I just needed a little perspective. To see what the Swan-knights were going through. It was new and curious and how could anyone expect me in good faith to administer the tablets without knowing what they would do? Without confirming how effective they truly were. Without feeling the consequences I dealt to each patient who trusted me with their life and spirit? I never imagined something other than hate could be so consuming. It has infected my mind. Shifted my priorities. I feel the call long thought banished from my heart and I don’t want to listen, but it keeps getting more insistent and I don’t just want it, I need it.
I need it to make it stop.
Now that Hallem knows and Atanamir knows, I can see myself through their eyes. I am not well; I know this, but still I need it and even though to them it is bad, it is dangerous, I can control it, I really can, all I have to do is change their perspective.
~~~* * *~~~
It was the last time she would find the grips to climb to the highest rooftop of the Colagar manor. She told Pengail she needed to see something and he smiled and kissed her hand and asked if she wanted company. When she told him no, he only smiled and kissed her again — on her lips, this time — and said he’d be waiting for her return.
The air was growing colder as the heat of summer burrowed deeper into the belly of the earth. The chill wind made her fingers numb, but she persisted and pulled herself up onto the rough tiles of the roof.
She straightened and turned slowly. There it was. The sea.
She could smell the ocean waters from there. The winds carried the scent to her and as it washed over her, she felt the weight of the world lift from her shoulders as it always did when she could connect with the sea. Perhaps Hathlafel was right. Perhaps his love of the sea passed on to her.
Surely it would get easier, she thought as she sank to the roof with her knees pulled up to her chest. Force of habit made her weigh every word and analyze every flicker in his eye. And now that the poison was drawn from his wounds and he was more himself again (but not himself, she thought in tandem), the twinkle was there more often.
She didn’t want to be charmed by him. She didn’t want to give him her trust like it was easy and natural. But it was, she admitted to herself as she watched the tall mainsail ease across the treetops. Perspective, she thought. Perspective changes everything.
For instance, perspective made the orchards surrounding the manor a quiltwork blanket shielding the grounds from view. Perspective made the oppressive canopy a comforting blanket.
Perspective made the clouds seem not so far out of reach.
Perspective made Hathlafel’s behavior and half-truths justified and noble acts of love.
Pengail’s words echoed in her head as the breeze picked up strength and turned into a wind.
…From another perspective, that was… running away.
…he is free now. To choose good. You can help him make that choice …if you wish.
What did she wish for?
A family. Her family. People to love and who love her back. People to protect and will protect her in turn. Pengail. Her father.
What would she have done if she had been in her father’s place? If her child had been used as a pawn to control her and make her do terrible things? Would she have given in and done the bidding of that demon lady? Or would she have fought for them both and fled? OR, as they did now, fight to bring her down?
She wouldn’t have been able to do it on her own. She would have needed companions that were brave and just and who understood sacrifice.
Companions like the Wayfarers. Like Miss Lalaith and Sir Carmanadh. Nallo. Hallem and Mathdor. Even Atanamir and Oendir acted only out of the best interests of their friends.
Her father, Hathlafel, agreed to cooperate with the Wayfarers. Agreed to testify against House Aearanel. He would only have done that if he truly believed they had the ability to stand up against Lady Gwenithel and that they could keep her safe.
Unless it was all part of a deeper plot.
She shook her head and realized the coolness on her cheeks was not just the evening breeze. She wiped the moisture away and let out the breath she had been holding. She didn’t want to think that way any more. Not about him. Not about her father.
You can help him make that choice.
The sail of the ship grew smaller as it put out to sea. More of the vessel came into view as it pulled farther away from the shore. As she watched it both grow and shrink, Arameril made a choice.
Her grip was sure as she climbed back down the side of the Colagar mansion. Dusk was falling before her tentative feet finally found the sill where she liked to perch and sing while Pengail slept. Just this time she ensured her grip would stay strong as she swung into the room, and then she wouldn’t use her powers anymore. The ink would diminish and with it her strength and speed. She wouldn’t use them anymore.
Once her feet were safely on the floor, she leaned out of the window and turned to look up. The roof was so far away. She felt little and weak from this perspective. She shuddered and frowned.
Wrapping her arms around herself, she turned to survey the room. Her father’s book on the blankets beside Pengail as he slumbered. The hard candies and last bit of chocolate sitting on the nightstand beside the beeswax candles. Her cloak with the swan-wings for a clasp. Gifts of her father’s love.
She looked out of the window facing the orchards. Once more she leaned out and looked up, only not at the roof but at the sky. The smokey blue of the evening absorbed the high clouds and the sky didn’t seem so far away anymore.