Tapestry: Wynter Wakeneth al my Care

Tapestry: Wynter Wakeneth al my Care

Postby Niabh » Sun Feb 02, 2020 2:11 pm

<Catch> It was a tearing sort of winter so far, the winds ice-cold and snatching away at the snow almost before it could settle, trying to leave the dirt and the earth and the mud frozen and sharp and bare. An angry, bitter sort of wind that didn't care what was worn, because it dug its claws in anyway. Catch followed that wind. It was a fruitless sort of hunt, because it was just Wind, mindless, and Catch's following of it was equally mindless, madness, and angry, his ruined brow pulled low over shadowed eyes as he prowled the Dagger's grounds.

<Fionnuala> Fionn did not precisely like a wild winter--no one really could. They were uncomfortable at best and dangerous at worst. But they were familiar. Three nights of the wind screaming in her ears until one must grit one's teeth to keep from howling back at it, having to burrow through the square of snow packed against her door, counting and recounting the stores and hoping there was enough to keep until the storm died enough to get out for more. All things she was used to Back Home. Save that Back Home you were never alone with it. There was comfort in knowing everyone else was in the same fix, that if something terrible happened you could call for help, that if you disappeared, someone would find you, and even if they did not find you, you would at least be missed.

Something tugged at her all the same. Something she needed to look for.

It was much too cold to take Tintreach out. On foot she was bulky and trudging, fat with rags wrapped under her layered clothes, with only her eyes and a single frizzy curl peeking between scarf and squirrel cap. The tugging sensation led her toward the Dagger. She had a feeling what it might mean.

She stopped a goodly distance from him--nothing would have persuaded her into his path unless he ordered her to do it--and yanked her scarf down from her jaw. Her dark lips were even darker, nearly black, from cold. "Catch! What are you doing?"

<Catch> He knew she was coming, knew she would see - knew anyone could see, were they to brave the wind, or even to look out the window of the Dagger or the Rememdium - yet, he could not stop himself. There were some things that could not be Fixed so easily, like shredded parchment gripped to ruins in his hard hand.

She asks what he is doing. It is a very interesting question. It does not stop him, no, but he can slow a little for her, the bear's pelt he wore twisting around him as if it were thin cloth instead of heavy hide. "... walking."

Terse and mild. He doesn't even look at her as he says it, his his jaw jumps, throat working to avoid the stutter.

"Plainly." She stamped her foot, half from cold and half in frustration at herself. Once she had told Glenn that the Tuatha had a name for questions you already knew the answer to and that they had named them after humans. It was exactly the answer she deserved for a stupid question, but she couldn't help resent it. It hurt that he would not look at her, although in this temper, she wasn't sure that she wanted to. Bundled as she was, she had to walk double-quick and bent her knees high like a pony in wet grass just to catch up to him.

"Why, though? And can you at least be persuade to walk on the lee-side of the Dagger? It's cold enough to freeze your piss out here." She tucked her hands into her armpits, teeth chattering, before her eyes fell on the shredded letter gripped in his fist.

In a flash, realization struck her, another obvious question answered: he could read now, of course he could. Now she could no longer place her body as a filter between Glenn and whatever blunt rudeness his pen could produce. She floundered, suddenly feeling she had failed him. "What has happened?"

<Catch> He flinches. He does not mean to, because of course Fionn wouldn't strike him. And it was absurd, anyway. The whole thing was absurd. He shouldn't be afraid of anything, of anyone. But he had given an answer that he knew was incorrect. Displeasing. And he flinches when Fionn draws close, before he could really stop it, shying away before realization and stubborn anger roots him to the spot the way nothing else had. Even stilled, he leans, wishing to be off. If he is cold, he shows no sign, aside from puffs of air snatched from blued lips, white fingers and white toes; no shoes, no socks, no consideration save the white bear's pelt and the wild scrags of curls escaping the tightness of his cap.

Wordlessly he thrusts his fist towards her. An offering, not a strike. She would need to peel the fingers away from the paper, were she to take it, meeting no resistance.

