Precious Bird
By ArrowThrower/Tigersmeleth

Disclaimer: In no way do any of the characters from the Earth's Children Series belong to me. They belong to Jean M. Auel and her publishing company.

Summary: Ranec is devatstated when Ayla left him. How will he recover?

Precious Bird

The loss of Rydag, Ayla, and Jondalar had affected them all. Slowly, life moved on for the members of the Lion camp. But not for Ranec, never for Ranec, he told himself. How could he move on when his dreams plagued him so?

He dreamed of her sometimes, and those were the dreams he always remembered. He saw her blue-grey eyes, the ones that sometimes seemed to pierce through him. He saw flashes of her face, she looked peaceful and wistful, just like when she had slept next to him by his fire. But that was all they were, dreams that he had built for himself and Ayla--dreams that never came true.

He would wake up in the morning and see the little bird he had so carefully carved for her. He remembered the happy times; the first time they shared pleasures, when she promised herself to him, and her laughter. Then the bad memories would come, and with those memories, the image of the tall, blond, Zelandonii man who ruined his dream.

When she left, Ayla told him that she never stopped loving Jondalar, that she never could. It was when he remembered that time that he would clutch the precious bird to his heart and begin to cry. He would cry hot, bitter tears of anger and hurt. Anger at her for leaving him on the night of their Matromonial; anger at Jondalar for taking her away, but mostly anger at himself for not seeing. The tears would then flow from hot and bitter to cool and relieving. Yes, relief. All tha twinter he had worried. He worried that she would leave him, worried that she would stop loving him. Now that she was gone, he no longer needed to worry.

One day, when a year had passed since Ayla had left him, all of his anger came back. He berated himself for being a fool, raged at Jondalar for pushing Ayla towards him when she didn't want him anyways. Without realizing what he was doing, he picked up the little bird and threw it against the cave wall.

It shattered into tiny little pieces, just like his dream had. Ranec stood looking at the mess for a moment before letting out a small cry of grief. His only remembrance of Ayla was gone--broken forever.

He buried the pieces in the little valley she had told him aobut. He went there often to see how she had lived, where she had met Jondalar. He supposed that it was only right that the pieces be buried near her cave, to show the spirits that nothing could come between Ayla and Jondalar.

As Ranec alked out of the valley for the last time, he looked back and said a final goodbye to Ayla. He shed no tears this time and felt a sense of lightness, as if a heavy burden had been taken off his chest. He looked up at the sky in the direction she had left and smiled. He prayed to the Mother to ish Ayla ell, and ished that Ayla ne that he understood no, and forgave her. He walked out of the valley, and his dark brown eyes smiled once more.

Thanks for reading everyone!