Through a Mother’s Eyes
what she feels most keenly when she takes shape, borrows form,
and allows corporeal covenant to rule her. Relentless weight,
nearly crushing in its ruthless press; she wonders how they can
stand it, but a part she's long-forgotten yearns for it still.
That bright-shot flare of mortality, brilliant gnawing flame,
eager grasping for a wisp of life through a soul that clutches
mindlessly for more.
mortal once, after all.
swivels her head, ducks down to tweak at feathers pristine as
snow, shining silvery-opalescent beneath the face of her
Beloved. A long, black talon clutches greedily about her prey,
and she savours the thin, terrified strumming of its heart, the
lifesong that drums with such hopeless hope through its veins
and plucks at her blood in shining notes of mortality. Wide
luminescent eyes, round and glowing copper in her heart-shaped
face, blink languidly down into terror-blank black, and she's
almost ashamed; she'd borrowed this body a-purpose for many
reasons—stealth, flight, subtlety—but a part of her had wanted
the hunt, the sport, however small. So long, she's watched and
tended and shaped, and she's weary.
Ruthless, she dips her hooked beak, gores the little thing's
throat—quick and merciful—and that same part that's weary of
holding so much in her hands savours the hot gout of blood over
her tongue. With blind, animal hunger, she sinks into her
dinner, rends flesh from bone with the same ease with which she
guides spark to soul, and thinks of nothing for a small eternity
but the coppery taste on her tongue, the hot life gulped down
her gullet. Not hers at all, in truth, none of it, but she so
rarely allows herself to indulge, and Time presses on her back
so relentlessly now. The vessel will have a full belly at least,
when she returns it to its rightful owner. Small recompense,
perhaps, for her liberty, but… who is there, after all, to
light stripes across the tawny band of road beneath her perch,
its travellers sparse as the moon begins its full-bellied
descent, the hours growing long, yet she waits. He comes, she
can feel it, the worn heels of his boots accompanied by a
lighter, smaller step, but she knows the sound before she hears
it, feels the soul before she sees the form. Not just a spark
in this one, but a flame—perhaps one day an inferno, but there
are things even she cannot see. Though she can always hope. It
is, after all, her Gift.
heart flutters the tiniest bit beneath her downy chest, wings
stretching out once, flexing—almost to embrace—as her shining
eyes spy his shape cresting the rise. A low, sonorous whoop
vibrates from her throat. Not yet, though, not now, but soon,
she can feel it. She tucks her wings back to her ribs, breath
trilling in her chest, watching.
only small specks on the horizon, but she chose these eyes for a
wide, as all her favoured children are, and this the one most
favoured, for so much rests on him. He holds her heart in his
hands and he doesn't even know it, won't know it, turns from
knowing it, for this one… She would smile, if she could. This
one is her creature. And so, he is his own.
watch. She will wait. She will hope.
this again, Corliss, I've told you before." His voice is low
and deep, curling on the early-autumn breeze with its new
promise of impending winter. "I appreciate what you're trying
to do, but… no." Kind and almost gentle, but for the touch of
steel beneath it.
woman beside him laughs, short and fond. "He quite fancied
you." Her tone is teasing, good-natured. "First Constable of
Putnam—you're quite a catch, y'know." She reaches over, tugs at
the blue sleeve of his surcoat, a match to her own. "And he
melts for broad shoulders. I could always—"
Sharp and hard.
woman starts a little, sobers. The silence stretches long before
she clears her throat and dips her head in acknowledgement. "I
had to try," is all she says.
You didn't." Quieter, a touch of command.
smile is softer now, though still real enough, but the ease is
gone. "You're lonely, Brayden," she tells him softly. "I only
believe this is your turn."
Burnished eyes blink slowly as she watches them, watches the
woman sigh, bow her head, shoulders rounded. Watches him as he
stands stiff-backed, limned in moonlight, like a slab of
granite, staring the woman down.
