A Wanderer's Welcome

Title: A Wanderer's Welcome
Time Period: December 23, 134 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Regrets are plentiful while apologies are scarce when Luna finds Beisdean has returned to Dornie.

They were once a pale blue, like a robin’s egg, walls to make a small boy who shared a room with his mother a little more comfortable. In the more than a dozen years since his initial absence, they’ve been washed over with a pale pink. In places the blue still bleeds through, mixing with the newer color to form a streaky sort of pale purple, like the color of late winter’s heather. The room is larger than the rest save one, the madame’s, and is filled with a lifetime of furnishings and finery.

A watercolor portrait of Slainte and a small boy still hangs near the dressing table, all on its own and bordered by a patch of splotchy purple. The other walls are filled with newer things, things that weren’t there more than a dozen years ago. Lace panels, lovingly framed, and hung in staggered order to draw the eye to about the same spot just over the bed. Poetry that seems painstakingly transcribed onto brittle paper has yellowed from sun exposure but is preserved well enough behind glass, displayed for those lucky enough to enter the room. From the dust that has settled on the blanket and pillows, those visitors are few.

An assortment of curios and jewelry spreads out from the dressing table, a spot filled with makeup for a pale woman, and cut glass bottles filled with fine perfume. The only thing that seems to have a place of its own is a small flat jewelry box that seems to be fashioned from silver filigree. Inside is a frayed and faded ribbon necklace laying on a bed of dried petals, too old to wear but still cherished.

Beisdean stands just inside the door, as if frozen, his eyes taking in everything new and everything remembered. Footsteps fade away down the hall along with a murmur, something along the lines of “let you have a moment.” The woman who showed him to his mother’s old room had remembered him from his youth, and apparently trusts him enough to let him into this space that was once Slàinte’s but now belongs to another.

There’s a tension and guardedness to his posture, as if he might break something if he moves.

Finally, he steps toward the portrait, stopping a foot or so shy and bending his head to study it closer. He doesn’t remember sitting for it, but then, it was so long ago that he was last here. The likeliness is good, though his mother’s personality is lacking in the soft, faded colors of the painting. And of the room.

He sighs, looking around one last time and shoving his hands into his coat pockets.

You could summon her if this is not enough, says Darklight’s voice in his head, and he looks to the window where a raven has alighted upon the sill outside. Beisdean strides with long legs to unlatch the window and let the familiar in; black feathers become dark fur, and there is scamper of legs and bobbing of tail as the marten crawls up his back to nestle between collar and neck, where it is warm.

“No,” is Beisdean’s short answer, spoken aloud.

From the doorway Luna stares at the man in her bedchamber. Her eyebrows knit angrily as she mentally plays through the scene where she soundly whips whomever allowed the stranger in. It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been there in over a week, it’s still her room. She’s already laid claim to everything in it. Silent footsteps have her a few feet inside before she reaches behind her to slowly close the door.

The squeak is obnoxiously loud.

She catches her breath as he turns his head to look over his shoulder at her. Older, a bit silver at the edges and through his beard, but Luna still recognizes a few key details. The martin on his shoulder, for one, the color of his eyes and shape of his lips. All of the air in her lungs leaves in a gasp, the first sound she’s made since entering the room. The clip of her heels rattles the floorboards and likely the ceiling downstairs as she races toward Beisdean, throwing her arms around him and crushing her lips to his in a kiss that is more heat than sweet.

Tiny feet crawl down Beisdean’s spine as Darklight runs down his mage’s back and lands on the ground with a disdainful little growl. Feathers overtake fur and with a raucous and indignant caw, he’s out the window that has let the cold in to the chamber.

Beisdean, meanwhile, backs up and away from Luna — he isn’t as quick at recalling or registering her face, and of all people, she has no place in his memory of this room, his home for twelve years of his life. Stumbling backward to disentangle himself from what he thinks is a stranger, he bumps into the dressing table, sending knicknacks rattling across its surface.

