Lavender, the Marigold Wishes

BY : Chelle
Category: A through F > Dragonlance
Dragon prints: 2914
Disclaimer: I do not own the book(s) that this fanfiction is written for, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Lavender, the Marigold Wishes


“Here’s flowers for you:

Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram;

The Marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun

And with him rises weeping.”

--Shakespeare, Winter’s Tale

* * *

She sm of of ndernder, I decide, as I watch her strolling along the rope-walk. Lavender, and maybe of the coarse, fresh soap the busy Solace women make down by the lake once a month.

The wind is blowing, and when I lean out the window, I can feel it on my face. It’s rippling through the leaves overhead the way water ripples, and the stars might be reflections in a black pool that goes forever.

Lavender is going home, I decide. Half of her is painted red in the moonlight, and I think her hair would be blonde in better light. I can tell someone is following her -- someone big, from the way the tree-walk sways, and maybe drunk since it’s swaying unevenly. Lavender is laughing as she goes, a light sound that feels strange brushing across my skin. Maybe she doesn’t know she’s being followed. Or maybe she does, and that’s why she’s laughing.

I might have been her. I might have been pretty and smiling, lips curling up. I can see her teeth flash, striped white black by the night. I might’ve stained my cheeks red and worn my hair long. I might’ve been pretty instead of frail. Instead of weak, or disgusting, or sly.

Instead of hated.

I could have had a garden, with rows of flowers and herbs. I could tend to the sick, and no one would think it odd if I didn’t want to go swinging a wooden sword. They wouldn’t jeer when I didn’t bring a new lover home every night -- they’d call me respectable. And no one would ewhiswhisper behind my back if I could move like Lavender, not if I had her hips, her swaying walk, her smile. Her laugh, the kind that stays on your skin. No one could hate something that laughs like she does, like bells and rain.

I should have been her.

She’s gone now, disappeared around a corner where I can’t see. But the tree-walk is still bouncing, and whoever’s been following Lavender will be passing by soon. Very soon; I can hear the footsteps now, and the uneven breathing -- deep and ragged, like a horse breathes, or like a big man who’s been running.

Or like a big man who’s so drunk he can’t catch his breath.

It’s Caramon; I can feel it before I see him -- feel it in the hum across my fingertips and in the way the hair prickles on the back of my neck. He’s only nineteen, the fool. He shouldn’t drink as much as he does, shouldn’t drink and sing and dance with a dozen girls every night. Shouldn’t bring them home, the pretty ones who disappear before dawn, the not-so-pretty ones he has to tell to leave. He falls in love through the bottom of an ale glass, with all of them one by one -- but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t fall out of love with each and every one of them when the hangover sets in.

He loves them at night, but in the too-bright shine of day, he loves me. His “little brother,” the one he has to protect. The one he tries so hard not to be ashamed of. He loves me, and if it’s a love that smothers, it’s a love that doesn’t fade, at least.

I feel bitter and old, thinking about him.

Tonight it’s Lavender -- it’s her, he’s chasing her. He wants to bring her home, whisper his slurred words of love into her dainty little ears, fuck her senseless in the next room while I lay awake, hearing every moan and grunt and gasp. Wants to smile at me in the morning when he asks for something for his headache. Wants to look at me with big, wounded eyes when I snap at him.

Doesn’t want to understand why I’m hurting, why I can’t stand to look at him when he amiably tells nig night’s gasps and moans to leave.

Doesn’t want to understand me.

“Caramon!” I call to him through the window, not really knowing why. Wave at him to get his attention, to pull him away from the sway of Lavender’s hips, the bounce of her skirts as she crosses the walkways. “Caramon, come home.” My voice is sharper than I mean it.

And he reels -- the great idiot spins so fast he nearly slips and falls out of the trees. Manages to grab the rope-railing and keep himself upright. I wave again, gesture impatient, and he sees me. Smiles fuzzily at me. His broad shoulders, his square jaw are etched red from behind, but his face shines the pale gray of the stars.

“Washoo doin’ ‘wake, Raist?” I can hear him clearly, sound sparkling and brittle in the spring air.

“Come home, Caramon,” I say again, tone annoyed. “You’ll slip and fall to your death out there, you drunken dolt.”

And he stands there a moment, blinking and smiling, like he doesn’t quite understand what I said. When he moves, it’s all at once, a sort of stumbling lurch. He goes around the corner, heading towards our door. I leave the candle in my bedroom.

Our house is small; I beat him to the door, pull it open and wait in the doorframe, arms crossed over my chest. He comes stumbling across the porch, grinning at me as he does.

