A/N: Well. This originally started as a drabble/500 wordie, for a challenge, but...grew. And changed. Darn Muse, giving me undrabblish things! At any rate, this is the result.

The Medallion
by Thalia Weaver

Imagine that you are ten years old, and sitting on a lone abandoned stretch of beach; in your hand, grasped tightly, is the hard cold thing your father has sent you. The letter that came with it is torn and tearstained and lying in your mother's room, beside the other two he's sent since you were born. She has sworn again and again that she will burn them.

This coin she flung on the table with a curse and ran away, to hide her tears from you- blood money, she said. It will be many years before you will know what she meant. Now you clutch the cold thing in your palms, knees to your chest, smelling the rough brine of the breeze and not looking at it--not yet. Now with it in your hands the half-mythical being that is your father--tall, broad of soulder, swift of smile--suddenly seems real.

Your mother is short, with long brown hair and black eyes. Sometimes she cries in the night and you hear it. You used to pretend it was only the sea, lapping and blustering and carrying your father home. You do not think so anymore.

It has been a long time since the last letter. The sand rasps against your legs as you sit staring at the horizon with eyes like burning brands. The wind whips around your head and a mourning gull cries behind you, sounding like the echo of your mother's sobs. You are still rubbing the coin between your palms and you weary, now, of staring into the pale green of foam-flecked sea. You open your hands and cup it, stifling a gasp. You did not look at it well before you shoved it deep in your pocket and ran here to be alone. The skull engraved in the yellow metal stares at you with empty eyes, and were it not trapped in gold you would drop it and run.

There is something of an old anger in its stare. It does not feel like a lightly-given gift. Is this blood money--so that you will wait on his return--waiting--and pining--and weeping in the night? Gold, and letters you have never read. You clench your fists so hard the gold bites into you, your white knuckles reddening as you slowly release your grip. You raise it as though to fling it in the sea--enough of tidelike tears and distant fathers--and it catches a passing glint of light, so that it shines gold. You stop, a something rising in your throat so you cannot speak. Enough of dreams, but you cannot throw it away yet.

You slip it in your pocket and feel its cold weight shiver through you, standing up. You'll return to your mother now; she needs you. The coin will move to a chain around your neck. You will feel it anchor you as you haul on rough rigging, rope burns on your hand, the splinter and crack of the burning ship you've crewed in your ears.

Imagine that you hold it in your hand as you turn your back on the treacherous sea.