention seems the best course of action, and it is handy when it walks right up to her. The mountain lion rolls over to look at him more properly. The eyes set in the face of the feline are her usual blue-grey, the colour of the ocean on a cloudy day before a storm. They never did seem to change whenever she shifted. She regards this stallion - and a smile sparks in her expression as she lifts her head and props herself up on one of her forearms.
It doesn’t strike her as an odd question, because the answer hadn’t always been the one she will give today. “Yes.” She says simply - and it is a short pause before she continues. “But that wasn’t always the case.” Some of the roughness has worn out of her voice now that she is using it more, only the faintest of edges on her words. Vastra has no qualms about elaborating on her response - she just doesn't even think to do it. It's been a few years since she came back to herself and still the intricacies of conversation escaped her.
She regards him instead - eyes blatantly travelling his patched figure as she attempts to figure out what could have inspired such an opening question.
The large cat shifts effortlessly on the smooth and sun-warmed rocks, her blue-grey eyes settling on him with a quiet curiosity that leaves Svedka almost speechless. She seems to be so at ease with this form, almost as if it isn’t even second-natured. He swallows hard as his cerulean eyes flicker to the large paws, where he knew claws were sheathed behind the golden fur. He does not remember much about his time as a feral beast in Hyaline’s mountainous crags; he only remembers awakening in blood and sweat, caused by the lion within him.
But she is not him, he reminds himself, and his wary gaze softens as he finds her soothing irises again, a gentle huff leaving his pearlescent lips.
Yes. But that hasn’t always been the case.
Svedka’s head tilts inquisitively, salt-dried tendrils of sky blue and flaxen twisting about his two-toned face in the springtime breeze. His lips press together thoughtfully, a single flick of his tail against his ivory ankles the only sign of discouragement. He tips his chin towards her as he realizes yet again, she has left him almost speechless.
With a roll of his shoulders he regains his composure, at least what little he had control of, and gives her a lazy, crooked smile. “I’m not sure if shifting would be the right term,” he confesses rather honestly, still attempting to remain lax despite the topic, feeling an anxious edge that he is drawing himself precariously nearer to crossing.
His gaze rolls down the tawny of her fur and the muscle that is so prominent beneath it; the black lines around her predatorial face and the white of her whiskered muzzle. He snorts sharply as something wild stirs in his chest, passing it off as his normal attraction for anyone of beauty. But, deep down, he knows it is something more; something feral, something uncontrollable - and this woman’s current form calls to it without her even knowing.
“Mine isn’t...” he trails off, realizing his admittance of being a shifter is now being verbally said, and struggling to find the words to describe his predicament without terrifying her, or losing control all together. Despite the danger he is, he knows that her leaving could cause his lion to appear. “He isn’t as well-mannered as I am.”He. They are separate, two entities constantly at war with each other, battling for consciousness.
The gentle smirk that is normally so charming on his mouth fades into a near frown, his brow creasing as he gazes up at the cougar, wondering if she had an inkling of what he was suggesting or if it will be lost on the fact that most shifters do not share his struggle.
Vastra watches him with a predatory gaze, but only because not once in all her years has she learned how to soften her intensity. Not when she’s actually interested in something, and she’s curious about this painted stallion before her. She watches him react to her words before he replies, noting the flick of a tail and the arrival of a relaxed smile she does not quite believe.
She’s watching for cracks, leaks of what her words and question made him think. She didn’t need to watch for them, though, because they appear in his words - and then the frown that chases away the smirk. Is this when her gaze should soften? It doesn’t. Oh no - he’s just become far too interesting for that. There is no flicker of fear in her, and the grin that forms is born of delight (a twisted delight, maybe, but it still counts). “Perhaps he and I can practice our manners together sometime.” And although she accompanies it with a short laugh (practically a bark, in her rough voice) she is entirely serious. She wants to see what creature is lurking beneath this gilded figure, what sort of manners she might be able to teach him.
Wants to see what drives him to separate himself from whatever he can turn into.
But she follows this suggestion with something of a peace offering, her feline tail thumping once against the rock she lounges on. “I lost… more years than I can count as this form. Lost myself to it for the majority of my life, I didn’t even remember that I had even been a horse once.” She remembers falling back into her horse-form, being half-feral from decades as a lioness, and unable to shift back and disappear into the blissful ignorance. Unable to assimilate easily into the herd and hoof life she had found herself in.
Now, she enjoys the freedom of being able to move between forms and feel at home in each.
Her focus doesn’t waver, doesn’t shift, and she could be part of the rock itself for all she moves. He has become the most perfect of distractions.
Her eyes do not fail to fall away from his own, even as his gaze timidly wanders in attempts to appear relaxed. Svedka feels this impeccable stare prick into his skin, as if she could see beneath the ivory and champagne and the lazy smile - as if her storm grey eyes could pierce beneath the facade to see what stirs furiously within, begging for control once again. Her suggestion brings the crisp cerulean of his irises to hers, slight confusion flickering across the handsome angles of his face. But even with the incredulous look of surprise, he knows without a doubt that she means what she offers and that there is no hesitation that hides in her voice. She doesn't know what she is implying, he tells himself, but there is something in her eyes that says she knows precisely.
