Sunbeam Lair singulus
Epoch
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#26
Six months was certainly old enough to hold their mother dear and be affected by the loss of her presence. There was a brief flash of judgement within the breast of the ashen girl—to think of leaving behind a husband and two children—dividing siblings and an entire family. It was easy to see how it wrought his being with pain. And from even a quick study of her eyes, it was clear to the she-wolf the man rarely bent to pain and tragedy in general. 

Perhaps the two of them had more in common then she had considered earlier—forged by grief and abandonment. 

You’ve offered me time with your Matrona Aquene and barely know me. Reyson, one of your soldiers, has saved me at least twice, though he would argue that… Charitable seems such a cold, distant word for it.
Mereo
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#27
her eyes told much.

they bespoke the heart of the epoch woman.

germanicus was drawn to them.  but he chastened himself. of very course he would be drawn to the feminine. it was what was lacked, after all.

and so he reined himself. he focused upon the grief in his chest.

"affable, then," and his eyes shone for a brief moment.

the eagle considered.

"if i wished to call upon you again, would you meet me here?"
Epoch
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#28
Affable, she agreed, her tone lightly teasing as he humored her. 

His eyes upon her again, piercing, and she found her own warm gaze looking back to him, wishing she could decipher the thoughts of such a stoical beast. 

When he asked if he could call upon her, she wore her surprise much like the heart she let on her sleeve—hiding her emotions and thoughts had never been a forte of hers. Of course, she agreed, though the wisp of amusement once more flitted across her pale features. But only if you can tell me which of those gifts to your Matrona is not to be eaten. She paused. I don’t want to be responsible for possibly poisoning the Imperator.
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#29
"oregano is an herb and I have eaten plenty of blueberries in my time," germanicus answered. he eyed her. was he correct?

calling upon meadow again would require more political maneuvering than he might be expect. he told himself it was a visit between friends. and so it would be.

not the roman climbing for nature where there was none. seeking a distraction where it did not exist.

lady meadow's surprise lit her eyes as a forge might. he responded in emotion as a wounded hephaestus.
Epoch
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#30
Even when seeking the approval of his response, his gaze was impenetrable, unwavering in a certain confidence. What would life be to appear so bold? She had dealt with soldiers in her life—military units, emboldened warriors… most recently, those of a feral nature. There was something about the man that was vaguely familiar, but she could not quite pin it down, and so she nodded, lips curling to the hint of a smile. So he had listened.

Leaning down to fold his carrier for his delivery, she glanced upward to praise him—honeyed yellow eyes meeting his deeper yellow—searching. “I wish I could have been more help,” she admitted, her voice a low rasp as she considered the dark man. “If it’s of any reprieve to you, your wolves have only spoken of you with respect and admiration.”

He might have bore a new battle scar on his heart, but he would have many others he could lean on to help mend it, if he allowed it.
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#31
"but you have," germanicus responded in kind with another look. "you offered a listening ear and i accepted."

her eyes were amber in the fluted light. he pulled his gaze away and set it elsewhere as she prepared the leaf for travel. he still questioned why she had done it at all. but that was the nature of allies, he supposed.

she spoke of those she had met and how they regarded germanicus. the implied praise fell short of his hurting heart. "all i can do is treat each wolf of mereo with the fairness they have given me." his voice was quiet. but he would not turn to them now. he would not force them to bear the personal burden upon his spirit.

"if you are leaving, i will escort you as far as the edge of the vale." it was the least germanicus might do, though his tones left room for the lady meadow to refuse.
Epoch
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#32
She ached to say more but she refrained. A stoic above all else, the only insight she had of him was what he had offered her in these few moments—and there was a cloying understanding that perhaps the information he had divulged was not given lightly nor freely to many. 

Having taken his request to perhaps meet her at a future time, she assumed their time was at an end. An Imperator must have been a demanding title—she knew the lives of soldiers were spent with consistent training and guarding. And so she presented him with his gifts for the revered Matrona, a spark in her gaze.

