Hello Hello. As promised, here is another concept exploration story for A Diamond in the Rough.

This one is very very similar to the concept I released for Jewel and Cole in the same way that it will be used in A Diamond in the Rough in this capacity but perhaps not in this precise form.

So! Here we see Laura. She is a character very near to my heart as being a healer, and a protector who works not through acts of aggression but through acts of kindness and healing. A character who sacrificed her mind, health and body for the greater good of everyone, and yet still lives on.

This story was made possible, yet again, with the help of CSX GP40-3 and OrangeMacawWorld who have left their own author's notes in the reviews section once again.

I would like to note, however, that the way she acts in this tale specifically, is somewhat exaggerated so that I could fit in all of the different aspects of her personality and mental state for my own benefit. It does take place over a very confined area of time, and a lot of things happen in that time which is a result of me wanting to cram as many parts of herself in for my own visualisation.

From myself, I hope you like Laura as a character, and that you enjoy this concept exploration. Please remember to review and let me know if you like her, and this tale.

Iquitos – an entrancing riverine metropolis that had shaped its fame not through the boasting of its glory, but through its unique status as the single largest city on earth inaccessible by road and the largest city within the depths of the Peruvian Amazon.

To embark on one's travels to such a place, it was required to utilise a less convenient means of transportation, which would mean boarding either a watercraft or aircraft. In the event that our two close friends Jewel and Laura marked their passage to Iquitos, neither option was to their necessity, for they could fly into the city untroubled on their own God-given wings.

In search for a better life from across Midwestern and Northern Brazil, the female Spix's macaw and her hyacinth companion had chosen if not but a brief time of settlement in Iquitos, endeavouring in their nomadic habits to find rest sometime and somewhere in a place where they felt particularly welcome.

For as often as the two birds had been met with the hospitality and the warm greetings of the life which surrounded them as they had travelled, not a hollow nor a burrow had suited or fulfilled their needs. To some of their greatest frustrations, neither Jewel nor Laura could put their talons on why, though it had occurred to them in every previous attempt at settlement that the locations they had visited had not spoken to them in the way that they had quite hoped.

To the time now present, however, the two macaws had not found discomfort or disillusion amongst over 850 species of flora and 330 species of other birds. Quite to the contrary, Iquitos was now perhaps Jewel's favourite among the places of all varieties that she had seen and encountered during her travels, for the humans in their subdued presence was such that it could be exploited without having to concern herself with fears of capture or irritation. An additional benefit to the city rested in the location in which Jewel and Laura had chosen to inhabit in its close vicinity – Allpahuayo-Mishana.

A National Reserve spanning over 58,000 hectares of surface area that was nestled in the Department of Loreto, the area lay twelve miles in a southwesterly direction from the city nearby, serving as a sanctuary for countless species of plants and animals alike that in its protected status was safeguarded from those among men who meddled in their lust for financial gain.

In the eyes of both Jewel and Laura, such protection was no less than a godsend, and in their gratitude took every advantage of their relative safety that could be managed. As human assailants were now left almost entirely out of the question, the pair was much happier to worry about their natural predators, for so it was that man was not among them.

With such a large area of protected jungle to set up a home for themselves, Jewel and Laura were spoiled for choice. However, at the time of their arrival, Laura was not in a good position for Jewel to want to be picky, so a large tree in a grove that was within relative flying distance to a fair water source was chosen to be their home.

It was a perfect tree for residing within, as the tall natural structure had matured to an age where it had endured too much strain from the elements and so elected to shed a strong branch to justify its own further existence, leaving the heartwood exposed, making for a superb starting point for Jewel to make into a cosy living place.

The view from the outside was not fantastic, only really showing more of the trees in the jungle, but it was high enough to be suboptimal for predators to gain access to, which was enough for Jewel.

Laura fell asleep on the very edge of the hollow as the Spix's macaw carried out her toils of shaping the heartwood into a home. Jewel reasoned she would be just fine since she was in such close proximity to her, that she wasn't likely to suffer any kind of disorientation.

Once Jewel had finished the overall shape of the inside of the hollow, she admired it, her face radiating with pride at the living-place she had built for herself, and her dearest companion. While she thought of her, Jewel turned to face the indigo macaw with a smile. Laura was still asleep, and had been for a long time.

There were periods of time where she needed rest and would simply sleep until it pleased her to awaken, rather than fall asleep and have her body clock wake her whenever it deemed she was well rested; the little voice in her head telling her to wake up wasn't very loud.

Seeing that her platonic love was still resting, Jewel shook her head playfully.

You get to rest while I have all the fun making the hollow, thought Jewel, a smile still curved into her beak. Now that she had decided she was finished with the interior, it was now that she envisioned ways of making it more comfortable. Seeing as Laura was exposed in the entrance to their, now shared, new home, Jewel elected to move her inside before leaving to scout the area in the effort of obtaining some kind of comforting substance. She had a good idea of what to search for, but for now, she wished to bring Laura inside.