“I’m not here for your … services, miss,” he manages, eyes downward as he turns to catch a bottle before it rolls off the table. “This was my mother’s room…” His voice is lower and tells of his travels to the south.

His eyes come up to meet her face, holding out to her the perfume bottle he’d caught. The recognition, delayed, finally comes. His brows draw together and he gives a quick shake of his head. “Luna?” he hazards, doubt in his voice — perhaps she just looks similar to the little girl from his youth.

Snatching the bottle with one of her hands, the other meets his cheek in a sharp slap. “You left! You just left and no one knew if you were alive or dead!” Perhaps the scorn and scolding is for his departed mother’s sake but this woman has never been known for her charitable outlook on the feelings of others… for anything. Pressing her lips together to keep her chin from quivering, she steps beside him and places the bottle back onto the dressing table, rather than throwing it at him.

“Yes, Luna,” she answers his question finally, then turns her back toward the open window, facing the door. Her shoulders sag a little and she looks down at the floor. “Everything is here, just as she left it… It all belongs to you.”

He flinches at the slap, eyes closing as one hand comes up to his temple when the blow sends currents of pain through his skull from the still-healing injury he’d received on his way into town. When they open, his eyes narrow.

“I had to leave. And I left a note for my mother. It didn’t concern you, though I know you’d find that hard to believe. The world revolved around you then. In your mind anyway.” He lifts a hand to indicate the room they stand in. “Does it now?”

He doesn’t wait for her response, but moves to the portrait, taking it off the wall and then looking at the rest of the room. “I’ve no use for gowns or costume jewelry. Unless there’s anything else…” If he believes there is, Beisdean doesn’t show it as he moves toward the door.

“There is,” she answers quietly, crossing the room to the bed and kneeling down to reach under it. There’s a scrape of wood against wood as she pulls a heavy chest out from its dark recesses and just looks at its rich colors and leather bindings for a moment. She reaches up and runs her fingers underneath her hair at the back of her neck to untie a ribbon, then pulls a key from under her lace collar. “I know you think the very worst of me, I don’t give a fig. Your mother was my only comfort in this place.”

The lock clicks as she twists the key and then removes it. Smoothing her fingers over the round edges of the lid, she finally opens it to a collection of letters and other sundry items. “It was nice of you to write her when you finally did. She blamed herself for absolutely everything.”

His brows rise at her assessment of his view of her, and he looks amused, about to argue, before she pulls out the pile of letters. His expression softens, blue eyes growing wet, and Beisdean looks away. The gray in his hair makes him seem older than his 27 years, but there is still something fragile and delicate in his expression, something that hearkens back to the outcast child.

Stepping forward to receive the cache of letters from Luna, Beisdean’s expression hardens again at her cutting words. “You’ve probably read them and know that I already know that. You’ll also know I told her not to blame herself. I did what I had to do, Luna, and I’ll not be apologizing to you for it. I already apologized to her.

There’s a flush of shame in his cheeks that tells too well that he doesn’t believe his own words. A letter isn’t enough for such an apology, and Beisdean will carry that guilt with him.

Putting the letters in his coat, he looks out the window, catching sight of the raven circling the sky outside. Cool eyes turn back to Luna’s face. “There was nothing for me in Dornie,” he says, lightly. “I’ll only be staying the season before heading back to England, if I can manage it in the spring.”

As to whether she read the letters or not, his challenge goes unanswered aside from a defiant raise of her chin. “You’ll leave the painting then, since I had it commissioned,” Luna spits back as she stands and kicks the heavy chest toward him with her shoe. If it hurts, she doesn’t let on past a grit of her teeth and a sting of tears in her eyes. Turning her back to him, she sniffles while pulling a kerchief from her sleeve and dabs her eyes with it. It’s discreetly put back in place before she faces him again, as fresh as when she turned away.

