New Geographies

K. Ryan, 2010

Originally written for prompt #5 of August's 31_days cycle. "Destiny calls and I go." Not related to my Speculation AU fic, though Pareskeve Aygry is the name I always use for young, pre-dedicated Lark.

It was not time, yet. There were no bells. No deep, struck cries in and out and upward. She had no ties to this place, save her learning, which she could take with good grace. Dancer-dreamer-weaver, a dozen languages in her head, and tastes in her mouth, with hands that could be dyed all shades from Capchen through Namorn, then Aliput and crowded, clamorous Hajra. A tilt to Janaal, with its dancers and sandalwood, or Gyongxe and Chammur, parched and tinted. She had never even touched any part of Bihan that wasn't silk.

She had her keep, now, and could spread or save it, through all geographies.

The young man's cough broke her thoughts. It was faint, awkward. Turning her head, shivering a little as thought-stilled muscle managed the movement, she saw Isas's hands before the rest of him, long and delicate and recently scratched, wrist bones sharp through his skin. He covered his mouth. Wind plucked at their robes, and spilled his long hair over his face, and she felt stone again and remembered height, and the long walk she had taken to come up here, to a narrow tower in the Air Temple percent. She watched as the young man caressed moss that had seeped its way through the cracking stone railing. Light was pink and gold and metal-streaked around them, but the bells had not named dawn, yet. She smiled.

"I'm glad you took me at my word," said Isas.

"Why wouldn't I?"

Isas sniffed. "Others—"

"—Rosie will come up here again, you know."

"Rosie?" Crane's eyebrows were hidden by that fall of hair, and she could not look away, despite her grin.

"Well," she said, quiet. "That is her name, now."

Isas shook his head. "Niva always needs to come first," he said, and it wasn't to her. "Rosethorn."

Her own hands were dark against the railing, even struck with the ever-brightening light. She felt her fingertips chill. "You could have tied with her," she said. "You've as much training."

"Some of us do not wish to rush headlong into things."

"Into the calling you've known all your life?"

Isas stilled. "I...had more to give up," he said. "And it's only material, of course, so you may sneer—"

"—Why would I?" He flinched, but did not pull away, from her hand over his. Hectic spots of colour blooming in his face as she squeezed out her impatience. "Isas."

"You do not sneer. You are right. Of course. But...I had to think. And know my knowing. Calls get absorbed, you know." He smiled sidelong at her. "I've lived with it so long I hardly know it's there."

She laughed, just a little, and coaxed a thread from the hem of her robe, so it stretched and teased and curled around Isas's wrist. "I think," she said, "If I were as good as you and Ni—Rosethorn—make me out to be, I would say you're not giving anything up, taking vows. You' out. To Asaia, the Greenman and Lady Firesword—Yanna. You take a new name for a new life that is surrendered, not lost to you." She pulled delicately at the thread, lifting both their hands from the stone.

"Those... are fine differences—"

"—but I am not so good," she spoke over him firmly, gently—her own low, small voice cutting across vowels that were still rawboned, no matter how fine their modulation. "If that is goodness. " She shook her head, new-cut curls flying around her face.

"I came here because you were right," she said. "I did need a place to think. Because I am giving up a life tomorrow, and I'll be someone called Lark at the end of it."

Isas stared at her, then, dark eyes wide as he shifted his fine, narrow hand in the fragile bond, to take her own fingers with his. His smile was brief, but vivid to her. It warmed both their faces. "That is your name?" This next sigh was rueful. "And you're for Earth?"

Paraskeve, dancer-dreamer-weaver, broke the thread with a snap and kissed his cheek. And laughed as Isas whispered his name.