With a graceful hop, Jewel positioned herself on the right, next to the hyacinth, who was still fast asleep. Taking her left wing and passing a primary feather down the length of her neck in a steady and gentle stroke.

In doing so, the female Spix's macaw recognized that Laura could not be guaranteed to respond in favour to such a gesture, nor could it be ascertained that she would react at all. When waking her friend, Jewel always ensured she exercised as much care as she could muster. She had woken her too abruptly before, causing the hyacinth to suffer a bad fright.

Such a thing, Jewel avoided by lifting her from her slumber as gently as possible. With the gesture's end, Jewel leaned ever closer to Laura and allowed the tip of her wing to leave a trail of ruffled indigo feathers which stretched from her neck to the left side of her back.

Jewel's beak donned a caring smile as she rocked Laura to and fro, as she would her own offspring. In the following moments, however, it became clear that Jewel's efforts would be fruitless, bringing Laura to inadvertently rest against the right side of the Spix's macaw's neck.

A tender interaction certain to be regarded, however, Jewel had more pressing matters at hand, and so diverted her attempts towards vocally delivering Laura from her sleep.

"Sweetheart?" she cooed, her voice originating from her beak, which was located next to Laura's ear. The female did not respond whatsoever, which worried Jewel to an extent, but not excessively. She was used to Laura being unresponsive to certain forms of stimuli, and was aware that she was a very heavy sleeper.

Since the day was wearing on, and she didn't care to wait for her to wake up, naturally, Jewel took matters into her own hands and simply picked her up, by holding onto her with the left wing that was already draped over her back and then applying her right wing just above her stomach, then hoisting her off the ground and into the hollow behind them.

Gently, she rested the macaw on her left side, electing to apologise for her methods later. This could very well prove to be unnecessary, as Laura's relocation was totally unbeknownst to her, and she would be somewhat unsurprised when she woke up to find that she was in a totally different place, perhaps even believing that she had fallen asleep there in the first place.

"There you go," grunted Jewel, setting her down on the floor of her newly finished hollow. Having exerted great amounts of energy in both moving Laura and in making the hollow, Jewel also realised that she was in need of some form of nourishment. She additionally saw it fit that if she was to eat something, then she also ought to bring something for Laura, as by now she was certain to be in need of similar sustenance to her sweetest friend.

Since she was asleep, no permission was needed for her to be left to her own devices. Jewel was quite confident that she would not awaken for a considerable amount of time, perhaps even until later that evening. It was still a gamble to leave her, as she could become disoriented or confused, however, it was a risk that Jewel was willing to take for the benefits her trip will provide. To combat the chance of this form of disorientation, Jewel had given Laura a gift. One that adorned her face. The struggles she had was with a lack of orientation and the inability to comprehend identities. It was fully possible for Laura to wake up while Jewel was gone and be totally unaware of what was happening or where she was, and so, she might become confused and try and search for something she recognises. She would find a familiar sight when she came to drink from a water source, as when she would catch her reflection, she would see the heart that was tattooed onto her face on her left cheek just under her eye. Seeing it would be an undeniable truth, and she would know who she was, and who gave her that mark. She would then know to go home, or to try and find Jewel.

As much as she worried, the Spix's macaw was quite content that Laura would be quite happy by herself after waking up, but there was always a chance. When she had received the tattoo, Laura couldn't stop admiring it on her face, and it was a significant part of her being; a symbol of herself, as it were. With that contentness on her mind, Jewel made a to-do list of tasks to make their lives more comfortable.

Firstly, Jewel wished to address the nourishment problem. Her mind was giving her ample warning that she was in great need of such, and should satisfy that issue before working any harder. Since this was number one on her to-do list, Jewel prioritised finding sustenance for herself, while also keeping a keen eye out for kapok leaves, as they would provide a comfortable resting surface for Laura and herself, and indeed some description of fruit or other kind of large food that could be brought back to Laura for her own enjoyment.

Jewel, while in flight, was surrounded on all sides by a rolling tapestry of greens and browns, with white light puncturing the canopy and punctuating the hues of the jungle landscape that lived deep below, in a humid sea underneath the dense tree cover. Every way the female looked was another tree with more behind it and in front of it, and indeed in every other direction in relation. She was deep within the national park, and a kind of warm comfort was gifted to her consciousness and mental state by this deep cover, and a similar warmth was gifted to her flesh via the humidity in the atmosphere. Though, she was rather uncomfortably hot, and so endeavoured to search for her food, while leaving behind the necessary mental breadcrumbs to find her way back to Laura.

