There are those who hold that there is a pattern to all that is said and done in this world, that no thing happens without reason nor out of time. As to that, I cannot speak, for I have seen too many threads cut short to believe it, but of a surety, I have seen too the weft of my fate shuttled on the loom. If there is a pattern, I do not think there is anyone among us who can stand at a great enough distance to discern it; yet I will not say that it is not so.
There are those who do not hold that there is any innate goodness to mankind. To them I say, had you lived my life, you would not believe it. I have known the depths to which mortals are capable of descending, and I have seen the heights. I have seen how kindness and compassion may grow in the unlikeliest of places, as the mountain flower forces its way through the stern rock.
Jehanne said that it would always be like this. That I would always be young and beautiful in her memory, and she in mine. That I would never grow resentful, never be tempted to betray her. That she would never grow restless and fickle, and see to replace me. So you see, not exactly the sentiments of a great and terrible love affair.
An awkward silence descended between us. Where did that phrase come from? I wonder. Silence descended. Descended from where exactly? Was it hovering over us like the alien spaceship in Independence Day? Maybe it wasn't really silence so much as it was the smothering weight of something unsaid, words we'd kept at bay, kept in the air, by talking about other things.
Profundity fails me.' Father Ramon's gaze rested on Loup. 'And perhaps that is fitting, since words have never been your strong suit, Loup Garron. I said once that you were neither a leader nor a follower. I think perhaps you're something more rare. A catalyst. A catalyst for change, hope, faith. This group of you, God willing the last of you, have been different. What does it mean to live without fear? What lessons are we to take from your presence among us?' He shook his head. 'I don't know. I know only that in your own way, you inspire us.
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I lie awake in my bed, clinging to the brightness I have known, fighting back the tide of darkness, the memories of blood and branding and horror, and the legacy of cruelty that runs in my own veins, shaping my own secret vow and wielding it like a brand against the darkness, whispering it to myself, over and over. I will try to be good.
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Sidonie, I know you don't remember it, but you once promised to trust me beyond all reason. And I swear to you that all that I am, all that I possess, including this gem-stone, is yours. I need you. I can't do this alone. Forget your memories. Look into your heart. And if you can find somewhere there, some lingering spark of trust that owes naught to reason, I beg you to speak the word written here.
I know what you are. I've always known from the beginning, Kushiel's Chosen. It is folly, to make claim on one whom the gods have marked for their own. And unlike the others, I am no fool, to grasp at that which burns to the touch. What you have given... " she raised one hand, palm upward, the garnet seal dangling at her wrist, "... I hold in an open hand.
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I wondered if he could ever understand that it was a blessing, not a sin, to be graced with more than one love. It could be complicated; of course it could be complicated. And it opened one up to the possibility of more pain and loss. Still, it was a blessing I would never relinquish. Love, genuine love, was always a cause for joy.
I would that I could have stopped time and preserved that day forever. It was a perfect day. There was the shadow of sorrow, yes. It would always be there. But that was the nature of life. The bright mirror and the dark, reflecting one another. And today there was so much brightness.
To my surprise, Joscelin rose. 'Phedre-' He began, then halted. Sitting below him, I watched him smile to himself, quiet and private. 'Phedre yields with a willow's grace,' he said softly. 'And endures with the strength of mountains. Without her, life would be calm; and yet lack all meaning.
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