Babysitter's Club - 01/19/21


It was a bright and early morning once more in the Lavender Beds. Roselle's favorite time of day to be honest, when plants and animals and people all began to stir and seize what they could of the day. A great time to get things done.   Once her mother had received confirmation of Vinalo's upcoming visit and told her daughter as such, Meia went into a frenzy of bubbly excitement and set about trying to tidy the house all by herself. She didn't get too far before running out of breath and dropping to the floor out of exhaustion. Roselle picked her up and wrapped her in a soft blanket, taking her outside to enjoy the morning and be the first to spot Vinalo when they came.   “I know you're excited, but just take it easy. They'll be coming soon and you don't want to end up in bed all day during their visit, do you?”   “Noo….”   Roselle placed what looked to be a small walking stick beside the girl and walked back inside to finish getting ready. A warm, sugary smell wafted from the small house- fresh, delicious baked goods had been prepared for healer it seemed in return for this favor.


Vinalo stepped out the doors of the Lily Hills apartment building like they'd done nearly every morning, though this time it was perhaps a little earlier. The red-haired Lalafell wasn't one for sleeping in, but they usually took a more leisurely pace with their mornings. Savor breakfast. No rushing the morning tea. But today was a little different. Though they were in the midst of planning a particular upcoming event with Misha, Vinalo couldn't turn down helping out their newest patient. They did promise that they'd come back, after all. Babysitting wasn't what they had in mind, however, but they weren't going to let that stop them.

“Just a few houses from here, I think,” they said to themself as they retraced the steps they'd taken that morning before. “Reckon I won't have a stuffed bear thrown at my head this time. Probably.”

The smell of something warm and sweet reached their nose before they had even made it to the last stretch of road leading to Roselle and Meia's house. Once they made the final turn to the small cottage, Vinalo's suspicions on the source were confirmed. Wearing a smile on their face, they gave a friendly wave upon seeing their young patient out front.

“Meia! Good morning!”


Meia had been looking around anxiously, hugging the previously-thrown teddy bear to her chest. Her face lit up when she spotted Vinalo at last however, springing to her feet-or well, making a solid attempt in spite of the bundled up blankets and her own general weakness. With a stubborn little huff, the girl reaches for the stick beside her to lean against proper and rose to her feet as the healer made their way closer.

“Vinalo!” The little girl giggles and waves excitedly before calling back to her mother,

“Vinalo's heeeere!!!”

“Yes, I heard you the first time, Meia.”

Roselle soon appears in the doorway, wearing a yellow sundress, a pretty straw hat perched on her head. She looks to the healer and gives them a polite bow.

“Thank you so much for doing this. She's been asking after you as if you were her own personal Starlight gift.”


Vinalo continued smiling as they walked up to the cottage, but their heart sank a little upon seeing Meia struggle to her feet. 'We'll get you all healed up, Meia.' Thoughts of the treatment came to mind, but today won't be that day. Just watching over her, and helping how they can. They gave another little wave as Roselle came out the door.

“Ah. It's no problem at all! Promised I'd come back whenever Meia needed,” they said, looking over to the young girl with a grin. “Right?”


Meia was almost too busy blushing from her mother's remark, puffing out her cheeks before shaking her head.

“Nuh uuuh!” Her bright green eyes went on to blink over at Vinalo and with all the maturity a girl her age could muster, she replied to the lalafell in calm even tones that were brimming with happiness, “Right. You are needed Vinalo!”

Roselle laughed and made a little shooing motion with her hand towards the door, to which the girl carefully maneuvered her way inside with stick in one hand and teddy in the other.

Roselle's happy expression faded just the slightest bit as the girl disappeared, kneeling down before the lalafell to confide with them gently.

“Her condition has gradually gotten worse. She has a hard time making it to the window these days and the mark on her leg has grown considerably since last you saw it. She acts like nothing has changed but I can tell…”

The midlander sighs and musters up a smile again as she rises up. “I've baked plenty of treats to keep you two occupied if you get hungry and there's also some tea brewing in the kettle. I shouldn't be away too long.”


“I… was worried about that.” Vinalo sighed. “Like I said before, I've some ideas on what's happening, but I can't be sure. Regardless, I will cure her, Roselle. I promise.”

The Lalafell mustered up a smile as Roselle stood back up, not wanting to start off the day with Meia on such a terrible note.

“But, that's not today. Meia and I'll have a great time while you're gone. And, well… I also promise the treats'll not go to waste!”


Something about Vinalo's promise briefly broke the mother of one, covering her eyes with the back of her hand, though it was easy to note the glistening forming.

“I..I hope so Vinalo. I don't think I could lose another..”

She coughs gently and manages a soft somber smile once more.

“A-alright, you have a good time! Don't let Meia get into too much trouble.”

She bows to the lalafell once more and leaves them to guardian duty proper.


As Roselle headed off to take care the errands, Vinalo watched her with widened eyes. They silently mouthed “another” and felt their heart sink again. Someone else. Another child? …A spouse? They shook their head and refocused. Not today.

“Just have to try even harder, then,” they said quietly to themself as they walked to the front door. “Well, here I go.”

