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Trailing Clouds

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Gisela kicked the pool of water as she walked behind Chiosca and watched as the reflection twisted and scattered. Oh well, Gisela thought, it wasn’t right anyways. Droplets of water sprayed through the air, sparkling slightly before splashing on the ground leaving small dark spots surrounding the rippling pool.

“Hurry up” Chiosca called sharply as she glared at Gisela, brows pulled together in annoyance, “if you hadn’t spent so much time at the library we wouldn’t be late for your brother’s first voyage. Honestly, I don’t know why you keep insisting on spending so much time-”.

Turning away from the slowling stilling puddle Gisela started to speed up.

The second Gisela caught back up to Chiosca she started walking again, striding rapidly down the street on the way to the harbor.

Gisela felt herself fade away as she distanced herself from Chiosca’s litany, it wasn’t anything she hadn’t heard before, “I’m sorry mother, I’ll-”

“Do better next time, just like you said the last five times this happened.” Gisela winced at the tone as she stopped looking into Chiosca’s green eyes and focused on the grey cobblestones beneath her feet once more. “I’m sorry but this isn’t working, no library trips for the next week”

Gisela jerked her head back up as she felt her heart sink in dismay, she couldn’t, “Ch-” seeing Chiosca’s eyes darken from their normal light green Gisela immediately corrected herself, “Mother, you can’t”.

“I can and I will”, seeing Gisela’s desperation Chiosca’s voice softened slightly. “I’m sorry Gisela but it can’t go on like this. We gave you permission to go to the library on your own because we thought you were mature enough to handle it but this is the fifth time I have had to fetch you. Until you show me you can be responsible you will be staying at the shop with me”.

Gisela knew the look in Chiosca’s eyes all too well, “alright Mother” she said quietly, biting her tongue lightly to keep the bitterness inside, it wasn’t fair, she wanted to cry but nothing had been fair since she had gone to sleep on her first day of college in her brand new dorm room to-.

“Now come on, your siblings are getting back from their voyage and we are going to be there the welcome them home, your older sister is already there”, Chiosca said forcefully before grabbing Gisela’s hand in hers and speeding up, making Gisela walk faster or risk getting her arm wrenched in Chiosca’s iron grip.

Pulled along by Chiosca it wasn’t long before they made it through the market that divided the largest merchant’s district of Caelum from the wharf. There Gisela could see Ca’s lime green hair and white chiton she faced the horizon.

“You’re almost late Mom, Gisela” Ca said impatiently as she turned around, hands on her hips. Oh dear, Gisela thought as she walked alongside Chiosca, her hand still gripped in Chiosca’s iron grasp.

“Sorry Ca, someone” with that Chiosca gave a sharp shake to Gisela’s hand, “decided to camp out in the library instead”

Gisela looked down awkwardly before meeting Ca’s eyes.

“Really Gisela, your little siblings are coming back from their first voyage and all you can do is read. I know you like your books and all but you should have more respect- we’re family after all”.

Gisela was glad she was biting her tongue, it made it easier to hold back the instinctive no we’re not that she wanted to let out. She had a family, she had a family and they loved her and she loved them and the Raimu’s weren’t it. They weren’t.

Shaking her head Gisela breathed in deeply, she didn’t have time to collapse now- not in front of Ca and Chiosca. Who, she was relieved to note, had started to ignore her and talk about the clothing shop that was run by the family.

Gisela shifted on her aching feet, the leather sandals she wore didn’t provide much in the way of cushioning. Hoping to distract herself from her aching feet she raised her head to watch the horizon looking for the pale green sails of Lynoonse Raimu’s ship.

There!

As she squinted her eyes and raised her coffee (wrong wrong) colored hand to shade her face she could just make out the square sails of Lynoose’s ship in the distance. Just as she was about to say something she heard Ca yell “Look! There they are” as she pointed at the green dot on the horizon.

Ca seemed to bounce she was so excited, “They can’t see you yet” Chiosca said in a wry tone to her oldest daughter.

“I know I know” Ca said still almost bouncing on her feet before she lunged at Gisela and grabbed her free hand, “Look Gisela, even you should be happy, Dad’s coming home with our little siblings”

Gisela pulled her face into a passable smile, “Yea, Ca it will be great that they are back” she said, trying to keep her voice positive.