“Well then, I suppose best wishes are in order, I’ll likely not see you again before you leave. I’m a busy woman and— and I have obligations.” Even if spring is months and months away, she doesn’t acknowledge it, or the small size of the town they’re both trapped in until the snow melts. “Goodbye Beisdean Skye, good luck and— ” She pauses to swallow the lump in her throat with a painful gulp. “— whatever else one says when he or she wishes another to fall on a pitchfork or from a cliff.”

There’s a flash of irritation in his face, but the painting is lightly tossed onto the bed, one more fleeting glance to his mother’s image. “Wasn’t trying to rob you or anything. I figured it must have been hers and I’d forgotten about it,” Beisdean mutters, too soft to be heard under the rest of her speech.

Her farewell makes his eyes crinkle with amusement, though he has the grace not to laugh aloud. “A loss for words? Never thought it possible, Miss Owens. Unless you’re a married and proper woman by now?” A glance at their surroundings is shadowed by a playful look of doubt.

He bends to pick up the heavy chest. “I’ll leave you to your ‘obligations,’ then. I’m just here to pay my respects, not to pay for anything else, miss.

Luna sinks to the bed and carefully lifts the painting, cradling it in both hands. She stares at the boy’s image as Beisdean’s remarks visibly cut into her, marked by the slight wince at each. “No, I ain’t married and proper, there’s only been one that ever stirred those sorts of fantasies in my head.” There’s a pause as she stands and pads silently over to the dressing table to hang the watercolor back up. “I s’pose you are by now, a pretty thing she must be… and smart, I couldn’t imagine you with anything but.” She didn’t read the letters.

The woman is careful to keep her back to him. When it can’t be helped, like when she walks to the window to close it, she hangs her head so that her hair hides most of her face. Her skin is still as pale as the moon she was named for, she always took pride in that. “I’ll send the rest of the things that you might find of interest, I don’t feel like going through them now.” Her voice seems tight and her tone clipped. “Where are you staying?”

His brows lift — he’d heard the refrain ‘I’m going to marry you, Baizey Skye’ often enough in his youth to figure out just who she means — but he shakes his head. “I’ve enough people in my life as it is,” he says in a flat tone.

Another step takes Beisdean toward the door. “The inn, though not for long if I can’t find a way to earn my keep. I’ll be seeing to that today, I suppose.”

There’s a pause, and he turns back toward her. “I loved her, you know. I wouldn’t have come all this way if I didn’t. I may have been a bad son, but she said she understood. I meant to save enough to bring her south, to let her retire from this… it just… she died too young.”

His voice cracks a little and he ducks his head as he moves, once more, for the exit.

"I wish it would've been you to hold her hand, not Edme." When his back is finally toward her, Luna finally faces him, her eyes rimmed with red and her nose embarrassingly pink. "Maybe then I'd not have been pushed away… I miss her terribly."

Once again, she crosses the room and sinks into the mattress as she sits. Her hand finds the pillow and she brushes her fingers across the tatting of its cover. "I'll have another painting made, for you, if you want. I have a few favors owed to me… I just want to keep that'un, I want to remember her face." Looking up at his back, her eyes trace his hairline at the neck and there's a bitter twist to her lips before she turns away. "I'll have it sent to the inn, my ma'd never toss you to the streets. Just pay her better mind than I did, smile every morning."

“It’s a nice one,” he says of the painting. “You keep it. You don’t need to do me any favors, Loon. And I don’t want to owe anyone anything, not your mum. I’ll do some work for her if I can’t find anything else.”

He shifts the heavy case to his other hand, flexing the now vacant one, grown red from holding the weight for so long. One more glance over his shoulder is thrown her way, his hair falling into his eyes before he reaches to tuck it back again. “It was good to see you,” Beisdean finally says, though given the awkwardness — not to mention the slap — it’s mostly polite and a little hollow in tone.

His feet carry him out the door this time, his farewell accentuated with a knock of the door frame with a loose fist.