Yule

Anecdotes: Yule and Regret

“Can I show you anything?” The shop owner looked down at Jade, his patience worn thin by the wave of girls and women who had flowed in and out all day.

Jade did not care. She rested her elbows on the counter and her chin in her hands. “No.”

The man frowned down at the sulking young woman before shrugging and moving off to help someone else who was more likely to spend money.

“Misses Harlowe?”

It took Jade a second, but remembering that that was her, she lifted her head to see who had spoken.

A happy smile lit the Elf’s fair face, and Jade wasn’t sure if it was from having forgotten the lady’s name or the fleeting thought of wanting to look that good in hunting leathers that caused her mind to go blank for a moment. “Oh… Hey. You’re — How are you?”

“Eruviel,” the Elf offered kindly as she set a gloved hand on the counter and looked behind it to the wall covered in gold, silver, and shell necklaces, bracelets and clips. “And I am exceptionally well, thank you. You are here shopping? I should warn you away. I do not think gold is the metal for your husband.”

Jade scoffed, but that brought a little smile to her red lips. “Then maybe a comb for his beard.” She then shook her head. “I’m waiting for the barber to get done”

Eruviel raised her brows. “You are cutting your hair off?”

“Sure am,” she replied, nodding curtly.

“May I ask why?”

Jade glanced side-long at the Elf’s long, intricate braid woven with satin ribbon and pretty winter blossoms. “Feel like being petty,” Jade offered lamely, feeling childish. Lifting her chin, she smirked and tossed her bangs to chase the feeling away. “Don’t tell me you’re cutting yours off. Do Elves lose their powers if they cut their hair?”

The Elf gave an enchanting, silvery laugh. “Not at all! And no, it is one of my most prized possessions. One of the younger members of the guild braided it so nicely and I fear I do not have a clip to keep it from unraveling.”

Jade combed her fingers through her own soft, pale gold hair. “How’s one of your kind end up without anything?” 

Eruviel rolled her shoulders nonchalantly. “I gave it away.” Stopping a saleswoman, she motion to a set of combs and clips stuck to a display. “I don’t know what has you in such a mood at Yule, Miss Jade, but I hope you reconsider.”

Jade studied the display with a thoughtful air. “Oh, it’ll backfire. Reason is silly, but it’s just hair. It’ll grow back.”

“Hmm….” Eruviel picked up a delicate filigree comb. “May I?”

Jade blinked in surprise. “Wh — uhh, sure.”

Eruviel caught a pale swoop of the young woman’s hair with the brass comb, spun it and set it securely in place. “Petty reasons do not justify rash action. Neither are the small regrets worth it.” She hesitated, a warm, distant look in her green eyes. Adjusting the chain of a necklace hidden beneath her collar, Eruviel turned her attention back to Mrs. Harlowe. “And you do have lovely hair.”

The sick feeling that came from her feeling sick at the thought that haunted her lessened, and Jade flashed a charming smile up at the strange Elf. She really would regret it.  “Can’t argue with that.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“You have a minute?”

Frank’s hammer clanked in an awkward strike against the tin. Hand gripping the handle tighter, he finished pounding the sharp bend in the metal. “What do you want?”

Cotton skirts swished, and he could almost feel her at his back though she remained several feet away. “I wanted to see you.”

You little — “You should go home, Maddie.”

“Frank, I –”

Without turning, Frank stepped away from the work bench and moved to the forge before her reaching hand could touch his arm.

“I heard you signed over the farm.”

“I did. I also signed your papers at the Town Hall,” he replied cooly.

Her silenced weighed down around them. “If… I didn’t know, Frank. Who I was, what I wanted –”

“Now we both do,” Frank interrupted sharply, meeting her soft, sad eyes with a cold, even look. “Go home.”

She looked wounded, sorry, but the now former Maddie Burns ducked her head in defeat. Picking up her cloak, she left the warmth of the barn for the frigid, snowy evening.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The little house was warm. Too warm. But she felt cold, and Feira shivered bodily, curled up in a quilt on the lightly worn couch.

Beside her several gifts sat, perfectly wrapped, bound with perfect little bows… except for Lalaith’s which was ready to be mailed in the morning. 

