[P] where the forest trail ends
[p. Gaia/Isadore]
Set earlier in the month, ~10th or so. The end of the RO is set probably a week or so after this
You have to fight for what's in your heart
She had been avoiding going to the Citadel since it would have been all too easy to succumb to her siblings and other relatives that resided there. Going to L'Autre Cour had been more of a comforting thought than the risk of falling into old patterns. Seeing the old Courtiers had brought her back to a semblance of center, despite her other issues.

Erskine and Celeste were manning the trading stall for their family's wares that day, though a handful of other Courtiers were close by with their own stalls. They tried to keep the alcohols and beverages separate from what the others were doing just to keep better track of trades made.

Eulalie had been asked to come with to help them since they had brought the last remaining cherry preserves and dried cherries from the end of their season, plus the other berries just coming into season that had been given the same treatment; the early season fruits were not quite as sweet as they would be in the following weeks, but the honey they had added certainly brightened everything up. Honestly, it was amazing what they managed to do as a unit just to produce goods to trade.

Her cousins freed her from minding the stall, handing off a jar of cherry jam and a bag of sun-dried apple rings. They told her to trade for something nice for herself, insisting that she had earned plenty more than what they told her to spend.

What on earth did she even want?

The stalls were more bustling than usual but Portland always seemed to ebb and flow in terms of crowds, much like the tide. She didn't often explore, mostly to avoid seeing people she knew would recognize her, but the younger cousins were just as firm and insistent as she would have been in their place.

Maybe just a little look around wouldn't hurt..

Her gaze trailed over the stalls and her mouth instantly ran dry when she saw a pair of very, very familiar figures. One she knew as well as she knew the back of her hand and the other was at least a blood relative.

Part of her wanted to turn tail and just grab something arbitrary for trade to get out of the center of the market. The other part berated her for the cowardice that she lamented in the first place when she disappeared from New Caledonia in the dead of night like a thief. She was better than that, and who would understand her better than one of her littermates?

Isadore and Gaia looked well, which made her heart happy but ache at the same time. How were they managing to find themselves so well when she struggled?

She approached them, eyeing the selection of pottery, and set down the jar of preserves on the table without a word. Her eyes were almost watery as she stared at her brother, unable to make a sound.
It had been nearly two years since she departed the north and come to the Citadel. At first it had seemed a cowardly choice: running away from things she did not want to face, avoiding her half-sister and her new, large family, avoiding the fact that she was no longer unique and special. She had not known why the boy accompanied her, but soon enough discovered that he too felt the same – at least, that he had reasons to want to be away from their family.

At first, they had little direction. The group had been smaller then, and basic needs were more important than individual ones. Over time, this changed.

They found clay. They built a kiln, and then another. They had failure after failure.

Eventually, though, the two of them – Gaia and Isadore – made it work.

She had developed the craft while Isadore perfected handling the fire. Both required unique skills. Together they began to make cups and bowls and soon more intricate items. With her background in dye, Gaia experimented with glazes. She discovered quickly that plants could not handle the heat, but stone could. Certain crystals and metal, and even rust, they could be used to change the color of the clay. Though the plants did not provide dye, they had experimented with applying them to the hot surfaces of her pottery and found the patterns left behind were beautiful.

It was a useful skill. It was artistry. It made Gaia feel like she had found something she alone could offer to the world.

On days when they came to the market, Gaia handled the trade while Isadore kept an eye on things. He had filled out and made a good deterrent for thieves. During the summers he swam, and in winter he took to hunting. With the many Luperci who lived in the Citadel providing aid, no one wanted for much at all, and so they were allowed freedom to do as they pleased. Though she spent less time making garments, Gaia still had an eye for colorful clothing and often traded for pieces she liked. Her animals were spoiled. Ladybird was looking fatter than ever.

The day had been steady, but quiet. Gaia yawned as she stretched and looked over the market. Summer was drawing to an end, and she was not inclined to sit out in the cold once the snow began. That was when she'd go back to other work, like her embroidery. They had more than enough bowls and containers to get them through the winter, and still had time to make more before the ground froze.

She was thinking ahead to an early dinner when a woman approached the stand. Even though it had been years, she recognized her at once – it was hard not to, for how alike Eulalie and Isadore looked.