For once Svedka has no quip to follow, no charming response to have floated into the air between them and smooth any discord that has erupted from the topic at hand. He merely blinks at her, stunned into silence and nearly afraid to open his mouth - terrified what might emerge: fangs, perhaps? Her voice melts into something else in the quickest of moments and though she has not lost that predatorial edge, Svedka can see the memory on her face as she recalls her own affliction. She, however, does not fail to keep him locked in her sights, studying him with a gaze that makes his spine begin to shiver while in the depths of his chest the lion begins to push against the bars of his prison.
The stallion’s tail flicks sharply against his flank as a snort escapes his pearlescent mouth. Her words are far more relatable than she can imagine (or perhaps she knows that they are and that is precisely why she is telling him) and when her gaze does not wander, he wonders if she is waiting for some reaction - a certain reaction that will cause his skin to split and fall away to tawny fur and claws.
Svedka inhales deeply, a sigh slipping through his lips as he steadies himself, forcing his gaze to meet hers again. This time, when the lion presses him, the feeling is almost welcome.
“What did you do?”
He is unnaturally serious in the way that he asks, emboldening himself to even take a few shuffled hoofsteps closer, brow furrowing.
08-07-2020, 05:40 PM (This post was last modified: 08-07-2020, 05:41 PM by Vastra.)
Vastra does not look from him so she can see the way his eyes slip away occasionally, so she can guess at the emotions. There’s a grin at his silence to her suggestion of bringing the lion out to play - a feral, teasing, predatory grin but it is a joy to leave someone speechless. Verbal sparring was not something she felt that she excelled in so she would be sure to disappoint if he offered a quip back to her, though it has been easier to form words lately. Not like when she couldn’t shift and it seemed like her entire brain got stuck in the process.
When he does speak again, she’s not sure what he’s asking - whether he means in her lifetimes as a lioness, or to reach this ease - and she’s far too stubborn to ask for clarification. So she decides on the answer she thinks might help him. Not out of charity, nor sympathy, but just out of a desire to see what he’ll do. Plus she likes the idea of being wise enough to give advice.
Vastra maintains her lounging demeanour when he moves closer - though her muscles are at the ready to leap when needed and she itches to stand. The desire for both space and a complete lack of it are both equally strong in her mind. Perhaps if he hadn’t turned out to be so interesting, it would be easier to decide.
She looks away for a moment, towards the Playground, a small reprieve for him. When her watchful gaze returns to the gold and ivory stallion, it is softer - a little less predatory as she replies honestly - even if it’s not quite what he was looking for. “I also spent some time being stuck as a horse, fresh from living as a lion, and now that I can shift again…” A pause while she tries to explain the feeling and the freedom she feels both when she is in this form and when she is in the sky as her horse-self. That is when she truly feels like Vastra, like she belongs somewhere. It’s never been about kingdoms or families for her. Until Chel, all she needed was some mountains to roam and a bright sky to soar and that would be enough. Lucky then that she can bring her daughter along to both, now. “Both forms are a part of me, denying one over the other only ever brought me pain and uncertainty. So I practiced until I could move back and forth as the desire took me.” She can shift into other animals too, but none of them have the same feeling of being home as this lioness does.
And then, because she is bold, she opts for a more obvious poke. “Maybe that’s all you need too? Some practice?”
Her storm-grey eyes never stray; they are set firmly on him, caught within her sights and, though Svedka cannot tell the reason (perhaps he could guess), her gaze seems set on finding something more than just the stallion that stands before her. He huffs, not entirely enjoying the fact that he felt as if he was being toyed with, but at the same time not quite hating it either. Perhaps it is the lion in him that is reacting, stretching against its cage and growling almost contentedly as her gaze feasts so freely on him.
She allows a long silence to follow as he waits with bated breath. It is now his turn to not have his gaze shy away, their sparkling cerulean depths shimmering with wistful hope; maybe there was something he missed and only needed to be taught. Then, maybe, all of his worries and anxieties will fall away and he can truly be himself again, wholly and unabashedly. Svedka’s face is surprisingly meek as the cougar turns to look upon him again, hoping that her next words will somehow hold the key to all he is enduring.
There is familiarity in her words and it causes the stallion to bristle visibly, snorting softly to quell the nervousness that creeps across his spine, unwanted as it spreads through him. Svedka is contemplating her words, his eyes fluttering to glance at the ivory of his legs, brow furrowing. Practice?
“I don’t know if that would be -”Safe, he’s about to say, but the certainty in his voice falters as he assesses her again, a slight glimmer of mischief finding his eyes. As if she would need to ever worry about her safety, even from him. The stallion tosses his head, his flaxen and sky blue tendrils falling to settle around his handsome face, a semblance of a smirk on his pink lips. He clears his throat, rewording his previous statement. “Practice is very risky for me,” he admits to her, clarifying so that she knows that he understands it would not be a risk for her in the least. “I was lost for a time, too.” Svedka’s admission brings a more timidity to his voice and gentleness on his face. “I don’t know if I’ll shift back.”
Disclaimer: All images used in this site are copyrighted to their original owner. No copyright infringement is intended. If you are the copyrighted owner of any material on this site and wish for it to be removed, please let us know.