Cut Scene from Heart Fate
So he trudged down the stairs to breakfast. The Family – his Mamá, his father T'Holly, Holm and his wife, FirstLevel Healer Lark, were there, already eating.
"Tinne you look terrible," his Mamá said, rising to her feet.
Holm snorted into his caff mug.
"Didn't you sleep well?" his Mamá, Passiflora Holly, asked. Then she flushed. "Of course you wouldn't sleep well." With a gesture, she indicated a fancy placemat and china bowl to Ilexa, and warm shredded furrabeast piled high.
The cat rumbled a thanks.
His Mamá's eyes narrowed at him. "I'll work on a Flaired lullabye for you."
"Holm, don't be so discourteous." Their mother rounded on him.
Holm raised his eyebrows. "Someone has to keep his spirits up." He hooked a heavy chair next to him with his ankle, brought it away from the table with more Flair than muscle. "Sit. Eat. You look like you sank into the Great Washington Boghole then were dragged all the way back to Druida."
"Thank you," Tinne said. "You look – radiant." He bared his teeth, but got a little satisfaction as Holm looked aside and Lark smiled.
Tinne sat, stared at his plate. The Healers had told him what he should eat this morning, but he couldn't recall their instructions.
"Why don't you have toast and tea and some scrambled eggs?" Lark said gently.
Tinne stared into her violet eyes and knew her MotherSire, T'Heather had spoken to her.
Before he could say anything, his empty plate was replaced with one that had obviously been prepared for him. Moderate amounts of toast and eggs, only slightly seasoned with herbs instead of the rich salsa he preferred. He grunted, realized that was rude and nodded to everyone. "Merry meet Mamá, father, Lark, Holm."
"Merry meet, Tinne," Lark said lightly, curved her hand around his cheek, "If I may."
But she'd already sent him a surge of energy that refreshed him more than the waterfall, and banished the lingering horrors of bad dreams.
"Thank you." He lifted her hand and kissed her fingers. "Thank you all." He swept a gaze around the table. The energy Lark had sent him was not hers alone, but a mixture of the whole Family's, given to him through her link with them.
All with the hope that he and Genista's marriage could be mended and the Family wouldn't be the first of the greatest nobles to have a divorce. The scandal would touch them all.
For generations. He looked at his brother who would have to work as the head of the Family under such a cloud.
Holm inclined his head infintesimally and sent on their brothers-only line, Be well, brother. Do whatever must be done.
Tinne shuddered, Holm had said that same phrase when he was caught in the quicksand of the Great Washington Boghole and couldn't get out. Tinne had managed to save them both. It could have been worse, Tinne could be next T'Holly. As always, he was glad that wasn't his fate.
Yes, he'd make everything harder on his Family for generations, but he didn't know that there was anything he could do today to stop the divorce. **There was no way for him to hide his true feelings from the Healers.
"Eat your eggs, Tinne," both Lark and his Mama* said at the same time. He managed a smile. Lark would be a lovely and strong D'Holly.
He dug into his breakfast and was glad that the taste of the eggs on his tongue revived his appetite a little. He'd be able to eat everything.
His father was staring at Ilexa, eyes sorrowful but mouth slightly curved. "Thank you for returning to the Residence, Ilexa," he said.
The cat, concentrating on her food, flexed a shoulder.
T'Holly nodded, sighed. "A signal, I suppose, that we can return the rest of the hunting cats from the Sallow estate where we boarded them."
Ilexa sat back on her haunches, stroked a paw over her whiskers, sniffed.
"Yes, we all know, Ilexa you beautiful thing, you, that you are Tinne's Fam," Holm said. "Welcome back."
Ilexa nodded at him. She didn't share telepathic thoughts with anyone except Tinne. He saw his brother's frustration and smiled, choked.
"Chew before you swallow, dear," his Mamá said absently. She was writing musical notes on a pad by her plate. His lullabye. Lord and Lady.
"Don't call it Tinne's Lullabye," he said.
"I won't." She looked up and smiled at him and he noted she looked much older than she had a couple of days before.
"Call it SecondSon's lullabye," Holm said, then stuck food in his mouth.
Tinne opened his mouth for an insult for his brother, expecting to see Holm's twinkling eyes. They were dead serious. Despite his light manner, Holm was suffering along with the rest of them, sorry for Tinne's hurt. Tinne had the horrible suspicion that if he gave into his own feelings everyone at the table would weep. Awful.
Tinne glanced at his father, who had also aged and had a slightly gray tinge to his face. This divorce scandal was happening during the middle of the campaigning for Captain of the Councils, his father's greatest dream. T'Holly would not win this year, probably never again. One year only as Captain of the Council. That must sting.
"Drink the juice mixture I made for you, Papa," Lark said.
Grumbling, T'Holly downed it. Then he stared at Tinne and said. "This whole mess is my fault. I apologize. I...I.... You cannot know how deeply I regret my actions." He blinked rapidly, though his taut face held a stony expression. Pushing away from the table, he strode to the door and put his hand on the latch. Then he straightened his shoulders and angled his body back to meet Tinne's startled gaze. "I received word from the Healers that you need a certain amount of meditation time in the HouseHeart." He waved a hand. "It is scheduled for the next two years."
Tinne wanted to wince at the decree that depressed both of them, but just inclined his head. "Thank you." He cleared his throat. "I think I'd like to sleep there tonight, if possible."
"Done," T'Holly said.
His Mamá's head came up abruptly, her writestick stopped. She blinked at Tinne.
"Why didn't I think of that! Your rooms must be redecorated. Immediately. And Gen– and the other suite, we should have done that last year. Perhaps that will help."
Keep them together? He didn't think so. But his Mamá continued. "I'll scry Mitchella D'Blackthorn right away. We can do this today. We'll mine the storerooms and attics." She rose, snatched her papyrus and pushed her writestick behind her ear. Hurrying to T'Holly, she slipped her arm in his. "We have work to do."
"We certainly do," T'Holly sounded a little more cheerful at the thought of moving furniture all day. A distraction both physical and Flaired. "The hunting cat relocation and resumption of training can take place tomorrow." His shoulders straightened. "Good to have plans."
Holm piled more eggs and dashed a liberal amount of salsa on them as he grinned at their parents. "You didn't think of redecorating because not a stick of the furniture was moved for decades until I brought my HeartMate home." He glanced around the cream colored walls and the airy windows of the breakfast room. Not one weapon hung there anymore.
Lark opened her mouth.
Tinne figured he knew what she was going to say. The Healers had recommended pink.
"Nothing pink!" he called to his parents as they left. "Not one pink thing!"
"The glider awaits to take Tinne to T'Heather," the Residence said.
Ilexa ran toward him. Holm looked at Lark. She said, "I'm sorry, Ilexa, it would be distracting to have you with Tinne during the tests. He must suffer through them on his own."
Holm said, "You look a little different, Ilexa. Perhaps it's time for another visit to T'Ash for a new collar." He linked arms with his wife. "Tinne can afford it. The Green Man Fencing and Fighting Salon is doing well."
Ilexa wandered back to them and they walked toward the teleportation pad.
"You should meet our FamCats, too," Lark said.
Relief flooded Tinne, breakfast with his Family was over. Now he only had the ordeal with the Healers. Four tests.