I stepped back through to Tower Keep, out onto the drive and now, it was raining. I smiled and hailed the rain, good, proper Merina rain, and bid it welcome to me as in return, it gently came to nestle on my lids and on my shoulders and on my hands when I held them out for a friendly greeting.
The house was silent enough for ears and noisy enough for everything else; there was a celebration going on that had a very quiet quality yet it was full of delight and most joyful, indeed.
When I entered and removed my cloak, Reyna came running to me, being overtaken by the youngest, Vona and from the stairs Cyno came as well.
They shouted at once and waved their hands and it was a moment or two before I could shield myself enough to take an understanding. I had repaired their mind space and had given them the greatest joy imaginable; they were trying to express their gratitude.
A fortunate side effect to my own ends, I thought, that was all. But you are welcome. Although I do not live to serve or please, your joy is my joy.
Chay came and I went to him right away. We kissed slowly and delightfully, tuning out the others around us and I told him that I had come to wake Lucian.
It made him sad.
Chay was very much entirely in the physicality still and I cannot say that it did not touch me, here and there; indeed, I would have cried if I would have to give up feeling him beneath my fingertips and lips. Don’t worry, darling. I will not leave you again. Not for Lucian, not for anyone.
He is sadder still. You know that is untrue, he sends, you know that I am nothing to you in comparison to him. You will share his bed and his thoughts and I will be forgotten in a flash.
I am unsure how to explain to him the way I am thinking. There are the three of us now, there was always the three of us if only we’d known it. Granted, in the kingdoms it’s the rule for a single man and woman to be wed, but I am not a woman in that sense, no more so than Lucian is a man. And Chay doesn’t know this yet, but neither is he, only in appearance and many years of believing that you are one thing, or another.
We are angels. Who can know what rules exist for us, who can teach us? When we are no longer bound by rules of men, what are we to do?
I must wake him, Chay. I cannot hold back any longer.
Make love with me before you do. In case …
Can I promise him that he is wrong in presupposing danger, Lucian’s wrath, destruction, probably death? I don’t know anything. I am confused within myself, within the worlds I have traversed and all the things I’ve thought, all the illusions, all of them so interlaced, I cannot know. I put my arms around his neck and look into his eyes, feel his warmth against my breasts, my hips. His hands are around my waist and begin to slide slowly lower.
Yes, I’d like that, Chay. I want to make love to you. I want to love you on every level.
He holds me tight, then picks me up and carries me up the stairs to his room.
We slept together many nights in prison and I know his body well, his scent, his movements and all his moods. Yet it cannot compare, this blindness that then was, to being here with him on this morning, out of free will and with desire, absolutely aware of how I feel about him, have always felt about him, and allowing him to show me how he feels about me, to show me, to demonstrate it to me, to send to me, to embrace me with it and to enter me with it until it fills me to overflowing.
This is right.
We were wrong to think it wrong.
I need Chay at many levels. I need his support, his power, his individuality, his physicality, and yes, I need his love to be what I can be, no, what I need to be to do what I have to do.
I don’t know what it is, but I have always known there’s something. I thought I could do it alone and I cannot. To try and do it alone led us – Lucian and me, us, we, ah, my love, just a little while longer, and you will be with me again, and this time, I am more and I can be more for you, as you are more already, just as you sleep there all in pieces, you don’t even know how much you are learning, how much you are resting and filling yourself with a new strength, a new understanding and a new way of being here in the hard.
Chay is lying across me still, in me still, breathing hard, glowing hot and crystal clear as he is, as he used to be. I cannot help but wonder who is his strength and his support. Chay cannot shore me up and himself all by himself no more than I could do it. No more than Lucian could, and oh! did he try! And still, I cannot imagine what it took for Lucian to come this far and be alive, still be fighting on, still not truly ever having given in to anything at all.
Such strength. Such strength. I cannot comprehend it, I cannot help but admire it in every way although it also makes me weep because I know that if Lucian had been just a little weaker, a little less perfect and little more flawed, all of this would have ended centuries ago and would have come to a perfection in a satisfying resolution that he alone prevents from clicking together like the spring trapped lockings on a harness or a barn gate that will close the circuit and make everything safe, everything as it should be, everything in order and we can sleep again until the morning.
Lucian. Softly, I touch Chay with my mind and tell him that it’s time, that I cannot wait any longer, that my need to have him here and have him be here has turned into a pain that will become an agony if I do not get up now and go to him.
He knows that of course already, and it is most strange how he is partially entirely knowing of these matters and partially this child who still believes in the rules of the Hard, still afraid I would leave him, very afraid.
I weave a gentle bridge inside him so that the knowing may sooth the fear and kiss him most reverently before I slide out from beneath him.
His room is like the one I had when I first arrived at Tower Keep, much smaller than Lucian’s room and it contains that single wardrobe before which my dress lies crumpled, a landscape of blue and silver with mountain tops and little sparkling lakes.
I will go to him as I am.
I walk from Chay’s room, out into the hallway. Cyno is there and he stares at me. It occurs to me that the time for him might never come and wonder what he is doing here at all before I move past him and unlock the door to Lucian’s room.
I stand in the doorway and look inside. It has changed very little from how it used to be and yet it feels so very different now. It was so clearly his at one time, so clearly patterned to him and it isn’t any longer although every item is just where it should be.
I walk around the bed and sit down beside him, the tapestry familiar and scratchy beneath my bare buttocks.
He is sleeping peacefully. So peacefully. His perfect face is relaxed and his lashes lie long and steady. I don’t know how many times I have looked at him in this way. His physicality is so very deceiving; it doesn’t do him justice. In a way, those things he showed me in Serein, all together, would have been a start. And then the things he didn’t show me, perhaps he didn’t know he had them or tried to pretend he did not. His passions, his spirit and spark, and his force. You take the snake, and you take the man, and you take the angel, and you destroy all those shells, just make them disappear and then what’s left, THAT is what makes you fall to the floor and hide your eyes because you cannot bear the glory of it.
The light is bright still, too bright for his eyes when he will open them. Bright lights hurt him, he’s very sensitive to them. Bright colours too and shrill noises. I glance towards the windows and colour washes down, mellowing the light to a gentle shade of darkest forest green with highlights of the sun spark-bursting through the gaps in the branches, ah, I remember the cathedral forests, ancient and so profoundly silent, that is what you need today to make your re-birth a gentle one, a loving one, a welcome to this here, today and I truly would, if I could, take it all away and make it be nothing, make it be never at all, make it all perfect for you, because I love you so much that the word itself pales and flutters away like the smallest of birds, the smallest of them all and it must leave else someone might see it, and make the terrible mistake to think it equal to the flights of all the angels, giant soaring, spiralling upwards into a perfection you cannot know, not even in your dreams.
I bend to him and stroke his hair, kiss his forehead, his closed eyes, then his cool lips, moistening them with mine, breathing to him and calling him to life, to this, to me, to him, to us, to here.
There is no hesitation, there is no question, there is not a single moment of doubt as he streams towards us, a gathering, a widest raising from everywhere, a singing stream of silver fish merging into a central point that swells with every new arrival, joyously growing, reforming restoration, gathering more and more, from everywhere at once and then the threshold expands a thousand fold and he steps across it, cleanly, no confusion, absolute brilliance, absolute home coming, and I am there to greet him with my never ending delight in every level, in every way, no holding back, no more.
Welcome home, my love.