The Tale of the Veiled Heart
“I would not ask this of you,” Sive said, as he knew she would. Her hand would find the opposite wrist, absently draw the ghost of a shackle in circling fingers and roughened skin. “My bond–it is nothing so heavy.”
And this, too, he knew–the fragile weft of her soul, spread like spidersilk to shroud them. Around her, the world deadened; around her, he could breathe. That was the reason. Nothing more, nothing less.
“It saved me, once.” There, the startled pin-prick of resistance–she looked to him, made to speak, but he was already shaking his head. “I knew then. I’d decided.”
Simple facts, and there was so little to him that could be simple, so little that was true. Sive must know this, but still she hesitated. Her nature. “You were a child.”
He shrugged. “In form, perhaps. Impulse.”
“Avalir, I never meant–”
“‘Should you need me, truly need me, then I will be there.’” That was unfair, perhaps, the way her eyes widened, the stab of some misplaced guilt in a distant chamber of his heart. “This was our promise. Trust I know what I ask of you, as you have before.”
She bit her lip, but her hands were bolder. Feather-light, across the delicate edge of the wing closest to her–up and up, as far as she could reach. He felt the trembling strain of her fingers against the delicate membrane, the catch in her voice. “And you wish this, truly?”
A grip, sudden and strong around the thin apex. He couldn’t help the gasp at the pressure, the solidity of it shuddering through. It weighed him, clipped him, bound him–and yet–
“Yes,” he said.
It was the simplest choice he’d ever made.