<Fionnuala> Her tingling fingers took the page with weary resignation, already anticipating another convoluted and fruitless discussion with Glenn, but of course, by now she recognized Glenn's handwriting almost better than she knew the man's face, and this was not it. Her eyes scrolled downward slowly, lips occasionally shaping a silent word; she had never quite gotten past moving her lips as she read, and no one had ever told her it was considered gauche. There was an eternity of innocence, perfect innocence, in which her teeth gritted and her jaw shook from jealousy rather than cold. The words, obscured by a slash of ink, pulsed brighter than everything else on the page.

She loved him. She loved him.

To every pulse her hot brain lashed out--No, mine! Mine!--and that was even before she found herself further down the short page. Safe? Safe? Warning him to be safe, when Fionn lived in horror of harming him?

For a moment she was tempted to simply thrust the page back at him, no words needed, and join him in snarling at the wind.

Then she looked back up to him. The small muscles around her mouth strained tight; her eyes quavered, though they were dry as her heart. He had Changed. It was not for her to decide anymore.

"Do you believe her, that she is sorry?" she asked, quietly. "What do you wish to do, leannan?"

<Catch> He watched her, but he didn't want to know that he watched her, because when she looked up he turned quickly away, though not quickly enough. The shift of his shoulders was too sudden. But he watched her, intent, intense, and perhaps that was enough to warn her, because the intensity of it was as burning a whip as the cold wind that tore at flesh, at cloth, at the paper. So, then.

She looks up, and he looks quickly away. She asks him what he thinks. And for the first time since he had begun this restless, hunting pace, he begins to shake. "What is this," he asks, finally. "I don't know what I feel."

<Fionnuala> Her eyes kept taking sneaky sips and swallows of the letter--individual words leaping out like a wolf: love. safe. sorry. afraid. She liked being angry; she liked having the words in her hands to justify all her dislike. She wanted to throw herself at her table and slash out a reply, vicious as anything, words that would cut Gloria's legs out from under her. She wanted her bow.

Instead she closed her eyes to pull herself together. He was volatile. For once she did not want to ease him. It would be so easy to turn him against Gloria instead. It would be so easy. Finally she looked at him again, standing her ground in the face of his rage, while telling herself wryly that if he lashed out wildly while she was in this get-up, she was too thickly padded to do much more than bruise.

"There's a lot of things to feel, I expect," she said slowly. An understatement if ever there was one. "Catch...I feel I might have partwise occasioned this letter. Gloria and I were...ill-met. I said some things to her. Terrible things, but true ones. If they awoke in her some regret, I cannot fault them, but I will not forgive her. She says she is sorry. But she does not ask you to forgive her. Therefore you owe her nothing, an you are not moved to be generous. You may feel whatever you wish."

<Catch> Catch reaches up, both hands scarred, pitted, pale, fingers seizing whatever errant curls escaped his woolen cap, the other to cover his face - over the high curve of his nose, the rise of his cheeks. A familiar gesture, one he thought abolished, but brought back with a simple scrap of paper, with stark, black shapes.

"She was very small when I saw her," he says, his own voice hardly a whisper. His eyes are wide, wide, and somewhere else. Somewhere very far away. "Small and brown and naked. They don't - put clothes on them. It was all blood and glass sands in my teeth, rage in my heart, running down my legs, and I would have stopped it all at her word. Do you know?"

Now, now he'll look at her, but there's nothing at all behind his eyes - nothing but colors. "They can ask me to do anything, and I'd do it. I've done it. Because I love them so much." His voice is raw, bloody, broken.

<Fionnuala> The colors caught her up. She swayed lightly on the balls of her feet, lips ever so slightly parted, black eyes vast and empty. The cold and wind faded to a distant discomfort that had nothing to do with her. She stared into his eyes the way one might fall down a hole, tumbling down and down. Pointless to thrash about or scream. Nothing to do but fall. There was something she wanted to say, and it nagged at her like a perturbing burr in her sock because she couldn't...quite...remember what it was or if it was important.