“I bet they will bring us gifts from Fiore with the cargo like they did when he got back from Minstrel, right mom? I know Fiore has all kinds of cool fabrics what with the magic and all. I heard from Erana that they even have one that can change colors!”, Ca said, her excitement audible in every syllable of the sentence.

“Ca” Chiosca said sharply, “we do not need magic to make our clothing better. We can adequately satisfy our customers without resorting to such means”

Ca seemed to wilt before Gisela’s eyes at Chiosca’s words and Gisela felt her heart lurch, magic, if there was one thing that enthralled her, that pulled her in despite everything it was magic.

No matter how much she wanted to rage and declare everything about this new life awful she couldn’t help it, magic was incredible and she wanted it, wanted to know it, to study it, to use it. So, naturally, her “family” thought it was nothing.

Even now Gisela felt an even stronger than normal bitterness pull at her heart when she heard them talk about magic like it was something normal, something mundane, something below them.

Gisela let herself sink back into her head even as she kept her eyes trained on the horizon, there isn’t much on magic in the public library, she mused as she thought back to the basic texts she had been reading, really they were more like books on the history of magic than on how to use it, I need a new plan... maybe if I could get into the temple library somehow… Gisela bit her lip in annoyance just as the thought came to her, no that wouldn’t work, the temple libraries warded and only innates and above go in. Besides I’d have to justify why to the priests. Shaking her head slightly, a tick she had kept from before, Gisela pulled herself away from that train of thoughts. It was annoying but right now she had no access to those books, she would have to make do with the ones she could find in the public library.

I’m not far along enough to need any advanced magic books either, Gisela admitted to herself grudgingly. Even with all the research that she was doing, magic was hard. I guess there was a reason that even in Fiore, the magic capital of Earthland, only about ten percent of the population could use magic.

“Let’s head to the docks” Chiosca said as she started to walk, pulling Gisela along as Ca skipped alongside them.

As they continued down they dock to the spot that Lynoonse’s ship, the Chiosca, would dock.

Gisela watched as Ca waved to the sailors busily tying down lines, loading and unloading goods or, doing other tasks of ship maintenance that Gisela couldn’t name.

Finally as they arrived at the Chiosca’s mooring point. Chiosca let go of Gisela’s hand in favor of waving at the incoming ship.

I should probably pay more attention in the lessons about ships, Gisela admitted to herself as she watched one of the sailors throw a rope out to pull the ship to the dock as another yelled indecipherable commands. I really need to pay more attention, I’ve avoiding going on a trade voyage before but I don’t know how much longer I can play the “I don’t like sailing card” before Lynoosne gets impatient.

Wood creaked as the gang plank came down steadily. Gisela watched as a tall man with green hair neatly tied back walked down the plank, followed by a brown haired girl and a green haired boy.

Gisela hung back as Chiosca and Ca ran forward. As Lynoonse reached the end of the gang plank he slowed reaching out his left hand to Chiosca who echoed the gesture, they clasped wrists before pulling into a hung as Ca, Maape and, Gastislion joined the huddle.

Gisela smiled slightly at the sight, it’s been hard for Chiosca and Ca, espciallly since this was Gastislion’s first voyage. I’m glad they’re back together with their family.

The hug broke as Lynoonse gently detached from his wife and children and walked back up the gangplank, bellowing orders to his crew.

“Gisela it's time to go back to the house, Lynoonse will be back when he is done unloading” Chiosca said as she walked back over. That’s impressive, Gisela thought as she looked at Chiosca, currently burdened with Gastislion somehow clinging to her back and Maape and Ca holding her hands.

“Right” Gisela said as she started to walk beside Ca who which chattering with Maape about what she had seen on the trip.

“- and then the wizard who tried to charm Dad was arrested by the other wizards, you know the ones in the fancy white uniforms” Maape said rapidly, gesturing with her one free hand.

“Charm dad?” Gisela couldn’t help but ask, surprise evident in her voice, I thought charm magic was banned, and tried to call up a vague memory of some fake mage in the first chapter but found to her annoyance she couldn't name the mage, I should have payed more attention to the manga. Honestly Gisela was proud of that fact that she realized she was in Fairy Tail at all. She had read the manga and enjoyed it but it had been awhile before-

“Yeah” Maape said, the sound knocking Gisela free of her thoughts. Watching Ca’s face as she told her story Gisela could see the excitement in Ca’s face. Her eyes were wide as she waved her free hand dramatically. “The wizard was arrested like Wham!”, she said as she punched with her free hand, “‘cause charm magic is banned for all business transactions and the merchant was arrested so we changed suppliers”

“Just goes to show why you can’t let wizards run wild” Chiosca added in, “I’m glad that all magic users here are bound to the temple, its much safer for us that way then guilds”

Gisela felt herself wince, I wish she didn’t have a point… she thought remembering all the havoc that Fairy Tail and Co got up too.