Vinalo stepped into the front room and closed the door behind them, ready to help Meia make it through the day best they could.


As Vinalo opened the front door to its fullest and took a step in, they'd be greeted with the welcoming waft of freshly baked EVERYTHING. The table, where Vinalo had previously shared a bite of bread with Roselle was absolutely covered in plates of various sweets. There were cherry fruit tarts, sugar cookies, bread with vanilla icing dribbling over the top, and more. Care had also been taken to supply a step stool at the table and in the kitchen for the lalafell to get where they needed to go.

Meia, thankfully, wasn't the sort of child to start making a mess of things the moment her mother was away even were she healthy to the fullest. She welcomed Vinalo in with the most vibrant of smiles, shaking her plushie at them playfully.

“Are you hungry? Mama made too much I think…”



Vinalo's eyes went wide for an entirely different reason upon seeing the table loaded with baked goods. Their assurance to Roselle that no treat would go to waste had come back to haunt them in record time. If they'd known this would be waiting for them, they might've skipped breakfast entirely.

“Meia… there's so much here! Tarts and pastries and cookies and….” they said, trailing off. Vinalo not-to-subtly wiped at their face to make sure they weren't drooling. “I don't think we've enough room in our stomachs to eat even a third of this!”


The little girl giggles and scoots herself over to one of the chairs, pulling it out just enough for her to slip onto the seat unhindered.

“Yeah Mom loves to bake things but we have leftovers all the time since there's only two of us.” She leans forward and takes a cherry tart for herself, placing it on a small plate. Still wrapped up in her blanket, Meia places her bear beside her plate and looks to Vinalo.

“And if you want tea, it's in the kitchen! I'm not supposed to touch hot things.”


“Seems like your mum knows me well, Meia. I've had my breakfast tea already, but I'll not say no to more!” Vinalo says with a grin as they make their way to the kitchen. They noticed the stools stationed around and smirk. “Would you like some, too? Could share both some tea and treats!”


“Ooh, yes please!” The girl is nearly bouncing around in her seat. “This is like a real tea party!”

The kitchen space was small but cozy, and tidy as well, several used pans for the baked treats already washed and air drying. The kettle itself was just above a step stool for the lalafell, with cups and spoons and sugar already set out. The aroma of the tea seemed citrusy, perhaps a blend from La Noscean Oranges.

Meia turns around in her chair a bit and asks Vinalo, “Can Teddy have a cup of tea too?”


Vinalo grinned a wide grin seeing Meia so excited, then turning to deal with the very important task of pouring out tea for everyone. They stepped up on the very helpfully placed stool and took in the aroma of the brewed tea. They couldn't help but immediately try to work out the exact blend that went into this batch. A mere moment of hesitation. The Lalafell then went to work pouring out three cups of tea, making sure that each cup had precisely the same amount.

“I'll have to thank your mum when she gets back for leaving this step stool out. Wouldn't have done any good if you had to reach things for me,” Vinalo said, managing to grip all three cups very carefully. They made their way to the table and placed two of the cups in front of Meia (and Teddy), holding onto the last for themself. “There. Right proper tea for everyone!”

They hopped up on their own chair, and began to appraise the mountain of treats in front of them.

“So. How've you been, Meia?” they asked while grabbing a tart for themself.


Meia applauds Vinalo's careful teacup setting, sliding one of the cups closer to her teddy before taking a big bite of her tart, wriggling with happiness at the taste of it. She perks up at the question though, and holds the bitten treat away from her, staring at the fruit-covered top.

“…I've been gooood. Throwing things at people got boring so I've just been playing with Teddy.” She looked indignant suddenly. “A bunch of rude people keep coming here all the time though and upsetting mommy.”


“Wude peoble?” they asked, caught off guard enough that they failed to finish chewing their tart before responding. A few seconds of masticating pass. “…What kind of rude people? What'd they do?”


Meia pauses in her story, covering her mouth to stifle the flurry of giggles at Vinalo.

“Don't talk with your mouth full! Manners!” The girl chastises playfully. She kicks her feet against the chair, but winces not long after, biting her lip before she continues.

“There's this mean old man with a buncha other healers. He keeps saying we're cursed and comes all the time telling mommy things that make her cry…”


Vinalo thought better of taking another bite, and simply took a sip of the citrus tea while Meia explained the unwelcome visitors. Their brow lowered and the previous smile had all but faded. A rare sense of anger started to bubble at hearing this, but they didn't want to upset Meia.

“Well… they don't know what they're talking about. All I see here're a girl and her mum minding their own business,” they said, tone softening. “Hardly be called healers if they're saying terrible things like that. Don't listen to whatever rude somesuch they're saying.”


“You're good Vinalo. Really good! I wish we got more people like you to come n' visit. They never did anyway till I got sick, and then..”

The girl stared down at her tea quietly before reaching out to take a careful (and polite) sip.

“Feels like I'm just something weird to look at.. sometimes they don't even talk to me.”


“Then I know they're not very good at being healers. Everyone a healer, erm… heals is a person who needs help. Right important to remember!” Vinalo said confidently, gesturing while holding their tart. “You're my patient, but mostly you're my newest friend that I'm sitting here and eating treats with. And those rude folk'll not keep me from being here.”

