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Latest revision as of 05:26, 23 May 2020

Summary: Irenic and Valrae run into each other in Cenril. Valrae struggles with the memories they share and tells her former husband a few details of her life after both of their deaths. Irenic listens kindly and reassures her that there is still friendship between them.

Ginger Snapped Bakery and Sweetshop

Irenic finds himself in Cenril lately as he’d been helping Emilia with a new clinic opening here, so he figures that he’d get some baked goods for the workers when they get a break. At first he doesn’t realize the bakery has changed names and walks right up to the counter to place his order. He glances around to the handful of vacant seats in the dining area after placing the large order of baked goods and decides to occupy one while he waits. An odd sense of dejavu comes over him as his silvery gaze washes over certain aspects of Mrs. Mallard’s bakery that used to be right here and the avian concludes that he likes the renovation and additions. Pushing up the sleeves to his light blue sweater and pulling out a book, he begins to search for his eyeglasses, but grins slightly to himself when he realizes that he doesn’t need them anymore. Flipping the book open where a ribbon marks the spot he left off, he begins to lose himself in the words on the page and the busting of the restaurant is the perfect atmosphere to enjoy the literature, but not overly so where he couldn’t be bothered or hear his order number… especially with those large tapered ears.

Valrae || The Cenril afternoon was cool and sunny, with fat white clouds dotting the bright blue sky behind the shimmering barrier, and Valrae had spent most of her day on the beach. It was typical for the witch, who was a woman of salt and sand and crashing waves deep into her soul. Her love of the Cenril coastline would surely be passed to her son Finn, who had been splashing in the water all morning. They were both warm, sandy, and ready for a treat when they entered the bakery. She was disguised, wrapped in a glamour that turned her hair dark and her eyes lake blue. Vainly, it made her a little thinner as well. In a brightly colored sundress Valrae carried little Fynn, who was wrapped in a soft bear patterned beach towel, on her hip. Her plump, chatty aunt Belinda was never far behind, fussing with Finn’s mess of curling dark hair. The pair of witches parted ways as Belinda ordered lunch and Valrae scanned the busy bakery for a table. Her illusioned eyes travel over Irenic and her heartbeat quickens. For a moment, movement and sound faded around her and it was only him. His silhouette, the lines of him pouring over a book, were jarringly familiar and painfully different. The small, lonely and broken feeling it stirred in her was painful. Finn’s babbling pulled her back into the room. Blinking, the witch moved to an empty table near the window and let her son squeal and speak incoherently at the passers by. When Belinda appeared, cookies and cakes in tow, Valrae excused herself and walked slowly toward Irenic’s table. “Excuse me,” She starts quietly, “Could I bother you a moment?” Her smile was bright and apologetic.

Irenic lofts a thick dusky brown brow up at the voice, but when he looks at the woman and doesn’t recognize her as the woman who matches the voice, it throws him through a little loop. One hand tucks the book marker back into the binding and he closes it while the other motions to the empty booth seat across from him. If she didn’t sit, that would be fine, but he offers out of politeness, “uhm… yeah, sure.” The low gravelly voice sounding open minded and calm, but his gaze keeps scrutinizing the stranger. “You seem familiar, have we met?” A glance is offered to the workers behind the counter to check on his order, but he can see it’s not ready yet. He’s in no hurry, though, it was just something to do. His gaze is back on the stranger as he smooths the longer hairs on the top of his head back and leans on the table as he waits for the ‘bother’ to come.

Valrae slides into the offered seat with another smile, this one mischievous. “It’s Val,” She stage whispers, leaning slightly over the table between them, her hand covering one side of her mouth as she winks. Her attempt at humor probably doesn’t lighten the news though. Something heavy sank low in her belly. “I ah,” She fumbles for the words for a moment, the quiet blooming around them. “You left in a hurry before…” Ah, that sounded dumb in her ears. Frustration bloomed behind her false blue eyes. It was hard to look at him, hard to look away. “I just mean, it didn’t seem like we had said everything… Or something.” What was there to say? Thoughts crashed and folded into each other in her mind. The struggle of them played across her face openly. She looked away from him, toward her son as he smushed cake through his chubby fingers and his aunt fussed at him, and felt too much. “I had more to say,” She admits softly. “More I wanted you to know, I think.” Val looks back at him now, “How are you?”

