It's Been Awhile (Vignette)

**Half Moon Bay Weyr

It was most certainly an arranged meeting, but it could be no other way for people hiding from the potentially vengeful touch of renegades. Leeta, Weyrbound as the day of the inevitable hatching drew nearer, received her father in a private room, the big, palest-blonde man with the guarded grey eyes standing across from his eldest child and only daughter with many emotions playing over his face. It was a sort-of compliment, in a way, that he allowed himself to show them at all.

Leeta couldn't help but noticing what the two Turns of renegade influence, the following two Turns of ignoble and undeserved jail time had done to her sire. There were thin skeins of subtle grey within his pale, short hair, a slight hunch to his broad shoulders that was never there before. Perhaps his own clear eyes noted the difference in *her*: the slight lines that decorated her brow: once clear. The slightly more aggressive stance she'd only used when needed when discharging her duty. The flick of tsavorite eyes — so very much her mother's — around to check for anything odd. Her three firelizards were settled on a perch that showed the claw marks of Turns of use…blue, green and brown sitting in silence…observing from blue eyes.

It was finally Davon who broke the impasse, the man stepping quickly forward, and gathering the shorter woman into his fierce embrace… a rarer thing, as well. Leeta broke right after those strong arms curled around her, burying her face into Davon's chest, inhaling the familiar scent of his light sandalwood soap, struggling to control her tears…drying the few that escaped on his crisp white shirt. His own few tears were quickly dashed away in the wildflower scent and softness of Leeta's growing hair. On their perches, three firelizards softly crooned their happiness.

The next few hours were spent talking, interacting, reminiscing…and making contingency plans. They were both too practical to think everything was now easy peasy. Oh, and petting the new pets in the 'family,' with Davon narrowly avoiding a little nip from Khan after too many pets were given, in his estimation. "He's the wild one of the bunch. Protective. Won't let most others touch him. Yer lucky, pa." Snert.

"Good to have a fierce protector…" Davon's light baritone noted with dark humor and good nature. He was an 'animal' person, too.

"You an' Ducaine have dibs on your pick of Danae's eggs when she starts pootin' them out." Both father and daughter knew this wasn't only a gesture of familial affection and a way to communicate more quickly. It was a measure of protection and alarm, if needs be, and Leeta wasn't chancing anything.

It was only near the end of their long visit that her father slid forward the long trunk that had been left by the door…in front of it, actually. Old habits. Spoken darkly by the man, "I couldn't get your own back from the Hold. They'd figured you'd been killed, took it to their greedy bosom." Scowl. "Got…*hers*, though. They'd not dare take a Harper's instrument." Deep in Davon's eyes were the echos of pride, love…and loss as he spoke of his wife, Leeta's mother, passed in the birthing of Dalvan.

Swallowing the lump in her throat at her own thoughts of her mother, Leeta managed to murmur to Dalvan, "Hers was the better one, anyway." Swallow, smile. "Thanks, pa." Sigh. "Gonna stay for dinner?" It was completely up to him, her tone said. She'd not deny him seeing her new, though perhaps temporary home at the Weyr, all the new sights.

Headshake, grin. "When we *all* come here ta' see you hopefully Impress your dragon, we can take it all in. Maybe even stay the night, if they let us."

"They should, pa. Weyr's rather generous in enough things."

"Nice change…" Davon muttered, then hid it with a quick little smile…that faded as he spoke again…in a strange, hesitant fashion for him. "Dunno if you wanna see 'im…" Beat. "Yer littlest brother." Sigh. "He's totally taken with words of his big sister. Worships ya." This was tenuous ground. Both father and daughter had mixed feelings about the child that had 'killed' Alicaine.

Leeta inhaled slowly, let it out just as slow. "You know how it is." With *both* of them. "Guess I gotta play sister *sometimes*, though. Don't want a little kid getting all fucked up because uv' *my* problems." The tension Dalvan had been holding in his shoulders eased, making him relax again. He couldn't have asked his daughter to embrace young Dalvan when his own heart was of such mixed feelings…though he wanted to. "Got a new foster mother for 'im?"

"Yeah. He chose her himself… Well, me too, of course, watching from the back." Snert. Yep; Leeta got that expression from her father.

It was only after her father had departed — the two of them giving each other a quick, rough embrace before leaving the room — that the candidate returned to that room, closed the door…and finally opened the long trunk. Inside the wooden thing was a large, felt wrapped bundle she pulled forth with the motions of someone used to such: the dark-brown case containing a deep blonde colored guitar made of skybroom. The instrument was a gift that Alicaine's family had gone in on together to purchase for her when the woman had walked the tables to become a Journeyman. It hadn't mattered that Alicaine worked with numbers (and sometimes children) better than she had played. It was a Harper thing, a pride and honor thing.

Settled in her knowledgeable arms, hands, Leeta settled down in temporary silence along with her pets to stroke the guitar and think of her mother before the soft echos of music began.

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