As if to emphasize the point, the healer takes a big chomp of the tart, looking quite pleased with doing so. They finished the bite and tapped their chin for a moment in thought.

“So Meia, besides filling ourselves with delicious treats…” Vinalo said with a little chuckle. “What'd you like to do today?”


Meia took another sip of her drink, a more hearty one this time, eyes closed. The cup in her face didn't quite hide the radiant smile upon being considered their friend however. Setting it down soon after, the girl began to nibble idly at her own tart.

“When you were here last, you said you took care of plants? Healed them up and things and made them happy again?”


Vinalo had already some sweet bread from the mountain of treats, placing it on their plate. They were trying to be mindful of how much they ate, but this sort of display made it hard. They gave Meia a friendly, affirmative nod to question.

“Mhm! For the last six or so moons, I've taken care of people's plants for them when they're not doing well. Sometimes they've just not been watered enough, or the soil's not right for them. So, I take them and do what I can to help!”


Meia finished off her tart with a mighty gulp, her eyes darting over to the piece of bread that Vinali had plucked from the loaf.

“Ooh, you're gonna love that one. The swirls are cinnamon!” She probably meant the lovely brown swirl on the inside of the bread, near glistening as much as the frosting atop it.

She'd let the lalafell get a few bites in before continuing.

“You've probably seen all the sad plants round here..think we can help some of them?” Indeed, just a glance around the small home would reveal a number of pots and vases bedecked in lilies, violas, and old roses. Most were simply withered from neglect and lack of watering, while others were beyond hope.

It seemed that the neglect regardless hadn't been an intentional thing. Rather, there were more important things to keep alive, leaving the houseplants abandoned in exchange.


The Lalafell did, in fact, enjoy the cinnamon swirl bread, satisfied expression on their face obvious. They looked around the room while still partaking of it. Just as Meia described, the house was loaded with plants in various sad states. 'Looks like if I'd stopped watering mine for a moon or two.' Vinalo washed down the chomp of bread with another drink of tea. They hummed thoughtfully, as if they were thinking carefully about each plant they saw.

“Right good collection you and your mum have here. Looks like some're too far gone, but I'm sure we can heal up plenty of them!” the botanist said, enthusiasm creeping into their tone. They turned back to Meia with a grin on their face. “If you think you're up to it.”


Meia laughed at their challenge and already began to scramble out of her seat. “Of course!” She replies, shuffling out of the blanket that inhibited her movement and leaving it on the chair. Dressed in comfortable shorts this time around, Vinalo wouldn't be able to avoid noticing that the girl's infected leg had gotten a lot worse.

What had looked like a blackened corona-shaped bruise at Meia's heel before had spread to the back of her leg, stopping just short of her knee cap. One could almost sense that the wound was throbbing, but perhaps that was a trick of the mind.

Meia grabbed at her walking stick and turned to look sternly at her teddy still on the table.

“Finish your tea first Teddy, then you can come help us!” She shook her finger at it before hobbling over to one of the closer potted plants, a small gathering of orange-colored oldroses. She seemed to flinch a little at each step, but didn't complain nor cry.

“Do you think we can save these ones? Orange is Mommy and Yew's favorite color.”


Roselle said that Meia's leg had gotten worse, but Vinalo was really hoping it'd not progressed this much. She was clearly in pain. The tingle at the back of their mind was there again, and they were fighting the urge to completely change today's plans and insist on attempting a treatment as soon as Roselle returned. But the healer knew the fear Meia had right now. The way she recoiled at the mere idea of aetherically checking the wound. And tranquilizing… Only if there was no other way. Never before.

Vinalo shook their head and quietly sighed as Meia had her back to them. They hopped down to join her at the pot, taking a good look at the sorry state of the flowers.

“We'll have to check a few things before we'll know. Water level. Soil. How much sun they've been getting…” they started listing off. Vinalo then blinked a few times, turning to face Meia. “…Yew? Who's that?”


Meia counted on her fingers as Vinalo listed off what they needed to know first.

The flowers themselves were in what looked to be a weathered claypot, with a saucer at the bottom for water drainage. A painting of a small fishing boat tied to a dock had been painted on one side of the pot, expanding outwards into an ocean that faded over a setting horizon. It was a beautiful oceanscape painting, but with age, cracks had begun to riddle and form throughout the scene, adding to the weathered look.

“Oh, Yew? He's-” Meia stopped herself briefly, staring at the old cracked pot and biting at her lip.

“…Was my older brother.”



Vinalo looked up to the girl with sympathetic eyes, this revelation answering the question that Roselle's comment had seeded in their mind just a bit ago. Some manner of tragedy had already struck this household, and another was already brewing. Their curiosity was piqued, but… not right now. They tried their best to muster up a smile and nodded to Meia.

“…Then we'll just have to do our best, okay? We'll brighten up these flowers, make them stand tall and strong again.”


Meia smiled faintly, seeming to note the look Vinalo was giving her. “It's okay, really!”

