Wordcount: 440 words
Summary: Please note, this is currently a very rough draft. There will be spelling and grammatical errors afoot as well as flat out bad writing, info dumps, plot holes, flat out contradictions, and uneven characterization and pacing. (Content is also subject to constant change as I take an editing chainsaw to the story.)
Try, Try Again
Baron came out from the wagon the next morning and no one said anything. Dog and Winter were bouncing about, ready to run back into the crowds and find their riders. Softpaw and Swift were still happily lost in the haze of newly bonded pairs. Everyone was ignoring Baron, but no one meant to.
“Ready to try again?” Storm looked down at Baron.
“No.” Baron glared at the fire and refused to look up. “He’s not here.”
“Dog and Winter are still looking.” Storm pointed out mildly. “There are a lot of people here.”
The only one Baron had even considered had already turned him down. She had not even turned him down nicely, it was nothing but a haze of embarrassing memories and stiff muscles protesting not only the fight but the sleep in the rough wooden wagon.
“Hatching should be this afternoon,” Storm noted, “If Winter and Dog find their riders, we’ll be heading back tomorrow morning.”
Baron laid back his ears and muttered.
“If you change your mind, you can, otherwise we’ll see you at the hatching.” Storm sighed and then walked out after Dog and Winter who were already running down the hill towards the faire.
Flame was watching over the newly bonded pairs and after a while came over to Baron.
“So I’ll tell Minder you did not try, shall I?” He looked down at Baron who was poking at the fire with a stick. “I am sure he will not mind.”
“I did try.” Baron objected.
“No you did not.” Flame sniffed. “You went looking for a pipe dream and when you could not find it you tried to ruin someone else’s life.”
“I did not!” Baron snapped. “She could have–”
“Stop.” Flame snapped. “Stop and tell me that honestly you could have given her a better life. Completely positive, not maybe, not possibly, but a future tree that would have been better than what she had. Look at me and tell me that is true.”
Baron paused, beak opening and closing, then shut it with a snap. “No.” He glared up at Flame, still defiant. “No, but she was the best I found.”
“Then keep looking.” Flame said. “Go out there, keep looking, and bring me back someone that is worthy of you.”
Baron looked over at the other pairs, then out at the faire. “And what if I am not worthy of them? then what?”
“Then you come home and we go looking again.” Flame said, with a certainly that ate through Baron’s defenses. “There is someone out there, you will find them, but only if you look.”
So he did.