Because it's Eater. Because it's Glenn. Because you're you, little queen.

She might have stayed there, motionless, until the cold consumed her or until the colors faded away, but the temporary absence of herself let something squirm out of her back brain. Not quite smoke. Not quite scent. First it rescued her. Then it possessed her.

"No," she said coldly. "I don't know. I didn't know. She hurt you. That's what I know. All I know is that all this time, all this time, I want to put my arms around you when you're weeping or frightened and you cringe away from me and I'll never know how much of that is her. She said it was your fault. She said it. And I'll never, ever, ever forgive her that."

<Catch> His fault. His fault. And Gloria had said it. Between paper and memory it didn't quite match, and he didn't know how he could force them together.

Catch draws in a breath, heavy and sibilant between his teeth. "... and its Glenn, too," he says. "Glenn c-c-could - he could ask me anything, anything, and I'd do it. I'd do it f-f-for him. I hate him, I hate them and I love them." His hand tears from his face, silver tears clinging like oil, the thick threads chasing is he reaches blindly for her. "Thank you." She was Tuatha.

"C-can you teach me? Can it be taught? How to - how to Hate? How to never Forgive?"

<Fionnuala> And she melted. Of course she did. All it took was tears, every time, and the added lure that he had reached for her--that for once, she didn't not have to wonder that she was intruding or invading.

She opened her arms for him and let him step into them, hands crossing over his back. Little endearments in her own tongue--"Ah, there you are, my sweetness, never fear, little love, little lamb, it's all alright"--as sweet and fragile and generous as almond biscuits. "I know you love them, dear. I know you do. You love--" and she wanted to conclude it with everything; Catch loved everything; he wanted to help them all, even when they didn't deserve Him. Even when they couldn't be helped. The final word stuck in her throat. "You love."

She rubbed his shoulder. "Sweetness...if I knew how to teach it, and you wanted to know, I would teach you. But I don't know. All I know is...it is a bit like love, only backwards. It lives on the other side of love."

<Catch> He is hot, heat, warmth. He can offer this, at least, as payment. Unconsciously he has come to equate love with such a thing as payment; this for that. Fionn did not need to ask; as ever, he gave, without thinking and without knowing. Trembling in her embrace, not knowing her foreign words but feeling the substance of them.

"I don't know what to do, Queen Fionn." Humble, supplicant, muffled by the pressing of his face against her shoulder. "Please tell me what I should do."

<Fionnuala> She caught herself with a laugh so sudden, it was nearly horrified. "Gods spare us that should I be your Queen," she said. "You are my Catch, and I am your Fionn. That's all the title there ever need be between us."

His face pressed against her shoulder, and in spite of everything, she was grateful for the layers of wool that kept the sticky tears from her skin. Grateful, too, that the churning spire in her chest was stilled, safely out of her and hidden far away, so that she could feel this without fear. He was her Catch. He wanted her help. He wanted. Her heart felt bruised from his begging, like a great fist hammering at her door.

"Should's a big field, Grand Catch," she murmured, trying to think. No empty platitudes now. He needed her. "There's lots of things you could do. You need never see her again, if you don't want. She says she will not seek you out. Or you could see her again, tell her how you feel."

But he is mine first, he's mine, she said she won't bother him again so why put the idea in his head? It will only upset him. You know it will. He's no good at choosing; if he goes to her, he'll agree with whatever she says. You heard her. You heard her.

Her face crumpled, the corners of her mouth drawn in tight painful rictus.

<Catch> "You're a Queen," he corrects, quiet. "Titles are - they're important. For important situations." Important people. He is quiet for a long time, with only the weight and heat of him, the soft and occasional sniff, the only indication that he is here - present - in the cutting cold. And that is no guarantee that he is actually here.

"I could see them," he says, slowly. "No. Should I? Or shouldn't I? Because I'm here. And they're here. And they're - they can say those things. But something will happen. It always happens. And they'll want to see me. They'll need me. And - and then it won't be a scar, will it? It'll be raw and bloody."