She reached out and took one of the flower petals in between her small fingers, holding it gently. “I think you would have liked him. He loved plants and flowers and a lot of these are from him!” Releasing the petal, the girl bent down a bit to be on level with her friend proper. Her knees were a bit shaky from the exertion, but she was stubborn.

“Plant nurse reporting in! How can we save these roses?”

Most of what Vinalo needed could probably be ascertained just by observation. The oldroses for example had been placed on a small table stand that offered the flowers sunlight through one of the cottage windows- but only for so long as the sun shone on that particular side of the house. The soil was very dry to the touch and clumped together very easily. Most damning however was the simple fact that roses themselves looked withered, as if they'd not had a proper drink for a couple moons. Dead petals coated the top of the soil, but perhaps not all was lost, for there were a couple fresh sprouts intermixed with the old, a stubborn plant still trying to survive.


The Lalafell winced ever-so-slightly as Meia got down to their level, but maintained the smile. 'Another stubborn one,' they thought, crossing their arms. They nodded and glanced back to the ailing flowers.

“Well, first step to treating any patient is to get a proper look at the problem! Let's take a look…” Vinalo said with renewed enthusiasm. Vinalo directed her attention to the various problems present. “Here. The plant as a whole is too dry. Needs much more water. And look at the faded green in the stalk here. Means its not getting enough sunlight. We should move it to another window if we can.”

Before continuing, Vinalo stuck a finger into the soil, feeling around a bit. They hummed quietly. Perhaps unexpectedly, they pulled back their hand and tasted the soil. After a moment of this, they looked back to Meia.

“Mhm. Too dry. And… it's been long enough that the nutrients and such've faded,” they said . A smile and nod. “We can fix all this, Meia. Just take a little work. And next time I'll bring some of my own potting soil so we can give the flowers an even better place to grow.”


Meia listened, her eyes wide as she processed Vinalo's words, already looking out for another possible window to place the pot on.

She raised herself back up slowly and shuffled over to the back area of the house which became a short hallway with two doors across from each other. At the very end of the hallway was another small table readily bathed in the sunlight streaming from the window next to it. The little girl turns back to the lalafell.

“Will this one- ewww!” Meia's face scrunches up at the dirt eating Vinalo. The lil girl cringes for a moment longer, then start giggling madly.

“Is- is that how you know if the dirt is tasty for the flowers?”


Vinalo turned and walked over to Meia, chuckling a bit at her question.

“Something like that. Plants get their food from the soil, so if you know what you're looking for, you can learn how to taste some of it to see how… good it is,” they explained. A pause. “Unless it's a flytrap or such. They eat insects or small vilekin. Still need proper sun and water, though!”

The Lalafell looked over the table, shifting from foot to foot, trying to imagine how much sun it'd probably get during the day.

“This'll do better than where it's been, mhm! Along with more water, and some better soil, I'm sure we can get these flowers right healthy again.”


Upon the table were various loose sheets of paper, scrawled in Meia's signature artistic style of various plants and animals and people. There were even some locations roughly drawn. Before her ailment, Meia had been quite the little explorer- One could see Bentbranch Meadows and a flock of colorful chocobo inside their paddocks, cute little names listed under each bird like “Stormy”, “Bigbeak”, “Cutie”. There was a picture of the waterfall that lead out to the Lifemend Stump, happy little ladybugs and funguars sliding down the waterfall like it was a slide. There was even a leaflet of The Guardian Tree, with a gigantic slug-looking creature hugging its trunk.

Meia took the stack of papers from the table to clear it off, hugging them to her chest and smiling brightly. “Yay! Okay, we got its new home all settled for moving! Let me just put these away real quick!” Real quick was more like a very careful slog out of the hall and to her room, but bless her, the girl was trying.


Drawings. Drawings from the heart. Vinalo smiled as Meia collected them into a pile. It hurt a little to see Meia's strained walking, but her sheer determination was admirable.

“See you've been around the Shroud a lot, Meia. And to some of my favorite places!” they said, tilting their head at the drawings she'd gathered them up. “The Guardian Tree is right special, you know. To the forest, and the conjurers, and… me. It's where I do most of my meditation.”


Meia stopped and turned to Vinalo, her eyes wide at the mention of the Guardian Tree. She was beaming. “We go there all the time to thank the tree and elementals for their blessings. One time there was a big ol slug there but a bunch of adders were like 'No! Bad slug!' And kept tapping it with sticks. I guess it was sad and left.”

After this compelling story, the girl turned around again and opened the door to her room, no doubt trying to find a place to put all of her pictures. Unseen in the other room, Vinalo could still hear her humming pleasantly.


“Ah. Right. That'd be Lou Carcolh. Seems to be, erm… attracted to the Tree. I've not had to deal with him myself, but I've seen him around.”

Vinalo stood outside the bedroom, not wanting to intrude on Meia's privacy.


The humming suddenly stopped, replaced with a series of harsh coughs


Vinalo was already thinking of the next steps to help Meia with the ailing flowers when her sudden coughing brought them back to the present. They quickly spun around and took a step into the girl's bedroom, concern obvious on their face.

“Meia! Are you okay? Do you need help?”


Meia had doubled over, struggling to keep herself upright with the handle of her walking stick held in a tightened grip. She'd dropped the short stack of art papers at her side and couldn't seem to stop coughing, tears forming at the sheer sensation of what felt like her throat collapsing in on itself.

