There were two things that Chief Virana worked tirelessly to be successful at in her life. Leadership and motherhood. Although Fang and its people were of great importance to Virana, her daughter Namaari was her reason for living. The Fang Princess had always been Virana’s pride and joy; One of her greatest accomplishments.
So it came as no surprise to the Chief when she found herself at a loss once Namaari announced that she was leaving for Heart with her beloved Raya. Although it was only four months, Virana had never been apart from her daughter for more than a week. When Namaari said her goodbyes, the Chief put on a brave face. As they hugged, Virana wanted to hold on tight, finding it incredibly hard to release Namaari from her hold. Nevertheless, the Chief did not wish to be the reason Namaari deprived herself of happiness and Virana decided to do what she believed was best.
She let her daughter go.
Those in Fang were pleasantly shocked at how well their Chief was adapting to the sudden change; Virana appearing to carry on with daily life as usual, despite the absence of the Princess. Atitaya, on the other hand, knew better then to believe the Chief’s elaborate façade.
It did not take long for the General to notice Chief Virana’s strange behavior. It started out small and those who didn’t know Virana well did not catch on as easily. Luckily, the General knew her Chief very well. Serving the royal family for years allowed Atitaya a rare glimpse into their intimate lives; An opportunity not given to others. From these glimpses, the General had arrived at two known facts. Virana was an excellent Chief and a damn good mother.
Accordingly, when a male guard had been slouched over a table, looking over documents with Atitaya, the Chief approached him and commanded firmly that he fix his posture. The guard looked startled at first, but immediately moved to correct his form. The Chief then went on to lecture the guard, much to his dismay and embarrassment, on the effects of poor posture. General Atitaya watched in silence, amusement evident on her face at hearing the once familiar lecture given to a young Namaari in the past.
Was the Chief trying to parent one of the soldiers? Atitaya mused.
The General pushed the thought to the back of her mind as she came up with other logical explanations for Virana’s actions. As the days went on, however, Atitaya struggled more and more to justify half of the Chief’s interactions with individuals around the Fang palace.
On one occasion, Chief Virana had interrupted a conversation between the General and three other female Fang warriors. The topics discussed were that of courtship, love, and of course intimacy. The youngest of the four warriors had been seeking guidance from her older peers, clearly ready to take the next step with her lover. Atitaya, serving as not just a General but also a mentor, was in the middle of giving advice when Virana interjected.
The young warrior was left dumbstruck, clearly never expecting her Chief to add her own opinions to such personal matters. Virana was tough and at times judgmental, countlessly expressing her disappointment in the young woman’s life choices. Atitaya honestly felt sorry for the young warrior as she watched the Chief reprimand the poor girl in a manner she witnessed only during Namaari’s reckless teenage years.
Unfortunately, Virana’s excessive doting did not end there.
One afternoon, on her way back from a sparring session, the General was met with both an endearing and also concerning sight. There the Chief was, in the garden, a child sitting cross-legged between her legs as she braided their hair. Atitaya couldn’t help but smile as she watched Virana comb her fingers through the young child’s hair, delicately weaving the strands together as she hummed a song. Virana always braided Namaari’s hair when she was a child and despite the Princess of Fang being well over the age, she still often sought out her mother when it came to her hair.
Normally, a scene like this wouldn’t cause Atitaya to worry.
Had it been just one child.
Instead, the General counted the heads of at least eight more children who waited patiently in line to get their hair braided by Chief Virana. Seemingly unsatisfied with just the nine children, the Chief tracked Atitaya down and suggested that the General allow her to braid her hair.
Virana’s suggestion had then turned into a command and the General’s hair was braided by the end of the night.
Chief Virana continued on like this for days and no one was immune. Not even the General.
The final straw that broke the Serlot’s back was when Atitaya was tasked with an important scouting assignment in Spine. The temperature in Fang was at its coolest during this time of year and Spine was downright unbearable. Nonetheless, the General had felt satisfied with her attire; Confident enough that she would not freeze during the trip. Regrettably, Chief Virana did not agree with her.
Before Atitaya could mount her Serlot with the rest of her scouting party, Virana was demanding a moment of her time. When the General approached, Chief Virana held up what appeared to be a fur cloak.
How fashionable and appropriate for Spine, Atitaya considered.
“Here. Put this on Atitaya, before you catch your death out there.” Virana warned as she handed the cloak to the General.
“I will be fine with what I have on Chief Virana. Thank you.” Atitaya replied as she attempted to hand it back.
