Trahearne stared at the wardrobe doors, quill limp in his hand as his paperwork lay forgotten on the desk before him. Itineraries, lists, battle plans, slips of paper describing the stocks of food and weapons, the costs of the Pact.
Yet he could not focus. Zhaitan was dead, his ritual was slowly cleansing Orr, plants growing and fresh springs bubbling as the dead land slowly returned to life, and the Pact was slowly reorganising itself to deal with the other Elder Dragon threats. He needed to choose a target and begin to study it, use the knowledge he had gained from the Risen and see if he could apply it to the Icebrood, the Branded, the Destroyers.
Instead, he placed down his quill gently and stood, moving away from the desk and over to the wardrobe. He ran his fingers along the leaves and petal that formed it, the strong branches of wood that formed its frame. It was not his wardrobe, but Caithe’s. Still it held several garments of his, clothes he had not worn for many years but still kept.
He could have entrusted them to one of his other siblings, but of all the Firstborn he knew that Caithe’s house was most secure. While she had some visitors and guests, not many people entered the domain of the reclusive sylvari, and even less were willing to trespass and incur her wrath. Thus he felt most comfortable leaving his few possessions with her; hidden from prying eyes and protected by his sister. The fact she had gifted him some of these possessions also made it easier for him to seek her aid in storing them. Hiding them.
'They should not bring you shame, brother.' Caithe had told him, once. He knew her words were true, but even the truth fell apart under the harsh scrutiny and callous words of others. A part of him hated himself for allowing such things to hurt him, but he was weak.
'Could a weak person have cleansed Orr?'
The thought mingled with the urge from earlier, the desire to open the doors of the wardrobe and seek out garments from years long gone. Things he had not worn since Riannoc.
Caithe’s words may not have been able to protect him, but Riannoc’s had. He loved his sister dearly, but she lacked the mixture of calm security and passion that Riannoc had. The sense of assuredness, the strength of his conviction. His constant support and love had always buoyed him above the sea of harsh words and cruelties exhibited by those who had not understood him.
He had never had to worry in the presence of other sylvari, but the other races were less understanding. Some did not mind, but others found it strange, odd, a sign that the sylvari were disturbed. Riannoc had never stood for it, his words silencing all through a mixture of sound reason and inspiring passion.
Still, Trahearne had limited the times he had worn these clothes around other races. It had only ever been with Riannoc at his side. The one time he had attempted to wear such things amongst the others without him at his side had been his last time to wear them at all.
'You blamed yourself for it, but was it really your fault? What did it matter what you wore? You were comfortable, it made you happy, and you were so distraught. So lost and lonely. Yet they were cruel, they laughed and mocked you, and still you say they were not at fault.'
'They did not understand it, and I was weak. I let their words affect me.'
'You of all people should know words are a powerful thing. Magic can be summoned with the power to destroy lands with a few, an entire nation can crumble by voiced secrets, a life can be lost to the cruelest of them.'
'I was still weak…'
'You are not weak. Can you look at what you have made, what you have done, and truly think that?'
'It is because of my allies that I have come this far.'
'The same could be said of everyone, but the choice to continue comes from you. You could have all the allies in the world and go nowhere. Acknowledge your allies, but be proud of yourself Trahearne. You have earnt at least that much.'
Trahearne shook his head lightly, hands still resting on the wardrobe doors. He slowly slid them down to the small handles, richly coloured branches curved into spiraling shapes. The urge to open the doors grew stronger, and closing his eyes, he allowed submitted to it.
The cupboard was fairly bare, even with both his and Caithe’s clothing contained within. Caithe’s was all practical, leaves grown to suit her skills and purpose. To hide, to fight, to kill. She owned nothing that was not deep green, at least not anymore. Once, she had kept a single outfit of brighter colours, a gift from Faolain.
She had torn it to shreds and burnt it many years ago, in a fit of frenzied grief and anger. He had been in Orr at the time, but when he had returned he had found its fragments scattered on the floor and Caithe gone, run off to hunt courtiers and other scum.
His hands moved from the door and away from Caithe’s clothes, reaching out tentatively to one of the other garments within. One of his. His hands removed it from its hook, and he tugged it from the darkness of the wardrobe and into the light.
It was pale pink, the light material airy as he looked at it. A sad smile tugged at his lips. Here was another gift from Faolain. The simple pink dress had been accompanied by a cheeky note, one he kept buried along with all the other’s from his lost sister.
'What do you think of this one, brother dear? I think pink would look lovely on you. I'm sure Riannoc would agree, if he didn't think it would look lovelier tossed on the floor while he ravishes you.'
He let out a light laugh at the remembered message, before shaking his head. He couldn’t wear this one, not yet. Not while Faolain still lived. The knowledge of his once dear sister still alive in all her brutal darkness made his stomach roll, and he returned the dress to its home.
His fingers softly skimmed over some of the others. A deep purple lacy one, shorter than the others, caught his eye. Another one from Faolain, once again accompanied by a note. That one had been more mischievous than the last, a much more sensual. The dress itself he was not fond of, but he and Riannoc had laughed much at the explicit message from their sister, before blushing and doing things that made the note itself seem ‘vanilla’ in comparison.