At Vinalo's words, the girl shook her head stubbornly, trying to flash them a smile over her shoulder, but it was clear she was in pain, struggling to even mouth out “I'm okay.”


“No. No you're not. Meia… please!” the healer said, shaking their head. Vinalo quickly rushed to her side, kneeling down next to her free arm. They positioned themself that Meia could use them as support. They tried to sound assuring, but their increased worry was undeniable. “Here. I know I'm a bit small for this, but please, let me help you to the bed. We'll… we'll work on the flowers after you rest, okay?”


Tears were streaming down Meia's face but she was trying to seem strong, stifling her sobs as Vinalo came close and she loosened her death grip on the cane just enough to lean against the lalafell with some effort.

“I..I didn't w..want this to happen..not today!”

She clearly wants to say more, but the chain of coughs starts up again soon after, and she reluctantly begins to move towards the bed.


“…I know you didn't, Meia. It's not your fault.”

Vinalo shoulders the young girl's weight, as awkward as it is with the height difference. Regardless, they do their best to get her to her bed smoothly as possible. A faint, tinny sound rings at the back of their head, but they ignore it for the moment.

“You need to rest, but I'll stay here with you as long as you want, okay?”


Meia's face goes through a number of emotions during their short journey to the side of the bed, to which she scrambles onto without much prompting, as if she's been through this very moment dozens of times before.

“I'm so sorry! I ruin everything!” Her voice is hoarse but somehow the hurt in her voice is not only clear but almost tangible in grief.


Vinalo started shaking their head before Meia had even finished speaking.They try again to take on a reassuring tone.

“No, Meia. You didn't ruin anything! I came over to spend time with you while your mum's away, and that's what I'll keep doing,” they said, standing right next to the bed. “Even if plans change a bit for today, it's fine. We'll have plenty of time after you're healed right up. You… you can show me all your favorite spots in the Shroud then, too!”


Meia still looks utterly deflated, drawing her knees up to her chest and shaking her head. At the very least her coughing fit has stopped, but the girl's voice was faint as a result.

“I…I just want it to be over. Maybe it'd be better if I..”

She didn't complete her sentence, wiping at her eyes.


Eyes widened. A weight on their chest. No. No. No! Vinalo fought the urge to scramble onto the bed to comfort her, not wanting to startle her on top of all this. Instead, they were gripping the side of the bed quite firmly.

“Meia, no! Don't… don't say that! Don't ever say that!” the healer urged. They tried not to raise their voice too much, but it was hard. “It'd not be better at all! You've your mum here, and all these plants, and a bunch of places left to explore. And… and I haven't showed you my plants yet, remember?”

A second to think. A second to ponder. The Lalafell slowly extended a hand out to the distraught girl and nodded slowly.

“Please, Meia. You can't lose hope.”


Meia just shakes her head sadly. “It's so hard Vinalo. What life is this?” Surprisingly introspective for the girl of only a few years, she carefully rolls over onto her side to face the lalafell.

“Will I even get to grow up? It's selfish, gotta think of mommy. Don't want to leave her alone. I want to see the Shroud and the plants and flowers. I want to see the sea. Yew always told me stories about it, how big and blue it was, like a different world!” Her eyes glittered.

“Everything hurts. Living hurts.” She stares out at the extended hand, wincing and holding her hand out to them regardless of her thoughts. “I'm scared.”


Vinalo gripped Meia's hand gently, but firmly. The sound in their head was even louder now, but they continue to set it aside. They looked into the girl's fearful and tearful eyes, trying to find the right words.

“…I know, Meia. I know,” they said, lowering their head a bit. “And it's okay if you're scared. It's all scary, this is.”

The healer raised their head back up to look again into Meia's eyes. Their own eyes might've been a tiny bit misty, and they were trying to muster up something resembling a small smile.

“But, I promised, remember? I am going to find out what's wrong, and I am going to heal you, Meia. You're not going to die. Not now.”


Meia stared into Vinalo's face, almost as if she were searching for something, anything that would prove their promise to be an empty one. After a moment, the girl huffed softly and looked away.

“Okay…I believe in you.”

“I want to keep being plant nurse to the plant doctor if you'll let me..” It was clear that an oppressive weight had been lifted from the room, and though Meia wasn't exactly smiling, her bout of despair had alleviated itself.


“Of course, Meia! That's not changed at all. We'll just take it slow and such,” they said, clearly relieved at the girl's change in demeanor. “We can bring things in here to work on them, and… try not to get any dirt on the floor.”

Vinalo stepped back, smiling a bit more warmly now. They looked over to where Meia had first fell, noticing again the stack of drawings. As they went to go pick them up, they kept talking.

“These're special drawings, Meia. I'd love to hear more about your favorite spots in the Shroud.”


Just the smallest little inkling of a smile reappeared on Meia's face as they asked her about her favorite spots, and she'd sit up in bed, stretching her hand out to take the stack from Vinalo proper.

