Stavanger Bay Smoking Embers
Loner
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Setting: References The Sentinels, then moves outside headed towards Stavanger Bay. @Iaghe. @Fleurette for reference.

The morning before had been a disaster. From the moment he woke up from his nightmare, to Fleurette's attempts at comfort, to the feeling of shame and disappointment that made his stomach feel sick. He hadn't been himself, hadn't made the conscious decision to take off, yet instinct sent him running. Running from something his mind could not place, but consciously - though unintentionally - he knew he'd ran from Fleurette. A girl who a day ago had washed up on the seashore with no memory of her past... and he had left her. Sure he told her he would come back but that wasn't the point. The more he thought about it the more his stomach turned. Idiot Idiot Idiot.

He returned later that evening, with a rabbit clenched tightly in his jaws by it's ears, and made his way to their temporary den. It was empty. No sign of Fleurette and her scent was beginning to fade. Still it left a sickly sweet scent in the cave that sent shivers down Andr's neck. He spent the night outside the den, waiting for her to return, for a chance to apologize, but she did not return.

Early morning came and he couldn't wait any longer. He took hold of the hare and set out to find her. She was not his, she was her own wolf. But a wolf that only had pieces of what one seemingly needed to survive. The memory of survival and skills faded and was spotty along with all the others. And she had expected his help. Until he heard it from her that he was unwanted he would not abandon her... not again.

Unbeknownst to Andr Fleurette was returning, but along a different route into The Sentinels. One he would not run into her on as he followed the scent of her departure. He pushed through the trees of the Sentinels, breaking free of their lingering grasp upon him, and pushed onward in the direction of Stavanger Bay.
Loner
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#2
it was as if she'd been struck blind and deaf. she hadn't even seen fleurette leave.

another star could fall and iaghe would have been oblivious. 

a whispering groan escaped her, raking a paw over the top of her head as if she could physically wipe away the memories. 

perhaps it had something to do with the void in her brain, the lack of knowledge before she'd woken on the shores a summer before. 

but it felt the deep had been kinder than the fire.

it had taken lindalë from her. 

but the fire had ruined her.

she could scarcely bear to open her eyes, let alone turn them in the direction of the distant woodland. 

it took all of her effort to force wheezing air into her lungs as the living nightmare faded, hunched into herself protectively upon the ground. her panicked mind screamed to breathe even as electricity crackled along her veins. 

it was the waves of the island during a storm, battering and beating into her fiercely. the murmur of her heart wobbled irregularly, sending sharp pains splintering through her chest. 

she was ripping along her seams.
"i can't come out. if i do, i'll go mad again" -- Snitter, The Plague Dogs
Loner
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Just as Andr was breaking free of the forest's grasp, something small tugged at him. 

Something he nearly missed, but now that it had ahold of him would not let go. 

A troubled whisper on the wind, a lingering perfume in the air.

Things that had slowly begun to fade but refused to be forgotten.

It pulled him along the edge of the forest, leading him like a passive tether on a leash.

It was not forceful but overcame his entire being. Hypnotized and lured in.

Then it appeared. The starry cosmic sky in the dark of night. Light frothy waves crashing on the shore of the dark sea. A melody of black and white. 

She trembled, hunched into the ground, shutting her eyes and herself from the great forest. 
At present, she resided between Andr and the woods. The mighty trees Andr's background as he looked upon her.

Visions of the fire so clearly entered his mind and heated his body from within. The glow of the flames reflecting off the light in her fur and burning it as clearly as it had that day.

Yet he knew there was no fire. That the smoke entering his nose and scratching his lungs did not existing... was she the same? Another figment of his imagination? Another part of this nightmare brought to life?

His approach was gentle and slow, stopping short a few lengths away. Afraid to spook the corners of his mind that had manifested her. It hurt him to see her in such pain as she once had been... but the thought of her vanishing and not seeing her at all... hurt him more.

There was so much he could have said, so much he wanted to say, so much that for a time nothing came. 

Then... "You're Okay..."

