Family Matters (Vignette)

Characters Padjma
Synopsis Padjma's brother shares a tense reunion with his sister.
Out-of-Character Date October 9, 2021

She thought she felt eyes upon her from the moment she arrived.

Perhaps she was simply being paranoid, but it seemed as though a wiry sort of man unloading a delivery made a point of following her into the caverns from his wagon — ah, but maybe he was just heading for the stores. (That would make more sense, wouldn't it?)

Still, the dark-haired girl fled, escaping the tunnels of the weyr for the outdoors with a wary glance behind her.

Two days later, she was sure the same fellow was back with different wares. This time, narrowed, dark eyes met hers with furrowed brow for a split second before she could duck smoothly away.

When she turned down a side hallway later and heard the footsteps behind her, she didn't run away, fingers fisting at her sides.

"Didn't think you'd come back, Dahjari."

Padjma — Dahjari turned to better face him, expression tight. "I didn't want to. I'm not here to stay."

"No, " the man agreed steadily, returning her sharp scrutiny, "but you are here to help, aren't you, Jari?"

She blinked at the sound of that childhood nickname, scanning the swarthy set of features before her again and found recognition. "Define 'help', brother. I'm only here because I heard our mother is no better than when I left." She heard her voice harden. "Your blood feud is of no concern to me." Anymore.

"Funny, " her brother retorted without missing a beat. "Last time I checked, sister, the same blood runs in your veins. Or did you forget how our mother wept when we lost Padjma?"

"I forget nothing, " Dahj hissed in reply, fingernails digging into her palms. "I think about her every. Single. Day. Her name is always with me."

He smiled; it didn't quite reach his eyes. "Then you'll bring her what she needs."

"She needs a healer, " the woman said sharply. "But you and Father never could see that, could you? I could never hope to purchase a cure. I certainly won't help you get what she thinks she needs."

"When has a lack of funds ever stopped you?" was his parting shot. "I'll be back this way next seven. You'll give me something to take to her when I return."

Waiting until she was sure she heard his steps disappear, Dahjari let herself lean back against the wall of the still-empty corridor, squeezing her eyes shut with a low, shaky exhale.

She never should have returned to the desert.

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