Irenic blinks a couple times and the dejavu doubles, but he quickly responds with the raise of his eyebrows and an, "ah," sound as if to say 'yeah, of course you're Val.' A start to a chuckle offered at her attempt for humor and he's internally surprised with himself how easy that is. Remembering that he did sort of bail out of their awkward reunion, but he also remembers what he did directly after and grins which exposes his long white teeth that are now perfectly straight, "oh.. I didn't mean to." That day seems like it was just yesterday, but not at the same time. I mean he was a captive in Alithrya for a while… must have been a couple of months at least. "We didn't?" He asks gently because he can tell she feels there is something she needs him to know, but is having some trouble puzzling the words together so as to not hurt him or something. "I am well, Valrae. You seem to be doing well also," his response may read as cold, but he's aiming for more of a relaxed and open vibe. Being able to tell that she's been to the beach and soaking up the sun, he knows that was one of her favorite things. Irenic doesn't need to follow her eyeline to know she is looking at something or someone she loves because just like anyone, her iris expands and the subtle warm happy changes tug at her facial features. "très bien," with the Veretian (French) prompt of 'okay', he gestures to her with a hand, palm side up, "you have the floor and I'm all ears." His grin widens again as he makes a joke at his own expense. Silver hues rest easily at her faux blue ones and he wonders if this is so easy because this woman doesn't actually look like Valrae this time or if it has to do with something else entirely.

Valrae could still hear him telling her he needed time. She’d replayed the moment he’d left her on the stairs in Larket thousands of times in her head. Time. Space. It spanned between them endlessly. Even sitting across from him now, surrounded by the sound and light and life, she felt worlds and lifetimes apart. The witch watched his face carefully, taking in the lines of it like a woman starved. A face she’d once thought would only ever exist in her dreams. It was hard, impossible to keep the memories from flooding through her as she looked at him, even as he’d changed. It wouldn’t be the same for him though. She was too different, even underneath the magic Valrae’s appearance had changed. And underneath that, her soul had changed. Had he changed too? She laughed softly at his joke but it didn’t reach her eyes. Valrae couldn’t seem to get the same footing as he did, she struggled and it was apparent. “I just wanted to say I’m glad you’re alive too, and I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry that I didn’t look harder for you. Find you.” Save you. The time Irenic had been cursed was there, in the back of her mind. She’d failed to be who he had needed then as well. History replaying on an endless loop. The thought was bitter. Silence settles between them again for a moment. “And I wanted to tell you… I wanted to tell you about some of the things that had changed for me.” She had wanted to tell him about Finn. It felt selfish and stupid now, looking at him again with his voice asking for time ringing in her ears. But selfish and stupid were some of Val’s more dominate traits, even if she didn’t want them to be, so she breaks the quiet between them to say, “I have a son,” She looked away from him. “I live in Cenril now. I helped build a coven. I built a life again but I never forgot you,” She takes the rings from her neck again, places them between them. “I’m sorry I wasn’t who you needed me to be but I love you, I always will. I’ll give you the space you need, I accept that things are different. But I want you to know that I never stopped thinking of you, that I looked for you in every crowd and every empty sky and wished for you with every heartbeat between.”

