Character(s): Gabrielle “Law” Laurel, Peuth’Laitha
Warnings: Talk of racism.
Prompts: Chocolate #12 – understanding
As Laitha tells the story of how she lost half her scales, Law stares at her, just as lost in the moment as Laitha’s scales are to time.
“Have you ever considered finishing the job?” Law asks.
The room falls dead silent, not even Mikey speaks, all the heads swiveling towards Law, who stands, falling ever more silent, drowning in the humiliation and the misunderstanding. “Sorry,” she says and then turns, fleeing off through the castle, as far away as she can—
She skids to a halt at the end of the corridor, bathed in the light of the windows that flank her, and stares ahead of herself, refusing to move, refusing to speak.
“Law.” The voice is softer now, far more gentle, nothing she really associates with the powerful warrior Laitha always seems to be. She turns slowly to look at her. “Explain.”
Law tenses her jaw. No one else followed her, not Mikey nor Sam nor even Bree; just Laitha. “No.”
Laitha moves towards her. “I have,” she says. “Now: explain.”
She takes a breath, forces her hands to unfurl from the fists by her hips, and looks at Laitha as she approaches. “Look, I— You don’t understand,” she says, “it’s different, I know, I—” She licks her lips, averts her eyes when Laitha’s bore into her as though they see right through her. “It’s different where I’m from? There’s— The variety is different. We’re all the same except no one acts like it.” She sighs, thinking of Mikey and Sam, thinking of the people who really do act like it. “Okay, not everyone acts like it.”
“Explain,” Laitha says again, still so gentle.
“I’m biracial,” Law says. “Where I’m from that’s… I grew up in the country of America? I moved to England, later. America is… racist— uh, it means they don’t like the color of my skin. I got called some nasty things.” She lists a few off, and when Laitha’s expression barely shifts, she realizes there’s no negative meaning to those words here, if they even exist at all. “They’re bad. They called me bad things. It— and then England, it… was different. Not really better. My skin was a problem but so was my accents, so was…” She sighs. “I can’t peel my skin off like what happened to you, but god, sometimes I wanted to bleach it or—” She shakes her head. “I just wondered if you went through the same thing.”
“They call me roughskin,” Laitha says. “And yes. Sometimes I have considered peeling the rest of my scales off.”
“Why didn’t you?” Law asks genuinely.
Laitha reaches out, gently touching Law’s face. “Because they’re beautiful, just like your skin is.”
Law smiles quietly to herself and nods, just slightly. “I like it here,” she says after a moment. “It’s weird, I quite like being hated for something else for a change.”
Laitha laughs. Law thinks it might be the first laugh she’s heard her let out. “Yeah,” she says. “I can understand that.”