A statement. A question. For her. For him. All were true.
Loner
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#4
iaghe could not have said how long she stayed there, stayed like that. 

eventually, she found that the constriction in her lungs began to abate some. her heart slowed, heavy and weak all at the same time. exhaustion flooded her as the prickling numbness in her face and feet dimmed to a low buzz.

she opened her eyes, disoriented, and kept them away from the woods.

they fixed immediately upon the familiar form -- as ghostly as she was.

if she'd been human, the color might've drained visibly from her face. 

as it was, icewater eyes drank him in greedily, as if he were the air she'd been trying to force into her lungs. disbelieving. 
 
how was it he was still here? 

wobbling, the petrel found her feet. she dared a step closer, nose lifting as she scented him on the air. her tattered auds drifted back, form half lowering with a tremble -- waiting for any sign of the well deserved anger he might turn her way.

there was so much to say. so many words buzzing around her head, thoughts she had no words for. 

no way to explain. to excuse what she'd done. how she'd left.

"andr. real?" the words were a whisper, the harsh rasp a mockery of the musical lilt that had once belonged to her. 

she withheld the grimace that wanted to grace her face, scanning andr's for tricks and illusions -- both of them limned in uncertainty and something vulnerable.
"i can't come out. if i do, i'll go mad again" -- Snitter, The Plague Dogs
Loner
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The icy blue of her eyes sent a cool chill through his body as they met his, and the flames of his mind were snuffed out. She found her footing, unsteady beneath her, as she inched towards him.

But Andr could see her hesitance, her ears held back, the uncertainty in her expression, and he pleaded to himself 'please don't spook... please don't go.'

He still did not know if she was a figment of his imagination... that was until... 'Andr. Real?'

She spoke. Clear and audible. Whispered but spoken nonetheless. The first words he had ever heard her say and that was something his mind would not have been able to conjure.

The tension that had been pent up within him escaped in a relieved sigh. It was her... it was really her...

The corners of his mouth curved into a smile. "Yes... Yes It's me... and you're... you're here" his words still gentle and mystified, but blissful.

He moved towards her to close the gap between them, and reached out to her.
Loner
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she'd expected anger. loud, shattering the air around them. 

she remained still where he relaxed, those frozen aquamarines careful as they marked each breath, every movement. 

but it did not come. 

there was no trick.

the wraith did not thaw -- not until he'd closed the space between them. 

not until she'd found herself settled against his chest in embrace -- both new and all too familiar.

it was only when the warmth of the umber he-wolf enveloped her, sinking into her bones with the crisp, cinnamon scent of him. 

the islander shuddered, something cracking in her chest like springmelt. the echo of glaciers splintering, ice fissuring. 

a ragged breath escaped her, a sob, and she burrowed even closer where she tucked into him. if she'd had arms, she'd have wound them around his neck -- would have clung to him. 

i'msosorrysosorrysosorrysorry.
"i can't come out. if i do, i'll go mad again" -- Snitter, The Plague Dogs
Loner
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#7
@Fleurette. Feel free to pop in whenever you like. Jealous...?

He took her in his embrace and held tight. Her icy walls of protection melted as she released herself into his arms.

God did this feel good. To have her close to him, back under his umbrella of protection. And this is where he felt safe. She was the one sobbing into him, but he'd felt so empty for so long without her.  

With his head pressed beside hers, he spoke softly "Thank the heavens. I thought I'd never see you again." 

Could he have been angry? No. Not knowing what he did. Or rather, not knowing what he didn't.
What had kept them apart didn't phase at this moment, not with them back together once again now.
Loner
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oh, boy, here we gooo…Kan, forgive Fleur’s inner monologue. Woof.

Tears having dried on their own, Fleurette had made the decision to return to Ia, despite failing at her promise of bringing Andr to help. She half expected Ia to have already fled, or, rather, have vanished into thin air. The girl was a ghostly shell, but Fleurette knew that there was more, something real inside of Ia. Whatever it was, it called to her, a siren singing its song to pull her underneath the waves once more.

She followed it from her’s and Andr’s makeshift den. The magnetic pull drawing her nearer and nearer until she could scent Ia on the wind…and another’s? One she recognized, the only other scent she has come to know after washing ashore.