Another long moment of nothing, of thoughts and emotions ticking over. "I'm afraid. I'm afraid to Hate and I'm afraid to Love. I'm afraid of what they'd do to me and I'm afraid of what they'd do this place."

<Fionnuala> She sighed, hands slipping from his shoulders, sliding down the length of his arms to clutch his fingers. From anyone else--to anyone else--the gesture might have been sensual. Fionn was greedy to be touched, to be warm. Once he had reached for her, she wanted to prolong it. Tomorrow all might change.

"I am not going to let anyone do anything to you. Glenn is just...he's just words. Think of him as a jackdaw; that's how I do it most of the time. And Gloria..." Her hands bore down hard on his, insistent. "She can't hurt you."

All she could think was I will not let them hurt you. But that was not what he asked.

"Things are different now. You don't have to be what they want of you. You're not..." She fumbled, at a loss for words. She knew what she wanted to say but couldn't bring herself to say it. "You are not a kitchen scullion. You know what you are."

<Catch> Her fingers were a lifeline, and her touch absolutely welcome. He could say that of very few. Eater, and Elliot, and Elliot was himself no longer, but someone named Gahald, a raw and open guilt because already, already, Catch planned to feed him to a Wolf in the darkest and bloodiest recesses of his mind. I was hunting the Wind because it was easier than facing this Letter.

He tries not to look at her. He looks at her nose, and it is a very good nose. He knows what his Eyes can do.

"Solena tried very hard to tell me what I am, and I tried very hard to listen, but - my mind knows one thing, and my body knows another. I'm sorry that I cringe." He brings their hands to his mouth, breathing hot and silver breath onto their entwined fingers. Then he laughs, stuffy with his tears. "I'm not strong."

<Fionnuala> The cold had slowly crept down her boots, soaking through all the layers of trousers and sock to wrap chilly tendrils around her ankles. Her toes were turning to deadened lumps and her feet might as well belong to another woman in another country. Eventually, she suspected--judging by the fact that she'd noticed them at all--this might not be the case. For now, they could wait a little while longer.

He kissed her hands, gentle as a dove roosting, and then laughed, and she was always one to believe that as long as laughter was still possible, all was not lost. She smiled in return. "I think you are strong. There's ways and ways to be strong. I think--"

She licked her lips in hesitation, as she had not truly considered where she was going with that sentence before she began it. Something that he could do. A small accomplishment. Something he could conquer. "I think I should like you to visit Glenn." There. That was something that was going to happen inevitably, since she could hardly stop Glenn from bringing it about without she turn him into a mule and lock him in a barn. "I want you to see what he is now and tell me what you think. Only to look at. Not to do anything about just yet. I will go with you, an you wish. I can even go in secret." The bright, sharp-cornered grin crossed her face, the air cold enough to chill even the marrow of her teeth. "I can be most subtle when 'tis necessary."

This, of course, also meant Glenn seeing what Catch was now, which was also inevitable. At best she might get two sets of answers, at worst only one.

She drew his hands back toward her, clutching them under her chin, where her own skin was as fevered as his. "But the choice be your own. An we must, I will decree it: I, Fionn, Queen of Cnoch-na-Niall, grant you the choice of whether you do or do not seek out Glenn Burnie. How's that?"

But the problem of Gloria was more thorny, in part because she could not divorce her own hatred from it. She wanted to tell him no and no again. Gloria had wounded him once, and now she had crawled out of her pit to hurt him again with his own indecision. All this had begun for Fionn with Glenn's letter, where he had made much the same decision, and look how far that had come. But her mind closed stubbornly against the notion of Gloria ending half so well.

<Catch> A deep breath, then, through his nose - and out - twin plumes of silver as he considers all she has told him, all she has given and even what she's not given. Its a curse, sometimes, he thinks. Glenn. Focus on Glenn, and he does not know if this is a purposeful thing, or if it is accidental. Because it could be an accident. Glenn Burnie was a very large man, not in stature but in Presence. He was Governor, but he was also very much more.

