Bellusdeo laughed. It was, for a moment, the only sound in the quiet of the fief’s night, and it was warmer and deeper than the lingering night chill. When her laughter faded, she glanced at Kaylin. “I was not like this before. I thought that the Shadows had not touched me.” She lowered her head a moment.Kaylin understood this, as well. “It seems so unfair,” she finally said.“Life is unfair. Which part of it pains you?”“We suffer, and it breaks something. When we win free—by gaining our name, by crossing a bloody bridge—we still live in a cage of scars. If life were fair, we would never have suffered what we suffered at all; having suffered it and survived, we’re still reacting to things that don’t exist anymore.”“But they did.”“Yes. I hate that they still define me.” Voice lower, she said to Bellusdeo, “I want that to change. I don’t know how to change it. But I’m willing to spend the rest of my life trying.” Shaking her head, she forced herself to smile; it was surprisingly easy. There was something about Bellusdeo that she liked. “Home is a strange thing.”“What do you mean?”“We lose it, and we think it’s gone forever. That’s how I felt the first time I lost mine. It took me years to understand that I could find—and make—another. I couldn’t do it on my own, though; I don’t think—for me—home exists in isolation.
No, time has silverted the dark sheen of her hair, and thickened her body, and lined the corners of her eyes and her lips.He saw in them the hints of the smile he loved, and knew, to be fair, that time had been no kinder to him. Or perhaps, it had been just as kind; for she did not look the part of a young girl, and she was not: she was stronger, wiser, and more just than the fear of youth allowed; she gave him the shelter that he needed, on the rare occasions that that need drove him. She trusted him, always; she looked up to him, still; he strove, in every way, to continue to live up to her expectation. She was the one person in his life he did not wish to disappoint.