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    COTY

    Firion -- Year 217

    QOTY

    "She approaches the cave and there is nothing but that anticipation and her ever-present fire inside her. No fear, no flickering echoes of love. It’s all been consumed for now. She is a wildfire contained only by the thin layer of her flesh." --Mazikeen, written by Squirt


    [private]  when we are apart i feel it too
    #1
    The moon hangs low on the horizon, a thin crescent in a black sky, surrounded by stars too numerous to count. Malik is looking up at them, and tonight he wears a matching pair of eyes, the orange and blue of them swirled together to create a shade of olive only a little darker than those that Malik’s grandfather had once worn. Gale had shown him Wolfbane, and Malik had been entranced by the tales of the former Commandant, often asking his father for them.

    Malik has been thinking quite a lot of his father of late, struggling to reconcile the life he remembers with the flood of memories that had returned following his encounter with Sickle. Though Gale has been gone from Hyaline for nearly a year, part of Malik’s plans for his quest included showing his father the powers he acquires and feeling - finally - like he is accepted. He’d once felt the same about his mother as well, but in this time without his father has begun to realize that she is honest when she tells him that she loves him as he is.

    He counts the stars as he relives the memories.

    By the time the eastern mountains have begun to separate from the sky with the first hint of dawn, the tears on his cheeks have finally begun to dry.

    There is only one thing for him to do, he knows, only one individual who can put to rest his concerns. He finds her in the still-early morning light, have travelled across the deep winter snow as a fleet-footed hare, enjoying the thrill of adrenaline that the prey shape leaves in his veins as he regains his equine form in front of his mother.

    “Why doesn’t Sickle live here with us?” He asks, his face solemn. Despite the apprehension in his chest, the words are not accusatory; he is only curious.

    @ Mazikeen
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    #2

    The smile that she instinctively greets Malik with fades at his solemn expression and the question he asks. She inhales sharply in surprise, making no attempts to hide her reaction from him. “You remember who she is now?” This first question comes out as a whisper, wondering what else Malik might remember and knowing some of it was better left forgotten.

    But she does not linger with just that question. Mazikeen visibly wilts, her head drooping but she quickly opts to be honest - she hadn’t meant to keep Sickle a secret, she just hadn’t known how to bring it up.

    But Malik is direct, and she doesn’t mind at all.

    She doesn’t start the story where it really begins - on the day Gale had brought Sickle here, when Mazikeen had still been herself. Some things are easier to be honest than others.

    And though she decides to be honest, her tear-filled eyes can’t quite seem to connect with Malik’s at first. “When I was… when your father was still here, I went to go take Sickle and bring her back here. I felt possessive more than I felt love and I… I wasn’t very nice to her. All I cared about was getting her back here, not how it happened. I had been pushing myself to the limit for days and on the way back it finally caught up to me and I crashed. She ran and I was too tired to follow. By the time I woke up again her trail was cold.” She inhales a shaky breath and now, finally, she steadies herself and looks at her son, trying not to let the fear of his resentment deter her from trying to explain. “It wasn’t long after that when Myrna was born and everything changed. And then… I thought leaving Sickle alone would be the kindest thing I could do for her.”

    When it had happened, Mazikeen hadn't thought anything of the look of fear in her daughter's eyes when she had snatched her away from Aela and Skandar. But it haunts her now.

    She tries so hard not to cry in front of Myrna and Malik, the guilt claws at her every time. Sometimes it just can't be helped - like now. When there is this larger source of guilt that overshadows everything else.

    “But I think about her every day.”






    mazikeen


    @ Malik
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    #3
    His question surprises her, and her response confirms what he has suspected - she remembers Sickle too.

    He had almost convinced himself that Mazikeen’s memories had been stolen as well. That - like him - her mind had been rifled through and manipulated, till all memories of the blue girl had been wiped from her head. But no - she knows who Sickle is.

    She’d been hiding Sickle from him.
    Even after what she’d said about loving him.

    Malik tries to keep his emotions from his face, watching as his mother wilts in front of him. Is she going to say anything, he wonders? Does he have to ask again? The thought of pressing his mother for information is uncomfortable. He wouldn’t have dared before Myrna, and now? Now she looks very sad, and the voice with which she finally speaks is accented by tears that glitter in her orange eyes.

    It is not what he’d expected, a tale of how his mother had lost Sickle and then chosen to leave her. He thinks of the way that his sister had said the word Mazikeen, and knows that she feels herself better without their mother too.

    She had left out the part of the story that Sickle had told him. The part that came before her own story, when Gale had stolen her from Tephra and done something to her here in the mountains before sending her away again. Does he ask how that fits in? Does he ask why they’d let him stay and not his sister?

    “I met her in the Forest.” he finally says, still hesitant to ask and choosing instead to answer her whispered question. “She doesn’t...she’s a...” The words are difficult, and licks his suddenly dry lips. “She only knows the way you were. Before. But I told her you were different now.”

    @ Mazikeen
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    #4

    On some level, Mazikeen is surprised it took this long for a chance encounter with Sickle - whenever she ventured out of Hyaline she was always on-edge. It did not take much imagination to guess why the blue iridescent girl hadn’t ever come through the mountains to visit.