Andr. She moved faster, her speed fueled by her want to see him, to apologize for leaving, to lead him to Ia in hopes that maybe he could help her stricken friend. What she did not expect, though, was to witness Andr and Ia in an embrace, one that appeared similar to the one she attempted to give him not so long ago. The same one that he was now freely giving Ia, who was buried into him as if he was her…strength.

Like he was for Fleurette, the only steady thing in her life. 

And just like that, the damn broke, liquid green jealousy coursed in her veins, hot and heavy. What was so wrong about her that he couldn’t stand her touch, yet he can greedily drink in this wretch of a girl that she had found cowering in a cave? She was barely present, a feral urchin, scarred and broken and as fragile as shattered glass. 

How could he touch the girl, but not Fleurette?

A low growl sat deep in her chest, one she didn’t necessarily want to pass her lips. It was a manifestation of her inner turmoil; feeling alone in a world where she has nothing and no one, but Andr, was hard on her psyche. The display before her had only made it worse. But, she also felt something for Ia, and feeling this disgusting emotion towards the broken girl was not her. Her heart pained with every beat, a hammer threatening to burst her chest open and spill her thoughts and feelings into the open. 

She didn’t want that, not when her new friend was hurting. Fleurette’s hurt can wait. So, she quieted the hammering heart, deep breaths simmering the green fire to nothing more than burning ash.

She spoke, her voice small, questioning. Shattered.

“Andr?”

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Loner
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iaghe's head bobbed in agreement -- even as guilt speared through her. 

she'd thought the same. because she hadn't intended to see him again. he was safer with her gone. 

but the thought of leaving again, of truly never again seeing the man who'd saved her life, sent fear coiling into her belly. 

it was selfish but she couldn't bear the thought. 

even when fleurette found them and confirmed that she was, indeed, cursed. 

that she ruined everything she touched.

there was something sharp in the sundrop's voice, citrus eyes harder than iaghe had seen them before.

the acolyte couldn't pretend to understand exactly what simmered beneath the other woman's accusing expression. but confusion flickered across her own.

she liked fleur. really.

but the ghost was no more than the feral wretch that the gilded girl thought her to be. 

her face was still wet with tears as it froze back over, expression gone brumal as her ears lowered -- unsure and on edge at the sudden, unexpected shift in the air.

she put a few inches between herself and andr, their pelts just brushing. 

iaghe's star-speckled diadem lowered in that reptilian manner, body curving just so. 

a protective apostrophe positioned to the side of the chocolate male. 

white and black flashed as she rasped her tongue nervously along her chops, as if she too fought to keep her own rumble from whispering across the space between them. 

her gaze flickered briefly between the two, confused and apprehensive.
"i can't come out. if i do, i'll go mad again" -- Snitter, The Plague Dogs
Loner
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Andr's mind was cleared. The rest of the world had no place here between him and her. A blown glass sculpture. Both fragile, but metamorphosed into something strong and beautiful under the stress of flames.

That is until something threatened to shatter them. A shock ran through his body as his ear picked up the faint whisper of his name. He watched as his marbled ward looked onward and froze up. Gates shutting and hunkering down. Instinct took over and he took a step in front of her. A shield from whatever it was that made her draw back. He turned to face it, chest full, defensive, but...

"Fleurette...?" There were no flames of danger pouring out of the forest but sunlight brought to life. And the rest of the world came back, and guilt crept through his gut. It was Fleaurette. How quickly he'd forgotten her. Forgotten the entire reason he'd ventured out, the one he'd intended to find that day.

His stance softened having seen Fleurette. He knew she posed no threat. His head turned slightly to the side as he spoke over his shoulder to his charge. "It's alright. I know her. You're safe." - 'please don't spook... please don't run' - He gently pressed his side against her, like an assuring arm around a shoulder.

His attention turned back towards the sun. "Fleaurette... I thought you'd left, I... I was coming to..." It was then he realized the hare he'd been carrying was dropped the moment he'd been lured on his current path. But that's not what mattered. "I apologize for having run off like that. I was ill-mannered and offensive and though it was not my intent I suspect I've hurt you and for that I'm greatly sorry"
Loner
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She had barely registered Ia’s cautious movements as she watched the way Andr had finally acknowledged her. Her name like a summer breeze on his lips. Blinking, as if surfacing from drowning waters, she refocused on the pair. His protective stance, the way they leaned into each other.