“Whassa ma... matter, Raist?” he asks. He doesn’t seem too worried; he’s chuckling as he comes crashing up the steps. Catches himself on the last one, puts his hands on either side of the doorframe. Leans in until I can smell the sour hops on his breath. “Disha have a ba’dream-- ‘gain? I coul’ makit better...”

“No, Caramon, I haven’t been sleeping,” I say irritably, words coming out clipped and harsh. “Get inside, before you wake the neighbors, you great ass.” I take a step backwards, moving so he can come through the doorway.

He smiles, my tone rolling off him like water. Takes a step towards me, twists -- maybe to look around for Lavender one last time, or maybe just because he’s too smashed to walk straight -- and he trips over the doorjamb.

When he falls into me, he hits me hard. Shoves into me with his shoulder, slams me backwards. Catches his balance at the last second and tries to grab for me, but he’s too drunk to manage it. I hit the floor hard, my shoulder-blades bouncing twice, jarring through my whole body. My head snaps back against the floor, and the breath flies out of me--

And then the world is still again. I stare at the ceiling, black sparks flying at the corners of my eyes. Stunned, my chest is heaving uselessly, lungs firmly closed. Hands fallen numb at my sides. I can feel the warm wood under my back, and my shoulders sting, and there’s a dull rushing sound throbbing in my ears. Caramon is saying something, voice miles above me, but I can’t make out the words. My head pounds.

I manage to suck in a breath, a huge one all at once. It surprises me. It hurts from the inside out, feels like my chest is on fire, and I feel sick. I squeeze my eyes shut, push myself over onto my side, wanting to curl up and make the whole world go away until I can breathe without this stabbing pain just beneath my ribs.

He grabs my shoulders, hands warm and thick and clumsy. I’m shaking my head no, but that makes the world tilt, so I stop. I go limp, and he picks me up easily. Pulls me off the floor, and gathers me to his chest. My head falls forward against his shoulder; the world is reeling, and gods, breathing hurts so much. My hands push futilely at his hard, immovable stomach, then fall to my sides.

“, s’sorry, Raist, I. Didn’meanto. You’re allri’, I know you are...” His voice is too loud, right in my ear; I can feel his chest vibrate with the sound. He smells of salt sweat, and of spring air, and of ale. With my ear pressed against his neck, I can hear his heart beating.

His arms are around me, one around my shoulders, the other lower. Hand splayed, almost as wide across as my waist is, fingers warm and solid across the small of my back. Pulling me to him. I hang onto his waist; my fingers feel thin and soft, clutching at the coarse fabric of his tunic.

My eyes are closed. In the heavy seconds of silence that fall when his voice dies away, I can almost pretend... that the strong, gentle arms thrown around me aren’t his; that his heavy, damp breathing is someone else’s. That he’s not just holding me because I fell, that he’s not just worried about his little brother.

I can almost pretend I’m her -- I’m Lavender. And I smell of flowers, not bitter herbs. These ragged robes are a dress, a fine one that falls over hips that sway, made of fabric so clean and red it shines when I laugh. And I have a laugh that stays on your skin, the kind nobody can hate.

And he’s brought me home. He loves me -- not the stifling, drowning love of my brother, no -- this is the dancing, perfect love that shines in the white of his smile when he drains another mug. This love is only for tonight, and that’s the way I want it. I want to be gone before dawn! And his hands are spread across my skin, across the expensive, smooth fabric of my dress, and when I lean into him, his breathing might hitch--

There -- I can hear it! Just the It It catches, I can tell. And his heartbeat is faster, almost uneven. His arms are warm, so warm, fingers digging gently into the small of my back. And when I open my eyes and look up at him, he’s looking back down at me, a dazed, fuzzy expression on his face. Eyes liquid, eyebrows raised just a little, like he wants to know what I’m thinking. I know he doesn’t -- but it still looks that way.

And I’m smiling at him.

I pull one hand up, wanting to touch him. Wanting to reassure him, tell him it’s all right. I run the backs of my fingers along his jaw, feeling the day’s growth of beard, feeling the warm skin. I let my hand slide gently up and over his ear, settling at the back of his head. Stroking gently in his hair, and he’s smiling at me. Looks confused, and I don’t want him confused -- want him to understand.

I don’t have to lean in far; we’re nearly the same height, and so really I hardly have to move at all, just lift my head from his shoulder. When our lips meet, it sends a shock through me, electric and terrifying all at once’ve ’ve never been kissed before; my eyes flutter closed, and all the world is centered on the rough satin of his mouth under mine, damp and hot, lush and the sour-sweet of alcohol, stubble scraping harsh against my jaw. And I’m flying, nervous anticipation shooting through me, singing under my skin.