Irenic pushes his book to the edge of their table so it is out of the way for him to lean his elbows on it in attempts to soften his body language, "Valrae, you could not have anything. Island Vere is on the other side of the world, in the middle of a vast ocean and they do not allow anyone that isn't an avian to step foot there." No wonder so many people fled… how boring does that seem now! "I was also," he lowers his voice and glances around, "rightfully in prison. I did -kill- the royal leaders," he sits back up and patiently waits for her to come out with whatever she needs for him to hear. She has a child… It felt odd to hear from the woman who was so sure that she would be a shyte mom and how many times did he reassure her that they didn't need to make plans like that, but if she did decide that was something she wanted then he was ready. He was always so great with kids, surely she remembers Quizzical. Only for a hiccup of a second does he wonder how old the child is and wondered if that is why he needed to know. Is he a father!? It didn't show on his face, but he does feel a thrill of joy, just for a second before he realizes that it would be entirely impossible. The joy that filled his heart became a cool solid pit that drops into the depths of his stomach, but his expression remains neutral still as he asks, "yeah? What's his name?" Then, a genuine grin did shine through because he is happy for Valrae and her ability to conquer that fear of motherhood. His haze finally drops to the rings between them and his brow furrows because… of course she had to forget about him - at least long enough to move on and have a child with someone else, right? He can't seem to bring that up and throw that in her face, though, "no, no. You were everything Valrae, don't talk about it like that because, as I told you, there was nothing you could have done." He did say he needed space and grins with another chuckle, "well.. I think I had enough space and time. It's okay, really," it is obvious that there's more meaning hidden under that last statement, but he's not ready to talk about his time in captivity just yet.

Valrae felt choked, strangled by everything that was warring inside of her. She struggled to speak around the lump that had formed in her throat. “You would have.” The witch says simply, softly. She couldn’t look at him. She let the words hang between them and felt that they were bitterly true. It didn’t matter now though. Impatiently, she snorts at him. “I’ve killed people too,” Val points out, finally bringing her eyes back to him. “Did I deserve what happened to me?” It was a challenge and a genuine question. Had she deserved her death? Before, she would have said no. In the life she’d lived before her bitter end, Valrae had believed almost zealously in her cause and was sure of her actions, no matter how questionable. Would the ends have justified the means if she’d won? Would it bring back any of the lives that had been taken on either side? Valrae shakes her head, pushing the memories of Larket aside. “That’s not the point, I’m sorry,” Her apology falls clumsily from her lips. “His name is Finnegan. Finn,” Her eyes find him again, his dark face covered in chocolate and frosting, and her expression softens. “It was an accident,” She finds herself explaining, “I slept with a man I hardly knew,” Finn squealed now as Belinda attempted, in vain, to clean his sticky face. She wanted to tell him how lonely she had been, how empty her nights had felt. How terrified she’d been when he came and she had no one to look at the little life she’d brought into the world and feel everything change forever. How she’d hoped that if things had ended differently with them it would have been him looking at them both with impossible love. Valrae couldn’t share any of that though, couldn’t find the words. “He doesn’t really know him, Finn’s father. I don’t think he wants too,” The witch shrugs. “We’re comfortable though, I think that’s what matters,” Valrae looks to Irenic again. “Are you? Comfortable I mean.. If you need anything…” Awkwardness crept back in, “I kept some of your things, I can return them,”

Irenic looks almost like he'd been slapped when she asked her question as all the friendly expressions drained from his face and he sits there deadpan, "no." Even he was surprised at the quickness of his response, "it's never fair when prejudice is involved. There was no trial. No defense… They publicly gutted you like an animal while putting on some sick show for their friends," his tone harsh and his lips scowl in disgust. A large to go basket is brought to the table they are at and it is obvious all this food isn't for him. He quickly snaps out of it and grins at the worker before handing over enough coin for the treats and a little extra as a tip. Once they are gone, he comes back to the conversation at hand, happy it has turned to more happier subjects. "Finn… I like it, it's a strong name," finally, he follows her gaze to the boy and the more genuine grin returns. It is a boy that harbors features of the woman he ran into back at their old house, but the curious and rambunctious spirit of Valrae can be seen somehow. With the quirk of a brow, he looks to Valrae, "he's beautiful, but no accident." With a sigh, he shakes his head, "as someone who watched his father beheaded in front of him and I shortly became orphaned after that… It's a shame he doesn't want to know him," his jaw tenses. How dare someone leave Valrae with this alone. A shrug given, "comfortable isn't all that matters. Being there does and that's the best gift you can give to a kid. Being there, experiences," he finally looks at her. "What? Me? Yeah, I'm great-Imean- good- No, it's fine. I'll take them if you really don't want them, but I don't mind it." His brow knit together and he glares down at the table as his mind spirals because he doesn't get it; he wants badly to be a father and so many can just toss that responsibility aside carelessly. Blinking a few times and pulling himself back down to earth takes a small moment before he chuckles, "how are you finding motherhood?"

