I first met your grandfather that fall. You were offered a teaching position at his college. We packed up all we owned in your little red truck and drove over the border to make our introductions.
I knew you were afraid. I could feel the waves of fear rolling off you like the tide combs the shore. I tried my best to comfort you. You tried your best to explain.
“My family is not like...” A brief picture of our school flutters though my head, a fragment of your thoughts. “They had my whole life planned...you see...” Another image, a girl wearing a pink dress. That girl, I know her. Because sometimes you dream about her. I know she was to be your paire, just as you were supposed to stay at your grandfather's college, to tutor under him and take his chosen classes. You feel guilty about letting her family down, even if there are no feelings between you and her.
“I know.” I said, and touched the cleft of your arm to reassure you. “Don't worry. We'll take it slow.”
I also knew your family did not approve of me. We'd met at your graduation. Your mom. Your sister. Your father. Besides my grades, I am a nobody. No name, no title. No dowry. No lands, no future. Not someone to “shack up with” the firstborn grandson of Rien Durithean, head of West Magie College.
But that night you told me that you didn't care. That night was when I'd finally whispered my true name into your ear, my name-under-the-stars, you carried me back to our bed and showed me what my trust meant by tangling your body with mine.
“Merienge, let me do the talking.” Now your car is in the driveway, parked beneath the clouds. Your house is so huge, a sprawling beast of a thing. My eyes couldn't even take it all in at once. I remember nodding. I could feel the tightness in your demeanor, like a crouched lion, like a mother about to defended herself against a deadly prey.
I was afraid. But I nodded, and twined my hand it yours. Your palm was sweaty, and my heart sounded so unnaturally loud against the quiet knock upon your door, a door opened by a butler.
We were ushered into some sort of drawing room. I'd be mesmerized with all the beauty if I wasn't so scared. A lush, expensive carpet tickled my toes as I sat beside you, and whole-wood furnishings (the like I've never seen before, given that creating with wood is now illegal) were peppered thought the room. Someone has given it a lot of thought.
A lone picture stand above the mantle. I think you are in it, but am afraid to ask. I don't know what my voice would sound like in this big room.
Your sister comes in first. She's wearing a long dress, and her hair is in curls down her back. I remember her from your graduation. She must be almost 16 now. I can feel you relax besides me, your frame sagging, like a lot of air escaping from a loose balloon.
“Sœur, you look well!”
She sits across from us, perched delicately on the edge of her seat.
“Father is going to be livid with you, you know.” She says, her eyes drifting over to me.
“I know,” You say, “But it can't be helped.”
She looks at me for a split second, her eyes registering something akin to pity or perhaps remorse, before turning back to you.
“He told you at graduation to leave her there.”
You wince. I do nothing. I am used to being spoken to thus—at the l'orphelinat I was often discussed at length while being present in the room. But it still hurt. Maybe because, at college, I'd been wildly respected for my skills. No one there knew my past, and I had been considered by my rank in school, which had been very high. I'd had many friends. More so after our pairing, since you are so mysteriously regarded, but that is besides the point.
I wish, fleetingly, that I could read your sister's thoughts. To do so I would have to ask her to lower her natural barriers, and I can't think of one reason why she would. Also, she'd be aware of my magie—and because Aainn and I were paired, it could “smell” like a mixture of his and mine. As a pair, our magic had mingled. And when we are within a certain distance, we instinctively draw upon each others reserves, and as such our magie can be tainted with the others particular odor.
Magic is such a tedious thing.
“I won't leave her, Maieldryn.” You are still speaking, and your sister's lips are pursed. I'd missed a lot of conversation, as my thoughts had turned inward.
“I know, but grandfather isn't going to like it. He was all set on you with Wveina, you know. We need that family as allies. They won't be happy about this either.”
I search out Maieldryn's eyes. It's almost as if she is pleading with you. But I don't see it. I still felt then like things were going to be okay.
Click here for part four.
All my writing can be viewed here. Picture in this post is from here. Used with permission.