regrets collect like old friends [aura!]

Poppy could feel the headache brewing behind her eyes, a subtle but annoying throb that warned of much worse things on the horizon. It had been a day of annoying magic, from travelling to Earth to running into Draco (she wasn't sure which of the two had been worse), and she was more than ready for a nap by the time she finally crawled through the door of the little cottage she and Zel shared. Zel had already been there, coloring a bit too innocently in her coloring book, and Poppy raised a brow at her. Zel gave her a timid little grin, the coppery brown cat ears atop her head wiggling nervously (Poppy still wasn't quite sure how those had happened, Zel had just sort of... shown up like that one day, and Poppy really hadn't had the heart to ask). Poppy groaned: that look only meant trouble.

"Are you hungry, mama? G- Someone," Poppy didn't miss the sudden change, but Zel was too busy continuing for her to question it. "got me dinner at the Castle and I brought some home for you!"

It was only then that Poppy realized her stomach was rather empty. She moved to the basket Zel indicated, pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't sopping wet (it would be just like Zel to bring her home food from the Castle but forget that she had to take it back to the surface while keeping it dry), and dug around in it, pulling out a few sandwiches, an apple, a cookie, and a juicebox. Definitely packed by her daughter, then. Returning to the table with her food, Poppy sat across from Zel and just looked at her, long and hard. Zel squirmed. She fidgeted with her ears, nibbled the end of a feather (her own, from the looks of it), and tickled Aurora's tummy. Poppy raised a brow, letting the silence linger as she took the first bite of her sandwich.

"I fell of the roof," Zel blurted after exactly ten seconds of silence.

Poppy raised both her brows now, staring at Zel in mute shock and horror. Usually she found it a bit funny the way Zel could never keep a secret (though she worried a bit about what kind of teenager she'd be, being that awful at lying), but today... She felt the headache pound in her ears. At least the cabin roof wasn't very far off the ground, and it was rather lumpy and deformed, so Zel probably had fallen off the lower edges that were just a few feet off the ground. Still dangerous, of course, but not as bad as-

"Of the Castle," she added breathlessly. Poppy's sandwich fell out of her suddenly limp grip, her mouth wide open and her eyes bulging with shock.


"BUT IT'S OKAY!" Zel said loudly, cutting off Poppy's shout. "BECAUSE... Because," she said, belatedly adjusting her tone of voice and holding her hands up towards her mother in a very placating gesture that drove Poppy up the wall. "Because I didn't fall all the way down, actually, I got rescued by this phoenix. Mama you should have seeeeen him, he was all purply and pretty and on fire-"

"I DON'T CARE ABOUT T-" Poppy began to exclaim. She didn't care about how pretty the phoenix was (and the way Zel had said on fire with such reverence already had her worried), though she was grateful that he - whomever he was - had saved her.

"AND ALSO GRANDMA WAS THERE," Zel boomed. Poppy fell silent with shock, staring at Zel again. She'd heard, of course she had, that Aura was back, but... Zel was continuing again. "She was there, on the roof, but she couldn't save me a'cuz of the Reap-"

"Eselda," Poppy said quietly, calmly. Her voice was so cool it was all but dripping icicles. Zel stared at her anxiously, the look of a tiny mouse pinned beneath the gaze of a snake. "Are you telling me that you were hanging off of the roof of the Castle, and that your... your... Aura just stood there and did nothing? Is that what you are telling me right now?"

"NO!" Zel exclaimed. Poppy went quiet, just staring. "OKAY YES! I mean, kinda. A little. She totally would have if I wasn't about to die- Where are you going?"

Poppy had slammed down her half-eaten sandwich and popped to her feet. The door blasted off its hinges as she approached it.

"M-M-Mama?" Zel asked, tentatively approaching Poppy, but her mother had already snapped her wings open and disappeared into the sky.

"Shit," Zel muttered, earning a scandalized gasp from Aurora.

Poppy wasn't really sure how she'd gotten to the Castle, the fog of anger was so heavy over her mind that she didn't even stop to really consider where she was going, or why. She just knew she was angry, more angry than she'd ever been in her whole life, and she was going to do or say something to Aura. She still hadn't quite figured that out yet. And there was a sane part of her that told her to slow down, ease up, and calm down before she tried it. I mean, way worse things had happened to her kids before, and Zel was clearly unhurt. She didn't even really seem particularly bothered by what had happened (but that was Zel for you), and she did mention Aura had gotten her fed after the ordeal.

But still, her own granddaughter was dangling off of a damn ROOF about to DIE and she didn't do ANYTHING?! Poppy had done some dumb stuff, had had some dumb stuff happen to her and her kids before, but this, this was really more than she could handle right now. Especially after the day she'd just had!

"AURA!" Poppy growled, stomping down the corridors. A few people popped their heads out, surprised either to hear Poppy or just startled by someone yelling in the hall, but she ignored them. Aura had to be around here somewhere, doing something, didn't she?


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