His eyes moved on, as did his fingers, touching each dress in turn. A bright yellow one from Kahedins, a midnight blue from Malomedies, one the colour of pastel sky from Dagonet, and a leafy green one from Aife. Niamh had never gifted him with a dress, but she had clapped with joy whenever he had shown one of to her. She was a warrior at heart, but she had always found much joy and seeing Trahearne spin around in his dresses.
Other dresses from the other Firstborn lay within, a wide array of colours and patterns, materials and styles. Though there were not many, not nearly enough to make the wardrobe look properly used, the sheer variety made Trahearne pause and smile.
Still, he continued looking through the dresses until he found the one he wanted. The urge that had driven him to look through his old clothes flared up as he took it from the wardrobe and held it before him.
It was without a doubt the most simplest of the dresses. Plain white with no designs, it was made of thin cotton and had slim straps from sleeves. It was fell to his knees and had no designs.
It was also a gift from Riannoc.
He squeezed his eyes shut as a wave of emotions shuddered through him. He remembered dancing in this dress, reading large books and going on picnics in it. He’d organised his notes and kissed in it. He’d swam it in once, when he’d fallen in a lake with Riannoc as Kahedins had watched and laughed. He’d made love in it, Riannoc’s hands running over his trembling thighs as he’d moaned, the dress bunched at his waist. He’d worn it as the other at thrust inside him, so gently it had sent Trahearne to the edge of madness, unable to stand the sheer amount of love he felt within him.
It had been the last dress he’d ever worn, and the only one he’d ever wept in.
He swallowed thickly and forced his eyes open as he looked at the dress again. So simple and plain, yet it was his favourite.
'Do you like how it looks on me, beloved?'
'I like how everything looks on you. But I like this one the most.'
'Because you look happiest in it.'
With a soft laugh, he stood back from the wardrobe, folding the dress over an arm before closing the wardrobe. It had been the last dress he’d ever worn.
The urge within felt it fitting that it would be the first he wore again.
In absolute silence Caithe crept into her house, the petals of her door falling open as she stepped within. None had seen her enter the Grove, and only the Mother Tree knew of her presence here. There was no point in alerting anyone, since she had no intentions of staying long.
She walked soundlessly through her home, pausing only when she noticed a small light within her study. Her hands darted to her blades instinctively, before she shook her head. Her house was guarded and she’d left clear instructions to let no one enter.
No one save Trahearne, that is.
Still, it never hurt to be cautious. Thus her hands remained clutching her blades as she approached the study, ears alert for any sounds. Aside from the scrabbling of a quill and the soft breathing of the other, there was nothing.
Peering around the corner into the room, she let out a sigh of relief followed quickly by the raising of her eyebrows.
Trahearne sitting at her desk was not a foreign image. He sought the quiet of her home on several occasions, finding it a suitable place to work when he was in the Grove and not required elsewhere.
It had been a very long time since she had seen him in a dress however.
She remained silent as she took in the image of Trahearne at the desk, scribbling away as he sat in his simple, summer dress. Though his eyes were focused entirely on the papers before him, the soft smile on his lips indicated his mind was somewhere else. Somewhere brighter.
'Or perhaps it's here,' she thought, ‘where he can sit in peace in a dress he loves with his wyld hunt complete. Where he’s faced his worst fears and deepest griefs and come out from it stronger.’
'He's where you would be if you learnt to let go.'
A bitter frowned marred her features for a moment before she looked once again at her elder brother. The soft smile on his face as he wrote sent a shock of joy through her, and she found a true smile tugging at her own lips as she looked at him.
Slowly she moved from the shadows to stand in the doorway properly, drawing attention to herself as she cleared her throat. Trahearne jumped slightly before looking up, his smile dropping away for a moment before he noticed her own grin.
'Good evening Caithe. It is good to see you back.' She looked into his eyes as he spoke, noticing the smallest hint of anxiety. She shook her head before answering.
'It is good to see you too brother.' She paused for a moment, before nodding towards his clothes. 'You look beautiful.'
Trahearne looked down at himself for a moment before turning back to Caithe, that small hint of fear gone from his eyes entirely.
'You look happy.' His eyes widened at that comment, but she did not take it back, and he did not deny it. She knew he was happy, and he now realised he was too. 'He would be happy to.'
For a moment she had thought she had said the wrong thing again, watching as the smile disappeared from Trahearne’s face. She felt memories of Riannoc well up in his mind, and then he was smiling again. A bright, wide grin that lit up his eyes along with the rest of his face.
'Yes, he would be happy.' He murmured, before pointing at her with his quill. 'You look happy too, sister.'
She paused for a moment at that. Was she happy? When Faolain still plagued her mind, when Destiny’s Edge was still so fragile? When the other Dragons still caused chaos? She looked over at her brother, smiling contentedly at her, and realised she was.
'It is only the beginnings of joy, but still…'
Her smile grew wider to match Trahearne’s own.
'Yes, brother, I am happy too.'