Why had he not let me do the same?

Eyes of the sun burned with unshed tears. Fleurette refused to let them fall. This was not the time, nor the place, to fall apart. Not in front of Ia, who had hunkered herself down again, wrapping herself around Andr. Was she claiming him!? Does she know that Andr was the male who Fleurette spoke of back in the cave? Had she already known? No, she couldn’t have...

right?

Shaking her head, she spoke to Andr. “You know her.”

It was not accusatory; it really wasn’t anything more than a statement. She felt numb, like she did when she came to on the shores of the Coast. “I was coming to find you, to help Ia…I-I didn’t know what to do. I—you left me—“ Her thoughts were crashing against her skull, barely registering as they broke onto each other. She didn’t know what else to say, but…

“You…know…her.”

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I will ALWAYS discuss plot points and address any and all concerns regarding any of my toons, threads, or even specific posts. It is NOT my intention to cause anyone discomfort; I am merely interested in creating stories and building my writing skills.
Loner
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hoarfrost flicked up to meet the wintry sky of andr's gaze at his reassurance before defaulting to confusion again -- volleying between the two as they parried words, only some of which she could recognize.

safe.

she clung to that singular lifeline, glancing between the two as if to determine if it were valid. 

a dull ache formed behind her eyes, surprise flitting across her features briefly. 

andr was the friend. the one fleurette had spoken of in the cave. 

"andr, fleur, friend?" she rasped the words hesitantly, as if reluctant to break into whatever heated conversation was taking place over her head, muzzle gesturing between the two.

her stance relaxed somewhat, though she wasn't entirely sure her assumption was true. 

And she was even less sure that anger was still not imminent.
"i can't come out. if i do, i'll go mad again" -- Snitter, The Plague Dogs
Loner
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#13
She had set out to find him and he her. A classic mix-up, but one that didn't possess the same lighthearted connotation as most. Her thoughts streamed together as she spoke to him, he mistook the name-drop as another article, but her message was clear. He'd left her.

"I know" he acknowledged looking down to the ground ashamed before returning her gaze. He had said he'd return. Hoped she would be there when he inevitably did later in the day, but given her circumstances, it wasn't fair to have expected her to stay on her own. "Something... came over me. It's not a worthy excuse for my actions but... I am sorry... however heinous that sounds... It wasn't you..." It hadn't been her he had ran from, not directly in any case, but how was he to properly explain that to her when he couldn't for himself?

Her remarks returned to the sheepish companion at his side, who in turn had her own questions about Andr's relation to the other. The two had endured such similar backgrounds but had blossomed from it into starkly different flowers. At a glance, they should have needed equal care, but Andr's scales were unconsciously tipped.

He directed his attention to the latter question first. "Yes. Fleurette is our friend..." he said to her. The word friend was metaphorical, chosen from the options of friend or foe, in an attempt to reassure the bird who to his knowledge was seeing Fleaurette for the first time. But Andr's former actions had not been what they should have been to a friend. 

Looking to Fleaurette he continued. "Fleurette this is..." it pained him to remember how he did not have a name for her, how close he had been to uncovering one for her the last time they had been together. "This is a friend of mine. I too found her washed ashore at the bay last year. I had been caring for her..." should he have called it that? Had he really been much help to her? "We traveled together for a time before... before we got... separated" Separated was the only word he could think of. Had she gotten lost? Had he upset her into leaving? He did not know. 

His glance lingered back over his shoulder, looking at the burn marks trailing through bits of her pelt. "We survived a fire. One that burned these very trees... It wasn't long after that..."
Loner
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#14
A misunderstanding…

This was all an utterly awful misunderstanding on every party involved, mostly hers. What jealousy she had felt before was now replaced with a sorrow for Andr and Ia. Her gaze flittered back and forth between the trees and the pair before her. She zeroed in on the scars that ran along the poor girl’s body, nausea creeping up into her throat at the thought of what she had endured.