Valrae hadn’t expected Irenic’s reaction to her question and frowned. “You didn’t deserve it either, then.” Her tone was stubborn. It wouldn’t matter to her what wrong he’d done, it never had. She watched him looking at her son and felt the bone deep ache of longing again. The witch waits quietly as his order is placed on the table. She wanted to tell him everything and felt like she already had. She listened to him, heard the tone of disapproval toward Finn’s father. She grimaces at the reminder of Irenic’s troubled childhood, sympathy in her eyes. She’d grown in the streets of Cenril without her parents as well and knew the pain behind his words intimately. “I’ll be enough for him,” She says softly, “I have to be,” And to his question she frowns. “It’s lonely and it’s hard. But I’m not as terrible as I thought, or I hope I’m not,” She laughs softly. “I’m there and that matters.” How many nights had she spoken to Irenic’s memory, told him everything and wanted desperately to believe he’d been listening somewhere out there, watching over her? How many nights had she spent wishing he were there on the sleepless nights, the fussy nights, the day he’d taken his first step or the first time she’d heard him laugh? He had been her best friend, her partner and her husband. They had made and broken promises, loved and fought and laughed and cried. On the night they’d married Valrae had truly believed she’d spend the rest of her life with Irenic and in a way she had. People weren’t meant to come back from the dead. The impossible way she felt now wasn’t meant to be. There was too much time, too many broken things.She wanted to tell him everything again, wanted to feel his arms around her and his breath feathering through her hair as he told her everything would be alright but it could happen now no more than it could when she believed he had died. There was no going back, no way to change the end. It was selfish and wrong to tell him now and she could see it, even if she didn’t want to. She looked at the food between them and felt embarrassment, shame. “I’m sorry,” Valrae says suddenly, “You didn’t ask for all of this. I’m glad you’re alive, I hope that one day I can look at you and see a lifetime of memories and not feel all of this hurt,” The witch bites back tears. “I hope that one day we can be friends again. I hope that one day my son can know you, if that’s something you ever want. That’s all I need you to know.”

Irenic cuts her off, "hey-hey. No," he reaches across the table, seeking out her forearm and gently squeezes it as he can tell she's fighting back tears, "our memories don't hurt and they shouldn't, okay?" His grin comes easy again, "it was right for us at the time which gave us many great memories and I believe we are friends. At least, if you find yourself in trouble, I am in your corner. You're fierce and strong. I know you're a good mom and I'm proud of you." He lets her arm go and relaxes back in his booth seat with a grin as he realizes something, but now is not the time. "I'll gladly be part of Finn's life, it takes a village, right?" With that he stands up with the basket in hand, "you need anything, I'll do my best to help out, but you have to take care of yourself, too. Take a day just for you, a spa day or something," suddenly he's reminded of Nadia back in Alithrya when they were in a sauna together. This made him feel sick with guilt because he shouldn't be missing the people who held him captive. "Look, I've got to get these snacks to some hungry workers. I will be seeing you around Valrae, take it easy," he grins at her again, showing a lot of those teeth and gives a wave before meandering on out of the establishment.

Valrae felt his touch sear into her like a brand. The tears that had threatened to fall slipped quietly down her cheeks. They were bittersweet though. “I’m in your corner too, I always will be.” She swallows hard. “Thank you, Irenic. It was really good to see you.” She watches him stand and forces a smile that doesn’t quite reach her eyes. One day it might. As he leaves, a lifetime of love and pain crashes around her, through her. She saw herself, flawed and selfish and never quite getting it right. And she let it go. The witch took a moment to settle herself, alone with their wedding rings again. She scooped them up, tucked them back underneath her dress, and listened to Belinda question her about the handsome man she’d been sitting with distanty while her son squealed and healed the most jagged edges of her heart with his laugh.