[P] Snap, crackle, pop.
#1
The day had started with an off feeling. It wasn't exactly sinister but it did invade her senses a bit like a spirit. Everything just felt slightly off kilter for the young coydog. In fact, she was beginning to think that she might be getting sick or something. There was just... such a strange feeling about her body and she wasn't sure what to make of it. Mostly she tried to ignore it, but she felt its presence even then. It wasn't letting go, no matter how many deep breaths she took or how many times she tried to do other things to distract herself. Something was weird.

It was midday and she was resting underneath the boughs of the Angel Oak. This in and of itself was fairly unusual, too. Sometimes she went to the Angel Oak to spend time exploring or hunting or just to pray. For her to just be dozing was the unusual part. Naps hadn't been a normal part of her day for quite some time. There, it began. A quiver that went through her body. Oh, no, she thought with dismay, sure now that she was sick. Then it went through her body again and she sat up, startled. Oh, yes! as realization dawned on her as to what was really happening. Her body shifted, it reformed, everything moved inside of her as it rearranged into what it was supposed to be. What she had longed for it to be for months, perhaps even her entire life.

The girl felt like it took forever and yet no time at all, her fingers flexing in their new form with great satisfaction and also a sense of strangeness. Her toes curled and uncurled, and she smiled. Her first thought in this new, glorious, amazing, beautiful form was now next time I see Dora I can give her a proper hug, and then the Courtright cub laughed. Finally, God had seen fit to let her begin her change. Finally, the many things she had wanted to learn were within her grasp. Finally, she could ride a horse and shoot arrows and write. Finally, she could hug the heck out of Pandora Knight.
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#2
Anticipating the moment of her third daughter's shift, the Braithwaite female had spent most the weeks looking for the tall-tale signs. Irritability,-- thanks to Daphne-- wanting to be alone, bouts of sleeping during the day, fatigue, and all-around moodiness. The last one, and the first, were mainly due to Daphne's shift, not Tansy's. Tansy shifted in the early morning and her mother hadn't been there to walk her through it, due to her want and need to be alone. It would appear as though her daughter Camellia was the same way.

Dawning the cloak she had made for the youngster, and a dress of pallid cremello coloration, she took to her two feet, and off she went. It would appear as though her daughter headed towards Angel Oak, and without much hesitation, nor bravado, the sight of her shifted daughter was in her vision.

The only odd thing about this Courtright was the coloration of her hair, but her dark, notable Braithwaite markings showed through even more now, and Peony couldn't help but give a low, happy growl. "Mi amora." Speaking as she approached the newly shifted youth, Peony let her knees drop to the ground, wearing pants today, it was a site to see to be sure. No longer dawned in her skirts or dresses, the Bella Dama aimed to curl a pallid mitt around her daughters darker shoulder.

"Oh, you are so beautiful." The clothes were set aside for now, in a neat pile as she brushed her daughters hair with a hand, and then placed one mitt alongside her elongated muzzle. Her hair was the color of chocolate and auburn, pretty, without the pale colorations of her siblings. Cami was different from them, indeed. "Take your time," Hands steadied her daughter, and she offered her own shoulders for support, "You will be clumsy at first, try to stand if you can." Honestly Peony wanted to know if she had her father's height or not. So far she had an androgynous body, so at least Peo wouldn't have to be beating suitors off.

Poor girl.
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#3
Her sunset-hued eyes turned toward the sound of someone approaching. Somehow, she had thought her mother would look different once she shifted. As if the change in her own body shape would change her perception of Peony. Of course how tall she was compared to her mother would be very different when she stood up. On the ground, though, the Bella Dama still seemed as big as she always had. As big, as beautiful, as majestic. Cami's tail thumped against the ground a couple of times as she smiled hugely. Finally, she was going to be able to do so many things.