It was amongst all the green that the visual sting of a crimson bulb-shaped fruit caught Jewel's eye growing on a spindly plant in amongst the bottoms of trees. Clearly the cactus-esque bush was mooching off of the rich soil belonging to its neighbouring trees. Regardless of the ethics of the pitahaya bush's nutritional intake, it bore fruits that were suitable for Jewel to requisition for her own satisfaction, and a place to which she could return to obtain another one or two to delight the taste buds of her dearest friend.

Jewel eyed up a satisfactory spot to hold onto this bush, and then with a flutter of baby blue wings did the female extend her talons to grip the staunch stem of the plant, which arched towards her, somewhat under her weight. Unwilling to go any longer without eating, she set to work with her beak on one particular pitahaya which she chose indiscriminately. She stripped it of its outer layer, before beginning to deprive it of its contents; both flesh and seeds were extracted. Jewel deemed the fruit to be delicious, and modestly indulged herself, giving thanks to Lucy for the meal she had been provided with, and for the bush that she would return to. Perhaps Laura could do something of benefit to the local wildlife with the medicinal properties of these fruits?

After having gutted the pitahaya of anything worth savouring, Jewel sought to leave the bush with little more than a quick swipe of her upper and lower beak portions with her tongue. She did this, before then proceeding to retrieve another fruit which she chose indiscriminately once more. This one was for Laura, and was not for Jewel to eat. Instead of skinning the fruit to access its contents, she instead focused her attack on its stalk, which gave way with little resistance, causing the fruit to drop onto the female's chest.

To transport the fruit, she gently seized the stalk of the bush with her beak and angled herself to the left to allow the fruit to lower itself towards her foot, so she could snatch it by a flap of its tough outer skin. Once she could grab it with one talon, she let go of the bush with her other talon while simultaneously releasing her beak grip and vigorously flapping her wings to gain lift off of the plant. This whole procedure took her all of three seconds, and Jewel performed it with all of the grace that could be desired.

Pleased with herself and with the score she had retrieved for her friend, she saw it fit to bring it straight back to her, without taking any time to stop along the way for something to make the inside of her shared hollow more comfortable. This was also ideal, as the fruit was rather heavy, but thankfully, now that she had eaten, she was up to the task of carrying it the quarter mile or so she had ventured from her new home.

Jewel was even more pleased with herself when through the sea of green, did the rim of her hollow swim into focus. Her first successful navigation back to her new abode was an achievement she was pleased to have claimed. Having pat herself on the back, she touched down on the rim, letting the fruit roll inside the hollow, before following it.

"Luna?" she crooned, dragging out the 'A' to add an air of maternal care to her voice. Jewel awaited Laura's response, whatever it might be, but nothing came. She was still fast asleep, even fifteen minutes later.

Jewel sighed and looked at her, with joyful hopelessness. "Sleepyhead," she muttered, playfully. Seeing that Laura was still asleep, Jewel decided it was best that she simply go back out in search of something to make things more cosy.

She left the fruit where Laura would plainly see it and left once more, this time in search of a very specific kind of leaf. The foliage grown on the branches of the kapok tree were exquisite for use in keeping warm or providing a soft surface on which to sit or lay. It was neither too irritating, nor too thin to be of use.

Setting out for the second time, Jewel found herself enjoying the hot, moist climate once more. She elected to use the pitahaya bush as a key location to scout around a wider circumference. This way, she had a centre point to refer to if she got lost at any point, and upon relocating the bush, could then find her way back home again.

Over the next hour or so, Jewel made several trips to and from her hollow and the jungle. During these trips she brought back things like water, perish resistant fruits and kapok leaves. Not once when she returned did she see Laura even stir, though she had slightly changed positions as can be imagined for someone who is asleep.

For a water source, Jewel had hollowed out a small basin near to the rear of the hollow, which would hold water without it seeping into the wood, as she had furnished the sides with bark pieces. Cleverly using the pitahaya she had priorly eaten as a bowl, and filling it from a nearby water source that she had priorly discovered, it was not long before she had amassed around 300ml of clean water for drinking. The continual saturation of the basin will also promote the regeneration of bark, which will make Jewel's bark chipping solution of preventing the water from seeping into the tree, redundant.

With her stash of leaves, she lined the hollow with one layer of the foliage, which retained enough heat to be pleasant, but not enough to essentially turn the hollow into a furnace. Over to one side, Jewel made a sort of leafy bed, which, upon completion, was where Laura found herself gently moved to. Once Jewel had made one for herself, and her thirst was fully quenched, she only wanted to rest. By this time, night had fallen over Allpahuayo-Mishana, and Jewel was about ready to fall asleep.

It was this time, however, that Laura chose to awaken.

With a vast inhalation of air, suddenly, the eyelids of the purple parrot slid open within a fraction of a second and the female sat bolt upright.

Jewel took notice of this and turned to face her. "Oh!" she softly exclaimed, before voicing her observation, "You're awake."

"I am. I am awake, yes," replied Laura, her voice taking a tone best described as seeming embarrassed.

