solaise

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Solaise snapped her fingers, watching for the raven’s reaction as she did so. She started to giggle when the bird flew up and hovered around her. “Put ya arm up, So,” Danzo’s deep baritone said as he watched her with a warm grin. She did as instructed and the bird lit on her arm, staring at her with one silvery eye as he tilted his head this way and that. 

Tentatively she reached out a gloved finger toward the bird, “What’s his name?” 

“Can name ‘im anything ya like, So. ‘e’s yar’s and I want ya ta keep ‘im close.” Danzo crossed tattooed arms across his muscled, expansive chest as he watched his daughter, pride in his eyes mixed with a hint of worry. “Ya need anything, ya get in any trouble, just give the bird a message and ‘e’ll come home wit’ it.”

So turned her attention toward her father, a wide smile on her features as she nodded. “Don’t worry, Pa. I’ll keep him close.” Her gaze turned back to the bird perched on her arm expectantly. She reached into a pouch and pulled out a lemon ginger snap before offering it to the bird, who snatched it up in it’s beak and swallowed it whole. She began to giggle again as she snapped her fingers to gain the avian’s attention again. 

“That’s what I’ll call ya: Snap.”

Anysti sat at the table with her cousin, Solaise. After she splashed in a bit of rum into her empty cup, she let her cousin fill it with black tea. Stirring in the sugar, her gaze settled on the unfamiliar tea pot. “Mum get a new teapot?” She asked.

Solaise looked at her with a grin, nearly identical to her own as she sat back down. “Dad went shopping and brought it back for her as a gift. He got something for you, too! He got something for everyone.” The younger, strawberry-blonde held her hand out and jiggled her wrist. 

Anysti reached over and touched the octopus charm on the end of the gold chain. “S’a pretty,” she said with admiration before sitting back and sipping from her cup. After a moment she asked, “So when ya heading back ta the carnival?”

Solaise’s attention was on the small charm, flicking it with a finger and watching the gold catch and reflect the light before looking up. “The season started already, so have to wait ‘til Season of the Phoenix.” 

Anysti considered her cousin, “Do ya miss it?”

Solaise nodded slowly before sitting up straight. “Aye. Been creating and preparing new songs in the meantime, so at least when I do make it back, I will have lots of fresh material.” There was a wistful edge to her voice as she got a far-away cast in her eyes.

Anysti recognized that look too well. Her gaze dropped as guilt made her squirm lightly in her chair. She knew that her cousin had sacrificed her life, putting it on hold, while the need in the sect was strong. She loved her for it, wanted that sacrifice to mean something. At least Danzo was back and now they all had their freedom and protection once again. A flicker of a smile crossed her features before she looked up. “I know when ya get back ta a life of performing ‘gain, ya’ll get lotsa fans. Bet ya get so well known that one day ya’ll be performing at the Commodore’s Manor for the Captain himself.” 

Solaise hit her head with the palm of her hand dramatically, “You’re just saying that!”

“Nah! I’m not. Ya good!” Anysti laughed as she watched her cousin’s theatrics. “Either way,” she paused to drain off the contents of her cup, “going ta head out now. Fair winds, aye?” She stood and walked over to her cousin before wrapping her arms around her shoulders in a hug. 

Solaise hugged her back, then reached up to tug on Anysti’s hair, “Don’t let the skritt get your shiny hair!” She giggled.

Anysti batted at her hand before reaching up and tugging at her cousin’s hair, then she quickly dodged out of the way and headed for the door, calling out over her shoulder, “Tell Danzo I’ll be by ta’morrow afternoon, aye? Love ya!” 

Anysti sought out her cousin when she came back home, calling out as she walked into the kitchen, “So!” Not even a pause, “Up here, Nys!” She took to the stairs at a casual pace. When she topped the landing, she headed for So’s room, the second door on the right, next to mum’s room and across from the old room her and Drake shared.

Anysti leaned her shoulder against the door jamb and folded her arms, effectively hiding the item she had palmed. A smile crossed her features as she watched her cousin writing. “I’m not distrubing ya, am I? I can come back.” So looked up, her smile matching Anysti’s, “Nah, ya fine!” The two of them were nearly identical in features, but their coloring was different. And also, Solaise had not experienced grief and sorrow on a level that weighted features down like Anysti’s. 

“What do ya need?” Solaise asked. Anysti moved to the edge of the bed and sat down. “Thought, if ya wanted ta, can get out tanight. Go see some performers, and that.” So’s aqua blue eyes brightened up and she smiled before it faltered and she looked away, “I need to watch Mum.” Anysti waved her hand dismissively, “Nah. Syyl, Jirl and Jainus will be here tanight. ‘Sides…” She looked down at her nails, “… I might get m’self out too.”

