Tara

Nervous, for some reason or another, did not seem like quite the appropriate term for the emotion Reginald felt as he stood outside one of the wards located at the Cerra Manor Medical Bay. It was far closer to apprehension, or rather, the anxiety one might feel standing upon the precipice of a cliff or if one were staring into the eternity of an oceanic plunge. He took a deep breath as he waited, a teddy bear tucked beneath his arm. He had intended it for Oberyn.

He examined the bear for the dozenth time, personifying it with idle imagination. He let his mind wander, imagining if it had a preference for the kind of child that came to possess it or if all teddy bears were resigned to their fate, eager to love their children with equal ferocity. It was a white teddy bear of quality material, more humanoid in proportions. It was dressed as a miniature Holder might have been, clad in a blue tunic. The only difference from its original design was instead of the Sakakibara family crest adorning its chest, it featured the sigil of Lady Shalee Lianne.

The twin white doors slide open with the sound of an airlock, a pediatrician exiting and accompanied by a pair of medical technicians. The doctor gave a silent nod to Reginald, the unspoken signal that there were no perceivable issues. The Holder, recently elevated back to the position by Lady Shalee Lianne, entered the medical chamber, a little wary of what he would find.

The bay had been converted for a child’s usage. In addition to the standard medical gurney and monitoring equipment, the bay had taken on the persona akin to a child’s playroom: A blackboard with different colors of chalk sat on the wall opposite the gurney, a multi-colored plastic table sat in the center of the room surrounded by similarly-colored chairs and covered in crayons and drawings. a toy chest was open with dolls in various dresses strewn about before it. He looked around from item to item until his eyes fell upon the sight of a little girl, wearing a blue dress and laced with white, staring out of the window of the medical bay. She sat on a simple wooden chair, her hair not curled but instead laying in a ponytail over her right shoulder.

He cleared his throat to indicate  as he approached, “Tara?”

She didn’t stir.

He gingerly picked up one of the child chairs and placed it next to her, taking a seat upon it. Despite the difference in size between the chairs, when seated, the pair were roughly of the same height. Reginald preferred it that way–he didn’t want to look menacing or intimidating to the little girl. He sat in silence with her for several moments, allowing her to become acclimated to his presence on her own terms and in her own time. He followed her gaze out of the window, towards a passing ferry rounding a cape south of Lady Lianne’s Holding, most likely carrying tourists out on a pleasure cruise through the warm tropical waters.

“Are you a Holder?” She broke the silence, her eyes staring out towards the horizon once the ferry had left view.

He looked at her for a moment, surprised at the brevity, then nodded, “I am.”

“My father is a Holder.”

“I am aware,” Reginald responded, the image of Lord Searie’s charred flesh on the pyre built of driftwood sending a shiver down his spine.

“When he goes home, he will kill them all.”

So she didn’t know. He sat there, mulling over his next move, at that impossible crossroad between protecting the girl’s innocence and treating her like an adult. On the one hand, she had suffered the death of her complete family–adding the grief of the death of her father would only cause her additional pain. But on the other hand, the voice of cynicism wrestling with that of a gentle hand, she had seen her family killed in front of her. She had no more innocence. What more would it add to say that her father was also dead?

He took a deep breath, “He won’t be going home.”

“Is he dead?” She asked, matter-of-factly, her hazel eyes lost in the shimmering water.

Reginald nodded, “He is. I’m sorry, Tara.”

“Am I the Holder?”

Reginald raised a brow, surprised once more at the query, at the monotone, at the subject, at the concern, “In a way, yes. You will assume your position at the Searie Holding when you reach the age of majority.”

“How long is that?”

“How old are you?”

“Ten.”

“Eight years.”

She was silent for a few moments, then said, “I will kill all the Minmatar.”

He frowned at the genocidal declaration, though explaining the nuances of demographics would be lost on a normal ten year-old, let alone one that had watched Matari rebels murder her family in front of her eyes. He chewed his lip, wishing there was more he could do for her, wishing he could put her mind at ease, to move it back towards grief and away from revenge. Revenge was a fire that would consume her as it had consumed him.

“I don’t have a family anymore,” Reginald muttered quietly.

Her ears perked at his confession, she turned her head to look at him, her eyes glancing over a kindred spirit, “How did you lose them?”

“I purged my Holding of people I didn’t like. My wife left me and my son was born sometime after–I don’t even know what day. And I don’t know what he looks like.”

She looked at him for a moment, then turned her attention to the teddy bear in his hands, “Was that supposed to be for him?”

He nodded, then presented the bear to her, placing it in her hands. She looked it over with child-like interest, running her tiny fingers over the luxurious fabric and fur.

“But now he’s yours.”

“His name is Whitworth.” She said–by giving it a name, she declared her acceptance and ownership.

“All right,” Reginald cracked a smile.

This would be a long eight years.

 

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