She did notice her mother was wearing pants. "¿Pantalones, mamá?" why would the Bella Dama not be donning her customary skirts? Usually if she wore pants it was for a reason. Was Camellia shifting for the first time a reason to wear pants? The girl didn't know, nor did she linger too much on it.

Her eyes half-closed in pleasure at the touch of her mother's hand against her muzzle, leaning a bit into the familiar sensation. Familiar but different, her muzzle was different than it had been mere moments before when she was on four legs. She flexed her arms and moved to push them against the ground so that she could stand. Her mother offered a shoulder and she tentatively placed a hand - a hand!!, she thought excitedly - on Peony as she tried to get to her legs.

"Me siento como un potro, mis piernas están tan tambaleantes." Newborn foals were born with legs that were wobbly for just a short time, though, because they had to be ready to run from danger mere minutes after birth sometimes. Perhaps nature had made her that way, too; to be able to run on legs she had been born to have as soon as she got them properly under her. Although she had noticed that her mother had brought clothes for her, a dress that would constrict the same legs that she was just getting beneath her so that running was a bit more difficult. That was all part of becoming an adult, though. Childish things needed to be put away.

This was when she felt the strangeness of being so tall, of the legginess that she had inherited from her dad instead of her mom. Because she was not taller than her mother yet, but based upon how close she already was to the Bella Dama's height, she would be.
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#4
Cami switched to their non-native tongue smoothly, and Peony-- impressed as usual-- clicked her tongue in simple admiration of her daughters new, leggy form. Poor girl, was shaky and wobbly to stand up on her mothers' pallid mitt. Even from here Camellia was far more a replica of the Courtright brute, her father.  From the freckles on her nose, to the freckled mitts, even down to her tannish coloration upon her shoulders. Even that hair was resemblance towards Hosea. Part of Peo was almost sick, she also looked like Hezekiah.

"Lo harás, pronto estarás corriendo como si hubieras nacido con dos piernas y no con cuatro." Peo stated, hands supporting Cam on her hips. "You are tall." Mused her mother, looking into her daughters eyes, staring into those sunset orbs. So different from her lilac eyed siblings. She would be a perfect fit for a swordsman. And with Peony having no son, perhaps it was the femme's duties, although it would be a lot to put onto someone such as her age and stature, but--

Peony's form moved away from Camellia, at least twelve feet, and she gave a brisk smile. "Camina hacia mi." Once her daughter could walk that far then their real training would begin.
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#5
Standing felt... strange. The balance was different for two legs than it had been for four. There were arms to account for that hung at her side and she wasn't sure how to utilize them exactly. Her body seemed to know what it was doing for the most part, it was really her brain getting in the way that was messing her up. Someday, though, very soon, she'd run in this form as she had on four legs. Though... restricted, she knew, by the dresses she was sure to wear most of the time.

As her mother directed, the girl started to walk forward. Carefully, her feet feeling a bit wobbly and strange under her. Though at the same time, they also felt very right as if she had walked in them her whole life. It was a strange juxtaposition and she wasn't sure how to merge it together. Slowly, though, she kept walking and as she did she became more confident. Each step made more sense, felt better, was easier... she was starting to get it. Her tail wagged in an automatic response to her happiness and threw her a bit off balance, but she caught herself quickly and stood tall.

"Lo hice." she said as she drew near to her mother again, her posture straightening a bit more. It would take her longer to stand properly on two legs instead of four, but she'd do it. Camellia had never failed at anything in her life and she didn't plan to start now.
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#6
"Sí. You did." Remarked the elder female, her brows furrowing only a moment before flickering her ears, and letting a hand fall to her daughters mitt.

"Come now," patting the freckled mitts with a pallid one, Peony's maw curled upwards in a small smile. It was kind, of course, but the thought of introducing Cami to a bow right now, and a sword, allowed a small peckish feeling, though not entirely unwelcoming. Guilt- perhaps- washed through her body, but shrugging it off the elder Braithwaite gave her daughter a little tug, and pulled her along with her.