“I don’t really have the coin ta spend,” So stated softly as she jotted another set of musical notes down on her parchment. Anysti gave a soft, short snort before she grinned, “Fek that, So. Here. Got ya a gift.” She placed the small chest in front of So, then sat back to watch her reaction as she smiled.

Solaise set her charcoal down and picked up the tiny chest, placing it in the palm of her hand as she brought it eye level and began to undo the tiny latch. Her breath caught as she gasped, her eyes flying to Anysti, “Nys! Ya shouldn’t have!” She blinked, her eyes coming back to the tiny treasures inside, which included a handful of gold coins, a perfect shell and at the very bottom was a note. She unfolded it and read it carefully, mouthing the words before she launched herself at her sister with an affectionate hug. 

Anysti laughed, holding her cousin in the embrace before pushing her back gently. “That’s your’s ta do with as ya want. Anything ya heart desires. I know ya sacrificing that which ya love ta be here and help out. I want ya ta know that I appreciate ya more than words can ever say.”

“Thank ya,” Solaise mouthed again, this time as her eyes misted. Anysti walked out of the room then, feeling lighter of heart, and actually looking forward to the night.  

Solaise stood in the doorway in the morning hours, humming softly to herself. Her head tilted as she listened to herself, listened to the soft sounds coming from her throat. Finally, she broke into a smile as she pulled parchment and charcoal out of a pocket of her skirt. 

Smoothing the parchment against the door jamb, she began to draw a little musical scale, placing notes in them as she hummed the tune to herself over and over. 

“That’s pretty, dear. Did you just come up with that?” Mum’s voice asked behind her. She wasn’t really her mother, but she came to see her aunt as such. There was no memory of her own mother, other than a small portrait that she kept on her beside table, the person a stranger to her. 

So turned and smiled, “Aye! Do ya want ta hear more?” Mum smiled as she felt around on the counter, fingers reaching for a bowl as white eyes stared straight ahead, “I would love that.” 

After stuffing the parchment back into a pocket, So moved to help Mum start making the lemon ginger snaps everyone was so fond of, humming softly as she worked, working the melody out the more she hummed it. 

Back Home

Holding of the Black, main house, 6:51 a.m.

Nys dragged a brush through her hair, yawning, and had actually slept in this morning. Setting the brush aside, she tugged the hem of her shirt down absently before heading down the stairs, to the kitchen, where she was met by her cousin and mum. A smile broke out on her features as she walked over to mum first and gave her a hug from behind, “Morning.” She murmered.

Anaya smiled as she stirred what was in the bowl, her unseeing white eyes staring straight ahead, “Good morning, Dear. Did you sleep well?” Nys’ fingers came to her neck, lightly scratching as she craned it and shifted her gaze toward So, “Aye, very.” 

Solaise caught her looking at her and shot her tongue out playfully before she grinned, “Morning, Nys. Glad ta have ya back.” Nys met her playful gesture with one of her own, laughing a bit before breaking into another yawn, “Much been going on ‘round here?”

From there, the three of them chattered non-stop, bringing each other up on what’s been happening in Nys’ absence. When the food was set down, fingers curled around the eating utensils and all three of them lapsed into silence as they broke their morning fast. 

After they each started to have their fill, Mum asked, “What will you do today, dear?” Nys started to speak, then stopped, considering briefly before replying, “I think I’ll send a message down ta the docks and tell everyone they can have a day’s leave. For m’self, I have a strong desire ta paint again.” A smile curved into her features as she picked up her cup and sipped from the cooling liquid. 

“Want me ta run the message down ta the docks for ya, Nys?” Her cousin asked. “Aye, that would be helpful, So. I’ll get that sorted now." 

Nys stood, stretched, then took her dishes to the sink. Moving to a small table at the far end of the kitchen, fingers picked up a charcoal and began to scribble out a message. Even with her scribbling, her script was still flowing and artistic. Folding it, she walked over to So and handed it to her, “As for Connor and give this ta him. He’s m’first mate.” A lop-sided smile formed on her features. “And thank ya,” she added. 

So smiled widely, tucking the message into a pocket, then began to help clean up the breakfast dishes. She left one spot uncleared, which Nys noticed, “Jainus still sleeping?” Mum replied, “No, dear. He said he had to head out for an errand this morning, but planned to be back soon.” Nys nodded, flashing an easy smile for a change, “A’right. I’ll be up on the balcony painting if anyone needs anything.” Refilling her mug with Black Dog Tea, she headed back up the stairs with a final farewell.