“I know mom” Ca said and Gisela rolled her eyes at how Ca drew out the “mom” to make her annoyance obvious, “anyway what was Hargeon like, other than the wizards?”

“Well they were really annoying cause no one spoke Caelum and they all wanted us to speak Common-Firoran which has all these annoying tenses so I'm glad we practice it a lot already, otherwise it would be a PAIN. They also have these words from the orient that they use every now and then that are stupid”, Maape took a quick breath before continuing to talk, “they also had these super cool lights that went on at night without fire- they were some type of lacrima apparently and we saw the trains come it, they’re SO BIG, it was awesome!” Maape swung her and Chiosca’s joined hands up for emphasis.

Maape’s enthusiasm was infections but more than that Gisela found herself fascinated with the differences between Caelum- where she now lived and Fiore both in culture and in customs.

Magic in Caelum was a quiet thing used by the temple of Qosasis, protector of outcasts and patron of mages, not loud and elevated like in Fiore.

Canon for Fairy Tail never did go into other countries or how they viewed magic, or how magic and religion intertwined, Gisela reminded herself as they walked to the elegant marble building decorated with carved waves and shells- the temple of Ubphine. As they approached Maape fell silent.

It was time for an offering.

Gisela, Chiosca and, Ca slowed as they came before the deep pool of water.

Maape dropped Chiosca’s hand and walked over, not skipping for once Gisela noticed with amusement, to grab Gastislion’s hand.

Gisela watched as Maape walked up to the pool, a small satchel that contained her offering in hand, Gastislion mimicking her.

“May we” she asked, solemn for once.

“You may” the attending priest said, her tone matching Maape’s.

And that was that. Maape and Gastislion dropped their satchels into to deep pool, clapped their hands and turned back.

Quietly they exited the temple grounds, none of them wanting the break the sense of solemnity.

The quiet was only shattered when they entered the market. Vendors were hawking their wares loudly as she passed with the group, and children ran about freely.

She felt sweat trickle down the back of her neck as they made their way back to the house.

She smiled slightly as they made in out of the merchants quarter and through the streets that led back to the house. It was quieter here, save for the others chatter, and cooler as well due to the trees that had been allowed to grow. It was, in her opinion, much better than the loud bustling merchants quarter.

“-Sela, Gisela”

She was jolted jolted out of her thoughts by Chiosca’s brisk, now slightly annoyed voice.

“What Mother?”, Gisela asked turning her head to meet Chiosca’s eyes.

“I hope you remember that you can not go galavanting off to the Library once we return home, understand?”

“Yes Mother” she said and Gisela could her the defeat obvious in her own voice.

“Really Gisela why are you so obsessed with the Library, it's just books” Ca said and Gisela could hear the eye roll in her voice.

“I like books” Gisela said sharply, before speeding up again. She could see the terracotta roof of their house up ahead. It’s not like you would listen to what I have to say anyways… she thought as she let the conversation die off.

One, two, three, Gisela found herself counting the steps back to the house in her attempt to avoid the awkward tension her comment had made. I did try, she reminded herself to try and stave off the guilt, it's not my fault they wouldn’t listen.

Gisela could have cried with relief as they arrived back at the house, as Chiosca was distracted with Ca and Gastislion’s packs she ducked off making her way through the courtyard into the kitchens.

As soon as she stepped into the kitchen Gisela felt something settle in her. For all that this was a different world with different plants or animals there were still sinks and ovens, still things to chop and things to mix. Cooking was good, cooking was familiar.

“Mind if I help with prep” Gisela asked as she craned her next to look up at the family cook as he turned around balancing a platter of cut up vegetables balanced on hand.

“I acquiesce, just permit me to deliver this to the lady and your siblings: I heard you all just arrived from the anchorage. If it pleases you then you could start preparing the hummus”

Gisela felt her lips quirk into a smile at his way of speaking- even if he was a little loud, “sure” she replied as she walked over to the counter.

