There is a silence between them after Lumina argues her nereidship, and the only sign of passing time is how the snow slowly gathers against her hooves. At the end of her assertion, the stallion had tilted his head in a way that caused Lumina to wonder if he doubts her conclusion. What he finally has to say confirms that suspicion, though the comparison escapes her. Leilan does not look much like a butterfly to her at all, and she is looking for a proboscis or maybe the hint of a missing set of legs when she realizes that he has said her father’s name.
It has not occurred to Lumina that she is so recognizable as her father’s child.
On an island where every child shared half her blood, the blue and gold of her hide had been unremarkable. Even the sister she had met on the main island of Ischia had shared a resemblance. She is thinking of this, and nearly answers when suddenly the stranger shakes his head as if he does not want to know the answer after all. Lumina frowns, but it is concern in her warm eyes rather than suspicion. She knows what it is like to not want to speak of her father. With a smile that is sympathetic for just a moment (she does not wish to shame him), Lumina is swiftly distracted by his declaration that she be called a mermaid instead.
At that she laughs, a clear soft sound. “Mermaid,”
she repeats, trying out the sound of it. “That will do as well as Lumina, I suppose. That is the name my mother gave me, and I think it must have been her who gave me these.”
Another smile, or a flash of her flat teeth, turns into wide-eyed surprise at his answer to her query about his identity.
“An ice dragon?”
She repeats. She knows dragons – or at least she thought she did. Terrin was a dragon, after all, but his affinity to the sea made him as much a brother to Lumina as their shared blood. His ability did not frighten her any more than the sharks did. It was a part of her world.
But ice? Ice she does not know, and does not really understand. There is much that the piebald does not understand, it seems, and there is within her chest a growing pressure, it feels like the pressure when she dove too deep, as though the water pushes down on her. Yet now she is breathing crisp air and the weight she feels is embarrassment at not knowing the most polite way to greet and ice dragon, or a leader, or a stallion that is neither her father nor her brother. It is not Leilan’s fault that she feels like a child, but he is the unfortunate soul to be nearest to her as she begins to realize the depths of her own ignorance.
Now it is her turn to cause the moment of silence, while her pretty face becomes marred by a pretty frown.
“I wanted to explore Beqanna,”
she finally tells him, choosing the truth regardless of how it might make her seem. “No one on our island had ever been here, to the Icicle Isle, and so I wanted to see it myself.”