"How did you sleep?" asked Jewel.

Laura did not make eye contact, instead opting to look out of the hollow's entrance. When she perceived her question, her beak fell open and her eyes narrowed slightly. After around seven seconds, she replied to her statement, slowly, "Amicably." After her response was delivered, her eyes returned to their normal, open position and she donned a look of curiosity as she looked around the hollow, observing its features.

"What do you think? Pretty nice job I've done, if I do say so, myself. I just finished it about fifteen minutes ago," stated Jewel.

Laura's gaze continued to scan the internal features of the hollow, including the water basin and the leafy bed on which she lay. Without neither ceasing to look around, nor make eye contact with Jewel. "What are you talking about?" scoffed Laura, "We've lived here for three weeks or so, now," she finished. Something about this sentence made Laura do a double take, and reevaluate what she had said. Once she had identified the problem in her sentence, she stopped looking around, and fixed her gaze on Jewel, and stared at her, with her head bobbing forward and her eyes narrowing once again, as if she were trying to bring an object into focus. The object in question being Jewel.

Jewel recognised this look, and took no offence to the female's staring.

"Who… Who are you?" asked Laura, the same look of perplexity still present on her pretty face. "A friend," replied Jewel, simply. Laura gasped upon hearing this, and her eyes widened somewhat. "Jewel?" she mused, seeking to know the identity of the blue macaw. "Good evening to you, La Luna," she replied, a smile curved into her beak and a friendly spark dancing in her eyes.

"Oh! Jewel!" squealed Laura, a grin spreading infectiously across the two halves of her beak, "I think I forgot you for a second, there," she sighed.

"You did, but, it's okay, my dear, I understand," assured Jewel, warmly. Laura smiled at her. "I hope I didn't make a fool of myself," she stated. Jewel shook her head, "No, not at all! You were just being yourself. You can't control the way you act sometimes and it is not up to me to direct any kind of judgement to you," she assured.

Laura was content with this response. "That doesn't exactly answer my question, but, thank you for being so sweet," purred Laura, settling down in her fresh leafy bed. Her observations of the hollow continued, though now she was seeing the world for how it actually was.

"Wow," mused Laura, continuing to observe the features of the hollow with a logical mind. "This must have taken you a considerable amount of time," she announced. Jewel chuckled and responded, "You could say that, yeah."

Content with addressing the most pertinent questions on her mind, Laura moved onto more idle conversation, as that was all she was up for at this present point in time. "So, how long was I asleep for? I have no idea," asked Laura.

Jewel thought back to that morning when the pair had arrived.

"Okay! This one looks like it will do just nicely!" announced Jewel, as the two birds approached the tree. "The natural hollow is perhaps a good basis on which to start a home," agreed Laura, before adding to her own statement, "I'd assist you, but I feel suddenly quite tired," she finished. Jewel silently acknowledged her statement.

The Spix's macaw and the Hyacinth circled the tree, looking for any kind of imperfections that might warrant choosing another such as evidence of rot or major damage. "Do you see anything egregious?" asked Laura. Jewel shook her head and responded, "No. This one looks just fine, to me," she replied.

"Then let's get in, already. My wings are, metaphorically, killing me!" fussed Laura. Jewel chuckled softly. She loved Laura as her dear friend, and prioritised her feelings over her own, as was necessary given her condition, but at the end of the day, she had to laugh about her blunt fussiness.

After circling the tree one last time, the two birds entered the natural hollow. It was only just big enough for the two of them at this time, with Laura standing on the rim, and Jewel being inside. The rim of the hollow was just wide enough and tall enough for the pair to stand on, but they would have to be sidled up against one another. The inside of the tree where the pair would live was roughly half a metre in diameter; the two radii being wide enough to hold one parrot with some spare room between them for any things they may have to store, including room for their tails, and at the rear was a gnarled area in the wall, which was near to where another branch was on the outside of the tree; this was where Jewel envisioned she would construct a water basin.

Having made the measurements and determining that the size was satisfactory for them both, Jewel turned around to Laura. "Okay! I think…" she began, but cut herself off when she looked at her sweetest friend. "Aww," she breathed, her whole face softening and her heart filling with warmth. Laura had fallen asleep on the rim of the hollow, facing towards the jungle outside. However, her head was tucked into her left shoulder, with closed eyes in full view to the inside of the hollow, and thus, in plain sight to Jewel. Her whole body appeared to subtly rise and fall with every breath she took.

Jewel had looked away for no longer than three minutes, which was all it took for Laura to deem herself too tired to stay awake any longer and so to fall asleep.

"All day," Jewel replied as her turquoise eyes met Laura's. "Probably about twelve to fourteen hours." As this estimate entered the hyacinth's recognition, her voice was brought into a chuckle.

"Wow – no wonder I feel so well-rested," Laura remarked as she arose from her sitting position to stand on her own two taloned feet.