Love. This is love. I am loved -- and it doesn’t matter how many times they push me down, it doesn’t matter if they jeer and whisper... But no, they don’t laugh at me, because I’m beautiful, not weak -- not hated, no, no. No! Not at me, no, because I wear beautiful dresses and have hair that shines like gold in the sunlight. They love me. I am loved.

And I almost don’t feel him letting go, feel him pushing me away. Almost don’t feel his lips leave mine in one cold, bitter instant. I can’t see; my eyes are wide open, but they’re still focused too far away. They don’t see him, not the way his mouth is turned up in a sneer, not the way his eyes have gone hard. I can still see a place where I’m loved, where I’m understood --

But, oh, it’s fading. Is almost gone...

I don’t see it coming when he hits me. I feel myself stumble backwards first, feel it shake through my body -- and then I feel the fire flash through my jaw. Feel it stab up through my temples, making my vision white out for a moment. Gods, I’m going to pass out if I don’t hold still, and I can’t tell which way is up. I duck my head, curl back away from him.

When my eyes clear, I can see him again, standing there. Hands balled into fists, one arm still halfway raised, like he couldn’t quite put it back down after he hit me. And there are a million shades of anger in his eyes -- hurt, and fury, and confusion, and the red glaze of too much ale.

It’s gone. That place where I was beautiful -- it shattered, vanished. I close my eyes, but I can’t make it come back; all I can see is the black of my eyelids. I feel fragile, and dirty, and I think I’m going to be sick. My tongue darts out, and I taste blood on my lip. Coppery, and bitter. Warm. And the taste of him is still there, too...

The ragged sounds of our breathing hang heavy between us. I put a hand to my jaw, pressing tenderly. Fire flashes through my skull, and then numbness. I open and close my mouth, feeling my jaw crack back into place. I lean against the wall.

“Caramon...” Talking hurts. And -- what the hell can I say? I can feel my face burning, feel my stomach heaving. Heart beating too fast, unsteady. Gods. He’s my brother. “Caramon, I...” My voice is pale, raspy. The room is spinning around us, and every muscle in my body is tensed and knotted. My jaw is throbbing quietly.

He just stares e. e. Gods, he’s my brother. Stares at me, hands clenched so tight they’re shaking. A gust of wind blows through the Vallenwoods, the light smell of the spring night drifting through the air, breezing softly into our home. The door creaks, swings slowly closed, not-quite-shut.

Slice of red light, cutting over his shoulder. A crimson sliver of his arm and the outline of the side of his face. I can see his jaw clench, the muscles bunching. He’s my brother. I can almost feel it when he exhales, feel his shoulder go round and the anger fall out of him. Can feel the confusion, the hurt, the embarrassment radiating from every part of him. Can hear his feet shuffle in the dark.

And he’s going to apologize, I know it. I know it! And my stomach lurches, and the room reels again when I try to open my mouth -- so I don’t. I hear him suck in a breath, feel him looking for words.

I turn, leave the room. Running. Flee back to my own room, slam the door behind me. The candle’s burned down to a nub, and another gust of warm spring air swirls through the window, makes the flame flicker. I stare at it, lean back against the door, my shoulder-blades bruised and protesting the contact. I bite my lip, watch the candle-flame.

I hear footsteps in the house behind me. Hear the muted sound of a door being shut; the front door, closed to keep out the night. Quiet -- a long pause. The candle gutters, wax almost all burned away.

Dragging footsteps -- reluctant footsteps -- towards my door.

Footsteps stop. Gutter, flicker candle.

The footsteps turn, head away. I hear Caramon’s door open and close again. Hear the creak of an old wooden bed-frame; hear a sigh through the wall, and then quiet again.

He’s my brother, and I can still taste blood and sour ale on my lips -- can still feel, when I close my eyes and stand still for a moment, the warmth of his hand on the small of my back. And I can almost remember the hum and sizzle of the night air, from inside the skin of someone who’s loved.

I’m crying. Gods, I’m crying -- and I shove at the tears with one palm, cross the room quickly. Blow out the damn candle, and throw myself down on the bed, head throbbing, jaw burning. I curl up on my side, face away from the wall. I don’t want him to hear me.

Because, Gods, if he comes to comfort me, I think I really will be sick.

I make my breathing slow; I pull the covers up over me even though the night is warm. Close my eyes, and grit my teeth; focus on the pain, because I don’t want to think about the way fine skirts would rustle around my ankles, or the way his lips felt, for that moment when-- No. He’s...

My brother. And he loves me--

No. Eyes closed. I. Will. Not. Cry.


Sleep won’t come fast enough, but I know how to wait. I know how to be still and quiet, and if the tears still come, they’ll fall softly. Drifting under the rough haze of candle-smoke and floating somewhere over the fresh smell of spring, I think I can still find the sweet scent of lavender.



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