"I'm afraid he'd tie me with words." And other things, he does not say; Love, perhaps, though he does not rightly know what emotion that is right now. Fear, fear, fear. He's said afraid so many times it's bitter onand splintering on his tongue.

"It's cold, isn't it?" Better. That's not a fear. "Do you want to go in -"

Cut off, his lungs punched dry, chest expanding far beyond what his ribs could, should, accommodate for, trying to fill something that was once full that was now empty. His dark eyes bled, they bled, dripping black tar and electrum while a low and horrible moan claws from between his quivering teeth.

<Fionnuala> "No! No!" Everything. Everything. Everything was gone. The wind he chased swept away every word that had just passed between them; if she swore it on her own name, she could not have rightly confirmed any of them.

"Somebody help us!"

The Dagger's black rear wall was right behind them but they might have been out on the moors, a hundred miles of featureless whiteness in every direction, for all the scream echoed. No one to hear it.

What had she done?

Fionn was not inclined to fear; panic tended to make her angry instead, forcing her to lash out. On instinct she reached to grab him lest he collapse, but it felt as if she had tried to reach him through a wall of fire--her gloved hand jerked back in sudden agony. The wool was untouched but her fingertips throbbed, her whole hand swelled like an overfilled bladder, skin hot and on the verge of rupturing. Red-hot iron needle under her thumbnail, thrust all the way down to the base of the thumb, and all she could remember was the searing pain on the day they had cut off her fingers, impossible, unreachable pain. That had been more intense but not so exquisite. She clasped it between her knees, squeezing, mind reeling as it tried to process how things had so suddenly gone so wrong... until finally, with a snarl, she yanked off the glove. The hand beneath was as grey as if she had dipped it in ashes.

Without her conscious command, the strong, pale hand shot out, wrapped itself around his throat. The black nails snagged skin, dug deep, and the terrible, mindless agony was relieved with the sense of something hot and inexhaustible seeping out of her nails and under his skin. You don't hurt Catch, you never hurt Catch, you never touch Catch but...but she had to Fix Him.

And what she received in return seared her eyes and jolted from her a hideous, high-pitched wail, the sound of a dying rabbit with the strength of a woman's lungs, as Catch was lost, the Dagger was lost, the world was lost, and she was back on the moors surrounded by an infinite patch of...nothing.

Everything was gone. Everything. Nothing and nothing, forever and forever.

And it was probably for the best, then, that her terrified eyes fluttered shut and her knees folded under her, collapsing her to the ground.

<Annora> Annora had been out in the forest for the last few weeks, not really being one for the human settlements. She was returning now, and coming on...whatever scene this was, what did it look like for someone that was approaching from outside? Was the Dagger truly surrounded by blackness, or was it all just a figment of the mind? She knew something was up, because the screams were, presumably quite real.

<Catch> His throat swells against her grip, and there is only the briefest spasm against it - the smallest fight, an instinctual struggle as he lifts a weak hand to her wrist. His ears are too full of his own blood to hear her cries. Too full of a smug empty, empty , that trembling sigh as multitude fingers release themselves and slip away. Unnoticed, unmourned, shared between Catch and Fionn and mutual bile. Neither were prepared for it, but the hand at his throat was a mutual shock.

As Annora approaches, there is Catch in his bear's coat, sweeping a swooning Fionn into his arms, not quite able to gather all of her sprawling limbs. There are silver and oiled tears streaming down his face, wild and fey. "... Help," is all he says, very quiet, a chin jerking towards the Broken Dagger.

<Fionnuala> Her arm slipped loose from Catch's gathering grasp and her bare hand swung limp, the skin still ashen-grey compared to the ruddy bronze wrist and the dark roses the wind had bloomed in her cheek. Her head lolled back against his shoulder. Through parted lips issued the soft, blubbery snores of unconsciousness. Beyond that, she bore no wounds nor any sign of injury.