Virana grabbed the fur cloak and began putting it on for Atitaya as if she were a toddler incapable of dressing herself.
As the Chief fumbled with the fastenings of the cloak, the General could see the snickering faces of her fellow warriors. Atitaya’s face grew hot with embarrassment and her hand shot up to stop Virana’s fidgeting ones.
“Chief Virana, with all due respect I am not a child! I am certainly not your child, so please do not insult me by treating me as such.” Atitaya tone was harsher then she intended it to be.
Virana recoiled at hearing the General’s words.
Atitaya knew that she crossed the line. She had never spoken to the Chief like that before and given Virana’s reaction, the General was expecting full retaliation.
It never came.
“Travel safely, General.”
Before Atitaya could offer a response, Chief Virana turned back to the palace.
During her time at Spine, Atitaya could not stop thinking about Virana. She should have never spoken to the Chief that way. Looking around, Atitaya could see how her fellow warriors shivered violently, their lips turning slightly blue as they huddled by a small fire seeking its warmth. At that moment, the General considered herself truly blessed to have the protection of the fur cloak; Feeling all the guiltier at refusing Virana in the first place.
It was nightfall when the General returned to Fang after the brutal two-week scouting assignment in Spine. She was exhausted, dirty, and hungry. Atitaya found comfort in a warm bowl of food and a much needed bath. After tending to her basic human needs, Atitaya craved another kind of comfort.
The General walked silently down the hall, slipping into the Chief’s room as she did many times before.
Majority of the room was concealed in darkness, with only Virana’s bedside table dimly lit with a fading lantern. The Chief was resting on her side with her back toward the General. Doing her best to not rouse the sleeping woman, Atitaya slowly slid onto the bed as she gently wrapped an arm around Virana’s waist.
The General stiffened at hearing Virana’s husky voice.
“I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“You didn’t.” The Chief huffed.
Atitaya pulled Virana closer, tightening the arm wrapped around the Chief’s waist. The General placed soft kisses against Virana’s shoulder blade and the back of her neck, whispering an apology against the skin. She repeated this for a few minutes before she finally felt Virana sigh.
“You miss her.” It was a statement from Atitaya, rather than a question.
Virana chuckled softy.
“Is it that obvious?”
It was Atitaya’s turn to chuckle.
The two women laid there in silence and sleep nearly claimed Atitaya before she heard a shaky sob escape from Virana’s lips.
The Chief did not answer. She only pressed her face firmly to the mattress as she trembled lightly.
The General had only seen Virana cry twice in all the years she’s known her. Each time, Atitaya was there to comfort the Chief and lend a listening ear.
This time was no different.
The General gently coaxed Virana to turn around, allowing the Chief to bury her face in the crook of Atitaya's neck, as she wrapped two protective arms around the woman.
Eventually, Virana’s breathing evened out and her body relaxed against Atitaya’s.
“I thought I was ready to let her go, but I am not.” The Chief’s whispered in a barely audible volume.
“You will never be ready, but it will get easier.” Atitaya replied as she placed a chaste kiss to Virana’s forehead.
The Chief hummed in agreement.
“At least she is in good hands.” Virana laughed softly, obviously referring to Raya.
“Debatable.” The General Deadpanned.
“Atitaya!” Virana laughed louder this time, as she playfully slapped the General’s chest.
“I am only jesting, Virana.” Atitaya half-heartedly defended.
“The Princess of Heart has become a thorn in my side that I have become accustom to.” Atitaya continued.
It was the closest to a compliment that the General was willing to give Raya.
“You’ll always be Namaari’s mother. Regardless of whether she is present in Fang or Heart. You’ve done an amazing job at raising her and it’s okay to let go now.” The General finished with a reassuring smile.
“Thank you, Atitaya.”
The Chief tilted her head and pressed a firm kiss to the General’s lips.
“At least I still have you.” Virana sighed with relief.
“I am happy I can be your solid plan B.” Atitaya replied sarcastically.”
“Not a bad back up plan if I do say so myself.” Virana quipped back, deciding to play along.
“I have to agree with you, Virana. You are truly envied in all of Fang for snagging me.” Atitaya added confidently.
The hearty laugh that came out of Virana’s mouth was music to Atitaya’s ears.
“Well then, I guess it is a good thing that I don’t plan on letting you go, huh?” Virana teased.
Pulling the Chief closer, Atitaya buried her face in Virana’s hair and inhaled deeply.
“I was never going anywhere.”