“Leave me alone. I don’t want to talk about it. Just go.” Dreamflight shifted to put her back to the other elf, making it quite clear that she had no intention of listening to a word he had to say. As if to emphasize her feelings on the matter, she rounded out her words with a low, warning growl in the back of her throat. Then she tossed her head, golden hair fanning out from the motion.
Thornbow scowled, unable to maintain the neutrality he had settled into his mind before approaching his niece. He knew she was upset about putting Honey into wrapstuff, about the changes with her father and how he had returned to Cloudfern. He had to make her understand that she was not alone in that. Not as completely as she thought she was, anyway. “Dreamflight, please.” Though his expression showed impatience, his voice held only quiet pleading and he stayed standing at the mouth of the den she had shared with his sister. He kept one hand pressed to the smooth shaped wall and the other wrapped tightly around his wide leather belt. “What happened…”
“What happened is wrong! Don’t you understand? It shouldn’t have happened! Mother shouldn’t be lying in that cold den, all wrapped up and as good as dead, while Father leaves me and moves in with him and trots it all out in front of the tribe and calls him lovemate! When was the last time he called Mother that? Did he ever call her lovemate?” Dreamflight spun to face her uncle. Her yellow-green eyes snapped fire and, for a moment, Thornbow froze to stare at her with wide eyes. Honey’s daughter. Honey in a temper. One and the same in that instant. Dreamflight’s angry hiss snapped him from the confusion of two very similar faces. “And I suppose you just want me to be nice and sweet and accept it. Just like everyone else in the tribe has. Like you have! How could you? You’re her brother and you can’t even stand up for her! Do you hate her just as much as the rest of them? Do you want her in that den? Like she’s dead! Like she-!”
The send hit like a physical blow and Dreamflight reeled back in a stumble, gasping and lifting her hands as if to ward off an actual attack. She stared at Thornbow with a mixture of surprise and creeping horror. The blonde archer himself looked sick to his stomach and stared at a point just over her shoulder. “I… Dreamflight…” He stopped, drew a slow breath, and returned his gaze to his whimpering niece. While there was no actual fear in her eyes, her body language spoke eloquently of hesitation and a new wariness of him. He pursed his lips. He would not show throat but the knowledge that he had done wrong ate at him and his green eyes spoke volumes. He hesitantly lifted his hand. “Dreamflight, I didn’t mean that. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have...”
“You’re right! You shouldn't!” The fresh anger bled through her growing sniffles. “Do you hate me, too?”
“Too?” The sick feeling intensified deep within his stomach and Thornbow let both hands fall to his side, clenching them into fists. “You think I hated your mother? You think I could ever hate my sister? Hate Honey?” It was his turn to snarl and Dreamflight took a quick step back in alarm, her eyes widening at her uncle’s flaring temper. “I loved my sister. I love her now. Right where she lays in that den. Even wrapped up like she is. I don’t know if I’ll ever see her free of that wrapstuff again but I love her and I will protect her until my last breath. It may not be the Way. It might be wrong and our father might be right that we shouldn’t ever make this choice but…”
He swallowed hard and turned his back to his niece. “I will never give up hope.” He stepped towards the entrance of the den, leaving behind the still lingering scent of his little sister, the soft sound of Dreamflight’s tears. “I will never stop hoping that a Healer is born and that Honey wakes up and that I can see my sister’s beautiful smile again.”
Thornbow paused on the threshold. His shoulders still tight with the tension of the encounter, his posture stiff, he reached out to touch the smooth wood of the entrance way once more. “You make your own choices, niece,” he added quietly. “You can live in the past, in the Now, or in the yet to come. You can live or die, love or hate. It is your choice. Myself?” He sighed ever so quietly and took the final step over the threshold. The heavy flap of leather came down behind him, leaving her to herself.
**My choice is the Now, Dreamflight, and maybe, some days, the future. Always, though, it will be my choice to love Honey and to love my family and I will be there for all of them.**