<Annora> "Ah.." Annora comes forward quickly, looking concerned, but also quite confused "..What even happened here?" She give Catch a quick look. She's no reason to suspect him..other than him carrying an injured girl, by some sort of magic by her guess, so he probably knows -something- "...Whatever..uh." She goes to open the door, and would hustle back and help Catch carry her inside.

<Catch> There's no answer he could give. It is enough that the stranger was helping. Catch hefts Fionn as well as he could; she is not a small woman, and though he himself is large, he is weak, trembling, half-dragging her across the yard and up the steps. The warmth is like a physical slap.

"Rum," he says; single words, sharp and splintered, and he doesn't mean to be so rude, but words right now are difficult and precious things. Fionn, all spindle-limbed, is placed as carefully as he can manage in a soft duvan. His hand lingers near grey fingers. "... please." Ah. There is politeness.

<Fionnuala> Her heels dragging the the ground jolted her to a murky sort of consciousness, so that by the time they passed the Dagger's threshold, she was present enough to clutch at Catch's bearskin. A nice memory: she had fond associations with bears, which made her try to burrow her face against him, which didn't help in moving her.

By the time they reached the duvan, she almost, almost knew where she was, and that there were two people near: a softer voice and a tremulous, more familiar one. She knew where they were, but not where they had come from, and her brow creased faintly, in pain and confusion, as she tried to remember...and then she rolled off the sofa to the floor, clutching her banged elbow and screaming, "Catch! Catch! Where is it? Where did it go?"

<Annora> "A..are you sure?" Annora was short, barely reaching 5ft, with tawny hair, and the pointy ears showing herself to not be human, rather, being an elf. She does order the rum, bringing it back to Catch. Even though she's indoors, she's kept her cloak about her, pinching it closed further, seemingly as a sort of nervous tik.

<Catch> Are you sure?

And Fionn springs to life, rolls away, screams gibberish that makes entirely too much sense, horrible sense. They are here, three unlikely creatures in the middle of civilization. A fae, outcast from her Court, an forest elf, and Catch, his rounded ears caught on a hat that does little to hide the pit and ruin of his skull, his eyes seeping quicksilver tears, his scarred hands struggling not to restrain Fionn, but to hold her still. "I don't know, I don't know."

And poor Annora, saintly with the Rum. "Thank you - look, Fionn, look. It's an elf."

Distraction. Catch's mismatched eyes dart quickly between the ears, and though his smile doesn't reach them, he grins broadly anyway. As if the whole world didn't just end.

<Fionnuala> Feeling smothered, stifled, Fionn began tearing at her clothes--though on closer observation, just the outer layers: gloves off, red cloak flopped to the floor, her hand skimming off the squirrelskin hat and her brilliant red curls electrified, standing on end. As directed by Catch, she stared helplessly up at Annora, vast black doe-like eyes blinking. Elf once meant something to her: either a silly joke or a persistent irritation; she'd forgotten which, or why. Just as quick, her head jerked toward Catch, to the tears still streaming out of his eyes. Tears, stupid tultharian things.

Like a new fawn, she struggled to get her legs under her. Even bracing herself on the edge of the sofa did not help. Her head was spinning. Nothing, forever and ever, was behind her eyes. "Catch?"

Finally she leaned forward, pressing her temples between her hands and leaning forward to stop the whirling. "Is this...are we still here? Are there any more of us?" Even as she asked, she had a dim, creeping feeling that the answer was yes, but the world was slippery and nothing was sure. She wanted voices, and reassurance.

<Annora> "I don't think so..I'm one of my own.." She's rather confused by that statement. She's no stranger to weird, but this is weird, even by her standards. "If I may, there is something that I find works for times like this."

She vanishes, entering the back of the inn for a moment, before returning with a jug of water..it's pretty obvious what she's planning to do with it. Firstly, she thinks it will be effective, but secondly..uh..she might be a smidge peeved.

<Catch> Catch's mind is elastic. It has been broken for so long that it clings to the pieces. The Broken Dagger has been his haven for so long that it's familiarity, even now, is grounding. There can be no Nothing here. There can be no Ennui, no Shadow, no aching hole like a missing tooth. Even now, it threatens, it looms. Were he only to close his eyes, he would feel it, missing like a far but familiar limb. But the Dagger was here. That such a thing would not work for Fionn did not enter into his mind.