Staring at each drawing she'd done, Meia begins to tell her lalafell friend all about her adventures. There was no true danger in these tales, but the excitement could be heard in her voice when she encountered her first ladybug and attempted to train it to sit. Or when she found a strange head of cabbage atop a tree stump and thought it was a sylph. She spoke of her brother, who had gone to La Noscea for a change of pace and to be a painter. How he'd always come back to visit with a new flower or a new fruit or tea to try. Her throat, still sore from her sickness, still found a way to bare these words and her heart to Vinalo. In bed and unable to adventure for herself, these stories were all she had.

Eventually the girl would tire herself out before she even got a chance to play at being plant nurse, nestling back under the covers but not before reaching out for Vinalo, a groggy little whimper in her voice.

“Am sleepy…can we play again soon?”

She was out before she could get an answer though, just in time for Vinalo to hear the door handle to the front door rustling before it opened, the sounds of none other than Roselle shifting bags of groceries in her arms as she made her way to the kitchen.


Though they weren't sure she could hear it, Vinalo still felt the need to respond to Meia's sleepy request.

“Right soon, Meia. I'll be back right soon,” the healer said softly, lightly patting her outstretched hand.

Vinalo smiled and slowly exited the girl's room, very quietly closing the door behind them. They headed out to the rest of the house and spotted Roselle managing the groceries. Taking a deep breath, they approached the girl's mother with a little wave.

“Ah. Welcome back, Roselle,” they said in a quiet voice. “Meia's just dozed off, so I reckon she'll be asleep for a while now. We ate and talked about helping the plants around here, and she perfectly behaved! But… ”

The Lalafell sighed and flexed their fingers idly.

“…We need to move on treatment. Sooner than later.”


Roselle had just finished putting away a bag of popatoes when she heard Vinalo's whispered words. She began to smile over to them and had been about to respond until the mention of treatment reached her ears.

Roselle's smile was just a little bit fainter as she nodded to the lalafell and went to take a seat at the table still filled with oodles of sweet treats. Perhaps in an attempt to lighten the mood before discussing treatment, the midlander teases Vinalo gently.

“I do hope you'll be willing to take some extra baked goods home with you. Nothing worse than a dessert that ends up not getting eaten!”


“Oh! Yes, of course!” they responded abruptly, turning to the tasty mountain of treats. “I'll make sure to bring back plenty. Misha'll be sure to help, and I'll not let any go to waste. Though… I'll have to make sure to watch the onzes!”

Their expression softened speaking of pastries. If this was Roselle's plan, it seems to have worked. Vinalo sighed again, but it sounded perhaps less apprehensive than before.

“Meia really is sweet. She wants to be my 'plant nurse,' and help me treat the flowers here.”


Roselle dipped her head below the table before grabbing and pulling up what appeared to be a small wicker basket. She'd set a thick cloth at the bottom before beginning to take pieces of pastry from their respective plates and carefully wrapping them in parchment paper, tying a piece of twine around each small bundle.

“Meia loves it here surrounded by the plantlife. When she was even younger, she'd always bring back some manner of plant to take care of. Her brother always brought us back different varieties of flowers, because he knew she'd love every one of them. ”


“Mm. That sounds a bit familiar. I grew up in Thanalan, but the Shroud's my home more than it could ever be. I can relate to loving being surrounded by all of this,” Vinalo responded. A second or two of thought. “And… her brother. Yew, right? Meia mentioned him earlier. Said I would've liked him.”


Roselle stops briefly as Yew's name is mentioned. She stares down at her lap.

“Indeed, you two would have probably gotten along quite well. Yew loved nature and always wanted to paint the things he saw for others to see. We spent the holiday once in La Noscea and the boy fell in love with everything about it. He was around 18 when he left to try and make a living there as a painter.”

“Broke Meia's heart it did and Yew knew it was hard for her. He'd make frequent visits back home just to see us and tell us tales of Vylebrand.”


Vinalo walked over and hopped up on a chair. No reason to just be standing for the moment. They smiled warmly at Roselle as she told her tale.

“Reckon it'd be hard for an artist to stay away from the ocean and beach landscapes. My good friend Pipino's said that about the island. She's an artist, too”

The drummed their fingers on their lap for a moment, hesitating to continue with their thoughts.

“I… don't want to pry or somesuch, but…”


Roselle gave Vinalo a quiet look, her expression unreadable.

“Yew tried to make it as an artist and he was talented, but it wasn't enough to make a living. He thought we might be disappointed if he returned home, so enlisted in the Maelstrom without any experience or desire to harm anyone. He couldn't even hurt a plant intentionally! …But he thought it was his only choice as if we'd judge him..”

“..At least, that's what I think happened. I don't really know. I just know that I woke up to an officer at my door who told me that he'd been found shot in some seedy tavern in the slums of Limsa Lominsa.”

There were the tears, and the quaking, the shaking of one who didn't want to remember.

“..Hadn't even been on a mission at the time. He was just in uniform. He'd really been out there because he'd wanted to bring some good cheer to the folk there, brought a bunch of his paintings, wanted to brighten up those ramshackle walls of those who had no other place to live.”

She clenched her hands so tightly that her knuckles were turning white.