Fleurette choked out a sob. “Ia…your scars…they were from the fire. And, Andr, you baulked when we arrived at those woods. I wish you had told me—I would have rather gone somewhere else! I—I’m sorry…I don’t mean to say that it was my place to know, but I only meant that I would have understood. That place held pain for you…the both of you.” The lithe girl had crossed the distance as she spoke, carefully as not to spook Ia, and stopped before them. Afraid to extend comfort to either. The thought of Andr running from her again pained her. And it showed on her face as she regarded them.

“I didn’t know…I’m so, so sorry.” Her eyes pleaded with Ia to forgive her for leading her to this place, tears creating rivers down her cheeks. She had only meant to help—she only caused more pain.

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Loner
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the seawolf gave a tiny nod. it wasn't exactly what she meant but the more the duo spoke, the more it confirmed what the fractal suspected. 

"ia - iaghe," she whispered, interrupting gently when the ochre male introduced her. it was stuttering, clumsy. heat rose to her cheeks, the sound of aeriön echoing in her damaged ears even if the memories still played hide and seek. 

waves crashing. crows calling. salt on her tongue. 

it was not unlike this place that had brought the trio together. 

a shiver rolled through her, gaze drawn from the wolves of summer and autumn she'd found herself drawn to and out to the sea in the near distance. 

was it the deep that had done this? 

she assessed fleurette again curiously, wondering.

her ears pinned self consciously, skin prickling and itching to find both sets of eyes upon her maimed flesh. another glimpse of her patchy tongue as she licked her lips, paws prancing as she shifted indecisevely. 

her gaze trained fixedly, pointedly, to the earth as she settled upon her haunches -- waiting, wishing, they'd look anywhere else. 

fire. nar.

she knew that word. 

hated the way it made them look at her. 

hated worse that she was broken enough to be stared at in such a manner.

owlish periwinkles snapped to lock upon the sundrop, brow furrowing to see such pain on her face. 

sorry.

sorry sorry sorry.

"i'm sorry -- it won't happen again. please, i won't do it again!"

the spectre blinked back the memory with a heavy swallow -- the bile it brought with it too.

wrenching herself out of the past that murmured from the void, the winterborne tiptoed forward. 

she nosed the summer girl's cheek, a wordless sound of comfort escaping her lips.
"i can't come out. if i do, i'll go mad again" -- Snitter, The Plague Dogs
Loner
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His ears pricked up as the faint voice spoke up from behind him. 'Iaghe' And the corners of his cheeks lifted to his eyes. At last a name, Iaghe. Iaghe. Iaghe. It was so simple yet obscure. A worthy title for the wild fae beside him.

He was quick to overt his eyes from her scars when he noticed her discomfort. There needed to be an explanation, he simply wished the reason didn't involve their shared suffering, one which he couldn't help but feel partially responsible for.

Fleurette's demeanor changed following his explanation. Like a key opening a hidden chest full of the truth. He was quick to protest. "No Fleurette. It's alright. You didn't know and I'm the one who brought you here. You needed shelter and this was the best place for you at the time. I should have voiced my misgivings so you could at the least understand any of my hesitations." 

He would have taken a step towards her, but as she moved towards them the sickening sweet smell hit his nostrils and he did not proceed. Now in his right mind he would not run from her, but he knew the fragile state she was approaching, one which he had been taught to keep his distance from.

It was Iaghe that closed the gap between them and Fleurette, providing an uncharacteristic level of comfort to a stranger she had only just met... or perhaps. "Fleurette... did you bring her here?" he asked. His tone was not accusatory but crested the edge of epiphany.
Loner
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#17
Sniffles had replaced sobbing as if the wordless comfort from the ghostly girl was  a dam to her river. She smiled softly at Ia—no, Iaghe—giving her a small nose lick as her own way of thanking the girl for her kindness. 

 Her ears swiveled to Andr, listening to his words while her eyes swallowed the girl made of sea glass, the same that washed ashore with her. There was a connection between the two females, one that was felt in the waves of their sea, a fierceness that was sure to ebb and flow with the tides of their friendship. If the girl stayed, of course.

If she didn’t shatter to pieces.

She nodded in response to Andr’s question, she was thankful it wasn’t accusatory. “I did…You helped me. Well, sure, before you ran from me when I got close to you...” She whirled to him then, a question coming to mind. “Do I stink?! Oh, no, I thought I fixed that in the river waters. I must still smell of that rotten seaweed..” Her cadence had quickened with embarrassment, redness coloring her cheeks.