Since she had been asleep for such a long time, the hyacinth felt a need to loosen up her joints, and so, once she was standing, she wished to stretch herself out to try and align the bones upon her ligaments back into shape.

As the macaw stood, the flow of blood through her veins was able to flow without hindrance, but as she arose, there came a point where her heart was unable to supply further quantities of blood and oxygen to her mind, as her eyes reached the ceilings of her sockets, then pulling every joint which spanned her anatomy in an effort to loosen herself up.

By the time she had reached the crux of her stretch, there was simply not enough blood arriving at her brain to allow for suitable levels of cognitive function, including signals to tell her feet to hold her as she stood, or to keep her balance, or to maintain vision. As a result of this, for a few seconds she just stood there, mid stretch, before slowly relaxing and falling to her left, against the wall of the tree hollow.

"Laura?" enquired Jewel, alarmed by this turn of events. Once she started to go down, Jewel instinctively arose to catch her.

She wasn't in time, however and the hyacinth slumped against the wall and collapsed to the hard floor. Regardless of this, Jewel scooped her up in her wings and tried to get her attention. "Laura!" she cried.

Laura didn't answer her for a second, until she came back to, what felt to her like a century later. When she did, she fixed Jewel with an icy stare, her beak ajar. Her breathing became rapid, and she reacted in a way that took Jewel totally off guard.

"Get off! Get off of me! Let me go!" she squawked, suddenly struggling to break free from Jewel's grip, however, she persevered to maintain a hold on her friend while the Spix's macaw gathered her bearings and decided what to do next. Laura didn't appreciate being neutralised in this way. "RELEASE ME! NOW!" she shrieked, prompting Jewel to undergo frantic measures of calming her down so she could let her real memories in.

Who knows what Laura thought she was currently seeing?

Holding her tightly, and close to her chest, Jewel shushed her with as much tenderness as she could muster, given that Laura was attempting to break free. Jewel didn't want to think about where she would go if she escaped. As she struggled, the Spix's macaw endeavoured to caress the back of her neck and soothe her.

"Shh, It's okay. It's me, your friend. Relax," crooned Jewel. Upon hearing this, Laura stopped struggling. Jewel breathed a sigh of relief, thinking her memories were coming back, but instead, the hyacinth looked at her, coldly and whispered in a guttural rasp, the likes of which Jewel could not recall hearing.

"What have you done with my mother?" she demanded.

Thinking fast, Jewel responded, "I'm more worried about you." Laura didn't accept this answer.

"Me? Why are you worried about me? What about me?" she demanded, her breathing still heavy as she lay presently still in Jewel's embrace.

"You?" began Jewel, her voice finally able to take its tender maternal tone which would optimally affect Laura's ability to hang onto delusions. "Why, you are La Luna," she crooned.

As though she had been shot, she ceased to function normally. Her beak dropped open once more and her head lowered until her eyes were level with Jewel's chest, maintaining a thousand yard stare on her downy cerulean feathers. For the next minute, Laura was comatose in Jewel's embrace. Her breathing restarted, although it was inaudible.

The Spix's macaw continued to use her right wing to soothe Laura by tenderly stroking her back. She knew what was happening; the hyacinth was reliving the loss of her mother. She was being cruelly reminded as to the reason why she was suffering; because she vowed to cure all of the forms of illness and ailment she could, no matter what it cost.

Almost paradoxically, she could not tell if this was the first instance in which she was telling herself this, or the hundredth, as every single time she was reminded, she witnessed that trauma all over again. It was only until her sane mind kicked in, did she have any semblance of what was happening in the real world.

As this turmoil raged inside the mind of her dearest friend, Jewel could only wait for her to come to her senses.

Just as suddenly as she had collapsed priorly, did she come to her senses once more. In the smallest, most dejected voice one could possibly imagine, Laura spoke, if only just audibly.

"Mother…" she whispered. Jewel held her tighter. Laura spoke again, in the exact same voice, as though her mind could not possibly believe what she was coming to grips with all over again. "Mother…"

Silently, Jewel stopped stroking Laura's back and instead guided her neck so that her head could rest on her shoulder, and the hyacinth instinctively buried her face in the confines of Jewel's soft plumage, and just as instinctively wrapped her wings around her in turn. She then came to the acceptance of her strife and grieved.

Though it was muffled by her feathers, Jewel could not help but shed a tear of her own that escaped from her left eye as Laura howled, totally hopelessly, uninhibited, into the confines of her shoulder. Her body heaved with every emotional outburst.

It was the same every single time she relieved this pain. First the calm, and then the storm. Jewel could only stand and hold Laura while she was at her most vulnerable, and as she continued to cry profusely.

Laura was not sobbing quietly, she was vocal in her despair. It would take a heart of stone to not show sympathy for the hyacinth, and Jewel's heart was not made of stone, but she did not want Laura to continue her suffering.

