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Within

When one regularly is given the privilege of reviewing words from a brilliant storyteller, one becomes protective of that brilliance. On the rarest of occasions, when the storyteller, burdened with many things, doubts herself and her gift, such a humble proofreader is led to take the reins and give things the smallest nudge, so that everyone may see the wonder that is her story. I hope I have done well enough today.—Her Majesty’s heart

 

Within
By TeraS

 

Her name isn’t known—or, more accurately, her name has been lost to the ages. Even that isn’t completely true, but the telling of the story, and of the one soul that does know, is for another time. She exists, rarely seen: a shadow for some, a nightmare for others; for a very few, a dream or fantasy. She sees, hears, feels, but acts rarely. It is her duty to be that voice, that thought, that bit of memory needed from time to time, but not to act. No, that is not her purview, her existence and meaning for being so.

It has been this way since the first moment. She has seen the world through new eyes, experienced things she never truly did before. The idea of compassion, love, understanding, once foreign to her, became more in time.

She has felt things as never before: the touch of a hand, the brush of lips, spooning skin against skin. Things she never understood having mattered, or even existed, before are part of her now. To find that there is another means of being in control, to hold, to still be oneself, and yet still have the insight to allow oneself to open to the right one … is a difficult thing. To be present in a moment and have no say in what comes next, to trust in another to make the choice, whatever it may be, and know they do so because they do what is right for them … this is where her past and future come to face each other.

Knowing that she might not be needed was always a difficult thing to accept. Sometimes she wondered if the words calling for her would come, if she would remain in the shadow of the light that surrounded her, just a fleeting memory.

The thoughts are her own, but she has long been able to feel how they are tinged with other concerns, other realities, other moments that come and go. But she still remains, waiting. Does she do so for the sake of a promise? Is it a curse? Is this existence really all that is for her? These questions are as they are. They come and they always will do so. Even for such as her, there are thoughts that come unbidden and unexpected. She would never, of course, reveal that such things were, that sometimes she wondered if it was all well and good, wondered whether this was all to some greater purpose.

Then came the day she met someone she never should have noticed. He wasn’t a threat, nor was he a warrior—not even a merely human warrior. He didn’t teach her any new techniques, either for the battlefield or the bedroom. Most people would see him as entirely unremarkable, and not worthy of her time. Most of those same people would see her as dangerous and dark and ill-suited for him.

But then, most people didn’t feed her.

This big, bustling, quite, slightly unkempt mountain of a man was sweating over ovens when she unexpectedly burst into his kitchen—the last place anyone would expect her to be. She had been all the darkness and fire and power that countless worlds knew her to be … but he saw a softness, a hunger that most people would probably take as an opening, an invitation to wrap themselves in her tail. This fellow, who refused to be surprised, refused to be cowed, refused to be dominated, saw a woman who needed a snack …

… so he cooked for her. And he taught her to cook with him. And she taught him to cook with her. And, over time, he learned she was valued for herself, not for her other, that there was a voice calling for her, as her, daily … and nightly. What was within her mattered.

There was always the promise, always the partnership, always the sisterhood closer than any other. But there was something more, something that came with baking, with nibbling, and with warm embraces—and, very often, more than just embraces—something to remind her of one very true answer every time those nagging questions popped up.

The other answer came every time she looked into a mirror, the other place where she knew what was within mattered, with two sides of her deepest truth. The only difference between those sides was whether she watched in the mirror as her hand brushed red or black hair from her so-green eyes.