Betrayal was something that Blayre had experienced nearly her entire life. Her family situation had ensured that. But betrayal from someone who resented you, was a far easier pill to swallow than betrayal from someone who claimed to care for you.
The damage that Caval had done with that simple act, felt so irreversible.
Blayre went about the days that followed with a numbness, ignoring Caval as much as she possibly could. There were times that required her to associate with him. Such as when Sebastian called them both into his study to discuss the next steps for Azure.
And irritatingly enough, Azure was still smitten with Caval. She supposed the sorcerer was like a father to the dragonling, since he had been around her just as long as Blayre had. Perhaps that had been all part of his plan. Make Blayre fall for him. Get Azure to bond with him. Profit.
Tomorrow they were to go to the University itself. They would take up rooms there and begin to work with the scholar who was considered the biggest expert in the known world on the research of magical creatures. A man who happened to be Sebastian's and Coneesa's grandfather.
Blayre blew air out of her nose, as she watched Sebastian observe Azure, scribbling aggressively on a notepad. She felt Caval's eyes on her. Steady, unwavering. Sad. She turned abruptly toward him, hoping to force him to look away.
But instead he took it as an invitation.
"Blayre," He said softly.
Her insides heated with a raging intensity. "Bring Azure back to my room when you've all finished with her." She said.
When she returned to her room, Blayre laid face down and cried into her pillow – angry, shuddering sobs.
There was a gentle knock on her door, but she did not have the energy to yell for whomever it was to go away. The door opened and shut behind someone, and she recognized Fletcher's footsteps, steady and firm as he crossed the room and enveloped her in a hug, stroking her hair in a way that no one had ever done for Blayre when she was a child.
She cried into his chest. "I know this is difficult right now. Moon and Sun, you've been through a lot of change in the past months. But you will get past this, Blayre."
He didn't bother to falsely assure that everything would be okay. Fletcher wasn't a liar. A sarcastic pain in the ass, maybe. But never a liar.
"And I'll be here to help you along, each step of the way."
He must know this feeling of having everything snatched from your fingertips. Her friends, her family. All what seemed like part of a different life to her. What had only been months since her feet last touched Emarian soil, instead felt like years. And when she returned – if she returned – she would not be the same Blayre of Blumore who had grown up in Emares City and loved her life as a Seeker. That Blayre, she realized, had not even left on that ship to Solpor. That Blayre had left when she went with Caval to the caverns.
At the University, Blayre, Fletcher, and Caval were treated as honored guests, and Azure as the most honored of all. They were given a suite of rooms on an upper floor of the residence building with four bedrooms.
Blayre was suspicious of anyone and everyone who she encountered. As well-meaning as they might be, she felt a deeply rooted fear that people here might now know what she was.
Azure, who had grown significantly over the last week was now the size of one of the hounds that had been kept at Blumore. It was astonishing really, to see the beautiful creature grow so rapidly, especially after how stunted her growth had been while they traveled here. But the luster had returned to Azure's scales, as she was now sustained by a variety of foods provided to her at Sebastian's directions.
Coneesa helped her bring what little she had into Blayre's own bedroom. The other woman glanced around. "I spent a lot of time here," She remarked. "Not specifically in this room. But here, in the University."
"Because of your father?" Blayre asked. Talking to Coneesa in such casual terms seemed so strange to her, and she wondered why the woman was bothering to make conversation now.
"Yes. Being such a scholar, he spent most of his time here. Even with the townhome a short journey away. It was easier for him working long days. He started early. And he often worked well into the night. If I wanted to spend any time with him, then I spent time in our rooms here."
Blayre nodded, "I often wished I could go with my father on his travels away from our home. But at least I had him – all of him when he was home."
Coneesa was silent, tracing a finger on the wood of the nightstand beside Blayre's bed.
"Things are different here you know." She said.
"I mean – with magic users, and people like you."
"People like me." Blayre said it as a statement. Not a question.
"Yes," frustration entered Coneesa's voice. "No one is going to force you to do anything that you don't want to do here. It's not the same as everywhere else in this damned world, where a small part of the population thinks it needs to control everything. Someone like you – and I've only met one other person like you – you'd be useful, sure. With the right training you would be able to detect specific types of magic. But your path is for you to decide."
"I don't know – if I want that." Blayre said, moving to the window, which provided a breathtaking view of the city of Solpor below and the glittering sea beyond.
"Like I said. No one is forcing you to do anything. Look at me – only the basics in magic training. My kind of magic is troublesome enough." She gave a small smile.
Blayre nodded, "I understand." She stroked the soft scales on Azure's head.
"My grandfather will be setting up a time to meet Azure," Coneesa said, getting up to leave. "Once you are settled in – I hope. It's a miracle that Sebastian kept his mouth shut long enough to keep you quietly at the Dragonstone house. But I suppose he wanted first dibs on observations."
Blayre sighed, "Sounds... great."
This was what she had come for. She heard movement in the next room and wondered how much she would have to see Caval.
Coneesa glanced at Blayre, "Don't be so hard on him," She said, "He didn't mean to harm you."
Blayre met the other woman's eyes. Eyes that were attached to the most perceptive of minds.
She supposed Coneesa of all people would be able to deduce Caval's intention behind this most extreme betrayal.
But Blayre was not ready to forgive just yet.
A/N: The small bit about Fletcher at the beginning of this part makes me want to delve deeper into his backstory - perhaps a novella devoted just to our precious Fletch will be necessary.
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DRAGON MARKED (On Hold)Fantasy
Dragons went extinct in Emares hundreds of years ago as a result of the war waged between the Crown and the mages. Or so the Emarians thought. Blayre has always hated secrecy, but secrecy has always been a necessary skill for her survival in Emares...