They would travel toward the homestead once again, maybe the young girl would ask less questions, and follow commands as she was told and asked. However, Peo was certainly sure it was simply wishful thinking.

"I got you a few things." Shrugging the clothes in her arms, the woman didn't really want to place her daughter in a dress right away, but part of her figured the sooner the better. Yet-- then again--

Peo traveled in her bipedaled form quickly, and quietly. Once their arrival at the house was successful, Peony pointed towards the porch with her nose, "Wait there, I will return quickly." Of course, it was expected that Camellia would obey, why wouldn't she?

As Peo disappeared and reappeared, she held a bow, some quivers, and a pair of trousers and an old shirt of her father's. "Vamanos." Said Peony, the objects being handed over.
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#7
The initial excitement of her mother seeing her in her changed form was shifting a bit, she thought. There was an assessing quality to the Bella Dama's gaze that made her feel more like that filly than before she had started getting her legs under her. A keen look of someone taking in the skills and value of another. It made her feel vulnerable and if it had been anyone other than Peony, she might've been disturbed; instead she was merely a bit off balance in mind as well as body.

Her mother pulled her along and she followed, finding that each step was easier than the last. It was true that her confidence to run in this form would come much quicker than she'd worried. That was a relief. Dora had said it was kind of weird and it was, but Cami thought she was adapting quickly. Pandora would've been so happy to see her like this... she would be so happy to see her like this, whenever she got the chance.

She walked after the Bella Dama to their house, arriving there and feeling slightly more at ease standing on her own porch. When her mother directed her to wait, she nodded. "Si, mama." she said obediently, too distracted anyway by how close everything felt. The world looked different from that height than it had from her four-legged height. And she wasn't even done growing, eventually she'd be taller.

When her mother returned, she wagged her tail, although she was a bit surprised to see the pants and trousers. She took them and got dressed carefully. Though she would've liked to be quicker, she didn't want to fall all over herself as she pulled on the pants. Standing on just one leg was weird and they were a bit long for her since they had been her pa's after all. Same with the shirt, but she enjoyed the way she could still smell him a bit on the fabric. Oh what would he think when he saw her like this? Hosea would be so happy and proud, she couldn't wait to show him!

Her gaze shifted to the bow. "Are we going to start lessons now?" she said eagerly, ready to actually use the bow instead of merely watching others and having the theory of how to shoot. The day had finally come for Camellia Courtright to make her own mark in archery.
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#8
It was answered in almost perfect Spanish. Peony's ear pricked and twisted toward her daughters voice. Camellia's speech was still a bit off, her dialect twinged by the southern side of her lineage. It could have made the Bella Dama's lip twitch into a small curl, yet, she did not.

Upon returning with bow and quiver in hand, she simply let her gaze turn downwards upon Cam, and glanced her up, then down.

"Yes." Was the reply in English, her tail twitching behind her as those pallid mitts thrust the objects out toward Camellia. "We will venture toward the forest," where your father and I used to practice, she thought, nose twitching as her back turned, and she walked further on, "There you will shoot a few make-shift targets. You must pay attention dear daughter."

English would be better suited for the duo right now. There was no need to resort back to Spanish. At least, not right now.
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#9
The whole world had come to where she wanted it to be. Finally, two feet, hands... it was all going to shift into focus now. All the things that used to just be observed could now be done. She was going to show just how great she could be now that she could learn to be all the things she dreamed of being. Importantly, also, she could hug Pandora, but that was her heart's secret wish. She wasn't about to tell her madre about that.

Her mother's response was short. Not... unkind, but to the point in a way that briefly made her belly clench uncertainly. Hopefully she had not done something wrong already? She doubted it. It was just that Peony was getting to the task at paw. Cami had shifted and her world alongside it. It was time to train.