If you’re not too busy, she agreed, realizing these men seemed to have a certain code of conduct when it came to civilians. Or, perhaps it was just the daintier healers who looked like a rabbit could blow them over with a puff of breath.
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#33
"you said we were not strangers." germanicus lifted the greenery and began to climb the rocky path out of the lair, to the surface.

here the winds scoured. he moved instinctively to block the worst from assailing the woman. "and so it is only something between friends." companions. acquaintances, though their talk suggested they were beyond that.

germanicus was weary with the sharing. he had found enjoyment in lady meadow's company but now desired solitude. he gestured for her to lead on and he would follow.
Epoch
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#34
The wind was much like a slap to the face—while the caverns had offered a solitude to the world and perhaps what the roman had taken as a safe space, for there was a shift in his fortitude the moment the fresh autumn air kissed their pelts.

She did not speak much, her own jaws gently clasped about a piece of aloe plant that she also intended to try to grow when she returned. She would need to find it a safe place—warm, but where she could still water it, and it could find sun.

A garden, perhaps. She would finally make herself a home with a garden, and a small den for herb storage… The vale was perfect for such a spot. A haven.

As they drew nearer to Epoch, the silver waif slowed her pace, honeyed eyes seeking him out and looking at him with a certain intent. She hedged, sidling closer, looking to him as her voice softened. For he asked if they could meet again—perhaps he wished another lesson? Or another to lend an ear? But she would not hold her breath that the Imperator would remember much of her after this meeting.

“Is it very tiring being a fortitude of strength and hiding everything you feel from most of the world?” Perhaps it was her curiosity—perhaps the question formed to have him think on it.

Perhaps, the way his eyes pierced her touched her in a way more than she cared to admit, and she was eager to ensure he wouldn’t be so quick to forget their encounter.
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#35
the eagle set down the bundle of herbs. at last he regarded the lady meadow in true measure. she was comprised of lighter silver than himself, moonbeams rather than the dark face of the celestial body. her eyes were watchful and pointed, tawny as the offerings of the gentle bees in summertime. the mask that gently highlighted her gaze was bronzed. 

she was honey and coinage. and courage, to speak so directly and without fear of repercussion. germanicus found himself unsure how to answer for it was quite rarely that someone glanced behind the proverbial curtain.

"it is necessary," he said at last, in tones quieter than he meant them to be. and now words mounted on his tongue.  like meadow, the imperator spoke directly: "i was not known to you before today and yet you have sought to safeguard me as if we had known one another for several years."

his voice was measured but this time unveiled. "do you tire of tending others over yourself?" for he had seen her reduced mien, her slight body. he knew nothing of pregnancy or understanding its toll. he only observed all of meadow in entirety, as he had watched her do with him this hour.
Epoch
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#36
eb, you epic thread partner you. always giving me the juicy plot points. <3 ty for this thread.

A younger Meadow would have perhaps pulled her lip to her teeth, nibbling in unease as the man hawkishly stared at her. He considered her—and when he responded after such a long pause in only five syllables she felt a brow arch delicately , but he was not done—

And thus, it seemed, he had been watching her just as closely as she had watched him. A soldier trained for the keenest observation, and so she shouldn’t have been so surprised at his findings—findings that caused her to sweep her eyes down to herself, wondering how she seemed to appear before him.

“It’s all I’ve ever known,” she offered in return, a slow smile playing at her lips as her eyes studied him far more openly now. “Well met, Imperator,” she reiterated, bending down to pick up her piece of aloe once more and continue her way back home—knowing this interlude was one that would certainly stay with her awhile.
Mereo
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#37
tag for ref! <3 aaand same to you GOODNESS <333

germanicus watched her go with a look that remained inscrutable until she was beyond his sight. and then his countenance fell.

the events of the past several weeks flashed to malicious life. his mind unbidden brought him thoughts of ruenna, how her face had looked when she was pulled away. it was his last memory of her. the eagle clung selfishly to it. his mind panned to the features of alivia and cornelius.

the imperator was desperate that he not lose these images.

he glanced after meadow and then took up his gift. he did not allow himself to think of her or anyone else until he reached the borders of mereo. germanicus visited the tablinum. "aloe. oregano. blueberries," he said to @Aquene. "from the hand of lady meadow, healer to epoch."

and then he would take his leave, seeking another unnecessary patrol before maxim or towhee spotted them. he was not sure how to speak to either wolf and so simply would not.

off the imperator went and when he was at last alone once more, he felt sorrow shift to anger.