"Talk to me, La Luna, is this not why you made a promise to yourself?" asked Jewel, sincerely. Her words came as common sense that Laura needed to hear to overcome her strife. Through her own tears, which darkened Jewel's shoulder feathers, Laura responded.

"It… It is," she choked.

"Every time you are reminded, you react as though you have been told for the first time, but it has already happened, hasn't it?" reasoned Jewel.

"Y-Yes. Yes it h-has. You- You're r-right," replied Laura through thick grief. Jewel could make out what she was saying, however. Now that her breathing had steadied, and she was no longer crying as profusely, she was able to converse with Jewel more amicably. "P-put me down, please. My back hurts," she requested.

Jewel did so, and began to remove her wings, but Laura gasped as she did, and did not release Jewel in turn.

"Please don't let me go," whispered Laura, now standing on her own two feet.

"I won't," responded Jewel, reestablishing her hold on the hyacinth.

"I remember you, now," announced Laura. She smiled, weakly, and briefly removed a wing to wipe a tear from her eye. "Jewel…" she breathed, holding her tight. She looked around the hollow, scanning its contents for the third time. "Wow, this hollow looks… Amazing!" she exclaimed with a quiet chuckle, the closest she could really manage to a joyful emotion at this time.

"Isn't it? It took me all day to make," replied Jewel, pleased with herself once more.

Laura looked at her, with the previous emotion of amazement still on her face, before her features softened to a more content gaze.

"We have already had this conversation," she realised. Jewel nodded, and Laura laughed softly, looking away from the Spix's macaw and down at the floor instead. "I remember, now. I'm not even sure why…" began Laura, before questioning what she had said and returning her gaze to Jewel before finishing her own statement. "Why was I crying?"

Jewel removed her right wing from Laura's side, and ever so gently touched the left side of her face with a tender, loving gentleness that only a mother could give.

As soon as the plush, cerulean curtain made contact with the downy feathers that adorned the hyacinth's face, did she gasp softly, and let her beak go agape yet again, but this time, her thousand yard stare was directed straight into the soul of her dearest friend. Instinctively, Laura closed her eyes, causing a residual tear to be squeezed out as she leaned into Jewel's gesture.

"No reason of any consequence, La Luna" assured Jewel. These seven words, in tandem with her contact, was the only thing Laura needed to hear.

After a few seconds, Laura opened her eyes again to gaze intently at Jewel's features once more, with the Spix's macaw removing her wing as she did. After a single second of this mutual exchange, the pair knew how to seal their allegiance.

The two females closed their eyes and bobbed their necks closer to one another, and with an almost inaudible tap, the tips of their beaks touched, and no sooner than they had, did they both bow their heads, maintaining the contact all the while. They allowed themselves to stay like this for a few seconds, before drawing back, and looking at one another once more.

Laura was the first to speak.

"I love you, Jewel. You know… Just… Exactly how to make everything okay," she whispered, her voice edged with her previous sadness and hoarseness of throat, but was sincere and pure. Jewel reciprocated the hyacinth's pure platonic affection.

"I love you, too, Laura. I know it must seem like the other way around to you, but you're my hero. My earthly idol," she reciprocated.

"What if one day I forget about you forever?" asked Laura, sincerely, and out of the blue.

Jewel looked at her, unprepared for this statement. It took her a few seconds, but she devised her response. "On that day, I'll take it upon myself to never forget you," promised Jewel.

Whenever inclined by instinct to regard either act or word beyond its mere presence and to thereafter retrieve it from the depths of her long-term memory, Laura would find a means and a time to gesture Jewel so that the Spix's macaw could exercise her hold onto her body once again. It was for this very reason that Jewel understood the hyacinth's wish and need to be held quite well, and under the moment's passage did not hesitate to oblige her.

In the two minutes which came to follow, the two macaws stood amongst themselves in a perfect silence. However, it also came in a short while's reckoning that a peculiar thought revealed itself in the hyacinth's mind, and in a shorter while left a rift in the silence as it became manifested in her words.

"I have… Been in the embrace of a male before," Laura began whilst her embrace with Jewel persisted. "They tend to be more squared off, more… Rugged. Whereas… You and I are both curvilinear, representing a pair of two curved shapes, two forms of nature so graceful as femininity so entails. And… They just… Don't fit together as they would when paired with a male in turn. And… Your hugs are truly wonderful to experience… But I am glad that we can share them when they are of meaning or importance, rather than with a frequency which dulls how… Sacred they are."

In response to the hyacinth's intent and platonic gaze which summoned nothing less than a kindling warmth to the very coldest vessels in her heart, the Spix's macaw was brought into a gentle smile.