The young coydog took the bow and arrows, moving to follow the Bella Dama as they walked to where they would practice. "I always pay attention." she said. It wasn't a protest, just a statement of fact. Cami was busy paying attention at the moment to the objects she held. She admired the way that her hand felt around the bow's grip. It felt right. The quiver she slung over her shoulder where it belonged.
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#10
Watching her lithe daughter, the mother's hands folded in front of her, twitching as her child responded that she always paid attention. The part of the Braithwaite that was related to Meredith, reached out and thumped the child on her forehead, not hard, but enough to get her attentions. Those lilac orbs narrowed, daring to inch closer, intimidatingly so.

"Paying attention means knowing what's going to happen before it happens." No one could truly do that, however Peony didn't miss a beat, and swept out a long, buckskin leg to trip up her newly shifted daughter. Teenager, more like it. And one that was as cocky as they came. No one could always pay attention, not even the Braithwaite as much as she hated to admit it.

"Or rather," Once her trip had landed she would offer a hand toward Cam on the ground (if she had managed to trip her up that way, anyways) and give a small, Placid smile, pulling her to her feet, "Expect the unexpected, child."

It was Peony who had been planning this from the beginning. And Peony who had favored the youngster more than her other children. Perhaps, that was why the treatment was so brash, though not unkind. She loved her child, desperately so, and the only way for her to grow was to learn the hard way. Peony continued forwards, speaking over her shoulder, "Once you've picked up your ego, let's begin."

Once again, her words weren't unkind, simply blunt, and brutal. Such was life, it would seem. She had been coddled enough for six months, Peony loved her and snuggled her and cherished her. Besides that, though, Camellia wouldn't be weak, couldn't be weak. Peony would make sure of it.
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#11
Camellia was surprised when her mother thumped her head. She was set off balance and fell backward a bit, landing with a thump on her rump. Her mother pressed nearer to her and for once, she didn't want that. She wanted her mother to get out of her space, move away... the bubbling excitement of her first time shifting had dissipated into the air and her world just kept shifting in new ways.

Sometimes she could anticipate what would happen before it happened, but not always. That wasn't paying attention to her. Being observant, being aware, these were things she did. Foretelling the future and preparing for all outcomes? She could try; it was impossible. Had her mother foreseen the loss of her son before he drowned? No. That wasn't because she hadn't paid enough attention. It was a tragedy. How could she expect Camellia to do more than she herself had done?

She didn't want to take Peony's hand, but she did. It would be worse to reject the offered hand, it might invoke anger that she hadn't seen before. Already there was a rising fury that she thought she saw lingering in her mother's face that she normally didn't see. Cami didn't like it.

Expect the unexpected made no sense. She minded her tongue enough to not say so, though. She didn't want to be thumped again. She dusted off her body as best she could before walking again. Her ears remained back and she didn't speak again. It seemed saying nothing at all might be the better course of action? Camellia wasn't sure. It wasn't her ego that had been bruised, it was her heart. She'd be wary of letting it take the brunt of the damage again.

She'd be meek and humble and follow her mother's directions without a word of complaint. Perhaps that would satisfy the Bella Dama's needs?
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#12
It hadn't been a sweep of her leg that had thrown the child off-balance, in fact it was the removal of her finger upon her forehead which caused the child to tumble backwards and fall onto her rump.

The Coyote Queen wasn't impressed, to say the least, but her features did soften a bit whenever the child simply rose to her feet, dusted herself off, and said no words. Had she regretted her initial decision? Had the fact that she- Peony Braithwaite- had laid a hand on her own child in a non-loving manner gotten to her? Or had Camellia simply buttoned her trap for fear of igniting a fire within her mother that Peo didn't even have..

It had been a rather uncomfortable walk in silence, before Peony's gaze fell onto the forested grounds and the tree that had marks in it that were years old. Almost three at that. "You know," Started her mother, hands folding behind her back as she faced the child, emotionless and stoic, "It was not an intention to be harmful." A tongue wet her lips, Peony was sorry, she just couldn't ever say it, "I was simply trying to keep you on your toes for the naieveness you still portray." A hand flickered outwards, waiting expectantly for her daughters freckled paw, once it was accepted- for she held it out for far to long for Cam go say no- Peony would bring it to her muzzle and give her a gentle kiss to her knuckles, before holding it outwards, in a relatively calm manner.

