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Gathering Wildflowers (to lay in her hands)

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Feet dragging, in all-encompassing silence, they make it back to the house in Rosohna, inexplicably tired, ache deep in their bones. Their tree stands tall against the sky, what was once a symbol of roots grown here, a place of safety in their new home, now feels suffocating and entrapping. They're no longer the same.

Jester doesn't speak as they enter, mind made up, and feet intent on taking her up the stairs, her dirty boots stomping up each step, kicking up dust in their wake. The rest of the group stands in the dark entrance, watching, waiting for anyone to speak, to say anything of the situation they've found themselves in. No one takes the bait.

Nott pushes past next, glancing back at Caleb, a sad look in her eyes, turning around when he nods once, a jerky, barely there movement that she reads as his acceptance, he understands that she has to go, to whom she has to go to.

The dark day turns into a darker night and they all settle back into their quarters. Everything has been untouched, watched over by a faithful Yeza, and yet none of it feels like their own anymore.

Beau sits in her shared room with Jester, slouched at the foot of her bed, toeing off her boots, wincing at the soreness and overall pain that envelops her as she lets herself relax back onto the too soft sheets, arms spread wide above her head. She can hear Jester across the room, sniffling every few seconds, the scratching of a pen in her journal, the drop of a tear smearing the ink and Jester mumbling frustratedly to herself.

She tries to drown it out, to breathe in deeply and let her mind take her somewhere else, somewhere that doesn't feel as bad as this place does right now. Somewhere that won't remind her of braided hair and soft words in the dark. After a moment, it seems to work, to Beau's relief, her mind blissfully blank, the sound of her blood pumping steadily filling her ears, muffling everything else, giving her something to focus on.

Some time passes, or at least it must have, because the next time she opens her eyes, Beau's alone in the room, Jester's sheets removed from her bed and her boots carelessly tossed on the floor alongside her cloak.

Beau frowns as she surveys the rest of the room, finding everything else unmoved, she steps out into the hall, minding the creaky spots on the wooden floors. The rest of the house is as quiet as it's been all day. And she has a pretty good idea where to find Jester at.

Caleb spots Beau walking quickly past the open door of his room, frowning down at his spell book for a moment, before sighing heavily and flipping it shut, tucking it safely back against himself. He wasn't getting much work done anyways. His mind shuttering past the symbols on the page, cataloging and analyzing each one, without really taking in the full meaning. Things did not go according to plan, have not been for them for a while. They have to be better, do better, especially since they will be weaker now, losing a hard hitter in a group full of squishy people, if their last tangle was any evidence in how unprepared they are for this. How unprepared he is.

Caleb grumbles unhappily to himself, following Beauregard down the hallway, watching her turn and stop at the doorway to—to Yasha's room.

There is a strange burn in his chest, a hollowness when he allows himself to think about it differently, to for once not calculate the probabilities and odds, to think about Yasha herself, in a way that pertains to his emotions toward her absence, it feels different now than when she had left before, it’s only then that he remembers that they left her. He reflects on when she did him the kindness of shaving his face, and he scrapes a hand against his stubble now, short sharp hairs tickling his fingertips, stinging the harder he presses.

Caduceus walks up from seemingly nowhere, places a hand on Beau's shoulder, she's still stuck at the doorway, back ramrod straight for several moments, but she exhales heavily when Caduceus pushes ahead of her, ducking into the room with a kind smile on his warm face. She follows in shortly after him.

Caleb makes to follow them both, when he feels a movement behind him, he turns to see Fjord, a discouraged frown on his face as he surveys everyone's movements, he makes to leave, but Caleb steps towards him and grabs onto his wrist.

Fjord doesn't budge, staring down hard at the floor, his shoulders square defensively when he breathes in deeply, ready to argue further, until his eyes meet Caleb's. When he sees the need in them, the request that's being asked of him. To do this for Caleb, to not leave him alone. He looks away, almost defeatedly, readying to give in, but then the burbling feeling of anger and betrayal tugs at his insides again and he grunts, stubbornness returning, meaning to pull away once more.

Caleb's hand only tightens, tugging harder at Fjord's wrist, a whispered plea, his name being called softly in a way that’s usually reserved for when they’re alone, and Fjord surrenders, letting his shoulders relax, begrudgingly allowing Caleb to intertwine their fingers and lead them both into the room.

Jester has spread out her sheets and pillows across the floor, Yasha's barely used bed pushed aside and the mural Jester painted for her those few weeks ago is in full view of them all, the bright sun shining, the colorful field of wildflowers dancing happily in the wind, a portrait of peace and uninterrupted growth, a place to grow and spread freely, to do whatever they pleased.

They all sit, sprawled across the floor together, Jester's head in Beau's lap as she's curled up on her side, Caduceus coaxing Beau to settle against him, her temple against his soft shoulder as he passes Caleb a steaming cup of tea, that Fjord steals a sip from after he lets Caleb sit back against his chest, in between his legs, leaning back onto his arms, peering at the beautiful painting before them. Wondering how Yasha felt, when she was in the same position. If it felt just as tranquil to her as he feels right now.

Nott pads quietly into the room not long after. The sad creases around her eyes have lightened from earlier, and Caleb knows the time spent with Yeza was a significant reason as to why. She stops at Yasha's bed, the small flower she picked from the garden, clutched in her hand gets placed atop the untouched pillow. She pats it softly, whispering something that no one else can catch, before turning back towards them and crawling into Jester's open arms.

The Mighty Nein lay there, cuddled together, admiring the scene, mourning their loss, coming to terms with their discomforting feelings; betrayal, outrage, defeat, confusion, guilt, inadequateness. But they have to be resilient, to grow like the wildflowers, to fight back like Yasha, to keep on moving despite the insurmountable pain, just like she did after her tribe, and just like she would have wanted for them.