( @lunaetis ) -- within those gloved palms was a small pot of flowers sharing their namesake with the person holding them, delicate petals wavering with the slightest of movement. " there is a new flower shop that opened near the market. when i told them my name, they gave me this as a present. " the ex-soldier then carefully held them towards the other, eyes hopeful. her arms were made of metal, rigid and stiff, unfitting to take care of something so fragile. " would you look after them ? " [ violet to gael ! ]
( — ɪɴɴᴇʀ ғɪʀᴇ. ✟ ) ┊His own gloved hands skim across hers when he reaches out to take the pot. It’s practically weightless to him. He gazes down at the frail little flowers. Sunlight streaming through his partially boarded-up window illuminates their delicate petals. He can see the blue veins caught in the sun’s light, their pattern similar to the glowing, ashen cracks that span up his covered hands. He smiles. They really are quite pretty. Their presence brings a sense of comfort and life to his scantly decorated room. In fact, they’re one of the few things with color in his close quarters. The rug laid by his bed has become bleached from time, his bookshelves of once-rich mahogany now lackluster, the various paintings hanging on the walls bleak in comparison to the flowers she had gifted him.
“Thank you,” he murmurs, voice scratchy from the past few days of disuse. He moves to set them on his bedside table for the time being. The movement causes the chain connecting his ankle to the wall to rattle. He pauses, perturbed by the raucous noise interrupting their warm exchange. It’s then that he looks up and meets her gaze. His heart immediately leaps into his throat.
She’s so young... too young for that doleful mourning that shimmers in her eyes. Too young to have to understand the clash between the organic world around her and the metal that’s replaced her arms. Too young to have to understand why bringing the outside in would matter so much. And she’s far, far too young to experience another loss such as the ones she’s endured. But that’s what he will inevitably bring to her. In not but a month’s time, she will have failed her mission to guard him and keep him safe and sound-- not by her own fault, but by his selfish ambition. He breathes in a sharp, choked breath. For one horrible moment he thinks he’s going to scream at her to run, to get out of here before this wretched place drags her into its demolition. Hasn’t she seen enough ruin? She really ought to be somewhere far off in an idyllic countryside. Or at least with a loving family that will see her for the young girl she is and not the soldier she must continue to be.
But all that leaves his lips is a short, soft sigh. He raises a hand and pats her on the head. It’s an awkward gesture, but one that comes to him with remembered ease. He used to comfort his little brother like this back when he woke from nightmares, or when he became overwhelmed by the crowds that came to see the miraculous children of Miss Campil. He hasn’t done this in years. Yet his touch becomes smoother and softer as he runs his fingers through her hair.
“...I’ve read that not too far from here, there are rolling hills of flowers as far as the eye can see. So many it’s impossible to name all the species there. And when you go home, their perfume lingers on you for days, even after you’ve washed and changed clothes multiple times.” He pauses, pulls his hand away from her head, only to gently take her metal fingers into his cracked, calloused ones. “According to the book, people often plant new flowers there. No matter what species, they thrive. Even if the flowers are dying when they’re planted, they come back to life within a few days’ time.” He doesn’t know how much of that is true. He doubts any part of it is, save for the fact that these hills of flowers do likely exist. And that’s enough for him to smile at her.
“I’ll take care of these flowers, niña . Let’s both go plant them on those hills sometime.”