"You are my daughter," Even now she could see it in her eyes, in the way Cam barely looked at her. Camellia Courtright hated the Bella Dama. Peony wouldn't get tongue tied in her emotions, however, "Expecting perfection is preposterous," she released her hand now, her mitt finding her own bow, and stringing up an arrow, "However," she breathed, shot the arrow and turned those eyes towards Camellia, "I didn't become as good as I am without studying and working hard." Blessed were her words, by the Lord Almighty, at that.

"And I know your father loved this place." Was her apology accepted yet? "We would come out here and I would continually beat him." She chuckled, her eyes turning forlorning now, "That is how he fell in love with me." Came the belated reply, flipping her shirt with one finger and then grasping her daughter by the shoulders.

"Anyways," breathing she pointed to where her arrow was sticking out of the tree. Numerous other holes around it, "let us begin, let me know when you're ready."
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#13
The silence stretched between them, taut as a string. All of her childhood, she had imagined this day. In her starry-eyed daydreams, she had made her mom proud. There had been joy between them and nothing else. Instead there was something almost tangible in the air. It made her chest hurt, a psychosomatic tension manifesting as physical pain.

She stopped when her mother turned to face her. The girl's eyes didn't move up to match her mother's, the avoidance of direct eye contact a signal of respect. Was this what was wanted of her? Camellia felt off beat. Like she had once known the song - and maybe she still did know a version of it - but she'd lost this particular key.

Naivety, her face burned at the word that came from her mother. Cami knew she was naive in some ways. It was part of being young. Yet she had never thought it was a trait to be discussed. It was just... sometimes she didn't know things. She was still learning a lot. Hell, she had only just gotten hands and oh she really wished that Pandora was there to hug. That anyone but Peony had found her. What had seemed a fortuitous and joyous moment was turning out to be nothing of the sort.

A hand reached out to her. An olive branch? An offering of peace? Camellia reached out her own hand that was unburdened with the bow, taking her mother's paw and not moving still as the Bella Dama brushed a kiss against her knuckles. It made the hair stand up on the back of the Courtright girl's neck. This was all so confusing, so back and forth; first a whack, then a kiss. What was she supposed to make of that?

Peony stated something that was a matter of fact; Camellia was her daughter. She was also Hosea's daughter in equal measure. There was Courtright blood in her and Braithwaite blood. Dog and coyote. Neither won out over the other just because her madre wanted it to win out. The freckles on her face stood out in testament to her other bloodline. A bloodline she was rather preferring at the moment; although she was also well aware that Hosea had been raised by a strict task master too.

An arrow flew, thunk, it landed.

When had Cami ever not studied hard? The girl bit her front set of teeth, holding it there lest it decide to run away with her thoughts. It made her angry that she was being treated like a child, even as she also wanted to be treated like a child in other ways. A headache was crawling around in her skull at the sheer confusion she felt. Work hard, practice, get better, become the best. That was what she had always wanted to do. Wasn't that what she had always shown? Hadn't she always been a good student, a proper daughter? Why did her mother seem to not even know her anymore? Her head and heart both hurt.

Hosea had liked to come out there, too. She wished he was here now. He wasn't, though, because Peony had driven him away. Maybe they deserved equal blame but she was angry and it made her blame her mother wholly in that moment. Though her tongue remained still and she did not speak the words that sparked to life in her head. Her father had fallen in love with her madre here. Would she find love here, too, for the Bella Dama? Or only more hurt?

