Getting over 'Is That So Bad' being over I've needed more Daine/Numair fics. I have a dozen and a half ideas so here is my catch all home to my shorter stories
Edit 5/1 - edited so that it says tests and not testes. Those are very different things. XD
In all honesty, Daine had thought it was a good idea at the time. She was testing a theory she'd had. All she wanted to do was see if she could shift from one animal to another, rather than shift back into her human self in between.
And, contrary to her teacher's accusation, she had done a couple trial runs. She shifted from one breed of dog to another, to another, then, with a bit more concentration shifted into a grey wolf. Once she knew she could do it when she was stationary, a new thought occurred to her; could she shift while running – while flying?
Daine was usually very logical and not at all prone to foolish ideas, but in the case of her magic that she was still growing into, every little idea fascinated her. When she'd first got the hang of how to shape-shift she would only return to her human form when she absolutely had to. Her magic was too new, too exciting for her to care all that much about consequences.
Which was what caused her to decide the best way to test her most recent theory was to shift while in the air. Starting as a starling she had attempted a shift into a sparrow mid-flight. However, her early shifts had drained her more than she had, in her excitement, realized. Mid-air, mid-shift she felt the magic give way. She turned human, and plummeted towards the horse meadow used by the riders.
She didn't know what her teacher had been doing in the area. Looking for her, probably; she was due for lessons. All she knew was over the roaring in her ears as she fell she'd heard him yell her name, and instantly she was caught up in black sparkling magic that deposited her safely in the meadow, where she was instantly surrounded by ponies concerned for her well being.
Onua, who had heard Numair's shout, had run out to her. She gave Daine a horse blanket to cover herself with and returned to the barracks to get her some of her things to change. By that point Numair made it through the crowd of concerned animals to the student in question. Daine braced herself; she knew from experience her teacher was not going to be particularly happy with her.
"What in Mithros' name were you doing?" Numair demanded.
Daine wasn't accustomed to being yelled at. She found she didn't enjoy it. Her mother had scolded her numerous times as a child but it never involved her raising her voice. She'd never needed to – a stern tone was more than enough.
Still exhausted and a little shaky from her misadventure, she managed to answer, "It- I- it was an experiment."
"I see," he wasn't yelling anymore, but the cold tone he'd adopted was no better, "and you didn't think that I would perhaps like to be present or at least aware of said experiments before you went throwing yourself out a window?"
Daine blushed, "It was going to be a surprise," he opened his mouth and she quickly added, "I knew what I was doing!"
"This is 'knowing what you were doing'?"
"Yes!" She was beginning to lose her own temper now. She knew it had been stupid, and she knew it would have been much worse if Numair hadn't been there, but his response wasn't helping anything. She knew it was her fault, she didn't understand why he had to get so angry with her. "I know it's possible, I tested it earlier on, only I wore myself out and-"
"Daine, how many times do I have to tell you not tax yourself when you're tired? Someday I might not be nearby and if you don't learn how to judge your body's limits-!"
Had she been thinking more clearly, Daine would have seen that Numair was calming down. Had she let him finish the argument may have ended. Angry as she was, instead, she raised her voice over him; "I don't need you to always be around! I can get myself out of my own scrapes, you know!"
"I'll believe that when you stop behaving like a gods blest child!" he snapped.
Whatever angry retort Daine had for that died on her lips. Like any teenager, Daine despised being treated like a child, and liked even less being called one. Normally, Numair's words would have only made her angrier… if they had come from anyone else. But this was Numair. Numair, who had never treated her like a child, who's opinion she valued more than nearly all of her new friends. He always respected her, trusted her, and she'd let him down. And it hurt her, more than she thought possible.
Numair had needed the words to get through to her, but as he watched their affect on his student he wished he hadn't said them. Her lower lip trembled as her eyes filled with tears. Before any could fall, she lifted her chin in a defiant glare and stormed away from him.
He sighed and let her go. He was still angry with her, but not nearly as much as he had been. She was just so reckless, so much more than any student he'd ever had. Then again, she was so much more powerful than anyone he'd ever taught. She could do so much, it made sense that she would lose herself in her own tests. He simply couldn't bear it if those experiments brought her life up short.
Onua had returned in time to see the girl run off. She came over to punch him in the arm, "Well, that was well done."
He scowled at her, "So why did you let me say it? Usually you kick me until I'm silent or take her away from me until I'm not so emotional."
"Maybe I thought you could handle it this time."
"She could have died, Onua," he sighed, trying to keep from snapping at her and having two of his friend's furious with him.
"She was experimenting with her magic. Need I recount the number of times you nearly killed yourself doing the same?" She asked patiently.
Numair shook his head, anger fading even as he spoke, "That's different. That's me. I feel responsible for her, and she keeps putting herself in danger. If she were hurt I- I worry about her constantly. You know that."