How embarrassing! Ugh, stupid girl! You’re out here smelling like a fish carcass in the presence of Andr. Silly, naive, Fleurette!

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I will ALWAYS discuss plot points and address any and all concerns regarding any of my toons, threads, or even specific posts. It is NOT my intention to cause anyone discomfort; I am merely interested in creating stories and building my writing skills.
Loner
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#18
her ears tipped back as she did, stepping back at the small touch of affection. it was second nature to draw away from the touch, not out of offense. 

within a few heartbeats, she'd settled back into andr's shadow -- as if she'd never left, as if it were instinctual. 

or perhaps, as if she were afraid to lose him again. 

it was almost magnetic. every small shift. every movement. reflected in iaghe's own, as if she were the south to his north. never close enough to pester. just hovering, brushing occasionally. 

she understood that the he-wolf at her side posed some question, with a note of wonder, and fleur answered. 

but the sudden movement and piercing tone from the sunbeam had the wildling repressing a flinch, shifting minutely as she whet her speckled lips nervously.

if she'd been able, she'd have explained to the gilded girl what she was soon to go through.

what iaghe feared she herself might soon go through.
"i can't come out. if i do, i'll go mad again" -- Snitter, The Plague Dogs
Loner
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#19
A sliver of pride drifted through Andr's mind, seeing Iaghe approach Fleurette. She'd been a helpless skittish stray only a year ago, cowering on that rock, afraid to accept kindness. Since then, she'd allowed him to travel at her side, ran into a blazing forest to aid a stranger, and was now comforting a girl she had only recently met. 

The moment between the two she-wolves was short-lived as Iaghe pulled back. Fleurette, so eager to give affection, and Iaghe with only so much she could take. But it felt so good to have her retreat back to his side, that despite the time they had spent apart her doors were still open to him, and every occasional brush of her against him was a reminder that she was safely tucked away in his pocket.

Fleurette went on to clarify how she had brought Iaghe here, hoping to give Iaghe a similar help that he had given Fleur in the days prior. However, his minute hesitations towards Fleur did not go unnoticed. With the initial worries of the grander situation stabilized Fleurette's attitude took a shift back to her more energetic self as she questioned scent.

Andr didn't wish to speak of it, but it was something that would need to come up eventually. "No Fleurette. Forgive my... discontent. You do not 'stink'... That said you are beginning to produce a scent signaling your transition into... estrus." he hoped that was all he needed to say, that she could put the remaining pieces together. But would he be so fortunate?
Loner
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#20
Though Iaghe had pulled away from her, Fleur did not feel that sting of abandonment. At the very least, Iaghe did not run from her like Andr had done. It still hurt to think about, but she knew that it was not from just her. 

Cheeks heated at Andr’s vague explanation. She did not quite understand the word “estrus”, but she felt the intention of it. “I am…sorry…if it is offensive. I didn’t know, I’ll keep my distance. Your comfort matters to me, too.” She looked at Iaghe, wondering if her smell bothered her. Deciding it would just be best, she pulled away, tail tucked to help her situation.

Eyes looked to the darkening sky and back to the pair. “It is getting dark…should we move off and find shelter? We don’t have to go back into the Sentinels.”

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Loner
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#21
iaghe only glanced between the two as they spoke, attentive and silent as she'd ever been. 

her mouth remembered the shape of words. 

it was their language that perplexed her so. 

iaghe's words were born by a different sea than the one that lapped in the distance. 

there was a fuzzy memory that drifted like a leaf caught on a wind high above her head. father. atta. a man the color of sand whose voice had rumbled in her ear with tales of places so far, they had seemed fictional. words -- thick and blunt, so that they'd broke into laughter when she and lindalë tried to replicate them in their musical tones.

iaghe assumed he was gone. and so too was his language.

fleurette's discomfort snapped her from the internal musing, brow furrowing vaguely as her head tilted. as far as she knew, the fever wasn't something to be ashamed of.

a glance to the sky gave her an indication of what they spoke of.

the islander looked to andr -- a question in her eyes.
"i can't come out. if i do, i'll go mad again" -- Snitter, The Plague Dogs