"I appreciate that you realise this," Jewel replied. "I've been close to a male before, too, and… Well, I can say for sure that I am your caregiver. I can't do much more than hug you when you need it. That's all that I can do." With a soft exhale and the elated batting of her eyes, Laura tilted her head towards the chest of her friend, and before long continued the warmth that had found itself in Jewel's motherly and charitable demeanour.

"You are so much more than enough, my dear," she released in her joyous whisper. Content and hardly dissuaded from ending the embrace which the two macaws had come to share, Jewel answered this praise with a chortle, and was met by much the same from Laura in turn. But, it was to the contrary of their fortunes that Laura seemed to have been stricken with a newfound and sudden pain which drew from her a wince and a groan indicative not of agony, but nonetheless of acute discomfort. "Oh…"

"What's the matter, sweetheart?" asked Jewel, kindly. Laura released her, and swallowed.

"My stomach hurts," she announced. Jewel reasoned that she was hungry and voiced this theory.

"You haven't eaten all day. That 'pain' as you seem to interpret it, is hunger," she explained. Laura nodded.

"That is accurate" she agreed, eyeing up the pitahaya that Jewel had priorly bought for her consumption. "Luckily, I know a fantastic bird who knows me insurmountably better than I know myself, who has preemptively obtained some food for me," finished Laura with a contentedness in her voice that seemed to indicate that her prior tears were irrelevant in her mind, and had seemingly, and perhaps truthfully, been totally striped from her memory, as countless other interactions had done in the past, and would continue to be in the future.

"Go ahead and eat," suggested Jewel, "I am very, very tired. I think I shall go to sleep." Laura looked at her and cocked her head to the side.

"Tired?" she mused. Jewel nodded.

"How come?" asked Laura, looking around the hollow, "This should have only taken about fifteen minutes," she announced.

Jewel laughed, softly, "It took me fifteen minutes to get a few drops of the water in the basin back there." Laura looked at this feature and proclaimed. "That's what I meant."

While Laura set about eating the pitahaya, Jewel laid down to rest. Outside, the sky had darkened dramatically, and the sound of rain slowly, gradually began to fill the air. Petrichor from the jungle permeated the atmosphere and filled the lungs and nostrils of both females. The hyacinth looked outside, "It's raining," she declared.

Jewel looked out and replied, "So it is."

There was a modicum of silence for a few short minutes. Any concerned third party that was to come to check after hearing Laura's cries would be shocked to see just how quickly she had moved on from such a moment.

It was tiring to Jewel that Laura would suffer from such episodes, and then move on and forget them almost as soon as they had happened, but she would deal with them with whatever frequency they came. She truly loved Laura and looked up to her for what she did, and even in her state of mental decay did she look after her.

It could be said that nobody else could ever care for Laura the way Jewel did, not just because her heart was so inclined, but also because the hyacinth truly loved Jewel, too.

They were never intimate; such a thought never even crossed their minds as to them, it was unnatural to behave in such a way since there was nowhere it could possibly lead. Even when they hugged one another, anything besides comfort that came from it was just a distraction from their true, pure, just, and moral intentions.

Jewel rested her head against the leaves she had used to make a nest from, which made for a comfortable sleeping spot. The nest was not completed, and was only essentially a semicircle, with some organic mess on the floor to cushion her body, and some twigs and other leaves to make for a support for her back and head. Jewel had made a similar nest for Laura, which was on the other side of the hollow, and separated by just a couple of paces.

The only sounds in the hollow was that of Laura devouring a pitahaya, as she was very hungry and the flesh of the fruit equally as voracious. The sounds of rain were also present, the monotone pattering of water on foliage was like a kind of natural static, which was comforting to Laura in particular.

She gulped down the last of the fruit's contents and licked the two halves of her beak, though, there remained some visible smears on her face, and some residual juice on her chest. Jewel noticed this and tried to communicate the state of the hyacinth's plumage to her.

"You have a little… Splash on your…" Laura looked at her, vacantly.

"Huh?" Jewel exhaled, patiently and got to her feet, giving her a pleasant smile. "Here, let me just…" she trailed off, plucking indiscriminately a leaf from her nest with her foot and then letting it rest against her metacarpus, before applying the leaf to Laura's beak and wiping away the residue; the organic foliage absorbing or removing the offending smears.

The hyacinth understood what she was doing, and so when Jewel had rid her beak of juice on the left, did she turn her cheek to the right so she could clean that one, too, in the same way.

When her face was clean, Jewel instructed her, "Turn yourself to the left," and Laura obeyed, which allowed Jewel to scrub her chest of stains.

"Please be gentle with me," requested the hyacinth. Jewel was tender and courteous and quite maternal with her cleaning efforts, so as to not disturb the many puncture scars and other wounds on her chest, which, in spite of the mostly healed physical injuries she had sustained, was as still as soft and downy as when she was a very young bird.

Jewel smiled; she was all clean moments after she had delivered that statement. The Spix's macaw tossed away the leaf and let it land wherever it so pleased, as it was carried by the blowing winds.