His friend echoed his earlier sigh, but smiled, "Yes, I know that, you idiot man. You might want to go tell her." She thrust the bundle of clothing at him, "She's probably in her rooms so she won't need these, but tell her I want the horse blanket back."
Numair nodded with a bit of resignation. Daine wasn't going to want to talk to him, he knew.
He knocked against the door to her room in the rider barracks. She had rooms in the palace, now, but during training season she moved back there. "Daine?" there was a pause, and he briefly wondered if she was there. Then there was an audible sniff, and he sighed. "Daine, Onua would like the horse blanket back."
A longer pause and then the door opened a crack, just large enough for the girl to hold out the blanket to him. Numair took it, and quickly stuck his foot in the door to keep it from being slammed once more.
"May I come in?" he asked, gently.
The door opened. Daine didn't meet his eyes and moved to her bed where she pretended to read her anatomy book in silence. Numair set the clothes Onua had brought on the end of the bed and tried to think of what to say to her.
She muttered something under her breath. "What was that?"
"Is reading safe enough?" she repeated, her voice hoarse.
He sighed again, moving to sit beside her. She wasn't yelling at him, but this meek Daine was almost worse. He hadn't seen her so shy and uncomfortable since they'd first met. "Daine-"
"I'm sorry," she burst out, still staring at the book. "I didn't mean to not listen or to be reckless. And I do need- I still need help with my magic."
All at once Numair remembered Daine at thirteen, telling him she wasn't good enough for that book, and Onua once telling him that Daine had confided to her that she still sometimes expected all the powerful people who had adopted her into their lives to come to their senses and leave her. After over two years, it appeared that fear was still there.
Numair took the book from her hands, in order to hold them both, waiting until she looked at him. Her eyes were rimmed with red, but she wasn't crying. "Daine," he said quietly, still unsure of what to say to her. "Magelet, do you remember how you felt when you first came to Tortall, when you first made friends here?" She nodded. "I was the same way, when I first came here."
Now she looked back at him, a bit surprised. He grinned, having expected that reaction. "I didn't have any friends when I was younger, and in Carthak…" he stopped himself and continued, lighter, "I was baffled by how quickly I was welcomed here, by Alanna, and their majesties, like I know you were. But because of that, I'm very protective of the friends I have. If any of them were to be hurt, if you were to be hurt… I don't like to think about it.
"So when you put yourself in danger, I'm terrified, and it causes me too lose my temper on occasion. That's not much of an excuse," he added, smiling sheepishly at her, "I shouldn't have called you a child, Daine, I know very well that you're not. In your place, I can't say I would have behaved any better – I also know how it feels to have magic different than most people, and I certainly understand testing it. But that's me, and you're my best friend, you know?"
Daine nodded, mute, as a few tears escaped. She tried to smile back at him, to show that she understood, and whether it truly or showed or not, he smiled back. "C'mere," he said, pulling her into a hug, awkward with them both sitting as they were, but sweet enough.
"I'm sorry," she muttered, now feeling bad that she had made him worry about him. She understood though, she worried about him often, too, even when she knew full well that he could take care of himself. She didn't think she would be any happier to know he'd gotten himself hurt. "I won't do that again," she added.
Numair pulled back to look into her face, eyebrows raised, "Really?"
"Your experiment," he paused, "What were you testing, anyway?"
She wiped at her tears, "I wanted to see if I could change from one animal to another without changing back to myself in between. I can go from a dog to a wolf while I'm just sitting, but I wanted to see if I could do it while doing something, like flying." She blushed a little, "I was going to surprise you during lessons tonight."
The look on his face made her actually laugh; he looked so completely fascinated. "But you can do it? And there were no ill effects?"
"None at all. I probably could have done the flying if I hadn't been so tired."
"Well then, as soon as you're up to it – unless, of course, you don't want to anymore. I understand that after your last experience you may not want to-"
"Of course I want to!"
He laughed, "Perhaps tomorrow, then. We'll conduct some proper experiments. What do you say, Magelet?"
She beamed and hugged him again. "Thank you, Numair." She felt almost dizzy with relief; Numair was the one person in her life who she truly felt understood her. Not just her magic, her entire self. "You're my best friend, too, you know?"
She felt him kiss the top of her head, before pulling out of the hug and standing. "I'll let you have a night off of lessons. You need your rest, and you're going to have a long day tomorrow."
"Thanks," she repeated, remembering that, aside from being emotionally exhausted, she was physically worn out, too.
"Sleep well, Magelet."
The next evening, Daine and her teacher and best friend spent several hours thoroughly testing her skills with shifting. She could shift from a skink to a fox to a turtle to a wolfhound without the slightest mishap, being sure to inform Numair when she felt herself grow tired. When he commended her for thinking of this all on her own, looking so awed by her, Daine decided this had been a good idea after all.
THE END! I enjoyed writing this. It's hard to write Numair and Daine fighting, but so worth it too write the making up.
This will be the first of numerous ideas I've got, so stay tuned.