"Add a bit more to the hair, Merida. Yours is much more wild an' crazy than ye've got et depicted 'ere!" Elinor laughed as her needle and thread ran through the tapestry.
"Ha, alright, mum. Pass me some red thread, please."
Elinor and Merida sat together in the tapestry room, both on a single bench and hard at work on a new tapestry—considering the last one was a bit mangled, though it had been hung back up in its original spot in the room. It had been about a month after 'the bear incident'. This new tapestry depicted Elinor in her bear form and Merida holding hands while looking thoughtfully at one another. It was Merida's idea and was to remind them of their time together and the life changing experiences they'd shared.
It was a gorgeous evening outside the castle and the last rays of sun filtered in through the windows, though the room was illuminated by the fireplace a ways behind the mother and daughter.
Merida bit her tongue as she carefully worked the thread through her bit of the tapestry. "Wot about this, mum? Does this look good?" she asked, leaning back to admire her handiwork.
Elinor leaned back as well and squinted her eyes. "Hmmm...oh, et looks wonderful! Now, how about you add just the slightest bit more green to those knots over there,"
The princess threw her head back and groaned in exasperation. "Och, mummmm! Can we call et a night?" She tilted her head over to her mother and offered a grin. "Can we work on this some more tomorrow? I think my hands are gonna fall off."
Her mother chuckled and shook her head slowly. "Wot? Sewin' got you all tired out? Try workin' on an entire tapestry by yourself an' then we'll talk!"
"I'd rather not do that," she giggled, sitting up and reaching her hands towards the ceiling in a stretch. "Ugh! I think I could sleep right on this bench, I'm so tired."
Elinor stuck her thread carefully into the tapestry so that she could continue working later. "Alright, alright, I suppose that's enough for t'day." Reaching out an elegant hand, she ruffled her daughter's hair slightly in affection. "I'm proud of you—workin' on such intricate designs is tough work!"
Merida closed her eyes and smiled as her mother ruffled her hair. "Thanks, mum. In return, maybeeee…tomorrow I could teach ye a bit of archery?"
The queen blinked in surprise and set her hands on her lap. "Archery? Really?" she repeated questioningly.
"Aye…" Merida suddenly shrugged and nonchalantly admired her part of the tapestry. "I-I mean, if ye don't want tae, that's fine by me. Perfectly alright. Nooooo problem."
Elinor thought for a moment about this. Archery was the thing the queen of DunBroch disliked most. It was unladylike and improper. However, it did help the pair on several occasions when they were on their journey. Heck, it even saved her life when Merida used an arrow to deflect Fergus' sword from killing her in bear form. With a smile tugging at the corner of her lips, Elinor used her elbow to nudge her daughter playfully in the side. "Well…I don't see the harm in ye teachin' me a bit."
Surprised her mother accepted, Merida turned to the queen with wide eyes. "Wot, really?" she murmured-never thinking she would say yes-as a grin appeared on her face. "Heh, great! I just need tae find another bow so we can practice together. Oh, an' plenty of arrows. I missed a lot on my first go, remember? An' we gotta find some target tae set up an'…"
Elinor smiled warmly and was pleased to see Merida was looking forward to tomorrow. As she excitedly continued on, the queen looked at Merida's face and saw the glowing orange of the fire reflecting off her daughter's skin. Instantly she thought back to when she'd thrown Merida's bow—her prized possession—into the fire. The horror-stricken, heartbreaking look she received from the princess still haunted her whenever she saw her daughter practice or even mention archery.
"…an' I say we go off the field an' maybe into this neat little glen tae practice so that-" Merida trailed off as she saw her mother look away. "Mum? You…alright?"
The queen blinked rapidly and turned her head back towards Merida. "Hm? Wot? Oh, aye! I'm fine. I was just…" As she looked over Merida's concerned face, Elinor let out a soft sigh. She rose from the bench and walked over to a chest in the corner of the room. Rummaging through it and pushing several things aside, she pulled out fairly large, narrow box.
Merida threw her legs over the bench so that she faced her mother. "Wot's that?" she inquired curiously.