Then there was the tray set on the stool covered with several tea cups and a soup bowl. Torrin had not left her side all day, and his soon to be betrothed had even stopped in to see if you young woman was all right. Feira could feel better in the morning, or it could be a couple days, but she would be fine. 

Still Torrin doted on her as if it were her last day on the earth. They played games, and exchanged gifts, and when she fell asleep he sat and read at the foot of the couch to keep her feet warm. 

She didn’t think she could have had a better brother. 

Staring out the front window, Feira listened to him stumble through the kitchen in an attempt to make supper. The world was not as bright as it had been before. But in a day, or a week, whenever he showed up the two years would be over. She would cry and pretend to be fine, then eventually heal, but while she regretted not telling Torrin more about it, there was nothing, at least in that little moment, that she would have changed. 

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Bittersweet: Merry and Bright

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“What are you going to name him?”

Eruviel looked down at the puppy with an oddly fond smile. It had been… goodness, over fifteen hundred years since she had had a pet dog. “I am not sure yet.” The puppy wiggled a little in her arms before licking the Elf’s hand. He was an adorable little pup, and big brown eyes gazed happily up at her. She always had been a sucker for dogs, and the way this one looked at her made her miss the wolf pup, Háno. This is, quite possibly, the cutest puppy ever.

Pheadra laughed softly. “He is very sweet, though I think he will be quite big.” She gently took hold of a paw. “Look how big!”

Excited by the room full of people and smell of good food, the puppy nipped playfully at the woman’s hand.

Pheadra moved her hand around for him to chase, first to scratch behind its ear, then under its chin. “Do you have any other pets?”

She heard Abiorn departing, but it was the sudden absence of the elder brother’s presence that made Eruviel blink and look up. “Just one…” Still smiling, her bright, keen eyes quickly darted over the room before resting on the door. “A swan, actually.”

Pheadra pulled her hand back and smiled. “That should be amusing with a puppy.” She laughed and glanced in the same direction as the Elf. “Do you live nearby?”

Her gaze lingering on the exit for a moment, she tore it away to look back at Pheadra. “I do. Just a short ways down on Chestnut.”

“I won’t keep you if you need to get going,” said Pheadra with a nod. She gave the puppy’s head another scratch.

Eruviel offered her an apologetic smile. “I do, but we should go shooting together soon.”

“I would like that very much.”

“Good!” she responded with a pleased nod. “I look forward to it. It was good to see you again. A good night to you, Pheadra.”

Pheadra bowed her head and smiled, “You as well. Good night, Eruviel.”

Eruviel inclined her head to the young woman. Taking up the box with her free hand, she bore her happy little gift with her out the door. In the entry she remembered her cloak, and draped it around the pup before stepping out into the cold.

A million thoughts swarming through her head, she left the box by the wood pile, and turned her slippered feet towards home. Unlike the short trip to Ravenhold, she felt no care as the wind whipped her hair and silken, midnight blue skirts about her. She had looked forward to finally getting to wear the dress, and to enjoying the cheerful evening with friends. Now she almost wished she had stayed away and gone on her short birthday outing. But she had come back.

Letting out a soft sigh she removed the delicate, star-like earrings from her pointed ears along with the silver hair comb and ear cuff. Tucking them inside the soft curve of her neckline she resolved to wear them again sometime for herself, and hugged the pup to her chest with both arms even as he snuggled against her. You are not helping, little one.

Casting the small, petty thoughts away, along with the grumble of an empty stomach, she refocused her mind. There were more important things to be dealt with before she could even think about finally escaping to relax and soak up hot water and starlight. First, she probably should not name the puppy. Not that she did not want to, of course. Puppy cuddles were some of the best, and even carrying the little ball of fur and love was unexpectedly comforting. But, in his best interest, he would be better off with someone who could look after him properly. Second, and most importantly, Anya was missing.

When she had told him that he should be happy, she had not expected his response to crush the amusing reply she had prepared. Oh, oselle. It was this alone that sped her pace to a swift glide down the dark, empty street towards home.

Perhaps Atrian would like a puppy for his first pet.