She snared the small, wooden footstool with her ankle and pulled it over to her, I hate being this short again, Gisela thought rebelliously as she hopped onto the stool with a small “hup”. From there is was easy to pull the bowl of precooked, presoaked chickpeas and the bowl from their skins over.

It was relaxing doing a repeated motion like pulling the skins off the chickpeas, it gave her time to think. I know I’m never going home, she reminded herself bitterly, but I can’t just let go. She remembered the way that her entire world had felt scrambled as she slowly realized that things were wrong, the way the first sight of her pale brown hands had made her nauseous- they were proof that she wasn’t herself, proof that she didn’t want to see.

Before she had seen them she could pretend it was just a dream, that she was safe and warm in her bed and would wake up and start college.

It’s hard, she thought miserably, and it was, because if Gisela was honest with herself she didn’t want to move on. Ten years later and she still wanted the old life, not the new one.

Carefully deskining the last chickpea Gisela dropped it into the bowl of the mortar and pestle and started to turn around to grab the other ingredients.

“I present to you, tahini”

“Wha-” Gisela said, surprised by the sudden, and very loud, appearance of Mr. Cornwallis. Catching her balance on the counter she turned around fully to face him, I’m still shorter than him, even on a stool. “Sorry I didn’t see you come in, thanks” Gisela said as she took the stoneware jar from him, adding the sesame paste to the mortar and pestle

“The chickpeas had your full cynosure, I didn’t desire to disturb you.”

“Cynosure?” Gisela asked, quirking an eyebrow, “I haven't heard that one before”

“Ah” he said and Gisela could hear the grand gesture in his voice, “your focus, m’lady”

“Thanks”

The rest of the time in the kitchen passed similarly, Gisela helped to chop vegetables and knead bread. It was a good way to pass an afternoon, peaceful in a way Gisela rarely managed. By the time that Gisela left the kitchen she was in a much calmer mood.

Gisela quickly glanced her face wiping off the flour that was smeared on her cheek before looking away not wanting to spend much time looking at herself.

Pushing open the door to the courtyard Gisela slipped outside, it was still hot out but it wasn’t the heavy, humid heat of earlier in the day.

Walking over to the stone bench in a shady nook Gisela sat down.

I can’t go to the library now but literally anything about magic involves meditation in anything I’ve ever seen or read, Before or now, so time find out about if there is any truth in television.

Gisela let her body relax as she closed her eyes and leaned back against the rough stone wall.

In…

She stopped thinking about the library

Out…

She stopped feeling the heat of the late afternoon

In…

She stopped smelling the freshly baked bread

Out…

She stopped hearing the rustling of the wind

In…

She stopped.

It was peaceful, calm and clear as she floated motionless and relaxed. She stopped trying to feel and just felt stretching out to the world inside her blindly, freely… reaching, pulling anything.

Nothing.

Then… something.

She blinked rapidly as her eyes stung upon opening them, rubbing away the tears that had formed Gisela opened her eyes for a second time.

“-ner time, dinner time”

That was what disturbed me, Gisela realized as she pushed off the bench, her muscles screaming at the sudden movement after being still for so long. Note to self, find good stretches: mediation hurts.

“I’m coming” Gisela yelled and she limped back inside to the dining room.

She carefully leveraged herself down onto the bench, I’m glad I sit on the end of the bench, she thought relieved as she tried to shift into a position that was easy on her cramping muscles.

“Gisela’s here, are we going to start eating now mom?” Maape asked as she looked hungrily at the food.

Gisela had to admit, the food smelled wonderful.

We might as well, sometimes it takes your dad awhile to wrap up after a trip and-”

Chiosca hadn’t even finished what she was saying before Maape had grabbed the plate of stuffed vegetables and started serving herself.

Gisela turned her attention to the food, “when your done pass me the vegetables please.”, she asked Maape. I didn’t realize how hungry I was, I need to be better about eating. Gisela finished as Ca and Maape started getting into a heated debate about the cost of linen vs the expense of importing or farming. Chiosca had been dragged in and was trying to referee for the debaters.

I never realized just how big a deal linen prices could be, Gisela mused as she quietly got up and left with only Gastislion noticing her. He winked mischievously before going back to watching the feuding sisters.

Gisela covered a yawn as she stood in the darkened hallway. I think it’s time for me to go to bed, I just hope that Ca and Maape don’t wake me up when they come in...