Now that she had finished, Jewel made her exit, to sit back down and rest. Laura voiced her appreciation, "Thank you, my dear. You're very good to me." The Spix's macaw smiled, warmly as she reclined herself, and replied, "Don't mention it."

Jewel yawned and proclaimed, "I know you've not long since woken up, but I am absolutely shattered." Laura seemed confused, "I've been awake for hours, though," she protested.

Jewel elected to ignore this statement, as it was one she was wise enough to know to disregard rather than indulge. "Well, I know I am very very tired, and so I will be going to sleep now," replied Jewel.

"Oh, well, sweet dreams, my dear," purred Laura, sweetly, hopping over to the entrance of the hollow. Jewel didn't like this one bit, "Woah, woah, woah," she called, "Where are you going La Luna?"

She turned back to Jewel and assured her, "Don't worry. I'm in my right mind at the moment. I'll try and keep it together for you, but I've been quite vacant this evening. I guess it's because I've not long since come out of such a long sleep? I don't know… When I don't concentrate on things, my mind, Aghh," she groaned, putting a wing to her head, "My mind just wanders, and I don't know what's real anymore, but, I know that this is reality. I'm quite sure of it," she finished.

Jewel sighed and let her speak as freely as she pleased. It was Laura's way of comforting herself, and Jewel had all of the time in the world for it.

The hyacinth, from her position in the hollow entrance, splayed out both wings at her sides and looked at them. "Sometimes I just lose myself, and I don't know what's real and what is a fabrication of my mind. Am I real? What am I? Who am I?" she questioned.

"You are La Luna," assured Jewel, who had settled down to go to sleep.

Laura nodded, "But who is she? I am just Laura. No La Luna here."

Jewel smiled, though Laura couldn't see. "Oh, but you are. It's a name befitting the bird who has devoted her life to saving the lives of others, that's for sure. You are the one who should be called Jewel. I'm only precious to you, but you, La Luna, are a jewel that the rainforest cannot live without," replied Jewel.

The hyacinth sighed. "I love you, Jewel," she thought. "I suppose you are correct. My life's work is all around me. It's inside me. These people, they don't know me, but, it won't be long before I go and… Seek the largest snake and tell him to hit me with his best shot… And then I'll pass out, wake up, throw up, say thank you, and leave," she mused.

The female thought back to her earlier years, seeking out venomous creatures to afflict her with their deadly secretions in increasing doses in order to build up a tolerance and immunity for them. Initially, when thinking she would devise a cure to snake venom, she had precisely no idea how to create such a cure.

Laura inhaled and continued her story, "Then I'll spill my own blood to save others, and yet again I will be known, loved and respected, and this wing of the animal kingdom will know how to treat themselves when they are sick. And it'll all be because of… Me. My small little self is enough to help so many."

By pure chance, during her own studies and experimentation, Laura had theorised the immune system and antibodies, and found that once she had built up a tolerance to a particular kind of deadly substance, her own blood had a kind of healing property to anyone also afflicted. The antibodies within, when ingested, would defeat the poison.*

Jewel exhaled and closed her eyes, and allowed herself to drift off to sleep. Laura wasn't allowed by her own mind to see herself for the things she truly does and the kind of rare soul she truly is very often at all. When she was able to experience it was a time when Jewel would sit back and let her feel how valuable she was. She is a real jewel. She is La Luna.

Laura stood in the entrance to the hollow and watched the rain fall. She didn't feel tired at all, and it was night time, so she wasn't able to go out for a flight, especially in the rain. She just chose to exist and be in nature.

The hyacinth gently stroked her chest, where many of her scars were present. They were tally marks to the beasts that had afflicted her with their venom so she could overcome it and devise a cure, which she was yet to be unsuccessful in doing. Every single creature that had bitten her had failed to bring her down, but with every bite, it left behind more and more damage to herself.

As she observed her scars, tenderly into the night she whispered, "I do it all for you, Mother."

The Spix's macaw drifted off into a well deserved sleep after the day she had had building the hollow, and so it was that La Luna was left to observe the night and the rain, and the sounds of the jungle that were present to her and so she reflected upon herself.

She had a prolonged period of time to do so, as it was a long time until the sun would rise again. But this was fine for Laura, as being alone with her thoughts, hearing the rain, knowing that Jewel was nearby and being comforted by the fact that she was truly there in the present was all she needed.

It was enough.

This one took me a little while to do, but here we are.

Laura took a lot of thought to make accurate, likeable and believable as a character. *I researched this point, and it is at least reasonably possible which is good enough to me.

So that's all. I hope you enjoyed, and please be sure to leave me a good ol' review. Once again, big thanks to CSX GP40-3 and OrangeMacawWorld for making this tale possible.

Thank you for reading,

- Le Chat Noir