    She watches Malik carefully, but though he does a very good job at keeping whatever he is feeling guarded she thinks she sees small signs of what’s underneath. Like how he stumbles over his words in a way that is very familiar - she’s not sure when was the last time she spat out a handful of thoughts without stumbling through them.

    “I’m sorry, Malik. For not telling you about her, for how I was when you were little…” Mazikeen inhales a shaky breath, feeling like she’s doing this all wrong - hating that she spent her first year as a mom not paying any attention at all on how to do it and now she is just scrambling to learn. Her mom wouldn’t talk about this at all. “For all of it. I think… once I was me again I just didn’t know how to tell you about Sickle because I didn’t know if… well, if I should tell you about your father.” It sounds pretty stupid now and exactly the same mistake she had been making all along - she should be warning everyone in the world about what Gale was like. “That maybe it was kinder for you to not know what he was really like, just like it was kinder to leave Sickle somewhere else where I couldn't hurt her anymore.”

    It takes all of her willpower for a sob not to choke out of her, even though she knows the tears are obvious enough. Her face crinkles with a frown instead. She didn’t think all truths need to be told, but if Malik wanted to know them - could she really keep them from him? “Did I get that wrong?” She asks softly, genuinely wanting to know - thinking her son might just be blunt enough to give her an honest answer and then she can try to do better for him.







    mazikeen


    @ Malik
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    #5
    They’ve not talked about the way things were when he was younger, or how things have changed. Changed since Myrna’s birth, he’d always thought, but perhaps that isn’t entirely so. Once I was me again, she’d said, as though it had been someone else who had raised him in the mountains. He’d thought her a good parent even then, though as he has grown older and watched the way she acts with his younger sibling and the other residents of Hyaline, he has come to know that the son that Mazikeen had been raising was a different creature entirely than the one he has started to become.

    He might have become something dark and bitter, someone that the mother in front of him now might not like so much. What would it have been like to be that Malik, he wonders? Would he have been more Powerful?

    He doesn’t think as much about Power as he had when his father was in Hyaline. That had been Gale’s obsession, after all, and without him nearby the reminders have gone as well. He has tried his best not to think of his father at all, after all, and the memories the boy has again have only confirmed the wisdom of that choice.

    Had it been kinder for his mother to keep him in the dark? How different was hiding the truth than warping it with the theft of memories? Malik shakes his head, backing away as he struggles to make sense of the clamor of emotions that rise within his chest. He feels so many things, and of them all the one that is the strongest is hurt. Not by his mother, not if he really thought about it, but he is too angry to think much, and is only focused on the fact that she had lied to him, and had kept the knowledge of Sickle from him. He is quiet for a time, and then at last he looks up to meet her gaze.

    “You should’ve told me about her.” Malik says stubbornly, eyes fixed on hers. She is the mother, the adult, the one who has all the answers and she should have found a way. “Maybe not Dad, though. That I didn’t need to know.” The words feel strange in his mouth, for though they are truthful they nonetheless grate on the small part of Malik that still considers his parents to be paragons in all things.

    @ Mazikeen
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    #6

    There is a deep ache in her heart to see Malik back away from her. She doesn’t try to reclaim that space right away, she stays quiet - giving him the chance to sort through his thoughts. It is not difficult to do when part of her focus is on keeping her sadness from bubbling out.

    When he meets her gaze again and she recognizes some of her stubbornness in him - she nods. “That’s fair.” The desire to step forward and hug Malik is powerful and like the tears, Mazikeen fights it. Uncertainty twists in her stomach and makes her feel nauseous before pushes herself over that frightening ledge like she has been trying to do this past year.

    So she moves closer - careful but determined, and would stop if he moved away again. But if he didn’t, she’d wrap her neck around her son in a too-rare gesture, one that she wanted to be less rare in the future.

    And again she would hold onto the sobs that would threaten to burst from her - both in the pain at knowing Malik was full-grown before she hugged him and in happiness.

    She steps away again, hug or no, and can’t dig herself out of the hole she’s made but she tries to offer a little more information anyway. “When I brought you and Sickle to Tephra the day you were born, I hoped that would be enough to keep you away from him. To keep you safe.” Mazikeen had come to that decision while she had still been pregnant but walking away from Tephra after that one day with them and Wishbone had still been one of the hardest things she had ever done.

    “It didn’t quite work out like that.” Obviously. She had been set up to fail with regards to the Curse but she had still tried her best. Or, what she thought was her best. In hindsight, there were other paths she might have taken. And maybe they would have been her best.

    It was becoming a little easier now, not torturing herself with all the what ifs - but they had been a daily source for nightmares when she had first returned.

    “Do you...” Mazikeen pauses, frowning in concentration as she tries to puzzle out the best way to ask the question that is nagging at her. The one she probably shouldn’t ask because there’s a chance the answer will hurt - but she’s going to anyway. “I’ve never asked… but are you okay with…”

    She pauses, taking in a breath, and when she releases it the words finally work. “Do you mind that I’m not the same as I was when you were little?”






    mazikeen


    @ Malik
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