“Eulalie?” Gaia asked, though her nose confirmed what her eyes already told her. She stood quickly and came around the front of the stall. “Oh, it's good to see you! How are you? What are you doing here?”

Isadore, more perceptive of his sister's moods, frowned as he regarded her.
Put your good where it will do the most.
Character Wiki | New Caledonia | Player Wiki
You have to fight for what's in your heart
Isadore looked at her as he had always looked at her; with great understanding. It had been ages since they had last seen one another and the fact he frowned rather than fawned told her that those teary eyes of hers gave her dead away. Too much conflicting emotion at war had turned to muddy mire and he could probably see that she was not suddenly a cheery guest who had missed them at the Citadel.

Aunt Gaia came around their trading stall and quickly came face to face. The older woman was shorter than she remembered, but it was another lovely facet of being as tall as she was. Honestly, was there anyone taller than her out there? Surely she was not on the biggest end. Surely!

"Auntie Gaia, hi," she said as she swallowed her emotion and pulled her gaze away from her brother's scrutiny. "I'm here with Celeste and Erskine." She waved her hand absently behind her, indicating the vague direction where her cousins were manning their own stall.

Eulalie had the sense to look sheepish as she glanced quickly back at Isadore before returning to her aunt. "I've actually been staying in L'Autre Cour with Uncle Alessan." It didn't surprise her too much that no one had gone to the Citadel to tell them the Savoy daughter was staying at the Court's old outpost. They probably didn't care or assumed they had already been told. Naturally, Eulalie had avoided it entirely.

Whatever her brother was thinking, she knew he would eventually ask for the truth of the matter and why she never showed up at the Citadel. She cleared her throat and grinned broadly to hide the discomfort. "Look at these, though! Did you do any of these Isadore? Or are you just the brawn to keep our petite Auntie safe?"
Though she did not keep up with her relatives in L'Autre Cour with great frequency, Gaia had been no stranger to her elder brother's exploits or his growing family. She delighted in the continuation of their lineage, and thought the performer he had taken on as a lover was a suitable match. Alessan was far less stuffy than Eugene and easier to understand than Pascal. He was busy, of course, and Gaia did not think it right to intrude on him without proper warning or invitation. She had chosen a new kingdom like so many of the old court, thinking it might replace what they had lost.

In some ways, it had. In others, it had not.

“Oh are they around?” Gaia asked with obvious delight, peering into the crowd as if she might spot the youngsters. When she did not, she fixed her attention back on Eulalie, who had since moved aside to look at their products.

Though not nearly as perceptive of her niece's moods, Gaia had spent much of the past two years around her brother, and found him much easier to read. From the way he was standing, and the way he had crossed his arms, she could tell something was amiss. This made sense, she supposed: Eulalie had not come to the Citadel, where by all rights she belonged, and did not immediately volunteer a reason for her visit.

Curious, Gaia remained quiet and busied herself with pretending to look for the absent children again.

“I handle the kiln – where we fire them – but she does most of the throwing,” he answered, not bothering to elaborate on what were now familiar terms to him. His green eyes narrowed as he tilted his head to look down at her. “You should have told me you were here.”
Put your good where it will do the most.
Character Wiki | New Caledonia | Player Wiki
You have to fight for what's in your heart
Those eyes could peer into her heart like it was nothing because they were tied by blood. Eulalie did her best to avoid meeting his gaze entirely as she focused on her smaller aunt who seemed much more eager (or deliberately oblivious) to keep it light.

"Oh, they're a bit over that way and around the corner. You should come say hello, before we all leave for the day," she answered with great cheer, doing her best to pretend like everything was fine and that she was not questioning her decision to approach her aunt and brother. It was hard to fight with the reality when it was presented to her face and she knew that she would not be able to explain away her hesitation in lingering near the Citadel.

Isadore knew that she had no excuse and he honed right in on it.

God, he could see right through her. The way he looked down at her almost made her turn her tail in between her legs.

Eulalie met his gaze for a brief moment before looking away.

"I.. should have," she admitted softly. "But," she paused, faltered, hesitated, whatever was most applicable to the sudden dryness that seized up her throat. Eulalie licked at her lips. "I couldn't. I didn't want them to know where I had gone."

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