Meara shivered and wrapped her cloak more firmly around herself, trying to ward off the chills that came when they entered the snowy region. The previous week had seen her lapse to her cold and coughs, and she did not want it to get any worse.
"Want to go inside? It might warm you up." Onyx called as he walked towards her.
She gave him a weak smile. "It's colder in there..."
"Is it?" Onyx said, scratching his head. "I guess it is..". He stopped once he was beside her. He studied her face. "Is something bothering you?"
Meara blinked a little, trying to ward off the chills that threatened to overpower her slight form. "Just the cold... I hope I will adjust soon..."
"You'll be fine. Just don't think about it too much," Onyx advised.
She nodded, then the captain shouted out some orders, as the crew warned them to brace themselves when the ship would stop. Onyx held her steady as the ship seemed to sway beneath her feet, coming to a stop. Crew members then began to throw ropes over the sides of the ship to secure it to the dock.
They alighted from the ship, the air mercifully still as their belongings were brought out, Yurane among them. Meara shyly looked at Onyx, saying, "It's rude to let you walk all the way... especially since I don't know where it is yet... only the name..."
Onyx let out a chuckle. "The let's stretch Yurane's legs and go to the place you needed to see,"
She nodded, turning to the headmaster for permission. Elyzaar seemed to know her unvoiced question and nodded. "Go on, and return safely."
Meara returned the nod gratefully, letting Onyx mount Yurane first, then took his hand as he helped her to the saddle. He adjusted the cloak on her shoulders more firmly around her, and then they were off.
It did not take long for them to find out where the graves were, called the Hill of Lione. Onyx thanked the man that gave them the directions, pulling on Yurane's reins.
Her eyes caught a flower stall, and she place her hand on Onyx's wrist. "Wait..."
He turned around to face her, at the same time giving the reins a tighter grip to signal Yurane to pause.
"What is it?"
"We forgot the flowers..."
The solemn and quiet atmosphere was gone. Onyx was trying to hold back a chuckle but he couldn't help it. He laughed softly and directed Yurane to go back to the flower stall they just passed by.
Meara smiled at his chuckle, even as she reached into her coin bag to pay two silver coins to the flower lady. She was soon handed two beautiful bouquets of white lilies, and after thanking the woman profusely, Onyx helped her up the saddle again.
They reached the Hill of Lione, the wind picking up speed and becoming chilled. She shivered uncontrollably under her cloak, unsteadily dismounting Yurane.
"Let's go.." Onyx encouraged her.
Meara nodded, trying to keep herself steady against the bitingly cold winds. Onyx released her hand as she began her approach. The two graves of her parents stood amongst the other snow-covered ones, the names carved onto the stone reading large and clear to her eyes. A lump came into her throat, sobs threatened to burst out along with her coughs. She struggled to put one foot ahead of the other, her slender feet sinking in the snow.
Her skirts became cold and wet, and her cloak flew wildly behind her. The winds whipped her hair against her face, stinging the cold-bitten cheeks. Her tears began to flow, freezing solid on her skin, painfully cold. But she didn't pay attention, she was far too busy trying to get to the grave markers.
"You are the pretty little lady, aren't you, Meara?"
"This is a doll for you, my sweet child."
I'm coming for you...
The sobs that were caught in her throat burst in a strangled cry, and she began running as best she could through the snow, the flowers in her arms. She didn't feel the cold anymore, didn't hear the cries coming from her mouth. Meara stepped into a deep pile of snow and tripped, still she continued to press ahead, practically crawling.
She finally reached the markers, laying the flowers on the snow before falling face first, sobbing out all her long pent-up emotions at her loss. She continued to cry, not realizing Onyx had stepped closer to her and the markers, gathering her in his arms. She suddenly felt the cold, and trembled violently as she felt the warmth of his embrace. Meara continued to cry into his shirt, one small hand gripping the fabric tightly before she felt him dislodge her hand from the fabric, only to cover her fingers with his own.
When her sobs ceased, her head rose from his shirt, nodding at him reassuringly as he brushed at her tears with his fingers. She faced the grave markers again, thinking, pondering, before she reached up to release the strands of her hair from the confines of her mother's white ribbon. She tied it around both bouquets, whispering as she did so.
"You wanted to wear this for Papa, right...? Here's your ribbon back..."
When she finished, Onyx helped her up, again wrapping the cloak around her. As he led her back to Yurane, she swallowed, gazed at the grave markers again, and whispered, "Farewell..."
Then they mounted Yurane, and they were gone.