It wasn’t entirely his fault. She was slated to be sold anyway. She would have been leaving the compound no matter what he did and, had he not been the one to do it, she would have ended up somewhere a heck of a lot worse. But he wasn’t foolish enough to think that his interpretation that he was actually doing her a favor would pass off to her. Blame, though, wasn’t what this was about.
“They were my only family,” she provided at last, her voice low. “I’ve never been without them. Especially not…today…Not on Concordia.”
Fiearius watched her for a moment, unsure of what to say. He had yet to figure out how to reconcile the kinds of pains his poor adopted woman had lurking in her bones. He’d never been very good at that anyway, even with problems and situations he could entirely understand. He certainly couldn’t manage it with hers. He was lost for words. But someone else wasn’t.
“It’s my first Concordia without my family too.” Both Fiearius and the girl turned to the doorway where Cyrus stood, looking somber. He paused a beat before stepping further into the room towards them. “I’ve never not spent Concordia morning watching that stupid parade with my mum. Until now. And I miss her. And dad. And all the relatives. Crazy as they are. I miss the house. I miss the decorations. I miss sitting on the porch to watch the candle lighting. I miss that ugly tree dad planted in the front yard because his sister gave it to him as a gift one year. I miss all of it.”
Cyrus stopped by the table and looked down at the girl sitting there. “So I understand. What it’s like to be someplace totally new and away from home. With people you don’t really know.” His eyes flashed quickly and indicatively over to his brother. “It sucks. But..you know, we’re all in the same boat. And isn’t that what Concordia’s about anyway?”
“Being stuck on a spaceship?” Fiearius suggested.
“Sort of,” Cyrus admitted with a shrug. “I mean, they were all stuck on the Ark together, right? Didn’t really know much about each other. But they overcame. They learned to get along despite their differences and they made it work. Made new traditions for the new circumstances.”
“That’s….not really what it’s about,” the girl remarked thoughtfully.
“Well it’s close enough,” Fiearius supplied.
“No…she’s right,” Cyrus admitted with a sheepish smile. “That’s not really what it’s about at all actually.”
“Fine.” Fiearius rolled his eyes impatiently. “Then let’s just pretend, alright? Cuz we could all learn a bit outta that. The ‘working together’ thing is clear, we got that. After this many years, yes, I know. I get it. Work together. What we need now is something more like what you said.” He gestured to Cyrus and then looked back and forth between the two of them.
“These are new circumstances. For all of us. And they’re not ideal. I know we’d all rather be somewhere else right now, but we’re not and there’s nothing for it. So I suggest we make the best of what we’ve got.”
“Celebrate anyway,” Cyrus offered.
“Celebrate anyway,” Fiearius agreed. “We may not be ‘our family’ but we can be ‘a family’ of some sort. Okay, maybe not a family in the strictest sense. But…a tribe perhaps. Or. Something like that. What better way of forming something than being stuck on a spaceship together?”
“We can start new traditions,” Cyrus suggested. “Like…reading a passage from a book before dinner?”
“That’s a stupid tradition,” Fiearius told him shortly. “We should…eat without silverware.”
“You’re disgusting,” his little brother groaned.
“No I’m not, it’s natural,” Fiearius argued.
“It’s not natural, it’s–”
“We should tell stories,” the girl put in suddenly. Both brothers stopped their argument to look down at her. Suddenly embarrassed, she turned red and looked away. “I mean…it’s something we did back home. Telling stories after the feast. But instead of myths and legends and stuff they should be…about us?” When neither Fiearius or Cyrus answered immediately, but instead fell into a quiet ponderous silence, she hurried on in explanation. “I mean, the spirit of Concordia is to unite, to work together. It is, well…like you said…becoming a family. And if we’re gonna ever even have a chance to do that…we should probably know each other better.” She looked back up at them cautiously. “Right?”
Fiearius watched her for another long moment before meeting eyes with Cyrus who was staring back at him with the same thoughtful frown he wore on his own face. Probably thinking the same thing. His brother. His actual family. And yet, he knew so very little about him. Over ten years had passed since they’d even spoken and in those ten years, Cyrus was little more than a mystery to him. And likely vice versa.
The past six months had been rocky to say the least, trying to get things back in order. Trying to get to know each other again after all that time apart. Fiearius had been blaming Cyrus for being resiliently uninterested in the effort, but he was likely just as much to blame. He kept expecting his little brother to lay out his life’s story, but never offered the same courtesy in return. Maybe they were both at fault.
The same could be said for the girl. He’d thought being nice would be enough to win her over. That friendliness would make her feel more at home in this strange ship away from home. But maybe that was a misconception as well. She didn’t know him, why should he get to know her?
Well, it just wouldn’t work. If they really were going to be stuck on this ship for the foreseeable future, as, honestly, Fiearius believed, then it was perhaps about time to change that. Maybe this strange quiet girl’s advice was actually exactly what they all needed.
“Right,” he said at last. “Telling stories. I like it.” He smiled down at the girl and cocked a brow at her. “You know, I don’t think I ever caught your name.”
“Corra,” she answered in her usual mutter, though at least she was looking at him for once instead of hiding her face.
“Well then. Good idea, princess,” he congratulated her and ignoring her perplexed frown, he turned back towards the oven and turned it up. “Now both of you get off your asses and give me a hand with this. It’s fucking Concordia. Let’s fucking work together. You know. To be festive.”
Behind him Cyrus let out a groan and rolled his eyes. Corra looked up at him curiously and then smiled. Reluctantly, they did as they were told and for the first time, the Dionysian crew, small as it was, worked together to accomplish something. Now if they weren’t the gods-damned spirit of the holiday, Fiearius thought as he mutilated potatoes, what the hell was?
Corra’s suggestion ended up being a great one. By the end of the night, with the help of a hearty meal and a helping of drink, Fiearius almost believed that he really was back on Satieri again, talking with friends rather than his estranged sibling and an ally girl he’d adopted. And it was a tradition that kept on. Every year following, the Dionysian crew would gather on Concordia, eat, drink and swap tales of lives gone by. There was nothing, Fiearius realized that night, that would ever quite soothe the home-shaped hole that was in their hearts. There would always be an emptiness of longing for days past. But if there was a cure? If there was such a thing to overcome the loss, it would be this.
‘Working together’ was great and all. A good moral. But the true value of Concordia on the Dionysian was something else entirely. Good times with good people. And as much as Fiearius often longed for Satieri, he’d not trade his unorthodox little family for the entire span.