A wave of regret washed over Vinalo, seeing Roselle break down in front of them. 'Shouldn't have said anything. Should've let it go…' It was rather obvious that Yew had died tragically young. The fact that it was such a meaningless death made it even worse.

“I-I'm so sorry, Roselle. I… didn't mean to…” they managed to get out. “I usually don't pry on anything like… that, but I thought if knew more, then maybe I could help… somehow.”

Vinalo's gaze drifted for a second, but returned to Roselle.

“I'm sorry. For all of it.”


“It's the hand we're given sometimes. Not anything anyone had asked for but just…happens anyway.”

Roselle stared down at her hands, slowly releasing the tension in her fingers

“Meia had to learn what death was early. Somehow she managed to make it through losing her brother by talking about him and remembering him and cherishing what they had. She was bouncing back, going back to her old self again, not crying before bed anymore- and then this sickness struck. And now the poor girl is trying so hard to stay happy and hopeful..”

“..But I know she thinks she is going to die.”


The healer had dealt with similar situations before. This wasn't the first child they'd had to heal. This wasn't the first family that'd been shaken by a death in the family. This wasn't the first grim talk they've had to have. But it's never easy.

Vinalo flexed their fingers, not responding for a moment. They let Roselle's words sink in, granting the weight they deserved.

“I know. Meia… told me that herself,” they said quietly. “She's afraid she'll never get to grow up.”

Vinalo looked down at their lap and closed their eyes. A short sigh.

“I told her not to lose hope,” they said with a slight rising tone, almost defiant. They looked back up at the woman. “I told her the same thing I told you earlier: I will heal her, and she's not going to die.”


“I think if anyone has a chance at making her better, it might be you Vinalo. I know it's been a while since your first visit but…she was glowing days after you'd left. Maybe you spark a bit more hope in her than the rest do, and she needs to see that confidence to stay strong.”

Roselle cupped her chin in the palm of one hand, palm resting on the table and looked to the lalafell thoughtfully.

“Maybe it is time for Meia to receive treatment from you the next time you come in. Is there anything you need for me to do or prepare to help you?”


As soon as they said it, there was an immediate realization that they'd promised something they couldn't 100% guarantee. Vinalo was confident, and they would give their absolute best. But, a promise like that… It meant failure wasn't an option. As if it ever was in the first place.

“Hope's a powerful thing, Roselle. I've always believed that, and this is no different, I reckon. If it raises her spirits and gives her strength, then it'll help her get through this.”

The healer leaned back in their chair upon hearing Roselle's question. How to prepare. What to do…

“I'm… almost certain what the sickness is. And how to go about treating it. But I still need to get a closer look to know exactly what we're dealing with,” Vinalo said, a bit of trepidation in their voice. “I won't lie. If it truly is what I think it is, then it's going to be a painful and… straining treatment.”


Roselle observed her lalafellan friend quietly.

“Something from the Void maybe?”


“Wh… How did…”

Their eyes went wide. Vinalo wasn't expecting Roselle to out and guess what they'd been working up to mentioning. They blinked several times as they mentally rerouted how this conversation would go.

“…Yes. I felt it. Heard it. As soon as I saw the wound the first time, I couldn't deny it.” They rubbed their forehead in a frustrated manner. “That old mansion. The Wailers've had to clear voidsent out of it more than once. Wouldn't surprise me at all that some vile creatures're still around there.”


Roselle raised a single finger up at their surprise.

“I don't need to be sensitive to it to know that what's appearing on Meia's leg is nothing like the bite of a beast or some strange reaction to even stranger plants.”

“..And you aren't the only healer to have suggested it.”

She listened as they continued with their predicition of something possibly coming from the mansion, and spoke again.

“Truth is, not long after Meia was bitten, I'd asked the Wailers to investigate that mansion as well as the area Meia had been exploring and they did find the usual inside the building itself..”

“But Meia's condition seems to be something a little more unusual. Not many of those lesser demons actually bite their victims. More importantly…why leave her alive?”


“Right. The other healers that've been here. Suppose they could've guessed it.”

Vinalo tapped their chin in thought at Roselle's question. It was a mystery. Part of it, anyroad.

“Voidsent're varied enough that I reckon a bite's not too odd, though can't be sure why. But… the latter's something I've run into before. An… arcanist friend of mine. She'd gotten involved with some seedy group or such going after treasures and tomes. Don't know the whole story, but a voidsent managed to… possess her secretly. And it kept her alive, using her as an aether source until it could… break free and cause more trouble, I suppose.”

The Lalafell sighed and looked at Roselle with the very slightest of smiles.

“We beat it. My fiancee and I. Drew the vile thing right out of her, bound it, and destroyed it,” they said, confidence returning to their voice. “Took nearly a sennight, but after some follow-up treatments, she fully recovered.”

“That's why I believe Meia can be cured. Dealt with voidsent more than I wish I have, but it's let me learn how to approach things like this.”


Roselle hummed thoughtfully to herself as she listened, a brief look of surprise on her face as Vinalo spoke of their adventures in vanquishing something similar. It seemed to bring a smile back on her face at the very least.

“I don't know what it is, or if it's the same as what you say. But that's better than what most other healers have offered. Maybe..since you sense it, you might actually be able to find out more by examining her.”