I make it up to you?" the woman asks quietly.
sighs, the stiff stance relaxing a little, and he shakes his
head. "You don't have to make it up to me," he answers, his
tone gentler, but the steel beneath it remains. "Just… stop
I'm sorry, it's only... it's only that I worry."
don't do that either." He reaches out, lays a wide hand to her
shoulder. "Get to work on time for a change, and make the
coffee for once, and I might forgive you."
The smile is small
and rueful, the nod slow. "But if you tell those other gits I
made you coffee, I'll never forgive you."
this time, a wide flash of teeth in the dark. "Good night,
Corliss," is all he says.
Flat-gilt eyes watch them farewell each other, watch as the
woman turns down a narrow strip of dirt. Keep watching as he strolls on, long
legs eating the road beneath his boots, dark gaze nailed the
toes of them. Even the silver of stars and moon can't dim the
gold of his hair, and she wishes again that she could smile…
wishes she could weep. She settles for another trilling hoot,
satisfied when his glance lifts, skims over her as he nears her
perch, lingers for just a moment then moves on.
ahead of you, my own,
she thinks, as she watches him pass beneath her, watches the
confident gait, the straight set of the wide shoulders. So
much in your hands.
now, and hope. It's all she has left as the weight of Time
presses down on her fragile frame of blood and bone.
the woman had named him, and she sees it, too. Feels it, but
can't rue it. Perhaps later, when he knows himself, knows her.
watches him until he is nothing more than a wink of gold on the
rim of the world, then she leaps with agile grace from the thin
branch, stretches her wings into the wind, and wheels west. The
tops of the trees whirl by in a dark blur beneath her, air
bending around her, through her feathers, snatching at the down
of her chest in a thin ripple of streaming freedom. Over
thatched roofs, past the slender spire of her own Temple, and arrowing down over stone streets, quiet now, for the most part,
though stragglers and brigands still roam, each wary of the
other. A lone wagon trundles over cobbles, loud in the
silence, its driver haggard and frowning, as he watches her whiz
past, a quick downward jerk of his head and a tug of the
forelock in acknowledgement of the omen. Still, she soars,
skims the currents that prickle at her feathers, twitches her
tail and veers for the outskirts of the city's common, riding a
buffering stream of air skirling up from the fens to the north.
Horse-sweat and hay, sod and manure; she darts in through the
open rafters of the small stable, breezes down to perch on a
wide oiled beam in the crook of the ceiling, chasing away a
small scree of bats with the menacing whoosh of her wide
wings. Small heart fluttering, she settles in, digs long talons
into the pores of the wood, blinks eyes gone coin-flat in the
darkness. Settles in for her watch.
A mournful blat she
can't help escapes her, and she shifts just a little as the sleeping figure below
turns restlessly, twitches and snarls, until her shadow
no longer falls across his meagre resting place. Rangy and
too-thin, dark hair gone longish and slightly shaggy, lids
closed over eyes so like those of her Beloved. She's just as
glad she can't see them now; the small heart of her borrowed
body might crack and bleed. They would look right past her, she
knows, would refuse to see, but… there is hope.
tilts as she watches the long fingers flex and curl against
their bed of straw, the thin shoulders draw inwards, as though
hunching away from her. She looks away, turns her coppery eyes
to the face of the moon. Ironic, that this one knows her, and
yet the other won't. Still… a whispering trill knocks loose
from her chest, and she slides a wingtip outwards, edges it into
the circle of moonlight… lays a shadow-touch to the dark hair,
until another muffled snarl pushes from the thin chest. She
draws back, digs porous wood into splinters beneath her
still-bloody claws. Impatient.
not only her enemy, after all, and this one will not yield
swivels east again, borrowed, tufted ears listening for worn
bootheels echoing in the wrong direction; she knows she fools
herself when she hears them, but it's consoling nonetheless. It
was not she, after all, who led them both here.