"Uhm…somethin'. For you." Now standing before Merida, she carefully handed her the box. "Et was goin' tae be your birthday present. But…I figured maybe you could find more use in et if you got et before then. Especially for tomorrow."
Curiously, she reached out and carefully took the box from her mother. It felt relatively light, but did have a bit of weight to it. It was in a light blue box tied together neatly with a red ribbon. Undoing the ribbon, she lifted the cover off and gasped.
Her old, trusty bow!
The ivory-colored bow rested neatly in the box. The string had been replaced, as had the handle and ends. It had been thoroughly cleaned and shined, although there were still some signs that it had been burned. The carvings were there but most were now disfigured and slightly charred. All in all, it was nearly back to its original state.
"Mum!" gasped Merida as she took her bow in hand and stared up at her mother in awe. "Wot the-? How? I mean, you threw et in the fire! I saw you!"
Elinor brought her hands together and looked down with guilt tugging at her heart. "Well…as soon as you left, I realized wot I'd done an'…I took et out."
Merida blinked in surprise at this. "You did?"
The queen nodded slowly and glanced at the bow in her daughter's hands. "Aye." she replied quietly, "I'm just glad et was salvageable."
"Yeah…" She ran her fingers along the bow and traced the slightly charred carvings, unsure of what to say.
The two were in silence for several moments as the fire crackled behind the queen. Elinor's head was kept low and her eyes were averted from Merida. She wondered what was going on in her daughter's mind. Was she angry about what happened after the tournament? Elinor knew she had every reason to be. The queen was even angry at herself for going so far as to torch her daughter's prized possession. However, Elinor was also still rightfully upset about the tapestry she had painstakingly worked on since Merida was a baby. Suddenly, the harsh words her daughter spoke that day rang in her ears:
"An' you're a beast! That's what you are!" "I'll never be like you!" "I'd rather die than be like you!"
Wincing at the mere memory, Elinor's face screwed up and her hands flew to her forehead. "Oh, Merida, I'm so sorry about wot I did," she practically sobbed as she quickly turned away from her and faced the fire. "I-I was just so angry! I…I wasn't thinkin' right an' I just didn't know wot tae do an'…" Her shoulders shook as she stared into the flames and vividly remembered that day.
Merida's eyes widened in shock and she set the bow down on the bench. "Mum? No, no! Don't be upset about that. Please don't cry," She came up beside the queen and gently took her mother's hands that were balled up in fists on her forehead. "If anythin', you should be upset with me cuttin' the tapestry."
Elinor's watering eyes slowly turned to her daughter that stood beside her. Merida's face was full of concern and her fingers gently went over Elinor's hands comfortingly. "But…" she began.
"But nothing." Releasing her mother's hands, she retrieved her bow, pulled back the string, and pretended to fire an arrow. "See? Et's fine. Good as new!" She beamed up at her mother as she gestured to the shining bow.
Slowly, a smile crept onto Elinor's face and she rubbed her eyes with the side of her hand. "Well…alright," she sniffed before clearing her throat and straightening up. "We'll consider this new tapestry your apology for the last one."
Merida nodded slowly in understanding, though she had apologized endlessly before due to guilt. "Oh, alright," laughed the princess. She gripped her bow tight and brought it to her chest before looking up appreciatively at the queen. The fact that her mother had taken the bow from the fire despite the horrid argument beforehand spoke volumes to Merida, and she was touched. Suddenly she wrapped her arms around her mother and buried her face into the arm of her dress, closing her eyes. "Thank you, mum."
Elinor was taken aback. She was still not exactly used to the displays of affection she now received from Merida. It had been so long since they had hugged, and the first time in years was at the circle of stones that fateful morning. After a few moments of uncertainty, she leaned down and put her arms around Merida. She kissed her atop the head affectionately before resting her cheek comfortingly in her daughter's mass of hair. Elinor decided that these moments were to be cherished like they were so many years ago. "You're welcome, Merida."
The fire illuminating them, mother and daughter stood in each other's loving embrace, treasuring their time together.