A/N Welcome to Living Circle's Library. Hopefully you enjoy your time flicking through these tales. I write for a few challenges and often end up with quite a few one-shots (at the end of Fief Goldenlake competitions, especially). Some of them have ended up on themes that can get collected into their own stories, like Exaltation for Lark-based tales, or Never Did Run Smooth for Rosethorn/Crane stories of snark. Some, though, don't have a home and since I don't want my profile cluttered with all of these homeless tales, this library has been created. I will be adding to it some of the short one-shots that are currently posted as their own stories, but only if they are under 1000 words. Anything over that can stand on its own. The stories won't be in any order, of course, but I'll put a small mention of where they first appeared and their time-frame at the beginning. Enjoy!
This story was written for Goldenlake's Summer Olympics. It takes place shortly after Shatterglass.
It was the first time the little girl had ever been on a ship; she had been born in Tharios, and had probably never been taken out of Khapik, let alone the city. The fun of the sparkling water and looking for dolphins and watching the sailors climb the ropes faded away when darkness fell and she was asked to sleep in a bed she didn't know, when her tummy hurt from the motion of the boat and she was afraid a sea-monster would come or the boat would sink or Tris would fall over the side and leave her forever.
Little Bear cuddled up close to her, but it wasn't the same as Tris, who made her feel like nothing bad could happen. Glaki wanted to go get her, but Tris had made her promise not to leave the little room they were sleeping in, so Glaki sat in her bed with her face buried in the Bear's fur and cried.
Tris was on deck watching the stars. They looked better no where else – even roofs or towers or temple walls didn't let her see everything like this wide, round horizon did. She was searching for constellations she knew only from books when a breeze fluttered past her, bringing her its report from Glaki's room. Tris pushed herself to her feet and made her way back below-deck to comfort her charge.
Opening the door, she looked in at the mess Glaki made of herself. Her hair was sticking to the sides of her face, her cheeks were splotchy and red, her eyes were swollen. Little Bear, from his captivity in Glaki's arms, thumped his tail noisily against the bed at the sound of Tris's arrival. Glaki sniffed loudly.
"What if a sea-monster gets us?" she asked.
Tris was, as always, baffled by the jump in logic the little girl's mind could come up with, but didn't laugh. "Even if sea-monsters exist, they wouldn't come near this boat," she said, half believing it herself. "Think of how upset Niko'd be, if they were that rude."
Glaki, who had a very high opinion of Tris's teacher, accepted this, wide-eyed. She took a deep, quivering breath and wiped her nose with the back of her hand. Tris shooed Little Bear to the floor and sat on the bed while she pulled out a handkerchief to do the job properly.
Tucking the girl back into the sheets, Tris smoothed her hair.
"Don't leave!" Glaki pleaded, holding onto Tris's hand.
"Not until you fall asleep," Tris promised. Glaki opened her eyes wide and fought back a yawn, trying to keep Tris with her as long as she could.
"Story," she requested, her eyes already drooping.
Tris thought frantically for something. She had never had stories told to her, that she could recall. She had been reading biographies and histories and reference books since she was old enough to read, children's tales not provided in her cousin's house, and then, later, out of her interests. What kind of stories did little girls like?
Her siblings came to mind, and Tris smiled. She had enough stories from their adventures to talk her ward to sleep. She picked one of her favourites and began talking in a low voice.
"Long ago," she said softly, "there was a sad tree living in a house of glass. No one knew why the tree was sad, certainly not the boy who watched it from outside, but the boy loved all plants and couldn't bear to leave the tree alone. The boy was, among other things, a thief, and one day he snuck inside the house of glass and took the tree! Now, he didn't know that the tree belonged to a cranky old man named Crane. When the boy grabbed the tree, the cranky Crane came running out and chased him down the street! Oh, the thief boy was faster, but he had the tree above his head, and he nearly didn't make it home. Luckily, there was a noble girl there to lock the gate, hiding him from the cranky –"
Tris paused, looking down at Glaki for a long moment. The girl didn't stir, her eyelashes against her cheeks and her breathing deep and even. Tris brushed hair from Glaki's forehead and kissed it lightly before she stood up slowly, trying not to let the bed creak or rock and wake its cargo.
"Stay off the bed, Bear," she said as she opened the door. Little Bear looked up at her mournfully. "I don't care; I don't want to have fur all over my pillow. It gets in my mouth. Guard." Little Bear huffed and sighed deeply as he laid his head down between his paws, sulking as she closed the door behind her.
Tris returned to her spot on deck, setting her breezes up again to bring her sounds from the small room, in case her girl woke up again and needed her. She sat back, hands behind her head and gazed up at the stars, her mind on tree-thieves, noble guardians and a cranky Crane. She laughed, softly, but it still carried over the sound of the waves.