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The silence felt like it was going to drag on forever, and though Oli kept trying hard to pull her gaze away from Jacopo - or at least hide some the hope that she assumed was written all over her face - she couldn't seem to help it. She wasn't even sure what she was hoping for, or expecting, and she supposed she should have thought more about those things before she decided to meet with him. But roots were important to Olive, as they had been to her mother, and with so much loss and loneliness inside her, she'd begun to crave them all the more. And then she'd found out she was pregnant, and the desire for connections grew even stronger, because now she wanted them not only for herself, but for her daughter. She reached into her pocket, found a tiny scrap of fabric; it was frayed, pale yellow with an embroidered lion on it. The last remnants of the baby blanket Torram's mother had somehow sent to Shaman all those years ago... or a few months ago, depending on how one looked at it. She worried the fabric as she waited for a response, her gaze finally falling to her father's feet.

At the sound of his voice she peered up at him, hungrily devouring what he was revealing. She'd known some of it, of course, from her mother, but... hearing it from Birch and hearing it from the person in question themselves, it was quite different. And then she heard what he had to say last, and there was a lump in her throat. She couldn't seem to shake it, no matter how hard she swallowed. Just knowing that there was someone, a part of her own flesh and blood, who not only was alive but loved her... After everything, it was a lot to handle. She fought back her tears with some frustration. Now was NOT the time to be breaking down, not when she finally got a chance to talk to him.

"Mom told me about you," Oli replied. "She was always honest about it with me, and let me ask a lot of questions. I always knew... you were my father, and she... well, you know how stoic she can be," - Oli looked at him, cocking her head a bit to the side. Did he know? Was the Birch on Shaman, the Birch that had been with him, any different from the woman who had raised her in Knell these past years? - "But I knew she loved you, because of the way she spoke about you. She said you'd gone to prison for something stupid but," she glanced over her shoulder at the guard, who was doing his best to pretend he wasn't hearing all that was said. "She never said what, exactly?"

Olive hesitated for a long second, then finally blurted it out, the rest of it. All the explanations had already been on the tip of her tongue, waiting for him to ask, and when he didn't... They kept revolving there, in her head, until they finally boiled over.

"When I was three, she met a man, Theoden, and they eventually got married. I have twin half-siblings, Cypress and Alder. They know I'm yours too, always known. Mom never kept it a secret."

Olive tangled her baby blanket piece in her hand again, not daring to look up at him. "She and Theoden are both... gone now, and I don't know about Alder. M-me and Cypress found Torram, and he's been looking out for us, b-but it's... just us and the b-baby."

She swallowed hard, shifting anxiously as she rubbed her belly again. "Does... does that change... it? Do... do you n-not want to..." She fought tears, her lips trembling, and the last bit came out shaky. "know me?"

If she'd been thinking more clearly, she might have wondered why she was so convinced he wouldn't want to know her because of her mother's moving on, or her death, but in the moment... It felt like he'd feel betrayed, like Olive wasn't really his since she'd been raised by someone else, far away. Without her mother to bridge the gap between them, were there any bonds beyond blood to tie them together? Birch had always said that he was a good man - a good man who made a stupid decision that landed him in prison (she'd still seemed a bit miffed about that) - and that he'd loved them both, but... That was baby Olive, an innocent little baby, and now she was older Olive, worn out by the deaths of three people closest to her and the loss of two more - a friend who had, albeit accidentally, become the father of her child, and her own half-brother. And wouldn't he be disappointed in her, for getting pregnant at all? Sixteen was an adult in Knell, and from what she understood the age of adulthood was somewhat more flexible here in Shaman, but still, there was no denying that she was still quite young to be a mother. After her mother's death she'd assumed guardianship over Cypress and Alder too, and she'd failed at that - she had no idea where her brother even was, and these days Cy took more care of her than the other way around. She was a failure through and through, a disappointment even to the father she'd never met, and it seemed only natural that he wouldn't wish to speak with her once he figured it out. Maybe he'd take back what he said, sever that tie between them, because... because she didn't really deserve it, did she?



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