4.04 Home

It was early evening, a few weeks after the fiasco with the Beardance.
As was an increasingly common occurrence in Skyhold, raised voices
could be heard as an altercation occurred in one troubled farmstead.
Flashes of light and quivering objects conveyed that the young
sorceress inside was upset with her parents yet again. The final straw
in this round was mundane. A slammed door and a girl at the cusp of
adolescence marching through town with a rucksack of belongings.

Tamarack had been in ill spirits since Beastmarch, and hadn't been out
and about as much as usual. She had just finished a supper alone and
was sitting at her dresser scowling at herself in the mirror when she
heard the light but persistent knock at her front door. She climbed
down from her bedroom loft and went to open the door, part of her
hoping for a humbly apologetic and generous-spirited, pretty elvish
dancer, but her meagre hopes were dashed.

"What's the word, kit?"

"Could use a friend…" Kiana replied avoiding Tamarack's eyes and
adjusting her rucksack.

Although she had been hoping for friendship of a different kind, Tam
smiled and stepped aside to let the girl in. Some part of her was
pleased to know the child considered her a friend, and if she couldn't
have the company she wanted tonight, some company was better than
none. She pulled out some biscuits and offered Kiana a chair in front
of the hearth.

Kiana tore into the biscuits urgently, stuffing her face as though
they were a meal rather than a courtesy. "Thanks…" she mumbled
sincerely with her mouth full.

Tamarack smirked at her. "Ye growin’ a lot lately, or yer folks just
not feeding ye anymore?" she asked jokingly.

Kiana paused and giving Tamarack a mournful glance. "I guess you could
say both…"

The amusement disappeared from the dwarf's face. "Somethin’ going on
a’ home?"

"Mum finally had it with my toys all over the place…" the young
sorceress responded vaguely put a telling emphasis on the word 'toys'.

Tamarack cocked her head, not understanding yet. "And?"

"She kicked me out…" Kiana whimpered.

Tam's eyes bulged. "You're joking!"

"Said I was a danger to my siblings…"

Tamarack's shock twisted into anger. "Do ye want me to have a 'chat'
with her?"

"Mother Kenralt already tried," wailed Kiana. "I doubt you would be
much more help than her, mother tends to listen to her more than me."

Tamarack scowled and rested her chin in her hand. "It's criminal, is
wha' it is!" she muttered. "Sending her own little 'un out into the
streets…. What did she expect ye to do with yerself?"

"Join a convent, find a husband, work at the Gosling…" replied
Kiana, "She's so angry I'm not sure she even cares."

"How old are ye now, kit?"

"12 next Abithom," the budding mage replied meekly.

Tamarack gritted her teeth. What business did an eleven-year-old have
joining a convent, finding a husband, or working at the Gosling? "So
do ye have a plan?"

"Not really. It's all happening so fast, I guess I was hoping I could
find a place with you or Varden for a while, likely best to be you as
with Varden I guess people might talk."

"Oh? Yeh, well… I'm not letting ye stay in any smelly boy-house.
This here is a girl-house. I mean… well, I dunno. Here? Ye'd be
bored here…" She trailed off, trying to think of an alternative to
Kiana staying with her. There were precious few people she trusted in
this town, and of those she did, who would be equipped to handle the
girl's 'eccentricities'? "What aboot Saite?" she suggested. "She's
always got lots o’ fun stuff goin' on."

Kiana gave Tamarack a hurt look, "Not really, she was always making me
read books, and the one time I spent a weekend with her… well…
there were some difficulties."

"What sort o’ difficulties?"

"I'd rather not talk about it…"

"Oh dear," Tam sighed. "Well… ye could stay here I guess. I could
dig out some blankets for ye." She studied Kiana and was surprised
how well the girl had kept herself together throughout the whole
conversation.. "Are ye all right, kit? Truly?"

Kiana put on a brave face, "Thanks, but I'll be fine, you and your
friends need to deal with way worse stuff all the time, no need to
worry about little old me."

"Oh, come off it, kitten," Tam huffed. "Sure'n I deal with plenty of
bad stuff, but I'm not eleven years old. O' course I'm worrying about
ye! It's tough enough growin' up to begin with; ye got all sorts o'
crazy things happening that no one can really understand, and now ye
can't even go back to yer own home? That's gotta hurt."

Kiana nodded, her features slipping back to despair for a moment, "I
think it's better not to dwell on it." she replied collecting herself.

"Ki," Tamarack said softly, fixing a serious expression on her, "ye
don't have to be a grown-up. It's just ye and me now in the girl-
house, and there be no pretendin' in the girl-house."

Kiana suppressed a sniffle, "Can we talk about something else?"

Tamarack sighed and let the girl have her way. Maybe she would just
need time.

****

Sometime after midnight, in the lonely hours before dawn, Kiana,
draped in a blanket, crawled into Tamarack's bed. She woke the dwarf
while curling herself into a ball at her feet. Then in the darkness,
in the awkward embrace of Tamarack's arms, the tears began to flow.

****


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