She looks over to the closed door briefly. “I think she'll let you.”


The tiny smile on Vinalo's face grew to something more befitting of their usual demeanor. Relief. A little bit, at least. They turned and looked at the closed door as well, their gaze lingering longer than Roselle's.

“Voidal aether resists being poked and prodded by outside aetheric sources. It's no wonder it hurts so much when others've tried to treat her,” they say, turning back to Roselle. “I'll be gentle as I can when I take a look. Meia's got a lot of determination, though. Lot of willpower. She can handle it. I'm sure of it.”


“I've no doubt that you'll take great care with her.” Roselle says almost matter-of-factly. “I've watched how you treat her, and even today, there wasn't anybody else I'd have wanted to call to watch out for Meia. She adores you. If anyone can get her through whatever pain she's got to go through, I'm sure it's you.”

The woman teases warmly, “And to think all this took was a plushie being thrown out the window.” The woman winked.


Vinalo laughed at her final comment.

“Wouldn't be the first time some odd coincidence happened to me! I only met my finacee Misha because a client of mine wasn't happy with how their plant ended up and I happened to pass through the center of Ul'dah on the way back,” they explained, grin on their face. “Life is odd, sometimes.”

They hummed a bit. “Next time, then. We'll get started on all this. I've just a few things to take care off to prepare, but we'll not wait too long.” Vinalo started to hop down from their chair when they got an odd look on their face. They turned to Roselle. “There was… one thing that Meia mentioned, and I… hope this isn't prying too much again. Some rude old man who's come by and harassed you both. Any idea who it is?”


“I will have to meet this Misha sometime won't I? Perhaps a dinner invite in the future when,” Roselle looks to the closed door once more. “When things are less dire.”

At the mention of the old man, the midlander blinked.

“Hmm..I didn't think she'd tell anyone about that. Truthfully, the man she speaks of goes by the name Kepu Yejepu. He's a bit of an eccentric with a following who hangs on every word he says.”

“When he first came by I had the feeling he might be a con artist looking to make gil on 'healing' Meia, and he was forceful with her and part of the reason she doesn't want anyone else to touch her.”

“…But he started talking about Yew and about my husband. How they'd committed some great sin deserving of death and so that was what they got.”

The more Roselle spoke, the more animated she became, clearly growing more upset at the thought of him.

“I've thrown him out, I've called the Adders, but he still finds his way here every few days, blocking our door and yelling at any passerbys that we're all cursed.”


The Lalafell nodded quite enthusiastically to Roselle's future dinner comment, opting to not interject as she continued with her explanation. As she went on, however, the happy expression on their face all but faded. Going a smile to an annoyed scowl, hearing of this nuisance did nothing but frustrate Vinalo.

“What a terrible man, harassing you and Meia! How does he even know of Yew and your husband? Doesn't sound like you even knew of him until Meia became ill.”


“I didn't. I don't know how he knows anything about us! Even before all this we lived quiet lives. But it was like he knew everything about my family..”

Roselle shook her head, clearly unsettled. “In either case he's made it hard for us but especially hard for Meia. Her window is right there. She gets to hear him and his underlings spout all this nonsense about us everytime they come by. Worse, some of our neighbors have gone on to believe them.”


Vinalo rubbed their chin in thought. Ideas. Thoughts. Suspicions. Nothing solid, though. They let out a short huff thinking about this terrible man and his “followers.”

“That's… right suspicious, it is. Knowing everything after showing up once,” they said, still looking rather inquisitive. “I've not heard his name before, either. And there's not a lot of Lalafell living in the Beds here. Compared to Ul'dah, anyroad.”

They shake their head a bit. “If I run into him around here, maybe I'll find out a bit more. Or maybe just tell him to leave.”


Roselle tilted her head a bit. “Suppose I never thought of him as being anything more than a terrible nuisance, but you're right, it is strange of him to know so much.” She shrugged her shoulders, looking away from Vinalo and instead to the basket she'd prepared for them, passing it to the lalafell as she moved to stand herself.

“I'd best go check on Meia as well.” She gave Vinalo a bow and that trademark gentle smile. 'Thank you so much for watching her again. We will see how treatment goes the next time you come to visit.“ There was still something of a note of uncertainty plain in her voice but for good reason.


“Hopefully she's still sleeping soundly. Today took a lot of her and she could use the rest.”

Vinalo took the basket of baked treats, the heft of it reminding them of just how much there was to eat. This bounty was certainly going to be shared. And take several days to do it.

They smiled and gave a little dismissive wave. “Was no problem at all watching her. Anything to help you and Meia make it through all this,” they said, starting to walk towards the door. “After all this is dealt with, we really should all sit down for a proper dinner. I'm sure Meia'll like that a lot.”


“A nice little get together can warm the coldest hearts Vinalo. I know Meia would love it. We haven't really had proper anything since.”

She moved past the lalafell to open the door for them with a smile.

“I look forward to seeing you again, and please let me know how your fiancé likes my treats!”

Vinalo would be free to continue on with the rest of their day as the mother of two now one waved them off proper.

Scene 2 - Fractured Family - COMPLETE

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