"We're here," he says, slouching back so that he sits on his rear, long legs stretched out, the bear's pelt a pool around him. "It's... not." A nebulous it is no longer there.

"I got you Rum," he says, quietly, once they are alone. It is a brief moment, then he looks curiously at Annora, scrubbing fruitlessly at his tears. Self-conscious, yet unable to clear them away. They simply keep coming.

<Fionnuala> Fionn lifted her head and pulled her knees up to her chest. The floor would do for now; it was solid, at least, though she had to dig her fingers through the rushes to be sure of it. The Dagger was the Dagger: four flat walls, roofbeams, iron lurking in every corner, and the wind still scratching at its door the only proof that there was still a world outside at all. She took the rum with shaking fingers. The taste was flat and unexciting, but the warmth spread through her. She began to feel a little less transparent.

She cut her eyes toward the approaching Annora and her jug. "You throw that water on me in this weather and I will turn you into a toad and put you out of doors." It was the tone of someone who not only could do such a thing, but had done it before.

It was also most of the precious little fire she could muster. Her broad shoulders sank down again. "Catch. What was that? Was that real? Did it happen?"

<Annora> "Presenting a tangible physical threat usually helps people snap out of it." She puts the jar down. "I'm trying to help..please don't threaten me over it."

At the very least, she seemed unconcerned- showing weakness is a great way to get hunted down. "..but since we're exchanging threats, if you try I'll defend myself. But anyway, since we're all being friends here, and not going to try to kill each other, we should do introductions." She bows her head "Annora Ward."

<Catch> "Toads are v-very nice creatures." Open, guileless, unaware of any threat, Catch says this while sniffing into his sleeve, the words muffled and child-like. He scowls at the stutter, rubbing at a throat that already blossoms into bruises. "I'm Catch. Thank you for helping."

He makes no move to leave the floor, but he is silent for a long time. "I have to speak to Gloria," he says. "That was - That was Jernoah leaving."

"Oh, we've met, actually. In a sidelong sort of way." A faint twinkle came back into Fionn's eye. Her grey hand spread across her breastbone and above it, she bowed her head to Annora. "I am..." and she hesitated, sorting through her gallery of names. Catch was bound to slip up, and this might as well be part of her journey toward social respectability. "I am called Fionn. You've been trading your game with one of my link-boys. Good neighbor for that."

Her hand fell softly to her lap, gripping her kneecap, as she turned her head to regard Catch. "Leaving? It's not..."

In her mind she tried to reconcile that endless emptiness with a place. If a place was gone, there was still something: ruined buildings, a hole, a scar. Not nothing.

What if Cnoch-na-Niall were nothing?

Her lips were numb from shock and liquor. Finally her head bowed in defeat, a sick selfish bitterness rising up her throat. Gloria would have him after all.

"You shall have to tell her, then." Her voice was hollow. "Do you...do you want me to come with you?" That would be a very bad idea, all around. But if he wanted her, she would be there, and damn the consequences.

<Catch> Catch only shakes his head, but Fionn understands. It is the best, the only word he has. Left. Not gone, though it is close. It has Left.

They form a little triangle, these three, and for some reason that causes Catch to relax, his shoulders slumping. "I don't know. I think I have t-to speak to her alone." He is terrified, but it seems right. It feels right. He is a giant of a man, shaking inside the pelt of a great, white bear, his small voice as strong and brave as he can make it. "We might have to go and look." Even smaller, that one.

<Fionnuala> Gathering her strength, she crawled, cat-like, on hands and knees until she could flop beside Catch, laying her bright head on the bearskin. "Speak to her, an you must, but please don't go. Not a long way away, please. There isn't..."

The words that trembled on her tongue were There is nothing for me Here if you go, but having just witnessed nothing, she couldn't bring herself to say it.
Anything can be magic if you're gullible enough.
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