The girl raised her bow when her mother indicated she was to try. She remembered what she had been taught about where to grip, how to hold the bow, never to dry fire, how to set the arrow. It felt awkward to actually do with hands so new, but she managed. Her hand lifted the arrow into position, but she did not hold it taut against the bowstring just yet. "At your command, Bella Dama." she replied evenly. Once confirmed that she should shoot, the girl would aim and fire where her mother had directed.

It wasn't the best shot, it wasn't the worst. Certainly a fine start for a beginner. As the arrow flew, she had kept her arm steady in position until the arrow struck the wood. It was a bit below and to the left of Peony's own. Camellia awaited further instruction with the diligence of a student instead of the eagerness of a daughter.
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#14
Camellia Courtright- how she loathed the last name- made Peony's ear twitch. She should have been a Braithwaite. In another world, another life, the mother would have apologized outright and given her the benefit of the doubt. She was a child how was she supposed to know everything?

But then again...

Cam's monotoned speech, the way she spoke to her, that made her eyebrow twitch, and her lip curl. If she wanted to be treated as a subject rather than a child, so be it. It was right that her last name was Coutright. Unruly and unhinged as Cam's father was, at least he respected authority. And right now? Peony wasn't her mother, she was the Bella Dama.

If Camellia wanted to react with insolence, she would be met with the return.

"That's Braithwaite," A curl of her lip, eyes locking onto Camellia's, "Bella Dama," Peony's own ears twitched upon her skull, tail swaying in dominance as she felt her anger resurfacing. The young woman's shot had been fired as Peony had directed, and it was off, not quite, though, but still off. She wasnt going to be perfect out of the gate, and Peo found her lip curling at the productivity.

Unfortunately for Camellia Courtright, Peony was her mother. Redirecting her daughters hands upon the bow, one higher, one slightly lower, she directed her elbow with a bit of a questionable touch, not quite gentle, not quite rough, tapped her chin and then glanced at the child. Her posture was poor, and her shoulders weren't quite square. The Bella Dama stifled a sigh, and pointed, "Again."
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#15
Her heart hurt. On a physical level, she was fine. Emotionally, she felt the fissures that were growing between her and her mother as if they were in fact physical injuries. It would fade faster than an actual injury, her soul becoming numb and throwing a salve of peace across the parts of her that ached. Only to be ripped open again the next time that she noticed and remembered the distance gaping between them.

Even her latest attempt at letting the distance keep their emotions at bay was met with resistance. Peony snapped, the lash of her tail felt like the crack of a whip across her soul's surface. Cami kept her face still, her ears swaying back once in an apology. Sadness leaped like a frog in her chest, tightening her throat and making heart beat faster. The emphasis on her mother's last name, Braithwaite, a name they did not share. A name she had never minded that they did not share, because she liked the sweet way Camellia Courtright sounded. Like a song. Camellia Braithwaite wouldn't have felt the same.

Her eyes deferred away from her mother's as the stare bored into her, a respectful thing to do though she wasn't even sure anymore if that was how it would be taken. Since she had thought calling her mother Bella Dama would have been the right course of action. All of the what I know of how to treat someone and get treated correctly in response was trampled like dirt beneath Peony Braithwaite's feet.

It confused her what she had done wrong, anyway. Braithwaite Bella Dama? Was that what she wanted to be called? Or Bella Dama Braithwaite? The syntax of it confused her and she wanted to run away from all of this. Yet she stayed firm. Stubbornly, she remained where she was and let her mother adjust her body. Her tongue remained still in her mouth. Perhaps saying nothing would work to soothe whatever was happening? Cami wasn't even sure what to do anymore when it came to their communication. At least she knew what to do (sort of) when it came to archery. She'd watched her sisters and parents enough to know quite a lot about it in theory.

She set her feet, she squared her shoulders the way that she had seen her family do time and time again. Keeping, of course, the corrections that her mother had made to her stance. Cami let another arrow fly. This one flew true, hitting where she wanted. It should have been a moment for celebrating. The ghost of a smile flickered on her lips, but faded quickly. Her head turned back toward Peony to await further instruction.
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