[This post is from Marin’s point of view.]
The rain had shifted more and more into mist while we’d been up at the forge. It was only the occasional fat drop that fell on Matt and I as we walked down the hill toward the tents. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders as we walked and I smiled at him, more comforted by that single act than I think he realized—perhaps more than he could ever fathom.
I’d thought that I’d lost him, that I might never see him again, and the idea of it had begun to eat me up inside. Even this—even if he was only here for a little while and then had to go—was better than having him gone and not being able to say good-bye.
Abruptly, he paused, staring out into the mists. I stopped, my brow furrowing as I looked at him sidelong.
“What is it?”
He shook his head and changed direction, tugging me along, not toward the tents and the fire but toward the bridge and the arboretum beyond it, toward the limits of the wardings I’d worked so hard to set and maintain. “Come on,” he murmured, something darkening in his eyes. My heart started to beat a little faster.
“Just trust me,” he said, looking at me squarely for a moment. “Please, sis. Just trust me on this.”
“I do trust you,” I said. “You know I do.”
He nodded almost convulsively and started to move faster. “There’s something I have to see for myself. Something that—” he broke off again, exhaling an agitated breath. “I don’t know how to explain it.”
“Welcome to my world,” I said, irony lacing through my tone. At least we weren’t quite running. I was too damned sore for that right now.
What’s so important out there?
Somehow I knew we were crossing the bridge, somehow I knew that something was pulling at him, driving him to move in that direction. I just hoped against hope it wasn’t something sinister affecting him. We’d been through that before with other people and I’d had enough of it already for a lifetime.
“I’m sorry I made it so hard on you,” he said as we got closer to the edge of the wardings. “I’m sorry that I pretended that I didn’t believe when we were kids.”
I caught his hand and squeezed. “I understood it then and I understand it now. It’s not like I always made it easy.”
“My crazy older sister,” he said, a trace of fondness in his voice, though it was laced with bitterness, too. “I was a fucking tool and I’m still sorry. And I’m sorry I looked at you guys funny about the whole past lives thing.”
We crossed the ward lines, a faint crackle of energy making my hair stand on end for a second as we passed through them. A second later, my personal wards snapped up and into place, stronger than they were when we were behind the village’s walls. I had been unconsciously strengthening them in the months since the end of everything, though it was still a little jarring for me to be so hyperaware of their existence now.
I looked at Matt, my fingers flexing around his again. “It’s okay. It was weird even for me.” Terrifying, sometimes.
“I’m sorry I lied,” he said as we hit the bridge.
Cold shot through me. “Lied about what?”
“About remembering. About knowing.” His fingers clamped down around my hand. “I always knew. I remembered. I just didn’t want to. I didn’t want to think about everything it meant. It was somehow easier, and I’m sorry.”